In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said that the gate to heaven is narrow (Matt. 7:13-14). The easier route through life is the path of happiness, which has side roads to decadence and self-indulgence. But the way to eternal life is marked by self-sacrifice and humility.
The Lord warned His followers not to be deceived about their salvation. Those who find heaven’s road have trusted Him as Savior and acknowledged that His sacrificial death paid their sin debt in full. This is important because we meet many people who appear to be walking the narrow path but have never made a decision for Christ. They may be busy with church work, but they have placed performance before commitment. At the judgment, Jesus will tell them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).
You don’t want to be among those who think their deeds will earn them admission to heaven. Receiving Christ as Savior is the only way (John 14:6). Then you can be sure that at the end of your life, you’ll step off the narrow road and into God’s presence forever (1 John 5:13).
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Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. • The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. • Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. • But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.—Romans 13:11-14
In yesterday’s post I talked about making new years resolutions and the importance of following through on them. If you thought about making some resolutions for the new year but were unable to come up with any that were important to your life, then the verse above from Romans should help you.
To help you break them down into understandable, bite size chunks, here they are from the verse above.
1. Lay aside the deeds of darkness.
2. Put on the armor of light which is God’s word.
3. Behave properly with no carousing or being drunk.
4. Do not involve yourself with sexual promiscuity and sensuality.
5. Do not behave with strife or jealousy.
6. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ by becoming a Christian.
7. Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
I am certain that if you follow through on keeping these resolutions you will find yourself blessed beyond measure and having a peace that passes all understanding. Remember, God is there to guide you and bless you if you will let Him.
Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God—Romans 4:20
The walk of faith begins at salvation and continues until we reach heaven. At first we may stumble, but along the way, our focus should begin to shift: Instead of focusing on the obstacles facing us, we should look to the Lord. And rather than battle nagging doubts about God’s trustworthiness, we should cling to the knowledge that He loves us and is always faithful to His Word.
This kind of thinking, practiced consistently, will lead us into mature faith, which rests in the goodness and sufficiency of God. We’ll begin to see our obstacles through the Lord’s eyes and grow strong in faith, giving glory to God.
We all know that the Christian walk begins with faith in Jesus for the salvation of our soul. But faith is not a onetime act—it’s a lifelong path. And Hebrews 11:6 tells us why that journey is so important: “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
The faith of new believers is immature and often restless because there isn’t yet a deep understanding of the heavenly Father. Therefore, when trials come, the tendency is to look at the problem rather than at God. But as we spend more time studying His Word and growing in our knowledge of Him, our confidence in the Lord begins to increase. The more we learn what pleases Him, the wiser our prayers become.
Another way faith matures is through trials. Jesus’ disciples became frightened in a storm and cried out to Him for help. We can relate to this scenario—at one time or another, we all have found ourselves in a desperate situation with no way to extricate ourselves. And the words Jesus spoke to His disciples could probably be said to us as well: “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (Matt. 8:26).
We’d all like a problem-free life, but that’s not possible. The silver lining is that trouble can strengthen our faith in the Lord. It’s one thing to read about God’s faithfulness in His Word, but we also need to experience it in our personal life. Each time we’re able to trust the Lord during a trial, we know our faith is genuine.
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob.—Psalm 24:4-6
Genuine worship requires a heart of faith and a disposition of obedience to God. It would be difficult for unbelievers to worship the Lord, because they don’t have the Holy Spirit and cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). Nor does God find worship acceptable from believers who cling unrepentantly to sin (Ps. 66:18). Drawing near to Him requires clean hands and a pure heart, which is possible only through Jesus Christ (Ps. 24:4-6).
The goal of worship is to glorify God, and it begins with our attitude. We must come into His presence with a repentant and humble heart, a mind focused on Him, and a life that demonstrates obedience.
I pray that God will add His blessings to your day. If you’ve not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior then may I encourage you to do so. If you have questions about “being saved”, may I recommend you talk to a pastor or reach out to a friend that you know who follows the Lord. The decision you reach today will have eternal consequences. I pray you will make the right choice.
Yesterday as I was having my quiet time with the Lord, He impressed upon me the value of abiding in Him. I read in John 15:4-7 Jesus’ explanation of abiding in Him. But, I kept asking myself “what does it mean to abide in Him?” I went back to God’s word and reread the verses pertaining to the story Jesus told of the vine and branches.
In the story Jesus uses the story of the vine and branches to show the importance of our “remaining” or “abiding in Him”. He points out that He is the vine and we are the branches. Without Him we will die. He also gives us proof of what happens when we abide in Him.
Proofs of abiding in Christ (i.e., proofs that one is truly saved and not just pretending) include obedience to Christ’s commands (John 15:10; 1 John 3:24); following Jesus’ example (1 John 2:6); living free from habitual sin (1 John 3:6); and the awareness of a divine presence within one’s life (1 John 4:13).
One of the proofs of our salvation is perseverance, or sustained abiding in Christ. The saved will continue in their walk with Christ (see Revelation 2:26). That is, they will “abide” or remain in Him. God will complete His work in them (Philippians 1:6), and they will bring forth much fruit to the glory of God (John 15:5). Those who fall away, turn their backs on Christ, or fail to abide simply show their lack of saving faith. Abiding is not what saves us, but it is one of the signs of salvation.
If you’ve fallen away from Christ it is not too late to confess your sins, repent and ask His forgiveness. When you are received back into the fold of Jesus’ care you can start abiding in Him and God will complete His work in you.