Two Paths

Two Paths

In life, there are only two paths to choose from.  Please, recognize this statement for the truth that it is.

We may choose to live for God and the Kingdom of righteousness; or we may sink to serving satan who is the enemy of God and the enemy of all that is good and true, peaceful and holy.

The ancient Hebrew word for satan means “accuser” or “adversary.” Why would we want to serve the being who is named “accuser”?

My heartfelt question is “Why would anyone choose to serve the kingdom of darkness?”  Let’s look at what the Scriptures have to say.  I’m going to put the Bible verses in categories to help to clarify this study.

About the Kingdom of God & Jesus

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .  (Gal 5:22 NKJV)

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  (Joh 10:10b NKJV, emphasis added)

. . . and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  (Phil 4:7 NKJV)

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.  (1 Cor 14:33 NKJV)

About the Kingdom of Darkness & satan

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  (Jas 3:16 NKJV)

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  (Joh 8:44 ESV)

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  (Joh 10:10a NKJV)

Warnings from Scripture

Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  (Eph 6:11 ESV)  We have to protect ourselves with the spiritual tools that the Lord has given to every believer.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  (1 Pet 5:8 NKJV)  We believers need to be vigilant and review our lives on a fairly regular basis so that we don’t allow even the smallest entry for the devil.

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.  (Rev 12:20 NKJV, underscoring added)  Know that the enemy will surely receive his eternal punishment which is described here.

Conclusions

The Bible informs us of key things we should know about the enemy and his realm.  In the kingdom of darkness, the atmosphere is full of envy, self-seeking, confusion, lies and every evil thing.  The beings who populate that realm enjoy killing, stealing, lying and destruction.  The future holds a grim reality for satan and for all who choose to serve him: 

The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.  (Rev 20:10 NKJV)  This is an eternal, never-ending punishment. 

The Bible informs us that Jesus came to impart life not only here on earth, but for all eternity to those who accept Him as their Lord and Savior.  That is why John 10:10 says “more abundantly.”  When we serve Jesus and His Kingdom, we experience love, joy and peace.  We become a member of the family of God.  And lastly, when we become a child of God we experience the peace that passes all understanding.  (Phil 4:7)  Glory to God most High!

An Everlasting Covenant

An Everlasting Covenant

Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.  (Ezek 37:26 NKJV)

From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing.  I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.  (Jer 30:19 NIV)

For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.  (Zech 2:5 KJV)

A covenant is an agreement, pledge, bond, or contract.  The Bible reminds us that God cannot lie (Tit 1:2) and that His Word is tested and true.  (Ps 119:140, 142)

God’s promises to His people, based upon the passages above, are that:

  • He will establish us;
  • He multiplies us;
  • He gives us His peace;
  • He lives within us;
  • He will bring us honor;
  • He guarantees that we won’t be disdained;
  • He protects us as a wall of fire; and
  • He is the glory within us.

He will establish us by confirming that our faith us genuine and that our relationship with Him is legitimate.

He multiplies us by adding other believers to our numbers, and by giving us literal children of our own, as well as spiritual children whom we parent as spiritual mentors.

He gives us peace that passes understanding (Phil 4:7) because He is the Prince of Peace.  (Isa 9:6)

He lives with every believer because we are individually (and collectively) the temple of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Cor 6:19)

How does God bring honor to any believer?  Some of the ways He will honor us is by hearing and answering our prayers for other people.  When we lead people to accept Jesus as their own personal Savior, we are being honored by God.  When God performs signs and wonders in response to our prayers for someone, he is honoring us.  He is responding to the genuine faith that we are using by praying on behalf of other people.  Hallelujah!

The final three promises are that we won’t be disdained; that He protects us; and that His glory is within each of us.  These are things that we have to simply trust Him to perform.  We don’t need to do anything about them; we just need to continue in our relationship with Jesus Christ and keep on serving our Savior, who is a Covenant-Keeping God.  Glory to God!

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!

Thoughts & Words

Thoughts & Words

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.  (Mt 5:22 NIV)

The sixth commandment from the Lord states:   You shall not murder.  (Ex 5:17 NIV)  This command also includes our thoughts and words, including emotions of unrighteous anger and damaging insults. 

Raca is an informal expression of contempt for a person’s mental ability, similar to “dope” or “witless.”  To call someone a fool is a way to show disrespect and scorn for a person’s character.  Both negative words in this verse suggest that the person being criticized should be doomed for eternity.

Our words proceed from the thoughts that we have hidden within us, as the Bible reminds us. 

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  (Lk 6:45c NIV)

Here again, we need to guide our lives by what the Lord teaches us.  But God considers critical words to be “corrupting,” and He instructs us to speak things that will encourage others and bless all who hear our conversation.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  (Eph 4:29 ESV)

Another aspect of calling other people condemning names is that notion that in some way, we have judged the person or persons and have found them wanting.  How can we criticize another person who has been created in the image of God?

But God is aware of our words.  His advice is clear:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  (Mt 7:1 NIV)

I tell you that people will have to answer on Judgment Day for every useless word they speak.  (Mt 12:36 CEB)

Don’t misunderstand me.  What I’ve been describing is all too human and something that we all fall prey to from time to time.  But this is our reminder to guard our thoughts diligently so that our words will be kind and encouraging to others.  If we can’t speak something positive, then it’s best to say nothing at all!

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  (Jas 4:6 NASB)

The Lord gives us the ability [grace] to be at peace with all human beings.  He gives us the grace to forgive and to be kind. 

Let us ask the Lord for His grace for every situation and relationship in our lives.  God bless you!

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.

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.

Promote Peace

Promote Peace

As disciples of Christ we’re called to promote peace in the world.  Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace.  (Isa 9:6)

What does it mean to “promote” peace?  As servants of the Living God, we are directed to:

  • Encourage and support,
  • Sponsor and further,
  • Advertise,
  • Elevate and advance peace in every circumstance and situation.

Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.  (Pro 12:20 NIV)

If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.  (Lk 10:6 NIV)

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.  (Ps 34:14)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Mt 5:9)

Just from this small selection of Bible passages we learn that:

  • Promoting peace brings joy—not only to us but to everyone involved;
  • People who sponsor peace will have peace rest upon them;
  • We should do good by seeking and pursuing peace; and
  • All peacemakers are blessed children of God.  Hallelujah!

An invitation to promote peace is given to every believer in God’s Kingdom.  Let us joyfully respond to this appeal from the heart of God.

Being Far Off

Being Far Off

All mankind was, at one time, far off from God.  We were far off from His presence, from His righteousness, and from His standards for living.  Occasionally, it’s beneficial for us to remember how very far we have come by God’s mercy and grace.

Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6) who brought all believers near to God through the reconciliation of the cross.   (2 Cor 5:18)

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  (Eph 2:13 ESV)

All who have made Jesus Christ their Savior and Lord have been brought near to God through the blood of the Lamb.  (1 Pet 1:19)  Jesus is the Lamb of God.  (Joh 1:29, 36)

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.  (Ac 2:39)

The gift and promise of salvation is offered to every human being upon the earth—to every race, tribe and nation.  The Lord calls all people to salvation, but not everyone accepts His free gift.   

. . . and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.  (Eph 2:16-17)

Jesus, our Prince of Peace, has put to death every hostility, unfriendliness, and antagonism by preaching peace to all.  He has reconciled (reunited) us with our Father God.  What an awesome gift from God! 

We are no longer far off, but we have been made the children of God.  (Joh 1:12; Rom 8:16; 1 Joh 3:1-2)  All glory to God most High!

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!

A Steadfast Heart

A Steadfast Heart

Steadfast means committed, unwavering, reliable and trustworthy.

He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  (Ps 112:7, underscoring added)

But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.  (Pro 1:33)  Wisdom is speaking in the passage.  When we obey wisdom, we obey God.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yahweh, the Lord, is everlasting strength.  (Isa 26:3-4)  When we are focused upon the Lord, with absolute trust, our hearts will be filled with the peace that passes all understanding.

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  (Joh 14:1) Jesus is speaking in this verse, and He’s encouraging us to believe in Him.  He’s inviting us to rely upon Him and to have confidence in Him.

The point of these verses that I’ve shared is that under all circumstances, even in the midst of challenges and painful trials, a believer knows the beautiful character of Jesus, and is able to trust Him effortlessly.  Why?  Because Jesus is a good and loving Savior.

The Lord’s plans for us are good plans intended to give us a good future.  We can see the only person who can prevent those plans from coming to pass when we look into the mirror! 

If we don’t cooperate with the Lord, if we don’t trust Him and place all of our faith in Him, then we cannot blame God for whatever mess in which we eventually find ourselves.

Place all of your hope, faith and trust in the Lord.  Yield to God’s plans and His ways, and you will be blessed.  Hallelujah!