Monday, October 31, 2016

False Visions


And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken.  Ezekiel 22:28

stacked paper: No Crow Zone by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Servant of Christ


For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10

stacked paper: Let's Face It by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Make Them Jealous


They have made Me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. Deuteronomy 32:31

stacked papers, kit: Sew Darn Cute by Kristmess Designs

Friday, October 28, 2016

On Account of My Name


Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of My name, because they do not know Him who sent Me. John 15:20-21

stacked papers: January Daze by Kristmess Designs

Thursday, October 27, 2016

That We May Know Him


We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:19-20

stacked papers: September Daze by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fruit of Righteousness


For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Hebrews 12:11-13

stacked paper: September Daze by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Whose Name is Holy


For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite." Isaiah 57:15

stacked papers: September Daze by Kristmess Designs

Monday, October 24, 2016

His Spirit and Breath


If it were His intention
and He withdrew His spirit and breath,
all humanity would perish together
and mankind would return to the dust.
Job 34:14-15

stacked paper: Singing the Blues by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, October 23, 2016

False Teaching for Shameful Gain


They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach--and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Titus 1:11

stacked papers: Apple Pickin' by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Spirit of Christ


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 8:9

It occurs to me that telling a new believer in Christ that they are now saved, so go and live a holy life until the Lord's return is like throwing small children into shark-infested waters and telling them to swim.  Even if they are quick learners and don't drown, the sharks still might get them.  They need a safe environment in which to learn how to swim, with an instructor.  So do new believers.  They need a community of believers to help them learn how to be a DISCIPLE of Jesus, how to FOLLOW Him, to do what He commanded us to do.  (Matthew 28:19-20, Matthew 10:38, John 10:27)  Salvation is the end of the old life and beginning of the new.  (Acts 5:20, Romans 6:1-13, 2 Corinthians 5:17)  Their instructor is not only the pastor of their church congregation, but the Holy Spirit inside of them.  He will be their life preserver and steer them away from the "sharks," but only if they heed His prompting, convicting, warning and guiding.  He does this through the spoken and read word of God (Romans 10:17, John 14:26)--helping the believer to understand it AND to put it into practice.  We also talk to God in prayer and He builds our faith by answering according to His will.

How will new believers survive and thrive in the faith if they aren't even told this amazing, glorious thing has happened to them--the living God lives INSIDE of them?!  Not just "you're sealed as a child of God, now go and do your own thing until your time is up."  If a child starts to go under when learning to swim, do we tell them that they just need to try harder?  That's what it's like when new believers try to resist sin by their own power, not realizing that God is their strength to overcome.  (John 16:33)  They need to know His word, to feed their faith by hearing it often, and rely on Him.  They need to learn what God is like so that they can love and trust Him.  They need to grow up and want what He wants instead wanting their own way like a child does.  He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. Colossians 1:28  (Also 1 Corinthians 13:11)  Even if a child learns to swim very well, it is still not recommended to swim in shark-infested waters, is it?  But someone who hasn't been told about the hazard might not know better.  Again, the family of believers, including the pastor through the teaching and preaching of the Word, and the Spirit Himself are needed for guidance and instruction to navigate the "dangerous waters" of this world.

The passage beginning with the verse at the top continues on: But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 12  So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13  For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:10-13

This is about not "only" being saved FROM hell, but also about the incredible privilege of being permitted to enter INTO the kingdom of heaven, isn't it?  Then let's make good use of all of the support  given to us to ensure that we will get what we expect.  A changed life does not save, only Jesus does that, but it is evidence of saving faith.  This life is short--let's help each other to be ready to serve Jesus, the King of kings, for all eternity by practicing now.  He will perfect the work He began in us when He comes (Philippians 1:6), but let's not have to be ashamed of what we did after coming to Him for salvation--that was when He became our Lord and we were set free from enslavement to sin (Romans 6:23, 10:9, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Ephesians 1:16-23, 5:23, Philippians 2:9-11, 3:8-11, Colossians 2:6-14, 1 Timothy 6:11-16, 1 Peter 1:3-9, Revelation 1:4-8).  There's still time to receive forgiveness for anything we've done and to start fresh, with His help, so that we can be assured of hearing "Well done, good and faithful servant" from Him when He judges us.

"The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” Revelation 11:18

I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27  But the anointing that you received from Him abides in you [His Spirit], and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in Him. 28  And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming. 29  If you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him. 1 John 2:26-29

Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals." Come to your right mind, and sin no more. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. 1 Corinthians 15:33-34

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-11 

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16  Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17  Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18  For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:8-21

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4  Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 5  This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.  2 Thessalonians 1:3-5 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5  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. 6  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7  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? 8  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12  Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13  and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15  See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16  that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17  For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. Hebrews 12:1-17
  
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5  Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6  On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8  But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 18  Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19  Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20  Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22  Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25  For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 3

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19  They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20  But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21  assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25  Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27  and give no opportunity to the devil. 28  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 5:1  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3  But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4  Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5  For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7  Therefore do not become partners with them; 8  for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9  (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10  and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11  Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12  For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. Ephesians 4, 5:1-12 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26  For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27  but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28  Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29  How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30  For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32  But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33  sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34  For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35  Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37  For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38  but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:24-39 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8  For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9  How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10  Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. 11  Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12  May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13  May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13 

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11  To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:5-11

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44

Speaking of looking forward to the return of our Savior for His own, not everyone should be looking forward to it.  Some should be dreading it, but many don't KNOW that.  Some think it will be a glorious day, but it will turn into the worst thing that ever happened to them.  Anyone who is not IN Christ, born again, having His Spirit within them to testify that they are His, is NOT ready.  Even if His return may not be as soon as we expect or maybe even hope, the date of our own personal appointment with God is unknown to us.  We had best all get ready to meet Him NOW.  Even if His return may not be as soon as we expect or maybe even hope, the date of our own personal appointment with God is unknown to us.  We had best all get ready to meet Him NOW.  Filling up churches with baby believers who never mature is like filling a shark tank with children who can’t swim.  Assuring people that they are saved because they made a confession with their mouth, but then proved that the confession was NOT made sincerely from their heart by their subsequent behavior–completely unchanged, showing no fruits of the Holy Spirit, and no progress whatsoever toward Christ-likeness–is not only NOT loving, but it’s unconscionable.  It’s like filling up the wedding banquet hall with  guests who do not have on their wedding garment, even though we KNOW that everyone who is not wearing the righteousness of Christ will be thrown out.  (Matthew 22:11-14)

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:16-19 

Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light. 19  It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. 20  Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? Amos 5:18-20

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23

Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12  But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:11-13 

And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. 23  And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, 24  "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25  "Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' 26  "Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets'; 27  and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.' 28  "In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out." Luke 13:22-28

But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? 17  For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. 18  If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers. 19  “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. 20  You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. 21  These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. 22  “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! 23  The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:16-23


Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5  You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6  No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7  Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8  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. 9  No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10  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 3:4-10

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 5  This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6  since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7  and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8  in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9  They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10  when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10

(Also see the Book of Jude.)

On the other hand, those who belong to Jesus, who have His Spirit, will be found following Him, walking as He walked (1 John 2:6).  No one is “perfect” until Jesus completes his perfect work in them after they leave this earth, but those who truly belong to Him will be ready, watching and waiting, doing the will of their Master.  (Matthew 24:42-46)  They will not suffer the wrath of God, but will be spared from the greatest tribulation that ever has or ever will come upon the earth.  Their names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  They will serve God with great joy forever.

Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. 21  For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain. Isaiah 26:20-21

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6  So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8  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. 9  For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10  who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11  Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28  so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28 

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11  I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12  The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. Revelation 3:10-12

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24  By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25  and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26  They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27  But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:23-27 

LET'S ALL BE READY.

stacked paper: Spring Whispers by Kristmess Designs

Friday, October 21, 2016

Truth and Error


We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:6

stacked paper, kit: Apple Pickin' by Kristmess Designs

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Terrifies Them with Warnings


Why do you contend against Him, saying, `He will answer none of my words'? For God speaks once, even twice, but man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while they slumber on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed, and cut off pride from man; He keeps back his soul from the Pit, his life from perishing by the sword. Job 33:13-18

stacked paper: Regal Elegance by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Prophesy Illusions


For this is a rebellious people, false sons,
Sons who refuse to listen
To the instruction of the Lord;
Who say to the seers, “You must not see”;
And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right,
Speak to us pleasant words,
Prophesy illusions.
Leave the way, turn aside from the path,
Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
Isaiah 30:9-11

stacked paper: Regal Elegance by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Taken Back


"For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth. "For the LORD has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one's youth when she is rejected," says your God. "For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you," says the LORD Yahweh your Redeemer. Isaiah 54:5-8

stacked paper: Teal for Two by Kristmess Designs

Monday, October 17, 2016

Peace Like a River


This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea." Isaiah 48:17-18

stacked paper: Apple Pickin' by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Live in Harmony and Accord


May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:5-7

stacked paper: Apple Pickin' by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, October 15, 2016

But As For Me


But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin. Micah 3:8

kit and stacked papers: Cabin in the Woods by Kristmess Designs

Friday, October 14, 2016

Who Is Like You?


Who is a God like You,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of His inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
Micah 7:18

stacked paper: Cabin in the Woods by Kristmess Designs

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Partakers


We pray that you may be strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. Colossians 1:11-12

stacked paper:  Bloomers by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Shepherds After His Heart


“Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding." Jeremiah 3:14-15

stacked paper: Brad's Paisley by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Thief on the Cross


One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43

As a reminder, this took place during the crucifixion of Jesus:

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with Him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on His right and one on His left. Luke 23:32-33

Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if He desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. Matthew 27:38-44 

So at first they both mocked Him, but one of them turned (repented) from his unbelief.  It might seem as though he took a bit of a shortcut in the way he received salvation when he received, in the last moments of his life, a promise from Jesus that he would be with Him that very day in Paradise.  However, the point isn’t how long he lived after his confession of faith, but that it was genuine.  We all start out condemned to death and eternal punishment for our crimes (sins) like these thieves.  What’s important is that we imitate the one who humbled himself and is now in heaven.  His story shows how uncomplicated salvation really is.

Sadly, I feel the need, given the dangerous times we live in, to add at this point that if the thief had lived longer, he would have been expected to follow Jesus, not turn back to the world he once embraced. Empty words will not satisfy Jesus, who cannot be fooled. I do not recommend death bed confessions with the intent of living as we please up until that point. God is faithful to us and we won’t miss out on anything of value if we are faithful to Him in return, starting now and continuing forever.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly My disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 

“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple. Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:3-35

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11

If we take a closer look, we can see that the thief took all of the same steps to salvation that we do today. First, he declared his belief in God and admitted that he was a sinner, deserving of the punishment of death.

But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds;”  Luke 23:40-41a

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10 

Next, he recognized that Jesus was the Son of God, sinless and dying on the cross. Why do I say that?  Because Jesus' only "crime" was claiming to be the Son of God, so when the thief proclaimed the innocence of Jesus, he recognized His deity.  If He were not truly the Son of God, then He would have been guilty and deserving of death under the Jewish law.

“but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Luke 23:41b

Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” John 19:4-7

So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. Matthew 27:41-44

Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 36 Do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? John 10:32-33, 36

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.”  Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.” Luke 22:66-71

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him.” Luke 23:13-15

Then, the thief showed that he understood Jesus is Lord and that he will rise from the dead by asking Him to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. Only a ruler has a kingdom, and needless to say, he must be alive to rule over it.  So the thief had faith that Jesus would somehow live and reign over a kingdom.  Even though I dislike speculation, it seems likely that the thief may have heard about Jesus’ trial testimony, and he believed it.  So both thieves had the same opportunity to repent and believe, but only one took advantage of it.  Let’s not pass up our chance.  Today is the day!  Jesus gave up His life a short time later, and the thieves’ legs were broken to hasten their death in order that the bodies could be taken down before the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was a High Sabbath.

And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."  Luke 23:42

Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.  What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Matthew 26:59-66

Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying,“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. Mark 14:55-64 

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 36  For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” John 19:30-33, 36

The thief believed in his heart and confessed with his mouth. Jesus responded by assuring him that he was saved–the same assurance we have when we do the same.  And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, 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, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:8-13

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” Luke 12:8-9

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

Of importance, when the high priest tore his robes, he disobeyed the Levitical law.  Since the temple itself, everything in it, and the priesthood practices and garments foreshadowed salvation through Jesus, that was a serious offense.

“The priest who is chief among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose nor tear his clothes.” Leviticus 21:10

Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. Matthew 26:65

And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? Mark 14:63

In the Old Testament, there is another example of someone requesting that a ruler remember them when he receives what he was promised by God.  It was when Abigail brought supplies to the anointed, but not yet crowned, King David.  David kept his promise and sent for her after God struck her husband dead as punishment for his evil ways.  She responded to the invitation by offering to wash the feet of David’s servants.  Who does that remind you of?

And when the LORD has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation himself. And when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.” 1 Samuel 25:30-31

When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.” And she rose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young women attended her. She followed the messengers of David and became his wife. 1 Samuel 25:40-42

When He had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, He said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. John 13:12-15

paper by Kristmess Designs (blended with photo from web), page border by Bekah E Designs, page texture by me

Monday, October 10, 2016

Devoured the Prophets


“Why do you bring charges against Me? You have all rebelled against Me,” declares the LORD. “In vain I punished your people; they did not respond to correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a ravenous lion." Jeremiah 2:29-30

stacked paper, kit: Brad's Paisley by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Trampled Underfoot


For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  Hebrews 10:26-31

The key words here are "deliberately" and "after."  This passage is NOT saying that we earn salvation or that we must live in fear after receiving it, UNLESS we have no regard whatsoever for the precious blood of Jesus shed to save us from the punishment for our sins (eternal punishment and separation from God after death).  (Romans 6:23, Matthew 18:8, 25:41, 46, John 3:18, 36, 5:24, 6:40, 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10, Titus 3:4-7, 1 John 5:11-12, Rev. 14:11, 20:10, 14-15)  Many other passages elaborate on this, telling us that IF we are truly born of God (and we MUST be in order to be saved, John 1:12-13, 3:3-7), then we will be empowered by His Spirit within us to resist the power that sin once had over us.  (Romans 8:5-10, 1 John 3:4-10, 1 John 5:18, Revelation 22:11)  We won't CHOOSE to live in that mud puddle where God found us.  We won't CHOOSE to go back to that mud puddle to get filthy again after God cleans us up.  (2 Peter 2)  This is not to say that we are instantly perfect, never being tempted to sin again after coming to salvation.  It's to say that we will care more about pleasing God than ourselves or other people.  (2 Timothy 2:4-7, Galatians 1:10)  We will TAKE that “way out” of temptation when we are tried to see if our faith is genuine.  (God ALLOWS us to BE tempted, but He doesn't tempt us to sin.)  (1 Corinthians 10:13, James 1:12-15)  If we mess up, we will have remorse and seek His forgiveness.  (1 John 1:5-10)

If you have been deceived by listening to false teachers who say that we are free TO sin instead of free FROM sin, then please read your Bible for yourself.  (Galatians 5:16-24, Luke 12:47-48, 2 Timothy 3:12-13, James 1:21-25)  They tell people these things because it is profitable to tell people what they enjoy hearing.  (2 Timothy 4:3-4, 1 Peter 5:2, 1 Corinthians 2:17, 2 Peter 2:14-15)  The old self loves to hear about how much God loves that old self so much that they needn't give up anything or change in any way.  (1 John 2:3-6)  But those who are born again are a new creation and despise that evil, sinful old flesh. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:17-24)

Some of those false teachers say that the passage at the top of this article is directed at people who feel their behavior as a child of God matters.  Those teachers accuse others of seeking salvation through works (ignoring the fact that the person is not a child of God unless they are ALREADY saved).  They point to  Galatians 3 (about freedom from the law) and 5 (about how circumcision is not required or even encouraged for Christians for any religious purposes, whereas half of the chapter is about NOT using our freedom to serve our flesh), saying that the passage discourages godly behavior by believers.  They ignore the fact that Galatians 3 and 5 were directed to people who were being pressured by Jews to observe rituals, special days, eating and washing rules, etc., the purpose for which had been FULFILLED by Jesus and are no longer necessary or desirable for us to observe. (Galatians 4:9-11, Romans 14 - dealing with freedoms unrelated to sin, in context.) The passages are not encouraging sin, but these teachers say that IF we are saved, then we CAN go on sinning deliberately since Jesus paid for all sins, but if we are trying to obey Jesus’ commands (because we love Him), they say that is evidence that we are not saved.  They apply the warning in the passage about how no one can keep the law perfectly and there are no more animal sacrifices now that Jesus has offered the perfect sacrifice of Himself–not to those who sin deliberately after being enlightened spiritually (Hebrews 6:4-9), but to believers who have more desire to please God than their flesh–they say those people are trusting in their own works instead of Jesus and so they don’t have saving faith.

However, Jesus said those who love Him will obey.  (John 14:15-24)  So the opposite would be that if we LOVE Him, then we should feel FREE TO SIN as often as we please, and if we DON’T love Him, we will try to HONOR Him with our behavior?  That’s not how I read it, especially with the light of the rest of the Scriptures to illuminate the passage.  But then these same teachers and their deceived followers also claim that God’s ENTIRE will is for us to believe and that is ALL He cares about.  Jesus said those who are His own will serve Him, hear His voice, and follow Him and no one else.  (John 12:25-26, John 10:1-18, Matthew 10:37-39)  James said that saving faith has works to back it up.  (James 2:14-26)  Peter says that judgment BEGINS at the house of God.  (1 Peter 4:12-19)  If we are not saved, then no amount of good behavior will help us.  Our faith isn’t something we “accomplish,” but a gift we receive, just as we do nothing to deserve or receive the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us obey God.  (John 14:26)  The instructions to be holy are for the children of God, not those of the devil.  Whoever doesn’t belong to God doesn’t have His Spirit and is utterly unable to please Him due to having no faith and not having His power within them to overcome the desire of the flesh to sin.  (John 3:36,  Romans 8:13-14)  Doesn’t it sound like these teachers are wolves in sheep’s clothing if they want to use their freedom to sin (and encourage others to do so) despite being warned repeatedly in the Bible not to?  (Acts 20:29-20, 2 Peter 2:1-3, 12-14, 17-21, Matthew 18:6-7, James 3:1, Hebrews 5:11-13)

Some of the false teachers even say that we only need to pay attention to a select few books of the Bible and the rest is just “interesting,” but not applicable to the Church.  This is not the sort of thing that anyone who is relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help them understand the Scriptures would believe.  (2 Timothy 3:16)  God doesn’t change.  (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8)  In the Old Testament, Jews were saved by faith and in the New Testament, we are saved by faith.  (Galatians 3:6-7)  Their sins were temporarily washed away by the blood of animals, which was a foreshadow of Jesus’ one, perfect sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world.  (Hebrews 9, 10)  Likewise, the Jews were to be set apart in the same we that we are to be set apart.  (Psalm 4:3, 2 Timothy 2:21, Leviticus 19:2, 1 Peter 1:14-16)  God has not “replaced” Israel with the Church (nor has one “become” the other–the Church is “grafted in” to Israel).  (Hebrews 11:11-36, Romans 11:17-24) God planned to save the Gentiles in addition to the Jews all along.  (Isaiah 49:6, Acts 26:20-23, 1 Peter 1:10-12)

We are justified (made right/righteous - Romans 5) with God one time upon belief (spiritual baptism into Jesus, whose righteousness covers us when we “put Him on” - Galatians 3:27) and our sanctification (being made holy), while a spiritual reality in heaven, is a continual process while we reside here on earth.  (Hebrews 12:14-17, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 8:29-30)  It’s a struggle against the old, sinful flesh so that righteousness (in words, actions and attitudes) is increasingly displayed in our lives rather than lawlessness (sinfulness, unrighteousness).  (Romans 7, 8, Colossians 3:1-10)  When the Bible says "do not tempt God," it does NOT mean He CAN be tempted, that means don't be so foolish as to try!  Have some respect for our all powerful Creator.  (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, Isaiah 26:10, Hebrews 12:25-29) What is meant by "mocking" Him, is if we claim to believe and yet carry on as if He didn't exist.  (Galatians 6:7-8, Hebrews 11:6)

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

We were told to make disciples to follow Jesus, not just have people repeat a prayer after us and then go happily on their own way again.  What did He say?  The one who turns back is not fit for the kingdom of God.  (Luke 9:62, Hebrews 10:36-39)  How will people even know He said that or what He meant if we tell them all they need to do is say a prayer one time and they're "good to go" until it's their “time to go”?  Certainly not by reading their Bibles--after all, that would be works, right?  Anyway, it’s more profitable to sell a new book every month--the sort that half-hearted Christians like because the word is watered down and made more palatable, usually focused on our selfish wants and desires instead of on God.  (Mark 12:33, James 4:4-10) And who has time to read God’s word when there is so much "love of God" to be spread around by approving of evil, reaffirming sin, joining in, etc.?  (Romans 1:28-32, 1 John 2:15-17, Matthew 5:19)

No, those who are children of God (born into His family through the working of the Holy Spirit) "crucify their flesh" on Jesus' cross by taking up their own cross daily and carrying around His death inside of them to remind them of what their freedom cost Him.  (Romans 6, 2 Corinthians 4:10-11, Luke 9:23-26)  If we always remember this, then our constant prayer will be that He will help us to do ONLY His will (not our own or someone else's) and ALL of His will (not just parts we pick and choose, Ephesians 2:10) so that we can look forward to the day when we'll see Him face to face and He will say to us, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  (Matthew 25:21)  After all, our lives no longer belong to us, but were purchased by Him with His precious blood.  (1 Corinthians 6:17-20)  How much more valuable could we be?   Wow.  Let's be sure to behave like the treasured possession of our Savior, Redeemer and Sovereign King that we are, consciously choosing from moment to moment whatever honors and brings Him glory.  (John 12:27-28, 1 John 3:1-3)  As if being with Him forever were not enough, there are rewards promised for faithfulness.  (2 Corinthians 2:9, Matthew 25:34, Luke 12:31-35, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, James 1:12, Revelation 2:7, 10, 17, 28, 3:4-5, 12, 21)

This idea goes against the thinking of modern culture, which is self-centered and "me" driven.  The unsaved are unable to understand God's ways.  (1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 2:14)  If we find ourselves agreeing with them, we should compare what is being said to the Bible.  (1 Corinthians 10:21, John 15:18-19)  The Holy Spirit has more work to do in our hearts if we feel comfortable with the ways of the world, but rebellious toward God.  (Romans 8:7-8, Romans 12:1-2, James 4:4)  He will complete His work of perfecting us with our cooperation, but not by force.  That's not His way.  (Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Romans 8:27-29, 2 Thessalonians 1:11)  We need to consciously set aside our will and desire His, which He will enable us to do when He dwells within us.  (Philippians 2:12-13)  Then we'll embrace the unimaginably profound privilege of belonging to our great God and want nothing more intensely than to be made fully ready and useful for service in His kingdom.  (2 Timothy 2:21, 2 Peter 3:11-13, 1 Peter 1:14-19, Matthew 13:43, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Hebrews 13:20-21, 2 Peter 1:3-11)

A final word for anyone who is not convinced they need to watch and prepare for Jesus’ return (whether for them personally or for all who belong to Him).  There are three times where Jesus told us about groups of people asking to be let into the kingdom of Heaven but being sent away.  One is found in Matthew 25, the wise and foolish virgins:

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”  Matthew 25:1-13

They were ALL waiting and expecting to go in, but the foolish ones were NOT READY.  The bridegroom, representing Jesus, tells them that He doesn’t KNOW them.  They ran out of oil in their lamps.  God’s word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.  If we don’t have that light, we will surely stumble in the dark.  (Psalm 18:28, 119:105, 2 Samuel 22:29, Matthew 6:22-24, Luke 11:33-35) In Revelation 2, the Church at Ephesus is told that unless they repent and show the love they had at first, their lampstand will be removed!  Paul tells us that remaining awake in watchfulness, walking in the light, bearing fruit and not being foolish are all RELATED:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Ephesians 5:1-21

There are some false teachers who say that the following passage says we can figure out the time of Jesus’ return, but it just means that we will be READY because we are walking as He walked–in the light not darkness, in the Spirit not the flesh, obeying His commands as His faithful servants–not by keeping the law as a Jew would but by living as Jesus said we should when He summarized the commandments into two.  (Mark 12:30-31 - but again, “love” does not include sinning with or against our brother in Christ or neighbor, approving of sin or causing anyone to sin.)

But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.  1 Thessalonians 5:4-6

Peter tells us how we can be sure that we are prepared to be received into the kingdom of God:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, 4 by which He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1:3-11

Good “fruit” is the fruit of righteousness, which is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), by ABIDING in Jesus (John 15)–why would we be told to “abide” if all that is required is a one-time confession with our mouth?   And why would Paul compare it to running a race?  (Hebrews 12:1-3)  Another group described by Jesus who is denied entrance is in Matthew 7.  (Notice the context, which in most Bible translations has been divided up into small titled sections that make it harder to see how they are related.)  There is a progression from the narrow door to false teachers, to good and bad fruit, to certain people being denied entry in the Kingdom.    (They claim to have done great things in Jesus’ name, but their “power”– if it wasn’t faked–was NOT from Him, as He NEVER knew them.)  It is followed by advice to “build your house” upon the Rock (Jesus) so that it will stand through the storms (of life), not crumbling because of the poor quality (of faith)–sort of like the seed scattered on rock, the path or the weeds in the parable of the sower.  (Matthew 13)  Trials will come in life, but only those who are prepared and strengthened by their true faith (who abides IN Jesus) will endure them to the end, never caving in, quitting or turning back, so that they can receive the “crown of life” from God.  (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10, 3:11) We don’t get the victory by our strength but by our obedience in the same way that Jesus did when He suffered for us.  (Hebrews 5:7-10)  Judgment is declared in favor of the saints even though it appears that the devil is winning in Daniel 7:21-22.  The saints who refuse the mark of the beast “win” even if they are imprisoned or lose their lives in Revelation 13:9-10.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.  21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’ 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”  Matthew 7:13-27

Hebrews 6:7-9 also refers to thorns and thistles being burned, and Jesus gave other examples of the “unfruitful branch” being burned in John 15:6 and the “weeds” in Matthew 13:30.  It’s His desire that we should remain IN Him (read John 15:1-11)–apart from Him we can do nothing of value to Him or His kingdom (John 15:5 - more about “abiding” below and in 1 John 3:5-7 and 1 John 3:23-24).  False teachers embrace the “love” aspect of John’s writings, but they have redefined “love” to mean anything goes, to each his own–the fact that many unbelievers agree should be a clue that such a viewpoint is not biblical.  (1 Corinthians 3:19-20)

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.  16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you. John 15:10, 16

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 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; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.  27 As for you, the anointing [Holy Spirit] which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.  28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.  1 John 2:3-6, 27-29

We find the same group of foolish people Matthew described being told by Jesus:

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”  Luke 6:46-49

The third instance of people denied entry into the Kingdom is found in Luke.  Jesus not only doesn’t know them, but He doesn’t even know where they came from.  These differ from the second group who claimed to know Him but had they been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, He would not have said He NEVER knew them. 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. 8  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9  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 8:7-9 They would have been able to understand spiritual truths and discern His will.  (1 Corinthians 2:14)  This next group knows “of” Him, but has not even gone through the motions of confessing Him as Savior and Lord–so again, not saved.

He went on His way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then He will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from Me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:22-30

So being a believer does NOT mean God approves of all of our behavior no matter what we do, or that He is totally unconcerned with it.  “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. Matthew 5:13  Salt not only enhances flavor, but it is also used as a preservative.  Next let’s look at what I would call a "wake-up" passage.  Jesus discusses how evil it is to cause another believer to sin, describing what will happen to those who do not overcome and do not enter the kingdom of God.  So when He continues on to discuss salt losing its saltiness, He applies His teaching about not causing others to sin and the importance of resisting temptation to believers who (deliberately) sin.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43  And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.  47  And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48  ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49  All indeed will be salted with fire and every sacrifice with salt will be salted. 50  Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:42-50

The “salt” is believers, but we must not willfully “lose” our saltiness, just as Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup.  (Hebrews 12:16-17) If we “walk in the Spirit” as believers, this WON’T happen to us.  (Galatians 5:16)  The reference to sacrifices being salted with fire goes back to the Book of Ezekiel.  This verse in context is discussing the consecration of the altar of the new temple (which has yet to be built as of this day).  You shall present them [the bull and ram] before the LORD, and the priests shall sprinkle salt on them and offer them up as a burnt offering to the LORD.  Ezekiel 43:24

If these “freedom” teachers and preachers were listening to the Holy Spirit, He would teach and convict them of these things. 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 6:22 Then they would CARE about living to His honor and glory, about pleasing Him–not out of fear, but LOVE.  (1 John 4:18)  No, they’re the “dogs” outside the kingdom, so don’t listen to them!  (John 10:10, Isaiah 56:10-12, Revelation 22:15)  “Denying the Master who bought them” in this next passage means failing to treat their bodies as temples of the Lord, failing to obey Him as Lord after He purchased them with His precious blood, ignoring the prompting of the Holy Spirit and continually quenching Him–indulging themselves in sensuality, thereby making Jesus a partner in sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:12-20), and encouraging others to do the same.  (1 Peter 3:4-5)  Sound familiar these days?  These people claim to be in Christ, but they are not–they will not be entering the kingdom, and they will give an account to Him for their actions.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.  For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. 14They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 19They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:1-3, 14, 19-22

Read the Bible for yourself, in context--a NORMAL version, not a paraphrase or “special” version.  Our God is SO good and He loves you.  (Psalm 100:5)  He wants everyone to come to the knowledge of truth and be saved.  (1 Timothy 2:3-4)  He is worthy of giving up EVERYTHING for, even our very lives.  The more we know Him, the more we’ll realize that–not missing what we left behind and not ever turning back.  Do we have to give up things in order to earn salvation?  No, salvation is free--entirely paid for by Jesus!  That is not the point here.  The point is that if we don't WANT to give up things or CARE about pleasing God by doing as He says, then it calls into question whether we ARE saved or not.  Please make sure to understand this and don't be a "foolish virgin" with no oil in your lamp.  Be ready.

stacked paper: Jack, Jill and Joey by Kristmess Designs; lightning bolt (with overlay added): I Need a Hero by Marta van Eck; light effect: Special Effects 3 by Holliewood Studios

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Not Far from the Kingdom of God


And the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other besides Him. And to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask Him any more questions. Mark 12:32-34

stacked paper by Kristmess Designs