Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Evidence of Salvation.. How do I know I'm saved?

A couple of days ago, a radio personality posed a question to his listeners.  He said a man had called into the radio station and confided that he often struggled with doubts of his salvation. The radio personality also revealed that he often struggled with the same questions, so he asked the radio community... How do you know you're saved?

Calls immediately poured into the station.  One caller stated, as long as you truly believe, there shouldn't be any questions. Of course this was soon rebutted by James 2:19.

"You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!"

Obviously there is more to it than just believing.  So others added Romans 10:8-10

".. “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. " 

Confession is a HUGE part of salvation.  We MUST confess. However, to me this didn't answer the caller's question.  "How do I know for sure?"  Make no mistake, satan will always come with worry, doubt and fear.  He will do whatever it takes to destroy faith.  For "by Grace we are saved through faith."  Satan will always be there to TRY to produce doubt to the point of unbelief for ALL of God's promises.  To me, this was the real question,  how can we be certain?   God brought 2 Corinthians 5:17 to my mind.

"17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

So I called in and added this to the conversation. 

"With confession & belief, also comes evidence. How do I know I'm saved? How does a butterfly know he's no longer a caterpillar? I trade my legs for wings. Suddenly I'm able to soar above life's struggles. I'm a new creation. My desires change. My heart changes. My outlook on life completely changes. I no longer want to crawl in the dirt, my eyes are now focused on higher things. My old wants & needs are obsolete. Darkness disappears & light fills my heart. I become a reflection of Jesus. I am suddenly able to love the unlovable. Forgive the unforgivable. I have unexplainable joy and peace in the midst of disaster. I know I'm saved, because the old me no longer lives. Jesus lives through me!!"
When he replayed my response on the radio, I was shocked.  Afterward, he applauded my answer as  "beautiful."  But then he stated he wanted to make one thing very clear, "life is not perfect."  He replayed my response again as listeners called to back his insinuation that I conveyed the message of a perfect life.  As my oldest son and I listened to the calls, we looked at each other shaking our heads in disbelief with a smile on our faces. If anyone knows life isn't always perfect as a believer, surely it's me.
I've endured the earthly loss of two siblings by two separate car accidents.  I endured heart surgery as a child. My daughter was briefly placed on the heart transplant list (And later removed thank you Lord) and we were given little to no hope by the doctors. I've also faced many obstacles in my marriage. My life has been anything but roses and daisies. So..  I was disappointed that I failed to make my message more clear.  I was saddened that they had missed my point entirely. 
Obviously, if I mentioned things such as joy & peace in the midst of DISASTER or being able to soar above life's STRUGGLES, then it should be obvious I do not think life is perfect. 
Here's the thing... while we were in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with Serenity, the nurses use to request being stationed with our family.  They would actually argue over who got to take care of our daughter.  They would often comment about the different atmosphere.  In the PICU they would see & hear a lot of gloom and doom on a daily basis. I often saw the wear and tear of such heartbreaking stories on their faces. I also noticed the way their faces would light up when they entered our room. They quickly took notice to the way we were still able to laugh and joke with them.  They loved the way we were not overcome with  worry, fear & stress, so it wasn't hard to treat them with kindness & respect.  They felt something around our daughter's bed that they seldom felt in their line of work.. Hope. (Confident expectancy) They felt the EVIDENCE of our salvation, the EVIDENCE of someone whose complete trust is in a risen Savior.
"..they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31
 Did you know, while other birds seek shelter from the storm, the eagle soars above it?  I have often felt this sense of rising above life's circumstance.  I can see the raging winds and waves but I'm somehow completely unaffected by them. It's as if, I'm lifted up, looking down on the storms of life.  
I've often spoke of the struggle I had with casting aside the "what ifs" of  Serenity's valley.  I've told you how I desperately sought God for complete assurance and then once I had it, nothing or no one could take it from me.  The doctors thought I was in denial.  They would throw all these facts and predictions my way and yet, I remained completely untouched, with a smile on my face. I knew but I knew but I knew. All doubt was gone. One doctor said.. "You just don't understand."  I replied. "YOU don't understand how BIG MY GOD IS!" I was able to soar because I sought HIM until I was able to truly Wait (completely rest in trust) upon the Lord.

In another incidence, someone hurt me.  They knew they were in the wrong and they expected me to react in anger.  The human part of me wanted to claws their eyes out but as I drew close to them, something happened. The Spirit within me took charge.  My heart changed and for whatever reason, I decided to wrap my arms around them instead. At that moment, GOD loved them through me.

I have seen tragedy.  I have faced hardship, but I have overcome them all.
We serve a RISEN Savior of Love.  He is alive. He is HIGH and LIFTED UP and HE LIVES IN US.
"17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world."  1 John 4:17
If we are as He IS and He IS High and Lifted up,  then what does that make us?  If we are not walking in the power of His resurrection & feeling the evidence of a RISEN Savior, then we need to walk a little closer.  If we do not see evidence of being a new creation, by having a new desire to fly out of the miry pit of sin and soar into a life of holiness, then we need to question the condition of our heart. Jesus said.. "My sheep know my voice. I know (dwell within) them & they follow Me." We follow Him to the cross daily as this flesh continually dies out and we follow Him to the heavens as He rises us above our trials. If we are not walking close enough to hear His voice & follow, then we need to seek Him until we do!
How do I know I am saved? I'm a new creation. You see..  I traded my legs for wings!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lord, "No Matter What...I'm gonna Love You!"

Tamatha "Tami" Thornton Fleming
September 14th, 1968 - July 6th, 2010

"I'm running back to your promises one more time.
Lord... that's all I can hold on to!
I gotta say this has taken me by surprise,
but NOTHING surprises YOU!
Before a heartache can ever touch my life...
It HAS to go thru Your hands
And even though I keep asking WHY...
I keep asking WHY....

On July 6th, my world was shaken to the point of complete brokenness. My older sister, my friend, my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, my encourager, my mentor, (in the eyes of a little sister) my hero... was involved in a fatal car accident and instantly met our Savior.
The first couple of days were of nothing but sheer shock and questions. WHY? Desperately seeking my Lord, I poured out my heart and asked my questions. God's love reached down, wiped away my tears and opened my eyes to His revelation. He was not offended by my need for assurance. He simply gave me the answers I so desperately needed... peace that surpasses ALL understanding and supernatural joy. He gave me a reason to sing and amazingly turned my mourning into dancing!

"There’s no way I can make it without Your help,
I wont even try it.

I know You have Your reasons for everything,

So I will keep believing,

I came to the conclusion... You either trust God or you don't! Simple as that! God ALWAYS has our best interest at hand. We do not know the future. We do not know what lies ahead. We do not know our capabilities. Only God knows. For, GOD KNOWS ALL! I can only taste the very tip of HIS love and yet even the tip is more than I can comprehend. HIS Love is ENDLESS!! HIS mercy endures forever. With every fiber of my being I know God gave my sister as much time on this earth as He could without compromising HER good.


After a long night of weeping, God awakened me to the words of the song.. Shout unto God... "The enemy has been defeated... Death couldn't hold you down... We're gonna lift our voice to victory. We're gonna make our Praises loud!" Then He reminded me of how satan plotted against Jesus. Oh.. as Jesus was beaten, tortured and murdered, the enemy thought he had won. I'm sure he was laughing with an evil sneer. But little did he know that his very own plot to kill was the very instrument used to defeat him.
God turned satan's evil plot into his own demise.

The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at them;

but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows his day is coming.

Psalm 37:12-13

I know where my sister is... I know that as she walks the streets of gold, My sister laughs with the Lord. For the enemy's attempt to destroy her failed miserably! She's more alive today than ever before. She's feeling happiness that we can not even imagine.

We may not always understand God's reasoning for allowing circumstances into our lives. But we either Trust Him or we don't. Once we understand the indefinite amount of His love, we have no other choice but to Trust Him. HE ONLY CONTAINS GOODNESS! Sometimes it's hard for our feeble minds to grasp His reasoning, because we want to look at things with carnal eyes, but God sees the eternal picture. Life on this earth is nothing compared to eternity. I would rather spend one day on earth and have all eternity to laugh, giggle and chat with my sister. Then spend 100 years with her on this earth, only to part for all eternity.

We will all have moments of questions in this life, but I can promise you one thing... if we truly seek His face, He will always give us the answers we need. I am able to understand that because of circumstances that I could not foresee. God reached down and embraced my sister in the perfect, premise, exact moment she needed Him. God's timing is IMPECCABLE!

I've taken the last couple of months to allow God to heal me. I needed Him to mend my heart before I could truly pour it out for the would to see. I trusted Him to piece me back together again. He is ALWAYS FAITHFUL! Although I miss her passionately, God's Grace once again carries me. I seek His presence often and bask within His peace. "Within His presence there is fullness of joy", I understand this better now than ever before and it's that supernatural joy that is constantly keeping in awe of His magnificence.

"Whatever I might be feeling,
God You are my Hope, and You will be my strength!"

No matter what... I’m gonna love you, I’m gonna need you,
No matter what.... I’ll trust you,
No matter, No matter, No matter what!
"No Matter What" by Kerri Roberts

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Safety First...

Even Serenity's tricycle has it's own anti-lock brake system...

That little booger is stronger than she looks!
The more Serenity peddled the more lil Rose pulled! :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Unique Knick Knack

Went to get groceries... picked the kids up from school.... told the kids to take Lil Rose out for her afternoon potty break.... unloaded groceries.
As usual, I was walking through the house a mile a minute, when I passed by the curio in our living room. I stopped... looked at the curio... tilted by head... hmm... something doesn't seem right... shook my head and took another gander.
Uh... yeah... something definitely is NOT right.

I burst into laughter once I realize...

Lil Rose is sitting perfectly still on a glass shelf inside our curio!

Apparently, Serenity thought she was sooo cute that she needed to be on display. She told her to "sit there and be pretty." The little dog didn't argue a bit. She just sat there quietly and watched all the commotion. lol Poor Lil Rose!

I do have to admit though... I totally agree with Serenity.... I have seen very few knick knacks that could even compare with that little dog's cuteness! :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meet Lil Rose

We have a new beagle puppy. Noah named her Lil Rose.
The kids absolutely LOVE her. I have to admit she IS very cute.

Serenity likes to pretend she's her very own little baby.
"I'm your Mommy"

"You're my baby."
lol Poor Lil Rose

Eli, on the other hand is a very good Daddy.
See how he knows to support the bottom half. :)

While playing house... Serenity says...
"Eli you're the Daddy and I'm the Mommy, Okay?'
Eli agrees..."Okay."
Then immediately Serenity hands the puppy to Eli and replies...
"Now get her out! I don't like dirty dogs in my house!"
Eli argues... "But her is just a little dirty dog."
lol Kind of gives you a bird's eye view into our home life...doesn't it?
Kids are so funny!

Cute Aren't they?
Uh... yeah... Serenity is... well... just Serenity. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Taken by Love

"The world will fade away as I lift my hands..."
"The King is worthy of praise He's the Great I Am."
"The joy you've given rings out as I lift my voice..."
"I'm captivated by your ways. So I will worship you!"

I believe one of the greatest miracles demonstrated by God is simply His ability to make all the cares... all the troubles... all the weight of this world just fade away. The moment we choose to worship Him, everything else just DISSOLVES...

The moment my heart yearns for worship... the moment it screams out... PRAISE HIM... The moment I choose to lift my hands... the world begins to vanish. Suddenly... My heart is overwhelmed! His Grace begins to carry me. I begin to soar like an eagle. Looking down on the cares of this world and yet not feeling it's misery. I begin to sing... I lift my voice in honor of Him... Even in the midst of destruction, My lips begin to quiver as His joy beams across my face. Because of His Grace... Because of His Mercy... Because of His Love... He takes me away and carries me.
He carries me to VICTORY!

All the cares of this world disappear because Lord....
"You've Taken me by Love"
"You’ve taken me by Grace"
"You’ve taken me away"
"I can’t resist because..."
"You’ve taken my heart!"

"You've Taken me by LOVE!"
Taken by Love - Kutless

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever!"
Psalm 30:11-12

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Jesus has Plenty of Money in HIS pocket!"

Sitting around talking about vacation, Serenity decides she wants to go to Disney World. I explain to her that a trip like that takes A LOT of money and money isn't something that is easily obtained... especially for a family of seven, living on one income. Well... my little speech did not influence Serenity's decision in any way. She just smiled and replied...
"Mommy... Jesus has plenty of money in HIS pocket and He will give it if we ask."

Her words just melted my heart! As adults we can learn SOOO much about faith from a child! She did not even hesitate. She simply relied on Jesus as her source.

"Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Luke 18:17

I was simply inspired by her persistent faith. I know that it is always God's perfect will to bless His children. He LOVES to give us the desires of our heart and He always honors a heart of pure faith. I wasn't going to shut the door on her desire. I simply explained to her that we just had to wait on HIS timing. If it was God's will for us to travel to Disney World THIS summer than He would supply the funds to do it.

Meanwhile in my mind, I was just trying to figure out.... HOW! We live on a very tight week to week budget. Last year, Tommy's job survived a couple of big layoffs within his company (PRAISE GOD) but he had to endure some major cut backs on his hours. This put was way behind on several bills and unfortunately we only broke even recently. After almost an entire year in the red. We finally are back in the black again. We still owe, but at least we're no longer behind on payments. So here is my daughter, exclaiming that God will supply us a trip to Disney World... a trip worth several thousand dollars ($1000 just to get my family through the park gates for two days of fun) and our savings is nearly non existent. It did not seem promising... but then again matters that require faith never do! :)

Then came the BIG step. God spoke to me to start tithing 20%, instead of our normal 10%. Wow! Now talk about a leap of faith! God has ALWAYS supplied all of our needs, but we were counting pennies just to get by before. So the thought of coming up with an extra 10% on top of the normal 10%, was a bit scary. But in my heart, I knew that even if God had to rain manna from heaven (Exodus 16:4-5) or give us money in a fishes mouth, (Matthew 17:27) He would supply our needs. So I was obedient.

Guess what I learned? God confirmed in a physical manner what my heart has always known... No matter how hard you try you just can NOT out give God! The more you give, the MORE you receive!

Since I started tithing 20 %. I have had plenty to pay all of our bills on time, buy groceries, and still manage to put back some every week toward our vacation. We are slowly inching our way there... we ARE well on our way. Serenity's dream vacation to see Minnie Mouse's house is not so far fetched anymore. As a matter of fact, it may be a lot sooner than anticipated. We have even been offered a FREE place to stay while we're there. God is Good! He always honors FAITH and OBEDIENCE!
He remains faithful to all of His promises.

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“ If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it."
Malachi 3:10-11

The only place in the Bible where God says to test Him to see if it works and You can be certain that it DOES! :)