Living By Faith

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” ~Hebrews 11:1

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the life — and world — changing message that, though we are more sinful and flawed than we had ever dared imagine, we can be more loved and accepted than we had ever dared hope, because Jesus Christ, in our place and on our behalf, lived the life we should have lived, and died the death we should have died, to save us. (1 Cor 15:1-4)

And the way we obtain this salvation is not by striving, nor by trying ever harder, nor by religious exercises, nor by repeating formulas, nor by anything we do at all, but simply by turning to Jesus and setting our trust in him as Lord and Savior. (Jhn 3:16)

It is by faith alone that we are united to Christ and rest secure in the salvation he has won for us.

But! Our faith is not a thing exercised once, “the hour we first believed,” then placed in storage with mothballs, as ideas subscribed to but not brought to bear. To the contrary, our faith is living and active. The Bible defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1)

Faith, therefore, is the stuff of assurance and conviction concerning the ultimate reality and priority of God’s promises. Faith is a living trust and whole-hearted reliance upon God for our very hope and life.

As followers of Jesus, we do not merely believe in God, we believe God. And in believing him, we are called to put our faith to work, to trust in his goodness, justice, and power to bear in the real life decisions we make through the course of every given day — that we will forgive and not seek vengeance, that we will love and not cultivate bitterness, that we will follow the pattern of our Master, who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

St. Francis advised Christians to “preach the gospel always; and when necessary, use words.” Having been saved by grace, let us now live lives of gratitude and graciousness. Having been forgiven, let us forgive. Having been loved, let us love. And let us do all of this in the assurance and conviction that God’s promises are sure in Christ; that is, let us live by faith, believing God day by day, every day, all the way to glory.

– Jules Grisham

Coming Back To God

“The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel” – 1 Kings 11:9

“I have this against you; you have left your first love.” – Revelation 2:4

Backsliding is when a person who follows Christ turns away from Him. To the backslider, God is no longer the main focus of his life. Without God’s leading, the person “backslides” into his old way of life.

What Causes Us To Backslide?

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

“If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12

Pride is found at the root of backsliding. Pride tells us we don’t need God to lead us. There are two forms pride takes when it comes to backsliding: Trying to justify oneself to God and taking part in sin.

Pride Leads To Backsliding

“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” – Galatians 5:4

“Justified” means to be made acceptable to God. In the verse above, Paul tells us that trying to justify oneself through the law (or through good deeds) can lead to backsliding.

How can doing a good deed cause backsliding? Let’s say someone helps an elderly woman across the street. The Christian who is walking with God will say, “Jesus has been kind to me so I want to be kind to others,” where the Christian who is backsliding will say, “I am acceptable to God because I helped this woman across the street.”

Pride makes the backslider think that he can impress God, when in fact he’s moving away from Him because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Sin Leads To Backsliding

“You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” – Galatians 5:13

Here again we see pride, but in this form pride makes the backslider say, “I can lead myself. I don’t need God to tell me what to do.”

Or, in another case, a person may face doubt or hard times, and instead of turning to the Lord who is our “strength and our shield” (Psalm 28:7), will instead turn away from Him.

Less and less time is spent looking for God’s direction, and the backslider will stop praying and reading the Bible.

Without God’s direction the backslider will lead himself. This results in a sinful life away from God because, as Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

What Happens When We Backslide?

“Justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind, we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead.” – Isaiah 59:9-10

When we backslide we no longer seek the Lords’ leading and we lack direction. We no longer fellowship with Him and so our hearts are empty because we were created to have a relationship with God.

As terrible as it is to have never have known the love of Jesus Christ, how much worse is it to have experienced His love then turn away? Once you’ve followed Jesus nothing else can ever truly satisfy you.

That’s why backsliding is such a terrible thing. The backslider tries to replace God’s prefect love with something imperfect. But the Lord stretches out His hand and offers to forgive and restore the backslider

Coming Back To God

We turn back to the Lord:

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7

“I will frown on you on longer, for I am merciful, declares the Lord, I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt – you have rebelled against the Lord your God” – Jeremiah 3:12

And we pray:

“Our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities.” – Isaiah 59:12

We are forgiven:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

Then we are restored:

“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them.” – Hosea 14:4

“Peace, peace, to those far and near, says the Lord.” – Isaiah 57:19

Finding Rest In Jesus

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Those of us who are saved find rest in Jesus. Those who are not saved will receive rest if they come to Him, for He promises to give it. Let us gladly accept what He gladly gives.

You’re not to buy it, nor borrow it, but to receive it as a gift. You labor under the weight of ambition, covetousness, lust, or anxiety – Jesus will set you free from this iron bondage and give you rest.

You’re burdened with sin, fear, worry, remorse, fear of death – but if you come to Him He will unload you. He carried the crushing mass of our sin so that we no longer have to carry it.

Jesus gives rest. Will you believe it? Will you put it to the test? Will you do so at once? Come to Jesus by quitting every other hope, by thinking of Him, believing God’s testimony about Him, and trusting everything with Him.

If you come to Him the rest He gives you will be deep, safe, holy, and everlasting. He gives a rest which develops into heaven, and He gives it this day to all who come to Him.

– Charles Spurgeon

Living Our Faith

“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:6

We’ve learned how to live the Christian life when we’ve learned to live our faith, and enjoy its help and comfort, in our daily life.

It’s easy to join devotionals, to quote Bible verses, to praise the beauty of the Scriptures…but all of us must go out from church on Sunday into a week of very real and very common life. We must mingle with people who are not angels. We must pass through experiences that will worry and upset us.

Many people around us, either on purpose or by accident, annoy and try us. We’ll meet many troubles and worries during the week — there are continual irritations and annoyances.

The key is to live a beautiful Christian life in the face of all these trials and temptations. But how can we get through the obstacles which block our path? How can we live sweetly amid the vexing and irritating things, and the multitude of little worries and frets which infest our way, and which we cannot avoid?

HOW WE SHOULD LIVE

Life should be a joy and not a burden. We should live victoriously, ever master of our experiences, and not tossed by them like a leaf on the dashing waves. Every earnest Christian wants to live a truly beautiful life, whatever the circumstances may be.

Someone, when asked “what does it mean to be a Christian?” replied, “To be a Christian means to live as Jesus would live, and behave as Jesus would behave.”

No better definition of the Christian life could be given. Each one of us is to live just as Jesus would if He were living out our little life, mingling with the same people with whom we must mingle, and exposed to the very annoyances, trials and temptations to which we are exposed. We want to live a life that will please God, and will bear witness to the genuineness of our faith and love for Him.

SCRIPTURE ON LIVING A CHRISTIAN LIFE

– Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. (Phil 4:7-8)

– Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:15-18)

– The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Gal 5:2-26)

– Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:15-17)

J. R. Miller

Be Kind To Everyone

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

There’s nothing that this sorrowing, sinning world needs more than kindness. Yet, there are many Christians who seem to never learn how to be kind.

We need to pray for the grace of kindness, so that we may walk softly among people, never hurting another life by harsh words or ungentle acts.

When we’re kind, we have something of the beauty of Christ in our life. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, the light of divine love will shine out from our dull nature, and transform it.

“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col 3:12)

This will make us more sweet-tempered and gentle-spirited. It will make us honest in our dealings with our fellow men. It will make us godly people to live with at home. It will make us good neighbors and faithful friends. A life lived this way will leave countless blessings in this world.

Such a life of quiet, simple, humble, Christlike goodness will influence other lives, making them better, happier, holier, sweeter. A ministry of simple kindness is within the reach of every Christian. It requires no brilliant gifts, and no great wealth. It is a ministry which anyone may fulfill.

“The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Pet 3:4)

In these days of worldliness, the church needs just such simple goodness. It has eloquence in its pulpits, and activity in its pews, but it needs more godly people filled with the gentleness of Christ, repeating the life of Christ wherever they go.

– J. R. Miller

3 Keys To Christian Living

1) Keep your eyes fixed on eternal things

“We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Cor 4:18

A Christian should keep his eye on his journey’s end, just as our Lord Jesus, while enduring the cross, kept focus on the joy that was before Him (Heb 12:2). And again when the stones flew towards Stephen, his eyes were lifted up to heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7:55-56).

Though you may lie at the rich man’s gates, soon you will escorted into Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:19-31). Though Israel had a rough journey through the wilderness, Caleb and Joshua, men of excellent spirits, had their eye upon the good land they were going to (Num 14).

In the same way, set your heart on the hope to which Christ has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (Eph 1:18-19).

2) Be content

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. ” – Phil 4:11-13

Though you may suffer now, your suffering will not last forever. Your sorrows shall be short, and your joys long. Remember that Christ first endured the cross before he wore the crown. And David, before he was a king, was a shepherd. Remember that Lazarus, before he was carried into heaven, had experienced sorrow and sufferings on earth.

When Jeremiah would ask the Lord why wicked prosper, he was sure to say that the Lord’s judgments were righteous. And his point wasn’t to charge God with being unfair, it was to learn understanding of him in the way of his judgments (Jer 12).

Even if the godly have many waves of trials crashing upon them, the Lord will command his love towards them (Psa 42:7-8). And, after a little while, they shall arrive at the heavenly haven. This world is not the Christian’s resting-place, their rest is still to come (Heb 4:9).

3) Let faith and hope in Christ lift you above your suffering

“We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations…” – Rom 5:2-3

Find peace in the fact that through Christ, whatever your present troubles are — whether outward afflictions, or inward temptations — they will soon be over. Then your sighs and groans shall be turned into songs of praise.

Four Types of Christians

As we read through the New Testament we find at least four types of Christians.

1) The Dead Christian

“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” – Revelation 3:1

The first type of Christian we find is one who is a Christian in name only. The Dead Christian may go to church, and may even claim to follow Christ, but hasn’t truly come to Him for forgiveness.

Jesus addressed the Dead Christian in Revelation 3:2-3 when He told them, “I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.”

What is the work of God He found to be incomplete? John 6:29 tells us that “the work of God is that you believe in him whom he has sent.” And what is it we’re to believe? We find the answer to that in 1 John 5:11-13, “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Once a person believes in, and calls on Christ to forgive them, they are forgiven and are “made alive” in Him (1 Cor 15:22).

2) The Bound Christian

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature… serve one another in love.” – Galatians 5:13a

The next type of Christian we want to look at is the Bound Christian. This is a Christian who is alive in Christ, but is bound by sin, and this hinders his relationship with the Lord.

Romans 6:16 warns that “when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness.”

And Galatians 5:17 tells us of a battle that wages between the Spirit and the flesh. “The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

We follow the Spirit when we “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires” and produce the fruit of the Spirit which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-24)

We’ll stumble in our walk, but when we do, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

We don’t have to be slaves to sin. We can be slaves to righteousness if we follow the Lord’s ways. Romans 6:17-18 gives “thanks to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”
 

3) The Loner Christian

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:22-25

The third type of Christian is the Loner Christian. The Loner Christian is alive in Christ and enjoys fellowship with God. His life is full of blessings but the Loner Christian is keeping his blessings to himself.

Jesus said He came so that we “may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Christianity is a faith that should be lived through both our words and our actions.

Jesus told Peter in John 21:17 that if he loved Him he would care for His followers. We’re all blessed with some sort of gift. Some are good at encouraging, some are able to teach, some love to pray, others have the gift of compassion. There are many different types of gifts but what they all have in common is the gifts God gives us are designed to serve others. This stands in sharp contrast to the world which put its emphasis on serving yourself.

4) The Complete Christian

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

The final type of Christian we want to talk about is the Complete Christian. We call him complete because he alive in Christ, has a strong relationship with God and is a blessing to everyone around him.

We are encouraged in Matthew 5:16 to “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

We should live our lives in a way that when people see us, they see Jesus, and God is glorified. When we came to Christ we took all the blessings that go along with it. Forgiveness from sin, freedom from sin, fellowship with God and the honor of representing the living God to the dying world.

The Strength To Carry On

There is a truth about Christian living which, if people knew it, would make all of life easier for them. The truth is this: Whatever trial or task comes our way in life, we will receive the strength we need to face it. There are several promises that give this assurance.

One reads, “your strength will equal your days.” (Deut 33:25) This seems to mean that the help which God gives, varies according to the tasks and trials of the particular day. God fits His blessing to our days.

When we are weak, He increases strength. (Isa 40:29)
When we are sorrowful, He gives comfort. (2 Cor 1:3-6)
When we are in danger, He grants protection. (Ps 32:7)
When we are weary, He gives rest. (Mtt 11:28)

Another of Christ’s promises reads, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (Cor 12:9) Every word of this assurance shines with brilliant light.
“My grace is sufficient for you.”

It is Christ’s grace that is sufficient. We know that He has all Divine fullness, and so we are sure that no human need can ever exhaust His power to give help!

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

It is Christ’s grace that is sufficient. If it were anything else but grace, it might not give us such comfort. Grace is undeserved favor, goodness shown to the unworthy. We deserve nothing because we are sinners, but it is Christ’s grace which is sufficient, and so we can claim it.

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

His grace “IS” sufficient. Christ is always speaking personally to the one who is in any need, and saying, “My grace IS sufficient for you.”

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

The word “sufficient” is one whose meaning expands and amplifies with the measure of the need. No need is so small that it can’t be included; and none is so great that it can go beyond the capacity of the blessing that is promised.

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

The grace is sufficient for each of His redeemed children. “For you” the promise is made.

Life lies before us, with its burdens, its duties, its responsibilities, its struggles, its perplexities. It does not come to us all at once. God breaks our years into months and weeks and days, and never gives us more than we can bear or do for the day.

If we take up the present duty or burden we shall always have strength to do it. If we do not have strength of our own, we don’t need to falter because even if the task is impossible to our ability He will sustain us by giving us all the help we need.

– J.R. Miller

God Works Good In All Things

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

It is one of the wonders of divine love, that God will take even our blemishes and sins, when we truly repent of them and give them to Him, and make them blessings to us in some way.

Someone once showed an expensive handkerchief to an artist. The hankerchief had a blot of ink on it.

“Nothing can be done with that!” the person said, thinking that the handkerchief was now ruined and worthless. The artist took it with him and after a time sent it back to his friend. In a most skillful and artistic way he had made a fine design on the handkerchief, using the blot as its foundation. Instead of being ruined, the handkerchief was made far more beautiful and valuable.

In the same way, God takes the flaws and blots and stains of our lives, the disfiguring blemishes, and by His marvelous grace changes them into strength and beauty of character! God gives us beauty for ashes. (Isa 61:3)

David’s terrible sin was not only forgiven, it was made a transforming power in his life.

Peter’s sad fall became a step upward through his Lord’s forgiveness and gentle dealing. Peter never would have become the man he became if he had not denied his Lord, and then repented and been restored.

Paul tells us that we become more than conquerors in all life’s trials, dangers, struggles, temptations, and sorrows only “through Him who loved us.” (Rom 8:37)

Without Christ we are defeated. There is only one power that can turn evil into good, pain into blessing — the love of Christ. There is only one Hand which can take the blotted life and transform it into beauty.

– J. R. Miller

7 Things That Change When We Follow Christ

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

When a person comes to faith in Christ there will be some evidence of this faith in their lives. You won’t see perfection in a Christian, but what you will see is something different in that person. You will see some evidence that a person has a relationship with Christ.

Now it’s very important to we understand that we aren’t talking about being saved by works. You aren’t a Christian because you don’t curse or smoke or cut people off in traffic or because you go to church or give money to charity.

Everyone sins and falls short of God’s glory, but through Christ we are forgiven of those sins. A Christian is someone who calls on Christ to save them from their sins. (Rom 3:23-26)

You’ll see these differences more clearly in some Christians than in others – we’re all a work in progress and we all grow in Christ at different rates. But eventually the person who is following Christ will:

1) Love Christ

We love Him because He first loved us. (1 Jhn 4:19)

2) Hate Sin

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Rom 12:9)

3) Pray

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)

4) Read and Apply the Teachings of the Bible

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (Jam 1:22)

5) Turn from the Works of the Flesh

The works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like. (Gal 5:19-21)

6) Produce the Fruits of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23)

7) Live by Faith

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal 2:20)