One Message

I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.
Acts of the Apostles 20:21 NLT

One Message…

With no partiality…

The NEED for:

1) repenting from sin and turning to God

2) having faith in our Lord Jesus

One Message

Paul lays out in the book of Galatians the gospel of “Christ alone” and that the Holy Spirit alive in us is the key. And he warns about any other gospel that is based on works, traditions, etc.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
Galatians 1:6‭-‬9 NLT

So there is One Truth, not up for debate or twisting, or denial without consequences:

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 NLT

No Partiality

Paul lays out in Romans that God does not show favoritism or partiality – that our blood lines, our church participation, even our own works (which are filthy rags in the eyes of a holy and righteous God), are not going to win us undue favoritism or preferential treatment from God — and that He is just that the wicked are punished and those that seek him will be given eternal life.

Those who seek the wages of sin (death) will receive death, and those who seek the glory and honor of God will receive life.

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
Romans 2:4‭-‬11 NLT

Pot, meet Kettle

We are nothing without the Lord, so why do we presume upon ourselves to look down upon others — wicked man, selfish prideful me, repent and fall humble before your maker!

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord .

Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord , who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols.

O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them. You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand — you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.

Then I said, “Look, I have come. As is written about me in the Scriptures: I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”

I have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O Lord , well know. I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Lord , don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles surround me— too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage. Please, Lord , rescue me! Come quickly, Lord , and help me.

May those who try to destroy me be humiliated and put to shame. May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace. Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!” But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”

As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay.
Psalms 40:1‭-‬17 NLT

Whom shall I fear?

You don’t need to be afraid a a man that carries a gun lawfully,

You don’t need to be afraid of a terrorist that sneaks in a bomb illegally,

You don’t even need to be afraid of the man with duct tape, picture hanging wire, pliers, baseball bat, serrated and filet knives, roll of plastic, coveralls, gloves, gallon of bleach, gallon of muriatic acid, and a pad of paper with your name and address in the trunk of his car,

But you ought to give thought to Almighty God who you will once day stand in front of to give account account for your every word and every deed. That’s a court room you don’t want to go into without someone to speak on your behalf.

He might not have commercials running constantly with a catchy jingle and memorable phone number, but you’re going to want to go ahead and give Jesus a call now, because your court date has already been set.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:28‭-‬31 ESV

“Being Right”

Sometimes we can be bold, zealous and passionate in our own minds about what we think is “right” and when someone else just as passionate stands in front of us with a different perspective on the moment, we can tend to go to war against them instead of seeking peace.

For many of us, there is this tendency to seek fault in others in an effort to defend our own position and justify our own hurtful words or excuse our own improper actions towards others. This is not right, it is not helpful, and it is so centered upon self, like a spoiled little child demanding their own way, instead of being a patient, pensive, humble and mature adult that might step outside the situation, consider what is happening in this moment, in this interaction, in this relationship between two people and seek what brings healing and will most glorify God, not what makes us walk away feeling glorified ourselves.

In debates and in wars, men and women alike seek to walk away having won. By nature, we want to stand against our brother or sister to prove them wrong and prove ourselves right, so that we can walk away unchanged and they can stumble away hurt and defeated as proof that “I was right”. But this is not the purpose of confrontation, Christian.

Confrontation offers the opportunity for us to trust in a few of God’s explanations about how He works. A few that are helpful to me when I encounter a confrontation:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, SO ARE MY WAYS HIGHER THAN YOUR WAYS and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8‭-‬9 ESV

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For WE DO NOT WRESTLE AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Ephesians 6:11‭-‬18 ESV

“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.
Matthew 5:6‭-‬12 ESV

If possible, SO FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, LIVE PEACEABLY WITH ALL. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:18‭-‬21 ESV

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And THE LORD’S SERVANT MUST NOT BE QUARRELSOME BUT KIND TO EVERYONE, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:23‭-‬26 ESV

I can be hard headed, stubborn, demanding my own way, and quarrelsome by nature, because I can be prideful and insistent upon “getting my own way” le a spoiled, rotten little child. But I have someone who walks with me now that teaches and gives me along a path of healing, when I am willing to listen. And when I do listen and let Him bring healing into the confrontation to see peace and joy fall upon the circumstances, my eyes are opened to joyfully gain a brother and a friend, instead of us blindly thinking that we are each other’s enemies.

Let’s pray today that this Word of God will be written upon our hearts, that our minds will be renewed by it, that the Holy Spirit of God will manifest greater in our lives than our own weaknesses, that peace, patience, kindness, and all those things of His nature will be evident in our confrontations to the point that we will always surrender to His higher ways, so that God gets the victory and the glory. And when we do, the riches of what is built up is so much greater than the spoils left after tearing things down in battle. Thank you, Lord for living us first. Please teach us even more how to love you and serve you by loving one another. Amen.

Vanity and Offense

It’s so funny how I’ll post something on social media and someone will think that I’m reacting/ responding to one of their posts in some kind of passive aggressive manner, when I haven’t even read their post in the first place. And then, I’ll see someone else’s post later and wonder if one of my own posts triggered or inspired them. But I think the real issue that is demonstrated in all of this is just how vain we can be.

Most of my friends aren’t cowards. If they have something to say to me, or about something I’ve said, most of them respect me enough to reply honestly to my posts. And those who grumble and gossip and make up unfounded rumors in their heads about me instead of talking with me probably aren’t my friends anyway, right? But does that mean I’m not their friend when I’m tempted to do the same in my own mind?

Yes, we can be very vain, acting as if everything had to be about “me” — as if everything centers around “me”. Oh how foolish we can be!

The next time that we’re ready to be offended over something on social media that is just another person sharing honestly what is on their best and mind — maybe we will remember how vain it is for us to assume that was aimed at us intentionally. Maybe we might listen, consider, and ask whether or not there is any value in what they are saying.

As Christians, maybe we should be aware of that lion waiting to devour us who has names like vanity, pride, offense, etc pinned to him that aren’t ours to bear.

Proverbs 19:11 ESV

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 ESV

Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.

Luke 17:3-4 ESV

Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Intercession Counters Satan’s Activity

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
Hebrews 7:25 NLT

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.
1 John 2:1 NLT

Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:33‭-‬39 NLT

I encourage you to read this related article: https://www.biblword.net/jesus-intercedes-for-us/

Rightly Divide

“Conservative” friends —

If we EACH would more often open our homes to those in need —

And EACH go to serve and help others who don’t look like us, should like us, or love like us —

Instead of just writing a comfortable check “out of our excess” to calm our conscience that we “did something” —

Our cries about what is “right” and “just” and “secure” would not clang so much like the annoying bell of hypocrisy —

And that bell might not testify to the truth of many who are only protecting their own comfortable prosperity and luxury, while excluding others from basic necessities.

And my “liberal” friends —

What right do you have to demand out of the hard working man to give to the lazy man what you refuse to demand from the lazy man to give for himself?

Instead of “reacting” to the worst we recognize in others and swinging as far in opposition to try and “right the boat” with political divisiveness, how about we all just get into the middle where there is reasonableness and room for discussion. I’m not asking you to compromise your beliefs or integrity, but many are so far off the reservation in each direction that people are falling off the edge of the boat and drowning in radically stupid and hypocritical views that just make absolutely no sense to a sane person.

You who know the Lord and rightly count yourself a bought and sold slave to allegiance in neither of these two “parties” —

Remain vigilant in your prayers, active in your service, bold in your faith, and humble in your rest.

Imminent Departure

They transported my grandpa Bill from in home hospice here at our house last night to in patient care at the hospice house. We had a family meeting beforehand, prayed, cried, and loved on each other. In the words of one of the experienced nurses, is looks like his departure is imminent.

Even as we prepare for his “imminent departure”, the Bible tells us to be eagerly ready for Jesus’ “imminent return” or for our own “imminent departure” because we don’t know the day or hour, and we aren’t promised tomorrow.

I wonder how differently we might love each other, how much easier we might forgive, how much longer we might hug, how much more thoughtfully we might serve, how much generously we might give if the IMMINENT IMPORTANCE OF NOW was greatly focused in our mind?

And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.
Titus 2:12‭-‬15 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/tit.2.12-15.NLT

Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.
Philippians 3:17‭-‬21 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/php.3.17-21.NLT

Judging

There is a judging wrongly and a judging rightly.

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
John 7:24 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.7.24.ESV

And we are encouraged to bring each other back from wandering away from God:

My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
James 5:19‭-‬20 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/jas.5.19-20.NLT

We are called to be discerning about those who claim to be believers:

I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”
1 Corinthians 5:11‭-‬13 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/1co.5.11-13.NLT

Because not everyone who makes such a claim with their words actually knows, loves, and serves God:

‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ ”
Matthew 15:8‭-‬9 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.15.8-9.NLT

We are to learn to discern rightly, learn to rightly apply the Word of God, and for good purpose:

Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues?
1 Corinthians 6:2‭-‬5 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/1co.6.2-5.NLT