Thursday, May 25, 2017

Reward for Humility


The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4

kit: Mum's the Word by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Proverbs of Ashes


Hear now my argument; listen to the pleas of my lips.  Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for Him?  Will you show Him partiality? Will you argue the case for God?  Would it turn out well if He examined you? Could you deceive Him as you might deceive a mortal?  He would surely call you to account if you secretly showed partiality.  Would not His splendor terrify you? Would not the dread of Him fall on you?  Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay. Job 13:6-12

kit: Let's Face It by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

To God Belongs All


Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Deuteronomy 10:14

kit: To Honor Lulu by Kristmess Designs

Monday, May 22, 2017

Belly of the Fish


Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and He answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all Your waves and Your billows passed over me. Jonah 2:1-3

When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to You; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land. Jonah 2:7-10

To those who believe and teach others that all roads lead to heaven, please pay attention above to "those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love." Idols are anything that we love, value, honor, respect, serve, etc. more than God. They can be made of wood, metal or something else, or they can be loved ones, our job, our possessions, celebrities, fame, etc. We are supposed to love God most, first, best, always seeking His glory, and then we can be sure He will provide us with what we NEED. (Matt. 6:24-34) He'll give us the desires of our heart, but it's interesting how those desires will change when He really is our first love.  Don't forget the verse begins with "Delight yourself in the Lord..." (Psalm 37:4) Our treasure in heaven is Him if we really love Him (and to know Him IS to love Him). (Matt. 6:19-21, 1Pet. 1:3-9)

The disciples were fishermen and they cast wide nets in search of a great harvest of fish (representing fishing for men), but they THREW OUT the bad fish they had caught! (Matt. 4:17-23, Matt. 13:47-50) God was not satisfied with Jonah's merely making a profession of faith in Him (or being born a Jew). He expected Jonah to OBEY Him as well, or pay the consequences. (Jonah 1:9-12, Heb. 12:5-9, Rev. 3:19)

We can learn an important lesson from Jonah. He said that he would "pay what he vowed" to the Lord, and then clarified that "salvation belongs to the Lord." Even though we can't earn salvation, obedience to God is still expected. All who possess the faith of Abraham are "Jews" and "his offspring," and as we know, Abraham  didn't merely claim to believe in God, but he OBEYED God. (Rom. 2:28-29, Gal. 3:29, James 2:17-26) What we do AFTER we are saved is evidence of the fact that we ARE saved (or that we made a false profession and empty vow of faithfulness--in which case, God's great and wonderful promises are not for us).

kit: Splash by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, May 21, 2017

In Deed and Truth


Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
1 John 3:18

kit: Teal for Two by Kristmess Designs; template by Amanda Kay; flower photos by my friend Cheryl at My Corner Online (http://mycorneronline.com/)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Prayers for You


I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel. Philippians 1:3-5

kits: You Gnome and Cabin in the Woods by Kristmess Designs, Wood Whimsy by Sherwood Studios, Tender Earth by Stolen Moments Designs, What's the Rush by Connie Prince

Friday, May 19, 2017

Walk In All His Ways


“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,  and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?" Deuteronomy 10:12-13

papers and stacked borders: Teal for Two by Kristmess Designs

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Blessing and a Curse


“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse:  the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today,  and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known." Deuteronomy 11:26-28 

stacked papers: Tangerine Grunge by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Possess It and Obey


For you are to cross over the Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you. And when you possess it and live in it, you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the rules that I am setting before you today. Deuteronomy 11:31-32

stacked papers: Tangerine Grunge by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Rejoice That The Lord Has Blessed You


And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you. Deuteronomy 12:7

stacked papers: Tangerine Grunge by Kristmess Designs

Monday, May 15, 2017

Exalt the Lord


Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at His holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy! Psalm 99:9

kit: Tangerine Grunge by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Holy is He


The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!  The LORD is great in Zion; He is exalted over all the peoples.  Let them praise Your great and awesome name! Holy is He! Psalm 99:1-3

stacked papers: Tangerine Grunge by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saints Shout for Joy


“Let us go to His dwelling place; let us worship at His footstool!”  Arise, O LORD, and go to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might.  Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let Your saints shout for joy. Psalm 132:7-9

kit and stacked borders: Tangerine Grunge by Kristmess Designs

Friday, May 12, 2017

Like His Teacher


A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Luke 6:40

kit: Tangerine Grunge by Kristmess Designs

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Make Sacrifices Forever


In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’  “For thus says the LORD: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.” Jeremiah 33:16-18

kit and stacked borders: Tangerine Grunge by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Joy, Praise and Glory


And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it. Jeremiah 33:9

kit: Tangerine Grunge by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Disciplines His Son


Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you.  So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and by fearing Him. Deuteronomy 8:5-6

kit: Tangerine Grunge by Kristmess Designs

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law,  to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. Psalm 94:12-13

But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:32

"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?  "Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like:  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.  "But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great." Luke 6:46-49

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,  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.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  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.  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?  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.  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.  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  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;  that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.  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.  For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest  and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.  For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.”  Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,  and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.  See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.  At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”  This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,  for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:1-29

Monday, May 8, 2017

Great Treasure and Trouble


Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it. Proverbs 15:16

kit and cluster: Singing the Blues by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Anything So Great


Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of?  Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? Deuteronomy 4:32-33

kit and stacked border: Singing the Blues by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Great and Wise


Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”  What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?  And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? Deuteronomy 4:2, 6-8

kit and stacked borders: Singing the Blues by Kristmess Designs; scales and tablets from web (altered)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Testing You


And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. Deuteronomy 8:2

kit and stacked border: Singing the Blues by Kristmess Designs

Do you love Jesus? I mean REALLY love Him, in the way that He defined with His own words--not just in your own way (the Word "according to you," loving only the fluffy words that promise good things for yourself and people you love), but ALL of His words?

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.  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.  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.”  Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”  Jesus answered him, If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. John 14:15-24

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide 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.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:8-14

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,  for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.  The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.  Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?  Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.  But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:43-49

Why did Jesus say that our righteousness needs to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees of that day? What were they doing wrong?  Did they not believe in God? They claimed to, and they did lots of "good works," but all of it was according to the letter of the Law and not the spirit of it.  (Matt. 15, Matt. 23, John 4:23, Heb. 10:5-7) God told them repeatedly that He wants the sacrifices of being just, caring for the poor, widows and orphans, loving Him and each other from their hearts--not by rote and ritual according to a set of rules--but they preferred to earn salvation by their works rather than rest in God's love and accept salvation on His terms, (even if it differed from what they expected, which it did, since they misunderstood Isaiah 53 and other Scriptures foretelling Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection).  (Heb. 3, 4) The Pharisees and scribes loved the prestige, profit and power they had over the people in enforcing rules (to which they had added many details not specified by God) and didn't want to give it up--not even for God's own Son. 

We are covered in Jesus' righteousness when we believe; however, we are not meant to immediately set about soiling our pristine white garment. (2Pet. 2, especially 2Pet. 2:22, 2Tim. 2:19, Heb. 10:19-39, especially Heb. 10:26-27, Rev. 3:2-6) Today, we still have false teachings about works and other ways to salvation, as well as people on the other side of the spectrum who teach that God loves sin now that Jesus died for it. In what universe could that possibly ever make sense?  But it's profitable to tell people what they love to hear, and that is all the wolves in sheep's clothing care about. (2Tim. 4:3, Matt. 7:15, Acts 20:26-31, 1Tim. 6:3-12, 2Tim. 3:1-9, 2Pet. 2 -  What is the opposite of "denying" the Master who bought us? It is obeying Him--not only "believing" in Him in our heads, but having the beginning of wisdom--the fear of the Lord and doing as He says! Psalm 111:10, Jer. 23:21-22)

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.  And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit [humble], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  “Blessed are those who mourn [due to unrighteousness - Malachi 3, especially Mal. 3:16-18], for they shall be comforted.  “Blessed are the meek [gentle], for they shall inherit the earth.  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  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.  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:1-20

We are under the "law" in the form of two main commandments given by Jesus, because by fulfilling them, we will fulfill them all.  It is not possible to perfectly keep these two and yet somehow break any of the others.  (This should give us a clue that since God doesn't contradict Himself, He is not telling us to "love" anyone by approving of their sin, joining in their sin, or causing them to sin. 1Thess. 4:3-8) No one can do this by their own power, and indeed, we all slip--but the Holy Spirit within us, IF we are truly born again believers (John 1:12-13, 3:3, 1John 3;24, 4:13), will help us to desire to know and do God's will and He will help us--that includes His convicting us when we have sinned so that we will repent and receive forgiveness. (Philip. 2:12-16, Eph. 4:17-32, 1Thess. 5:19-22) God gives us a way out whenever He allows us to be tempted. (1Cor. 10:13, James 1:13-16)

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall 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: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  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 12:28-34

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.  Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.  The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:8-14

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. James 2:8

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.  If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.  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 1:19-27

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  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 1:5-10

So we have choices. We BELIEVERS can love God with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength and SHOW IT by obeying His "royal law" to love our neighbor as ourselves and the "law of liberty" by behaving as children of God SHOULD, not using our freedom to sin and cause His holy name to be defiled.  (Rom. 6, James 2:14-26) Or, we can pretend that God doesn't see inside of our wicked hearts, and do as we please, as though that is how we show love for Him (or anyone, for that matter).  (Rev. 2:21-23, Matt. 15:18-20) But just remember, if you choose the second one, don't claim His promises for yourself. Those were made to those who love Him. You will know if He loves you when He disciplines you for disobeying Him. (Rev. 3:15-19, Heb. 12, 1Cor. 4:18-21, 11:32) If He lets you get away with it indefinitely (He is patient - 2Pet. 3:9, Gal. 6:1-10), you are not a legitimate child. (Heb. 12:8) (If we don't believe that Jesus, the Son of God, died for our sins and rose from the dead, then we have condemned ourselves and should only fearfully expect punishment. John 3:16-18, 2Thess. 2:7-12)

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.  But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.  None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—  these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.  So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:21-22

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? James 2:5

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:36

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.  Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.  Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,”  and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 1 Corinthians 3:11-20

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High,  and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”  But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?  For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you.  If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers.  “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit.  You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son.  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. Psalm 50:14-21

Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. Ephesians 6:23-24

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,  obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9

If you are a false teacher who tells people that God expects NOTHING of them except to believe, repent! Teachers will be held to a higher standard on judgment day. (James 3:1) Faith is a gift from God, but we who have been adopted as God's children were meant to do good works so that God will be glorified in us. (Eph. 2:8-10, Matt. 5:16, John 13:35, 15:8, Titus 3:8, Rom. 8:13-17) It is of NO USE for an unbeliever to try to please God. (Heb. 11:6, 1John 2:23) Once we have been redeemed by Jesus, we BELONG to Him, heart and soul. (1Cor. 6, especially 1Cor. 6:19-20) That is when we can begin to show that our love for and faith in Him is genuine by the way we respond to His great love in saving us. (1Pet. 1:6-7, Rom. 8:16-23, Rev. 3:18) We are meant to endure until either He takes us home or He returns for those of His own still living. (Read the letters to the churches in Rev. 2, 3, Matt. 25, Philip. 3:8-21, John 14:2-3, 1Thess. 4:16-17.)

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.  For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.  Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.  Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,  for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. 2 John 1:6-11

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.  If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.  Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.  No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.  Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he 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 God’s 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.  For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.  We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.  Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.  Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  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?  Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.  By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;  for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.  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.  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.  Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. 1 John 2:28-3:24

The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”  Even as he spoke, many believed in him.  To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:29-32

Let us examine ourselves (2Cor. 13:5) and ask God to reveal anything in our walk that He is not pleased with. The more we read our Bibles, the more we will be able to discern His will, build our faith (according to knowledge of the truth - Col. 1:9-12) and yield to His indwelling Spirit so that we can have a clear conscience and be filled with His joy. (1John 4:18)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,  addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,  giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:15-21

"My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide 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.  These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be made full." John 15:8-11

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Seek Justice


Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
Isaiah 1:16-17

kit: Spring Bouquet by Kristmess Designs, template by Little Green Frog Designs (retired)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Better Little


Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.
Proverbs 16:8

kit and cluster frame: Spring Bouquet by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Itching Ears


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

kit: Spring Bouquet by Kristmess Designs, template by Little Green Frog Designs (retired)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Lends to the Lord


Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his deed. Proverbs 19:17

kit and cluster: Spring Bouquet by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A New Song


Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Psalm 96:1

paper: Not Just Another Journal Kit by Marta van Eck, elements: Perfect Harmony by Marta van Eck and Rucola Designs; MDesigns (retired)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Brings Blessing


Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.  Proverbs 11:25

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.  And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.  Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

kit: Spring Break mini by Kristmess Designs and Kathryn Estry

Friday, April 28, 2017

Weep in Secret


Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the LORD has spoken.  Give glory to the LORD your God before He brings darkness, before your feet stumble on the twilight mountains, and while you look for light He turns it into gloom and makes it deep darkness.  But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD’s flock has been taken captive. Jeremiah 13:15-17

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.  They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.” Amos 8:11-12

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;  let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  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 55:6-9

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!  Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink,  who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right! Isaiah 5:20-23

Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near,  a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations. Joel 2:1-2

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.  The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.” Joel 2:30-32

Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light,  as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him.  Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?  “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.  Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.  Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:18-24

The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there.  A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness,  a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.  I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung.  Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth. Zephaniah 1:14-18

paper: Enjoy Life by Createwings (retired), kit: Back to Nature by DiHiller, images: web

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rejected My Word


Listen, all the earth!
I will bring disaster on My people.
It is the fruit of their own schemes,
because they refuse to listen to Me.
They have rejected My word.
Jeremiah 6:19

kit, stacked papers: Bloomers by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

True Reformer


We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.  2 Corinthians 6:3-10

This is the 500th anniversary of the posting of 152 theses against false practices of Roman Catholicism by Andreas Karlstadt (April 26, 1517). Yes, it was six months before Luther's 95 theses on October 31, 1517. The two were German peers and began as allies in the great reformation; however, Luther was later instrumental in quashing parts of the more comprehensive reforms desired by Karlstadt.

Andreas Rudolph Bodenstein von Karlstadt (1486–December 24, 1541), is better known as Andreas Karlstadt or Carlstadt, even though Karlstadt was the name of the town where he was born (similar to how Mary of Magdala was known as Mary Magdalene). He was archdeacon of the collegiate Church of All Saints, connected to the residential castle of the Saxon princes in Wittenberg. His position was second in the hierarchy of clerics and included teaching theology at the University of Wittenberg, which had been founded several years before he was ordained. So he had much to lose by speaking up, but the truth was more important to him. He married and embraced a simple, humble lifestyle.

In a letter dated April 28, 1517, Karlstadt informed Dr. George Spalatin that he posted his “conclusions” on the previous Sunday. In looking up the date April 28, 1517 (on the Julian calendar in effect at that time), we see it was a Tuesday, so the Sunday prior was April 26, 1517. He verifies this to be the case by also referring to that day as “the day of the Lord’s mercy,” and also indicates that the “venerable relics” were on display. The letter itself was written on the “day of Vitalis,” which indicates the commemorative feast day of the patron saint Vitalis, April 28. (See http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=598) NOTE: The protestant reformers were former Roman Catholics who fought against false doctrine. They did not immediately recognize and give up every error at once. If you think about it, today we still refer to the day of Jesus’ resurrection as “Easter,” even though it is a pagan name and so are many of the corresponding traditions (but by far the majority of Christians don’t realize it.)

Luther's theses dealt primarily against the sale of indulgences ("time off in purgatory," a temporary place of punishment that does not exist in the Bible), and the profit made from them by the papacy. Karlstadt protested additional unbiblical practices such as infant baptism*, forbidding priests to marry, administering only the bread and not the cup to lay people during communion, wearing of priestly robes and usage of lofty titles, graven images and more. (Luther eventually confronted many issues other than indulgences and the overstepping of the power of the papacy as well.) Luther opposed the “hasty” removal of graven images and use of violence as a means to do so. However, Karlstadt opposed violence as well, as evidenced by a letter he wrote to those wishing to enlist his aid, saying that Christians are not called to violence. (See the Sermon on the Mount below.)

*See my article entitled Believer’s Baptism, which I will be updating in the near future. I hope to eventually write a more extensive article on Karlstadt and his differences with the Roman Catholic Church and with Luther, as well.

Karlstadt insisted that we are all part of the priesthood, as the Bible says (1Peter 2:4-12, Hebrews 3:5-6), and that we are not to be "respecters of people" (see James 2:1-13, Romans 12:3-8), exalting the clergy over others (Matthew 23:1-15) or claiming that ordinary people cannot be instructed by the Holy Spirit. He insisted that we must show evidence of being born again after claiming to have come to faith, due to the regeneration and indwelling of the believer’s spirit by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5, 1John 3:24, 1John 4:13, Romans 8:9, 1Corinthians 6:17-20)

Ironically, Luther labeled Karlstadt a "mystic," and opposed him. I say it is ironic, because Luther’s third theses states: “Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.” (“Flesh” is the “old, sinful inner man” that loves sin.) That would make a pretty good summary of James 2:8-26, and yet, again ironically, Luther referred to the Book of James as “an epistle of straw.” James explained by the examples of Abraham and Rahab that just claiming to have faith, but not following up on it with actions, is useless. God is not interested in hypocrites for His children, nor He can He be fooled. (Matthew 24:51, Galatians 6:7-10, 2Timothy 2:19, 2Corinthians 12:20-3:5, Hebrews 10:19-39, 1Chronicles 28:9, Revelation 2:23, Psalm 94:8-11, Malachi 3:13-18) Jesus said that unless we obey Him, then we do not love Him. Let’s remember that God has made great promises to those who love Him. (Romans 8:28, 1Corinthians 2:9-10, James 1:12-16, 1Peter 1:8-9, Matthew 7:21-27)

“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. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 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.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” John 14:15-24

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide 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 15:8-10

The entire point is that IF a person has been born again (John 3:3), then their spirit is regenerated and brought to life by God alone (John 1:12-13)–by grace, through faith–there will be fruits of His indwelling Spirit evident in the believer’s life. Faith without works (fruit of the Spirit - Galatians 5:19-25, the new creation in Christ - 2Corinthians 5:17, Romans 13:13-14) is dead (or perhaps counterfeit? In any case, the person has not died to self if God’s will is not desired and sincere efforts made to do it - Philippians 2:12-16, 1John 3:1-12) and works (no matter how sincere) without faith cannot save either, as only Jesus saves.

The New Covenant “royal law” is the law under which believers operate, not the Old Covenant law. (Romans 6) Jesus said that if we understand the greatest two commands, we have come near the Kingdom of God. (Mark 12:28-34, John 13:34-35) Paul said that love fulfills the law because through it, all of the other commands (in spirit, not letter) will be kept. (Romans 7:6) We do “works” (obey Jesus, yield to the Holy Spirit’s work within us of transforming into the image of Jesus, walk in the Spirit - Colossians 3:1-10, Romans 8) as a result of being saved, out of love, not to earn salvation, not out of fear–not even of our own power, but by His Spirit,working out from inside of us with our cooperation. (1John 4:13-21, 5:3, Ephesians 3:7, 16, 20, Colossians 1:11, 1Thessalonians 5:19, 2Thessalonians 1:11-12, 2Timothy 1:8, 2Peter 1:3-12)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8-10

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:8-26

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. Romans 3:19-31

“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. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 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. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:13-48

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:1-6

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 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 1:5-10

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 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. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. 1 John 3:1-12

Reformation is about examining religious practices in light of the pure truth of the Bible and eliminating any traditions of men that do not line up. God does not wish to be worshiped as we see fit, but in spirit and truth. If He gave us instructions, they are to be followed. He doesn’t want us adding or taking away anything because we didn’t think it was important or thought something was missing. He doesn’t want legalism, either. ALL correction must have its motive in love and goal in restoration. Jesus, Paul and James both told us to rebuke sinners and welcome them back if they repent. (Matthew 18:15-17, Luke 17:3-4, 1Corinthians 5:9-13, 2Corinthians 2:6-8, Ephesians 4:15-24, Galatians 6:1, James 5:19-20)

Jesus lists the errors of the Church that displease Him in the letters of Revelation 2, 3. He also promises a blessing for heeding His warnings and the rest of the words of the book, as well as a severe consequence for those who add or take away from it. (Revelation 1:3, 22:7, 22:18-19) We would do well to pay attention to the repeated exhortations to stay awake and keep watch so that we will be ready for His return. (Matthew 16:6, 24:42-51, 25:13, 26:41, Mark 8:15, 13:33-37, 14:38, Luke 12:15, 12:35-40, 21:8, 21:34-36, Acts 20:25-31, Romans 13:11-14, 16:17-19, 1Corinthians 15:33-34, 1Thessalonians 5:1-11, Galatians 5:13-6:1-2, 1Timothy 4:16, 2John 1:6-11, Revelation 3:2-3, 16:15)

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘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.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” Mark 7:6-9

Someone may say, well God was referring to Israel’s mistakes, not ours, but:

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 (See also 2Timothy 3:16-17)

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. Colossians 2:8-19

Today also happens to be three years from the date on which I began this blog.

kit: Paint Job by Kristmess Designs

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