What Must I Do?

I have been thinking about this topic a lot over the past couple of weeks, and it is one that I know many people deal with on a daily basis…and that is, “What must I do to be saved?”

There are many that we come across on a daily or weekly basis that are struggling with this question…the trouble is that many are afraid to ask the question.  Another troubling, and perhaps more troubling, struggle is that of Christians who are not prepared to answer the question when it is asked of them.

One account of this situation is found in John 3 where we see Nicodemus speaking with Jesus about this exact topic.  He is asking questions of Jesus on how a man can come to know salvation.  If you are one who is asking this question, the answer can be found in the words of Jesus.  If you are struggling to find an answer when someone asks this of you, the proper words are there for you to share in the words of our Savior.

“Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” – John 3:9-15 (ESV)

Jesus then expounds on this in the next three verses and gives us the answer in a statement of salvation that we can all take heart in.  These three verses are the answer that we can all use when asking, or being asked the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

In that we see our answer…Believe in Jesus Christ.  Accept Him as your Lord and Savior.  He came to save the world, and not to condemn.  If you want to know what to do to be saved, look to Him!

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Remember Me

Remembering someone is what many of us do in many situations of our life.  Whether it be because they have gone on before us, or because of something we are doing which makes us think of them, or just a memory that creeps up every once in a while; remembering is something that we all face daily; whether it be a loved one or a lunch date, we all have something to remember.  Scripture talks of two types of remembrance that are key in our lives as Christians; God remembering us, and us remembering Christ.

In Genesis we see one of the first of many instances where God remembers one of His children, in the story of Noah.  God made the decision to destroy the world by flood; but then the scripture says that God remembered Noah.  Does that mean that God had lost touch with Noah?  Never!  What that meant was that God was thinking about Noah, He was looking out for Noah, God was with Noah.  We see again a time where God remembered Noah and his family, after the flood; did that mean that God had forgotten Noah during the storm?  No Way!  He was right there with Noah, through the flood, and brought Noah and his family out of the flood.

Another example of God remembering one of His own is the story of Lot, Abraham’s brother who was living in Sodom; but God remembered him, allowing him to run from the town under the instruction to never look back.  Or the story of Abraham himself, when we see that God remembered Abraham and Sarah who were in their old age but wanted a child.  Did that mean that God had forgotten about Abraham or Lot?  Not at all!

God over and over through scripture is seen remembering His children; He is over and over showing compassion on those He loves.  He is always in their midst, always there in the tough times…Always right on time.  Look at the story of Job…Job’s friends thought God had forgotten him…but Job knew that God would remember him in his time of need.  We also see that Satan had to ask God’s permission to test Job.  So not only do we see that God remembers us, God has to allow Satan to test us!  God knows what we can handle, and if the test will be too much, God won’t allow Satan to bring it against us.

Probably the greatest example of God’s remembrance is seen on the cross, where Jesus hung for our sins.  Let’s take a look at the scene:  Three crosses, with Jesus hanging in the middle; a sign above Jesus’ head that stated, “King of the Jews” and a thief to either side of him.  Why is it important to mention the two hanging on his right and his left?  Because that is where we see the love of God reflected…in a man hanging on a cross, between two others…dying for their sins as well.

The cross was the site of the greatest message of Jesus’ ministry…remembrance.

In Luke 23 we see this story…we see where those on the ground were ridiculing Jesus; calling him names, laughing at his claims, making a spectacle out of the one who came to save them.  Then we see the central message of Jesus’ life played out in a few short statements.  We see the first thief join in with the crowd…something many of us do daily; joining with the ones who are around, because we’re afraid to go against the flow.

We join the first thief in his failure to understand what is going on right before his eyes…

Enter the second thief…the one we should be like…the one hanging on a cross of his own doing, dying because of the sin he has committed.  The one who turns to the other and says to him, “Don’t you see what is happening here? Don’t you get what is going on?  Don’t you understand that we’re dying for what we’ve done, and this man has done nothing?”

The second thief came to a realization…that he was hanging on a cross next to a man who was dying for his sins.  Dying on a cross, putting his sin on two crosses…the man was bearing his own cross, right next to the one who was bearing his sin.  This thief not only understood who Jesus was, he also understood the message of remembrance.  He finished scolding the other thief, turned to the one who was bearing his sin, and simply said, “Remember me.”

The thief repented of his sin, realized why he was hanging on a cross, and then asked a question that many of us need to ask, “Jesus, will you remember me?”   To which Jesus responded, “You bet!”

The thief knew that he needed to be remembered by the Lord, by the God of the Universe, by the King of Kings; and God remembered him…just as He does each of us.

But that is only half of the equation…the other half is our remembrance of Christ.  Why is that important?  Because He remembered us!  John 17 tells us that, he remembered each of us in His prayer to His father…asking for a blessing on our lives…the least we could do is remember Him.  It is also important because He is the central focus to the life of a Christian; at least He is supposed to be.

The name Christian is used too lightly in this day and time…

People use the name of Christ, because it makes them feel good about themselves…but too many times we are too blind to see that we are not focused on Him, but on ourselves…too many times we use Him as a crutch, rather than using Him as an example.  Why in our lives do we want to use the cover of Christian?  How does that cover sometimes make us feel that we are better people?  Especially when our lives don’t reflect the life that Christ Himself lived.

Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together for good for those that love Him…not those that claim to love Him…those that DO love Him.  He knows your heart…He knows the true feelings…He knows where you stand…even if the world doesn’t.  Remembering Christ doesn’t mean that we remember the story…it means we remember the reason for the story – that we are all sinners and without His death and resurrection, our lives mean nothing.

Remembering Christ starts in our hearts…it starts when we realize that because we love God, that he has formed us into the image of His Son.  It means that because we love God, He has made us pure…that if we could see ourselves the way that He sees us, we would be tempted to worship ourselves (not because of being self-centered, but because of the purity and the glory that He sees us in).  But too often we only remember Christ when it is convenient…we only remember Christ when we feel we can no longer strive through it ourselves…why?  Because we didn’t remember Him from the beginning, because we forgot to remember the one who died for our sins.

But Jesus also instructed us to remember him…think about communion; “Do this in remembrance of Me; every time you drink the cup, every time you eat the bread…Remember Me.”

But He is also speaking to us today…not only in the emblems of communion, but in our everyday life.  He is telling each one of us, “Remember me when the day doesn’t go your way, because I remember you.  Remember me when you seem to be at your rope’s end, because I’m hanging right there with you.

“Remember me when you get that good news you’ve been waiting for, because I’m rejoicing right there with you.  Remember me when you get that promotion, remember me when you get fired; remember me when you meet that person you can’t live without, remember me when you are looking up from the depths of despair; remember me when you feel like nothing could get any better, remember me when you think nothing could get any worse; remember me in everything, because I promise you…I remember you….I think of you daily.

“I’m right there beside you when you get life altering news, I’m right there when you don’t want me to be…and because of that…I’ll be right there when you’re finally ready to talk.  I’ll be there through thick and thin, when the going gets tough…when life gets you down…when you feel like you can’t go on…because I know what you’re going through…I feel it too!  All I ask, don’t forget me in the good times…because I’m always there…I remember you…do you remember me?”

Isn’t it great that God remembers us?  The question is…do you remember Him?

The Pursuit of Happiness

I remember watching the Will Smith movie “The Pursuit of Happiness” last summer and thinking when it was over about how that movie can be something we each face daily.  No matter the circumstance that we face…no matter what struggles come our way, how we handle those situations can dictate our attitude.

Happiness (according to Webster’s) is defined as “a state of well-being and contentment”.  I think of the words Paul shares with us in Philippians 4:11 (NRSV), “Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.”  Those words give us all we need to know about happiness…that no matter what we are facing WE determine the outcome of our attitude.  Our attitude is something we control, something we choose, and depending on our choice determines how we handle the situations that we face.

I speak to this because I have been facing it up front and personal these past few weeks.  I have come to realize that my bad days at work are based on the choice that I make…I have found myself more often then not sitting there during a bad day and realizing that I made the choice to let things get to me the way that they did.  I have realized that my struggles were self-inflicted, and something that could have been avoided altogether.

By looking forward a couple of verses we realize that Paul not only gives us the secret of happiness, but also gives us a reason to believe that we can achieve it.  He continues on to tell us in verse 13 that, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”  The continued promise that no matter the circumstance we are facing all we have to do is turn it over to Christ and His perfect strength will pull us through.

So, as you go through this day, this month and even the rest of the year, I want to offer encouragement to you in this…reminding you that true happiness comes from the strength of Christ that we have alive in us.  A strength that we achieved the day that we turned our lives over to Him and made it known that our lives are not our own; and also that no matter the trial placed before us, we make the choice of how to handle it.

Tune In

Radio has played a big part in my life, and I got to thinking about how with the old transistor radios how you had to work and work to get it tuned into the station that you were trying to pick up, but once you find that spot the static goes away and the signal that is being transmitted comes through clearly.

Working in radio now, we deal with static on a daily basis; our objective is to completely remove it from the air so that the product that you find when you tune in is clear and the message is presented clearly.  From the advertising that goes on our airways, to the songs and ministry programs we make available, all of it is something we clearly want to get out so the message is loud and clear on your end.

This is a lot like our relationship with Christ.  God is transmitting on a station that we must work, much like we did on that old transistor unit, to tune into for a loud and clear message.  I can think of one radio that we had that you had to tune in the knob to find the station, making sure it was on the right band.  Once you found it there was a fine tuning knob that would work to get the clearest signal possible.

Life is like that old radio, tuning in to the message that God is sharing, but the Bible acts as that fine tuning knob that will help us to get the programming loud and clear.  Our pastors also act as a second fine tuning knob that will help us to even better tune into the Gospel message.  All of this working together to help us hear God’s message clearly in our lives.

Today we need to take the words of the old Gospel song, “Turn the Radio on” to heart:

“Turn your radio on and listen to the music in the air; Turn your radio on and glory share. Turn your lights down low and listen to the Master’s radio; Get in touch with God, and turn your radio on.”

We all have a receiver that is able to tune in to God’s radio; we just have to know how to work the knobs to get the clear message.

John 14 opens our eyes to how this works:

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:25-27, ESV)

Tune into the Holy Spirit today! Turn your radio on!