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Believing and Receiving — Presto Change-o August 2, 2008

Posted by Kevin in Uncategorized.
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Belief. Now, there is a word that we use with relative ease but we exercise with caution. True belief will be followed by some kind of action related to that belief. You can say that you believe a boat can safely transport you from shore to shore, but your belief is merely speculation until you actually step foot on the boat. In much the same way, believing and receiving are cause and effect statements.

For instance, we believe the Texans will have a great season. We believe our jobs are secure. We believe that gas will eventually go down in price. We believe that this year will be better than last year. But sometimes the things we believe are little more than hopes based on wishful thinking. There is a line between wishes and beliefs. Wishes are based on desires; beliefs are based on facts.

Is your place in Heaven something you hope for or something that you know to be a fact?

Read 1 John 1:1-10. John’s letter wasn’t based on wishful thinking; it was based on his personal experiences with Jesus. This was John the disciple — the very same John who wrote the Gospel of John and was one of the closest companions of Jesus Christ.

Modern history books tell us stories of people we’ve never met and we can’t really prove ever existed. Our money memorializes individuals that we accept to be factually accurate based upon the testimony of generations. Few doubt the leadership of George Washington, the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, or the courage of Abraham Lincoln. Yet no one who is alive today has ever encountered one of these men in the flesh. We simply accept their existence because history tells us they lived and we can see their fingerprints of their accomplishments in our world today.

So, why don’t people believe that Jesus existed when the Biblical and extra-biblical testimonies offer the same proof as that of the historical figures from our nation’s history? The sad fact is that they don’t want to believe. If you want to believe in Jesus, there is ample evidence to support your belief. However, if you want to ignore Jesus, you can certainly find articulate arguments to support your lack of faith. It really comes down to a question of your whether or not you want to believe.

In 1 John 1:6, John draws a line in the sand. The claim of discipleship must be supported in action. That must have been a problem in the first century; I think you will agree that it still is a problem today. Walking in darkness can be explained forever as not “living what we claim” as it says in The Message. But, what does this mean in everyday life? It means not making spending time with God a priority. In means greedily holding on to what rightfully belongs to God. It means seeking our own pleasure rather than seeking to serve God. It means living for our own purposes and pleasure rather than for God’s purposes and pleasure.

Think of it this way. If you hang out around a car lot, you don’t become a car. Likewise, if you hang out around believers, you don’t become a believer (although it certainly helps!) Becoming a believer is an act of your will. You become a believer when you take Jesus at His word, seek His forgiveness, turn from sin in true repentance, accept His control over your daily life and act in obedience to His will.

In 1 John 1:9, we see the formula for establishing a right relationship with God. Confess your sins. Confession is an acknowledgement. It is a formal agreement with God about our state or condition. We can confess only when we stop making excuses for what we do. We must see ourselves from God’s perspective. Once we see our lives from His perspective, it is inevitable that we will be broken and disappointed in ourselves. We will then seek God’s forgiveness and He will forgive us. His Word says so. Read the end of 1 John 1:9 again. The verses say that He will “purify us from all unrighteousness.” Then, and only then, will we be ready, or able, to have the kind of life that God intended for us to have.

Are you living proof of God’s love and forgiveness or are you trapped in your sin? Real belief is followed by real change. And when it comes to God, rest assured, it is you and I who are required to change. We are not the person that we once were. At least we are not supposed to be!

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