WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION

 

An old friend and schoolmate recently passed away, after a long and brave fight with a very serious illness. She would have turned 40 this July.

She was very open about her illness; using FaceBook as her primary medium. She shared her struggles with the illness, and other very personal aspects of her life such as a failed marriage and incidents of some friends and family members turning away from her  with stories, experiences, encounters and very graphic photographs. And for all the criticism that she received for being that “open” about her life: the good, the bad and the ugly: she never wavered. She consistently put herself out there. But, in addition to the front row seats that she gave everyone concerning her personal struggles, she was also very  open, upfront and extremely unapologetic about a very important aspect of her life: her faith in God.

She often expressed in her Facebook posts that people would comment negatively about how every other word out of her mouth was “Jesus, Jesus” all the time. She in turn would ask those people why should she not profess the name of the only One, who in light of the physical ordeals that she was facing, still gave her something to look forward to; still give her something to draw strength from; still give her something that put a peace in her heart that no husband, parent, friend or doctor could. Why would she not use every living breath to proclaim His name and His goodness and mercy upon her life?

A lot of us run to God when the going gets rough. But we run away when it seems that despite our being with Him, things don’t seem to be improving. I’m certain that a lot of people must have said “all this God that she’s proclaiming, yet, she remains ill…”

If you are of that mindset that only easy  things come to the believer, then you have sorely missed the mark. Christ suffered to open the way of salvation for us, therefore EVERY BELIEVER will suffer in one way or another.

I’m not saying that everyone will suffer illness, or imprisonment or some tortuous act, I’m saying, as the bible explicitly states that :

 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” 1 Corinthians 3:13

In other words, what you claim to be your foundation; what you claim to be your faith; will be tested!

It could be tested by  your spouse or significant other, by your friends, by your family, by decisions that you will be faced with, by situations that will confront you, by things in the open, by things behind closed doors, etc. But we will all face that test. Most likely more than once in our lifetime, and if we are still worried about whether people believe that we say “Jesus, Jesus” too much, then we need to  brace ourselves, because we will be in for a very rude awakening.

Philippians 2:12 says: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Get to know Jesus for yourself!

Open your bible & look into these promises that God has made on your behalf and ask Him to show you how you can walk in them.

We can go on for days criticizing pastors that buy jets and engage in practices that we are disapproving of, but don’t make that your obsession because at the end of the day, that pastor has God to answer to, and guess what? So do you!

So work out YOUR salvation. Get on the Jesus bandwagon. Not so that you can speak Christianese, or have the ability spew bible verses from memory. But that you may understand the difference between knowing about Jesus Christ, and knowing Jesus Christ.

I don’t know what my friend’s faults and shortcomings may have been. As with anyone else, she was human and I am certain, imperfect. But what I do know is that her bravery during her illness; her unwavering devotion to God during her illness; brought ME a little closer to Him. She showed me a true to life example of “ But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”(2 Timothy 4:5). She made me come to the realization that if someone who is going through so many things that to the world are considered awful, yet, she evangelizes for Christ the way that she does, what excuse could I, who by His divine grace has not had to suffer anything even remotely close to that, possibly have?

Deuteronomy 4:29 says:

“But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

We aren’t promised tomorrow, brethren, so let us seek the Lord today. Let us desire to deepen and strengthen our existing relationship with Him today. Christ has never turned down anyone that has opened their heart to Him and invited Him in.

 Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,

The handmaid at His feet

 

 

 

Advertisements

I AM NOT ASHAMED

Luke 19:1-10 tells the story of a tax collector named Zacchaeus who when he heard that Jesus was coming to his town “sought” to see Him. But because the crowd was so large, and he was so short, in order to make sure he saw Jesus, Zacchaeus climbed up into a sycamore tree to get a better view.

Even though Zacchaeus had already been labeled a “sinner”, Zacchaeus did not allow his sinful state to cause him to hide away in the midst of the crowd. Zacchaeus did not allow his deficiencies to prevent him from seeking Jesus out to make sure the he caught a glimpse of the Messiah.

For that reason, because of that EXTRA EFFORT, not only did Zacchaeus see Jesus that day, Jesus SAW Zacchaeus. That day Jesus dined in the house of the “sinner”, Zacchaeus and said to him:

“Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:9, 10 NKJV)

How many times have we knowingly transgressed against God and felt so ashamed of ourselves that we even found it difficult to come before Him in prayer to ask for forgiveness.

How many times has our prayer been along the lines of “Lord, I know I’m not supposed to do these things, yet I don’t know why I keep doing them” or “Lord, I know that you are disappointed in me because I claim to be your child, yet, keep sinning against you.”

Brethren, the purpose of this message is not to advocate that one not feel badly when they sin, on the contrary we should feel bad. We should feel terrible. Sin should grieve our hearts to the point that we are destabilized.

“And I said: O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.” (Ezra 9:6 NKJV)

The purpose of this message is to encourage you that when we do sin, we should not feel too ashamed to come back and ask for God’s forgiveness. The purpose of this message is to stress that when we sin, it becomes incumbent on us to SEEK JESUS OUT! Climb that sycamore tree, and wave our hands frantically to get His attention. The contrition that a repentant heart produces should cause us not to run from Jesus, but to run towards Him.

The Lord knows when we sin. It in not our acknowledgement of our sins that brings the sin to His attention. But it is our acknowledgement and remorse of our sins, that brings to our attention our dire need for Christ.

Satan, the accuser, will come with every weapon in his arsenal and every trick in his book and lie to us that we are not worthy of forgiveness. Satan will lie to us that we can never be delivered from sinful ways. It is his tactic to keep us enslaved in sin! That is why it is important for the believer to understand that no matter how badly we’ve messed up, Jesus will receive us if we present ourselves to Him in our imperfection, and desire to come back to Him. He is the only one that can free us from the bondage of sin, so Brethren, what ever shame we feel should not drive us from Jesus, it should drive us to Jesus!

The bible tells us in Hebrews 4:14-16:

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

May the Spirit of God bring us into the full knowledge to the redemptive power of the Blood of Jesus Christ, and how we can continue to abide in it. Amen.

Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,
The handmaid at His feet.

THE TIME OF YOUR DELIVERANCE

Exodus 2:23-25 reads “Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.”

When I read this passage the first time, I wondered why it read “God remembered His covenant…”

My first thought was was that the word “remembered” seemed a bit odd to be used in conjunction with God as it somehow implied that He had forgotten.

But since we’re talking about God here, then we know that cannot be true. God forgets nothing.

Then in that same Exodus. Chapter 3 verse 7 “And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.”

Again, knowing God to be all knowing, we know that it wasn’t at that moment when He was talking to Moses that He saw the affliction of the Israelites for the first time.

So I wondered, why all these references that gave the appearance of ‘recent discoveries’.

Well, the answer to that question was in the very next verse.

“So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:8)

The Lord did not suddenly remember Israel. The Lord did not suddenly hear their cry after all these years. The act of calling to remembrance was not for the Lords benefit. It was for ours. The Israelites, and we who are reading/hearing the scripture today. This call to remembrance simply denoted that it was now time for the deliverance to begin.

In that verse 8, the Lord said “ So I have come down to deliver them…”

Up until that point, the Israelites had to endure the suffering that they were enduring. They had to pass through that time of trial & tribulation. The time for deliverance had not come yet. But when it was time, The Lord “came down”, through Moses, to deliver them out of their bondage.

Brethren, our God is a God of timing. He does His work according to His perfect time table. This story of the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, and the other stories of deliverance in the bible serve to do one thing for we believers. They serve to remind us that God hears the cry of His people. But He will move ONLY at the apportioned time.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time”.

We are required to seek God in prayer. We are required to call on Him in times of trials and hardship. But we also have to learn the ways of this God through the scriptures that he has provided for our benefit to know that He moves according to His perfect plan for us. We just have to remain strong in Him. Trust and believe in His promises and believe that He will move on our behalf at the appropriate time.

Keep in mind, when the Lord did lead the Israelites out of captivity; inasmuch as that served as their deliverance out of Egypt, the end of their captivity, it was just the beginning of their journey to the promised land. A journey that took 40 years! A journey that was filled with just as many trials and tribulations. But even along the way, through the miracles that the Lord performed through Moses on their behalf, He continued to assure the people that He was still with them.

So, when we get delivered out of a particular situation, that doesn’t mean that we have necessarily arrived at our promised land. It simply marks another phase of our journey in life, en-route to eternal salvation.

There will be trials, brethren. At every phase of the journey. But, there will always be deliverance! Because it is the God who delivers us out of the captivity that protects us along our journey. He will cause plagues will befall those that oppress us and seek to hold us captive! Red Seas will be parted when we are cornered! Manna will fall from heaven and quail will be provided to feed us when we are hungry! Water will come forth from the rock to revive us when we are thirsty!

The Lord will continue to deliver those who remain faithful to Him at every turn in their journeys. We just have to remain faithful. We must continue to trust. God will deliver us. We have to remain obedient to the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because there is a price to pay for disobedience and rebellion. Just as was in the case of the same Israelites, because after a 40 year through the wilderness, despite all the ways that God proved to them that He was with them, most of them did not make it into the promised land. Because they were not obedient. Because they did not trust in Him. Because they did not wait for their deliverance.

Wait patiently and faithfully for your deliverance. For when it is time, the Lord will surely bring it about.

Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,
The handmaid at His feet.