Romans

Three ways you might be able to tell if someone actually believes in Jesus

Three ways you might be able to tell if someone actually believes in Jesus

When you take a close look at your heart, can you truly say you're someone who has a strong relationship with Jesus, or would you primarily describe yourself as someone who has been influenced by Christians without necessarily adopting their beliefs as your own?

When a person truly comes to faith in Christ, things change. Spiritually speaking, they are raised from death to life, and that new life tends to come with some obvious and visible signs. In Romans 12:9-21, the Apostle Paul describes at least three ways we might be able to tell someone has actually come to a place of genuine faith in Jesus.

How to make the most of the time you have left

How to make the most of the time you have left

How are you using your time? Are you using it to rest, or are engaged in activity?

There's a time to rest, and a time to engage in activity. But in the end, it's wise for us to make an honest assessment of how we're using the days, weeks, months, and years of life the Lord has blessed us with.  The years will be used up faster than we often realize, so are we making the best use of the time we have left? The Apostle Paul gives us great counsel in Romans 12:1-8 that can help us answer that question.

Are we responding to God's favor with humility?

Are we responding to God's favor with humility?

Isn't it ironic when we consider the fact that the more we're blessed, the more likely it may be that we'll begin acting like we actually deserved that blessing? Instead of treating our blessings like a gift, and responding with humility, we often puff ourselves up and begin thinking of ourselves as more worthy than others to receive them.

We don't deserve what God has given us. We actually deserve the opposite. So as we contemplate the gracious ways God has blessed our lives, we're encouraged to respond to His favor with humility. Look at how Paul elaborates on this in Romans 11:17-36...

Not everyone will believe, but some will

Not everyone will believe, but some will

Have you ever felt somewhat alone as you lived out your faith? Does it ever feel like you're part of a small subset of people who actually trust in Jesus and seek to be obedient to His teaching? If you feel that way, you're not the first one to experience these emotions. This feeling is somewhat common, and many of us will experience seasons when this feels all too real.

But the truth of the matter is that God's plan is much bigger in scope than we often realize. We can see the small part of the parade that's directly in front of us, but from His perspective, He can see the beginning, middle, and end all at the same time. And while there are plenty of people who will never come to faith in Christ, there are some who will. In fact, there are more who will trust in Jesus than we may initially realize, and that's a subject Paul addresses in Romans 11:1-6.

Why we take the risk to share our faith

Why we take the risk to share our faith

Have you ever wanted to tell someone about the hope they can have in Jesus, but you've shied away from doing so because you feared receiving a negative response from them? Have you ever worried if others will think you're weird, crazy, or fanatical?

Aligning the desires of your heart with God's heart

Aligning the desires of your heart with God's heart

There are things we all crave in life, but our hearts were designed to only be truly satisfied through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Every other desire we experience is secondary in importance, yet sometimes, we treat our secondary desires like they're primary desires.

God has desires as well, and we can see what He desires by what He reveals in His word, and through the actions He has taken to intervene throughout the course of human history. Since God has desires and we have desires, it's worth asking the question, "What would it look like if my desires started to align with God's desires?"

Will God accept me even if I'm not that good?

Will God accept me even if I'm not that good?

We all want to be accepted, but there are very few relationships we may ever experience that show us unconditional acceptance. That isn't how people typically operate. I learned very early in life that many people in this world accept you right up to the point when you stop giving them something or stop doing something for them.

But thankfully, that's not how the acceptance of God works. His acceptance of you and me is not linked to what we can give Him or do for Him. Rather, His acceptance of us is forever tied to what He did on our behalf, and what He gave us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Don't fall back into fear

Don't fall back into fear

Unhealthy fear isn’t something you want to welcome into your life. At times, it takes the form of insecurity and willful ignorance. Unhealthy fear exists when we believe circumstances are out of control and we're reasonably certain there's a good chance things won't be working out in our favor. Maybe you're afraid of someone who has the capacity to harm you. Or maybe you fear experiencing circumstances that resemble painful events from your past. Maybe you're living in fear right now because you aren't confident about what's in store for your future. But fear can be overcome. Here’s how.

A snapshot of your new, Spirit-led, life

A snapshot of your new, Spirit-led, life

The longer we walk with Jesus, the less we resemble the person we once were. The longer we walk with Him, the more distant we start to feel from the life we once lived. In Christ, we have been blessed with a brand-new life, and there are aspects of this new life that we are invited to gain a better understand of through looking at His word.

Romans 8:1-11 gives us a snapshot of the new life we have in Christ. It's a life that isn't being led by the priorities of this world or passions of our old nature. Our new life is a life that's being led by the Holy Spirit.

Why do I do what I don't want to do?

Why do I do what I don't want to do?

Have you ever made a regretful decision or tried to live your life outside of God's will, only to look back at what took place with confusion about what you were thinking when you made those choices? I certainly have, and I suspect we all have. Even though we know Christ, we can still make very poor decisions, particularly if we're treating the tempting influence of sin too casually. Why do we do what we don't want to do?

It is a relief to belong to Christ

It is a relief to belong to Christ

We belong to someone who loves us. Before we came to know Christ, we were unhealthy, without hope, convinced we needed to fend for ourselves, and resigned to the fate of an outcast. But now, Christ has redeemed us. He has cleansed us from our sin and given us new life. He has also given us His name and a permanent place in His family. In Christ, we are shown that we belong, and we are relieved from our attempts to survive on our own. Romans 7:1-6 explains additional details of the benefits we are blessed with as those who belong to Christ.

Rewriting the story of your life

Rewriting the story of your life

God is giving us the opportunity to do a "rewrite" with our lives. Prior to coming to know Him, we were spiraling downward, bent on defiance toward Him, and idolizing our own ideas as if they were superior to His omniscience. We were lost, and we didn't really want to be found. But through Jesus Christ, we're now given the opportunity to experience a full rewrite of our life story, and the story that He's crafting is a masterpiece.

When God's grace abounds in your life

When God's grace abounds in your life

Grace is an undeserved gift. When we're shown grace, we're given a blessing that we didn't do anything to earn. Displaying grace is a wonderful trait to practice in life, but there is no greater example of it than the grace we have been shown by God through Jesus Christ. In fact, He wants our lives to abound with His grace. But to fully appreciate the depth of His grace, it's helpful to understand just how bad things would be for us without it.

Four reasons not to lose hope, even if you're tempted to

Four reasons not to lose hope, even if you're tempted to

I'm a big fan of multiple genres of music, and there's a song that was released some years ago that speaks about being "stuck in a moment." That's probably a concept most of us can identify with to some degree. Sometimes our circumstances can feel so "all-consuming" to the point that it's hard to see beyond them. We get stuck in a moment. Instead of seeing what's further up ahead, we struggle to see much further beyond the four walls that surround us. But hope is a very real thing and something we shouldn’t let go of. So what truths should we hold onto if we’re tempted to lose hope?

Believing God can do the impossible

Believing God can do the impossible

There's a curious trait that we all possess, and it has a habit of showing up in interesting ways. In general, we prefer to place our trust in what we can observe. We want our eyes to be convinced of something before our hearts are willing to trust in its reliability.

But in regard to our faith, God is honored when we trust Him for what we cannot yet see. Anyone can walk by sight, but not everyone is willing to walk by faith, and God has promised us many things that can't be facilitated through natural means. Naturally speaking, His promises seem impossible, but God wants us to trust Him to do the impossible. So, what does that look like?

What's your favorite excuse for doing whatever you want?

What's your favorite excuse for doing whatever you want?

There are many things that we all do that force us to compromise with that we know to be right. But because we sometimes want to do what we want to do, regardless of the consequences, we can invent creative excuses to justify all kinds of behaviors.

This, by the way, isn't new to us. Mankind has excelled at this practice from our earliest days and it always gets us in trouble while also impacting the nature of our fellowship with God. What are you currently excusing in your life that really needs to be rooted out? What are your favorite excuses for doing whatever you want?

What will you do with what you've been given?

What will you do with what you've been given?

If we took an honest self-assessment of our lives, I think each of us could probably identify a few areas where we've been blessed with gifts or privileges that others may not have necessarily received. In your life, those privileges might relate to where you were born, when you were born, what kind of health you've experienced, the strength of your family of origin, your educational opportunities, or the financial blessings you've been given. It might also be possible to identify ways in which you've been privileged spiritually.

What are you doing with the gifts and privileges you've been given? Are you grateful for them? Are you using them to bless others? Are you allowing those gifts to impact your life the way God intended?

What will self-righteousness cost me?

What will self-righteousness cost me?

Self-righteousness is disgusting, but it’s what many people in this world expect to experience when they encounter devoted Christians. Quite possibly, someone they have encountered in the past has left them with that impression, or maybe they've bought into the ways Christians are stereotyped in the media. Maybe they've even been on the receiving end of hurtful condemnation from a person who professes to believe in Jesus. Have you ever struggled with self-righteousness?

The dark side of disbelief

The dark side of disbelief

Years ago, I was in a hardware store and from a distance I saw someone I knew. Typically, when that takes place, I'll take the time to say "hello", but on this particular occasion, I didn't want to. The man I saw had just created a lot of conflict for some mutual friends, and I didn't want to engage him in conversation because I didn't want to get drawn into the drama. So I pretended like I hadn't seen him. I kept shopping and tried not to be seen. To my knowledge, he never knew I was there, but it felt very strange to try to walk through the aisles of the store while actively hiding from him and pretending I didn't know he was there.

In many ways, that's the way a large percentage of humanity lives their lives in regard to God. Instinctively, they know He's there, but they're doing their best to pretend He isn't while doing everything they can to avoid running into Him. There are consequences for doing this, and a dark side to living with this kind of disbelief that Romans 1:18-32 illustrates.