Tough Encounters

The events of recent days have tried many people’s patience and understanding. We are seeing it all; from the sickness of the Covid19 virus to marches in the streets, to rioting and looting, and political intrigue. In the midst of it is easy to lose a focus on what being a Christian is all about.

Written by: George J. Elling

The events of recent days have tried many people’s patience and understanding. We are seeing it all; from the sickness of the Covid19 virus to marches in the streets, to rioting and looting, and political intrigue. In the midst of it is easy to lose focus on what being a Christian is all about.

Some side with a particular political or activist group. Some side with the police and others with the call to defund the police. Some identify with this racial or ethnic group and others with a different group. There are plenty of viewpoints to go around. As we all respond to people and the issues of the day here are a few things to keep in mind from a Christian perspective.

What has been happening is Nothing New nor a Surprise to God

There have been intergroup misunderstandings, dissentions, inequities and wars since the beginning of human history. Education, politics, police, armies, etc. cannot solve the basic problem of people’s hearts. Only God can change us from within. That is why Jesus told a very religious and pious man that he needed to be “born again” or “born from above” (John 3). God is in the business of changing us.

Also, remember that all of what comes your way is “filtered through the hands of God.” He knew this was going to happen and is with you through the midst of it.

“…and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
Matthew 28:20b

Act as God did, out of Love

“For God so loved the world that He gave…
John 3:16a

God was under no obligation to rescue us and save us from ourselves. He acted from a pure, self-giving love. This type of love always has a cost. This is why God’s actions to save us are referred to in the Bible as redemption and as God “paying” a price for our redemption.

Jesus instructed us to love as He loved, and to go so far as to love even our enemies.

If we are to have this type of giving love for enemies, how much more should we have this love for those who simply disagree with us or advance a different cause? Also, note that we are to pray for those we believe persecute us. Some of our problems are because we are not praying for those we disagree with.

See people and people-groups as God does – See them from Above

Our basic perspective is very limited. All we do is see things from our natural limited point of view and time on this earth, which is all too brief and self-focused.

Paul wrote that he no longer saw people after the flesh, i.e., from the viewpoint of a natural man who is without the Spirit of God in his life.

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh:”
2 Corinthians 5:16a

Instead, Paul urged the following:

“1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
“2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

Colossians 3:1-4

Our present and future is not to be that of the natural man or woman who has not been born again of the Holy Spirit. We are to see people from the perspective of God and eternity. Our own rewards and glory will come when Christ is revealed again in all of His glory.

Resolve to be an Ambassador who is a Peace Maker

An ambassador is someone who represents another person or a country. An ambassador does not represent himself or his own self-interests. As we interact with others, we need to keep in mind that as a Christian we are to be ambassadors for Christ.

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:20

Christians are to be God’s ambassadors to bring about reconciliation between God and man and between men. Jesus taught his disciples:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
Matthew 5:9

And,

10 “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 
12 “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven:”

Matthew 5:10-12a

A peace maker is one who brings reconciliation. We should ask ourselves what would Christ have us do to reconcile a person to God and to bring about reconciliation between people we interact with.

Your actions are not to focus on You, but about the needs of Others

Your needs will be met in Christ:

“But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” 
Philippians 4:19

With your own needs met in Christ you can move forward with confidence in helping others.

Listen carefully, you don’t know the Whole Story

Each person you meet is coming to you with a lifetime of experiences, both good and bad. They are most likely acting out of that compilation of cultural inputs, teachings, successes, failures, rejections, and hurts. So, listen carefully to understand before you try to speak. This isn’t about you winning a Harvard style debate. It is about you being an ambassador for Christ (see above).

19 “…Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
20 “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” 
James 1:19b-20

God is at work to Change You as much as He wants to Change Them

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Philippians 2:12

Each believer is called upon to apply the Word of God in everyday situations as part of “working out” or the “out working” of his or her salvation. As noted above, God knew you would be in an interaction with whoever it is that you are interacting with today. Now is the time to be the man or woman God intends you to be.

James teaches us:

22 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 
23 “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24 “For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 
25 “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein
, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
James 1:22-25

God will bless us through interacting with others in a godly way in spite of tough or challenging circumstances.

Count it all Joy

James wrote:

2 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 
3 “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 
4 “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” 

James 1:2-4

God is more interested in you becoming a complete man or woman in Christ with Christ in you (Colossians 1:27) than He is in your “solving” whatever challenge you are facing. The trial or challenge you face helps accomplish this goal. Therefore, rejoice in challenges as an opportunity to grow as a person and help fulfill the mission of Christ.

“And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Christ’s name).”
Acts 5:41

You also may be helping to fill up what was “lacking” in Christ’s suffering on behalf of others in the body of Christ. Paul wrote of himself:

“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:”
Colossians 1:24

What you are going through is not without purpose for your life and others.

Take Courage!

As stated in the beginning of this essay, Jesus told His disciples that:

“…and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
Matthew 28:20b

The apostle Paul was so convinced of his life being “in Christ” that he could therefore confidently say:

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21

In life, or death, Paul’s life was safe in Christ. Yours is too if you have received Him into your life.

Abide in Christ

Trying to do any and all of the above will be futile self-effort if you are not abiding in Christ. Give up on your self-efforts to control people and situations. You are not God. Give up on trying to have an immediate answer for everything and focus on Christ and His word. Jesus told His disciples:

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
John 15:5

Some ways to abide in Christ include:

  • Read and meditate on God’s word
  • Memorize God’s word
  • Listen for God’s voice
  • Pray for God’s direction, for the needs of others, and to be an instrument of His love.

-GJE

©Mark Davis 2021

Assurance Of An Eternal Heaven

Can I really be sure that I will be in heaven when this life is past? That seems to be the question that concerns us most. I know that various religious people and groups tell me a lot of things and most of what I hear is in conflict with what others say. Is there a way that I can be absolutely sure that I will be in heaven? I don’t want to hear more of man’s theories or philosophies on the subject… I want to be sure… as soon as possible!
Then, I would submit to you that we consult with the One who has set the qualifications for entrance into His heaven. Surely, if He wants us in heaven He will tell us how to get there. Amazingly, God has already given us the rule book (The Bible). The rules are simple and to the point. He has preserved the rules for us through many centuries by giving the message of redemption to special men so they could record God’s Word so we may have it today. There is a battle on right now between God (the Creator and author of the rules) and Satan. Satan supports and distributes lies. He tries to get people to fall for the lies that he promotes. That is why it is so very important to consult the Book of Truth– The Bible. A good reliable translation is the KJV (1611)

Let’s look briefly at the facts that we should know, then we can progress from there…

Fact #1 All people are sinners…

Romans 3:23;
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
Ecclesiastes 7:20;
For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”
Romans 6:23;
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Death means you will not be in God’s heaven. There will be separation from God for all eternity in hell.
Simply stated, we are kept out of heaven and doomed to be in hell because of our sin problem. Something had to be done to provide forgiveness and cleansing of those sins. Heaven is a perfectly prepared place for a prepared people. So then, no sin can possibly go into God’s perfect heaven.

Fact #2 God loves you…

John 3:16;
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 5:8;
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus shed His perfect, sinless blood so that we can have the forgiveness and cleansing from the guilt and penalty of sin.
Ephesians 1:7;
In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace;“

Fact #3 We must repent and believe that Jesus paid the complete price for our sin.

Acts 16:31;
“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
Romans 10:9-10,13;
9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
John 1:12;
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
John 5:24;
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (note: this is present tense; RIGHT NOW!!!)
John 3:36;
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
I John 5:10-13;
10He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
John 10:28;
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
Believing is simply… putting your whole trust in Jesus as the One who died in your place for your sins. On the other hand, it also means that we dare not subtract from His finished work on Calvary’s cross. We must come to Him as a guilty, defiled sinners and receive by faith the gift of eternal life in the person of Jesus Christ, thus making us his blood-bought children and forgiving us the guilt and penalty of our sins.
Ephesians 2:8-9;
8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Some have tried to add to God’s plan of salvation by telling people they must do certain good works or keep certain church ordinances. Works of any sort can never help. Titus 3:5 tells us: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.” Nothing can be added to, or taken away from what God has already done to secure our salvation. Our salvation does not become more, or less, secure by what we do or do not do. If it could be of works, then we have not really trusted Jesus by faith as our personal Saviour from sin.

When one is born-again (John 3:7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.), there is a difference. There is new joy, new goals and a new determination to do what pleases our Heavenly Father. We also become aware of those around us that are lost and begin praying that they, too, would soon trust Jesus as their Saviour. The Bible tells us that we are a new creature in Christ by trusting Jesus by faith as our Saviour.
II Corinthians 5:15,17,18;
15And that he died for all, that they which henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again… 17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new… 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;”

Assurance of salvation can only be a reality when we have been “born-again”.
John 3:3;
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

The Holy Spirit now bears witness with our spirit that we are right now, the children of God.
Romans 8:16;
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”
Assurance is based on the promises of God. (not on feelings or emotions). God always tells us the truth. God wants you to have a settled confidence of salvation. Take Him for what He has told you in His word.
John 20:31;
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Romans 8:35-39;
35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Ephesians 1:13-14;
13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

Claim it by faith. “God said it and I can believe it”. Since you now have Jesus, you are a child of the King. Rejoice, be glad and walk close to your “new-found” friend who will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5b; “for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”) Get into a good gospel preaching church, be baptized by immersion, and study your Bible, and pray. Grow in the things of God, and serve Him until you are actually in the very presence of the One who planned it all. If you still have not believed on Jesus Christ as your Saviour, I would urge you to settle the issue today. Pray and invite Jesus to be your Saviour and begin that new life. You will be glad that you did.
R.L.D.
©2014 Mark Davis

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