Archive for September, 2017

How Can I Feel Close to Jesus?

September 30, 2017

“When I was little, I used to have sweet dreams about Jesus.  I don’t have those now that I am grown, and I want them back.”

I’m so glad you have always had a close relationship with Jesus. Little children often have very vivid dreams and insight into spiritual things. It is a blessing, and I’m sure you are very thankful you had such a sweet childhood experience. However, just as the apostles were greatly blessed to have Jesus in their midst for three years, He eventually went back to the Father, and they had to rely on what Jesus had taught them, on faith, on prayer, and on the Holy Spirit.

You have grown, and it seems Jesus wants to deepen His relationship with you. When you dream you only see the outlines of things, and you feel emotions. You don’t get the depth you get from study. Also, you usually observe in dreams, and aren’t usually saying a lot of things or asking a lot of questions. I think Jesus calls us all into a closer walk with him as we get older. We are so blessed to have the gospels and epistles to read and pray over. We can know so much more of what Jesus did, cared about, taught and promised. We can also talk to him about all these things and about our own lives. We can ask him to show us what he wants us to do. And, we also have to learn to go through the feelings of spiritual drought. There will be times when Jesus doesn’t feel so close. That is when our faith can grow. If we love Jesus because He gives us the sweet spiritual experiences, that is nice, but if we can trust him and love him in hard times when he doesn’t seem so near and when we don’t understand our suffering, that is a greater love. I think he calls us through all sorts of things–sweet times, and hard times. In the walk with Jesus we get the mountain top times and the sunless valley times. He is always near, but sometimes we aren’t given the vision we are given at other times. Hold on. Read his words and treasure them. Pray and talk to him always. Learn to love the family of believers He leads you to. They can often be the love and comfort you need, and you will learn from them, give to them, help them and pray for them as well as accept all of those things from them too. I am sure you will once again have times of sweet refreshment when Jesus will seem very close.

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I Believe, But Sometimes I Doubt My Salvation

September 24, 2017

The New Testament tells us over and over that we are saved by grace, by believing in the promises of Jesus. You have said you believe Jesus died for your sins, and I trust you have repented of your sins and asked Jesus to be your Savior. In the end, it is not about what we do, not even about the prayer we prayed, but about a relationship. Relationships need to grow. It is very hard to trust someone you don’t know.

When you ask Jesus to be your Savior, he comes into your life forever. He is close as your breath. The Holy Spirit lives within you. God is working in you to make you more like Jesus. Your part in the process is to learn more about Jesus, talk with him all the time, and do what you know he is asking you to do.

You can start reading the bible with the New Testament, especially the Gospel of John. As you learn more about Jesus character, his love for you and his promises for you, you will naturally trust him more. Then, talk to Jesus, all the time, about everything. Ask his help, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers when they come. A lot of believers keep a journal. They write down their prayers and date them. As they see answers to their prayers, they can write a thank you by the prayer. These answers they see help them to trust Jesus more and more. Then, do what Jesus is asking you to do. Is there something you are putting off? Is there something you need to get rid of in your life, and you are hanging on? Do that–it will clear your conscience and give you peace in that area.

Ultimately, doubt comes from the devil. He will put ideas into your mind like “Did you really say the right words when you prayed the prayer?” “Did you mean what you said?” “Did Jesus really say…..?” Just tell him to get lost. You have a relationship with Jesus, you are trusting Him (not yourself), and our relationship depends on the faithfulness of Jesus more than ours. Then whenever you realize you’ve sinned, confess it “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9) and move on. Jesus is holding onto you!

 

Why Don’t I Feel Close to Jesus?

September 16, 2017

 

Closeness to Jesus is more than praying a prayer. It is beginning a relationship. As in any relationship, you want to get to know who it is in the boat with you. You can read about Jesus in the gospels and epistles of the bible. He was really here on this earth, and he had real teachings, thoughts, emotions, promises. Read what he did and see that he backed up everything he claimed to be. Do you believe him? Are you willing to get in the boat with him and trust where he takes you? Will you stay with him?

When you are ready to commit to Jesus, you have to repent of going your own way instead of his way. Just like in marriage, you have to give up the old loves. You have to give up everyone and everything that is offensive to Jesus. That is what repentance means. Many people wonder why they don’t feel close to Jesus, and it is because too much is sitting in the room between them. I have no way of knowing what he is asking you to leave behind, but everyone is asked to leave something. You can’t have one foot in the relationship, and one foot carrying on another life outside the relationship. You can’t feel close to a spouse that way, and you can’t feel close to Jesus that way.

You have to communicate. It is an amazing thing, but when you start talking to Jesus with real honest communication, things happen. Things happen in your life that changes things for the better, you have thoughts you never had, people come into your life you didn’t know before, and you begin to know the power of this new relationship. So talk to Jesus all the time. If you’ve asked him into your life as Savior, he comes in forever. His Holy Spirit dwells within. Jesus accepts you just as you are, but he loves you too much to leave your life with the dull, colorless spirit it had before.

Yes, it’s so much more than a prayer. Its a lifelong relationship of commitment, love, and working together with an invisible but very present and powerful partner.

How do I Know if the Favorable Signs I see are from God?

September 12, 2017

This is a very good question. It sounds like you are seeking God’s will, and that is a good and holy thing to do–it pleases God very much that you seek his ways instead of preferring your own way. So, perhaps the question could also include “How can I know God’s will? and How does God reveal His will?”

The signs you are seeing in your life might be from God, or they might come from you, or they could even be coming from Satan. Where are the signs leading you and how are they making you feel? If signs are coming from God, they will always lead you to things that agree with what God has already told us in scripture. They will lead you to feel enthusiasm for God, love for God and others, joy, and a peacefulness. If you want to do something really badly and you are looking for signs that God agrees, you are likely to find the things you want to do are things that would benefit you rather than drawing you closer to God and desiring to give of yourself to God and others in a sacrificial way. If the signs are from Satan, they will be leading you to actual sin, and you will be aggressive about having whatever it is.

If the signs are pointing you closer to Jesus, leading you to do loving, giving, self-sacrificial things that don’t build ego, then this is probably from God, and you can thank him for the confirmation.

Its also good to talk to a pastor if you are making life decisions.

Why isn’t Jesus Answering My Prayer

September 12, 2017

 

Jesus hears and answers our prayers in different ways. Many times He says yes. Sometimes he says no. Sometimes he says “I see some things you do not see, and I have a better answer for you. Just wait while I work it out.” That is the answer we are very impatient about, or we think that is no answer at all. Believe me, I am that way myself. So often I pray thinking I know exactly what I need–or what somebody else needs, but I can’t see what Jesus sees. I can’t see the future, and I can’t see how my way of doing things might not be what is needed at all. That is really the issue, I think. I have people in my life I’ve been praying for, for years, and nothing appears to have changed very much. But there is much I do not know, and things may be changing below the surface that I cannot see. One thing I have learned in my long life is this: Jesus is totally trustworthy. He has never let me down–ever. I know one day when I see all He did–those things I can’t see now–I know I will have even more reasons to praise him, thank him, and stand in awe of all he did.

 

I Don’t Want to Live Anymore

September 7, 2017

When you feel there is nothing left to live for, chances are you are in deep depression.  Depression has many things contributing to it. Often there is a physical/chemical component to it that can be corrected. Your primary care provider can help you with this. A medication or medication change is sometimes very helpful.

You might have just been through something very big in your life that has left you feeling depleted. Or you may have had a whole series of major disappointments. If it looks like nothing is ever going to get better–tell yourself that is not true. Its almost always true that things will get better and look better in the future than they do today. Often depression involves believing hopeless, negative thoughts.

You probably desperately need to talk to someone who can answer you in real time–a real person with a real voice. In the U.S. and Canada, the Focus on the Family Help Center has trained counselors available to listen and pray with you, as well as provide initial guidance and resources to help you. Arrange to speak with a licensed Christian counselor at no cost by calling 1-855-771-HELP (4357) Monday through Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Mountain time. Due to high call volumes, you may be asked to leave your name and number for a counselor to return a call to you. You may also submit your request online here: https://goo.gl/yHZZJy.

And please know if you are being tempted toward suicide, to call the national hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Please, please call them before you even begin to make plans for suicide.

Tell yourself the truth.  You will eventually find your way out of this dark place, and when you do, you will be a stronger person, able to deal better with hard times in life, and you will have strength to help someone else going through their own dark place.

How Can I Be Sure?

September 7, 2017

I’m not entirely certain what you are asking, but I assume you are asking “How do I know for sure that Jesus is who He said He was, and that I am saved, and that I will go to Heaven?” Does that cover it pretty much?

We all want to know these things. We want to know that we have not put our faith and trust and our lives into something that isn’t true. We want to know we have done everything possible to insure we will spend our eternity in Heaven. That is fine. That is how God has made us. As CS Lewis (The author of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) said: If we are always dreaming of something beyond this earthly life, it must point to something that exists beyond here. God put this desire into us so that we would desire Him.

Ultimately, we “know for sure” because of Jesus. He told us everything we need to know to be saved. It is through relationship with Him, and because He made a way for us that we are saved. We can believe His promises because He proved Himself true. He proved He came from Heaven by the miracles He did, and He proved He was God by rising from the dead. We believe Jesus 2000 years later because the bible gives these eyewitness accounts. How can we believe the bible? Because it has never changed. All the historic books that quote it, and all the very old scripture fragments from all over the known world at that time, agree with one another. The bible was written by those who had nothing to gain and everything to lose by fabricating a story like that. They told different accounts, but did not contradict each other. In that way, they read like eyewitness accounts. The fact there was no collaboration, shows these weren’t legends invented by some group with an agenda. Its good to study these things, and it makes our faith stronger when we do.

God bless you, as you trust Jesus for your daily needs and with your eternal life,

How Can I Feel the Presence of Jesus?

September 5, 2017

 

We do know that Jesus hears our prayers. We have those promises all through the New Testament. The Holy Spirit is within us, and even when we don’t know how to pray, He prays for us. (Romans 8:26-27). We are also told that Jesus is interceding with the Father for us. (Romans 8:34 and other places).

What we all want and desire is to feel the Presence of Jesus with us. We want an emotional experience of joy, peace, and love. Sometimes we do not feel much, and that is why our faith in Jesus is faith. Emotions are fleeting and dependent on many things like our daily circumstances and even our physical health. Some of the very great believers of the past had periods they called the “dark night of the soul” when Jesus seemed to be gone and they felt their prayers weren’t being heard. Mother Teresa wrote about such a time in her later life. But we believe what Jesus told us, we believe his character, we believe he was who he said he was. In these times, we can strengthen our faith with reading the gospels over again and continuing to talk to Jesus. We know what we know is true, even if we feel very flat and blah. He will reward our exercising of our faith when it is harder to do so.

Even our human relationships have their ups and downs. Some days we really feel close to some people and some days we don’t feel they hear us or “get” us. We may not hear from some people for a long time and assume they no longer care about us. Of course, Jesus never forgets us–never. But the fact we aren’t feeling the warmth has nothing to do with his love for us which is unchanging.

I can assure you I have had those times in my own life more than once. But Jesus is so faithful. When I look back, I can often see where He was caring for me and working things out for good. I can remember those times in the next “dark” stretch.

 

How Can I Have Peace?

September 4, 2017

 

Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. When you asked Jesus to forgive your sins and be your Savior, He came into your life forever. The Holy Spirit took up residence in you. The bible says your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who gives you your spiritual life, faith and growth.

We can help the process. Even though a plant has life within it, it can’t produce healthy fruit unless it has sunshine, good soil and is watered. We need to regularly nurture the life within us. We need God’s Word–the New Testament should be very familiar to us because we read and meditate on it so much. We need to talk to Jesus often throughout each day. He appreciates our honest prayers, for help, for understanding, confession, thanksgiving and prayers for others. We have conversations with ourselves within our minds all the time. Those conversations need to be with Jesus. We also need to obey what we know the Holy Spirit is prompting us to do. If we know God wants us to do something and we hang back, we can’t expect Him to give us more growth. When we have the good soil of prayer, the water of God’s Word and the sunshine of obedience, fruit will grow in us.

By the way, the fruits of the Spirit are: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

 

I Just Asked Jesus to be my Savior, What Do I Do Now?

September 3, 2017

You have repented of your sin and asked Jesus into your life as your Savior. That is wonderful news. When you ask Jesus in, He forgives you, gives you the gift of Salvation, the promise of eternal life, and he comes into your life forever. He will never leave you nor forsake you. The Holy Spirit is within you and will help you understand everything Jesus teaches.

What you want to do is get to know Jesus better and begin to walk with Him. You can do three things to accomplish this:

First, you can start reading about the things Jesus taught. The gospels and epistles will help you understand what is important to Jesus, what he wants, and what he promises you.

Second, you can start praying often. It doesn’t have to be formal or complicated. Just talk to Jesus honestly about what is on your mind, ask his help and ask his forgiveness when you mess up. Don’t forget to thank him for all he has done for you and for answers to prayer when they come.

Third, you can join with a fellowship of other believers. You can join a bible believing church, bible study or small group. We learn from others, we encourage and help each other, and we pray for each other. This is our spiritual family, and it is often closer than our blood family.