We Are Friends of God

We Are Friends of God

We are friends of God.  Does that blow your mind?  This truth fills me with joy.

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.  (Jas 2:23)

Abraham’s faith in God qualified him to be called the friend of God.  All who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior are also friends of God, as the Scriptures teach us.

And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  (Lk 12:14)  Jesus warns us, His friends, to beware of those who can harm us spiritually rather than physically.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  (Pro 17:17)  Jesus is the Friend who loves each one of us at ALL times!  And in adversity or trouble, He will fight for us.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  (Joh 15:13)  Our Friend, Jesus, has laid down His life for each and every one of us.  Glory to God!

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  (Joh 15:14)  When we obey Jesus and His teachings, we may rest assured that we are indeed His friend.

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.  (Joh 15:15)  Jesus has taught us everything that He heard from His Father God; and in doing so, has made us His friends. Rejoice in the knowledge that each of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord has become a friend of the Most High God–the Living God!

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!

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.

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.)

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. 

Justified by Faith

Justified by Faith

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are justified (made righteous) through faith in Jesus Christ alone—not by works. 

Here’s what the Bible has to say about justification:

. . . knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.  (Gal 2:16)

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  (Gal 3:24)

. . . and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith . . .  (Phil 3:9)

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.  (Ac 13:38-39, underscoring added)

Even the faith which we have is a gift from God according to Ephesians 2:8.  So we cannot boast in our faith, because the faith in which we operate is a gift of God.  So, am I saying that good works have no place in the believer’s life?  No!  Of course not, but let us appreciate and thank God for His precious gift of salvation and the justification that is included in it.

Yes, there is a place for good works.  According to Ephesians 2:10, we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works.  Titus 3:8 reminds us to maintain good works because they are good and profitable to all people.

So, in our walk of faith let us recognize that we need to feed and strengthen our faith by reading the Word, and we need to maintain good works, as well.  With such behavior as this, God is well pleased.

Unfailing Love

Unfailing Love

God, alone, is capable of bestowing UNFAILING love upon a person or a group of people.  Since God is love (1 Joh 4:8), we can see why this would be possible as well as understandable.

Here are three different versions of the same Bible verse about God’s love:

Because your faithful love is right in front of me—I walk in your truth!  (Ps 26:3 CEB)

For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth.  (Ps 26:3 NKJV)

. . . for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.  (Ps 26:3 NIV, emphasis added)

There are many more verses in the Word that talk about God’s precious, beautiful, unfailing love (all NIV):

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.  (Ex 15:13)

Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.  (Ps 6:4)

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  (Ps 13:5)

See also Psalm 18:50; 21:7; 32:10; 33:5, 18, 22; 36:7; 44:26; 48:9; 51:1; 52:8; 62:12, and many more!  Further research into this truth will strengthen and support your faith in all circumstances.

What I hope to accomplish here is to remind us all how very deeply and how faithfully God loves each one of His children.  God’s love is unfailing, and it is unconditional.  There is no love anywhere else in creation like the love of God for His people.

God’s love is dependable, constant, consistent, unshakable, and enduring.  His love is more important than anyone else’s.  When you are the object of His love, His love for you makes you a better, kinder, and more loving human being.  His love enables you to love others in a more mature way than ever before. 

Meditate upon His unfailing love. Make it a practice to have an awareness of His constant, abiding love.  It will bless your life and faith immensely.

SPECIAL ARTICLE: Hope in the Midst of Crisis

SPECIAL ARTICLE:  Hope in the Midst of Crisis

In the midst of this worldwide health crisis known as the Corona virus, it’s important that we recognize that we believers have a hope that the world does not know.  It’s at times like these that we must hold onto our faith, and be a light in the midst of darkness.

Let’s consider some Biblical truths:

. . . according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.  (Eph 3:11-12)

Our Father God accomplished His eternal purpose through Jesus Christ by giving mankind the gift of salvation.  In Jesus, through Him and by Him, all who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, have been given access to our Father God; and as a result, we may have full confidence in our relationship with Him.  Hallelujah!

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.  (Heb 10:35)

So do not abandon your assurance and faith in Jesus Christ and in His salvation.  Hold onto your faith; take a firm grasp of your salvation and never let it go!

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.  (1 Joh 5:14-15)

This is a precious promise from God for us TODAY.  We know that when we ask for something that agrees with the will of God, He hears us AND He gives us the specific answer for which we have asked.

You may ask, “How do I know if it’s God will for me to be healthy and well?”  Here is how you may KNOW:

  • Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 Joh 2)  This passage would not be in the Bible if God did not want us to be healthy.
  • My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. (Pro 3:1-2)  God shares His wisdom with us that as we hide His Word in our hearts, it will add long life and peace to us.
  • It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. (Pro 3:8)  God is again telling us that His Word, sown into our hearts and minds, will give health to our physical bodies and strength to our very bones.
  • For I am the Lord who heals you. (Ex 15:26c)  The Lord declares that He is our Healer!  If it was not His will for us to be healthy, He would not declare Himself to be the Mighty One who heals us.

Believe in and rely upon these supernatural words of power from God.  Place your faith in Him and in His Word.  Be unshakeable and stubborn in your faith in God, dear brothers and sisters!  Hope in Christ who is our health, our strength, our life.

Narrow is the Gate

Narrow is the Gate

“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)

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”  (Mt 22:14)

. . . strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”  (Act 14:22)

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  (Joh 15:18-20)

The term “narrow gate” conveys its meaning rather well.  A narrow gate allows the entry of fewer people at one time, than does a wide gate.  A narrow gate doesn’t allow a person who is heavily burdened with packages to get through very easily.

When Jesus said, “Narrow is the way which leads to life . . . “ He was pointing out that the Christian walk is not as easy as it may seem.  Jesus was warning people that following Him would lead to grief and to serious challenges of life. 

“Difficult” is from the Greek word thlibo, which means: “To press (as grapes), press hard upon; a compressed way; narrow straitened, contracted” way (New Testament Greek Lexicon, http://www.biblestudytools.com).

As Christians, we must continuously keep our eyes on the goal of spending eternity with our Savior, Jesus Christ.  In John 15:18-20, Jesus tells His followers that the world will hate them even as it hated Him.  And since Jesus was persecuted, we should expect the same treatment. 

These are tough realities and truths that Jesus was setting before everyone who chooses to follow Him.  However, no one will be able to say that they haven’t been told the entire truth about following Jesus. 

Jesus loves us and wants us to follow Him; and He pours out His love, mercy, and grace upon us to empower us to do just that.  We must remember to add our own willpower and determination to this endeavor by choosing continuously to persist in following Jesus Christ.  Let’s glorify the Lord throughout our lives.

Children of Promise

Children of Promise

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.  (Gal 4:21-26, emphases added)

That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.  (Rom 9:8, emphasis added)

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. (Gal 4:28)

Children of the Promise is another way of saying “children of God.” (see Rom 9:8 above)  But what, exactly, is the significance of this for us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior?

One thing to note is that the Bible says that we become children of the promise when we’re baptized into Christ through water baptism. 

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  (Act 2:38-39)

This teaching is verified in Ephesians 3:

. . . that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel . . . (Eph 3:6)

Upon our acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and our water baptism into Christ, we become Children of Promise—children of God!  Hallelujah!

For you are all sons [children] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (Gal 3:26-29, explanatory word inserted)

Being Children of the Promise means that we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ!  Glory to God!  (Rom 8:17) 

This means that we are entitled to all of the blessings that Jesus earned for Himself by living a sinless, perfect life in loving obedience to His Father while He lived on earth.  In accepting Christ as Savior and being baptized into Him through water baptism, we become qualified to receive this vast and rich inheritance!  Rejoice, O children of promise!