Witnesses, Races & Crowns

Witnesses, Races & Crowns

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . .  (Heb 12:1)

The witnesses spoken of in the above verse are already in heaven (saints from the Old Testament).  We are instructed to lay aside every weight (cares of this life, family concerns, money issues, etc.) and sin, and to resolutely run the “race” that is set before us.  The race is the Christian life which is a marathon, not a sprint.  This is why we must run it with fortitude, patience and faith.

“If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.”  (Joh 5:31-33)

In this passage of Scripture, Jesus says that His witness is John, the Baptist.  Let us ask ourselves, who will be our witnesses? 

Every believer whom we have ever known who is already in the heavenlies, is our witness.  Other witnesses will include everyone who has ever known us, as well as our own family and extended family members.  What will they be able to say about us?  Will they be able to testify that we are Christians and that we lived as Christians?  Will our spouse and our own children be able to give a good testimony about us?  These are vital points to consider and reflect upon.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  (1 Cor 9:24) 

Run your race in such a profoundly beautiful way that you will assuredly receive your crown in heaven which is the prize for which we strive.

For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise . . .  (Heb 10:36)

We need to endure and persevere in faith and strength, so that we may receive these blessed promises.  Hallelujah!

Working Hard Has Benefits

Working Hard Has Benefits

We can’t bring any glory to the Lord or to the Kingdom of God by being lazy.  There is no honor in laziness, nor is there any glory in being idle.  I want to make it clear that I’m NOT talking about people who yearn to work, who have searched rigorously and urgently for employment, but haven’t been able to obtain it.  That’s not the same thing. 

What these Scriptures are addressing are people who prefer to be idle, and those who choose to engage in gossip and spreading rumors rather than performing true, diligent labor.  

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.  (Pro 14:23 NIV)  This verse teaches us that working hard brings us the benefit of being paid for our labor.  Those who only talk about working, but who actually do nothing, earn no wages and can buy no groceries.

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.  (2 Thes 3:10-11 NKJV)  This excerpt from 2 Thessalonians demonstrates the truth that people who won’t work will have nothing to eat.  In addition, when people don’t work they have lots of time on their hands which the enemy can turn into opportunities to sin against God.  While all sin is displeasing to God, the sin of gossip displeases the Lord greatly. It is the reason that the Scriptures describe such persons as busybodies.

And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.  (1 Tim 5:13 NKJV)  Here again, the Bible warns us about idle hands and minds being turned toward evil, unrighteous pastimes. 

As we see from Proverbs 14:23 (above), the Holy Spirit says that ALL hard work brings financial gain and advantages to the ones who work diligently.  The Bible encourages believers to work hard, to be responsible and kind, and to live honorably within our communities so that we are an asset to them.  God will reward us with His blessings as we live obediently to His word. Praise His Name!

Imparted Power

Imparted Power

Most of us who follow Jesus Christ don’t realize how much power the Lord has imparted to us, His people.  The word imparted means transferred, taught, or revealed. 

When we read the Bible, we need to think deeply about each and every passage that we read.  We should ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us, and to give us revelations into the Scriptures.

Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ . . .  (2 Cor 2:10 ESV) 

We have authority to forgive others on behalf of the kingdom of God!  Think about the significance of this, and don’t take it lightly. 

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.  (Joh 20:23 ESV) 

Jesus has given us the example, along with our Heavenly Father, of forgiving mankind of all sin through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.  It is our responsibility to follow His good example and His teachings.  Let’s advance the kingdom of God by being just like Him by extending merciful, and generous forgiveness to others.

And I tell you this—whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever you free on earth will be freed in heaven.  (Mt 18:18 TL B) 

We have power to bind on earth: 

  • to truss up or tie up;
  • to hinder or inhibit people, demons, or calamitous events; and
  • to deter or prevent situations—as God directs.  

We have authority to set free on earth:

  • to liberate (unshackle) people from bondage;
  • to emancipate human beings from every shame;
  • to release all those imprisoned by sickness, fear, pain, and the consequences of sin; and
  • to unshackle hurting ones from unhealthy situations and relationships.

The Lord Jesus has said clearly that He has given His followers power and authority.  This is an important truth upon which to meditate, and ask God to give us insight and wisdom into it.

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.  (Lk 10:19) 

Later, in the book of Luke, Jesus talks again about our being given power from heaven.

I am sending to you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. (Lk 24:49 ISV) Recognize who you are and what you have been given.  Believers are children of the Kingdom, and we have been given the message of the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.    It’s our job to bind or to set free the right things for the right reasons.  It’s time for us to listen to and obey the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Praise God!

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!

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.

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.

Sin Equals Ruin

Sin Equals Ruin

Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.  (Ezek 18:30b)

I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me! 14 I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation.  (Pro 5:13-14)

The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked, overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness.  (Pro 21:12)

A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.  (Pro 26:28)

These verses from the Bible demonstrate to mankind that sin (iniquity, transgression, wickedness) brings about the devastation and destruction of a person’s life.  Continuous unrelenting sin can wreck homes, relationships, health (mental, physical, spiritual) as well as financial stability.

Whereas the blessings for righteous living can be found throughout the Scriptures.  Here are a handful of those blessings:

  • Stability and ever increasing strength (Job 17:9)
  • God defends the righteous and surrounds them with His favor (Ps 5:11-12)
  • Long life; God hears the prayer of the righteous; grants deliverance from trouble; and the Lord guards their very bones. (Ps 34:12-20)
  • Deliverance from death, and the upright will never be allowed to famish.  (Pro 10:2-3)  Famish means:  to suffer for lack of something necessary (essential for life).

Those who have made Jesus Christ their Savior and Lord are made righteous in Christ  (Ro 1:17; 4:5; 10:4; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21) and are entitled to all of the blessings of the righteous.  We are also privileged to obey and to live according to the moral teachings of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

There’s Power in the Blood, Part 2

There’s Power in the Blood, Part 2

This is our second article about the power of the blood of Jesus.  Here are some Scripture passages on the topic with my comments following:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.  (Lev 17:11)  We all know that the life of any flesh, human or animal, is in the blood.  And the Lord shed the blood of animals and brought the animal skins to cover Adam and Eve’s sin when they sinned in the Garden of Eden.  Therefore, we may reason that the blood of Jesus sustains our spiritual life, as well as cleanses us of sin.

. . . without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.  (Heb 9:22 ESV)  The Old Testament model of shedding the blood of animals to cover sin, is the basis of this verse in Hebrews.  In the New Testament, we see that Jesus is the sinless, spotless Lamb of God (Joh 1:29) and that His shed blood washes us from our sins. (Rev 1:5)

. . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  (1 Joh 1:7)  Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin—not only once—but on a continual basis as we lead our daily lives.  Glory to God most High!

Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.  (Ex 12:13)  The Israelites were instructed by God to put lamb’s blood on their doorposts, and when the avenging angel came by, he would not visit the homes that had the blood on the lintels.  In spiritual terms, the blood of Jesus protects us from plagues, illnesses, disease and destruction.

And they overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.  (Rev 12:11, parenthesized text added)  We can overcome every temptation of the enemy when we are covered by the blood of Jesus, and when our testimony coincides and agrees with what God says.  Our testimony must always be:  “I am redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ.”

. . . how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience . . . (Heb 9:14)  Jesus Christ is the Lord, our righteousness (Jer 23:6; 1 Cor 1:30); and because He is, we have a purified conscience.

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus . . . (Heb 10:19) The blood of Jesus enables us with faith and confidence to enter the presence of the Lord in thanksgiving, prayer and praise.  (Heb 4:16)

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  (Heb 13:12)  We are made holy by the blood of Jesus poured out on Calvary, as are all who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

We have every reason to rejoice in our salvation!

Look Into the Law of Liberty

Look Into the Law of Liberty

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 [she] does.  (Jas 1:25, word in parenthesis added)

This passage of Scripture is full of meaning, wisdom, and insight if we’ll take the time to think about it and to study it.

Why does this verse refer to the law of liberty?  I believe it’s because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news that sets people free.  Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are liberated from sin, bondage, and condemnation.  We experience a new birth in Christ and receive the promise of eternal life.

We find a law within the Good News of Jesus Christ, and it is a law of LIBERTY and not of slavery—life and not death!  In Romans 3:27 it is referred to as the law of faith.

James 1:25 is referring to a devoted student of the Scriptures as he/she, in all humility of heart and mind, intently studies the Bible.  This is done reverently and with a quality of examination, analysis, and recognition.  We would be on our knees in a spiritual sense.

We can each be this type of student of the Word.  How?  We read the Word expecting the Holy Spirit to illuminate a passage in such a way that it changes us—soul and body.  When it actually happens, our willingness to wait patiently on the Lord will give us even more insight as we glean how to apply it to our own lives and circumstances.

In this way, we have the privilege of fine tuning our lives to comply with and to obey the Bible in more detail and more holiness as we mature in our walk with Christ.  This is an ongoing process, and it’s an exciting progression as well as a sobering one.  It is a solemn and a holy process that occurs in our hearts and must be guarded constantly. 

If we let down our guard and forget what God has patiently revealed to us and taught us, we do damage to our own heart and to our relationship with God.  Our relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in our lives, having value for all eternity.  It, alone, is the promise of eternal life. 

It is the law of faith and the law of liberty.  Value it, brothers and sisters!

Sin Hardens the Heart

Sin Hardens the Heart

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end . . .   (Heb 3:12-14)

This passage of Scripture above, says that we can become hardened by the deceitfulness [false-heartedness; faithlessness] of sin.  I believe that is referring to developing a hard heart

The last portion of the passage in Hebrews (above) says that we have become “partakers of Christ.”  What does that phrase signify?  It means that we are members of the body of Christ, and as such, we are His accomplices or assistants.  Remember that Paul tells us that we are “workers together with God” in 2 Corinthians 6:1.

Then the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments; and Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. Neither was his heart moved by this.  (Ex 7:22-23, underscoring added)

Hardness of hard refers to a heart that cannot be moved, stimulated, or motivated to a different path or a better way of responding.  It’s what happened to Pharaoh.  We must guard our own hearts carefully against the formation of such a tendency in ourselves.

When we walk in the light with Jesus, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from sin.  (1 Joh 1:7)  So be mindful of staying in the light of God’s truth by reading the Word, obeying the Word, praying, and having fellowship with other believers.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  (Phil 2:3-4)  Following this admonition will also keep us tender-hearted and humble before the Lord.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  (Rom 12:21)  We’re indwelt by the Overcomer—the Victorious One—so that we are empowered to actually overcome evil with good!  Glory to God!

God’s good plans for each one of us are that we be blessed and that each of us bring blessings to many others.  (Jer 29:11)