I have added this page to help those who are exploring the Christian faith, or who are brand new to it. I was blessed to have people who had been Christians for a while come alongside me and help me at the beginning of my relationship with Jesus. They helped me through my fight with alcohol and other sins that had a real grip on me. Without their help my struggle would have been almost insurmountable. We all need help. I will post things to help you. If they do, let me know. Post on the Furnace House of Prayer Facebook page or contact me at Miltieb53@gmail.com and I will get back to you either way. Read on.
Decide What Kind of Christian You Will Be. March 19, 2020
If you are going to grow in your faith, you need to understand the principle of choice that runs throughout the Bible. In the scriptures there is a lot written about choice. It starts with a choice. Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God. Jesus chooses to endure the cross, rather than give in to the temptation to save His life by avoiding it. Living by faith is always a choice and a series of choices. Living by faith is not like passively floating on an inner tube down the lazy river. It is more like being a salmon and choosing to swim up stream rather than drifting in the direction of the current. It is not Just a matter of will power, but it concerns an active will and a God focused life and mind. Here are several examples from the Word on this kind of faith. By the way, there is no other kind of faith that the true Christian has.
When Joshua was called to take over for Moses. God told him several times that He needed courage. He commanded him to take courage. (It is always fascinating to me that courage has to be taken, otherwise it will just lie there!)God said to Him that he needed to keep His Word in his mouth and then meditate on it day and night, filling his mind with it. Then he said to him, “Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!” Joshua 1:9. God makes it clear that if Joshua is going to walk in faith and courage that there were certain things that he would have to choose to do.
Years later, Joshua stood before the nation of Israel toward the end of his life. He said to them that it was time for them to make a choice. They needed to choose who they would serve, whether it was Baal or God. It had to be a solid choice. He warned them that if they chose God it would require a singleness of devotion. They could not choose to serve both. He stated, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” The people said that they also would make the same choice. The commentary after that is that the people of Joshua’s generation did serve the Lord faithfully.
Prior to this time, before Israel even entered the Promise Land, God called them to make a choice. In Deuteronomy 30:19 God says, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life, in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” God challenges His people to choose. He even tells them the smart thing to choose. He makes them choose because He did not want them to have a passive faith in Him. They would have to enter the Promise Land for every scrap of territory and the passive would not survive.
David constantly declares his choices in the Psalms. “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise will continually be in my mouth” Psalm 34:1. “I will say of the Lord, My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” Psalm 91:2 Speaking and declaring were a part of David’s faith walk. He spoke His choices out loud. Maybe he understood what James would write centuries later, that the tongue is like a rudder of a ship (James 3:4) and helps steer us in the direction we need to go. Or that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) Our words can set and reinforce our choices. Sometimes it encourages us, as we hear our own mouths declare our choice to walk with God faithfully and with courage.
Jesus constantly challenges the faith of the disciples. He made statements about the choices that were necessary for those who follow Him. They would have to choose to love him more than mother, father, wife, husband, children, and their own lives. He said that they would have to choose to take up their cross daily, and follow Him. He knew that they could not follow Him if they were not fully committed to Him. He knew that they would be persecuted for believing in Him and that if faithfulness to Him did not become their lifestyle that they would fail when the ultimate choice of even dying for Him came.
In another place when Jesus talks about what kind of people enter into His kingdom He states that, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers, violence, and violent men take it by force” Matthew 11:12. He states that they take the kingdom. They aggressively pursue the kingdom and the things of the kingdom. If you don’t choose to actively pursue the King, his kingdom and His righteousness, what are we really pursuing?
I know that this may be scary to some of you that read this, especially younger believers. The truth is, this is real Biblical Christianity. We have so packaged the gospel that we have made it easy for people to be saved. Many times we preach a ‘no cost or limited cost’ gospel. Or we offer it to people on the installment plan. Give up a little of your life at a time, with the rest to follow later. Jesus did to offer this kind of gospel. Jesus once compared commitment to Him to a man who “when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Luke 14:28. Jesus would have been a very poor salesman. He always led with the cost and obligation first and the benefits later. If Jesus was preaching today, He would have fewer converts, but He would have some real solid disciples.
What I am writing I am writing with fear and trembling. God will make me accountable to live up to what I am writing. Yet I know that this is true Christianity and discipleship. This challenges me to my very core. I know that daily I must choose to follow Jesus and that yesterday’s commitment and faith has to be replaced by today’s. I must stir up the gift daily that God has placed in me and so do you. My mind must be renewed by His Word every day. Think of it like this: You have to keep filling the gas tank on your car. You can only drive your car on yesterday’s gas for so long. I exhort you, choose this day to follow Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Fill your life to the fullest measure with faith today
After Being Born Again, What’s Next February 10, 2020
Below, I wrote about how to be saved (how to become a Christian). This process is not determined by a church of denomination. Jesus laid it out and we do not get to define what constitutes being a Christian, He does. In an age where people think that they are in charge and can choose what gender they want to be, it is not surprising that people would believe that they are in charge of determining what A Christian is, and what the requirements are for going to heaven.
As stated in the earlier post, the first step into a relationship with God is repentance. We come as sinners, not looking to present ourselves as something special that warrants God’s acceptance, but as those aware of this own sins and unrighteousness. We come to God to be forgiven.
Repentance is joined with faith. In the New Testament in the book of Hebrews chapter 11 verse 6 it says, ‘without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who comes to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Faith is believing that God is who He says He is in the Bible. In this case, it is believing that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior.
When a person joins repentance to faith and receives Jesus into their heart, they are born again. You have taken you first step toward God. But there is more.
In the book of Acts in the New Testament, Peter declares to a crowd that they must do the following. ‘Repent, each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. Acts 2:38
After a person is saved there are two things that they will want to do according to scripture. They will seek to be baptized in water, and they will seek to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Some would say that they were baptized as an infant. My response to that, according to the Bible would be this: When you were an infant, were you able to repent and believe? Of course the answer is no. Though a 7 year old might be able to accept Jesus an infant can’t. All of the apostles were baptized as adults. Those that they preached the gospel were baptized as adults. I do not want to get into an argument with anyone on this. If Jesus and the apostles said that this was required, and that repentance and faith are a prerequisite, why would this be so hard to understand? Jesus told Christians to preach the gospel and then to baptize people who believe.
The other thing that is part of the next steps is to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. By the way, whether it is baptism in water, or the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we need to have an understanding of what the Greek word for baptism means. The original word was baptiz0, which means to immerse or dip. An illustration would be a shirt that you want to dye another color. You would not sprinkle it with the dye solution, you would completely immerse it in the liquid until the shirt was completely saturated with it. When Jesus was baptized in water, it says that He came out of the water. In the same way, once a person is born again, God wants to completely submerge and fill that person with the Holy Spirit. Why is this necessary?
After Jesus was raised from the dead and met with His disciples he taught them for 40 days about the kingdom of God. These teachings must have been wonderful and opened their eyes to truths that they had trouble grasping prior to His resurrection.
Even though they had an understanding of what his death and resurrection meant and were commanded to share it with others, he told them to do one thing first. He said for them to wait in Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on high” Luke 24:49. In another place he tells them that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them. After receiving this they were to be witnesses to the world. Accurate information was not enough. They required the Holy Spirit to fill them with power.
If you become a Christian by repenting, believing, and being baptized in water, but neglect to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, living the Christian life will be frustrating to you, since the faith is a lifestyle of becoming like Jesus, and not just a set of rules or a behavioral code, Being a Christian without the Holy Spirt’s power would be like having someone give you a brand new car, with keys and a powerful engine. However, you choose to push the car around in your own strength. Many people are pushing around their Christian lives because they have asked the Father to baptize them in the Holy Spirit.
I will write more about this topic later. Remember, if you have any questions about the things I am writing, do not hesitate to contact me. My email is: Miltieb53@gmail.com.
How To Be Sure That You Are Saved February 8, 2020 Let me start that nothing is more important than being saved or as Jesus put it, Born Again. In John chapter 3 verse 3, Jesus says to an important Jewish religious leader, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Then in verse 5 he repeats it and says, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
There is a lot of confusion, and false security that people have about being saved or being a Christian. Some believe that they are a Christian because they attend church. Others were baptized as infants in their particular denomination and have been told that this saved them. Others live moral lives that reflect “Christian values”. They think that they are born again. Others believe that they are not as bad as some others, and by comparison, that is what will get them into heaven. There are also people who believe that they themselves are divine and have no need for a God at all. Unfortunately, Jesus, who is the door to heaven, does not endorse any of these beliefs.
First of all, a person cannot be saved unless they acknowledge their helplessness in saving themselves. Those who appeal to their own goodness and the good works that they do, will never enter heaven. If you were could save yourself by any of your efforts, why would God the Father have needlessly had Jesus die for you on the cross? If God offered a Savior, that of itself is His declaration that you needed saving.
Second of all, once a person has parted company with the deception that they can save themselves, they have to own who they are. The Bible says that all have sinned. You may think that I have not committed any big ones. By saying that you make yourself the standard of what is acceptable to God. God is holy and without sin. Let me use an analogy. I can believe that my teeth are white until I compare them to a standard of absolute ‘whiteness’. At that point I am not comparing myself to others and saying, “at least my teeth are whiter than theirs.” The comparison is now with an objective standard that I fail to measure up to. I can deny it, or accept the truth of it. Accepting it is what the Bible calls ‘repenting’. By the way, in my analogy the absolute standard is Jesus. You would have to be as holy and righteous as He is to enter heaven. This is a fool’s errand. I would not risk my eternity on that. I know that I don’t measure up to Him.
Third of all, a person must accept that Jesus, and His shed blood on the cross is the only remedy for their sin. If you had a disease and there was only one medicine that could cure it, of course, having a free will, you could choose not to take that medicine. You are well within your rights to make that choice. The consequences of that choice however, is death. What you think about the medicine or the unfairness of you having a disease that you did not choose to have, is irrelevant. Take the medicine and be cured or reject it and die. A friend of mine put choice and free will in their proper perspective when he told me that ‘free will is limited to available options.’ The people on the Titanic had complete free will when the ship hit the iceberg. Their available options were get in a lifeboat, stay on the ship, or jump in the water. Their free will could only operate, confined to those options. God has offered Jesus as your life boat. Why stay on a sinking ship or jump into the water. By the way, the people who stayed on the ship ended up with the same option as those who jumped into the water. I will take the lifeboat that is offered to me.
Finally, when a person comes to the reality that they cannot save themselves and owns up to the fact that they are a sinner, they can take the next step. They can receive Jesus as their Savior. Receiving Jesus is not just receiving Him as a ‘fire insurance policy’. It is choosing to become a disciple and following Him. That is what being a Christian is. You surrender your right to do whatever you please, and choose to do what pleases Him. If you want to retain control of your life then you are still the captain of the Titanic. Steer wherever you want, but your ship has a gaping hole in it and it will sink, no matter which direction you turn it.
If you are willing to surrender your life to Jesus then repeat this simple pray that follows, but do not do it unless you are willing to follow up that action with seeking out a church that preaches that Jesus is the exclusive savior and you are willing to live for Him in the company of other believers. If you try to live the life that He calls you to in your own strength and without the company of other believers, you will fail and be extremely frustrated. This prayer will not save you, but God looks at the sincerity of your heart.
Lord Jesus Christ, I come to you as a sinner and know that there is nothing that I can do to save myself. I need you. I confess all of my sins and ask for your forgiveness. I believe that you are the Son of God and that you can change my life. I surrender to you.
Thank you that you have heard the desperate cry of my heart and have promised that you would save all who believe. I believe in you. From this point on I ask you to direct my life and allow me to live a life that pleases you and the Father. Thank you.
If you prayed that prayer I want you to get in contact with me. I would be glad to help you on the beginning of your journey with Jesus. You can email me at Miltieb53@gmail.com. I will get back to you by any means of communication that you choose to share. If you are in the general area of Kenosha, Wisconsin, I am a co-leader at the Furnace House of Prayer Church, and would consider it an honor to help you begin your Christian adventure. The church is at 520 58th Street and we meet at 10 on Sunday morning. By the way, I did not share these truths with you to have you join my church. I just think that I can help you grow in faith. If there is another church that preaches Jesus and believes the Bible that your are lead to, that is great. God Bless You. Milt Thompson