Holiness and God – Hebrews 12:14-17

Without Holiness, No One Will See The Lord

14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

Pursue Peace

In a world where everyone is at odds with each other, it is not always easy to be at peace with people.  Although there is great evil in the world, Jesus Christ has overcome the world.  And as ambassadors for Christ, we need to live in this victory.  This is not to say that we will be able to be at peace with everyone.  This command is completely directed at us, not at the outcome.  Elsewhere, we are told:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

This does not mean that you are to be a doormat.  Make every effort to live in peace with others.  They are responsible for their own reactions.  Otherwise, we would be their perpetual slaves, forced to do their bidding in an effort to bring peace at any cost to our relationships.

You can’t please all of the people all the time.  – Miranda Richardson

We have been set free, and should no longer be slaves to people’s desires or expectations from us or for us.  We are to instead be focused on the expectations that our Lord Jesus Christ has for us.

Seek Sanctification

We are to seek the Holiness of God in how we conduct our lives.  This is not works-based salvation, but rather a fulfillment of a Christ-proclaimed directive:

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.

God is holy.  He cannot abide sin.  It is for this reason that Jesus died on the cross, that we might have the opportunity through the righteousness (holiness) of Christ to be in the presence of God forever.

Being a disciple is more than mere intellectual ascent to the creed of your master.  It is the moment-by-moment imitation of your master’s activities, thought processes, and character so that you can be as near a perfect imitation of your master.  If a person thinks their way is better than their master, why waste the time, money, and effort of trying to learn their ways?  Discipleship is the recognition that your master knows how to do whatever it is you desire to learn to do better than you are able to do it.  God knows our hearts, and doesn’t seek people looking for “fire insurance.”  God desires those who espouse a great conviction that He is holy; He is truth; He is perfect; He knows best how to do everything; and we don’t.

Assist Another

Cain asked God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The simple answer is, “YES!!!”  We are to look out for each other.  When we see someone else begin to falter, we are to render assistance to them, help them back up, and restore them once they have begun to walk right again.

We are to encourage one another in psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.  We are to greatly desire that each member of the body of Christ be built up in the Spirit, fully mature, and lacking nothing.  We are to agonize in prayer over this.  The world says, “Family First!”  The body of Christ needs to place this in its proper perspective:  God first, family second, everyone else third.  Let us begin to treat other believers in Christ in our local body (where we worship) as our family, just as if you were born and raised with them.  Then, after we have that down (how much less strife would be in the church if we did just that!), let us treat the OTHER bodies of disciples of Christ as though THEY were our family as well!  United we stand, divided we fall.  This is just as true today as the day it was pronounced.

Impale Immorality

Sexual immorality was just as prevalent two thousand years ago as it is today.  We are reminded that we are to put to death anything that impedes our walk with our Savior:

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

Sanctification is the process of the renewing of one’s mind in such a way that not only do we desire to be holy, we begin to walk in the holiness of God, accepting the consequences of our actions without regard to their difficulty.  God is character-driven.  We are to adopt and emulate His character in how we conduct the lives that He has given us.  Immorality of any type is to be rejected.  God is the one who decides what is moral and immoral, for our hearts (the root of our emotions, desires, and motivations) in their natural state are wicked, and unable to properly discern the truth even about themselves.

Rejoice for the Reward

Finally, we are admonished to greatly desire the reward that awaits us in heaven. Esau, for a meal, gave away his inheritance.  He desired the immediate gratification of the flesh over the (seemingly) far off reward of his inheritance.  Like Esau, we are impatient, self-gratifying, self-seeking, and unable to keep everything in its proper perspective.  We need to put these things to death in us.  We need to embrace the same mindset as Christ, who endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I not only long for, but ferociously seek the holiness of God in how I conduct my life every second of every day?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are holy, and You cannot abide sin in Your presence.  Thank You again for the sacrifice of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, so that I might have the opportunity to be in Your presence.  Thank you for the very life and breath You give to me now.  Help me to actively seek and desire the character of holiness that shines forth from You and repels the darkness.  Help me to better understand Your holiness, and the principles of character that You desire to be perfected in my life.  Sanctify me so that I might draw even closer to You.  Help me to live in such a way that You are pleased with my conduct, my speech, and my every thought.  Test me during the day, and even at night, so that I will be prepared for the great and glorious day when Your Son returns in glory.  Help me to be like the virgins who brought oil with them as they awaited the bridegroom, for our bridegroom is coming, and is coming quickly.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Wisdom and Well-Being – Proverbs 3:1-4

Wisdom Will Bring Spiritual Well-Being As Well As Long Life

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

Cherish Commandments

Solomon urges us to keep God’s commands in our heart.  This is a calling to accept them as more than mere moral teachings or wonderful ideas.  Ideas are worthless unless they are put into action.  Solomon encourages us to embrace the teachings and commands of God and put them into action.  When we do not put into practice the teachings of the Bible, they are like a sports team’s trophies put on a shelf, looked at in admiration, while the players gorge themselves in food, gaining pound after pound of fat, refusing to practice, and expecting to triumph over the team who has been diligent in training and practice.

Prolong Presence

By putting the teachings of God into practice, they will guard your life against many of the pitfalls that are caused by careless and dangerous living as God views such lifestyles.  This is not a blanket guarantee that says that if you do A, then B will result.  This is rather a generalization that, all other things being equal, will have the TENDENCY to prolong your life.  Drunk drivers still kill people via vehicular homicide.  Earthquakes and Tsunamis and Floods and other natural disasters occur.  Yet over time, the commands of God will help a person to live in such a way that they will benefit their life with longevity.

Peace and Prosperity

When a person lives according to the commands and teachings of God, they will find themselves at peace with others (generally).  There are always going to be people who, no matter what you do, no matter what you say, will have it in their heart to despise you, be angry with you, abuse you, torment you, and otherwise be in conflict with you.  But for the rest of humanity that surrounds you, they will see a life lived in Godliness and will praise God for it, or desire the peace that you have.  They will see the prosperity in joy that you have, even if God has not blessed you with financial prosperity.  To the millionaire that is miserable, depressed, suicidal, and otherwise miserable, being poor and happy may appear to be a significant blessing.  Money cannot buy happiness, nor even rent it.  It can merely assist with some of our physical needs.  But who needs to be concerned with that when God is sovereign, owns everything, and will provide for your every need?

Labor in Love

Love and faithfulness go hand-in-hand.  Both love and faithfulness are commitments towards others.  They are inextricably wound together, forming two strong cords that hold each other steady in the storms of life.  God is love.   We are to be image-bearers of God.  To bear the image is to outwardly show the same characteristics.  Since God is love, we too ought to love others in the same manner.

Noble Name

When we labor in love and faithfulness, we will win a good name in the sight of God and man.  People honor the noble ones among us who labor for our good.  Love does exactly that – it labors for the good of another.  When we do this, we please God by obeying what He has commanded us to do.  We also gain a good name among men who recognize the good that we do in the light and in the sight of God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I embracing the wisdom of God so that it transforms my life?

A short prayer of preparation

Father in Heaven, You are able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.  And You give us a good name when we honor You by heeding Your teachings and wisdom through the practical application of them in our lives.  Teach me to live according to Your will and Your way through Your word.  Help me to embrace You in a greater way so that I can honor and glorify Your name before men.  Help me to shine Your light before all so that they may see how good You are.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blessing of Protection – Psalm 147:13-14

God Blesses Through Protection As Well As Provision

13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

Sovereign Safety

God delights in sovereignly protecting His people.  He is greatly concerned with and involved in securing the national borders of Israel, and considers national borders to be of vital importance to a nation.  It is God who watches over the city (and, by inference, the nations):

Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

God is very involved in the raising up of leaders and nations (for His sovereign purposes):

5 “Look at the nations and watch-
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.”

Bountiful Blessing

God is the author of all provision and blessing.  He provides for our physical blessings as well as our spiritual blessings.  God provides us with great blessings, as well as plentiful blessings:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

God desires to bless us in abundance with everything that we could every need or desire.  He greatly desires that we desire Him; for when we desire Him, He will provide Himself in even greater measure:

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Protected in Peace

The traditional greeting in Hebrew is “shalom“.  This is a blessing upon either an individual or a group of people.  It is a blessing of peace to another.  God greatly desires to protect us in peace:

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

Here is another translation:

When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

God desires is that we live in peace with everyone.  When we are being obedient to Him, and pleasing Him with our ways, even our foulest, most despicable, war-like, offensive, murderous, odious, and otherwise ill-willed enemies will be forced to be at peace with us.  How great a blessing is that!

Finest Food

God provides richly for his children, and greatly desires to provide the finest goods for them.  This is not a “name it and claim it” blessing, but rather an indication that when God’s favor is upon us, we will have the opportunity to partake of the finest goods that the land has to offer.

The United States of America, in previous years, had been greatly blessed by God.  The standard of living of the people in her borders was far and above that of just about every other nation on Earth.  The finest goods and services were both produced and consumed in her by her citizens.  God’s blessing upon her was abundantly apparent, and she was the envy of the nations.  People willingly forsook their countries of birth for the mere chance at the opportunity to come to her shores and partake in the opportunity and blessing afforded in righteousness before God.

But as her people turned their hearts away from God, banishing Him from her schools, government, businesses, laws, and every other nook and cranny within her, God, being the gentleman that He is, politely nodded His head in acknowledgement of her people’s collective decision, and has withdrawn both Himself and His blessing from her people.  And as her people indulge themselves in wickedness and self-centeredness, they are reaping what they have sown.  For although her people still have a significantly higher standard of living than most of the world, her people are now, in comparison, poor and living in wretchedness as a result of their wickedness.

Providential Protection

God greatly desires to protect and provide for those who would seek Him out in righteousness.  This is not a bribe to people, but rather the way that He seeks to display His mercy and glory.  Not everyone who seeks the Lord will become well-off financially.  Rather, they will reap a reward of abundance in righteousness.  And God, who is sovereign, will secure their future with Him in salvation purchased through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, as it washes those who have sought Him clean of their stain of sin.  Being reconciled to God, they can now live in freedom from sin and in peace with God and man.  Regardless of whether monetary and/or Earthly riches are provided in this life, God has abundantly provided riches in spiritual blessings for all eternity to those who would kiss the Son.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I partaking of the abundant blessing that God offers in His Son?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for Your protection and blessing.  Thank You for watching over my household, my city, and my nation.  Thank You for your abundant provision through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.  I know, Father that you know of my needs, and I confess them to you now.  Help me that I may seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness that all of these may be added unto me.  Help me to treasure my inheritance, and to look forward to the future when my present circumstances appear bleak.  Reveal to me Your glory, power, presence and peace so that I may have the strength to endure the trials that I face.  Forgive my nation for its many sins.  I confess them to you now, for we have forsaken You, My Lord and My God.  Help change the hearts of those who have indulged in the pleasures of this world so that they would seek the beauty and peace that only You can provide in relationship with You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Blessings of Obedience – Psalm 128

Obedience To God Results In Blessings By God

1 Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him.
2 You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Yes, this will be the blessing
for the man who fears the Lord.

5 May the Lord bless you from Zion;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
6 May you live to see your children’s children-
peace be on Israel.

Revel in Reverence

Obedience is a word that is treated like the plague.  Very few people want to be obedient.  To be obedient means that there may be (most likely will be) great sacrifice, pain, and personal loss in a person’s life.  Jesus likened obedience to love:

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Obedience to the word of God brings about the circumstances necessary to transform the lives of men and women into the character and capacity of Jesus:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

In obedience we find freedom.  And in freedom, we find joy and peace.  God greatly desires that we be free from the bondage of sin so that we can have the freedom to follow Him:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The difference between obedience and legalism is that obedience leads to freedom, and  legalism leads to bondage.

Bountiful Blessings

Obedience has its own rewards, apart from the joy of knowing that God is pleased with how you are living your life.  Obedience brings and abundance of blessings.  God is faithful and rewards those who seek after Him in obedience.  There are many blessings to be found in obedience.  The Psalmist lists several.

Wonderful Wife

The man who is obedient to God will have a wife that is fruitful.  Children are a blessing and a reward from God.  Additionally, the wife of an obedient man is most likely following in his footsteps, and is obedient to God and to him as well.  Everything that she does will pour forth out of her joy in Jesus and her husband.  She will be able to trust in her husband, and show him the respect that he desires and deserves, because she will already be showing God the respect that He deserves through obedience.  Her hands will be busy, and she will be fruitful in all that she does.

Chosen Children

When a man is obedient to God, his children will most likely follow suit.  Children model their parents, whether they want to or not.  They learn by watching our example.  And when it is real to them, they will embrace it as they taste and see that the Lord is good.  They will grow in grace and righteousness before God, and will be a blessing to their parents.

Powerful Prosperity

In obedience, those who follow God will be prospered.  God looks to the future and the spiritual rather than the present and the physical.  And while He desires that we prosper here on Earth, He has an even stronger desire that we prosper in Him.  Obedience produces the character that God desires in His children in the same way that parents desire that their children obey them.

Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than the rich whose ways are perverse.

After all, in obedience, we are afforded great, abundant, and valuable wealth:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ

Long Life

Obedience to God gives us wisdom, and God grants long life to those who seek Him in obedience.  They will live a full life, and be afforded the opportunity to see their grandchildren grow.  Their heritage will be available to be a blessing to them, and they will rejoice that God has given them the opportunity to witness it and to participate in their upbringing.  This is not an iron-clad contractual promise, but rather a generalization that bears out in our experience as we live long and prosper on the Earth.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I seeking obedience to God, or His blessings?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have greatly blessed me in that You have revealed Your Son, Jesus Christ to me, and have given me the faith to believe in Him and to follow Him.  Thank You for all that You are, and all that You do.  Give me a heart of obedience so that I will be like Your servant David, who heart was continually turning or turned towards You.  Help me to overcome my sin so that I would be able to be even more obedient to Your word and Your will.  Give me clean hands and a pure heart that I might yield all that I am and all that I have to You in worship.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Protection by God – Psalm 125

God Is The One Who Protects His People Israel

1 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

3 The scepter of the wicked will not remain
over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
their hands to do evil.

4 Lord, do good to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart.
5 But those who turn to crooked ways
the Lord will banish with the evildoers.

Peace be on Israel.

Total Trust

God greatly desires that we trust Him.  He has shown his trustworthiness throughout His word, and history bears witness to it by external observers.  As we develop in our relationship with God, there is a level of trust that comes into play.  When circumstances seem to show that God is against us, are we willing to believe that God is for us?  Will He ever truly leave us or forsake us?  Do we trust in His character, or the blessings that He bestows?

Secure Stronghold

The Psalmist indicates here that those who trust God wholeheartedly are like a mountain – they will not be shaken.  That is because any good building is completely reliant upon its foundation.  When we trust in Jesus Christ, we are building upon the cornerstone – the very first and largest stone laid down in a foundation.  When the cornerstone is laid properly – it is level and faces in the right direction – the rest of the foundation that is laid down next to it will be straight and true.

Jesus is our foundation, our solid rock.  Anyone who builds on Jesus, through trust in Him, will build upon the unshakeable cornerstone of God.  God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; nothing and no one can cause Jesus to change.  He is securely seated at the right hand of God, His power and authority being vested in Him.  Nothing will move this cornerstone from its tried and true positioning.

Power Purged

It is good to know that the wicked will eventually be removed from power over the righteous.  God knows that if wickedness stays in power for too long, the righteous will begin to falter, and they may begin to do evil with their hands and hearts.  Human beings can only endure so much before they “crack”.

Imagine if there were continuously evil rulers since Cain murdered Abel.  What would people think and say?  “Where is our God?  Will He never deliver us from this evil?”  Their hearts would grow heavy, and under the constant barrage of evil, the unending torment of those in power, our will to endure would surely erode, and our belief that God is holy and just would fade as generation after generation prayed for relief but found none.  God surely delivers His people not only to demonstrate that He is sovereign over all, but also to give hope to the hopeless.

Crooked Crushed

And when God does act in justice and removes the wicked from power, He banishes them with the evildoers.  God originally intended the Lake of Fire to be for fallen angels only.  However, He will use this place of torment and separation from His power and presence for all who refuse to repent and turn towards the One True God in faith.  Those who suffer under the rule of evil people can take heart that God is a just, righteous, and holy God.  He will not abandon His people to the whims and depredations of the wicked, but will instead judge the wicked, unrepentant people and place them where they can no longer do any harm.

Permanent Peace

The Psalmist’s cry is that God do good to those who are good.  The funny part is that in and of ourselves, no one is good or righteous.  Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ that He died for our sins, and clothed us with His righteousness.  We who believe and are obedient to Him are declared righteous and good before God the Father*.  And the lasting promise given to those who live for God and obey His commands (in holy fear, reverence, and gratitude) will be peace, first on Earth, and then everlasting peace in His presence for all eternity in Heaven.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I show that I trust God through my actions and my speech?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are my joy, my peace, and my sanctuary.  You have displayed Your awesome power through the creation of the Universe, and You display Your mercy and grace as You patiently, tenderly, and gently woo each of us back to Yourself.  Father, time is short, and even now You are calling the last of the remnant to Yourself in dreams and visions where Your people cannot work.  Give me a sense of urgency as the time grows near for Your Son to be revealed again in glory in the clouds.  Help me to show others that You seek peace for their lives in You.  Help me to get out and declare Your righteousness and our wickedness before You.  Prepare the hearts of all whom I will interact today.  Give me the strength, the words, and the will to boldly praise You in power and glory to others.  This I ask in the precious name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


This blog has been edited for spelling and grammatical errors, as well as clarity.

*Faith without works is dead – James 2:17; If you love me, you will obey my commands – John 14:15-24; Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved – Joel 2:32.

It is not our works that save us, but grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ – Ephesians 2:8.  God accepts us as we are, but loves us too much to leave us where He found us.  God cleans us up and prepares us to be a holy sanctuary for the Holy Spirit – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  This process is called Sanctification.  God did not save us just so we could avoid Hell (fire insurance), but to be adopted as His children – Ephesians 1:5.

And just as every parent has expectations from their children (yet loves them unconditionally even when they misbehave), our Father in Heaven has expectations for our behavior as well.  He has forgiven all sins of ours, past, present and future – Psalm 103:12.  But we should, in gratitude, try to honor Him with our lives in every way, knowing the price that He paid for our freedom, and adoption into His family!  It is relationship that He desires with us, along with a singular pursuit of Jesus in holiness and righteousness – Matthew 7:21-23.

Obedience to God is not legalism, for we are to live righteous and holy lives, not sinning in order that grace would abound – Romans 6:1-2.  Obedience is an act of gratitude towards God as an acknowledgement of His holiness and righteousness – Romans 12:1-2.  Obedience to the word of God shows that we are growing spiritually and being sanctified by the Holy Spirit through the word of God – John 17:17.  It is something that every believer in Christ should greatly desire in their lives – 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.  If you disagree, please bring this before God and the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth of it to you – James 1:5-8.  God’s word is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness – 2 Timothy 3:16.

The Peace of Israel – Psalm 122:6-9

Those Who Bless Israel Will Be Blessed And Those Who Curse Israel Will Be Cursed

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.

Pray for Peace

There is a blessing and a curse in Genesis concerning Israel.  Those who bless her will be blessed, and those who curse will be cursed.  The Israelites are The Lord God Almighty’s chosen people.  He has seen them through wars, famines, earthquakes and every imaginable disaster and tragedy, including the Holocaust.  Everyone who has welcomed her and sought (and still seeks) her prosperity has been blessed by God.  And everyone who has (and still currently) seeks her destruction is being cursed by God.

Israel is the apple in God’s eye.  She is the jewel that He desires to use to show the world His goodness and grace.  Out of her came Jesus Christ, His appointed Savior.  God seeks her peace, and after almost two thousand years of being scattered to the four winds, God kept His promise and restored her to the land that He had given to her millennia before.  The fulfillment of this prophecy greatly angers the enemies of God, who greatly desire the destruction of her people.

Because of the hatred of her enemies, and because God is good and gracious, all who love God should love her and her people, and pray day and night that she be kept safe, and that her people would find peace.  If any harbor anger at her, this is unresolved unforgiveness in their hearts, and they need to take this before the Lord to have it dealt with.

Safe and Secure

Even now, Israel and her people are under a constant barrage and attack by the descendants of Ishmael.  Sarai, Abraham’s wife, was impatient with God, and offered Hagar to Abraham to start a nation.  And Abraham had a son through Hagar.  Here is the Bible’s description of him:

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”

Because of his nature, and the nature of his descendants, we should be praying for the safety and peace of Israel.  As long as the descendants of Ishmael are alive, they will forever torment, harass, harangue, bombard, murder, and try to destroy the descendants of Ishmael’s half-brother through Issac, and his descendants through Jacob, now Israel.

Make no mistake about it.  Ask any truly evil person the best way to hurt someone, and they will all tell you, without fail, that the best way to hurt someone is to hurt the ones that they love.  God’s love for his chosen people is immense.  It is only proper that the enemies of God, who cannot touch Him in His dwelling place, would make every effort, with every breath on their lips that they grudgingly receive from Him, plot to cause harm, destruction, pain, and misery to God’s children.

Indirect Impact

Besides seeking the welfare of God’s nation of Israel and her people for the sake of loving God, there is an indirect impact when this occurs.  God has PROMISED to bless those who bless her, and curse those who curse her.  This should make everyone pause and reconsider their position on Israel (either to strengthen their opinion for her, or to change their opinion from being against her).

Just about everyone seeks the blessing of God.  Although many worship anything and everything BUT the One True God, YHWH, they seek the blessing nonetheless.  Apart from Satanists, Anarchists, and Death Cults, just about everyone else is seeking blessing from the one or thing who/that they worship.

We seek the blessing of Israel because God loves them.  But it personally benefits us when we do so.  Although this may seem self-serving, for anyone who desires to be blessed by God who is in leadership of nations, they might want to seriously consider the impact that blessing Israel (in terms of friendship, financial aid, as well as military aid) might bring to their nation as opposed to ambivalence or antipathy.

Woe of Worship

The Psalmist says that the reason they are seeking the prosperity of Israel is for the house of the Lord.  For almost two millennia, since the Romans tore down the Temple of God in Jerusalem, the Israelites have not had a temple where they could worship.  In 688 C.E., the Fundamentalist Adherents to Islam (FAI) built the Dome of the Rock on the former temple Court of the Gentiles, and have greatly afflicted the Israelites ever since.

The good news is that the presence of God moved from the temple to the people when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, King of king and Lord of lords was obedient to God, was crucified, buried, and resurrected three days later.  He paved the way for the Holy Spirit to come and indwell all who would believe God, and who God then credited to them as righteousness.

God will soon reveal His Son as Messiah to the entire Israelite nation once He has gathered all who would return home again.  And when that happens, they will forget about the Solomon and Herod temples, because they will then realize that THEY are the temples (naos*) of God!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I actively seeking the welfare of Israel?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have sovereignly chosen the Israelites as Your people.  Thank You for grafting me in to the True Vine, Jesus Christ, who feeds the native branches of Israel as well as the wild branches of the Gentiles.  Father, I pray that You would bless, protect, and prosper Your chosen people in Israel.  Grant the descendants of Jacob peace on every side.  Draw them back to the land that You gave to them millennia ago as their inheritance, and provide for their welfare mightily.  Sovereignly push her enemies back far away from her, and as David would say, “break their teeth” – destroy their strength that gives them the ability to harm her.  Father, whom You love, may I love just as much.  Help me to do anything and everything that I and my family can to seek and ensure the peace and prosperity of Israel.  And in this pursuit, bless and protect me from my enemies and her enemies, as they will surely turn their vitriol and abject hatred in my direction as well.  This I ask in the precious name of my one and only Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


*Notes:  The Greek word naos used here is not just the temple, but a specific part of the temple – it is the Holy of Holies.  This was where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, and was the area of the temple where the presence of God dwelt.  In pre-resurrection times, only the High Priest of Israel could enter once a year to offer the sacrifice for the sins of the nation.  When Jesus died, the veil was torn, and symbolically ended the separation 0f man from God in worship and repentance of sins.

The Holy Spirit now indwells ALL believers, and because the container where the presence of God resides is the temple, our bodies are now the temple housing His Spirit.  When God reveals Jesus Christ as the Messiah to the Jews, they will no longer need to offer the ritual sacrifices for sin because they will accept that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was the fulfillment of the temple sacrifice, His perfect, sinless blood as the final and permanent sacrifice for all of their sin, past, present, and future.

Order vs. Chaos – 1 Corinthians 14:26-33

God Infused Order Within Everything In The Universe

26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

Crazy Chaos

Paul was addressing the use of the spiritual gifts in worship in this passage.  The children of God were eager to use their gifts, but their eagerness tended to cause chaos when they gathered together.  Rather than build up the body, the gifts were causing chaos through cacophony.

Imagine a busy airport with everyone talking to each other.  The noise would have been deafening and confusing.  Or imagine being in a room with two hundred televisions, all set to different broadcasting stations, all at the same volume, all at the same time.  It would be nearly impossible to focus on just one of them with so many other streams of visual and audio information bombarding us, each demanding that we pay attention to them.

Chaos would be the rule.  The author of chaos and confusion is Satan.  God is truth, and the truth does not seek to cause confusion, but clarity in thought.  Truth takes the chaos and puts it into order.  Chaos can drive us crazy.  Truth pulls us out of the maelstrom and places us upon the solid Rock of Jesus, where the buffeting of chaos cannot touch.

Power in Peace

Paul attempted to address this with order in worship.  By limiting the number of people speaking at one time, it would be possible for the body to focus on what was being said, and that would result in the body being built up.  When the body is built up, working together in harmony, and focused upon the singular goal of yielding themselves to the Holy Spirit, order comes out of chaos, and the power of God is manifested through his people acting in unison.

Sovereign Signature

While we might say that these things are good for us as we relate to one another, what about the rest of creation?  Did God deem it proper to include order in the rest of creation? How about the things that exist outside of the physical universe?  Let’s take a look at the universe first.

The Golden Ratio

There is a special number, a ratio, that appears to exist in just about everything.  From the way that DNA spirals, to the way that plants’ leaves grow on the stalk, to the spiral arms of the galaxies, to the formation of crystals, and the spins of subatomic particles, there is a commonality in all of it.  The number is known as the Golden Ratio.  You can see it everywhere you look.  It appears in all of nature.  It is believed that the Golden Ratio may play a part in the human perception of beauty.

God left us a huge clue in both visually observable and non-visually observable (that which is too small to see with the naked eye) nature of all things.  God left us a signature that everything was created with purpose, and that it was the result of an ordered, intellectual pursuit rather than just random happenings.

Hierarchy of Angels

Paul clues us in to the structured order of ranks of angels, in this case, fallen angels:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The Trinity

There is structure in the Trinity.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God, yet each one has purpose and responsibility within their relationship to each other.  The following is not an exhaustive list of this order, but a very primitive overview to show that there is order within:

  • The Father oversees and judges
  • The Son creates and redeems
  • The Holy Spirit indwells, empowers, exhorts, consoles, convicts, counsels, exalts and points us to Christ

Each are co-equal as God, but each have different assigned roles.  And in this, there is great order and unity.  There is no dissension in the Trinity, only unity and order.

Course of Collapse

Careful observation of nature shows that there is another order.  There is a universal tendency for all things to move from an ordered state to an un-ordered state.  In other words, all matter moves from order to chaos.  Iron, in the presence of water, will always rust.  Rust, without some extraordinary measures, will never “degrade” back into pure iron and whatever other elements are released.  Bodies decompose after death.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if we poured chemicals into a vat, and slowly the chemicals interacted and formed a new body!

God has designed the universe to have universal, observable laws.  Laws like gravity, inertia, mathematics, and truth.  Each of these, without outside interference, will always give the same answers when they are probed.  Two plus two will always equal four, all things being equal (no outside interference).  Matter is attracted to planets (as opposed to being repelled by them).  An object in motion will stay in motion if there are no other forces exerted upon it.  We accept these as laws, and rely upon their very dependable, repeatable nature.

Imagine what would happen if the Earth no longer orbited the sun.  Imagine what would happen if the laws of inertia and gravity were nullified.  Imagine if gases, like our atmosphere, were to suddenly and without notice, change temperature and volume, with no discernible pattern.  There would be pandemonium and chaos.  Our world, and everything in it, on it, and above it, would be in constant flux.  We would be in constant panic, perishing left and right, with no ability to control or predict how the very things that we rely upon to live would contribute to our eventual, and very swift, destruction.

Love and the Law

If we look at the Law of God, the Law that God gave Moses for the people, each of the Ten Commandments deal with our relationship with others – our interactions with God and each other.  Whether it is obedience to God, or righteous conduct with others, these Commandments should guide our interactions.  Each of them is based in love.  In (agape*) love, there is peace and harmony.  This brings order into our lives.  Love fulfills the law because the law is designed to point to Love as the principle that governs perfect order in the universe.  Love brings order to chaos, and provides the right environment for the flourishing of relationship and conduct between us all.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Does order or chaos occur when I get involved?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious in all of Your ways.  Please help to bring order to my chaos.  Teach me what I can do to help stand strong in the waves of difficulty that occur when the enemy sows discord and anarchy in people.  Keep me strong, and guard me in all my ways.  Help others to see Your love through the order that occurs when disciples of Christ act in unison.  Help me to be a part of order rather than chaos, and to be yielded to the Holy Spirit as Your Son, Jesus Christ, was yielded to Him when Jesus walked the Earth nearly two thousand years ago.  Thank You, Father, for instilling order in Your creation and Your commands, that I would have structure and stability in my ways.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


  • The word agape is one of four Greek words that describe love (agape, eros, philia, storge).  This type of love has three defining characteristics – it is unconditional (no strings attached), sacrificial (requires that the giver make personal sacrifice over self to show love to another), and volitional (an act of the will, not emotion).  This is Godly love – love that is born from the desire to see another person prosper, grow, be nourished, and succeed ahead of our own selfish desire.

God of Peace – 2 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Allow The God Of Peace To Sanctify You Completely

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Power in Peace

Paul reminds us that God is a God of peace.  Peace has several facets.  It indicates:

  • Unity and harmony in thought
  • The shedding of ill-will towards others
  • The working together of people towards a common goal

God is working towards all three of these, and desires to work them through us at a level that we cannot even begin to comprehend.  God sees the whole picture of reality, from when He spoke it into existence and throughout all eternity.  He is able to see what will be, and greatly desires us to yield to Him so that through sanctification, we will be completely at peace with both Him and others.

Sanctification after Salvation

Salvation has been arranged through the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ.  But now comes the next part – sanctification – the process of being changed from a creature that was bent towards sin and darkness towards a life dedicated to holiness and submission to God.  God loves us for who we are, but loves us too much to allow to stay the way we are.

Paul, who wrote a good portion of the writings of the New Testament of the Bible, said that even he, who had been to Heaven and came back, was not there yet.  Paul truly had been shown how much he would suffer for the name of Jesus.  He tirelessly preached the word of God to the Gentiles, in cities and in prisons.  He understood the need to walk a life worthy of the calling which he had received.  We are to do the same – to live a life that is holy and dedicated to God who paid such a great price to purchase us – redeem us – out of the slavery of sin.

Be Blameless

We are called to be blameless in body, soul, and spirit.  We are all each of these three things:

  • We each have a physical body that can be used for good or for evil.  What we do impacts us and others.  Everything that we do has significance and importance.  We are called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
  • We each have a soul.  This is our ability to think, make decisions, and implement the decisions in the body.  Our thought life is just as important as how we conduct our bodies in action.  Jesus warned the teachers of the law and the Pharisees that they were outwardly compliant with the law, but inwardly – in their thoughts and motivations – they were dead, filthy, corrupt, and unclean.  We are to keep our thoughts clean as well, capturing every thought to Christ.
  • And whether we realize it or not, our spirit is affected by what we do in the flesh and minds.  God, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, has made provision for the life of our spirit, alive to Him, and dead to sin.  We must now, through sanctification, put to death those things that would compromise the holiness of our spirit in Christ.

Forever Faithful

We can be assured God the Father is faithful in preparing us.  We need to be submitted to Him, and allow the trials and tribulations and hardships that will give Him the opportunity to mold and shape us from what we were into what He desires us to be.  Jesus has said that God is faithful, and no one can be snatched out of His grasp.  We can trust in the faithfulness of Almighty God to do all that He has said that He will do, for God does not lie, and is incapable of breaking His word.

As He sanctifies us, we are at greater peace with Him, moving from positional righteousness to a life of applied righteousness.  And we are also at greater peace with men as we submit to one another live lives that are focused on honoring God rather than serving our own interests.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I allowing God to sanctify me through His word to be at peace with others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I come to You today with thanksgiving in my heart for who You are and what You are doing in my life.  Prepare me to be the vessel that You desire for Your purposes.  Help me to be more at peace with people, and to live a life that is at peace with You.  Strengthen me in my weakness, and sanctify my body, soul, and spirit, so that they will be blameless on the great and terrible day that Your Son, Jesus Christ, returns.  Place within my heart a greater yearning that the lost would be saved, and help me to bring the message of salvation to them.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Unity In The Body – Ephesians 4:1-6

Strive For Unity Within The Body Of Christ

1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Live Life

Paul reminds us here how to live the good life – we must live it in a manner worthy of the calling that we have received.  Our calling – generally – is to deliver the message of salvation to every people and nation:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Our calling – specifically – is to be the part of the body that God desires us to be by using the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit has empowered us with to serve God:

1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

As living sacrifices, we are to live our lives in complete submission and obedience to God, giving Him the honor and glory that He so rightly deserves.  When we live our lives in this way, we are living the “good” life – a life that is worthy of the calling that we have received.

Soft and Submitted

We are to be gentle and humble in our ways.  This is exactly the same way that Jesus described Himself:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

When we are gentle towards others, and have learned restraint so that we do not allow our emotions and desires to control us, we are able to do what we have been called to do.  Because of our sin nature, we find ourselves at odds with what we know is right.  We must learn to become more like Jesus.  And Jesus, realizing that we could not grasp God, submitted Himself to the Holy Spirit as an example for us.

Lavish Love

Unity can only be achieved through love in the bonds of peace.  For true agape love – unconditional, volitional, and sacrificial love – comes through submission.  We are to submit to one another in Christ.  When we do this, the world will know that we are His disciples.  Love binds us together in unity; for if we are seeking the good and welfare of others first, selfishness, pride, and discord will diminish and die.

Unparalleled Unity

Paul goes on to tell us how to be unified by reminding us that there is only unity in oneness.  He gives us seven examples:

  1. One body
    • The great spiritual divide among all the denominations should not exist.  We are all part of the same body of Christ, separated only by geography.  When we do not have unity in the body, we are separating ourselves from one of the greatest strengths that we have – unity of oneness.  When there is corruption, we are to address it.  And if those who sinning refuse to repent, we are to follow the Matthew 18 principle of church discipline.
  2. One spirit
    • There is only one spirit.  Not all paths lead to God – that is Universalism.  Jesus has told us that He and He alone is the way, the truth, and the life – no one comes to the Father except through Him.  And as Jesus is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, we are to be one with them and with each other.
  3. One hope
    • Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.  The words of the hymns shed light on the great truths of the word of God.  We have one hope, and our hope (complete and justified trust) is placed only in Jesus.
  4. One Lord
    • Who is lord of you life?  Who calls the shots?  There is a bumper sticker that has been seen that says, “God is my co-pilot.”  If that is the case, then you are in the wrong seat on the plane.  Lord is a word that invokes the understanding of absolute and unconditional authority of someone over another.  Jesus should have that authority – He has earned it.  If we live our lives the way we want to, then we claim lordship over it, usurping His rightful authority over us.
  5. One faith
    • We have but one faith – faith in Jesus Christ, and His work on the cross, taking our sins and giving us His righteousness in exchange.  Faith in anything or anyone else is futile, for there is only one name under heaven given to mankind to be saved, and that name is The Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. One baptism
    • There is only one baptism.  We are baptized in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, and the name of the Holy Spirit, into eternal life in Christ.  Baptism into anything or anyone else is futile.  We are unified in that there is only one baptism.
  7. One God and Father
    • Finally, we are reminded by Paul that there is only one God and Father.  Jesus has warned us that God the Father is the only true Father.  Everyone else is under the control of Satan.  We are unified by having God as our One and Only Father.

In each of these, Paul reiterates that there is unity in being one together.  As there is only One of each of these, there cannot be division.  If there is division, then we must be in disagreement with at least one of these, for if we are in agreement on all of them, there cannot be anything BUT unity.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I in unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have made it possible for us to live in unity with one another.  Show me Your heart, that I may be in tune with it.  Help me to live in harmony and unity with those You have claimed as Your own.  Help me to submit to the Holy Spirit as well as one another that You would receive honor and glory from it.  Show me where my pride is interfering with Your will, and bring is under Your control, so that I may be humble and gentle in spirit.  Help me to learn restraint and give grace to others in areas that do not conflict with the core truths of the faith.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Witnessing for God – Matthew 10:34-39

Choose This Day Whom You Will Love

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own
household.’

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

Agitation and Accord

From the moment a person chooses to believe God and follow Jesus, their life will be irrevocably changed.  People that they once had great relationships with may now become their bitter enemies.  War will ensue where peace had prospered.  And although we are told that, to the best of our ability, we should be at peace with everyone, we will encounter people who view our change of allegiance from Satan (and the world) to God as a declaration of insanity and hatred towards them.

Many people will not be able to understand that disciples of Christ are not people who are now members of a cult.  In their minds, that is how they are perceived.  One moment, they are drinking, carousing, swearing, doing everything that everyone else is doing (right or wrong), and suddenly they become Mr. or Mrs. “goody-two shoes”, declining to participate in activities once considered dear, acceptable, and pleasurable by everyone else.

In the eyes of the world, you have become an enemy of the state – your very actions now show that not only can you not be trusted because you are changing, but that someone or something has remarkable remarkably changed your life, and in their eyes, usually for the worse.  They don’t want to know what it is, because they may begin to get “sucked-in” and have to give up their way of life.  They may also be concerned that in the grey areas of life that they live, you may now have to “rat them out” if they do something that is a bit unlawful.

In their eyes, you have declared war on them and your relationships.

Family can turn Foul

Even the most stable of relationships can be affected.  Jesus lists several familial relationships that may be strained or even broken because of your sudden love of God:

  • Fathers and Sons
  • Mothers and Daughters
  • In-laws and their children’s spouses

Fully expect there to be some resistance by any who have not given their lives to Christ.  Most people in culture believe that family comes first.  And when you give your life to Christ, they may feel as though you have broken this “unwritten” rule of relationship.  The fact is, when you give your life to Christ, you are – in effect – changing your allegiance from your biological family to your spiritual family.

Love the Lord

Your identity has now moved from your biological family to your spiritual family:

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Additionally, we are to love Christ more than anyone or anything else:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”

In this short passage, it seems to indicate that we must hate our family.  This is not the case!  This is a form of hyperbole – Jesus is merely pointing out that our love for Him should be so strong and secure that our love for our other family members should look like hate in comparison.  We are to love them, but we are to love God even more!

Bear your Burden

This next part of the passage is very similar to the instructions that Jesus gave to His disciples elsewhere:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

We are to bear our burdens and do so with joy.  The Lord God Almighty has replaced our heavy burden of trying to earn our way into Heaven through good deeds (impossible) to merely believing upon the finished work of Christ on the cross for our sins.  Grace and mercy are ours if we decide to accept them.  And in doing so, we must be obedient to God and His word, for we do not wish to rebel against the one who gave their lives His life for ours!

And while obedience to God (which some call works or legalism) does not grant entrance into the kingdom of Heaven, it does show that we love God, even more than our very own lives.  For if we love our lives (the way that we want to do things, living in a way that pleases us rather than pleases God) we will lose them.  If we lose our lives (living them in such a way that they are pleasing to God, regardless of the consequences and outcome of that level of devotion to Him) for His sake, we will gain them:

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I living my life in such a way that, by example, it is a powerful witness to how much I truly love God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have given me eternal life through the shed blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to live life in such a way that it is a powerful witness to others of You and Your word.  Help me to witness in both actions and words, that both would be in harmony and unity with Your will.  Help me to overcome any sorrow or anger when others who were once considered my friends turn against me because of my love for You.  Help me to have a heart of compassion towards them, and I pray that You will powerfully prepare the soil of their hearts so that the seeds of salvation would take root and flourish in them.  Help me to always remember that You come first, no matter what.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


This blog has been edited for clarity, spelling, and other errors.

Suffering with God – Romans 5:1-5

Suffering Is Good For The Soul

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Peace made Possible

We give thanks to God, for He has made a way for us to have peace with Him through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  This is the milk of the word of God.  However, let us never forget these simple truths that help remind us of the grace and mercy of God.  For in our daily walk, Jesus said we would get our feet dirty, and we would need to wash them.

As we progress in our walk with God as disciples of Christ, we must keep in mind that He is faithful.  It is only through remembering even these basic truths that we correct ourselves and keep us averted from doing what is contrary to the word of God.  If we were thinking about the word of God every second of every day, how much less would we sin?

Grace of God

We also can never remember too often that it is by faith that we gained access to the grace of God.  When we are involved in ministry, even ministering to our own family, we can lose sight of the goal through the grinding day-to-day difficulties that wear us down.  The enemy will try to take advantage of us and plant thoughts in our head that we need to earn God’s love or grace or mercy through what we do.

Since God’s gift is based on faith rather than works, we need to keep everything in perspective as we are pulled in many directions, and the pressures of life are heaped upon our shoulders.  We must also remember that whatever God has called us to do, He will give us the strength, determination, resources, and time to complete.  The grace of God has been given to us through faith in the Son.  But that doesn’t mean we won’t suffer…

Honor in Hardship

In this next section, the author of Hebrews leads us through a progression that should help us to embrace our suffering.  The life of a disciple is not easy and care-free; rather it is filled with adventure, hardship, suffering, and difficulty.  It is through suffering that we grow in character.

As we are bound in the physical universe with these sin-disposed bodies, we are naturally impatient.  Enduring suffering produces perseverance.  Just as we train our bodies with exercise to run faster and farther, and to be able to life greater weight, we are trained by suffering to produce perseverance in our faith.

Creating Character

The training of perseverance leads to the development of character.  Most of us need patience.  Additionally, few have learned to be self-controlled with their tongues.  Our mouths get us into the most difficult of situations.  A lot of that would resolve itself if we were able to master what comes out of our mouths.

Character development is of great interest and importance to God, for He is character-driven, rather than emotion-driven.  We too should learn restraint and strength so that we can resist the urges that will lead to our downfall.  Additionally, as the image-bearers of God, we need to properly display the character of God.  How can we do that when our own character is lacking?  We can only fake it for so long before we reach our breaking points, and we have an epic failure of character.  However, as character is developed in us, we are provided an assurance that we would not otherwise obtain.

Head towards Hope

The perseverance of character leads to the assurance of hope.  The word hope is not used to mean the wishful desire of an outcome, but rather a steadfast knowledge that something will occur.  People don’t hope that the sun will rise in the sky the following morning; they know it will.  As long as we are here on Earth, we are assured that the sun will rise each and every day.  We have hope that this will occur.

In the same way, character leads us to the assurance of the hope that we have in God’s character and both in His ability and certainty that He will follow through on every promise He has ever made.  Nothing can stop Almighty God from fulfilling His promises to us, and fulfilling every prophecy that He has made, for God is not a liar, but the embodiment of truth.  And as we experience the character of God, we also are assured of the certainty that God is who He says He is, and we can find peace in our hope of our faith.

Shedding Shame

And we are not ashamed of our hope, for God’s love has been poured out into our hearts.  He has placed assurance of both His power and His grace in our hearts.  We see Him act, and are assured of His claims of truth, righteousness, and certainty of His character.  When we know these things in our hearts, we can shed all shame.  For the outcome is more than certain:  God CANNOT fail to deliver His promises.  So we can endure even more with the assurance of His will being done here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I allowing God to train me through my suffering?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You discipline every child of yours.  Any child who does not receive discipline is not one of Yours.  Help me to not faint when You discipline me.  Give me the strength to endure it, and help me so that I will not despise it.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but I know that You seek to reap a harvest of righteousness in my character from it.  Give me the perspective that I need to endure all that You sovereignly allow into my life.  And if You should allow sickness to nearly destroy my body, give me the strength to hold onto You when there is no hope.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Wisdom of God – James 3:17

Show Your Wisdom Through The Way You Live Your Life

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Pointed Progression

Paul takes care to show that each of these is part of a progression.  They happen in order for a reason – they are the building blocks of love.  If at any point we are stuck in a relationship, we should see where we are on this scale to determine if there is something that we are not doing correctly.  Of course, there are going to be times when the other person or nation will not respond to love.  Even so, we should assure ourselves that we are doing what is right in the eyes of God.

Perfectly Pure

God is holy, and His motives are always pure in nature, as well as other-focused.  Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, we need to carefully consider our true, deep, inner motives to determine if we are doing what we are doing for the right reasons.  Once we establish that we are properly motivated, we can then gauge how we are interacting with our neighbors and our enemies in order to determine if we intentionally or unintentionally causing friction.

Because the ways of God are foolishness to those who reject God, this dichotomy will naturally cause friction, tension, and sometimes even breaks in our relationships with others, including those who are/were closest to us.  That is why Jesus said:

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Passionately Peaceful

Peace – it is heavenly!  We say that, but do we really think about it?  Peace allows us to build and strengthen our relationships with one another.  We need the blood of Christ to provide us peace with God.  It is only through peace that we can really flourish in the endeavors that we set our minds and hands to.

And when we are not at peace, tensions rise between people and between nations.  People are then unable to completely devote themselves to what they are doing, as they need to keep one hand on the job, and one on their weapon.  And then it is only through the grace of God that we are able to get anything accomplished.

Carefully Considerate

Once we have established that our motives are correct and that we are seeking peace with others, we can then take the time to consider the needs, wants, desires, and motivations of others.  We can then be considerate towards them.  In showing consideration towards others, it will draw us into tighter relationship.

When driving, do you appreciate it when other drivers show consideration towards you when they are faced with the option of not doing so?  Has anyone recently provided you the opportunity to merge into traffic when they didn’t need to?  Have they held a door for you when your hands were full of packages or children?  Consideration towards others is the extension of the olive branch of peace towards others.

While there are some that will indignantly scoff at a considerate gesture as though they somehow rightly deserved it, most people’s hearts will soften when it is offered in good faith.  Some may even thank you.  Considering the state of the world today, depending on what era the person grew up, they may also be grateful, or surprised that consideration is being shown today.  Be a light in the world…

Singularly Submitted

Jesus said,

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

We need to be submitted to God in order fully embrace wisdom.  Paul had this to say about submission to one another and to the Holy Spirit:

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

It is through submission to others that we are able to wisely interact with them.  As we become more wise, we will become more submitted.  And as we become more submitted, we will become greater:

26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—

Moved to Mercy

It is only after we get to this point that mercy, as a life-style, makes sense.  The first inclinations of our heart is to seek justice, and for many, vengeance.  But God is merciful, and vengeance is His and His alone.  Mercy is much easier to give when you have received it yourself.  Remember the mercy that God has shown you, and replicate success.  To truly gain wisdom, and flourish in relationship, it is necessary to show mercy to others.  Mercy is often the tool that God uses to break the hearts of others.  Is that not what we want to occur?  That the hearts of others would be broken towards sin, and that they would reconcile through the shed blood of Jesus Christ?  In this, it truly is good to be the enabler!

Wonderful Works

Now that we have paved the way, we are ready to bear fruit through our works.  Our attitudes towards God and others is correct; we are properly submitted to God and others; we are now showing the fruit of the Spirit.  Since we are submitted to God, He can do all that He desires to accomplish through us.  As tools in the process, rather than the taking the role of the craftsman, the fruit will be pure and good, untainted by our hands.  These are the works that will endure throughout eternity, as they were accomplished by God through us and not our own desires, which bear the taint of our sinful nature.

Inconspicuously Impartial

Since God is not a respecter of persons, we should not be either.  This is a further refinement of character and the wisdom of God, which IS His character!  When we experience the character of God, we become more like Him, and fulfill what He purposed in us to be – His image-bearers.  There is one last thing to consider – are we being truly sincere in what we are doing?

Solely Sincere

Most people recognize when you are sincere in your dealing with them.  And most people desire – secretly or openly – that other people be sincere with them.  This breaks down the barriers that are put up when we appear to be acting in a self-serving manner.  Sincerity is respected by people.  God shows us the greatest of respect in that in everything He is completely sincere.  As God’s image bearers, this should affect our interactions with others and with God.  Reciprocity of sincerity is expected.  When we don’t act in sincerity, our witness is tarnished, and our relationship with God is harmed.  When we rely upon God and His goodness and sovereignty, we are able to be sincere in all that we do, say, and think towards others and towards God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I becoming wise as I participate in God’s character as His image-bearer?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have revealed Yourself to us both through Your Word and Your Son.  Teach me the ways of wisdom so that You will be honored and glorified by my thoughts, actions, and speech.  Help me to revere You more each and every day, and show me Your wisdom through Your word.  Help me to realize the value of wisdom, and to see its value as I participate in Your character.  And may You be glorified as I bear Your image properly.  Keep me from harm, and strengthen me as I persevere through trials and tribulations.  Please prepare me so that I will be the spotless bride, ready for the bridegroom at the appointed time.  And Father, I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would come, and come soon!  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Commission of God – Luke 10:5-7

Staging for Success

5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”

Primary Peace

The disciples were emissaries of Jesus Christ, preaching peace with God through the Gospel.  The traditional greeting was “shalom”, which meant “peace be unto you.”  This peace was more than just “inner peace.”  It was meant to convey completeness, wholeness, prosperity.  Additionally, it was to also it indicate not just a lack of conflict between the person (or persons/organization) offered the greeting and the greeter, but an  amicable connectedness  between them.  But since the disciples were told not to greet anyone on the road, they were to present this blessing of peace to those who permitted them to stay with them.

Participating Partnership

In addition, their peace – the peace that was provided through the reconciliation to God through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – would only come upon those whose hearts were prepared for it.  If anyone rejected their message, their protection and provision of peace would leave the unbelieving persons and rest again upon the disciples.  The peace of God will only descend and rest upon those who receive the message of the Gospel.

Have you ever been near someone and felt at complete peace around them, as though the cares of the world vanished, and the presence of God protected you from all harm?  I believe that this is the peace that God provided to those who received the disciples, that it would be both a blessing to their hosts and a witness to the disciples’ calling from God, so that their hosts would receive what God intended for them to accept and receive – the peace of imputed righteousness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Contented Consumption

God’s provision did not only include housing, but also food and drink.  The disciples were in the process of being staged to deliver the message of God, and in doing so, they were to accept what was provided to them in contentment, without questioning the source; for the source was The Lord God Almighty.  God would provide everything that they needed to be successful in the calling that God had provided to them to fulfill.  This also freed them to work full-time on their calling, rather than concerning themselves with funding their efforts.

Forgo Favoritism

God is not a respecter of persons.  He does not show favoritism.  By staying at the house that initially invited them in, and provided hospitality to them, there would be no appearance of impropriety with moving from house to house.  This ensured that their base of operations within the town and the city was established.  Additionally, as the townspeople saw that blessing that was afforded by God to the host family, they might have begun to wonder what had happened and be drawn to hear the message.

In any case, it would not be good to have the people say that the disciples were leaching off of families, staying until they had worn out their welcome, begging for food and shelter from any who would provide.  By staying at one residence, it removed any charges of favoritism.  Imagine what would be said if they came to a poor home, and within a day or so, moved to the home of a wealthy person or a person of authority or prominence.  The charge of seeking favoritism would rightly have been leveled against them.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we staging for the ministry that God is preparing us for in contentment and peace?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are the provider of all good things.  Thank You for the opportunities that You provide to me, and for Your gracious provision in all that I have.  Help me to have a walk that is so close to You that Your peace surrounds me like a cloud.  Still my heart of any anxiety for any situation that I may be facing today.  May Your presence be felt by others around me and be a witness to Your provision, love, and care.  Show me how to stage my life that Your plans may be fulfilled through me.  Father, help me to be a vessel emptied of myself and filled with Your Spirit.  Prepare me to be a better tool that You might use me mightily in Your Kingdom.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Peace of God – Philippians 4:6-7

What Everyone is Looking for – Inner Peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Anxious Anticipation

It is so easy to be overwhelmed by our circumstances: loss of a loved one; physical injury/illness incapacitates us; financial loss looms in our immediate future, etc.  The natural tendency of man is to worry and be anxious.  Jesus tells us that we have no reason to be anxious:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The Priority of Prayer

James tells us something else about our inner state of unrest:

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

It is very important to recognize that we can ask God for ANYTHING.  But when we ask God, we should ask with the right motives.  God may very well say no to the Ferrari, the 50 room castle on the 3000 acres of land, and winning the lottery.  God is NOT a cosmic vending machine, where you put in a prayer and out pops the appropriate blessing.

Additionally, we have a tendency to ask, and, when it is given to us, to quickly forget the giver as we enjoy the gift.  We should always remember that every good giving and every perfect gift is from God, and thank God in contentment for it.

The Power of Peace

When we follow God’s prescription, we will receive His blessing – Inner Peace.  This is a peace that transcends all understanding.  When we know that we should be unsettled, God settles our hearts with His comfort – and then peace, rather then worry, controls our emotions.  It is as if we are embraced with His arms, as he wards off all attackers, safe in His care.  It is this peace that allowed Stephen to cry out to God for forgiveness of his attackers as he was being stoned to death.  It was this peace that helped the early Christians endure martyrdom when Nero had them impaled, covered with pitch, and set on fire in his gardens.  It was this peace that allowed the Apostle Peter to ask to be crucified upside-down because he said that he wasn’t worthy of being crucified in the same manner as his Savior.  It is this same peace that can calm the emotional storms in our lives when we seek God in our times of distress.

The Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask the question: Do we first go to God in prayer, or do we first worry in anxiety when our lives are turned upside down?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown us that You desire us to come to You when we are in need.  You know all of our needs, and when we pray, have prepared an answer in advance for us.  Your care for us is great; yet we are like sheep, and easily frightened by the least little thing.  Help me this day, Lord God, to better trust you in my circumstances, for Your very name, YHWH, describes Your character – as He who exists and is dynamically involved in my life.  Help me to remember that You are sovereign.  Grant me peace in my dire circumstances as well as the trivial ones, for nothing in my life is trivial to You.  Guard my heart, and surround me with Your presence through these things.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?