Does God Still Speak to Us?

Does God Still Speak to Us?

In the Bible, there are many references to times where God personally interacted with humans. A few of the examples were Adam, Abraham, Jeremiah, and Moses. God still speaks to us today in many different ways. The most common way now is by reading His inspired Word, the Bible. It’s often said, if you want to ‘hear’ God speak, read the Bible out loud, especially the quoted words of Jesus.(Red Letter Editions)

From the New Testament we know that for 3 ½ years Jesus spoke to us words given to him directly from God. He said,” I only say what the Father has given me to say.” We must realize that Jesus Christ, Emanuel, was and is God with us then, now and for all eternity. So, in addition to the above ways, there is still another way that God speaks to us now.

If a person is a Christian and has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit of God, if one is listening, speaks directly into one’s mind and reaches into our hearts. In personal quiet times of meditation and reflection on God’s Word we actually are able to engage in a conversation with Him. The secret is to just be silent and listen for God to speak.  Finally, yes, we can say with confidence that God still speaks to us.

How does One Become a Christian?

How does One Become a Christian?

Maybe you’ve gone to church when you were younger, but never took that step to become a Christian. Maybe you’ve been living your life your own way and not taking into account what it takes to live life differently, one with meaning and purpose. Man looks on the outside but it’s really our hearts and our character that God is concerned about. Becoming a Christian requires a decision. The Bible says in Romans 10:8-11, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead, you will be saved.” Jesus waits patiently for our decision and our heart to be open to receive Him and His love. The fact is that God responds to genuine humility and sincere acknowledgment that one is a sinner in need of a Savior and seeks God’s forgiveness and acceptance. God is loving and merciful and doesn’t want anyone to be lost.

If becoming a Christian is the desire of your heart, all you  need to do is to pray a sincere and simple prayer. In your own words, just say to Jesus that you admit you are sinner in need of a Savior. Then say that you will repent, turn from your old way of living and thinking, invite Jesus into your life and promise to follow Him for the rest of your days.

At that very moment, God’s Holy Spirit will enter your eternal soul, you will receive eternal life and forgiveness of your sins and become a child of God. In effect, you become ‘born again’, a new creation in Christ and enter into a personal relationship with Him. The old life will have passed away and a totally new life will begin. Giving your life to Jesus is the most important decision one can ever make. Eternity hangs in the balance; heaven or hell. Today is the day of decision.

Should I tithe 10% of my income?

Should I tithe 10% of my income?

The better question may be: “can I ever out-give God?”

Imagine what your community, our nation, the world, for that matter, might look like if every Christian were to give 10% or more of their income to the work of God…not the average of 3% it gives now.

Tithing was instituted in God’s law as a tax to support a theocratic nation known as Israel. The Israelites were chosen by God to separate themselves from the idol worshipers who lived around them. They were given a very high moral standard by which to live. They were promised that not only would they enjoy a loving, prosperous relationship with God, all the world would be blessed through their descendants.

When these people turned their back on God and refused to pay their taxes, they were called out by prophets, including one named Malachi. He reminded them that the law said:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Malachi 3:10

This was a clear admonition to a people who ignored God and abandoned their responsibility to support the priests and temple worship prescribed by God. On top of that there were calls for additional tithes to further God’s work, including caring for widows and orphans, helping the sick and impoverished, and celebrating God’s blessings.

Tithing is not mentioned by Jesus or by Paul or by any other of the New Testament writers. We find no mention of tithing in the writings of the early church fathers. Why is that? The New Testament standard for giving is clearly the tithe and more. It is the intentional, responsible act of a Christian recognizing that because Jesus gave everything for us, including his life, we should gladly give all for him. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

2 Corinthians 8:9

Paul wanted Christians to recognize that the standard for giving should be inner motivation guided by the Holy Spirit, not outward compulsion.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

2 Corinthians 8:3-5

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

So, when the issue of tithing come up, you should ask yourself, how has God prospered you, not how will God prosper you if you give. Despite what some preachers may tell you, there is no magic formula that says if you give X amount, God will give you back twice, or five or ten times as much. God is not in the bargaining business. He loves a “cheerful giver.” He also is a cheerful giver. Think about it, he has given you everything. So how much should you give? Let’s look at the examples of the Christians in the early church:

The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea.

Acts 11:29

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,

2 Corinthians 8:3

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.

2 Corinthians 8:11

While tithing is not specifically taught in the New Testament, we see that Christians were commended for giving according to their ability, and in some cases beyond their ability. If you are reading this, you are likely to be among the richest people in the world. (If you earn more than $15,000 per year, you are in the top 5%; if more than $50,000, you are a one percenter!) That suggests that today you should be thinking about how much, not how little, you can give back to the God who gave you everything. And since money is just a reflection of your earning power, you may also want to consider ways to give of your time and talents over and above your monetary contributions.

If you are a Christian, it’s probably a good idea to budget at least 10% of your income to support God’s work in your community and around the world. For most, that is a starting point. Sometimes you may need to stretch, to actually sacrifice, to give to God’s work. But, more often, you will find that giving as God has prospered you results in giving cheerfully well in excess of the tithe.

Bible verses are quoted from the New International Version

Is it important and/or necessary to pray in Jesus name?

Is it important and/or necessary to pray in Jesus name?

Christians have been ending their prayers, “In Jesus name,” since Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven. Why have they been doing this is a good question. The simple answer is found several times in the Scriptures. In the Gospel of John 14:13&14 Jesus said, “I will do anything you ask in my name…. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.” It is repeated by Jesus again in John 16:23 and in several other places. So it seems important that as Christians we take Jesus at His word.

It is important also to remember that Jesus is the only mediator between man and God the Father. (2 Timothy 2:5) Jesus is also our personal advocate with God as he speaks to the Father on our behalf (1 John 2:1).  In addition, many times when we are troubled in spirit or overwhelmed by circumstances, the Holy Spirit actually hears our inner groaning’s and intercedes on our behalf. So we can conclude that it is both important and necessary that our prayers be offered to God in the name of Jesus if we want them to be answered.

But you might be thinking, what about those persons who aren’t Christians that are honestly seeking to have a relationship with God. This might include agnostics, atheists, those of all religions and all other non-believers. They wouldn’t know to pray in Jesus name, right? This is true. The good news is that God has promised to reveal Himself to those who diligently seek Him. God certainly hears the prayers of sinners that are truly wanting to be redeemed/saved, repent from their sinful ways and gain eternal life. God answers those prayers both in their hearts and minds. How? He points them to Jesus and the Scriptures.

That’s God’s’s amazing grace and gift of forgiveness and eternal life for all who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. Is He your Savior? If not, what are you waiting for? Today is the day of salvation as no one knows if they have tomorrow.

What is True Love?

What is True Love?

“I love you” is much more than a Valentine’s Day sentiment. It’s much more than words on a card. So what is true love?

The Bible says the greatest commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18)

When Jesus came, he set the bar much higher.  Some of last words to his disciples were these:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 13:34

Jesus was saying that it is not enough to show love to someone by treating them as you would want them to treat you. True love is doing what I am doing—laying down my life for you.

Love is setting aside your desires, to serve the one you love. It’s placing that person’s needs and wants ahead of your own. It’s loving him even when he stumbles, or disappoints. It’s loving her even when she disrespects you or violates your trust. It’s a commitment to do anything and everything to bring about a restoration of that relationship.

That may be hard to spell out in a Valentine, but it is the very best guide for showing true love—love that will last throughout a lifetime and beyond. This kind of sacrificial love doesn’t come naturally, because we are self-centered.  But it will come once we understand that

God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

However, it takes more than more than just understanding, we must take that message to heart and accept the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross as payment for all the things we have done and will ever do to disappoint God, to disrespect him, even to violate the trust he has placed in us.

Embrace God’s love and you will discover how to truly love others.

Bible verses are quoted from the New American Standard Bible.

What does it mean to have a Transformational Encounter with Jesus Christ?

What does it mean to have a Transformational Encounter with Jesus Christ?

Let’s start with a definition. Transform means to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, outward appearance and character of a person.

So, looking at it from God’s perspective, the first step in the transformational process is to personally commit your life to Jesus Christ. You will then know that He and His presence are real, both in the world and within you. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to guide the transformation. The principle is that God never leaves you as you were before you accepted Christ and decided to follow Him. God has a much better plan for your future than you could have ever dreamed or imagined. Your life’s purpose, activities, priorities, goals, worldview and much more will now be different. Here are some of the changes you can expect.

You will find yourself with an intense desire to get into God’s Word, the Bible, and learn and understand more about Him and the Christian life. You will really ‘hunger after His Word’, your ‘Daily Bread’. You will be praying more. Your prayer time will be both intimate and personal with the Lord. You will come to cherish your time together. Your friends will change. First, you will tell them about your new relationship and if they are not interested you will develop new friendships with other believers. Conversations will change from the usual mundane topics of weather, politics, events, etc., to those of a personal spiritual nature. You will look for new frontiers in your discussions.

Interest in materialism and the secular culture will diminish. Yes, you will continue to work and earn a living but it will no longer become the center of your life’s goal. Your interests and concerns will gradually be directed towards people, not things. Emotions like hatred, jealousy, envy, etc. will become a thing of the past and be replaced with genuine feelings of caring, compassion, forgiveness and love. You will develop a strong desire to share your faith with others because of the joy in newly transformed life and hope within you.

In this life each person thinks that he or she has the power and control over what life will be like. That discretion is called our free will. When the choice is made to trust in Jesus, one becomes a ‘New Creation in Christ’ and the transformation begins. No longer does the world’s value system determine life’s choices, rather the Holy Spirit directs your total existence if you are willing and listen.

Picture the lowly caterpillar transformed into a beautiful Butterfly. That’s what God’s intent is for every person because God is love and sent his son Jesus Christ into the world to give each person the opportunity to know Him, to live with meaning and purpose and gain eternal life. That is the Transformational Encounter!