Successful living for Jesus related to integrity and character; not at all the same meaning today when people think of position, title, income and how much stuff you've accumulated to determine whether a person is successful or not. In the end all of that is gone and if it was attained without integrity and character, there won't be much that won't burn up with the wood, hay and stubble.
|© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Son Worshipping Anole|
God loves us. Our salvation is entirely from God. There is no reason within us at all why He should save us, apart from His love for us. And if this is true of our salvation it is true of all that follows. If our source of life is in God, then nothing starts from us.
Even Jesus said that He did nothing of Himself, but only as God flowed through Him. He spoke what the Father told Him to say and was led by what the Father told Him to do. John 5:30 says, "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." Do we live to please Him or do we desire only to please ourselves?
Jesus gave us the illustration of the vine and the branch, in that, the branch can do nothing of itself. It is attached to the vine for it's very life. If you cut a branch off of a vine, it dies. So too do we. It may be a slow living death of stress and fear and anger that there is no possible way to control in our own strength. These emotions create diseases and we can literally die from them in many different ways. Research is now showing that 75 to 90 percent of visits to physicians are stress related. The cost to U.S. industry of stress-related illness is over $200 billion a year. We cannot live outside of Christ and succeed.
Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldees, a place known for idolatry, and Abraham and his family were idolators. Yet, God calls this man to come out of his established order in the world with it's culture and pride of attainment, to fulfill the purpose of God. How many would respond to that call? America may not be bowing down to a stone image of an animal or otherwise, but we can "bow down" to money and let it rule our lives and choices. There aren't many areas of our lives where money doesn't have it's place in it.
|© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Violets in Mountains of SC|
I've heard it preached that we never fail God's tests, we just get to take them again and again until we pass. Although we see trials as bad circumstances, God sees the entire picture and knows exactly what to allow into our lives to form the divine destiny and purpose that He created us for. The devil will dump all kinds of problems in when you choose to walk with Jesus. I didn't say when you choose salvation. The choice to "accept Jesus" to stay out of Hell is often the process that occurs at many altars, but Jesus says we will be part of the Kingdom if we love Him and obey His commands. Jesus spoke more about the Kingdom than any other subject because He wanted us to know what it takes to live and reign with Him there.
Many are deceived as I was in the "once saved, always saved" mentality of the modern church. The Scripture to justify this is in John 10:27-29, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand."
Of course, the entire passage is not quoted, but only the part about not being snatched out. That's how the Evil One deceives us with the Word of God. In his temptations to Jesus in the wilderness, he used Scripture to tempt Jesus, but Jesus knew the Truth. In the John 10 verses, Jesus didn't mean we cannot fall away. We have freewill. We can always choose to stop following Jesus. The verse says "my sheep listen to my voice." We can't get into many of the sins that are common in our churches today and say we're listening to Jesus. You can't watch most of the television programs and imagine Jesus sitting beside you.
There came a point in time for myself and my husband when we chose not to watch TV shows. Actually we did that many years back as a religious decision based on law. That lasted a few years and then we watched only "clean" shows, but what can be considered clean? When you place Philippians 4:8 against them:
" ... 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."
|© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Waterfall at Table Rock State Park, SC|
There is no excellence in reality shows that show the lives of people who Jesus surely doesn't emulate. So does the TV numb, mold and shape us from a continual viewing of these things? With every decision we make we need to see if our choices line up with the Word of God. If they do not, then we are not following Jesus when we decide to go our own way.
This is not religion ... this is all about relationship. If your spouse wandered off from you every time they saw somebody else that appealed to them, you wouldn't think you had much of a relationship with them. We want spouses to be true, honest, faithful and looking to do good to us. You are a temple of the Holy Spirit if you were born again, so what you view and do affects your spirit also.
God is merciful and ever loving. He wants us to choose His way, but He gave free will so that we would choose to follow Him. He didn't want robots. The world has universal laws, like gravity, rainfall, sunrises and sunsets. God is holy and He requires us to be holy (I Peter 5:15-16). He will always forgive if we repent and turn from our wrong choices. It's so much easier to take a doctrine that says that everything is okay and I can deal with my sins at the end of my life. Like the foolish virgins who didn't have what they needed to enter Heaven's banquet when the Bridegroom came (Matthew 25).
If we continue to follow Jesus in faith, with an unwavering desire to do what is right, then nobody can not force us to abandon Jesus and no longer have the promise of salvation. But, that doesn't mean that we can't willfully choose to be "snatched away" by bowing to the desires of our own flesh, desires and emotions, It's become an instant-mentality world and people are waiting till the last minute believing they can arrive on time rather than planning ahead.
We went to choose new carpet and the person who was to come and measure for it scheduled an appointment with us for a specific day and time. When that day came, DLS was down in the area, so she couldn't look up directions as she left the house. She believed she'd have time to get the directions later ... as the foolish virgins thought with the oil they needed. Fortunately for us and her, we didn't have just a moment in time to allow her to enter in, so she could give us a call and get directions and arrive late.
Consider The Word. I know this topic is a bit of a shock as it was for my husband and I when we studied the Scriptures. We were both indoctrinated in the Baptist church in our early Christian walk, so this was instilled into our minds.
When you begin to study the Bible daily and seek Jesus' words and directions for life, you will see many times He speaks about what is required to be with Him for eternity. Please read the gospels again and again. You will gain more depth each time you go through them. That's a promise!
Changed Into His Likeness by Watchman Nee
I am reading this a second time. It is so good and so life-changing if you want to be a disciple of Christ.
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