Know Him

I could know all the answers “about” someone based on reading the opinions/ perspectives of others but never actually “know the person”.

It is the same with God.

Seek to know “about” God, but you cannot stop there — knowing the common answers and rebuttals and opinions and assumptions about God are not the finish line. Seek to KNOW GOD — not just intellectually, not just logically, not just superficially, and not just religiously — but personally, intimately, closely.

To KNOW SOMEONE brings along through the RELATIONSHIP an ability to be so closely familiar with who they are — to be a friend who knows them like they know themselves — so much so that you could even recognize opinions and assumptions and statements made by others that you can recognize quickly that are “accurate” or that “just don’t fit” the character and person of your FRIEND.

Jesus Christ is not some dead, silent, historical figure that you are to “read about” and “emulate” and “grasp intellectually”.

He is alive, He speaks, He heals, He leads, He teaches, He touches, He comforts, He corrects, He is a FRIEND to those who will be friends with Him. In fact, He is closer than a friend.

Child of God, you won’t just “read about” Jesus, but you will read and pray and speak with Him and He will speak with you because He gives your ears to hear and eyes to see where you were once blind and dead to the things of God. Does that sound a bit illogical, crazy, scary, like something beyond what you can explain? Yes, that is what we are talking about — an Almighty, Supernatural, “His ways are higher than your ways” God.

Child of God, you won’t have to strive to “emulate” his teachings and actions, but He will come live in you and through you, guiding you in the way, changing your heart’s desires to be aligned with His will, bringing you through the trials in ways that don’t destroy you but stretch you and grow you and mold you into an outward demonstration of who He is within you.

Child of God, you won’t have to “grasp intellectually” all of the intricacies of man’s religion and tradition and ceremonies and laws, because He will put the words in your mouth to answer the religious, and He will establish your steps to live out the love of God that is the worship God actually accepts and that fulfills the law.

We see this difference clarified when Jesus speaks to the outwardly religious but inwardly dead in John 5:

“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. “Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you.
John 5:39‭-‬42 NLT

And the prophet Amos speaks of in the old testament:

What sorrow awaits you who say, “If only the day of the Lord were here!” You have no idea what you are wishing for. That day will bring darkness, not light. In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion— only to meet a bear. Escaping from the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house— and he’s bitten by a snake. Yes, the day of the Lord will be dark and hopeless, without a ray of joy or hope. “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.
Amos 5:18‭-‬24 NLT

Do you know the parable of the ten virgins? Do you have oil for your lamp?

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.
Matthew 25:1‭-‬13 NLT

Do you have the oil?

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.”
John 3:3‭-‬8 NLT

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.
John 14:23‭-‬29 NLT

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Galatians 5:19‭-‬26 NLT

Have you contemplated the consequences of dead religion:

“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

Have you realized the significance of true, saving faith that is Christ in you?

“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.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.
Matthew 7:21‭-‬29 NLT

———–

You who ask, “What do I do? What can I say? How can I respond?”

I tell you, “Repent and believe!”

That means, turn away from your old waysand turn to Christ!

Take joy in the fact that you have heard the call, that you have heard the Truth, that you have seen the Way, that you have encountered the Christ today.

Ask Him to forgive you, to change you, to save you from yourself, to come and be your Teacher. Seek Him out in The Word of God, speak to Him in prayer andask Him to write His Word and His willupon your heart. Go out and tell the world of what He has done for you today, and seek others who can’t help but tell of His mercy and live and kindness as well. Learn to know Him and to know The Way, and don’t depart from it, but if you stumble, come back to Him, because He is faithful to forgive.

‘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

Division and Debate

A bug on the ground looks at the world and describes it one way. An eagle soaring high above describes it another. The wise ones listen to each other. The fools insist on proving to everyone the other is a fool and a liar.

Christian, it is the same with a hand, a foot, a rib, a heart, and parts of the body of Christ. Refusing to listen and insisting on debate is a cancer that kills the body.

Whether you are the cancer or you are the body being threatened by the cancer, the prognosis of the doctor (and the recommendation from Paul in his second letter to Timothy) is that the two should be removed from each other so that the harm does not continue to spread.

—————-

Where there is division and strife and toxicity, when you speak and they will not listen to you (or you will not listen to them), and you have taken opportunities to try and reconcile one on one — and you have taken opportunities to try and reconcile along with others — and if even the gathering is involved and there is still a spirit of debate and arguing and pride that does not welcome you and does not listen but insists on debate — common sense (and Mark’s instruction in chapter 6) underscores that where there is war even when you have made all efforts to make peace — it is better that we separate than remain together.

A cancerous and prideful fool might shake the dust from his feet to make a show to “those people” —

but a bold disciple who cares more about what God says in His Word than what people think of him might do so only because this is the wise instruction given, not because the people will see it and hate him for this offense against them, but that God sees in heaven that he is willing to obey his teacher and not bow to men

— so I recommend checking and carefully weighing your own heart in these matters.

Speak to the LORD, and He will give you wisdom.

Pleading and Begging

And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.
Mark 5:17‭-‬20 NLT

Every man and woman will encounter Jesus in their lives. The “intellectual” man might try to immediately dismiss such a statement, saying things like “but what about…”.

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
Romans 1:20 NLT

He is “visible”, even though His qualities in and of themselves may be “invisible”.

You know that the wind exists as a phenomenon, not because you can see it or hold it, but because you can see the visible evidence of its influence.

You will encounter Jesus today, maybe even right now.

Will you plead with him to go away and leave you alone?

Or will you beg him for the opportunity to walk together?

And you who call yourself “Christian” during your once a week gatherings — when you face the opportunity TODAY to share in His sufferings, to proclaim the gospel boldly, to trust Him in the middle of the storm, to turn away from temptationand run to Him — will you beg to walk with Him, or will you plead to just be left alone to be with what you truly love and desire most?

———–

You who ask, “What do I do? What can I say? How can I respond?”

I tell you, “Repent and believe!”

That means, turn away from your old waysand turn to Christ!

Take joy in the fact that you have heard the call, that you have heard the Truth, that you have seen the Way, that you have encountered the Christ today.

Ask Him to forgive you, to change you, to save you from yourself, to come and be your Teacher. Seek Him out in The Word of God, speak to Him in prayer andask Him to write His Word and His willupon your heart. Go out and tell the world of what He has done for you today, and seek others who can’t help but tell of His mercy and live and kindness as well. Learn to know Him and to know The Way, and don’t depart from it, but if you stumble, come back to Him, because He is faithful to forgive.

‘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

Bring What Is Required

A father had four sons, who owned four businesses. He had helped them all start their businesses with a loan, and after 20 years, they were to repay him the original $5000 he had invested. The day came for them all to meet so that the father could put the funds back into his own account — as he was preparing to retire, and would have needed of the funds now that he was going to be on a fixed income.

One son had started a liquor store that profited nicely over the years, and he brought with him $5000 in cash from the cash register for that week’s take.

Another son had started a payday loan business that had profited wonderfully over the years, and he brought with him certified bonds that could be redeemed immediately for $5000 or for more once they mature in several years.

Yet another son had started a restaurant that had profited reasonably over the years, but the restaurant had recently caught fire and burned to the ground. He found himself in a situation where he could not rebuild and also repay his father, so he brought a check for $5000 that he knew would clear if his father chose to deposit it.

The last son had opened a nursing home and rehabilitation facility that he loved and maintained at the highest levels of care, but where he just couldn’t maintain a steady profit for himself because he was always overextending himself to either help out his employees or improve upon the facilities. He found himself without $5000 in his account to pay when the day came, so he arranged with the local bank to pre-approve a loan for $5000 and he offered his father the choice of either the $5000 that he would repay to the bank in time or to come and live in his facility at no cost for the rest of his life.

Some of the brothers grumbled against each other, about the life choices each had made, about the way in which the others had chosen to pay their father back, etc.

But the father simply loved them for loving him and for respecting him and their agreement. He appreciated each of them for their gifts and talents and abilities, and for their imperfections and challenges and successes they each have in their lives.

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My morning reading was from Numbers 7, where each tribe brought exactly the portion expected of them. There was no accounting for the different population sizes of each tribe, no accounting of the backstory concerning how each came up with what was expected — just an accounting that each tribe brought exactly what was expected.

It would have been just as wrong hearted for a tribe to make a show of bringing more than the others out of their abundance as it would have been for a tribe to show up shorthanded out of their laziness.

In a world that thrives on comparison and expectations and pride and shame — where we expect each other to live up to “our own standards” and we easily fall into offense over others “not hitting the mark” or “slighting us in some way” — it can be quite earth shattering to considerall of this in the light of God’s “requirements”.

Are you “Bringing what is required?”

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 NLT

They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:28‭-‬29 NLT

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“Believe”.

And if you believe, you will love.

And if you love, you will not doin against God and you wel not sin against each other.

So if you are sinning, go back to the beginning and “Believe”.

So if you are not loving, go back to the beginning and “Believe”.

——————

Do you believe?

Do you love?

Provide for your family, help your neighbor, pray for your enemy.

But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
1 Timothy 5:8 NLT

“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

Their Benefit Comes in Their Destruction

A farmer has some animals that are close pets that are close and personal to him and his family. Also, he has others that help him work the farm. But it is the animals who are given limitless food, who are allowed to be lazy, and who never actually toil or labor for the farm during their lives that are the ones intended for slaughter. Their use is not for their relationship or their work — their benefit to the farm comes in their destruction.

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Close relationship is a true blessing.
The ability and opportunity to work hard is a blessing.
Comfort and ease may not be the blessing they initially appear to be.
Grumbling about others who seem lazy and fat and comfortable is short sighted.

Appreciate your purpose.
Don’t waste your purpose just to be slaughtered.

————–

Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.
James 5:1‭-‬6 NLT

Lord , you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy? You have planted them, and they have taken root and prospered. Your name is on their lips, but you are far from their hearts. But as for me, Lord , you know my heart. You see me and test my thoughts. Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered! Set them aside to be slaughtered! How long must this land mourn? Even the grass in the fields has withered. The wild animals and birds have disappeared because of the evil in the land. For the people have said, “The Lord doesn’t see what’s ahead for us!” “If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan? Even your brothers, members of your own family, have turned against you. They plot and raise complaints against you. Do not trust them, no matter how pleasantly they speak. “I have abandoned my people, my special possession. I have surrendered my dearest ones to their enemies. My chosen people have roared at me like a lion of the forest, so I have treated them with contempt. My chosen people act like speckled vultures, but they themselves are surrounded by vultures. Bring on the wild animals to pick their corpses clean! “Many rulers have ravaged my vineyard, trampling down the vines and turning all its beauty into a barren wilderness. They have made it an empty wasteland; I hear its mournful cry. The whole land is desolate, and no one even cares. On all the bare hilltops, destroying armies can be seen. The sword of the Lord devours people from one end of the nation to the other. No one will escape! My people have planted wheat but are harvesting thorns. They have worn themselves out, but it has done them no good. They will harvest a crop of shame because of the fierce anger of the Lord .” Now this is what the Lord says: “I will uproot from their land all the evil nations reaching out for the possession I gave my people Israel. And I will uproot Judah from among them. But afterward I will return and have compassion on all of them. I will bring them home to their own lands again, each nation to its own possession. And if these nations truly learn the ways of my people, and if they learn to swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’ (just as they taught my people to swear by the name of Baal), then they will be given a place among my people. But any nation who refuses to obey me will be uprooted and destroyed. I, the Lord , have spoken!”
Jeremiah 12:1‭-‬17 NLT

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
James 1:2‭-‬25 NLT

All The Law

And that’s because of a wrong heart and wrong desire issue:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:37‭-‬40 ESV

On these two commandments depend all the law.

On this one thing — love — depends all the law.

Godly, upright, just, merciful, sacrificial and selfless LOVE.

Men do not obey because they do not love.

Men do not love because the Holy Spirit of God is not in them.

Would you choose love, friend?

Would you choose loving arms spread wide upon a cross so that you can have a new heart, a new spirit, new desires in you that flow from a new source greater than self?

Will you repent from your own ways to believe and receive Christ in you?

Will you love?

Then you will obey.

The Singing Traveler

A traveler passing through a foreign country is walking along the road, singing the words to his favorite song in his own language, but many of the people where he is traveling consider themselves enemies of the country of his birth. Some hear his melodious singing in a foreign language and immediately hate him because of his words and cannot bear to even listen to him — but others appreciate the tune and even wonder to themselves what he might be saying in his words. So there is a clear difference between those he encounters — those who cannot bear to hear his singing and draw back from him — or those who draw closer to hear more.

——————–

We might wonder to ourselves about two things at work here — the language that divides so strongly, and the melody that draws, but we should not miss the third

That is the message in the lyrics, that just might be uncovered and understood — in that place where strangers become neighbors, neighbors become friends, and friends become brothers.

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And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.'”
Mark 4:11‭-‬12 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mrk.4.11-12.ESV

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
Mark 4:33‭-‬34 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mrk.4.33-34.ESV

1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Peter 2:7-8 ESV

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:10‭-‬17 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/2ti.3.10-17.ESV

Two Horses

A farmer has two horses — one he eagerly works with daily by his side, strengthening and training for hard, strong labor required in the fields together to sustain his family — and another he allows his daughter to train to be meek and mild and docile and timid for her own peaceful riding, pleasantly and joyfully whenever she pleases.

If the work horse looks at the riding horse and says to himself, “Look how lazy and weak and useless that other horse is compared to me! He should be doing like me and pulling heavy loads! Since he is lazy and worthless, I will either intimidate him and cause him to run away and never return so that I don’t have to see his laziness everyday — or if he will not leave, I will kill him myself!”

If the riding horse disappears and the farmer discovers the work horse’s delight in his own treachery — how do you expect the farmer will react?

Isn’t it fair and practical for the farmer to use the two horses to fill the two different needs as he sees fit?

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Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
Romans 4:4‭-‬5 ESV

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“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Matthew 20:1‭-‬16 ESV
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“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Matthew 18:23‭-‬35 ESV

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For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:12‭-‬27 ESV
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The message you heard from the very beginning is this: we must love one another. (1 John 3:11)

And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)

Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18)

Above everything, love one another earnestly, because love covers over many sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Be under obligation to no one—the only obligation you have is to love one another. Whoever does this has obeyed the Law. (Romans 13:8)

My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action. (1 John 3:18)

No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in union with us, and his love is made perfect in us. We are sure that we live in union with God and that he lives in union with us, because he has given us his Spirit. (1 John 4:12-13)

Do all your work in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14)

Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another, and be kind and humble with one another. Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you. (1 Peter 3:8-9)

Not just Liked, Valued

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:10‭-‬12 NLT

Men let’s grasp this firmly within our minds — before we seek to grasp that daughter of the King gently in our arms. Don’t just lust after the ripe looking fruit hanging on the tree easily within your grasp to satisfy your immediate cravings. Don’t run from tree to tree making yourself sick on fruit that isn’t even ripe or good for you. Learn the high value of investing in a good wife — instead of the high cost of a free whore. Amen.

When I Think of You

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
Philippians 1:3 NLT

How sweet it is to think of a person or people and immediately thank God for them! How full of sight and love and grace and peace to see Christ in them and not focus our eyes upon their shortcomings and failures!

If this is a rare occurrence for us — might it be a convicting revelation to us that it may be more about the eyes with which we are using to examine others rather than something wrong with God’s perfect plan and timing playing out around us?

Are we setting our thoughts and mind upon the things of God and preaching the Word of God and carrying along with us the presence of God that moved even through Peter’s shadow as he walked by to bring healing and restoration to all within reach. If we are not seeing evidence of life around us, what are we carrying with us — what seed are we sowing — is it love? Is it Christ? Is it truth? Or have we been counterfeit and self serving, even in our outward religious appearances?

It is true that some we cannot look at who are loveless and religious and selfish and proud and who are clearly lost and imprisoned and sowing the seed of the enemy — and while we may not see God in such people who are enemies of God and seek to oppose ther children of God, we can surely see the opportunity for God to move mightily upon even those who hate and seek to murder Christians — like He did with Paul at the Damascus road.

Without vision, the people perish. Can you see such things, you who seek to lead others? Or have you been a blind guide as well?

Lord, teach us to look at each other and praise God. Amen.