WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT “THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS”

April 29, 2011

     “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”

Luke 16:19-26 KJV

The Parameters:

Jesus had just given a parable about wealth and taught that you cannot serve both God and money. The Pharisees were lovers of money (Luke 16:14) and scoffed at Jesus. So He tells them another parable about trusting in money. He even begins it the same way he began the last parable – with the phrase, there was a certain rich man…

Jesus had also taught that while the Pharisees looked at the outside, God looks at the heart. (Luke 6:15)

Jesus made a comment in verse 16 about the law and the prophets being proclaimed until John.

Although most people think of future things when they think of the prophets, what the prophets primarily did was condemn Israel for oppressing the innocent and the poor. They proclaimed the importance of loving ones neighbor. This parable will portray one who does not do that.

Jesus also says he is preaching the gospel of the kingdom and makes a comment that everyone is forcing his way into it. This means that everyone is trying to get in. What we will see is examples of someone who gets in and someone who doesn’t. Jesus condemns the wrongful love of money in the Pharisees who thought that riches were synonymous with righteousness.

The Problem

We always talk about the attitude and question that Jesus is dealing with in his parables. In this one the attitude he is dealing with is the Pharisees attitude towards their wealth. They thought wealth was a sign of spirituality and blessing from God. They also thought that poverty was a result of sinfulness and cursing from God. They were sure that poor people were not going to go to heaven.

What is Gods attitude towards the Pharisees who were devoted to money and took great pride that they had it? Would they enter the kingdom of God? What does it take to enter the kingdom (i.e. go to heaven)?

The Progression

Chronological or Logical – there are contrasts between the two characters in their earthly life and the after-life.

Earthly Life

Rich Man – Dressed nice, ate well, lived it up every day. He was on the inside.

Lazarus – dressed in rags, hungry, struggled to survive, oozing sores — therefore unclean, too weak to fight off the dogs. He is on the outside.

After-Life

Lazarus – In Abraham’s bosom – in heaven – happy – banqueting imagery (reclining next to Abraham at a banquet). He is on the inside.

Rich Man – In Hades – tormented – on the outside.

Note the reversal of the earthly situation. Notice also that the eternal situation is irreversible. There is no second chance. What does this say about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory? The rich man is in Hades which is a place of torment – a holding tank for hell. Death and Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire. Rev… But you can’t get out.

Notice in vs. 24 that the rich man is still trying to order Lazarus around. He wants God to send the poor man to minister to him. His attitude hasn’t changed. I wonder what that says about repentance after death? Will there be any? Or will people in hell also burn with anger?

The Point

Social status and material possessions are no guarantee of ones standing with God. The only thing that matters is a right response to the Word of God.

The Relation of the Parable to the Kingdom of God

Entrance into the kingdom is dependent on one’s faith in Jesus to whom the Scriptures point, not on one’s relationship to Abraham.

The Pharisee did not listen to what the prophets said about the coming Messiah nor about how to treat their neighbors. It was the lack of love that illustrated he had no regard for the prophets. He was counting on his relationship to Abraham.

The Particulars

  • In present life there was no chasm between Lazarus and the rich man. In fact Lazarus was begging just outside the rich man’s gate. The rich man could have gone out and helped Lazarus any time he felt like it. But in eternal life there is a great chasm separating heaven and hell. Jesus uses space to emphasize that this gap is uncrossable and permanent. Notice also that it prevents those who want to go from heaven to hell (to show mercy) can’t.
  • Lazarus “laid at the man’s gate” which indicates he was crippled or lame. He was also poor. According to the Pharisees, people were poor, lame, sick, etc. because they were wicked. It proved not to be the case.
  • The rich man was not with father Abraham in paradise like he thought he would be. Jews – and especially the Pharisees – thought they were guaranteed entrance into heaven because of their physical relationship to Abraham.
  • The rich man did not listen to the law and the prophets which taught about how to love one’s neighbor (Micah 6:8). He did not love his neighbor. We know from the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 that loving one’s neighbor involved helping one who was down and out like Lazarus was.
  • The prophets also predicted that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, be the friend of outcasts, etc. (cf. Micah 5:2f; 4:6, Isa 61:1-2). This was also emphasized in Luke 14: and 15:1. The rich man rejected that truth also. He was too good to be the friend of outcasts.
  • The rich man knew his brothers weren’t paying attention to the OT scriptures either and thought they would be convinced if Lazarus came back from the grave. In fact, there was a man named Lazarus who was raised from the dead in John’s gospel. (This is the only parable in which a character is named and I’m certain Jesus did so because he knew he would raise Lazarus.4) It did not convince them. They wanted to kill him again. Jesus was also raised from the dead, and they were not convinced.
  • Rich man knew Lazarus in real life (we know that because he knew his name in heaven) but he ignored him.
  • Treatment of Lazarus on earth revealed the rich man’s true relationship to God.

The Principles

Catholic principles

There is an immediate consciousness after death.

Post death destinies are irreversible. There is no purgatory where you wait until your relatives bail you out.

Charismatic principles:

Signs are never a guaranteed cure for unbelief. If your heart is not open to the word of God now, a supernatural experience won’t help. That is what John Wimber and those in the signs and wonders movement are looking for – signs to make people believe. They have actually said, “If we can only get someone to come back from the dead…” My question is how many do we need? If it did happen, even true believers would be skeptical.

Faith comes by hearing and believing the word of God. Not from seeing miracles. Jesus said, “They have the law and the prophets…”

Christian Principles

  • True religion demands social compassion. We need to evaluate our attitudes towards those in need. It reveals our status and relationship with God. The problem with most evangelicals is that they have over reacted against the liberal “social gospel.”
  • The realities of the after-life include torment and blessing. Not annihilation or neutrality. Some people today are teaching a doctrine of annihilation.
  • Disappointment and disease are not necessarily a sign of God’s displeasure.
  • We need to evaluate our attitude towards wealth. What are we depending on? Do we think being rich means we are right with God? We need to worry more about eternity.
  • God’s word is our source of information. It is enough, don’t look for supernatural signs.
  • The decisions of this life are final and determinative. There are no second chances where heaven is concerned.
  • Luke 16 is not just about money or wealth. That is what everyone labels it. But when you really understand the chapter the key element in both the parables is personal relationships. With the parable of the steward the issue was making friends for eternity which would fall under the heading of evangelism. With this philosophy one of the most worthwhile things you can give to is missions. When you give a donation to sending Bibles to India or China or sending missionaries out, you are making friends for eternity. I have to wonder if when we all get to heaven if people saved through the ministry of some missionary are going to find the ones who supported the missionaries financially and say thank you. Ray Boltz has a song entitled Thank You where this guy gets to heaven and all these people come up to him and thank him for the time he took to teach Sunday school where they first heard the gospel…. Maybe God will give us the knowledge of all who contributed to our salvation so we can thank those that allowed themselves to be used by God. Think of the joy that will bring to you when someone comes to you and says, I wouldn’t be here without your help. Thank you so much!
  • In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the rich man should have used his money to help Lazarus. But he only used his money for his own enjoyment. It says in vs. 19 that he dressed in the latest and best fashions and spent all his money on partying and buying expensive things for himself. Since Lazarus was the righteous one in the story, it is not about evangelism, it is about edification. It is about what the rich man should have done to build Lazarus up. He should have tried to help Lazarus.
  • If you remember the summary of the parabolic sayings, the last two were about the dragnet and the householder. Those two parabolic sayings emphasized the disciple’s responsibility for evangelism and edification. We see the same theme repeated here.
  • Both stories are really about whether or not we love others. One of the barometers of how we love is how we spend our money. The question to ask ourselves is – Who do I love? The answer can be found by going through our check register.

4 Some argue that this is not a parable because a character is named. But those who argue thus do not understand that minor variations from the literary motif do not mean it is not a parable. The variation is there to emphasize something. In this case it draws attention to Lazarus who was raised.


permission granted by David Austin Exec Director http://bible.org (worlds largest bible study site)

http://bible.org/seriespage/rich-man-and-lazarus

ALL SCRIPTURES TAKEN FROM LUKE CHAPTER 16 (UNLESS NOTED) ****


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CARRIE UNDERWOOD W/ VINCE GILL – “HOW GREAT THOU ART” – STANDING OVATION – 720P HD

April 28, 2011

ABOUT THIS VIDEO

God blessed Carrie Underwood with an incredible voice—it’s so awesome to see her using it to lift up praises to Him! Watch this powerful and inspiring performance of “How Great Thou Art” by Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill. Share with someone to brighten
their day!


WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT “THE GREAT COMMISSION” – IS IT IMPORTANT TO CHRISTIANS ?

April 28, 2011

   “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

  Matthew 28:16-20 KJV

  After Jesus Christ‘s death on the cross, he was buried and resurrected on the third day. Before he ascended into heaven, he appeared to his disciples in Galilee and gave them these instructions: Matthew 28:16-20. This section of Scripture is known as the Great Commission. Jesus the Messiah has given marching orders to his followers. His first Church in Jerusalem received the Great Commission. This Commission tells how they, and all true Churches since then, are to be His Witnesses. The main verb in the Great Commission is TEACH (evangelize = make disciples of) all nations. The other verbs — GO (going or as ye go) BAPTIZING and TEACHING are all participles in the Greek New Testament, built around the main command — EVANGELIZE. Therefore, true Christianity is evangelistic. It has the Glad Tidings (Gospel) of Jesus Christ,  the Gospel is not good advice, but good news. It does not tell us what we are to do to earn salvation, but proclaims to us what Christ has done to save us. True Churches are missionary Churches. They seek to spread the Gospel. They seek to win people to the Lord Jesus Christ. They GO. They go to their relatives, neighbors, friends, and acquaintances, even to their enemies, with the Gospel. They go to strangers. In obedience to the Great Commission, they send Missionaries to language schools, then to foreign lands. They use all lawful means to reach others. They hand out Bibles, New Testaments, Gospel Tracts and Videos. They preach in the Churches, in home, school and workplace, Bible studies, on the Radio, TV, and on the Internet. Christians are GOING. Missionary Churches BAPTIZE new converts,, those who repent and believe in Christ.  The word “baptize” means to immerse, and it is clear that the rite of immersion was observed in the ancient church. Immersion bests shows union with Christ in His Death, Burial and Resurrection. The new convert goes under the water (burial) and comes up out of the water (resurrection) according to Romans 6:3,4. It also best symbolizes the washing away of sins (Acts 22:16). Thus, Churches should serve as training schools for Pastors and Missionaries. These Missionaries are not just preachers. They are Church-planters. They do not just evangelize. As they go and make disciples, they baptize those new disciples, and teach them all things, whatsoever Messiah commanded. To do this, they set up new Churches. Messiah is with true Churches, from the time of His first Church in Jerusalem, until the end of the world, or age as we know it. This promise implies that Christ has always had some true Churches in existence, somewhere in the world, in every generation. Thus, those who obey the Great Commission are part of a long train of witnesses. They have Messiah’s authority to do what they do. And they have His blessing, guidance, provision and divine presence with them — even unto the end of the world. As the last recorded personal directive of the Savior to his disciples, it holds great significance to all followers of Christ. It is the foundation for evangelism and cross-cultural missions work in Christian theology. Because the Lord’s instructions were to go to all nations and that he would be with us until the very end of the age, Christians of all generations have embraced this command. As many have said, it’s not “The Great Suggestion.” No, the Lord has commanded us to put our faith in action. It is also found in the following Gospel texts. Though each version varies, these accounts record a similar encounter of Jesus with his disciples after the resurrection. In each instance Jesus sends his followers out with specific instructions. He uses commands such as go, teach, baptize, forgive and make disciples. It says in the Bible, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Mark 16:15-18 KJV  Also He said to them, “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:44-49 KJV  And in the book of John He told them, “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” John 20:19-23 KJV   The Great Commission is one of the most significant passages in the Holy Bible. First, it’s the last recorded personal instruction given by Jesus to His disciples. Second, it’s a special calling from Jesus Christ to all His followers to take specific action while on this earth. In the Great Commission, Jesus calls every Christian to step out in faith and spread the Good News. This is faith in action! People who obey this command change their spiritual lives forever! It could be spreading the Good News to a neighbor or moving to another country to reach the people there. It could be sharing with less fortunate kids down the street or spreading the Word in a town two hours away. Wherever we go, every faithful Christian is compelled through obedience to share the Gospel. If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, where has He called you to go? Who has God put on your heart to share the gift of salvation? What small or large steps can you take, with the knowledge that Christ will be by your side, “to make disciples of all the nations”?  Do we have the same kind of concern for people who are starving, sick, and suffering from cruel oppression? And what about the multitudes who, without Jesus Christ, will spend eternity in hell? How concerned are we about their future? Do we share the compassion that motivated our Savior? The Bible says, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9:36 KJV  The apostle Paul had that kind of concern. He wrote in the Bible, “That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.” Romans 9:2 KJV  Are we concerned enough to pray? We can all do that. Do we care enough to give? We can be faithful stewards and give to the ongoing work of the gospel. And what about witnessing? We can speak about our faith to a friend. We can write a letter, give out a tract, or perhaps send a book to some non-Christian acquaintance. If we care, we’ll do something. If you’re not a child of God, now is the time to think about being one. It’s not hard to do, just have faith and trust in the Lord. Open your heart to Him today, because He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood and paid the penalty for your sins so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger



WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT WHAT THE RAINBOW REPRESENTS OR IS THERE A POT OF GOLD AT THE END ??

April 27, 2011

“And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Genesis 9:11 KJV

Most people when they see a rainbow, they just look in awe, an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, extremely powerful, or the like: in “AWE of GOD,” you should be !! This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations. God is talking about the Noahic Covenant, His promise not to use a universal flood to judge the world again. In the bible He says, “This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.” Genesis 9:12-15 KJV Interestingly, a rainbow is primarily mentioned in only the First Book, Genesis, and the Last Book, Revelation, in the bible. A reference to a rainbow is also found in the first chapter of the book of Ezekiel. In the Genesis account, a rainbow appears right after the great worldwide flood brought to remove sinful and evil-minded man from the earth. The rainbow symbolized God‘s mercy and The Covenant He made with Noah (representing mankind) not to destroy the world in such a way again. In Ezekiel, his first vision from God, known as the “Wheel in the middle of a Wheel” vision, the prophet Ezekiel compares the Glory of God he saw with a rainbow. In the bible it says, “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.” Ezekiel 1:26-28 KJV  Rainbows appear again in the prophetic book of Revelation, which foretell the end of man’s rule on the earth and the coming of Jesus to set up his Kingdom. The first mention of a rainbow in Revelation appears when the apostle John uses it to describe the glory and power of God on his throne. The bible says, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” Revelation 4:1-3 KJV  The second mention of a rainbow occurs when John describes the look of a mighty Angel. It says , “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:” Revelation 10:1 KJV  So what about the colors in the rainbow ? What do they mean or symbolize ? The root meanings of the colors of the rainbow in scripture is the basis for recognizing the beauty of God’s grace production.  The sequence of colors in the rainbow matches the production of the seven days of re-creation, and everything in creation conforms to the Holiness, or Sanctification, of God.  The rainbow is produced by sanctification of white light, and all of creation conforms to the colors of the rainbow. Where there is light, there is God; but the true interpretation of that light is only possible by means of faith. Every scene of Life has meaning in the fulfillment of the Plan of God in the life of the believer. God is not the author of confusion.  And the colors in the scenes are always consistent with the definition from the Word of God. This is the Plan of God in the life of the believer.  Since God has laid out your life’s plan in the bible from Genesis to Revelation, and  from one end of the Rainbow to the other, now is the time to put your Trust and Faith in Jesus Christ today, as He is the one the paid the penalty for your sins when He died on the cross so that you could have the free gift of eternal life. And He is the “POT of GOLD” at the end of the Rainbow.  Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger


THE KNOWLEDGE OF ETERNAL LIFE

April 27, 2011

“These 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.

1 John 5:13 KJV

This scripture is all about “Assurance.”  It clearly is teaching you that it is possible to know whether you are saved or unsaved. The assurance of the believer is not based on feeling, but on the principles of God‘s Word. We can know we are saved because Christ is in our hearts, we our the witness of the Word of God, because we love the brethren, we keep His commandments, and because we have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, that we are the children of God. So now that we are assured that we are saved, John goes further on to say, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” 1 John 5:14 KJV  This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us— whatever we ask— we know that we have what we asked of him. Now we are Assured the Confidence, so now John explains how to enjoy, by sharing a deep sense of satisfaction and purpose that knowing Christ and walking with Him brings Joy. In the bible it says, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” 1 John 1:4 KJV   God is the light !! He is my light, just as He should be yours. If you hear His message and cleanse yourself of evil, you can walk in the light of God. As it says in the bible, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  1 John 1:5-7 KJV  Now we have the Assurance, Confidence, To Enjoy, The Joy to Walk with God in Light. This is the “Simplicity of God,” He is not complex and Man’s understanding is finite, because God is infinite. So if you want to walk in the light of God, don’t wait any more. Ask Jesus Christ into your heart today, because He is the one that put all of our sins on the cross and died for us to pay our penalty so we could have eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger



HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS HANDLE CHANGE ? AN INTERVIEW WITH PHIL COOKE – CROSSWALK.COM

April 27, 2011

ABOUT THIS VIDEO

The world today is changing at light speed. How can Christians handle the rapid changes that life throws at them and still honor Christ in their decision-making process? Crosswalk.com sits down with television producer and cultural commentator Phil Cooke to discuss his new book, “Jolt! Get a Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing.”


HOW DO CHRISTIANS HANDLE CHANGE IN THEIR LIVES AFTER BEING SAVED

April 27, 2011

     “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.”

Deuteronomy 7:9-11 KJV

In Christianity, born again refers to a, spiritual rebirth, regeneration of the human soul, contrasted with the physical birth everyone experiences. The origin of the term “born again” is the New Testament, “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.” John 3:3 KJV  It is a term associated with salvation in Christianity. When a person accepts Jesus as the Messiah and receives the Holy Spirit, a radical change of heart occurs. The Bible says, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 KJV  This change is marked by the fruits of an intense aversion to sin and passion for obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ, as outlined in the Christian scriptures. In the Bible it says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:16-20 KJV  Many associate the term, “born again” with the revelation of a new concept, or an experience of conversion, defined as mental assent to the acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s personal Saviour, though this experience or mental assent is not alone sufficient to merit Christian salvation but rather repentance, the aforementioned “new birth” of the Holy Spirit, and faith in Jesus Christ’s propitiation for sins. Becoming a Christian requires change. We must remove old habits and develop new ones. Using Bible principles to help us improve ourselves: faith, love, repentance, Bible study, prayer, avoiding temptation, and patience. God’s word is the best source of guidance for self-help and motivation for self-improvement. Have you ever had difficulty trying to change a habit? Human beings are creatures of habit. We tend to continue acting as we have acted in the past. Like a river flowing through a canyon, the longer a habit continues, the more deeply it becomes ingrained, and the harder it is to change. This is true of all habits, good or bad. The Bible says, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 KJV  Old practices and attitudes must be replaced by new ones. Christians must learn good habits like Bible study, prayer, love, faith, patience, attending church meetings, giving, teaching others, etc. We must also eliminate bad habits like foul language, uncontrolled temper, gambling, drugs, drinking, gossip, lying, pornography, sexual promiscuity, etc. Knowing what changes to make is not enough. We also need to know how to make them. Change does not come easily. Since the Scriptures provide us to all good works, they give all the guidance we need. The Bible says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV  God’s word is the best source of guidance for self-help and motivation for self-improvement. Anther question arises, to what extent are Christians free not to sin? When we get “Born Again,” do we just sin a little less than unbelieving sinners? Do we still, sin in word, thought, and deed, every moment of every day? Is this the best we can hope for in Christ? God’s judgment of sin is transparent and emphatic. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). We see where the wages of sin will lead us, and we see that sin can still be a peril to those that wish to spurn the grace of God. This fact implies that Christians can keep from sinning, but what else does the Bible say about sin and the Christian? One of the plainest statements to whether we can choose to sin or not is the promise in the Bible, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV  We are promised that God will not allow a temptation to be so strong that we cannot resist it. Temptation is a test of character where we show forth where our hearts really are. It will show whether we are in Christ or not. In this promise of God’s help, we are without excuse if we fail. We have God’s word, His promise, that never, ever, will anything come along that we cannot overcome by His grace!  Changing our conduct becomes much easier when we are totally dedicated to God’s service. As we face each decision in life, we should ask, “What would Jesus do?” This will give us strong motivation to change our lives. Lack of motivation is a major reason people do not change to please God. They do not have sufficient desire to change. Instead they want to please themselves or their friends and family. Often they are too concerned with the things of this life. But when we are determined that serving God is our most important purpose in life, then we will find the means to make the necessary changes. When we lack the motivation to change, let us think about why we should love God, think about the importance of being like Christ, and think about our eternal destiny. People sometimes convince themselves, “I just can’t change. It’s too late. Besides, I’m only human.” They are not just belittling themselves; they are denying God’s word. They will fail simply because they will give up instead of persisting to use God’s power. If you commit yourself to the Lord and trust Him, He will accomplish His will for you. No matter how strong a temptation you face, no matter how long you have practiced a sin, if God says to change, you can change. The Bible says, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalms 37:5 KJV   To succeed in God’s work, meditate on God’s word. List the pertinent Bible passages about each habit you need to change. List reasons why you should change. Meditate on these verses daily, filling your mind with them. Sin requires repentance. Repentance is a change of mind, a determined commitment to cease sin and obey God. Before one can change his conduct, he must change his mind. We must devise to do good, not evil. God’s example demonstrates the importance of planning. He purposed man’s redemption, the church, the temple, etc. Likewise, God’s servants need to have a plan to succeed in His service. Prayer is essential in two ways. A child of God should pray for forgiveness. If you are not yet a child of God, you need to believe in Jesus, repent of sins, confess Christ, and be baptized to be forgiven of sins. When you have done those things, you become a child of God. If you sin afterward, you need to pray for forgiveness. Then pray for God’s help. Ask God to “deliver us from evil.” Tell God exactly what your problem is. Pray often and regularly. Pray especially at the moment when you face temptation. God has promised that, if you ask His help, He will hear and answer. The Bible says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 KJV   Christians should confess their faults to one another so they can pray for one another. We should bear one another’s burdens. Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work. Abundant, steadfast work is needed. Do not just put off the old man. Put on the new man. Speak truth instead of falsehood, work and give to others instead of stealing, speak good instead of evil, show kindness and forgiveness instead of anger and bitterness. We should pray, “lead us not into temptation.” If we pray this, surely we obligate ourselves to avoid people, places, and situations that tempt us. Do not worry about tomorrow. Today’s temptations will be enough to handle today. Handle tomorrow’s temptations tomorrow, if tomorrow comes. We receive eternal life if we continue patiently in well-doing. We must be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work. By using the means God provides, you can change to be what He wants. He gives motivation, guidance, and encouragement. All that is left is for you to determine to follow His will and then diligently act on that decision. He provides the tools. You must use them. What choice will you make? When problems arise, our first duty is to bring them to Him in prayer. He may show us that we’ve created our own difficulty, and may show that we must make changes to resolve it. He’ll grant forgiveness and give the strength to change. Only God has enough energy and wisdom to handle everything well. Worry will gradually lose its hold on our lives if we learn to stop playing God. So why not open up your heart today to Jesus Christ, because He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood to pay the penalty for your sins so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger



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