Will You Join in my Struggle?

Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:30 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.15.30.NLT

Do we care enough to join in the struggles of other believers?

I have to admit that for me,  the answer is – “Not often enough,  but I’m learning to change.”

In our Friday night small group,  I’ve explained that one of our key goals is becoming a closely knit group that cares about each other. Not just a group that prays the grocery list of prayer requests,  but that digs into the emotions and spiritual struggles of each others’ situations both together in action and together in prayer – so that we mourn together and we celebrate together.

Unity in the body of Christ,  I have to believe is less about the facts and details of our theology and more about being of one mind and direction, seeking God’s will as communicated in the Word of God, being draw closer to the Lord in our walks, and in turn closer to one another. And when we are in unity seeking first the Kingdom of God and righteousness, all those other things, those things that Christ explains to the Pharisees are the lesser things – they will be added to us.

Doesn’t He tell us that love fulfills the law? Doesn’t He tell us that there is no law against the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Doesn’t He tell us that we should keep in step with the Spirit and not walk in the flesh?

So why is there so much bickering and argument over these lesser things, over the details of the law? Why are men so interested in learning about God in their minds but refusing to love in their hearts?

And someone might say, but what if I love someone or something that the Lord doesn’t love? And I say, how can this be unless it is sin,  unless it is evil?

And they will say,  but how can I know if someone is evil? And I say,  the Lord tells us that our enemies are not flesh and blood, that He does not wish that even one should perish, that we should love and pray for even those men and women whom we think are our enemies. Not to pray for their evil or wickedness to prevail,  God forbid! But that we pray that they come to know Christ closer and be delivered from those unseen forces that are influencing their lives because of the sin they have not yet released from their clutches.

Sinners cling to sin, that’s what we as men and women of flesh and blood do until it is cast out – until He who is in us overcomes it. But until then, we hold onto it,  we even try to hide it from ourselves. We act foolishly as if we can hide it from God,  like Adam and Eve in the garden. So we all need to be made aware of sin wherever it exists in our lives, and we need to pray for deliverance through His strength,  not just our own striving. We need to be opposed to sin, both in our lives and the lives of others – not so that we can consider ourselves perfect or expect others to be perfect – but so that we can do our part to minimize sin’s affect on ourselves and others.

You see,  God gives us divine instruction because He knows what is best. He wants to protect us from those things in the world that will harm us spiritually and eternally, and lead us into the life that is most rewarding. Now I must mention, that sometimes, worldly rewards, pleasures, and treasures can lie in direct opposition to us obtaining those eternal treasures. The divine instructions are about eternal treasure, not about the temporary things of this world. But the amazing thing is that once we set our eyes upon the eternal,  He provides for the temporary as well.

So this is the understanding that we want each to come to. And it isn’t a logical conclusion that we have calculated in our minds. It is not a theological proof that we are looking to exercise and manipulate within the world for our own profit and gain. It is a divine wisdom and understanding given to those who are unveiled Children of God, who are seeking His will, and not our own.

And it is foolishness to the wise of this world,  and even to the religious, because it isn’t about things that can be measured and compared between men. It isn’t even about something that we can fully lay claim to for ourselves until this race is at its end and we kneel before the one we call Lord.

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Matthew 7:21-23 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.7.21-23.NLT

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things.
If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. 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 3:12-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.3.12-21.NLT

It is the most important realization of our lives – that we are not worthy,  and neither are they – but that God in His mercy and grace extends His love to us, who will believe,  and who will follow,  and who will lay down their lives and be raised to a new life in Christ, running this race to the end,  understanding that we are temporary travelers in a strange land, headed along the narrow path back to our Father’s house, where He awaits with open arms.

I’m not concerned with the party. I’m not concerned with the celebration. I’m not concerned with the house that He’s prepared with many rooms. I’m not concerned with the riches and rewards.  I’m seeking my Father’s arms. Set toot eyes upon your destination, friends. Choose today what you are seeking,  for you will receive your heart’s desires – but will your heart’s desires be what you want in the end?

And if we want these things for ourselves,  shouldn’t we want them for others? If we say we love Him,  shouldn’t we love like Him. So go, get to know your brothers and sisters personally, and grow together during this temporary journey, and prepare yourself to return to His arms.

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

Our whole life

Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.
Romans 6:13 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.6.13.NLT

What have we held back in our lives from God? What part of our lives have we kept of limits from the touch of God? Have we, allowed Him into some areas,  while leaving Him out of others?  Are we picking Him up at times,  but also leaving Him on the shelf sometimes? Do we tell God that we’ll spend time with Him later while we go about our day content with our own choices and decisions and will being fulfilled?

We are blessed with an amazing opportunity to commune with God. He will come and abide with us –

“If you love me, you will  keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  
“I will not leave you as orphans;  I will come to you.  Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
John 14:15-18, 23-24 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.14.15-24.ESV

How often do we trade this great blessing and become satisfied with being separated from God? Giving up our opportunity to abide with the, Lord and instead settling with hearing about Him through someone else –

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”
Exodus 20:18-19 ESV
http://bible.com/59/exo.20.18-19.ESV

Don’t let your fear of God or your interest in the temporary things of this world distract you from the blessing of His presence, of His annointing, of His constant guidance and participation in your life. He knows the best path and purpose for your life today. Are you keeping in contact with Him? Are you walking in the Spirit, meditating upon His Word as the divine instruction for your thoughts,  your actions,  and your words?

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Matthew 16:24-26 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.16.24-26.ESV

We let ourselves get into a hurry,  and unfortunately we forget God. It humbles me when I understand that I’ve let that happen. But He is my advocate and He offers me forgiveness even in those slip ups.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
1 John 2:1-6 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.2.1-6.ESV

I am not perfect yet,  but I’m also not going to be content remaining the same, without growth and change and spiritual maturity taking place in my life. I don’t want my Jesus to be just words or empty religious rituals a few times a week –  I want to live and walk and talk with Him constantly. I want Him to touch every part of my life.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.  Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Philippians 3:12-21 ESV
http://bible.com/59/php.3.12-21.ESV

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:11, 14-15, 17-21 ESV
http://bible.com/59/2co.5.11-21.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.  By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
1 John 4:7-13 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.4.7-13.ESV

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:18-21 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.4.18-21.ESV

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.  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. 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. 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 5:13-26 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.13-26.ESV

From Prisoner to the Flesh, to Student of the Word

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
Acts of the Apostles 20:24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/act.20.24.NLT

My life without Christ at the center was worth nothing. The wrong and selfish choices that I made brought bad consequences for myself and for those around me. My carnal nature had me chasing sensuality and all kinds of temptations that never satisfied me long term,  but only left me wanting more. I provided an example to others around me that led them into darkness and into their own bad consequences.

“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes.  A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
Luke 6:43-45 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.6.43-45.NLT

Continue reading “From Prisoner to the Flesh, to Student of the Word”

Fear and Trembling doesn’t sell well

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Philippians 2:12-16 ESV
http://bible.com/59/php.2.12-16.ESV

So what’s the latest, popular preacher on the television selling these days? My guess is that it isn’t “fear and trembling”. That doesn’t seem to sell many books or tickle many ears these days.

Continue reading “Fear and Trembling doesn’t sell well”

October 30, 2015 – Dinner on Fridays

How do I know if I am being encouraging and helping someone with accountability or if I am being judgemental,  Grumbling, or gossiping?

Encouragement – building each other up
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3870&t=KJV

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing

.

Accountability – Equipping one another for spiritual warfare
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2008&t=KJV
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2675&t=KJV

Luke 17:3 ESV
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,

James 5:16 ESV
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Galatians 6:1-3 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.6.1-3.ESV

Judgmental – Spiritual pride of measuring another’s imperfections
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2919&t=KJV

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:12-13 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jas.2.12-13.ESV

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned;  forgive, and you will be forgiven;  give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” 
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
Luke 6:37-38, 41-42 ESV
http://bible.com/59/luk.6.37-42.ESV

Grumbling – Complaining about the circumstance that God has you in
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4727&t=KJV
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1112&t=KJV

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
James 5:7-9 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jas.5.7-9.ESV

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Philippians 2:14-16 ESV
http://bible.com/59/php.2.14-16.ESV

Gossip – Corrupting talk about others
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G988&t=KJV
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4550&t=KJV

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV
http://bible.com/59/eph.4.29-32.ESV

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:  haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,  a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,  a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV
http://bible.com/59/pro.6.16-19.ESV

Here is the pearl – it matters which way we are looking. We are to be looking forward, not looking back. Focused on hope and commitment for now and the future, nor dwelling on the past.

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Philippians 3:12-14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.3.12-14.NLT

He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:59-62 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.9.59-62.NLT

But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.
Genesis 19:26 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gen.19.26.NLT

We have to stop looking back. Forgive for the past – and encourage and hold accountable going forward. If we slip up, we confess to our accountability partner(s) and pray together for forgiveness and that we will repent and build each other up in that area of weakness – that we will see His strength come to bear and overcome those chains.

If we are harping on something a person has done in the past – we need to forgive and make it right between ourselves and that brother or sister – looking for a fully restored relationship encouraging one another starting now. We are to be peacemakers.

If we are complaining about something,  we are allowing the Spirit of offense to build up bitterness in our hearts over the past,  instead of focusing on what can’t be changed,  we should focus on what we can do now and for the future to improve the situation.  We are to be overcomes – challenge minded,  not problem minded.

If we are talking about what someone did in the past, instead of about the hope we have for their future – we are both participating in gossip and we are not holding out hope and faith that the Lord will answer our prayers for them to be alive and growing in Christ.

Words have power,  and they are important.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad,  for the tree is known by its fruit.  You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.  I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:33-37 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.12.33-37.ESV

Pressing On

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14 ESV
http://bible.com/59/php.3.12-14.ESV

I have not yet made it to my final destination,  nor do I trust my heart to not be deceitful with its trickery that has kept my eyes veiled from the truth in the past and living in error and contrary to the will of God. You see,  I do not trust myself. But I have full confidence in the promises of Christ Jesus.

It does not do me much good to look back over my past, because like Paul, I count it all as loss. I hope that each day I am either finding something new in my flesh that needs to be cut out,  cast away,  healed,  and replaced by the Holy Spirit – or that I am finding something new and glorious and wonderful to ponder upon and put into loving and faithful action as a part of my life. And to tell you the truth,  the both are one and the same. This is pressing on. This is seeing the race to its finish. This is participating in the Kingdom of God as we walk with Him,  talk with Him,  but most importantly as we listen for His guidance.

We want an easy set of rules. Even those of us who think ourselves not wicked want an easy set of rules to follow like a checklist,  so we might know our standing with God and measure ourselves and call ourselves righteous. But how few instead want to stay in communion with God? How many run from the brilliance of His glory ashamed at our own state compared to His?

But little children, do not be, afraid. You are His. He calls you His own special creation,  set aside to bring Him honor and glory. Take your eyes of of yourself and set them upon Him and be in awe and amazement and wonder. Do not be like that example of unfaithfulness who fell from God’s grace because He set His eyes on Himself and the idea of lifting himself up in glory. You are not asked to seek glory for yourself or expected to measure up to the glory of God. He bids you only to come to Him and let His light shine through you.

Press on in a life following His example.

Press in for His guidance and touch upon your life.

Do not think yourself holy or righteous of your own account – but know that His righteousness is available to you. Examine yourselves and find those areas where the enemy might still lay claim to any territory in your life. Seek your guidance and strength in the Word of God to see that temptation bound, to see that filth cut out and swept from this temple for the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, to know that it will be cast down into the eyeball pit to not return,  and to sing praises to God for the victory for it is when He inhabits our praise that we are filled and made while again so that there is no room left open for the enemy to restore their chains or reclaim that territory.

This is the race that we run to its completion. This is the ministry of reconciliation to Christ. It is a moment by moment,  day by day,  decision to see our lives filled with victory in the Spirit of Christ who lives in us, and not diseased in defeat to the temptations and passions of the flesh. This is seeking God’s advice,  guidance, strength, mercy,  and yes – even His glory – not to claim it as our own,  but to marvel in it and tell others of His mighty works in our lives.

What mighty work is God going to do in your life today,  friend? How much praise are we going to get to give Him today? Isn’t it amazing that we have a whole life ahead of us,  knowing that He has even greater things ahead in store for us? We just need to remain faithful to the end. One step at a time. Be faithful in the small things,  in this decision at hand, walk it out WITH GOD and not on your own – and get used to repeating that – and you’re on your way home on the narrow path,  friend.

I love you. Stay the course. See you when we get home, brothers and sisters. It’s not that far now,  just over that hill, just past the trials, and the destination is well worth the travel,  especially when we consider our traveling companion. Talk with Him,  walk with Him.

To whom am I yoked?

I enjoy reading 2 Corinthians 6 in the light of 1 Corinthians 5:

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ESV
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

We aren’t to be UNEQUALLY YOKED. This doesn’t mean that we abandon or judge the unbelievers around us in our lives:

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ESV
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Because we are to be the light of the world. We are supposed to love and help unbelievers have an opportunity to find their way to this love and salvation. We are to “go out” to the lost with this Good News. We aren’t to separate ourselves physically from the lost, nor are we supposed to love them less or treat them badly because they are unbelievers. We are to hold fellow believers accountable, not kick a lost man while he is down. Our enemies are not flesh and blood. So even if our true enemies are using a person against us, aren’t we instructed to behave in this manner towards even those being used against us –

Luke 6:27-36 ESV
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

But that does not mean that we become yoked, tied together, with unbelievers and their worldly ways. That does not mean that we should be actively participating in those things we know that we should not be doing. We are supposed to share light, but resist any temptation to sin. If we love Christ, if He is our Lord and Savior, we seek His Kingdom –

Matthew 5:13-16 ESV
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

So if someone is lost and does not yet have Christ, it benefits them greatly to remove themselves from the worldly ways and people around them that are influencing them. It benefits them greatly to surround themselves with others that are believers that love God, and love others, and who are actively seeking and serving God in their lives.

And if someone is saved and has Christ alive in their life, it benefits them greatly to yoke themselves with other believers – the more faithful the better, because even they will stumble at times. Because we work together to build each other up – so that we are filled with His strength, and His Truth, and His Way – so that when unbelievers come to join us, we can help bear their burdens – and the Christ inside us (this Holy Spirit) will be strong in lifting and bearing this cross through both ourselves and our brothers and sisters.

We should each through Christ bear the share of these burdens – and when we are working together in the unity of Christ, we find that the burden is light, because we are yoked to Christ, and they are yoked to Christ, and He is the foundation that bins us together.

Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Philippians 2:1-3 ESV
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Amos 3:3 ESV
“Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?

Ephesians 4:3 ESV
Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

If we yoke ourselves to Christ (trust in Him), then through Him we will be yoked to our true brothers and sisters. We place our trust the Lord, not in men of flesh and blood.

Psalm 146:1-10 ESV
Praise the Lord ! Praise the Lord , O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord !

Psalm 118:6-9 ESV
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.