Sweet, Kind Words

Sweet, Kind Words

What do you think about people who always speak kindly, and who treat others with the respect of using kind and gracious words?  Such people are rare, but we must surely admire and respect them. 

Pleasant [gracious] words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.  (Pro 16:24 NKJV, definition in brackets added)

A gentle response diverts anger, but a harsh statement incites fury.  (Pro 15:1 ISV)

A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!  (Pro 15:23 NASB)

Wholesome speech is a tree of life, but dishonest talk breaks the spirit.  (Pro 15:4 CEB)

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  (Pro 31:26 ESV, emphasis added)

As we can see from these Bible passages, kind and pleasant words bless all those who hear them as well as those who speak them.  Good-humored, pleasing words and conversation can bring about unexpected benefits.  Here are just some of them:

  • Joy to the soul and good health for body, soul, and spirit (Pro 16:24)
  • Turning anger away (Pro 15:1)
  • Delight (Pro 15:23)
  • Lengthens our lives and enriches them (Pro 15:4)
  • Wisdom and kindness go hand-in-hand (Pro 31:26)

It is always a source of awe-inspired wonder to me that there is such a richness and depth to the teachings of the Word of God when we take time to study them and to understand them in their fullness. 

May your life be enriched, lengthened, and blessed by the kind and pleasant words that you speak to others, and which other people speak to you.  All glory to God!

What Is a Backslider?

What Is a Backslider?

A backslider is someone who has reversed their direction in a given area.  In terms of Christian faith and life, it usually refers to a person who at one time had a vital, meaningful relationship with Jesus as their Savior but who has turned away from the values of following Christ and living a moral, upright life. 

But the Lord says, in the verses below, that He loves the backslider, that He is married to them, and that He will heal their condition by bringing them back to Himself.  Glory to God!

Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you.  (Jer 3:14a)

Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.  (Jer 3:22a)

I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely . . .  (Hos 14:4a)

This turning away from faith may happen if a person isn’t connected to a church or a body of believers with whom to fellowship.  It may also occur if someone becomes neglectful about Bible reading, prayer, and praise and worship.  These are all forms of communication with the Lord, and any relationship will wither and collapse without ongoing, regular communication. 

So we can’t allow our affections for the Lord to cool down by discarding the habits that uphold and sustain our faith in Jesus.  It’s always good to review our conduct occasionally to make sure that we’re making decisions that will positively impact our life of faith.  Our life habits should sustain and nurture our Christian faith, so guard them well.

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord . . . (Ac 3:19) Our sympathetic Savior is happy to restore and to revive our relationship with Him at all times.  And He says that times of refreshing will follow, times of rejuvenating the relationship with Him and pouring out grace upon you to inspire you in fresh ways.

Anyone who has backslidden from their faith in Christ has hope.  The Lord is loving, merciful, and kind.  He longs for us to return to Him and to reestablish our relationship with Him—the God who is love.  (1 Joh 4:8)  God bless you.

Hold Fast

Hold Fast

Today, we are meditating upon “holding fast to the confession of our hope,” as well as to the faithfulness of God.

Our hope is in the perfect and eternal salvation that was provided by God through Jesus Christ.  Once we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we confess that He IS our Savior. 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  (Heb 10:23)

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.  (2 Thes 3:3)

 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  (Heb 4:14)

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, set your focus on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.  (Heb 3:1 BSB)

When we “hold fast” to something, we cling to it or grip it securely so as not to let it go.

A confession is a declaration, affirmation, profession or statement.  So, we must hold fast to our declaration that Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Lord.

Since we have made Him our Lord, that means that we love His Word and we obey His Word.  We live according to the standards He established in His Word, and we trust in His faithfulness to every single promise that He has made to us in His Word.

As you research the Bible, you will see that salvation through Jesus Christ furnishes us who love and obey Him with many blessings and benefits:

  • He gives us the desires of our hearts. (Ps 37:4)
  • He daily loads us with benefits and blessings. (Ps 68:19)
  • He gives good things to those who ask Him. (Mt 7:11)
  • He promises us a long life. (Ps 91:16; Pro 3:2; Eph 6:2-3)
  • He is with us always. (Mt 28:20)

This is just a small sampling of the many promises that God has showered upon us through His Word.  And the fulfillment of each and every promise was paid for by Jesus’ sacrifice.  Hallelujah!

The Gifts That You Were Given

The Gifts That You Were Given

Happy beautiful day to you!  We rejoice and are glad in this day!  (Ps 118:24)

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  (1 Pe 4:10 KJV)

Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.  (1 Cor 14:12)

Every believer has received gifts and talents from the Lord.  God wants us to use the gifts that He has entrusted to us for the strengthening and encouragement of fellow believers.  God wants us to be good stewards or managers of these precious gifts.

Your gifts may be extensive; you may have gifts such as:  faith; musical ability; artistic talent; patience; organizational ability; mercy; mathematical aptitude; peace; perceptiveness; or whatever.  Invite the Lord to show you how He would like you to use the gifts that He has given you in order to bless other people and to further His kingdom. 

If you have a calm and peaceful spirit combined with good note-taking skills, your boss may direct you to attend most meetings with him.  He may not realize why!  He may say that he wants you to take notes, but it may really be that he just feels better and thinks more clearly when you’re there!  In reality, you carry a beneficial atmosphere (of calm and peace) into the room.  These are God’s divine gifts, and they work supernaturally.

Don’t forget that, as you mature spiritually and chronologically, more gifts will bloom in your life.  Seek the Lord’s guidance, and He will teach you the best use of all of your gifts!

(This is a reprint of an article published by this blog on 05/01/2016.)

The Way Everlasting

The Way Everlasting

Here are two different versions of the same Bible verse:

And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  (Ps 139:24 NKJV)

Don’t let me follow evil ways, but lead me in the way that time has proven true.  (Ps 139:24 CEV)

As we can see from the second version of Psalm 139:24, the way everlasting is the way that time has proven reliable or trustworthy.  We can choose to live according to the world’s way, or we can choose God’s everlasting way.  Only one of these ways is true.  Only one of these ways will lead you to eternal happiness.

The way everlasting asks us to submit our will to Christ, our Savior and to adopt His values and goals. It will transform our character progressively to be more Christlike.  His way will lead us to bear good fruit to God (Jas 3:17), and permit us to transfer that fruit with us into eternity.

It’s vital for us to remember that the life that we lead here on earth, in all regards, is not for this earthly, measured time but for eternity.  Our earthly lives are a spiritual test for:

  • The quality of our characters,
  • The motives for our work, and
  • The motives of our hearts.

Each and every one of us need to make corrections and adjustments to our attitudes and our lives.  We all need to be led by the Lord and His righteousness, and every one of us needs to allow God to teach us and to show us the path for our feet. 

Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face.  (Ps 5:8 NKJV)

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good.  Lead me in the land of uprightness.  (Ps 143:10 NKJV)

Since we who follow Jesus Christ have made the choice to live in the way everlasting, let us consider seriously what corrections and improvements that the Lord may be urging us to make today.  Glory to God!

Neighbors and How We Treat Them

Neighbors and How We Treat Them

Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  (Mt 22:35-40)

‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Mt 19:19)

Here is the “Golden Rule” which is God’s standard for how we treat other people, including our neighbors:  Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.  (Mt 7:12)

Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate the principle of loving your neighbor as yourself.  See Luke 10:29-37.

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.  (Rom 13:8)  Scripture directs us to love our neighbors. 

Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  (Rom 13:10)  Love does no harm to a neighbor.

Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.  (Eph 4:25)  The Lord teaches us to be honest with our neighbor. 

Here’s a recap of what the Bible says about loving our neighbor:

  • Treat neighbors as you would like to be treated. (The Golden Rule)
  • Love your neighbor as [you love] yourself.
  • Do no harm of any kind to a neighbor.
  • Be honest and trustworthy with your neighbor.
  • Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan illustrates that even a person passing us on the road is to be considered our neighbor, and to be treated kindly and mercifully.

May God bless you richly as you live for Him and bring Him honor and glory.

Reverence for the House of God

Reverence for the House of God

It pleases the Lord when we honor the place where He resides.  Since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the “house of God” is any building or gathering place where two or more people assemble to study the Word of God, to teach others spiritual truths from the Bible, and to praise and worship the Lord. 

 ‘You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am the Lord.’  (Lev 19:30)

Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.  (Eccl 5:1)

And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” (Mt 21:13)

From these passages of Scripture we can recognize a number of truths.

The Lord tells us to reverence (respect; regard with awe) His sanctuary.  A sanctuary is a refuge, safe haven, or place of safety.  When we meet with fellow Christians to praise and worship God and to partake of His Word, we are in a place of safety and protection.  Our collective attitude of honor and respect contribute to the free flowing of the Holy Spirit to minister in our midst.

It isn’t a building that is the church—it is the people and the gathering of God’s people together that forms “the church.”  The sanctuary, the House of God, and the church are all synonymous terms.  Any place or building where God’s people gather together to give Him honor and praise can be understood to be “the church”; whether it’s an event room at a bowling alley, a rented meeting room in a hotel, or a family room in a private home.

The Word also reminds us to behave wisely as we enter into the meeting of the body of Christ.  How do we do that?  We “draw near to hear” with a heart full of obedience and true worship.

Lastly, the Scriptures remind us that the church is a “house of prayer” and that its main purpose is a spiritual one and not a monetary one.  God forbid that a body of believers would focus upon money instead of honoring God and His Holy Word.

It is very understandable that God would ask us to show honor and respect for any place where He meets with His people—all who call Him Savior and Lord.  Remember that GOD IS PRESENT when His people come together in His Name.  God bless you.

Why Did Jesus Use Parables?

Why Did Jesus Use Parables?

But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.  (Mk 4:34)

. . . that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:  “I will open My mouth in parables;  will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”  (Mt 13:35)

Why did Jesus speak in parables so regularly?  Jesus used parables frequently as a means to illuminate weighty, divine truth.  He also had other reasons to use parables to communicate in public.

  • And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, 54 lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him. (Lk 11:53-54)  The scribes and Pharisees were always looking to find fault with Jesus and to discredit Jesus in the eyes of all of the people.  By using parables, Jesus could thwart the plans of His enemies.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. (Mt 5:6)  Through the use of parables, Jesus could spiritually feed those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness.  Those who had a good heart, who were truly seeking God, could find what they needed in His teachings.
  • “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mt 7:13-14)  This story of the two roads (one narrow, one wide) caused people to think about where their lives were headed.  Using parables motivated people to stop and think about such profound topics.
  • Jesus’ parables brought pressure upon people to cause them to choose whether they wanted to be a sheep or a goat. “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left . . .”  (Mt 25:31-33, for full story see Mt 25:31-46)
  • Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. (Ps 78:1-3)  As we can see by this passage, by speaking in parables, Jesus fulfilled prophecy concerning Himself.  (see also Mt 13:34-35)

Jesus always had very good reasons for His actions.  He listened for and obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit, and followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.  He has set us an excellent example, hasn’t He?

Jesus Fulfilled Prophecy

Jesus Fulfilled Prophecy

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing.  For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.  The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water . . .
  (Isa 35:5-7)

This passage of Scripture has beautiful, poetic language in it.  This is a prophetic passage about the ministry of God’s anointed Savior and Redeemer.

We can recognize that a number of the things mentioned in this passage occurred in the ministry of Jesus Christ when He was on earth.  And many other miracles took place in addition to these.  Glory to God!

  • Blind people were healed (Mt. 9:27; 11:15; 12:22; 15:30; Mk 8:22-25; Lk 7:22)
  • Mute peoples’ tongues were loosed and they glorified God with their voices (Mt 12:22; 15:30; Mk 7:37)
  • Deaf people received their hearing (Mt 11:15; Mk 7:37; Lk 7:22)
  • Lame and maimed people were healed (Mt 11:15; 15:30; 21:14; Lk 7:22)
  • Lepers were cleansed (Mt 11:15; Lk 7:22; 17:11-14)
  • People were raised from the dead (Mt 11:15; Lk 7:22; Joh 12:1, 9)

The last part of the passage in Isaiah at the top of this article is looking toward the end times, after Jesus returns to the earth.  Here is a teaching pertinent to the 2nd coming of Jesus from another website:

Peter called the time after Jesus’ return the times of “refreshing” and “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:19-21). Isaiah painted this beautiful word picture: “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. … For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water” (Isaiah 35:1, 6-7).  ~ Source:  https://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/end-times/water-in-bible-prophecy/

Jesus fulfilled many of the prophecies concerning the Savior, but there are still some that are going to be fulfilled in the future.  Those of us who follow Jesus and serve Him need to recognize the nature of the times in which we live, and to share the Good News of salvation as widely and lovingly as we can.  God bless you.

Mustard Seed Faith

Mustard Seed Faith

Do you know how tiny a mustard seed is?  Mustard seeds can be different colors depending upon the plant; they may be anywhere from yellowish white to black.  But one thing that is uniform with them all is that they’re very, very small.   

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.  (Mt 17:20)

So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.  (Lk 17:6)

Since a mustard seed is about 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter, it’s astonishing to understand that faith as small as this can move actual mountains and bring about impossible things.  Reread those two Bible verses above.  Jesus did say this, and it is recounted in two different places in the Scriptures.

Many believers make a big issue of faith as if it is a limiting factor.  But I find these Bible verses very reassuring.  I realize that God isn’t requiring us to have mountain-sized faith, but rather seed-sized faith which can move real mountains!  Faith in God and in His Word is powerful.

Not only that, but faith is God’s gift to us!  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God . . .  (Eph 2:8)  We don’t have to work it up because the Lord has given it to every believer.

God actually has given us the very faith that we need in order to receive answers to prayer as well as the fulfillment of His promises found in His Word.  How much better can it get?  This truth fills me with tremendous joy.

Launch out today and use a tiny amount of faith to receive whatever you need from the Lord!  He’s definitely on our side and wanting to help each and every one of us.  He has already proven it by saving us and giving us the gift of faith which enables us to receive blessings, answers, and miracles from God.