Sunday, April 30, 2017

A New Song

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Psalm 96:1

paper: Not Just Another Journal Kit by Marta van Eck, elements: Perfect Harmony by Marta van Eck and Rucola Designs; MDesigns (retired)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Brings Blessing

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.  Proverbs 11:25

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.  And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.  Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

kit: Spring Break mini by Kristmess Designs and Kathryn Estry

Friday, April 28, 2017

Weep in Secret

Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the LORD has spoken.  Give glory to the LORD your God before He brings darkness, before your feet stumble on the twilight mountains, and while you look for light He turns it into gloom and makes it deep darkness.  But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD’s flock has been taken captive. Jeremiah 13:15-17

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.  They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.” Amos 8:11-12

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;  let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:6-9

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!  Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink,  who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right! Isaiah 5:20-23

Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near,  a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations. Joel 2:1-2

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.  The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.” Joel 2:30-32

Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light,  as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him.  Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?  “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.  Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.  Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:18-24

The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there.  A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness,  a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.  I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung.  Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth. Zephaniah 1:14-18

paper: Enjoy Life by Createwings (retired), kit: Back to Nature by DiHiller, images: web

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rejected My Word

Listen, all the earth!
I will bring disaster on My people.
It is the fruit of their own schemes,
because they refuse to listen to Me.
They have rejected My word.
Jeremiah 6:19

kit, stacked papers: Bloomers by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

True Reformer

We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.  2 Corinthians 6:3-10

This is the 500th anniversary of the posting of 152 theses against false practices of Roman Catholicism by Andreas Karlstadt (April 26, 1517). Yes, it was six months before Luther's 95 theses on October 31, 1517. The two were German peers and began as allies in the great reformation; however, Luther was later instrumental in quashing parts of the more comprehensive reforms desired by Karlstadt.

Andreas Rudolph Bodenstein von Karlstadt (1486–December 24, 1541), is better known as Andreas Karlstadt or Carlstadt, even though Karlstadt was the name of the town where he was born (similar to how Mary of Magdala was known as Mary Magdalene). He was archdeacon of the collegiate Church of All Saints, connected to the residential castle of the Saxon princes in Wittenberg. His position was second in the hierarchy of clerics and included teaching theology at the University of Wittenberg, which had been founded several years before he was ordained. So he had much to lose by speaking up, but the truth was more important to him. He married and embraced a simple, humble lifestyle.

In a letter dated April 28, 1517, Karlstadt informed Dr. George Spalatin that he posted his “conclusions” on the previous Sunday. In looking up the date April 28, 1517 (on the Julian calendar in effect at that time), we see it was a Tuesday, so the Sunday prior was April 26, 1517. He verifies this to be the case by also referring to that day as “the day of the Lord’s mercy,” and also indicates that the “venerable relics” were on display. The letter itself was written on the “day of Vitalis,” which indicates the commemorative feast day of the patron saint Vitalis, April 28. (See NOTE: The protestant reformers were former Roman Catholics who fought against false doctrine. They did not immediately recognize and give up every error at once. If you think about it, today we still refer to the day of Jesus’ resurrection as “Easter,” even though it is a pagan name and so are many of the corresponding traditions (but by far the majority of Christians don’t realize it.)

Luther's theses dealt primarily against the sale of indulgences ("time off in purgatory," a temporary place of punishment that is nonexistent, according to the Bible), and the power wielded over people through them by the papacy, not to mention the profit made from the sale of them. Karlstadt protested additional unbiblical practices such as infant baptism*, forbidding priests to marry, administering only the bread and not the cup to lay people during communion, wearing of priestly robes and usage of lofty titles, graven images and more. (Luther eventually confronted many of these issues as well.) Luther opposed the “hasty” removal of graven images and use of violence as a means to do so. However, Karlstadt opposed violence as well, as evidenced by a letter he wrote to those wishing to enlist his aid, saying that Christians are not called to violence. (See the Sermon on the Mount below.)

*See my article entitled Believer’s Baptism, which I will be updating in the future. I hope to eventually write a more extensive article on Karlstadt and his differences with the Roman Catholic Church and with Luther, as well.

Karlstadt insisted that we are all part of the priesthood, as the Bible says (1Peter 2:4-12, Hebrews 3:5-6), and that we are not to be "respecters of people" (see James 2:1-13, Romans 12:3-8), exalting the clergy over others (Matthew 23:1-15) or claiming that ordinary people cannot be instructed by the Holy Spirit. (There is a need for leadership, but the full responsibility for a congregation should not fall on one man. Paul gives guidelines for gatherings in 1 Corinthians 14:26-33) He insisted that we must show evidence of being born again after claiming to have come to faith, due to the regeneration and indwelling of the believer’s spirit by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5, 1John 3:24, 1John 4:13, Romans 8:9, 1Corinthians 6:17-20)

Ironically, Luther labeled Karlstadt a "mystic," and opposed him. I say it is ironic, because Luther’s third theses states: “Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.” (“Flesh” is the “old, sinful inner man” that loves sin.) That would make a pretty good summary of James 2:8-26, and yet, again ironically, Luther referred to the Book of James as “an epistle of straw.” James explained by the examples of Abraham and Rahab that just claiming to have faith, but not following up on it with actions, is useless. God is not interested in hypocrites for His children, nor He can He be fooled. (Matthew 24:51, Galatians 6:7-10, 2Timothy 2:19, 2Corinthians 12:20-3:5, Hebrews 10:19-39, 1Chronicles 28:9, Revelation 2:23, Psalm 94:8-11, Malachi 3:13-18) Jesus said that unless we obey Him, then we do not love Him. Let’s remember that God has made great promises to those who love Him. (Romans 8:28, 1Corinthians 2:9-10, James 1:12-16, 1Peter 1:8-9, Matthew 7:21-27)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 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. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” John 14:15-24

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. John 15:8-10

The entire point is that IF a person has been born again (John 3:3), then their spirit is regenerated and brought to life by God alone (John 1:12-13)–by grace, through faith–there will be fruits of His indwelling Spirit evident in the believer’s life. Faith without works (fruit of the Spirit - Galatians 5:19-25, the new creation in Christ - 2Corinthians 5:17, Romans 13:13-14) is dead (or perhaps counterfeit? In any case, the person has not died to self if God’s will is not desired and sincere efforts made to do it - Philippians 2:12-16, 1John 3:1-12) and works (no matter how sincere) without faith cannot save either, as only Jesus saves.

The New Covenant “royal law” and “law of liberty” are the laws under which believers operate, not the Old Covenant law. (Romans 6, Romans 13:8-10, James 1:25, James 2:8, James 2:12) Jesus said that if we understand the greatest two commands, we have come near the Kingdom of God. (Mark 12:28-34, John 13:34-35) Paul said that love fulfills the law because through it, all of the other commands (in spirit, not letter) will be kept. (Romans 7:6) We do “works” (obey Jesus, yield to the Holy Spirit’s work within of transforming us into the image of Jesus, walk in the Spirit - Colossians 3:1-10, Romans 8) as a result of being saved, out of love, not to earn salvation, not out of fear–not even of our own power, but by His Spirit,working out from inside of us with our cooperation. (1John 4:13-21, 5:3, Ephesians 3:7, 16, 20, Colossians 1:11, 1Thessalonians 5:19, 2Thessalonians 1:11-12, 2Timothy 1:8, 2Peter 1:3-12)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8-10

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:8-26

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. Romans 3:19-31

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:13-48

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. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:1-6

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. 1 John 3:1-12

Reformation is about examining religious practices in light of the pure truth of the Bible and eliminating any traditions of men that do not line up. God does not wish to be worshiped as we see fit, but in spirit and truth. If He gave us instructions, they are to be followed. He doesn’t want us adding or taking away anything because we didn’t think it was important or thought something was missing. He doesn’t want legalism, either. ALL correction must have its motive in love and goal in restoration. Jesus, Paul and James both told us to rebuke sinners and welcome them back if they repent. (Matthew 18:15-17, Luke 17:3-4, 1Corinthians 5:9-13, 2Corinthians 2:6-8, Ephesians 4:15-24, Galatians 6:1, James 5:19-20)

Jesus lists the errors of the Church that displease Him in the letters of Revelation 2, 3. He also promises a blessing for heeding His warnings and the rest of the words of the book, as well as a severe consequence for those who add or take away from it. (Revelation 1:3, 22:7, 22:18-19) We would do well to pay attention to the repeated exhortations to stay awake and keep watch so that we will be ready for His return. (Matthew 16:6, 24:42-51, 25:13, 26:41, Mark 8:15, 13:33-37, 14:38, Luke 12:15, 12:35-40, 21:8, 21:34-36, Acts 20:25-31, Romans 13:11-14, 16:17-19, 1Corinthians 15:33-34, 1Thessalonians 5:1-11, Galatians 5:13-6:1-2, 1Timothy 4:16, 2John 1:6-11, Revelation 3:2-3, 16:15)

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” Mark 7:6-9

Someone may say, "God was referring to Israel’s mistakes, not ours," but:

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 (See also 2Timothy 3:16-17)

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. John 4:23

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 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, 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. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. Colossians 2:8-19

Today also happens to be three years from the date on which I began this blog.

kit: Paint Job by Kristmess Designs

This devotional is available as a pdf under the free pdf downloads tab above.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Blessing of the Upright

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness. By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. Proverbs 11:10-11

stacked paper: Bloomers by Kristmess Designs

Monday, April 24, 2017

Entice Unsteady Souls

They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 2 Peter 2:14

kit, stacked papers, border: Days Gone By by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that the Lord, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.  Jude 1:5

kit: Days Gone By by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Your Praise

He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. Deuteronomy 10:21

stacked papers: Days Gone By by Kristmess Designs

Friday, April 21, 2017

Made Known His Salvation

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done marvelous things! His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him.  The LORD has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.  He has remembered His steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Psalm 98:1-3

stacked paper and border: Days Gone By by Kristmess Designs

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Came About Suddenly

Thus the service of the house of the LORD was restored.  And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly. 2 Chronicles 29:35b-36

stacked papers: Forget Me Not by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

More Upright in Heart

But the priests were too few and could not flay all the burnt offerings, so until other priests had consecrated themselves, their brothers the Levites helped them, until the work was finished—for the Levites were more upright in heart than the priests in consecrating themselves. 2 Chronicles 29:34

kit, border, stacked papers: Love Grows by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Consecrated Yourselves

Then Hezekiah said, “You have now consecrated yourselves to the LORD. Come near; bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the LORD.” And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all who were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings. 2 Chronicles 29:31

stacked paper, kit: Love Grows by Kristmess Designs

Monday, April 17, 2017

Words of David and Asaph

And Hezekiah the king and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped. 2 Chronicles 29:30

kit and stacked paper clusters: July Daze by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, April 16, 2017

No Deceit

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in His death,
though He had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in His mouth.
Isaiah 53:9

stacked papers: Forget Me Not by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Whole Assembly

The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished.  When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped. 2 Chronicles 29:28-29

kit and stacked paper clusters: July Daze by Kristmess Designs

Friday, April 14, 2017

According to the Commandment

And he [Hezekiah] stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the LORD through His prophets. 2 Chronicles 29:25

kit and stacked papers: July Daze by Kristmess Designs

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Celebrate with Gladness, Thanksgiving and Singing

And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. Nehemiah 12:27

kit and stacked papers: June Daze by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Song to the Lord

The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.  Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to the LORD began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. 2 Chronicles 29:26-27

kit and stacked papers: June Daze by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Worthy of the Kingdom

Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.  All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5

kit and stacked papers: Spring Bouquet by Kristmess Designs

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Nations Will Come

LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good."  Jeremiah 16:19

kit and stacked paper: Spring Bouquet by Kristmess Designs

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Precious Stones

The LORD says, "O Jerusalem, you suffering, helpless city, with no one to comfort you, I will rebuild your foundations with precious stones. I will build your towers with rubies, your gates with stones that glow like fire, and the wall around you with jewels."  Isaiah 54:11-12

kit and stacked papers: Spring Bouquet by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Make a Joyful Noise

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!  With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! Psalm 98:4-6

kit and stacked papers: Spring Bouquet by Kristmess Designs

Friday, April 7, 2017

Justice and Mercy and Faithfulness

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others." Matthew 23:23

kit and stacked paper: Spring Bouquet by Kristmess Designs

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:17-18

If you only read the New Testament, you are missing out on a lot. When we read the Old Testament, we receive reassurance that God is the same forever, just as He said. Above, we see that "loving your neighbor as yourself" does not mean tolerating their sin, but handling it in a way that pleases God. Today it's popular to say that since Jesus paid the penalty for the sin of the world, and since those who believe in Him need not fear condemnation, that God is no longer concerned about our behavior. They say that loving your neighbor as yourself means to treat them as you would like to be treated yourself. So "logically," they think this means that they should look the other way when others sin, the same as they hope that others will do when they sin. That is NOT the point of "not judging." The point is that we don't ever hate anyone for any reason, or nitpick each other to death, never getting around to dealing with the sin in our own lives. In addition to removing the log from your eye before you try to help your brother, Jesus also said rebuke your brother when he sins and judge rightly, not by appearances. (Matt. 7:1-5, Matt. 18:15-17, John 7:24) If we actually love one another, we will have concern for one another's souls (James 5:19-20, 1Thes. 4:1-8, 1Cor. 5:5) and for the honor and glory of our Lord. He is honored when we all obey Him out of love and respect for Him because He IS our Lord. People who are not saved do not know Him as Lord. They are not concerned about obeying Him or about His honor - they don't love Him. (John 14:23-24)  But we know that this world is passing away and that if we love it, then we make ourselves enemies of God. (James 4:4) We know through Paul and Peter what qualities He said He would like to see in His own, and these fruits are produced by His very own Spirit dwelling within born again believers. (Gal. 5:22-24, 2Pet. 1:5-12) These manifestations of the Spirit build upon one another (not a la carte) and are meant to help us mature in Christ. (Eph. 4:11-32) By practicing righteousness (like children of God) instead of evil (like children of the devil), we show the lost world what our great and glorious God is like so that they will want to know Him, too.  That's what we're here for!  Let's be about our Father's business if we do indeed call Him our Father. (1Pet. 1:14-19, 2Tim. 2:19)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21

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

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

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37

Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:7-10

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:13-26

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:8-9

stacked papers and kit: Spring Bouquet by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Purer Eyes

Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, You have ordained them as a judgment, and You, O Rock, have established them for reproof.  You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do You idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he? Habakkuk 1:12-13

(The answer is in Psalm 37, Psalm 73, Romans 9:20-24)

stacked paper clusters: Congrads; papers: Artist in Training and Spring Bouquet by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Living and Holy Sacrifice

I appeal therefore to you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, well-pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.  Romans 12:1

Also see Romans 6, Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, 1 Corinthians 6:9-20, 1 Peter 4.

Remember, our bodies (if we are born again believers) are temples of the Lord and we are grafted in to Israel and her irrevocable promises (Romans 9;4-5, 11). We are part of a royal priesthood to serve God in a way similar to the Levites. They were holy and set apart, as we are intended to be. (Ephesians 1, James 1:27, Revelation 3:4, 18:4-5) God wants pure offerings of devotion, not tainted with love of the world--our best, not leftovers. (1John 2:15-17, Haggai 2:10-14) Some of the leaven that has been allowed into the church and is thus tainting the spiritual sacrifices of the church is that God is no longer concerned about sin. If that is so, then why did Paul tell the Corinthians to judge those on the inside? (2Cor. 11:1-4, 1Cor. 5)

God is NOT glorified and honored when His children behave no better than unbelieving heathens or pagans. (1Pet. 2:11-12) If we are not expected to obey Him, then why are we told SO many times to do so? Would God tell unbelievers that if they obey Him then they are saved? No! We cannot save ourselves by our works. We are saved by grace through faith, which is a gift from Him. So then the exhortations to obey out of LOVE for Him are for us.  This is common sense.  This shouldn't need to be said repeatedly, because it is SO obvious. Anyone who argues about such a thing loves neither God nor His people. (John 14, John 15, John 8:42-47, 1John 1-5, 1Thess. 4, Eph. 5:6, 1Tim. 6) God at NO point EVER defined "love" as sinning, approving of sin, encouraging sin, tolerating sin, etc. We were meant to deal with it in gentleness and if that does not work, then to remove the one who refuses to repent from our midst. (1Cor. 4:21, Galatians 6, Matt. 18:15-17, 1Cor. 5:5, 13) This is the loving thing to do because then the disease of sin doesn't spread through the congregation and the sinner can see the error of their ways and repent. In the case of the Corinthians, Paul urged them in 2Cor. 2:6-8 to welcome the man back referred to in the previous letter (since he had repented). We need to speak the TRUTH in love, not speak lies that are pleasing to the ear--that is what wolves in sheep's clothing and thieves that break in to steal the Shepherd's sheep do.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,  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.  For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.  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.  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.  Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:4-12

What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:16-18

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.  So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,  correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:21-26

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,  but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,  but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.  He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you  who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;  for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:14-25

stacked paper clusters: Congrads; papers: Spring Bouquet and May Daze by Kristmess Designs

Monday, April 3, 2017

Trust in the Lord

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

kit: Under the Dappled Shadows by Lorie Davison, chalkboard: Shabby Miss Jenn (recolored), paper: Night Butterflies by Starlight Designs

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Court Will Sit in Judgment

But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end.  And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; His kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him. Daniel 7:26-27

stacked paper and border: Fairytales by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Land is God's

"The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners to Me." Leviticus 25:23

kit and stacked papers: All the Fun of the Fair by Kristmess Designs

See also:

“You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt." Exodus 23:9

“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 23:22

Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.  Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.  Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.  And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.  “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.  For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.  O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.  I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.  O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. 1 Chronicles 29:10-18

The LORD sets the prisoners free;  the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.  The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. Psalm 146:7-9

“So you shall divide this land among you according to the tribes of Israel.  You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the sojourners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel. With you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.  In whatever tribe the sojourner resides, there you shall assign him his inheritance, declares the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 47:21-23

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:11-12