Our Creator lives within all of His children in an intimate oneness. Yet while we live on this earthly plane, He tells us that we need human companionship as well: And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone…” Gn. 2:18 NKJV
In fact, God uses our friends as another avenue to bring us His love. No one is totally self-sufficient and self-nurturing. Adding friends to our lives is the key to having our lifetimes be loving spaces that transcend the exercise of mere survival.
Friendship enriches our happiness. If you look around, you will find that the unhappiest people are those who have no one to pick them up when they fall down. Indeed, the ultimate request for friendship could be stated as, ‘Won’t you stand by me?’
Companionship strengthens one’s potential for success and it brings nourishment to the soul that becomes a continual source for encouragement and exhortation:
Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor; for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to life him up! Again, if two lie down together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecc. 4:9 – 12. AMP
As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Pr. 27:17 NKJV
We see then that friendship is a ‘good thing.’ If we want friends in our lives, we must become an attractive space where those potential friends can be nourished as well:
A man who has friends must himself be friendly… Pr. 18:24 NKJV
True friends will speak the truth to you, pleasant or not, to bring you to a place of greater good and higher growth:
…the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. Pr. 27:9 ESV
Faithful are the wounds of a friend… Pr. 27:6 NKJV
Once we gather our friends to us, God tells us how to keep them:
A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity. Pr. 17:17 AMP
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn. 13:34, 35. NKJV
We need to love our friends regardless of their circumstances; after all, don’t we expect the same from them? We can also see that when we love our friends, that love is a reflection of the love of Christ. Moreover, we must love our friends or we cannot have a love relationship with God:
…whomever loves God must also love his brother. 1 Jn. 4:21 NKJV
In fact, God values the giving of our love to each other so much, that He even implores us to love them when their flesh shows up, i.e. in those times where it is hard to love them:
Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother. Rm. 14:13 AMP
[My] brethren, do not speak evil about or accuse one another. He that maligns a brother or judges his brother is maligning and criticizing the Law and judging the Law…you are not a practicer of the Law but a censor and judge [of it].
Only one is the Lawgiver and Judge Who is able to save and destroy [the One Who has the absolute power of life and death]. [But you] who are you that [you presume to] pass judgment on your neighbor? James 4:11, 12. AMP
So, when we malign our friends, we are maligning God.
“Thus has the LORD of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother…’ Zec. 7:9 NASB
Who doesn’t have slips and falls – bad moments? No one. That’s the time where we especially apply love and continuing forgiveness:
“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, I repent, you must forgive him.” Lk. 17:3, 4. ESV
Reconciling with your friends is so important to God that Jesus told us we could not even have an audience with His Father until the discord was cleaned up:
So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you, leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift. Mt. 5:23, 24. AMP
It behooves us then to overlook a little humanness in our friends:
He who covers and forgives and offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends. Pr. 17:9 AMP
As we’ve seen, a friend is to love at all times – especially in times of need:
“For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; so that he does not forsake the fear (reverence for) of the Almighty.” Job 6:14 NASB
The highest level of friendship love is when we come together in like-mindedness to become unified in God’s word and in His service:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others. Phil. 2:1 – 4. NASB
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rm. 12:10, 11. ESV
Many of us have a tendency to think small, including what we think is a sufficient width for our friendship circle. God asks us to widen our horizons and embrace all people – becoming one in Him:
Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. 1 Pt. 2:17 NKJV
I believe that God has gifted us with the opportunity for friendship in order to learn how to give and receive love. We begin by loving ourselves, by becoming our own best friend, so that we can of ourselves send love to as many as we can touch in this lifetime – coming together in and through our Creator:
…you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… Eph. 2:19 NKJV
Goodnight and God bless.
January 23 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
‘Not me!’ you might say, and you may not, but I’d wager that many of us do even on an unconscious level. It happens when we try to separate ourselves from who we are and / or from our lives: we are in essence separating ourselves from God.
Human beings separate themselves from each other by creating nationalities, states, cities, religions, and preferences for gender, financial status, or social standing. Every one of these ‘classifications’ bring divisiveness and with it subsequent ill will and malicious deeds. Yet these degrees of separation are only illusory because at the foundation of reality, we are all one – the combined brotherhood / sisterhood of Man.
Close examination of these attempts at separation, reveal a common thread: an attempt at one-upmanship. For one to be motivated to practice this, that same one has to be coming from a place where he or she feels ‘less than’ someone else – a false fear that plays itself out with greed, pride, envy, jealousy and prejudice. We are certainly not following God’s plan when we indulge in such behavior:
For God shows no partiality [undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man s not different from another]. Rom. 2:11 AMP
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28 NKJV
To believe otherwise is to believe in an illusion suggested by the great illusionist himself – the devil. Why? He knows that if he can convince you to separate yourself from your brother and or sister, you are in effect separating yourself from God; and Satan also knows that some of these ‘separated ones’ will come to a state of despair and attempt to detach themselves from life altogether.
But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 Jn. 2:11 NASB
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar…this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 Jn. 4:20, 21. NKJV
God is reality. God is life. Sometimes our actions bring us to a place where our perceived reality is one of great pain; and instead of eliciting God’s help to get back on our path, we turn tail and run the other way – perhaps feeling that we are beyond salvation due to the severity of our ‘sin.’
What is the ‘other way?’ It is an illusion of separateness that we attempt to enter into in order to escape what we feel is our present state in life – by shutting our minds down. Yet time and time again, that same ‘life’ is still waiting for us when our minds come back up for air.
We try to shut our minds down with addictions or distractions – e.g. drugs (illicit or prescribed), alcohol, sex, busyness, food and other desires of the flesh. The Bible talks at length about alcohol because it was (and still is) the greatest distracter / addiction of that time. Let’s examine what God says and insert your own addiction in the subject line.
First, alcohol in and of itself is not evil. God created it for man’s enjoyment: You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man… Ps. 104:14, 15. ESV
Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart [if you are righteous, wise, and in the hands of God], for God has already accepted your works. Eccl. 9:7 AMP
As with anything however, there is a right way and wrong way to receive God’s blessings:
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor. 10:31 NKJV
What does not bring God glory? Abuse. (e.g. addiction) With abuse, blessings become curses:
For they shall eat and not have enough; they shall play the harlot and but not increase; because they have ceased obeying the LORD. Hos. 4:10 NKJV
Harlotry and wine and new wine take away the heart and the mind and the spiritual understanding. Hos. 4:11 AMP
Addictions not only have you living a cursed illusion, you also leave devastation in your wake:
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise. Pr. 20:1 NASB
Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. Pr. 23:20, 21. ESV
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine…In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. Pr. 23:29, 30, 32, 33. ESV
God loves you so much. He wants the best for you. That’s why He abhors how addictions ravage your life – so much so that He illustrates their evil by grouping them along with some of the worst offenses and warns of a potential loss of salvation for the abuser (that is, one who is willfully unrepentant):
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal. 5:19 – 21. ESV
The real crux of the offense of addiction is that it separates you [as a chosen child of God (1 Pt. 2:9)] from your purpose in God:
…it not good for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice… Pr. 31:4, 5. NKJV
…they are swallowed up by wine, they are out of the way through intoxicating drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. Is. 28:7 NKJV
For anyone who eats and drinks without discriminating and recognizing with due appreciation that [it is Christ’s] body, eats and drinks a sentence (a verdict of judgment) upon himself. 1 Cor. 11:29 AMP
Thus, any false separation that you create in your life robs you of your ability to discern God’s path for you, removes His word from you, blinds your spiritual vision, steals your freedom of choice, prevents you from doing your Father’s work, and lastly, creates a real separation between you and your Creator – which also lands you in the lap of the devil himself:
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. Is. 59:2 NKJV
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Pt. 5:8 NKJV
Be sober – be present with God instead of swirling down the drain of addictions and distractions. You must make your choice:
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons… 1 Cor. 10:21 NKJV
The Lord’s cup is the path of light and salvation:
Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness…But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Rm. 13:13, 14. NKJV
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. Eph. 5:18 AMP
So, whatever your addiction (should you have one) give it up to God and ask Him to liberate you from it by whatever path He presents to you. Your avenue of separation does not relieve suffering. Only a vibrant relationship with God will do that…
Goodnight and God bless.
January 17 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
In the first of this two-part series, we looked at the godly approach for having relationships with our parents, our spouse, and with our children. We also explored how to raise godly children. Now let’s look at God’s rules for putting this altogether to make the family work:
Wives, be subject to your husbands [subordinate and adapt yourselves to them], as is right and fitting and your proper duty in the Lord. Husbands love your wives [be affectionate and sympathetic with them] and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them. Col. 3:18, 19. AMP
God is instructing the wives (through the apostle Paul) to honor the God-given leadership role that the husband is to possess within the family, based upon what Jesus had taught – especially honoring his place as the spiritual leader.
I’m starting with this particular scripture because I want to emphasize that ‘family’ does not work until the marriage itself works first! The first goal is to have a marital relationship that is filled with peace and love:
Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred. Pr. 15:17 NASB
Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife. Pr. 17:1 NKJV
You cannot have a house of love and peace without a husband and wife who are devoted to one another – the closest of friends and lovers:
My beloved is mine, and I am his…This is my beloved, and this is my friend… Song 2:16 & 5:16. NKJV
Drink waters out of your own cistern [of a pure marriage relationship], and fresh running waters out of your own well…[Confine yourself to your own wife] let your children be for you alone, and not the children of strangers with you. Let your fountain [of human life] be blessed [with the rewards of fidelity], and rejoice in the wife of your youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant doe [tender, gentle, attractive] – let her bosom satisfy you at all times, and be transported with delight in her love. Pr. 5:15 & 5:17 – 19. AMP
Indeed, God created the institution of marriage as the only sanctified place for this loving intimacy to take place:
But because of the temptation to impurity and to avoid immorality, let each [man] have his own wife and let each [woman] have her own husband. 1 Cor. 7:2 AMP
Because marriage is the most sacred of all man-woman relationships, it is by far and away Satan’s biggest target – one that he strives to destroy (and in so doing, destroys an entire family) by leading one or both spouses down the road of adultery. God is crystal clear on His feelings regarding adultery:
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Heb. 14:4 ESV
“You shall not commit adultery.” Ex. 20:14 NKJV (The 7th of the 10 Commandments.)
Not only does God prohibit the act itself, but also even the intention to commit adultery, as it carries an equal weight of offense:
“…everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Mt. 5:28 ESV
As well as defining His intolerance for adultery, God also clarifies what the act itself inflicts upon the perpetrator:
The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but [is intended] for the Lord, and the Lord [is intended] for the body [to save, sanctify, and raise it again]. And God both raised the Lord to life and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not see and know that your bodies are members (bodily parts) of Christ (the Messiah)? Am I therefore to take parts of Christ and make [them] parts of a prostitute? Never! Never! 1 Cor. 6:13 – 15. AMP
Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own., for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Cor. 6:16 – 20. ESV
You can substitute either gender here, as anyone who engages in adultery is prostituting him or herself. You can also see that this particular sin runs directly against God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit because the initiator is directly refuting their gift of life through salvation and directly tainting the Holy Trio. Serious stuff – rated just as despicable as murder. (Gal. 5:19 – 21.)
In addition to what adultery is and what it does, God shows us the consequences (sans true confession and repentance):
But whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks heart and understanding (moral principle and prudence); he who does it is destroying his own life. Wounds and disgrace he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away. Pr. 6:32, 33. AMP
Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths. For many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous are all her slain. Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death. Pr. 7:25 – 27. NASB
As with all sin, the devil does his best to make it enticing (but its true nature is always hiding behind the facade):
For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell. Pr. 5:3 – 5. NKJV
Spiritually, Satan’s end game is to keep you steeped in unrepentant sin in order to rob you of your salvation, so that you join him at the end of time – eternally separated from God in death.
The devil is especially eager to strike the man and woman in matrimony because his odds of destroying an entire family are then in his favor. His earthly tool for helping him achieve that aim is ‘divorce.’ For that reason (except for when one finds themselves in a marriage where their spouse practices ongoing unrepentant adultery) God strictly prohibits divorce:
For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I hate divorce and marital separation and him who covers his garment [his wife] with violence. Therefore keep a watch upon your spirit [that it may be controlled by My Spirit], that you deal not treacherously and faithlessly [with your marriage mate]. Mal. 2:16 AMP
A wife is not to depart from her husband…And a husband is not to divorce his wife. 1 Cor. 7:10, 11. NKJV
So, how do we resist Satan’s trap? One, by keeping our focus upon our spouse; two, by avoiding potentially adulterous environments; three, staying in God’s word to muster our strength; and four, by shunning the practice of withholding intimacy from our spouse as a tool of punishment:
Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Cor. 7:3 – 5. NKJV
Marriage works when it’s approached in God’s way:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her… Eph. 5:22 – 25. NKJV
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself…let each one of you love his wife and himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph. 5:28 & 33. ESV
This submissiveness on the wife’s part is not a subordinate role, but again one that acknowledges her husband’s place as the spiritual leader of the household. The husband’s role is to love his wife with all that he has: moment-by-moment sacrificing himself for her greater good.
God blankets the entire family with salvation through a godly marriage. Even if a member of that family hasn’t come to Him, God provides a potential path for them to do so within that marriage / family:
For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 1 Cor. 7:14 ESV
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Pt. 3:1, 2. ESV
Finally, a godly marriage gives the husband and wife a supernatural enhancement for connecting with God:
In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], what an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not hindered and cut off. [Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.] 1 Pt. 3:7 AMP
Together, husband and wife are able to receive all that God had intended for their lives and for the lives of their entire family. Marriage is truly sacred ground and when undertaken in a godly fashion, all your family relationships will blossom as well.
Goodnight and God bless.
January 08 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Let’s begin where we began – with Mom and Dad:
Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Ex. 20:12 AMP
This is the fifth of the Ten Commandments. Regardless of who your parents may be (or have been) God saw fit in His grand design to use them to create you. There was something in the genetic combination He used to make you the unique and special person that you are.
Even if you don’t know your birth parents, you can pray God’s blessing over whoever they were and be thankful that you are here in God’s plan. Moreover, you can still love and honor your adoptive parents (or whoever selflessly and lovingly stepped into that role).
In the worst case scenario, if your parents (or parental figures) let the world consume them, became purveyors of abuse and were unsafe to be around, pray for their forgiveness and healing (from a distance) and love them for who God intended them to be.
God puts a high priority on how you treat your parents. Jesus took the aforementioned commandment and brought it additional revelation: For God commanded, Honor your father and mother, and, He who curses or reviles or speaks evil of or abuses or treats improperly his father and mother, let him surely come to his end by death. Mt. 15:4 AMP
Jesus was speaking to the consequences of not honoring and caring for your parents – i.e. a shortened and finite life. Conversely, check this out:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live ling on the earth.” Eph. 6:1, 2. NKJV
It basically reiterates the fifth commandment – emphasizing the ‘promise’ (the single commandment that has one) of long life (including eternal life) for those who treat their parents in the way God intended.
Now how about your relationship with your spouse?
Man and woman were both created in the likeness of God. They fell in the Garden, but afterwards we were each given the opportunity to be reconciled back to Him, through Christ – the gift that transcends all differences (including gender):
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Gn. 1:27 NKJV
There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28 AMP
God did create the male first, but He soon saw the necessity of creating the female:
And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Gn. 2:18 NKJV (‘comparable’ meaning ‘equal’)
The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. Gn. 2:22 NASB
Thus, man and woman were created for each other, to be interdependent, to be one:
…in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 1 Cor. 11:11, 12. ESV
And the vehicle for this man-woman union was God’s first ordained institution - marriage:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mk. 10:7 – 9. ESV
Obviously, marriage is supposed to be a lifelong undertaking; and being that it is a God-ordained institution, it can only bring blessings upon those who participate:
One of the blessings that fall upon the husband is his wife: A virtuous and worthy wife [earnest and strong in character] is a crowning joy to her husband… Pr. 12:4 AMP
He who finds a [true] wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. Pr. 18:22 AMP
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. Pr. 31:10 – 12. ESV
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” Pr. 31:25 – 29. NASB
Quite a blessing, yes? And did you see the mention of children? You see marriage isn’t only for the husband and wife, God has another purpose as well:
And did not God make [you and your wife] one [flesh]? Did not One make you and preserve your spirit alive? And why [did God make you two] one? Because He sought godly offspring [from your union].
Therefore take heed to yourselves, and let no one deal treacherously and be faithless to the wife of his youth. Mal. 2:15 AMP
God is giving us two messages here. First, He wants the marriage to produce new generations of God’s children. Second, He commands that we keep that marriage solvent. (More about that later.)
The children become a blessing to the family as well: Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the innermost parts of your house; your children shall be like olive plants round about your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord. Ps. 128:3, 4. AMP
Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man who quiver is full of them; Ps. 127:3 – 5. NASB
In addition, with any blessing from God, there comes a responsibility of good stewardship:
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Pr. 22:6 NKJV
He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; Ps. 78:5 – 7. ESV
Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord. Eph. 6:4 AMP
It is our Christian mandate to teach our children about God, who He is, what He’s done, what He is still doing and how He wants them to behave – all the while instilling in them His eternal heavenly hope so that they will see the vital necessity of passing it on to their own children.
You notice that God singles out the fathers in the second scripture – not to diminish the role of the mothers in the children’s upbringing but to point out that the fathers are generally more stern in their discipline. God tells the fathers to rear their children with the kindness and mercy that He has shown them.
Husband + wife + children = family. God in His infinite wisdom, as He does with all other aspects of how we should live our lives, leaves guidelines for how to make ‘family’ work.
Good night and God bless.
January 03 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
In the first two parts of this three-part series, we looked at who the devil is, the nature of who he is and what he does and at his destructive tactics towards man throughout history. We saw Satan battle Jesus here on earth and we have been privy to the devil’s future outcome – right up to his demise at the end of time during his final clash with Christ.
Now we are going to look at what God says about dealing with the devil in our present time: …give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some have already turned aside after Satan. 1 Tim. 5:14, 15. NKJV
In this scripture, the apostle Paul is instructing his disciple Timothy on how to keep the integrity of the parishioners in church – specifically the unmarried women and widows. Yet, what God asks of one group of people, He asks of us all.
In the flesh, we all fall off of our God-path from time to time. It’s essential to confess our misstep immediately to God, sincerely repentant and with faith that He forgives. Otherwise, when you sit on a sin, you open yourself up to the devil’s assault – whereupon he will fill your head with thoughts that embellish your sin, fill you with guilt and shame, and degrade you.
It is then that you are prone to degrade yourself and lose faith in the ability to receive the love of your Creator. Subsequently, you are in a vulnerable place where Satan can take you by the nose and lead you into darkness.
Be sober minded; be watchful. Your Adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after a while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Pet. 5:8 – 10. ESV
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:7, 8. NKJV
The devil’s not playing around and he’s not letting any follower of Christ escape his attacks. However, as you can see, the number one (and only one) strategy for whipping his butt is to hold on to your faith in God and His deliverance. Satan cannot stand up to resistance firmed up in faith. This is where your continual study and practice of God’s word comes into play. See too that God restores you and heals you of any damage the devil was able to coerce upon you.
Remember as well that the devil does not work alone. He also has his human followers and his demons (fallen angels) to help forward his cause. It is wise to keep oneself separate from them:
We know [absolutely] that anyone born of God does not [deliberately and knowingly] practice committing sin, but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against all evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him].
We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one. 1 Jn. 5:18, 19. AMP
How do we know if we are in the presence of Satan’s ‘helpers?’
…and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 Jn. 4:3, 4. NKJV
We are right on target then when we perceive that a person is a satanic helper if he or she denies God’s salvation through Christ. We can also see that as a follower of Christ, we have a very distinct and mighty advantage over them. Yet we don’t want to let that go to our heads because we must remain empathic for the lost, because many of us were in that same boat at one time:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… Eph. 2:1 – 5. ESV
Praise God for our salvation! Indeed, those of us who have been blessed enough to see and embrace the light, have a mandate (the same one Christ gave to the apostle Paul) to bring that same opportunity to those who have fallen. (If they refuse our entreat, then we separate ourselves from them.)
‘I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Acts 26:17, 18. NKJV
Don’t be fooled. As long as we walk this earth, we will be engaged in spiritual warfare. Yet rejoice because God has already given us the weapons for victory:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Eph. 6:10 – 13. NASB
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with perseverance and supplication for all the saints… Eph. 6:14 – 19. NKJV
As Jesus did with His first earthly encounter with the devil, we also stand in battle armored with our faith in the word of God and with our best efforts to live out that word.
The stakes are big. Those who choose to follow Satan will lose the opportunity to graduate to eternity in front of the judgment seat of Christ at the end of time:
Then He will also say to those at His left hand, Begone from Me you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! Mt. 25:41 AMP
But when we instead exercise our faith, it is God who goes to battle for us – through the resurrection of His Son:
Since, therefore, [these His] children share in flesh and blood [in the physical nature of human beings], He (Jesus) [Himself] in a similar manner partook of the same [nature], that by going through] death He might bring to naught and make of no effect him who had the power of death – that is, the devil – and also that He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the [haunting] fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives. Heb. 2:14, 15. AMP
Indeed, we are protected now:
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:13, 14. NKJV
Delivered! That’s past tense baby! It’s already done for you when you get into a relationship with God through Christ.
So I ask you, ‘Is the devil real?’ You bet. Is he mean, nasty and bad? No doubt. Is he all-powerful? Only in his mind and in the minds of those who follow him. Satan only has the power that you grant him. He is really only a paper tiger.
When you stick with God, the devil has no chance: And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. Rom. 16:20 NASB
Goodnight and God bless.
December 27 2014 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
In the first of this 3-part series, we looked at the true identity of the devil – including the fact that he is a real being, what his actual nature consist of and what kind of trouble he stirred up with both mankind (beginning with Adam and Eve) and with Christ (right up to the point where Jesus first engages him in battle during His fast in the wilderness).
We saw Jesus’ victory over Satan at that encounter and watched the devil leave Him afterwards, but the Bible promised he would return to seek Christ’s destruction again.
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, He repeatedly taught about the dangerous nature of the adversary, of the final outcome for those who chose to follow him, and contrasted that against the end result for those who followed Christ – often times using parables to do so:
“The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. (Jesus) The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Mt. 13:36 – 43. ESV
As sons and daughters of the kingdom then, it is imperative that we remain strong in the word of God to shore up our faith because the devil preys upon those whose convictions are weak. Jesus illustrates this with another parable:
“Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns are those who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” Lk. 8:11 – 15. NASB
As you know, Jesus’ earthly ministry was focused upon the salvation offered by God to all people through Christ. During that time, Satan was trying to work against the Son of God, trying to vanquish His quest – even at the time when Jesus gathered His apostles for the ‘Last Supper':
So [it was] during supper, Satan having already put the thought of betraying Jesus in the heart of Judas Iscariot… Jn. 13:2 AMP
The devil probably thought that Jesus’ crucifixion would be his greatest triumph – robbing all of humanity of salvation. What he didn’t count on (he is not omniscient) was Christ’s resurrection. After Jesus rose from the grave, He let us know that from that point on, He was in charge:
In the world you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] Jn. 16:33 AMP
When Jesus ascended to heaven, Satan was none too happy about it and goes on the offensive for the remainder of time, against those who have embraced the gospel:
So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Rv. 12:17 NASB
On the heavenly plane, once Jesus sat at the right hand of His Father, Satan led a rebellion against Them:
And war broke out in heave: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Rv. 12:7 – 9. NKJV
The devil could no longer roam the streets of heaven and he was infuriated:
But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in fierce anger (fury), because he knows that he has [only] a short time [left]. Rv. 12:12 AMP
Near the end of time, the devil will be everywhere on earth – making trouble by trying to dissuade as many people as possible against receiving their salvation. He will coerce the world’s governments into the deepest corruption, as well as bringing forth a powerful religious entity (a false church). He creates a ‘beast,’ his servant, to attempt to sway the people into worshiping Satan and is successful on a large scale with those who rejected God’s salvation:
So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast… Rv. 13:4 NKJV
When the true nature of this dastardly duo is revealed, Jesus returns to clean house!
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 2 Th. 2:1, 3 & 4. ESV
Jesus then imprisons Satan for 1000 years while He reigns upon earth. After that time elapses, the devil is freed to gather any stragglers who have decided that Satan’s ways are better than the Son of God’s – gathering them together for a final battle against Christ. (See Rv. 20:1 – 3 & 7 & 8.)
Our Savior then whips the devil and dispenses with him and his followers once and for all – bringing time to an end, as His Father’s plan is fulfilled and His followers are ushered into a loving eternity with Him:
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever…The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Rev. 20:10 & 13 – 15. NKJV
It is comforting to know that God has everything mapped out, with an assured heavenly outcome for those who are His and that the devil is taken out of the picture forever. However, at this time we still have this devil to contend with. How do we do that?
Good night and God bless.
December 20 2014 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
That’s right. Your devil. Why do I say that? It’s because the devil makes it his personal business to try to steer every human being (throughout history) onto a path of destruction – one that leads to death without salvation. You are continually in his crosshairs; and his purpose is not a good one. Jesus put it this way: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” Jn. 10:10 NKJV
Many people in this world (at every historical point) deny the existence of the devil – relegating his place to one of a fairy tale boogeyman, conjured up to keep us in line. There are even some church denominations that say that the devil is only a metaphorical representation for evil. However, denominations (always a sore spot with me) are only some human founder’s ideas shellacked over God’s word.
God says the devil is the real deal. In fact, the Bible shows him to be present throughout history and Jesus talks about him more than anyone.
He has many names in the Bible: adversary, devil, dragon, serpent, Satan, wicked one, darkness, evil, father of lies, prince of power of the air, thief, devourer, destroyer, and tempter.
We first meet him immediately after the creation of Adam and Eve: Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘you shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Gen. 3:1 ESV
We get confirmation of the devil’s identity even at the opposite end of the Bible, when God sends an angel to subdue him: And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years… Rv. 20:2 ESV
Notice too that the first words we hear out of the devil’s mouth consist of an attempt to twist God’s word to Eve, i.e. to lie. Jesus tells us that all Satan speaks are lies: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Jn. 8:44 NASB
Getting back to Adam and Eve, the devil ‘was a murderer from the beginning’ because it was his lies that led to Adam and Eve losing their immortality.
God immediately held Satan accountable: So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed…And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Gn. 3:14, 15. NKJV
God is saying that the devil will forever be at war with God’s children. There cannot be any reconciliation between the two. He is also prophesying that Jesus would be ‘bruised’ at His crucifixion, (but we know He triumphs through His resurrection), but Christ will eventually bruise Satan’s head, i.e. bring about his final demise.
After Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the devil [a rebellious (fallen) angel], continued to comb the earth to perpetrate his deadly schemes: Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Job 1:6, 7. NKJV
Satan’s next recorded act was his role as an accomplice in Cain’s murder of his brother Abel:
…not be like Cain who [took his nature and got his motivation] from the evil one and slew his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his deeds (activities, works) were wicked and malicious and his brother’s were righteous (virtuous). 1 Jn. 3:11, 12. AMP
And as the history of man progressed, so did the devil’s evil meddling in their affairs: Then Satan stood against Israel… 1 Chr. 21:1 NKJV
Even when Christ came to be born on earth, the devil was there to try to thwart God’s plan of salvation for His children:
And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Rv. 12:4, 5. NKJV
Remember that the devil tried to kill baby Jesus through King Herod, but God had Joseph take Him to Egypt for safety. Satan would continue to try to make Jesus’ life miserable, to try to make Him abandon God’s charge to bring salvation to all the people of the earth. He especially came against Jesus after His baptism, when He went into the wilderness to fast for 40 days – to sharpen His spiritual focus for His Father’s mission:
THEN JESUS was led (guided) by the [Holy Spirit] into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil. Mt. 4:1 AMP
And like Jesus, when we are Holy Spirit-filled by God to perform His unique mission for us, we too will come under attack from Satan – in the same manner as Christ was assaulted.
The devil first tried to tempt Jesus into sinning, by trying to convince Him to turn stones into bread in order to relieve His hunger, after having fasted.
This was the first part of his classic three-fold strategy. Satan was trying to entice Jesus (as he does us) into fulfilling the lust of the flesh. Jesus warded off the devil’s attack by speaking God’s words: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ “ Mt. 4:4 NKJV
(In other words, we are to look to God to align with His will regarding things of the spirit first, then God will see that our appropriate physical needs are met as well. The strength that we need to stand tall in the face of the devil is found when we lean on God and do His bidding.)
Having failed at his first attempt, Satan took Jesus to the top of the of the temple in Jerusalem and told Him to prove that He is the Son of God by throwing Himself to fall to the ground because (the devil says) God’s word asserts that He will send His angels to keep Jesus from harm.
This is extremely important to see. The devil will even try to use the word of God against you by twisting its meaning or the context in which it was meant to be used. That is why it is so important to continually remain in God’s word, so that you know how to accurately apply it.
Jesus responds: “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’ “ Mt. 4:7 NASB
Christ is putting God’s word into laser focus for the devil to see that He is firmly rooted in God’s will. It is one thing to know what God says He will do, it is another thing to try to demand it of Him. Jesus is demonstrating for us the nature of Satan’s second plan of attack: to get one to submit to the sin of the ‘pride of life.’
Finally, the devil takes Jesus up to a high mountain and shows Him all of the kingdoms of man throughout history and he offers them to Him if He will worship him.
The first thing to notice is that the devil is saying that all of man’s kingdoms are his to give. That’s something to think about. It tells us that the devil is working behind the scenes of all the governments. Hmm…
Jesus answers: Begone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve. Mt. 4:10 AMP
We see then that God must come before all things in our lives. Jesus has just defeated the devil by using God’s word to thwart his third component of his spiritual attack strategy: the sin temptation to yield to the ‘lust of the eyes.’
So, Satan’s strategies against you are the same: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life; yet you can beat them all by standing with God.
The devil left Jesus at that time, but he would return. Stay tuned…
Goodnight and God bless.
December 13 2014 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Most endeavors in life require preparation if you are to have any success in their outcomes. Relationships, scholastic achievements, business, wellness, prosperity, and godliness all call for preparedness to have favorable results.
In fact, life itself, in order to be lived to its fullest, demands preparation. The most important facet of that preparation is to have an established and ongoing right relationship with God:
Acquaint now yourself with Him [agree with God and show yourself to be conformed to His will] and be at peace; by that [you shall prosper and great] good shall come to you. Receive, I pray you, the law and instruction from His mouth and lay up His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty [and submit and humble yourself before Him], you will be built up; if you put away unrighteousness from your tents… Job 22:21 – 23. AMP
And make the Almighty your gold and the [Lord] your precious silver treasure, then you will have delight in the Almighty, and you will lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to Him, and He will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You shall also decide and decree a thing, and it shall be established for you; and the light [of God’s favor] shall shine upon your ways. Job 22:25 – 28. AMP
You cannot find the way to spiritually prepare yourself for life in the now or for eternal life anywhere in the ways of the world – because those ways run counter to God’s ways:
Do not love the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eye and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 Jn. 2:15 – 17. ESV
We need spiritual coaching in order to prepare ourselves for our journey on the spirit-filled path. As always, God provides. He gave us a Spiritual coach in Christ Jesus, who coaches us for free:
“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” Jn. 6:27 NKJV
“He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Jn. 15:5 NKJV
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Mt. 7:7 NKJV
Even as your Heavenly Coach is preparing you for your spiritual life on earth, Jesus prepares a place in heaven for you as well:
“In My Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you.” Jn. 14:2. NKJV
There is also a vital time constraint on your spiritual preparedness. Once you’ve been exposed to the gospel message, it is imperative that you receive it, embrace it, and live it out to the best of your ability; because if you reject it and maintain that rejection until you die, (and we have no idea when that time will come) there are no second chances. Death for you will be permanent:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mk. 1:15 NKJV
“I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” Rev. 3:11 NASB
Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Is. 55:6 NKJV
What is the goal that God seeks for your spiritual preparation?
…you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Pt. 2:5 ESV
O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart… Ps. 15:1, 2. ESV
Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Eph. 5:8 – 11. ESV
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Pt. 2:21 – 24. NASB
We prepare ourselves then for serving the kingdom of God by walking in righteousness and serving God by emulating His Son – being beacons for His salvation, and exposing the dangers of living in the worldly ways.
That preparation requires diligent and persevering training; and as with any godly endeavor, it requires faith and deeds that reflect that faith:
…show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Heb. 6:11, 12. NASB
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15 ESV
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Heb. 11:6 NKJV
…are you willing to recognize…that faith without works is useless? James 2:20 NASB
…and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; James 2:22 NASB
Living a spiritual life is the training ground for eternity. It is a race of and for victory – a victory promised by God; and if we stay in relationship with Him, He will shower us with the spiritual gifts that we need to live that life:
Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. 1 Cor. 7:24 NKJV
Therefore brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fail. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Pt. 1:10, 11. NASB
We saw earlier how God’s ways are not the world’s ways. Be forewarned that living God’s ways convicts those people living worldly ways, and they will hate you for it (for reminding them of the wrongs they commit). However, God has got your back through Jesus:
“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” Mt. 10:22 NKJV
Prepare. Train. Smell the fruit of victory and keep the finish line in sight…
Not that I have already obtained it of have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:12 – 14. NASB
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not only to me but also all who have loved His appearing. 2 Tim. 4:7, 8.
Good night and God bless.
December 06 2014 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Speeches. Books. Recordings. Conversation. Our entire reality is expressed in and through language. The ability to communicate this reality is a gift from God and He takes the way that you use that gift quite seriously:
“Who has made man’s mouth?…Is it not I, the LORD?” Ex. 4:11 NASB
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]. Pr. 18:21 AMP
The Son of God also imparted to us the seriousness of what we exercise our free will to utter with our mouths; i.e. there is a definite accountability that we have for what we speak into our world:
“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Mt. 12:34 – 37. ESV
“Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of a mouth; this defiles a person.” Mt. 15:11 ESV
We see then that how you speak, how you use your tongue, can have a powerful effect on the outcome of your life. As with anything, if you misuse your tongue it has detrimental effects:
Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell…no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. James 3:4 – 6 & 8. NASB
It also behooves us to remember that none of our words get by God:
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it all together. Ps. 139:4 ESV
God is listening and keeping track of your verbal transgressions – e.g. when you lie (if you are unrepentant of it), because your lips are incongruent with your spirit. God knows this practice is detrimental to you and warns you against committing it:
Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. James 3:10 NKJV
The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor… Pr. 11:9 NKJV
A lying tongue hates its victims and a flattering mouth works ruin. Pr. 26:28 ESV
A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies shall perish. Pr. 19:9 NKJV
The practice of pride is another malicious use of the tongue:
DO NOT boast of [yourself and] tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Pr. 27:1 AMP
…you boast [falsely] in your presumption and your self conceit. All such boasting is wrong. James 4:16 AMP
After all, isn’t the expression of pride an act of lifting oneself above others – making oneself in effect a god? That is totally against what God expects from you; and what He expects is for you to acknowledge only Him as the Source of your good fortune (the salvation that makes all things possible):
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph. 2:8, 9. ESV
Another misuse of the gift of speech is to use it to curse or mock others:
Whoever curses his father or mother, his lamp will be put out in deep darkness. Pr. 20:20 NKJV
He who mocks the poor taunts his Maker; he who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished. Pr. 17:5 NASB
Lastly, there are those who speak in ways to puff up their piety. God is not amused:
Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…” Is. 29:13 NASB
God places great value on your words because your life becomes an expression of them – for good or bad:
The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips… Pr. 12:13 NKJV
…idle talk leads only to poverty. Pr. 14:23 AMP
Obviously then, our welfare is dependent upon exercising wisdom in our speech, speaking words that has God move on our behalf. Indeed, He won’t move unless we utter them:
You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:2, 3. NASB
When we speak with the wisdom that God teaches us, good things happen:
A soft answer turns away wrath… Pr. 15:1 NKJV
A gentle tongue [with its healing power] is a tree of life… Pr. 15:4 AMP
The heart of the righteous studies how to answer… Pr. 15:28 NKJV
Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious… Ecc. 10:12 NASB
Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life… Pr. 13:3 ESV
Truthful lips shall be established forever… Pr. 12:19 NASB
If we are speaking with God’s wisdom that means we must first check in with Him before we wag our tongues:
“…whatever the LORD says to me, that I will speak.” 1 Kings 22:14 NKJV
God never fails to give us His guideposts for living rightly, and that includes the exercise of right speech:
Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be as a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you.]. Col. 4:6 AMP
“Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace…” Zech. 8:16 ESV
“You shall be careful to perform what goes out of your lips…” Dt. 23:23 NASB
God also expects us to mature in the spirit and wants to see that maturity reflected in our speech:
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 1 Cor. 13:11 ESV
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph. 4:29 ESV
…be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Tim. 4:12 NKJV
The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. Ps. 37:30 NKJV
The highest calling we receive for our words, is the use of them in our relationship with our Creator:
Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Ps. 105:1, 2. NKJV
Through Him, (Jesus) therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name. Heb. 13:13 AMP
Part of that highest calling is to speak God’s salvation message into the lives of others:
…the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; Rom. 10:8, 9. NASB
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching. 2 Tim. 4:2 NKJV
Your words carry weight; they stand on their own:
But I tell you, do not bind yourselves by an oath at all…Let your Yes be simply Yes, and your No be simply No; Mt. 5:34 & 37. AMP
Your words fulfill:
A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Pr. 18:20 NKJV
Your words can even be synergistic when you combine them with the prayers of other believers:
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” Mt. 18:19 NKJV
Talk isn’t cheap. It is people who cheapen talk. Your words are powerful – backed up by God Himself through Christ:
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be what is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven. Matt. 16:19 AMP
Your words move God, and He moves heaven and earth to deliver on your petitions.
Nice talking to you…
Good night and God bless.
November 30 2014 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Anger is a natural human response. It is part of the emotional array that we inherit from our Heavenly Template. Yes, God gets angry too but He expresses it far differently than most humans: For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Ps. 30:5 NASB
Therefore, as it is the children of God’s goal to emulate Him, our anger should only be given a fleeting moment to exist.
For another example of this godly trait, see how God tempers His anger when dealing with our disobedience: But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath; Ps. 78:38 NKJV
“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away…” Hos. 14:4 NKJV
What that says is that most of the time God is compassionate towards us during our slips and falls. He gives us a little leeway towards our transgressions (provided we confess and repent). We are expected to exercise similar patience, compassion, and forgiveness to those who may transgress against us. They, just like us, suffer in kind – embroiled in the human condition, going about unconsciously projecting that suffering onto others. We should be expressing a faith behavior that is based on love…
If we practice our faith-based walk, we will relent from hair-trigger responses to that which upsets us. We will ruminate over what would cause a person to behave in that fashion instead of striking back (i.e. taking vengeance) – trying to find a place where we can apply mercy (just like our Father): …for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Joel 2:13 NKJV
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Rom. 12:19 ESV
Unrelenting anger leads to destruction (both to self and to others):
The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh. Pr. 11:17 NKJV
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger appeases contention. Pr. 15:18 AMP
…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19, 20. NKJV
Yes, anger will assuredly come again and again; but you can step back and observe your emotion, acknowledge it, and make the fact that you are experiencing anger known to whom has offended you. However, as a follower of Christ, at that point it behooves you to look for solutions rather than adding the sin of doing that person some kind of retaliatory physical or mental harm:
When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. Eph. 4:26, 27. AMP
So, as we’ve already seen, God asks us to keep our anger short-lived; but also look at the last part of the above scripture. God is telling us that unabated anger also invites the devil into our heart and gives him room to roost – not a good thing:
But he who hates his brother is in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 Jn. 2:11 NKJV
So their are spiritual ramifications for unchecked anger, and they include Divine retribution:
“…I will not revoke the punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity, and he kept his wrath forever.” Amos 1:11 ESV
“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment;” Mt. 5:22 ESV
One must also be wise enough to refrain from entertaining the expressions of other variations of anger as well, i.e. pride, envy, and jealousy. When you practice pride, you are lifting yourself above another, effectively oppressing them; and envy and jealousy are forms of anger born out of a lust after something someone else has – while simultaneously holding them in disdain for their good fortune.
By pride comes nothing but strife… Pr. 13:10 NKJV
For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices. James 3:16 AMP
With regards to anger in all its forms, what is it that God is looking for from you?
But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feelings towards others, curses and slanders, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips! Col. 3:8 AMP
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God my perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Tim. 2:24 – 26. ESV
THAT’S THE BIG PICTURE! You have no idea whether or not God has sent this offending person to you for you to guide into His salvation.
We will run into angry people from time to time. We can offer our best understanding and overtones of comfort and peace, but if they refuse to change their behavior, we want to keep our distance: Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. Pr. 22:24, 25. NKJV
But other than the chronic offenders who have no desire to coexist with you in peace, we must first offer up love:
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…” Mt. 5:44, 45. NASB
It requires you to take on a new mindset – the mindset of God through Christ and the Holy Spirit:
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Eph. 4:31, 32. NKJV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… Gal. 5:22, 23. NASB
The long and the short of it is that if we want to get anger out of ourselves, we must practice a life living the opposite, i.e. a life of peace:
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Rom. 12:18 ESV
…live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Cor. 13:11 NKJV
Ultimately, we can choose anger and die inside (anger kills its host) or we can choose peace and live. Choose peace…
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Mt. 5:9 NKJV
Goodnight and God bless.
November 21 2014 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »