Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.
The Mark of a True Believer. Lots of people are running around claiming to be Christ followers. But are they, really? According to our Lord, not all are (Matthew 7:23). The knowledge of God was given to the Israelites and the priesthood was responsible for instructing the people of the laws. However, the blind and wicked religious leaders were holding people back from the knowledge of God so they were like scattered and lost sheep. The Lord, Jesus spoke sharply against them. Even though He came and condemned them by His words and deeds, church leaders are still holding people back from the truth even today. The people are just as lost today. For the elders, pastors and pews are full of people seeking to glorify themselves, they are seeking to gain approval from man, not God. They have no regard for the glorification and praise and honor due our magnificent God. The modern day scribes and Pharisees are those within the church who think they're the head of the church and will not yield way to the LORD so He can take His rightful place as the head. Knowing doctrines, laws, rules, the scriptures, the prophesies, attending church, and being a good person are not going to ensure you get to heaven. The true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, as the Father is seeking those who will worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). A worshiper is someone who dedicates their entire life to denoting the value of who Christ really is. They live with a deep reverence for the Lord. Waking up each day refreshed and with a new joy, seeking to hear, follow and obey the Lord for that day while avoiding temptations and telling the enemy to flee. They seek to be godly and show the LORD in all they do. Although they may fail at times, with tender hearts to the Father, they are convicted by the Holy Spirit and they are grieved and experience a sincere and honest repentance. They seek the Lord's help in breaking the iniquitous or habitual sins in their lives for they detest these practices which so easily entrap them. They are grieved that they've transgressed their holy God who is so tender, merciful and kind to them. They deeply hate the iniquity that remains in them and wish by any means possible that it could leave them entirely, therefore they long to be home with the Lord where the filth will be completely washed away. They abhor sin, but they act lovingly towards the sinners - knowing the Lord died for all of us; and they know they were once just as sinful. They understand that vengeance and judgment belong to the LORD. They seek to build each other up, they understand that the church, individual members, must edify each other, so they seek to lovingly reprove the blemishes in one another - in kindness and love so that the entire assemble is unified in the bonds of love, being united in Spirit, in mind and in faith. They don't seek to harm one another - as that would be against their loving Father's commands. Instead they want to strengthen each other in faith and godliness. They strive to forgive everyone, even the more difficult cases in their lives. They seek to love and bless their enemies as this is evidence of a sincere and pure heart. They want to die to themselves and to live in Christ - for He is glorious and they know it. They want to talk to Him and seek His counsel for He is wise and gives knowledge and wisdom. They know success in all situations is granted through Him, alone. Their hope and the labor of their hands is to lead others to this glorious, enriching, enlightening, loving and life-giving God.
They celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
A Life of Victory. The entire course of your life is based upon one simple question, asked by one man, Christ Jesus, Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15b). All history, throughout time and into eternity will be the manifestation of the answer for all people. And today, just as 2000 years ago, the answers appear broad in range, but they will be cut down to only two. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God who came as the promised Messiah, who was not only the savior and King of Israel, but the whole world, for this is what was spoken of when the LORD told Abraham, In you shall all the nations be blessed because you have obeyed my voice (Galatians 3:7-9; Genesis 18:18; 22:18-19). The LORD has spoken from heaven by sending angels and prophets, but more has He spoken by sending His Son, who is the radiance of His glory and the exact imprint of His divine nature (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus came to do the will of the Father (John 5:30; 6:38) and He did nothing of His own authority for He spoke what He has seen with the Father and just what the Father taught Him (John 8:28, 38). Jesus spoke the words of God Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, the giver of life. And, just as it was with Abraham, so it is with us. We heard Him speak, and we will either believe or not believe. Because Abraham believed and trusted God, He was able to obey the words of the LORD. Abraham did as he was told, without disbelief - and so it is with us. Will you believe enough to obey?
2 Corinthians 4:16
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
Are You Ready? Are You Ready? The bible makes it clear that mankind is influenced by one of two masters. There are those born of flesh who belong to satan and those born of Spirit who belong to Jesus Christ. Those led by the flesh are led by satan, which is the spirit of antichrist. There god is their belly, their own selfish desires and lusts with their glory being their shame, for all their works that give them pleasure, are works of unrighteousness for they suppress the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:12; Philippians 3:19; Romans 1:29; 2:8). These people have the wrath of God poured out on them already, for the works which Jesus did condemned them of their sin already. It will only be revealed at His second coming. We don't look down upon these people as we were born into this and once walked in these ways, but the Lord who is rich in mercy and grace has forgiven us of our sins and cleansed us of our unrighteousness, when we confessed our sins to Him (1 John 1:9; Ephesians 2:1-2). The Day of the Lord is coming, and it is close at hand! God is going to take those who are ready, those who's love for Him has not turned cold, those who have patiently endured the suffering of this life and always looked to Him for strength and continued in love towards everyone. If you've fallen away, the Lord promises that He will come and remove His lampstand (Revelation 2:5). The message is clear - let those with an ear hear.
1 Peter 3:10 NIV
Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
The Ultimate Calling of Our Lives is to LOVE. The gospel message portrays an awe inspiriting Father who stops at nothing to get His wayward children to turn back. Some have gone as far as becoming His enemy and created other gods. But His love remains great, He overlooks all the hurtful things they've done in his plan of redemption, but they provoke Him to jealousy, igniting a burning fire of wrath within Him due to their shameless deeds (Isaiah 30:27; Jeremiah 7:20; Zephaniah 3:8). Not withstanding their unrighteousness, He withdrew His presence, allowing His children to pursue their own heart's desires of lust and sensual pleasures, thereby defile themselves (1 Thessalonians 4:5; Romans 1:24-26). In selfishness, they ravaged and exploited each another by using lies, false pretenses, deception, and manipulation to satisfy their own lusts (Romans 1:27-32). In defiance of His grace, many still refuse Him so His righteous judgment must avenge such wickedness and abuse so the Lord will repay them with His wrath (Isaiah 59:18; Romans 12:19). Despite this, the Lord is patient and remains steadfast in His love for His children. He is not slack in caring, but rather is rich in tender-loving mercy and kindness, with forbearance leading to repentance (Romans 2:4). He has shown mercy to the godly and the ungodly (Isaiah 26:10; Matthew 5:45) as He has taken their punishment upon Himself. He has chosen those He predestined (Romans 8:29-30;11:5; Ephesians 1:11; John 15:19; Acts 22:14), however He has called all to repentance and He awaits for He does not want any to perish (2 Peter 3:9; Luke 5:32; 24:47; Acts 5:31; 11:18; 20:21; Romans 2:4).
Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
Is There Something More to Life? A short lesson on life, leaves you seeking and hoping there is more to life then what meets the eye. The church is evidence of this, as people flood through the doors with the resounding questions, "Is there a God," and "What is the purpose of my life?" The hearts of man are empty and this world only offers dead works leading to more darkening of their understanding (Ephesians 4:18). And in weakness of spirit, one must admit the vast numbers of people asking these questions are outside the church, for this is the place where they've been hurt the most. Having asked these questions myself, and being transformed upon finding the answer, I've dedicated my entire life to delivering the good news to this broken world. Our great God only wants, You (to) love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37) and He will take care of everything else.
Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.
The Law was Give to Bind Sin and Set the Captive Free. God wanted fellowship with man, and He made a promise to Abraham that it would happen, and all who believe will receive the promise. But before He could have fellowship, or even friendship, with mankind, He had to deal with our transgressions. His righteousness required Him to deal with our transgressions of His perfect and pure holiness. He accomplished this by giving us the law, which would first enslave us and then set us free (Galatians 3:22); but in doing so, it would make the whole world accountable to God (Romans 3:19). Through this process, instead of seeking our own hearts desires, which are desperately wicked (Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 8:7; Philippians 2:21), now we could draw near to God (Hebrews 7:19) for love of the law (Psalm 119:97) for it is perfect (Psalms 19:7a). The law was perfect, but it made nothing perfect, because of the weakness of the flesh (Hebrews 7:18-19).
When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father
the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father--he will testify about me.
When the Holy Spirit Comes, He Gives Gifts to Man. The Holy Spirit is the third person of God's divine essence, in the trinity. He is the promised helper, which we need to accomplish our goal. What is that you ask, what is my plan and purpose? In the simplest understanding, it is for us to reach the right side of eternity, having followed the narrow path by walked through the wilderness of this life. As we walk, we're to talk, telling others how to find the path, along the way. We live in a dark world. Darkened by what, the sun comes up every day? It's a darkened spiritual world, for we have closed off our understanding and connection with God, for we did not want to give Him honor and glory, even though we knew He was always there.
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
God is Watching. The bible is clear that God is actively involved in His creation, working to bring things to their desired end. His eyes are always looking over the earth for those who do good, and seek to honor Him and He is seeking to hear their cry for help. But for the unrighteous, He has prepared a place for them in the eternal lake of fire; His face is against them, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God. (Psalm 34:15-16; Hebrews 10:31). We must examine ourselves, in the same light, the Father uses to search our hearts; He is looking at our motives. Are they motives of unrighteousness, dead works? For our own gain or pleasure, and just looking good outwardly? Or are they motives to glorify His holy name, solely, good works? It would do us well, to truly look at our intentions and repent of any sinful, boastful, lustful or wayward actions on our part. All of our misrepresentations and false justifications with our breathy explanations of innocence in our vein attempts to hide our guilt; it's all filth and rubbish for He sees it all, He is watching. Always looking, and it will not stand before the holiness of His throne or the judgment seat of God. We can try to bury it and cover it up with explanations of how it wasn't that bad, for it's just a matter of misunderstanding, an improper choice of words, or an unaware glace of the eyes, but God can't be mocked, nor can His people who have been trained in righteousness.
The word of the Lord stands true, and we can trust everything He does.
Those Predictable Triggers Which Take Our Peace. Do you have people who will steal your joy, and bring strife into your life? They predictably will do the very things that bring agitation to your soul; stirring within you the feelings of unrest, anxiety or bitterness. This is the point were knowledge has power and we have to lay hold of it. The more we understand that the Lord upholds the universe in His hands and by the power of His Might, the more we can manage these moments and our feelings: for we will know and understand that He allows these trials in our lives, to strengthen our relationship with Him, by work everything together for our good and His glory. We will see His glory shine in the dark and difficult times of our lives. We must look to Him and that means turning our gaze from our problems, and letting the mediation of the Lord always be upon our lips. When we know the Lord hasn't abandoned His creation, and that He is working everything for His purpose, we can draw strength from Him.
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Follow the Lord and All Your Ways will be Right. If we come to know the Lord, and begin to follow Him, then we will have joy and peace. Once we become believers and gain knowledge of God through the reading of His word, then we can be lead by the Holy Spirit. God can begin to speak to you in His still small voice, for you will know Him. You can hear the Spirit of truth speaking to you, convicting you of sin and of righteousness. When we disobey God, we will feel convicted of our sin, we won't have peace in our spirit. It's an unsettling feeling and when you replay the events which caused this conviction, you'll begin to try to justify your actions to make the feeling subside. When we obey God, the Spirit convicts us of our righteousness, and we have peace. We know we've followed God, because our hearts are settled. Instead of seeking to cover our actions or repeat the event over and over again, now we only mediate upon the glory of God and His divine ways, for we can see Him working through us to bring us out of that difficult situation. We will know He loves us and is protecting us, so we will reflect on His goodness and mercies. We will have peace with God and our fellow brothers and sisters.
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning,
your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Flowers of the Field. One of the most beautiful and peaceful sights to behold is a field of flowers blowing in the wind on a sunny day. They seem to not have a worry in the world; and while looking upon them, you don't either, even if, it's just for a moment. We are much like them, here today and gone tomorrow with only a flash of glory while we're here. Should we spend our days worrying about the next rainfall or sunny day, or what the weeds next to us are doing? No. No, we shouldn't; for there is a master gardener who is tending to us, and our every need, not to mention He is tending to everything - everywhere too. Anyways, we should continue to reflect the beauty of who we are; made by the creator for His divine purpose; vessels of honor to bear His image, and shine His glory. Above all, we don't want to miss the opportunity, for time is fleeting. Instead we should trust upon the Lord and His timeless provision and His eternal excellency.
I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give Him to the LORD, for his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.
Having a Public Shameful Circumstance and Others Laugh and Taunt You. Elkanah lived in the hill country of Ephraim with his two wives; Peninnah who had children, and Hannah who had none. Peninnah wasted no time in provoking Hannah about her woes, for at that time, everyone know it was a curse of the Lord to close a womb for the Lord had said, "Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28, 16:10, 22:17, 26:3-4; Jeremiah 30:19). Elkanah faithfully went to the temple in Shiloh for the annual sacrificial offerings, year after year, to make his offering in the years when Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were priests. He would make sacrifices for his wife and children, but for Hannah he would make a double portion because he loved her and the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival provoked her, year after year, until she wept bitterly and couldn't eat on their last journey to the temple of God; Elkanah attempted to console her, by asking if his love for her could mean more than 10 sons (1 Samuel 1:1-8) but it was of little value for she was crushed in spirit.
And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
God Fixed the Broken Relationship. The essence of God's everlasting promise to Abraham is the promise we live under today, namely that He will be our God and our children's God: giving His protection and provision. The original covenants were between God and man, required man to obey God's laws, and in doing so, they would display His wonderful attributes to the world. The problem was that man always failed to hold up his side, so God with a loving and forgiving heart, said He would make a new covenant to fix this problem relationship. It is the new covenant made in Jesus' blood that only requires that man should believe, not work. The is counter-cultural truth for there is a God, who loves you and He wants a relationship with you. He wants to help you.
In all this you greatly rejoice,
though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
The Struggles are Real. Having had a rough start in life and little support, I quickly learned you have to fend for myself and trust in no one, including God. These were the early roots of bitterness which would grow deeper over the course of my life. The slightest offense was enough to erupt spewing fits of rage; and a string of broken relationships are the charges against me. How can there be a good God, because He surely would have stopped all this pain and suffering. Life, even human life, lost its intrinsic value of being made in God's image, because it was pointless and expendable and glory wasn't due His holy name for allowing it, or so I thought.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
The Armor of God. Entering God's rest is a joyful existence, for you're allowing the Spirit to guide you and you're watching Him destroy every lofty thing that rises up against Himself, as you cast all your cares upon Him. But can this be maintained or even achieved? Even my christian brother thinks I live in a fantasy land when I tell him to rise above the worries of this world. He tells me that I don't understand his situation, then he goes on to explain his woes. My heart sinks, because I know this joyful existence in the midst of the storms is true; I know it's even more real than the problems themselves. This joy is something deep down inside you where you know and accept that the Lord works through the struggles to teach and strengthen you in the faith. It's a welcoming of woes as they are the instruments of God, even an enemy attack, to refine you as pure as gold and lead you to the Kingdom of God.
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