Instructions for Holy Living

Instructions for Holy Living

Today we’re taking note of the Bible’s helpful ideas about holy living.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.  22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.  (2 Tim 2:20-26 NIV)

The passage above is talking about different kinds of people who all attend the same church.  Some are precious vessels of gold and silver who can withstand the fires of hardship, heartaches, or persecution.  Others are vessels of wood and earth which are fragile and soon destroyed in the flames of hardship and misfortune.

The people who constantly purify themselves by “being cleansed by the washing of the water of the word” (Eph 5:26 NASB)—reading and obeying God’s Word regularly—are set apart and made holy unto God.

We’re told to run away from the lusts of the flesh.  Instead, we should pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We need to be diligent to avoid unwise and reckless squabbles.  The Spirit of God instructs us to be kind to everyone, able to teach God’s ways to others, and that we should be thankful.  We are urged to treat our enemies gently by sharing God’s Word and wisdom with them, and in so doing, hope to bring them to salvation. 

Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.  (Tit 1:7 NIV)

The book of Titus reminds us that anyone in a place of authority should be virtuous and approachable.  We should not give in to human frailties such as intoxication; physical or verbal abuse; or chasing after or being corrupted by seeking wealth.

Keep away from worthless and useless talk. It only leads people farther away from God.  (2 Tim 2:16 CEV)

Avoid discussions that have no spiritual or eternal value, which can only alienate people from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

These are fairly easy to understand guidelines which are challenging to fulfill without the ongoing grace of God and our obedience to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  God bless you!

Jesus Reveals the Father

Jesus Reveals the Father

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father.  Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.  (Mt 11:27)

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.  (Lk 10:22)

As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  (Joh 10:15)

Jesus has a distinctive and unmatched relationship with the Father.  Since His relationship with the Father is personal and direct, ONLY Jesus can accurately disclose God the Father to us. 

How has Jesus revealed the Father to us?  Through His life and through His acts, He has displayed His Father’s character and heart for all to see and understand.  Here are just a handful of gifts that the Father has given to believers:

  • Love (Joh 3:16; 1 Joh 3:1)
  • Freedom from Guilt (Rom 8:1)
  • Health, healing (Ex 15:26; Isa 53:5; Mt 12:15;Lk 5:17)
  • Daily benefits [blessings]  (Ps 68:19)
  • God hears and answers our prayers  (1 Joh 5:14-15)

As we study the Word of God and think deeply about it, we gradually learn more and more about the character and nature of God.  And the more we learn of Him, the more confident that we can be in the fact that He loves us; that He enjoys blessing us; and that He’s always with us.  Have a wonderful day!

God’s Fierce Love for Us

God’s Fierce Love for Us

Chapter Eight of the Song of Solomon is a representation of God’s fierce and jealous love for people.  Not just His people but for ALL people.

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.  It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.  If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.  (Song of Sol. 8:6-7 NIV)

Here’s the way that I understand and meditate upon this passage from the Bible:

“Father, I am loved affectionately by You; lodged deep within Your heart; owned and acknowledged by You; and protected by Your powerful right arm.  My love for You is mightier than loss, bereavement or death.  Oceans of water can’t smother Your love for me nor can floods ever drown the power of our mutual love. If someone tried to buy our love with unimaginable riches, we would disdainfully reject it.”  Praise the Lord most High!

If you would insert the first name of your spouse or fiancé in the place of the word ‘Father,’ you would begin to comprehend the depth and breadth and intensity of God’s ferocious love for human beings. 

God’s love for us is His reason for sending Jesus to earth to purchase our salvation.  It’s His motive for inserting so many miraculous and precious promises into His Word for us to discover and to rely upon.  His promises are a priceless treasure given to us—we, who are the object of His potent love. I encourage you to meditate upon and to mightily rejoice in God’s fierce love for you! Glory to God!

Make Every Effort to Do Good to All

Make Every Effort to Do Good to All

The Bible invites us to do good to everyone.

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.  (1 Thes 5:15 NIV)

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.  (Gal 6:10)

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord . . .  (Heb 12:14)

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.  (3 Joh 1:11)

As children of the most High God, we desire to live holy lives that obey the Word of God.  We serve a good God who is full of mercy, forgiveness, and love.  God has given every believer the blessing of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who leads us and teaches us. 

We should:

  • Strive to do whatever is good—for each other and everyone else;
  • Never pay back a wrong; never seek revenge;
  • As we have opportunity, do noble, virtuous, kind things for everyone—especially other believers;
  • Seek to be at peace with ALL; and
  • Pursue holiness always.

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, demonstrated “doing good” to all.  If we follow His example, and emulate our Prince of Peace, we will be blessed.

Our Lives Reflects our Hearts

Our Lives Reflects our Hearts

All of our actions—whether good and kind or hurtful and evil—flow out of our hearts. 

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.  (Pro 27:19 NIV, emphasis added)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.  (Jam 1:22-25, underscoring added)

. . . he who fashions the hearts of them all, and observes all their deeds.  (Ps 33:15 RSV)

For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”  (Mk 7:21-23 NIV)

As the Bible tells us, we need to be obedient, active Christians who LIVE THE WORD every single day of our lives.  Our lives will surely expose whatever is in our hearts.

This doesn’t imply that we’re perfect and never make mistakes.  Absolutely not.  It means that we start with a fresh slate every day, and continue loving and serving the Lord Jesus persistently and consistently. 

When we do sin, we stop and repent before God.  After we have received forgiveness and cleansing, we begin again in perfect fellowship and harmony with the Lord, our merciful Redeemer.  Because Jesus lived on earth as a human, He understands the nature of temptation.  (Heb 2:18; 4:15; Mt 4:1)

Because we know our own flaws and weaknesses, we’re able to extend mercy and encouragement to others.  We know that as we surrender to God’s will and resist the enemy, he must flee from us.  (Jam 4:7)

We serve our loving God and the body of Christ by praying for our fellow man, whether believers or unbelievers.  We also pray for our civic and government leaders that God will lead them and send them wise counselors, and give us peace on the earth.

As we hide God’s Word and His precious promises in our hearts, our hearts will overflow with the joy, mercy, and love of God.  Our faith will be nourished and strengthened.  Our daily lives will reveal and replicate the condition of our hearts.  Glory to God!

God, Our Mighty Warrior

God, Our Mighty Warrior

Our God is a mighty warrior who fights for His people and on behalf of His people.  What a powerful blessing from God has been granted to us!

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.  (Zeph 3:17 NIV)

The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. (Ex 15:3 NIV)

The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.  (Ex 14:14)

The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies.  (Isa 42:13 NIV)

But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.  They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.  (Jer 20:11 NIV)

A warrior is a soldier, fighter, combatant, and trooper.  God tells us that He fights for us and goes before us in battle.  (Deu 1:30)  This reminds us to follow our Lord and Savior in any battle and never to try to strike out on our own.  He is our leader so we need to be responsive to His timing, strategies, and guidance.

The Lord tells us not to fear our enemy because of the fact that God, Himself, fights for us.  (Deu 3:22)  Since we know that we have the Lord with us—because He never leaves us nor fails us—then we’re able to successfully put a thousand enemy troops on the run!  (Josh 23:10)  Glory to God!

Sometimes the Lord simply instructs us:  “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord!”  (2 Chron 20:17)

Through the Scripture passages shown above, we recognize that:

  • Our enemies will stumble and not prevail.
  • The enemy will fail and be disgraced.
  • Our Lord, our Warrior, loves us and saves us;
  • He delights in us, and
  • He rejoices over us with singing!

All glory and honor and praise be unto God, our Savior! God bless you.

Jesus, Beloved of the Father

Jesus, Beloved of the Father

Jesus is the cherished and treasured Son of the Heavenly Father. 

He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  (2 Pet 1:17 NIV)  The Father declared His great love and approval of Jesus.

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”  (Mk 9:7 NIV)  Not only does God, the Father, say again that He loves Jesus, but He tells us to listen to Jesus.  The Lord wants us to not only listen to Jesus, but to OBEY Him.

The Father loves the Son and gives everything into his hands.  (Joh 3:35 CEB)  Again we see a declaration of the Father’s love for Jesus, as well as the truth that the Father has given Jesus authority over ALL THINGS.  (See Mt 11:27; 28:18; 1 Pet 3:22)

Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!  I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.  (Isa 42:1)  In this passage of the Bible, we hear the Lord describing His Son, and reminding us that the Father defends and endorses His Son.

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.  (Lk 10:22)  This Scripture verse highlights the close relationship between God, the Father, and Jesus.  It also establishes the truth that Jesus will reveal the Father to those who trust in Him as Savior.

In Christ, all believers have been made complete.  (Col 2:10)  He has redeemed us from sin, death, and eternal damnation.  Jesus is approved of and dearly loved by our heavenly Father.  Jesus is God’s Elect One.

How many more reasons do we need for us to love and honor Jesus with everything we are and everything we have?  Hallelujah!

Keeping a Pure Path

Keeping a Pure Path

The Bible gives us answers for everything that we need in life, including how to live a pure and holy life.  Let’s look to the Word:

How can young people keep their paths pure?  By guarding them according to what you’ve said.  (Ps 119:9 CEB)

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  (2 Tim 2:22 ESV)

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.  (Ps 119:11 NKJV)

The Word gives us these clear instructions:

  • We should guard our paths according to the Word of God;
  • Flee youthful passions and avoid occasions that give rise to temptation;
  • Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with all other believers who live a holy life unto the Lord;
  • Memorize the Word of God and hide it in our hearts because the Word that we cherish and honor will keep us away from sin.

These are clear and understandable directions from the heart of God.  He has also given each one of us the gift of grace to empower us to do what He has called us to do.  Hallelujah!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God . . .  (Eph 2:8, emphasis added) 

May God surround us all with His grace, mercy, and love in Jesus’ name.  Praise His holy name!

What is Better Than Sacrifice to God?

What is Better Than Sacrifice to God?

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.  (Hos 6:6)

This Scripture verse states two things that God prefers over a burnt offering:

  • Mercy – God wants His people to show compassion and kindness to others, especially anyone who is in need.
  • Knowledge of God – God wants us to know Him, and one important way to do that is to read and to meditate upon His Word.  He has given us His Word in order to allow us to learn all about Him, and about His truth.

So Samuel said:  “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.  (1 Sam 15:22)

God says clearly here that obedience is better than sacrifice.  He wants us to obey Him and His Word.  He asks us to live in agreement with His Word and His wisdom.

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.  (Pro 21:3)

The Bible passage shown above teaches us that more than sacrifice, the Lord desires:

  • For us to live righteously – This means to live a holy, good, and moral life among men, a life that honors God and obeys the Word of God. 
  • For us to do justice – This means to live with a sense of fairness to all, and to treat everyone equally.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Gal 5:14)

Longing for Our Heavenly Dwelling

Longing for Our Heavenly Dwelling

Here’s a truth worthy of deep reflection: 

Our spirits within us long for our heavenly, eternal home.  We yearn to have our flawed, imperfect humanity swallowed up by eternal life and eternal love.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  (2 Cor 5:1-4 NKJV, emphasis added)

He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.  (Isa 25:8 NKJV)

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  (1 Cor 15:53-54 NIV)

When Isaiah 25 speaks of God wiping away tears from all faces, I believe that He is referring to our arrival in heaven, when all of our past shame and guilt AND any possibility of future sin will be extinguished forever.

All sorrows, sins and shortcomings from our earthly lives will be forgotten, and the prospect of eternity in the presence of our God and King will be our entire focus and purpose.

Just think about eternity spent in an atmosphere of perfect, unconditional, unfailing LOVE!  That is our beautiful, blessed destiny.