The Love of God

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
I John 4:9 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/1jn.4.9.NKJV

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6‭-‬7 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/isa.9.6-7.NKJV

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Romans 5:6‭-‬11 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/rom.5.6-11.NKJV

No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
John 3:13‭-‬21 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/jhn.3.13-21.NKJV

Trust Him

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
I John 3:21‭-‬22 NKJV

If our heart does not condemn us…

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and 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 Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that 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 that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
I John 1:5‭-‬10 NKJV

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
Romans 3:10‭-‬28 NKJV

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Romans 4:3 NKJV

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:1 NKJV

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Psalms 32:1‭-‬2 NKJV

We have confidence towards God…

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord , And whose hope is the Lord .
Jeremiah 17:7 NKJV

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.” Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:12‭-‬13 NKJV

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14‭-‬16 NKJV

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
I John 4:17‭-‬19 NKJV

And whatever we ask we receive from Him,

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
I John 5:14‭-‬15 NKJV

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
Matthew 18:19 NKJV

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
Matthew 21:21‭-‬22 NKJV

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
John 15:5‭-‬8 NKJV

because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he 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 and said to 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. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
John 14:15‭-‬26 NKJV

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:5‭-‬8 NKJV

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
John 3:17‭-‬21 NKJV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
II Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5:16‭-‬26 NKJV

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1‭-‬2 NKJV

Sin, Repentance, Righteousness, Judgement

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of 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 observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in  it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:21-25 NKJV

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death. We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under  the  sway  of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. – I John 5:16-21 NKJV

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let  yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you  do these things to  your brethren! Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. – I Corinthians 6:1-11 NKJV

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are  dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. – Revelation 22:14-15 NKJV

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. – Ephesians 5:1-7 NKJV

But we know that the law is  good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. – I Timothy 1:8-17 NKJV

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. – Hebrews 12:12-17 NKJV

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the  testimony  of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 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 NKJV

Worship in Love


“keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
– Jude 1:21 NKJV


TRUTH

“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”

Psalms 95:8-11 NKJV

[We were once in the wilderness, a part of the rebellion, an enemy of God – interested in our own ways and desires and not His.]


HOPE

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to  be the propitiation for our sins.

I John 4:7-10 NKJV

[God loves us. In fact, this is our ONLY hope,  that God loves us, because we have proven to ourselves and to others many times in our actions and our words that we are imperfect, flawed sinners. It is only through His love,  His sacrifice that we find salvation, that we learn love.]


FAITH

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

– Psalms 95:1-2,6 NKJV

[Our response to His love, to His mercy towards a people undeserving of His love is grattitude, is thanksgiving, is praise. Praise not just in occassional religious ceremonies, but in our daily lives,  even moment to moment throughout our day.]


LOVE

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

I John 4:11-16, 20-21 NKJV

[Yes, He teaches us love through His life,  through His Word,  and through His Holy Spirit that lives within us believers. And our purpose is to demonstrate this love, to testify to this love,  by accepting it and pouring it out onto those around us. We are called – yes, we are even commanded – to Love God,  and to Love others. And this isn’t a burden, but a blessing.]

PRAYER

Lord God, plunge me into your love so that I can love you with all that I am. I know that I’m asking you for the very thing I’ll give right back to you,  but my heart feels small and shrunken;  I struggle to live you well or even love at all. Immerse me in your love so that my heart, soul, strength, and might find their true home, and I will find the room in my heart to love my neighbor. Amen. (WSC 42)

Your Reasonable Service

What is “your reasonable service” to Almighty Father God, to Lord Jesus Christ, to the Holy Spirit?

Is it to live in the ways of the world?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which  is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/rom.12.1-2.NKJV

Choosing to turn towards sharing in the sufferings of Christ, also means turning away from the ways of the world.

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
Hebrews 11:24-26 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/heb.11.24-26.NKJV

Faith is not an idea or a belief in concept only. Is a woman impregnated by just thinking about a man,  or is it only when she surrenders and submits to him that a seed is planned? Isn’t it the same with the Holy Spirit of Christ who lives in us believers?

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of 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.
James 1:21-22 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/jas.1.21-22.NKJV

Even if that worldliness, that compromise, that conforming to the ways of the world,  offers you promises of wealth and prosperity in this world – are you so easily satisfied with your temporary treasure here, or are you seeking those things eternal?

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:13-16 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/heb.11.13-16.NKJV

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
I John 2:15-17 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/1jn.2.15-17.NKJV

And our choice matters:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
Matthew 16:24-27 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mat.16.24-27.NKJV

What does  it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does  it profit? Thus 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 without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
James 2:14-19 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/jas.2.14-19.NKJV

What will your reasonable service be today, for Christ who was slain on the cross for you?

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it —  lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,  saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?  Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?  Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.  So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Luke 14:27-33 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/luk.14.27-33.NKJV

“For the kingdom of heaven is  like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.  Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his Lord’s money.  After a long time the Lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’  His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’ “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his Lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 25:14-30 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mat.25.14-30.NKJV

Love, Love, Love

It’s very easy for us to become critical of each other, noticing and pointing out flaws, maybe even talking about others behind their backs. But this is not love, nor is it letting Christ shine forth through our lives.

For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
Galatians 5:14-15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.14-15.NLT

Even if we see someone who is trapped in sin that the Word of God promises that they will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God and that will lead them to hell – do you realize that we are given warnings about not falling into the trap of spiritual pride when dealing with these situations? That we are meant to be acting in love towards one another with hopes not just to catch and expose imperfections,  but to help others overcome and be freed from the sin that binds them.

When we stop look for good in people and start examining them for faults,  we are bound to find them. And when we recognize sin in the lives of others, it is usually because we are familiar with that evil spirit ourselves. Whether we are looking in love, forgiveness,  and mercy, hoping to serve our neighbor – or whether we are looking with condemnation, accusation, and judgement,  hoping to catch our neighbor – it’s an important difference.

There is one that waits for the opportunity to devour people because of their sin – and his wolves are very good at biting and tearing at one another, weakening the prey and preparing them for death, slaughter, and destruction.  But there is another who heals,  who offers forgiveness, who reconciles us to be more like Himself – and His followers are very good at loving one another, and building each other up, and sharing one another’s burdens. And the difference between the two comes down to perspective. One’s followers look down on the others in pride,  while the followers of Christ look at others equally and in unity. These followers of Christ see neighbors and friends in need of the very same unmerited and undeserved grace that their own walk of faith is materializing and bearing witness to in their life of serving and loving others.

So we have to ask ourselves,  are we motivated by love towards others or do we enjoy the pride of being critical toward others? Are we aiming our examining eye inward at ourselves,  using the Word of God a surgical instrument or are we using it as a sword to slay our brothers and sisters? Do we know how to target the real enemy who is not flesh and blood, or have we comforted our thirst with the blood of the innocent instead of tasting of the living waters that fill our lives to overflowing?

It is easy for me to point out warnings and scriptures that identify those lost and trapped in sin and headed to destruction – and if all that I offer is a warning, is a statement of the impending danger, and I don’t offer the Good News of Jesus Christ that leads to Hope,  Faith,  and Love – can I say that I’ve shared Truth or just that I’ve lifted my stone in the air?

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.6.9-10.NLT

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.19-21.NLT

Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.
Revelation 22:15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rev.22.15.NLT

You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
Ephesians 5:5-19 NLT
http://bible.com/116/eph.5.5-19.NLT

For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.
1 Timothy 1:9-11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1ti.1.9-11.NLT

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/heb.12.14.NLT

A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.
John 8:35 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.35.NLT

And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,  ‘where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.’
Mark 9:47-48 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mrk.9.47-48.NLT

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.  When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’
Luke 13:23-27 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.13.23-27.NLT

For again I say, when righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and turn to evil, they will die.
Ezekiel 33:18 NLT
http://bible.com/116/ezk.33.18.NLT

No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”
Luke 13:5 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.13.5.NLT

Yes,  and these warnings are true because the Word of God does not lie.

I cry out warnings in love each day. I’m sowing the seed of this Good News that Jesus Christ can come into your life, and change you. But many are too wrapped up in the ways of this world and don’t really want their eyes to be opened yet. I know,  because that used to be me.

So I just keep sharing truth and hope and faith and love – trusting that those that are His will hear His voice before it is too late.

And some are lost and need hope (a turn to God – change of attitude).

And some are babes and need faith (a focus and dedication and ongoing growth in His will).

And some are among leaven and need love (a remembrance of His undeserved, unmerited mercy and grace as opposed to spiritual pride).

And many are headed for destruction and need truth (it is truly a narrow path with ditches on both sides – in misunderstood grace as a license to sin – and in misunderstood works as a stairway to heaven).

When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
Luke 3:7-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.3.7-9.NLT

But if wicked people turn from their wickedness and do what is just and right, they will live.
Ezekiel 33:19 NLT
http://bible.com/116/ezk.33.19.NLT

2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 ESV
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,

Ezekiel 18:21-23 ESV
But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

Acts 17:30 ESV
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

Proverbs 28:13 ESV
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

James 4:8-10 ESV
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Acts 2:38 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Do we know what’s important?

For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.
Galatians 5:6 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.6.NLT

What is important?

Faith expressing itself in love.

In fact,  the Word of God tells us that the greatest of faith, hope, and love is love. I would say that clearly demonstrates that love is VERY important.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.13.13.ESV

And after speaking about all of the spiritual gifts and the types of members of the body of Christ,  the Word of God tells us of a more excellent way as it transitions from 1 Corinthians 12 to 1 Corinthians 13.

But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12:31 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.12.31.ESV

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.13.1-3.ESV

And most of us don’t even know what love really looks like because the world tries so hard to sell us on lesser idols to set our eyes upon. The world wants to trick us into setting for anything less than the Holy Spirit of God. Can you understand how the enemies of God would be quite satisfied for us to never see past empty religion and grasp hill of a relationship with God, a spiritual bond with our Lord and Savior?

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 4:24 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.4.24.ESV

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:7-8 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.4.7-8.ESV

But do we even know what real love looks like?

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:9-10 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.4.9-10.ESV

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.13.4-8.ESV

And how do we know that we are His? How do we know if His Holy Spirit lives in us? How do we know if we are alive in Christ?

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
1 John 4:11-13 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.4.11-13.ESV

So it is faith that brings us to this point that we might receive this salvation and know God and turn our lives to follow Him –

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 ESV
http://bible.com/59/heb.11.6.ESV

And it is by love that we know which master it is that we serve. For there are those who serve religion and idols that fall short of the glory of God instead of worshipping God in Truth and Spirit.

“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.  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?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.7.21-23.ESV

We should ask ourselves,  what does the fruit of my life look like if we want to be sure that we know who it is that we serve.

So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
Matthew 7:17-20 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.7.17-20.ESV

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.13.34-35.ESV

And the fruit of the Holy Spirit is very distinguishable and recognizable –

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.22-23.ESV

This is why I emphasize the important difference between knowing ABOUT Jesus Christ and KNOWING Jesus Christ. This is not a mental exercise, it is not a religious exercise,  but it is a renewing of our heart and minds that comes when faith expresses itself in love.

Yes,  I would say that is quite important. I will tell you that your answer to that question has eternal consequences. Isn’t it clear to us now through the Word of God what is important?

Shouldn’t we ask ourselves what is important to us? Don’t we need to be honest with ourselves and fall at His feet, asking Him to have mercy on us and pray that He will teach us to love like, He loves – to fill our lives with his Holy Spirit – to awaken us from our sleep so that we might live and grow and be fruitful?

Go.
Live.
Be fruitful.
See His Love multiply.
This is the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Let’s take a walk…

…will you stay with me to the end?

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SINNING = LAWLESSNESS = DEATH

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.
1 John 3:4-10 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.3.4-10.ESV

UNRIGHTEOUS = NO HEAVEN

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God

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DEFILED = POISON FROM EVIL HEART

Mark 7:20-23 ESV
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

SIN = WORKS OF THE FLESH

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.19-21.ESV

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SLAVE TO FLESH/SIN = DEATH

Ephesians 5:5 ESV
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.

SLAVE TO SIN = NOT A SON = DEATH

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:34-36 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.8.34-36.ESV

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WASHED = JOINED = SANCTIFIED
DOMINATED BY SIN = SEPARATED

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
1 Corinthians 6:11-12, 14, 17 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.6.11-17.ESV

WASHED = LIFE
DEFILED = DEATH

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Revelation 22:14-15 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rev.22.14-15.ESV

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PASS THE TEST = LIFE
FAIL THE TEST = DEATH

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.
2 Corinthians 13:5-6 ESV
http://bible.com/59/2co.13.5-6.ESV

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CONTROL & DISCIPLINE= PRIZE
LACK OF DISCIPLINE = DISQUALIFIED

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.9.24-27.ESV

LIVE BY FLESH = DEATH
LIVE BY SPIRIT = LIFE

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. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 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.
Romans 8:13-17 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.8.13-17.ESV

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LAW = KNOWLEDGE OF SIN

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;  no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.” 
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;  in their paths are ruin and misery,  and the way of peace they have not known.” 
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:10-20 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.3.10-20.ESV

THE LAW DOES NOT JUSTIFY
FAITH & LOVE = OBEDIENCE
GODLY LOVE FULFILLS THE LAW

You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.  You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Galatians 5:4-8, 13-15 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.4-15.ESV

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BELIEF RECEIVES GRACE
GRACE PRODUCES LIFE

“For  God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.3.16.ESV

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GRACE = FREE GIFT
GRACE = JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
FAITH UPHOLDS THE LAW

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Romans 3:21-25, 27-28, 31 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.3.21-31.ESV

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BATTLE = FLESH DESIRES VS SPIRIT
HOLY SPIRIT LED = GRACE COVERED

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Galatians 5:16-18 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.4-18.ESV

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GRACE PRODUCES FRUIT
FRUIT = LOVE

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5:22-26 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.4-26.ESV

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LOVE RESULTS IN OBEDIENCE

“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.  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
John 14:15-17, 21 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.14.15-21.ESV

BELIEF = PEACE IN CHRIST
BELIEF = TRIAL IN THE WORLD

Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:31-33 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.16.31-33.ESV

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TRIAL SEPARATES TRUE FROM FALSE

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
2 Timothy 3:1-9 ESV
http://bible.com/59/2ti.3.1-9.ESV

Strong in Love

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.16.13-14.NLT

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We face spiritual attacks upon our lives daily – but once we have Christ in us,  these “attacks” shift into being tests, into challenges – and once we set our hope firmly upon Jesus Christ as our Savior, we can recognize them as opportunities.

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The world might ask, in what kind of mad,  twisted realm do trials,  sufferings and persecution become opportunities? And we can explain to them that our own nature, we can understand the normal reaction of the flesh towards these things – we understand that being hurt by another,  the flesh cries out for payment of revenge in return. But we also have another voice that is active and alive in our lives, which tells us that even when it is to our clear detriment in this life,  even when it will not clearly benefit us in any way,  that we have the opportunity to choose to bring love,  peace, patience,  joy,  kindness,  goodness,  faithfulness,  and self control into this world even as a response to the evils of this world.

And when we do,  and when it is clear that it was not for our own benefit or gain or manipulation – what clearer and undeniable testimony might we raise up so that another might realize the truth of Christ who lives in us? How can someone who considers themselves or enemy and considers themselves an enemy of God deny our pouring out blessing upon their lives as repayment for the pain and hurt and disappointment they have dealt or to us? But isn’t this the very example of Christ,  that He loved us even when we were still sinners – that He went to the cross for each and every one of us who might choose to turn to Him and bear His name upon our hearts and our lives?

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So we have a great encouragement for standing guard against the attacks of the enemy,  but we have a great opportunity to see them with open eyes for what they really are – moments on this earth in our own lives where we might be like Christ in the garden at Gethsemane – where we might say,  take this cup from me Lord if you will, because it is bitter for me to drink, but it is better that your will be done than my own.

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And what is amazing is that once we are on other side of the trial,  once the Lord has moved that mountain and cast it into the sea because of our faith as small as a mustard seed that proved us faithful and clinging to Him firmly – we find that He is faithful and true and that He does bring us through and provide for us and bless us. And as we learn to do this,  moment by moment,  decision by decision,  as we serve the one that we have chosen to be our master,  we are molded,  we are shaped to be more and more like the thing that influences and directs our actions,  more like whatever is master over our lives.

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So we remain on guard because we should know who is in control. Are we still a slave to sin that is holding us captive and controlling or lives?  Then we need to find freedom from our captors,  we need to ask Christ to break those chains, and we need to walk out of that prison cell as we are sent on our mission to bring Christ to the world by being Christ in the world. We are the body of Christ,  being led by the Holy Spirit, bringing His good work and love and truth into this world – or we are dead flesh, waiting to be tossed into the flames with the sin that we have chosen to worship by allowing to have mastery over our lives.

If you admit that you have sinned, that is good,  because otherwise there is no truth in you and you would be a liar in the deep depths of darkness. But do you realize that there is one who offers you a spirit of power and strength and confidence over sin?  Do you realize that the Holy Spirit is not a voice of timidity or fear or guilt or shame – but one of deliverance,  of renewal, of victory over sin and temptation and the tricks of the enemy?

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So how do we walk in strength when we are so weak ourselves in the flesh? We choose to walk in His authority and power,  we choose to accept His annointing upon our lives. We seek for His will to be done in our lives, knowing that whatever the cost, He is the only prize worth receiving. 

Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.  But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
Luke 10:19-20 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.10.19-20.NLT

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord ’s favor has come. ”
Luke 4:18-19 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.4.18-19.NLT

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.13.34-35.ESV

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:7-12 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.4.7-12.ESV

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:14 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.14.ESV

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 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.13.8-10.ESV

Constructive Criticism

I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:4-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.1.4-9.NLT

Paul wrote this letter to the church at Corinth in order to correct and instruct them in some areas where they needed additional guidance. But he doesn’t just start out immediately rebuking and condemning them, calling them fake Christians, crushing their hope – he first  offers them encouragement for the things that they can hold onto as assurance of their salvation.

It isn’t that hard to find faults in other people. It isn’t hard to find faults in the people you will find in churches. We are very familiar with those faults c we find in others because we ought to recognize them from our own lives. This is the great danger in judging others, because we forget that we too need that undeserved gift of grace to make us right with God. In fact,  many people have been hurt by those who are inside the church buildings participating in religious activities,  sounding religious,  acting religious,  but having no true love for their brothers and sisters. Some would say that the number one reason for atheists today is the hypocrisy of those who call themselves Christians – and they are probably right.

Loving. Forgiving. Merciful. Righteous. Faithful. True. Patient. Peaceful. Meek. Bold. Gentle. Wise. Humble.

Yes,  these are words about you,  child of God. More specifically,  they are words about who you have been given the power to be, due to Christ who lives in you. And I commend you in some of these. And I recognize in myself that I have grown in some of these. But now,  I urge you to press on,  and to press in towards God who is drawing you near to Him. Do not become complacent in your confidence that you are His,  but let it store in you a hunger to be even closer to Him in your walk. Let it urge you to. Walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

For if we are growing,  we can know that we are alive, and we can enjoy this relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. But unfortunately,  how many of us are seeking a relationship with God,  versus how many just want Him “on our side” like a genie or a spare tire when we need the help that only He can provide? And I applaud you for not being like this,  friends of Christ, but for loving and seeking the Lord with your hearts.

But there are some who act like a pimp, perverting and pimping out the gospel truths and twisting them into nothing less than a feel good, self help guide for manipulating others for their own personal gain,  prosperity, and as an excuse / license for their remaining trapped deep in sin and darkness.

I am thankful that this is not you, child of God. But we must continue to press in further, to love one another with even more passion, to seek God with even more dedication and fervor, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in even a wider reach, to prepare ourselves for His return.

And why do we do this? It isn’t because we consider ourselves perfect – no,  that is that liar of pride distracting you from the truth, sinner. It isn’t because we are striving to earn treasures – do you not know that He is your portion and prize – have many blind guides not yet claimed the only inheritance worth having? It is because how can we accept such a gift,  such an undeserved gift, and not be grateful,  and not respond to His love in kind?

And how does He tells us to demonstrate our grattitude? How does He tell us to demonstrate our love for Him in return?

“If you love me, obey my commandments.
John 14:15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.14.15.NLT

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.  Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.
John 14:23-24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.14.23-24.NLT

1 John 4:11 ESV
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
1 John 4:20-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1jn.4.20-21.NLT

If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.
1 John 3:17-19 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1jn.3.17-19.NLT

Matthew 22:36-40 ESV
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Galatians 5:1, 4-5, 13, 16-17, 19-26 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.1-26.NLT

Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful.
And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment. And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.
In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings.  But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.) But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction.
What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion. When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots. They are like wild waves of the sea, churning up the foam of their shameful deeds. They are like wandering stars, doomed forever to blackest darkness.
Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.
Jude 1:3-16 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jud.1.3-16.NLT

But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,  and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.
Jude 1:17-25 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jud.1.17-25.NLT