Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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In this blog, I provide encouragement and biblical teaching on seeking the Lord with all your heart, loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and living a life of holiness, righteousness, and truth.

As the Scripture says:

'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

And "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat 7:13-14)

Some of the topics covered include seeking the Lord, prayer, worship, tithing, inquiring of the Lord, hearing His voice, obedience, grace, godly attire and adornment, sanctification, consecration, backsliding, repentance, brokenness, suffering, humility, the fear of the Lord, the role of the commandments for the disciple of Christ, and the conditions of the New Covenant.  I hope this will be an edifying and encouraging experience for you that will help you to grow in your walk with the Lord.

Seeking the Lord Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God Holy Fire Baptism
Lifting Your Face in Prayer Lifting Hands in Prayer Crying Out to God Loudly
Pressing on Toward the Goal Taking Heaven by Force God Exalts the Humble and Brings Down the Proud
Whom Are You Seeking? Should you fear the Lord? Is a Woman's Hair Her Head Covering?
Aim for Perfection Obedience by the Spirit Is Obedience Optional?
Salvation with Fear and Trembling Holy Living in a Perverted World Drifting Away
The Cost of Discipleship Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Is Tithing Required?
Where Should You Give Your Tithe? Walking in the Perfect Will of God Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian
The Obedience of Faith Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross? Law of Love in the New Testament
The New Covenant Law of Love in the New Testament The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith Costly Grace The Law of Christ
The Eyes of the Lord Garments of Godliness The Three Elijahs
The Burning Ones The End Has Come Now, But Not Yet
The Happy Hunters on Fire You're Better Off Following Jesus God Chooses the Weak Things 
The Beauty of Brokenness Seeing Jesus, Loving Him, Character and Glory Hearing the Lord's Voice
Hearing the Lord's Voice Inquiring of the Lord Praise the Lord!
The Loving God Who Bids Us to Come One thing Righteousness, Peace, and Joy
Is the the Self-Help and Actualization Movement a Sham? From Self-confidence to Confidence in the Lord The Self-Help Gospel
Checklist for Revival God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He? The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer
The Flaming Sword Clean Hands and a Pure Heart The Spirit of the Law
Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy An Open Mind that Loves the Truth Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? The Apostasy Parables

The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught
The Disciples’ Prayer Is Tolerance a Virtue? Righteousness by Faith not Law
Life is Short. Eternity is Not. Noah's Ark a Type of Christ Grace, Mercy, and Peace
Ultimate Accountability Separation from the World The Knowledge of the Holy
The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness Ask for the Ancient Paths Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven
The Straight and Narrow Path Unhealthy Competition A Peculiar People
Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets Hope for You

Beware of Philosophy and Empty Deception
The Love of Jesus The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer Having a Servant's Heart
Avoiding Worldly Worship Purge the Evil from Among You Who is God?
Living a Life Worthy of the Lord Praying for the Lord Jesus Who is God? - Part II
The Way, Will, and Word of God Overcomers in This Life The Afflictions of the Righteous
Saints Alive in Jesus Bowing Low in Worship Repentance That Leads to Life
Keeping a Good Conscience Remember Lot’s Wife Called to be Blameless
If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words The Lord Will Rejoice Over You The Nature of Persecution
The Wardrobe of the Saints Filled Up to All the Fullness of God Loving Deeply
Seeking Glory from God Amazing Grace God's Sovereign Plans and Purposes
Abominations in the Sight of God Identification with Christ Alabaster Jar
Running from God Forgetting the Past Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?
God's View of Public Bathing Is Secular Music for Christians? Ignorance is Not Bliss
In the Yolk of Christianity Songs of the Holy Fire Known by God
Modern Day Idols Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Walking in Truth, Righteousness, and Holiness
Escaping from Dead Religion Living Sacrifices in Consuming Fire God's Amazing Plan for Your Life
Your Identity in Christ Having the Love of God in Your Heart Knowing the Lord
Following in His Steps

Our gift of these articles by Len Lacroix is made possible in part by your gracious support of the ministry. Partner with us online.  You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Seek My Face" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Following in His Steps

In my article, What Jesus Did Not Do on the Cross, which I highly recommend reading, I highlighted twenty-one things the Lord did not do during His betrayal, passion, and crucifixion. One of those was that He did not sin. Today I would like to focus on that one in particular, since He did not sin at any point during His earthly life. Let's see what the Scriptures say:

He Did Not Sin
We know for certain that the Lord did not commit any sin, because the Bible tells us so. It says:

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." (Heb 4:15)

I have highlighted in my article, The Temptation of Christ, how He overcame all the devil's temptations in the wilderness and committed no sin. What was true of that experience was true of His entire life. He never sinned.

The apostle Paul affirmed the sinlessness of Christ when he wrote: "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2Co 5:21)

The apostle Peter wrote: "For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth." (1Pe 2:21-22)

We learn two important things from this passage. First, that Jesus committed no sin, and secondly that He left us an example that we should follow in His steps.

He Suffered for Righteousness
Another important point that Peter made in verse 21 was that we have been called to suffer. This is clearer when we read it in context with the verse before it:

"For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps..." (1Pe 2:20-21)

Later in that same epistle, he further emphasized this aspect of participating in Christ's sufferings, when he wrote: "But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (1 Pe 4:13, NIV)

The apostle Paul affirmed this in his epistle to the Philippians, when he wrote: "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him..." (Phil 1:29, NIV). For more on that topic, please see my article, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer.

Follow Him
As I have just mentioned, Peter said that Jesus Christ is your example, and you must follow in his steps (1 Pe 2:21). Truly in all things, Jesus is our perfect example. The apostle John also said the same thing in his epistle: "Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did." (1 Jn 2:6).

This is what Jesus Himself taught His disciples. He said: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." (Mt 16:24, NIV). When He said we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him, He meant just what He said. We must follow in His steps in every aspect of life.

These are the requirements in order to be a disciple of Christ. He said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be My disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple." (Lk 14:26-27, NIV 1978).

This is a daily requirement: "Then he said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" (Lk 9:23, NIV)

On another occasion He said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Mt 11:29, NIV). This also speaks of learning from Him the way to live and doing what He did.

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
As that old hymn I Have Decided to Follow Jesus says, "The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back, no turning back. Though none go with me, still I will follow." According to Wikipedia, "...the lyrics are based on the last words of Nokseng, a Garo man, a tribe from Meghalaya [India] which then was in Assam, who along with his family decided to follow Jesus Christ in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of an American Baptist missionary. Called to renounce his faith by the village chief, the convert declared, 'I have decided to follow Jesus.' His two children were killed and in response to threats to his wife, he continued, 'Though none go with me, still I will follow.' His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing, 'The cross before me, the world behind me.' This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village."

The article goes on to say that "The formation of these words into a hymn is attributed to the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh. The melody is also Indian, and entitled 'Assam' after the region where the text originated. An American hymn editor, William Jensen Reynolds, composed an arrangement," which we now know as the wonderful old hymn I Have Decided to Follow Jesus. It aptly describes the point I am making in this article.

No Turning Back
As that hymn says, once we have decided to follow Jesus, we must never turn back, no matter what happens. As Jesus said, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (Lk 9:62, NIV). For more on this, please see Remember Lot's Wife.

Putting it All Together
Since Jesus committed no sin, then we should follow in His steps and follow in His example, which means we should also commit no sin, as I explained in my article Aim for Perfection. Just as He denied Himself and took up His cross, we also must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. And just as He suffered for righteousness, we must participate in His sufferings, too.

I hope this has helped to encourage you in your walk with God to seek Him with all your heart. Fight the good fight, keep the faith, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus! The cross before you, the world behind you, no turning back, no turning back. Though none go with you, still you must follow Jesus without turning back.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. Other Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®. Image from Christ Lutheran Church, which may be subject to copyright, used according to Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Aim for Perfection, Called to Be BlamelessWalking in the Perfect Will of God, For the Glory of God Alone, Crucified with Christ, What Jesus Did Not Do on the Cross, Sins That Will Keep You From HeavenThe Glory of Martyrdom for Christ, The Obedience of Faith, Restored Truth, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Pleasing the Lord, Clean Hands and a Pure Heart, Salvation with Fear and Trembling, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, The Ways of Life, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Is Tithing Required for Christians?, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Having a Servant's Heart, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Divorce -- Three Divine Revelations, A Warning for Married Christian Couples, Separation from the World, and Standing in the Gap. My daughter has also written a lovely poem called Cross Bearing. You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org

Friday, May 11, 2018

Knowing the Lord

It's one thing to say you know the Lord and it's quite another thing to actually know Him. There needs to be evidence or proof that you know Him, which the Bible calls the fruit of repentance.

There is a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus. You can know about a historical figure like George Washington, but you don't know him. The same is true of any Bible character. No matter how well you know the life of that person, you don't know them personally. You can know all the facts about Jesus and believe they are true, but still not know Him. You can know about God without knowing God personally. But He wants you to know Him personally and to know His Son Jesus Christ. Let's see what the Scripture has to say about knowing Him.

To Know Him is to Keep His Commandments
John the apostle said, "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1Jn 2:3-4).

How do you know that you have come to know Him? You know it if you keep His commandments. The one who claims to know Him but does not keep His commandments is a liar. Such a person does not know Him, and does not have the truth within him.

To Know Him is to Love
Everyone who loves, knows God, and the one who does not love does not know God. John said, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1Jn 4:7-8). To love goes hand in hand with knowing God.

Listen to the word of the Lord spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, who said, "'He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?' declares the Lord." (Jer 22:15-16, NIV). The Lord indicated through Jeremiah what it means to know Him. To know the Lord means doing what is right and just, and defending the cause of the poor and needy. Did you ever realize that?

James said the same thing when he wrote, "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (Jas 1:26-27)

To Know Jesus is to Know the Father
If you know Jesus, then you know the Father, too. Jesus said, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." (Joh 14:7)

In fact, there is no other way to know the Father, except through knowing Jesus Christ. He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (Joh 14:6). If you know Jesus, you will know the Father. If you don't know Jesus, you will not know the Father.

John wrote: "And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." (1Jn 5:20). The Son of God has given us understanding so that we may know God the Father who is true. He is the true God and eternal life.

To Know Him is to Have Eternal Life
He prayed, "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (Jn 17:3, NIV). Therefore, eternal life is knowing the only true God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Paul the apostle understood this when he wrote, "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." (Php 3:10-11, NIV). He understood that what matters is to know the Lord and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being like Him in His death. His purpose in doing so was in order that he might attain to the resurrection from the dead. Thus attaining to the resurrection is the direct consequence of knowing the Lord.

To Know Him is to Know the Spirit
Jesus said, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." (Joh 14:16-17). The reason the children of God know the Spirit of truth is because He abides with them and is in them.

To Know God the Father Like Jesus Did
Jesus declared that He knows the Father. He said, "I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me." (Joh 7:29). Jesus knew Him, because He was from Him. That's how Jesus knew God. Likewise, if you are born of God, you too will know Him.

To Know Him is to Keep His Word
Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God'; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word." (Joh 8:54-55). The Lord Jesus during His life on earth knew the Father and kept His Word.

To Know Him is to Let Him Be at the Helm
When you know the Lord, He will be at the helm of your life, guiding you through all the storms, as the beautiful painting by artist Danny Hahlbohm depicts.  He will be the one to steer and keep you from crashing against the rocks or perishing in the depths of the raging sea. He will be not only your Savior but your Lord, which means He will call the shots and you will do as He says.

Those Who Do Not Know Him
There are many people in the world who say of the Lord, "He is our God," yet they do not know Him. They are liars. They say they believe in Jesus, but they do not know Him, since they don't keep His commandments. As Jesus said, those who know Him will keep His Word.

The world does not know Him. They may have their institutional churches where they claim to worship God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. But if someone comes along who is not part of the institutional church and is not wearing one of the denominational labels, they don't know him. The apostle John said, "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." (1Jn 3:1, NIV). While the world may have religion, they do not know God, so they are missing out on the most wonderful and important thing.

In fact, their failure to know Him is so complete that even when God's Son Himself, the one through whom God made the world, came into the world, they did not know Him. "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." (Joh 1:10).

The world through its wisdom does not know God. As Paul said, "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." (1Co 1:21).

Those who do not know God walk in lustful passion, but those who know Him also know how to possess their vessel in holiness and honor. Paul said, "It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God." (1Th 4:3-5, NIV).

Let me cite a few examples from Scripture of those who did not know the Lord.

Pharaoh
The first one is the Pharaoh of Egypt when Moses delivered to him the Lord's command to let His people go. Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go." (Exo 5:2). Pharaoh himself said he did not know the Lord and refused to obey His voice. He ignorantly said, "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?" Thus He placed himself above God and his own will above the will of God.

Post-Joshua Generation
Another example is the generation in Israel that arose after the death of Joshua. Scripture states: "All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger." (Jdg 2:10-12). This demonstrates that even when people have a godly heritage, if they themselves don't know the Lord, then they will choose to do evil in the sight of the Lord. In the case of the post-Joshua generation, they served idols, forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, and followed other gods, bowing down to them and provoking the Lord to anger.

The sons of Eli
A great case in point was the sons of Eli the high priest, Hophni and Phinehas, who did not know the Lord, although they themselves were priests. "Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD." (1Sa 2:12). Scripture tells us that the sin of these young men was very great in the sight of the Lord. They despised the offering of the Lord by demanding the meat of the offerings the people brought to the Lord, and fattening themselves with the choicest of every offering. They refused to listen to the voice of their father Eli, who tried to tell them not to do that.

What they were doing was so evil that the Lord desired to put them to death, and ultimately He did put them to death. They both died on the same day in a battle with the Philistines, in which the ark of the Lord was captured by the enemy. That day when their father Eli heard the news, he fell off his chair, broke his neck and died. Then his daughter in law, the wife of Phinehas went into labor and gave birth to a child that she named Ichabod, which means the glory has departed. Immediately afterward she died, too.

The example of Eli's sons demonstrates that even those who are in ministry, such as priests and pastors, may themselves not even know the Lord. It also teaches us how God views such hypocrites and ultimately judges them, unless they repent.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel
During the period of the Northern Kingdom of Israel's decline and fall in the 8th century BC, the people cast off the law of God and dealt treacherously against the Lord. These revolters went deep into depravity, played the harlot, and defiled themselves. The Lord spoke of them through the prophet Hosea saying, "Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, And they do not know the LORD. (Hos 5:4). They did not know the Lord, and even when they tried to seek the Lord, they were unable to find Him, because He had withdrawn Himself from them. As we know, the Lord sent them off into captivity, because of their sins.

Samuel the Prophet
There was even a time when the prophet Samuel, when he was a small boy living in the temple with Eli the high priest, did not yet know the Lord. Scripture says, "Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him." (1Sa 3:7). Consequently he did not yet know the voice of the Lord or recognize it when God spoke to him. But as Samuel grew, he came to know the Lord, he learned to hear the Lord's voice clearly. In fact, he became a mighty prophet of God. The Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground (1 Sam 3:19).

The example of Samuel shows us that we are not born knowing the Lord. Even those who may one day become mighty prophets of God must come to know the Lord personally at some point in their life.

Some of Those Who Say, "Lord, Lord"
Not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord" actually knows Him. Jesus warned that there would be people who call Him Lord and even operate in supernatural power, but do not know Him. He said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'" (Mat 7:21-23). So while people may operate in powerful manifestations, the real evidence of whether they know the Lord is their fruits. You will know them by their fruits (Mat 7:20).

Judas Iscariot
Perhaps Judas Iscariot is the best example of one such person who was a disciple of Christ. He was appointed by Jesus to be one of His twelve apostles, and he was sent out to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead. Yet he did not know the Lord, but betrayed Him for only thirty pieces of silver.

As Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Mt 6:24, NIV)

Saul of Tarsus
One final example I'd like to give is Saul of Tarsus before his conversion to Christ. As a Jewish Pharisee who did not know the Lord, he was very religious, having been educated under Gamaliel strictly according to the law of Moses. He was zealous for God, persecuting Christians to death, binding and putting them into prisons. Yet he did not know the Lord. Here is the account of his conversion:

"Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do." (Act 9:1-6)

When Jesus Christ the Son of the Most High God appeared in a blinding light to this very zealous, religious man, he did not even recognize Him. He said, "Who are You, Lord?" Again, it underscores how one can be very religious and zealous for their cause, yet not even know the Lord. But that day Saul came to know the Lord and his whole life changed. The Christians said of him "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."

Because he repented and put his faith in Christ, God forgave all his sins. Saul's namesake had been the first king of Israel, Saul son of Kish, who was said to be a head and shoulders taller than all his peers. Yet when Saul of Tarsus came to know Jesus personally, he changed his name to Paul, which means little. God called him to be an apostle and used him mightily to reach most of the known world of his day with the gospel. In fact, the Lord used him to write half the books of the New Testament Bible.

Destruction of Those Who Do Not Know Him
Paul taught that when the Lord is revealed from heaven, He will deal out retribution to those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. He said, "...when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power..." (2Th 1:7-9)

Job spoke of the terrible fate of the one who does not know God: "He is driven from light into darkness, And chased from the inhabited world...Those in the west are appalled at his fate, And those in the east are seized with horror. Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, And this is the place of him who does not know God." (Job 18:18-21)

Those Who Know the Lord
Before I conclude, I would like to give some examples of those in Scripture who did know the Lord. I have already mentioned some of them like the prophet Samuel and the apostle Paul. Abraham knew the Lord and so did Jacob and Isaac. Noah was another man who knew the Lord, who walked with God. David knew the Lord and was a man after the Lord's own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Ac 13:22). Joseph knew the Lord and was persecuted both by his brothers and Potiphar's wife. The prophets Elijah and Elisha knew the Lord and so did Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and the minor prophets. These men heard his voice and suffered persecution for the Lord's sake.

The same is true of the apostles Peter, James, John, and the rest of the original apostles, all of whom were martyred to death, except John who was banished to the island of Patmos. The Lord used John to write one of the four gospels in Scripture, three epistles, and He gave John a tremendous, apocalyptic revelation while he was suffering on the island, which became a book of the Bible called Revelation. John the Baptist knew the Lord, because he recognized Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He prepared the way for the Lord and lived a godly life, and he was beheaded by King Herod. Stephen knew the Lord, too, and he was stoned to death. The Lord's brothers James and Jude knew the Lord, and so did the women who went to His tomb after His crucifixion. Mary the sister of Lazarus, who sat at Jesus feet, knew the Lord. And so did the one hundred and twenty disciples who were praying in the upper room in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, and who received the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Ac 2:1-6).

The Lord spoke through Jeremiah the prophet about the then future New Covenant He has since inaugurated through Jesus Christ. He said: "They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jer 31:34). This teaches us that under the New Covenant in Jesus' blood, all of His disciples know the Lord from the least to the greatest.

This promise is not just for Israel but for Gentiles, too! As the prophet Isaiah said, "Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. (Isa 19:21)

Hope for the Backslider
Perhaps you once knew the Lord, but have since slidden back into a life of sin and worldliness, but you now want to return to the Lord. There is hope for you, just as there was hope for backslidden Israel during the decline of the Northern Kingdom, when the Lord said to them through Hosea: "And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD." (Hos 2:20). Be earnest, therefore, and repent.

The Lord also held out hope for backslidden Israel after they had been carried into Babylonian exile, when He spoke these words through the prophet Jeremiah: "I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart." (Jer 24:7, NIV).

May our heart's cry be like that of Hosea, who proclaimed: "So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth." (Hos 6:3).

Putting it All Together
If you know the Lord, you will love Him and others. You will do what is right and just, and defend the cause of the poor and needy. You will keep His commandments, which means you will keep His Word. You will obey Him and do what He says. It's called obeying the gospel. You will abstain from sexual immorality and possess your vessel in holiness.

You cannot know God except through Jesus Christ. To know Jesus is to know the Father, and that is eternal life. The consequence or outcome of knowing Him is attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not only do those who know Jesus know God the Father, they also know the Spirit of truth.

This is how is was for Jesus. During His earthly existence, He knew God the Father and He knew the Spirit, too. He came from God and by keeping His Word He proved that He knew Him.

When He comes back again it will be in flaming fire with His mighty angels to deal out retribution to those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be shut out of the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.

Therefore, knowing Jesus and knowing God is of utmost importance. It is critical that you come to know Him, because your very soul depends on it. That is why I urge you to seek the Lord to know Him more, if you already know Him, and demonstrate by your actions that you know Him. He is watching to see you do so. And if you don't know Him, then I hope that after reading this you have a desire to know Him now.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan. The "At the Helm" painting is by renowned artist Danny Hahlbohm of Inspired Art, © 2018, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note Also see Known by God, The Knowledge of the Holy, Pictures of Jesus Showing the Beauty of Christ, Do You Want to Know Jesus?, You Must Be Born Again, All Things Are NewIs Obedience Optional?, The Obedience of FaithFaith Works!, Walking in the Perfect Will of GodDeleted Scriptures in the Bible?Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, Hearing the Lord's VoiceHoly Living in a Perverted World, Called to be Blameless, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, From Religion to RelationshipThe Law of Love in the New Testament, The Law of Christ, The Cost of Discipleship, Should You Fear the Lord?, Escaping from Dead Religion, Baptized with the Spirit, and Holy Fire Baptism.

You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Having the Love of God in Your Heart

Dear God seekers,

I'd like to address a very important issue for each and every one of us to consider. As I have written in my article, Jesus Knows, the Lord knows everyone's heart, and you cannot fool Him. Neither can you hide from him the true condition of your heart. The apostle John wrote, "For He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man." (Joh 2:24b-25, NIV). Something that Jesus once said to His opponents was this: "But I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts." (Jn 5:42, NIV).

Now that's something that I would never want to have the Lord look me in the eye and say of me. That would be terrifying, because love is the greatest commandment, and if you don't have God's love in your heart, then you are breaking the most important commandment, which means you are not going to make it to heaven.

The apostle Paul said it like this:

"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." (1 Cor 13:1-3, NIV).

It doesn't matter if you speak in tongues, prophesy, know mysteries, interpret dreams, expound the Scriptures, know the Bible inside and out, know everything there is to know, have correct theology, have mountain-moving faith, work miracles, give generously of your financial resources to the poor, or even die for your beliefs. If you don't have love, then all those other things are of no value to you or God. You're going to come up short on judgment day.

The Lord is amazing. He could take you into a very large church on a Sunday, where thousands and even tens of thousands of people are pouring through the doors into the sanctuary, and although you may look at the crowds thinking that this church is truly bustling with life, He would not be fooled at all. He could look at each person coming in and know whether or not they have the love of God in their hearts. He knows what they are there for, and whether they have come out of their love for God or for some other reason. He knows if they are there to worship Him or if they have come for the entertainment, to sing and dance, to network with others, for business opportunities, or for the social experience, to meet fine people, such as those of the opposite sex, to show off their clothes, to show others how religious they are, or to appease their own guilty conscience. While you may not be able to tell the difference between those who have the love of God in their hearts and those who don't, the Lord can instantly tell who does and who doesn't. And that's the most important thing to Him.

A Pharisee, who was an expert in the law, once asked Him, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mat 22:34-40, NIV).

He clearly emphasized that love is foremost in the sight of God. The greatest commandments He has ever given to us are to love Him with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Everything else that God has commanded us or spoken through His prophets hangs on -- or depends on -- our obeying these two commandments. He said we must abide in His love (Jn 15:10). The apostle Paul said, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom 13:8,10).

The apostle John wrote: "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." (1 Joh 4:20, NIV). It begs the question: how can you love God, if you don't love your brother or sister?

John also gave us another way to know if we have God's love in us. He said, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 Jn 2:15). Clearly he taught that if you love the world, then the love of God is not in your heart. Yet so many in the Church today are pursuing the things of the world -- its wealth, luxury, fashion, entertainment, and material possessions. Therefore, let's be sure to avoid loving the world, because all that is in the world is passing away, but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

Every disciple of Christ should live according to the way of love. That's the distinguishing characteristic by which others will know we are His disciples. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Joh 13:34-35, NIV). Over the past two thousand years, this has always been the hallmark by which the true people of God are recognized. The reason is that when you are born again and you truly come to know Him, His love is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit. As the apostle Paul said, "God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (Ro 5:5b, NIV).

Making it Personal
You see, Jesus knows all men. He knows you, and He knows what’s inside your heart. He knows your motives for the things you do, including the religious things as well. Do you have the love of God in your heart? Ask yourself that question, and ask the Lord to show you if you do or not. If not, then repent for not having the love of God in your heart, and ask for His forgiveness. Then open your heart up to God and pray that He will pour His love out into your heart by His precious Holy Spirit. Put the love of God in your heart.

He still loves you, but love on your part is not optional; it's a commandment. Jesus requires it. And mercy is only available while you are on earth. You cannot repent and ask forgiveness after you die. So if you don't have the love of God in your heart, then He knows it and nothing else you do for Him even matters. This is the high and holy standard by which you will be judged. May we all be ready to stand before Him on that great day.

Attribution Notice: Most Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV, which is subject to copyright by Zondervan. Other Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible, copyright by the Lockman Foundation. Image may be subject to copyright, used according to Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only.

Author's Note: If you enjoyed this article, you may also like reading From Religion to RelationshipJesus KnowsCompelled by Love, The Forgotten Sin of WorldlinessThe Law of Christ, The Law of Love in the New TestamentAvoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?, Having a Servant's Heart, Unselfish Hearts, Pleasing the Lord, The Practice of AbidingThe Judgment Seat of Christ, One Thing, Bowing Low in Worship, What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?, and Is Obedience Optional? More articles like this may be found on the Home Page of this blog. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Your Identity in Christ

In my previous article, Identification with Christ, I explained how the believer has total and complete union with Christ and identifies with Him in every way. In this present article, I would like to help you understand your specific identity in Christ. The reason this is so important is that the devil comes to accuse, tempt, and deceive, and if you don't know your true identity in Christ, he can more easily accomplish his goals. You must know who you are so that you can resist him. Do you realize who you are in Christ? Here is what the Scripture says.

I am...

  • Born again (Jn 3:3; 1Pe 1:23)
  • Born of the Spirit (Jn 3:6)
  • A new creation (2 Co 5:17)
  • Forgiven of my sins (1 Jn 1:9; Heb 8:12; Rev 1:5; Is 1:18; Psa 103:3,12; Isa 43:25; Ez 18:22; Mt 6:14-15)
  • Washed, cleansed, and purified (1 Co 6:11; 1 Pe 1:22; Rom 8:1; Jn 15:3; 1 Jn 1:7; Eph 5:25-26; Heb 9:14)
  • Saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9; Ro 5:9)
  • Created to do good works (Eph 2:10)
  • The righteousness of God in Christ (2 Co 5:21)
  • Raised with Christ (Col 3:1)
  • Seated in heavenly realms with Christ (Eph 2:6)
  • Hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3)
  • A citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20)
  • On my way to heaven (Jn 14:1-3; 1 Jn 5:13; 2 Cor 5:1)
  • A saint, called to be holy (Phil 1:1; 1 Co 1:2; Eph 1:1; Heb 12:14)
  • Called by God (1 Pe 1:1; Jude 1:1)
  • Chosen by God (1 Pet 1:2; Col 3:12; Jn 15:16; Eph 1:4;1:11)
  • A child of God (1 Jn 3:1; 5:19; Rom 8:14,16; Jn 1:12-13; Gal 4:4–7)
  • A child of the King (Rev 17:14; 19:16; Is 53:10)
  • An heir of salvation (Col 1:12; Tit 3:7)
  • An heir of God and joint-heir with Christ (Rom 8:17)
  • A servant of the Most High God (Col 3:23-24; 1 Co 4:1)
  • Followed by signs (Mk 16:17)
  • The temple of the Holy Spirit (2 Co 6:16; 1 Co 6:19; 3:16)
  • A member of Christ’s Body  (1 Co 12:27)
  • A true Jew (Rom 2:29)
  • A child of Abraham, an heir of promise (Gal 3:29; 5:28)
  • One with Christ (1 Cor 6:17; Eph 5:31,32; Ro 6:5)
  • A friend of God (Jn 15:14-15)
  • A witness for Christ (Ac 1:8; Mt 28:19; Mk 16:15)
  • The salt of the earth (Mt 5:13)
  • The light of the world.  (Mt 5:14)
  • Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, purchased of God (1 Co 6:20; Eph 1:7)
  • Christ's own possession (1 Co 3:23)
  • Loved by God (Jn 3:16; 14:21,23; 15:9; 16:27; Rom 5:8)
  • Fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14)
  • A vessel of honor (2 Tim 2:21)
  • An undeserving object of God’s mercy (Rom 9:23-24; 11:32; Lam 3:22-23)
  • Followed by goodness and mercy (Ps 23:6)
  • Blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3)
  • Served and protected by angels (Ps 91:11; Heb 1:14)
  • A king and a priest (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6)
  • Existing to do God’s will (1 Pe 4:1-2; 1 Jn 2:17; Mt 7:21)
  • Living for Christ ( 2 Co 5:15)
  • Crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20)
  • A branch connected to Christ the Vine (Jn 15:5; Ro 11:17-18)
  • Dead to sin (Ro 6:4,11)
  • A living sacrifice (Rom 12:1)
  • A soldier of Christ (2 Tim 2:3)
  • Being transformed from glory to glory into Christ's image (2 Cor 3:18)
  • Accountable to God (2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 3:13-14; Ro 14:10-12)
  • Free in Christ, free not to sin or do evil. Free to love and be who He’s created me to be (Jn 8:36; 8:32; Rom 6:18; 6:22; Gal 5:13; 1 Co 7:22)
  • Victorious (2 Co 2:14; 1 Jn 5:4-5; 1 Cor 15:57)


Furthermore
  • Apart from Christ I can do nothing (Jn 15:5) 
  • I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Jn 17:26; 2 Co 13:5; Col 1:27) 
  • I have the mind of Christ (1 Co 2:16) 
  • I have an anointing from the Holy One (1 Jn 2:20)
  • I can do all things through Christ (Phil 4:13) 
  • I shall do even greater works than Jesus did (Jn 14:12) 

Now that you know who you are in Christ, you can make these proclamations in response to the devil's lies. As the Scripture says, "I have believed, therefore I have spoken." (Ps 116:10; 2 Cor 4:13). When you begin to reclaim and proclaim your true identity in Christ out loud, you will be victorious over the enemy.

I have also created another version of this article called Your Identity in Christ -- Full Version, which quotes each verse in full that I have referenced in this article. I strongly encourage you to either look up these verses in your Bible or read the full version, which is much meatier than this one.

I have also created a three-fold, quick-reference card that you can print out, which lists your identity in Christ, just as I have laid it out in this article. It contains only the Scripture references, not the full text of each verse. This keeps it concise enough to fold and keep handy in your Bible or hang on the front of your refrigerator to remind you who you are. If you would like one, simply click on one of the following links: Who Am I? (3-fold card) or Who Am I? (Portrait)

Meanwhile, if you have not yet come to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then I'd like to share what you need to begin to understand about your own identity. If that's you, then please see the section at the end of this page titled, "Do You Want to Know Him?"

Attribution Notice: Image may subject to copyright, used according to the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes.

Author's note: If you would like to receive free training in becoming a disciple of Christ, I highly recommend that you consider enrolling in our Doulos Training School.

I recommend reading the following articles: You Must Be Born AgainIdentification with ChristOvercoming the World, God's Amazing Plan for Your LifeCovenant Prayer,  All Things Handed Over to Jesus ChristSupernatural Power for All Disciples, An Incomparable InheritanceThe Cost of Discipleship, Persecuted or Popular?, The Priesthood of All Believers, and Having a Servant's Heart. I also invite you to read my daughter's poems, called The Cost and Mirror of Christ. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.