Avoid the Well-Traveled Path

Avoid the Well-Traveled Path

Do you know what a “well-traveled path” is?  It’s a route or road that hundreds and even thousands of other people have used.  It may have indications of the fact by having a pothole or crack in the road, or a dented safety rail here or there.

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.  (Pro 14:12 NIV)

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.  (Pro 16:25 NKJV)       

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  (Lk 13:24 NKJV)

 “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.”  (Mat 7:13-14 NKJV)

In spiritual terms, the well-traveled path is the “way that appears to be right, but in the end leads to death.”  (Pro 14:12 NIV)  This helps us to understand that following Christ as a disciple means that more often than not, we will be living our lives “against the flow.”  While the worldly, unsaved people are going in one direction, believers are going in a completely different direction and along a path that is narrow and difficult.

The verse from Luke 13 (above) reminds us that the narrow gate is the one intended for believers who love Jesus Christ.  But as Matthew 7:14 reminds us, difficult is the way which leads to life (eternal life).

Why is the path to eternal life difficult?  Because it has many challenges to our faith and to our self-control.  There are temptations to sin and also to unbelief, and they are placed in the path by the enemy of our souls.  1 Peter 5:8 says: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  We must be sober and vigilant to guard our relationship with Jesus, and to keep it vital and full of life.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  (Joh 14:6)

Jesus is the WAY into eternal life.  He is the person whose footsteps we believers follow.  The path that He traveled IS our roadmap and our path. (Ps 85:13)  We can understand, then, that following only the footsteps of Jesus will cause the trail to be understandably narrow. 

Remember that the Scriptures tell us that God’s Word is a lamp for our feet and a light upon our path.  (Ps 119:105)  His Word will reveal many things to us as we travel along the path of righteousness.

We have been given a promise from the Lord that as we travel the path of righteousness, we will find only life—and no death in any form.  In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.  (Pro 12:28)  This is a very valid and important reason to continue to follow Jesus throughout our lives.

God says that as we obey Him, He makes our paths straight.  
. . . in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  (Pro 3:6) 

The Lord makes our steps along the way stable and strong as we rejoice in Him and in our salvation.  The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him . . . (Ps 37:23 NIV)  What a promise!  Hallelujah!

Sharing Our Burdens

Sharing Our Burdens

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  (Gal 6:2 NIV)  It’s our duty as believers to help bear each others’ burdens.

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Gal 5:13-14 NKJV)

The first person with whom we share our burdens, after receiving Christ as our Savior, is with the Lord Jesus.  He truly removes our burdens by removing all of our sins, and by continuously cleansing us from unrighteousness.

The troubles in this life are diverse and seem unrelenting at times. In the midst of pressure and heartaches of various kinds, people can stumble.  Even devout followers of Christ may worry and grieve over their circumstances—to the point of feeling crushed by them.  This is why it is so very necessary for Christians to help one another with their burdens, problems and cares.

An important side note is to remember to guard our hearts and minds when supporting another person or family through difficulties so that we’ll remain nonjudgmental and humble. 

We can’t always remove the stressful circumstance, but we can always provide support to our brothers and sisters in Christ. This can be done in practical ways, as well as through spiritual approaches. 

PRACTICAL METHODS

We can offer to help the brother/sister by running errands or babysitting.  If prompted by the Lord, we can give a gift of cash.  It’s considerate to phone the person or couple who’s in stress several times a week to let them know that we’re thinking of them, praying for them, and that we care about them.  Take the person or the family out to lunch or dinner to give them a temporary relief from the stress.  Or you can be more real by inviting them to your own home for a meal.  Depending upon the nature of the trial a friend is undergoing, we can be sensitive to practical things that we can do to relieve some measure of pressure from their daily walk.  If an emergency requires long-distance travel and the person can’t afford their ticket, we can help them to raise the money as the Lord leads us.

SPIRITUAL WAYS

We should pray faithfully for the brother or sister (or family) that is experiencing challenging circumstances.  Enlist other believers to join you in praying for the person or family in crisis.  From time to time, we can send an encouraging greeting card to our brother or sister, and mention an uplifting Scripture verse in a note.  We might make an appointment with our Pastor to inquire if there is any project or fundraising plan that the Church members might undertake that would assist the person or family who is in distress.  We can do some research to see if there are organizations or programs available that could assist the person or family who is in trouble.  If anything appropriate is discovered, we should give them the information. 

Showing our heartfelt concern and support for a person or family who is experiencing stress of any form is a loving, godly, biblical way to bear one another’s burdens. It is also obeying the Scripture that instructs us to love our neighbor.  God approves of our demonstrations of His love through our serving and helping our fellow believers.

Lastly, if anyone who is reading this is experiencing a calamity, please never be ashamed or reluctant to ask your brothers and sisters in Christ for help, prayers, and support. 

Keep in Step With the Spirit

Keep in Step With the Spirit

You may well ask, “How do we keep in step with the Holy Spirit?”  Let’s study that today.

  • Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal 5:25 NIV) 

This verse reminds us that we live by the Spirit (of God), so it is important that we walk in unity and harmony with Him.

  • It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (Joh 6:63 NKJV)

The Holy Spirit is the author of spiritual truth and life in all of its forms—physical, spiritual, and mental.  The Lord tells us in this verse that His words are spirit and life, so the more that we read, meditate upon, and memorize the word of God, the more that we are renewed, revived, and refreshed by it.

  • . . . who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Cor 3:6 NKJV)

Again the Bible affirms in the verse above that the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of life in all of its forms:

  1. A long life (Ps 91:16)
  2. An abundant life (Joh 10:10)
  3. A blessed life (Joh 10:10; Jam 1:12; Rev 22:14)
  4. Health and healing (Pro 3:7-8; 4:21-22; 3 Joh 1:2)

And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  11 But if [since] the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.  (Rom 8:10-11 KJV, emphasis & bracketed word added)

This passage from the book of Romans (above) reminds us that the Spirit is life, as well as the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells within each and every believer.

The Holy Spirit’s perfect, holy, healthy life is continuously quickened (accelerated, renewed) in each believer because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Cor 6:19) 

So, we may reasonably conclude that we “keep in step with the Spirit” by living in agreement with and in obedience to the Word of God, the Bible.  God bless you.

Check Out Your Clothes!

Check Out Your Clothes!

Do you realize that the Bible is concerned with how we clothe ourselves?  Isn’t that an interesting and provoking idea?

For example: 

  • We are invited to clothe ourselves with Christ in Romans 13:14.
  • We are instructed to dress modestly, with decency and propriety but also to clothe ourselves with good deeds in 1 Timothy 2:9-10.
  • Colossians 3:12-14 directs us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. It also prompts us to put on love which is the personality trait which binds all the others together in unity.

Out of all of these instructions, the encouragement to perform good works is probably one of the most frequently mentioned.

. . . having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.  (1 Pet 2:12 NKJV, emphasis added)

. . . who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.  (Tit 2:14 NKJV, emphasis added)

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.  (Tit 3:8 NKJV, emphasis added)

The only way to truly clothe ourselves with good works and holy virtues is through the empowering and enabling grace that we receive through our ongoing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.  Walk in the “Clothing of Salvation”: 

  • The love of God,
  • The grace from God,
  • Faith in God, which is a gift from Him (Eph 2:8-9)
  • The LIFE of God, which is the indwelling Holy Spirit (Pro 12:28; 1 Cor 6:19)

Cling to your relationship with Jesus even as a drowning man clings to a life preserver thrown to him by rescuers.  Jesus provides new grace and strength for each new day, and He will never leave you nor fail you.  Glory to His Holy Name!

Union With Christ

Union With Christ

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.  (Rom 6:5-6 NIV)

. . . always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  (2 Cor 4:10 NKJV)

. . . even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus . . . (Eph 2:5-6 NKJV)

These Bible passages are discussing a believer’s union with Christ.  Union with Christ refers to the relationship between the believer and Jesus Christ.  It also refers to a willing loyalty of Christ to the believer, as well as a loyalty of the believer to our Lord Jesus. 

The first 14 verses of Ephesians, chapter One, explain some of the blessings that we receive from being united with Christ.  These passages reinforce our understanding that we are blessed and highly favored by God. 

Unity in Christ—a result of our salvation—brings about an ongoing redemptive work in a believer’s life and conduct.  As we come to know and understand our Savior, and through the Bible learn about our untold blessings, we yearn to live in a manner that is completely pleasing to the Lord.  This is understandable. 

Even as a small child who is loved, valued and protected by their parents will choose to please and obey those good parents—so also does a believer desire to please and to obey our loving and merciful Savior.  From His hand we receive forgiveness, favor, health, prosperity, protection, provision, and the gift of grace to enable us daily. 

Our God is a good God.  He blesses people and nations, whether they acknowledge Him or not.  He places people in governing positions for the sake of giving people order and safety in the world.  He blesses believers individually as we love, obey, and serve Him.

In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the Lord and of his goodness. (Hos 3:5b NLT)  As this Scriptures states, in the end times we will tremble with awe because of the Lord’s magnificence and His unimaginable goodness to mankind.  Glory to God!

Power Belongs to God

Power Belongs to God

All power and all authority belongs to God.  That also means that any power or authority that anyone exercises in any position of authority comes FROM God!  That’s why the Word instructs us to obey governing authorities. 

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  (Rom 13:1 NIV)  We’re instructed to obey all who are in authority.

By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice. 16 By me princes rule, and nobles, all the judges of the earth.  (Pro 8:15-16 NKJV)  The Lord reminds us that He is the One who establishes kings, princes, nobles, judges, and all who are in positions of authority.

God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God.  (Ps 62:11 NKJV)  This verse is yet another reminder from God that it is always to Him and to HIS POWER that we submit.

For all power belongs to God, now and forever. Amen.  (1 Pet 5:11 VOICE)  God holds and owns all power FOREVER.

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.  (Rom 13:2 ESV)  If we resist authority, we resist God Himself, and we invite judgment from God.  Doing such a thing is not a wise move.

Titus 3:1 implies that being submissive to rulers and authorities is the same as being ready for every good work!  If you would like the Lord to credit you with performing good work, submit to and obey those who have authority over you in the world—whether in your family, your church, your community or your work environment. 

God loves to bless the obedient because to Him, obedience is better than sacrifice!  (1 Sam 15:22b)

The Blessing of God’s Correction

The Blessing of God’s Correction

Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.  (Job 5:17 NIV)

Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law . . .  (Ps 94:12 NKJV)

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.  (Pro 3:11-12 NKJV)

What?  How can anyone consider correction or criticism to be a blessing?  When we think about this in the terms of a loving parent correcting their child whom they love, it becomes somewhat easier to comprehend. 

In reality, if parents don’t teach children the truth about traffic lights, crossing the road, or even consideration for others, those kids will be in danger of some serious harm.  So, in this way, we can see that the parents’ correction and teaching is a true sign of their great love for their children.

In the same way, God corrects us in order to save us from some future harm of which we are unaware.  He is correcting us in order to keep us on His path of righteousness.  The Bible saysIn the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.  (Pro 12:28)  In the pathway of righteousness there is no death—in any form—not developing or even embryonic. 

Those who will not hear and obey God’s correction will not end well according to the Word.

He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.  (Pro 10:17)

Happily, God’s usual forms of correction are to use a Scripture verse, our conscience, a timely sermon, or a quiet word from a Christian brother or sister to correct us.  Sometimes He will use a loving and caring family member to warn us of danger.  This is always a sign of the person’s love and concern for us. 

We need to be sensitive to these forms of God’s correction, and to welcome them as a sign of His great love for each one of us.  And most importantly, we need to OBEY these promptings from our Father God.  God bless you.

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!