Friday, September 30, 2016

Train for Godliness

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather, train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of value in some ways, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8

kit: Environmentally Friendly by Kristmess Designs; template: Lara's World

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Disregards God

For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;  that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 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. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives His Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8

I don't know about anyone else, but it just does NOT sound to me like God doesn't care what we do after we're saved (as many are claiming these days).  It sounds to me like He has given VERY clear instructions that our bodies are His temple, belong to our Redeemer and are to be used to honor Him in ALL we do.  Another warning here is that we are not to transgress and wrong our brother in this way.  That refers to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  If we don't care about sinning ourselves, we are at least not to lead other believers into sin, causing them to stumble.

If we understand what our freedom from the punishment for our sins cost Jesus, won't that inspire us to love Him as He loves us?  What kind of love is that to do as we please, disregarding His commands?  He said that we are to love our brother--that does not include sinning against them in any way, including sexually, or leading them into sins (even if they are willing.)  So if this is true, then why are there SO many professing Christians living outside of marriage between one man and one woman?  Did God change with the times?  (I must have missed it.)

What does this passage say will happen if we ignore these instructions?  It says that God will avenge.  This is a pretty stern warning--whoever disregards it does not ignore man, but God (the Holy Spirit).  Notice at the beginning how it says that the instructions were given THROUGH the Lord Jesus.  If we actually read that and still do whatever we please, it makes one wonder if we actually know who He is and believe in the God of the Bible or some version of Him that we have made up in our head--one who loves sin?  How can people pick and choose which verses they will believe that God means what He says?  How is He reliable if He says we are saved, but we can't rely on it when He says He will avenge?  Think about it!

It's true that we could NEVER earn salvation or deserve it to keep it by our behavior, but the evidence of saving faith is obedience to the Lord--the same One who saved us, who has purchased us with His blood.  Look into this for yourself if you have questions, while there is still time to make changes.  Examine your life and find out if you have been showing more faith in the words of people trying to tell you what you like to hear than in the words God has had recorded for us in the Bible. If you blend in with the world, which does not know God, then there is a problem.  If you think sin is fun, cool or acceptable, there is a problem.  The only remedy for that problem is to discover the REAL God of the Bible.  He is worthy of ALL of our love, devotion, obedience and anything else He could ever ask.  Once we know Him, then we'll know that--obedience won't be out of fear of losing salvation, but to satisfy the great desire in our hearts: to please and honor Him.  What a different world it would be if every believer understood this!

We don't know when He'll return for us, but until that happens, there is still time to get ready.  Let's encourage one another to do that.

paper by Createwings Designs (retired), border graphics: DoodleAge, roses: Desperate Green by Marta van Eck

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This Only

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.  Psalm 27:4

kit: March Daze by Kristmess Designs; template by Lindsay Jane Designs

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Do Not Be Deceived

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8

I have grave concerns about how doctrine has been changed in The Message paraphrase of the Bible.  Here is a summary of my observations on the problems with certain passages in The Message.  My comments will be limited to the changes in the translation of passages related to sexual immorality.  Those changes result in altering the meaning of the original texts, which I believe is evil and heretical.  If anyone tries to get a true picture of God’s design and will for male and female relationships from The Message, they will not be able to do so.  Since the LGBQT movement is an orchestrated attack by Satan against God as our sovereign Creator, then whoever blurs or denies the truth according to God is working against Him, not with Him.  (Matthew 12:30)  It goes right back to the Garden of Eden when the serpent said “Did God really say?”  (Genesis 3:1)  It is deceitful, whereas God wants us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14-15)–to care more about Him than the world, more about souls entering heaven than worldly men’s opinions.  (John 15:19, 1 John 2;15-17)

We can verify the correct translation of these passages and their interpretation by looking at the same Greek that Peterson used.  In fact, the Greek makes it even more clear that homosexuality is condemned by God by using different words for both the dominant and passive partner (as disgusting as that is), by sometimes listing it separately in addition to other sexual immorality and by calling it “practicing” which is different than “being.”

her·e·sy (noun)
belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine; opinion profoundly at odds with what is generally accepted.


Peterson's parishioners simply weren't connecting with the real meaning of the words and the relevance of the New Testament for their own lives. So he began to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original ancient Greek—writing straight out of the Greek text without looking at other English translations.  The goal of The Message is to engage people in the reading process and help them understand what they read. This is not a study Bible, but rather "a reading Bible."

When I hear someone offer to explain to me what the Bible “really” says, a red flag goes up immediately.  Also, the issue of “relevancy” has been used by the seeker-friendly churches to water down the Gospel in order to make sinners more comfortable.  (They say the church is a “hospital for sinners,” but if that’s the case then what kind of hospital offers no treatment?  Sinners in, sinners out?)  Am I to understand that the accountability for accuracy and faithfulness to God’s word is relaxed if the Bible is only intended for “reading” and not “studying”?  That is a new concept for me!

From (series on apostacy in the church):

First, the pre-Reformation position was built on Biblical illiteracy. Before the Protestant Reformation, the Bible was un-translated. The Bible was literally chained to the pulpit. People couldn’t read the actual Word of God in their own language. The modern movements among Evangelicals today are also built on Biblical illiteracy. And it happens in two ways.  The first way is through the deception of the Bible paraphrase. The modern church makeover movements encourage Biblical illiteracy by using and promoting so-called Bible versions that are not faithful translations of the Word of God, but man-centered paraphrases. One that has become quite popular through the modern church makeover movements is called The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Tens of millions of copies of The Message have been sold. But it’s actually not a Bible at all. It’s a paraphrase. And the author of this Bible paraphrase is Eugene Peterson, a man who for thirty years was a pastor in the liberal Presbyterian Church, USA. He founded and pastored a church just a few miles from here, in Bel Air, Maryland. That’s the first way that the modern church makeover movements are encouraging Biblical illiteracy, a return to the pre-Reformation position. They give people something to read that says “Bible” on the cover, but it’s not the authentic Bible inside.  (My note: The Presbyterian Church was the first to ordain a gay pastor in October, 2011.  In March, 2015, they affirmed same-sex “marriage.”  Also, Eugene Peterson endorsed the book “The Shack,” which denies that Jesus is the only Way, among other lies–ironically, comparing it to Pilgrim’s Progress.)

Romans 1

26  For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28  And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:26-28 (ESV)

26-28 Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches. Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose.  Romans 1:26-28 (MSG)

My comments:
They didn’t know how to be human?  No mention of it being against nature to have relations with the same gender–God was displeased with them “because they were abusive and there was too much lust and not enough love.”  In the next verse, The Message leaves out that it was due to the aberrant behavior that God “let them run loose.”  No mention of their debased minds and that it was related to the homosexuality just described in the previous two verses.  I think we’ve all heard these arguments used about what the Bible “really” says (that it’s not about homosexuality, but about a loving, committed, “non-abusive” relationship) and here is apparently where they got it from!  In fact, the “Queen James” version of the Bible has not taken this many liberties with God’s word and accurate interpretation.

The Bible says repeatedly that the sexually immoral will not enter the kingdom of God and that includes homosexuality (and particularly so, since it attacks God’s male and female design for humans).  ALL sexual immorality by believers violates the very temple of God, who resides in the bodies of those who are born again.  Sexual immorality involves a choice to serve self rather than God in faithfulness, purity, priority, etc.  This is a very serious problem that anyone would make a version of the Bible leaving out so much truth and glossing over the real problem.  People who are fornicating are also deceived by society’s acceptance of it, and that it makes it harder to explain the sin of homosexuality when so many members of the church are doing the same thing except in the normal order of nature (male/female).  The Bible has a VERY stern warning about this subject, which is CLEARLY directed to believers, not unbelievers.

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. 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8

We aren’t able to police the world on these issues, but Paul said to throw professing “Christians” who were sexually immoral out of the congregation and not to even eat with them (presumably who would not repent when shown the errors of their ways.)  (1 Corinthians 5) Paul scolded them for being proud of their acceptance of unrepentant sin by a member of their congregation–so much for gay “pride” parades, but then anyone who actually reads the Bible knows that God detests pride in any form, let alone for sin.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

9  I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10  not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13  God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (ESV)

9-13 I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.

My comments:
Interestingly, this goes directly against the apostate church’s favorite out-of-context quote of “Judge not.”  But of course, we know that they left off “go and sin no more” from “neither do I condemn you,” and “for doing the same sins as you do” from “judge not,” and “take the log out of your own eye BEFORE trying to remove your brother’s splinter,” and “judge with right judgment” (not by appearances).  The Message weakens the term judgment to have “some responsibility” and “clean house.” (?) (Matthew 7:1-5, John 5:14, 8:11, Romans 2:1) By the way, the apostate church also likes to leave off parts of verses that limit to whom promises of reward are made as well.  They want those to apply to everyone, not just to whom they were actually made.  (For example, “those who love Him.”)

The Message has changed the idea of there being moral right and wrong in sexual relations to just “promiscuity,” which again, is advancing the lie that God is pleased with any “loving, committed” relationship–marriage not required, heterosexuality not required–just consensuality is required.  However, God wanted marriage between a man and woman, as He demonstrated in Genesis and reiterated in Matthew via Jesus’ words.   (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:8)

Jesus also reaffirmed that God wants everlasting faithfulness in that relationship that He ordained.  This is to demonstrate how we are to be faithful to Him in the same way that we are to be faithful to our spouse and God is faithful to us.  If we can just go from one “loving, committed” relationship to another, it destroys the entire lesson God is teaching us through relationships.  He also teaches us through parent/child relationships, but much of the benefit of those lessons have been destroyed as well in a large portion of modern society.  (Titus 1:6, Ephesians 6:1, 2 Timothy 3:1-5)

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

9  Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality*, 10  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

*There are two Greek terms, one meaning effeminate (submitting to being used by another male) and the other indicating males who pursue sex with other males.  It’s not something you “are,” but rather “do”–this is why it is referred to as “practicing” in the Bible (as with other sins.)  These are specifically listed in addition to the general topic of sexually immoral, and for anyone who claims ignorance and says that lets lesbians off the hook, we have Romans 1:26 to clarify that God’s designs and purposes apply to BOTH men and women (even though it should be very obvious to all but the most stubborn and rebellious).

9-11 Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit. (MSG)

My comments:
So here again according to The Message, the problem is not homosexuality, but “abuse,” including of the earth, which was not in the original AT ALL.  However, people disrespecting the earth WAS portrayed by the atheist producer of the Noah movie as one of the reasons for the flood...  So according to Eugene Peterson (NOT God), homosexuals are “cleaned up” if they stop abusing people, because homosexuality is not a sin–God “made them that way” in which He has said from the beginning that He detests.  Wouldn’t that be placing a stumbling block before them and tempting them, as well as changing, which He does not do?  (James 1:13-17, Luke 17:1) The Message would have done better to explain to readers that to “care about God” so that we can enter the kingdom includes caring enough to find out what pleases Him according to HIM, not the world, but that would involve using a reliable translation, not The Message.  (Eph. 5:5-12, 15-17)

I have some SHOCKING news for anyone who is practicing sexual immorality and thinks they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit/born again.  The scriptures say that it is not true.  (1 John 3:9)  Jesus said that the Spirit goes where He will just as the wind does, which cannot be observed–but that we must be born again by the Spirit to see the kingdom of God.  (John 3:3-8)  He also said the kingdom of God does not come with observable signs (because where the Spirit of God dwells, there is the kingdom of God.)  (Luke 17:20-21)  Finally, He said that those who are sexually immoral will be thrown in the lake of fire.  (Revelation 21:8) Is God going to throw part of His own Spirit in the Lake of Fire?  No, He’s not.  Now to be fair (even though our topic for this article is sexual immorality), this does apply for everyone then who is on that list, no matter which sin they are PRACTICING without repentance, without receiving FORGIVENESS.  But let’s be honest with ourselves–it is NOT possible to repent and receive forgiveness for ANY sin that we are deliberately LIVING IN and have NO intention of truly repenting of.  God knows.  Let’s not play games with Him.  Don’t let Satan win–God wants everyone to be saved, but He gave us free will.  (1 Tim. 2:4)

Jesus said it was harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.  However, He told His disciples that “with God all things are possible,” when they said it sounded like NO ONE could be saved.  (Mark 10:17-27)  So there is hope, but NOT that we can BRING our sin with us, but that if we truly desire to be delivered, then He is merciful and can free us from our love of sin the same way that the rich man needs to be freed from his love of money.  (2 Tim. 2:24-26)  But we need to sincerely seek God and His honor.  (Jer. 29:13, Psalm 50:16-23)  We can’t love both God and money, nor can we love both the world and God (Matt. 6:24, 1 John 2:15)–God demands to be loved with our WHOLE heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30, James 4:8).  Claiming that we were born to sin in a certain way is not the way to receive God’s mercy–that’s blaming Him for our sin.  (James 1:13-15)  If repentance and holiness don’t matter, then why are we told:

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  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;  that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 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. Hebrews 12:14-17 (ESV)

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Hebrews 13:4

But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. Ephesians 5:3

1 Corinthians 6:13

13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:13 (ESV)

13 You know the old saying, “First you eat to live, and then you live to eat”? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body! (MSG)

My comments:
Here, The Message has entirely lost the profound POINT of our bodies, the male and female union, marriage, etc. being physical foreshadows of spiritual truths for born-again believers.  The body is the temple of the Lord because He indwells believers.  It is not just that He gave us “a” body and we should be thankful for it.  Believers in the Old Testament were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit as we are.  This is our unimaginably great privilege in the Church Age to have God’s Spirit come INTO us and KNOW us (the spiritual truth comparable to the physical foreshadow of union in marriage.)  Our bodies literally belong to Him, purchased with His blood.  (1 Corinthians 15:20)  He has redeemed us, and we are to honor Him in ALL we do.  (Colossians 3:23-25)

Jesus said in Matthew 7 that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of God.  This at first appears to be in sharp contrast to “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” in Romans 10:13, (quoting Acts 2:21, and both quote Joel 2:32), but the next verses, 14 and on, talk about believing, and previously in verses 8-11, we see that we are to believe in our hearts and confess Jesus as LORD with our mouths.  (This does not mean we “claim” to believe, but that we mean it; or that He is “a” Lord, but that He is OUR Lord as well.)  We each have to be born again (John 3), which means that His Spirit lives within us and He KNOWS us.  He says He does NOT know the people He turns away in Matthew 7, so we know they are not born again.  They claim to believe (which has to be in spirit and truth–not only with empty words), but they are lying, and Jesus cannot be fooled.

He told us in John 14:15-26 that those who love Him will be loved by the Father and that He will love that person and manifest/reveal Himself to them in the form of the Helper/Holy Spirit.  He and the Father will come and make their home with them (changed to “move right into the neighborhood” in The Message–not the same thing at all!)  “No one comes to the Father except through the Son” (John 14:6) goes along with the Father drawing people to the Son (John 6:44).  These are the people who are KNOWN by Jesus, the “last Adam,” spiritually, as Adam physically “knew” Eve.  These are the people for whom He has gone to prepare a place (John 14:2-3), for whom no eye has seen what has been prepared–the ones who LOVE Jesus (1 Corinthians 2) and SHOW it by obeying His commands (John 14:21).  “Be doers not only hearers” (James 1:22); “faith without works is dead.”  (James 2:14-26) “Works” is not only “good deeds,” but living in a way that pleases our Savior–if He is not our Savior, then we can in NO WAY please Him.  These works are BECAUSE we are saved, not in order to be saved–not out of fear of losing our salvation, but out of love and gratitude.

His Spirit making Himself at home with (in) us, (just as Rev. 3:19-20 says those  He loves, He will rebuke and chasten–whoever answers the door when He knocks, He will come in and dine with them) IS being born again–regenerated in our spirit (Titus 3), a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), part of His body (as Eve was part of Adam’s body and the two became one in marriage).  (Romans 6, 7, 8, 12, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 11, Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 5:22-33) This is why it is so crucial for believers to understand and accept God’s design for marriage.  He is using earthly, physical marriage to teach us about His spiritual, heavenly relationship with us.  We entirely miss the point if we modify it in any way.  He knows what He is doing!

1 Corinthians 6:15-20

15  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16  Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17  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. 19  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 6:15-20 (ESV)

16-20 There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. (MSG)

My comments:
According to The Message, so much for our bodies being members of Christ’s body, and if we are already saved, then we are already one with Him–they say that is what we WANT to be.  But this is NOT about our being lonely from not having commitment and intimacy in our sexual relations with others.  We were only meant to “become one” with ONE other person (until death parts the couple).  It’s about refraining from having sex outside of marriage or against God’s design for physical unions between a male and female–which was not conveyed at all by The Message.  It’s about honoring the temple of the Lord, where He dwells if we are born again believers (and all true believers are born again and indwelt).

Paul compares the idea of the Holy Spirit coming to live inside someone who is sexually immoral to joining Christ to a prostitute!  That is not a pretty picture.  Isn’t it enough that He carried the crushing weight of our filthy sin though He was perfect, without blemish or spot?  (2 Cor. 5:21)  Do we also want to invite Him in His holiness to dwell in us and then proceed to do unspeakable things that He hates?  (Eph. 5:12, 2 Peter 2:14, 17-19)  It’s a sickening thought for everyone who actually loves God more than themselves.

Please also realize that it’s important not to profane the holy spiritual union in our mind by combining it with the carnal earthly foreshadow as mystic Ann Voskamp did in her book One Thousand Gifts when she used the phrase “spiritual skin on skin” with God, and in close context with a bed.  She also claimed that “naturally” you can feel the presence of God more at Notre Dame than elsewhere.  ??  Her writings also embrace a “God is in everything” theology, which is false, just as the concept that God “is” everything.  God is above and in control of everything He made–His creation is not Him.  Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden for disobedience, not ungratefulness.

Ephesians 5:3-16

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. Ephesians 5:3-16 (ESV)

3-4 Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.  5 You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.  6-7 Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that.  8-10 You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.  11-16 Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.  “Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light!” So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

My comments:
The Message utterly destroys what God said.  What an ironic title for the book.  So for them, it’s not about immorality, but only about promiscuity and lust.  If you sin in love, with just one person at a time, then that is okay by them because they do not acknowledge God’s design for males and females, nor for marriage (not only male/female, but also the permanence that was intended.)  They are utterly unaware that we are supposed to be learning physically on earth to practice what will be spiritual realities in heaven.  They think that the problem isn’t sin at all, but only about “using” people and God.  The deceiving “empty words” that we are warned about are coming FROM The Message by their omission of so much clear truth!  “Make the most of chances” to do what?  The POINT is to live in a holy, reverent knowledge that Jesus could return at any time (see numerous parables) and we want to be found serving faithfully, obeying Him when that time comes.  (2 Peter 3:11-18)  Not earning salvation, but because we ARE saved and therefore, we care what He thinks and wants, and we want to reflect well on Him to further His message (not man’s “Message.”)

Ephesians 5:22-33

22  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30  because we are members of his body. 31  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33 (ESV)

22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.  25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.  29-33 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband. (MSG; Note: They called the section “Relationships.”)

My comments:
They left out how Christ cleanses the church and added in silk instead of the usual linen (although neither word is even in this passage), making the whole thing sound more like it’s about earthly stuff and experiences?  His love does more than “make the church whole” and provide leadership.  It is HIS church–He builds it.  Without Him, there IS NO CHURCH.  He is the cornerstone and capstone.  It’s ALL about Him.  Paul NEVER said he didn’t understand the mystery, just that it is a mystery (and presumably, it would be too hard to explain to people who haven’t had it revealed directly by Jesus Himself as Paul did.)  Our faithfulness to our spouse in marriage is meant to reflect God’s faithfulness to us in His promises, and likewise, our worshiping Him alone.

General Discussion

The “modern” language used in many passages is such trendy slang that people not long from now will have to look up what it used to mean when written (e.g. “people who are flip with God”), more so than we do with the versions that the author was “improving on.”  Further, it is NOT okay to take out some words, removing information conveyed by them, and add other words that were not there, putting a new slant  into the text.  The whole thing is beyond arrogant, in my opinion.  Not only has the author rejected the work of every translator who went before him, it’s as though he doesn’t acknowledge that the original words were inspired by God.  Apparently, he thinks that he can just go and do whatever he wants and it will be fine, with his own “artistic license” similar to what they put in the “biblical” movies (which I hate when they do that, and don’t get me started on copyrighting and profit-taking on God’s word.)  (Titus 1:11)

God doesn’t change, ever.  He doesn’t condemn something in the Old Testament and now approve of it in the New Testament.*  (Leviticus 20:10-23)  Our Father does NOT punish His precious, beloved Son, Jesus, for our sin but then turn around and say He now doesn’t mind sin at all–too bad He hadn’t thought of that before Jesus suffered and died?!!  He paid for our sin and we now belong to Him, purchased for a very high price.  He is God and we are not–He doesn’t take an opinion poll.  His commands were directed to believers, not unbelievers (who are children of the devil - 1 John 3:4-10), to be obeyed by those who love Him because He saved them.  Anyone who is truly born again has His Spirit living within them to enable them to overcome temptation to sin.  (Romans 8:7-12, Philippians 2:12-13)  We can start by reading [a normal version of] the Bible so that we KNOW who we are worshiping and what He is like, what He expects of us.  Then we won’t be deceived by the false teachers about whom we were repeatedly warned.  (Matthew 7:15-23, Matthew 24:11, 24:24, Luke 6:26, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, 2 Peter 2, Jude 1:3-4)

*There are many practices and observations in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the New Testament and therefore no longer necessary.  People who say that God no longer considers homosexuality and other sexual immorality an abomination often point to obscure verses about mixing types of textiles and restrictions on eating and say that we are hypocrites to “point the finger” at them yet not obey those former commands.  The purpose for those prohibitions has been fulfilled and does not apply to the Church.  (Colossians 2:16-17)  They had to do with being set apart as God’s people–Israel was not to mix with other cultures, but in the Church there is no longer Jew or Gentile, but the two have been made into one new man.  We are still to be set apart by our behavior by refraining from sins that were reaffirmed to be abhorrent to God in the New Testament (thus applicable to the Church).  Sexual immorality is named repeatedly and the reasons for that have been given above (our bodies are made holy by being temples of the Lord, not to be defiled).  This is not in ANY way to say that so long as we are monogamous and heterosexual, that we will go to heaven.  The point is that is God’s design is as He wished it to be–He is sovereign.  No one is saved apart from repentance and faith in Jesus, and those who are saved are to keep the temples of their bodies pure.  He will wash us clean if we slip into the mud, but not while we’re still in the mud, with every intention of STAYING in the mud–how would that work?  Common sense says it wouldn’t.  We need to get out of the puddle and ask for forgiveness and help to overcome temptation. (1 John 1:6-10, 1 Corinthians 10:13) If we LIKE the mud, then this passage applies to us and it is not pretty: 2 Peter 2:17-22.

All foods were specifically pronounced clean by both Jesus (while reiterating that it is what the evil heart within desires that causes sin to work its way out) and Paul. (Mark 7:18-23, 1 Corinthians 14:20, 1 Timothy 4:3)  Jesus also reaffirmed marriage between one man and one woman–regardless of what the question was. (Matthew 19:5) He often gave an answer that was more complete than just what the asker of the question wanted to know, or the answer to what they should have asked instead.  As for the Sabbath, (which was Saturday, the seventh day–we worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day–the day He rose from the dead–the first day of the week), Jesus Himself is our Sabbath rest. (Hebrews 4:9-10, Matthew 12:8) We no longer work to earn salvation by keeping the Sabbath and other regulations.  (Romans 14:5-6, Galatians 4:9-11)

We honor God by keeping His commands out of love for what Jesus did for us in saving us.  I can’t say it enough times–if we are not saved by faith, then there is no pleasing God–not by obeying, working or doing anything else.  (Hebrews 11:6, Ephesians 2:8-10 - be sure not to miss verse 10 there.)  It all BEGINS with salvation and continues on from there.  Once we belong to Him, as His adopted child, then we should behave like it and He will help us to do that.  The promises of a glorious inheritance were made to THOSE WHO LOVE HIM. (1 Corinthians 2:9, James 1:12, 2:5)  He defined love as those who obey.  (John 14:15-24) I’m telling you the truth now while there is still time (Ephesians 4:14-16) so that if you have believed lies, you are not appalled and disappointed later that God is not pleased with how you chose to please yourself with your life rather than Him.  (2 Corinthians 5:9-10)  All we have to do is get the greatest command right (which we do by HUMBLING ourselves, admitting we are sinners in need of a Savior so that He will gift us with repentance, faith and love for Him) and then God Himself will enable us to keep the second greatest command, which then fulfills the rest when lived out. (Matthew 22:37-38, Romans 13:9-10, Galatians 5:14 - but “love” doesn’t mean telling people the lies they like hearing, approving of what God says He hates, inventing our own version of God that is soft and fluffy, etc.)

People who claim to know what God wants us to do, but encourage people to remain in their sins are NOT speaking on behalf of God.  He said people will turn from their sin when the message is from Him.   (Jeremiah 23:22-23)  Paul said that the doctrine in the Bible conforms with godliness.  (1 Timothy 6:3)  Jesus said that whoever teaches others to disobey His commands will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:19)  The difference after Jesus paid for sin on the cross is that we are no longer enslaved to the desire to sin if we accept Him as our Savior.  He rescues us not only from the punishment for our sins, but also sets us free from our old sinful self by indwelling us with His Spirit.  We are given a greater desire to please Him than to do what we used to enjoy (sinning). (John 8:34-36, Romans 6, Galatians 5:13, 2 Peter 2:19, Philippians 2:13, Titus 3:3-7)

God will make His home with those of us who truly love Him, indwelling us and becoming one with us in Spirit.  (Try to really understand this, again: John 4:15-24  You MUST be born again.  If you are not, then you are NOT a child of God.)  Cleanse your temple–this is more important than many believers seem to realize! (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19) I believe it is appropriate to compare this to the wise virgins who trimmed the wicks of their lamps (and filling them with oil would correspond to remaining filled with the spirit by hearing and reading the Word of God–His Word is a light for our path–thus the lamp analogy.  (Matthew 25:1-13) The parable ends with a warning to be ready!  If we don’t care about this, we should be asking ourselves why not?  Not everyone who calls Jesus “Lord” is born again (which requires true faith from the heart, put into action in order to test whether it is genuine - 1 Peter 1:7-9, 2 Corinthians 13:5), but we MUST be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 7:21-27, Luke 13:23-28, John 3:3-8) Don’t deceive or be deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13 - The scenario described is being played out before our very eyes in this country today.)

Let’s remember that Paul told us not to judge others for the same sins we do ourselves, but to address our own issues first. (Romans 2:1) That is the same message Jesus gave when He scattered the accusing crowd and then told the adulterous woman to go and sin no more, as well as when He said to remove the log in your own eye BEFORE trying to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye. (John 8:11, Matthew 7:5) He never said not to remove it, but just not to be so focused on other people’s issues that we never address our own.  God does hate hypocrisy, but that doesn’t mean that we’re all to encourage one another in our favorite sins.  It means holding ourselves up to HIS standards, not legalistically (trying to be impossibly strict - Galatians 5:1) or with “cheap grace” (looking for ways to get out of obeying - Galatians 5:13, Romans 6:1-2), but in order to truly please Him out of love and respect–that is the motivation.  We are warned not to get caught up in the sins of others while trying to restore them to fellowship.  (Galatians 6:1) He loves EVERYONE and will forgive ALL sins for FREE, but when our lives have been ransomed by our Redeemer, then we belong to Him from that time forward.  (1 Corinthians 4)

God cannot be mocked. (Galatians 6:7-8, 2 Timothy 2:19) He knows our very heart and where our priorities lie.  (1 Chronicles 28:9) He has done all that is needed for our salvation. (John 19:30, Colossians 2:14-15) When we put Him first as He is meant to be and is the only One who deserves to be, we can overcome the world and all of its fallen, sinful lures as well as the snares of our old self, by the power of His Spirit within us–whether God chooses to deliver us instantaneously, or to help us achieve the victory one day at a time.  He knows who truly loves Him above all and desires to be delivered in order to please and serve Him, and who just wants an easy way out or an excuse as to why they “can’t” change.  There are no secrets from Him.  (Mark 4:22, Luke 8:17, 12:2-3, Psalm 94:9) He knows how each person came to be where they are in life (Job 31:4), and He is able to rescue those who put their entire trust in Him and believe He is able to do it.  (2 Peter 2:9-10)

When the Bible refers to our “former” sins and how we “were” washed clean, it does not mean that we are free to go back to wilfully wallowing in the mud (1 Corinthians 6:11, 2 Peter 1:9-11, 2 Peter 2:17-22) without any care of pleasing our Savior and honoring His great sacrifice on our behalf whatsoever.  (Galatians 2:20, Philippians 1:27-28, 3:17-18, 2 Timothy 2:4)  We are repeatedly warned that if we have no problem deliberately living in sin after claiming to come to salvation, that we are deceiving ourselves about being saved.  (1 John 1:5-10, 2:3-5, 3:3-10, Romans 6:1-7, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 2 Corinthians 13:1-5, Galatians 6:7-8, Ephesians 4:17-24, 2 Timothy 2:19, 1 Peter 1:14-19, 1 Peter 1:5-11, Revelation 22:10-15) He is able to save us from every temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13) He hasn’t tempted anyone ever, in any way, and most certainly He has not made anyone to behave in a way that He despises.  (James 1:13-14)

When we are born again, God Himself gives us the desire to please Him and the help we need to understand His will and obey.  (Philippians 2:12-13) He is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:9).  That doesn’t mean that we plan ahead to sin, then ask forgiveness, or that we remain continually in the sin (not just stumble into it) for which we asked forgiveness.  Repentance by its very definition involves turning from the sin, or it is not repentance at all.  If we don’t think God knows the difference, then what hope is there for us?  What else “doesn’t He know”?!  Think about it and get serious as to whether you really believe or not.  Confessing and receiving forgiveness also doesn’t mean we should flaunt sin in a parade.  God hates pride to begin with (Proverbs 8:13)–how much more so when we are proud of sin?  (Romans 1:32, 1 Corinthians 5:2) He certainly never told us to be proud of supporting unrepentant sinners in our congregations–on the contrary.  (1 Corinthians 5)  Shall we have a parade to celebrate adulterers, liars and thieves, too?  Don’t we tell such people that if they are believers, they are freely forgiven when they repent and refrain from repeating those sins?

This is not too hard to understand if we actually WANT to discover the truth, but The Message is deceiving people.  Sadly, but most assuredly, I believe that the author will be held accountable.  For myself, I am sounding the alarm.  (Ezekiel 33:1-20) Homosexuality is sin and God still hates it the same as He always did.  He detests ALL sexual immorality, never “changing with the times.”  I have tried to explain as best as I could why, although we don’t really need to know why in order to obey.  I think it helps people understand why purity is important when they realize that these truths are timeless and still in effect regardless of what century or what the culture is currently like.  (Remember, God will forgive any sin, but He can’t be lied to–repentance/turning from the sin is necessary.)  God is sovereign, and He is good.  Praise Him for who He is, what He is like, everything He has done and continually does, and for what He is going to do!  If we truly seek Him and not just what He can give us or do for us, and desire to please Him and not only ourselves, He will empower us to desire His ways rather than our sinful ways and help us overcome this fallen world so that we can walk in a manner worthy of Him.  (Romans 6)

I want to end, once again, with this:  God LOVES you!  He does NOT love sin, though--not before or after salvation (but whoever is not saved is condemned for rejecting Jesus, so trying not to sin in other ways will not change that).  God never will approve of sin, but He has made a way to free us from both our past sins AND the desire to continue sinning.  We must be born again and we WILL be changed.  If not instantly, then day by day there will be victories and improvement, so long as we abide in Him (Jesus).  Isn't it better to know this now than after it's too late?  I want to see everyone I've ever had any sort of contact with praising God in His courts.  Hallelujah!

Article available for download in pdf format on side bar.

Layout credits:  paper: Artist Faerie, masque: Greyhouse Manor Winter Ball, teacup & flowers: Under the Dappled Shadows by Lorie Davison, book cover (edited) by Holliewood Studios, ray texture by me

Monday, September 26, 2016

Careless Words

"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Matthew 12:36-37

template: KimB Nov 2013 CC freebie, kit: KimB Jan 2013 CC

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Unless the Lord Commanded

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Lamentations 3:37

kit, template: Gottapixel Master Scrap Nov. 2014 by Connie Prince, Meagan's Creations, Southern Serenity Designs

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Practice Righteousness

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as Jesus is righteous.  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. 1 John 3:7-8

So if the children of the devil please their "father" by doing evil, how much more should the children of God please their Father by doing good?  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and we're on His side, right?  We KNOW that we cannot earn or deserve that great gift we have been given of eternal life and adoption as God's sons.  Shouldn't we be so grateful for what we've received that we would do ANYTHING to please God?  The passage above continues on below:

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for His seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 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 3:9-10

Yikes?!  Did I read that right?  If I deliberately and regularly *practice* the same kind of behavior as a child of the devil, who is NOT saved and therefore NOT indwelt by the Holy Spirit and NOT born of God, then that is apparently what I am?  This is something to really seriously consider and get right now while there is still time to change, with God's help.  He is the ONLY One who saves.

kit: Let's Face It by Kristmess Designs; template by M & M Designs

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Rich Man

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:16-21

kit: No Crow Zone by Kristmess Designs

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Harvest of Righteousness

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18

kit: No Crow Zone by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Be Patient

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:7-8

kit: Home Grown by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Abides in You

As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 1 John 2:24

kit: Autumn Tones by Kristmess Designs

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bear Witness

And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.  Acts 10:42-43

kit: Autumn Tones by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Adornment of the Heart

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

kit: May Daze by Kristmess Designs, template (modified): Spring Fling Vol. 4 by Ponytails Designs

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I See the Lord

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of Him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. Isaiah 6:1-4

But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation. Jeremiah 10:10

I See the Lord by Christopher John Falson

I see the Lord seated on the throne exalted
And the train of His robe fills the temple with glory
And the whole earth is filled, And the whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled with His glory

Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord
Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord of lords

paper by Holliewood Studios, flower clusters by Dee Bee Designs, blended page textures by me

Friday, September 16, 2016

Growing Abundantly

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.  2 Thessalonians 1:3

kit: Jubilant by Helly Designs, page textures by me

Thursday, September 15, 2016

From There I Will Bring You Down

The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of Sela
and make your home on the heights,
you who say to yourself,
‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’
Though you soar like the eagle
and make your nest among the stars,
from there I will bring you down,”
declares the Lord.
Obadiah 1:3-4

Sela was the capital of Edom, a high, rocky place.
Also see Jeremiah 49:15-16.

photo (blended) from web, kits: Summer Journal; Flea Market Borders (color adjusted), Flourishes D'Art, Jessie's Song by Etc. by Danyale

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nest as High as the Eagle's

For behold, I will make you small among the nations,
despised among mankind.
The horror you inspire has deceived you,
and the pride of your heart,
you who live in the clefts of Sela,
who hold the height of the hill.
Though you make your nest as high as the eagle's,
I will bring you down from there,
declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 49:15-16

Sela was the capital of Edom, a high, rocky place.
Also see Obadiah 1:3-4.

photo from web; kit: Write to Me by Eudora Designs

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Grant Peace

I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land.  Leviticus 26:6

kit:  Deep in the Forest by Starlight Designs

Monday, September 12, 2016

With You Heart and Soul

Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” 1 Samuel 14:6-7

kit: Take Me to Wonderland by Starlight Designs

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Queen of Heaven

The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the 'queen of heaven.' They pour out drink offerings to other 'gods' to arouse my anger. Jeremiah 7:18

kit: Smokin' by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Do Not Be Silent

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking; do not be silent. For I am with you and no one will lay a hand on you, because I have many people in this city.” Acts 18:9-10

Kit: Night Butterflies by Starlight Designs

Friday, September 9, 2016

Walk to Please God

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.  1 Thessalonians 4:1

kit: Awakening by Dita B Designs

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Set Apart the Faithful

Know that the Lord has set apart
the faithful for Himself;
the Lord will hear when I call to Him.
Psalm 4:3

kit: Red Flowers by Dita B Designs

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Make No Provision

Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:13-14

kit: Red Flowers bY Dita B Designs

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

To Please God

For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.  1 Thessalonians 2:3-4

kit: Awakening by Dita B Designs

Monday, September 5, 2016

Rejoice or Groan

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
Proverbs 29:2

paper, characters, elements by Marta van Eck

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Suffer for His Sake

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. Philippians 1:29-30

I apologize in advance if this article offends anyone.  My motivation and priority is to declare the full counsel of God, so I can't tiptoe around the Bible in such a way that no one's feelings are hurt– rendering the remaining, partial truth ineffective for God's intended purpose.  He gifted us with His word of truth to show all people what stands between Him and us (sin), along with ONE remedy for the problem (Jesus).  I have taken my comments on how I believe God would respond to this issue from the Bible.  God does not need to send apparitions, visions or dreams; and we do not need to "empty our mind" or go through any rituals to hear from Him.  The Bible is sufficient in itself.  He speaks through it crystal clear for those who are willing to listen.  As I normally do, I will include many pertinent Bible verses for the reader's convenient reference.

Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27  for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28  Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29  I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30  and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Acts 20:26-30 

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24  and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25  whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:23-25

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17  For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Matthew 13:16-17

Due to the canonization of Mother Theresa today (9-4-16), I feel the need to discuss that the "suffering" called for in the Bible is not what we bring on ourselves as a way to try to earn our way to heaven.  In the passage at the top of this article, Paul's sufferings that the Philippians were sharing in was not self-deprivation.  Their suffering was due to persecution for the sake of the Gospel.  The suffering was brought on by others who were unjust due to their antagonism against God.  The previous two verses of the above passage say:  "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God." Philippians 1:27-28 So they were to live a life that glorified God, preaching the gospel and obeying God, not men, despite opposition from people who were trying to frighten them--people whom Paul said were destined for destruction. 

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20  For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. 22  He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23  When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:19-23

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28  saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29  But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:27-29

In the Old Testament, the prophets often went through extreme periods of physical suffering.  However, these times were specifically brought on them by God for a purpose, regarding Israel and the nations surrounding her.  They might fast prior to receiving a great revelation.  Sometimes they were instructed to suffer in a specific way, often for a specific amount of time, which would demonstrate to Israel the sins they were committing, or the physical suffering that would be coming due to the disobedience and idolatry.  (See Ezekiel 4, Jeremiah 16, as well as the Book of Job.) 

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.  At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3  I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. Daniel 10:1-3

In the year that the commander in chief, who was sent by Sargon the king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and captured it—at that time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the LORD said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the nakedness of Egypt. Isaiah 20:1-4 

When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD.” Hosea 1:2 

Jesus Himself fasted during His temptation in the wilderness for a specified time period:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. Matthew 4:1-2

There is a place for self-denial when it comes to ceasing to indulge ourselves with sinful behaviors and even fasting for short periods in order to devote ourselves wholly to prayer to God (and to NO ONE else, EVER), but it is not sinful indulging of the flesh to have our basic needs met, as provided by God through His various ways and means.  We are free from trying to work to appease God–Jesus finished all that was necessary.  (He didn’t just make a start and we have to do the rest–God doesn’t say “finished” unless He means it.)  We can to serve Him better by utilizing what He gives us for our needs and work.  This is not to say that there is no such thing as an acceptable offering to the Lord of suffering, such as fasting–but no one should be required to give or do more (including self-sacrifice) than is in their hearts.  God is pleased with voluntary offerings, and resources that have been given for God’s work should be used for God’s work! 

When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. John 19:30 

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9  As it is written, “He has distributed freely, He has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10  He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11  You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12  For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 2 Corinthians 9:7-12

On the other hand, Mother Theresa suffered by doing her own will (as well as forcing those under her authority to do so as well). Despite receiving millions of dollars in donations, she deposited most of those funds in an account rather than spending them to meet the needs of herself and her staff, as well as those of the poor.  She wanted her organization kept poor as a "good work" to try to earn salvation, not because it pleased God.  God is NEVER pleased if we think that Jesus has not done enough to ransom us from hell.  We could NEVER add to it.  We live to please Him AFTER we are saved NOT in order TO BE saved, and that includes using common sense.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14  having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:13-15

When Mother Theresa and her nuns tell God they served Him by using a bucket of water to hand-wash their habits, I believe that He will say something like this: "Why didn't you buy a washer and dryer with the funds with which you received from compassionate believers?  But if you didn't want to be more efficient so you would have more time and energy to serve the poor, then at least why didn't you use that money to relieve the suffering of more of the poor and to a greater degree?  Why did you take donations that were sent to you to care for the poor and to feed and clothe yourselves and deposit them in an account, unused?  MY PEOPLE do not need to beg for bread.  I provide for their needs.  When you failed to use funds provided to relieve the suffering of the poor, you withheld the honor and glory that it would have brought Me.  The only glory I receive from extreme poverty is when people put their in trust in Me to provide.  When you pretended to be in need even though you had been provided for, it was as though my promises were not true.”

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or His children begging for bread. Psalm 37:25

Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack! 10  The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 11  Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12  What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 13  Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14  Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15  The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears toward their cry. 16  The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17  When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. Psalm 34:9-17

He might add:  “The reason the poor are so poor is that they do not KNOW Me.  The most important thing any missionary can do is to introduce them to Me.  What good is it to ONLY save their physical bodies so that they can go to hell when they die?  Their suffering provides you with a way into their hearts by providing for their physical needs while attending to their souls by sharing the LIGHT of the Gospel.  The body is temporary and perishes, but the soul is precious and eternal.  Mark these words--anyone who suffers even unto death, not knowing my Son, or rejecting Him, will NOT earn their way into heaven.  That kind of suffering does NOT glorify Me in the least."

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or His ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2  but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. Isaiah 59:1-2 

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 3:13-17 

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15

He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24  I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins.” John 8:23-24

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. 15  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16  to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:35-36

Perhaps God might continue along these lines: "When anyone says they are Mine and yet refuses My assistance, it appears to the world as though I am a negligent Father who does not take care of His children–it takes the focus off of Me and puts it onto the poverty.  I will ALWAYS provide for the needs of My children (those whom I have adopted when they were born again by My Spirit when they believed on My Son for salvation).  They believe and know that I will answer when they call on Me, and they are thankful when I answer their prayers (usually through others who belong to Me, but nothing is beyond My ability to control). It's true that I dislike excessively luxurious living, but this does not include basic food, clothing and shelter.  There is a big difference between genuine needs and frivolous wants.” 

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 

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:7-8

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 27  “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:26-27

He might then say something like: “If you really understood how I detest wasteful, ostentatious shows of wealth, then you would have rather used the funds to reach far and wide with My message of love by salvation ONLY in my Son Jesus, evidenced by caring WELL for the needs of as MANY as possible.  Instead, the needs of many went unmet while the Roman Catholic Church kept the majority of the donations, even though they are extremely wealthy and have absolutely NO need of it.  Among other things, they use it to build shamefully extravagant buildings containing hoards of trappings (including graven images which cause people to commit idolatry) that are neither useful nor pleasing to Me.  I consider this misappropriation of MY riches (ALL of the gold and silver are MINE) as storing treasure on earth instead of in heaven.  The tabernacle and temple were copies and shadows of the Old Covenant of heavenly things, as was the priesthood and jubilee.  Jesus has fulfilled these.  There are no more sacrifices to make on any altar, but instead, the remembrance of what He has DONE.” 

So these nations feared the LORD and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day. 2 Kings 17:41

My glory I will not give to another. Isaiah 48:11b

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 12:48

The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, declares the LORD of hosts. Haggai 2:8

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

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

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a High Priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2  a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. 3  For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4  Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5  They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6  But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant He mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. Hebrews 8:1-6

Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24  For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25  Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26  for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28  so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him. Hebrews 9:23-28

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9  But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10  You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11  I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain. Galatians 4:8-11

“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

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, 24  and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” 25  In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 

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

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

And maybe He would say: “My temple is now inside of each believer in Christ--I never asked anyone to construct any building and call it My house or a “church” during this age.  The Church is the assembly of all those who are sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and I MYSELF am building it.  It is NOT a physical structure made of building materials or an institution--it is spiritual, because I am Spirit.  The early disciples met in homes and were called the Church not because of any building or "non-profit business," but because they WERE the Church when gathered, just as believers today ARE the Church, the body of Jesus Christ.  I desire to be worshiped by each believer in spirit and truth, not merely with ritual and traditions established by men. Be sure to understand this: There is no intermediary required between Myself and My people except My Son.  NONE."

“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. John 14:15-17

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 6:19-20

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 8:9 

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

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

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. 24  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

“‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; 9  in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15:8-9

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6  who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6

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. 1 John 2:1

To my thinking, God might say: "So much more wisdom and instruction has been recorded in the Bible by My inspiration of help to Catholics (and Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and others) so they can see and understand the discrepancies between their traditions and My Word, as well as conflicts between other writings they esteem and what I have said, but for now the main topic is wealth, poverty and suffering.  The kind of suffering that honors Me is caused by preaching My message of salvation ONLY through Jesus and obeying His commands. People need to hear this message or they will surely perish.  That suffering is caused by persecution, not by refusing to purchase food or other necessities when money is provided to buy it.  The kind of self-imposed affliction that I desire is sorrow for, and repentance from sins, not "working" for salvation by self-deprivation.”

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4  Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 5  This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6  since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7  and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels 8  in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-8

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. Hebrews 10:32-34 

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10  For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 

I think God might remind us: “I haven't changed.  I still see and hear everything, including your very thoughts.  I am still able to provide all that is ever needed, including forgiveness and salvation.  The ONLY way to Me, to be saved, is through My Son, Jesus.  He is the Head of the Church.  He does not need a human representative to guard the entrance of the door to the kingdom of heaven.  He IS the Door and all judgment has been given to Him."

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10  so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11  May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16  For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. 17  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18  And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. 19  For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20  and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. 21  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 1:15-23

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose. 1 Corinthians 12:18 

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is Himself its Savior. Ephesians 5:23

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24  but He holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever. 25  Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:23-25

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14  how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15  Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:13-15 

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15  Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:13-15

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23  that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:22-24

I believe God wants us to know: “I do not delight in punishing anyone, but I am holy and My word stands.  Either put ALL of your faith in Jesus, being cleansed of your sins by His precious blood, and live, or reject Him and perish away from My presence forever.  Those are the ONLY two possible outcomes.  Anyone who tells you there are other alternatives is a liar and is working for Satan, not Me.”

The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5  For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6  who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:3-6

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might, 10  when He comes on that day to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.  2 Thessalonians 1:9-10

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:14-15

Whoever has been deceived has two options.  They can use their God-given free will to choose to continue to believe their deceiver (and thus rebel against God), or they can believe God.  When you put it like that, the choice seems obvious, doesn't it?  The reason the world is in the mess it is in today is that Eve believed Satan and Adam trusted Eve's opinion instead of both of them remembering, believing and trusting in God alone.  Deception began in the Garden of Eden and has continued nonstop since then–it’s nothing new.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3  but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4  But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:1-6

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. 10  Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 2 Thessalonians 2:7

Traditions that go back in time for what seems like forever are no more valid than modern traditions mixed with false teachings.  We don't need a mystic, celebrity Bible teacher, famous pastor or renowned scholar to explain the Bible to us (and certainly we don't need them to get rich while doing so).  Commentaries can be very helpful, but often they can be biased toward an unbiblical viewpoint.  Neither do we need any further truth or revelation than what God has already provided in the Bible, but how will we know unless we read it for ourselves?

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. 14  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:12-17 

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7  They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” 9  And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! Mark 7:6-9

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30

The labor that Jesus relieves us of is that of working for salvation and of our bondage to sin.  When we are born again, we are freed from worry about the penalty for our sins, which He paid for us; as well as from the enslavement of our old desires to serve our flesh by sinning (and it is not sinful to take care of the basic needs of our bodies, such as food, rest, clothing and shelter) instead of God, because of His indwelling Spirit helping us to overcome.  We are now slaves to righteousness and can work in His vineyard joyfully, knowing that living in a way that glorifies our Lord is reward in itself, out of gratitude for what He did when He saved us. 

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10  For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. 11  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. Romans 6:9-13

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18  and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19  I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21  But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. Romans 6:16-22

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  10  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11  If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12  So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13  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. Romans 8:1-4, 10-17

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 3:3-8

He will never leave nor forsake us, and so long as we abide in Him, we can be assured that our lives will be fruitful.  In fact, UNLESS we abide in Him, we can be assured that our lives will NOT be fruitful.  He gives rest to His own.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6  So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-2

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. 10  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10 

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11  And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.  1 John 5:10-13

We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one. 20  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21  Little children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:19-21

I will be writing another article with more about what kind of suffering honors God, so please check back for that.  I am not trying to villainize Mother Theresa or deny she ever did any good.  I am saying that we do not earn or keep salvation by our works, which includes suffering extreme poverty by our own choice.  Again, I realize that much of what I have said goes against very popular and cherished, long-held and fervently-taught beliefs, but I can't stand by and keep quiet when this is a matter of eternal life or destruction.  Hate me now if you must, but thank me later.  The Roman Catholic Church is capitalizing upon the popularity of Mother Theresa by using their unbiblical sainthood process to stir people up to devotion to their religious system.  Someone needs to counteract the lies with truth.  Some do try to do so, but many of them spew hatred along with it--calling names and deliberately being insulting--which causes more harm than good.  I love you enough to tell you the truth with calmness and reason, backing it up Scripture so that you don't need to take my word for it.  The ENTIRE theme of the Bible is redemption through Jesus–it’s ALL about Him, not the Pope, Mary, angels or people the Roman Catholic Church has taken upon themselves to declare “saints.”  I take this very seriously and am hoping and praying that I have done what I set out to do to the glory of God.  Time will tell, and God will be my judge.  I pray that He will declare me a good and faithful servant who used His spiritual gifts and physical resources to proclaim the Good News in both word and deed–that I didn’t run from conflict but stood firm in the truth as Jesus did, out of love for the lost.

Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? Galatians 4:16

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:23

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.  1 Corinthians 16:13

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13 

kits: Art for Art's Sake by Marta van Eck, Special Effects 3 by Holliewood Studios

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