Dirty Diapers

Most of us wouldn’t want someone to have to change our diaper. And yes, most of us right now don’t have to wear diapers anyways — but you did — and you may again some day.

I use this example to illustrate the point of John 13:1-18 in a more relatable context given today’s culture. In Jesus’ day, their feet were filthy and nasty. They didn’t wear a new pair of freshly scented and fabric softened socks everyday, safely covered by shoes, and they didn’t live and work in environmentally controlled and meticulously cleaned buildings, and they didn’t travel in vehicles. They were outside, in open sandals, walking where the animals walked and defecated, working in the open environment. Feet were nasty, like a dirty diaper would be today.

Years ago, I wrote a post entitled “It’s time to stop pooping our pants” and it came to mind as we discussed our morning devotional about John 13.

Instead of talking as a family about washing feet (which is really not a big deal in our society today because of how relatively clean feet are these days) — we talked about the fact that some adults have to wear diapers — and that changing someone’s dirty diaper would be more in line with what Jesus did when He washed the disciples’ feet.

And we talked about how sin is like a dirty, stinky, filthy diaper spiritually — and

1) how sinfulness in our own lives will influence and stink up the spiritual lives of those around us if not repented, confessed and forgiven

2) how we need to come to Jesus to be washed clean from our sin

3) how we need to be like Peter after he was told the purpose having our stinky mess uncovered and revealed in front of others (public, verbal confession of our sin, struggles, shortcomings)

4) how we need to be imitators of Jesus that we would help meet the physical needs of others as a servant (even as far as lovingly changing their diapers as a caregiver if it comes to that) and more importantly, willing to hear others’ struggles and be willing to forgive them, remind them that they are washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb, and to intercede with prayer for them, encourage them, and serve them spiritually as well

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:1‭-‬20 NLT

As we become caregivers for our elderly , and as we are already spiritual caregivers for those we counsel, shepherd, sharpen, encourage, and equip for the ministry — let’s not forget that our example is to get our hands dirty doing the real work of the ministry that is dealing with things most of us would buy nature rather be left hidden and not dealt with — but if we are only superficially religious, we are walking around with untended, stinky diapers spiritually, that need to be washed clean.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

Are we ready for the mess?

Are we willing to have our mess, our weakness, be surrendered publicly in front of others so that God can get the glory for washing us clean?

Are we afraid of letting others “know our business” and possibly “gossip about us” if we were to confess to others — can we be honest with ourselves and with them about our lack of trust?

Are we willing and ready to forgive, to wash clean, to do the “work” of an imitator of Christ and get in the mess with someone else?

Lord, it is only by the power of your Holy Spirit, by the power of Christ who lives in the heart of the believer, that we can do these things that will be hard, challenging, and will stretch us beyond our being comfortable. But you bid us step out of the boat and into the water, even in the midst of the waves — you bid us to take up our cross and bear it — you bid us come and die to self and be imitators of you. Reveal yourself to us, through us, and in us. Amen.

Sin, Repentance, Righteousness, Judgement

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in  it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:21-25 NKJV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the  testimony  of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:26-31 NKJV

Wanted, Dead or Alive

wanted-workout
Dead to Sin, Alive to God
Romans 6:6-14
6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Today’s Workout
———————-
One master wants you to be dead and defeated, powerless against sin and evil and wickedness – while the other master wants you to experience an abundant life that brings encouragement, nourishment, forgiveness, hope, love, and faith to those in your circle of influence. Which will you serve? Will you uplift and empower those around you to be the best that they can be? Will you help people succeed in fulfilling the vision for their life dreams? Will you be a hand up to those around you in need? Will you be a shoulder to lean on for those who need comforting? Will you be a welcome port of peace and encouragement in their storm? Do you realize that through your example, you will either grow the fruit in them that will nourish you in your times of need – or you will allow the weeds that are choking out their possibilities to also choke you out when you need to lean to them?
This life is a team sport. You’re working out, you’re putting in work for one team or the other.
You’re wanted Dead or Alive.
Choose life. Choose Jesus. And let Him come and live in you and through you today – contaminating every part of your life with the overflow of His spirit. Get to work!

Cornerstone or Stumbling Block

You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.

As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.

Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.”

And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.

They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
1 Peter 2:4‭-‬12 NLT

This idea of grace, of forgiveness of sins, this testimony of Christ who is God come in the flesh that died on the cross for us – it will either be the stone that we build a new holy life upon – or it will be an excuse people use to continue in their lives of sin.

Knowing about Christ will either push us  into a life of grateful obedience – or we will use it as an excuse to justify our remaining in captivity.

And it all boils down to belief, true belief in our hearts,  not just that he existed as a good and wise teacher – but that He is who He said He is, and that is God come in the flesh, who is risen and who will judge the whole world on that day to come when we will be changed in an instant, when we will be in the presence of the Lord.

What is Christ for your life today?

Won’t you build upon the foundation that He had provided by walking His way in your life today?

Won’t you deny your flesh and surrender your life to produce the fruit of His nature?

Won’t you yield to His will and be His Kingdom representative to the world today?

Whatever you do today, let it be done in Truth and in Love, because our lives are that living sacrifice, that reasonable service, that true worship that we lift to Him in Spirit and in Truth.

Go, let your day be that worship. Let them see that YOU are the church,  and that Christ lives in you!

Go, Baptize, Teach

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. – Matthew 28:19‭-‬20 NKJV

Christian, you are purpose built and newly created to fulfill that purpose. And it is in your weakness that you are strong. God did not use the army to defeat Goliath,  but a young boy. God repeatedly shows His power through those who are just willing to say “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” – and “Send me, I will go”.

God uses words of action and purpose in His directions – He isn’t satisfied with the learned thinking man’s prayer for deep knowledge and understanding of the Word of God that is never put into practice. He isn’t satisfied with the religious who want to be powerful by their own knowledge that puffs up, He wants people that will humble themselves and ask Him for the wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit.

He is interested in our walking close with Him, becoming more like Him. He wants our sin to make us aware of our need for repentance. And our reliance upon Him for the synthetic to truly repent to reveal grace. And our grattitude for grace to reveal the opportunity of a life of discipleship. And our reliance on His Holy Spirit to be that faithful disciple and servant to reveal sanctification.

The walk of a Christian is in God, in this body that He has given us to be a vessel for His Holy Spirit – not just in a religious practice where we tithe to Him a piece of our time. Not just in a check we give to a hireling to tithe a piece of our money. Not just in generous gifts to family and friends a few times a year to tithe a piece of our generosity. Surrender to Christ is meant to consume our lives like a roaring fire – both freeing us from the chains of our sinful past and burning away those things that don’t bring Him honor and glory – refining us to be more like Him.

So, Christianity is not whether or not you’ve said a prayer with your mouth, but whether you’ve believed in your heart.

So, Christianity isn’t whether you talk about Him and hear about Him on Sunday,  but whether or not He lives in you and His will is being done in your life each day.

So, Christianity is not about your church membership or religious pedigree,  but whether or not you love Him and His ways.

If you love Him and His ways, Go, Baptize, and Teach.

If you do not yet love Him and His ways, Repent, Believe, and Prepare yourself.

If you will not love Him and His ways – if you insist on your own way,  go and chase your desire for sin,  and He will give you your heart’s desire,  but do you know what you are giving up? Is there anything in this world worth your eternity?

Two paths – it makes all the difference

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Galatians 5:16 NKJV

I love you, friend. But I hate your sin. I hate my sin. I see what it has done in our lives, the tricks that it plays – offering sweet promises while providing sickness and wickedness and death and harm to ourself and others. Most importantly, it dishonors the name of the Lord when we say we are His with our mouths but deny Him in our lives, when we are a stumbling block – hindering others from recognizing the true spirit of Christ alive in His children.

Yes, I believe that everything the Lord calls sin IS SIN. Yes, I am more confident in the truth of His Word than in the lies of my own deceitful heart and opinions. I trust in God’s divine wisdom over my own feelings and justifications about what is right and wrong, because I have proven to myself that my way is foolish and lands me in unexpected consequences for myself and others. I survey my life and it is clear that obeying His guidelines is the best life both now and for eternity.

And I expected it to be heavy and burdensome like before when I found that I was a rebellious law breaker. But the Lord sent me the Helper that He promised, and when I have my eyes set firmly upon demonstrating His way to the world around me – when I am bold enough to walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and long suffering – when I walk in the Spirit, I no longer break the law and I’m no longer under the law.

This is because I’m not longing to fulfill my own will, but I’m longing to fulfill His will. Yes, He gives me a new hunger – a hunger for His ways, His righteousness. And when we hunger for righteousness we do not hunger to be involved in sin – we love righteousness and hate sin.

This does not mean that we only love people who act or want to appear righteous – No! There is not a one of you (especially not in you arrogant and religious ones) who is righteous of his own works. And if you stand with the testimony of your own works as righteous, you are both a liar and an abomination before God because of your pride and arrogance.

Such an abomination, such a blaspheming of the work of the Holy Spirit as being their own – I fear that it will bring desolation to many who would not give all the praise and honor to God for the opportunity to walk as a new creation. And the same can be said for those who turn away from such a blessing as grace,  and blaspheme it as a license to sin freely and openly,  with no love for God or His ways. Lord, save us!

Help us, Lord! Come live in us and guide us so that it will be you living out these days in our vessel – quickening our lives as you take over and abide with us and walk with us. Let them see you more and more and us less and less.

He chose YOU to come OUT. No excuses.

If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.  Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.  They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.  They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.  Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.
John 15:18‭-‬23 NLT

“you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you”
Almost daily, I see a backlash from “carnal Christians” (who know the name of the Savior but who have only themselves as Lord of their lives) towards those who would share truth and warn others about the dangers of sin. I hear things like “you’re being judgemental” when someone speaks about sin, repentance, discipleship or sanctification from the, same people that sing proudly of grace as if it is a license to sin.

Wake up and hear the truth. If you are a slave to sin, see what the Word of God says:

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.  A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
John 8:34‭-‬36 NLT

If we are currently a slave to sin, but we know that we are called to be a child of God, the solution is simple – repent (turn away from your sin), believe in your heart,  confess with your mouth, and He will send the Holy Spirit to convict you against sin, to teach you, to guide you, so that you will walk in the Spirit of Christ, following His example and demonstrating Him to the world.

So we are either a slave to sin, or we are a new creation in Christ – and the two types of desires are so different from one another that the two are at war with each other. One desires sin and the things of this world as treasure and reward and the will of man,  while the other desires only Christ and the will of God.

“now they have no excuse for their sin”
Yes, many hate to hear the whole message of Jesus Christ – that He calls us to no longer be a part of the world,  to no longer live like the world. Many are satisfied with the idea that their sins might be forgiven,  but they have no real interest in giving up their sin. And when He says that we are free indeed,  and that He has given us the power to see evil flee from us – it really bothers those who no longer have any excuse for remaining in their sin.

It bothers those who are either:

A) deceived and confused because they can’t reconcile their own opinions about God with what the Word of God actually says

B) aware that their claims about being a Christian are nothing but outward lies

The Good News is that salvation is just a turn away. But it does take deciding to love Christ more than our sin.

And for many, the broad path seems so attractive when we can’t see and touch what is behind that narrow gate. The broad path seems so much easier when we can only see the struggle and strife and trial of those poor,  sacrificing Christian missionaries who are willing to give it all up to serve the Lord. The broad path seems so much more friendly and crowded when we can only see those “judgemental Christians” who are isolating themselves by standing firm upon the truth of the Word of God.

The broad path of finding a compromising “church” that will speak what I want to hear and won’t expect me to change or grow as long as I show up,  volunteer,  and tithe seems so much easier than actually picking up my cross and following Jesus,  making disciples, baptizing them,  and walking like Christ. People will say,  “Isn’t there someone else who will go? Isn’t there someone else who is better qualified? Can’t I just give my money to them and maybe God will leave me alone?”

Do you love your life,  or do you love Christ?

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.
Luke 17:33 NLT

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”
Revelation 12:10‭-‬12 NLT

My daily task

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord .
I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity in my own home.
I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
I will not endure conceit and pride.
I will search for faithful people to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
and free the city of the Lord from their grip.
Psalms 101:1‭-‬8 NLT

[Yes, we stand in opposition to sin and wickedness. Not just offering a Savior who offers forgiveness in return for religious sacrifices over and over again, No! We surrender to a Lord who offers deliverance from being a slave to sin to walk in his Spirit and nature instead of in our flesh.]

A good tree produces good fruit,
and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 
A good tree can’t produce bad fruit,
and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 
So every tree that does not produce good fruit
is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 
Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit,
so you can identify people by their actions.
Matthew 7:17‭-‬20 NLT

[Identifying someone for what they really are by evidence of their lives is not judging. If the Bible says “[X] shall not inherit the kingdom of God” but someone confesses with their mouth that they are a Christian bound for heaven while they happily continue participating in [X], we can know that they are deceived. And yes, there is sin that leads to death and sin that hinders our witness – no sin is good or acceptable or comfortable remaining in the life of a believer. So we must not only seek forgiveness, but stand form in Christ against sin, fully surrendered to His will.]

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.  But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!  When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.  When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!  This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
John 15:1‭-‬12 NLT

[We do not oppose each other. We are not hungry to examine each other and find fault with each other. But if we have truth and see someone claiming the name of Christ who is deceived in their heart, what is kinder? To let them find out that the Word of God is true after it is too late and there remains no opportunity for them to repent of those things that “shall not inherit the Kingdom of God”? Or to share even the Truth in Love that they would rather not hear – so that they might be freed from the oppression of their sin, so that their chains might be broken, so that they might live?

Jesus shared uncomfortable truth to shine light on the darkness – calling people to completely surrendered lives of discipleship, repentance, and sanctification – not half hearted,  empty religious practice remaining slaves to sin.

Are we so afraid of the reaction of people that we have lost our fear of God – who wants us to know and share the truth and love of this gospel of Jesus Christ that is sharper than a two edged sword?

If the Word of God cuts them deeply, it isn’t because we are lifting our sword against an enemy, we offer healing. My brothers and sisters are not my enemy while I hold out hope for their deliverance from the sin that enslaved them.

We realize that truth, wrath,  and judgement is very much true and expected for those who remain in darkness – they face one side of the Sword (the Word of God) like a weapon against an enemy, like a lion waiting to devour.

And we realize that mercy, love, and sanctification is very true and expected of those who are healed by His touch (like a doctor’s scalpel for a patient).

Will we bring the Word of God to bear today on behalf of our brothers and sisters and against the enemy?]

We all want “Freedom”

Each one of us either wants freedom from God’s righteous way to live the way we want to – or freedom from our sinful ways to live the way God wants us to.

There is God’s way and there is the way of the world,  and those two are at odds with each other. This is why many practice religion once a week just to live their own lives the rest of the week. They know what is the right way, but they do not want it. They know about God, but they do not love Him.

Many have found something they love better than God and His ways, and it is themselves and their ways.

Yes, He makes it clear that these things lead to destruction –

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
I Corinthians 6:9‭-‬10 NKJV

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

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

“Christian”, I do not tell you these things to stand as your accuser. I do not condemn you,  nor does Jesus Christ condemn you. But if you are still living this way, you must examine your heart and ask if you are still condemned like the world and its ways of sin. You must ask yourself what it is you truly desire. You must ask yourself who it is you really serve with your heart. And if it is not the Lord, if He is not Lord of your life, have you ever truly known Him as Savior? Has He ever truly known you as servant, follower, disciple, child of God?

Please, don’t rely on a religious ceremony or promise – the Pharisees did this (selling forgiveness and profiting off of the guilt of people) and were rebuked heavily by Jesus Christ, God come in the flesh, for misleading the people with empty religious practice. Rely on the Lord and the Lord alone – fall in love with Him and His ways.

If you can’t say that you love Him but you want to learn how, or you know that you need to love Him more now than you have in the past, that is a wonderful place to be – setting your eyes and your heart and your trust on the Lord. This is called repentance – it is turning away from sin, turning away from self, turning away from the world to seek God first and foremost and singularly in your life. He died on the cross so that you could repent and receive His Holy Spirit to guide and teach you.

Yes, repentance is a big step. Yes, it is a huge turning point in your life – and you get to maintain this repentance daily, even moment to moment for the rest of your life as you choose freedom from sin and temptation and death in a new life,  walking with a new Lord of your life. This is called walking in the Spirit instead of in the flesh,  and it produces the fruit of His nature in your life –

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who  are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22‭-‬25 NKJV

Don’t settle for powerless religion that ends in death because it offers you a promise of freedom to feel comfortable continuing in sin – that is a lie from the devil himself – those are not “Christians”, nor do they love God – they are the synagogue of Satan.

Settle only for walking as a new creation,  because if Christ has set you free, you are free indeed.

Little Children

Do you ever ponder over the things of God? Do you wonder about His ways? What about the little children? What is their fate? What is ours?

children-are-innocent-childrens-world-16382924-670-405

INNOCENCE

See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. – Ecclesiastes 7:29 ESV

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14 ESV

And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:3 ESV

But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” – 2 Samuel 12:23 ESV

Autosomal-recessive-inheritance

INHERITANCE

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. – Ezekiel 18:20 ESV

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. – 1 Corinthians 7:14 ESV

And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. – Deuteronomy 1:39 ESV

Knowledge

KNOWLEDGE

For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. – Isaiah 7:16 ESV

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:17 ESV

Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright. – Proverbs 20:11 ESV

The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. – Psalm 58:3 ESV

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. – Romans 7:9-11 ESV

Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the Lord’s offering. – Exodus 30:14 ESV

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. – Psalm 14:2-3 ESV

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. – John 3:6 ESV

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. – Romans 7:14 ESV

quote-David-Herbert-Lawrence-this-is-the-very-worst-wickedness-that-90120

SIN

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5 ESV

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. – Ephesians 2:12 ESV

salvation

SALVATION

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 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 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 4:1-25 ESV

And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. – Genesis 8:21 ESV

Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. – 1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV

Zech4_6

POWER

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being – Ephesians 3:16 ESV

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. – 1 Corinthians 4:20 ESV

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, – Colossians 1:11 ESV

That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:5 ESV

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV

repentance

REPENTANCE / RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT

Ezekiel 18:1-32
The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

“If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God.

“If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.

“Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.

“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.

“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”