January 31, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO FORGIVE (part 2)

I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

Now back to the “if and then” principle. In this verse, we are told that “if” we confess, “then” God will forgive and cleanse. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a very good deal to me. We do all the getting, and God does all the giving. How could any of us not take that deal. If you ask me, it seems to be the nature of what God does for us on a constant basis. We provide the problems, and yet in spite of that, God provides promises.

However, there seems to be one major issue with this particular process. As usual, despite the undeserved generosity of the promise God has offered us here, we fail to do our part. So often, our sins go unconfessed, unnoticed, and unforgiven. Christ has provided forgiveness, God has promised forgiveness, but we are just too preoccupied to confess. I guess we just get too busy, maybe too unconcerned, have become too apathetic, or allowed self-righteousness to enter our daily lives. We have time to watch tv, surf the Internet, talk on the phone, get to the gym, and shop online. We just don’t have time to get alone with God, read His Word, spend some time in prayer, and confess our sins to Him.

God is faithful and just. This means God is capable and qualified to fulfill His promise. If we will confess what we can remember, God is able to cleanse us from what we cannot remember. But we have to do our part. We must confess our sins.
This verse in the Greek carries the idea of us continuously confessing, and God continuously forgiving. This is because we are sinners, we have a rotten flesh, and we will always fight this battle.

Confessing sin means to admit and to acknowledge. It means to take responsibility for. It also involves repentance, but we will deal with at more later this year. Even more importantly, confession involves humility. It is humbling ourselves before a Holy God. It is letting God know that He is too important, and has been too good to us, than for us to let sin hurt our relationship with Him. It is loving God too much to let that happen. Like the great hymn says, “nothing between my soul and the Savior, so that His blessed face may be seen; nothing preventing the least of His favor, keep the way clear! Let nothing between”.

January 30, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO FORGIVE (part 1)

I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Let me introduce the Biblical principle of “if and then”. We will be mentioning this principle many times over the next year. We see it all through the Bible. Let me explain. Often we will find a promise given by God, that is preceded with a phrase that begins with the conjunction “if”. This two letter conjunction does what a conjunction does. It connects the phrase with the promise. If an individual, family, people, or nation do the following; then God will do what He promised. It is a conditional promise.

In this verse, God has first promised to forgive our sins. We will never be able to fully comprehend all that God the Father and God the Son had to go through to make that one promise possible. We will never fully comprehend it because in order to be able to do so, we would have to understand how horrible our sin is and how Holy God is. We see sin through sinful eyes, but God sees sin through Holy, pure, sinless eyes. As bad as we are, and as good as He is, God has promised to forgive. We will discuss this more in the future.

Secondly, God promised to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The Greek word used for “cleanse” in this verse is where we get our word “catheter”. It means to purify. In the medical field, people are sometimes catheterized to try to help impurities exit the body. As some of you through experience might know, it is worse than I have made it sound. (Smiley face) This simply means that God will not just forgive our sin, He will take it away. If we are saved, the blood of Christ will “catheterize” the impurities out. What does that mean?

Wait for it!

Through the Holy eyes of God, our sins are not just forgiven, it is as if they were never there.

Mic drop!

HE IS ABLE TO FORGIVE!

January 29, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO MAKE ME FRUITFUL (part 3)

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

As we take a final look at verse five, there are a couple of questions that we need to ask ourselves. Questions that really dictate our philosophy and our motivation about the entire process. Questions that require total and complete honesty with and from ourselves.

Question 1: “As a Christian, do I really want to bear fruit?”
It is a fair question. Do we really want to bear fruit? There are a number of Christians that are content to live fruitless lives. They have grown comfortable with the process. While they are eternally secure, they have become eternally sterile. “No shirt, no shoes, no fruit, no problem.” They often come to church as they are, and leave as they were. They are positioned in a pew, and content to be comfortable. So be honest, do you want to bear fruit? If, deep down, you really don’t, then there is no motivating factor to get closer to Christ.

Question 2: “If I want to bear fruit, how much fruit do I want to bear?”
Verse five uses the words “much fruit”. It is a wonderful step when a believer decides that they want to bear fruit. It is a life changing step when they decide that they want to bring forth much fruit. Since the vine is the only thing that can give growth, the branch that bears much fruit must simply draw more from the vine. The closer to Christ we get, the more fruit we bear.

Question 3: “Why do I want to bear fruit?”
This is an interesting question. Does it really matter why? Yes it does. You and I should desire to bear much fruit for one simple reason. To make the vineyard fruitful for Christ. The vineyard is not there for us, and neither is the fruit. It is all about the vineyard because it is all about Christ. This whole illustration in John 15 is teaching us principles about the Kingdom of God. It is all about Him. I know Christians that desire to be fruitful so that they can get the glory. That is why some preachers constantly brag about how many they had in church, how many have been saved through “their” ministry, how many have been baptized, etc. As if they had anything to do with that. They create self glory and then at the very end they throw in one little statement, “I am telling you this to give God the glory”. No they are not. Their fruit was for them, not for Christ. It is as if Christ knows us as He makes one last statement in this verse.

“WITHOUT ME YE CAN DO NOTHING.”

January 27, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO MAKE ME FRUITFUL (part 2)

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Now that, as we learned yesterday, Christ has established the “roles”, He now moves on to establish the “requirements”. Christ states that He must abide in us, and that we must abide in Him, in order for us to bear fruit. So if I understand correctly, He has a responsibility, and we have a responsibility. Christ has the responsibility to abide in us. Our responsibility is to abide in Christ. That strict scenario is guaranteed to bring fruit. The verse says “bringeth forth much fruit”. No “may”, “might”, or “possibly” is mentioned. It is guaranteed. So for those of you that enjoy teaching, here is a natural outline in verse five:
5a- THE ROLES
5b- THE REQUIREMENTS
5c- THE REWARD
5d- THE REMINDER

I know I am getting ahead of myself, but I get excited about truth. Let me get back on track discussing the responsibilities. The same problem always seems to show its ugly head. Christ always fulfills His responsibly, but we fail to do ours. The first requirement is that Christ must abide in us. When Christ ascended back into glory, He promised to give us the Holy Spirit. When we put our faith and trust in Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us at that very moment. We are told later that the Holy Spirit is the “earnest”, or down payment, of our inheritance. All of which proves that Christ is fulfilling His responsibility. He is abiding in us.

Our responsibility is to make sure that we are abiding in Christ. This word “abideth” in the Greek means to stay, or be present. So Christ is always present with us, but are we always present with Him? Ouch! How often do we attempt some area of service for Christ without spending time in prayer with Christ? How much do we do every day having made no attempt to communicate with Christ? How many problems have we tried to fix without asking Christ for help? How many decisions do we make having not asked Christ for Godly, Biblical wisdom?
How ignorant and arrogant for us, as incapable branches, to overlook, ignore, and bypass the vine. Don’t we realize how totally dependent we are on Christ? Don’t we realize how useless a branch is without being connected to the vine?

May the Holy Spirit convict us today with the realization of how totally dependent we are on Christ. If we understand that, we will make it a priority today to abide in Christ!

January 26, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO MAKE ME FRUITFUL (part 1)

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

In almost any venture in life, it is important for everyone involved to understand their particular “role”. When we work with others, nothing will be accomplished if everyone wants the same position, or is constantly trying to do someone else’s job. When it comes to a family, from the dad all the way to the youngest child or even family pet, everyone involved needs to understand their God given role. A business, a sports team, even a church operates the same way. It is important.

So God quickly, clearly, and emphatically establishes Everyone’s role in the fruit bearing process. In verse one of this passage, Jesus says that He is the vine and God the Father is the husbandman. In this illustration, God the Father and God the Son are the owners if the vineyard, but they have established structured roles. God the Father has the role of owner, and Jesus has the role of overseeing the growth in the vineyard. Christ then establishes in verse five that He is the vine and we are the branches, no questions asked. That clearly means that we have no hope of bearing spiritual fruit in our lives without Christ. It means that He can still grow a vineyard without us, but we cannot grow without Him.

Problems always begin when we, at any time or for any reason, begin to think that we can bear fruit without Christ. We do this all the time. We try to make fruit pop out on our little branch without a clear, unhindered connection to the vine. We think if we work harder, use the most up to date technic, or develop our talent further that somehow we will grow more fruit. We have confused our God given role. The branch is simply a conduit to get everything that is in that vine to go directly into that new fruit. That new fruit cannot grow on that branch unless the branch continues on the vine. The branch does not have what the fruit needs to grow, the vine does.

My point is this; today, do not spend a lot of time trying to bear fruit. Spend time today making sure you have a clear, unhindered connection the Christ the vine. If you do, then the fruit will automatically begin to grow. If you don’t, then it really won’t matter how hard you try or what efforts you make. The fruit simply will not grow.

January 25, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO PICK ME UP WHEN I FALL

Psalm 37:24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

One of the most embarrassing experiences is when you fall in public. A person normally does not even feel the physical pain immediately, because the pain of embarrassment is so overwhelming. There is just no way to save face, to look graceful, or to look impressive to others when they watch you violently tumble down a sidewalk. By the way, I don’t care who you are, it is funny when somebody falls. You may be concerned at first, but later you will chuckle about it. You know it is true!

While falling in public is one of the most embarrassing experiences we can go through, falling in private is one of the most discouraging experiences we can go through. I am talking about our spiritual life, not our physical one. We have all been there haven’t we? Just when we feel we are stable, spiritual, and strong, we stumble over something that we never saw coming. And then there are some occasions that we know falling is probable if we don’t change some things in our life, but we unfortunately continue down that obstacle filled path anyway. This verse does not differentiate why we fall, it just deals with when we fall.

It is interesting that God does not say “if” we fall, He simply implies that we will fall. It seems that God quickly moves past the questions of how we fall, who is to blame for the fall, and what did we did in particular that made us fall. Instead, God quickly moves to what His response will be when we do.

First, God makes it clear that He will not kick us when we are down. The verse says that the individual that fell shall not be “cast down”. There are some people in each of our lives that will take care of that. (A little sarcastic laugh there).

God also makes it clear that He does not want us to stay down. The word “utterly” carries the meaning of permanent, totally, or completely. God says when we fall, it does not mean it is final, or permanent.

Finally, God also makes it clear that not only will He not hold it against us, not only that He does not want us to stay down, but that God will do everything possible to pick us back up. God uses the word “upholdeth”. It means a continuous process. It means that God was there to help before we fell, He was there to help when we fell, and He will be there to help after we fall. He will be the first one in line to reach down and pick us up.

Today if you are “down” because of a “fall”, I am persuaded that He is able to pick you up!