Friday, February 24, 2017

Not saying this to upset you—but the truth must be known.

Not saying this to upset you—but the truth must be known.

I heard it again just a few days ago, “We’re all God’s children.”

It sounds so nice—so comforting—so inclusive. To someone who believes in God or thinks there might be a God, it gives some degree of false hope. But, it’s just not true. God Himself has the last word on this concept.

It is true that God loves everyone. He even loves us all equally. He created each of us in His own image (Genesis 1:27).

God wants every single human being to be in His forever family. He wants to be the Father of each one of us. It’s His desire that none parish—that is that none suffer eternal damnation (2 Peter 3:9). 

When God created the universe, the creatures and Mankind, He wanted all people who ever lived to be His family. But He wanted us to be in His family, not because He forced it, but because we chose it. We all have free will by God’s design. 

Even after being warned not to eat of the tree, Adam and Eve, of their own free will, turned against God and ate the fruit. Sin occurred and all manner of hardship befell Mankind. And like Adam and Eve, we can choose.

At God’s appointed time, He sent His Son, Jesus, to walk among men, teaching about the Kingdom of God. If you haven’t read the four gospels recently I highly recommend you do so. Learn Jesus. Be reminded of the things He said and did. (The four gospels are the books of Matthew, Mark Luke and John, in the Bible.)
Ultimately Jesus completed His earthly mission. He was crucified, died, buried, rose from the dead, and ascended to Heaven where He now sits at the right hand of God the Father. By His coming, suffering and dying Jesus bore the punishment we deserved. “Thank You, Jesus!”

This is the pathway our Heavenly Father provided for us to be restored to right relationship with Himself. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the answer to the dilemma of Mankind’s sin which separated us from Holy God. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NIV).

Speaking of Jesus John wrote, “But as many who received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13 NKJV).

So when we are born of God—that is born-again—we become His own child. That’s how we become children of God. 

How do we get to be born of God? We believe in and receive Jesus. We believe He is who the Bible says He is and we invite Him and receive Him into our own hearts. We embrace Him as the Lord of our lives. Then we are the children of God.

When we do this, we have become children of God by adoption with all the rights of a natural-born child. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons, crying out ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:4-7 NKJV).  

So when we make the conscious decision to believe and receive Jesus as our Savior we’re then adopted into God’s own family and have every right to call out to Him, “Abba, Father—Daddy!” 

Conversely, anyone who is not born-again as described above is not a child of God—is not in God’s family. 

As stated in John 14, Jesus is the only way to reconciliation with God. 

Many people desperately want there to be several ways to God but no matter how hard they wish, it’s just not that way. 

The only alternative to being in God’s family is to be in Satan’s family, condemned to eternal damnation. Don’t get mad at me for stating this. Take it up with God. I suggest you get to know Him through studying His Word—the Bible. That will help explain why it is what it is. 

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens area higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV).

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NIV).

Your comments are welcome. Inappropriate comments will be deleted.

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Perfect Bond of Unity

The Perfect Bond of Unity  

The Apostle Paul deeply loved and had great concern for other followers of Jesus in the fledgling first-century church. He wrote many letters of encouragement and instruction to those who were young in the faith.
 In Paul’s letter to the house church in Colossae he reminded the members of their life-changing experience in Christ Jesus when he said, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2 NKJV).
He goes on to exhort them to rid themselves of sins and vices unbecoming of Jesus and His character. The next few verses list several “Do not”s and then he transitions to point out some Christ-like virtues that we should strive to attain.
Paul had been informed of issues which were causing division among the members. He had addressed some of those matters earlier in his letter. Now in Colossians Chapter 3, he was speaking about personal relationships among the believers.
Have you seen or experienced disagreements or personality clashes within your church fellowship? I dare say that if the congregation was made up of human beings, your answer is, “Yes.”
Paul then gave some directives to help elevate all the members and to bring the unity desired by God Himself. Paul wrote, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15 NKJV).
In another version, verse 14 states: “And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14 NASV).
God’s command for us to love is paramount in His cosmic plan for mankind. When asked for the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. ’This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31 NKJV).

Why did Paul say that love is above all other things? It’s because love is the bond of perfection. It is the bond of unity.
Bond is a strong word used to describe one thing being fused to another—thus joined securely. To love one another in this way is to be joined together unconditionally. This agap̵é love is spiritual and selfless, sacrificial and unconditional.
It is through the grace given by the Holy Spirit that a person can have this kind of love and this is why the world (those who are not in Christ) does not understand it.
The word, unity, in Greek, is defined, “perfect, one who reaches a goal. Perfection or perfectness, completeness.”1
So, can you see how agap̵é love among the members of a church fellowship, and among followers of Jesus in the body of Christ as a whole, can be such a force—a bond—that unifies and perfects?
Let’s ponder this love that is put into our hearts by God and imagine how it really could bring unity in the body of Christ. Would the church represent Christ well? Would the church attract more non-Christians? Would this church accomplish great things in the building up of the body of Christ? I believe we would agree that the answer to each of these questions would be a resounding, “Yes!”
As we grow in Christ-likeness we will grow in His kind of love for others. Please join with me in prayer:
Lord God, I ask that You help me to love like Jesus loves. Even when I don’t see eye to eye with my brothers and sisters, help me to give way to Your Spirit to override my personal feelings and allow agapé love to spring up out of my heart—love that is genuine and unconditional. In this, I am doing my part to nurture the perfect bond of unity in the body of Christ. Thank You, Father, for the power of Your grace working in me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford
1. The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, 2008, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN, page 2290.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

3 Ways Bible Study Changed My Life

3 Ways Bible Study Changed My Life              

Just a few days ago my fifteen year old grandson, Michael, asked, “Granny, how can someone really know for sure that they’re saved?”

That’s a heavy-duty question for this young man to come up with, but I was glad he did. I told him his question was very common and that I had wondered that myself in years past. I went on to tell him that the best way to be confident that we’re saved is to read and study our Bibles. 

In Scripture we can get to know God better—learn about His character and His unfailing love. Also, there are many scripture verses which express our eternal security. It’s truly life-changing to have this assurance about our destiny when we take our last breath.

Jesus said, “My Father who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is about to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:29 NKJV).

Paul wrote, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV).

In addition to Scripture we have the Holy Spirit Himself, who resides in every believer, bearing witness to our own spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16).

I encouraged Michael to spend time getting to know his Heavenly Father better by digging into God’s Word and see if it will help him have more confidence in his Savior and the salvation he has received.

Hearing From God

Another question I’ve been asked deals with hearing from God. People say, “Why have I never heard God speak to me? People talk about hearing from God but He’s never said anything to me.”

My response: “Do you read and study your Bible?”

As best I recall, every time they answer, “No,” or “Not much.”

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned through in-depth Bible study is that through His Word, God speaks to me personally and specifically. I’m often amazed—not surprised—but amazed—when I’m reading or studying a passage of Scripture and it applies directly to something going on in my life at that moment.

An example that comes to mind is when I bought a dress from a friend. We agreed on a price and she handed over the dress and said, “You can give me the money whenever—no rush.”

Two or three weeks went by and one morning, while studying in Proverbs God spoke to me and said, “You need to give Dianne the money for the dress.”
I didn’t hear an audible voice but the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to my spirit. I knew, without doubting, that God was speaking to me.

“What was the passage?” you might ask. Here it is: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand” (Proverbs 3:27 NKJV).

When I read this I instantly knew I needed to pay that debt sooner rather than later. I had the money but a convenient time had simply not arisen. The situation could have dragged on for weeks but I was not to let that happen. I gave Dianne her money within a couple days and told her how the Lord had spoken to me about it. She got her money and was blessed by my testimony regarding the situation.

This was a very simple situation regarding a relatively insignificant matter but it was a great experience for me. It occurred many years ago and was one of the first occasions when God spoke clearly and directly through His Word to me concerning a specific matter in my life. I’ll never forget it. 

 He has spoken to me many times through His Word about life-changing matters as well as simple day to day issues.

Our Creator knows each of us better than we know ourselves and He knows what’s best—what we should say and do and where we should go. Possibly His favorite method of talking to us is through His Word. I’ve learned this by experience. If this has not been your experience, I highly recommend you give it a try. I believe you’ll be blessed, surprised and thrilled by the mysteries revealed, directions laid out, and encouragement given by our omniscient Heavenly Father through His own words to you.

Knowing the Father and Knowing Ourselves
A third way Bible study has changed my life is that it has helped me overcome insecurity. The belief that I was inferior to everyone around me plagued me much of my life. But there was something about getting to know my Heavenly Father and Jesus, my Savior, through His Word that lifted me out of the fear, discouragements and other negatives characteristic of being insecure.
To anyone who wants to be the best they can be and live the abundant life God desires for each of us, I say, “Get into Bible study! Get to know your Creator well. Taste and see that the Lord is oh so good.”

As a comment, below, please share how Bible study has benefited you or changed your life.

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford