Zephaniah 3:18

Zephaniah 3:18

I will gather [them that are] sorrowful for the solemn
assembly
Who are grieved and troubled, because they cannot meet at the time and place of religious worship, or attend the word and ordinances of the Lord; either through distance of place, or infirmity of body; or through the menaces and persecutions of men: and to be prevented the use of the means of grace, upon any account, is a great concern of mind to truly gracious souls: or who are filled with grief and sorrow “for the appointed time” F21; for the time of the Jews’ deliverance from their present exile, and return to their own land, which seems to be delayed, and thought long; and so it may seem to some of them in distant parts, after they are converted; and for whose encouragement this is said, that the Lord will in his own due time and way gather such out of all places where they are, into his church, and among his people, to join with them in religious worship, and partake of all the ordinances and privileges of his house; and also gather them into their own land, and comfortably settle them there: [who] are of thee;
belong to the church of Christ; or however have a right to, and meetness for, a place in it; are her true and genuine children, being born again; and which appears by the taste they have for, and their desire after, the word and ordinances: [to whom] thw reproach of it [was] a burden;
it being grievous and burdensome to them to hear the enemy reproach them with their exile and dispersion; with their distance from the place of worship, and their want of opportunity of attending to it: this was intolerable, a burden too heavy for them; it was like a sword in their bones, when they were asked, where is your God? and where are the ordinances of divine worship? and when will it ever be that you will attend them? see ( Psalms 42:1-3 Psalms 42:10 ) .


FOOTNOTES:

Burkius.

Read Zephaniah 3:18

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible

I will gather them that are sorrowful – for the solemn assembly, in which they were to “rejoice” Leviticus 23:40; Deuteronomy 12:12, Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 27:7 before God and which in their captivity God made to cease. “They were of thee” Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 2:6, the true Israel who were “grieved for the affliction of Joseph; to whom the reproach of it was a burden” Amos 6:6 (rather, ‹on whom reproach was laid‘): for this “reproach of Christ is greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,” and such shall inherit the blessing, “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you and east out your name as evil, for the Son of Man‘s sake; rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy, for, behold your reward is great in heaven” Luke 6:22-23.

Do Not Call ‘Conspiracy’ What the World Does

I’ve been blessed by the Lord to have work during the pandemic. My heart goes out to everyone who has been laid off or cannot work and earn a living. I pray you all may work soon. Work is a blessing. But now I have some days off, maybe a week, and I will enjoy it. My strained muscle may recover. Rest is also a blessing.

I have taken the recent events seriously enough, not venturing out but when necessary, praying for my aged parents, friends and family. I certainly moss fellowship with believers, going out to eat – and a whole lot of things really. And this is also a great opportunity to pour into the Word of God, examine myself, examine what is essential, examine the blessing of work, and continue to cling to the Lord for my spiritual as well as physical and mental health. I’m taking it all day by day, giving thanks to God daily.

I was thinking about what a Christian group on Facebook posted last week. They were discussing ‘conspiracies’, and what the Lord says, Do not call conspiracy what the world does.

Isaiah 8:12 “Do not call conspiracy
    everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
    and do not dread it.

And I’d been thinking about that all week, trying to find the words to respond, and grace to do so with gentleness so as not to be as quarresome. I didn’t quite agree with what they were saying about it, they supposing that collaborations the world calls conspiracy dont really happen, or, are seen by God – and dismantled by God before they reach their goal. I agree God sees all, and He is in control. But it seemed like the author of that post was saying, Dont even concern yourself with what may or may not be happening. I reject that in part because we are to be watching, on the lookout, so as not to be deceived and caught off guard. Worry, anxiety, fearfulness, we arent to be. Observant and discerning, we are to be. I can see the building up of what the Bible says will come, world government, a global currency, wars and pestilence and famine, the temple being rebuilt in Jerusalem, and more. These things are not human led conspiracy, not mere human will, but orchestrated in the spiritual realm.

What the Word is saying there is, that the world sees things in their worldly way, a human way, a human cause. And so they label evil cohorts by human understanding, ie its a conspiracy, they may say. Instead, the Word is saying, dont think of it that way, or label or explain it the way the unbeliever does, because they have no understanding. Its bigger than what they perceive. The worldly may sense something is happening, but they dont know what it is. Those people who seem to orchestrate their will in the shadows, they too are used and deceived, not knowing what they’re doing or for whom. But they are sinning and willfully rebelling against God, following instead the devil. And in the end they will not succeed, or themselves be instruments of God’s wrath, and be destroyed. If we use the language of the world, we think like the world, and we fear and have anxiety like the world. We are not to be like the world at all.

I read the news, or listen to it, almost on a daily basis. Sure, there not a lot in the media that bridges whats going on with how it meets scripture. Theres feqr mongering, theres deceit, political theatrics and rhetoric, theres puffed up arrogance and pride. Its not healthy to fixate on the news and let it put you into a panic. Not a lot of what friends and family bring to my attention in conversation had I not already heard about in some way. I like to stay aware of what’s going on; not so much locally, but nationally and around the world. And at times I can get pretty riled up about it all if I dont keep it all in perspective. I take a break, pray about it, study scripture and reclaim my bearings, regrounded in the Lord. And there are times when, Ive just had enough and take a long sabatical from paying any attention to politics. Politics is in SOS distress call, high alert mode at all times in the US, and probably around the world. When will it end?! When Jesus returns to establish His Kingdom and His name alone above all the nations. I am so ready for that to be right now.

And I do think there are evil people, groups, working every which way they can to sieze more power, to push sin as the new social norm, to establish world government and vast control, but I dont know that they really know what they’re doing or who they’re serving. Maybe some do know they’re serving the devil. And many others, who dont know and dont love God, serve the devil also and dont have the faintest clue. They worship money, their stomachs, are selfish, arrogant and altogether foolish. That’s one side of the aisle. And there’s another that seems to be trying to establish something of a renewed theocracy ahead of what only Jesus can do at His advent. And maybe there hundred of these sorts of groups, pursuing a world without God in the center or anywhere, all being led by the devil. But it makes no difference really. God is in control.

In any case, what the Word says will happen, will happen. I myself do not want to go along with any of the plans of the enemies of Christ, even when on the surface they may appear Christian and have ‘good’ intentions. Perhaps Im going off topic here. The point being, its okay to stand watch and try to discern the times, what’s happening and who may be involved in nefarious schemes, but the inspiration is not mans own invention. Its not human conspiracy, its rebellion against God. Sin is taking its course in the world, and making those caught in the snares of sin easy to control by the evil one. Think perhaps a donkey led by a carrot. But its not natural, its supernatural. So we arent to say what may be happening in the world is ‘conspiracy’, and neither should we get so caught up in it, to worry, fear, anxiety or faint because of it, because we should not be caught unaware. We were told well in advance what would take place.

But if we find ourselves feeling anxiety, fear, we should run to Jesus and lay our feelings at His feet, finding security, trust and hope in Him, in what He’s done, and going to do. For a little while we have to resist the devil, resist where the world is headed, and we do this by clinging to the Lord, observing His ways, his commands like a line drawn in the sand which we stand upright to and behind Him, venturing no further, neither to the right or left, nor apart from His will and purpose for us. The Word says, Resist the devil and he will flee from us. Resist sin, be consecrated to the Lord, be transformed, commit to His will, for His purpose and pleasure. He is our Rock, sheltering us from the blowing winds and raging waves of the sea. It would be foolish to let go and drift apart from Him in any way.

Read your Bibles, pray to the Lord for understanding. Believe that He is able and willing to give you wisdom and knowledge, and strength to resist any sin and this world, and take a stand to the end of this age. When I think on the Word that says, When the horrors begin to happen before the coming of Jesus, we’ll look uo to Heaven and know the time of our redemption draws need, I cant help but look to Heaven right now and thank God. There’s an end to this wicked world and only He knows when that will be. And I’m satisfied in Him. I’m sure of His mighty hand and outstretched arm, of the promises He has extended to me and you, and we can be assured, right now, that what He has said is true and He is trustworthy and totally in control.

Let’s keep watching, but let’s smile in the face of difficulties, give thanks, cast your cares upon the Lord, let your fear and anxiety go, ’cause all this worldly turmoil is only for a little while. We are loved by the Creator of all things! What awaits us is unsurpassed beauty, wonder, awe, peace, an eternity with Christ Jesus. I want to be so composed and strong when the world is dreading, I want to be love when the world has lost theirs. And we can be that, right now, when those around us may be looking for answers or reprieve, and wondering how we can so undaunted. This is a great opportunity to share the love of Christ and His Gospel to those who might hear. Who will hear and believe? I dont know, and that’s exciting. Lord, your Church increase!

Thy Will Be Done

May the Lord comfort you in times of trouble, steadying your hearts and minds and spirits in Himself. To give thanksgiving, to have drawn His line in your sand and stand, to do good and not tire of it, to continue to pray and not cease, to remember what He has done for you, to watch carefully what He is doing even now, to listen to what He is saying, and following Him in trust and love.

I’ve been contemplating this pandemic and wondering what it’s all about. Is it the Lord’s will, does it have a purpose, what good might come of it, what evil might fall. Every day so long as it is called today is an opportunity. Someone near you, and someone far off, may be saved. Prayer is powerful. Maybe many will come to Christ Jesus in this tumultuous time. I have prayed for my family, the Church, my friends and neighbors, that they remain untouch by the virus. Or is that totally correct? I rather want people to be touched by the hand of God, to be turned from their sin, to be awakened or reinvigorated, to see clearly, to hear the Word of the Lord sharply, and lift their eyes to Heaven, to the throne of God and His Right Hand, to give praise and thanks for all He is and does.

Throughout this trial, I have taken note of my own heart and spirit. I am not anxious, I am not fearful. Neither am I reckless. I give thanks to the Lord for His blessings, provisions, for his mercies, for the faith that is in me.

And it’s occured me that I should not stop at praying for this pandemic to end, but should and do add, Thy will be done. This is important, since I do not know the scope of His aim in these things, but I am sure that All things work together for good to those that love God, to those that are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

I am taking more note as to how I respond to people and articles I see on the internet, not wanting to either slander, or be mean, or hurt delicate faiths or bring the Church into public scorn for lack of agreement across members and denominations. It’s hard to know what to say, or how to say it. I’ve thought sometimes about what Paul said, that he presumed to know nothing except Jesus Christ and His Gospel. And so I’ve been working on myself, or rather submitting to the Lord’s wisdom, to temper my speech, knowing that if I have an opinion on say politics, or knowledge of what is right, and speak it into the air among those who, lacking grace by faith, cannot understand it any way and ridicule truth and wisdom and reply with antagonisms…is that fruitful? Not being gentle enough sometimes. And other times, perhaps casting my pearls before swine. It stinks to read an article about Christianity and see only mean-spirited, evil and heckling remarks in the comments section. I want to engage them and offer some insight into how wrong they are, correcting their abusive words, but they cant hear or see. They just want to quarrel.

I’ve found that ‘Thy will be done’ is in scripture some 90 times. This is more important than praying for the pandemic to end, I feel. God’s will be done, not mine. Not ours. His will. Take a moment to see what scripture says about, Thy will be done.

Thy will be done – 90 verses in Bible

We among Christ’s Church have a lot of questions right now. Should churches be closed. Should we defy stay at home orders and assemble any way. I personally dont think that I can be shut up from prayer. I pray. And I study. I can call on the members of the body. When given the opportunity, I talk with my family about Jesus, about studying His Word, about prayer. Those moments dont come around very often, and I dont know that they hear me, but Im still trying. We are not shut up or incapable of unity. We can study and pray and lift each other up, albeit over the phone or internet perhaps. Maybe a prayer for one another and the Church is like a virtual holy kiss or a loving embrace. I read and hear about some of the faithful catching the virus and some succumbing to it, dying. Pastors, teachers, choir members, and so on. Perhaps we need to reevaluate. What does scripture say? Who is the Church? We are the Church, not the building. Maybe the enemies of God have it mind that they can shut us up if they close our doors. And I dont know that governing authorities are singling out churches to close, when practically every business was closed for a time. I expect we will reopen in time, and I’ll be there at the door, ready to worshop together and fellowship. Our hearts are open, our hearts are softened, the Church IS open. You and I are the Church. Let us praise God, let’s give thanks, let’s surrender our fears to the Lord, let’s trust Him all the more.

Why aren’t all in the faith spared the virus? Some of us are testing God when we shouldnt, I think. I don’t reckon I know God’s whole plan through this pandemic, but I believe it has a purpose. We may use this time to evaluate our faith and readiness to stand in His Word. We may examing what constitutes the Church, you and I, and all of us together, sometimes separated by miles or theological differences or stay at home orders, but in the same family of believers united beyond what’s physical.

I decided recently that when the pandemic concludes, though perhaps it won’t be very soon, I want to enroll in a Masters of Divinity tract at a seminary, perhaps mostly or exclusively online. Id rather meet in a classroom and forge relationships, but I’ll do what I can. I envision that seminary tuition may be strained at most campuses if not all, certainly at this time, and yet the cost may be more palatable when they reopen. I dont want to go into debt again. It took so long just to get debt free. I would attend a seminary if I could pay it off as I go. It might never be as affordable as I think it will be soon.

Ive had a hard time these past 5 years or so grappling with the suggestion from some church leaders that I am not anointed and cannot serve in the body of believers, in some part of ministry or another. I think they are quite wrong. They ask me what the Lord’s calling on me is, and I have said clearly, citing scripture, To be filled with the truth, knowlege of the Lord, pursuing holiness and love, to take a stand and be ready at all times, to serve, and be willing, selfless, with gladness. I have said, I aspire to be an elder in the Church. The Word says that is a good aspiration. Yet I have been told, That is not the usual responce they hear, or want to hear.

Look, I dont want to argue about it any more. All Ive ever asked was to be discipled. And I think they take that as an affront, as if Im judging the local church or their leadership as not discipling. Well its true. Many a church body are not discipling, they’re not mentoring. At some point, they stress seminary, which coincides with the end of what theyre willing to teach you. But I am elated to learn that I am not the only one that feels this way. There are many students and some professors who say the same thing, I have found. Discipleship has long been divided. The body of believers divided. Milk for the lay person, meat for the obviously gifted and well spoken. That’s not scriptural, but its what’s common. For some who are perceived as natural leaders, charismatic speaker, teachers sand who have the financial ability to attend, there’s seminary. For everyone else, theres the local church. And leadership among churches have believed that practically only the seminary graduates are knowledgeable and capable to preach and teach and serve in a ministry capacity. All others are practically dismissed as lay persons, to sit in pews and organize picnics, mow the grass and pay their tithes. I find that to be disgraceful, and it is not what we see in scripture. Id like to see more effort in the local church to help the brothers and sisters recognize their talents and gifts, help each other through life and struggles with sin and expeeiences, and see to it everyone has a place to serve and are truly loved, belonging.

But my attending seminary, if I can get there, will not be an admission of defeat. I aim to bring discipleship back into the house of prayer, into the bible studies and offices and homes of all believers. We need to rekindle the biblical mandate that discipleship is for all believers, and being filled with the knowledge of God is not only for some who can afford it. At all times we should venture to know one another as brothers and sisters and love one another, more than blood. Lift one another up and teach one another, all being students, and none lording their education or authority over all others. I submit to the Lord, and point others, with grace and love, to do the same. Some of the leaders said, when I said I just wished to be more involved, more useful, serve, share my gifts, But you you you dont Have To do anything, right?

It wasnt a question, they were being rhetorical, trying to persuade me from asking anything further. For some reason they didnt think much of me or encourage me. I was wounded, but not down and out. It strirred me to understand and persevere. And the Lord’s Word filled my spirit and my mouth, just like it had the apostles and subsequent disciples, and like Paul said, I am compelled to serve out of an abundance of gratitide and love. How can I not want to serve, it’s who I am in the Lord. To me, the will to serve comes by faith, and faith by God’s grace. I do not want to be like that servant who hid his talents in the gound. The Lord freely gave me, and I will freely give. It all seemed to fall on deaf ears however, to my surprise initially and then it began to anger me. But it was reassuring some, to find that I was not alone in this experience. Searching online, I found a lof of men and women were so easily dismissed just like me.

The lack of grace and gentleness I received, I will pay back with an abundance of grace and gentleness. Though I’ve felt ignored and dismissed, I will bless. Though I’ve felt unloved, I will love the more. Though I was met with lack of patience, I will become most patient. I believe my motives are pure. My conscious is clean. The world surely tends to think that anybody who wants to give something freely only wants something in return. Surely, the Church cannot be like the world in this pessimistic, jaded spirit. But as I have discovered, some are. Or perhaps some like to keep the inner circle of a local church closed off. I don’t know.

I am not frankly sure that I am up to the task. I doubt myself. I dont even know exactly where the Lord may place me after I complete seminary. Early on, when I got saved, when I believed the Lord, I felt called to the mission field. I have stated that every time Ive met with a church leader, and can recall those conversations. Every time, it wasnt enough. One missions director said, How do I know you wont go and get caught up in sin a long way from home? And while I should have said, check my references, Ive worked with several pastors, let them vouch for me, I stayed quiet. I didnt know what to say. How do you judge me in hypotheticals without knowing me. Why dont you try. Just try. But they dont want to be bothered, I suppose.

In scripture we find that the various of churches had need for someone to go, and they chose men of good standing to represent them. Paul says he tried out a number of men, and some didnt work out, but Timothy and some others did. I was personally never given a chance, but dismissed without a thought, though I was in good standing and trusted by the pastors. I dont understand what was the matter, but those experiences really discouraged me for a time. It wasnt right. Remembering those times still rubs me the wrong way. How can it not? And yet it dawned on me at some point, that church and some others Ive attended, do not send their own people. They dont raise up qualified men to send on the mission field. I dont recall anyone else going except the youth group and a chaperon or two. Theyd go for two weeks to somewhere south or central america, build a church or paint or bring aid, sing and play with the children. It seemed more like a christian travel agency and a tiny taste of missionary work, more like humanitarian aid, than a serious mission sending team. And I think those experiences are good for youth, and good for the communities they visit. But we were a very large church. We sponsored men and women on the mission field, but they were not home grown missionaries. Some other church, some other men, raised these men and women up, not us. It’s a shame.

Yet I dont doubt the Lord though Ive had a lot of disappointing experiences like those. I am believing the Lord that He can and will make me what He wants. For what I may lack this moment, He will add. What I dont know right now, He will teach. If I waiver, if I so much as turn to the left or to the right, he will straighten and strengthen my backbone. The Lord has shown me kindness, mercy, patience. He has been incredibly patient. He has disciplined me as His son. I fear Him, and I love Him. And sometimes He says, Show me what I’ve taught you. And I am pleased to prove myself His son for his pleasure. Who am I trying to please? Myself? My earthly father or mother? Or gain the favor and praise of other men? Or God? My own brother called it correctly, I still care sometimes what others think, and sometimes it pains me, but I don’t let others dictate who I am or what I do, nor what I can or cannot do. If a leader tells you you cannot serve – for no biblical reason that would disqualify you, I would submit that they are not fit to lead. But even so, who am I that I can change how people feel or what they do or dont do. And I am not a trouble maker or sow dissension. Ive found it best to simply say, Ok, Lord, where do I go now? And where hes taken me these last few years has really surprised me. He has taught me Himself, through diligent study, difficulty, disciplining. I’ve often felt left out, but the truth is, I was taken in. And I get it now, what consecration means. And I got what I was yearning for, personal discipleship, personal relationship with the Lord. I was barking up the wrong tree.

I turned 40 over a week ago. No matter how old I get, I am always a child to God. I will never outgrow my need for Him. He will always care for me. I see in hindsight, He always has. My life has been a life filled with solitude, against my wishes, but I have come to realize that God has filled the space of my life, my heart, my thoughts, and spirit with Himself. He has broken me from this world, from desiring riches and status and things. And it’s wonderful. And nobody is impressed by it. Ha This is my personal experience. For some church leaders to insinuate it’s just my imagination (that the Lord has plans for me), it hurts. But I’ll press on. There was a choice, Whom shall I serve? And I’ve long made it. Now let me learn! Help me grow! Why are some standing in the way? I don’t get it. And if ever the Lord trust me to act in the way those I looked up to had, I will certainly not behave in the same way. This is not to say there havent been some great people in my life. Pastors, some old women I worked worked for, a few friends. But I certainly had expectations that it’d be a lot more. And much fewer disappointments. Even so, God led me to some that had hearts for Him and loved me, pouring into me what they knew. I will forever be greatful.

Now all I have to do is believe, trust, pray and listen for the Lord to direct my walk. Which seminary should I enroll in? I have a hard enough time finding a local congregation. And right now it almost doesn’t matter, seeing as we cannot meet in person. It may be soon, or it may be a long time. I want to be consistent and persistent. This is no time to relax and hang back; keep moving forward, if even from afar and under social distancing. Use your time wisely. I think it’s still right to obey the earthly authorities, as scripture says, as there is no indication that they are trying to cause us to sin against God. It may however be way past time we build up small home ministries, 2 or more people. But maybe right now, continuing to do so remotely. We have to remember even during this pandemic, there are widows and shut-ins who dont have anybody else; theyre home alone and may need help. How do we help them, safely? I do reject the premise of some that faithful christians cant be exposed to or spread the virus. We’ve seen that it doesn’t care who you are. What can we take away from that? I personally think we should respect how serious it can be, we dont know who it will hurt, and we ought to act responsibly out of love. This pandemic certainly stresses us and has some discipline lessons about it. I work Monday through Friday, wear a mask in stores, and keep my hands germ free as best I can. I pray, I continually pray, that I am helping not hurting, and that this pandemic ends, and yet Thy will be done, Lord.

I would challenge you, and myself too, to find some way to do good, to bless others, to share the love of Christ, without being seen by others for any reward or praise, not even among your Church family, or socalled nuclear family or even your roommates. Know this, what you do in secret, our Father who sees what is done in secret will reward in secret. Just between you and Him, carry on. And it couldnt be easier, what with wearing a cloth mask out in public. Call around, maybe a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen or pantry, ask what they may need? If they say just prayer, lift them up. If articles of clothing, see what you’ve got, drop them off. What could you do right now to make a difference in the life of another? And yet if somebody asks you, be prepared to answer to, Why are you doing this? Give praise to God the Father and to the Lord Jesus Christ your savior and redeemer.

I also wonder, if I cant quite find a seminary I fully agree with, I may… I may choose one any way rather than be complacent. I am concerned somewhat that I may be taught something that isn’t so, yet I trust God the more to make it known to me so that I am not decieved.

Do you want prayer? Just ask. I havent much of tangible things to offer, but I’ve got time, and I can encourge, and I can listen. Don’t forget to smile sometimes. God made giving feel good. It’s more blessed to give then to receive. That’s the way He made it, so be thankful and rejoice. God loves you! Be blessed.

Investing in the Kingdom

Global stock trading down, fears and worries up, disasters, pestilence – Is there a better time to share the Gospel and the love of Christ Jesus with your neighbor?

Matthew 25-32-46

Upon the Lord’s return, the Lord will gather the sheep and the goats. And He will divide them, putting His sheep on His right and the goats on His left.

The unrighteous will be called to account. Having not sown love, they will be cast out into what they have sown, into darkness, away from the Lord. They will weep and knash their teeth. To the rightoues in Christ, Jesus will welcome them into his abode and Kingdom. Come, he’ll say to His sheep, and share in your Master’s happiness.

For to-day he gives us a few things to invest for the furthering of His Kingdom. Those who believe, having put their faith in Him, believing the One who sent Him, will share their faith and will see gain. And those who gain will be commended and given more. The responsible are the blessed, are themselves a blessing to others, will be commended and will be rewarded.

The Gospel of Luke contains both the largest total number of parables (24) and eighteen unique parables; the Gospel of Matthew contains 23 parables of which eleven are unique; and the Gospel of Mark contains eight parables of which two are unique.

What have the parables of Jesus to teach us?

We need to inquire of His Spirit, How may I invest wisely in the Kingdom of God? What has He entrusted to me to invest? What have I gained for the Lord? Have I gained even a small interest from the investment for the Lord?

Delight in the Lord. Delight in what He delights in.

I started writing this in early March, and set it aside in my Drafts. I have many drafts, much of which I wasn’t initially confident in or thought that they weren’t quite complete. In any case, reviewing this draft after a little while, I like it. Yes, much could be added to it, but I’ll leave it be.

I’m reminded of Luke 12:47-48. The latter part of 48 we might recall. But the first part of this verse we may not. I find this common, that we crop some verses of the Lord’s Word and remember only the part but not the whole. I dont know why. You may lose some of the context of a verse when parapharsed of shortened. And of course, context comes before and often after a verse, where it is nestled like an egg in a nest built specifically for its care. Every word in scripture is given for a purpose. Jesus remarks on this, saying, Matthew 5:18…For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished

Luke 12:47 The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows.

48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Psalms 111:10

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

Meanwhile, be satisfied to be called a fool when it is seen by the unwise or otherwise haughty, the ‘wise in their own eyes,’ rather than by what is wise according to God’s Word.

Pagan Origins of Carnival – an Essay by Pastor Dale Morgan (2010)

From Rio to Berlin, from Turin to Trinidad, from Cologne to New Orleans, crowds filled the city streets in the annual bacchanal that precedes the Catholic holiday known as Ash Wednesday. Increasingly, these celebrations are being taken on by the British and American people as annual celebrations in a vein once foreign to the English-speaking peoples.

What does all this annual expression of unbridled hedonism have to do with the practice of pure religion?

Well, to understand that, we need to go back in history to the beginning of religion as recorded in both secular and biblical history.

The common view is that Carnival, or Mardi Gras, is, at its origin, a Christian festival that precedes the season of Lent, itself also assumed to be of Christian origin. Carnival traditionally has been seen as the last opportunity to let off steam and indulge the flesh before the denial that is supposed to accompany Lent, the 40-day period that precedes Easter, another annual festival that is assumed to have Christian origins.

But what are the facts?

We assume so much as we grow up, acculturated into an already established society that educates us into the common view of the day. Too often we accept the customs and practices of our parents—and their parents, as well as the generations that preceded them—without question. Yet honest seekers of truth will be led at some point to question the basis of society’s beliefs.

Take Carnival for instance. Its etymology suggests two sources. One suggests carne vale, from the Latin “farewell meat,” as the source. This would appear to be quite a legitimate meaning of the term, given that the onset of Carnival signals the last debauch prior to the fasting at Lent. However, there is another more ancient derivation for Carnival suggested in some sources, the Latin carnous navilus, being a term describing the naval vessel that bore the Teutonic god of the North from his northern home southward to join in the annual pagan winter festivities.

Mardi Gras, synonymous with the Carnival preceding Lent, translated from the French, literally means “fat Tuesday.” This is the final day prior to Ash Wednesday on the Roman Catholic calendar (Shrove Tuesday on the Anglican calendar), the Tuesday before Lent begins. Lent is a tradition in the Roman, Anglican and Orthodox versions of the Christian religion.

Ancient history teaches us that this religion began at Babylon, developed in Egypt, and passed its traditions down to the Greeks and Romans. These civilizations had one thing in common. The highlights of the year on the religious calendar tended to revolve around the winter, signifying the cessation of agrarian productivity and the anticipation of spring, celebrating the renewal of fertility. The pagans created annual rites and festivals around these seasons. Rome adopted and promoted the most widely practiced of these pagan festivals and spread their practice throughout its empire under its own names. Thus the celebrations around the winter solstice became the Saturnalia and Brumalia festivals of winter, celebrated in December. The pre-spring festivals at the onset of the final lean month of winter led into the spring festival of Ishtar in Babylon, or Osiris in Egypt, signaling new birth. In between was the “love-fest” of Lupercalia.

When the Roman Catholic Church began to spread its influence throughout the world, it found that, wherever it went, the natives hung on tenaciously to these annual pagan festivals. So the church simply compromised. Rather than force Catholic dogma on the local populations, it simply “Christianised” the pagan festivals enjoyed by the masses. Thus Saturnalia and Brumalia became Christmas, merging with the Catholic teaching of the nativity. The spring festivals, retaining the name “Easter” after the pagan fertility goddess Ishtar, merged with the Roman church’s interpretation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In between was Carnival, leading into Mardi Gras, out of which the Vatican created the season of Lent, leading to Easter, by imposing its own interpretation of Christ’s 40-days’ total fast in the wilderness by setting a time for the denial of meat in the 40 days leading up to its Easter celebration. In between Carnival and Easter, Lupercalia became catholicised into St. Valentine’s Day.

Following the Protestant Reformation, the various Protestant denominations that broke away from governance by Rome simply carried on celebrating the same seasons as the Roman church. One of the surprising things about all this is that those who say they base their religion on the Bible, the fundamentalists, can find no proof as to the endorsement of the pagan seasons that they still observe in the very Bible that they claim to follow, least of all in the life they claim to emulate, that of Jesus Christ Himself!

This essay is attributed to Pastor Dale Morgan (originally found posted on Google)

I am not familiar with Pastor Morgan besides this essay, but would like to read more of his articles, essays or sermons.

Perseverance of the Saints

Revelation 14:12-13 (KJV)
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

There seem to be so many different words in the various churches explaining what perseverance of the saints is. Yet, here in the scriptures we ought to see it plainly and clearly, without man’s wicked additive.

Mark 8:15 (KJV) “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

Among the churches, among students and theologians of various schools of thought, it is and has long been argued about the possibility to lose ones salvation. It does seem a possibility to me, since seeing in scripture evidences of some having turned away from the faith. Many stern warnings are there in the Word, both in OT and especially in the NT. For what purpose? Persons such as those who do not persevere in the faith of Jesus and the commandments of God lose salvation. Why? They willfully turn away, they deny that Jesus is the Son of God who came in the flesh, and follow some other god or gods, idols of the world and of their own making.

It may be that they never had faith to begin with, Not saving faith any way.

Very often we quote Matthew as saying. Beware of the yeast of the Pharasees. We need to note what came before and after that parceled phrase. “Jesus warned”…”and that of Herod”.

“The yeast of the Pharasees” were not simply illustrative of Jesus’s time and place, but speaking of religious authorities in general, self rightous, hypocrites, those, like the Pharisees, who whittle away at Gods commands making them unheard and unheeded by their own additives, by traditions anchored to myths and evil desires of the authotities to be honored and receive gifts, wealth and power – rather than to the Word of God.

“And that of Herod,” speaks to the rulers and authorities of the world, the men and women who pronounce laws and ordinances and customs and traditions that are not of God’s Word.

We faithful followers of Jesus should be aware that we are surrounded by ravenous wolves, not just to what lies beyond the church doors, but in our very midst. The wayward religious authorities of our time, and the secular authorities of our time, are as Pharasees and as Herod. We know that yeast pertains is sin. We know that yeast causes the lump of doe to rise or otherwise puffed up, conceited. Can puffed up, conceited man fear God, hear God, know Gods will and honor it? Clearly not.

Everything you hear, whether preached from the pulpit, written by a denomination, or taught by the world, necessarily needs to be compared to the Word of God, to rightly discern whether it is of the Lord’s Word or whether it is not of God at all.

Matthew 7:16 (KJV)

You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered
from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

What does the Word show us about fruit? If the thornbushes or thistles offer us something to eat, something to swallow, say a tract or treatise to consider on justice or mercy or love, for instance, do they know what they’re talking about? Should we eat it? But over the years, such thornbushes and thistles do offer such tracts, vain but perhaps convincing philosophies that do not align with God’s will and Way. Yes, it is good to get along, but not at the cost of or weakening or loosening of the Word. They do mean to redefine words, eststablish norms, traditions and feasts that support their causes. It is to bring you under their authority, for their purposes, and they have no intention of allowing you to allegiance to God.

I believe all of God’s way and will for us is instructive, even as we may not understand His purposes in them fully. Yet whomever stands in God’s will and way, he cannot be seduced and led captive to the world or the devil. God’s will, I find is practical and spiritual. If He says, do not use prayer rugs, for instance, naturally this is to your spiritual advantage, because it will keep you from joining with those who do. (I will have to look this up again to see where this is in the Word, but I do recall it implicitly speaks to rugs, or implies that required worship aids or tools are not God’s will but are traditions of men and customs of pagans.)

And if we’re to pray constantly, to ever be in the Spirit, and to maintain a good conscious before God, to truly have a relationship with our God, Lord and Saviour, wherever we are, in our comings or goings, and remain excited to worship the Lord, examining ourselves, making straight our path, which is to follow His lead, worship God in the use of our bodies, and mind, meditating on His Word, day and night, and thinking only about pure, good, edifying, praiseworthy, holy things, then we would avoid all other pollutants, whether they are rites and passages which are not of God according to His Word, or pervasive thoughts or actions which undermine who we serve, or worldly ways that have a semblance of spirituality or righteousness but they deny God.

In short, the world is invited to join the Church of and through Lord Christ Jesus, but we are not to join the world, to clasp hands in agreement with them, even if part of what they profess is true or resembles truth, because their god is not our God, their ways are not God’s way, they use and are used by the semblence of truth and half truths to be ensnared and retained in bondage.

For to us His Son our Lord and Savior, who Himself walked in righteousness perfectly without sin and separated cleanly His will from the traditions of man who perverted and hid His way, is the truth and only truth by which men can be saved. Those who are His, hear His voice and honor Him. They obey His commands.

With all confidence in my Lord, He is with me. A remnant, just as times before, will be saved, those persevering, keeping the commandments of God, and the faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Study His Word, let Him teach you all things, just as He says He will and desires to.

Are Christians a minority in the US?

Reading a slew of international articles concerning religious freedom. One of the articles said, inside India Hinduism is exceedingly dominate. But just outside India, though many Indians immigrate to these neighboring nations, Hinduism is in decline among Indians there – and it specifically points to the neighboring nations of India propagating dominant non-Hindu beliefs as the cause. Or in the Middle East, where conversion laws do not allow for non-Muslims to actively share or promote their faith, as one reason why Christianity for instance is in decline – but also because Muslims there forcibly convert Christians.

The UN just declared a certain day a remembrance day for those who were victims of religious violence. Is that helpful?

In the West, largely seen as Christian-dominated, why are non-Christian values pushed aside and dominated by secular law and political correctness in opposition to Christians? I suspect the reason may well be, many Christians are not upholding Christian values. They are not standing on firm foundation.

(It was only recently where I realised that Jesus renamed Simon, ‘Peter,’ and his name literally translated is rock or pebble in Aramaic.) I disagree with RCC interpretation of what Jesus said – You are Peter, and upon this ‘rock’ I will build my Church. Does that mean Jesus called Peter the foundation of the Church? Of course not. Jesus is the Foundation of the Church, and the Cap Stone, and the Cornerstone – whom the builder rejected. I think Jesus meant, Peter would stand firm in his faith and the teaching he received by Jesus. Peter is a rock, like The Rock, but Peter is not The Rock, that is Jesus. So is Jesus telling us through his Word, that His calling Peter ‘rock’, to look more closely at Peter?

We very often look at Paul, I know I do, being Christ’s foremost ambassador to the gentiles, and writer of more books in the NT, and so we may not also consider as weighty what Peter was doing, where he resided, and what he taught, to gain for ourselves the full teachings of Jesus. We should chew on all the books of the NT. I find it interesting that Peter had that vision from God about the blanket with all the animals. God had to show him that gentile believers were to be received by the disciples, just as God had received and accepts them. In Acts, gentile believers also received the Holy Spirit. But Peter also had to be reprimanded by Paul, because Peter separated himself from gentiles in the public house where they ate. Peter had also evidently convinced Barnabas to do likewise. Paul corrected Peter, and Peter agreed.

We cant look to just one apostle or book of the Bible and expect to grasp the whole of the Word, but consider the whole Bible. It may be that many Christians don’t read the OT, but as I have, I find that it brings further clarity to the NT. And vice versa. Some biblical scholars, and I don’t pay too much attention to them all because some show that they don’t have a mind for God and pose refutable notions, say that the old testament God and new testament God of the Bible seem to be two separate personalities. I say, Not so. The whole of the Word clearly demonstrates that God is the God of the whole Word, He’s never changed and certainly does not show split personalities. Nor does he have two distinct wills. What God wills has not changed throughout the Word, though He uses different methods with His people to get through to them what He wills. He took stern measures in the OT with Israel because they were so prone to wander away like sheep.

Someone shared with me once how a shepherd looks after his sheep in olden times. A sheep wanders off, and the sheperd will leave the flock and go find the one lost sheep. There is a parable in the Word like this as well. If that sheep keeps wandering off, he will have no choice but to break its leg so that it can no longer run off and get lost. The shepherd carries that sheep on his shoulders, bonding with the sheep, letting him know, it is I, the shepherd, that saves you. If you got lost, you would surely die. If I break your leg and do not carry you, you would surely die. Stay with the flock, remain in my sight, and you shall live.

That’s a lesson for the Church today, for you and I. Remain in the flock, remain in God’s sight, listen for His voice, do not wander, do not get lost. Your life and soul depends upon it.

I was reading some articles on God’s commands the other day, and I was aghast that they’re often written by nonbelievers, and it shows. They don’t grasp the simple instructions or principles, and suppose foolish and even somtimes evil things. In their conclusions they often deride the Word as incomprehendable/unintelligible at worst, or at least parced with inconsistencies.

I am concerned for Americans. Should I say ‘afraid’ for them? As well as for Israel. I am becoming more and more aware of our Christian brethren beyond these place too. I continually ask about Christians all over the world, so that I may not forget, and pray for everyone. And Christians in the US need your prayers too, surely we do. If today, some 70% in Israel support (as one article stated of polls) same sex marriage and LGBT causes, where is their faith in God? I cannot in right conscience express in any way my approval of those sins. Should a nation expect God’s blessing to continue? We often say, God bless America!, as if it’s warranted and anticipated. I think in a certain sense we’ve politicised God for the sake of patriotism, like mere lip service and not intent on doing the will of God to honor and love Him. If a sinner goes on sinning not sorrowful, not corrected, not experiencing failure, I fear for him. I thank God, most genuinely and graciously, for the wallops I’ve gotten as a result of my sin and transgression. God corrects those he loves. If he were not to discipline us, or if we felt nothing when we sinned against Him or against ourselves, we would be lost forever. That is what a conscience seered entails. Thankfully, we may still have conscience and experience some recompense or effect, and have yet the ability, the possibility to repent. It is clearly not God who is inconsistent, but man. If not for the shepherd, willing to do whatever it takes in love for us, to find us, to break us when need be, and to carry us, we would be eaten or die in a ditch, the ditch of our sin. I should be exceedingly joyful every day, not comparing the difficulties and challenges I face in this life, as Paul stated in his own way, to the unsurprising glory that is to be teveaed to us when Christ returns. Forget what is behind, behold what is ahead. The hope of glory.

If many Christians (arguable perhap) now suppport same sex marriage in some way or another, or abortion, or many other sins we could name, can’t we confirm that ‘a great falling away’ is at least well underway, and occurring right before our eyes? A great falling away may have less to do with church building attendance per se, since these same churches may well be teaching false things or so loose in our tolerances to border on or infringe into acceptance of sin. And we dont know how many members may already be meeting in homes, they may not be counted.

Certainly a great many denominations exist, and many of the disagreements may be irreconcilable as yet (perhaps not), but there are for sure clearly defined sins and abominations which should not have entered, and especially should have never been taught from the pulpit, or accepted by its members.

I often think our comprehension of biblical discipleship is lacking. Very clearly, the biblical discipleship is both corporate and individual mentoring. We can see this first of all in Jesus selecting the 12 for discipleship. Today, a congregation may be many hundreds of several or more thousands large. And I’m particularly concerned that in those congregations, it is far too easy for nonbelievers to sneak in and corrupt the teaching there, either by ignoring the teaching in the Word, or by pervasive living and behavior as they should not engage in. Transparency keeps the church healthy, confessing our sins one to another, working it out, leaving no place for it to hide, and no one to fall through a crack.

Are we indeed living in a community of believers, and accountable to one another, intimately, or are we just a collective with many doing our own thing in the midst of heavenly host looking over us, and sitting next to fellow believers week after week? Should anyone be able to say to another, I don’t know your heart? If anything should be so evident of a Christian, it should be their heart. It is our very heart for Christ that confirms we are His belonging.

But then why do we allow in our congregations, or in the wider Church of our communities, or state, or nation, or nations, practices of sin and false teaching, and actively support those who live outside of Christ, in sin and are yet opposed to God? Doesn’t the Word say, whoever should come to us in The Church, not bearing the truth that Jesus came in the flesh and His will is that we cease from sin by grace through faith abiding in Him, the firm foundation and clinging to Him as Lord and God, we are not even to greet such people.

Off hand, I dont know anybody IN the church body who doesnt prefess that Jesus came in the flesh. But they are out there. I still have many friends who are not Christians, whom I really only visit with anymore but on occasion. We’ll hav lunch, or attend an art show. This wweekend is one such time. My old friend is going to the Gay Pride Parade downtown today, she told me. I tried evey which way to witness to her and invite her to church with me, but she barely responded to my knowledge. She got married a few years back and has kids. I still pray for her and her family. It seems all I can do. Had she asked me along to the parade I would have declined. Tomorrow however, we’re going to an art festival. Still keeping that relationship open so that God may yet use me to yet witness.

Christians largely may not be firm in their faith today, or else how could the secular form so firmly around us, against us, even as we claim to be the majority? I still see some polls saying 60-80% of Americans claim to be Christian. I cant believe it. Perhaps the firm Christian, like Peter, like Paul, are a minority at best.

On my refrigerator is a magnet with thos verse. We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labors of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

Do these especially characterize a firm Christian?

Worker of faith

Laborer of love

Endurer in Hope of our Lord Jesus Christ

Think about each of those. How do they differ, how do they correlate or overlap?

Even “Lord…Jesus…Christ” here is very meaningful to think about. The authority, the example, the fulfillment. Holy, holy, holy.

I as yet dont know how we can make headway in discipleship in many of our congregations. We have to first examine carefully the Word and separate it cleanly and decisively from traditions of men, or else it is watered down. We seem seldom like that of a body that shares in all things as any have need. As it stands, I think most congregations are rather weak, since they do not individually mentor, they don’t raise men up to lead, they don’t work to find out what God would have that person, or all persons do, or what gifts God has given them. I think it’s as the Bible says, some people are clearly gifted, and others though thy may appear small and have small gifts, all are part of one body, and all believers have gifts, and all believers will be used of God for His purposes. But sometimes, and I think it’s very often rather, the leader sheep treat the smaller, mild sheep as if they’re only sheep and not brothers and equal heirs. We’re all sheep after all, all servants of the Lord, all for royal use together, and there is only one shepard, the Lord Jesus.

We all need to clean house, starting with ourselves, and our own homes and families. Who do you serve, man or God? Who is your Lord? Who is your commander?

Am I my own man? Or am I the Lord’s servant?

Scripture illustrates something in particular about discipleship that we too often downplay. It says – even the demons believe in God, and shutter. It’s not enough to merely believe in God or Jesus, we must certainly hear and obey, be teachable by his Spirit and Word, disciple and raise up believers to be servants of the Lord, teaching them All things whatsoever He commands, to abide In the Lord and remain steadfast. I do not think that my saying this twists Jesus’s own words, when He said in John 3:16 –
For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.

What is belief? A believer abides in and by what he believes. If I believe murder is sin, do I murder? If lying is a sin, do I lie? If I say as scripture makes absolutely clear that Jesus is the only Way in which man can be saved, how do some Christians opine, entertain or not thoroughly renounce that there may be many ways, through other faiths and traditions? If homosexuality is a sin, how can any Christian actively support the sin and say to another, I accept that you abide in this sin. I do not accept it. It, the sin, is not who you were made to be.

We cannot make peace with sin. The world doesn’t care that you shrink in one area and accept one thing, but the will of the world is the devil’s will, that you capitulate and accept and support all worldly ways and things and oppose God in all God’s will. The bible says the spirit of the antichrist is in the world already, and it is denial that Jesus came in the flesh.

Again illustrated in the Word, we cannot have two masters. You will inevitably love one more than the other, and so despise one over the other. We must be full all for God, or will be pressed further towards the world and the devil. The command to love God with all your heart, mind and strengh isn’t a pithy suggestion, but the requirement. It’s not legalism, but the reality. Lukewarm christianity will not survive. The fence sitters will eventually have to choose. The antichrist spirit in the world is fully commited to its own ends. Compromise or indifference has no place. Choose this day whom you will serve.

Pray for me, if you will. I will pray for you. Lord God, show us what is good, and pleasing and righteous to you. Nourish us through your perfect will, love and grace to grow ripe and sweet, cover us that we may resist blemish and infestation, clinging to you always for life everlasting.

Happy Sabbath.

The Disciples Kept the Sabbath 85 Times in Acts

The Disciples Kept the Sabbath 85 Times in Acts – from Eliyah.com

This is another great post I’ve found. The arguments and plain text of the scriptures, all cited as they’re written, are certainly many times more convincing than mere traditions and revisionism which stem from, going way back, Constantine and the Roman church. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe many Christians have gotten the Sabbath wrong for so long, nevertheless, is it not Paul who warned, there will be grievous false teachers wolves in sheeps clothing who will falsify the Way and lead many astray. Is this warning not also evident in Revalation, where it says such false teachers will seek to change times and days. They will teach “perverse” things. What is being perverted in churches today? If you look and do a bit of research, it should be clear. Sexual perversions are being tolerated, among other things. And it also says false teachers will forbid marriage, forbid certain foods…

As yet, what church forbids marriage? I don’t know if any that forbid it wholesale to all members. Where in the NT does it forbid priests to marry? Yet some churches forbid marriage of “priests” today.

Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts.

Like Grapes on a Vine – Remain, Ripen, Grow Sweet

I’ve been away for a moment, collecting my thoughts. I found myself getting down, and needed to settle.

I knew I used my mobile phone a lot every day, but it wasn’t until I dropped and broke it that I had to go many different directions to get the things done I was used to doing all on one device. It strained my business and income for a moment, but now that I’ve got a new one I need to work fast to make up for lost time and inefficiency.

Not many days go by that I don’t think of Christ Jesus calling me, urging me on to sanctification through His grace. Not too many days of the week go by without thinking of working for 6 and resting for 1. I urged my brother to consider what I was saying about this.

Just a moment ago I was reminded what Peter was told by Christ. Peter, He said, do you love me? Yes Lord, you know that I do. And Jesus replied, Feed my sheep. He said this three times to Peter. Later on, we know that Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, but after that Peter never wavered or shrunk again. Peter became a rock, at Christ’s naming him thus, or “pebble” rather, as Peter’s name means. It wasn’t until after he was tested/tempted that Peter realised what he had done.

As we ourselves go through tests and temptation we are given a visual of ourselves, where we are now, if we’re on watch. When troubles arise, how we respond to them matters. Do we freak out, do we fret much, do we get angry with others, or do we shut down?

I’ll give an example from my life that surprised me. Before a couple years ago, I didn’t know anyone close to me to have died. When I was in my mid twenties, my grandma on my dad’s side passed, but I didn’t know her well. She never lived near us. I only remember seeing her a couple of times. I decided not to go to her funeral and be gone for a few days out of state with my family, choosing instead to work. Or maybe I was in school, I can’t remember.

But these past two years, I count 6 family members and friends having passed away. My grandma, followed by my grandpa. My friends, Tommy, and Andy. My uncle. And an extraordinary Christian mentor and friend, Mrs P. Add to that, my most favorite dog.

Much of those losses brought a lot of tears to my eyes. I most miss my grandma, who was very close and was always someone I could talk with. And while I was grieving, I prayed more than I ever had before. I was never angry with God, and put my loss and pains in his hands and said, Lord, keep me going. Comfort me in my distress. And sure enough He did, and I was aware of His presence while coping with it all, one death after another. When I got to asking the Lord, will I see them all again in Your Kingdom, I hope they are, but I do not know for sure if all of them will be. That…distressed me the most. Not as much their mortal death, but their eternal life.

That’s been on my mind a lot more since, looking at my family members, wondering about their eternal state, wondering how to bring them to the Lord, some of which won’t talk about their faith, thinking it to be such a private matter. But I keep praying for them in the meantime, and look for moments to present themselves in which I might speak Jesus into their lives.

What I encounter frequently is the notion that “being a good person” is all they have to do to enter Heaven. I think so many are forgetting, if they are a Christian, is that is not the ticket. Christ alone justifies, not by works, lest anyone should boast. Yet “being a good person” is often cited, in one word or another, and I’m continuously distressed by that. Sometimes I am myself confronted with that question; am I believing Christ justified alone, and neither adding to or subtracting from his justification. It’s perhaps easy to forget, unless we remember Him day by day, even hour by hour. Unless we have a real and growing relationship with our Lord and Savior, our justification in mind may revolt and revert back to “being a good person”.

When we walk by faith, through grace, we should not count the stones or good works or deeds as ours, but Christ’s. If we hear His voice, we go there, we act. When we move, following the Spirit of God, the very same Spirit of Christ, He gets all the glory, He is the one who does good. And I remember His saying, No one apart from me can do anything. I am forever tethered to Him, walking in Him, and not doing anything myself. But just as He was saying in His ministry on Earth, that He only said and did what the Father told Him to say and do, so no good have I but walking just as He tells me to, where and when and to whom. I should always, every moment, be listening for His voice. When he says, Remain silent and still, I should. When he says, Give, I should give. When he says go this way, I should follow Him there in faith. Whatever He shall say to me, I should listen and do it.

I was thinking about this, What is He saying today that I am not doing? I can think of three things off hand, whoops, four come to mind. I’m sure most of us can examine ourselves and find areas of our lives that yet need improvement, or steadfast obedience, or countenance that can be grown with persistence. I have come to learn that if I so much as take one step back and shrink in faith, I lose a lot of ground spiritually. And if I stand here static, stationary, no further progress in faith is made. Life is not static, our faith is continually tested to show us where we stand. God shows us: keep moving forward. Be holy, for I am holy, declares the Lord. Not one of us is yet perfect.

I don’t know quite how to say what I mean to say. Except, strive on. Let Christ Jesus reign in our lives, in all areas. May we be reminded with so much as every breath we take, every heart beat, we receive it from Christ to live. To live for Him who died for us, that is the life He gave us and it is exceedingly good. All that I have and all that I want is in Him. Or that is my aim and desire, to have such desire as nothing but, as nothing else is true.

When I think of those whom I’ve loved who have passed away, I keep on praying, God, be merciful. I know that He is good and just and righteous. I know that He loves us and wants us like a Father loves and wants good for his children. Everything else, like death, sadness, like sin, and war, will pass away, is passing away. We think as like we are passing through a dark tunnel in this troublesome life, but if Christ is coming, and He is, it is rather the darkness that is fleeing Him. We do not hitch upon the darkness as it’s fleeing, but like a candle burning with God’s hands cupped around our wick, shielding us, we glow bright despite the thick darkness that means to be a menace, it is as nothing compared to His love and will for us.

What is Christ Jesus doing in your life today? He’s telling me, fear not, shrink not, stand firm, move where I say, glow bright, feed my sheep. Faith grows by believing. Believe everything He says.