Seek Good Not Evil

Seek Good Not Evil

The Bible exhorts us to seek good and not evil on a daily basis.  We’re encouraged to try to live at peace with others.  Let’s have a look at some of those verses:

Do you want to live and enjoy a long life?  13 Then don’t say cruel things and don’t tell lies.  14 Do good instead of evil and try to live at peace.  15 If you obey the Lord, he will watch over you and answer your prayers.  (Ps 34:12-15 CEV)

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.  (Isa 1:16-17 ESV) 

Seek good, not evil, that you may live.  Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.  (Amos 5:14 NIV)

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
  (Mic 6:8 NLT)

Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  (Mt 6:33 CEB)

There is a promise to us that if we seek good and not evil, and be at peace with others, we will enjoy a long life.  Not only that, but the Lord says that He will be with us.  Another promise is that the Lord will watch over us and answer our prayers.  Wow!  Those are wonderful promises that God is giving us and notice that these are very desirable blessings.

We are also exhorted to be humble.  In other words, we should treat others with the respect that they deserve since all human beings have been made in the image of God.

Desire to see God’s kingdom and righteousness established, and when we do, every other blessing that we could ever desire will be given to us.  So today’s lesson is:  Live an upright and holy life, and reap the blessings that Jesus Christ purchased for everyone who would believe in Him.  Glory to God!

Contend for Your Faith

Contend for Your Faith

CONTEND means to maintain, keep up, or to sustain something.  We are reflecting upon the Bible’s exhortation to us to contend for our faith in the Savior and Messiah.

We need to work diligently on holding tightly to our faith because life’s circumstances and the work of the enemy will try to separate us permanently from our faith.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  (Jude 1:3 KJV)

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  (1 Tim 6:12 NKJV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  (2 Tim 4:7 ESV)

The only thing that matters is that you continue to live as good citizens in a manner worthy of the gospel of the Messiah. then, whether I come to see you or whether I stay away, I may hear all about you—that you are standing firm in one spirit, struggling with one mind for the faith of the gospel . . .  (Phil 1:27 ISV)

So how do we ‘fight the good fight of faith’?  There are a number of healthy, spiritual habits that we should form in order to stay connected to our faith and to the Word of God.  Here are some ideas:

  • Flee from sin:  literally, fly away from sin!  God will show you a way out of it.  (1 Cor 10:13)
  • Pursue righteousness. (Mt 5:6)
  • Get to know God and lead a godly life. (2 Pet 3:11)
  • Put your confidence [trust] in God and in His Word. (2 Cor 5:7)
  • Operate in love.  (1 Cor 13:13; Mt 22:39)
  • Be humble and gentle.  (Eph 4:2)

We must make choices every day of our lives to pursue God’s will, to obey Him, and to live by faith.  This requires perseverance and steadfastness.  God’s grace will supply us with His ability to hold fast to our course.  God bless you.

Live Humbly in Order to Honor God

Live Humbly in Order to Honor God

The humility spoken of in the Bible means believing WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT US over anyone else’s opinion, including our own!  Humility is freedom from pride or arrogance, modesty.  Humility allows us to be open to the possibility of making a mistake. 

The Lord defends the humble, but he throws the wicked to the ground.  (Ps 147:6 NCV)  Because the Lord places such value upon humility, He chooses to defend humble people.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.  (Mt 23:12 ESV)  The Lord says that He exalts people who are humble.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  (Jas 4:10 NIV)  Our God promises to lift up His humble servants.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time . . .  (1 Pet 5:6 NKJV)  In His timing, the Lord shall exalt those who live humbly in His service.

Here are some characteristics of humble people:

  • Humility esteems God’s ways above everything; it recognizes that He is all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful and loving.
  • Humility stays mindful that none of us is greater than another.
  • Humility is knowing when to ask questions as well as when to ask for help.
  • Humility knows who we are and to Whom we belong.
  • Humility always involves honesty.
  • Humility means being willing to learn and being curious about others.
  • Humility implies not taking our desires, successes, or failing too seriously.
  • Humility is trusting that what God says concerning each of us is true.
  • Humility is believing that what God says is always true.

Humility is a viewpoint of spiritual modesty that comes from understanding our place in the world and God’s perfect plans for us.  His plans for us are good to give us a future and a hope.  (Jer 29:11)  Thank the Lord most High!

God Will Turn Us into a Blessing

God Will Turn Us into a Blessing

Let’s see where the Bible addresses this topic of turning believers into a blessing.

And it shall come to pass that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing.  Do not fear, let your hands be strong.  (Zec 8:13)

Though their present state was humble, God wanted Israel to trust in His promise of blessing.  He also wanted them to allow His promise to inspire them to diligently and robustly serve the Kingdom of God.  In the above passage, believers are instructed to have no fear and to be strong.  Notice that the Lord says that AFTER He saves His people, THEN we will be a blessing to other people. 

In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”  (Isa 19:24-25)

As we read above, the Word says that God’s people shall be a blessing in the heart of the earth.  The truth in this Scripture is based upon the fact that the Gospel of salvation was birthed in Israel through the birth of Jesus Christ; and through Israel and the gospel of salvation, all mankind would be blessed to learn of God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy.

‘Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.’  (Hag 2:19)

In Haggai, the Lord declares that His blessings shall be upon His people.  We may safely put our trust in God’s promise to bless us, though we see no observable indication of its realization.  For our God cannot lie (Tit 1:2), and His Word is unfailing—it is always fulfilled.  (Ezek 12:28; 1 Thes 5:24)

We’re called and designed by God to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in the earth, and in doing so, fulfill our destiny to be a blessing on this earth.  Glory to God!

As a Little Child

As a Little Child

Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  (1 Kgs 3:7, emphasis added) 

This verse in 1 Kings reflects the wisdom of Solomon—who considered himself as a little child in comparison to the wisdom and the eternal knowledge of God.

Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.  (Mk 10:15)

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  (Mt 18:3-4)

What do you think are the characteristics of a little child that Jesus is referring to in these passages?  Here are some ideas to consider.  Very young children were, in ancient, biblical times:

  • Humble and not envious of each other;
  • Did not think about advancing themselves to a place of power;
  • Didn’t have status or rights; and
  • Were completely dependent upon the good will of others to care for them.

Jesus humbles Himself in identifying with the little child.  Jesus came to meet the needs of all those who are marginal, needy, and powerless.  He came to save the lost—and there are many ways to be “lost.” 

Jesus says that the way that WE should respond to such marginal, needy people is the same way that we respond to HIM.  (see Mt 18:5)  If we love Jesus, we should show love and concern for the lost. Jesus wants to remind us of the spiritual nature of His kingdom, and desires that we be heavenly-minded. 

The Bible says that we are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth (Heb 11:13) because our King is a heavenly King, and our country is with our heavenly King. 

As we submit our lives to the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit, we shall suddenly move from earthly life into eternity—into humility and total dependence upon God.  (1 Cor 15:51-52)

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. 

Humility and Wisdom

Humility and Wisdom

Humility and wisdom are two attributes that are praised in the Scriptures.  Blessings are frequently mentioned in connection with them.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.  (Pro 11:2 NIV)  Humility and wisdom are frequent companions!

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.  (Jas 3:13 NIV)  This verse informs us that humility comes from wisdom.  As a matter of fact, a person with humility coupled with the fear of the Lord will experience riches, honor, and life.  (Pro 22:4)

Toward the scorners He is scornful, but to the humble He gives favor. The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.  (Pro 3:34-35 ESV)  To people who are humble, the Lord gives favor; and the Lord bestows honor upon the wise.

Only we are capable of humbling ourselves; no one else can do it for us.  When we humble ourselves, the Lord promises to exalt us.  (Jas 4:10 NKJV)  The Bible reminds us that if we don’t humble ourselves, the Lord will do it for us.  (Mt 23:12 ESV)

James 1:5 tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God for it because He will generously answer our prayer.  Scriptures state repeatedly the many blessings that God bestows upon those who are wise.  See Ps 111:10; Pro 3:13-18; 4:6-7; 14:16; 16:16; 24:3-7; Lk 21:15; Jas 3:17.

Because the end of the ages is approaching, all believers must live carefully and intentionally for the Lord.  Let us each take inventory of our strengths and our weaknesses; and if we are lacking in wisdom or humility, take steps to mend our ways. 

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  (Eph 5:15-16 ESV)

Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.  (Tit 3:1-2) 

Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?  (Jas 4:11-12)

The Scripture passages above remind us that we should not speak evil of anyone, but rather to be ready in every season for good work.  We’re called to be peace-promoting, quiet, and unpretentious people.

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Lk 6:37)  We’re not called to criticize or to assess other human beings!  We’re told to judge ourselves first and foremost.  (1 Cor 11:31)

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.  (Jas 3:2)  The goal of controlling the tongue is a life-long goal that must be chosen for each and every day of our lives.  If anyone should ever accomplish this goal, James tells us that we would be “perfect” or complete and mature.

Furthermore, we have no need to judge anyone because there is already a Judge Who is qualified to judge mankind, since He lived as a man on earth.  All judgment has been committed to Jesus.  (Joh 5:22)

We should not only avoid judgment but we should not speak evil of other people.  We are to use our words wisely and to watch over them. (Ex 20:16; 23:1; Eph 4:29, 31; 1 Pet 2:1)  God bless you.

Ears to Hear

Ears to Hear

The sower sows the word.  (Mark 4:14)

But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop:  some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear!  (Matt 13:8-9, emphasis added)

The phrase ears to hear explains the critical need for a teachable, hearing heart if the seed of Kingdom Truth is to be received and become fruitful in each one of our lives.

A teachable, hearing heart is one that is humble and contrite before God.  It’s receptive to the Lord and able to be corrected, so that a complete lifestyle change may result.  It values the Word of God above all else and desires to live in obedience to it.

You know your own heart!  You know if you will listen and receive correction, or if you will get offended and turn away from God.  Only you can make a change in your attitude, if you recognize that a change is necessary.  Only you can say, “Yes, Lord, I hear and obey.”  The choice is yours, alone.  Our loving God will give you the grace and strength to turn your heart around, if that is necessary. 

If you already have a teachable, hearing heart, then God rejoices over you!  He will continue to enable you to fulfill your calling here on earth. (1 Tim 1:12) 

It is by His grace that you are YOU!  (1 Cor 15:10)  Hurrah!