How petting an animal can help you to get to know God better.

The other day in class we were talking about the book of Jonah and how the book has this weird ending, where God is asking Jonah why He shouldn’t have pity on the 120 000 inhabitants of Niniveh.
I guess you know the story. But why is that a weird ending?

Well, if you read the last verse, God is not only saying that He has mercy on the population of Niniveh, no, actually the very last thing he mentions in the entire book are … animals. The cattle on which God also has mercy on. Funny, hm?

We continued the discussion and (seriously) talked about the typical question a child would ask when his or her pet dies. The questions if animals will go to heaven.
To be honest, at first I was like ‘Really? Are we seriously discussing this right now?’.

I’m not gonna tell you what our conclusion was (this you can study for yourselve :p) but another thought developed because of this discussion, namely the position and purpose of animal in relation to human beings.

If we read Genesis 1:26 and skip the part we all know where God says ‘Let us make man in Our image’ it also says in the same verse:

‘let them [meaning humans] have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.’

So what’s happening here?
God in the beginning, at creation set man as the ruler over the animals of this planet.
Now it’s important that we remember one thing! Back then sin had not yet corrupted the earth. Everything was still at peace and in full beauty. Just the way God had created it.
There was no sign or appearance of that devastating change that sin would bring to every level of life. No fear. No death. Nothing bad. Only very good things existed. Perfection.

This means, that the rulership that God had intended for man to have over animals was also a very good one. Definitely not one of hunting or killing. One that had nothing to do with tyranny, brutality, pain, struggle or any other outcome of sinful, unfair and selfish rulership as it exists everywhere in hierarchies today.

Try to imagine how Adam and Eve must have felt. God told them ‘Look guys, these other creatures which you can see here, they are yours. You go and take care of them just the way I take care of you!’

God did not put all knowledge of all time into Adam and Eve’s pure, still young and fresh minds. No. Also without sin God had the plan, that life (also if being eternal in ‘length’) should be a life of constant learning, working and gaining knowledge.

So our very first parents had none but one school to attend in order to gain a knowledge on how to treat beings that are depended on a higher being – and that was in the school of Jesus pre-incarnate. In their daily communion with Him, their Ultimate Teacher.

In the way God treated Adam and Eve they could find patterns and principles which they could apply to the beings which God had put under their control. The animals.

Why did He do that? What was God’s intention with giving human beings the dominion over the animals?
The answer to this lies in the answer to another, wider question:

Why does God do the things He does?
What is the whole point of His acts?

The answer is (again) found in John 17:3:

„Now this is eternal life–that they know you, the only true God

Adam and Eve were created for eternal life. Eternal life back then and today still is about nothing else than getting to know God better and better!

So how does this apply to the whole animal-thing we’ve been talking about earlier?

Well, when God gave man the rulership over the animals He did it, because through the beautiful connection that would have been developed between human beings and animals (if sin wouldn’t have kicked in), humans would have, through the taking care of these precious and beautiful beings, gained a better knowledge about the character of God.

See, for animals, we humans are like God to them.

How is God? God is a God of complete selflessness. A God of pure love – complete living for others. Taking care of others. Sustaining others.

Ok Jonathan, but I don’t live in paradise. What does this mean for me today, who lives in a degenerated world of sin? Must I go to the next lion and offer myself as food because of selflessness?

No. Of course not.
Things changed when sin came into this world. Animals learned to avoid, fear and attack man because of bad experiences with them.

The same way humans fear, avoid and attack God. The difference is that animals are mostly right in their assumption that humans are dangerous and evil. God on the other hand is not evil.

I believe even though we humans would never be able to recreate the circumstances of Eden (meaning a world without sin), we should still take care of animals. They still are in a way dependent on us and they still are created with a purpose.

I don’t think I need to explain that our society is a ‘Nazi-regime’ to the animals of this world.

So the next time you see a dog, a hippo or a snail, remember that there are still glimpses of God’s character to be found in the very connection that can exist between you and that animal. There is still something you can learn about who and how God is!

Isn’t this beautiful?

And who knows, maybe through an encounter with you, the reaction (positive or negative) of that animal on you, is a picture or a mirror of your own current relationship with God. A reflection on how you treat and meet God.

4:3 versus 16:9 – God’s “golden ratio” for your life.

If you are around 25 years of age +/- one or two years, you might be able to relate to my following statement: I feel old.

Or, let’s phrase it this way: Sometimes I feel old. Specially when I meet teenagers who I know since they were very little or from whom I can actually remember the time of their birth! And now they are already tall, intelligent and capable to have a more or less intellectual conversation with me. Yes, these are the situations when I feel kind of ‘old’.

This happened to me just recently. Most of those boys and girls who are in their teens now, can’t even remember consciously experiencing situations, which for me feel like they happened just yesterday. The change into the new millennium for example. Or September 11th 2001. They grew up in a different world then I did. It’s the next generation I guess.

These are the kids that can’t remember a time before high-speed Internet, super-cheap air-tickets from RyanAir or a TV/computer screen where the standard dimensions were 4:3 instead of the 16:9 which you can find everywhere nowadays.

Not to go into much detail about technology, and maybe you won’t agree but honestly … there is something about this widescreen 16:9 format that makes pictures and film look more stylish. Don’t you think? I guess it has to do with the so called golden ratio or just with the fact that you actually see more on a screen like that.

As we grow up and go through life we make plans. We try to find the best possible solution and path to reach a certain goal. May it be a good education, a well-paid job or finding the right partner; we always make plans.
There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s part of growing up and turning ‘old’.

God created us with the mental capability and creativity to make extraordinary plans. He wants us to aim high. To reach for bigger things. To accomplish things and learn.
But there’s one problem. And maybe you already guessed it:
It’s our heart; what we think and feel. It’s not thoughts and feelings per se, but the bible tells us they have been corrupted by sin.
Jeremiah is pretty clear about it when he says:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

Unless we live in constant connection with our loving Creator and Savior (who knows our heart), trusting in the heart can be a dangerous thing! We can not always see the bigger picture and therefore might follow a bad plan or path.
To use the TV/computer screen-illustration: We live with a 4:3 view. We see a bit, but not as much as we could with a “widescreen”. With 16:9.

So, what to do? Where can I get this “16:9 – widescreen – view” for my life? Where can I widen my old 4:3 view on life into a 16:9 view?

I like what Solomon says, (amusingly) in Proverbs 16:9:

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

God cares.
He cares about our plans.
He cares about where we go and what we do.

As I grow older I want God to widen my view. I want Him to show me more and more of His ways. I have tasted a bit from the beauty of God’s plan for my life, and since then I can’t resist to follow it deeper and fuller. He is perfect, therefore His plans are perfect.

My appeal to you is the following:
Stop living in 4:3 mode and enter into the widescreen view of God on your life!
The great thing is, that it won’t stop with just 16:9. God is infinite! His golden ratio will constantly expand if you let Him guide you. The more time you spend with God the more you will see and the more you will understand of His amazing plan for you life here on earth and eternity. It’s a process that will never end.

Be blessed as you constantly open your life for God’s golden ratio.

“I feel sick when I hear ‘Let’s pray'” – What we can learn from ‘Harley Davidson’-Bikers

I woke up a Sabbath morning last week around 8 a.m. feeling very tired, because I didn’t really have a good night sleep. So I decided to just stay in bed a ‘bit’ more. Fortunately my parents, where I stayed at during that time, live right above the church, so staying in bed a bit longer wasn’t that dangerous. Sabbath school starts at 9 a.m. To be honest, I felt very worn out and not fit or ready for going to a church service, where I barely knew anyone. Nevertheless, I got up and was on time for the service to begin.

In the background, in a distance, you could hear the constant sound of Harley Davidson-motorcycle engines. During that week (including the weekend) the annual ‘Harley Davidson European Biker Week‘ was taking place just around the corner from where my family lives. 70.000 bikers from all around Europe took the time to come to Austria to show their bikes, have fellowship with other bikers or just to party and make a lot of inevitable noise.
Sometimes it was so loud that you could not have a normal conversation outside, because of the interrupting sound of the ‘built-to-be-loud’-engines of driving by Harelys.

So there I was. Sabbathschool started and I decided to join a group where I didn’t really know anybody, which wasn’t that hard in that church (That is not the church’s fault. I am usually atttending a different church a couple hundred kilometers away).
It was the lesson about church-leadership and what 1Thessalonians 5:12-15 has to say about it.
As the discussion started I soon realized that there was a woman in our group who really, really had some issues going on against church-leadership and the church itself. All I heard out of her mouth was very negative. We continued talking about what we as church-members could do to make our church a better place. I couldn’t resist to mention my personal experience with prayer and how much power lies within it. Specially speaking about united prayer. I mentioned the very recent story of a church in North-Italy that developed from a basically dead or sleeping church to a mission-driven church which now has almost no more space for all their newly baptized members. This revival and immense church-growth happened only over the period of a few years. And it all started with two families coming together simply to pray.

This was what I wanted to emphasize with my comment. That prayer is so essential for a positive change.

What I heard next I did not expect.

“I feel sick when I hear ‘Let’s pray'”. It came from the woman that had nothing positive to say all day.
I was shocked. I just did not think a believer would ever say that. It left me almost speechless for a while.

I felt so sorry for her. I was thinking to myself ‘What kind of experiences must she have had in her past, that she would come to the point that a call for prayer would leave her with a sick stomach? What picture of God must she have? How sad must she sometimes be? … How can one help her? What happened?”

The conversation went on for a while and it became evident to me again, that we as an endtime movement are far away from being ready for what we are called to be. Namely an endtime movement!

A movement is a group of people with the same goal. With a plan. A definite direction.
Yes, officially we do have all of that. But to be honest, lately I haven’t seen this on the church-level so much. I love the glimpses of hope here and there when I look at the earnest and truth-seeking young people in our church today. It tells me that change can happen.

All throughout that Sabbath I was reminded of the Harley Davidsons all around thanks to the noise they made. And it made me think.
Here you have a group of devoted people. People who love their Harleys. Some maybe even ‘worship’ it. They spent lots of money, time and effort into their ‘Harelyism’ and they are willing to travel hundreds and thousands of kilometers to meet other people with the same passion. All driven by the same goal: To be a movement, united by what they love.

And then I look at the church. And I ask myself:
Are we a devoted people?
Do we love and worship God?
Do we use our money, time and effort for His cause?
Are we willing to ‘sacrifice’ for Him?
Are we driven by a goal?
Are we a movement?

Maybe I haven’t seen the bigger picture fully yet; maybe I am too idealistic. But I wish and pray, that the fire of revival will not only stay withing youth-movements, but also reach the local church very soon.

It just hurts to hear something like “I feel sick when I hear ‘Let’s pray'” in an Adventist church. It stands for all the sad, maybe desperate people who have lost hope or maybe never really had a real encounter with God. It stands for those brothers and sisters who know Daniel and Revelation by heart but have not met Jesus yet.
It is a call for all of us who profess that we love Jesus and those of us who have experienced that wonderful power of prayer.

Does this make us any ‘better’? No. But it gives us more responsability! We need to pray, love and work for this movement to happen/get started/continue. Whatever the situation in your local church may be. We need to gather as many people as we can for this last trip on our spiritual ‘Harleys’ to the promised land!

May the Spirit of Wisdom guide us and make us humble to be a tool to reach out to all those sad, lost and dissapointed brothers and sisters in our church rows.

‘Divine Appointments’ or Why Free Wifi at 10.000 m (30.000 feet) height are no temptation at all.

Today I traveled from Oslo, Norway to Vienna, Austria after I had been working up there for about a month. But the story from today starts already a few years ago.

At this time I had been slowly getting closer to God and His plan for my life. Until then I never really wanted to share my faith, mostly because I was scared I wouldn’t be able to defend it and be ridiculed. However God started to break down that barrier in my life and I found myself praying for a possibility to share my faith and witness. Obviously God didn’t lead me to a person on my daily 1 hours of bustravel to work. Why? I had my headphones on and didn’t want to be bothered. So much for that.

But my prayer would be answered sooner than I had expected!

One evening my neighbor, who happened to be an Adventist believer, came up to me and asked me to come to talk to a stranger she had picked up from the street and who was looking for a place to sleep. This was a very interesting, strange, but very positive encounter. That person had lots of questions about God and I believe for the first time I was witnessing and sharing God and what He had done in my life without being scared. It would take too long to tell the details of this story, but in short: God perfectly timed this – what I call – divine appointment. It was no accident that this guy and I had met. I hope I’ll see him in heaven one day.

Ok, now back to what happened earlier today.

Yesterday night I talked to God and asked Him to bless this trip I was taking back home and to plan divine appointments, if He wants to.

Beware! If you pray for mission-opportunities, your prayer will be heard. That just on a side-note.

So this morning I got on the bus to Oslo Airport. You have to know, I caught a bad cold the other day and basically I was constantly blowing my nose and having a hard time to stay focused because I felt like I had a waterfall coming out of my nose.
I’ll spare you the details on that.
In any case, I already had my doubts if God would want me to meet somebody with those ‘issues’ going on in my face.

I finally boarded the half-empty plane. While entering I was very surprised to see a “WiFi on board” sign at the entrance of the plane. First time I have seen that in an airplane and I was confused, since they always make sure your phone is turned off during flight.

So as I entered I was thinking “Oh, I might be able to message people who I appreciate and just let the time fly by through WiFi”. I found my seat. It was 15D. Emergency seat. Just like I ordered, with extra space for my long legs.

So as I was getting comfortable (as comfortable as one can be in a metal box that soon will be high up in the sky) my nose was being troubled by the cold air coming from the AC in the plane. So, being this, with a cold stricken wreck, constantly sneezing and with a nose in ‘river-mode’, I was probably the last person anybody on that flight would have wanted to have contact with for the upcoming 2 hours in the sky.

Nevertheless a guy sitting across from me, one row further up turned around and asked if I had an allergy. I told him that I didn’t but that I had a cold. He went on telling me about his weekend in Norway and we got into some small talk. Soon I realized that he was open for a longer-than-usual conversation. So I decided to seat myself next to him. I am sure his twisted neck was very happy about that too.
Inside I was asking the Holy Spirit to guide my words and the man’s thoughts.

After I answered his question on what I was studying in college (theology, in case you didn’t know) I found myself in a long conversation about theology, bible, church history and the reliability of God’s word. He was definitely better informed about religion than the average European these days and so we had discussions on various topics.
When I talked about the Sabbath, and my view on scripture, that I take it as what it claims to be, namely words inspired by God, he was very astonished. Here and there I was also able to share the truth about salvation. To him coming from a catholic background, he seemed not to fully have understood it yet. That salvation is free. A gift from God.We continued talking about a whole lot more. Hell, creation, God’s benevolence etc.

No, he didn’t want to be baptized after we landed. He didn’t ask where the next Seventh-Day Adventist Church is to be found either nor did he ask for bible-studies.

However I am convinced that God in His omniscience had carefully planned this divine appointment. Seeds of truth could be sown into this man’s heart, and the Holy Spirit will have more He can work with. All glory be to God!

The funniest thing about it is, that the conversation between Dennis (that’s his name by the way) and me started because of the very thing I was afraid would scare everyone away – my running nose!!

Truly our impossibilities are God’s opportunities!

I praise God for hearing my prayers and surprising me with His well arranged divine appointments.

It didn’t stop there. Later today I had another chance to talk to a young girl, while waiting for my train from Vienna to my hometown. She didn’t believe very much in God’s existence but I was able to share a few words on my faith and again I am sure God will go on working with these seeds that have been planted into her thinking.
If you want to, you are very much welcome to pray for both, Dennis and the girl. Pray that this encounter with God will not be destroyed by the enemy who is always very angry when we share our faith with people he claims to own.

So my appeal to you is the following:

Don’t’ be afraid of asking for mission-opportunities. Ask for divine appointments!

Sharing Jesus with others will actually strengthen your relationship with Jesus and at the same time you are taking part in saving souls for God! Isn’t that awesome?!

To be a tool in God’s hands is the best possible work one can ask for.

It makes faith real.

Why don’t you tell Him today that you are available for a divine appointment?!

You will not regret it.

“In His wisdom the Lord brings those who are seeking for truth into touch with fellow beings who know the truth. It is the plan of Heaven that those who have received light shall impart it to those in darkness. Humanity, drawing its efficiency from the great Source of wisdom, is made the instrumentality, the working agency, through which the gospel exercises its transforming power on mind and heart.” – Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles, p.134

“There are in our world many who are nearer the kingdom of God than we suppose. In this dark world of sin the Lord has many precious jewels, to whom He will guide His messengers.” – Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles, p.140

Why the Apostle Peter And I Can Shake Hands.

I recently finished reading the book ‘The Desire Of Ages’ by the inspired author Ellen G. White. I must say it has truly been a blessing to read this for my morning devotions. She gives us a wonderful insight into the life and work of Jesus, while He was here on Earth. If you want to know more about Jesus, this book is a must-read! And I can recommend to read it together with the account given in the gospels.

While I was reading about how Jesus taught his disciples about the kingdom of God and how He tried to show them what his work on Earth really was all about, besides gaining lots of practical applications for my life, I also more and more identified myself with the disciple Peter.

He is the active one, the one who always opens his mouth, the one who is very eager to ‘do’ something. He is the sanguine leader-type-of guy.

We can see this clearly when he said to Jesus: Though they all [speaking of the other disciples] fall away because of you, I will never fall away … Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!“ – Matthew 26:33.35

Or later in the garden Gethsemane, where He was actually ready to kill for Jesus.
Mrs. White describes him like this:

“Peter was always speaking unadvisedly, from the impulse of the moment. He was always ready to correct others, and to express his mind, before he had a clear comprehension of himself or of what he had to say.” (DA, p.814)

This was the Peter before his fall. Before he betrayed his Master.

So, why can I identify with Peter so well?
The answer is easy. I am also a sanguine person.
I get ‘on-fire’ for things really fast, if they seem to be important and I speak up if necessary. So I can totally understand Peter’s enthusiasm. It’s not fake. He is not pretending to be enthusiastic. He really was convinced but also he really wasn’t converted.

And that is also why Peter’s story is so appealing and so full of hope for me.
I had to go through the same process as Peter. I always believed in God. I knew that the Adventist faith made sense and was the truth. I could have signed the 28 fundamental beliefs without a problem. But still, I wasn’t converted.

And this is a dangerous position to be in. Not only for the sake of your eternal life, but also because of the influence you have on the people around you.
You see, if you know the truth, but don’t live it motivated by the love to Jesus as God, you become a hypocrite.

And a sanguine hypocrite is even worse!

Eventually I ended up denying Jesus. Not in the same way as Peter did, but by constant, conscious turning away from Jesus. To God be the glory, He didn’t give up on me. Just like He didn’t give up on Peter.

I hit black-bottom. Myself disgusted me.
Writing about Peter, right after denying Christ, the prophetess says: “He reflected with horror upon his own ingratitude, his falsehood, his perjury” (DA, p.713)
This was the point when Jesus took over. This was the point when Peter and I finally gave in to Jesus and gave it all to Him. Repentance. Conversion.

Let’s read what happened to Peter afterwards:

“The converted Peter was very different. He retained his former fervor, but the grace of Christ regulated his zeal. He was no longer impetuous, self-confident, and self-exalted, but calm, self-possessed, and teachable.” (DA, p.814)

It is the grace of Christ, which changes a stubborn sinful person and makes him a teachable one.
Humbled, I praise God for doing the same work today still.

Later, after Jesus’ resurrection He and his disciples met at the Sea of Galilee. There Jesus asked Peter three times ‘Peter, do you love me?’
In the same way Jesus is asking every person that claims to be a follower of Him: “Do you love me?”
He is asking you and me now: “Do you love me?”.
Peter, with the fullness of his heart said ‘Yes!’.

But what was the difference? How was his verbalized faithfulness to Jesus different than to that one time when he claimed, that he would rather die with Jesus than to deny Him? This was the difference: Peter, now really knew who Jesus was.

Check this out:

“Heretofore Peter had known Christ after the flesh, as many know Him now; but he was no more to be thus limited. He knew Him no more as he had known Him in his association with Him in humanity. He had loved Him as a man, as a heaven-sent teacher; he now loved Him as God. He had been learning the lesson that to him Christ was all in all.” (DA, p.815)

Peter now knew Jesus as God.
And now he was finally ready to work in God’s mission field.
Peter and I, and I am sure many others, had to learn this the hard way.

It all comes down to knowing Jesus as God through repentance and conversion. Once this happens, you will gladly put self aside in order to let the Holy Spirit work on your heart. Then, there is no limit to the usefulness of you in the work of God for this lost planet.
Til this day I cannot see a better way of living life, than to live with God as the Leader.

Do you have a hardened heart?
A complicated personality?
A sinful character?

Give it to the Healer today and He will change you.
Maybe you are also a Peter, a John, a Paul or a Judas. Come to Jesus and accept His grace. It’s overflowing and waiting for you.

To be able to say “I love you” to Jesus because you know Him as God, is the most beautiful thing, because it reflects a life changed by God.

Don’t hesitate anymore.

Matter of Survival

Three questions.

At some point every mindful human being will ask him/herself these questions.
In some way or the other. Here they are:

Who am I?

Why am I here?

Where am I going?

Together with some good friends of mine I visited an old classmate of mine for the turn of the year last December in Budapest. Since I was the only theology student present I was asked to do a little “End of the Year” – devotional thought. With a “you-don’t-need-to-study-theology-to-give-a-devotion”-smile I gladly accepted to do it. I decided to answer those three vital questions by looking at the bible. I believe it is the Living Word of God and so it must also be able to answer them.

Let’s plunge right into the matter.

#1 – Who am I?
Well, I can not resist to bring up probably the most famous bible verse:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

What does the text say about me? It talks about the world. This world. The piece of rock you and I live on. It says God, the Eternal Father loved this world so much that He gave His Son, He gave everything (Romans 8:32) in order for us to be saved.
Ok. We know that.
We heard it a million times, but have we truly understood what kind of love that is?
Probably not.

And we probably never will fully understand. But isn’t that something?
I am loved by God. Let that sink in for a moment.

He. Loves. Me.
He doesn’t just accept me or like me. Nope, He loves me!

Check out what Isaiah has to say about this:

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:1-2

God obviously knows us. If He is the Creator that means He actually spent time to form you and He had to put His creativity into making you. He even went so far as to create you in His image (Genesis 1:28).

So God not only loved us, willing to give it all up for us, … no, He put time and effort into forming us and He wants to be close to us. We are of importance to Him.

So who am I?
I am a loved individual, made in the image of God.
This leads me to the next question.

#2 – Why am I here?

In the very beginning of the bible we’ll find an answer. According to Genesis 1:31 we were part of a “very good” creation. The logical conclusion is, that we were supposed to live a very good life. Actually, eternal life in happiness and joy. But we all know what happened:

Sin kicked in.

However! This did not stop God to offer a very good life for those who accept it. He says:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.“ – Jeremiah 29:11

He is offering forgiveness from sin, eternal life and a plan of hope for me in a sinful world. All we have to do is to accept all these gifts. They’re for free!

So, we were created for a joyful life, huh? Interesting. Isn’t that what everybody is looking for? Happiness? And if possible for a long time? … like forever?
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God “has put eternity into man’s heart“. We strive to stay forever young and happy. And that is totally ok! We are wired that way, by God.

The cool thing is, that God is offering us the quality of eternal life, which is to know Him, (John 17:3) already now. Yes. Today.

So this is the purpose of our life: To live happy, eternally, endlessly falling in love with our Creator.

Finally, the last question.

#3Where am I going?

I believe, that the journey is the destination.
The answer to question #2 is in a sense the answer to this last question.

I mean, yes, eventually we all want to go to heaven, right? So that could be an answer.
But I believe Jesus’ statement in John 17:3 is very powerful and adds another consideration to the wish to be in heaven.
Jesus claims, that eternal life is to know God. If that is true then ‘heaven’ can start already today, right now. On this rock we live on.

So, what’s the answer?
Where am I going, after knowing that I am loved by God and that He has true happiness and eternal life in store for me?

There is only one rational, emotional and logical way to go:

To Him. The One who first loved us (1John 4:19). And to stay with Him. Every day. Forever.

To Be in the Faith.

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” – 2. Corinthians 13:5

To be in the faith. What does that exactly mean? And how can we test it as Paul suggests here?

All of us at some point in our lives have made a statement about faith; that we believe in something or somebody. Maybe your mom told you right before you had a hard exam: “I believe in you” or maybe before starting a project you said to your classmates: “I believe this will work!”.

When we enter into the spiritual level, many of us have professed faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, Redeemer and their Creator God. We have surrendered our life to Him, we were baptized and have accepted to enter into a love-relationship with God.
Some of us have decided to give a year in volunteer work for Him or to be part of local church activities, mission and outreach-projects or maybe even to go into fulltime ministry. Most of us would probably dare to say: “Yes, I am in the faith”.

But then again, what does it really mean to be in the faith?

Well, the text in 2 Corinthians 13:5 is very plain. To be in the faith means that Jesus Christ dwells in you. It means that He is the core, the center of my life. My existence revolves around the One, who lives in me.
How can we see that on a daily basis? How can we actually test it as Paul suggests?
Matthew 7:16 provides the answer – “You will recognize them by their fruits”.

We can see it by the “fruits” we produce. – Now, what does that mean?

It signifies, that it is possible to follow Christ by the words we say, but not by the acts we do. Okay, so yes, we all know that if we say one thing, and do another thing we are hypocrites. But I believe this one goes even deeper.

It is possible to profess faith, to attend church, to sign up for the church choir, to be a Sabbath-school teacher, to be active in religion, to produce fruits but still not to have Jesus as the Commander-in-chief, as one’s Master of the heart.

Just think of the Pharisees!

As we proceed to exist in this sin-stricken world, as we go on with the decisions we made, as we live with the statements about the faith we claim to have, let us test ourselves by looking at our fruits – if they are good or bad.

What is the motive behind our actions? How do we use the time that has been given to us, on what do we spend the means we have available, our talents – on behalf of ourselves, or for the cause of Jesus?

Sometimes it can be painful to see and accept the reality about ourselves; that we tend to fall into hypocrisy, because what we say does not reflect the truth about ourselves.

It all comes down to this: Let Jesus dwell in you at all times. Let the love to Him be your motivation. Only the connection to Him will produce good fruits and by that prove that you truly are in the faith.

Therefore, let us return in humbleness to the mercy seat every day. To a God who is all loving and all forgiving and who promises us strength in times of struggle. A God who will turn that hypcrite into a warrior for Christ. To someone who truly stays in the faith.

All we need is Jesus in us.

This is my prayer for you.