Make Your Election Sure

Many thoughtful, intelligent people claim that doubt is intrinsic to faith, that anyone who isn’t doubting is either asleep or kidding themselves. Yet perhaps you’ve met people who claim to know God for sure … and perhaps they are just shallow, religious quacks living in a make-believe world.

Omer Mei-Dan: Cave of Swallows, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

But the question of eternity remains: When we step beyond the edge of this earthly life … and we all will … is it possible to be absolutely sure that we know God, and that we are safe in Him? If so, how, and what practical help can we offer others who are seeking?

God says, “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2Pe 1:10-11) If God encourages us to ensure our election in Him, then this is both possible and extremely important. We’re all going to fall into the abyss of death some day … Isn’t God saying we should ensure we have a parachute … one that works?

How confident are you about eternity? Do you believe? Do you know that you have eternal life? (1Jn 5:13) Are you resting in the fact that God has already made you suitable to partake of the eternal inheritance of the saints in light? (Col 1:12) Has He delivered you from the power of darkness? Has He already translated you into His kingdom? (Col 1:13) Are you redeemed through His blood, having all of your sins forgiven? (Col 1:14) Are you ready to face the indignation of the Lord, knowing He will plead your cause and justify you for the sake of His beloved Son?

If there is any way you could be more sure, you are not yet sure enough: seek Him. You will face Him, alone. There’s time now to get your parachute in order so that when that last day comes … you’ll be ready.

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Abounding With Thanksgiving

All of life is a response to God; we are constantly reacting to Him, every thought and every act resonates with how we feel about Him. Are we responding to Him more out of unmet expectation and disappointment, or in gratitude and thanksgiving? Our core orientation here tends to define who and what we are, as much as anything can.

Whether we are conscious of it or not, deep down all of us know there is a God and that He is absolutely sovereignnarrow_path1 (Ro 1:20), governing all of life’s twists and turns. (Ro 11:36) We can be angry with Him for allowing sin and death, and not catering to us the way we’d like … or we can stand in awe of Him, amazed at the breathtaking beauty of His Creation, and that He’s willing to die for us, taking our place on an old rugged cross, bearing our sin and shame. Every one of us is constantly responding to an ultimate primal Goodness.

God calls us to respond to Himself with thanksgiving, giving thanks as a constant pattern of life, not in shallow half-hearted gratitude but in passion and sincerity: “rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith … abounding therein with thanksgiving.” (Col 2:7) Cultivating a thankful spirit, learning to trust that God is good, and to experience His goodness and glory even in the midst of darkness and trial, is the journey of a lifetime … one well worth the taking.

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As Bound With Them

A week ago I stood at the entrance of Stutthoff Concentration Camp near Gdansk Poland, where countless souls passed to humiliation, torture and death during WWII at the hands of Hitler’s ruthless minions. As I read the accounts of their pain, and stood where they were actually brutalized, I realized again that I know very little of suffering.

Many of these dear souls were doubtless my brothers and sisters in the faith, who couldn’t just turn a blind eye to the malice against their Jewish neighbors, and others in Hitler’s sadistic disfavor. I wondered if I’d have been strong enough to stand with them. What an evil day that was!

In He 13:3 we are commanded to remember those who are suffering as if we are suffering with them. This high calling of God is not for the faint of heart; it takes supernatural strength to live like this. It is where God Himself dwells, suffering with His people. It seems to me an inevitable cure for all selfishness, arrogance, self-sufficiency, lukewarmness and hardness of heart.

Such evil days are upon us again, as many suffer under the brutal onslaughts of Islam. I ask for grace to connect with this suffering as if it were upon me, and if I live to see the same myself, that God will give me grace to suffer well, to walk worthy of Him, Whose goodness I cannot deserve.

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One Thing

Life can be overwhelmingly complex at times, and incredibly demanding. Keeping focus on what’s important can be quite a challenge.

Boynton Canyon, Scott McAllister

I’m finding it helpful to remember that only one thing really matters: pleasing God. Like Paul, we should be saying, “this one thing I do.” (Php 3:13-14) Maybe this can help us stay focused: if God is pleased, what else matters? If God is not pleased, what else matters … really?

But knowing what’s pleasing to God isn’t so easy sometimes; our ways aren’t His ways and He doesn’t see things the way we do. He calls us to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him. (Mic 6:8) He must transform our hearts to be like His, and this is a lifelong process. (1Th 4:1) But I think 99% of it’s desire, simply wanting to please Him. As this becomes our focus, He will show us the way.

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Walk Worthy

What kind of life does one lead to be counted among the 24 elders encircling God’s throne? What would that be like, a front row seat in His immediate presence, God’s inner circle, enjoying Him for eternity? (Re 4:10-11)

Tunnel of light, Arizona

Then again, what could Jesus Christ possibly gain from inviting the likes of someone like me to sit with Him in His very throne, to rule and reign with Him? Yet this is His incredible promise to all who overcome. (Re 3:21)

But why long for a seat before the throne of God … or even a place beside Him in His throne … when I have God Himself? What more can I possibly desire when God grants me as intimate a fellowship with Himself as I can possibly stand … as if I were the only one in Heaven … for the endless eons of time? To have my God … is to have all.

What an unspeakable privilege to know this infinite, unfathomable God, and to be known of Him! (Je 9:24) Oh my soul … “that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory!(1Th 2:12) Is any way too narrow, or any path too difficult for me to walk with Christ down here, when I see Him before me at the end (He 12:2), in all of His unsearchable richness? (Ep 3:8)

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Our Light Affliction

The apostle Paul suffered greatly for Christ’s sake (Acts 9:16), yet he called it “our light affliction.” (2Co 4:17) What perspective did Paul have that moved him to rejoice in his sufferings?


Paul knew that all temporal suffering is “but for a moment” when compared to eternity, unworthy to even be compared with the glories that will be revealed in us. (Rom 8:18) Christ suffers in and with us in all our tribulations for a glorious purpose, and Paul counted it a privilege to be the medium through which Christ chose to suffer (Col 1:24); there Paul found priceless fellowship with God. (Php 3:10)

God is constantly choosing to suffer fiercely. Though we cannot yet see all the glory He plans for Himself in this, we should count it a fantastic privilege whenever He invites us to join Him. Our only chance to love Christ sacrificially is now, in this life — in Heaven it will be too late. When we see His nail pierced hands and experience the infinite love of God in person, what will we not give for one more moment back down here among His enemies … to show Him what He means to us?

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Every Perfect Gift

The very thought of someone who loves us taking the time to select a gift for us brightens the heart and lightens the soul. When a wise and wealthy friend delights us with a special gift … we anticipate a treasure.

How then do we respond to gifts from God? The wealthiest Friend imaginable … the most loyal, faithful, loving Being in all existence … what kinds of gifts does He give, and how do we respond?

James reminds us that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” (Ja 1:17) Every gift from God is perfect and good; He gives no other kind. He knows us perfectly, loves us deeply, and He is omnipotent. He gives us exactly what we need, at exactly the right time, for our ultimate good and for His eternal glory. (Ro 8:28)

In receiving a gift from any cherished friend it is only polite to gratefully acknowledge it, taking time to enjoy it in their presence, connecting with them and immediately expressing delight and gratitude for their kind thoughtfulness.

Yet every moment of our lives is a precious gift from God, every step a gift from Him THE WAY, every word of Scripture from THE TRUTH, and every breath a treasure from THE LIFE. (Jn 14:6)

We are made to walk with God, and He is constantly offering Himself to us. What moment should forever pass from us without our being present in it, connecting with it, feeling it, tasting it … enjoying Him, relishing Him … and thanking Him for it, abiding in it, and in Him? (1Jn 2:28)

Let us ask God for the gift of receiving every moment as a precious gift from God … the perfect gift, at the perfect time, from the perfect Giver. Let us learn to linger in each one … tasting, relishing, giving thanks, connecting with each other and with Him … rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

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Keep Yourselves From Idols

At the end of his first epistle John the Apostle appends a final thought that may appear disconnected from the rest: Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1Jo 5:21) What are idols and how do we keep ourselves from them?

If an idol is merely a physical representation of deity that facilitates worship, then how can covetousness also be idolatry? (Col 3:5) Perhaps idolatry is something more than enhancing our worship with an object.

When Paul describes idolaters he provides a clue: “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations … and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image.” (Ro 1:21-23) When we don’t thank God for Who He is we inevitably imagine a different god to fit our own desires. Perhaps this is the heart of idolatry: that God, as He truly is, is insufficient – echoing the dark refrain of covetousness. (Heb 13:5) Whether we physically create a finite image of the infinite, or merely desire one, in some way we’re missing God Himself.

I think God is telling us to be careful to seek Him as He is, and not as we wish Him to be. What we seek we’re likely to find; to find God Himself we must cast off all precondition and prejudice as we pursue Him. Evidently, this is also the rare gift of God.

Perhaps then John’s ending is not so disconnected: “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” (1Jo 5:20) Those in Jesus Christ, as He is, find Him utterly satisfying, altogether sufficient … supremely precious. (1Pe 2:7) There is no better place to be. In all our finding then let’s find our place in Him … and stay.

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Lest Any Man Fail

Having my heart established with grace is a goal in which I am making progress daily, looking to ensure that my heart is stabilized only in and by grace, the enabling power of God. I am no longer content to live unsettled and uneasy, nor in smug self-confidence; perfect peace in God is my daily objective.WoundedSoldier2

Yet even as I grow here, a related command in Hebrews intrigues me: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.” (He 12:15-6)

What does it mean to establish grace in community? How does this form, and how does it relate to the foundation of the church? Am I to discern if another is failing in the enabling power of God? And if I do, what is a godly response? What is a root of bitterness? And help me understand … profane person. And how are these symptomatic of failing of grace? What is God calling us to here? How do we go about it?

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Buy the Truth

Why do we feel threatened when someone challenges our beliefs? Are we afraid they’ll deceive us? Maybe we’re afraid to discover we’re already deceived.

If we’re on a long trip passing through unfamiliar territory, and a stranger tells us we’re headed the wrong way, do we get defensive? Don’t we thank him for the concern … and get out our map?

By Roberto Nengini

The way of truth can be daunting. It takes a little humility to admit we don’t know it all yet, that someone else might be able to help. Taking offense or feeling threatened when someone challenges us is really saying we’re more about looking good as we travel than getting to our destination.

God says, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.(Pr 23:23) Truth, wisdom, instruction, understanding … it’s priceless. Get all you can, from any source you can, any time you can.

Consider the whole counsel of God, compare scripture with scripture; toss everything which contradicts any portion of God’s Word. Hide it in your heart and meditate on it day and night, so you can discern truth from error.

Let’s not be gullible, but let’s be truly open to thoughtful souls who see things differently than we do, and honestly consider opposing views in their strongest possible form. Let’s not be afraid of being wrong, but staying that way.

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