Sunday, December 31, 2017

No Pleasure


A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2

Quickpage: Wintersong by (unknown)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Stands on Noble Things


As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil;
he plans wicked schemes
to ruin the poor with lying words,
even when the plea of the needy is right.
But he who is noble plans noble things,
and on noble things he stands.
Isaiah 32:7-8

paper by Krysty Designs, elements: Maybell Littleberry's Christmas Stocking by Lorie Davison

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Lord Avenges


God is jealous, and the Lord avenges;
The Lord avenges and is furious.
The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries,
And He reserves wrath for His enemies;
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.
Nahum 1:2-3

(gavel adapted from web image), paper by Createwings Designs (retired)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Splendor and Beauty


Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.  Psalm 96:6

paper by Finecrafted Designs, arches & bokeh texture by Holliewood Studios, cluster by Valentina Creations

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Speaks Justice


The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. Psalm 37:30

Quickpage by Irene Alexeeva (retired), paper by Indigo Designs

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Pleasant To Your Soul


Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Proverbs 2:9-10

Quickpage by Ruth Melody, paper by Indigo Designs

Monday, December 25, 2017

Exceedingly Great Joy


Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” Matthew 2:1-8

After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Matthew 2:9-12

Quickpage by Chelle Creations, paper by Kristmess Designs

Because of the digital scrapbook quickpage I have used for this day, I feel it necessary to clarify a couple of things. The first, of course, is that according to the above Bible passage, the wise men visited Jesus in a house. So it was not the night of His birth, which brings us to the second thing. We don't know the date of His birth. The idea that we know when Jesus was born and that there were three wise men who brought gifts to the stable are merely traditions that have been observed for a very long time. The date of "Christmas" was chosen in order to divert the worship practiced by pagans on that date from false gods to Jesus. They intended to replace lies with the truth, but kept many of the associated practices. We all know that secular society today prefers to say "holiday" in order to avoid honoring Christ. Perhaps some haven't thought about or don't realize that the "mas" part refers to the Roman Catholic mass. (Heb. 9:25-28)

Based on the age of the male children killed on Herod's orders (two and under), we can assume that Jesus was at least a year old, probably pretty close to two. It appears that the star appeared when Jesus was born and continued in the sky long enough for the wise men to make their journey all the way from the East. Herod consulted his own people and discovered approximately how long ago the star had first been observed in the sky. He then based his orders of infanticide based on that time frame.

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene. Matthew 2:16-23

Contrary to the popular recreations of the event, where "artistic license" is taken, there is no mention of an innkeeper or his wife, or even any animals being present. It is my belief that Jesus was born in the shepherd's tower where the sacrificial lambs were cared for--including, it would reasonably seem, "swaddling" to keep them from blemishes and spots that would disqualify them as acceptable offerings. (Ex. 12:5, John 1:29, 1Pet. 1:17-21, Heb. 9:13-14) This would explain why the shepherds didn't need detailed instructions as to how to get to the place where they could see Jesus with their own eyes, but rather knew exactly where to go.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:1-20

And you, O tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem. Micah 4:8

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2 (quoted in the passage from Matthew at the top)

We also don't actually know for sure how many wise men there were (or their names), but there were three gifts. The gifts themselves are not only fit for a King because of their value, but the frankincense and myrrh symbolize the suffering that Jesus would endure on behalf of mankind. (Both kinds of precious resins were  harvested by piercing the tree bark in order to collect the sap that is released. https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/botany/question283.htm) In like manner, Simeon prophesied strife for Jesus and pain for Mary when He was presented at the temple on the 33rd day following His birth. (Lev. 12)

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:22-38

There's one more instance (actually two) of Jesus receiving a valuable offering of a substance with great value that represented suffering. It was when His feet were anointed with spikenard by Mary of Bethany six days before the Passover, and His head was anointed with it four days before Passover by an unnamed woman. (Matt. 26:7-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:36-50, John 12:1-8, John 11:2) Spikenard must be crushed to obtain the ointment, just as Jesus was crushed for our iniquities (sins, transgressions).

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

The King James version says "by His stripes" and other translations say wounds, bruises or scourging. But regardless of the exact wording, we are healed of our spiritual sickness which led to death because He was willing to suffer and lay down His life for us to give us new life. (John 10:17-18, 2Cor. 5:17, Rom. 6, 1John 2:1-6) Jesus healed people of physical ailments throughout His earthly ministry, but He didn’t receive “stripes” until the end of it. (Matt. 8:16-17) When we believe, we are born again spiritually. (John 5:24, John 3:3-8, Romans 8) Read the whole 8th chapter of Romans so as to appreciate the context, to gain a solid understanding, rather than extracting a comforting verse here and there. Also read a bit before and after any given chapter, since those breaks were not in the original texts. Don’t “pick” one verse over another when there seems to be a discrepancy, but study until you understand how the Scriptures harmonize with one another. We need to accept that God is good when He is extending grace and mercy by forgiving us and rescuing us from tribulation as well as when He is testing us by allowing suffering, or executing judgment. ALL of His ways are PERFECT. (Isa. 29:16)

Once redeemed by the blood of Jesus, we belong to Him forevermore. (1Cor. 6:18-20, Rev. 5:9, Gal. 3:13, Gal. 4:4-6, Titus 2:11-15, 1Pet. 1:18-23) As believers, we appreciate beyond description the fact that God gave His only begotten Son, beloved and perfect in every way, in order to save us from the wages of our sin (death and eternal punishment - Rom. 6:23, Matt. 25:46, 2Cor. 5:21, Matt. 3:16-17, Matt. 12:15-21, Isaiah 42:1-9, Matt. 17:1-8, Prov. 30:4-6, Rom. 10:6-7, John 3:13-14). The wise men didn't give one another gifts in honor of Jesus. They gave their best TO Him. That's what we should do as well, our whole lives long, every day. (Rom. 12:1-2, 1Pet. 2:4-5) We are free to honor God in whatever manner we believe will please Him according to our understanding of His word and ways. (Gal. 4:10, Rom. 14:5-12, 1Cor. 10:31, 2Cor. 5:14-15, Rom. 2:6-11, Col. 1:9-14, 2Pet. 3:14-18, 1Tim. 4:7-16, Jam. 2:12) If we choose to celebrate with decorating, feasting and gift-giving as our way of remembering God's gift of Jesus, I hope we take care to also remember those less fortunate than us and those who haven't heard the Good News yet while doing so.

"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Luke 12:32-34

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:12-14

Before I accepted my utmost need of Jesus as my Savior, when I thought I was a pretty decent person, it used to bother me when pastors would talk about Jesus' death and resurrection on Christmas. I thought they were "ruining" the holiday. God forgives me for that shameful line of thinking, which was out of ignorance. (Acts 17:30-31, Eph. 4:17-18, 1Tim. 1:13-17, 1John 3:19-24, Matt. 12:30-33, John 3:16-18, Isaiah 9:6-7, John 12:27, John 18:37) However, it does bring into question whether the way that the majority of the world celebrates the birth of our Savior is bringing many of those people any closer to God. If people who claim to have devout faith have the exact same traditions as those who don't believe (or have a very shallow belief)--there is practically no difference--then how is that evangelizing the unsaved? (Of course, this goes for every day, not only Christmas. We're meant to be LIGHTS. Matt. 5:16, Philip. 2:14-16)

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

I don't know any believer who doesn't have someone they love who does not yet believe, and it greatly concerns them (myself included). However, we need to remember that we didn't save ourselves. Rather than give in to anguish and despair, we need to remember that God used various means to prepare us for that moment when He would reach into our willing hearts and renew our spirits with His love. (1Cor. 3:6-9, Titus 3:4-8) He brought us to a knowledge of the truth about our lost condition and the only Remedy, and gave us the gift of faith. (Eph. 2:8-10, Rom. 3:23, Rom. 6:23, Rom. 10:13) Prior to and all the way up to that time, we were unbelievers as well. So let's not lose hope and give up, but continue steadfastly in prayer and love in both word and deed, trusting that God is able and He is good. (Col. 4:2, Col. 3:12-17, Col. 3:23-25, 1Thess. 5:14-22, 2Thess. 2:16-17, 1John 3:16-18, John 4:36, Gal. 6:9, Jam. 2:13-17, Psa. 36:5-9, Psa. 51, Psa. 63:3-4, Psa. 66:20, Psa. 69:13, Psa. 86:5, Psa. 86:15, Psa. 100:5, Psa. 103:8, Psa. 115:1, Psa. 117, Psa. 136, Psa. 145)

Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Psalm 85:7-11

It's of vital importance that our children hear about His (and ONLY His) saving grace, mercy and love. (Matt. 19:13-15, John 14:6, 1John 2:23) They need to know that God is real in this confusing world where media special effects are very convincing, and the majority go along with the flow rather than standing up for their faith. The world cannot be trusted to offer true wisdom, and in fact, often serves up deception. (1Cor. 1:18-31, 1Cor. 2:14, 1Cor. 3:18-20, Rom. 1:18-32, 2Cor. 3:12-17, 2Pet. 3) Everyone will see with their own eyes one day, but blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. (John 20:29, Philipp. 2:10-11)

For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:10-15

We can be filled with joy every moment of every day--it doesn't depend upon our circumstances. (1Tim. 6:6-12, Heb. 10:32-35) What's really important is not whether we had a "white Christmas," or got what we wanted in the way of gifts, or whether our feast included every single item we enjoy eating or drinking the most, or if the tree tipped over--making a mess, breaking things, or whether a gift we ordered arrived on time, or whether our flight was delayed when traveling to spend the holiday with family, or whether we had a fender bender in the parking lot when we ran out for that last minute item, etc. These things belong to this temporary world that is going to pass away. (John 2:15-16)

Problems of every kind, even severe financial, family or health troubles, pale in significance when compared to the glory of our citizenship in heaven. (Philipp. 3:7-21) No one can take from us our most precious possession. (Rom. 8:31-39) If we look carefully at that list of what can't separate us from God, we can see that it's not meant to be reassurance that if we despise the ways of God and give Him crumbs of ourselves, then He is pleased. (Heb. 12, Rom. 12:1-2, John 15:10, John 8:29) The passage is meant to assure those who suffer for Jesus' sake that He will never leave them or forsake them. (Heb. 13:1-9, 1Pet. 5:6-11, Rom. 8:15-19, Col. 3)

Our joy is deep down in our hearts. (Acts 14:17, John 16:33) And God wants our whole hearts, every day of the year, right up until the end. (1Chron. 29:9, Psa. 9:1, Psa. 16:8-9, Psa. 86:11-13, Psa. 111, Psa. 119:1-16, Mark 12:32-34, 2Cor. 6:11-13, Heb. 4:12-16, Heb. 10:19-31, Rev. 3:11) We're looking forward to the time when we'll see Him face to face and worship Him continually forever, but we don't have to wait--we can start NOW. (1Cor. 13:11-13, 1Pet. 1:8-9, 1Cor. 2:9, Rev. 21-22, John 4:23, Jam. 4:8) After all He has made and done, isn’t He worthy of all we can give Him in return?

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Sunday, December 24, 2017

God is Faithful


God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  1 Corinthians 1:9

quickpage by Irene Alexeeva, papers, journal frame by Createwings Designs (both retired), bow, pine sprigs and cones: Gingerbread Kisses by Kristmess Designs

Saturday, December 23, 2017

One Father


For the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father.  Hebrews 2:11

quickpage by Raspberry Road, paper by Indigo Designs

Friday, December 22, 2017

Taste and See


Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!  Psalm 34:8

quickpage by Raspberry Road, bottom paper by Kristmess Designs, top elements: Christmas is in the Air by Indigo Designs (colors adjusted)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Upright in Heart


Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!  Psalm 64:10

quickpage: Christmas Remembered by Raspberry Road, ornament string, hearts by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Kings Will Bow


All kings will bow before Him, and all nations will serve Him. Psalm 72:11

quickpage by Raspberry Road, paper by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Full of Compassion


The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. Psalm 116:5

quickpage by A-liya; kit: Downhill Racers by Kristmess Designs

Monday, December 18, 2017

Armies of Angels


Praise the Lord, you angels, you mighty ones who carry out His plans, listening for each of His commands. Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels who serve Him and do His will! Praise the Lord, everything He has created, everything in all His kingdom. Let all that I am praise the Lord. Psalm 103:20-22

quickpage: Tell Me About Christmas (Raconte Moi Noel) by Melancolie

"You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and You preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships You."  Nehemiah 9:6

I can't help but think of Lucifer, the bright morning star, among that great crowd of the heavenly host in worship, thinking in his inner being that he's the one who deserves worship--the created being thinking that he's better in every (or ANY) way, more worthy than the One who created him (or worthy at ALL apart from Him), able in his own mind to overpower Him (and to WANT to)?!! Talk about deluded and ungrateful!!! It's a disgusting, horrific thought. What's worse, he takes 1/3 of the heavenly host WITH him in his final departure! How unthinkable!

Worship of self is idolatry. Worship of anyone other than God, even our own version of Him that doesn't line up with who He said He is, is idolatry. Loving anyone or anything more than God is idolatry (that includes ourselves, our families, money, fame, pleasure, etc.)

Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.” Ezekiel 28:11-19

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?’" Isaiah 14:12-17

There will be a final "showdown" between Satan and God, and each of us needs to have a solid, intimate knowledge of and relationship with God before then. There will be great signs and wonders that deceive everyone whose name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Whoever takes the mark and worships the beast will become an official "child of the devil" and receive an "inheritance with him" in the Lake of Fire forever (as opposed to the children of God, who go to be with Him forever and receive rewards for their faithfulness, as described in the letters to the churches and throughout the Bible.)

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. Revelation 12:3-4

And war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Revelation 12:7-12

One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear: If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. Revelation 13:3-10

The beast performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. Revelation 13:13-17

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 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. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-13

I became aware last week that a well-loved and respected Bible teacher and preacher, John MacArthur, has stated that people who take the mark can repent and be saved. He defended his verbal statement in an article on his website here: https://www.gty.org/library/Blog/B131030 If you would like to read my letter to Mr. MacArthur in response to his statement, you may download a pdf of it here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ujXCTcBsXnmaCsGTmQ_YW1XStuypuQcR/view?usp=sharing It grieves me greatly to write such a letter, but even more so to stand by while people are misled, potentially to their eternal detriment.

Even if we believe, as Mr. MacArthur does, that the entire Church will be in heaven throughout the entire tribulation, we should still care about those left to endure it--but that brings me to my next point. Many say everyone who believes in Jesus prior to that time will be removed from the earth before the start of "Daniel's 70th week," (Dan. 9:24) a/k/a "Jacob's time of trouble." (Jer. 30) I understand the Church is a new entity and this age is an interruption in the prophetic calendar, but we are grafted in to the blessings of Israel (Rom. 11) and "children of Abraham" through faith. (Rom. 2:29, Rom. 9:6-8) We are being made into "one new man" and "one flock." (Eph. 2:11-22, John 10:16)

I agree that the "open door" in Rev. 4:1 is an allusion to the one in Rev. 3:7-8, and that Rev. 4:1-2 is strikingly similar to 1Thess. 4:16-17. However, what about the door in Matt. 25:1-13? ONLY those who were READY with "oil in their lamps" (and they all started out with lamps and oil) go through that door before it is closed by Jesus, just as He said only HE is able to do in Rev. 3:7. That is a quote from Isaiah 22:20-24, which is also referenced in 2 Timothy 2:19-22 (vessels of honor). Also see Proverbs 25:4-5. It's actually quite interesting to see how many times Jesus quotes Proverbs 25. (Prov. 25:6-10 - Luke 14:8-11, Matt. 5:25, Matt. 18:15, Matt. 12:36-37, Matt. 25:41-46, Matt. 13:41-43; Paul also quoted Prov. 25:21-22 in Rom. 12:20.)

God's word is a light for our path and a lamp for our feet. (Psa. 119:105) We need to hear the same word through which we came to faith if we want to recognize our Shepherd's voice and FOLLOW Him. (Rom. 10:17, John 10:1-16) We need to do what He says if we want to enter the kingdom. (Matt. 7:13-29) The word of God illuminates the narrow way that leads to the narrow door to the kingdom. (John 8:12, Eph. 5:3-20, 1John 1:5-10) If we wander off that path, then we are on the broad path that leads to destruction--like salt that has lost its saltiness and is trampled--like a branch that didn't abide in the vine, so it withers and is taken away to be burned. (Matt. 5:13-16, John 15:6, Rev. 11:1-2)

Food for thought: If we entered the kingdom the moment we believed, then how is it a path, a race, a fight? (2Tim. 4:7) Why do we still hope for it and need to endure? (Titus 2:11-14, Heb. 10:35-39) Why is everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord saved, but not everyone who calls Jesus "Lord, Lord" enters the kingdom? (Rom. 10:13, Matt. 7:21)

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. Revelation 11:1-2

Notice how Jesus connects all of these ideas (persecution, salt, throwing out something useless, trampling, shining light, not hiding) in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 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." Matthew 5:10-16

Jesus teaches that He desires faithfulness in His servants, for which they will be rewarded. As He said above, He doesn't want anyone hiding their light under a bushel. Remember, the Parable of the Talents (below) immediately follows the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Both parables are about entering the kingdom of God--not being saved--no one who is unsaved can do anything to gain entrance. The people in these parables are all believers, His servants. Judgment always BEGINS with God's own people, followed by His wrath on unbelievers. (1Cor. 11:30-32) Note that the Master dealing with His servants in the parable takes place prior to the "great white throne" judgment in Rev. 20:11-15, and prior to the millennial reign of Christ. Even before the judgment preceding the millennium in Rev. 20:4-6, certain people are already present and have been given authority to judge. (Matt. 19:28)

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:17-19

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 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.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 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.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’" Matthew 25:14-30

And there's more. Jesus said that the branch that doesn't abide in Him (which we do by loving Him, which in turn we do by obeying Him - John 14:15-24) will be taken away and burned. This goes against "whoever comes to me I will not cast out" (John 6:37) unless we think of the burning as being the "fires of affliction" for purification and refinement instead of the Lake of Fire? (Isa. 48:10-11, Dan. 11:32-36, 1Pet. 1:6-7, 1Pet. 5:6-11, 1Cor. 3:11-18) (I can't say for sure--it's not something anyone would want to go through anyway, but I wouldn't take chances--be ready at all times, like Jesus and Paul said - Matt. 24:42, Luke 21:34-36, 1Thess. 5:4-11, Philipp. 3:7-21, 1Cor. 9:24-27.) We don't produce the fruit of our own power, but it is His Spirit within us who does so when we abide. (Gal. 5:16-25, Rom. 6:20-23, Eph. 5:11-12, Philipp. 1:10-11, Heb. 12:11-29) Jesus also said that by abiding in Him, our joy would be full--just like the servant above who entered (through the open door like the five wise virgins in the parable before it?) into the joy of His master.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 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. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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. 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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 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. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me." John 15:1-21

If you read Rev. 2-3, the promise to be kept out of this time ("hour") of trial (Rev. 3:10, Rev. 17:12) is made to those who have already endured severe persecution, so no further "testing" is required of them--and even they must "hold fast to their crowns" until Jesus comes. (Rev. 3:7-13) Believers whose love has waned or who are lukewarm toward God need to wake up and serve Him alone instead of blending in and going along with the world around them. If they don't, then they may find themselves on the wrong side of that closed door. (Rev. 2:1-7, Rev. 2:8-11, Rev. 2:12-17, Rev. 2:18-28, Rev. 3:1-6, Rev. 3:14-22, 1John 2:15-17)

Jesus sent His angel to John, telling him to write down all seven letters (and everything he was shown) and put them in a book to be read to each church, because it is all applicable to every believer--thus it says "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" at the end of each letter. (Rev. 1:1-3, 11) There is even a blessing for reading and hearing the words of the book (contrary to what many teach, saying it's too hard to understand and dangerous or a waste of time to even try.) The blessing is repeated and applied to those who keep (heed) the words of the book at the end, where there is also a curse for anyone who adds to or takes away from its words (events, warnings, promises, etc.) (Rev. 22:7, Rev. 22:18-19)

Some say everyone will endure the "hour of trial" despite Rev. 3:10 clearly saying otherwise, and the reference to "those who dwell in heaven" during that time. (Rev. 12:12, Rev. 13:6) They say that Jesus "can't" return once [in the clouds] to gather His [called, chosen and faithful] and again in wrath against His enemies--but they haven't studied their Bibles very carefully. Jesus returns with the armies of heaven, who fit the description a few verses describing His bride just a few verses earlier.

They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” Revelation 17:14

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints... 11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. ...19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. Revelation 19:6-19

God's people do not suffer HIS wrath (the "Day of the Lord"), but He has indicated in the Bible that there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars that will form a sort of "cut-off" point between "tribulation" and "wrath [of God]."

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Matthew 24:29

“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.” Joel 2:30-31 (Also see the rest of Joel 2, Isa. 13 and Isa. 24:17-23.)

This is also verified by the fact that at the fifth seal, severe persecution of the saints is underway, but at the sixth seal, the inhabitants of the earth recognize that the wrath of God has begun.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. Revelation 6:9-11

When He opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the whole moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Revelation 6:12-17

God's people will be in their chambers (John 14:2-3), unable to enter the temple in heaven while His wrath is poured out on the earth. They will return WITH Jesus to put an end to the final war. (When Satan brings an army against the holy city at the end of the millennium when he is released for a short time, fire comes down from heaven to destroy it--Jesus has been ruling on earth at that time during the seventh "1,000-year-day" Sabbath. Rev. 20:7-10, Zech. 14:6-21 and many others)

Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain. Isaiah 26:20-21

Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD. Zephaniah 2:3

After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. Revelation 15:5-8

(“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. The seventh angel poured out his bowl [of wrath] into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe. Revelation 16:15-21

For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. Zechariah 14:2-5

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your battle, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. Psalm 110:1-6

I'm not trying to scare anyone, but not only does ONLY God know WHEN this will all happen, but only HE knows who has had their faith proven genuine by suffering for His sake such that they need not endure any further trials. In this country, we feel that we are "persecuted" if someone "unlikes" us on Facebook for our beliefs. Most are careful not to "offend" anyone by speaking up for the truth, but that is not "having salt in ourselves." Neither is attacking others who don't agree with us "being peaceful." There is a difference, though, between being peaceful and approving of evil. There is a difference between hiding our light under a bushel and "gently correcting error." (1Cor. 13:1-7)

For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:49-50

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 2:24-26

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 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. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 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. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 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!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 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. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:5-25

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 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, 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. Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. Colossians 1:21-28

We are to fear God, not men, even if we are ordered to remain silent and threatened if we refuse--even if people hate us and lie about us because of standing up (with love) for Jesus.

When they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.  And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. Acts 5:40-42

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 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.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:27-29

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

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. 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 1:27-30

Everything happens again. (Ecc. 1:9) The wolves Jesus refers to in the passage below are inside of the church. They are pretending to be sheep in order to destroy the flock from within. (Matt. 7:15-20, Acts 20:26-32, 1Tim. 1, 1Tim. 6, 2Tim. 2-4, 2Pet. 2) We need to be on our guard, clothed in the full armor God because our fight is against unseen forces (right up until they are seen, and very convincing despite being counterfeit). (Eph. 6:10-20) Let's KNOW God so that we can do His will and BE READY for His return. Let's read our Bibles and do what God said pleases Him. (Mark 12:28-34, Rom. 12:1-2, Eph. 5:15-20, Philipp. 2:12-16) Let's keep our beautiful white garments that Jesus suffered and died to clothe us in spotless. (Eph. 5:25-27, Jam. 1:27, 1John 1:9, Rom. 13:14, Rev. 3:4, Rev. 21:7, Rev. 22:14)

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Matthew 10:16-42

Sunday, December 17, 2017

No God Besides Me


Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and His Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
"I am the first and I am the last; besides Me there is no God."  Isaiah 44:6

kit: nICE AGE by Marta van Eck

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Led Astray


When you look to the heavens and see the sun, moon, and stars—all the array of heaven—do not be led astray to bow down and worship them. The Lord your God has provided them for all people everywhere under heaven.  Deuteronomy 4:19

kit: MDesigns Creations Winter Dream

Friday, December 15, 2017

Abundance of Possessions


And He said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

kit, border: Kristmess Cookies by Kristmess Designs

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Varied Gifts of Grace


As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.  1 Peter 4:10

stacked papers: Kristmess Cookies by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Good Gifts


If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!  Matthew 7:11

stacked papers and borders: Kristmess Cookies by Kristmess Designs

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Received with Gratitude


For everything [specific context: food] created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:4-5

All foods are acceptable for Christians to eat (but make no mistake--blood is not a food or beverage). Don't listen to people who try to say that food restrictions are still in effect today.

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. Romans 14:14

To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. Titus 1:15 

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. Romans 14:1-14

God's purpose in defining clean and unclean foods in the Old Testament was revealed in the New Testament, and so food restrictions are not required for the Church. (See more later.) However, that doesn't mean He now approves of other things, such as sexual immorality--that was repeatedly reinforced in the New Testament as being unacceptable for Christians. I am covering this topic yet again because of the rebellious attitude of those who use the obsolete food restrictions as an excuse that they can continue in their sins.

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:11-22

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

In the passage below, Jesus teaches that things from outside the body don't make us unclean. Sexual immorality is not from outside the body. The unholy desire comes from within, and when two people are physically intimate with one another, they "become one" body. If that intimacy is outside of marriage between a man and woman, then both the physical act and the emotions behind it are defiled and corrupt. When Paul says that the Corinthians were washed, he doesn't mean that they can't become filthy again if they refuse to repent of their evil behavior. That would go against the rest of his teachings. It's not about what was done and forgiven, but about the continuing practice--about soiling the brilliant white garment that Jesus died to clothe us in.

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:17-23

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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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.“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “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. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 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! 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.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:9-20

I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced. 2 Corinthians 12:21

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 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 GodLet no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 5:3-6

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. Galatians 5:19-21

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-24

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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. Ephesians 5:25-27

Jesus Himself had the following to say when He sent His angel to tell John the Beloved about the things that were to happen in the end times. Instead of being rebellious, obstinate, arrogant, proud of sin, defiant, etc. - think of eternity. It's not worth it to give in to sin now and pay for it forever!

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. Revelation 22:15

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. Philippians 3:14-19

Jesus also taught that the eye is the lamp of the body. In other words, what we let in can either enlighten our body and therefore the resulting actions, or it can do the opposite. God's word is a light for our path and a lamp for our feet. (Psa. 119:105) In the parable Jesus told, the wise virgins were READY when the Bridegroom (representing Jesus) came for them with oil in their lamps so that they could see the path to Him. The oil represents the Holy Spirit, who illuminates the Scriptures for us and gives us the gift of faith (and repentance–first from unbelief and then from “dead works”, i.e. practicing sin). Faith comes from hearing the word. (Matt. 25:1-13, Heb. 11:8) It's how we know our Savior's voice and follow Him. (John 10:27)

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" Matthew 6:22-23

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 1 Thessalonians 5:2-8 

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

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 2:24-26

All ten virgins in the parable were WAITING for the bridegroom and started out with oil in their lamps, but half of them let their lamps GO OUT! They thought it was sufficient to accept the Good News and then go back to blending in with the world, like the seed sown on the thorny path in the parable of the sower. (Matt. 13:18-23, John 15:1-15) Apparently, they didn't "hold fast to their crowns" as Jesus instructed in His letter to the Church of Philadelphia? (Rev. 3:10-13) The foolish virgins do return and ask to be let in, but Jesus doesn't KNOW them. How tragic!!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20 (Also see Matt. 26:41, Rom. 8:13, Gal. 5:16, Gal. 6:7-8)

Common sense tells us that if we put on clean white clothing and then go and roll in a mud puddle, that we will no longer be clean. The good news is that forgiveness and cleansing IS available for any sin we confess and repent of.

For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:18-22

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 1:6-10

The context above is those who are walking in darkness, i.e. deliberately practicing sin, and claiming to be "walking in the light" - claiming their garments are still WHITE. Think about it, no one who is not already saved is "walking in the light" in the first place (John 8:12), and so all their efforts at trying to please God will fail. The FIRST step is belief. Also see Hebrews 10:26-39 and 1John 2:1-6, 1John 1:28-29, 1John 3:4-22.

Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. Revelation 3:4-5

In this next passage, Peter sees a vision that is given to him to teach him a lesson about how God is the Savior of the Gentiles as well as the Jews. This explains what the food restrictions were pointing to all along, to demonstrate a separation between Jews and Gentiles. (Read the rest of the chapter about Cornelius and his family, the first Gentiles to receive the Holy Spirit.)

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. Acts 10:9-16

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, “‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’ Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. Acts 15:1-20

For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:28-29

But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” Acts 21:25

Regarding the restraint from eating food sacrificed to idols, that is for the benefit of any who actually believe there is any other "god" than the one, true God.

Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. 1 Corinthians 8:4-13

As for not eating or drinking blood, that is because the life is in the blood.

“If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood. Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off." Leviticus 17:10-14

So people who say that if the Christians observe the food restrictions, then they'll repent of their sexual immorality are sadly misled. Everyone used to know this, but the culture has declined to such an extent that sin is accepted (and more so every day).

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 

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 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. 2 Timothy 3:12-15

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:15-18 

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:14-18

The grace of Jesus is not to be perverted into sensuality, replacing the knowledge of Him is that He is HOLY and desires His people to be conformed into His image. "Denying our only Master and Lord" includes refusing to OBEY Him, in addition to saying there are other ways to be saved. Don't think that the rest of the New Testament (or the Old Testament either, for that matter) disagrees in any way with the words of Jesus. (John 5:39-40, Luke 24:27) Once we are saved, we're meant to do His will out of love for Him as our Savior. (2Cor. 5:14-15, John 14:15-24, John 15:8-10, Eph. 2:8-10, Col. 1:9-10) We’re FREE, but not for the purpose of sinning. We will be judged by Jesus as to how we used our freedom. (Jam. 2:12) Don’t trade your inheritance for a “bowl of soup.” (Heb. 12)

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

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Romans 6:1-2

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 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? 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, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:15-18

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. 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 4:1-8

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:4

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 2 Peter 1:3-15

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:43-49

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