God’s Dwelling Place…

Revelation 21:2-4 (NIV)

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Our Verse of the Day always stirs my imagination and deepens my longing for that Glorious Day! I think of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians as he quoted the Prophet Isaiah:

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NIV)

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived,” (Citing Isaiah 64:4) —  the things God has prepared for those who love Him — these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Indeed, there are things that God has revealed to us by His Spirit. Yes, there is a day that awaits the people of God … that glorious day when Jesus returns to “take” us to be with Him so that we may be with Him in the place He has prepared for us! 

John 14:1-4 (NIV)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

And what captures my thoughts is this promise: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.” So, I searched the scriptures to find additional references to this promise of God to dwell among His people. Here are a few for your consideration:

Exodus 29:44-46 (NIV)

“So, I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.

2 Samuel 7:23-24 (NIV) – See also 1 Chronicles 17:22

And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for Himself, and to make a name for Himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.

Jeremiah 24:6-7 (NIV)

My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Jeremiah 31:33 (NIV)

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ezekiel 11:19-20 (NIV)

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

Ezekiel 34:23-24 (NIV)

I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and He will tend them; He will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.

As I read through the prophecies of Ezekiel, my heart trembled and I just had to smile at these words he wrote under inspiration. Look at the language he used … the message. I can only imagine the connection and confirmation that the Apostle John felt as he wrote The Book of Revelation….

Ezekiel 37:22-28 (NIV)

I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”

It is clear to me that God has always desired to dwell with His people … the living beings He created for fellowship with Him. We are the object of His great love and affection! Over and over, He has said: “I will be their God, and they will be my people.” This is the created order! The first living beings, Adam and Eve, communed with the Lord until their transgression … when sin breached their holiness and separated them from God. Yet, God has passionately pursued His people ever since! God has continued through the millennia of human history to reveal Himself and His holiness to His people. In these last days, God has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe. (Cf. Hebrews 1:1-3) It is ONLY in Christ Jesus, through the atonement of His blood, that we are restored to holiness and fellowship with the Father. And I believe it is in Jesus that Father God makes His dwelling place among us both now and forever….

Revelation 21:5-6 (NIV)

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is finished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

My friends, these ancient prophetic words are trustworthy and true! Yes, the Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent His angel to show His servants the things that must soon take place. (Cf. Revelation 22:6) Let us share with the world: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” (Cf. Isaiah 55:1-3)

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! ~ Revelation 22:20

Keep His Covenant…

Psalm 103:17-18 (NIV)

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.

Psalm 103 is a beautiful meditation of David. In its 22 verses, he explores the foundations and depths upon which intimacy with God is established. Here we find David speaking to his own soul … addressing his inner being with truths about the nature and character of God that can only be understood and appreciated by the soul. As God is Spirit, our relationship with Him must be in the spirit realm … in a transparent form where nothing is hidden and truth abides. Psalm 103 invites us to think deeply and introspectively about the God who created us and His relationship with us:

1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits—
3 Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever;
10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him;
14 For He knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 The wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlastingthe Lord’s love is with those who fear Him,and His righteousness with their children’s children—
18 With those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.

19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His word.
21 Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will.
22 Praise the Lord, all His works everywhere in His dominion. Praise the Lord, my soul.

(Verses 1-6)

I’m really glad that David began this Psalm with praise for the nature of God. He tells his soul, “Praise the Lord.” In my view, David “commands” his soul to praise God as he unfolds the “reasons” for doing so. He says to himself, “Do not forget all the benefits that the Father has bestowed your life.” God forgives ALL your sins and heals ALL your diseases. He redeems your life from the pit … the dark abyss of sin. He crowns you and intentionally places His love and compassion upon you. His favor promotes good things to bless your life. He works righteousness and justice for those who have been oppressed by others…. And that is just the beginning of how God acts on our behalf.

(Verses 7-13)

David now continues to explore how God manifests His character. God revealed His ways to Moses and displayed His works among His covenant people. From what has been reveal and demonstrated, David concludes that the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. David observes the kindness of God in that He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. David senses in his soul that the love of God … the forgiveness of God … the compassion of God surpasses our ability to comprehend.

(Verses 13-18)

David shares that what He experiences in His relationship with God is special. The intimacy he has come to know with the Creator … the benefits of fellowship with God the Father … is for those who fear Him! Indeed, His great love is for those who fear Him. (Verse 11). The Lord has compassion on those who fear Him (Verse 13). Yes, His love is with those who fear Him … with those who keep His covenant … with those who remember to obey His precepts. (Verses 17-18) As David wrote in another Psalm: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge (trusts) in Him.Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Cf. Psalm 34:8-10) To fear the Lord is to exalt and reverence Him. Indeed, there are no benefits nor rewards in life except for those who fear the Lord … for those who keep His covenant and obey His command.

(Verses 19-22)

David concludes this meditation within his soul with a declaration of the sovereignty of God. His throne is established in heaven! His Kingdom is the only authority throughout the universe He created. And this conviction ignites praise and worship within David again. David sees that ALL creation is subjected to the Lord God. ALL are commanded to obedience … ALL are enjoined to worship the Almighty God! His Word … His Will … His Works have been revealed to ALL creation. So, David commands his soul, “Praise the Lord!” For the soul of every living being WILL bow before Him; and every tongue will acknowledge Him. (Cf. Isaiah 45:22-24; Romans 14:10-12; Philippians 2:9-11)

Here is the application I have found. I cannot know the blessings or rewards of God apart from an intimate relationship with Him – a covenant relationship that He initiated and conferred upon me through His Son, Christ Jesus. The Apostle John explains, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (Cf. 1 John 4:10) And Paul wrote: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Cf. Ephesians 2:8-9) Indeed, there is nothing I have done to earn it or deserve it … but I am compelled in my innermost being to respond to His irresistible grace and love with great reverence. For I am convinced that His desire for relationship with me is knowable, and the thought of such love overwhelms me!

David said the love of God is everlasting with those who fear Him. His compassion is on those who fear Him. So, we need to understand this “fear” … this “reverence” … for God our Creator. To show reverence is an intentional act; and it encompasses how I regard God with the highest honor and deepest respect. Shall we not humble ourselves, and repent, and submit to Him in faith? Shall we not observe His commandments which reveal His will? God said, “Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord.” (Cf. Leviticus 22:31) Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (Cf. John 14:15, 14:21; 15:10) Shall we not worship (love) in the manner that God has ordained? Obedience demonstrates our love. Obedience reveals truth. And obedience is better than sacrifice. (Cf. 1 Samuel 15:22)

My friends, I hope that something said here will resonate with your soul. What King David imparted in his Psalms is prophetic of the intimate relationship God desires with us in Christ Jesus. Indeed, the grace of God we know and experience in Christ Jesus should elicit an overwhelming desire within us to love and adore Him … which is manifested in truth through obedience. Reverence IS obedience … because the New Covenant has not been written on tablets of stone; rather, it has been written on our hearts.

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39

Finish The Race…

Act 20:24 (NIV)

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Our Verse of the Day shares a deep introspection from the Apostle Paul … a perspective on the “meaning of life” that each of us search to find at some point on our journey of faith. Indeed, living out and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ IS the task of every believer … regardless of our vocation, location, or situation in life. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Cf. Ephesians 2:10) And so, we have been saved to do the good works ordained for us. As Paul reminded the Colossians: “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3) Likewise, he preached to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Cf. Galatians 2:20) Like Paul, we too are to complete the tasks God has given us to do … “being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus. (Cf. Philippians 1:6)

Up to this point in Acts 20, Luke has been documenting the missionary journey undertaken by Paul and the evangelical opportunities for ministry afforded to him along the way. It has been a fruitful journey, but there have been hardships and challenges in the midst of preaching the Gospel and discipling elders in the churches he labored to establish. This is the backdrop when we reach our passage:

Acts 20:17-24 (NIV)

From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Paul is in route to Jerusalem.  His mind is made up … his determination will not be thwarted. Regardless of the dangers and hardships that await him along the journey, Paul is committed to complete the task that he received from the Lord Jesus.  Though he is convinced in his own spirit that the end of his life and mission draws nigh, none of what the Holy Spirit has revealed to him alters his decision. He confides: “I do not count my life of any value or dear to myself. I must finish my course … I must run this race. I must complete the work and ministry that was given to me by the Lord Jesus … to preach the Gospel.” What incredible resolve! What an awesome testimony of faithfulness! We would all do well to follow the example of Paul….

I found his use of the word “race” a salient metaphor. To me, the word conjures images of physical exertion; the need for both strength and conservation of energy in order to endure; and a sense of urgency to finish in a short amount of time. This should be our focus as well … as we look to fulfill our mission as the Church. There should be a sense of urgency for us to share the Gospel of grace as well. Like Paul, we need to hear the direction of the Holy Spirit and be under compulsion to advance the Gospel. Indeed, there is a race for each of us to run, not in vain competition, but to advance the Kingdom of God with the utmost imperative to act promptly, decisively, and without delay.

Paul declared, “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus Christ as given me.” He indicates that this “mission” … this “purpose” … surpasses everything else once deemed important in his life. Paul counts his life and previous ambitions as worthless in comparison to the work he became commissioned to do. In essence, Paul was saying that nothing (prison or hardships) would deter him from completing the good work he was created in Christ Jesus to do. He reasoned: whatever the risks of following the Lord Jesus and accomplishing His will for my life is more important than my own inward, personal aspirations I used to have in life. It represents a complete surrender to the will of God, and I believe this is an important principle for us to embrace in our walk of faith….

I sometimes wonder if we ever feel the same way? Do we purpose for every action and activity done over the course of the day to be integral to the ministry which we have received from the Lord Jesus? That was the heart of Jesus. That was the practice of the Apostles. That is the challenge to the Body of Christ! Will we endeavor to let what we do demonstrate who we are in Christ? As you can see, this verse has challenged me to look inwardly … to ask what value my life brings to the Kingdom of God? Is my aim to grow a larger business or to have greater impact on the spread of the Gospel? The question explores which purpose or objective is at the forefront of my thoughts as each day unfolds? Is my vocation the aim of my life … or is the focus to complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me to do? I think these are questions that many of us ask ourselves.

But even as I ask these questions, I wonder: “Do these options have to be mutually exclusive – meaning both cannot happen at the same time?” God forbid! I believe the answer should be they are mutually inclusive – meaning neither can happen independent of the other.  What I do for a vocation can and should be aligned and integrated with the work God prepared in advance for me to do.  For God should not be relegated to a part of my life … when He IS my total life. Thus, I believe our occupations should facilitate the achievement of what the Lord Jesus has commissioned for each of us to complete during our time here on earth. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Cf. Acts 17:28).

My friends, when the Word of God convinces our souls of the truth and we place our faith in Jesus, a new dimension of life enters our existence. Our spirits … our inner beings … are born again! Our concept of “self” is radically altered. We are changed from within! We are new creations! The old has gone, the new is here! And so, the value or worth we placed on our previous existence is changed as well. What we thought we valued for our lives is replaced with a “purpose” of far greater significance. Our lives, resurrected in Christ, have a new motivation: to live worthy of the Lord; to please Him in every way; to be productive in His Kingdom for His glory! As Paul encouraged, “Forget what is behind and press onward to what is ahead.  Press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Cf. Philippians 3:13-14)

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. ~ Hebrews 12:1-3

No More Condemnation…

John 3:17 (NIV)

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

Our Verse of the Day is perhaps the greatest news we could share with anyone who is struggling with their past failures and feeling unworthy of the redemption and reconciliation Father God has offered to the world through Jesus Christ! Self-condemnation can be a vicious stronghold to break if our concept of a God is one of judgment and wrath alone. To be sure, Scripture reveals both the judgment and wrath of God … but both are reserved for those who reject Christ Jesus and do not place their faith in Him. Indeed, this verse declares the kindness and love of God so that each person is given the opportunity to repent of their sins and failures. Let’s look at this verse in the surrounding context:

John 3:16-21 (NIV)

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

God sent Jesus to be the atonement for the sins of the world. That is the purpose for which God gave Him to us. It is the atonement of His blood that we are to believe and receive … to place our faith in Him and to proclaim His self-sacrifice as all-sufficient to pay our sin debt and to redeem us from the condemnation of sin. Whoever believes in Him is no longer condemned! Believers have been set free … forgiven … released. Believers are no longer under the law of sin (Cf. Romans 7:23-25) … but now abide under the law of liberty! (Cf. James 1:25) So the application here is to believe! Believe the testimony of God regarding His Son whom He sent to be our Savior. “Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Cf. Romans 2:4) As the Apostle John expounded: when we reject the testimony of God about His Son, Jesus, we have in essence called God a liar….

1 John 5:9-12 (NIV)

We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which He has given about His Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about His Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

God does not want us to live under the weight of condemnation, but God has made it clear that each human must make their personal decision about Jesus. Believe and receive eternal life OR reject and remain in condemnation. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Cf. Romans 5:8) A person is not condemned for what they have done … the sin they have committed … or their failure to live up to the moral law God has decreed; rather, a person remains under condemnation for rejection of God’s grace … for refusing the forgiveness and redemption He has offered to us through the death of His Son. Think about it a moment! God willingly sacrificed His One and Only Son for the sin of the world. Jesus is the only atonement God would accept because of His own holiness. The blood of an animal sacrifice is insufficient to purge sin. (Cf. Isaiah 1:11; Isaiah 66:1-4; Hebrews 10)

So, when a person rejects what God has done … what has God ordained for true life in Him … He allows that person to remain in condemnation because they refused to receive the propitiation provided on their behalf. When a person rejects Jesus Christ … they reject the Father as well. (Cf. John 5:22-24; 1 John 2:22-23) It is not a loving God that sends a person to hell; rather, it is a loving God who makes provision for a person to be saved from the condemnation and wrath of sin. That provision is His Son … Jesus!  And this is the message that we who are ambassadors of Christ are called to share.  As Paul asserted: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

Romans 8:1-10 (NIV)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set us free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

Do you know anyone who feels condemned or has fallen into self-condemnation? Share this good news with them! God has made provision to remove all condemnation through Christ Jesus. Let condemnation be replaced with conviction! Yes, let conviction bring confession … so that we agree with God that His Word and righteous decrees are holy and just. Oh, there is hope for the sinner who feels condemned! There is freedom for the captive and the broken-hearted! For the kindness of God is intended to lead us to repentance! God sent His light into the world, and His light has overcome the darkness! (Cf. John 1:5) I pray we will share that light with whosoever will listen; and pray God will grant them the gift of repentance and bring them to a knowledge of the Truth….

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. ~ Romans 5:15-19

Be Slow To Anger…

James 1:19-20 (NIV)

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires….

Our Verse of the Day affords us some great wisdom when it comes to interpersonal communications. The Apostle James shares some rock-solid advice when it comes to improving how we interact with others.  Quick to listen … slow to speak … and slower still to ever become angry. As James pointed out – human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires for our lives.  

King Solomon shared similar wisdom for our edification:

Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. ~ Proverbs 10:19

Whoever belittles and derides their neighbor lacks wisdom, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue. ~ Proverbs 11:12

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. ~ Proverbs 17:27-28

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart[a] of fools. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:8-9

I suppose there might be times for “righteous” anger to manifest itself. Consider Jesus in the temple with the money-changers recounted in Matthew 21; Mark 11; and Luke 19. But I think we are best advised to turn the other cheek in most cases – especially if the situation is simply going to be a “war of words.” As Paul advised: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Cf. Colossians 4:5-6) After all, we can always just agree to disagree…. Indeed, let us remember that the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Cf. Exodus 34:6; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2)

My friends, I believe we would be wise to follow the character and example of our Lord Jesus in our interactions with people.  Yes, let us be compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness. As Jesus commanded:  Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Cf. John 13:34-35)

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin.” (Citing Psalm 4:4) Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. ~ Ephesians 4:22-27

Be Patient With Others…

Romans 15:2 (NIV)

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

Our Verse of the Day offers us more relational advice.  Again, the context regards our relationships with others … our neighbors … and how we can live for their good as well as our own. I think we should review the context again because of its importance to the application of our walk with Jesus:

Romans 15:1-7 (NIV)

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. (Refer to Romans 14 concerning those who have religious sensibilities.) Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please Himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” (Citing Psalm 69:9)  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

What I see in the context here is that Paul is urging us as believers to be patient with and to help non-believers … non-Christians … in their walk with God. To be sure, Paul is focused on his fellow Jews and their need to receive Jesus as Lord and Messiah; but the principles apply to ALL non-believers. Paul emphasizes that the mercy shown to non-Jews (Gentiles) is evidence of the desire of God for ALL people to place their hope in Him and to glorify Him. And we who have received the light of Christ … we who have been born-again of the Spirit of God … are called to bear with the weaknesses of others who have not come to faith in Jesus.

With this goal in mind, I think we need to remember: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4) We see this every day in our culture … in our communities … among our neighbors. This is why we must persevere in prayer for those who are enslaved by their flesh (sinful nature) … for those imprisoned with addictions of all kinds … for those filled with unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger …  for those in need of deliverance and healing! And we must excel not only in prayer but in action as well. For even Christ did not live to please Himself!  This is why Paul admonishes us to accept people where they are … to find opportunities; to build relationships; and to be witnesses to the light and hope of the Gospel.

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (NIV)

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” (Citing Genesis 1:3) made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

As we endeavor to live at peace with everyone (Cf. Romans 12:18), we need to realize that living at peace does not mean we should ignore relational engagement; rather, it means our conduct and conversation should be peaceable. It means in the process of pleasing our neighbor, we are called to patience and to be willing to suffer for doing good. (Cf. 1 Peter 3:17) Sometimes, I suppose, that just goes with the territory. But Peter affirmed, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (Cf. 1 Peter 4:14)

My friends, I believe it is the desire of our Lord Jesus that we should be engaged with our neighbors and those around us.  It is our responsibility to seek their good and to build them up regardless of their response to our kindness or reaction to our message. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Cf. Colossians 4:5-6) For even Christ did not live to please Himself….

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. ~ 1 Peter 3:13-18a

Happy Mother’s Day!

Proverbs 31:10, 27-28, 30 (NIV)

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Our Verses of the Day come from the well-known, often quoted, Proverb 31. It is usually a launching text for Mother’s Day messages or sermons; and it presents some lessons for our consideration. I thought that I would simply reprint the entire Proverb for your reference and reading pleasure. I can certainly relate to its message to honor and appreciate all godly women everywhere … and especially those who are our own wives, mothers, or grandmothers.  

     The sayings of King Lemuel—An inspired utterance his mother taught him.

2        Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!

3        Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.

4        It is not for kings, Lemuel—it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer,

5        Lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.

6        Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish!

7        Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

8        Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

9        Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10   A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

11     Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

12     She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

13     She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

14     She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.

15     She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.

16     She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17     She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.

18     She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.

19     In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20     She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

21     When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22     She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23     Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24     She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25     She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

26     She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27     She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28     Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

29   “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

30     Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31     Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

My friends, it is my hope that you will have a wonderful time of remembrance, recognition, appreciation, and celebration of our mothers and the grace of motherhood. We are commanded by God to honor our mothers; and I am happy that we have a special day appointed for us to do so. It is my prayer that all mothers everywhere will be blessed for their faithfulness and devotion to their families.

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants. Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people. ~ Psalm 116:15-18

Forgive Each Other…

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Our Verse of the Day continues to address the subject of interpersonal relationships; and the issue of forgiveness is a prominent target….

If you think about it, forgiveness is one of the most important ways that we express and demonstrate love in our relationships.  Indeed, forgiveness is the most fundamental way that God demonstrated His personal love for us.  Romans 5:8 affirms that “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And the Apostle John declared:

1 John 4:9-11 (NIV)

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

It is evident that God’s expression of love is inseparable from His act of forgiveness of our sins; and I believe we would do well to keep that principal in mind.

Colossians 3:1-14 (NIV)

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive … someone with whom you need to be reconciled?  Think deeply about that question for a moment because the depth of our need for reconciliation and healing can extend far into our pasts … even to the moment of our births.  Past physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds, if not forgiven and released, WILL develop into roots of bitterness that can lead to anger, rage, and other behaviors that can constrict or inhibit the healing we so desperately need. Unforgiveness will lead our own hearts into sin because we have in essence rejected the command of Jesus to love as we have been loved.

When we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts, it will lead to inward thoughts that precipitate behaviors which manifest themselves as addictions and all kinds of self-harm. Roots of bitterness and unforgiveness can ultimately manifest themselves in physiological and neurological disorders.  If feelings of stress can debilitate a person’s body, it should come as no surprise that feelings of bitterness and anger can do the same. Our emotions are embedded in our bodies and souls. They are the expressions of our inner beings. So, we simply cannot underestimate the immeasurable toxic effects of unforgiveness on our bodies, spirits, or souls.

Father God wants us all to experience healing and deliverance in our lives … to receive the fullness of joy and peace in our lives … to be healthy and whole in our spirits, souls, and bodies. I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul prayed in intercession: “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) So, this is my prayer for us, that the God of peace … the God of reconciliation … the God of all comfort … the Father of Compassion … would instill in each of our hearts the transformative power of forgiveness! If we do not walk in forgiveness … we do not walk in love.

My friends, I am convinced that forgiveness is integral to the process of healing! It is the path that will lead to peace with others and within ourselves! And, again, let me remind you that forgiveness does not condone, excuse, or undo the sin or harm that was done; rather, it means we release the debt that person owes to us for the trespass committed.  Just as the Lord Jesus paid our debt through the cross for our sins and released (redeemed) us from the penalty (death) required for our offenses; we are commanded to do the same in our relationships with one another. This is what is means to be forgiven … to be set free! Therefore, I encourage you to release those who have sinned against you. Set them free from their debt to you. For in doing so, you will set your own body, spirit, and soul free at the same time! I cannot explain how this happens; I just know that it does. Healing is the supernatural power of God, and we can experience it in our lives if we would obey His command: “Forgive, just as in the Lord Jesus, God forgave you!”

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Dealing With Offenses…

Matthew 18:15 (NIV)

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.

Our Verse of the Day provides biblical instruction for dealing with conflict between church members, but I’m not sure it is being followed much these days…. The broader passage deals with working through disagreements and offenses, so I thought I would reprint it here for our reference and discussion:

Matthew 18:15-22 (NRSV) – Dealing with Sin in the Church

If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out their offense when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that brother or sister. (Cf. Leviticus 19:17; Luke 17:3; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20) But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. (Cf. Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28) If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a pagan or a tax collector. (Cf. Romans 16:17) Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will be released in heaven. (Cf. Matthew 16:19; John 20:23) Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? (Cf. Matthew 6:14-15) Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven. (Consider a possible parallel to Genesis 4:24)

The Gospel of Luke affords us some additional context on this subject as well:

Luke 17:1-4 (NIV)

Jesus said to His disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So, watch yourselves. (Cf. Matthew 18:6-7) “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. (Cf. Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13) Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

As you can see from the scriptural references provided, there is quite a volume of instruction for our study. I think the prominent theme is that we should be willing to go to fellow believers when we have been or feel harmed. If someone has sinned against you, you should go to them and tell them – IN PRIVATE.  Do not talk and gossip about them in public. Go to the one with whom you need to reconcile. And remember, the process of dialogue requires love. It requires listening. It might even necessitate repentance on your own part. The objective is to restore the breach in the relationship. The goal is to extend forgiveness! As Peter admonished in 1 Peter 4:7-8: “The end of all things is near. Therefore, be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (Cf. Proverbs 10:12; Proverbs 17:9)

Jesus stated that offenses would happen. The question is: “How we work through them in love?” More than our tithes and offerings … more than our gifts or sacrifices of praise … the Lord is concerned with the thoughts and intents of our hearts. He observes how we demonstrate our love for other people. Is our love sincere or just lip service? Is our love for others manifested in our prayers? God knows in truth! In Christ Jesus, the love of God was embodied in the greatest act of forgiveness … the unmerited release of our own sin debt. Likewise, it is our forgiveness of others that expresses our love for them. Oh, it may be difficult in our human nature to do so; but the precepts presented here in Scripture are too obvious for us to disregard or dismiss. Forgiveness does not mean what someone else did to you was acceptable. It was wrong. It was painful. It impacted, diminished, or desecrated your life in some way. What they did should NOT be tolerated; however, it can still be forgiven. You can still “release” them and pray for them … even if reconciliation with you is not possible. In doing so, you affirm God has been merciful to you….

Remember, God did not excuse our sins! What He did was release us from the judgment for them (death). In most cases, we all still suffer from the consequences of our sin. Perhaps this is why the Apostle James encouraged us to confess our sins to each other and to pray for one another so that we may be healed of our brokenness. (Cf. James 5:13-16) I think his message is that not only should we “release” the one who sins against us, but we should advocate in prayer for their “release” in heaven. In other words, when we forgive someone, we should ask God to forgive them as well. It does not necessarily change the consequence(s) of their sin(s), but the intent is to release the debt owed for their offense just as God in Christ released you and me.

My friends, communication and interaction are essential for forgiveness and reconciliation to be realized. We are expected to “confront” our offenders. But should go to them in love … even when we should feel righteous anger toward them. How we feel is important, but how they are separated from you and from God is the greater issue to be addressed. When people sin against each other, we must realize that we sin against God. There should be a deep sense of sorrow for the offense. There should be a great desire to effectuate reconciliation. The impulse to seek revenge should be counterbalanced with a deeper desire to see repentance and restoration. And even though you act in a spirit of grace, there could be ambivalence or indifference on the part of the offender. Still, we should do what is right and then commit them to God….

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most-High God, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. ~ Luke 6:27-37

There is Now … No Condemnation

Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Our Verse of the Day is a great reminder that those who believe in Jesus … those who receive Him as Lord and Savior … those who are IN Him through the power of the Holy Spirit … are no longer under condemnation.  The Apostle John revealed these theological concepts in his Gospel narrative when he recounted the conversation that occurred between Jesus and Nicodemus, a member of the ruling Jewish Council:

John 3:1-19 (NIV)

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again (from above).” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You (plural) must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So, it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still, you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up (exalted), that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.” For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

The essential message is that Christ Jesus saves us from the certain condemnation of sin when we placed our complete faith in Him and His finished work on the cross to atone for our sin and redeem us from the penalty of sin – spiritual death and eternal separation from God .  Condemnation does not happen because we have sinned.  Condemnation of sin continues because a person has not believed in Jesus Christ for their salvation from sin.  John even goes on to say that condemnation is the outcome of a hardened heart that desires the darkness of evil rather than the light of righteousness.  We were condemned already … the death sentence of sin was upon us … until Jesus redeemed us from the empty way of life handed down to us from our ancestors. (Cf. 1 Peter 1:18-19) The Apostle Paul explains this issue in further detail for us:

Romans 5:17-19 (NIV)

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Look at what that Scripture states: ONE sin resulted in condemnationONE sin required the sacrifice of the Son of God upon a cross!  Oh, how I pray none of us will ever take ONE sin in our lives for granted. One sin cost Jesus Christ His life to redeem us – just ONE sin! THAT is how God in His holiness views the offense of just ONE sin in our lives! So, we need to stop overlooking, rationalizing, and dismissing the thoughtless irreverence of the slightest sin we commit. Sin is that serious in separating us from God; and it requires the most extreme expression of atonement … an atonement none of us is capable to perform or offer for ourselves. But the good news for us is that there is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! Though all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, God has demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (Cf. Romans 3:23; Romans 5:8) This is the glorious news of grace that we should be sharing with those who have not yet come to a knowledge of the truth….

My friends, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath (condemnation) remains on them. (Cf. John 3:36) Only those who believe in Christ Jesus have been set free from the penalty of sin – which is death! Our sins and transgressions have been forgiven! We have been set free from all condemnation! Jesus declared, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (Cf. John 8:36) So, let us rest in His finished work and the promise of His word. Amen.

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. ~ Psalm 32:1-2