FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Ancestry

Though in its sixth season, I’ve only recently noticed advertisements for the American genealogy documentary series, Who Do You Think You Are?  The show premiered in 2010 and follows a celebrity as he or she traces his or her family tree to understand where he or she came from.  While dropped by NBC after three seasons, the show was picked up by TLC and has become quite popular – so much so that there is even an accompanying book bearing the same title.  The book honors the exploding craze of tracing one’s ancestry and is designed to help viewers of the show research their own roots.

Genetics researcher, C.C. Moore, believes that within a few years we will see a type of universal family tree.  DNA analyses have become quite popular and can be used to confirm what previously was only suspected by some.  Writer, Maud Newton, suggests that we are all trying to “figure out who we are by looking at these people who are long dead,” and we are “trying to find out about ourselves.”   Indeed it must be fascinating to discover one’s connections to history.  Whether linked to medieval royalty like actress Valerie Bertinelli or to Oregon Trail pioneers like celebrity Kelsey Grammer, revelations about one’s roots surely have tremendous emotional impact.

Admittedly, I have my own interest in family history, especially it seems as I age and family members are dying.  I’ve thought of so many questions that I wish that I had asked my grandparents and great grandparents, and I wish that I knew more about who they were and where and how they and their parents lived.

On the Mount on Olives, Jesus told the crowd before Him that He knew where He came from but also where He was going (John 8:14).   While tracing ancestry and learning about where we came from is fun and exciting and can actually yield valuable information, we must not fail to give thought to where we are going.

It is not uncommon for us, as Christians, to experience doubt about our salvation.  When we consider Jesus then consider ourselves including our many weaknesses, shortcomings and failures, “our heart condemns us” (1 John 3:20)  God does not want us robbed of peace because of doubts.  He does not want us guessing whether we will spend eternal life with Him.  He wants us sure of our salvation.   He wants us confident in Him and in our relationship with Him and so He assures us in His Word.  John wrote, “These things I write unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life”  and “that our joy may be made full” (1 John 1:3-4, 5:13; Hebrews 4:16; Romans 8:1-3).

Assurance of salvation rests on four pillars, all found in Scripture:

1.  God cannot lie.  In His Word God promises to save all who believe upon His Son.  (Romans 10:13; Acts 2:21)

2.  On the cross Jesus bore all our sin, endured God’s wrath, paid the price and canceled our sin debt.  (John 19:28-30)

3.  Scripture says, “We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us.”  Assurance comes through the inward witness of God’s Holy Spirit, the Keeper and Helper that He sent us.  (1 John 4:12-13; 3:24)

4.  All who have been born again are changed and clear evidence is seen in the new life that is lived.   (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 2:3)

There are other signs beyond these Scriptures even.  True love for others.  Spiritual fruit.  Broken and contrite heart.  Righteous behavior.  When we are saved, our hearts and lives are changed.

We may be unsure and even wrong about our ancestry and where we came from, but we can know where we are going.  Assurance of salvation is a gift from God to each of His children; He wrote it in His Word that we may be absolutely sure! (John 20:31)

THIS WEEK ask yourself if you have the assurance of your salvation.  Do you KNOW where you are going?  If you do not have assurance, visit the SALVATION tab at the top of this page.  Pray to receive Christ as your personal Savior and to have the peace and assurance within that eternal life is yours.  Study the lessons of the following Scriptures:  Romans 10:13, 8:16; John 6:37, 19:30; Isaiah 1:18; 1John 3:24, 4:13, 2:3.  Welcome the assurance of His indwelling Holy Spirit.


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When God Says, “No!

When God says, “No,” just say, “Thank you!”

First, we know that God loves us (1 John 4:8 ESV).  He showed His love for us even when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8 ESV) by sending His only son, Jesus, to be a propitiation for our sins and to die on a cross that we might have eternal life (1 John 4:10; John 3:16 ESV).  His word tells us that absolutely nothing, no one and no experience can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39 ESV).

And precisely because He loves us, He sometimes answers ‘No’ to what we request in our prayers.  That’s what loving parents do.  They say, “No” to a diet of only soda and ice cream.  They say, “No” to hanging out all night.  They say, “No” to pornographic and vulgar television and violent video games.  They say, “No” to wrong friends and bad habits.  I feel certain that my parents were not the only ones reminding children that they had already had certain experiences, that they were older and wiser and that they knew best.  Matthew teaches us that if sinful parents know how to give good gifts to their children, then even more so the heavenly Father gives good gifts to His children (7:11 NLT).  Our all knowing and all wise God (2 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 3:20; Psalm 147:5 ESV) loves us and knows what is best for us — far more than we ever could. We also know that He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think or even, in our wildest dreams, imagine (Ephesians 3:20 NLT).

So – when God says, “No,” thank Him.  He saved you from less than His best!

Seriously!

Romans 8:32 (NLT) says, “Since he did not spare even His own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?”  What can even compare to the sacrifice of His Son?  The answer would be, “Nothing!

Sometimes when our earthly parents answered, “No,” we stamped our feet, pouted, rolled our eyes and had full blown hissy fits.  We begged, we pleaded, we made our case for why we ought to have what we asked for.  As adults, but especially as children of God, we should be sensitive to our Father’s answers and stop insisting on something that God has already refused to grant. God has not promised to answer every prayer with “Yes.” The Scriptures teach us that if we pray according to His will, He hears us and we can know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15 ESV). They may come in His timing rather than ours and they may not look like what we imagined, but He will answer.

And His answer will be His best for our best.

Thank you, God!

THIS WEEK thank God for loving you enough to answer, “No.”  Determine to not only be accepting of His answer but also grateful for His love which always answers best.