Perfected By The Word

Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask him for a loaf, will he give him a stone; or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent?” Matthew 7:9-10 ASV

Life lessons…We have them every single day. We learn these lessons in many ways: From our own experiences, from others’ experiences, from others’ advice, from reading, listening, and watching. Life lessons can help us become a better version of ourselves and they can help us help others. But do those life lessons come from God?

Many people say that God sends these tough lessons that burn us, hurt us, make us better, and make us bitter. Is this what He does? Is this how He teaches us? Does He make us sick, give us stress, give us pain? Does He give us a stone when we ask for bread or a snake when we ask for fish? Does God heap upon our lives pain and destruction in hope of perfecting us?

Well…the Bible is His letter to us and in it, Jesus–God’s Word in the flesh (John 1:14)–answers these questions. Let’s see what He says.

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” Matthew 7:11 ASV

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 KJV

God gives good things to His children. He does not change. He does not vary. His gifts are always good. We change. We fluctuate. We fight the fleshly remnants of the old sin nature we used to have before we became born again. But God has never had a sin nature. He NEVER changes. His gifts are ALWAYS good. Period.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV

The scripture is inspired by God and it is to be used by us to determine our doctrine, to point out our faults, our need for a savior, for correcting us when we stray and for teaching us about righteousness and how to live a holy life.

God gave us the scripture to teach us.

Are these trials and troubles God’s judgment for our sins? No.

Under the Old Covenant law, God judged sin. In the future, sinners, those who reject Christ, will be judged for rejecting Him (Revelation 20:11-15) and there will be judgement for Christians, not for salvation, but according to their works (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). But God is NOT judging us now. God is not judging sin now.
So, our trials, our pain and our problems are not judgement from God and they are not lessons He sends to teach us. Sometimes they are the consequences of our decisions, our own attitudes, our own sins, and our own neglect of the command to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16).
Sometimes they are the consequences of living in a world full of sin, ruled by Satan-the prince of this world (John 12:31). “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19 ESV
But they are not from God.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12 KJV

Jesus came to free us from the worry of the trials that we experience. Yes, this world gives us trouble, but our peace is from within. It is from Jesus Christ–God Almighty–that lives in us. Christ overcame the world and all that is in it. We, too, can overcome through Him, if we choose to walk in Him. Every. Single. Day.

If we are drowning in mire of the trouble this world and its ruler offers, then we are not focusing on the right things. Peter WALKED ON WATER when Christ was his focus, but he began to drown when he looked at the storm around him and set his mind on fear instead of his faith in Jesus Christ.

It is a fight. We have to consciously choose every day to keep our focus on Him. We have to choose to think on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable,” “excellent, and worthy of praise.” We have to choose to keep our focus on Him and all of His wonderful and beautiful gifts. Our enemy wants to destroy us (John 10:10) and he will IF we let him. He will do his best to steal our joy and keep us down and distracted. But the Christ within us gives us the power to beat our enemy.

Pray for the Holy Spirit–for He is the source of power of God. We cannot win this fight on our own, but God Himself came to earth and will fill our hearts, minds, and lives with His amazing power and He will overcome all problems, pain and frustration in our life and give us a peace that when we stand in the midst of every bit of Satan’s destruction and the storm is roaring around us and it looks as if there is no escape, we will know better; we will be at peace. Like Stephen as having the face of an angel, when he was dying from being stoned, he had peace and forgiveness for his murderers (Acts 6:15, 7:60).

My friends, this is our goal—so much of Him and so little of us that we are not stirred by the trials and troubles around us.

He is our Rock. He is our foundation. He is our Father and He loves us.

We should love Him enough in return to credit Him with our blessings rather than blame Him for our pain.

Biblical illiteracy is killing God’s people. Study the Bible enough to know that when you hear anything that contradicts it, you can reject the false teaching. When you have that unsettling feeling that you get when you hear some religious teachings, look it up. Study it. Pray with a genuine desire for God’s wisdom. He will teach you what is right. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26 ESV

The Holy Spirit teaches us, Jesus teaches us, the scriptures teach us.

We are perfected through His Word.

To Him Be All The Glory!

An Incomplete Picture of God

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 (KJV)

What is the picture you have of God? Is He a God of only grace and mercy? Is He a God of only wrath and judgment? Will you lose out with Him when you sin or does He overlook your sin?

For many of us, there is such difficulty reconciling the Old Testament and the New Testament. Knowing pieces, stories and token scriptures gives us an incomplete picture of God…It leads us to knowing about Him without actually knowing Him. Taking a look at the big picture the Bible presents to us, we can gain an understanding of how God has dealt with people throughout history and this will help us to see Him for who He truly is.

The Bible is a book of covenants. According to Merriam-Webster, a covenant is a “formal or binding agreement; a written agreement or promise usually between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.” Since the beginning, God has been dealing with mankind through covenants. Adam and Eve could have lived forever (spiritually and physically) upon the condition that they obeyed God. A covenant is entered through free will, so through the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life, He offered them the option to choose His perfect plan or not. After Satan’s temptation, they questioned God’s Word and decided to rule their own lives rather than let their lives remain in God’s perfect control, they sinned and died spiritually which would lead to physical death, as well. He then explained to them the curse that their sin brought on them and, consequently, their descendants. Yet, He also told them that He would send a Redeemer to crush Satan and buy humanity back from death. God had a plan. One man’s sin brought death and there would be one man whose death brought redemption.

Here we see God’s covenant of grace. Genesis 3:22-23 (KJV) says “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: Therefore, the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” By His grace and mercy, God prevented Adam and Eve from eating from the tree of life and living forever in a doomed state of eternal spiritual death.

Although God was not imputing their sins unto them, sin began to destroy mankind. Pain, hardship, murder, hatred, bitterness, resentment, polygamy, etc., had become the norm and by chapter 6 of Genesis, sin was taking such a toll that God “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth.”

Even after cleansing the wickedness through the flood, sin still abounded and the effects were felt deep for many years. Because of this we then see, God offered a new covenant, the law, to help slow the spread of the destruction of sin (Galatians 3:19) and to show man what His holy standard was and how people were not living up to it and could not live up to it on their own. The law shows us our need for a Savior.

Yet, the law did not nullify God’s grace (Galatians 3:17). It was God’s temporary, necessary plan. It provided a way for us to see that we cannot earn our own right standing with God and teach us that we need a Savior, someone innocent to offer an eternal sacrifice for our sin. We would never accept Christ if we don’t see the need for a Savior. Paul explained in Romans and Galatians that the law was our teacher. It brought sin alive by showing us that without Christ we are sinners and in our own actions, we cannot meet God’s standard.

The covenant of the law shows us just how much God hates sin and that there is a price that must be paid for sin—death. Either we pay for our own sin through eternal damnation (spiritual death) or we find an innocent man to pay for it for us.

Because Adam’s sin affected all people, a man born of his seed would not qualify. God’s seed would be the only seed that would be able to produce a human sacrifice for all people.

How beautiful the next covenant is…the new covenant is provided through God’s seed, Jesus Christ. When He was on the cross, He became our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). He paid the price that we owe for our sinful state and now He lives again and offers us the chance for eternal life once more.

God’s new covenant is open to all people. We can choose to regain our perfect relationship with Him and rule and reign with Him in eternity or we can remain in our sin and accept the payment for it on our own through death and eternity in Hell with Satan.

So, what is the complete picture of God? From before the law, during the law and after the law, God has never changed. He has always been and is still full of grace, mercy, and love for His creation. He has always hated and still hates sin and the death that it brings. He has always been and is still just and fair. Sin has to be judged and paid for. He will judge sin and demand the payment someday. We will all stand before Him and those who rejected Christ and chose their own way will pay for their own debt. Those of us who choose to give control of our life through Christ will rule with God forever where no sin is present and no pain and no tears will ever be.

Who is in control of your life? John says, “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” ( 1 John 2:3 KJV) If He controls your life, you will want to do what He says. You may still battle the flesh that is not yet renewed, and make mistakes, get off track, but your desires change and you give Him control over your emotions, your thoughts and your actions and you don’t live a life dominated by sin any longer. If your life is ruled by sin, examine yourself and talk to God about getting your life on track.

Everyday of our lives that we choose to give Him control, we will grow stronger in Him over time.

In Him and His new covenant, we are free–free to stop living a life of sin that wreaks havoc on our health, our family, our peace and our happiness. Free to walk in ALL of His promises. All it takes is a choice–a choice of faith.

My friend, God loves us. He is not punishing us. Christ paid a heavy price for all of that.

I charge you to look at the complete picture of a loving, just God and give Him control of your life–not in word, but in deed, with all of your heart. He can make your life here on earth so much better than you can. He gives you power over Satan and his attacks, peace in midst of persecution and a sure hope that someday Satan and all his evil will receive the recompense for all he has done to humanity.

If you haven’t made that choice, make it today. It is not too late, but soon Christ will appear in the air and take those who have chosen Him to heaven to escape the sin, pain, and evil of this world. Choose Him now. You will never regret it.

If you have chosen Christ, I celebrate with you and encourage you to seek His Word for the victory we have in His power and tell others the good news.

I would love to pray with you…comment or send me a message on the contact page.

To a complete and perfect God be all the Glory!

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11 (KJV)

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12 (KJV)

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

God’s Word is the Seed

“And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4:26-28 KJV

“The sower soweth the Word.” Mark 4:14 KJV

Mark spends much of chapter 4 writing about Jesus describing the Word of God as a seed in the hearts of those who believe and are born again. This is such a powerful, yet commonly overlooked illustration of God’s Word. What does this parable mean and why in so much of the scripture does God talk about His Word?

Jesus gave us many parables about the Word of God–he refers also to the kingdom of God which translated means “royal power.” There is power in His Word.

It was His Word that was the seed for the creation of the heavens, the earth, and of all life on earth (Genesis 1 & 2).

It was His Word that was the seed for Mary to become pregnant. His Word was spoken, she accepted it in faith and His Word became flesh (Luke 1:31-38).

It is His Word that has healed us and delivered us (Psalm 107:20).

It is His Word that is the seed for our faith (Romans 10:17).

And it is the seed, that when planted in the fertile ground of our hearts and our minds and then carefully nurtured, in time (seed doesn’t spring up overnight) brings forth the fruit of holiness, goodness, faithfulness, love, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness and a stronger FAITH–the fruit of God.

Without the seed, there is no fruit. With the wrong seed, weeds appear.

Often, we want the fruit of God. We want to see God’s promises come to fruition. We want to walk solidly in the Spirit and have a strong faith that doesn’t waver in the storm. We want to see the “full corn in the ear,” a huge crop of all the goodness of God, yet, for many reasons, we plant little seed and what we plant, we barely nurture. Or we plant seed of doubt or destruction…Then when there is no crop or we find weeds of pain and fear, we wonder what went wrong.

God set up this world on the law of seed and harvest. What we see in our lives is a direct correlation of what seed we are planting. Christ was so clear that this life requires us to choose a path and when we choose Him, we must be diligent, just as farmers are. This cannot be a half-hearted attempt and expect to achieve a valuable crop of a victorious life that Christ promised.

Jesus Christ is the Word that became flesh. When we choose Him, put Him first in our life above our family, our job, our entertainment–When we love Him with the same love in which He loves us, we will plant His Word in our hearts and in our minds. We will study the Bible with the passion that we have previously studied other books. We will consciously choose to crucify our flesh so that we may know Him and we may be so full of Him that when the enemy attacks and the world squeezes us with sickness, pain, lies–It is His promises, His Word that comes out.

To get the harvest we want, we must plant the right seed and we must care for it diligently. We cannot just have a few scriptures memorized and quote them out of context (even Satan does that). We cannot offer a token devotion or prayer to God each day and expect to see what Moses, Elijah, David, Ruth, Peter, Paul, and John saw. We must know Him and His Word with the same commitment that they had.

We HAVE to know His Word. We must study it in context with which they were written, we must dwell on it, pray about it, speak it, and we must have faith that He, our great comforter, the Holy Spirit, will teach us all that God wants us to know (1 Corinthians 2:13).

God is faithful to His Word (Isaiah 55:11, Philippians 4:19, 2 Corinthians 1:20) and He will bring to fruition the promises He made. He took the first step–He spoke the seed and now it is our turn to accept it, plant it and believe–Just like Mary did.

So, let’s plant His seed today and everyday and walk in patience with a God-honoring faith that we will see His fruit over time. Then our testimony will be a bright shining light that will draw others to Him.

What an awesome God we serve!

Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

Redefining Love

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35 ASV

Love is the hallmark of a disciple of Christ. Our love should be the love of God and it should shine so brightly that when others look at us, they see Jesus Christ. But recognizing love has become so complicated because our world has redefined love. What is paraded before us as love is not God’s love at all.

Love today means “condone my sin, look out for my own best interest, make me feel good, give me an emotional high, tell me what I want to hear, never hold me accountable for my decisions, don’t ask me to do something that makes me feel uncomfortable or requires my effort. If you say or do anything that offends me, then you don’t love me.”

What is the common thread here? “ME.” It’s always about “me.” This isn’t love…This is self-centeredness which is ultimately the sin of pride. When we come to Christ, it’s no longer about us…It’s about HIM.

So, how can we know what love is? We need to look to God–the Creator of love, the epitome of love (1 John 4:8). What does He model for us? Let’s take a look at Him and see…

What do we see in Christ’s life on earth? Exactly the opposite of what we see in the definition of love today. Mercy, grace, forgiveness, holiness, selflessness…We see that everything Jesus Christ did was for others, not Himself. He healed them, He comforted them, He cried for them, He cried with them, He prayed for them. Our divine Savior gave up His comforts and took on the limitations of human flesh, took stripes upon His back and carried His own cross to a humiliating death orchestrated by those very ones He created, preserved, blessed, and came to save.

He did all those things, but you know what else He did? He did something that we see little of in our culture today. He told them them the truth. He didn’t tickle their ears and placate them. He loved so deeply that He was willing to tell people the truth even if they reviled and rejected Him.

When we let God’s love shine through us we will be more concerned about others than we are ourselves. We will do all the things that Jesus did and we will put others ahead of ourselves and that even means telling them the truth, sharing all of God’s Word…even if they reject us, even it is painful for them and painful for us. We should have the loving spirit of Jesus–not condemning, yet absolutely uncompromising.

Jesus Christ doesn’t compromise the truth because He loves, because He IS love.

And according to John 13:34, we should love that way, too.

So, let’s go shine His love. Let’s hate the evil that is behind people’s actions and words and let’s love them enough to give them grace and mercy and let’s love them enough to tell them the truth: that sin is real, Satan is real, but so is our amazing Father, God, and our Savior, Jesus Christ who bought us back from death and put us on the road to life–now and for eternity. Let’s tell them that they can accept the priceless gift that He is offering, if they want it. It is free, but it will cost them everything, yet it is worth even more.

” And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,  doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil;  rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; ]beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Love never faileth:…” 1 Corinthians 13:3-8 ASV

God’s Word Is Enough

Matthew 11:2-3 (KJV) “Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?”

John the Baptist was Jesus’ earthly cousin set apart even before he was conceived to be “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (John 1:23 KJV) preparing people for the ministry of the promised Messiah. John was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15 KJV). John’s entire life was devoted to God in a ministry like none other. John baptized Jesus and witnessed the Holy Spirit descending upon Christ and he witnessed God the Father’s own proclamation that Jesus was His son. John knew Isaiah’s prophecies. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah who was to come and save His people and he testified publicly to that fact (John 3:22-36 KJV). John lived a life of faith.

So, what happened to John’s faith when he was imprisoned by Herod? He sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was indeed the Messiah. How could he not know? How could he be questioning this? Was he wondering if his life’s work, his ministry, was in vain? Jesus was not the type of Messiah, the King of kings that they expected. Even John as intimately as he knew God and knew Isaiah’s writings, perhaps he had other expectations. Perhaps he was greatly discouraged sitting in that prison. Who wouldn’t be….but still…

John had experiences. Not just one, but many divine experiences. Enough that one would think that he could never doubt the truth, never doubt God and never doubt who Jesus really is. But “experiences” aren’t enough. Jesus himself showed us that in His response to John’s question. He didn’t chide him, but neither did he give John another experience. He didn’t give him an emotional, “feel-good” moment.

Matthew 11:4-6 (KJV)  Jesus answered and said unto them, “Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

In the midst of John’s languid faith and emotional discouragement, Jesus gave John the Word. He referred John back to Isaiah’s writings (Isaiah 52, 53). Jesus didn’t swoop in with a spiritual experience–He comforted John with God’s Word. Jesus, God’s Word in the flesh, reminded John of what God had said and reminded him that He was God’s Word accomplishing all that God had promised.

As a matter of fact, after John’s disciples left, Jesus went on to speak great things about John–that there was none greater born of woman than he! Now that would have been great experience for John..how uplifting and encouraging. But Christ didn’t give John that. He gave him the Word.

We can seek an experience. (Many churches even offer them now instead of worship services.) We can cry out for an experience. We can beg God to speak to us and give us a word for the moment, the month, the year. Yet…He ALREADY has.

Hebrews 1:1-2 KJV “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds;”

Jesus–The Word in the flesh, who dwelt among us (John 1:14 KJV)–spoke many things to us and we have them written down, easily accessible to learn, study, memorize, hide in our heart.

We are blessed to have literal translations of what He wants us to know. Why is it not enough? Why seek a modern or trendy postmodern experience? If God’s Word was good enough for John the Baptist, shouldn’t it be good enough for us?

Jesus Christ is Enough.

God’s Word is Enough.