Bird Talk

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Said the Robin to the Sparrow

“I would really like to know why these anxious Human Beings rush about and worry so?”

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,

“Oh, I think that it must be that they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you & me.”

—Unknown (Source: Teach Us To Number Our Days by David Roper)

Lord Jesus said:

“No one can serve two masters…” “You cannot serve God and mammon.”

ON THIS ACCOUNT I AM SAYING TO YOU, Stop worrying about your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, and about your body, with what you will clothe yourself. Is not the life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the heaven, They are not sowing seed, nor reaping, not even are they collecting into granaries.  And yet your heavenly Father is feeding them.  As for you, do you not surpass them? “

“For your heavenly Father knows that you are in constant need of all these things.  But be seeking first the kingdom and His righteousness, and these things, all of them, shall be added to you.  (abbreviated Matthew 6:24-34 NASB & Expanded Translation, Emphasis mine)

Please read the complete text when you have opportunity. I would like to briefly expand on several points:

  1. Jesus’ words tell us that worry keeps us from obeying God. He told us in the  parable of the soils (or hearts) that worry is one of the weeds that chokes out the word of God in our hearts keeping us from knowing it and obeying it.
  2. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you receive His righteousness; therefore, you have already sought His righteousness as instructed in verse 33. You already possess it in Christ through salvation. Romans 5:17 says “….much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
  3. As a born again believer, you can now “see” (i.e. understand) and “enter” (i.e. begin to live under the rule of God) “the kingdom” of God. This what Jesus told Nicodemus in his discussion about being born again in John 3.  We now just need to keep expanding the kingdom of God in our character and life, i.e. II Peter 1: 2-11.
  4. THEREFORE, as a believer, you have and are fulfilling the instructions that Jesus gave in verse 33. And this means “…that all these things shall be added to you.”  So let us “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.” (Philippians 4: 6) “Casting all of your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

As a born again believers in Jesus Christ, we are precious to God the Father.  Evidence of this is seen on the Cross as He sent Jesus to display His self-sacrificial, agape love for us.  May we lay hold of His promise (v33) by faith and walk with our minds girded for action and sober in spirit; free from the crippling and thought paralyzing mental attitudes of worry, fear and such.

Remember Texas and Louisiana in your prayers as they grapple with Hurricane Harvey.

Carl

 

 

 

Hope

I found this sign in the MD Anderson Emergency Room. Only patients from the various MD Anderson hospitals are allowed admittance to this ER; therefore, the patients have already experienced the palpable fear of being diagnosed with a killer disease and the waiting, testing and surgery to save their lives. Having to rush to the emergency room due to some complication only adds to the fear.

From experience, let me say there is a lot of fear in such situations and, if it was not for the prayers of the saints for you and your loved one, you would be totally consumed by it. Satan wants to bring you to the abyss of hopelessness and chain you in it with the fear of death, but, bless God, the prayers and love of the saints keeps you free.  I feel sorry for the individual who has to go through this alone, without God and His children interceding for them.  Ephesians 2: 12  says before our salvation, we were “having no hope and without God in the world.” 

Therefore, this little exhortation scribbled in marker on a dry erase board, speaks volumes to those going through these life and death struggles.

The Apostle Peter who knew about struggles and persecution tells us in his first letter where to put our hope about the future:

“Therefore, gird your mind for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1: 13)

The “…at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” is when He appears in the sky to rapture the church out of the earth.  This will include all born again believers alive and dead.  Those who claim to know Him, but are just religious and not born again, will not be taken. Jesus told a leader of the Jewish nation “Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The “… grace” to be brought to you refers to your inheritance that Peter referred to in verse 3 and 4 when he wrote “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,…”   This inheritance, among other things,  refers to our glorified bodies we will receive when He raptures the church. Our salvation will be complete.  We are justified by faith in Christ’s work, we are going through sanctification now and then at the rapture we will be glorified.  Our mortal bodies will be transformed into a glorified body just like the Lord Jesus’ glorified body.

Peter says “in this you greatly rejoice..” (verse 6). “Rejoice” is from a “Greek word speaking of extreme joy expressing itself externally in an exuberant triumph of joy. In verse 8 we see that it is a glorified joy made possible by our future glorified state, a joy not possible now in our mortal bodies. Tears of joy are just evidence of the inability of our present state to fully feel the joy that comes to us at times. But then in our bodies of glory we will be able to drink in and appreciate all the boundless joys of the Savior’s presence.” (Wuest)

Peter says this is what we should “… fix your hope completely on..”  And this hope is not a mere wishing that something may happen.  Hope here is a “complete hope, a perfect hope, wanting nothing, being in its character an assured expectation.  Peter exhorts us to “set your hope perfectly, unchangeably, without doubt and despondency upon our future glorification.”‘ (Wuest) The phrase “…to be brought to you…” means that this grace or inheritance is already on its way. Wuest says you could translate it “which is being brought to you.”

Dear Pilgrim, just passing through this temporary earthly realm, don’t set your hearts on the trinkets of this existence but keep pursuing God until you experience His Glorious Presence at the Rapture and your mortal being is swallowed up in immortality.  What a day that will be when we will see Him face to face.  Are you ready?  Praise His Name!!!

Thank you for your time.

Carl

 

 

The Promise of His Presence

“I will not, I will not cease to uphold or sustain you; I will not, I will not, I will not forsake someone in a state of defeat or helplessness in the midst of hostile circumstances.” 

God (Hebrews 13: 5b Greek Amplification)

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

Moses to all of Israel before entering Promise Land (Deuteronomy 31: 6)

“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”    Jesus (John 6:37)

This morning as we said goodbye to one of our precious daughters and her son returning to their European home, through tears,  we shared the lead scripture with her.  What a comfort to know that He is watching over us no matter where we are.

Scripture says that those who do not know God and Jesus, His Son, have NO HOPE and are WITHOUT GOD in a Satan dominated world system. What a stark picture that is.

What blessed promises God has given to His children; those He “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are PROTECTED by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1: 3-5 Emphasis mine)

Thank you Father God and Lord Jesus for your presence in our lives at all times by your indwelling Spirit.  Bless your name!

Carl

Moral Excellence

 

 

Apostles-all-have-beardsNow for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, …”   (II Peter 1: 5)

Virtue or moral excellence is the manifestation of the “energy” of the Holy Spirit working in us, in response to our faith in Jesus Christ. Our response to this “energy” is to have “energy” in the outliving of our faith which will manifest itself as “change” in our behavior, resulting in increased moral excellence.

Now stop and read the first paragraph again before going on. Do you see this in your life?

Change” takes “energy” or power.  From whence does it come? Listen to what is on record and is just as true today as when it left Peter’s writing instrument 2000 years ago.  “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge  of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these, He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”  (II Peter 1: 3-4) He has given us “everything” we need for life and godliness through the true knowledge of God, which is found in scripture, and precious magnificent promises that are found in scripture also. Why did He do this? So His born again children could be partakers of His divine nature, which has been implanted in them,  escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust or passionate cravings.

“Change” always takes “energy” or power.  Our precious Lord Jesus told the disciples before His death,  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:8)  He sent His Spirit to come along side of us and to help us successfully live the victorious Christian life.  He, the Holy Spirit of God, is constantly releasing His energy so we will desire the sweet will of God and, then as we say “yes” and move our will to obey, He releases His power to make the change a reality.

Peter begins this exhortation of II Peter, by asking that sanctifying grace and sanctifying  peace be multiplied in the sphere of and by the full knowledge of our God, even Jesus, the Lord.  Listen to Wuest’s explanation of this knowledge:

“The particular word for knowledge here, epignosis, speaks of experiential knowledge, that is knowledge gained by experience. This knowledge of Jesus Christ possessed by the believer therefore, is not a mere intellectual knowledge of the facts concerning Him acquired by a study of the Gospels, for instance, but a heart experience of what and who He is, gained by such a study, including a personal association with Him, by means of the Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is a person with Person knowledge through intimate fellowship.”

He has not left us as orphans.  He is wanting to fellowship with us. Reflect on that for a moment. Out of this fellowship will flow two things: 1. sanctifying grace, the work of the Holy Spirit in the yielded believer producing Jesus’ personality traits.  2. Also out of this fellowship will flow sanctifying  peace, the tranquility of heart which is the result of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our life.

May His “energy” be evident in your life.  May you be increasing in all the fruit of the Spirit as you fellowship with your Lord and Savior Jesus.

Carl

 

The Refiner’s Fire (Part 3)

smelter

Note: This, the last in three posts concerning The Refiner’s Fire. If you missed the first two posts, please scroll down to the end of this post, to read first two.  Thank you.

“And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.” 

In the last post we showed that each born again believer is a priest to God, The Father through Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:5) and that the “sons of Levi” are actually a type of us and that we, as believer-priests, now offer sacrifices on the altar of our dedicated, consecrated heart.

Since every believer is a priest to God The Father through Jesus Christ, this purifying and refining process applies to you and me. The Lord Jesus is going to purify and refine us so that we offer to God unblemished sacrifices which is our reasonable service, since we are recipients of His many mercies.

Just as the smelter would scoop the impurities off the hot liquid, looking for a clear reflection of his face in the purified gold or sliver,  so the Savior is looking for the reflection of His face in our hearts, the real you and me. A reflection of Him in the “hidden man”. The characteristics of His Personality.

Another scripture states this a little differently. Speaking of the Lord Jesus it says:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”  (Ephesians 5: 25-27)

Instead of the using the metaphor of a smelter, the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul states that Jesus is going to sanctify or set apart the believers from the world, to Himself, by washing them with the Word.  In other words, as the believer obeys the commandments of God, they will purify their souls (mind, will and emotions) becoming holy (more Christ like) and blameless (practicing righteousness).  Peter said in I Peter 1:22 “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls…”. 



In respect to this purifying and refining, this is why in James 1:2 it says “Consider it all joy,…when you encounter various trials…” because they are refining and purifying events, with the goal of making us more like Jesus and providing proof of our faith. Satan may mean to use the trial for our destruction but, by us remaining faithful during the trial, Jesus will redeem it for our good.   James 1:3 explains the good: “…knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  

The end result of various trials is to make us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  “…perfect” means mature.  Ephesians 4:13 says, the goal of the operation of the Holy Spirit gifts within the church is: “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”  Trials, whether disciplinarian (Hebrew 12: 5-11) or adversarial (I Peter 1:6), mature us into more Christ likeness by stopping us from practicing sin and replacing it with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Ignatius [Bishop of Antioch, martyr; first century believer] said it this way:

“None of these escape your notice, if you are maturing in faith and love towards Jesus Christ. For these are the beginning and end of life: faith is the beginning and love is the end, and the two, when they exist in unity, are Godlike. Everything else that contributes to moral beauty follow from them.”

The “…complete, lacking in nothing”, does not refer to worldly things like money, cars, food, shelter, etc. but refers to not lacking in the characteristics of Jesus’ personality in our lives.  The Apostle John refers to this as being perfected in love. Some of these characteristics are listed in Galatians 5:22:  “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”.  The fruit of God the Holy Spirit.  Three more can be added from II Peter 1: “moral excellence”, “knowledge“, and “perseverance”.  “…humility of mind…” would be another. This is what the Father desires for His children.  Christ likeness.  To be more like His Son.

Colossians 3:1-2 tells us

“If you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above where Christ is…” “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

What are these “things” we are to keep seeking for? A mansion in Heaven? A cloud to sit on? A throne like James and John sought for? No! I am not certain what all “things” entails, but I know they include Jesus’ personality traits because our life is hidden in Him.  He is our life.
Therefore, the Lord Jesus is the smelter and the washer in our born again lives, with the end result being, we can offer spiritual sacrifices to God the Father through Him that are unblemished and righteous. This is only possible because we are alive from the dead and He loves us enough to purify and cleanse us so we can “share in His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). This is the sanctification process in our lives.  Psalms 149: 4 says:

“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” 

In closing let me say this about trials.  There are disciplinary trials that come from our heavenly Father who disciplines each child for their good so they can share in His holiness (Hebrew 12:4-11). There are adversarial trials which come from the world and Satan.  The world hates Christians. The world is controlled by Satan; therefore, we should expect adversarial trials to come.  Jesus said they would come.  As a born again child of God, we are pilgrims in the earth heading toward our new, heavenly home. (See Hebrews 13) We need to “gird our minds for action and keep sober in spirit..” as Peter said and expect trials.  It helps me to know that Jesus is my smelter and washer and that whatever comes my way He is using it for my ultimate good.

Remember, our brother and sisters in other countries whose trials include imprisonment and even death.

So let us rejoice NOW and ALWAYS in our Great Savior and God, Jesus Christ, and thank Him for His watch care over us. Because of this refining and purifying, the Word says that we will be so joyful one day that, “you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

Thank you for your time.

Let us be paying close attention to ourselves,
Carl

The Refiner’s Fire (Part 2)

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“And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.”

The question to answer today is: Who are the “sons of Levi” that the Lord is going to refine and purify in Malachi.
When the Lord Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, God, The Father, abrogated (formally ended) the temple sacrifices.  He did not accept or require them anymore. Jesus’ death on the cross settled the sin question once and for all.  God evidently also did away with the Levital priesthood and established another priesthood with the Lord Jesus as the High Priest (Hebrew 4:14).  I Peter 2:5  says “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.  All born again believers are members of a “holy priesthood”, not a defiled priesthood as in Malachi, and are believer-priests to God through Jesus Christ.  The spiritual house is the mystical Body of Christ that includes all born again believers on earth.
Therefore, I am of the opinion that we born again believers are the “sons of Levi” referred to in Malachi 3:3 since the refining and purifying takes place after the Lord comes to His temple suddenly and in 70 AD the Roman general Titus destroyed the temple including the sacrificial altar.
The purpose of this new priesthood is to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  Just as the Old Testament priests walked up the incline to the brazen altar and laid the animal sacrifice on the altar to be consumed by fire,  we New Testament believer-priests “offer up” our spiritual sacrifices upon the altar of our consecrated, dedicated heart.  The spiritual sacrifices are the activities of the human spirit energized by the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul throws light on this truth in Romans 12:1 when he says  “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”  How do you make your human body a living and holy sacrifice?  Listen to what our brother Chrysostom (Archbishop of Constantinople – 349-407 AD) wrote:
“How can the body become a sacrifice? Let the eye look on no evil, and it is a sacrifice. Let the tongue utter nothing base, and it is an offering. Let the hand work no sin, and it is a holocaust.” (Holocaust is a sacrifice totally consumed by fire.) “But more, this suffices not, but besides we must actively exert ourselves for good; the hand gives alms, the mouth blessing them that curse us, the ear ever at leisure for listening to God.”

Another example of spiritual sacrifices is given in The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken. He tells the true story of Russian pastor Dmitri who was imprisoned by the government for teaching  the Bible. For seventeen years he would rise every morning and offer a sacrifice of praise by singing his “HeartSong” to Jesus as the other inmates cursed and jeered at him. The next discipline that helped him to survive the isolation from the Body of Christ and torture was that whenever he found a scrap of paper, later in his cell with a stub of a pencil or a piece of charcoal he had saved, as tiny as possible, he would write every Bible verse,  scriptural story and song he could remember.  When finished he would put it on a damp pillar in his cell as a “praise offering to God”.  Of course, when discovered by the authorities, they would read it and beat him severely and threaten him with death.

In conclusion, I am of the opinion that the “sons of Levi” are us, the believer-priest. Secondly, we have looked at three examples of how we can offer sacrifices. One by obeying the commandments of God, another by doing good words (Ephesians 2:10) and another by praising or giving thanks to God (Hebrews 13: 15-16). The Body of Christ is now the holy priesthood. The actual “sons of Levi” as a functioning priest class,  do not exists anymore.  They had to be born again just like you and I (Acts 6: 7).  The believer-priest now  offer up spiritual sacrifices  on the altar of their dedicated heart.  May we today offer up spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God.  We can make the Creator of the universe smile.

The next post will discuss this refining process and the purpose of it.  Hope to see you then. Thank you for your time.

Lets Pay Close Attention To Ourselves For The Purpose of Holiness (I Timothy 4:16)

Carl

P.S. Pastor Dmitri was eventually released but not before the  prison population was singing his HeartSong in the morning with him. His witness had prevailed!

The Refiners Fire (Part 1)

Old smelter

 

And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.”  Malachi 3:3
Malachi is God’s  last recorded message to the nation of Israel until the New Testament period 400 years later. He  corrected the backsliden priests of Israel who despised His name and, among other things, offered blemished animals upon the altar.  They wearied Him with their words in that they said, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them” (2:17) They also said, “So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up, but they also test God and escape.” (3:15). He told them “…I am not pleased with you…” (1:10).  What a fearful sentence to hear from holy God.
In chapter 3, He transitions into the New Testament era. He states that He is sending “My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me”.  This was John The Baptist, preaching “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)  He then says, “And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple;”.  This is the Messiah they were looking for but did not recognize; the Lord Jesus.  And when the Lord comes, “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver,…”.  Since they were defiled by evil practices,  He would have to bring them to repentance and change their hearts “so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. 

Today, may we be just the opposite of these wicked priest.  In Hebrews 13: 15 we are instructed to offer up a sacrifice of praise (thanksgiving) to our God and that He is pleased with such sacrifices.  Let us verbalize our thanks today for all the blessings God has bestowed on us.

This background information is setting up the next post concerning who the “sons of Levi” are and how this Old Testament prophecy applies today.

Thank you for your patience and time.  Hope to see you tomorrow.

Carl

 

 

Isolation

This is another MD Anderson scene that brought a spiritual truth to my mind. 

Isolation. 

One of Satan’s favorite schemes. Take the coal out of the fire and put it to the side by itself and what happens? It goes out. No fire. The same is true of the Christian. Take him/her out of church and isolate them from other believers and their spiritual zeal will diminish or go out entirely. He that wanders from the sheep fold becomes easy prey.

 The church is the Body of Christ and Jesus is the Head. He instituted the local church as a place for His children to be taught truth and be built up spiritually to carry on His work in the earth until He returns.  Through the writer of the Book of Hebrews, the Lord says:

[25] not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

One of the many benefits of obeying this command and assembling together in church, is the encouragement we give and receive from one another.  We need courage to face our daily battles and challenges that we might not feel isolated and slip into fear.

He also warned that there would be tares, false Christians, in the visible church. Not all church goers that claim the Name of Jesus are born again believers.  There are also Christians who are walking in the flesh (controlled by indwelling sinful nature). Satan uses both, to say things or do things in congregations that ultimately hurt or injure hearts of others and make them never darken the doors of church again.  If you currently are, or have been a member of a church, you may possibly be able to identify with this.  

There are those, through no fault of their own, who are unable to attend church due to jobs, illness or disabilities.  In those cases the church can reach out to them and bridge the gap with visits, internet, prayer and other means.

Let it suffice to say, DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE ISOLATED FROM THE BODY OF CHRIST.  If you know someone who is isolated,  reach out to them and encourage them to get back into a church where there is fellowship in the Lord, the Word of God is preached and people are encouraged to read the Bible themselves.  If you know an isolated shut-in maybe the Lord is showing you a place to pour out the grace He has bestowed on you.

Thank you for your time.

Let’s Pay Close Attention To Ourselves.

Carl

Good Advice

While recently at MD Anderson in Houston I noticed that the signage in some departments held a message applicable to Christians.  This one was in a patient’s room and the normal meaning is obvious.  The spiritual message is:

Call (for the Helper), Don’t Fall (into Satan’s snare). Stay safe (in the Grace of God). Call for help (when under attack).

The Lord Jesus, after He went into Heaven, sent the mighty Spirit of God to be the believer’s Helper, Comforter, Teacher and Sanctifier.  Each born-again believer is sealed in Christ Jesus with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13).  Jesus knew we would need a Helper.  Sometimes The Helper in us is all we need to overcome sin and the devil.  At other times we may need the prayer, advice or encouragement from the Helper in a brother or sister in-Christ.  Avail yourself of the Holy Spirit’s assistance if you need it.

Remember:  Call. Don’t Fall. Stay Safe. Call for help.

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”  Jesus (John 16:7)

And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…”. (Acts 2:2-4)

….but be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18)

May it be so for all of us!

Carl

Soul Purification: Hypocrisy vs True Love 

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls…”  (I Peter 1:22 NASB)

“….just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5: 25-27 NASB)

The second verse talks about the church in all her glory, “having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing”.  A “spot” or “wrinkle” used metaphorically in scripture means a moral blemish.  The church Jesus is coming back for will have  no moral blemish; i.e. the sinful nature of these people will not have dominion over them; therefore, they are NOT habitually walking in sin.  We will have more to say about spots, wrinkles, stains, etc. in a later post.

Today’s “spot” or moral blemish is hypocrisy. 

In the book of I Peter, Peter is addressing this habitual sin in the believers.  There were two reasons for it.  First, from Peter’s letter it is intimated that some in the church had returned to their old associates who they loved and therefore they did not love their fellow believers but they acted like they did. Secondly, in the early church you had a membership made up of everyone from slaves to the very rich. As you can imagine it was an odd social/economic/status mix of people and nationalities. People who did not have a lot in common except for the Lord Jesus and did not socially mix.  Maybe like the church you go to now.  In both cases, the church members where faking their brotherly love for each other; therefore, being hypocrites.  The word was used of an actor on Greek stage; someone speaking from “under a screen or mask”, concealing his real identity.  When used in the New Testament it refers to “one who assumes the mannerisms, speech, and character of someone else, thus hiding his true identity” (Wuest).  They did not really love one another so they put on a fake face and mannerisms and acted like they did. 

But when the Lord looked at them He saw a spiritual garment with a “spot” or moral blemish on it and the “spot” was hypocrisy.

In I Peter 1:22 Peter is noting that they had repented of this sin and, as a result of their change in behavior, he says they had purified their souls from this sin by obeying the the word (“obedience to the truth”) and truly showing “brotherly love” for one another. “Brotherly love” here is the Greek word phile which is “a love called out of one’s heart by the pleasure one takes in the person loved”. “It is an affection or fondness, a purely HUMAN attachment for another, and perfectly legitimate”. (Wuest) 

 In the second half of verse 22, God through Peter exhorts His children to go even further than brotherly love and to “fervently love one another from the heart,…” The word for love here is agape.  Agape is different from phile in that it means ” an reciprocal love that springs from your hearts because of the estimation of the preciousness of the brethren, and which is DIVINELY sacrificial in its essence”.  It is the love of John 3:16.  And note that God thru Peter says “from the heart” or from the true “you”. No hypocrisy.  In our true inner man, the real us, we love our fellow Christian with agape love. We agape our Christian brother not only because we take pleasure in him (phile), but because he is precious to God and, therefore, we love him with a love that is willing to sacrifice one’s self for the benefit of the brother.  A blend of the phile and agape.

You see the same progression from brother love to agape love in II Peter 1:5-7 and is a natural progression in the Christian life.

If it stays brotherly love only it could degenerate into an attachment to another that becomes very selfish and smothering. If the two loves are blended it becomes a heavenly love that blesses both parties and the body of Christ. And pleases Jesus Christ. 

The Expanded Translation says:

“Wherefore, having purified your souls by means of your obedience to the truth, resulting in not an assumed but a genuine affection and fondness for the brethren, an affection and fondness that springs from the hearts by reason of the pleasure you take in them; from your heart love each other with an intense reciprocal love that springs from your hearts because of your estimation of the preciousness of the brethren, and which is divinely self-sacrificial in its essence,…”

In closing, I confess that I had to repent of hypocrisy.  After studying this, I was convicted that I was like these Christians Peter was writing to. Not showing true phile love and, surely not showing agape love for all my brethren.  A few, yes; all, no. And from what I have seen in the visible church since I was a child, this message is sorely needed for the church.   May the Lord show you what is truly in your heart. 

The question becomes how to have such heavenly love for one another.  I quote Wuest: 

“The answer is simple. This love is produced in the heart of the saint who is definitely subjected to the control of the Holy Spirit. This love is one of His fruits (Gal. 5:22). Thus God exhorts the saints to love one another with a divine love, and then produces that love in their hearts as they trust Him to do that for them and by the action of their free will choose to be loving and exert themselves to act in a loving way towards their brethren.”

This truth about hypocrisy and true love is a crucial piece of our growth as Christians AND practicing apape love brings assurance of our salvation.  II Peter 1: 8-10 says:

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance in to the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. ” [emphasis mine]

The qualities referred to here are in II Peter 1: 5-7:

“Now for this very reason” (becoming partakers of the divine nature, verse 4) “also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self control, and in your self-control, perseverance; and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness” (phile) “and in your brotherly kindness, love”  (agape). [emphasis and inserts mine]

All of these qualities lead us to agape love in the progression of our Christian growth.  Hypocrisy is an anomaly (sin) and has no place in our growth to more Christ likeness. 

If this applies to you, like it did me, repent and begin to practice agape love and wash your soul with the pure water of obedience and remove this “spot” from your garment.
“…and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men,…”…so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” (I Thessalonians 3:12-13)

Carl

Source of True Happiness 

While visiting with relatives, I read Greg Laurie’s new book Steve McQueen: Salvation of an American Icon. Book is about the famous actor’s life and how he came to salvation in Jesus Christ prior to being diagnosed with a terminal disease.

The following C. S. Lewis quote was shared in the book:

“God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”

May you find your “happy” and peace today as you fellowship with the Father and the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit!

Carl

P.S. If your old enough to remember Steve McQueen, I recommend the book. 

“…Fragrance of Christ…”

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.” (II Corinthians 2: 14-16)

Our last post was about bringing our salvation to its ultimate conclusion which is for us to become more Christ like in our earthly life.  And how this Christ likeness needs to affect our family, friends, and others. 

 The verse says a born again person is the fragrance of Christ among both the people “who are perishing” (a lost person)  and “those who are being saved” (born again person).  This “sweet aroma” is sensed by both classes as we interact with them in our daily lives. Those who are perishing are described by the Holy Spirit as ‘dead” in the sense of “dead in your trespasses and sins”. Their human spirit is dead and that is one reason they need to be born again.  Ephesians 2:1-3 describes people in this state and includes us prior to coming to Christ. 

Following is a note my wife had written in the page border to accompany this scripture.  May it bless and encourage you:

“I am not just the bearer of the aroma or incense but I am the incense myself. I am the means by which the effect is registered on both classes if the knowledge of Christ is going forth thru my life. I must move amongst men , in Christ (walking in the experiential knowledge of the truth) having learned the truth of the knowledge of Him thru various trials, tests, fires and experiences and thereby becoming a living expression of it.  A ministration of Christ comes as a result.”

May you leave the aroma of Christ where ever you go today and every day.  May God’s children be encouraged by interacting with you and may those that are perishing see something that is missing in their lives.

Carl

“…Constantly…”

“Wherefore, my beloved ones, as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, carry to its ultimate conclusion [likeness to the Lord Jesus] your own salvation with a wholesome, serious caution and trembling, for God is the One who is constantly putting forth His energy in you, both in the form of your being desirous of and of your doing His good pleasure.”  (Paul writing to the Philippians in 2:13)

Amazing! Today. All day today.  Everyday. God is CONSTANTLY releasing  His energy into our lives — in our decisions, in our battles, in our relationships, in our work, in our ministry, in our idle time, in our busy time, in our trial, in our victory, in our suffering, in our joy, in our sickness, in our vigor, in everything — for the purpose of bringing OUR salvation to it’s ultimate conclusion:  more likeness to the Lord Jesus….NOW, not when we get to heaven, NOW, while we live on earth, NOW, while we can still make an eternal difference in our family, our friend’s lives, and lives of others. NOW, before I die and I am ashamed to stand before Him at the Judgement Seat of Christ. 

What an awesome God we serve. What provisions He has made for His children. How He is committed to His Purpose for you and me!

Enjoy walking with God today!

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, ….” (II Peter 2:14)

Carl

Two Things God Cannot Do

There is a place on our property where two wet weather creeks merge. From a vantage point you can view the water moccasins hunting prey. Once, I watched one tightly coiled up adjacent to where the water rippled over some debris and fell into the main channel. The snake laid in ambush for some poor victim, just as that ancient serpent Satan does today.

 Apostle Paul told us Satan walks around as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour in Ephesians 5:8. Paul also wrote the Corinthians (II Corinthians 2:11) about the schemes of the devil:

“But whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, in order that no advantage be take of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

In the spirit of Paul’s statement about not being ignorant of Satan’s scheme, I want to share two things God can not do.

In Romans 8: 33 Paul wrote concerning the blessedness of the “chosen out ones”:

“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.”

The first thing God can not do is He can not ACCUSE you and JUSTIFY you at the same time.

In Romans 8:34 Paul continued:

“Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

The second thing God (Christ) can not do is He can not CONDEMN us while He is always MAKING INTERCESSION for us.

Even God cannot do these two things: accuse while justifying and condemn while always making intercession for us. KNOWING THIS HELPS US DISCERN THE ATTACKS OF SATAN.

We know the human mind is a spiritual battlefield and is one portal through which Satan attacks us. Not all of our thoughts originate with us. That is why Apostle Paul said “…and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5)

In 2 Corinthians 11: 3 Paul says to the believers in Corinth the following about Satan’s schemes:

“But I am afraid lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (NASB)

And how did the serpent spring his craftiness upon these believers MINDS? By using words and thoughts from the serpent and his servants. In the very next verse Paul says this:

“For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.” (NASB)

There is a tremendous amount of Truth that could be shared on the subject of spiritual warfare. But let it be sufficient for this post, to say that we need to be aware that accusing and condemning thoughts are not from God The Father or the Lord Jesus Christ, nor are thoughts that are contrary to what the Word of God (The Bible) teaches. If we read and study the Word of God (The Bible), we will begin to understand what the Lord Jesus would say and do and the same for God the Father. Then, when we have thoughts or reasoning that is questionable, we have a backdrop to hold it up against and evaluate if it is from the Holy Spirit, ourself or Satan. Doing this, we will not be deceived by another Jesus, another spirit, nor will we be deceived by a different gospel.

The Lord Jesus tells us in Revelation 3:19 how he deals with us:

“As for myself, as many as I am fond of, I reprove so as to bring out conviction and confession, and I discipline, correct, and guide.” (Wuest)

Reprove means “to criticize or correct (someone) usually in a gentle way.

Conviction means “the state of being convinced of error or compelled to admit the truth.

Confession means in this context “to confess our sins”.

He corrects us to convict us of our sin so we will agree with Him, that it is sin and repent of it so our fellowship with Him and The Father can be restored and we increase in personal holiness. The Lord goes on to say that He will “discipline, correct, and guide.” Hear what the Holy Spirit says in Hebrews 12:7-11 (Wuest Expanded Translation):

“And you have completely forgotten the exhortation which is of such a nature as to speak to you as to sons,…..stop making light of the Lord’s discipline, correction, and guidance. Stop fainting when you are being effectually rebuked by Him. For the one who the Lord loves, He disciplines, corrects, and guides, and He scourges every son whom He receives and cherishes. It is for the purpose of discipline, correction, and guidance that you are enduring. As those who by nature are sons is God dealing with you. For what son is there whom the Father does not discipline, correct, and guide? But if you are without discipline, correction, and guidance, of which all [sons] have been made partakers, it follows therefore that you are bastards and not sons.”    
“Furthermore, we have been having indeed fathers of our flesh as those who disciplined, corrected, and guided us, and we have been in the habit of giving them reverence. Shall we not much rather put ourselves in subject to the Father of spirits and live? For on the one hand, they disciplined, corrected, and guided us for a few days upon the basis of that which seemed good to them, but He disciplines, corrects, and guides us for our profit, to the end that we might partake of His holiness. In fact, all discipline, correction, and guidance for the time being does not seem to be joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yields a return of peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised by it.”
In conclusion, Satan is the one who accuses us and condemn us and not God the Father or Lord Jesus. The Father has justified us in Lord Jesus at a great cost and He, Lord Jesus, is interceding for us before the throne of God. Satan wants to bring us to depression, hopelessness and defeat, believing we are forsaken by God. Whereas, God wants us in fellowship with Him walking in the light and growing in personal holiness, forsaking sin. He reproves and disciplines because we are His children and He loves us. Bless His Wonderful Name. If God is for us, who can be against us?

Let Us Pay Close Attention to Ourselves for the Purpose of Holiness,

Carl

Real Evidence That You Love Lord Jesus

“…, that one is he who is loving me…”

Note: this post was accidentally published Wednesday morning around 5 a.m. and then promptly removed. I apologize if you have already read this or had problems with the link.

If you ask people if they love Jesus and what is the evidence of their love, you would get a variety of answers.  Some would say that they go to church frequently or are church members.  Others would say that they love their fellow man and do no harm to others; maybe some would say they fast certain things during the year or that they pray.  Some would say they go on pilgrimages to holy sites, give of their money or keep their denominational traditions.

In the Gospel of John, the Lord Jesus told us how He determines if we really love Him or we are just honoring Him with our words, but our hearts (who we really are) are far from Him.  Listen to what He said in John 14: 21 (Wuest Expanded Translation):

“He who has my commandments and habitually keeps them, that one is he who is loving me with a divine and self-sacrificial love.”

On this blog we have quoted the Apostle John in I John numerous times writing about habitually practicing righteousness.  John was at the last supper when Jesus said this. That is where he received this truth.

Lord Jesus goes on to describe what happens when we habitually keep His commandments:

“And he who is loving me thus, shall be loved with this same kind of love by my Father, and I shall love him with a divine and self-sacrifical love, and I shall disclose myself to him.” (22)

God the Father poured out this kind of love on the world (John 3:16) when He sent His Son to the cross to bear the guilt and penalty of our sins.  And He continues to do so when we are obedient to the gospel and are born again.

But there is more. His disciples thought that Jesus was about to “disclose” Himself as the conquering Messiah to the nation of Israel.  The mother of James and John had already approached Jesus about her two sons being seated in places of honor in His messianic court. So one of the disciples asked Him why He was going to disclose Himself to them and not the whole world. Here is His reply:

“Answered Jesus and said to him, If anyone as a habit of life loves me with a divine and self-sacrificial love, my word he will keep, and my Father will love him, and to him we shall come, and an abiding place with him we shall make for ourselves. He who is not habitually loving me with a divine and self-sacrificial love, my words he is not keeping.  And the word which you are hearing is not mine but belongs to Him who sent me, the Father.” (23-24)

Now this is very amazing! The God of the universe is going to come and abide in us. How does this happen?

“This things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. And the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my Name, that One will teach you all things and recall to your mind all things which I spoke to you.” (25-26)

In Acts 2: 38 the people cried out , “What shall we do”, after hearing the first gospel message.  Peter told the Passover crowd to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  These people were obedient to the gospel message and the Holy Spirit set them apart (i.e. sanctified them) to the Lord Jesus and they were sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1).  In other words, the Lord Jesus and The Father came and made their abode with these converts through the Holy Spirit.  And God does the same for us when we are obedient to the gospel message.

This is what the Apostle John is telling us in I John 1: 3-4 when he writes:

“…what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (NASB)

Amazing! We born again believers in Jesus Christ have the privilege of fellowshipping  with God Almighty today and everyday.   John goes on to tell us how our behavior affects this fellowship.  I John 1: 5-10 says the following:

“And it is the message which we have heard from Him and at present is ringing in our ears and we are bringing back tidings to you, that God as to His nature is light, and darkness in Him does not exist, not even one particle. If we say that things in common we are having with Him, and thus fellowship, and in the sphere of the aforementioned darkness are habitually ordering our behavior, we are lying, and we are not doing the truth.  But if within the sphere of the light we are habitually ordering our behavior as Himself is in the light, things in common  and thus fellowship we [the believer and God] are having with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son keeps continually cleansing us from every sin.”

“If we say that [indwelling ] sin we are not having, ourselves we are leading astray [nobody else], and the truth is not in us. If we continue to confess our sins, faithful is He and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from every unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned and are now in a state where we do not sin, a liar we are making Him, and His word is not in us.”  (Wuest Expanded Translation)

The reason John is telling us this he states next in I John 2: 1:

“My little children … these things I am writing to you in order that you may not commit an act of sin.  And if anyone commits an act of sin, One who pleads our cause we constantly have facing the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One. ” (Wuest Expanded Translation)

In closing, two things.

First, is there enough evidence in my life to convict me of really being in love with Jesus, per His definition, or am I a hypocrite like the people in Mark 7:6 to which the Lord said:

“And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.

In Luke 6:46 Jesus asked the question “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?

Secondly, the Apostle John is telling the born again believer that our indwelling sinful nature, though we are dead to it, has not been eradicated from our being.  Therefore, we will occasionally sin and, when we do, we need to confess that sin to maintain fellowship with our Father. (Notice I said fellowship and not relationship. Because of our faith in the work of Christ on the Cross, our relationship is secure with the Father.)

He not only immediately forgives us

but the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness, i.e. habitual sins of ignorance that we are walking in but are not aware of yet.  What a merciful God!!!

My friends, it all boils down to a simple question for everyone: Is Christ Lord of your life?

I hope you enjoy the fellowship with your heavenly Father and His Holy Son today.  Walk in the light as He is in the light.

Carl

 

Soul Purification: Malice

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Today is the first post in a series called Soul Purification.  The purpose is to highlight certain sins that the Holy Spirit tells us to cleanse ourselves from.   If applicable, repent of the sinful behavior and purpose in your heart to forsake it by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Don’t get bogged down in self introspection. This is the sanctification component of our daily walk and nothing new.  Keep your eyes on the Lord and REJOICE in becoming more Christ like.

Our scriptural basis for this is in I John 3: 2-3 where the Holy Spirit through Apostle John says:

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (NASB)

“Him” in the scripture being the Lord Jesus and “when He appears” is  when He comes for the Church at the Rapture and the Judgement Seat of Christ takes place. We do the purifying. 

Why is this important?  The scripture (verses 4-8) goes on to say

“Everyone who habitually commits sin, also habitually commits lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.  And you know absolutely that that One was manifested in order that He might take away our sins; and sin in Him does not exist. Everyone who in Him is constantly abiding is not habitually sinning. Everyone who is constantly sinning has not with discernment seen Him, nor has he known Him, with the result that that condition is true of him at present. Little born-ones, stop allowing anyone to be leading you astray. The one who habitually does righteousness is righteous, just as that One is righteous. The one who is habitually committing sin is out of the devil as a source, because from the beginning the devil has been sinning. For this purpose there was manifested the Son of God, in order that He might bring to naught the works of the devil.”  (Wuest Expanded Translation)

And verse 10 wraps up the discussion by saying:

In this is apparent who are the born-ones of God and the born-ones of the devil. Everyone who is not habitually doing righteousness is not of God, also the one who is not habitually loving his brother [Christian] with a divine and self-sacrificial love.” 

In other words, born again believers are not to walk in habitual sin, governed by our indwelling sinful nature which we were freed from when we where spiritually baptized into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection by the Holy Spirit.

Some may say, “This sounds like salvation by works.” Let me assure you it is not.  The Lord,  in John 3 said unless you are born again, you can not “see” or “enter” the Kingdom of God. It is the born again process that frees you from the power of the indwelling sinful nature, gives you a new godly nature, and brings the Holy Spirit into your person and He supplies the desire and power to do God’s will.   The Apostle Paul explains all of this in Romans chapter 6 through 8. You can not walk habitually in righteousness unless you are born again or, as we say, saved.

If you have any questions about this, please contact me via this site or give me a call.

So let’s get started with our first sin:

Wickedness (Malice)

“Wherefore, having put away once for all every wickedness and every craftiness, and hypocrisies and envies, and all slanderings, as newborn infants do, intensely yearn for the unadulterated spiritual milk in order that by it you may be nourished and make progress in [your] salvation…” (I Peter 2: 1-2) (Wuest Expanded Translation)

Here Wuest uses the word “wickedness” and in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) the word “malice” is used. Vines Greek Dictionary says the Greek word means “badness in quality” and is the opposite of excellence.  In the New Testament it is translated “malice”, “maliciousness”, and “wickedness”.

In the English dictionary malice means ” the desire or intention to do evil, ill will”.  Synonyms would be “revenge, rancor (i.e. Bitterness or resentfulness, esp. when long standing), spite, cattiness (i.e. deliberately hurtful in one’s remarks, spiteful), vindictiveness, vengefulness, malignant (i.e. very evil)”, animus (i.e. a strong feeling of dislike or hatred), enmity (i.e. a very deep unfriendly feeling).” 

The source of this, like other sins, is man’s heart:

“And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness….”

The heart of man is defined in Vines Greek Dictionary:

“By easy transition the word came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional elements.  In other words, the heart is used figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life.  The Bible describes human depravity as in the ‘heart’ because sin is a principle which has its seat in the center of man’s inward life, and then “defiles’ the whole circuit of his actions,… On the other hand, Scripture regards the heart as the sphere of Divine influence.  The heart, as lying deep within, contains the hidden man, the real man. It represents the true character but conceals it. 

That is why Scripture says that if you want to really know what is in a person, listen to what is coming out of his mouth for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

In the Old Testament, there are several words that are translated “wickedness” but we will only say the following:

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines wickedness as follows:

“The state of being wicked; a mental disregard for justice, righteousness, truth, honor, virtue, evil in thought and life; depravity; sinfulness; criminality.” “Pride and vanity lead to it.”

Few examples of “wickedness” (malice) would be as follows:                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. The desire to hurt someone, either with words or physically .                                                                                                                                                                                                           2. Desire for revenge because someone did something to you or said something about you.                                                                                                                                                           3. Expressing ill will toward someone: “I hope he ends up in hell.”                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Thinking or expressing hate to someone: “I hate your guts and always will.”                                                                                                                                                                                5. Of course, we can lump adultry, fornication, homosexuality, and other sins into this                                                                                                                                                                  6. Any desire to do evil or what is contrary to God’s Word.

In closing, habitual sin is progressive. Stay trapped in it long enough and you will call good, evil and evil, good and light, darkness and darkness, light.  As we go on in habitual sin our minds become more and more deceived. Remember, that pride and vanity lead to wickedness.  Humility is the opposite of pride and  brings  the essential grace of God.

It is God’s will that you and I not walk in wickedness and repenting of any wickedness He reveals to us is the first step to overcoming this sin. Listen to what He showed Paul so he could escape the clutchs of the old sinful nature and Paul share it with the church in Rome in Romans 6:11-14:

“Thus also be constantly counting upon the fact that on the one hand, you are dead ones with respect to the sinful nature , and on the other, that you are living ones with respect to God in Christ Jesus.  Stop therefore allowing the sinful nature to reign as king in your mortal body with a view to obeying it (the body) in its passionate cravings. Moreover, stop putting your members at the disposal of the sinful nature as weapons of unrighteousness, but by a once for all act and at once, put yourselves at the disposal of God as those who are actively alive out from among the dead, and your members as weapons of righteousness at the disposal of God, for (then) the sinful nature will not exercise lordship over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”  

As we do what these verses say and excersise our free will to say NO to sin, the Holy Spirit’s power will give us the victory over the temptation to sin. 

 May God bless you as you purpose to get wickedness out of your life and please the Lord.  Be encouraged and strengthen your heart with these precious promises from the Word of God.  May He perfect us in love (agape) for others; especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.  See I John 4: 11-12.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”  (I Thessalonians 5: 23-24)

“Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness”  (II Timothy 2:19)

Carl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World and Us

  1. I found this note while reading Luke 16: 13-15 the other day.  As born again believers, the Lord Jesus Christ is to be “Lord” of our lives.  The world system, which is controlled by Satan, is continually trying to impose its value system on us. In James 4:4 the Bible tells us that friendship with the world is hostility toward God. He compares it to a wife or husband having an affair thereby being an adulteress.  James goes on to say that he who wishes to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God.

Sometimes we are so entangled in the affairs of the world that we do not recognize it for what it is. The kingdom of the enemy of God.  May the Holy Spirit show us today if we are in an adulterous affair with some aspect of the world.

In closing, I share Luke 6:46 with you. The scripture that God used to rip the deception off our minds and show us we were lost and bound for hell. The Lord Jesus said “Why do you call me Lord Lord and do not do what I say?

Pay Close Attention To Yourself

Carl

Part II: “Pay Close Attention To Yourself…”

Why it is important to heed Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy about conforming to godliness.

Dear Reader: Following is the conclusion to the previous blog entitled Part I: “Pay Close Attention To Yourself….”.  To read Part I please scroll down to the previous blog.  Thank you for your time.  Carl

In closing, three reasons as to why Paul’s admonishment to “Pay close attention to yourself…” is needed:

1. Personal Godliness is the believer’s responsibility.

This personal holiness is not vicarious. It cannot be transferred or imputed; in other words, the Lord Jesus cannot give you His personal holiness. It is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God and of following the example of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

God the Father has given us His written word, a new nature and the Holy Spirit at salvation. He also broke the power of the indwelling sinful nature. The Holy Spirit will give us the desire and the power to do God’s will but we have to cooperate with Him. We do not need to ask Him to fall on us or come like a might wind because He is already in all born again people, Ephesians 1: 13-14.

2. Personal Godliness is the evidence that you have been born again and received a new nature.

The visible evidence of the new nature you received at salvation is obedience.

Psalm 81:15 states “Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him; and their time of punishment would be forever.” (Emphasis mine)

Do not confuse this with salvation by works. A person cannot escape the kingdom of
Satan and the hold of the fleshly, fallen nature unless he is born again by the Holy
Spirit.

The Apostle John says it as follows in I John 2: 4-6 and I John 3:10:

“The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

“In this is apparent who are the born-ones of God and the born-ones of the devil. Everyone who is not habitually doing righteousness is not of God, also the one who is not habitually loving his brother [Christian] with a divine and self-sacrificial love.” (Wuest Expanded Translation)

When you measure yourself against John’s words, what does it say about your conduct?

3. The Judgement Seat of Christ is coming for all born again believers.

Concerning the Judgement-seat of Christ, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5: 10

“For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Vine’s Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says the following about the Judgement-seat of Christ:

“It is the divine tribunal before which all believers are hereafter to stand. The Father has given all judgement to The Lord Jesus. Here all believers are to be made manifest, that each may “receive the things done in (or through) the body”, according to what he has done, “whether it be good or bad.” There they will receive rewards for their faithfulness to the Lord. For all that has been contrary in their lives to His will they will suffer loss, I Cor. 3:15.”

“This judgement is separate from His premillennial, earthly throne, Matt.25:31, and the postmillennial “Great White Throne” in Rev 20-:11. The judgement seat of Christ will be a tribunal held “in His Parousia”, i.e. in His presence with His saints after His return to receive them to Himself.”

In my point of reference, this occurs after the Rapture of the church.

Paul gives us a glimpse into the judgement-seat in 1 Corinthian 3: 10 – 15 where he is dealing with a problem in Corinth, Greece and he states: no foundation can be laid in a believer’s life except Jesus Christ:

“…..but let each man be careful how he builds upon it.” “Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood , hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’ work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved yet so as through fire. “

One of the New Testament words translated “holiness” in the English translations is the Greek word hagiosune and denotes the quality of “holiness” in personal conduct. Paul used it in 2 Corinthians 7:1:

“….let us cleanse ourselves from all contamination which may defile the flesh [the human body] and the [human] spirit, progressively accomplishing holiness in the fear of God.” (Wuest Expanded Translation)

Notice who is to do the cleansing. Us. The believer.  We are cleansed by obeying His word.

I Thessalonians 3:12 -13 says:

“…and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” (I Thessalonians 3:13).

Hogg and Vine’s Notes on Thessalonians throw much light on I Thessalonians 3:12-13 and the importance of personal holiness with their expanded Greek paraphrase:

“The Lord enable you more and more to spend your lives in the interest of others, in order that He may so establish you in Christian character now, that you may be vindicated from every charge that might possibly be brought against you at the Judgement-seat of Christ.” (Emphasis mine)

Notice in this scripture that it is through love for others that we increase in Christian godliness. It is hard to sin against someone when you “regard one another as more important than” yourself. In Philippians 2: 3-5 we are exhorted to “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”

One day we will stand before the One who spilt his precious blood so we could have forgiveness of sin and be reconciled to God the Father saving us from the wrath of God which will come “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (II Thessalonians1:8) Let us do it with joy and not fear. Let our love for our brothers and sisters and all people increase. Let us be able to say with the Apostle John:

And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of Judgment [Judgement Seat of Christ] because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is not fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” I John 4:16-19

Dear Reader please be honest with yourself as I have had to be. Does the thought of the Judgement Seat of Christ fill you with dread and fear or do you rejoice at having your life reviewed? Are you being perfected in love? Are you anxious to see Him seated on His throne of glory or will we be like the people in Revelation 6 that cried out for the rocks to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him who sits on the throne.

I, the writer, have written this to record what the Holy Spirit was showing me for myself and to be a good steward. This is not written to bring condemnation to the believer but to exhort them to “…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;…” (Colossians 1:10) My trust is in The Lord Jesus that He will bring it to pass in my and your life.

In conclusion, let us pay close attention to ourselves with a view to being pleasing to God who has blessed us so greatly. Let us fulfill our born again responsibility to grow in personal holiness and to be found without spot or blemish at the Judgement Seat of Christ. Let us cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He works in our life and we learn what is pleasing to God.

If repentance is needed, repent. Tell God you agree with Him concerning the issue and turn away from it. Ask Him to help you stay free from it. Remember, in Roman 6: 11 -14 Paul tells us how this walk of victory happens:

“Thus, also, as for you, you be constantly counting upon the fact that, on the one hand, you are those who have been separated from the sinful nature, and on the other, that you are living ones with respect to God in Christ Jesus.

Stop therefore allowing the sinful nature to reign as king in your mortal body with a view to obeying it [the body] in its passionate cravings.

Moreover, stop putting your members at the disposal of the sinful nature as weapons of unrighteousness,

But by a once-for-all act and at once, put yourselves at the disposal of God as those who are actively alive out of from among the dead, and put your members as weapons of righteousness at the disposal of God,

FOR [THEN] THE SINFUL NATURE WILL NOT EXERCISE LORDSHIP OVER YOU, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Wuest Expanded Translation) (Emphasis mine)

Let us put this into practice in our daily lives and our sinful nature will not exercise lordship over us. What a great plan of salvation God has given to the Church. Be encouraged saint!

Now may the God of peace himself consecrate you, every part of each one of you, to His worship and service, and may your spirit, and soul and body be preserved in their entirety blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who gives you the divine summons [into salvation], who also will do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:23-24 Wuest Expanded Translation)

Pay Close Attention to Yourself   

Carl

Part I : “Pay Close Attention To Yourself…”

Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy concerning the born again person conforming to godliness.

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul tells him “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…” (I Timothy 6:3) [Emphasis mine]

The Apostle Peter writing to believers stated the “doctrine conforming to godliness” as follows:

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the formers lusts, which were yours in your ignorance but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY.” And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (I Peter 1: 14-19)

In other words, after a person is born again, if he is properly instructed in the truth, they, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will begin to purify their souls of defilement (sin):

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (I John 3:3)

Over a period of time they will become more and more Christlike in their manner of living or conduct.

This process is known as progressive sanctification. Sanctification is the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. The Greek word from which sanctification comes from means “to make holy”. This sanctification is God’s will for the believer and His purpose in calling him by the gospel. It must be learned from God as He teaches it by His Word and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, cooperating with the Holy Spirit who gives the desire and the power to accomplish it. The following scriptures witness to these truths:

I Thessalonians 4:3 says “This is the will of God, your sanctification…”

I Thessalonians 4:7 says “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.

I Thessalonians 4:4 says “…that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor”

The Lord Jesus said in John 17:17 as He prayed for His followers “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.”

Philippians 2:13 says “…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Some who claim to be born again take the teaching on the grace of God too far. They believe that willful sinning is okay after salvation because “it is all under grace”. That they can live in fornication, impurity, immorality or other habitual sin and still be in fellowship with the Holy Lord Jesus and the Holy Father God is in direct opposite to what the Word of God teaches. Concerning these believers, it is truly as Paul told Timothy in the opening verse, “….he is conceited and understands nothing;…”. The Apostle John warns the recipients of his letter known as II John to “Watch yourselves that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God;…” (II John 1:8-9)

Our brother, the Apostle Paul, told Timothy to “Pay close attention to yourself” (I Timothy 4:16a) and “….discipline (i.e. train) yourself for the purpose of godliness;…” (I Timothy 4:7b).

Concerning godliness and after exhorting Timothy to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness…” Apostle Paul said “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” (I Timothy 4:10) The man who the Lord Jesus used to write a large portion of the New Testament and He sent to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (that is you and me) was daily laboring and striving to be godly in his conduct. He knew the struggle and the temptations that come our way and learned how to overcome them with the Holy Spirit’s help.

Paul advised Timothy to “Pay close attention to yourself…”. We would be wise to heed his advice to Timothy. Apostle Peter exhorts us:

“Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (I Peter1:13)

Let us keep sober in mind and spirit and not be drunk on the spirit of this world (Satan’s kingdom) where anything goes, no boundaries; as long as it makes me look good, meets my emotional needs, it is okay. Where, in a deceived state, I can act like a god (make my own rules) and walk in pride and arrogance toward God and His Word; be wise in my own eyes. Grieving the Holy Spirit by whom we were sealed for the day of redemption.

Instead, let us examine ourselves and see if there is any wicked way in us when compared with God’s Word and the Lord Jesus’ life. Not in a condemning way. “There istherefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. (Romans 8:1) If we find ourselves in sin or with unconfessed sin, let us repent (i.e. agree with what God says about it and turn from it) and purpose not to do it again. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us. (I John 1:9-10)

Paul’s experience birthed this advice: “Pay close attention to yourself…”
My thoughts.
My words.
My actions .
What I am listening to.
What I am watching.
What I am entertained by.
What I am laughing at (a type of approval).
The motives behind my actions.
Is there any malice, wrath, anger?
Am I speaking truth or a lie?
Am I slandering someone?
Am I acting as a judge?
Am I walking in Pride? (Pride always sees the faults in others)
Am I being jealous?
Am I a manslayer? (“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer…” I John 3:15)

And we could go on and on with this list. Each of us has areas we need to bring into submission to the Word of God. And as we study God’s word, He will reveal sin we are not even aware of.

In closing, three reasons as to why Paul’s admonishment to “Pay close attention toyourself…” is needed:

This concludes Part I of this post.  Please return for Part II in the next post.  Thank you!

The Big Difference

How does keeping of the Old Testament Law and walking in New Testament grace compare?

Do this and live, the Old Testament Law demands, but gives neither feet or hands.

A better word the Gospel brings. It bids me fly and gives me wings.

Author Unknown

Born again believers get their “wings” by understanding the truths found in Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter six through eight.  Listen to what Apostle Peter said about these truths in II Peter 1: 3-4 (Wuest Expanded Translation):

“Seeing that all things to us His divine power has generously given, the things which pertain to life and godliness, through the experiential knowledge [which the believer has] of the One who called us [into salvation] by means of His own glory and virtue, by means of which [glory and virtue] there have been generously given to us the precious and exceedingly great promises in order that through these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped by flight the corruption which is in the world in the sphere of passionate carvings.”  [emphasis mine]

I hope you have your “wings” mentally on today.  Have a blessed day walking in the Spirit!

Carl