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.

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!

Yes & Amen

Yes & Amen

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.  (2 Cor 1:20)

This is a wonderful, blessed, and encouraging Bible verse.  It means that every promise in the Bible is fulfilled through, and guaranteed by, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

But what does that mean, in everyday life, to a believer?

First, the key is to remember that all of God’s words are reliable.  They are firm, constant, and steadfast. God cannot lie. (Num 23:19; 1 Sam 15:29; Heb 6:18; Tit 1:2)

These promises are fulfilled IN JESUS so it’s crucial to remember that Jesus never changes. (Heb 13:8)  Neither will His promises nor His support of God’s Word ever change.

God is consistent and His love is consistent.  That means that He, His love and His words NEVER FAIL.

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

For with God nothing will be impossible.  (Lk 1:37)

He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing love to his anointed, to David and to his descendants forever . . .  (Ps 18:50)

And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.  (Josh 23:14)

The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.  (Ps 33:5)

. . . so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  (Isa 55:11 NIV)

So, our question from the top of the article is what does this mean for the believer.  First, here are the definitions of the words:   The word Yes means “certainly, absolutely, and positively.”  The word Amen means “I agree” or “Yes, indeed.”

In everyday life, this means that you may choose a Bible verse or several that you would like to come to pass for you in your life.  As you meditate upon the verse (or verses) and keep it in front of your eyes, know that through Jesus, the Lord has already answered:  “certainly; I agree; absolutely; yes, indeed; and positively” to your need.

How glorious!  We serve the God of the impossible!

The Way, the Truth & the Life

The Way, the Truth & the Life

Why did Jesus connect Himself with these three words and how does it impact a life of faith?

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 said this to His followers the night before He was crucified.  He was preparing them for the challenging days that were ahead of them.

  • Jesus asserts that He is the Way which suggests that faith in Him is the open door to salvation and to eternal life.  This is the truth that the Good News is based upon, and we need to share it with everyone.  God has made the plan of salvation clear, and we have been given the honor of sharing His Gospel with everyone.

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  (Joh 10:9) This is the Lord saying that He is to Door to Salvation and Eternal Life.   “Finding pasture” means that the Lord will supply all of our needs just as a shepherd cares for all of the needs of his sheep.

. . . that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  (Joh 3:15)  Believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior is the only road to God.

  • Jesus says that He is the Life because He is also the author and source of all of life. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  (Joh 1:1-4)  Jesus is the Word made flesh and this verse is the foundation for that truth.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  (Joh 11:25-26)  Jesus makes His claim clearly here that He is the resurrection and the life.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.   (Col 1:16)  All forms of life were created by the Lord.

  • No one would care about or remember Jesus’ claim to be the Way and the Life if He was not also, in reality, the Truth of God.  Jesus’ actions and entire life demonstrate the love, mercy, forgiveness, and miracle-working power of the Father God.  It is no wonder then, that Jesus prays the following prayer:

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.  (Joh 17:15-19, emphasis added)

Jesus prayed, “Your word is truth.”  Jesus is known as the living Word of God.  (John 1:1, 14)

He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.  (Rev 19:13)  This verse is referring to Jesus Christ and says that He is called The Word of God.

Jesus is the living Word of God and God’s Word is truth.  Jesus was speaking the truth about Himself!  Praise the Lord!

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.

Be Generous

Be Generous

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  (Lk 6:35 NIV, underscoring added)

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.  (Pro 19:17 ESV, underscoring added)

It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice.  (Ps 112:5 ESV, underscoring added)

Justice means fair play, impartiality, objectivity or neutrality.  The Scripture verse shown above (Ps 112:5) talks about a person who deals generously, lends to others, and conducts his affairs with justice.  All of these character traits are traits of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our example.  (See Phil 2:5; 1 Pet 2:21)

The Lord challenges us to test Him with our generosity just so that we will learn that we cannot out-give God!  (Mal 3:10-12)  It is the only area in which the Lord has instructed us to test Him.  Just ponder that for a little while . . .

The Lord demonstrated His love for mankind by GIVING His only begotten Son to become our Savior.  That was sacrificial love and sacrificial giving on God’s part, and anyone who is a parent understands that completely.

The focus of this article is about the call to believers to be generous—to live a generous lifestyle.  And it’s crucial for us to understand that God the Father gave generously, and Jesus Christ gave generously, also. 

And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’  (Ac 20:35)

When we live a generous lifestyle while here on earth, in obedience to our heavenly Father, the Lord sees it and He places treasure in heaven aside for us as a reward.  (Mt 6:19-21)  God is most pleased when we share what we have with others, especially with those who are needy.  (Mt 10:8; Heb 13:16)

Live generously and with joy!  We believers are being transformed daily into the image of Christ, and this is simply one way in which we may cooperate with the Lord in our own transformation.  (See Rom 8:29-30; Phil 2:13; 3:21; Col 3:10; 2 Cor 3:18)  Blessings upon 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.