I'm not a huge sports fan, but I used to follow Ice Hockey. I've been in our local arena during a game and witnessed the enthusiasm and emotion and craziness of the fans. It always struck me as odd that people can dye their hair and paint their bodies team colors and attend a game where they chant, yell, scream and act nuts for their team, but then people who dare to raise their hands in church in worship are extreme! Shouldn't we show the same zeal and excitement when we worship our God? I'm not just talking about being charismatic, shouting and singing, etc.. but in our hearts? Attending a church service to worship God should be far more exciting than going to a sports game. But I digress.
Which reminds me of something I heard a pastor say lately. Just because you wear a Yankees jersey or a New York Giants jersey doesn't mean you're on the team! In other words just because you say you are a Christian and attend church doesn't mean you actually are a Christian. The old adage that says "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then it is a duck" doesn't apply here! A person can attend church, recite Scripture from memory, give eloquent prayers out loud, even teach Sunday School, and still not be a true child of God. For some of you who follow me, you aren't shocked by that statement. But for others, this may be a new revelation, so hang in there with me.
Out of all the great Biblical topics I could post about, this is the one the Lord keeps bringing me back to. Why? Because I believe time is very very short and soon our Lord will call His Children home. When that happens, the world will enter a time of such horrors that nearly all the people on the planet will die. And my fear is that many many so-called Christians will be left behind to endure it.
Remember the Parable of the Wheat and Tares in Matthew 13? Jesus described His Kingdom as a giant field where good seed was planted. But then the enemy (Satan) came and planted tares among the wheat. Many pastors will tell you that the tares are unbelievers, but if you look up what a tare is you'll discover that it looks just like wheat. You can't tell it apart from the real wheat until the end when the ear of grain appears on the real wheat but the tares don't grow fruit. In other words, the tares are people who look and act just like believers. In the parable, Jesus said to allow the tares to grow alongside the wheat until the harvest and then gather the tares and burn them.
Are you a tare or are you a wheat? Here's one way to tell.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:13-14
So who are the children of God? There are actually many ways to tell, but this one is a huge one. You can tell a true Child of God because that person has stopped purposely sinning, i.e... living to satisfy their flesh AND that person is led by the Spirit of God.
How can you tell if you are led by the Spirit of God?.
First of all, you must have the Holy Spirit living within you. This happens at the moment of salvation when you REPENT, change your life, believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for your sins, and commit your life to follow Him. (If you haven't done this first step yet, please do so, because you can't be led by the Holy Spirit unless He lives within you)
A person who is led by the Spirit of God
(What I list below are the qualities of a mature follower of Jesus, but no matter where you are in your walk, you should be experiencing some degree of the following)
- Hates sin, and immediately feels convicted whenever they sin, and quickly repents
- Loves the Bible, respects and honors the Word of God, and enjoys studying it
- Hears from God. (God speaks in different ways to different people, and this ability grows as you mature in Him, but essentially you know God is leading you and guiding you at times)
- Loves God's people - the other children of God and is quick to help them when needed.
- Loves to worship God
- Longs to please God
- Prays first whenever a problem arises
- Prays often - in constant communication with the Lord
- Trusts God in all things
- Longs to be with the Lord
- Peacemakers - (Matthew 5:9)
- Bears the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)
- Humble - not prone to promote self
- Hates the world system and the things of the world
I'm not saying I have achieved all these things. I have not. But over the years, I have seen how the Holy Spirit has changed me and is producing these qualities within me. That's how I know I am a daughter of the King. The list is not meant to bring guilt, but to make you analyze your walk with Jesus. We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
If you see some of these qualities within yourself and have seen them grow over the years, then you are a child of God! That's not me saying it. Every one one of those qualities is found in Scripture.
And to the Grace people, I'm not talking about works. I'm talking about how the Holy Spirit changes us when He lives within us if we are truly saved. We are saved completely by God's Grace and I thank Him for it every day. But after that, we must take up our cross and follow Jesus and allow His Spirit to change us into the image of Jesus
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18
So don't just wear the Jersey! Become part of the Team!