Stumble?

Stumble?

Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.  (Ps 119:165)

What does “stumble” mean as used in the Bible? 

It means:  1) to err; to slide into a crime or an error; 2) to have a moral failing; or 3) to place a blockage in someone’s way causing them to sin.

As the verse in Psalm 119 above says, when we have the peace that Jesus has given to us and we love God’s Word, then nothing has the power to cause us to sin.  Hallelujah!

My son, let them not depart from your eyes—keep sound wisdom and discretion; 22 so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck.  23 Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. (Prov 3:21-23)

As we keep the wisdom and discretion that comes from reading and memorizing God’s Word in our hearts, those words are life itself to our souls.  They provide grace to our behavior and character; they give us strength and sure-footedness.  And they prevent us from stumbling.

He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.  (1 Joh 2:10)

When we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we live in the light where all of our actions are open to view.  And in our actions, as we live for Christ and serve the Kingdom of God, there will be nothing for someone to see as an invitation or a cause to sin.  This is just one of the many blessings that living a holy life, committed to serving Jesus Christ gives to us.  Thank You, Lord!

King of Kings

King of Kings

Back in the 70s, there was a sweet worship chorus that said, “Oh!  Let the flag fly high on the castle of my heart, for the King is in residence there.”  Since we serve Jesus who is the King of Kings, it is fitting that our hearts be portrayed as the castles where the King mercifully reigns in love and righteousness, in power and glory.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  (Mt 6:10 ESV, emphasis added)  Every kingdom has a King, and Jesus is our Redeemer King.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world …  (Mt 25:34, emphasis added)  Our King has prepared a kingdom for each one of us.

And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner …  (Ex 17:15)  The Lord Jesus is our banner:  His image is on the flag that flies high over our lives; He is our standard—the rallying point for all spiritual power and resources in battle against the forces of hell.

“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.”  (Isa 11:10, emphasis added)  This verifies that Jesus, a descendant of Jesse, is our banner.

The King whom we serve is filled with love and compassion; mercy for the lost and the wounded; and health and healing for those who are sick.  He is good all of the time, and His plans for us are good and give us hope and a future. (Ps 34:8; Jer 29:11)

He brings reconciliation to relationships and to families.  (Jer 31:17; Rom 5:11; 2 Cor 5:18-19)  All glory to His name.

Jesus is a King whose grace humbles us without ever demeaning us, and who exalts us without causing us to puff up with false pride or ego.  Walking in a consistent relationship with Jesus, the Lamb of God, will mature us and grow us into mercy-filled, loving servants of the Kingdom of God.  Praise the Lord!

Encourage & Build

Encourage & Build

Have you ever heard this saying?  “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”  Such a person is an ENCOURAGER!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  (1 Thes 5:11 NIV)

There are at least thirteen passages in the New Testament alone about encouragement.  Encouragement means inspiration, reassurance, and support.  Encouragement is a combination of all three.  It has great potential for fostering and advancing critical moments in a person’s, a church’s, and or a nation’s history. 

But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.  (Deu 3:28 NKJV)  As this verse in the Bible demonstrates, encouragement is able to strengthen a person’s soul (mind, will, and emotions) and help them to push ahead to accomplish their goal.  Thanks to encouragement and God’s grace, Joshua accomplished great things for God.

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.  (Acts 11:23)  This is when Barnabas visited the church at Antioch:  He supported them in their faith in God and emboldened them to continue in it.

Here is something interesting to know about Barnabas

“Barnabas” wasn’t his birth name (it was Joseph); Barnabas was his nickname meaning “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). This rather obscure Bible character was so encouraging that it became his name.” ~ Source:  https://www.leadershipresources.org/who-is-barnabas-in-the-bible-10-things-to-know.

. . . that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ . . .  (Col 2:2)  These words of the Apostle Paul’s are inspiration to the church of his day—as well as to us.  He is nurturing our unity, our faith in and understanding of the Gospel, and our perseverance in faith.

. . . and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith . . .  (1 Thes 3:2)  The Apostle Paul is writing from Antioch about sending Timothy to confirm, reassure and to strengthen the faith of the Thessalonian church during persecution.

As these passages reveal to us, encouragement is powerful!  It has the potential to build (develop, shape, and foster) a person’s faith in God as well as a confidence in their calling to such an extent that they are enabled to accomplish mighty deeds and to produce pivotal moments in history. 

Boldly encourage someone that you care about today.  Blessings upon 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!

Our Need for Improvement

Our Need for Improvement

This article is a reminder for each of us to focus upon our own, individual need for improvement rather than to look around at other people’s failings. 

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  (Mt 7:3)

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  (Lk 18:11)

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  (Joh 8:7-9)

As human beings, we have a tendency to look at other people and compare ourselves to others.  Most of the time, we do that when we want to see ourselves as “not being so bad.”  Other times, we look around at the circumstances of other peoples’ lives and we feel jealous.  It is not good to compare ourselves to others; it is what the Bible would term as foolishness.

As the verses shown above demonstrate, we should never focus on other people.  (2 Cor 10:12)

Also, there are a number of Scriptures instructing us to avoid comparing ourselves.  (Exo 20:17; Mt 7:1-2; Joh 21:22)

Rather, we should focus upon Jesus Christ and yearn to follow in His footsteps.  As we focus upon Christ, He will shower us with His love and encouragement.  He will give us a purpose and a plan for our lives, as well as all of the grace and mercy that we will ever need to fulfill that plan.  (Jer 29:11; 32:19; Pro 16:4; 19:21; 1 Cor 2:9)

Let us trust the Lord Jesus to transform us in His own way, in His own time.  We are His workmanship, and He will see the work through to its completion.  (Eph 2:10; Phil 1:6)  Just trust Him and trust His plan for you!  God bless you.

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.

His Unfailing Mercy

His Unfailing Mercy

Our God is a God of unfailing mercy.  Hallelujah!

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23)

Nevertheless in Your great mercy, You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them;
for You are God, gracious and merciful.
  (Neh 9:31)

Has His mercy ceased forever?  Has His promise failed forevermore?  (Ps 77:8)

And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.  (Lk 1:50)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 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, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  (Eph 2:4-7)

All of the Bible verses shown above attest to this truth; and there are many, many more Scriptures concerning God’s mercy than those that I’ve chosen to share with you here.

This is extremely important to us (human beings) because we tend to fail frequently in our efforts to live holy, obedient, godly lives.  When we sin, we know that we can confess our sins, and God will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 Joh 1:9) 

By the unfailing mercy of God, His perfect salvation covers and obliterates ALL of our sins:  past, present, and future.  The only requirements on our part are that we live obediently to the Lord and His Word; continue in a loving relationship with our Savior; and that we never renounce Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

Despite the distractions of daily life, we must remember to focus on the goodness of God and His continuing, unfailing mercy upon us.  By His mercy and grace, we are enabled and empowered to bring Him glory and honor through our testimonies and our lives.  May His Name be exalted forever.

Lay Aside Every Hindrance

Lay Aside Every Hindrance

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  (Heb 12:1-2)

A hindrance is something that holds us up or slows us down.  In this verse, we’re told to lay aside every “weight.”  This passage reminds us to put aside every hindrance, weakness or barrier that would attempt to slow us down in our race to eternal salvation.

We must run our race with patience.  How do we run with patience?  We run resolutely, persistently, and uncomplainingly. 

The Lord Jesus gives us stamina, purpose and fortitude as we trust Him to strengthen us, and to pour out His grace upon our lives.  Jesus is called the “author and finisher” of our faith.  We must cling to Him and to our faith in His finished work.

Jesus is our example, and He didn’t weaken, yield or hesitate in His destined path to the cross on Calvary.  Jesus knew Who He placed His trust and hope in; Jesus placed it in His loving, heavenly Father who would never fail.  We need the same life mindset that is expressed in the following Bible verse:

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.  (2 Tim 1:12)

Commit your faith, your life, and your path to the Lord Jesus, the faithful One. 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  (Heb 13:8)

Strive for Peace & Holiness

Strive for Peace & Holiness

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  (Heb 12:14 ESV)

. . . let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.  (1 Pet 3:11 NKJV)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.
  (Mt 5:8-9)

But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.  (1 Tim 6:11)

STRIVE means to struggle, do your utmost, and to make every effort.  So the Bible is instructing us to pull out all the stops to be at peace with everyone and to live holy lives so that we will see the Lord. 

We want to turn away from evil, and live moral, virtuous and upright lives.  A certain path towards good is to look for peace and to take every opportunity to promote and to practice peace.  Jesus said that peacemakers would be called sons of God.  (Mt 5:9)

The Holy Spirit leads us to flee evil, vice and iniquity.  The Holy Spirit will inspire us to chase after and to exercise righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.  The Lord also gives us His empowering grace in order to live each day victoriously and with joy.

The Bible reminds us in several passages that the Holy Spirit is our teacher.  (Lk 12:12; Joh 14:26; 1 Cor 2:13)  We need to allow Him to teach us and to lead us in the paths where He wants us to walk.  Submit to the Lord’s wisdom and guidance joyfully.

God Has Chosen the Weak

God Has Chosen the Weak

In this article, we’re going to think about how inadequate many of us may feel to serve the Lord.  Especially when the Lord has called us to a specific task or calling in life.

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.”   (Jer 1:7 ESV)  Man’s excuse:  I’m too young, Lord!

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”  (Exod 3:11)  Translation:  But Lord, I’m a nobody—I’m insignificant!

Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”  (Exod 4:10)  Paraphrase:  Oh, Lord, I’m just not gifted or talented enough to do this.

But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”  (Exod 4:13)  Translation:  Please don’t ask me to do this!  Won’t you please send someone else?

Face your fears and resist them!  When God calls you, He equips you and gives you the grace that you need in order to empower and to enable you to fulfill His call.  (See Heb 13:21)

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.  (2 Cor 9:8)  God gives us more than we need in order to lavishly perform good works in His name.  Not only that, He will give us mentors and teachers to train us.

God has a strategy in choosing ordinary, sometimes under-educated human beings to do His work in the earth!  He chooses people who may even be despised in order to frustrate and to thwart evil powers and principalities.  God’s ways are higher than ours–better than ours.  (1 Cor 1:25)

He causes His own glory to be seen in us!  What an honor.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.  (Isa 60:1 ESV)

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.  (1 Cor 1:26-29)

Revel in your weaknesses and recognize that living in and through Christ is your true strength and your hope.  (2 Cor 12:9)   God bless you.