What Is a Backslider?

What Is a Backslider?

A backslider is someone who has reversed their direction in a given area.  In terms of Christian faith and life, it usually refers to a person who at one time had a vital, meaningful relationship with Jesus as their Savior but who has turned away from the values of following Christ and living a moral, upright life. 

But the Lord says, in the verses below, that He loves the backslider, that He is married to them, and that He will heal their condition by bringing them back to Himself.  Glory to God!

Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you.  (Jer 3:14a)

Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.  (Jer 3:22a)

I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely . . .  (Hos 14:4a)

This turning away from faith may happen if a person isn’t connected to a church or a body of believers with whom to fellowship.  It may also occur if someone becomes neglectful about Bible reading, prayer, and praise and worship.  These are all forms of communication with the Lord, and any relationship will wither and collapse without ongoing, regular communication. 

So we can’t allow our affections for the Lord to cool down by discarding the habits that uphold and sustain our faith in Jesus.  It’s always good to review our conduct occasionally to make sure that we’re making decisions that will positively impact our life of faith.  Our life habits should sustain and nurture our Christian faith, so guard them well.

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord . . . (Ac 3:19) Our sympathetic Savior is happy to restore and to revive our relationship with Him at all times.  And He says that times of refreshing will follow, times of rejuvenating the relationship with Him and pouring out grace upon you to inspire you in fresh ways.

Anyone who has backslidden from their faith in Christ has hope.  The Lord is loving, merciful, and kind.  He longs for us to return to Him and to reestablish our relationship with Him—the God who is love.  (1 Joh 4:8)  God bless you.

We Are Witnesses

We Are Witnesses

Those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord are now the Lord’s witnesses. 

A witness is a person who has observed something, perceived something, or experienced something; and who are willing and able to give an account of their experience.

Let’s look at a few Scriptures:

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.  (Ac 2:32)

. . . and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.  (Ac 3:15)

Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”  (Ac 5:31-32)

What would God like us to share with other people?  Of what should we testify (bear witness)? 

We should simply affirm our own, personal experience of what happened to us in accepting Jesus as our Savior.  We may also reveal how serving Jesus Christ and being in relationship with Him has changed our lives since we turned our hearts over to Him.

In my own life, once I accepted Christ as my Savior, many things became different.  I felt that I had been set free, and I felt an incredible joy.  I wanted to tell everyone about my experience because it was so simple and easy to receive Jesus; and it made such an impact upon my life.  I felt such love for people—which was a new experience—and I wanted everyone else to experience the joy that I had. 

I have now known the Lord as my Savior for more than four and a half decades, and I have experienced miracles, signs, and wonders in my own life.  I’ve also prayed for other people and seen the Lord perform miracles for others in answer to our prayers.  I’ve seen relatives reconciled; diseases healed; finances blessed; and marriages restored all in the Name of Jesus. 

You have your own special, highly valuable and unique testimony.  Your witness will reach people that no one else can reach.  Consider how and with whom you can share your incomparable story today.  God bless you!

Narrow is the Gate

Narrow is the Gate

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  (Mt 7:13-14)

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”  (Mt 22:14)

. . . strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”  (Act 14:22)

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  (Joh 15:18-20)

The term “narrow gate” conveys its meaning rather well.  A narrow gate allows the entry of fewer people at one time, than does a wide gate.  A narrow gate doesn’t allow a person who is heavily burdened with packages to get through very easily.

When Jesus said, “Narrow is the way which leads to life . . . “ He was pointing out that the Christian walk is not as easy as it may seem.  Jesus was warning people that following Him would lead to grief and to serious challenges of life. 

“Difficult” is from the Greek word thlibo, which means: “To press (as grapes), press hard upon; a compressed way; narrow straitened, contracted” way (New Testament Greek Lexicon, http://www.biblestudytools.com).

As Christians, we must continuously keep our eyes on the goal of spending eternity with our Savior, Jesus Christ.  In John 15:18-20, Jesus tells His followers that the world will hate them even as it hated Him.  And since Jesus was persecuted, we should expect the same treatment. 

These are tough realities and truths that Jesus was setting before everyone who chooses to follow Him.  However, no one will be able to say that they haven’t been told the entire truth about following Jesus. 

Jesus loves us and wants us to follow Him; and He pours out His love, mercy, and grace upon us to empower us to do just that.  We must remember to add our own willpower and determination to this endeavor by choosing continuously to persist in following Jesus Christ.  Let’s glorify the Lord throughout our lives.

The Words of Eternal Life

The Words of Eternal Life

Who has the Words of Eternal Life?  The Word tells us,

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”  68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  (Joh 6:66-69, underscoring added) 

What did Peter mean when he said that Jesus had the “words of eternal life”?  He meant that everything that Jesus taught and lived by His example would lead us into eternal life. 

Jesus came to die in order to purchase our salvation.  John 3:16 reminds us that all who believe in Jesus Christ receive eternal life.  And the Lord Jesus Himself said,

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.  (Joh 6:63)  Jesus’ very Words carry life!

These are deep spiritual concepts that are worth meditating upon and asking the Holy Spirit for insight into.  Here is another point of view:

“He is the way, the truth, and the life (Joh 14:6). And the aim of giving Himself as the truth to the world is freedom. You will know the truth and the truth will make you free. Free from the guilt and power of sin.  Free from deadness and blindness and judgment.” – Excerpt from John Piper teaching.

Jesus gives us freedom from “deadness,” as John Piper says above.  That’s a spiritually intense idea worth time in meditation and prayer.

Study the life and words of Jesus Christ and you will be studying the Words of Eternal Life.  God bless you.

The Resurrection & the Life

The Resurrection & the Life

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  (Joh 11:25-26)

In this passage of Scripture, Jesus claims to be the Resurrection and the Life.  The reason for this is that without Christ, there is no resurrection.  Without Christ, there is no eternal life.  Because Jesus IS life, death has no power over Him.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.  (Joh 5:24)  All who accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, pass from death into eternal life.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.  (Joh 6:44)  Jesus, the Resurrection, will raise up His followers at the end of time.

This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”  (Joh 6:50-51)  In the ceremony of Communion, which remembers and honors Jesus’ sacrifice, we symbolically eat the Bread of Heaven, Jesus’ flesh.  (Represented by bread or a small cracker.)

Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.  (Joh 8:51)  Jesus powerful atoning blood covering each obedient believer will usher us into eternal life; we shall not see death.

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  (Joh 10:28)  Jesus says that we are safe in His hand, and no one has the power to take us out of His hand.

. . . and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.  (Act 3:15 ESV)  In this verse, Jesus is called the “Author of life.”

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  (Col 3:3-4)  Upon accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we become hidden with Christ in God; and immediately, we enter into life.   This passage says that Christ is our life.

Let us appreciate and honor the quality and characteristics of the life that Jesus gives to us.  Glory to God!

Sin Equals Ruin

Sin Equals Ruin

Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.  (Ezek 18:30b)

I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me! 14 I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation.  (Pro 5:13-14)

The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked, overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness.  (Pro 21:12)

A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.  (Pro 26:28)

These verses from the Bible demonstrate to mankind that sin (iniquity, transgression, wickedness) brings about the devastation and destruction of a person’s life.  Continuous unrelenting sin can wreck homes, relationships, health (mental, physical, spiritual) as well as financial stability.

Whereas the blessings for righteous living can be found throughout the Scriptures.  Here are a handful of those blessings:

  • Stability and ever increasing strength (Job 17:9)
  • God defends the righteous and surrounds them with His favor (Ps 5:11-12)
  • Long life; God hears the prayer of the righteous; grants deliverance from trouble; and the Lord guards their very bones. (Ps 34:12-20)
  • Deliverance from death, and the upright will never be allowed to famish.  (Pro 10:2-3)  Famish means:  to suffer for lack of something necessary (essential for life).

Those who have made Jesus Christ their Savior and Lord are made righteous in Christ  (Ro 1:17; 4:5; 10:4; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21) and are entitled to all of the blessings of the righteous.  We are also privileged to obey and to live according to the moral teachings of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

There’s Power in the Blood, Part 2

There’s Power in the Blood, Part 2

This is our second article about the power of the blood of Jesus.  Here are some Scripture passages on the topic with my comments following:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.  (Lev 17:11)  We all know that the life of any flesh, human or animal, is in the blood.  And the Lord shed the blood of animals and brought the animal skins to cover Adam and Eve’s sin when they sinned in the Garden of Eden.  Therefore, we may reason that the blood of Jesus sustains our spiritual life, as well as cleanses us of sin.

. . . without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.  (Heb 9:22 ESV)  The Old Testament model of shedding the blood of animals to cover sin, is the basis of this verse in Hebrews.  In the New Testament, we see that Jesus is the sinless, spotless Lamb of God (Joh 1:29) and that His shed blood washes us from our sins. (Rev 1:5)

. . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  (1 Joh 1:7)  Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin—not only once—but on a continual basis as we lead our daily lives.  Glory to God most High!

Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.  (Ex 12:13)  The Israelites were instructed by God to put lamb’s blood on their doorposts, and when the avenging angel came by, he would not visit the homes that had the blood on the lintels.  In spiritual terms, the blood of Jesus protects us from plagues, illnesses, disease and destruction.

And they overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.  (Rev 12:11, parenthesized text added)  We can overcome every temptation of the enemy when we are covered by the blood of Jesus, and when our testimony coincides and agrees with what God says.  Our testimony must always be:  “I am redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ.”

. . . how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience . . . (Heb 9:14)  Jesus Christ is the Lord, our righteousness (Jer 23:6; 1 Cor 1:30); and because He is, we have a purified conscience.

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus . . . (Heb 10:19) The blood of Jesus enables us with faith and confidence to enter the presence of the Lord in thanksgiving, prayer and praise.  (Heb 4:16)

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  (Heb 13:12)  We are made holy by the blood of Jesus poured out on Calvary, as are all who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

We have every reason to rejoice in our salvation!

How Do We Take Thoughts Captive?

How Do We Take Thoughts Captive?

Our thoughts are central to our lives because we act upon our thoughts.  (see Pro 23:7a; Mk 7:21)

When we consider our ways, it’s wise to turn our hearts to God’s Word.  (Ps 119:59)  God’s Word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts; and it will reveal our true motives to us—something that we all need.  (Heb 4:12)

We should reject our own thoughts and carnal ways; and turn to the Lord, who will forgive us and will renew our thinking.  (Isa 55:7; 65:2)

God understands our thoughts and knows our works.  (Isa 66:18)  But God’s thoughts and God’s ways are higher than ours.  (Isa 55:8-9)  That’s why the Bible tells us that we’re being changed into His image day by day.  (2 Cor 3:18)  We need to be changed.

Here’s how to take thoughts captive [confined; caged; enslaved]:

  1. Recognizing when they are spiritually unhealthy; worthless; unpleasing to God; and not in agreement with the Word of God;
  2. Stopping them in their tracks by determining that they did not originate in our own thoughts or hearts;
  3. Rejecting them outright and robbing them of any power over us; and
  4. Replacing them with Scripture verses that the Holy Spirit brings to our minds to counteract them and to minister comfort to our hearts.

It’s important to understand this process because the Lord tells us to take our thoughts captive in 2 Corinthians 10:5:  

. . . casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ . . .

Our goal is to bring our thoughts into obedience to Christ, our Savior.  We willingly offer our thoughts to the Lord Jesus, who alone is able to confine them. 

As mentioned above, the types of things that we would want to take captive are those that are:

  • Spiritually unhealthy (fearful or sinful);
  • Unproductive to the Kingdom of God;
  • Unpleasing to God;
  • Worthless;
  • Originating from the evil one (disparaging of self or others; lonely; discouraged; depressed; lustful thoughts; mulling over past hurts; etc.);
  • Not in agreement with the Word of God.

We are blessed because we have the freedom and ability to choose what thoughts to entertain and what thoughts to utterly reject.  We have spiritual weapons (2 Cor 10:4) at our disposal that will assist us in the battlefield of the mind.  Several of those spiritual weapons are:  prayer; confession; praise; the Word of God; fellowship with other believers; and the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2), we become engaged in the battle against pretense and the arrogant philosophy of the world. Trusting Christ and rightly dividing the Word of God (2 Tim 2:15), we take every thought captive, pull down the strongholds, and, by the grace of God, set ALL of the captives free.  Hallelujah!

Eternal Salvation

Eternal Salvation

And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him . . . (Heb 5:9)

Jesus Christ has purchased our eternal salvation, and there is ample testimony to this truth in the Scriptures.

This one who is life from God has been shown to us, and we guarantee that we have seen him; I am speaking of Christ, who is eternal Life. He was with the Father and then was shown to us.  (1 Joh 1:2 TLB)

Jesus has been shown to the whole world as our Redeemer and Savior.  He said about Himself that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  (Joh 14:6)  Faith in Him is the way to reconciliation and peace with God, our Father.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  (1 Cor 6:20)

The price given for our salvation was Jesus’ life, suffering, death, and resurrection.  Jesus paid that price, and for this we give glory to God!  We are literally called to glorify God through our lives and how we spend our lives in His service.

. . . who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.  (Tit 2:14)

The Lord desires for us to be fervent and intense about performing good works.  What exactly are “good works” according to the Scriptures?  Good works are such things as:  feeding the poor; visiting prisoners; helping the homeless; preaching the Gospel; ministering to widows and orphans; etc.  With so many families fractured by living in different states and by relational hurts, these things are very necessary in these days.

. . . knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.   (1 Pet 1:18-19)

Honor the Lord by realizing the importance and value of the gift of salvation that Jesus paid for with His own, precious blood.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world . . .  (Mt 25:34)

Good Things to Know

Good Things to Know

Greetings, friends!  Here are some lessons I’ve learned along my way.  These are applicable to and useful for all who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.

  • As soon as you receive an assignment from the Lord (which might come through your Pastor; the person who is your spiritual covering; or the Holy Spirit), you’re anointed to fulfill it!  (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18)  Anointed = empowered or enabled to act; set apart
  • Jesus is the Lord of your spirit, soul, and body.  (Acts 2:36; 1 Cor. 8:6; Phil. 2:11)
  • Your anointing is sufficient for your life and your world.  (2 Cor. 1:21, 22)
  • We’re anointed to KNOW things.  (1John 2:20)
  • Decree and agree with what the Bible says about you.  (Numbers 22:35, 38; Mark 11:23)
  • Guard your heart.  (Prov. 4:23-27; Phil. 4:7)
  • Pray in the Spirit.  (Romans 8:26; 1 Cor. 14:13-15; Ephes. 6:18)
  • Walk in love; faith works by love.  (Gal. 5:6)  Daily life will test your love. 
  • A disciple of Christ performs signs and wonders.  (Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8)
  • Meditation upon the Scriptures transforms our belief system!  (Ps. 19:14; 49:3; Phil. 4:8; 1 Tim. 4:15)
  • You are delivered from the POWER of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of Jesus Christ.  (Colossians 1:13, 14)

Enjoy your extraordinary, spiritual journey, friends!