Summary: The world may be against us. It most certainly is. But it isn't so bad. God is with us. Of course it's better to be with God. Hopefully we can keep those one in the same. And mainly by not keeping anything, but allowing God to do the "keeping."

Proverb 29:27 The righteous despise the unjust; the wicked despise the godly.

The dichotomy mentioned is Proverb 29:27 is being played out in our culture today. Jesus said the world will hate you. But take heart, I have overcome the world.

The world may be against us. It most certainly is. But it isn't so bad. God is with us. Of course it's better to be with God. Hopefully we can keep those one in the same. And mainly by not keeping anything, but allowing God to do the "keeping."

He keeps us in the palm of his hand. Of course that's just a metaphor. He doesn't promise us particularly easy conditions. Yet it is likely that our lives will improve in God-ways. In the ways of the world, no, but that doesn't matter anyway. The Christian life is the best life, not because of ease and comfort, but because of meaningfulness, and the finding of the ultimate foundation of life, God himself. It is the best life now, just not in a worldly way. I have found the very meaning of life, the very purpose of being, that is the best life for me, now, and forever.

We know what it means to follow Jesus Christ. We know what it means to trust in him, and his victory, to be Christian. But can we come into maturity? Is there a deeper Christian life? There most certainly is.

It's not necessarily some incredible breakthrough. But it seems to be a growing process. Let us examine ourselves. Often we must look back to the simple disciplines. Even all the way back to the very basic precept of faith: Is God at the center? Is God the only number one of my life, and your life? Would you forsake your own family, your own friends, your social status to remain loyal to God?

Or as Jesus said: "If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison--your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple." -Luke 14:26 (NLT)

A group of thugs break into your house at night, and put guns to your wife, your children, and you. They demand that you renounce Christ or they'll kill your family. What do you do? Some might think this is a ridiculous proposition. In fact, it's a daily possibility for persecuted Christians in dozens of countries in the middle east. What would you do?

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Revelation 12:11

Family is second to God. God comes first. Our allegiance to God comes before everything else in our lives, even our families. We have to make sure our order in the mind is correct.

Assuming we serve God alone, with all we have, how can we understand our salvation in our minds? We don't always feel these things. Feeling does not dictate reality. Thank God for that. Feeling tends to follow I think, it lags behind our understanding, but eventually catches up.

This is coming into maturity, when we begin to feel and to know the things we believe. God reveals himself through knowledge, one of the most blessed gifts of being human: the gift of language, of art, and of writing. God speaks to us through knowledge. He helps us to know him through the revelation of Jesus Christ, in knowledge, received through belief.

Jesus taught through parables. A parable is a simple story, used to describe a spiritual truth. Let's see if we can understand our salvation through the idea of an orchard. There is a lot of confusion about what it means to be a born-again follower of Jesus Christ. Mainly the issue is of the life one lives once saved. Secondly the issue is once we are saved, can we lose our salvation?

Being saved is like being transplanted, made new in Jesus Christ, and replanted in a beautiful orchard of apple trees. You are one of the orchard, the body of Christ on Earth. There is no way to work your way into the orchard with good works or with service to others, or personal holiness. The only way to be born again into the orchard is by grace, through faith alone in Jesus Christ. God the Father draws us to the son Jesus and we receive him as our own. Once entered into the orchard, the believer rests all their trust, all their hope, all their faith on Jesus Christ, that he is the sole reason they are born again, saved, washed clean of their past sins, and may now enter eternal life in the future. That is the first aspect of the arrangement of salvation.

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