We Are Friends of God

We Are Friends of God

We are friends of God.  Does that blow your mind?  This truth fills me with joy.

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.  (Jas 2:23)

Abraham’s faith in God qualified him to be called the friend of God.  All who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior are also friends of God, as the Scriptures teach us.

And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  (Lk 12:14)  Jesus warns us, His friends, to beware of those who can harm us spiritually rather than physically.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  (Pro 17:17)  Jesus is the Friend who loves each one of us at ALL times!  And in adversity or trouble, He will fight for us.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  (Joh 15:13)  Our Friend, Jesus, has laid down His life for each and every one of us.  Glory to God!

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  (Joh 15:14)  When we obey Jesus and His teachings, we may rest assured that we are indeed His friend.

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.  (Joh 15:15)  Jesus has taught us everything that He heard from His Father God; and in doing so, has made us His friends. Rejoice in the knowledge that each of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord has become a friend of the Most High God–the Living God!

No Longer a Slave

No Longer a Slave

A slave is a person who is held in a permanent position of servitude to another; a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.  Imagine being the legal property of another human being?  The idea brings up a tremendous sense of outrage in those of us who have been blessed to live in a nation renowned for freedom, as well as a sense of regret, shame and deep sorrow over our nation’s past history.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been set free from all types and forms of bondage or slavery.  Hallelujah!

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  (Joh 8:32)  Jesus is the Truth who sets us free.  Jesus tells us that He IS the Truth in John 14:6.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed . . .  (Lk 4:18, emphasis added)  Jesus read these words in the temple in Nazareth.  In Luke 4:21, Jesus went on to say:   And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  Jesus clearly states that HE is the fulfillment of this passage originally found in Isaiah 61.  Jesus sets at liberty ALL who are oppressed.

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.  (Joh 8:36)  This Scripture could easily read:  “Therefore SINCE the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.” 

Think about this:  Jesus has set us free from all bondage, both external and internal. 
In Jesus we have been set free from:

  • Fear – Fear involves torment. The perfect love that Jesus bestows upon us casts out fear. (1 Joh 4:18) Our Savior and King does not use fear as a tool–ever. 

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  (Rom 8:15)  Please see also 2 Timothy 1:7.

  • Sin – We have been set free from sin. (Rom 6:18)  We are not under the rule of law but we are under the rule of GRACE.  (Rom 6:14)  There is only one thing it is permissible for us to serve, and that is righteousness“Sin is a power within that is trying to draw you away to worship idols, to compromise, to go and make yourself God rather than submitting to the living God.” ~ Andrew Wilson
  • Death – In Christ, we have received eternal LIFE.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  (Joh 3:16)
    In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.
     (Pro 12:28)

Rejoice in and appreciate the liberty that our Savior has given to each of us.

The Blessing of God’s Correction

The Blessing of God’s Correction

Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.  (Job 5:17 NIV)

Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law . . .  (Ps 94:12 NKJV)

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.  (Pro 3:11-12 NKJV)

What?  How can anyone consider correction or criticism to be a blessing?  When we think about this in the terms of a loving parent correcting their child whom they love, it becomes somewhat easier to comprehend. 

In reality, if parents don’t teach children the truth about traffic lights, crossing the road, or even consideration for others, those kids will be in danger of some serious harm.  So, in this way, we can see that the parents’ correction and teaching is a true sign of their great love for their children.

In the same way, God corrects us in order to save us from some future harm of which we are unaware.  He is correcting us in order to keep us on His path of righteousness.  The Bible saysIn the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.  (Pro 12:28)  In the pathway of righteousness there is no death—in any form—not developing or even embryonic. 

Those who will not hear and obey God’s correction will not end well according to the Word.

He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.  (Pro 10:17)

Happily, God’s usual forms of correction are to use a Scripture verse, our conscience, a timely sermon, or a quiet word from a Christian brother or sister to correct us.  Sometimes He will use a loving and caring family member to warn us of danger.  This is always a sign of the person’s love and concern for us. 

We need to be sensitive to these forms of God’s correction, and to welcome them as a sign of His great love for each one of us.  And most importantly, we need to OBEY these promptings from our Father God.  God bless you.

Be Ready to Explain Your Hope

Be Ready to Explain Your Hope

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  (1 Pet 3:15-17) 

According to this passage of Scripture, we need to be ready to share with people who ask us the reason for the hope that is within each one of us.  The Bible actually tells us the answer for this in Colossians 1:27.  Christ within us—the hope of glory.  The life of Christ within us is our hope.

That I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?  (Pro 22:21)

We need to answer all questions with “words of truth” according to this Proverb.  It is interesting to note that when Paul was being questioned by King Agrippa, Paul said:  “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.”  (Ac 26:25)  Paul was speaking “words of truth” and reason.  According to John 14:6, Jesus is the Truth and Paul was telling the King all about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  Paul spoke words of truth.

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.  (Col 4:6)

We cannot say that we don’t know how to answer.  Our answer is Jesus Christ and His story as the Redeemer of all mankind.  Hallelujah!

God’s Wonderful Counsel

This also comes from the Lord of hosts; He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.  (Isa 28:29 ESV)

O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.  (Isa 25:1 NKJV)

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  (Isa 9:6)

The Lord has declared Himself, through His Word, to be our Counselor.  A counselor is one who gives advice, guidance, and direction.  A wise counselor also gives warning when they feel it is appropriate.

God, who our Savior as well as our Counselor, gives us:

  • Support,
  • A listening ear,
  • Help, and
  • Instruction

We receive many of these blessings through our church family in the person(s) of our Pastor, our elders, and our wise friends.  This is a matchless and precious gift to each one of us.  What a blessing are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Rely upon the Lord and His Word for the best counsel that exists anywhere in creation or in the universe!

Testing the Spirits

Testing the Spirits

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.  (1 Joh 4:1-3a)

Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.  (1 Thes 5:20-21)

Only the Bible (the Word of God) is inspired and incapable of being wrong (inerrant).  Therefore, the way to test any spirit is to see if what is being shared or taught is in agreement with the clear teachings of God’s Word. 

In Acts 17:10-11 the Berean Jews were praised because, after they heard the teachings of Paul and Silas, they “examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” The Bereans were called “noble” for their desire to search the Scriptures for truth.  Notice that they searched DAILY for the truth; this shows the level of their hunger for spiritual reality, as well as their desire to use the Bible as their measuring rod. 

The idea in these passages (about testing the spirits) is to establish several truths:

  • That whoever is speaking confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior;
  • That the person (or spirit) acknowledges that Jesus came to earth in the flesh;
  • That everything that is shared or taught is based upon and agrees with the inerrant Word of God—the Bible. 

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  (2 Tim 2:15)

The reason for testing the spirits, for testing all religious teaching, is to see if it is truly from God or if it is a lie from Satan, the enemy of our souls.  The Word of God is to be “a lamp” and “a light” to our path (Ps 119:105). We must allow its light to shine on every teaching and doctrine to be sure that we remain on the path of righteousness.. 

The Bible alone is the standard by which all truth should be judged.  Be discerning and diligent about measuring what you hear (or read) against the Word of God.

A New Thing

A New Thing

God is always working in the world.  He loves to do a “new thing”! 

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  (Isa 43:19)

Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.  (Isa 42:9)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  (2 Cor 5:17)

. . . to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  (Heb 12:24)

God’s new thing will ALWAYS be better than anything that has gone before.  When His plans for one of His people changes, the reason is to improve the plan!

Our God is a God of love, mercy and truth.  He is patient and full of goodness.  God is eternal, self-sufficient, all-powerful and He never changes!  We must learn the nature of our God, and once we do, our faith in Him will be deepened and secure.

Since God knows everything, we can trust that His new thing will also serve the best interests of everyone concerned.   Get on board with God’s new thing!

Eternal Salvation

Eternal Salvation

And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him . . . (Heb 5:9)

Jesus Christ has purchased our eternal salvation, and there is ample testimony to this truth in the Scriptures.

This one who is life from God has been shown to us, and we guarantee that we have seen him; I am speaking of Christ, who is eternal Life. He was with the Father and then was shown to us.  (1 Joh 1:2 TLB)

Jesus has been shown to the whole world as our Redeemer and Savior.  He said about Himself that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  (Joh 14:6)  Faith in Him is the way to reconciliation and peace with God, our Father.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  (1 Cor 6:20)

The price given for our salvation was Jesus’ life, suffering, death, and resurrection.  Jesus paid that price, and for this we give glory to God!  We are literally called to glorify God through our lives and how we spend our lives in His service.

. . . 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)

The Lord desires for us to be fervent and intense about performing good works.  What exactly are “good works” according to the Scriptures?  Good works are such things as:  feeding the poor; visiting prisoners; helping the homeless; preaching the Gospel; ministering to widows and orphans; etc.  With so many families fractured by living in different states and by relational hurts, these things are very necessary in these days.

. . . knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.   (1 Pet 1:18-19)

Honor the Lord by realizing the importance and value of the gift of salvation that Jesus paid for with His own, precious blood.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world . . .  (Mt 25:34)

Looking for Blessed Hope

Looking for Blessed Hope

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ . . . (Tit 2:11-13, emphasis added)

I think it’s too easy in this age of high pressure and constant stress overlaid by tense world events for us to lose sight of our HOPE.  We need to meditate more frequently and regularly upon the truth that we are expectantly waiting and watching for our blessed hope which will be evidenced by the glorious appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ! 

Here is what the Bible has to say about it:

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.  (Mt 24:30-31) 

The righteous rejoice to even anticipate this event, so think of what the reality of it will be like!  In the meantime, we have many responsibilities to attend to—not only those of being responsible spouses, parents, children, or friends—but also the responsibilities that we have to Jesus, our Savior.  We have an active and eager enemy according to the Bible.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Pet 5:8) 

Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.  (1 Thes 5:6)

Do not be taken unawares.  Do not be drowsing or spiritually dull.  Keep yourself spiritually keen, effective and alert.  Read the Scriptures; praise and worship God regularly; fellowship with other believers, and be a witness of what Jesus has done for you.  This lifestyle will energize your faith and move you forward in realizing your purposes in the Kingdom.  God bless you.

It Stood Fast

It Stood Fast

For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.  (Ps 33:9, emphasis added)

What does “it stood fast” tell us?  Here’s the same verse in the The Bible in Basic English (BBE) version:

For he gave the word, and it was done; by his order it was fixed for ever.  (Ps 33:9 BBE)

This verse is communicating the understanding and knowledge that, at God’s Word, things are permanently created!  They are established and secured.

That’s the power inherent in God’s Word.  Once we fully understand that God’s Word is creative, superior, powerful, and invincible—we have anchored this knowledge in truth and supplied our faith with rapid growth food.

As we feast upon God’s Word and meditate upon its message, we become assured not only of God’s love but also of His power to establish and to secure the very thing that it is sent to achieve.  His Word stands forever.  Hallelujah!

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.  (Isa 40:8)