Word of Assurance #3

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

   Suppose a young bride, just returned from eloping, was told by her new husband, “Honey, I love you, but I don’t want anyone to know about us. So, I might act like I don’t know you when we’re out in public. Once a week I’ll take you out on a date for about an hour, but our real relationship will be a secret just between you and me. Oh, and honey, I still want you to cook and clean.” Not much of a marriage, right? A man who is ashamed to be seen in public with the woman to whom he committed his life — that’s a big problem. You might question his love for her.

    So it is with our relationship with Jesus. We want all the benefits of a blessed life, but would just as soon keep the whole thing on the down-low. After all, we don’t want anyone to think we’ve become one of those crazy religious fanatics. We fear that going public with our faith will bring changes we aren’t willing to accept. While it’s true that faith in Christ is a very personal thing, it is not meant to be a private thing.

    We can look to God’s Word for assurance of our salvation, but we can also assure ourselves by using our own words to say out loud to another person, “I need to tell you something. Jesus is my Lord. I’m choosing to live for Him.” A verbal confession of our faith in Christ is an important response to our gift of salvation.

  Lord, there have been times when I’ve shied away from conversations with other people about You. Forgive me. Sometimes I just don’t know what to say. I don’t want to hide the fact that I love you and have accepted You into my life.

 

Word of Assurance #2

I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can 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. John 10:28-29

  The summer I was five years old, our family took a trip out west. The only thing I remember was the Cherry Peak Chairlift, a scenic ride through the mountains on a ski lift.  My father was given firm instructions to hold on to me tightly. I’m sure my mother had visions of her little girl slipping under the bar and tumbling down into the deep ravine. I was scared and gripped the bar. My dad gripped me. He held me snug right against him the whole time. I was safe in his hands.

    Once we put ourselves in our heavenly Father’s hands, we are secure. There is no power or force that can loosen the hold God has on us. The Apostle Paul said it like 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 (Cherry Peak!) nor depth, not 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)

   The English translation of John 10:28 loses some of its punch when compared with the original language. In the Greek, there is a quadruple negative in that statement. Jesus actually said, “I give them eternal life and they shall never, no never, not ever perish.” That’s a promise that should give us great assurance.

   The ride through life can be scary at times. Knowing with confidence that we are secure for eternity may help us relax enough to enjoy the scenery.

  Lord, thank You for holding on to me and promising that You will never, no never, not ever, let me go. Help me to rest in Your hands and take in the beauty around me.

Word of Assurance #1

Today we enter into the second week of Lent
and we consider Jesus’ second statement from the cross.

Week 2
Word of Assurance: 

Jesus answered him,
“I tell you the truth,
today
you will be
with me
in paradise.”
Luke 23:43

Assurance: a positive declaration intended to give confidence

 

And this is the testimony: God has given 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 so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13

   The Apostle John understood that we might have days when doubts creep in and niggle at our minds. “Am I really saved?” “What if I missed a step?” “How do I know it’s all true?”

   So John presented his testimony, as under oath in a court of law. He broke it down into four parts.

  1. God gave us eternal life.
  2. Eternal life comes through Jesus, God’s Son.
  3. If you have Jesus, you have eternal life.
  4. If you don’t have Jesus, you don’t have eternal life.

     Any questions?

  John’s letter addressed the problem we often wrestle with: we believe in Jesus, but we wonder if we’ve done enough, prayed enough, been good enough. Is it possible to know for sure that we are going to spend eternity in heaven? John says, “yes”. We can know, that we know, that we know.

  Salvation isn’t based on how many Bible studies we attend, if we discover and use our spiritual gifts, or even if we are immersed in baptism. Salvation isn’t about what we bring to the table. It’s about what Jesus accomplished on our behalf. The only question is: Do you have Jesus?

 Do you believe Jesus died in your place to pay for your sins?
 Do you believe He conquered death and rose from the grave?
 Have you surrendered control of your life to Him?
 Are you living for Him and His glory?

If you can say “yes” to these questions, then you can say along with hymn writer Fanny Crosby, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.”

 

Lord, thank You for these words of assurance. I’m grateful salvation isn’t complicated or confusing, but straightforward and certain. I believe, but help me in my moments of unbelief.   

blessed

Word of Forgiveness #6

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my many transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2

  There’s a difference between being sorry, and being sorry you got caught. King David got caught. He was confronted by his friend Nathan, who revealed the truth about David’s secret affair with Bathsheba. It was painful, but it opened the way for forgiveness and healing.

  David wrote down his prayer and the insightful words in Psalm 51 have much to teach us about repentance. First, David called out for God’s mercy and appealed to His Father’s unfailing love and great compassion. Second, he admitted that he was well aware that what he did was wrong, even though he tried to cover it up. Third, he recognized that his sin not only affected the lives of others, but also hurt the heart of His God, who saw it all.

  It’s always easier to pinpoint the sins in other people’s lives than to take a truthful look into our own hearts. David wrote, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:6) It takes real bravery to be honest about our “inmost places”.  As Curtis Zackery wrote in his book, “Soul Rest”, “When we are honest with ourselves about the tensions that exist in our hearts, we can begin to take steps toward finding restoration and healing.”

  If you can, set aside some time today and invite the merciful and compassionate God into the inner parts of your heart as you read Psalm 51. Pray along with David, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.”

 Thank you, Lord, for leading me to be honest about myself. I know I cannot fake it with You. Help me to pull off the masks and other things I hide behind. I want to be all You created me to be.

Word of Forgiveness #5

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19

 Back when I was a teenager and my fresh faith set me on fire for the Lord, I wanted to share Jesus with everyone I possibly could. This led to some innocent but questionable witnessing tactics. For instance, when I would visit a public restroom I would take a Sharpie marker out of my purse and add to the graffiti in the stall. Right above the roll of toilet paper, I would solemnly write, “Let Jesus wipe away your sins.”

 This method of evangelism was shady, at best. First, writing on public property was vandalism. Second, it was borderline offensive. Third, I doubt if there was any real soul searching as a result of my appeal.

 Peter’s appeal in Acts 3, however, was extremely effective. Peter ended up in jail for preaching in Jesus’ name, but over a thousand Jewish people came to believe that Jesus was indeed the Christ. People responded to Peter’s call to repent and turn to God.

 Repentance is defined as “a change of mind that results in a change of action”. Primarily, it is a change of mind about sin—no longer is sin something to toy with; it is something to be forsaken. It is also a change of mind about Jesus Christ—no longer is He to be mocked, discounted, or ignored; He is the Savior to be clung to, worshiped and adored.

 What good news it is that our sins can be wiped out! Like marker on a whiteboard — one swipe and the marks are erased! How refreshing!

Lord, I turn to You today. Wipe away my sins and send much needed refreshment to my spirit. Change the way I think about sin. Open my mind to understand Your truth.  

Word of Forgiveness #4

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

  In a survey taken a few years ago, the hardest English word to pronounce correctly was determined to be “Worcestershire”, as in Worcestershire sauce. I couldn’t agree more. I routinely get ridiculed for turning the word into a four syllable utterance: “war-ches-ter-shire”. Evidently, the correct pronunciation is “wuss-ter-sheer”. In a language full of challenging words (myrrh, anemone, otorhinolaryngologist) this one is definitely not easy to pronounce, but it is not the hardest of words to say.

 I was wrong. I am sorry.

 Now, those are some truly difficult words.

  Confession is important because it acknowledges the reality of our sin and our need for help in dealing with it. Admitting we are wrong is hard on our pride and requires humility. It means owning up to the fact that we make mistakes, do careless things and have a bent toward rebellion against God’s law. Confession is agreeing with God over what sin is and then recognizing it in ourselves.

   Our God stands ready to forgive, if we would just say those hard words. Our confession does not initiate a long lecture from our Father, nor any heavenly “tsk-tsking”. God rushes to grant mercy when He hears our sincere expression of regret or sorrow. He forgives and cleanses us from all of our junk, giving our hearts a fresh start.

  Dear God, it’s time I confess some things to You. I long for freedom from these sins. I am quick to recognize the shortcomings of others, and slow to see my own faults. Come, clean me up and create in me a clean heart.

Word of Forgiveness #3

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, “I repent,” forgive him. Luke 17:3-4

 Suppose someone you work with says something unkind to you as you walk into your office at 8:00 a.m. In a few minutes, that person knocks on your door and apologizes for being rude and you forgive. Suppose that same person makes a cutting remark at 10:00 a.m. and then again over lunch at noon. Both times, the person seems truly sorry and you say, “It’s ok. Forget it.” Then at 2:00 p.m. it happens again. As you leave the office at 4:00, there is another insulting comment. Again, it seems there is genuine regret and you let it go. By the time you go to bed, there have been two hurtful texts, followed by two requests for pardon. How long do you put up with that? Seven times? In one day?

 A close look at this passage reveals some conditions. First, this scenario takes place between two believers. Second, we are given permission to rebuke (to warn or correct) only if the brother is doing something sinful, not for an irritation or unintentional offense. Third, we are commanded to forgive only if he repents. But if he does repent, we must forgive — over and over and over.

 Why does Jesus ask us to be generous in forgiveness? Because He has put no limit on the forgiveness we so desperately need from Him. Every single time we turn to God in true repentance, we can count on His forgiveness — even if we turn to Him every two hours, all day long.

Lord, would You please put it in my heart to be a generous forgiver? Thank You for not treating me as my sins deserve, but instead, always being compassionate and gracious and abounding in love.