Archive for January, 2009

27
Jan

How to Obtain God’s Favor

   Posted by: Larry Vaughn    in Bible Study

I thought that all I had to do was to believe in Jesus and what the Bible says about him. Then, all the promises of God would be fulfilled in my life. But, I didn’t realize how shallow my “belief” was. It was just mental assent to the truth of God’s word. You really couldn’t call it “faith,” which is belief in action.

I was expecting to see good things—peace. and joy, and prosperity, but I wasn’t receiving them. I knew that something was wrong, but I had no idea what it was. I had a desire to please God, but I didn’t know how.

I took my family to church every time the doors were open. I was a tither. I sang in the choir, passed the collection plate, and worked in the nursery. I did everything I could think of to obtain God’s favor. But I had missed the most important thing of all.

Eventually I found out what I was doing wrong. I want to pass it on to you, so you can benefit from my mistake. When I was doing all those things, I wasn’t motivated by love for others. I was doing them for me.  I was crying out to God saying, “Lord, bless me, bless my family, prosper me, prosper my family.” I wasn’t really doing anything that benefited anybody but myself. I didn’t dislike other people, I just didn’t notice they were there. I wasn’t loving my neighbor, I was just loving myself.

I was violating the Love Commandment, and that prevented God from blessing me. How could God bless the people who were obeying him, and then bless me while I was disobeying him.

I was sinning and I didn’t even know it. But God delivered me from it. That’s when I began to learn the value of the Love Commandment. God showed me that it is appears throughout the Bible. For example, Romans 8:28, “For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God . . .”

So, this promise doesn’t apply to everyone. It applies to those who love God. We know that loving God means keeping his commandments, and by keeping the Love Commandment, we fulfill them all.

Look at what God says in 2 Chronicles 24:20, “And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you.” God cannot possibly bless you while you are violating his Love Commandment.

The Love Commandment is not optional, it’s mandatory. It’s the main thing that he requires. If you want to obtain God’s favor, you have to observe the Love Commandment.

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20
Jan

Do You Have the Inward Witness?

   Posted by: Larry Vaughn    in Bible Study

The Holy Spirit is the same Spirit that raised up Jesus from the dead. You have to know whether He lives in you, or not. But how can you tell?

This is what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, and you know that the Bible is true.

“Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”  (1 John 4:13)

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:16)

“And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. And there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”  (1 John 5:6-7)

Here is something from my own experience that might be helpful.

I used to be self-absorbed. My thought life was all about me and my interests. I was always thinking about fulfilling my goals, and my hopes and dreams. Always asking myself, “Now what am I going to do for me?”

When I was a young man, just getting out of the Army, I needed a job to support my family. In desperation, I cried out to God for help. He answered my prayer. He gave me a job, and a whole lot more.

I really did appreciate his help and I told him so. I started paying attention to God and reading his word. I read about the Holy Spirit and I believed that was alive in me. But I was still the same selfish person I had always been.

After a while, I could see that I was changing. Instead of being so self-centered, I was genuinely interested in the people around me. I was patient and kind to them, instead of grouchy and impatient. I knew that I had not changed myself. This could only be the work of the Holy Spirit. I was glad to know for sure that he was definitely alive in me.

The Lord was changing from the inside. He was changing my interests and my desires. He was providing me everything I needed. He was providing me faith to believe his word, and love for others that wasn’t there before. And he is still doing these things for me

That is how I knew for sure that I had experienced the new birth.

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13
Jan

Are You a Born-Again Christian?

   Posted by: Larry Vaughn    in Bible Study

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test.” (2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV)

Listen to what Jesus said:

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:46)

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven. Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name have done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Why would Jesus tell these people that he never knew them? Don’t they believe in him? They know that Jesus is the Christ. But that level of belief does not constitute a saving knowlege of Jesus. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)

These are people who know about the Lord, but they have no personal relationship with him. They never trusted Jesus to save them. They never demonstrated true faith in Jesus Christ, and they were never born spiritually into the family of God.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

In order to be born of God, you have to seek him out for yourself. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” (Isaiah:55:6)

The Lord said in Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” You can’t make a half-hearted attempt at communicating with him. You have be in earnest.

You have this promise from the Bible: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.” (James 4:8)

Make up your mind, once and for all, that you are going to turn away from sin. Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and be converted. That means, to make a committment to Jesus that you are going to follow him for the rest of your life. And that includes keeping the Love Commandment.

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6
Jan

You Must Be Born Again

   Posted by: Larry Vaughn    in Bible Study

There are millions of people on the planet who think they are Christians, but they’re mistaken. They’re good people and they mean well, but they have never understood the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. They haven’t received it. They have simply chosen the brand they like from the many varieties of Christian religion.

A real Christian bases his life on the doctrines and teachings of Jesus. But most people have no idea what Jesus taught. It’s recorded in the Bible, but there is a serious lack of knowledge of the Bible throughout the world.

One of the most valuable truths that Jesus revealed to us is this: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:5-7)

Do you remember what 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. Comparing these two scriptures shows us that having Jesus living in your heart and being born again are the same thing.

Love for others is the litmus test that reveals whether a man is born again, or not. Natural fleshy men do not love their neighbor on their own apart from God. You shall know them by their fruit. Is there love in them, or not?

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his neighbor abideth in death.” (1 John 3:14)

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:17)

The answer is that Jesus does not dwell in him. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9)

We can’t just design our own version of Christianity the way we want it to be. We have to follow Jesus’ instructions. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He says that we must be born again, and that’s the way it is. There is no other option, except for death.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

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