Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bad Company

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Come to your senses and stop sinning, for some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame.  1 Corinthians 15:33-34

As we hopefully know by now, these words were written by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, to believers at Corinth.  The majority of the chapter (1Cor. 15) is about our future resurrection, however, Paul includes the exhortation above and he ends with this:  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58  We need to remain steadfast, abiding in Christ, until we see with our own eyes what has been promised to those who endure--to those who LOVE God and show it by their obedience (not by fear due to lack of understanding--not trying to earn salvation, but because we ARE saved).  (John 14:21, John 15:13-14, John 20:29, Luke 6:46, Rom. 8:25, 1Cor. 2:9, Heb. 11:1, 1John 4:18, Rev. 2:7, Rev. 2:11, Rev. 2:17, Rev. 2:25-26, Rev. 3:5, Rev. 3:11-12, Rev. 3:21)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. 18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:13-25

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12  training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13  waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14  who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. 15  Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. Titus 2:11-15

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, 21  and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:19-25

We are not called to blend in with the world or to simply make a confession of faith and then go back to our life as it was before, waiting for Jesus to return. It's a shameful thing if our reaction to Jesus paying for our sins is to rejoice in our new freedom in such a way as to dishonor the One who paid such a high price for it, forgetting that He owns us now that He has redeemed us.  (1Cor. 6:19-20, 2Tim. 2:21-22)  We're meant to be faithful servants, doing His work until He returns, being conformed to His image.  (Rom. 8:29, Rom. 12:2, Gal. 4:19)

Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ Luke 19:13

The "minas" (one each) are given to ten servants, who must give account of how they "invested" them upon the master's return.  I believe these represent faith, just as the payment in the workers in the vineyard parable receive the same "pay" of salvation whether they "worked" for a long or short time.  (Matt. 20:1-16)  The point was that when they were invited (to work in the Master's vineyard), they accepted the invitation.  How much time passed from the time they accepted and the return of the Master was irrelevant.   Saved is saved.  However, we can shine our lights and make disciples because of our faith, or we can hide it under a bushel basket.  Jesus said that if salt loses its saltiness, it is no good for anything.  (Matt. 5:13-16)

When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16  The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17  And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ Luke 19:15-17

There is another parable where "talents" are given in the same context--the talent was a measure of money representing gifts of the Spirit.  (Matt. 25:14-30)  However in that instance, the talents were given to three servants in varying measures, representing abilities, talents and other gifts that the Holy Spirit has given us for the benefit of the Body of Christ  Using these gifts and bearing the fruits of the Spirit will result in His work being done and His good pleasure with us when He returns. Our work includes the sharing of the Gospel and making disciples who FOLLOW Jesus, which results in a harvest for our Master at the end of the age. We are ALL His servants, not only the "called workers" who are pastors or missionaries.

Please note:  Prosperity preachers and teachers like to make these parables all about how we will receive more money if we are generous with what God has given us.  It is true that God loves a cheerful giver (2Cor. 9:7, ), but that is NOT what the parables are about.  Even someone who seems to have nothing in the way of wealth can give of themselves, if only to show mercy.  We are ALL called to be merciful–God values it more than offerings of money or worship with routine and ritual.  (Micah 6:8, Matt. 5:7, Matt. 23:23, 1Cor. 13:3, Jam. 1:27, Jam. 2:13).

Our goal should always be to bring people closer to God, which includes an awareness of sin–otherwise what do they need a Savior for?  (Rom. 3:23) The point of our mercy and forgiveness is not that we approve of or encourage sin (Matt. 18:7, 1Cor. 5), but that as our sins were forgiven, we must forgive those who sin against us.  (Matt. 18:33, Luke 11:4)  Jesus told us what to do in the case of unrepentant sin.  (Matt. 18:15-17)  Jesus and Paul both told us to restore to fellowship a believer who repents after being confronted and rebuked.  (Luke 17:3, 2Cor. 2:6-8)

False teachers love to use the verse Luke 6:38 about God’s generosity to those who are generous, however, the previous two verses apply the concept to those who are merciful–they don’t judge (unfairly - John 7:24, by grumbling - James 5:19, for the same sins we do ourselves - Rom. 2:3, for things others do wrong when own sins are even worse - Matt. 7:3-5, our brothers and sisters for the way they serve God - 1Cor. 4:5, or for the way others exercise their freedom in matters unrelated to sin - Rom. 14:1-10), condemn or refuse to forgive - Eph. 4:32).

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. 37  “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38  give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:36-38

There is no mention of money, except that money is among the many things that we can give.  Prosperity preachers and teachers make the main focus on money because they like to be on the receiving end of those donations people hoping to be blessed make.  It is true that God will shower us with more blessings when we are generous (Mal. 3:10), but tithing was an Old Testament requirement.  In this age, we know that Jesus gave His ALL for us and we belong to Him 100%.  Giving 10% of what we receive is really only a starting point.  If we really know God, then we know that all good gifts come from Him (Jam. 1:17) and He Himself is our priority.   He alone is worthy.  We seek Him and the good of His kingdom FIRST and THEN other blessings are added.  (Matt. 6:33)

Back to the parable,  the master who represents God is not happy with some of His servants--some do not serve Him well (according to their ability, which is according to the exercise of His gifts and power within them).  After all, they didn't have to earn the mina or talent--it was given to them. (Rom. 5:15-17, Eph. 2:8-10, 4:7, 1Pet. 4:10-11)  All they had to do was USE it--live out their faith, share their gifts.  Not everyone receives the same gift, but each person receives something.  (Rom. 12:4-8, 1Cor. 12:4-11) What each of us does with what we receive determines whether we will receive more to use in doing His work (because we used what we had faithfully and fruitfully) or if what we have will be taken away from us (because we didn't use it for His purposes or perhaps at all)--both now while He's away and when He returns.  (2Cor. 12:20-13:2)  And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming. 29  If you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him. 1 John 2:28-29 (Note that we are either practicing sin or righteousness.  Someone who slips by committing a sin is not practicing lawlessness (sin), and someone who happens to do something righteous but has no faith is not saved.)

Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21  for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22  He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23  Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24  And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25  And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26  ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." Luke 19:20-26

Believers are His servants.  The people who DON'T believe are NOT.  They are the ones who are destroyed in the parable.  The earth and everything in it belong to God, but only those who believe are adopted as God's children, born again into His family by His Spirit, made a new creation.  (John 1:12-13, John 3:3-8, Rom. 6:1-8, Rom. 8:15, Rom. 8:23, 2Cor. 5:17)  If believers do not understand this, then they run the risk of listening to the advice and "wisdom" of people who are NOT their brothers and sisters and do NOT know best.  (1Cor. 1:20-21, 1Cor. 3:18-20)  GOOD advice will align with the Bible, of which unbelievers are usually ignorant.  Some unbelievers have head knowledge, but it doesn't get into their hearts.  God ONLY accepts worship in spirit and truth.  He is not interested in anything fake, and whoever is not WITH Him is AGAINST Him.  (Matt. 12:30, John 4:23)

But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 27  But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’ Luke 19:14, 27

The only way to know what is expected of "faithful servants" is to read the Bible (or hear it read, in context, not just little "feel good" bites) and let the Holy Spirit illuminate it for us.  (Psalm 119:9-16)  He teaches and guides us (through understanding what we read and reminding us of what we've learned), convicts and corrects--IF we listen to His prompting in our spirit.  The only way to recognize His voice is to know the Word.  (John 10:27, Rom.10:17)  A few verses quoted in a 20-minute sermon a week will give us a very skimpy education and, probably, weak faith.  Conversely, all of the study in the world will not help someone who is not born again, because they do not have the Holy Spirit enabling them to understand spiritual things.  (1Cor. 1:18, 2:14)

Jesus will be coming in the clouds for those who are His to take them where He is.  (John 14:3, 1Thess. 4:17, 1Cor. 15:51-52)  When He returns to RULE (Rev. 11:17-18), it will be WITH the "called, chosen and faithful."  (Rev. 17:14, Rev. 19:11-16)  They will have had their faith found to be genuine through trials and tests.  If you think about it--we would never see the stars if there were no NIGHT.  Night time is the opportunity for stars to SHINE.  So it is with believers going through trials--periods of "darkness" and coming out purified and refined because of passing the test through faith.  (Daniel 12:3)  We are told to take up our crosses and FOLLOW Jesus, not turning back.  (Matt. 10:38, 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, 9:62, 1Pet. 2:21)  Simon of Cyrene in Luke 23:36 was a picture of both taking up the cross and following--His name means "hearing," which is to whom the warnings of the Bible are addressed.  (Matt. 11:15, Rev. 2:7, Rev. 2:11, Rev. 2:17, Rev. 2:29, Rev. 3:6, Rev. 3:13, Rev. 3:22)  It is no good at all to hear, but not understand, to listen but not obey.  You may also find it interesting to know that when Jesus was brought to the temple at the end of Mary's days of purification, the man who prophesied over Him was named Simeon, which is the Hebrew version of Simon (in Greek), also meaning "hearing."  Simeon understood the scriptures about the coming Messiah, and he was ready and waiting for Him, as was Anna, whose name means "grace" (of God).  (Luke 2:22-38)

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22  He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, 23  if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. Colossians 1:21-23

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6  but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a Son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Hebrews 3:5-6

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2  in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3  and at the proper time manifested in His word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; Titus 1:1-3

We are encouraged repeatedly in the Bible to hold fast, endure, persevere--that IF we overcome through sufferings, we will share in His glory.  (Rom. 5:3-5, Rom. 8:16-18, Rom. 12:12, 1Cor. 3:13, 2Cor. 1:3-5, 2Cor. 2:9, 2Cor. 8:2, Gal. 6:4-5, 1Thess. 2:1-4, Philip. 1:27-30, Heb. 3:8, Heb. 10:36-39, Heb. 11:17, 2Tim.2:11-13, Jam. 1:3, Jam. 1:12, 1Pet. 1:6-7, 1Pet.4:12-16, Rev. 1:9, Rev. 2:9-10)

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33  sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34  For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35  Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37  For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38  but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:32-39

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3  Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Hebrews 12:1-4

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. 14  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15  But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17  For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18  And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19  Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:12-19

This sounds awfully difficult doesn't it?  But it's not by our power that we do anything at all.  (John 15:5, 2Cor. 1:21-22, Philip. 4:13, 2Thess. 1:11-12, 2Tim. 1:7-13)  The good works we are to do is often called "bearing fruit."  (John 15:4. 16, Matt. 21:43, Luke 8:15, Rom. 6:22, Rom. 7:4, Gal. 5:22-23, Philip. 1:9-11, Col. 1:10, Heb. 12:11, Heb. 13:15)   So we are like a branch on a vine (Jesus) in God's vineyard, being tended by Him.  (John 15:1)  His Spirit within us brings forth the fruit, so long as we walk in the Spirit, which means we consciously yield to Him in all areas of our lives.  If we resist Him and refuse to cooperate, there will be no fruit and He will not be happy.  (Is. 5:1-7, John 15:6-8, Matt. 21:19, Luke 13:6-9, Rom. 8:5-9)

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, 4  by which He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10  Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11  For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-11

Doesn't it sound like we should take Paul's advice and stop sinning (deliberately - Heb. 10:26-27, 1John 1:5-10, 1John 2:1) and work OUT the evidence of the salvation that we hold within us (if we do truly believe and are saved)?  (Philip. 2:12-13, Rom. 8:9, 2Cor. 13:5, 2Pet. 3:11-13)  If we truly love our neighbor, we'll be concerned for their eternal souls and love them in truth and deed, not with empty words that tell them what they want to hear but don't warn them about the wrath of God to come.  (John 3:36, Rom. 1:18-21, Rom. 2:5, Eph. 4:15, Eph. 5:3-12, Col. 3:5-10, 1John 3:18, Jam. 2:8)

Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5  All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6  God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7  and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8  He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9  They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might 10  on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. 11  With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12  We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:4-12

And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35  but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36  for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. Luke 20:34-36

The "resurrection of the dead" referred to above appears to be the same one that Paul says he hopes to attain.  Since we know everyone will eventually be resurrected and judged, this would seem to refer to the FIRST resurrection (at the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ.)  (1Cor. 9:23-27 - also see chapter 10 for words of warning, Philip. 3:11-16, Rev. 20:4-6)  Obviously, Paul already believes and so he is not referring to merely professing faith in Jesus, but something more.  Paul understood that his body was to be used as a living sacrifice to the Lord.  (Rom. 12:1, Philip. 2:17)  Peter referred to his body as a "tent" (to be laid aside when its usefulness has ended) which brings to mind the Tabernacle--how appropriate, since that was God's dwelling in the desert and we are His dwelling in this current "wilderness."  (2Cor. 5:1, Heb. 8:5, 1Pet. 1:13-14, 1Pet. 2:4-5)

He will render to each one according to his works: 7  to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8  but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9  There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10  but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11  For God shows no partiality. 12  For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13  For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. Romans 2:6-13

Please note that verse 13 above does not mean that we save ourselves by obeying the law.  It means that if we are sincere in our faith, then we will seek to please God and not ourselves--we will show a healthy respect for Him and appreciation for what He has done for us.  (Job 28:28, Heb. 10:29)  The reason faith without works is dead is because without works, there is no evidence of saving faith existing at all.  There are Old Testament examples of obedience through true faith given in James 2:14-26, as well as that of Jesus Himself in John 15:9-10.  If we REALLY believe, then there WILL be works to show for it (in the form of obedience out of love and respect for God.)  This is the reason for the warning "do not be deceived," because we can't fool God and if we're smart, we won't listen to anyone encouraging us to try to trick Him (not even our own selfish inner voice.)  (Matt. 7:26-27, Matt. 18:7, 1Cor. 6:9, 1Cor. 15:33-34, Gal. 6:7, Jam. 1:14-16, 2Tim. 3:12, 1John 1:8-10)

"As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. 10  If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love." John 15:9-10

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Look out for the dogs [Is. 56:10-12], look out for the evildoers [Psalm 22:16], look out for those who mutilate the flesh [Gal. 5:3, 12]. 3  For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4  though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7  But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, 11  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. 13  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16  Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17  Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18  For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself. Philippians 3:2-21

The reason we "are" the circumcision is because our HEARTS are circumcised because of our TRUE faith (by the Spirit, not empty words or actions taken out of fear instead of the accurate knowledge of God).   (Rom. 10:8-10, Matt. 12:7, Matt. 15:7-9, Deut. 30:6)

And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6

In today's world, there are so many people not only tolerating things that God hates, but even celebrating them.  Our response is not supposed to be to support sin "in love," but to speak the TRUTH in love.  There is a BIG difference between speaking the truth out of concern for someone's soul and literally stoning someone to death as the mob wanted to do to the adulterous woman.  Even after Jesus dispersed the crowd, He told her to go and SIN NO MORE.  The goal is always repentance, whether from unbelief or any other sin.  (Luke 5:32, 2Cor. 7:8-10, Heb. 12:8-11)  To say something is not a sin that God HAS called sin is very dangerous for those committing it as well as for those who approve of and encourage it.  I don't recommend doing either.  It's not worth it.  Even if everyone hates us, so long as it's not that we did something wrong, but because we were not ashamed of Jesus AND His words (the entire Bible), then it's worth it.  (Mark 8:38, John 12:25, John 15:18-19, John 17:14, 1John 3:13, Philip. 1:29, 1Pet. 2:19-20, 1Pet. 3:14, 1Pet. 4:19)  It's all about His satisfaction with our faithful service for His glory and honor.  Happiness and joy for eternity or temporary fulfillment from worthless earthly treasures and pleasures.  No contest.  This is not an unwelcome burden, but a privilege to "carry our cross," one that also comes with great rewards in the age to come.  May we all prove to be worthy of Him who gave His ALL for us (even me, though I am quite sure I am the LEAST of all).

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2  so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3  For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4  With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5  but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 1 Peter 4:1-5

kit: Winter Wonderland by The Gingerbread Ladies

Article available for download in sidebar as pdf.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Those Who Seek You

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know Your name put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:9-10

stacked papers: Kristmess Robins by Kristmess Designs

Heavenly Father, we praise and glorify your holy name--you alone are worthy! Please forgive us for times when we consult unbelievers, looking to them for support instead of coming to you in prayer for our needs and to your all-sufficient word to find the wisdom you offer freely to us.  We know that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord and without faith, it is impossible to please you.  We ask that you help us not to succumb to the fear that our enemy tries to use to drive us into the arms of the world, and that you draw us so deeply into yourself that the troubles of this world fade utterly away.  Please help us to always remember that all is well, no matter what it looks or feels like, because you are in control and always will be.  In Jesus' precious and adored name, Amen

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Put Your Trust in the Lord

Blessed is the man who puts his trust in the LORD, and does not turn to the proud and lapse into falsehood. Psalm 40:4

Stacked Papers by December Daze by Kristmess Designs

Heavenly Father, we love you so much and are so amazed at the love you show us every day.  We marvel at the profound miracle that you made the way for us to become your dear children.  Please help us to keep our minds focused on you and not on the world, no matter what happens, because you are trustworthy, faithful and true.  There is no need to worry or fear, because all of your promises are sure.  Thank you!  In Jesus' precious and holy name, Amen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Write on His Hand

"This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’s,’ another will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and name himself by the name of Israel.”  Isaiah 44:5

kits: Romantic Season by Bee Creation, Love Yourself by Neia Scraps

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Meditate in the Night

My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
Psalm 119:48

paper: Dramatic Backgrounds 2 by Holliewood Studios, elements from collab by Mischief Circus designers, page border: Collecting Memories by BekahE Designs

Monday, December 26, 2016

Live by Faith

“Behold, the puffed up soul is not upright, but the righteous live by faith." Habakkuk 2:4

kit: Winter Wonderland by Scrap Orchard Designers (store closed)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Perfect Peace

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3

kit: Winter Wonderland by Scrap Orchard Designers (store closed)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Be Silent Before Him

The LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him. Habakkuk 2:20

paper by Lorie Davison; kit: Winter Wonderland by Scrap Orchard Designers (store closed)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Heart of Wisdom

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

kit: Winter Wonderland by Scrap Orchard Designers (store closed)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Awesome God

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. Deuteronomy 10:17

paper made by blending element by Lorie Davison with paper by Fly Pixel studio; kit: Winter Wonderland by Scrap Orchard Designers (store closed)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

For Your Sake

Yet for Your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. Psalm 44:22

kit: Winter Wonderland by Scrap Orchard Designers (store closed)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Who Is Like Me?

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and His Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides Me there is no god. Who is like Me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before Me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen." Isaiah 44:6-7

kit: Winter Wonderland by Scrap Orchard Designers (store closed), Winter Freebie by Mary Pop

Monday, December 19, 2016

Find Faith

"I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” Luke 18:8

kit: Romance by Studio Viva Artistry

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Take Courage

"But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. 9  But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. 10  For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. 11  And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12  so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:7-12

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 12  Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13  and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. 14  Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15  See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16  that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17  For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. Hebrews 12:11-17

kits: Tis the Season by Stella Jane, Little Mouse Loves to Read by Lori Davison

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Gift

"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out." John 6:37

At this time of the year when we think of God's gift to us, I would like us to consider that we believers are part of God the Father's gift to His Son, Jesus, our Savior.  What kind of gifts are we?  Will He be happy to receive us?  Do we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?  I think we would all agree that He deserves nothing less!

The other part of the gift is the Kingdom, where those who belong to Jesus, who is High Priest in the everlasting order of Melchizedek, will rule with Him as part of a royal priesthood, forever.  If we have been given by the Father to the Son, then we have the Holy Spirit within us and are His temple.  Wow.  Is that profound or what?  Let's be the best present EVER, starting NOW.  Let's give Him our WHOLE hearts, just as He gave His LIFE for us.  He alone is worthy. (Verses are below.)

Let's also bear in mind that the Israelites who refused to go into the promised land due to lack of faith did not get another chance.  They all died in the desert except for Joshua and Caleb, who were the only ones who wanted to go in.  Joshua (a name almost identical to the Hebrew name for Jesus) and Caleb had to wander in the desert, enduring hardship for forty years before they could enter.  That is a picture of our "wilderness" experience and walking by faith while we wait for our turn as believers to enter the "promised land."

I'd like to share with you something I just learned.  Many people have said that the name "Caleb" means "dog."  This bothered me because Caleb was faithful and dogs are usually mentioned in a derogatory manner in the Bible.  Today I discovered that the word for dog is "celeb,"  whereas the name Caleb is a combination of two words (just as Yeshua means Yah is Salvation).  The first part of Caleb's name means "all" and the second part means "heart."  Caleb means "whole-hearted," which God verifies for us when He said:

"And the LORD heard your words and was angered, and he swore, 35  ‘Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, 36  except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the LORD!’" Deuteronomy 1:34-36 

Let's "wholly follow the Lord" like Caleb--a worthy companion of Joshua, who took the people into the promised land--just as we belong to Jesus, who will take us in after we have followed Him whole-heartedly through this wilderness.  Let's not be like the ones who wandered in the desert and then died, never going in to the promised land.  How sad is that?  Be like Caleb.


"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." John 6:44

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7  Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8  For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9  I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10  All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them." John 17:6-10

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30  I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; 6  as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:5-6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5  you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things
that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a Son.
And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our

boasting in our hope. Hebrews 3:5-6

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14  who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18  Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:17-20

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15  What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16  What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17  Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18  and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Notice that Jesus tells the scribe that he is "not far from the kingdom of God" when he agrees with Him on the two greatest commands.  God wants our WHOLE HEART and ALL of us--following in deed not just words, DOING as He says, not only hearing.  (John 4:23, 1 John 3:18, James 1:22)

And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33  And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34  And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. Mark 12:32-34

[Caleb said] "I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. 8  But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD my God. 9  And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’" Joshua 14:7-9

Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14  Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the LORD, the God of Israel. Joshua 14:13-14

Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.” 1 Kings 8:61

Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, 3  who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! Psalm 119:2-3

Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3  and said, “Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Isaiah 38:2-3

I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:7

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

kit: Brrr! by Kristmess Designs

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hope of Glory

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  Colossians 1:27

kit: Awakening by DitaB

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Purposes of the Heart

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.  1 Corinthians 4:5

Note: This is in the context of our service to God as His servants.  We have each received different gifts from the Holy Spirit for use in building up the Body of Christ.  (1 Cor. 12:4-11, 1 Peter 2:1-5, 4:10-11, Eph. 2:19-22)  God will judge whether each person has used their gifts selfishly to satisfy their own desires or if they have shared them as He intended.  (Matt. 25:14-30 - the "talents" were money, but they represent more than that, 1 Cor. 4:1-4, 2 Cor. 5:10, Eph. 4:7-8, John 16:24, James 4:3)  We mustn't think of our own service to God as being more important than someone else's--we're all members of the same Body.  (1 Cor. 12:12-13:13, Gal. 6:3, Rom. 12:3, 12:10, 12:16, Luke 14:7-11, James 2:1-7)  We shouldn't criticize each other for how each one handles matters that are NOT related to salvation or sin, but we are each free to decide for ourselves according to our OWN convictions as to HONOR the Lord with our behavior (not as to what degree we feel free to sin against Him!)  (Romans 14)  Disagreements in these matters unrelated to salvation (which salvation ALWAYS includes repentance) end up causing unnecessary division and discouragement among believers, whereas Jesus prayed we would have unity. (John 17:11, 1 Cor. 10:17, Eph. 4:1-6, Gal. 6:2-10)

I read an interpretation somewhere that when the Bible says to treat the dishonorable parts of the Body as honorable (1 Cor. 12:22-26), it means that we must tolerate those who sin due to their weakness.  That is simply NOT true.  What it means is that a person who cleans toilets for the glory of the Lord (because even the nasty jobs need to be done) is no less valuable as the one who speaks before kings with eloquence.  (Acts 25-26, 1 Cor. 1:26-2:1-5)  A person who is imprisoned for preaching the Gospel is to be supported, not shunned and abandoned.  (Matt. 25:36, Acts 12:5, 2 Tim. 4:16, Heb. 10:34, 13:3)  There is nothing wrong with sharing the Gospel with criminals, but that is NOT what was meant by "visiting Jesus" in prison.  That refers to visiting the one who is being persecuting for His sake, not for something they did wrong.  (Acts 8:3, 16:22-24, Col. 4:3-6, Eph. 6:16-20, 2 Tim. 1:8, Philemon 1:13, 1 Peter 4:15)  In this day and age, how many people immediately disown anyone who is slandered for speaking the truth about God's word?  When the world calls a Christian a hater, don't most people try to distance themselves from that person?  (2 Tim. 1:16-18, Philippians 1:3-7)  It's only going to get worse as we get closer to the end of this age.  (Rev. 2:10)  Whoever disowns their believing brother or sister over such things is actually disowning Christ.  (Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26, 10:16, Matt. 10:40)  (This is NOT to say that we should EVER commit acts of violence, use crude language or dishonor God in any other way by our behavior--not for any reason.  Our motive is LOVE.)

Many people also misinterpret the words about tolerating "weaker brothers."  That is not meant to say that we should treat fellow believers as babies who don't know better and can't help their behavior.  How will they grow in Christ if no one ever corrects their behavior?  No, they should be admonished with gentleness (and if they refuse correction, then they must be excluded from fellowship for the good of the congregation).  (1 Cor. 5:13)  This does NOT include physically or verbally assaulting anyone, or gossiping about them.  (Titus 3)  The context of "weaker brother" is that some people feel convicted to observe special days or refrain from eating meat due to fear that it may have been sacrificed to an idol without their knowledge.  We are free to decide these things for ourselves and are not to force anyone to embrace the choice we make for ourselves in freedom.  If they feel in their weakness that it's sinful, then for them it is.  (1 Cor. 8, 1 Cor. 10:23-33. Rom. 14:23)  This has NOTHING to do with approving of, encouraging or overlooking blatantly sinful behaviors, especially those committed deliberately.  (Rom. 1:32, 1 Cor. 15:34, 2 Cor. 12:21)  Paul said his concern for the weak and those who succumb to sin burdened him terribly.  (2 Cor. 11:29)

In passages about judging sin by fellow believers, we are told to confront it gently, in love, and forgive the person who repents.  (Gal. 6:1, Matt. 18:15-17, 21-22)  We are not to withhold forgiveness (Luke 6:35-38, Eph. 4:32), or condemn anyone as though we are perfect ourselves (Matt. 7:5), or judge them for the very same sins we do ourselves (Romans 2:1-24), or fall into the same sin as they have slipped into while we are trying to restore them to fellowship. (1 Cor. 10:12, 2 Cor. 13:11, Gal. 6:1) However, if someone refuses to repent, then we are not to tolerate their sin, as it tends to spread and contaminate the whole Body and we are meant to be holy and set apart from the world for God. (1 Cor. 5)  If we read the warning of Jesus about not letting the members of your body cause us to sin (Matt. 5:27-30) in light of Paul's explanation that WE are members of the Body of CHRIST (Rom. 6, 12:4-5), we see that God does NOT want us to look the other way when our brothers and sisters in Christ sin.  He wants us to deal with it, with the goal of a healthy, whole Body.  (1 Cor. 5, 2 Cor. 2:6-8, Gal. 6:1)  The point of confronting sin is LOVE, not to be unmerciful, but because it IS merciful to bring someone back from straying.  (James 5:19-20, 2 Thess. 3:13-15)  The more we correct our own behavior while on this earth, the less we will have to fear being corrected when Jesus returns.  (Rom. 14:12, 1 Cor. 4:21, 2 Cor. 10:1-6, 12:20-21, 13:10, 1 John 2:28-29, Matt. 24:42-44, Luke 12:38-40, 1 Thess. 5:1-8, Rev. 3:3, 16:15)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 

Instead of wondering who anyone else thinks they are to tell others (including you or me) how to behave or what to care about, let's think about the honor and glory of the Body of Christ.  Because it's ALL about our precious, victorious, worthy Savior, let's encourage one another to be ready for the His return.  (Psalm 69:9, Rom. 15:1-7)  Jesus warned us to OBEY His words by bearing good fruit and building upon the rock.  He warned us NOT to listen to people who say there is another way (whether that is through another door than Him or by only hearing His words, but not DOING them).  (Matt. 7:13-27, James 1:22-25, 1 Tim. 6:3-5)  Let's speak the truth in love so that everyone can mature in Christ, not shying away from uncomfortable topics like sin.  (Col. 1:28-29, Acts 20:26-27)  Let’s value the kingdom of God more than temporary treasures and pleasures.  (Matt.  6:33, 1 John 2:15-17)  God takes no pleasure in people who turn back after promising to serve Him, or are cowardly.  (Luke 9:62, Heb. 10:35-39, Rev. 21:8)  This is not to say that we save ourselves in any way, ever, but that we deceive ourselves into thinking we are saved if we still love sin and the world.  (Gal.  6:7-8, 1 Tim.  4:1, 2 Tim.  3:12-13, James 1:22, 1 John 1:5-10)

Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. 2 Corinthians 12:19

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13  But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:12-13

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 17  Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19  They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20  But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21  assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25  Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27  and give no opportunity to the devil. 28  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29  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. 30  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 5:1  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3  But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4  Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5  For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7  Therefore do not become partners with them; 8  for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9  (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10  and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11  Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12  For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13  But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14  for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19  addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20  giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 4:11-5:21

kits: Awakening by DitaB, My Cookbook Add On by Silvia Romeo

This article will be made available in pdf form, including the scriptures that were referenced, on the sidebar of this blog, entitled Unity of the Body of Christ.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Leads to Eternal Life

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21

kit: Loving by DitaB

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Falsely Called Knowledge

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.  Grace be with you.  1 Timothy 6:20-21

kit: For You by Neia Scraps

Monday, December 12, 2016

Labor in the Lord

Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  1 Corinthians 15:58

kit: Wild and Free by Lara's Digiworld

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Instruct Them

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

kit: So Grateful Addon by BekahE Designs

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Pure Speech

“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve Him with one accord."  Zephaniah 3:9

template: Onederful by Heartstrings Scrap Art; kit: Through the Year: December by JenC Designs

Friday, December 9, 2016

According to Ability

So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea.  Acts 10:29

template: Bold Background by Heartstrings Scrap Art; kit: Peppermint by Connie Prince

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Gives Freely

One man gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Proverbs 11:24

kit: Spike & Co. by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

He is Righteous

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.  1 John 2:29

kit: Kristmess Village by Kristmess Designs; template Full of Memories Vol. 46 by PrelestnayaP

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Multitude of Praise

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” Luke 2:13-14

kit: Snow Day by PrelestnayaP

Monday, December 5, 2016

Unto Us

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6-7

digital scrap kits: Stitching 1 & 3 by HeatherT; Noel Bokeh and Background Paper by Helly; Holiday Crush Greenery by Creative Victorian Designs; OhOhOh Accents by Valentina Creations; snowflake: freebie by Kristin Aagard

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Be Sincere

Let love be sincere, detesting what is evil and clinging to what is good. Romans 12:9

It seems to me that the acceptance in our society of imitation forms of sweeteners is an indication of our willingness to accept substitutions in other areas as well, including our faith.  Too many people are satisfied with artificial love for God and imitation faith in Him.  God doesn't need either.  He made the real thing when it comes to sweeteners.  He has no use for man-made versions of them, any more than He has any use for it when people go through the motions of worshiping Him.  REAL love for God looks a lot different than the fake kind, just like artificial sweeteners have no nutrients and taste different than authentic ones.  Fake worship makes a show of it on Sunday morning and then does whatever it wants the rest of the week.  False devotion puts itself first--God comes a ways down the list.

How do we know that God detests that kind of "devotion"?  Because He said so Himself.  The kind of "works" that are discussed in the Book of James are not only things we think of as "good deeds," but also include simple obedience to God–doing the right thing even when no one is looking, caring about what God cares about even if no one else seems to, resisting the urge to do wrong no matter how tempting, even if everyone else is doing it and seems to be getting away with it, etc.  These kinds of “works” are not earning us salvation, but they are very useful to God in determining whether our faith is genuine or fake, and our works will be judged and rewarded by Jesus.  (2Cor. 5:10, Rev. 11:18)

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7  in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8  You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:6-8

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17  even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19  Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:15-21

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 26  If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:21-27

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18  But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23  and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25  And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26  For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:14-26

What were His commands and how will He manifest Himself to those who love Him–to those who show their love for Him by keeping His commands?  He answered both questions very clearly and concisely, and also gave the conditions for entering the kingdom of God.

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29  Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32  And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33  And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34  And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. Mark 12:28-34

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23  Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25  “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:22-26

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:3-8

This is not to say that we earn our way, but that only a person who truly believes in their heart and is sincere when confessing with their mouth will be born again (i.e. indwelt by the Holy Spirit).  It is only by His power that we can have the desire and ability to please Him.  This is what it means to be “in” Christ Jesus, and as we saw above–God has made His home with (in) us–our bodies are His temple and we are the body of Christ.  (Rom. 12:4-5, 1Cor. 6:15-20, 1Cor. 10:17, 1Cor. 12:12-27, Eph. 1:22-23, Eph. 3:6, Eph. 4:12, Eph. 5:23, Eph. 5:30, Col. 1:24, Col. 3:15) (It should go without saying that we are NOT God because of His dwelling within us or because we have been born into His spiritual family (because He is Spirit - John 4:24).

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1  

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 13  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14  You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:10, 13-14 (See all of John 15:1-14.)

Jesus didn’t keep His Father’s commands by merely claiming to believe in Him. He acted upon them.  Abraham didn’t merely say he would sacrifice His only beloved son, but he was fully intending to obey God.  (His son Isaac was a typological foreshadow of Jesus.  Isaac was spared, but Jesus was not, for our sake and of His own free will.)  Paul exhorted the Philippians to live out their faith.  They already believed, or he wouldn’t be writing to them as “children of God.”  (Heb. 11:6)

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:8-10

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14  Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15  that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16  holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:12-16

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21  that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24  Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25  O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26  I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:20-26

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Romans 8:5-9

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2  Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  3  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4  Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5  You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6  No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7  Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9  No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:1-10

Look once again at James 2:26 above.  Physically we are dead if our spirit leaves us, and spiritually, we are dead in our sins, not born again unless God’s Spirit regenerates ours.  Notice in Titus 3 below, good works and justification by grace through faith go hand-in-hand in the same passage.  As children of God, our standard is higher than it was before, not lower.  We represent the Ruler of ALL now.  Do we need more incentive to obey than the fact that we are heirs of an unimaginably great, eternal inheritance and were told to do so? Or are we the sort who need to be beaten to submit to God?  It’s not the neighbor’s children but our own that we instruct and discipline, right?  People don’t give orders to someone else’s employees but their own, right?  These words are for US who already believe.  First believe, then obey.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2  to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3  For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7  so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8  The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Titus 3:1-8

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5  And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12  Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13  and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Hebrews 12:1-13

Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42  And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44  Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45  But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46  the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47  And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48  But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Luke 12:41-48

The Church (the assembly of called out, set apart believers) is the Bride of Christ.  A bridegroom and bride have great love and devotion for each other.  If not, then they should NOT get married, should they?  Our bridegroom already proved how much He loves us by suffering the intense violence of beatings, whippings, mocking, humiliation and ultimately dying for us nailed to a cross.  It was so agonizing in every imaginable way that not one of us can look at a re-enactment of it without flinching, cringing and crying.  Even reading a detailed description of it is emotionally painful.  Is it too much for Him to ask us to care for Him and His holy name enough to show REAL love for Him instead of imitation?  (Eph. 5:22-33, 2Cor. 11:2-5)

He said He has gone to prepare a place for us and will be back to take those of us who are IN Him to be with Him forever. (1John 3:2 above, John 14:2-3, 1Thess. 4:16-18)  No eye has seen nor mind conceived of what He has prepared for those who LOVE Him.  (1Cor. 2:9-10)  Jesus can't be fooled.  He will be turning away many who do not love Him, because He doesn't know them.  (Matt. 7:21-27, Matt. 25:1-13, Luke 13:22-30)  They claimed to believe, but their deeds showed them to be liars.  If they had known Him, they would have had the sense to at least respect and obey Him.  The fact is that we can’t really love someone we don’t know.  Maybe that’s why we’re repeatedly told to love our neighbors as ourselves (someone we know.)  (Matt. 19:19, 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Rom. 13:9, Gal. 5:14, Jam. 2:8) And maybe the reason so many people don’t know and love God is that they are too “busy” to read their Bibles, but it’s amazing what we can make the time for if we really want to.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:8-17

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2  He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3  And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4  Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5  but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:1-6

The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord.  He is holy and infinitely powerful.  Just knowing that much information should prevent us from thinking we can outsmart Him with false confessions and pretending we didn’t know better when we disregard His will for us to behave in a manner worthy of Him.  A great shaking of the entire world is coming, the likes of which will be unexplainable to anyone who does not know God.  Be prepared.  Our “acceptable worship” is not in empty words, but it is backed up from the heart with our actions.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15  See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16  that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17  For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.  28  Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29  for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:14-17, 28-29 

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2  Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

His Spirit lives inside of those who truly believe in their hearts and have confessed with their mouths that He is their only Redeemer and LORD.  We were given specific “fruits” to look for in those who have the Holy Spirit and if we don’t seem them in ourselves or others, there is reason for concern.  (Gal. 5:16-25, 2Cor. 13:1-5)  His holy word says that if we love the world, then we do NOT have the love of God in us.  Love for the world is enmity toward God.  (1John 2:15-17)  We need to consider this and how our lives appear from that perspective.  We were warned that everyone trying to live a godly life would be persecuted and the world would hate us.  (John 15:18-20, 1John 3:13)  Apparently, there is something wrong with our walk with Christ if we are not experiencing either (and not because we have done wrong, but for the sake of His name).  (1Pet. 3:17) If that is the case, then apparently, the world can perceive no difference between us and them.  (John 15:19)

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? James 4:4-5 

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13  while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:12-13

Imagine how well that would go over if in our earthly marriages the spouses cared nothing for the other's desires?  Oh wait, we don't have to imagine, because that is the state of marriage these days, isn't it?  No, instead, think of marriages that have lasted many, many years.  How do those spouses behave toward each other?  With great love and care, right?  They RESPECT each other.  If one of them asks the other not to do something, they will probably have enough consideration for their beloved to honor that request.  If they are asked to do something, they will think of it as an honor to serve their spouse in that way.

Well, those marriages are physical, earthly patterns for our spiritual relationship with our Savior, Lord and Sovereign King Jesus.  Happily married couples think about each other many times throughout each day, not now and then in any given week.  They communicate with each other as often as possible, just as we can communicate with our beloved Redeemer through reading the word, praying, worshiping and praising Him throughout each and every day.  We are temples of the Lord.  (2Cor. 6:16)  We don't have to wait for a certain time or place to honor Him.  We should be doing it throughout every day, wherever we are, including the way in which we reflect on Him by our behavior.  A bride who loves her bridegroom doesn't act in such a way as to smear his name with mud, does she?  (Jerem. 31:31-34, Ezek. 36:22-32, Rom. 2:24)  Just as a couple isn't just married when they are together, we are legally betrothed spiritually to Jesus now and forever, IF we belong to Him.  (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21  in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

Let's give Him the sincere, heartfelt devotion that He deserves and BE READY for when He returns for those who are His.  God has not changed.  He still hates what He always hated even though we are now under grace, not the law (which has been fulfilled on our behalf by Jesus).  Our motivation to obey is all that has changed.  We now obey out of love and gratitude for our free salvation rather than out of fear.  That is, if we DO truly love Him?

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5  and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6  and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7  For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8  But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. 9  Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11  And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12  so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:4-12

“Gird your loins [be prepared] and keep your lamps burning, 36  and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37  Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38  If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39  But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40  You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”   Luke 12:35-40

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9  obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9

Jesus simplified the commands for us into two, because by fulfilling these two, the rest will be fulfilled in spirit.  It all comes down to love.  If we love God first, most and best then we will love who He loves as well: our neighbor.  If we love our neighbors as ourselves, then we will not do anything to harm them, including sinning against them OR causing them to sin in any way.  (Matt. 18:7, Rom. 1:32)  We will want to serve them as Jesus showed us by His example both in His earthly ministry to the sick and when He washed the disciples’ feet (our “brothers”).  (John 13:12-17)

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38  This is the great and first commandment. 39  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 11  Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12  The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:8-14

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2  For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4  that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5  not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6  that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7  For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8  Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 9  Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10  for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11  and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12  so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

If we use artificial sweeteners, we want our sweets without the cost of the calories.  If we claim to love Jesus and yet follow our own way in our lives instead of submitting to Him as Lord, then we are doing the same thing.  We want the eternal promises God made to true followers of Christ to be ours, but we don't want to actually suffer the inconvenience of being a disciple.  Jesus said that if we love anyone or anything more than Him, we are not worthy of Him.  (Matt. 16:24-26, Luke 9:62)  If we're not willing to take up our cross and FOLLOW Him, we aren't worthy of Him.  (Since when is "following" defined as doing something only in your head or only with your mouth?  Isn't it an action verb?)  God is true and faithful and genuine toward us, and that is what He expects us to be toward Him.

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39 

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5  Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6  On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8  But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.* 14  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 18  Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19  Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20  Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22  Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25  For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 3:1-25

*I must clarify here that “forgiving” does not mean tolerating things God hates, sins that people have no intention of repenting of–people deliberately practicing sin are to be excluded from fellowship with us.  At the same time, it also means that we fully restore to fellowship those who do repent.  The only unforgivable sin is unbelief.  (1Cor. 5, 2Cor. 2, 1John 1:9)

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7  Therefore do not be partners with them. 8  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9  (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10  and find out what pleases the Lord. 11  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12  It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. Ephesians 5:3-12

Most people say they didn't like the taste of artificial sweeteners at first, but they got used to it.  The problem with that is that artificial sweeteners they don't contain any energy to fuel the body.  They also are frequently found to cause other health issues than the weight problems they were designed to help.  In the same way, when we get used to the artificial love offered by many professing Christians to God--empty words of devotion and feeble attempts to obey Him with an ever-ready excuse as to why it isn't possible--our faith will shrivel up and waste away so that we will be unable to resist temptation or withstand trials (Luke 8:13, 1Cor. 10:13).  Our faith may become more fake than real, being poisoned with false teachings so that we are unable to discern truth from error. (Rom. 1:18-32, Rom. 12:2, 1Cor. 2:14, 1Cor. 13:4-7, Eph. 4:11-25, Eph. 5:1-21, Philip. 1:9-10, 2Thess. 2:9-12, Heb. 5:14) That is NOT healthy for the Body of Christ. (Rom 12:4-5, 1Cor. 6, 1Cor. 10:16-17, 1Cor. 12:12-27, Eph. 1:22-23, Eph. 3:6, Eph. 4:4-6, Eph. 4:11-16, Eph. 5:23, Eph. 5:29-32, Col. 1:18, Col. 1:24)

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:3-10

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15  and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19  and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, Ephesians 6:10-19

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16  Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17  Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18  For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:12-21

God is our ONLY hope in this world and the next.  Let's consume the pure, unadulterated Bread of Life DAILY (Matt. 6:11) so that we can bring forth the kind of fruit that leads not only to eternal life for ourselves (Rom. 6:22, 1 Col. 1:9-14), but shines His light on others around us so they can come to know Him, too. (Matt. 5:14-16, Rom. 12, Eph. 5:6-21, Philip. 2:12-16, 2Tim. 2:24-26)  Let's not let the world, who doesn't even KNOW God (John 14:17, Titus 1:16, 1John 3:1, 1John 4:6-8), tell us what is best or even acceptable.  Let's put ALL of our trust in God (1Pet. 4:19), all day, every day until He returns.  This life is short but what comes next lasts forever. (Matt. 25:46, John 3:16, John 3:36, John 5:24, John 6:27, John 6:40, John 6:47, John 6:63, John 10:28, John 12:25, Rom. 2:7, Rom. 6;22, Gal. 6:8, 1Tim. 6:12, 1Pet. 1:3-5, 1John 2:25, 1John 5:11-13, Jude 1:20-21) Let's not look back with regrets, wondering why we settled for anything fake when we know God is pure, holy and 100% true. (Matt. 22:16, John 1:14-17, John 3:33, John 7:18, John 8:26, John 14:6, John 15:26, John 16:13, Titus 1:2)  He is faithful and deserving of our faithfulness in return. (1Cor. 1:9, 1Cor. 10:19, 1Thess. 5:24, 2Thess. 3:3, Heb. 2:17, Heb. 3:6, Heb. 10:23, 1Pet. 4:19, 1John 1:9, Rev. 1:5, Rev. 3:14, Rev. 19:11)

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34  “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35  “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36

We can't have both our way and His, both the world and heaven--there is a choice to be made.  Jesus is the bread of life and the living water–the ONLY way to receive eternal life.  “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63  (See all of John 6, John 4)  He finished His work in establishing this covenant, which has been offered to both Jew and Gentile in this age.  (Matt. 12:18, Acts 10, Rom. 11:25, Gal. 3:28, Heb. 8)  He took ALL of our sins upon Himself to make us right with God.  (1John 2:2, 2Cor. 5:21)  It's up to us whether we will drink of the cup of the new covenant or not.  We remember the price He paid for us when we observe the Lord’s Supper.  (Luke 22:14-20, 1Cor. 11:23-32)  He literally bought us with His blood.  (Please read 1 Corinthians 6.)  God draws us to Himself and invites us to drink, but He doesn't force us to accept His invitation.  (John 6:44, John 15:16)  If we honestly WANT to love, serve, honor and obey Jesus as our spiritual bridegroom but don’t know where to begin, let’s read our Bibles and pray.  God will reveal Himself to us when we seek Him with a pure heart.  (Matt. 5:8, Heb. 7:23-25)  REAL food for thought... (not imitation).

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39  Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-39

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11  Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” 12  “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14  Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15  Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16  “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17  The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. 18  I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19  and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20  He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. Revelation 22:10-21

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:5

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:7-10

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16  “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17  then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18  Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 19  Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21  and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26  For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27  but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28  Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29  How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30  For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32  But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33  sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34  For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35  Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37  For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38  but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:15-39

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2  And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5  “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10  “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11  “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 13  “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. 17  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:1-19

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