Getting from A to Z

My text message to our men’s group tonight:

I’m in awe and wonder at how today’s message from Revelation 5 parallels what I see in my studying tonight in these chapters – 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 4.

David really knew how to sing a new song to the Lord. He sang to the Lord, not just on the mountaintops but especially in the valleys — when He was faced by all kinds of enemies who sought either to destroy him or cast lies and accusations against his reputation.

The enemy will try to accuse you in hopes that you will forget who you are in Christ — but do NOT leave him room for any grip or foothold in your life.

Yes, like in Psalm 118, we should, in our hour of distress, call out to Him, and trust (even KNOW) that the Lord himself is our strength and our song.

Do you walk in the authority and power of Christ who lives in you, beloved? Do you understand this mystery of His love for you, humble servant? Have you felt the reassuring discipline and chastizement of Hebrews 12:1-13 that has verse 8 confirming that you are no illegitimate, deceived child of darkness?

REMEMBER… We partook of the body and the blood today as a reminder that we are partners both in the sufferings and in the Kingdom, children of God. So rejoice in your sufferings — you disciples of Christ, you martyrs who die daily to self, you songbirds who cry out to the Lord in your hour of distress — and may the enemy see the power of the grace and blessing and favor that the Lord pours out on His creation, through a people willing to humble themselves and draw near to the God who loves them and has set them apart for Himself.

Let the face of the Lord shine upon both His beloved and His enemies, as that consuming fire that is our God — burns away the tares but does not consume the wheat that carries the seed of His Good News wherever the wind blows.

So if you read that and wonder what in the world I am talking about, I thought that I could not just hope you follow the bread crumbs in my message – but that I would walk step by step through where this came from:

A.

You can catch Brannon Poore’s message on Revelation 5 from this morning here:

And this is the passage of scripture he was discussing:

Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it.

Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.

He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.

And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”

Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered— to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”

And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.
Revelation 5:1‭-‬14 NLT

So when I lay down to do some studying tonight, after an amazing outreach event where around 150 from the church came out to worship and sing the praises of God in a local apartment complex parking lot (where I’m blessed with the opportunity of leading a weekly Bible study), the following verse was waiting for me to dig into when I got home:

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord , will keep me safe.
Psalms 4:8 NLT

Not wanting to take a single verse and interject my own thoughts and opinions into it to support whatever might “sound good to me” about that verse on its own, I looked at the whole chapter:

Answer me when I call to you, O God who declares me innocent. Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people ruin my reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations? How long will you continue your lies?

You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord . Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”

Let your face smile on us, Lord . You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord , will keep me safe.
Psalms 4:1‭-‬8 NLT

And I was wowed (as usual) by the depth of the Word of God, where it is clear to me that David in Psalm 4 clearly walked through:

1) HOPE: Cries out to God in his time of distress

2) TRUTH:Speaks to the enemies about the wrong they are doing to Him

3) FAITH: Speaks to the enemies about God’s faithfulness to hear his call

4) WISDOM/LOVE/SPIRIT: Speaks wise warnings to himself about rightly handling the situation

5) REJOICE: Praises God

And I wanted to know more about this chapter, which led me to these commentaries for consideration (of which I preferred the second) after performing a Google search simply for “psalm 4 commentary”:

https://www.easyenglish.bible/psalms/psalm004-taw.htm

https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide2017-Psa/Psa-4.cfm

And I wanted to know more about the phrase:

Answer me when I call to you

Which led me to several different chapters to review based on: https://www.google.com/search?client=ms-android-verizon&ei=uVzIWeneLIqPmQHxgYKgAw&q=i+called+out+to+the+lord&oq=i+cslled+out+to&gs_l=mobile-gws-serp.1.0.0i13k1l2j0i13i30k1.14384.20962.0.22719.17.16.1.0.0.0.311.3213.0j5j9j1.15.0….0…1.1j4.64.mobile-gws-serp..1.16.3212.3..35i39k1j0i67k1j0i131k1j0i20i264k1j0i10k1j0i13i10k1j0i22i30k1j0i8i13i30k1.185.prDy_XJdydQ

Out of 2 Samuel 22, Psalm 120, Psalm 18, and Psalm 120, they were all beautiful, but 2 Samuel 22 castigated me and left me in awe and wonder:

David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang:

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence. I called on the Lord , who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.

“The waves of death overwhelmed me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord ; yes, I cried to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears.

“Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the heavens shook; they quaked because of his anger. Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dense rain clouds. A great brightness shone around him, and burning coals blazed forth. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightning flashed, and they were confused. Then at the command of the Lord , at the blast of his breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.

“He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. The Lord rewarded me for doing right; he restored me because of my innocence. For I have kept the ways of the Lord ; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. I have followed all his regulations; I have never abandoned his decrees. I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. The Lord rewarded me for doing right. He has seen my innocence.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You rescue the humble, but your eyes watch the proud and humiliate them. O Lord , you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.

“God’s way is perfect. All the Lord ’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord ? Who but our God is a solid rock? God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

“I chased my enemies and destroyed them; I did not stop until they were conquered. I consumed them; I struck them down so they did not get up; they fell beneath my feet. You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet. You placed my foot on their necks. I have destroyed all who hated me. They looked for help, but no one came to their rescue. They even cried to the Lord , but he refused to answer. I ground them as fine as the dust of the earth; I trampled them in the gutter like dirt.

“You gave me victory over my accusers. You preserved me as the ruler over nations; people I don’t even know now serve me. Foreign nations cringe before me; as soon as they hear of me, they submit. They all lose their courage and come trembling from their strongholds.

“The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock! May God, the Rock of my salvation, be exalted! He is the God who pays back those who harm me; he brings down the nations under me and delivers me from my enemies. You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies; you save me from violent opponents. For this, O Lord , I will praise you among the nations; I will sing praises to your name. You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed, to David and all his descendants forever.”

2 Samuel 22:1‭-‬51 NLT

But in my distress I cried out to the Lord ; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.
Psalms 18:6 NLT

I took my troubles to the Lord ; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.
Psalms 120:1 NLT

In my distress I prayed to the Lord , and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. Though hostile nations surrounded me, I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord . Yes, they surrounded and attacked me, but I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord . They swarmed around me like bees; they blazed against me like a crackling fire. But I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord . My enemies did their best to kill me, but the Lord rescued me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things! The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things! I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the Lord has done.
Psalms 118:5‭-‬17 NLT

In all of it, I was reminded both of the promise of the Lord to those in distress:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 NLT

And the revelation in the beginning of Hebrews 12 that seems to hinge on verse 8 that either assures me or denies me from calling out to the Lord with that same confidence as David:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord ’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
Hebrews 12:1‭-‬13 NLT

And is quite beautiful that once I’ve stepped past this opening in Hebrews 12, and that I can confirm that I am indeed disciplined and chastened by my heavenly Father, that I can receive the guidance in the rest of the chapter that calls me to listen to God.

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. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears. You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.” No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel. Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.
Hebrews 12:14‭-‬29 NLT

Fear and awe. FIRE SHUT UP IN BONES, MUST SHARE!

Z.

May the Lord bless you and write His Word upon your heart and lead you along the path of righteousness for His name sake, you who bear the seal of His name and His spirit. Amen.

Cool, Refreshing Waters

May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
Numbers 6:24‭-‬26 NLT

Now on the last and most important day of the feast, Jesus stood and called out [in a loud voice], “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! He who believes in Me [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Me], as the Scripture has said, ‘From his innermost being will flow continually rivers of living water.’” But He was speaking of the [Holy] Spirit, whom those who believed in Him [as Savior] were to receive afterward. The Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (raised to honor).
JOHN 7:37‭-‬39 AMP

Oh, the miracle that occurs in our lives when Jesus has truly been “raised in honor” in our hearts! Oh, the rapture of life that occurs when life springs forth where there was once dry, desert lands and the new has come and the old is passed away! Love reigns supreme in the heart, life, thought, word and deed of the true believer and follower of Christ! Because it is not the weak striving of the flesh and hands of men, but the very spirit and anointing of God leading His beloved children in this new WAY, this narrow path, this martyrs life of dying to self, loving others, and glorifying God!

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:43‭-‬48 NLT

You are to be perfect! What a glorious promise! And what a compelling call! You are to be perfect, indeed, you who truly believe and have placed all your trust in the Lord! You who seek the wisdom of the Lord, the purification of your hearts, the will and prose of God for your life today. But as the Word also tells us, if you indeed seek wisdom and to live a godly life, following Christ – do not waver, do not turn back, do not deny, do not be foolish in letting yuppie opinions, feelings, or desires rule you if you are indeed free in Christ Jesus. Do not return to the vomit, but instead draw close to the Lord, and He will draw close to you.

Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. Doing wrong leads to disgrace, and scandalous behavior brings contempt. Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook. It is not right to acquit the guilty or deny justice to the innocent. Fools’ words get them into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating. The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips. Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart. Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor. Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish. The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit? Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge. The first to speak in court sounds right— until the cross-examination begins. An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:2‭-‬8‭, ‬12‭-‬15‭, ‬17‭, ‬19‭-‬21‭, ‬24 NLT

Let your waters be hot or cold – refining or refreshing – good and profitable for the Kingdom of God. Not lukewarm, useless, complacent, and compromised by the world and the flesh. And let this be because you are indeed fully surrendered and believing, and because you are called and sent with a purpose for the Kingdom of God, and because it is the very Holy Spirit and nature of God (the anointing of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior) breathed into your dry bones to walk in newness of life.

Come, drink from the fountain, and go tell the world of the good news you have found in Jesus Christ who is God revealed to His people, come to His people, dwelt WITH His people, who now dwells IN His people- in that temple not built with the hands of men, but created to receive and glorify God and shine forth as a reflection ofHis radiant glory flowing with the stream that both refreshes and purifies – that icy yet fiery river that comes down available to all who will hear and believe, from the presence of God made manifest and undeniable to a world with no excuse, but with every opportunity to return.

He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “ I Am the Messiah!” Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him. Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.” But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.” “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other. Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.” Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”
John 4:4‭-‬42 NLT

Will you react in awe and wonder like this Samaritan woman who has been given refreshing water from the well of life?

Go and tell of His glory, go and tell the good news that Jesus Christ is Lord and that all who believe and are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit to newness of life shall not perish, but have eternal life in Christ!

Are you unsure? Do you doubt? Hear the Word of God:

And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. ”
John 3:14‭-‬21 NLT

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross —not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. So we have these three witnesses — the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.
1 John 5:1‭-‬13 NLT

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me. Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.
Philippians 1:21‭-‬30 NLT

Have you heard the whole counsel of the Word of God — that is sharper than a two edged sword — and that cuts deep into those HIDDEN PLACES that you have not yet fully surrendered?

Have you heard the Lord say:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [by perversion], nor those who participate in homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers [whose words are used as weapons to abuse, insult, humiliate, intimidate, or slander], nor swindlers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God. And such were some of you [before you believed]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior]. Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me]. Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will do away with both of them. The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body [to save, sanctify, and raise it again because of the sacrifice of the cross]. And God has not only raised the Lord [to life], but will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Am I therefore to take the members of Christ and make them part of a prostitute? Certainly not! Do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “T he two shall be one flesh .” But the one who is united and joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him . Run away from sexual immorality [in any form, whether thought or behavior, whether visual or written]. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the one who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.
1 CORINTHIANS 6:9‭-‬20 AMP

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage–our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another.
GALATIANS 5:16‭-‬26 AMP

“Behold, I (Jesus) am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to the merit of his deeds (earthly works, faithfulness). I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End [the Eternal One].” Blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) are those who wash their robes [in the blood of Christ by believing and trusting in Him–the righteous who do His commandments], so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs [the godless, the impure, those of low moral character] and the sorcerers [with their intoxicating drugs, and magic arts], and the immoral persons [the perverted, the molesters, and the adulterers], and the murderers, and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying (deception, cheating).
REVELATION 22:12‭-‬15 AMP

Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another–practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. But sexual immorality and all [moral] impurity [indecent, offensive behavior] or greed must not even be hinted at among you, as is proper among saints [for as believers our way of life, whether in public or in private, reflects the validity of our faith]. Let there be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse [obscene or vulgar] joking, because such things are not appropriate [for believers]; but instead speak of your thankfulness [to God]. For be sure of this: no immoral, impure, or greedy person–for that one is [in effect] an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God [for such a person places a higher value on something other than God]. Let no one deceive you with empty arguments [that encourage you to sin], for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience [those who habitually sin]. So do not participate or even associate with them [in the rebelliousness of sin]. For once you were darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [live as those who are native-born to the Light] (for the fruit [the effect, the result] of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn [by experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [and letting your lifestyles be examples of what is most acceptable to Him–your behavior expressing gratitude to God for your salvation]. Do not participate in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness, but instead expose them [by exemplifying personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character]; for it is disgraceful even to mention the things that such people practice in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light [of God’s precepts], for it is light that makes everything visible. For this reason He says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine [as dawn] upon you and give you light.” Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil. Therefore do not be foolish and thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is wickedness (corruption, stupidity), but be filled with the [Holy] Spirit and constantly guided by Him. Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, [offering praise by] singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks to God the Father for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
EPHESIANS 5:1‭-‬21 AMP

and you have forgotten the divine word of encouragement which is addressed to you as sons, “M y son , do not make light of the discipline of the Lord , A nd do not lose heart and give up when you are corrected by H im ; F or the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom H e loves , A nd H e punishes every son whom H e receives and welcomes [ to H is heart ].” You must submit to [correction for the purpose of] discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? Now if you are exempt from correction and without discipline, in which all [of God’s children] share, then you are illegitimate children and not sons [at all]. Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we submitted and respected them [for training us]; shall we not much more willingly submit to the Father of spirits, and live [by learning from His discipline]? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for only a short time as seemed best to them; but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose]. So then, strengthen hands that are weak and knees that tremble. Cut through and make smooth, straight paths for your feet [that are safe and go in the right direction], so that the leg which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather may be healed. Continually pursue peace with everyone, and the sanctification without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of God’s grace; that no root of resentment springs up and causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; and [see to it] that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that later on, when he wanted [to regain title to] his inheritance of the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for repentance [there was no way to repair what he had done, no chance to recall the choice he had made], even though he sought for it with [bitter] tears.
HEBREWS 12:5‭-‬17 AMP

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin that does not lead to death, he will pray and ask [on the believer’s behalf] and God will for him give life to those whose sin is not leading to death. There is a sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for this [kind of sin]. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death [one can repent of it and be forgiven]. We know [with confidence] that anyone born of God does not habitually sin; but He (Jesus) who was born of God [carefully] keeps and protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
1 JOHN 5:16‭-‬18 AMP

For if we go on willfully and deliberately sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice [to atone] for our sins [that is, no further offering to anticipate], but a kind of awful and terrifying expectation of [divine] judgment and the fury of a fire and burning wrath which will consume the adversaries [those who put themselves in opposition to God]. Anyone who has ignored and set aside the Law of Moses is put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much greater punishment do you think he will deserve who has rejected and trampled under foot the Son of God, and has considered unclean and common the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and has insulted the Spirit of grace [who imparts the unmerited favor and blessing of God]? For we know Him who said, “V engeance is M ine [retribution and the deliverance of justice rest with Me], I will repay [the wrongdoer].” And again, “T he Lord will judge H is people .” It is a fearful and terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God [incurring His judgment and wrath].
HEBREWS 10:26‭-‬31 AMP

This is the message [of God’s promised revelation] which we have heard from Him and now announce to you, that God is Light [He is holy, His message is truthful, He is perfect in righteousness], and in Him there is no darkness at all [no sin, no wickedness, no imperfection]. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness [of sin], we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations]. If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. [His word does not live in our hearts.] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]. If we say that we have not sinned [refusing to admit acts of sin], we make Him [out to be] a liar [by contradicting Him] and His word is not in us.
1 JOHN 1:5‭-‬10 AMP

Jesus answered him, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a person is born again [reborn from above–spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of God.”
JOHN 3:3 AMP

If you [really] love Me, you will keep and obey My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor–Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever– the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you continually and will be in you.
JOHN 14:15‭-‬17 AMP

Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17 AMP

Have you heard the truth?

Jesus said to him, “ I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
JOHN 14:6 AMP

Do you have ears to hear the truth?

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them. For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate morally weak and spiritually-dwarfed women weighed down by [the burden of their] sins, easily swayed by various impulses, always learning and listening to anybody who will teach them, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres [the court magicians of Egypt] opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, unqualified and worthless [as teachers] in regard to the faith. But they will not get very far, for their meaningless nonsense and ignorance will become obvious to everyone, as was that of Jannes and Jambres. Now you have diligently followed [my example, that is] my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, steadfastness, persecutions, and sufferings–such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, but the Lord rescued me from them all! Indeed, all who delight in pursuing righteousness and are determined to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be hunted and persecuted [because of their faith]. But evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced [holding tightly to the truths], knowing from whom you learned them, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings (Hebrew Scriptures) which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus [surrendering your entire self to Him and having absolute confidence in His wisdom, power and goodness]. All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately–behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 TIMOTHY 3:1‭-‬17 AMP

For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth, because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them. For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. For even though they knew God [as the Creator], they did not honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened. and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their own hearts to [sexual] impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], because [by choice] they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading and vile passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural [a function contrary to nature], and in the same way also the men turned away from the natural function of the woman and were consumed with their desire toward one another, men with men committing shameful acts and in return receiving in their own bodies the inevitable and appropriate penalty for their wrongdoing. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness. They are gossips [spreading rumors], slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors [of new forms] of evil, disobedient and disrespectful to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful [without pity]. Although they know God’s righteous decree and His judgment, that those who do such things deserve death, yet they not only do them, but they even [enthusiastically] approve and tolerate others who practice them.
ROMANS 1:18‭-‬21‭, ‬23‭-‬32 AMP

What is your reaction to the whole counsel of the Word of God?

See the two examples of “Now when they heard this”:

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart [with remorse and anxiety], and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what are we to do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent [change your old way of thinking, turn from your sinful ways, accept and follow Jesus as the Messiah] and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ because of the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
ACTS 2:37‭-‬38 AMP

And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has bestowed on those who obey Him.” Now when they heard this, they were infuriated and they intended to kill the apostles.
ACTS 5:32‭-‬33 AMP

How do you react to the Word of God when it shines light on that which is hidden — when it compels you to return to God and turn away from your sinfulness and love of the things of the world?

Lord God Almighty, forgive us our sins and heal our doubt — empower us with a greater measure of faith — compel us by the gospel to surrender fully to your will and purpose so we might glorify your name more and more, higher and higher, greater and greater each day. Help us to shine brightly by this anointing oil of your Holy Spirit that covers us and burns like a raging fire but does not consume us, and that might lead those lost in darkness into the light. May the smoke of our never ceasing, groaning prayers, lifted from this table set before our enemies, kindled in spirit and truth, be a pleasing aroma to you, and be an encouraging signal to our spiritual siblings to stay the course of this narrow path. And may all of this not be the filthy rags of our own weak striving, but your grace through Faith, reconciling us to rise up and walk and stand in the authority of Christ Jesus who lives in us to see the enemy overcome and defeated by the Blood of the Lamb, by the Word of our testimony, and by pour not loving pour lives even unto death, because we love you, Oh Lord God, oh merciful Savior, oh righteous and holy disciplined and teacher and defender of those who trust in You. Praise God Almighty, for His promises are true and His love endures forever. Amen.

Light from the Oil

Mia’s devotion this morning was:

So we discussed the Holy Spirit that comes as an anointing oil once we have realized the value of Christ and fully surrendered our whole lives to Him — not just as a promised Savior, but as a present and abiding Lord. Once He is our prize and portion, once His Kingdom treasure is rightly first in our hearts above all things, once He has revealed Himself to us and we know that nothing in this world compares, it alters us, because He is leading us in a new life as children of God, as active citizens in His Kingdom come, His will being done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Jesus explained the Kingdom of God like this:

Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him saying, “Explain [clearly] to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and [as for] the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the weeds are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the weeds are gathered up and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend [those things by which people are led into sin], and all who practice evil [leading others into sin], and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping [over sorrow and pain] and grinding of teeth [over distress and anger]. Then the righteous [those who seek the will of God] will shine forth [radiating the new life] like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears [to hear], let him hear and heed My words. “The kingdom of heaven is like a [very precious] treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field [securing the treasure for himself]. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, and upon finding a single pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet which was lowered into the sea, and gathered fish of every kind, and when it was full, they dragged it up on the beach; and they sat down and sorted out the good fish into baskets, but the worthless ones they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw the wicked into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping [over sorrow and pain] and grinding of teeth [over distress and anger]. “Have you understood all these things [in the lessons of the parables]?” They said to Jesus, “Yes.” He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things that are new and fresh and things that are old and familiar.”
MATTHEW 13:36‭-‬52 AMP
http://bible.com/1588/mat.13.36-52.AMP

Jesus does NOT say ” If you go and do these things you will earn my love.” No,

Jesus told us that He is the light of the world:

Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, “ I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
JOHN 8:12 AMP
http://bible.com/1588/jhn.8.12.AMP

Jesus told us about coming into the light:

This is the judgment [that is, the cause for indictment, the test by which people are judged, the basis for the sentence]: the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For every wrongdoer hates the Light, and does not come to the Light [but shrinks from it] for fear that his [sinful, worthless] activities will be exposed and condemned. But whoever practices truth [and does what is right–morally, ethically, spiritually] comes to the Light, so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are–accomplished in God [divinely prompted, done with God’s help, in dependence on Him].”
JOHN 3:19‭-‬21 AMP
http://bible.com/1588/jhn.3.19-21.AMP

The Word teaches if you know and believe His great love, His life that was laid down for you — if you treasure the Word and truly love God, it is because you have believed that God truly is THE treasure above all other treasures. You have realized and come out from the darkness into light, you are risen from and the old of sin and death to the newness of life in Christ.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. But all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ [making us acceptable to Him] and gave us the ministry of reconciliation [so that by our example we might bring others to Him], that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them]. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation [that is, restoration to favor with God]. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; we [as Christ’s representatives] plead with you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness].
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17‭-‬21 AMP
http://bible.com/1588/2co.5.17-21.AMP

And that makes us willing to lay down all other things to follow after Him, to share Him with others, to obey and serve Him. Because what else is there of worth in comparison if you have TRULY come to know the Lord Jesus Christ who is the ONE WAY, ONE TRUTH, AND ONE LIFE?

Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another–practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. But sexual immorality and all [moral] impurity [indecent, offensive behavior] or greed must not even be hinted at among you, as is proper among saints [for as believers our way of life, whether in public or in private, reflects the validity of our faith]. Let there be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse [obscene or vulgar] joking, because such things are not appropriate [for believers]; but instead speak of your thankfulness [to God]. For be sure of this: no immoral, impure, or greedy person–for that one is [in effect] an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God [for such a person places a higher value on something other than God]. Let no one deceive you with empty arguments [that encourage you to sin], for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience [those who habitually sin]. So do not participate or even associate with them [in the rebelliousness of sin]. For once you were darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [live as those who are native-born to the Light] (for the fruit [the effect, the result] of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn [by experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [and letting your lifestyles be examples of what is most acceptable to Him–your behavior expressing gratitude to God for your salvation]. Do not participate in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness, but instead expose them [by exemplifying personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character]; for it is disgraceful even to mention the things that such people practice in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light [of God’s precepts], for it is light that makes everything visible. For this reason He says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine [as dawn] upon you and give you light.” Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil. Therefore do not be foolish and thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is wickedness (corruption, stupidity), but be filled with the [Holy] Spirit and constantly guided by Him. Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, [offering praise by] singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks to God the Father for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
EPHESIANS 5:1‭-‬21 AMP
http://bible.com/1588/eph.5.1-21.AMP

Rebels turned Ambassadors

He bore the sin of rebels.

He bore our sin.

He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the Lord ’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord ’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.
Isaiah 53:3‭-‬12 NLT

We were those rebels, now we are His ambassadors, pleading with the world, “Come back to God!”

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17‭-‬21 NLT

Spurgeon has some revealing thoughts on rebellion that I found here this morning: https://books.google.com/books?id=gIe_swAX4QIC&pg=PA63&lpg=PA63&dq=spurgeon+rebel&source=bl&ots=DMvST_07VA&sig=gwPyDheMZRlvrACk6dOkIpn982M&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjG_ejvzLPWAhXHKyYKHTFDD1AQ6AEIRzAK#v=onepage&q=spurgeon%20rebel&f=false

And I found what I thought was a great perspective this morning in this link:

https://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=224

Some of you will object to my saying this, but it is my opinion that in Christianity we have over-emphasized the psychology of the lost sinner’s condition. We spend time describing the sinner’s woes and the great burden he carries until we almost forget the principal fact that the sinner is actually a rebel against properly constituted authority! That is what makes sin SIN! We are rebels; we are sons of disobedience. Sin is the breaking of the Law, and we are fugitives from the just laws of God while we are sinners. We are fugitives from divine judgment. But thankfully, the plan of salvation reverses that and restores the original relationship so that the first thing the returning sinner does is confess, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Thy sight, and I am no more worthy to be called Thy son. Make me as one of Thy hired servants!” Thus, in repentance, we reverse that relationship and we fully submit to the Word of God and the will of God as obedient children!

It is in our recognizing our prodigal state and in our returning to God, hoping to be servants, that we find that He calls us believed sons. It is when we find that there is no good in us at all outside of Christ that we have spiritual eyes to see the truth about ourselves — not so that we can set our eyes upon the sin of the world and wonder at their destruction, but that we can tremble at the weight of our own sin but be comforted and reassured that He is faithful to forgive even us, chief among sinners, as Paul considered himself.

This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:15‭-‬16 NLT

Do you consider yourself chief amongst sinners? Or do you consider yourself worthy by your own works?

Beware the leaven:

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer : ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9‭-‬14 NLT

Lord God Almighty, our glorious Father in Heaven, who had looked down upon His people with grace and mercy in order to bring us into righteousness and holiness through the reconciling Blood of the Lamb, hear our cries. You alone are worthy, Lamb of God, Son of God and Son of man, you who have paid the price so that we might know the truth, so that we might receive and Love the very spirit of God that comes and teaches and guides us in a restored relationship with the One True, living God. We accept not only your forgiveness, loving Savior. But we long for your Lordship, your disciplining and correcting guidance over our whole lives to lead us along the narrow path of bearing our cross daily, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, loving others even our enemies, testifying to our faith in you with our lives not just our words, and loving not pour own lives even unto death. Lead us, oh Lord our God, into all things righteous and holy and true and merciful and mighty in your spirit. Amen.

Have you heard?

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. – Isaiah 40:28 NLT

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
1 John 1:5‭-‬10 NLT

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Romans 8:1‭-‬2 NLT

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
James 5:16‭-‬18 NLT

What is truly offensive?

God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
John 1:6‭-‬13 NLT

Jesus gives light.

I saw a meme recently that was based on a quote from Roger Biden, who was apparently a professor at Oxford (from what I read about him in this article that Google provided about some pretty sad charges of oppression and racism): https://www.theguardian.com/education/2005/apr/08/highereducation.raceineducation I can’t be 100 percent sure that this is the accurate source of the quote, but that is who the Internet appears to attribute it to. So here it is:

Jesus. Mocked and rejected then, mocked and rejected now.

But what is worse than the lost and the unbelieving mocking something they cannot understand because it has not yet been revealed to them? Someone who knows the truth of the gospel and still denies Christ as the way to righteousness — by rejecting the command they were given to live a holy life.

And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”
2 Peter 2:20‭-‬22 NLT

So there are those who will be shocked and offended by this meme and quote put out by an atheist — who should instead be shocked and humbled before God because they have been rejecting God’s command to live a holy life.

And don’t think that I’m standing high claiming innocence myself. No, I’m convicted by this and I’m compelled to examine closely and honestly in this area as the Word says “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the Faith, test yourselves…”

And to this, I say thank you God for the good news of the gospel so that we might repent while there is time — from any foolish, prideful stance as if we know it all and could mock the justice and commands of God.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. – 1 John 1:8‭-‬10 NLT

Let’s be aware of how we can recognize these false teachings and avoid them. If teaching allows for shameful immorality, we see in 2 Peter chapter 2 that these teachers are false and are slandering the truth. If they are making up clever lies to get a hold of your money, they are liars like their father the devil. If they follow their own twisted sexual desires, if they resist authority, if they are proud and arrogant, and indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight, the Lord opposes them, in fact His curse is upon them. Read 2 Peter chapter 2 for yourself. These are not my words, but are the Word of God. Be careful little ones, stay close to the truth and do not veer off the path.

‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’
Numbers 6:24‭-‬26 NLT

Filled or Fooled?

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. – Colossians 3:16 NLT

Time after time again in scripture, the anointing of the Holy Spirit is compared to anointing oil. Oil. This oil is not consumed, but it covers and spreads out, and clings to, and fills each little crack and crevice of what it touches. It transfers itself to everything it comes in contact with. It’s aroma was undeniable, and it even changed the way that things felt when they were touched. What was once rough and ragged now felt smooth and soft. Yes, this is how the presence of God in our lives, close and personal and present, changes us and our interactions with everything around us as well.

Oil. What happens if we further to put gasoline in our car and we run out and the car stops? We can walk to the store and buy some more gasoline and be back on pour way, right? But what if pour car runs out of oil and the engine stops because of no Oil? That’s a different problem altogether, and the car is probably headed tho the trash heap and we are probably looking for a new car altogether, right?

There are things we can go without and still survive, but this oil, this anointing presence of the Holy Spirit of God, without it filling our lives, we are headed to a 6 foot deep, worm invested scrap yard ourselves. But if we are filled, we habe much to tell about, much to teach about, much to sing and shout about, don’t we?

After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked. Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. ” – John 3:2‭-‬21 NLT

Maybe this doesn’t make much sense to you at the moment, but you’re curious because you’ve heard “religious people” talk about things like good, bad, law, rebellion, grace, godliness, etc. But all you’ve heard is talk, you just haven’t yet seen anyone actually walking out their lives in any real similarity to how they speak (or how you know the Bible says people should live if they indeed love God). Maybe you’ve wondered to yourself, “I love this Christ you speak of, but not this ‘twice the child of hell’ that some seem to testify to by their lives even as they call themselves by the name above all names.” Maybe you’ve seen the tares amongst the wheat wherever the religious gather. Maybe you’ve seen the synagogue of Satan intermingling amongst the children of God and you’ve longed for the true children of Abraham, the true church of God, the truly Holy Spirit filled and loved by God to “come our from her”, to be separated from the hypocritically and circumstantially and mockingly religious who are a stench in the nostrils of a holy and righteous God because they clearly never knew Him and He never knew them — He no more abided in them and supped with them than they ever loved and forgave and prayed for “their enemies”.

Yes, I understand. And I’m not calling you to join in with that sort, with that type, with those who seek the honor of men and who long to serve themselves and their own pride. No, let them have their religious ceremonies and dogma with God far away from their actual lives and safely boxed into a Sunday morning time slot, and let us have the Lord present and real and close and intimate in our moment to moment, because TODAY is the day of salvation, we are walking and living it.

Let us pray not just with our mouths, but from our thankful hearts, in spirit in truth. Yes, Lord, come fill us today to overflowing with that oil of yuppie presence that perseveres us to the end — by your power in us, which is greater than any enemy that dare oppose the army of the Lord. The victory is won, ordained before the creation of the heavens and earth, revealed in Jesus Christ, and testified to in the lives touched, healed, changed, redeemed, and restored by grace through Faith in Jesus Christ as both Savior and Sovereign Lord over our surrendered lives, as we die to self, sin and worldliness to live by the Holy Spirit, not by the flesh.

Some will say that we are foolish and “full of it” — and if we are fools, like Paul said, let us be “fools for Christ” — and if we are full of something, let us be “full of Christ”.

My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due. Dear brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself to illustrate what I’ve been saying. If you pay attention to what I have quoted from the Scriptures, you won’t be proud of one of your leaders at the expense of another. For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift? You think you already have everything you need. You think you are already rich. You have begun to reign in God’s kingdom without us! I wish you really were reigning already, for then we would be reigning with you. Instead, I sometimes think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor’s parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world—to people and angels alike. Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed. Even now we go hungry and thirsty, and we don’t have enough clothes to keep warm. We are often beaten and have no home. We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash—right up to the present moment. I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. So I urge you to imitate me. That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go. Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again. But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit?
1 Corinthians 4:4‭-‬21 NLT

100%

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” – Matthew 6:21 NLT

“It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” – Matthew 6:19‭-‬21 MSG

We desire what we truly treasure. We desire what we truly believe is of value.

Is it that hard to understand why so many end up fashioning a personal concept of God in the image of what is comfortable and easy for them too accept without having to change anything in their lives? Doesn’t it speak to the value they place on their own opinions, feelings, thoughts, in comparison to the value they place on God, on His Word, on His commandments, and on His promises?

And we say this as if we are holding up any outstretched pointing finger to point at a far away “them” as if it hasn’t been us who have forgotten what is truly valuable, precious, and eternal. But no, we too have to admit that we have fallen short in this area, because if we truly believed the truth about heaven and hell, about the wicked and the lost facing damnation and eternal separation from God, about Faith coming by hearing the Word of God, and about Faith being the only way that we can please God, and about God coming to live in us and through us to carry this Good News to the end of the earth to see the captives set free — wouldn’t we be a quite peculiar and different type of person than the rest who are content with piling up treasures and pleasures from this world?

What an interesting study that would be, to examine how much focus and effort and attention is spent chasing after things of this world rather than things of an eternal, spiritual, godly nature! Could we gain some insight into what it is we truly treasure? And thereby gain some understanding about what it is that we truly BELIEVE is valuable — in essence, where we have placed our Faith.

What an insightful endeavor that might prove to be, to measure and examine our Faith in God not by our knowledge or understanding, not by our denominational membership, not by our participation in religious ceremonies, but by an examination to seek out the evidence of God where we say out is that He lives – IN US. At least, that is the claim that Christians must make of they say they are saved, right — “raised to new life in Christ” we PROCLAIM. “Born again as a new creation, alive in the Holy Spirit of God” as Jesus Christ told Nicodemus in John 3 that must be true for anyone to ever enter into heaven, into eternal life.

Yes, this has been the claim of many mouths throughout the ages, but lying tongues cannot hide what confessing hearts reveal, right?

Let’s look at where our money is invested – in the things of God or in the things of the world?

Let’s look at where our time is invested – in the things of God or in the things of the world?

Let’s look at the content we consume – books, movies, radio, television – Is it equipping and preparing us for the purpose and calling God has for each of us to glorify His name and reach the lost with the Good News of Jesus Christ?

Let’s look at what comes out of our own mouths — is it blessing, or is it cursing — is it praises, or is it grumbling?

What can we say we have truly treasured today with this day given to us freely to spend as we see fit? Can we say that we have spent wisely or foolishly based on what we PROFESS is truly valuable to us?

If a man says that He sees no value in God and He lives like hell, there is no reason to doubt his convictions — but what about a man who says the Lord is his prize and portion but who loves and chases and lays in His sin time and time again? We might say that a man like this had the hope of one day seeing the value of the Lord, but if his desire is continually for the things the Word of God says are not only worthless and fading, but are a dangerous and deadly distraction from what truly is valuable — what can be said about what such a man really believes is valuable in this very moment.

Oh, I pray that we rrepent while there is still time. And let’s don’t think that trying to change our outward behaviors to give stronger evidence to our verbal claims is the way. No, that might last for a moment as we strive in our weakness and fail time and time again — but we need that wisdom that comes from above, that gift of a measure of faith that overcomes our disbelief, that spirit and nature of God poured out upon His people, that new heart with new desires because the law of Christ is written on it, that life sealed by the healing and redeeming touch of Christ.

Yes, we need something supernaturally so far beyond theological study or debate that it dumbfounds the wise just like it dumbfounded the religious teacher, Nicodemus. Yes, we need a teacher and guide and priest way above the likes of mere men.

Do you know this teacher today?

Do you value Him?

Do you treasure Him?

Do you desire Him so deeply that all else seems as dust and ashes being burned away?

Ask truly, answer truly, examine truly.