Close but No Cigar ~ blog

 In Daily Encouragement

Close but No Cigar is a catchphrase to describe someone’s effort to do something, but the effort was not enough.  It is believed to have originated from carnivals in the USA during the 19th century where they handed out cigars as prizes. Although nowadays, the prize would be something which would eventually gather dust in the basement or an item to sell for one cent at your garage sale.

Yesterday we looked at two statements Jesus made in John 15 that might suggest that if anyone is not abiding in Christ is like a branch on a vine which is not abiding or receiving from the vine what is needed to produce fruit.  Therefore, the vinedresser cuts it off and puts it in the pile of the other fruitless branches only to be burned.

There are many places in the New Testament where people who are not truly saved but are hanging around with those who are saved are mentioned. Eventually, they fall away or leave the local church because they were not truly born again by the Spirit and are still dead spiritually.

I hear from so many men who are caught in sexual addiction, just like I was for over 8 years, and eventually, the devil whispers in our ears …

You call yourself a Christian? 

A real Christian would never do that.

You are not a true believer! You are not saved.

One of the results of us believing these lies is we reason that if we are not truly saved then we might as well go ahead and give up trying to stop and wallow in sexual sin.  If I am not saved it doesn’t really matter so indulge away like a starving kid in the candy store. Deeper and deeper we go into the sin that so easily entangles us.  Greater becomes our self-loathing and despair and everything in our lives that we love and cherish will be destroyed.

So, how does one know that they are truly saved and are not just a pretender?  Were you raised in a Christian family and just went along with everyone else, growing up in the church and knowing about the love of Christ but never truly surrendered yourself to Christ and asked Him to save you from the penalty of your sins?

The Bible does not make this a complicated issue.  There is no checklist of things you have to accomplish in order to be saved and win the cigar.  There are no works that must be done for you to earn the free gift of salvation.  Everyone who has ever been saved has been saved by the Grace of God through faith in Christ.

It is in our believing that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh and that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sings that we are saved by faith. This frees us from the penalty of our sins, and we are declared by God the Father as completely forgiven and we are sealed by the Holy Spirit as God’s guarantee of our inheritance in heaven when we die.

This gift of salvation is God’s gift to us.  It is free just as every gift is free.  There are no strings attached like God is saying;

“OK, I have given you the gift of salvation

now let’s see if you can do what you need to do to keep it.”

God does not save us and then waits to see whether or not we are good enough to keep it.  He has saved us so that He can change us by His Spirit, and we can become conformed to the image of Christ.  We become eternal members of His family.  He knew every sin we would commit before He chose to save us.  And He chose us anyway.

What He wants to do is to help us change … or to transform us.  It is a lifelong process and mostly done day by day as we make Him and His will a high priority in our life.  It is doing the little things consistently that produce growth over the long haul.

That is what Jesus means by us abiding in Him.  The truth and our reality are that Jesus is ALWAYS with us.  He never leaves us or forsakes us even if we are in the act of looking at porn or sexually sinning. We are sealed with the Spirit and He is present with us whether we are in church or an adult bookstore, sleeping with our spouse or a prostitute.  We cannot escape His presence.  There is nowhere we can go where He is not with us.

Jesus abides in us. He is in us ready, willing, and able to help us.  He calls us to His throne of Grace so that we can receive help from Him in our time of need. He has removed us from our sin as far as the east is from the west.  Our sins and lawless deeds He will remember no longer.  He has made perfect forever those He is making holy day by day.

Quit listening to all the lies and bulls#*t the devil is telling you and spend some time today and every day abiding in Jesus and allowing His Word to abide in us.

We do not have to come up with this massive plan of how we are going to grow spiritually.  Promising Him hours of time in bible study and prayer.  Start small and once you have established consistency for 40 days increase that time by another 5 minutes.  As your consistency becomes established every day you will begin to see the Holy Spirit change you.

It will not come quickly … but it will come like fruit growing on a tree. That is what abiding is all about.  Simple consistency producing growth in Christ that will expand as you learn that you can be devoted to Jesus and can abide in Him.

 

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