Believing in Jesus Christ

Link to post:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/keri-anderson/believing-in-jesus-christ/10152867648273491

Advertisements

MADE

Part 2: Faith in Christ, our Creator


 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life,and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5

This is what the Bible says about Jesus Christ. God refers to Him as the Word, and as also God, or God’s Son. It isn’t an easy concept to understand, the triune nature of God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), but that is where faith comes in. And that is a different topic for a different day.

But in the Bible passage seen above, it says that all things were made through Jesus. That includes you! In MADE, Part 1: You are MADE by God, I wrote about God’s intentionality and love in purposely making each one of us. Here is where the rubber meets the road. If you believe that God puposely and lovingly created you for Himself, than what does that mean for you and your life? We were made for a close relationship with God, to bring Him glory, enjoy Him, and to be His faithful people with Him being God, our King. That is awesome if you stop to think about it. But because each of us has chosen to disobey God (His commands), we stand as rebels before a holy God.

In the last post, we learned more about God’s character and discussed how He is good. As the Apostle John puts it, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5. And because God is good, there is nothing false in Him. We can literally trust every single word He says, and He is the only one who completely deserves of our trust. “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19) It is not a gamble to trust God. But people will sometimes let us down, because we are sinful and don’t always keep our promises. In the New Testament it says, “Let God be true, and every human being a liar.” (Romans 3:4)

This is a hard thing to hear, believe me, I know. But I know it is true. I know that I have lied. I have lied, cheated, and stolen things in my life. I have done things I cannot make up for or take back. And the truth is, we all have. No one is better or worse than anybody else, because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) But that does put us all in a predicament. What is a good God to do with bad people? Can a perfect judge let the guilty go free? Would you have wanted Hitler to go free? Pastor Paul Washer once said that the most terrifying truth from the Bible is that God is good…and we are not. ¹

Can a loving God also be a just God? Indeed, God is both, and when he described himself to Moses, God said, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…” (Exodus 34:6-7) And in another passage, “The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Nahum 1:3)

Imagine that a close friend of yours is the city judge, and you have broken the law. You come before your friend, who loves you very much, hoping to get a break. But your friend has no choice but to give you the punishment or fine that you earned, because he or she values doing the right thing, and wants to be a good judge. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but we have all sinned against God, and have earned the sentence of an eternity in hell for it.

And now we take a look at the loving heart of God, because what He chose to do for mankind is incredible. Grace is a hard thing to grasp when you realize that what you rightfully deserve from God is punishment. But “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) How does this fit into God being a good judge? Because He satisfied His own justice by taking our punishment onto Himself. He poured out His wrath for the sins of mankind on the one man, the God-man, Jesus Christ. Here is my favorite Bible passage that explains it:

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:25-26

God’s selfless and sacrificial love is so amazing! Instead of giving us the punishment we deserve, He becomes a man and absorbs the wrath from Himself that we deserve. It’s crazy love, but it’s true love. And we get Christ’s righteousness in exchange for our sin! He takes our sin, and grants us His perfect status with God — how incredible!

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

This is a video (I really like) about how wonderfully God loves us despite what we have done to rebel against Him:

Believing that Jesus is who He says He is, and that He died for your sins, in your place, and that He is King over you, is what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ. Our faith in Jesus will lead us to turn to Him as the Lord He is, relinquishing control of our lives to Him, and seeking God’s purposes instead of our own. God will give us a new heart, and put His Spirit in us to make us more like Jesus, who perfectly obeyed God (Ezekiel 36:25-27). Of course, we won’t be perfect, but we should be so thankful that He pardoned us and loves us that it is our JOY to please Him. If our faith is true, we will grow in Christ-likeness, and our faith will continue till the end (Colossians 1:21-23), because God is always faithful, and He will continue to work in you (Jude 1:24-25), as you continue to seek Him (James 4:7-10).  If our faith is not true, it will not change us at all (James 2:14-26).

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:6-8

Faith in Christ is not only a only a one-time decision, but it’s a change of mind and a gradual life change. Jesus is your life, and your life is all for Him. We shouldn’t view Jesus as our “ticket to heaven.” And He isn’t just our “buddy.” He is our King. And our gracious Savior. He is Lord of all, including our puny, little lives. He is worth much more than our lives, more than we could ever give Him.

Incredible God, perfect and loving, good and faithful, truthful and just, compassionate and forgiving, is the Creator of each one of us. Remember that He made you for Himself, and that He suffered and died to offer you salvation. Remember that He reigns over all, and wants to rightfully reign over you, in love and tenderness. The gentle King, only true God, beckons you to turn to Him and place your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. He longs to have you, that you may know Him, enjoy Him, and bring Him the glory He deserves.

     Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1

Praying this is helpful to someone.

Love you!

Keri

¹For more on our need for salvation, listen to Paul Washer online, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXOWyjB7d24

MADE

Part 1: You are MADE by God.


Imagine yourself alone in a workshop, sitting at your desk in the dark. You turn on the light, and begin to work. You are creating a masterpiece.

What would it look like? What would it be? How would you form it and mold it to be your very own? I believe all of us have some sort of creative spark in us on some level – a spark that points to someone with greater skill than our own.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) Can you imagine such an incredible power? After making the universe and all of the plants and animals, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26) Our Creator fashioned mankind together after his own image, and “male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

 Why did God create humans? I think it is better to first ask the question, “Who is God? What is he like, and what are his attributes? Finding answers to these questions are important, because for some reason (to be discussed later) he did create you and I.

God says of himself, “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5) The Bible also says, “As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30) From those verses, we can gather that God is the only real god, that he is perfect, and that he is the protector of his people.

With this in mind, know that the Bible teaches that God intentionally created each one of us. King David wrote a prayer which reads,

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.”

(Psalm 139:13-16)

I find this passage of the Bible very helpful, as it addresses the fact that not one of us is here by “mistake.” I understand that for some, this has been hard to believe because of the way people in their lives have treated them. But no matter what anyone thinks or does to you, God wanted you, and intentionally made you.

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31) As we can see from this passage, when God creates, it is good. It brings peace when we realize and embrace that who we are is who we ought to be. Now, I’m not talking about sinful attitudes and desires that God forbids. Those we need to abandon and conform ourselves to what God teaches us is right and true. But our nationalities, races, heights, genders, and abilities, for example, are all God-given.

God, in his perfect character, is also loving and good. This is mentioned in many passages in the Bible, including this one, which reads, “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” (Psalm 86:5) So, if this loving, perfect, and good God created us, how can we be made wrong? It is our thinking, when it becomes out-of-line with the truth, that becomes wrong, and leads us to believe we are not who we ought to be. Again, this is not to say our character cannot be improved, because all of us can become more like Jesus. But what we are has been decided for a good reason. To learn more about trusting God for who you are, listen to Jerry Bridges at http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=3290818433710.

Friends, if you believe that God made you, don’t you want to know why? Please read MADE, Part 2: Faith in Christ, Our Creator to learn some about why God created people, and why we are here on earth.

Love you!

Keri

Living Life to the Fullest = Living Life with & for Jesus.

If we are Christian and still on earth, it is for a good reason! Here is a day-by-day devotional that will help remind us what real LIFE is. Through faith in Jesus Christ, salvation is a gift to anyone who believes. If you have been saved, it is so that you will live your life for HIM and praise Him forever, and He is so worthy of that, and more. Our lives on earth pass by quickly like a single breath, so keeping an eternal perspective is very important. So, while we are still on earth – here’s to a God-glorifying life!

Day 1: Psalm 16:1-11
Day 2: Matthew 6:9-24
Day 3: Matthew 6:25-33
Day 4: Matthew 13:44-46
Day 5: Matthew 28:18-20
Day 6: Luke 6:44-49
Day 7: Luke 9:23-26
Day 8: Luke 14:25-33
Day 9: John 10:7-11
Day 10: John 11:17-27
Day 11: John 13:34-35
Day 12: John 14:1-7
Day 13: John 15:1-17
Day 14: John 15:18-27
Day 15: Acts 20:22-24
Day 16: Romans 12:1-21
Day 17: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Day 18: 2 Corinthians 4:1-18
Day 19: 2 Corinthians 5:1-21
Day 20: 2 Corinthians 13:5-6
Day 21: Galatians 2:15-21
Day 22: Ephesians 2:1-10
Day 23: Ephesians 5:1-2
Day 24: Philippians 1:12-30
Day 25: Philippians 3:1-21
Day 26: Colossians 3:1-25
Day 27: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
Day 28: 2 Timothy 2:1-26
Day 29: Hebrews 12:1-29
Day 30: I Peter 1:1-25
Day 31: 1 Peter 4:1-19

Praying this is helpful to people!

In Christ,

Keri Anderson

Enjoy this devotional? Find a Gospel-centered reading plan at https://kerijoanderson.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/daily-gospel-readings. For we never outgrow our need for the forgiveness and grace that come through faith in Jesus Christ. To Him be glory forever. Amen.

Finding truth.

Image

[John 8:31-32]

In a crazy world full of tabloid prints and Mr. So-and-so’s next breaking theory, where trusting even our leaders and public safety officials is called naivety, what are we to believe is truth? This feeling of ambiguity is not a 21st century one; the words of the infamous Pontius Pilate continue to be echoed among people today:

Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?'” [John 18:38]

The Lord Jesus Christ, to whom Pilate was speaking, had clearly defined truth just hours before this took place, while praying for His disciples, the night before His crucifixion. During His prayer, He asked His Father God to sanctify them, meaning to set them apart to be used by God, by the truth. And Jesus followed that prayer by stating to God, “Your word is truth.” [John 17:17]

Jesus referred to Himself as the truth [John 14:6] and Jesus’ disciple John often referred to Jesus as the Word of God [Revelation 19:11-16, John 1:1-18, 1 John 1:1-4]. But that is a whole other topic for a different time. Please be encouraged to read through those verses to learn more about Jesus being the Word of God, who became flesh.

In this world where everyone and everything is pulling us in every direction, a person needs some solid ground to stand on. And this my friends, is the Word of God. The Bible, composed of 66 books, letters, and other written works, is a consistent record of historical happenings concerning God and His people. With over 40 different authors within a span of about 4,000 years [1], it’s quite amazing that the all the authors tell about the same God. As the the timeline of God and His creation unfolded, many prophecies given to men from God have come to pass, proving the words came from the One who holds the future.

Every word of God proves true;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” [Proverbs 30:5; also see Psalm 18:30]

One of my favorite fulfilled prophecies to read is found in Isaiah 53, which told of the coming servant of the LORD who would take the punishment for the sins of mankind. Written around 700 years before Christ’s birth, the prophet Isaiah wrote:

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.” [Isaiah 53:5-6]

This passage places me in awe of God over and over again. Another important aspect to look at is Jesus’ view of the Scriptures. He made several comments on the Old Testament writings which show us what He thought of them [2]. When Jesus fought against the devil’s temptations, He began each of His responses with, “It is written” [Matt. 4:7, 10]; Jesus also spoke of Himself being the one to come and free the people of the world [Luke 4:16-21] by quoting the prophet Isaiah, and He refereed to the writings of Moses as being not merely of Moses, but “by God,” as seen in the following verses: 

And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God:  ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” [Matthew 22:31-32; Exodus 3:1-6]

It is so reassuring to me to study these things, and I hope it is for you as well! Doesn’t it make you just want to open up the Bible and see what God has to say? That’s just what I’m hoping God uses this post to do in us! If you would like to stop reading and open up your Bible now, do so! But if you would like to continue on first, I will continue to share about His wonderful Word! One of my favorite references Jesus makes about the Old Testament is seen in the following verses:

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” [Luke 24:44-45]

Several passages of Scripture have helped me in my struggle to believe in the validity of the Bible, to understand that the words inside were not of mere men, but really had come from God. This God-given understanding is essential to the Christian life, because without God’s Word, we have no foundation, no accurate records, no absolute truth. But we have been given God’s Word.

Just as Jesus spoke that God’s Word is “truth,” so the authors of the New Testament wrote that the Scriptures are the Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of Truth [John 16:1-15]. The apostle Paul wrote, in a letter to his disciple, Timothy:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” [2 Timothy 3:14-17]

And the apostle Peter wrote:

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” [2 Peter 1:19-21]

Therefore, we have a solid ground to stand on! The Bible is something we can trust and put our faith in! God has given us the gift of His Word, and it is the only sure, tangible tool we have to discern truth from lies in this fallen world we live in. So, cling to God’s Word: the words of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Let us no longer be tossed around by the waves of this world’s teaching, as Paul writes about in his letter to the Ephesians:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” [Ephesians 4:11-16; also see James 1:5-7]

And just as we know the truth, let’s put it into practice. This will keep our spiritual lives on solid ground. In living by God’s Word, and keeping His commands, we prove to ourselves and to others around us that we truly believe it.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” [Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Matthew 7:24-27]

By believing, trusting in, using, and following God’s Word, we are able to stand firm in our faith and take our stand against the devil’s schemes to harm our faith [Ephesians 6:10-20]. I’ve had a recent trial with doubt, which is why I believe the Lord has encouraged me to write this. I pray that it will be helpful, or at least a good and encouraging reminder, to anyone who reads it. That’s all for now! The Lord be with you, guiding you deeper and ever closer to Himself!

All my love,

Keri

Sources:

1) Biblical chronogenealogies | by Jonathan Sarfati, CMI–Australia

2) Christ’s and the Apostles’ View on Scripture | by Leland M. Haines

3) And a special thanks to Bible Gateway!

My Strong Tower

Everything God teaches us is of great value.

For all of my adult life, my mother has been my strong tower, my refuge when I’m weak. If I needed something, I could just call mom. If I failed, I could always come home to mom. But recently, my mother has been sick. With a cough that’s been lingering for more than a couple of weeks, and 30+ years of smoking under her belt, last night she expressed that she fears the worst. And so do I.

Sleep was no where in sight, and as I laid on the sofa, thoughts of losing my mom crowded my mind. I needed a distraction, and I wanted some comfort, so I began listening to some Christian music on my phone. And that’s when “Strong Tower” by Kutless came on, flowing through my earphones.

While the song artist was pouring out his heart to God, the person I kept thinking about was my mother. And in my faulty-thinking – and to tell it plainly, my idolatry – God tenderly corrected me, revealing that He is the only permanent, lasting loved-One, who I have in this world. And emotions centered on my Savior began to fill my heart in their rightful place; a dependence on God took over the feelings of dependency I have toward my mom.

Since last night, my desire to spend time with Jesus (which was pretty low) has been on the rise, and praise God, the realization of my need for full reliance on my heavenly Parent came into focus.  [#TeamReliance2013 @JAXSTP]

Friends, I love my mom so much, and I want to ask you to pray for her health. Since we both became Christians in 2010, she has smoked less and less, and has pretty much quit – praise God. Please pray that there won’t be any lasting damage, but instead healing in her lungs. And more than that, please pray that no matter what happens, her faith in Christ would be/remain solid, and her relationship with Him would keep growing. And that mine would, as well.

Thank you so much, and praise God that He is for each one of His precious children, the One strong tower.

Until next time,

Keri

Brought low in the Presence of God, my God.

                             Psalm 38:5-6 (NIV)

My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.”

Today, the Lord brought me low. What was happening?!  God humbled me, and though I felt crushed, a verse came to mind:

…the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)

This was comforting, but the revelation God was giving me set me trembling like someone fallen ill; my teeth were chattering as if I were out in the fresh Iowa snow.

And why was I being disciplined? Because an icy bitterness inside of me. Today, I learned that Jesus Christ will not tolerate my unforgiving heart.

My heart was filled with hatred for a sister in Christ who had wronged me, and though I knew the Scriptures warning against a refusal to forgive (Matthew 18:21-35, Matthew 6:14-15), I was struggling. I simply could not justify forgiving her without her repentance – I deserved an apology! Boy, did God have a wake-up call in store for me.

God made it very clear what I deserved from Him. How many times have I wronged God? And who am I that God would love me? – When just a single act of disobedience earns any person an eternity in Hell! (James 2:10)

My strength was sapped, and as I sat looking face-down and trembling, I knew that I didn’t deserve God’s grace or forgiveness, nor did I deserve any good thing from anybody. I was a wretched woman. Biblical truths were passing through my head as I sat there, reminding me that I am merely dust (Genesis 2:7). But even through the sound of my own wailing, I heard the Spirit of God speak yet another truth to me:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Oh, I belonged to Jesus – God didn’t want me to forget that. But it was the basis of my salvation that I needed to understand: that it is by grace and grace alone. Jesus Christ had died in my place for my sins, when all I deserved from Him was eternal punishment and banishment from His presence.

Through this difficult yet gracious experience, I learned that I must forgive others or I will not be forgiven, and so I must always pray for help with forgiving others. Children of God, embrace His discipline. Because He has bought us, (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), a wicked people, with His own blood and made us His sons and daughters, He will continue to transform us into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:28-29), even if it means a trip to the woodshed. So be willing to learn from Him, and do not harden your hearts (Psalm 95:6-9).

What a hard lesson! But I hope it continues, for my own sake. And for our sake as believers, I pray that by God’s grace, we will daily embrace the humility that comes from understanding the Gospel:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

The passages of Scripture I want to end with are ones I feel the Lord has left me with, to help me see myself soberly and fear Him as a wonderful and holy God:

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:7-8)

And another:

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4)

God cares very much about us, but it certainly has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with Him. So, thank you Lord, for your steadfast love and faithful discipline.

Until next time,

Keri