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Do You Believe?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭(NIV‬‬)

We all know this verse. It is probably one of the very first Bible verses we memorized as a child. And yet I can’t help but wonder if many who profess to believe really do. What does it really mean to believe? In Greek the word believe is pisteuō which according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon means, “A conviction full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah — the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ.

To believe then is more than just an acknowledgment that Jesus is who he says he is. To believe includes trust and obedience.
Given the actual definition of the word “believe” based on the original language used here and in other places throughout the Bible, I wonder how many “believers” truly believe?

In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul says to “Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers. Examine yourselves [not me]! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves [by an ongoing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test and are rejected as counterfeit?” 2 Corinthians 13:5 (AMP)

So let me ask you. Do you believe? As we have seen believing is more than just mental assent. Believing for salvation is joyfully trusting in Jesus sacrifice on our behalf and walking in obedience to him as Lord. Anything less is superficial at best.

I would suggest we all examine ourselves and make whatever corrections need to be made while we still can. The day will come when our mediocre belief will be tested and the outcome could determine our eternal destiny. If your belief were judged where would you stand? Would your belief be counted as unbelief? Now is probably a good time to work it out.

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Potholes and Speed Traps

Life is full of winding roads plagued with potholes, debris, roadblocks, unexpected obstacles, and a speed trap every few miles. The challenge for us is to maneuver our way along the road of life and not become distracted or sidetracked by these. Easier said than done, right? Maybe an example would help. Let’s look at the words of the Apostle Paul who was certainly no stranger to obstacles and roadblocks.

In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 (NLT) Paul writes, “… I have … been put in prison …, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.”

Can you imagine going through even a fraction of what Paul went through? And yet in Philippians 4:11-13, 19 (NLT) Paul explains, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

There is no doubt that Paul had been through a lot, but there came a point where he could say, “I have learned the secret.” What was it? “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

To Paul, his struggles meant nothing because his strength was found not in himself, but in Jesus. That’s why he could say that not only would God provide all he needed, but that God would meet all of our needs as well according to his [God’s] glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

But has He? Are all of your needs met? I think for most of us the answer lies in our circumstances. If everything is going good then our answer is, yes. God is meeting all of our needs. But what happens when circumstances turn against us? Can we say with Paul that no matter what’s going on in our life we are confident because our strength is found in Jesus?

Let me ask you four simple questions.

Where is your focus?
Where are your priorities?
What is your expectation?
What is your attitude?

In Galatians 2:20 Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” In Colossians 3:4 Paul says plainly, “Jesus is our life.”

Paul had learned the secret and it was all about Jesus. The problem most of us have is that Jesus is NOT our life.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-17 Paul tells Timothy that the day will come when, “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

Sadly, that describes many believers today.

Paul went on to tell Timothy to, “…continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Everything we need has been provided in His Word.

Romans 15:4 reminds us that. “…everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

2 Corinthians 1:20 says that, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.”

In John 8:32 Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” So if you are not free then you don’t really know the truth. You may have heard it, but you haven’t embraced it.

Romans 12:2 (Amplified Bible) says, “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NIV) says, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

Again, it comes back down to focus. What drives you? Are you conformed to this world or God’s Kingdom? Renew your mind, change your thinking, and grasp hold of who you are in Christ.

Your Bible has everything you need so make it the priority in your life.

Joshua 1:8-9 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

If your focus is on the Word, if it is the priority in your life, if your expectation is that God will always be faithful to keep His promises, and your attitude is one of unwavering trust, then no matter what comes your way, you can stand with Paul and proclaim, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

What an awesome promise. Let’s lay hold of the sufficiency of God’s Word. If it can work for Paul, it can work for you and me. Remember, Paul was just a man. He lived in the same era that we live in; the period following Jesus’ death and resurrection. There is no difference between us and Paul except that He did what we are discussing here. He made the Word his governing priority, realizing that God had all the answers he would ever need. He learned the secret, and now he has passed it on to us.

It starts with the simple decision to believe what God said. Are you willing to take that first step?

If this blog has prompted questions or if you are ready to take the next step, email us at info@fruitbearers.com

Fruitbearers Outreach Ministry

Naturally Holy

John 5:14, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.'”

In saying this, Jesus shows that sin causes the tragedies that come into our lives. The reason for holiness in the life of the believer is that when we obey sin, we yield ourselves to Satan, the author of that sin. Yielding to sin is yielding to a person – Satan. God doesn’t impute the sin to us but the devil does. Our actions either release the power of Satan or the power of God in us.

Although God is not imputing our sins unto us, we cannot afford the luxury of sin because it allows Satan to have access to us. When a Christian sins and allows the devil opportunity to produce his death in their life, the way to stop it is to confess the sin, and God who is faithful and just, will take the forgiveness that is already present in our born again spirit and release it in our flesh. This removes Satan and his strongholds.

The sins of a Christian don’t make him a sinner any more than the righteous acts of a sinner make him righteous. Sin is a very deadly thing that even Christians should avoid at all costs, but it does not determine our standing with the Lord. A person who is born again is not “in” the flesh even though he may walk “after” the flesh.

What is the motive for living a separated life? We live a separated life because our nature has been changed. We were darkness, now we are light (Eph. 5:8). Many people argue for holiness in order to obtain relationship with God. We need to live holy lives because of the relationship that we already have. It’s the nature of a Christian to walk in the light and not in darkness. If Christians were rightly informed of who they are and what they have in Christ, holiness would just naturally flow out of them. It’s their nature. It’s our nature. – Andrew Wommack Daily Devotional, March 20,2014

Questions? Email us at info@fruitbearers.com

Fruitbearers Outreach Ministry

Life After Death

I recently read a blog post where someone was talking about death. They made the comment that they wanted to believe in life after death, but the idea of it was terrifying! They were so anxious over the idea of dying and what comes after, that whenever the thought arose, they had to quickly think about something else.

I think this is fairly common. People don’t like to think about death because they have no idea what comes next. Some, like this person, just avoid it all together. Others adamantly declare that death is the end. For those who believe in some form of life after death there are scores of options. From reincarnation to life as a ball of energy, there are many different beliefs. Some believe in heaven as a place where we go if we are basically good and hell is where we go if we are bad such as murderers, rapists, or basically just evil people.

What is interesting to me is that those who believe in life after death, are generally very passionate about what they believe. They are convinced that their belief is the truth and they will argue the point incessantly even though they have no way of proving that they are right.

Christians believe in life after death. They too believe in heaven and hell. The main difference is that Christians can actually prove that their belief is true. The Christians’ faith in life after death is based on one simple, documented fact. Jesus died, and returned from the dead. He explained what life after death looks like and he explained how to know that when the time came, we could experience this next life in a way that far surpasses anything we know here and now.

You would think that people would be beside themselves to learn what Jesus had to say and yet the sad fact is, most people have no interest. In fact most people don’t believe him at all. Like an ostrich they would rather bury their head in the sand than confront a future that is beyond their understanding.

Fear is a powerful motivator. It can motivate us to hide from what we don’t understand, or it can motivate us to seek answers. Since death awaits us all, it seems logical to me that ignoring it is not the wisest course of action. Furthermore, since Jesus has already experienced death and returned, knowing what he has to say is the logical course of action.

There are many historians who have written of Jesus resurrection… his rising as it were from the dead, but the most succinct account of his return from the dead and what he had to say about life after death can be found in the Bible. I would encourage you to read it and see for yourself. Death does not have to be something to fear, but understanding what awaits is vital if we are to prepare ourselves for the journey.

If you have questions email us at info@fruitbearers.com

Fruitbearers Outreach Ministry

Condemnation Kills

I was listening to a preacher on the radio as I was driving down the road a few days ago, and he said two words that struck a chord. Two simple words… Condemnation kills.

How many of us feel unworthy of anything good God has to offer because of our continued failure. Our intentions are good, but it seems as though we fall short every time.

We believe that Jesus died for our sins, we believe he rose from the dead, and we believe he ascended and now sits at the right hand of God the Father. That’s what we were told and we believe it. We have confidence that if we were to die tonight we would go to heaven to be with Jesus. At least we are reasonably certain. And yet there is that nagging thought that something must be wrong for us to continue to struggle with sin.

Can you relate? Then let me give you some good news. Romans 8:1-2 (NIV) says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

You have been set free from sin and made alive by the Spirit through Jesus.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV).

The key to all this is that we are righteous because of what Jesus did, not because of anything we did or anything we do. That’s why there is no condemnation. Our failures have nothing to do with our righteousness or our standing with God.

Many of us have the idea that our sin somehow separates us from God, but once we surrender to the Lordship of Christ and He becomes our Savior, sin is no longer an issue. We still sin, and struggle with feelings of guilt, anger, frustration, or shame over our sin, but His Word makes it clear that, “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” 1 John 3:20 (NIV).

God doesn’t condemn us. God loves us. “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NET).

Our best efforts can’t save us and our best efforts can’t keep us from sinning because as the prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Jeremiah 17:9.

As we grow and develop in our Christian walk we will get better at saying no to sin, but we will never tame the flesh. Our victory is not in overcoming our actions, but in our understanding of who we are in Christ.

Our righteousness is His righteousness. Our victory is His victory. And with that understanding comes freedom; not a freedom to keep from sinning, but rather a freedom in knowing that we are righteous in Christ even when we sin.

Condemnation kills, but there is no condemnation in Him. In Him we have grace and grace trumps condemnation every time.

Are you struggling with condemnation? Email us at info@fruitbearers.com

Fruitbearers Outreach Ministry

How Can I Get More Faith?

This week let’s talk about faith. You probably know that Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as, “…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We know that our salvation is obtained by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The truth is, all of God’s promises can only be received by faith. This is true concerning salvation (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10); physical healing (Matthew 9:22; James 5:15); material provisions (Matthew 6:28-32); or whatever our particular circumstances might be (Mark 11:24; Matthew 17:20).

By faith we are justified (Romans 3:28), sanctified (Acts 26:18), and preserved (I Peter 1:5). By faith we overcome satan (Ephesians 6:16) and the world (I John 5:4). By faith we have access to God (Romans 5:2); inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12); stand (2 Corinthians 1:24); walk (2 Corinthians 5:7); live (Galatians 2:20) and die (Hebrews 11:13). Put simply, in our walk with Christ nothing that we have, nothing we hope to accomplish, obtain, or become, is possible without faith.

So given the importance of faith to our walk with God, it becomes imperative that we develop that faith. The obvious question then becomes how?

In Romans 10:17 the Apostle Paul tells us, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Or more specifically, faith comes by hearing and believing the word of God.

Believing His Word is believing God. God will not fail to fulfill every promise that He makes to us because, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a human being, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it happen?” (Numbers 23:19 NET).

I think the general lack of faith among many Christians today is primarily due to the fact that we don’t know what God’s Word promises. The Old and New Testament prophets and apostles did not have some special degree of faith more than the rest of us. They received their answers to prayer and the power to work miracles and perform mighty acts the same way we do. They heard and believed the Word of God.

Let’s face it. We all lead busy lives and we have to balance that life with family, church, work, and any number of other things that pop up on any given day. Carving out time to read our Bible is often no easy task. However, even if our time in the Word is limited to ten minutes a day we need to develop the mind-set that the words we read, although written by a man, are actually the words of God. 2 Peter 1:21 says, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

If we can begin to see the Word in that light then we know that His promises are true… ALL of them, and we can begin to grow in our faith knowing that this is what pleases God. (Hebrews 11:6).

Walking with Christ is a process. We learn as we grow so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t where you think you should be. As a wise man once told me, just keep on keepin’ on. Remember, the first thing recorded in Romans 10:17 is God’s promise. “So then faith comes…”. God will always reward those who seek to know Him more and the truth of His Word.

Need help? Email us at info@fruitbearers.com

Fruitbearers Outreach Ministry

Anyone Who Calls on His Name

About eighteen years ago we had a friend diagnosed with a terminal disease and we suggested to him that he consider what God could do. His response was, “I didn’t turn to God before I was sick and I will not be a hypocrite and turn to him now.” We don’t know about his last seconds on earth, but we can only hope he changed his mind. It was his choice.

Have you ever had one of those moments where something dangerous arises suddenly? Maybe you are witnessing a life threatening moment. You don’t even have to be involved and then those godly words come out of your mouth. You gave it no thought you just reacted to the danger or calamity by saying, “Oh My God!” Some use the phrase loosely, but we’re not referring to those moments. And yes, we are also aware that some may use some expletive here. What we are referring to is when something has gone horribly bad or it’s about to; a moment when you desperately wish you could stop time.

Interestingly enough, even someone who claims not to believe in God will call on God in those moments. Some even make promises to the living God they don’t know. I promise I’ll _____ (fill in the blank) if you bail me out this one. Soldiers in the armed forces have a saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

Mankind has more of God in them than they wish to admit. We are made up of spirit, soul and body. In a previous blog we spoke of how God blew His breath into Adam and he became a living being or soul as some translations indicate. We saw how we all are descended from Adam (Acts 17:26).

The Bible teaches that nature screams at us about God. Romans 1:18-20 (NIV) tells us, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Go ahead and read the whole chapter.

Yep, His creation is clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, and that leaves us without excuse concerning God’s existence. Every time we step out of our home and look around us, or when we look in the mirror we should acknowledge there is a God. Our old friend that passed away did not say God does not exist. This is the reason we believe others can say there are no atheists in foxholes, or how everyone can call on God when they are in a pinch. We are wired to call out to Him when fear or desperation invades our life. Sadly not all call on His name and even more sadly many lose all hope and decide to bring an end to their life on earth. Though this is a sticky topic hiding it and not talking about it will not help others at all. There is Hope.

Acts 2:21 (NIV) “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 (NIV) “for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'” Joel 2:32 (NIV) “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.”

His Word says “everyone” in at least three different places. Some Bible versions say “whoever.” That means you are qualified to call upon the name of the Lord. It didn’t say only those who believe or that you must first believe. So don’t even think to feel like a hypocrite for making a promise while in trouble. King David, who was a man after God’s own heart, said in Psalm 66:13-14 (NLT) “Now I come to your Temple with burnt offerings to fulfill the vows I made to you — yes, the sacred vows that I made when I was in deep trouble.”

Doesn’t that give you hope? We are not advocating that you live your life without Jesus and just call upon Him only when you are in trouble. And we are not saying if you are a born again Christian you will not have trouble. Rather consider the love God has toward us which He showed by sending Jesus to the cross to redeem us and by providing all the warnings, options, and outs for all of our troubles – even for those who disregard His existence. He is a good God.

So the next time you feel rushed or overwhelmed by circumstances, trials or troubles, or even danger, by all means shout it out! GOD HELP ME! Then praise Him for his amazing grace.

info@fruitbearers.com

Fruitbearers Outreach Ministry