Monday, November 30, 2015

A People Yet Unborn


Posterity shall serve Him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn, that He has done it.  Psalm 22:30-31

kit: Gingerbread Kisses, including Stacked Papers by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Word Saves


Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  James 1:21

kit: Gingerbread Kisses by Kristmess Designs (some colors modified)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Crucified with Christ


For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  Galatians 2:19-20

kit: Chocolate Kisses by Kristmess Designs, template by Little Green Frog Designs (retired)

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Exchange

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

Do you ever worry?  I think that if we’re honest, we all have to answer ‘yes’ to that question.  Things happen every day that we have no control over.  Just watching the news could strike us with fear some days.  Even if we feel safe from major disasters, personal tragedies are common.  No one escapes completely–concerns about health, finances and other daily burdens weigh us down. 

How do we deal with it?  We trust.  Whom do we trust?  God.  He’s the only One who is able to handle it all and keep us in His perfect peace.  When Jesus died on the cross almost 2,000 years ago, He conquered the world.  When we place our trust in Him, we have become conquerors as well.

[Jesus said] "I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33  Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4   And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  1 John 5:5

Jesus came to give us rest from our burdens.  He was not talking about taking away every problem we might ever face, but that He will take us home to be with Him when this life is over–and while we’re here, He promises to help us through whatever happens.  So we can know that in the end, all is well, because we know that He is in control.  If we know that He is good and all powerful, then we also know that we don’t need to fear anything that happens to us, because He loves us.  The wisest thing we could ever do is to believe in and trust Jesus.  Let Him handle it.  He is able.  “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17b-19

The Bible is our instruction manual on how to live in this world that is our temporary home.  We know what to do because the word of God says to pray continually.  We don’t even need to know exactly what or how to pray if we are truly born again, because God has adopted us as His dear children and given us His Spirit to help us.  It’s an unbelievably favorable exchange for us–we give something we need to get rid of (our worries) and He gives us what we desperately want and need (His peace).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7  And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  Romans 8:27

The best part is that God is pleased with this exchange!  We are not annoying Him in any way to ask Him to work on our behalf and even expect Him to.  That is exactly what He wants us to do–to acknowledge our helplessness and that only He knows what is best.  To submit our will to His, because He is perfectly capable and we are not.  To recognize that everything He does or allows is for our good, out of His love for us.  His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11

But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry to Him reached His ears.  Psalm 18:6  The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Proverbs 18:10  You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You.  Isaiah 26:3

And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in My name, and I will do it. John 14:13-14  Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.  1 John 5:14-15

Sadly, most of us at one time or another have asked things from God without a single thought about what His will is on the matter.  We ask for what we want according to our own desires, then wonder if God hears or cares about us when we don’t receive our request.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  He cares too much to give us what we asked according to our faulty understanding and knowledge when He has perfect knowledge and understanding, and His will is always best.  Our greatest desire should be to please Him, so what we ask for should reflect that.  Our goal in making our requests should be to receive something we need to serve Him better, not to presume to know better than He does what is good for us.  You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.  James 4:3

It pleases God to lavish His love on us.  When we acknowledged our sinful state and need for a Savior, placing our trust in His Son, He made us His children.  But to all who believed him and accepted him, Jesus gave the right to become children of God.  John 1:12  Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him.  1 John 3:1

We could never do anything to earn God’s love or even deserve it.  It’s a gift.  However, we can show our appreciation by doing what He said He expected of us in the Bible.  Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him.  1 John 3:21-22 The first and most important thing He expects is to believe.  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 

In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.  1 John 5:3-5

We want peace, right?  We want to feel safe and secure, cared for and loved.  We have all of that if we have Jesus.  So what will be our response?  God tells us in His word what it should be.  Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  2 Timothy 2:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

This dying world says that God changes with the times, and that much of the Bible is irrelevant for today.  That is simply not true.  We should continue seeking to do good and behave as a child of God until He takes us to be with Him.  This is not always popular, but we each have a choice to make–the one that affects honors our eternal Creator and Savior, or the one that pleases our sinful self and this temporary world.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.  1 Peter 3:17  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  James 1:27

God values peace as well, and we are meant to reflect His beautiful nature–He will reward us richly if we do.  Anyone who says that God doesn’t expect anything of us is horribly mistaken.  Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord.  Hebrews 12:14  So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Matthew 5:23-24  And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. 1 John 4:21 

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, He causes their enemies to make peace with them.  Proverbs 16:7  In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.  But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.  Psalm 37:10-11

Want to stay in God’s on “good side?”  We can, by His power inside of us.  Relying on His strength the only way to overcome our sinful nature and live in a way pleasing to Him.  Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” Philippians 2:12b-13

If we love God, we should love what He loves.  Most importantly, we would never reject the Father’s unimaginably great gift of His Son to pay the penalty for our sin so that we can receive eternal life.  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:9-11  Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.  John 3:18

Then we will want to read the Bible (not a “special” version or supplemental material claiming to be from God) to find out what is important to God and put ALL of our trust in Him.  That is the ONLY way to have true peace.  Wait and rest in the assurance that He loves you and knows what is best, and when is best, if ever.  Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.  Psalm 119:165  Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. Psalms 27:14 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

If it seems as though our prayers are not being answered, then we might question whether the requests we made were within God’s will.  Or we may need to examine ourselves and see if we are honoring God with our lives.  He is more concerned with our right relationship with Him and the big picture than with temporary concerns.  If we always put Him first in all ways, in everything, we can be assured that we are in His will and He is working it all out for the best.  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

If we stray from His truth or get distracted from loving Him wholeheartedly, then we can expect Him to deal with us in whatever way He needs to in order to do accomplish His good purpose in our life.  In fact, it should trouble us deeply if we “get away” with anything for very long.  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12:8, 11 However, there is nothing He will not forgive except rejecting His Son.  We need only ask, and turn from our sin.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9  Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."  John 8:11b  Jesus never approved of deliberate sin–an effort is expected.  

Those who are born of God do not desire to dishonor God by making a habit of sin.  We may think our sin is not as bad as someone else’s, but actually all sin is against God and we are each individually answerable to Him.  God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, and He will provide a way out so that you can endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  James 4:7  No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for His seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.  1 John 3:9-10

For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.  1 Peter 4:3-5

God knows what He is doing.  He is perfect in every possible way, including His timing.  If we honestly know Him, then we should have no doubts, questions, criticisms or concerns about His ways.  Those very ways are the ones we should strive to make our ways.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:9  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.  James 3:17 

He values peace just as much, no more, than we do.  His wisdom results in everything we should want, if we would just have the sense to accept and follow His way.  He loves us.  We can trust Him.  Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.  And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.  Isaiah 32:16-17  There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:18-19

He doesn’t leave us to try to reach His high standards on our own.  It’s impossible.  He is the only One who can enable us to succeed and help us to overcome our selfish nature.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.  Romans 8:6-9   “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  John 14:15-17

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen.  Hebrews 13:20-21

Jesus concisely summarized His commandments to us.  If we do what He said, we will have obeyed all of them by doing two simple things.  We do them not to save ourselves, but out of obedience because of our love for Him for who He is and everything He’s done, including saving us (if we have believed and confessed in Him, surrendering our will and making Him as Lord of our life).  He finished it–we’re free from being enslaved from sin, from the punishment we deserve, from trying to earn God’s love and acceptance.  Our walk in this life, carrying our cross, is to meant to be a walk in His footsteps.  We are to be changed on the inside to be like Him, because that is the will of our Father.  For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.  Romans 8:29 This is exactly what we should want more than anything–because we love Him and belong to Him–He is our all in all.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:29-31

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.  1 John 2:3-6

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  John 8:31-32

Is there anything that could be considered too much for God to ask of us?  The One who made the entire universe and everything in it loves us!  He provided the means of peace between us and Himself, all of His own doing–an unfathomably precious gift to us.  And yet, He asks nothing more than that we love, serve, honor and obey Him.  We are here to glorify His great and holy name with our lives by showing our love for Him and shining his light of truth on the world.  What a privilege!

For a child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over His kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.  Isaiah 9:6-7

Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Psalm 85:10  Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  Romans 5:1

Good news!  We don’t have to worry!  Isn’t that a relief?  I sure think it is.  Such a relief that I want to share this Good News with everyone!  I’m so thankful, aren’t you?  This is true freedom.  “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6   If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Colossians 3:15

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.  Numbers 6:24-26

Available as pdf download on side bar.
Credits: stained glass photo from Morgue File (edited), hands w/frames by Hummie's World

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Make Known His Deeds


With joy you will draw water 
from the wells of salvation.  
And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon His name,
make known His deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that His name is exalted.”
Isaiah 12:3-4

kit: October Daze Stacked Papers by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sing Praises


I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
To You, O Lord, I will sing praises.
Psalm 101:1

kit: Autumn Tweethearts, including stacked papers by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Triumphal Procession


But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.  2 Corinthians 2:14

kit: Autumn Tweethearts, including stacked papers by Kristmess Designs

Monday, November 23, 2015

Blameless Way


My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.  Psalm 101:6

kit: Autumn Tweethearts, including stacked papers by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Blameless Heart


I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a blameless heart.
I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.
I hate what faithless people do;
I will have no part in it.
The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
Psalm 101:2b-4

kit: Autumn Tweethearts, including borders by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Never Weary


Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
Isaiah 40:28

kit: Autumn Tweethearts by Kristmess Designs; template by Little Green Frog Designs (retired)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pay My Vows


What shall I render to the Lord
for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
Psalm 116:12-14

kit: Autumn Tweethearts by Kristmess Designs; template by Little Green Frog Designs (retired)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Be Separate


What agreement has the temple of God with idols? 
For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make My dwelling among them 
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be My people.

Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,

and I will be a Father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:16-18

kit: November Daze stacked papers by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Race


[God’s reply to Jeremiah's plea for the wicked people who are persecuting him to be judged.]  “If you have raced with runners and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in a peaceful land, what will you do in the thickets of the Jordan?” Jeremiah 12:5

This verse has amazing relevance to our times, which is not surprising, since God's word is timeless just as He is.  I think if we were to re-phrase Jeremiah 12:5 for today, it might look something like this:

My people who are called by My Name - if you are already weary from fighting in My army during easy times when the battle has just begun, if (unlike Jeremiah was) you are not strong enough to withstand the pressure from this fallen world to deny Me when the "punishment" is to be "unliked" in social media for having an unpopular but biblical opinion or stance, then how will you stand up for Me when there is a REAL consequence - whether catastrophic financial ruin, imprisonment, physical pain or even death?  If you remain quiet while My Holy Name and My Truth are attacked by the "wisdom" of men even though you have freedom to defend them, how will you suddenly become courageous and speak up during a time when you are no longer permitted by law to do so?

This world we live in does not equate truth with love anymore.  Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.  Ephesians 4:14-15  They're in rebellion against God and prefer to embrace their own version of "truth".  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4

The moment a viewpoint is expressed by anyone that clashes with theirs, that is the end of their "tolerance" as well as your freedom of speech and religion in their selfish, unenlightened minds.  The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.  1 Corinthians 2:14  For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them.  Romans 1:18-19

They think that believers are ignorant and stupid, but God says otherwise.  Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”  1 Corinthians 3:18-20 He says that the beginning of wisdom begins with knowing Him.  Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  1 Corinthians 1:18-27

God desires a humble and penitent heart trusting only in Him.  He detests pride.  Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.  Psalm 40:4  My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.  Proverbs 2:1-5 Don’t make the mistake of thinking that people who are considered wise by this world’s standards know better than what you learned from the Word as a follower of Christ.  But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing, among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.  2 Corinthians 4:3-4

Do we want to be popular or do we want people to hear about and receive salvation?  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 1 Peter 4:14-16 God says that to be friends with the world is to be His enemy.  You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  James 4:4 He forewarns us to expect that the world will not accept us or our message.  “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you."  John 15:18-19  I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  John 17:14

Shall we obey the world when they tell us that our message is not welcome and to keep it to ourselves?  What did Jeremiah choose to do?  He willingly suffered persecution for the Lord.  Peter and the other apostles refused to remain silent even after being jailed for it.  “We gave you clear orders not to teach in Jesus’ name,” he said. “But you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching...”  Peter and the other apostles replied, “We must obey God instead of men!”  Acts 5:28-29

This life is not about us.  We are here to glorify God by serving Him faithfully the entire time we have.  This life is short.  Do we keep in mind that the gospel is about eternity?!  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.  John 3:36 The world wants “freedom” from God, not realizing that He is the only Way to have true, everlasting freedom:

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.  Romans 6:20-22

There can be no higher goal than making sure that we all know God and what He wants–how to please Him–because He is the only One worthy of being our top priority.  The earth and everything in it, including everyone, belongs to Him.  He made it.  He maintains it.  He has a good, perfect plan for it.  He will not fail.  He never has.  His success does not depend upon us in any way.  He gave us free will to decide whether we will choose to please Him or ourselves.  It is our privilege and honor to lay down the free will He gifted us with and take up His instead, serving Him alone with everything we have to offer.  Only by doing so can we bring Him honor and glory, for which He will reward us.

No man ever won a race on foot against a horse at all, let alone during troubled times and over rough terrain.  What is God talking about in that verse at the top?  I believe it's this: Just as with everything, God is not deterred at all by the opposition to His will.  Nothing ever takes Him by surprise.  He wants those of us who are His to be prepared to stand firm, relying on His strength in this race.  His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11 

It’s a fight against evil that we are unable to see.  The Holy Spirit is not visible to our eye, but we can see the beautiful fruits of His life-giving work in and through us.  "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."  John 3:8 The power of the evil "ruler of this world" is also invisible to us, but we can see the effects of it.  God tells us the only way to walk in the victory He has already won: 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.  Ephesians 6:10-20

We can usually tell a lot about what is in a person's heart, and therefore who they belong to, by their actions and attitudes.  By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.  1 John 3:10  The children of God are told not to behave the same as wordly people do:  With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. 25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.  Ephesians 4:17-25

Satan always tries to impersonate God, but he has no good in him whatsoever, so his fruits are rotten to the core.  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of My own accord, but He sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”  John 8:42-47

Satan’s goal is to destroy us in order to hurt God, because we were made in God's image.  (Genesis 1, 2)  He does it by encouraging us to doubt what God really said and by tempting us to sin (Genesis 3), by twisting scriptures and even calling into question God’s existence.  Satan knows he can’t win against God, but he knows how much God loves us–so he tries to bring us low so that we'll dishonor God, our loving Maker and Redeemer. Satan lost the war almost 2,000 years ago.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, Jesus made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  Colossians 2:15  Yet, he persists in fighting these battles in order to do as much damage as possible before his time is up.

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O shining star, son of the morning!
You have been thrown down to the earth,
you who destroyed the nations of the world.
For you said to yourself,
‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars.
I will preside on the mountain of the gods
far away in the north.
I will climb to the highest heavens
and be like the Most High.’
Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead,
down to its lowest depths.
Everyone there will stare at you and ask,
‘Can this be the one who shook the earth
and made the kingdoms of the world tremble?
Is this the one who destroyed the world
and made it into a wasteland?
Is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities
and had no mercy on his prisoners?’"
Isaiah 14:12-17

The very thought of evil, invisible forces sounds pretty scary, but remember this battle is not to be won by our efforts and strength, but by our Lord's almighty power.  My victory and honor come from God alone.  He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.  Psalm 62:7

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand ... that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.”  1 Samuel 17:45-47

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  2 Kings 6:15-17

And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: This is what the LORD says: ‘Do not be afraid! Don't be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God's.  You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed.”  2 Chronicles 20:15, 17

We are meant to love our neighbors as ourselves, but be careful who you link arms with in this race.  Are they going to lift you up closer to God, or are they going to bring you down, drawing you away from God and His perfect will?  A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge is easy to one who has understanding. Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.  Proverbs 14:6-7  Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?  2 Corinthians 6:14-15

God has equipped us with all of the tools we need to win this race.  All we have to do is remember to make use of them.  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

This old hymn sums it up very nicely as well (see my post here for the layout I did for it):

"How goes the battle?" O, watchman, tell! Look from yon heights, where the pilgrims dwell! Are they walking humbly where Jesus trod, And faithfully keeping the truths of God? Trav'ler, behold the pilgrim band!  See! They are nearing the heav'nly strand; Some fall out by the way, but the host presses on; In Jesus' strength they conquer, When the victory is won.

(Available in pdf download on side bar.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Last Days


But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate gullible women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  2 Timothy 3:1-7

kit: October Daze by Kristmess Designs; template by Cluster Queen Creations

Monday, November 16, 2015

Road to Emmaus


[The same day as His resurrection, Jesus (unrecognized) asked two disciples on the road to Emmaus why they looked sad and what they were discussing.]  And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.”  Luke 24:19b-24

The disciples were told repeatedly that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, and that He would suffer, die and raise from the dead on the third day (see below).  And yet they were shocked, confused and crushed when it happened.  On the Road to Emmaus, two disciples told Jesus (whom they were kept from recognizing) that He was a "prophet of God," and they were disappointed that He had died because they thought he "might have been" the Messiah.  They had been told by the women who went to the tomb that morning that Jesus was gone, and even angels had said that He had risen, just as He said beforehand.  And still, they were despondent.  Once He traveled with them, explaining the scriptures from the Old Testament about Himself to them, and then allowed them to recognize Him, they were so excited they immediately returned to Jerusalem to tell everyone.

Jesus said He has gone to prepare a place for us and will return to take us to be with Him.  (John 14:2-3)  There is very good, biblical basis to believe He will come back to resurrect (or if still alive, to change - 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) those belonging to Him on the third day as well (but in 1,000-year days - 2 Peter 3:8).  So that could very possibly be in our lifetime.  Do we believe what He said and are we ready and expecting Him?  Or are we like the disciples almost 2,000 years (two "days") ago, who knew what He said, but couldn't take it in?  Unlike the disciples in the above passage, there will be no time to go back and tell anyone else after we see Him.  We need to tell everyone NOW that He's coming soon, so they can be ready, too!

But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with Him.  1 Thessalonians 5:4-10

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.  Matthew 25:13

The whole Road to Emmaus passage is here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+24%3A13-35&version=NASB

You can read about how Jesus made it very clear who He was here: http://www.gotquestions.org/is-Jesus-God.html  (There are related articles at the bottom of that webpage for even more information.)  When Jesus made statements where He said "I am," He was proclaiming Himself as "I Am," which is God's name  (Exodus 3:15).  In some instances, the word "he" has been added (in error, example John 18:6, 8) after the words "I am," giving a different meaning than should be.  (Some translations put the word "he" in italics, indicating that it was not in the original text.)

Here are several passages about the predicted suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus: http://www.biblestudytools.com/passage/?q=matthew+20:17-19;+mark+10:32-34;+mark+8:31;+luke+18:31-33;+isaiah+53:1-7

kit: October Daze by Kristmess Designs;  template by Cluster Queen Creations
message inspired in part by sermon heard on  11-15-15

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sighing Shall Flee


And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isaiah 35:10

kit: Chocolate Kisses by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Be Strong Fear Not


Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”
Isaiah 35:3-4

kit: Chocolate Kisses by Kristmess Designs

Friday, November 13, 2015

Testimony of the Lord


The instruction of the Lord is perfect,
renewing one’s life;
the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,
making the inexperienced wise.
Psalm 19:7

kit: What a Hoot! by Kristmess Designs

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Instruction of the Lord


Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4

kit: What a Hoot! by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Redeemed Shall Walk There


No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
Isaiah 35:9

kit: Zoofari by Kristmess Designs, template by Kimeric Designs

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Royalty


But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

Being royal carries great honor and also great responsibility.  Just ask anyone in the royal family in the United Kingdom, for example.  They are keenly aware that every thing they do or say, or don't do or say, reflects on the family they belong to and represent.  They are careful not to get into situations where the family name will be dishonored.  We who are redeemed by the Lord can learn many valuable lessons by observing them.  These comparisons can give all of us something to strive for in the way we represent our King to the world.  Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when He judges the world.  1 Peter 2:12

As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 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. For it stands in Scripture:  “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.”  1 Peter 2:4-6

They show a united front to the world–they are loyal to each other.  Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2:2  If someone criticizes them or their loved ones, they try to handle it gracefully.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.  James 3:17  Life carries on–the mission continues.  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  1 Timothy 6:12

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Hopefully we do the same.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9  They don’t dwell on criticism or crumble at disapproval of outsiders.  For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10  “I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.”  John 17:14  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16

They don’t believe lies told by outsiders about each other or let rumors discourage them.  Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.  Acts 17:11  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!  Galatians 1:8-9  They know the truth–they are not easily shaken.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.  Psalm 62:2  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

They are confident in the strength of their family.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 As believers, we know that our sovereign God and Ruler is trustworthy and true. Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven. Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created.  Psalm 119:89-90  Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for He guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.  Psalm 97:10  We can count on Him to get us through anything.  You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 

Royals know that taking offense will not serve the greater purpose of representing the family in a positive light, and that the attacks are not really against them personally, but against their family.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.  1 Corinthians 12:26  They stand firm together.  Be alert and stand firm in the faith; be valiant; be strong.  1 Corinthians 16:13  Jesus said: “If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you."  John 15:18-19  It’s our honor and privilege to suffer for His sake, because it’s our great honor to be part of His family.  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.  Romans 8:16-17  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5

Petty disputes among family members are handled privately according to the family’s code of ethics, not displayed for the world to give opinions and judge.  Hopefully we do the same with our brothers and sisters in Christ, in our own “royal family.”  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”   Matthew 18:15-17

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?  1 Corinthians 6:1-6

If someone maligns our character, we’re to trust God to defend and avenge us.  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.”  Romans 12:19 We are to accept our Father’s correction, in whatever form He gives, knowing that He loves us and only does what is best for us.  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Revelation 3:19 In fact, we’re to reflect God’s mercy and grace even on our enemies: “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. For He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  Matthew 5:44-45 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”  Luke 6:35

Needless to say, laws and authorities should be obeyed unless there is a direct conflict between civil law and God’s law.  (In the past, all of the laws used to be based on the Ten Commandments, so that was not a problem.)  Give to everyone what you owe them. Do you owe taxes? Then pay them. Do you owe anything else to the government? Then pay it. Do you owe respect? Then give it. Do you owe honor? Then show it.  Romans 13:7  Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by Him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  1 Peter 2:13-15

However, if we are ordered by our rulers to break the Ten Commandments, or to not to share the gospel, we are to disobey that order and obey God instead.  So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we must speak of what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:18-20 “We gave you clear orders not to teach in Jesus’ name,” he said. “But you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching...”  Peter and the other apostles replied, “We must obey God instead of men!”  Acts 5:28-29

Members of royal families have many obligations that they may or may not always enjoy, but they do them cheerfully in servitude to the family. Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ.  Colossians 3:23-24 They are expected to be obedient.  Do we obey our King or do we dishonor Him?  “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”  Luke 6:36  And so the Lord says, “These people say they are Mine.  They honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.  And their worship of Me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.  Isaiah 29:13

Do we remember that no matter what we do, we are doing it for God and our reward is in pleasing Him, not ourselves or other people?  “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”  Matthew 10:42  Do we only say we care or do we actually follow up on it?  If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?  James 2:15-16  Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.  Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.  Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.  Proverbs 3:27-29

No doubt you’re thinking of many instances where members of an earthly royal family have not behaved in a way that was becoming to their calling, resulting in bad publicity.  For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:20-23 

We can learn from mistakes as well.  How awful to make your earthly father look like a bad parent (the world might think “or why else would you act like that,” right?).  How much worse for us to make our heavenly Father look like a poor parent.  They kill the widow and the foreigner and murder the fatherless.  They say, “The Lord doesn’t see it.  The God of Jacob doesn’t pay attention."  Pay attention, you stupid people!  Fools, when will you be wise?  Can the One who shaped the ear not hear, the One who formed the eye not see?  Psalm 94:6-9

Is our behavior showing the world that He taught us well - You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:22-24; that He provides for us - “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Matthew 6:31-33; I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread.  He is always generous, always lending, and his children are a blessing.  Psalm 37:25-26; that He loves His own - I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently find Me. Proverbs 8:17, I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  John 10:14-15; that His character is impeccable - As for God, His way is blameless, The word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. Psalm 18:30; that we care what He thinks of us and about what the world thinks of Him?  For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.   Psalm 84:11

Are the fruits of the Spirit evident in our lives so that the world can see what our Father values in behavior?  Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.  Jeremiah 22:3  How about what His nature is like?  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23  Do we abstain from indulging our sinful natures by watching TV shows and movies that have inappropriate content and themes, from listening to music that does not honor God but exalts sin, from enjoying humor that we would be ashamed of if our Father were right there (as if He doesn’t see)?  So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:14-16  Are we honest?  Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.   Proverbs 12:22  Better is a poor, simple person who walks in his integrity than the rich one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.  Proverbs 19:1

For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  1 Peter 3:10-12  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  Colossians 3:9-10  Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity. The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. Ephesians 4:26-28

Would He approve of the way we present ourselves?  You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied Him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”  Malachi 2:17 Or do we settle for the lax morals of the world, preferring to blend in rather than stand out by following God’s way?  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. 1 John 2:15-16  Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’" Jeremiah 6:16

Royals have a code of conduct.  They know better than to break it.  They have been taught the rules well and they follow them to the best of their ability.  Teach me Your way, LORD, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.  Psalm 86:11  They don’t conform to the low standards of the world.  "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."  James 4:4  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.   Philippians 4:8-9  They have a higher calling.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:14  They keep their word.  You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.  Deuteronomy 23:23

Obey the king since you vowed to God that you would. Don’t try to avoid doing your duty, and don’t stand with those who plot evil, for the king can do whatever he wants. His command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it. Those who obey him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right, for there is a time and a way for everything, even when a person is in trouble.  Ecclesiastes 8:2-6

They refrain from using coarse language.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  James 3:10 No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29  They don’t join in grumbling against their family.  Is the same true of us?  Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. Philippians 2:14-15  

They are proud of their family, not ashamed of it.  “For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”  Mark 8:38  Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

Do we stand up for our King’s truth instead of backing down whenever the world disagrees with us?  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11 Or do we stay quiet, not wanting to be identified with our family if it’s not popular?  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5

If we really understood and remembered on a daily basis that when we accepted Jesus' death for our sins and His Lordship over us as our risen King, we became adopted children of the Maker of the universe, what would that look like?  But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, Jesus gave the right to become children of God.  John 1:12  But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Galatians 4:4-5  Wouldn't our behavior be changed?  Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.  But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints.  Ephesians 5:1-3

If we thought the world was watching us, and it is, how would our lives reflect the beauty and majesty of our Lord and Savior, of our heavenly King, of the royal family of which we are members?  Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 2 Timothy 2:19

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1:5-8

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as Jesus is righteous.  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.  No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for His seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.  1 John 3:7-10

What did our King say He expected of us?  Do we know?  These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; And do not love a false oath.  For all these are things that I hate,’ Says the Lord.”  Zechariah 8:16-17  Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”  John 10:27-28 And that if we were worthy of Him, we would take up our cross daily.  “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:38  What does that mean?  But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.  Hebrews 10:32-33

Do we spend time reading the Bible for ourselves to find out what God said?  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17  Members of earthly royal families instruct each other and they also employ tutors.  ...so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  Colossians 1:10  So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.  2 Thessalonians 2:15 We have only one Teacher - “And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.”  Matthew 23:10

And now, my sons, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Happy is the man who listens to me [wisdom], watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who misses me injures himself; all who hate me love death.  Proverbs 8:32-36

We’re to obey God ourselves and not only point out the errors of others, thereby making ourselves hypocrites.  (However, this is not to say that we refrain from judging at all.)  “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” Matthew 7:3-5  Stop judging according to outward appearance; rather judge according to righteous judgment.  John 7:24  You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.  Romans 2:1

God is not a respecter of persons and neither are we to be. For God shows no partiality.  Romans 2:11 Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.  Leviticus 19:15  My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.  James 2:1  As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.  1 Timothy 5:20-21

Earthly royalty is associated with great wealth, but our riches are kept for us in heaven.“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."  Matthew 6:24 “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”  Matthew 16:26

The amazing thing is that unlike earthly royal families, anyone can become a member of this Royal Family that we belong to.  Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him.  1 John 3:1  We can't make anyone believe and accept Christ, but we are meant to show His love to each other and our neighbors.  If you want to see a picture of what loving your neighbor looks like, see the parable of the Good Samaritan: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+10%3A25-37  Notice that Jesus did not define loving your neighbor as telling them whatever they want to hear.  He never adjusted His message to please His audience.  "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:8-9

God’s truth doesn't change over time or in various situations.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and He never changes.  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8  He answered the question about who is our neighbor by giving an example of meeting the dire needs of someone we may not even know and might even think of us as their enemy, without any expectation of repayment.  “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  Luke 14:13

We may not ever encounter a life or death situation where someone needs our help to survive, but we can be kind to everyone we have contact with.  “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?  1 John 3:17"  We can forgive and forget trespasses against us as Jesus instructed.  “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Matthew 6:14-15   We can pass up opportunities to get into fights.  Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19
We can refrain from gossip or jumping to negative conclusions about others. "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Matthew 12:36-37  We can stand by our brothers and sisters in Christ so that the world will know we belong to the same family.  For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13  We can stand up for the weak and helpless, and try to give them a hand up.  For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6

Most importantly, we need to share the Good News that anyone can become a child of God if they believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus died for their sins and rose from the dead.  If you declare 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 profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10  For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and only Son of God.  John 3:17-18 

We can't make anyone believe--faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9, but we are not EVER to be ashamed of Jesus or deny His precious, Holy name.  He is the very center of our life–without Him we are still dead in our sins, bound to pay the price for them ourselves eternally.  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  Colossians 3:4  Without faith in Him, we can do nothing whatsoever to please God.  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 If we deny His name or are ashamed of Him, then so will He be of us.  “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 10:33  Doesn't that thought make you shudder?  It should.  What a horrible thing to imagine happening!  I can’t actually fathom anyone who is born again doing that. 

Speak the truth in love.  Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.  Ephesians 4:15  Teach your children.  You shall teach these commandments to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth.  Deuteronomy 11:19-21  “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.  Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”  Matthew 18:6-7

He is worthy of ALL of our love, worship, praise, thanks, honor, obedience and loyalty.  “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”  Revelation 4:11 If we are giving those things to anyone or anything else in this world, then we are cheating Him.  “The most important command,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:29-31 

We belong to Him.  If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.  Romans 14:8  If we truly belong to Him, then there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from His love, from being a member of His royal family.  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39 We are to be faithful and utterly devoted to Him.  But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. For you happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.  2 Corinthians 11:3-4  I am the LORD; that is My name; My glory I give to no other, nor My praise to carved idols.  Isaiah 42:8

We are to be faithful to the Lord alone, not only spiritually, but also by remembering that our very bodies are His dwelling place (after we are born again.)  Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.   1 Corinthians 6:18-20

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.  For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.  1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

This includes accepting God’s definition of male and female, as well as marriage.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:24-5  No, this isn’t only an Old Testament teaching–even though the question asked of Him dealt with divorce, Jesus took the opportunity to reiterate God’s intent.  “Jesus answered, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?”  Matthew 19:4-5  (Also see my article about sanctification entitled Speak the Truth in Love, available on the side bar.)

Strong families spend a lot of time together.  The same applies to the members of the church and to our personal relationship with our Father.  You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Mark 15:7-9  If we spend an hour or less a week with our family (as some people consider going to church once a week all they need to maintain their relationship with God), problems will arise.  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.  Romans 10:17

If our spouse has been away for a while, we truly miss them and long for them to come back to us.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:8  So should we feel about Jesus, our Bridegroom, the One who loved us enough to redeem our souls so that we could spend eternity with Him instead of in the lake of fire.  (Matt. 25:41, Rev. 20:15, 21:8)  He has gone to prepare a place for us.  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”  John 14:1-3  We should greatly anticipate His return, or the time when we go to Him after this life ends.  He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!  Revelation 22:20  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  1 Thessalonians 4:16:17

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:8-9  If we don’t love Him now, then how will that suddenly change after this life is over and eternity begins?  Start now.  "Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."  John 14:21 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.”  John 15:9-10

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29  That is what faith is, assurance of things not seen.  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1  For we walk by faith, not by sight.  2 Corinthians 5:7  Do we believe?  Then let’s act like it!  Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Colossians 3:12-17

When each of us first believed in our hearts (not only our minds), God’s very Spirit came to live inside of us to help us walk the walk.  In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14  By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.  1 John 2:3-6

God will always provide a way out of any temptation He allows in our lives.  No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13  Often people leave off the first part of this next verse, but the two parts go hand in hand:  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7  When we are fully surrendered to God, He will help us remain strong.

None of us have any excuses.  If anyone has slipped, stumbled or slumbered, they need only ask His forgiveness and He will forgive anything.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9 We can also ask Him to correct any bad habits or attitudes in our lives that we have embraced.  And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?  “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him.  For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.”  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Hebrews 12:5-8  Or do you think Scripture says without reason. “He jealously longs for the Spirit He has caused to dwell in us?”  James 4:5

Let’s ask Him to renew the fire for Him inside our hearts.  But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.  Revelation 2:4-5  Only He can enable us to live in a way that pleases Him and He can use us for His good purpose.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.  Ephesians 4:23-24  For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.  Philippians 2:13  He has plans for every believer.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10

Some people think that believers have been expecting the return of Christ for so many years that the chances of His returning soon are slim to none.  They may mistake the Lord’s mercy for inattentiveness.  I would encourage them to think again.  Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?  Romans 2:4  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.  2 Corinthians 3:5  He loves us.  How awesome is that?  See you in the Kingdom. Ì

(This article is available for download in pdf form on the side bar.)

kits: In the Genes collection, including Family Crest Builder by Kristmess Designs; overlay by me