Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14


WWW As My World Turns

Thursday, February 09, 2012

How can I KNOW?

One of my dear friends is struggling hard right now with the issue of Salvation. He's been a Christian for years, but lately he is struggling with the thought of the fact that he brings nothing to his own Salvation, that God ALONE is the One who brings us to Him. He questions "if I am saved, why did I do that"? "Why did I act that way"? "I thought by now, "I would have changed more"? How do I know for sure "The Holy Spirit lives in me"? I told my prayer partner last week as we wrestled through this question "If I am not saved, I can't be saved". I have begged The Lord to save me a thousand times. My wise prayer partner told me it would be like asking my wife to marry me a thousand times.

I, in my limited human understanding, tried to answer his questions as much as possible and I thought that this might be helpful to others out there struggling with the same thoughts...

Oh, my lovely friend. I've wrestled with the same question from time to time, but after how God has so thoroughly provided for me, time and again, and proven Himself faithful to me, insignificant, mere mortal, completely daily sinner ME, I have no more doubts b/c He always looks after His own and provides for whose who are His, in Him.

I, like Jack, and everyone else here is a sinner. I freely admit to smoking from time to time, to drinking a little too much sometimes, to having the absolute WORST mouth when it comes to traffic...unless my kids are in the truck with me, to conforming a little too much to the world much more often than I should (which is to be never) and not spending enough time in the Word, among many, many other things. But do I love God with all my heart? Does He work on me daily? Does the thought of being without Him in my life bring me to tears and despair? Yes, yes, yes.

Satan likes to make us question our salvation. Does it mean we're not saved? As Paul said, "God forbid!" But Satan is the master of mind games. Satan has no control except the power of deceit. He seeks to lead us away from God; he tempts us to lose our focus. Like the experience of Peter, walking on the water in front of our Lord, Satan seeks to have us sink into our own raging sea of doubt and fear (Matthew 14:30-31). Satan is at work in our minds and hearts as we contemplate this. He is saying to us that not only is the Christian commitment difficult, it is unattainable. Satan's attack upon us as Christians is to try and deceive us into giving up the Christian struggle. And, it is a struggle, sometimes more than others, as we seek to not conform to this world that surrounds us 24/7. As Christians we are encouraged to believe that the improbable walk up the steep path of our Christian journey is not by our own power, but by the presence and power of God (Matthew 19:26). Satan deceives by telling us that we must rely upon ourselves, and therefore Christianity is futile.

Satan plays out his deception according to the faith and life of those that he is tempting. For those who are close to God, Satan must work hard to deceive – for these he will even attempt to copy the very power and glory of God himself (Angel of "Light" anyone?) – but sometimes it is as easy as planting seeds to doubt their salvation. Especially when there are already struggles going on in their lives.

The greatest deceit, the great victory of Satan is not that he is leading a willing world to destruction, it is that he is, sadly, often able to deceive and lead astray the Christian person who is struggling to be transformed more and more into the image of Christ (Rom 12:2). Satan deceives the Christian by convincing him to take his attention off Christ. To become doubting of the power and promises of God.

How do we resist this deceit? What is the response of the Christian person to the tricks and deceit and charms of the Devil? The answer for the Christian is to continually seek God and His Kingdom; to fight the deceits of the Devil, despite the pain and suffering he can cause, with a faith founded upon the All-powerful and All-loving God.

Satan can only deceive, he CANNOT pluck us out of the hand of God, he CANNOT send us unwillingly from the kingdom of God. If God no longer becomes the focus of our vision and life, it is not He who has moved, it is that we have taken our gaze from him. God doesn't move, He doesn't change. He is the same tomorrow as He is today and was yesterday. We are the ones who move closer or further from Him.

One of my very most favorite verses is this: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39.

Did you read that? Truly read each and every word? It is in the Word of God, the infallible, inerrant Word of our Creator, therefore it is true. God cannot lie. Nothing...NOTHING can separate us from His love...once we are His, WE ARE HIS. We can question and doubt all we want. We have times in our lives where we go through the valley, such as what you are going through, my dear Sarge, but God allows us to go through those valleys so that we know we have free will to choose, to question, to try and work things out in our minds. He allows us to go through them so that when we realize that God has saved us because He called US to Him; because He LOVES us with a love that is eternal, He CHOSE US from the beginning of time and there is nothing we can do to remove ourselves from His hand, from His love, from His grace or mercy; then we will fully GET IT. God allows us to go through these valleys so that we can better appreciate the view from the peaks once we stop trying to work out our salvation in our own mind and accept that it just IS...with absolutely no help from us.

One of my tattoos, yes, I have tats, has a beautiful cross with wings and a banner above and around the cross and up top it says one of the five solas...Solus Christus...meaning Christ Alone. In Christ ALONE I am saved. Christ ALONE. The rest of the banner says "Grace", "Forgiveness", and "Mercy" with "Love" being at the bottom of the Cross. These are all attributes of God that I cling to on a daily basis, attributes without which I would be totally lost.

I love that I KNOW that my God is BIGGER than any problems that I'm facing. Trust, placing absolute and completely trust in Him has, admittedly, been hard for my human nature to do. But God has been gracious and merciful with my stubbornness and pride and has led me, sometimes gently, sometimes with a THUMP upside my head, to that place where, no matter what happens to me, I KNOW I am His. I KNOW He is in control of it all. I KNOW that all outcomes have His approval, even though I don't understand at the time – I know I will understand in God's time. But it was not always so and that struggle happens for most of us at different times. How I envy those who have always had that complete and utter faith and trust in the Lord and have never questioned. But I also know that in my struggles in my own mind, life and heart, I have reached a level of complete understanding that they possibly might never know.

I pray that you find that understanding very soon...and as Christine so succinctly put it...GET THE DEVIL OUT OF YOUR HEAD! He doesn't belong there, but he's trying to weasel his way in. Call out to Jesus...resist the devil and he will flee from you.

My love and prayers go out for you, my friend. I'm including the lyrics to two of my very favorite Christian contemporary songs. It's appropriately titled, "Cry Out to Jesus" by Third Day (my favorite line is "He'll meet you wherever you are") and "Untitled Hymn" by Chris Rice...this one I always cry on, I can't even read the lyrics without tearing up.

Cry Out To Jesus

To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith in love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering

When you're lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

Untitled Hymn

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall...so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!

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