When It Comes To Salvation, We Must Work!

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

QUESTION: Once we put saving faith in Christ, do we stop working?

The Bible clearly teaches that we are not saved by our works of righteousness. We are saved solely through faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot earn our salvation. We can’t add to it, can’t be any more justified, can’t be any more righteous in God’s sight. Salvation is a wonderfully free gift from God.

But, the Bible is also clear that we must continue working, even after we are justified. As Paul says, we must “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”. Now what does this mean? How is possible that we are saved by faith, yet must work out our salvation? Is this some sort of brain twister, like, “If one train leaves from Chicago at 9:20 PM, and is going 100 MPH…”?

Here’s what it means: we must work to become what we already are. When we place our faith in Christ, we are declared righteous by God. It is a legal declaration that has nothing to do with our actual character. If an angry alcoholic and a pre-school teacher place faith in Christ at the same time, they are both equally righteous in God’s sight, because God declares them to be righteous.

But, both the alcoholic and the pre-school teacher must work to become what God has already declared them to be. They must strive to live righteous lives, to “work out” the salvation that they already have. The alcoholic must actively put off anger and put on gentleness. The pre-school teacher must actively put off pride and actively put on humility. I must actively put off impatience and put on patience.

God really does care about holiness, and holiness really does involve effort. When we become Christians, we DO stop working to earn salvation. But we don’t stop working. We must work toward becoming what God has already declared us to be. I must work toward being more righteous in my conduct.

Some Christians have the idea that once we become Christians, we no longer need to work. That’s not what the Bible says. We must rest fully in what Christ has already achieved in our place. But we must also work hard to become more and more like Christ. And the wonderful thing is, we can know that God himself is working in us, giving us the power to obey.

So my fellow Christians, when it comes to earning, let’s stop working. When it comes to being like Christ, let’s work hard!

What If You Got All The Smartest Men In The World Together…

Dude, this party is cuh-razy! Check out that corner over there. Must be nerd corner. That guy in the wheelchair, that’s Stephen Hawking. Apparently he has, like a four digit IQ. See that dude with the mustache? That’s Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Oh my goodness, is that…that’s Albert Einstein! Man his hair really is crazy. I wonder what those three geniuses are talking about. I probably wouldn’t even be able to follow along. Those guys are so smart, my brain would collapse if I listened to them for more than three minutes. Those are some greatly smart people (yeah, I know that’s an awkward sentence).

Woah, check out that huddle over there. That must be where the jocks hang out. There’s Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest athlete ever. Look at those diamond earrings he’s wearing! And there’s Stephen Strasburg, the pitching phenom for the Washington Nationals. If I’m not mistaken, that’s Cal Ripken. THE Cal Ripken. Iron Man himself. Oh, and wouldn’t you know, Michael Phelps. Boy, I’d like to hang out with those guys. There’s some serious athletic firepower in that group. Those are some greatly athletic people.

Now that’s odd. What’s that giant pile of books in the middle of room? It appears to be a massive pile of encyclopedias, in all sorts of different language. We’ve got Syrian encyclopedias, English encyclopedias, Medieval?encyclopedias, religious?encyclopedias, astronomy encyclopedias, and a whole lot more. There are also a bunch of famous, history-altering books. We’ve got Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Sun Tzu, Chairman Mao, Karl Marx. It’s crazy! There is a lot of knowledge and ideas piled up here. A great amount of knowledge.

And then there’s that corner over there. There’s nothing in it. Wait, there’s slip of paper with something written on it. On it is written Psalm 145:3

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145:3 ESV)

Turns out that if you put all the smart guys in the world together, you’ll come to the end of their greatness. You can search it out. If you collect all the athletes of the world, you’ll come to the end of their strength. If you take every book ever written, including all the encyclopedias and dictionaries, you’ll come to an end of their great knowledge.

But you’ll never come to the end of God’s greatness. It is unsearchable, inscrutable, and unfathomable. Our God is great. All knowledge is his. All power is his. All strength is his. The nations? A drop in a bucket. The A-list celebrities? Dust in the wind. The people of power? A vapor.

Our God is unsearchable in his greatness.

How Do You See Your Heavenly Father?

Before he saved me, I thought of God as vast, distant, and too busy running the universe to care about my peewee little needs.

I also saw him as perpetually displeased with me and ready to send me to hell at any time. ?When I needed his help big time I’d make deals with him – God, if you feel if you get me out of this jam I’ll quit smoking. ?If you just help me this one time I’ll quit drinking forever. Of course I never kept my end of the deal for very long. Which made me feel even more condemned.

And when I did pray I never used the name “Father”. ?I would always address him as “God”.

I heard one man say he thought of God was as an angry old man with a beard holding a lightning bolt, waiting to see someone starting to have fun, then hurling the lightning bolt and screaming “Now cut that out!”

Once in a prayer meeting, I sat next to a young man who addressed God in such an intimate way it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I’d never heard anyone talk to God like that. I didn’t know that kind of intimacy was possible.

What a wonderful thing to discover as I went on in my faith, that God had adopted me as his son and become my Father.

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ?Galatians 4:6-7

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15

Sometimes ?bad experiences with earthly fathers color the way we view our heavenly Father. We must not let our past shape our view of our heavenly Father but form our picture of him from what he tells us in his Word. Be encouraged today by these truths:

Your heavenly Father cares for you deeply. ?
Your heavenly Father will provide for you and protect you.
Your heavenly Father hears you and is moved by your suffering.
Your heavenly Father loves to bless you.
Your heavenly Father desires an intimate relationship with you.

Jerry Bridges, in his book Who Am I? says,?”No other religion in the history of the world has ever had a god (or gods) who could be addressed in such intimate terms as Abba. Even the Jews of the Old Testament who worshiped the one true God did not address him as Father. And though there were notable exceptions such as Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel, the vast majority of Jews did not enjoy an intimate relationship with God.”

“Abba was an Aramaic word, a term of family intimacy, used primarily by Jewish children when addressing their fathers. It implied a sense of child-like dependency but also of expectation that Abba would meet their needs. It was likewise the term Jesus used as he prayed to his Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.”

If you have trusted in Christ to save you, your heavenly Father loves you in his Son. We can?t possibly fathom the depths of that love.??Knowing the deep love of our Father fills us with confidence and joy. ?If you don’t have this ask him for it. He’s waiting with open arms for you to come to him.

Four Words That Change Every Situation

Have you ever had one of those, “Woah, wait a minute!”, times when reading the Bible? You’re slowly meandering your way through a chapter, trying to clear your sleep-fogged head, when suddenly a verse jumps out and slaps you in the face. I had one of those moments this morning.

I was making my way through Psalm 54, trying to shake off a slight headache, when I read verse 4:

“Behold, God is my helper…”

Bam! Bible verse to the face (in a good, sweet way). The words “God is my helper” are astonishing. Think about them for a moment. They literally change every situation. God, the God of the universe, the omnipotent, all-wise, all-loving, righteous, true, angel terrifying, sinner saving, God is MY HELPER. Woah. Woah!

  • I am really not feeling well, and I’m really tempted to complain…but God is my helper! He can heal me, or give me the power not complain, or both.
  • My child is not doing well spiritually, and I’m at my wits end…but God is my helper! He can melt my child’s hard heart and give me wisdom to navigate the every sticky situation.
  • My partner on this school project is doing nothing, and I want to punch him in the face…but God is my helper! He can give me diligence, patience, and love.
  • My kids are running around the house, peeing on the floor, and generally driving me insane…but God is my helper! He can give me an otherworldly love for these high speed children.
  • I’ve sinned in the same way again and again and again…but God is my helper! He promises that sin will not have dominion over me. He will give me power to overcome this sin.

There is no situation too great for God. There is no heart too hard for God. There is no budget too tight for God. There is no boss too difficult for God. God is your helper! He is my helper! Those four words change every situation.

Do you need wisdom today? God is your helper. Do you need strength today? God is your helper. Do you need patience today? God is your helper. If God is your helper, that changes everything.

Now That’s Interesting! Routines of Writers, Hairy Stomach Tie, Black Friday Prank…

Teen Star of ?Two and a Half Men? Tells Viewers to Stop Watching Show?- It seems like God is doing something in this young man’s heart. “You cannot be a true God-fearing person, and be on a television show like that. I know I can?t.?

The Daily Routines of Famous?Writers?- I always find it fascinating to see how writers structure their days.

A Hairy Man Chest & Stomach Fashion?Tie?- I do not like wearing ties. But I could be convinced to wear this one. Disturbing? Yes. Awesome? Also yes.

Windows 95 Tips and Tricks – This is a very funny blog that reminds of all the reasons I’m an Apple lover.

Improv Everywhere Black Friday – This is really the only way that Black Friday should be done.

12 Promises Every Parent Should Ask God To Fulfill

God doesn’t guarantee he will automatically save our children, but gives us many promises to inspire us to pray and believe him to answer.

I review these promises from occasionally and use them as springboards for prayer for my descendants. For example:

Isaiah 54:13 All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

I might pray, “Lord Jesus, you have promised your people that all our children shall be taught by the Lord. Please do this! Please reveal yourself to all my children and grandchildren and descendants and bring each one into peace with you through your blood.” Consider using these promises as you pray for your children:

Isaiah 59:21 ?And as for me, this is my covenant with them,? says the LORD: ?My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children?s offspring,? says the LORD, ?from this time forth and forevermore.?

Psalm 102:28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.

Psalm 112:1-2 Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments! 2 His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. 4 They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams. 5 This one will say, ?I am the LORD?s,? another will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, ?The LORD?s,? and name himself by the name of Israel.

Isaiah 61:8 …I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed.

Isaiah 65:23 They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them.

Proverbs 20:7 The righteous who walks in his integrity? blessed are his children after him.

Proverbs 14:26 In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.

Jeremiah 32:39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.

Deuteronomy 4:40 Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for all time.

Acts 2:31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.

Don’t quit praying for your children until the day you go home to be with the Lord. Even if you don’t see them saved in your lifetime, God can still save them. ?Although he doesn’t guarantee they will be saved, he promises to hear our prayers, that the prayer of the upright is powerful and effective, and he gives us good reasons to believe he desires to save whole families.

An Open Letter From Satan

Hey folks,

I hope you’re recovering quickly from your turkey induced comas, and your green bean casserole hangovers. But as much as I care about your health, there’s an even more important issue I want to talk about: thankfulness. Yesterday was rough, I know. With all the Facebook posts, Tweets, parades, family, killer pumpkin pie, Cool Whip, and football, it was hard not to be grateful. I don’t fault you. I didn’t like it, but I don’t fault you.

But today is a new day, and a new day brings new opportunities. Now that Thanksgiving is past, it’s time to get back to what comes most naturally: ungratefulness. Now, I realize what you’re thinking. How can I recover my ungratefulness mojo? Don’t worry. That’s why I’m here to help. By doing one simple thing you can get right back into your grumbling groove. What is that one simple thing?

FORGET.

It’s that easy! Simply forget.

First and foremost, forget about that ridiculous “rugged cross” (or however that atrocious hymn goes). I’ve noticed that people who linger at the cross tend to be filled with gratefulness. Gratefulness spills out of them, like grease from a filthy pan. We don’t want that. So stay away from that cross! Don’t let your mind be cluttered with ideas of forgiveness, ransom, and great burdens rolling off backs. If anything, I would suggest you turn your attention to all the things you must do for God. Yes, yes, that’s a much better course of action.

Second, be wary of recalling the past. If you think too much about the past, there’s a good chance that you’ll accidentally remember God’s faithfulness, blessings, and steadfast love. Wouldn’t that be a mistake! Stay firmly rooted in the problems of the here and now. Keep your mind fixed on your tight budget, rather than on the ways God has provided in the past. Keep your mind fixed on the delicious sins that keep tripping you up, rather than on God’s past faithfulness to help you overcome sin. If I had the ability to do a memory wipe on you, I would. Because you really need to forget about the past.

Finally, and this really is important, forget about all the blessings that are currently heaped around you. Family? Forget about it. Health? Meh, let it go. The fact that you can go to school? Big whoop. All that food you ate yesterday? Fuggeddaboutit. All the books, Bibles, clothes, friends, clean water, beds without malaria nets, and furniture. Not important. Instead of remembering your blessings, put your laser focus on all that you don’t have.

If you follow this one simple step, you can be back to your old, grumbling, ungrateful, moody, mostly miserable self. Stay forgetful my friends, stay forgetful.

Sincerely,

Satan

+photo by kevinzim

Things You Don’t Want To Hear On Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving and we hope you don’t hear any of these things tomorrow.

  • Honey where’s the fire extinguisher?
  • Oh I forgot to tell you, I invited my cousin Eddie and his wife and their 18 children. ?And they’ll be here in an hour…
  • Honey I need the fire extinguisher like now…
  • Was I supposed to take this little bag out of the turkey before I cooked it?
  • Honey did I tell you that my cousin Eddie and his wife and 18 children are all vegetarians, celiacs, lactose intolerant and don’t eat any corn products?
  • Can we please open some windows so the smoke alarm will shut off?
  • Daddy, what’s wrong with Sparky? He just went and laid on his side after I gave him the turkey carcass.
  • Sorry honey, all we have is decaf (this is definitely the worst thing to hear)…
  • Dad, there are some people at the front door dressed up like pilgrims and Indians and they want to sing to you…
  • I think this turkey will be okay once I wipe the fire extinguisher foam off…
  • Hey kids, I read that the Pilgrims probably didn’t even have turkey on the first Thanksgiving so we’re having something authentic ? woodchuck!
  • And thank you for this food, and thank you that I lost my job yesterday ? oh honey, sorry but I forgot to mention that to you?
  • I didn’t have quite enough pumpkin pie filling so I mixed in some ground-up jalapenos….
  • Don’t worry honey. ?Even though I burned the turkey we have something just as good – Boca Burgers!
  • Hey Dad, this is great! ?Can we go out to a restaurant with Uncle Eddie and all our cousins every Thanksgiving?

Any more you’d add? ?Have a great day!

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