Proverbs Poetry…

 

 

purple rose

 

Proverbs 31:28-29 (NIV)

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”

 

ref

“photopaulm.com”

“biblegateway.com”

 

 

~Steve

 

Do We Do The Father’s Will Alone?

 

 

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

~Matthew 21:23-27

 

The Pharisees and chief priests just wouldn’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah. And they were intent on trying to destroy His claims, or kill Him if they could.

The text above is just another example of how they tried to entangle the Lord in His own words. And it is another illustration of how He “outwitted” them…again!

But Jesus’ message here goes further than just that. He actually was using this as another teaching moment for both the Jewish council and the disciples.

Notice how Christ Jesus approaches the attempted ploy. The Pharisees asked by what authority He spoke,(V.23). Jesus told them He’d answer them if they would answer one question first, (V.24).

He asked them where John the baptist’s work and authority came from; Meaning was it from heaven or from man, (V.25)? (Of course, it was from God…)

Well this set off a burdensome debate among the chief priests. They reckoned on the one hand that if they answered John’s baptism was from heaven, Jesus would ask them why they didn’t believe in him, (V.25).

On the other hand, if they said that John’s baptism was just by the authority of man, they would be afraid of the people because they held that John was a prophet, (V.26). This was such a conundrum for them that they finally replied: “We don’t know,” (V.27).

Jesus finally answered that He wouldn’t divulge where His authority came from. He wasn’t being difficult, it was just that the Jewish priests wouldn’t have believed His authority came from the heavenly Father anyway. Additionally, Jesus had more to teach them.

He then told them a parable. A father had two sons which he told to go and work in his vineyard. The first said “no” but later changed his mind and went. The second son answered his father by saying he would go, but never went.

When He had finished, Jesus asked the Pharisees which son did his father’s will. They answered the first one. Then the Lord told them plainly that the tax collectors and prostitutes would enter the kingdom of heaven ahead of them.

What did the Savior mean by this? Well, we will see as we look further into this story…

He went on to say that John came to show them the way of righteousness and they did not believe him,  but the tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when the chief priests saw this faith, they still did not repent and believe in John…(see 21:28-32).

The Pharisees must have understood what Jesus meant with His parable, as they turned and went away. The meaning of the parable was directed at them. The first son refused his father’s command to work in the vineyard, just as the hard-hearted Jews refused to believe in God’s only Son as the Messiah.

In the parable, the first son changed his mind, (repented), and obeyed his father. The second son told his father he would do his bidding, but he never did what his father asked of him.

The chief priests knew they had not, nor would not, “repent” and accept the commands of the Father through the Son, because they refused Jesus as their King. This meant that they were sinning against God, whom they claimed to follow.

Obviously, they were more like the second son who said he would do his Father’s will and then never did so. With little doubt, this council of men felt their sin and scuffled away from Jesus.

The Pharisees valued their high positions in the eyes of the people above the words of Jesus or the commands of the Father in heaven. They desired to follow the traditions of men over the will of the Lord God.

This brings us to a very important point. Do we today adhere to the word of God in our lives and in our worship, or the values and traditions of men? Are we guilty of adding to or taking away from the commands of the Lord?

Here’s a valuable rule to live by in our lives and our adoration of the Almighty. If the bible is specific on a topic, follow it as commanded. The bible is the word of God and must be followed as written. If an act of exaltation is not contained in the word, it is likely an addition of man and should not be followed!

The Lord is very specific about what He wants from us, both in our lives and His devotionals, and He hasn’t made any mistakes! Who are we to dare change His will in any way?

Prayer...Dear Father, let us always do as you command on earth in both our lives and in worship to you. May we not add to nor take away from your commands, as we do not have the ability to enhance your word or will by doing so. May we live and praise you in spirit and in truth, and conduct ourselves in an acceptable manner before you. In Jesus’ name we pray…Amen!

ref

“biblegateway.com”

Google Images

 

~Steve

 

 

 

Our First Love…

 

 

“1 To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lamp stands. I know your deeds,your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”

~Revelation 2:1-4

 

On the outset, it would appear the Lord was fairly pleased with the church in Ephesus. He praises them for their work and perseverance. He also says that they cannot tolerate wicked people, and that they test those who claim to be true apostles, but are not, (V.2).

However, for some reason, Jesus instructs John to tell this church that they have “…forsaken the love you had at first,” (V.4).

It had to be a fair and truthful assessment as it came from the Savior Himself. All of the details are not known as to how and/or why the Christians had lost their fervor for Christ, so we are left to wonder a bit.

But the deficit was there to the degree that in the very next verse, the Lord thought it important enough to say “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent…”

Can it be that they had so gradually strayed from the priority of loving the Lord that they hadn’t noticed it? Did that just become the standard by which they lived their everyday lives? It is possible as this is how the evil one works in the believers lives, both then and today!

Satan wants us to believe all is okay, especially if we have drifted away from our spiritual duties a bit…or a lot! He does anything he can to “tone us down” or “dilute” our faith or strength of commitment.

This is why it is so important to spend time in prayer and scripture each and every day we can. “But” we say, “who has time in the day for that? There’s work, school, home and family obligations which take so much time. Then there are other things connected to these…” and on and on we go.

And that’s exactly how we find ourselves in the kind of dire straits spiritually that the Ephesians were in!

If the Lord truly holds the first most important spot in our lives, we don’t just say there isn’t any time for scripture or meditation today. We make the time somewhere in the day for Him.

I admit to an “ah-ha moment” myself just recently. I realized that even though I spend quite a bit of time reading and writing on my ministry blog, I haven’t given my all in some cases to maintaining my personal devotionals to God…

If we are Christians who are being completely honest with ourselves concerning this matter, then we probably will find our own “deficit” somewhere in some way. We can all use a bit more time with our Lord…

Prayer...Dear Father, please look down upon us with your tender love and care and forgive us if we have not remembered you as our First Love. Help us to make the time to pray to you more often and about all things. Help us to think of you first in our daily lives and when dealing with others. Do not allow us to stray! Be with us and in us at all times, dear Lord, for it is in Jesus’ name we pray this…Amen!

ref

“biblegateway.com”

 

~Steve

 

 

The Wicked…The Righteous

 

 

I have a message from God in my heart
    concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:[b]
There is no fear of God
    before their eyes.

In their own eyes they flatter themselves
    too much to detect or hate their sin.
The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
    they fail to act wisely or do good.
Even on their beds they plot evil;
    they commit themselves to a sinful course
    and do not reject what is wrong.

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

10 Continue your love to those who know you,
    your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11 May the foot of the proud not come against me,
    nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 See how the evildoers lie fallen—
    thrown down, not able to rise!

~Psalm 36

 

Ah, the age-old contrast between good and evil! Sadly, man has certainly not learned his lesson concerning the nefarious. In fact, as this and other scripture tells us, he continually plots more evil every waking moment!

Why is that? Yes, the temptations of the world are very powerful. But to the true Christian, he knows in his heart that this world and everything in it eventually leads to nothing.

What good does it do us if we continually invest our time, money, and effort into the gain of earthly riches? Of course they can make life in this world a bit more comfortable, even enjoyable in some cases.

But as Jesus has asked us…”what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?,” (Mark 8:36). Yet the sins of riches, pride, lust, and worship of this world’s “idols” continue to take over the hearts of man.

How diabolical in the eyes of the Lord is the man who plots evil after evil! The first four verses of the Psalm above describe such a soul…

“The is no fear of God before his eyes, for in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin…” (VV.1-2).

“The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful…even on his bed he plots evil, he commits himself to a sinful course…” (VV. 3-4).

How can one arrive at such a level of wickedness as this? Yet we have seen this very situation occur since the earliest days of the world. In (Genesis 6:5) the Lord says: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

The Christian should certainly know better than this. To put the treasures of this world before the glory of the Lord in the next world is futile thinking! We should learn to be content with what we gain on this earth, as we focus directly on Jesus and salvation.

Is it hard to do? Of course it is at times. For we too are living in a fleshly “tent” with human desires and discernments. But we know through our faith in the teachings of our Lord that we must do all we can to be more heavenly minded.

Of course we will still sin at times. We cannot keep the commands of God perfectly no matter how hard we try. We know every one of us still sin and fall short of His glory.

But for those of us who walk with Him, we have grace to forgive our missteps as we repent of them. For there is no sin greater than the grace of God for one of His own! Praise the loving and compassionate Father for such a love as His through Christ Jesus.

Therefore, let us concentrate on the last seven verses of the text above. May we know that His mercy “reaches to the heavens…” (V.5), and “How priceless is your unfailing love…” (V.7).

Let us concentrate on how “Both men high and low…find refuge in the shadow of your wings…” (V.7), and that you will “Continue your love to those who know you…” (V.10).

Prayer…Dear Lord, please help us to stand with you against the evil which overtakes so many in this world. Give us strength and guidance and comfort in your ways and keep us from temptations. Make us evermore like you and less like ourselves as we await the riches and glory which we do not deserve, but are freely given by way of your mercy and grace! For it is in Christ’s name we pray…Amen!

ref

“biblegateway.com”

Google Images

 

~Steve

 

Made By God!

 

 

sun smiles

 

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

~John 1:3

 

ref

“photopaulm.com”

“biblestudytools.com”

 

~Steve

God’s Majesty!

 

 

 

down in the valley

 

Psalm 89:11

The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all it contains, You have founded them.

 

 

ref

“photopaulm.com”

“bible.knowing-jesus.com”

~Steve

Forgiveness…

 

grace 5

 

 

Psalm 103:8-12

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

grace 1What a loving and gracious heavenly Father we have! For He knows the temptations we face. And He knows that we will fall to them at times…

For we are weak in the flesh, subject to the evil one’s invitations to sin. Yet, if we repent in our sorrow, and pray for His forgiveness, He is faithful to wipe away the transgressions we commit.

For His grace is sufficient for us, and it is in our weakness that God’s strength is displayed, (2 Corinthians 12:9). And He forgives much, as we are living with our own enticements which will at times draw even the most mature Christians into trespass, (James 1:14).

grace 6

Thanks be to the Lord that He is slow to anger and abounds in steadfast love, as we read in (V.8) of our text above. His compassion is further shown in the words of (V.9) as He says He will not harbor his anger forever; He does not give us what our sins deserve, (V.10).

His love is as high as the heavens are above the earth, and He lavishes it upon those who love and respect Him, (V.11). As far as east is from west, this is as far as He has removed our transgressions from us, (V.12).

These are words which give us a great deal of relief and consolation as His children. No, in this world, we cannot live without slipping into sin at times. We are always in need of our Lord’s loving grace through our faith in the Savior.

grace 3

Let us take refuge in the arms of our Father then, and go forward day by day, getting back up after our sins and moving forward. May we be determined that the sin in our lives is just a lapse in a moment, and not the way in which our lives are defined!

Dear Father, have patience with us, and continue to forgive us when we fall to our own shortcomings. Give us more grace to forgive us our wrongs, and more strength to fight off the temptations of Satan, as he seeks to bring us down at every turn.

Thank you for your amazing love and mercy, and for sending Christ Jesus to shed His blood on that cruel cross so that we who believe may taste of your goodness, O Lord! 

ref

“whatchristianswanttoknow.com”

“biblegateway.com”

 

~Steve

 

Take Heart…

 

take heart 6

 

Deuteronomy 32:35

‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’

There is no doubt the evil one has a lot of power to corrupt people. His “job” is to try to spoil the things of God and his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.

take heart 2

And, for whatever reason, the Father has allowed Satan a lot of power while he is on earth. In fact, scripture tells us that the devil “roams the earth like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour,” (1 Peter 5:8).

What’s more, there is little doubt that each of us who has joined in the body of Christ has had and continues to have battles with our enemy! At times, even we ask the questions why our Lord allows certain things to happen, both in our lives and around the world!

But we must remember that all of the evil which happens is from Satan, not from God. For just as God is pure and holy, incapable of doing evil, Satan on the other hand is impure and unholy, and thinks of nothing but the calamities he can cause in this life and the evil things he can drag us into.

take heart 1

The Christian, however, can “take heart” in the fact that all who persecute us, especially the devil, will pay the ultimate price on the day of Judgement. There are a number of verses throughout the bible which assure us of that fact.

Here are just a couple of such texts in which we can find comfort for our troubled hearts:

Romans 12:19

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

Proverbs 20:22

Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.

Proverbs 24:29

Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.”

1 Samuel 24:12

“May the LORD judge between you and me, and may the LORD avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you.

It is not for us to seek revenge nor pay back wrong for wrong. This “payment” belongs to the Lord, who will judge each person, good and bad, and pay unto them what they deserve.

take heart 3

So again, take heart as we live out each day of this life on earth. Know that we walk in a fallen world because many have chosen to follow the ways of sin and the “father of lies,” Satan himself. But that path leads to destruction and eternal death, of that we have been assured by God Himself!

take heart 4

And on that day of reckoning, when the Lord delivers our victory to us, there will be no more evil to deal with. There will be no more tragedy, nor heartbreak, nor loss, nor tears…for the Father will wipe away every such sorrow as He makes all things new, (Revelation 21:4-5)!

This is the hope we live with and sustains us in our Christian walk…

ref

“bible.knowing-jesus.com”

“biblegateway.com”

“biblehub.com”

~Steve

 

 

 

 

There Once Was a Little Girl

The Abuse Expose' with Secret Angel

There once was a little girl…
who felt so all alone.
And even though she was loved…
affection was rarely ever shown.
So she grew up lonely…
feeling isolated and without worth…
even though she had a big family…
and the middle child in order of birth.

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Using God

Faith and Footsteps

image

I’ve noticed a trend in education over the last 10 years that seems to be indicative of the world we live in. Some of my students over the years just expect things as if it were their right to have them. Of course, much of what I see in the classroom is learned behavior. Still, while most of the students I teach realize that you don’t get something for nothing, there are those who are convinced that the world exists to serve them.

It’s disheartening, really, to know that our society is beginning to evolve into a population of people that only wants what’s best for them. While this “me first” mentality appears to be a new idea, it’s actually as old as time. Sadly, there are those who even look to God as some sort of fairy, only there to dole out blessings because they think they deserve them.

View original post 212 more words

Parable: The Wheat And The Tares…

tares 1

 

 

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds[a]among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants[b] of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

~Matthew 13:24-30

The 13th chapter of Matthew is full from beginning to near the end with parables taught by Jesus. He was not only teaching the many people who were listening, but He was enlightening the disciples…and us as well.

The parable of the “tares,” (weeds), ties in well with the parable of the (fishers) net, which is told in verses 47-50. Today, however, we will be looking at just the tale of the wheat and the tares.

tares 5The parable begins well enough. A man goes out with some good wheat seed and sows his land with it. But as everyone is sleeping, someone comes along and spreads in a batch of weeds among the good seed.

When the time came for the wheat to sprout and the heads to form, those nasty weeds began to pop up as well.

The servants of the man who owned the filed saw this and asked him “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where did the weeds come from, (V.27)? “An enemy did this” he replied. Then the servants asked “Do you want us to go and pull them up, (V.28)?”

The owner answered them saying “No, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let them both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn, (VV. 29-30)

In sorting out this parable, let’s begin by identifying what the subjects in the story represent.

The good wheat seed which was first sown is the word of God and those who abide by it. They weeds are the sin which is also sown among men and those who follow wickedness. The enemy who sowed the tares is the devil, and the servants represent the Lord’s angels who will help Jesus to gather and separate the faithful from the unfaithful in the day of Judgement.

tares 6The good seed, (word and will of God), was first sown into the world, beginning in the Garden of Eden. However, after that, the “enemy,” (Satan), showed his unholy face! He couldn’t wait to start spreading the seed of tares among the people, beginning with Adam and Eve…

After the Lord dealt with the Garden incident, and allowed the world to grow in population, the seeds of both the Lord and the evil one began to take hold in the hearts of men. There were both the Godly and the ungodly living next to each other.

However, early on as we read in (Genesis 6:6), there were so many ungodly souls that our Father was saddened He had ever made man on earth. What a heartbreaking thought that is! So He sent the Noahic flood to rid the earth of mankind, save Noah and the seven other people from his family.

tares 4Once more, the Lord allowed the earth’s population to grow, and again, the world filled with more sinners than saints. And so it is today. Yet the Lord permits the believers in Christ, through whom He reconciled man to Himself, to stand “in the field” with the weeds, or unbelievers.

Now this will continue until the final day, when Jesus Christ returns to earth with many angels, and gathers up all people to be judged for eternity.

On that day, those angels, represented in the parable as “servants” will collect the entire harvest, and separate out the weeds, (sinners), from the wheat, (saints). The unfaithful will then be thrown out to “be burned,” (banished to hell), while the faithful of God will be brought into the Lord’s “barn” or kingdom of heaven, (V.30).

What plain and clear lessons we can learn from studying the parables of Christ Jesus, just as He meant it to be! As it was some 2,000 years ago with the people who heard our Savior first tell them, let us today learn from these stories.

tares 2May we grow up as the “wheat” in the field, and not be “uprooted” by the “tares” with whom we stand on this earth! Perhaps we may even influence some unbelievers to come to God through Christ Jesus, which is why the owner of the field didn’t want the weeds pulled before the harvest in our parable.

God loves everyone and wants to give all people the opportunity to obey the gospel of Christ and be saved, (2 Peter 3:9). He needs His children to help in that process by using our God-given gifts to help influence others for salvation.

May we all sow the seeds of righteousness in our own ways and put forth Christ unto others each day!

ref

“biblehub.com”

“biblegateway.com”

~Steve

 

 

Parables: The Mustard Seed And The Yeast…

 

parables 3

 

31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[a] of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

~Matthew 13:31-33

parables 2As we know, Jesus spoke to people in parables often times. Parables are a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson from scripture. Jesus used them because the average person couldn’t understand the mysteries of the word as well as they could with these parables.

Today, we want to take a look at the meaning of the short but significant parable of Jesus’ regarding the mustard seed and the yeast.

This was a time at the very beginning of the earthly ministry of Christ and His chosen disciples. The Lord was conducting a sort of “on the job training” of His selected 12 followers, preparing them with the knowledge they would need to spread the word of God.

This is part of the meaning at the beginning of the parable of the mustard seed. This seed, one of the smallest we had to plant represented the word of God. It was said to be small because not many had yet heard the word of God which Jesus and His disciples were going to teach.

But after the seed was planted, it would grow into the largest of plants in the garden, and even birds of the air would come and perch on its branches, (V.32). And so it would be with the word of God. By the efforts of the Lord, His disciples, and many converts along the way, the gospel message would spread across the entire known world!

parables 1It should be noted that the persecution of the church by the Roman Empire put the disciples on the run for their lives. Yet everywhere they went to escape their enemies, they taught the word of God.

This scattering of Christ followers also did wonders to help spread the word to the far reaches of the country, creating a great harvest of new believers!

And a very similar message is contained in the parable of the yeast. Usually, yeast was used in scripture as an example of evil or unclean living. But such is not the case in this parable. Told in conjunction with the mustard seed tale, the context of this yeast has a different meaning altogether.

It only takes a small amount of yeast in the dough to make it rise into a large loaf of bread. In this parable, the small portion of yeast represented the current size of the kingdom of God. But as the message of the gospel spread, (“mixed into a large amount of flour,” (V.33) ), the number of new followers would grow by leaps and bounds!

parables 4This was certainly some very good work by the early church! But the work didn’t end there. The same effort is to be put into spreading the word by Christians today. Sadly, this duty is not being pursued as zealously in many cases as it should be in the present age.

Sure there are laws in effect which may govern some of the things we can do and say today. But there are no laws against sharing stories about what Jesus has done for us in our own personal lives. Such accounts can be even more effective than throwing a lot of “scripture and verse” at people!

And just as with the parables Jesus used to teach, people can relate to personal experiences more often if we share the gospel in this way. Perhaps we should learn to answer or approach others in this way and then proceed with scripture if there is any interest.

The point is that we do something more than what many of us are doing to help grow the church in a world of increasing ungodliness. We need to continue to plant the “mustard seeds” and “work the yeast through the flour” to keep the growth of the gospel going.

parables 5If we are hesitant to speak up, consider the courage of the Savior and the disciples before us. Take note of the new converts and the way in which they couldn’t contain themselves with the experiences they had in the Lord. These are the examples we should be following.

This is our time to use the gifts we have to help the church continue to grow. Anything we do to contribute to this cause is appreciated by the Lord, so let us do even more to help spread the “good news” of Christ Jesus our Lord!

“The harvest is ripe, but the workers are few…”

ref

“biblegateway.com”

~Steve

Worldly Ways…

 

back to God 1

 

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

~Ephesians 4:29-32

back to God 2There is no doubt, for we can plainly see it happening. This world is moving further and further away from the teachings of God. And sadly, America is one of the countries which is leading the way in this ungodly movement…

All we need to do is to turn on the news to see the waywardness in our nation and across the globe. Countries engaged in civil and international warfare. Disgusting, bloody and riotous fighting is hurting the guilty and innocent alike, and it knows no limits as far as age, race, color, creed, nor religion.

back to God 3In our beloved America, men and women of power believe they are leading us to a new and brighter future through inclusion and social acceptance of every kind. Yet if we look at things as they are, we see many of the sins listed in the scripture text above.

In every place, from small towns to big cities, from conservative to liberal states big and small, we witness bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, and all forms of malice, (V.31). And all of this has gotten worse, not better, with more rights and freedoms handed out to unappreciative and Godless groups and individuals.

Just turn on a TV show these days. The prime time content they build the episodes around are filled with violence and adult content. Notice the relaxed censorship regarding abusive and obscene language. Much of what we see and hear was once deemed completely inappropriate!

This just goes to prove the scripture found in (Proverbs 14:12) which says:There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” 

back to God 6Man can make all of the laws and legislation he wants, and yet he can still miss the mark. He can allow all of the rights and freedoms to every diverse culture in the name of all-encompassing acceptance, but it is simply social “fuel on the fire,” even when it appears to be the right thing to do.

The simple fact is our country and the world around us will never come together because we have removed the missing piece to success. We have done away with any solid standard to which we must hold all peoples. This is the common sense of love and decency upon which this country and the world for that matter was first founded…the principals and precepts of true Godliness.

Listen to them. We can hear the groans of people everywhere. “No…that’s not it at all” they say. “I don’t believe in God, and I don’t want to either” some say. “We just need to accept all things from all people. After all, isn’t that one of those principles of Christianity? You know, don’t judge anybody…”

This last statement about judging is a popular misconception among many people who are not familiar with the laws of God. The Lord has made the rules by which man must live, and some things that man desires to do go against the will of God.

The people want to do as they please with no restrictions. As long as they don’t intend to hurt anyone else, it should be okay. But as things are now, this is an impossible outcome to achieve.

When we tell one group of people you may follow your belief systems, and then tell the same thing to a group with completely opposing points of view, the end result will be conflict in many cases. The gaps only widen and become worse with every new law put in place to ensure each groups freedoms!

This tend will only continue until we start to respect once again the standards which God put into place for people to follow. They include much love and charity towards others, but there are simply some worldly deeds and desires which are expressly forbidden by the heavenly Father. And until we recognize and enforce these things, the world will continue to spiral downwards.

back to God 5Like it or not, our world was set up with relationship goals and standards between man and God. The Lord loves all people and wants the best for everyone. But some things we want are not good for us…they are not in our best interest and God knows that. Therefore, man should not follow after these things.

However, because God made man with free will, he may choose the things he does or doesn’t do. And despite the love our Father has for all people, there are people who will be judged by God to be unrighteous, and they will be condemned for all eternity. This is another thing which people don’t want to hear about.

If only we would wake up and return to a Godly way of life, being spiritually transformed in our hearts and minds, then many things in this world would be better for everyone. If only we listened more to the gospel of charity and sought out God through Christ Jesus, we would have much more peace and prosperity in this life and in the life to come!

But all any Christian can do is pray for this world and leave all things in the hands of God. He is working His will right now, and His plans will all come true. Don’t be one who is called by the things of man in this world. Listen to the call of the Almighty and live!

This world will pass away and all things we know and see along with it. Do not be joined with the hopeless, many of whom will be sadly shocked on that final day of this world. Seek after eternal life and the standard of God which lasts forever…

May our nation and the world take heed as well, and begin its trek back to the Mighty God of all things!

ref

“biblegateway.com”

 

~Steve

 

 

Be Encouraged In The Lord…

 

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 41:10   fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

1 Corinthians 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Psalm 9:9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 55:22  Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

 

encouraged 2It can be hard to live out each day in this Godless world. Associating with people who do not love nor follow the laws of the Almighty can be a difficult task at times. What’s more, they can’t understand why we don’t rush in to join them in their sinful follies…

To be honest, the temptation to be involved with them can overcome us. As the human emotions take over in our minds and hearts, we may slip and follow along with some things which we would normally not because we know it is wrong.

But if that is the case, we as Christians must remember this. Because we ARE human, we will fall to the temptations of sin sometimes. If we say we won’t we are deceiving ourselves, (1 John 1:8)! Even the most mature of Christians will falter somewhere along the way.

Despite all of the strength and support God offers us, He knows we will sin. He knows we won’t always call upon Him in the way we need to. As a result, we trespass God’s will.

However, even though this is true, we need to remember one point:

The sin we commit only shows that we are in need of our Lord because we can do nothing without Him. We may have been weak in a moment, and sin crept in upon us.

But it does not DEFINE who we are! We still belong to our beloved Savior whose blood will wash us clean as we repent of our wrongdoing. 

encouraged 3Of course this is not an excuse to more willfully give in to temptations. As the apostle Paul says in (Romans 6:1-2) What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?…”

The grace of our Father is simply meant to help assure us that He does understand the shortcomings of the flesh, but He will provide “coverage” for transgressions when we do fall.

So let us take heart in the hope and love of our forgiving Lord Almighty! For He is a Lord of love and wants us to be confident in our salvation!

May we strive to sin less often in the future than we have in the past, and may the Almighty Lord always keep us in His loving protection and care…

ref

“whatchristianswanttoknow.com”

“biblehub.com”

“biblegateway.com”

~Steve

 

Inspirational Song For Today: Not Guilty!

The greatest of all blessings and gifts! Thank you for this one Angel!

The Abuse Expose' with Secret Angel

As I listened to this song, these lyrics touched my heart. We all stand accused of our sins… those we know about and even those that we don’t know about. But we have an Advocate that stands ready to defend us… and our “fate is in the Judge’s Hands”… Powerful words in this song!

“Not Guilty” by Mandisa

I stand accused
There’s a list a mile long
Of all my sins
Of everything that I’ve done wrong
I’m so ashamed

There’s nowhere left for me to hide
This is the day
I must answer for my life
My fate was in the Judge’s hands
But then He turns to me and says

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The Existence of God

This is well worth reading! Posted originally at: “karinasussanto.wordpress.com” Steve

Karina's Thought

A man went to a barber shop to have his hair and his beard trimmed as always. He started to have a good conversation with the barber that attended him. They talked about many things and various subjects. Suddenly, they touched on the subject of God.

The barber said: “Look man, I don’t believe that God exists as you say.” “Why do you say that?” asked his client. “Well, it’s so easy, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God does not exist. Tell me, if God existed, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be no suffering nor pain. I can’t think of loving a God who permits all of these things.”

The client stopped for a moment, thinking, but he didn’t want to respond so as to cause an argument. The barber finished…

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Man’s Broken Bridges

A bridge that never gives way…From Angel’s blog.

The Abuse Expose' with Secret Angel

This is for the many who have been wounded by the abuses of man and walk a path of brokenness. There are many paths of brokenness with broken bridges that we travel. But there is only One Everlasting Bridge that will bring you into the glorious future that God has planned for you.

Man’s broken bridges…
is what many have crossed…
when life has been rough…
and so much as been lost.
But a new Bridge is found…
when we come to the Cross…
and step into our future…
no matter our former loss.

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Life Or Death?

 

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(Revelation 7:9)

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;

(Matthew 7:22)

“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ “

 

Two passages of scripture…two very different promises from the Lord!

The text from Revelation, weather or not literal, is still a certainty. It is a scene of glorious victory for those who belong to the Lord, who have fought the good fight, and have won the prize of heaven.

On the other hand, the text from Matthew is one of total and irreversible destruction, and it too is a certainty. It depicts a spiritual death, a separation from the Almighty God forever more. It portrays a multitude of poor souls who have lost their heavenly hope, or who never had it to begin with.

Each of us must choose which of these crowds we wish to stand with. Our choice is made while we are living…here and now. For these two outcomes are from a time and place when nothing more can be done by way of our own free will.

The time is now when we can impact our destiny. The time is now when we can go in either one of these two directions.

Please make your choice for salvation today!

 

Cites: “biblehub.com”

 

hemetchurchofchrist.com

 

 

The New Moral Code?

Angel has this important message for the younger members of this generation. Any kind of behavior isn’t okay…

The Abuse Expose' with Secret Angel

I saw this picture
and I had to post.
Is it the new moral code
that we live by most?
So much immorality
and so many things wrong.
But is it OK to do it
just to feel like you belong.

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Building Up And Fighting On…

 

 

A endurance post 1

 

(Romans 15:5-6)

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The essence of Christianity is found in love. The root of that love is found in encouraging others to do Godly works. And this needs to be our attitude with each day the Lord has given us to live on earth…

It is the wish of both the Father and the Son that all who are believers love one another very deeply, as well as, all people with whom we come into contact.

It is by this love and unity that all people will know we are children of the Most High God, (John 13:34-35). 

So today, as we go about our business, let us keep in mind this one abiding thought:

We are God’s representatives on earth, let us act like it each day and in every way!

Cites: “biblegateway.com”  “biblehub.com”

hemetchurchofchrist.org

A Holiday Prayer…

 

a joy 4

 

Dearest Lord God, Father of love…

It is in joy that we approach you that you have blessed us all with so many things…fruits of your love and kindness! For even in this dark world, you have seen fit to bring the sun to both the evil and the good, and the rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike.

Each breath we take, and every moment we experience in this life is a gift from you, O Lord. For the good we are thankful, as we know you bless us out of the love which overflows from Your heart!

Dear Lord, in the times of pleasure it is easy to accept your goodness. But it is in the times of hardship and tribulation that we must examine things and take stock. For these are often the ways in which you teach us, and if we are attentive to your message, we will grow from the darkness of ignorance and pride and into the light of Godly knowledge!

Father, the last days are upon us. It is not necessary that we have any “Devine inspiration” to know this. It is simply by the study of your word that this fact is obvious. Each day brings us closer to your final plan, which is to destroy all of the heavens and earth, and bring to judgment each soul and every deed done in the flesh.

O Lord, why do people deny or ignore this truth! As scripture says in (Psalm 14:1) “Only the fool says in his heart there is no God!” And on that final day, when you call order to all chaos, will every knee bow and every tongue confess your Devine mastery.

Father, the nations of the world are in constantly increasing turmoil. Nothing which man is doing seems to help bring peace, either to the oppressors nor to the oppressed! But how can Your goodness prevail, for they do not call upon You!

The world leaders have for the most part forsaken your word and will in favor of other false teachings, leaning on their own understandings. This only leads to destruction and You tells us through the Proverbs. People in power are unwilling to stop this practice because they live in the fear of offending creeds and traditions.

Oh the folly in which this world’s superiors live, O Lord! We forsake the true Lord in the name of political and cultural respect. Yet in doing so, we find no last answers nor true peace. What’s more, we disrespect the One True Lord who has given us all the blessings and life we have on earth!

What depths of sin and depravity to which we have descended as we have abandoned you, O Great Father and God!

Intervene in the darkness and bring light into the hearts of the blind and ignorant. Give us the chance to return to the word and will of the only true God! Show us mercy and grace and may it be that we see and follow it.

But if this is not your desire, O Father, then let your will be done in heaven and on earth. For this world and all that is in it belongs to you, and it is your good pleasure as to what shall be done in it!

Be with us who love you, and may those who oppose you be defeated in the evil they bring upon all others…

In the name of your Son, Christ Jesus we pray, AMEN!

 

 

Baptism Into Christ, (Lesson #4)

a baptism post 2

 

Well, we are here at the final step of our journey towards salvation! We began by learning that we hear of Christ and gain faith in Him as the Son of God, and Savior of man, through the Holy Bible…(Rom.10:10, Acts 3:22-23).

Next, we found out we need to repent of and turn away from our sinful past, (Luke 13:3-5, Acts 17: 30-31), followed by our confession of faith in Jesus before man, (Mt. 10:32, Acts 8:37).

Now, it is time to take that final step to grab hold of the prize of eternal life which the Lord Almighty offers to everyone. That is to be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins; to be washed clean of our old life by contacting the blood of Jesus Christ in full immersion baptism!

A number of people are familiar with some popular scripture which talks about baptism. One such verse is found in (Mark 16: 15-16) where we read

“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved…”

Another familiar passage is found in (Acts 2:36-38), which says

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  

A number of ministers these days do not teach that baptism is necessary for salvation. Instead they will tell people just to go to God in prayer and ask Him for forgiveness of their sins and invite Jesus Christ into their lives.

However, we should be able to see from these and other scriptures that, while such prayer is good, it is not fully sufficient to gain eternal life with the Father and His Son.

Further investigation leaves little doubt of the link between baptism and salvation. To be counted as a member of the body of Christ, we must join with Him, sharing in His death and resurrection. This is symbolized in the process of baptism.

In (Romans 6: 1-5) we find scripture which supports this fact. Here the Apostle Paul, speaking to the churches in Rome, writes:

“…We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.”

This text explains quite clearly that we shed our old lives when we are buried with Christ in baptism, and are raised a “new person,” cleansed from our sins, and ready to live our new life.

Even Jesus Himself set the example by being baptized. This would help explain such scripture as that found in (1 John 5:6) which says He “came by water and blood…” The water is that of baptism, and the blood was that which He shed on the cross for the sins of all people.

Hopefully, this series has been helpful in showing the way to find a meaningful life in Christ Jesus. However, once we have believed, repented of our sins, confessed our faith publicly, and have been washed clean by the waters of baptism, we have just begun our walk with the Lord!

As a new Christian, we will need to study the scriptures in order to grow in faith and be able to be of more service to others in the name of The Almighty God who loves us so very much!

If you have any questions/comments on anything we have covered, please leave them in the section below. We are always willing to help you in any way we can!

May God bless you as you walk in His light…

 

Cites: “steppingstonestochrist.wordpress.com” 

 

hemetchurchofchrist.org

Confessing Christ Before Others, (Lesson #3)

 

a baptism post 1

 

I want to thank those of you who have investigated the first two installments of our study on learning about Jesus Christ!

The knowledge of our Lord and Savior is paramount to the salvation of our souls, as it is only through faith in the Son that we may gain the Father’s grace, (John 14:6).

As we have seen, step (1) was to hear and believe in the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Step (2) involved turning away from our sinful actions, and committing our lives to Him.

This now makes us ready for step (3)…the confession of our newly found faith before others.

Some in the Christian world do not believe this is necessary to gain salvation. They feel that to accept the Lord into your heart is all that God, through Christ, asks of us. However, the bible teaches specifically that public admission of our belief is vital to gaining salvation.

In (Matthew 10:32) we find these words:

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.”

Of course we ‘show’ our faith in what we do and how we act. But it is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved. Our deeds or Godly works should be motivated by our love for the Lord, but they can in no way, “earn” us our salvation. Eternal life is a gift from God, (Eph. 2:8-9).

If we truly feel in our hearts that Christ is Lord, we should want to be able to share that with others! Let’s take a minute and consider the words of (Romans 10:9-10), which says:

“…if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

Therefore, from these verses taken in context from the entire message of salvation, it should be clear that our confession of faith is to be made unto men. However, that does not mean we need to become a “town crier” of sorts, standing in public squares, shouting out gospel doctrine!

In almost every case, especially within the Christian church, a confession of faith is made before a gathering of church members just prior to being baptized into Christ. We will cover baptism in the last lesson yet to come.

Jesus Himself tells us that the angels in heaven rejoice when a sinner repents, (Luke 15:7). In much the same way, our public confession of faith, especially in the church setting, brings joy to our brothers and sister in Christ!

As I mentioned above, in our next and final lesson, we will talk about the last initial step in finding salvation. This is to be baptized into the body of Christ! Please look for (Lesson #4) which will soon be available!

Until then, may God continue to guide us as we learn more about the love which our heavenly Father has through His Son Christ Jesus for all who seek to learn about Him…

 

cites: “steppingstonestochrist.wordpress.com”  “biblehub.com”

 

hemetchurchofchrist.org

Thoughts On Generousity…

 

a generous post 1

 

 

(Psalms 33:18-22)

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His loving-kindness, To deliver their soul from death And to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.”

 

(Matthew 7:11)

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”

 

(Psalms 33:5)

“He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the loving-kindness of the LORD.”

 

(Deuteronomy 28:11)

“The LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.”

 

(Malachi 3:10)

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test 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 a blessing until it overflows.”

 

(1 Timothy 6:17)

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”

 

 

The scriptures are filled with thoughts of God’s generosity toward us. And, He also expects us to show that same spirit of giving to all others!

Enjoy your weekend, and remember to worship the Lord in services this Sunday…

 

cites: “bible.knowing-jesus.com”

 

hemetchurchofchrist.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

“God Strong!”

a God strong 1

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”

(Psalm 9:9-10)

“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

(Psalm 16:8)

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

(Psalm 34:4)

“Fear of others will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”

(Proverbs 29:25)

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

(Luke 12:32)

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

(2 Thessalonians 3:3)

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

(2 Timothy 1:7)

a God strong 2

cites: “whereisgod.net”

hemetchurchofchrist.org

Mid-week Prayer

Wednesday Prayer #4

Dearest Father and Almighty God who rules over everything seen and unseen…

Please hear our prayer this morning as our hearts are made heavy by the troubles of this world.

Yes, we do have you to comfort us in all things. For we know you are in control of every event at all times. But the evil one seeks to cause mayhem on this earth, and among all Peoples. He is an abomination to you, and therefore to every soul as well!

The world is coming apart as we speak, O Lord. Terrorists are ramping up attacks on people in many corners of this earth. They seek to cause harm and fear as they rally their soldiers on various battlefields, and call upon their own in the U.S. and Europe to bring harm to citizens here as well.

While we tend in our human hearts to look upon them with hatred and disgust, let us instead pray for their wayward hearts. But we know that while we fight them from without, it is only you dear Father who can change them from within. This is a big request we ask of you, but “nothing is impossible with the Lord.” And if we pray in sincere faith, we never know what you may grant us!

However, we also realize that you have plans which must come to pass, and we are not aware of them. You have raised up nation against nation in times past for reasons only you know. Therefore, as we pray for peace through the transformation of evil men, we understand that it may not be your will to grant our request.

Therefore, let us then ask for safety and protection in our homelands against any plans to retaliate against us. For the events of September 11, 2001 are a constant reminder that malicious forces are always at work in this dark world. May fewer and fewer of these plots come to fruition, O God!

And now, Father, may we make request on other matters. Let us ask a prayer for the poor and hungry, for those who suffer and even die in sicknesses of all kinds around this globe. Guide the hands which tend to them, and please make their burdens easier to bear.

Allow the message of your gospel in Christ Jesus to touch every heart in every place, for the end of all things draws near. None of us can predict when the final day will arrive, but we know that each day which passes brings us nearer to the judgment!

And on that day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that you are God. You are Ruler of all nature, Maker of all things, and Judge of all things done in the flesh, both good and bad! May every possible soul confess Jesus as your Son, and find reconciliation with you as their merciful Father!

May you look to your Son, the Savior instead of us all, and remember our sins no more. For it is only in this manner that we can have hope of salvation in heaven as the ages of eternity roll on.

Please hear and respond in accordance with your will and good nature, dearest Love and Abba Father. For we pray that your will be done in all things!

In the name of Christ we pray this petition to you this day, Amen!

hemetchurchofchrist.org

A “Win-Win” For Believers!

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(1 John 5:1-4)

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith.”

At the time of this writing, there were many evil men who were teaching false doctrines and confusing God’s children. Of course, the same problem still exists today. However in the first century, believers did not have the fully complete written word of God. This made it necessary for the apostles to constantly address and reinforce the true points of the gospel of Christ.

This passage above is a simple but very “meaty” point of teaching. John is speaking to believers here and relates to them in a way which is easy to understand. Members of the family unit were very close in this society, united under the “headship” of the father.

Since this was true, he could use the association of the family unit to demonstrate that anyone who loves God the Father will also love all of His children, (v.1). And if we love God and His children, we will keep the Father’s commands, (v.2).

But John then builds on this idea of love and obedience in (vv. 3-4). In “The NIV Study Bible,” here’s what the commentators have to say about these two verses:

“5:3 his commands are not burdensome. Not because the commands themselves are light or easy to obey but, as John explains in v.4, because of the new birth. The one born of God by faith is enabled by the Holy Spirit to obey.”

Isn’t that just like our Lord. First He teaches us how to live with great joy and benefit in fellowship with Him and other believers. Then, secondly, He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us to continue our success in this love throughout our lives. There is no doubt that our Father in heaven greatly loves all of His own!

But the advantages of Christianity extend beyond this life alone as we learn in the next verse. Again, here are the words from the same commentators.

5:4 overcomes…has overcome. To overcome the world is to gain victory over its sinful pattern of life, which is another way of describing obedience to God…John speaks of two aspects of victory: (1) the initial victory of turning in faith from the world to God (“has overcome”); (2) the continuing day-by-day victory of Christian living (“overcomes”)…”

Remember the words of (1 John 1:7) where we read “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 

So, to sum this message up, we have the love and fellowship of a Faithful Father in heaven. We have the support of like-minded believers as we walk in our journey of earthly life. We have an Advocate in the Son, Jesus Christ, who paid the price for our sins that we may have eternal life. And we have the ability to obey God’s commands with the help and strength of the Holy Spirit!

Finally, as long as we “walk in the Light” with our Lord, the blood of Jesus Christ gives us continuous coverage for the sins which we commit when we are weak and fall to Satan’s temptations! Now that’s a “win-win” proposition if ever there was one!

May the Lord bless all who sincerely love and follow His commands for eternal life…

cites: “biblehub.com” “The NIV Study Bible,” copyright 1995, Zondervan Publishing, pg. 1911

hemetchurchofchrist.org

 

1 John 2:18-21

 

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(1 John 2:18-21)

“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.

It was a battle which the apostles fought often, and with passion! Even in the world of some 2,000 years ago, there were men, coming in the name of the Lord, who tried to deceive true believers with false doctrines.

In the text above, we find John thoroughly embattled in one such fight. The enemy here were “the Gnostics,” and they sought to impose man-scented ideas above those of the pure and holy truth of God’s laws.

The general premise of the Gnostics is summarized in these comments from “The NIV Study Bible,” copyright 1995. Here is what they say regarding this doctrine:

“One of the most dangerous heresies of the first two centuries of the church was Gnosticism. Its central teaching was that spirit is extremely good and matter is entirely evil. From this unbiblical dualism flowed five important errors.

1.) Man’s body, which is matter, is therefore evil…

2.) Salvation is the escape from the body, achieved not by faith in Christ but by special knowledge…(from the Greek word “gnosis,” hence Gnosticism)

3.) Christ’s true humanity was denied in two ways: (1) Some said Christ only seemed to have a body…(from the Greek word “Docetism,” meaning “to seem”), and (2) others said that the Devine Christ joined the man Christ at baptism and left before he died, a view called Cerinthianism, after its most prominent spokesman, Cerinthus.

4.) Since the body was considered evil, it was to be treated harshly…

5.) Paradoxically, the dualism also led to licentiousness. The reasoning was that, since matter–and not the breaking of God’s law (1 John 3:4)–was considered evil, breaking his law was of no moral consequence.”

Wow, what a convoluted, man-scented mess of ill-conceived ideas this teaching held! Yet, the basis of this rubbish was presented as a “higher understanding” of God’s word, and it was being pondered by some Christians.

These infidels were not a new faction who had just arrived on the religious scene. They had once been among the followers of Christ, but never belonged to the true faith. They were “antichrists” who had decided to “go out” from among the apostles to teach this fabrication. This was proof that they never belonged to the church to begin with, and were likely seeking some sort of personal gain from this damning venture (vv. 18-19). 

But John was quick to point out that Christians had “an anointing” from the Holy One, (any or all of the panoply of the Godhead), and that they already knew the truth. In fact, John was writing, (or reasoning), with the Christians not because they didn’t know God’s truth, but because they did, (vv.20-21)!

In other words, the apostle was saying “listen, you have God’s word as inspired by the Holy Spirit, and delivered through the apostles who were eyewitnesses to the teachings and miracles of Christ Himself. Now does it make any sense to set that aside in favor of this contrived ideology from the minds of man?”

The answer to that question is obvious to truth-seeking Christians, both in the days of this letter of 1 John, and in today’s world! No, we cannot fully understand the deepest meaning of every single passage of scripture; but that is not the most important point here.

What is most significant to understand is this fact:

Jesus is the only Son of God and the Savior of humankind. He was willing to come to earth, in the flesh, to pay the price of our sins with His blood on the cross. Because of this love, God grants the gift of His grace to all who believe and are baptized into the body of His Son.

This is the basic gospel message to all people everywhere. We must understand that faith in Christ is the only path to the Father, (John 14:6). And when we abide in the Son, we also have the Father, (1 John 2:23). This guarantees our promise of salvation. Any other doctrine is not the truth and must be discarded as such!

We called upon the Lord for salvation, now let us trust Him to get us there!

From the movie "Son of God"
From the movie “Son of God”

cites: “biblegateway.com” “The NIV Study Bible,” copyright 1995, pg. 1905

hemetchurchofchrist.org

1 John 4:16-19…

 

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(1 John 4:16-19)

 

“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.”

 

There is no doubt that our God knows all about love! It is the in the very foundation of His nature; it is a paramount ingredient of His nurturing and forgiving “personality.”

We read of this in many scriptures, but one of the best and most plainly stated examples is in the text above. In (v.16) we read clearly that “God is love.” And when we do our best to emulate that degree of endearment, (called “agape,” or unconditional love), we abide in Him, and He is with us.

But as great as this fact is, God takes it to “the next level” as we read further. Our Lord is telling us through the apostle John that this “love” He refers to is the gift of grace for salvation we have through Christ Jesus.

In other words, God’s love for us, even when we do not deserve it, testifies to the enormity of His affection. Therefore, “love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence (for salvation) in the day of judgment…” (v. 17).

This message is further confirmed in the words of (v.18), when we read “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” True children of the Lord have no worry about eternal life, nor the consequences of our sins, because such unease is disarmed by the agape love of God our Father!

In a companion passage to this thought, we find these words in (Romans 8:15):

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

Again, the idea of being one of His children is punctuated in this verse. The key word here is “adoption.” It was a common practice among the Greeks and Romans to adopt a son into the family, and accord him with all of the same benefits as a child of “blood,” including inheritance rights, (“The NIV Study Bible,” copyright 1995).

What’s more, the use of the endearment “Abba” when calling upon the Lord actually is an Aramaic word which, when translated into English, means “Daddy.” This leaves little doubt that followers of God through Christ are His dearest children, loved unconditionally, and are to be the recipients of the Father’s gift of salvation.

Let us give thanks and praise in love to our God who has given so much to us!  

cites: “biblehub.com”  “The NIV Study Bible,” copyright 1995

hemetchurchofchrist.org

 

The “Darkness” Of Sin…

 

 

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(1 John 2:15-16)

 

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.…”

 

First off, let me apologize for the ominous sounding title. Of course there is darkness in and of sin, we all know that.

But some of us may not have ever considered the depth of that darkness!

Think about this for just a minute. It’s possible that almost every sin we commit can be put in one of the three classifications in the text above.

Let’s explore this idea for just a moment. When we read the term “lust of the flesh,” what immediately jumps to mind with most everyone? We think of sexual transgressions, right?

But consider the fact that the evil one is capable of “layering” his trickery…he’s able to set several snares for us within one general category. In other words, sexual sin may not be the only kind of trespass when speaking about this type of lust.

What if a person has a very attractive or desirable set of facial features, or a captivating smile. What if they seem to be able to eat anything they want, yet never gain an ounce? Don’t we tend to just “hate” them for that?

But that’s just the point!

In and of themselves, a pleasant way about someone, or a “fast metabolism” may not be thought of as necessarily sensual. Yet they may cause us to “dislike” that person just because of those traits. They can cause us to wish we had those qualities in ourselves.

Some may consider this thinking to be a bit “over the top.” But aren’t envy, jealousy, and covetousness sinful thoughts? As Christians, we are supposed to work toward bringing every thought under Godly control, (2 Cor. 10:5). Certainly our Lord doesn’t think in such a trivial or petty way!

Or how about simply loving this world, and the things which it offers us? Many Christians tend to think of it in a more superficial way than perhaps we should.

Yes, we may say “my heart is set on heaven as my home” and blow right past this verse. But do we realize that there are traps laid out by Satan in that kind of “superficial thinking?”

Let’s ask ourselves this question: “if we knew that we had one more minute to live on this earth, how would we react?” Would we say “Hallelujah, it’s about time! Here I come Dear Lord.” Or would there be a moment, just possibly, when we may say to ourselves “Oh no, sweet Jesus. I mean I want to be with you, but does it have to be right now?”

If our response is the latter, what does that tell us about our spiritual lives?

The point is this. We all have to constantly work on making the Lord our very first desire. He has to be our ultimate focus in this life. That means He is second to nothing else on this earth. That level of spiritual maturity may come more easily for some than for others.

However, there is little doubt that we all have to work toward Godly goals every day. The key is to learn to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind; allowing Him to truly be first in our lives, (Matt. 22:37, Deuteronomy 6:5).

This can only be accomplished by letting go of selfish desires. No, it isn’t wrong to want things in our lives, or the lives of our friends and family members. In fact, it’s natural to work for such things as a good education, a better job, a nicer home, and even some money saved in the bank.

These things are only problematic when we place our pursuit of them above the desire to live for God. To walk with Him, and to discharge our Christian duties to serve others in His name must come before all else.

So then, let us all take a second and consider our spiritual condition. As we’ve noted, we all have areas in our relationship with the Lord which can be improved upon. With that said…

Let the “Light” of our Father show us the utter darkness of sin, and lead us away from it. For God’s gift of salvation is our first priority in our journey in this life!

 

cites: “biblehub.com”  “The NIV Study Bible,” copyright 1995

 

hemetchurchofchrist.org

 

 

 

Heavenly Thoughts…

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(Romans 5:1-2)

 

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.…”

“Think On These Things”…

 

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1 John 4:8

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Galatians 5:22-23

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

1 Peter 4:8

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

Romans 8:6

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

1 John 4:7

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

Romans 13:10

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Colossians 3:14

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

 

cites: “openbible.info”

 

hemetchurchofchrist.org

 

Sow Good Seed!

God and The Garden

The fern photographed for this post has an abundance of spores vital to continue its life cycle.  “Spore” derives from the ancient Greek word spora, meaning “seed, sowing,” related to sporos, “sowing,” and speirein, “to sow.”

We sow seeds spiritually in all that we do.

Some people sow seeds of kindness. I’ve watched others sow seeds of destruction and lack.

What we choose to sow and how we choose to do so is even more critical to our existence. Often the choices we make (or don’t make) impact our lives for years to come.

If the farmer sows irrationally with little thought or plan, the harvest will be poor. Yet when time is taken to plan, nurture and protect a harvest, the outcome is far more pleasing.

Are you carelessly dropping good seed on shallow ground? Or do you choose to give a bit more thought to your speech and…

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I still remember…

Sacred Touches

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**Photo by Mandy Disher; text added by Natalie

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Decades In Decline…

 

 

 

It should come as little or no shock to us that church, (and therefore God), means less and less to people these days. In fact, a review of the past 40 years, (1975-2015), tells a sad story indeed.

Not that we need stats to back up the obvious, but here are some anyway. According to “gallup.com/poll/1690/religion,” here are a couple of numbers for us to consider:

In 1975, some 60% of Americans identified as members of the Protestant worshipers. As of last year, that number has been reduced to just 38%. Those claiming to worship in religious groups other than the more “traditional” categories has climbed by about 30%. And those who claim to have no religious preference has almost tripled, from 6% in 1975 to 17% as of last year.

Here is another not so amazing set of figures. In 1975, about 68% of those people who responded to the survey said that the church or organized religion meant a great deal or quite a lot to them. By last year, that number had shrunk to just 41%. That’s gone from almost 7 out of 10 people forty years ago who cared deeply about the church, to only about 4 out of every 10 by 2015.

It is disheartening to continue on with these numbers, but we need to take a look at just one more category. The simple question was this: “Do you believe in God?” The survey doesn’t include numbers from 1975-2015. But here are the responses from August, 1967 to June, 2016.

In that span of 49 years, this tally has dropped from 98% in 1967 to just 89% in June of this year. In the category marked “No” which may mean no faith in a Supreme Being at all, has tripled from June, 1976 to June, 2016…

My friends, the accuracy of these numbers can’t be far from true. Especially when we see the thinning of numbers who turn out for Sunday church services. Just the mere thought that a growing population of folks are abandoning faith in God and His worship should cause an ache in our spiritual hearts!

To imagine some of these people dying in this very condition is frightful. The consequence of their mortal, worldly beliefs will most likely lead them to an eternal punishment the likes of which no human can imagine! Yet more and more people are turning their backs on the Lord and His church.

The big question is why? What has taken place over these past few decades which has moved people to reject the Father and follow the paths of the world? There are probably a number of answers to that question; a great handful of evil influences which have caused this downward spiral in Godliness in America and probably across the world today.

This leads to an obvious question. What can Christians do about this problem specifically? Well, the very first priority has to be self-preservation. Believers must keep themselves from being “polluted” by the evils of this world; we must protect our own souls and remain dedicated to the Lord who has given us our eternal salvation.

Next, we must live as lights in the world for our heavenly Father. As the old saying goes, “Our actions may be the only ‘bible’ people may read!” Most likely, we are being watched by someone somewhere…the way we live is being noted by others.

Let us make every effort to live as “lights unto the world.” May our actions reflect those of Christ Himself, and our words be “seasoned with salt.” May we be ready with an answer for the hope which lies within us for eternal life, (1 Peter 3:15), and may we be able to share what Christ has done for us and all others as we have the opportunity to do so.

Finally, let us pray for the unbelievers in the world. If we know of some specifically by name, pray for them. Let us offer up a prayer in general for all those who have not yet come to the Lord’s love that they may be guided towards Him.

No, we cannot force anyone to believe and repent of their sins. That has to be their own personal decision. We are creatures of the Lord who have the complete right to accept or reject Him. Free will is by design of the Father Himself. But also by His plan is our duty to serve the Lord by using what gifts we have to further the gospel of Christ to this lost and perishing world.

May the Lord make us active and effective in His work. May the dropping trends of belief in God reverse themselves and show an increase in the number of souls who are coming to the Lord for Life eternal!

God bless His church in helping in this effort…

ref

“gallup.com”

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~Steve

 

Make A Way…

 

 

 

Awesome God…(Music)

 

 

 

Godly Thoughts…

 

 

 

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God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?’ William Arthur Ward

God never ends anything on a negative; God always ends on a positive. Edwin L. Cole

My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me…whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am. Brennan Manning

God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty. Peter Marshall

The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’ Billy Graham

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. Rabindranath Tagore

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

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~Steve

 

Abide in Me

Faith and Footsteps

Wildflowers at Mt. St. Helens National Monument Wildflowers at Mt. St. Helens National Monument

Lately, I’ve been pouring over Jesus’ parting words to his disciples in the Book of John.  Chapters 14-17 of that book highlight Jesus’ final teachings and instructions and I’m amazed by the personal nature of his comments.  Jesus makes a point to refer to his followers as friends.  He encourages them with talk of the Holy Spirit coming, and he also warns them of the costs of being a disciple.

What I’m most surprised by is the reference to us as friends.  We so often look at Jesus as King, a leader, someone to be feared and respected.  No doubt all of those things are true, but we have a King unlike any we could ever imagine.  We have a King, a Lord who loves us so much that he desires a genuine, intimate relationship with each of us.

In John 15:4, Jesus requests…

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