New Beginnings in a New Year

A new year and new beginnings–at least that is the way most people feel. Whatever mistakes we have made last year are behind us. Well, it would be great if that were true, but I have found the consequences of my mistakes tend to tag along with me for awhile. It reminds me of the report cards I received when I was in school. They reflected how well I had done in the previous term. Once that report card was issued, it was a matter of history, yet it would have some bearing as I went forward.

I wonder what it would be like if the Lord Jesus gave each of us a report card for how we are doing. There would be different categories on it and a grade next to each. I would love grades that reflect “well done,” but in my heart I feel there would be a significant number of disappointing grades. His grades wouldn’t be false “on the curve” grades comparing us to others but rather grades of how we are doing compared to His expectations. As I ponder that thought, I have mixed emotions but a real desire in my heart to know what my results would be. I believe it would be both humbling and beneficial. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).

If everyone reading this Corner received a report card from the Lord, it is very likely that some would receive a blank card. By “blank” I mean a card that somehow indicated that that person wasn’t a child of God and therefore the report card would not come from Jesus. If there was to be a card, it would have to come from Satan. That is a horrible thought, but then again, it would be wonderful to find that out now as opposed to judgment day.

If only each person had a visible indication of his relationship with Jesus such as the ID badges I’ve seen children wear to school. It would act as a clear sign as to whether he had been purchased by the Holy Lamb of God and would be with Him forever. Walking up to someone, you would instantly know whether he was a believer or not. Sitting in church, you could tell whether the person next to you was saved, regardless of whether he was a founding father of the church.

Yes, it would be helpful for us to be able to identify people that way, but better yet, it would assist the person who did not have the ID badge to know where he was going to spend eternity. I think the saddest words in the Bible are, “ . . . I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23). Jesus said those words not to God-haters, but to those who were zealous for Him. The people referred to in this verse had done mighty things, but that wasn’t enough. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matthew 7:22) They were doing all of these great things in the name of Jesus. They may even have loved Him. Yet, He said they were to depart from Him.

Based on the e-mails we receive, there likely will be many homeschooling, professing Christian dads that will be sadly disappointed on judgment day. They may be in church every Sunday, and prayer meeting on Wednesday, yet Jesus is not their Savior. They may be religious and know how to outwardly walk the walk and talk the talk, but they have never repented of their sin and been saved. They may have struggled for years in not feeling close to Jesus, thinking something is missing, but finally decided it is that way for everyone.

Could that be you? Are you willing to examine yourself before God? With an open heart before Jesus, ask Him to reveal your true standing before Him. Will it be in righteousness or in sin? “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates” (2 Corinthians 13:5). I am judging no one, but like Paul, I am encouraging each of us to examine himself before God.

First John is an excellent book for self-examination. There are many verses that act as a test as to whether we have genuine salvation. I will list a number of verses and then a general comment about each one. Please, may we prayerfully read each one and ask the Lord to examine our hearts and the fruit of our walk with Him. Is there fruit? What kind of fruit?

“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6). Do we confess to have fellowship with Jesus (being saved) and our life has darkness in it? Do we have secret sin that we allow? Are we truly having daily fellowship with Jesus?

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). In the Greek “keep” means to observe and give heed to. Are Jesus’ commands extremely important to us so that we strive to follow what He commands us? Verse five reiterates this point again just two verses later. “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” Are we applying God’s Word to our lives? We can’t apply it unless we are reading it. Are we in His Word daily and still hungering to be in it more?

“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10). Do we love our brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we enjoy being with other believers?

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Do we love the world? A great way to tell if we love the world is by evaluating how we spend our time. Is it on selfish, worldly pursuits or as God directs?

“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). Is our hope in Christ Jesus? If so, will we not strive to be pure as Jesus is pure? Do we watch impure things or think impure thoughts without guilt, confession, and seeking Jesus to cleanse us?

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9). Like father like son. If we are born of the Father, regenerated, we will not be able to practice sin and be content with it. Our hearts will grieve and cry out against us as we sin. Can a saved man continue in some of the vileness available on the Internet and not be torn up inside over it and seek help?

“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15). Do we identify with Jesus verbally? How many people have we told recently that Jesus is our Lord and Savior? If we are ashamed to declare Jesus to others, we can be sure He will not declare us to the Father (Mark 8:38). Romans 10:9-10 indicates that our confession of Jesus is a necessary evidence of our salvation.

There are many more verses that I could have gone through. I pray that each of us will take time to read and meditate on 1 John. May we ask the Lord to evaluate us? Are we His child or Satan’s child? It is no wonder that so many moms are struggling with the conduct of their husbands. It should be no surprise when a lost man acts like a lost man. What is unacceptable and not to be condoned is when a saved man acts like a lost man.

If you examine yourself and wonder if you might be lost, then do something about it. Be sure of Whom you will spend eternity with. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). God’s Word tells us that we can know for sure.

If you want to be saved, turn in your Bible to Exodus chapter 20. Read and re-read His commandments. Reflect on how you have broken them and deserve hell. Let it sink into a deep awareness of sin against a righteous and holy God. Then please click this link: and go through the steps listed. Get your Bible out, and read the verses to yourself out loud. Don’t go on until each verse is clearly received in your heart. Before asking Jesus to save you, ask yourself, are you willing to follow Him? This isn’t about “fire insurance” but a relationship with the God of the universe. Do you desire that? In asking Him to die in your place, are you willing to obey Him? Then after praying, tell people and don’t stop telling people. If you have trusted Jesus, would you tell us by replying to this e-mail? We will pray for you and encourage you.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

Posted in: Dad's Corner