The first letter of John comes as a breath of fresh air to those who are trying to live for Jesus. People around us tell us so much that simply isn’t true. It seems many think if they say something often enough and loud enough that it becomes true! Let’s notice some of the truths that John gives us in the last chapter of this short letter.
“For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith” (1 John 5:3-4 CSB).
Sometimes we hear people complaining that doing what God wants is difficult. Obedience, we are told, is just too hard! So does it really matter, they think, if we obey God or not? Continue reading “Our confidence as Christians”
Years ago, I listened as Dick Sztanyo presented an excellent lesson on ethics. In it, he enumerated a number of principles for ethical decision-making. One he called the “principle of doubt.” Citing Romans 14:23, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (ESV), Sztanyo reasoned that if one doubted the rightness of an action, one should so act as to remove the doubt.
The context of Romans 14 discusses morally neutral actions that may prick the consciences of weak Christians, thus causing them to sin. The principle of doubt calls the weak to avoid those actions and thus clear their consciences. May the principle of doubt also be applied to another class of actions?
Continue reading “Baptism and the principle of doubt”
How confident are we? Are we masters of the grill, gifted at our professions or perhaps certain of our flair for gab? Yet, who among us has not experienced an unexpected curve ball? The dinner turned out disappointing. A work project did not go well. We stood speechless.
What we expected slipped between our fingers. In such instances we discover our earlier confidence did not deliver. Just because we felt confident did not guarantee the results.
So what about really important things, like heaven? Can we surpass mere confidence to know for certain we are God’s forgiven people? Yes we can!
I imagine joyous exclamations: “by faith” and “by grace!” To be sure, these principles are intrinsically involved. Yet, throughout scripture a more fundamental principle exists.
Continue reading “Surpassing confidence. Possessing God’s approval.”
Thirty years ago, counsellor Alan McGinnis wrote a book about confidence, offering 12 rules to build self-confidence, change one’s self-concept, and “succeed at being yourself.” The book contains excellent ideas to abandon useless and hurtful concepts about our identity as human beings.
Continue reading “Who am I? How can I change? How to believe in myself?”
Have you ever known anyone who became so anxious with reading a story that he or she would skip to the last chapter to see how it ended? Years ago I remember someone telling me this was her strategy for reading books. For many of us this would ruin the story. However for her, knowing how the narrative tensions would be resolved enabled her to relax enough to read through the story.
I’m not convinced this is a great strategy for reading books. Nevertheless, it is a helpful way to live life. Continue reading “It will be alright”
Throughout Job’s ordeal, he maintained before his friends that he was innocent, that he had not committed any dreadful sin that would have caused God to send these calamities on him. But he also did not understand why God had allowed all this to happen to him. We have the advantage of knowing what happened in chapters 1 and 2 when God and Satan were talking together. Continue reading “How patient was Job?”
Satan appears to be our friend and supporter (John 8:44), but he will do anything to destroy us. We can resist him (1 Peter 5:8-9; 2 Peter 3:9), but it requires spiritual strength and maturity to do so.
One of Satan’s goals is to destroy our self-image. We either think too much of ourselves so we become our own god (Luke 16:18-31), or we consider ourselves worthless.
If we don’t love ourselves, we may be incapable of healthy relationships. What we think of ourselves permeates every aspect of our lives. It can feed on itself, growing in magnitude. Continue reading “Satan, self-esteem and self-talk”
by Robert Goff, Jr.
In our efforts to teach our children how to prioritize their values, we often caution, “Winning isn’t everything.” Certainly, that is a true statement in most realms of our lives.
Winning a ball game is more fun than losing, but it isn’t everything. Winning a contest at school is important to young people (and their parents), but we all must understand that some of the most important lessons in life are learned when we don’t win. Continue reading “Winning is everything”
Our salvation is reserved in Christ Continue reading Elusive certainties
Stress can kill us if we do not control it. Continue reading Do not be afraid