FROM THE HEART
Relevant blogs about living as a Christian in the world today.
Peace is one of the most desired and beneficial feelings. But is peace just a feeling or is it more than that? True peace that is deep and profound, is found only in the relationship with Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. There are many factors that influence how we feel, and that is why in order to have peace, it is not enough to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins. The peace of Jesus dwells only in those He is Lord of. And our relationship with the Prince of Peace must be close, intimate, and deep in all the areas of our lives. Such a relationship is not possible if we are not totally surrendered and submitted to God.
But to have real peace and joy is quite complicated to achieve. Why? Because we are influenced by many factors. A very important one is how much we truly trust in God. Do we really know that our Father God loves us, takes care of our needs, and protects us? When we worry and fear, we lose our peace and joy. But when we know for sure that we belong to our heavenly Father and that He is in us, with us and for us, no matter what we are going through, we can regain our peace and have full joy (Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:6, John 16:24).
Self-denial, which Jesus speaks of in Matthew 16:24, is a requirement to be able to follow the Lord and to implicitly have peace. When self occupies second place, we want to obey the will of God more than to follow the lusts of the flesh, and this is evidence that we are being led by the Holy Spirit. What follows this change? We can have peace and joy even when what happens to us is contrary to the desires of our nature or when those around us do the opposite of what we want them to do.
Another important factor is how we think. If we change the way we think, our emotions and feelings will also change. This means that our behavior will change too. Therefore, the more we think in accordance with God's Word, the more peace we can have. Keeping our peace, makes us happier and as a result, our behavior will be more pleasing to God and those around us. You may say that no matter how hard we try to do what is right, we cannot control circumstances and what others do. It is true, but we can change how we react. If we ask the Lord to help us keep calm in all situations, and to help us choose to react as Jesus would, we prepare our minds for the right reaction. We must be determined not to give in to anger, worry, fear, panic, and even depression when things don't go our way, or we don't receive what we pray for, when and how we desire.
Romans 8:5-6 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Man has been created in the image and likeness of God and to live led by our spirit, that connects us to God. God wants us to be in constant fellowship with Him, know that we are precious to Him and He loves us dearly. When Adam and Eve chose to ignore the commandment of the Lord and obeyed the devil they died spiritually. Jesus came to reconcile us with our heavenly Father and get us back to where we are in His image and likeness, living led by the spirit, not by the soul. When we truly understand that we are in this world to return to the original purpose for which we were created, we will be able to live in complete peace. Only if we live this way can we reign in life through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17) and not allow the behavior of those around us steal our peace.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
If we stop after this verse, we might say: “How God? How can I be happy all the time when I go through life’s trials and tribulations?” But when we read the following verses, we find out what we have to do in order to be happy.
Philippians 4:5-8 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.
Gentleness is the opposite of cruelty, wickedness, ferocity, and that is why, if others consider us gentle, we are certainly not the opposite. A gentle attitude calms any tense situation. Gentle people have more peace, are less stressed and happier than others.
Worry is the opposite of trusting in the Lord and is often accompanied by discontent. When we choose to pray about what worries us and thank the Lord for the help and protection that He has already provided for us in similar situations, fear will turn into confidence and as peace settles in, joy follows. We do not solve anything by worrying, on the contrary, negative, toxic thoughts, fear and anxiety can have negative effects not only on the way we feel but also on our physical health.
Scientific studies show that about 85% of our worries are not real and never happen. If you're the type of person who worries about everything, like I used to be, you already know this is true. When I realized how absurd these kinds of thoughts were and that they were stealing my peace and joy, I decided that I had to change. But we cannot truly change in our own strength. We need the help of our Lord to do it and renew our minds with His Word. It is a process that takes time and effort and even if in tough situations, we are tempted to get back to our old bad habits, we must choose not to fall prey to worry and fear. We need to sincerely pray to our Lord to help us trust in Him no matter what and not focus on what happens in the natural realm. The Holy Spirit lives in us to help us become more like Jesus and teach us everything we need to know about our Lord, His Word, the Kingdom of Heaven and how to live pure and holy lives, so that we can enjoy true peace.
Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
As we go from one year to the next, it always seems like a time for reflection and anticipation. For most of us, 2023 was not an easy year. The whole earth is still feeling the effects of covid and the hard times it brought. Inflation has hit many hard. What can be bought for a dollar or monetary unit, is far from what it used to be.
In the physical, it might seem like things are falling apart. Spiritually though, I think things are falling into place. No matter what one’s view of when the rapture will happen or whether there will be one at all, I think most of us believe we are truly living in the last of the last days and strongly looking to see Jesus as soon as possible.
In Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 we can read about what precludes the gathering of the saints unto the Lord. In 2 Thessalonians 2, we can see that there must be a falling away and the son of perdition be revealed, before that great day.
The Lord described in Matthew 24:6-7, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” He went on to say in the next verse (8) “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” The original word for sorrows was “odin” meaning like labor pains, commonly used with the travail of childbirth. In other words, we need to keep our seat-belts on. There is still time to go.
Why did God have us born at this point and time? He could have had us born sooner, later or not at all. But He brought us now into this world in His wisdom. Whatever we have accomplished so far and whatever is yet to go, has been and will be purposeful. We are not accidents.
What we need to do, way more than prepping for emergencies, is draw close to the Lord. Read and study our Bibles. Get in the Word and listen for the Holy Spirit. Without spiritual discernment, I doubt anyone will make it. And we cannot discern truth from lies, without knowing the truth so that the lies are recognizable. And sometimes, we need the discernment from the Holy Spirit much more than our eyesight or even our hearing. We are living in an age of great deception.
I may do an article on it, but I can tell you from studying about what is known about the preflood world, that the devil desperately wants to ruin God’s plans. He wants to corrupt anything and everything. Individual identity in whoever God made us, the sexuality of male and female, make a mockery of marriage and family. Most educational systems have turned into indoctrination instead of education. It is all part of the devil’s plans. And while some know who they are the tools of, most of the people under influence of the devil, do not even realize what is going on.
Matthew 24:37-39 “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
The time is short. And I wish I could say, “let’s just relax and put it on cruise control until the Lord comes for us.” But what we need to do is determine in our hearts to resist corruption and lies and be prepared to stand for our faith and righteousness as needed. And hold on to our DNA and all that is wholesome. Educate our children in God’s Word. We need to be doing family Bible study. We need to be testifying to what the Lord has done to show His reality and the reality of His Word. We need to do everything possible to see that our children, grandchildren, parents, and grandparents make it to heaven.
In conclusion, the calendar may be changing from one year to the next, but our mission is the same. And we know in our hearts that the days of man are growing shorter. It may mean rough seas or hard times for a while, but in the end, for those that endure to the end, the result will be worth it and in fact, glorious. Come Lord Jesus and help us to fulfill whatever Your purpose is for each of us!
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
Some versions read, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests!” and others, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom He is pleased!" So what does this really mean? Is this as simple as it might sound? To put it in context, it is part of what the shepherds heard from the angels rejoicing and sharing the news of Jesus’ birth.
Later in the life of Jesus, when ministering, He said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). He said this when He was explaining how relationships would become divided, when one would choose to follow Him, and additionally that if anyone loved anyone or anything more than Him, that they were not worthy of following Him. So what did the angels mean on the holy night of the birth of Christ our Lord?
Has there been peace on earth since His glorious birth? Yes, but not the kind of peace as in a lack of wars or peace among groups that did not get along. The angels were praising God and rejoicing about the birth of Jesus and sharing the news and joy with mankind. God was making a way for us. Through the coming of Jesus Christ and God’s plan, God can have peace and union with man, and man can have peace and union with God. This is the incredible peace given to us to rejoice about. This is why the angels were gloriously thrilled. Luke 2:14 really means, Glory to God in the highest and peace to those on earth to whom He is showing His kindness, favor, and purpose (for redemption). This comes from the original word, eudokias. Close to four thousand years ago, God chose the Hebrews to be His people, and through them, He showed the way to Him to the world. Through Moses He gave us the Law. And now in the fulfillment of time, God was sending us Grace in the person of Jesus Christ, His Son.
On a night full of stress and hard circumstances, Jesus was born and as one of us. It has been said that the swaddling clothes and the manger were all instruments of the stable, but not just any stable. This stable was near the fields where the sheep used in temple ministry were kept. Jesus came to us as a lamb and when He died, He died as a lamb. It was prophesied of in Isaiah 53:7,
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”
Emanuel means God with us. What a glorious day when God sent His only son, to become one of us and live amongst us, even with the hard purpose of taking our sins for our salvation, and so that we could become the children of God.
And for those who choose Him, Jesus not only brings the opportunity for peace between man and God, but a peace beyond understanding,
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” - John 14:27
May you have peace with your Creator and Savior today, and know the peace that is only found in Jesus Christ, today and always.
And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. - Romans 8:17
What a wonderful truth! But for it to be our truth, the verse shows us that we must fulfill two conditions: to be God's children, that is, to have Jesus as Lord in our lives, and "to truly suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified together." We are adopted into God's family through faith in His Son, and if we are adopted, we have all the rights as heirs. What more could we want? What more wonderful promise could we wish for, than to inherit with the Son of God eternal life in heaven, where we will be permanently in the presence of the Lord, in peace, joy, safety and perfect health? But to be heirs of God we cannot live following the lusts of the carnal nature, ignoring the will of the Lord and doing what the devil directs. Because we live in a fallen world, and by choosing righteousness and to please the Lord we often suffer in the process. But let's be honest. The sufferings that we go through as children of God, who are helped and protected by Him, cannot compare to the sufferings of the one who lives in fear, defeat and everything that comes from the evil one. We do not go through any trial alone, we are permanently in the hand of the Lord, and we know that even if we lose our life, we actually enter the true eternal life where we will no longer suffer. Hallelujah, glory to our Lord!
When the Holy Spirit is in us, we not only know that God is our Father, but we have full joy that we are His children! Only through the Holy Spirit can we call God, Father, and be freed from the slavery of sin, becoming sons and implicit heirs of the Lord. As Romans 12:2 says, we need to renew our minds through the truth of the Bible, which the Holy Spirit reveals to all who ask for His help. The more time we spend studying God's Word in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the more we change our worldly way of thinking to the biblical one. When the transformed mind operates according to the value system of God, we can make right decisions and have mostly positive emotions pleasing to the Lord, and we can be truly happy. Most of our suffering is caused by our wrong decisions or what those around us do. How wonderful our lives could be if more of our fellow men would follow Jesus too! But since we cannot decide for others, let us do our part. Let us study God’s Word, so that we can know and fulfill His will, and inherit the promise of eternal life and heavenly blessings.
Even if the epistle was written to the Jews, let's not forget that they are saved like anyone else, through faith in Jesus until the end. The promise of salvation is not only for Jews but also for everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. And because the Lord wants us not to doubt that the promise of salvation is firm and immutable, He strengthened it with an oath to be "a strong consolation" for us. Our heavenly Father does not want us to fear the future and has given us His Word so that we know with certainty what He has prepared for us while we live in these physical bodies but also after we leave them. Just as a ship on the sea needs a strong anchor to stay in place and not drift, by the hope of salvation we can also stand firm in our faith and follow the Lord until the very end. So let us set our “mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). When we go through difficulties and hard times, if we choose to think about what Jesus has prepared for us in heaven, we will be able to keep our peace and have a strong faith in our Lord. Let's not forget that from the moment we chose Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, we died to sin, and our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” and “when Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4). We can be strong in faith if we do not forget that the promises of the Bible are true and worthy of all trust because "it is impossible for God to lie." God the Father made His Son the High Priest forever, after He gave Himself as the true sacrifice for the forgiveness of all the sins of mankind. That is why all of us who live for the Lord are heirs with Jesus and will be able to spend eternity in the presence of God. Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord!
I believe the Lord has a Word for many of us in the church today. The call is out for us to return to our first love. It is much like the call from the Lord to the church of Ephesus, in His first letter to the seven churches of Revelation 2:1-7. Consider the following portion of what the Lord had to say to them.
Some might say, oh what difference does it make, I am not turning my back on the Lord completely. I am still not running off with the world. Well, if we continue to go cold on the Lord, we will only grow colder. There may be some that believe we are under so much grace that we do not have to have a respectful relationship with the Lord. Jesus has said that if His correction is not heeded, one’s light will be removed.
Hopefully we are not like the ones in the church of the Laodiceans, the ones of the last of the seven churches.
The amazing thing about the Laodiceans, is that they did not even know how bad their condition was. If they did not listen to the Lord's warning, the harshest outcome awaited them: they were going to be spewed out of the Lord's mouth! None of us want to lose your relationship with Jesus. We must pay attention to our spiritual condition and love our Lord sincerely and totally. Jesus said that those who love Him keep His commandments (John 14:21).
Letting the world come between us and the Lord is like allowing the devil to put a little brick of a wall here and there. The Lord does not want any bricks between He and us. And if we let it continue, a wall starts to form and then one day, a whole wall is there. We go through the religious motions, but our heart is not in it. We lose our intimacy with the Lord. We start to seriously grieve the Holy Spirit, our hearts begin to get calloused, and our spiritual hearing gets worse and worse. The cure is in what the Lord said: “Remember from where we have fallen from, repent and do the first works.”
So where did we fall from? When we first became Christians, we were so thankful that God loved us and that Jesus died for us. Most of us were exuberant and wanted others to come to the Lord also. We had intimacy with the Lord. We had joy. We longed to please Him. We were so thankful to be delivered from the bondage of sin and its consequences. We had integrity and served and worshiped the Lord in sincerity and truth.
But in time, the world and its pressures can creep back in. Our focus can slip from the Lord and on whatever supersedes His importance, whether it is job pressure, money, children, relationships, etc. or the great common one in America, distraction by pleasure. We start to look more upon the gift than the giver.
Father God longs to bless us but often we allow the blessing to come between us and Him. Can you imagine that as a parent you want to bless your children by buying them a nice phone and then that phone steals their time with you? The phone may also lead to their harm by the ugly things they find there.
Or you buy them a computer and it consumes their time and attention. Or there is the common scenario that happens with parents and their children. The child who once just wanted their parents’ attention, now would rather be with their friends than you. Your love and desire did not change, but circumstances led them away.
A scary situation happens for many believers. Some of us get more caught up in servanthood, than the One we are supposed to be serving. Or we get caught up in religiosity rather than grace. We let self-righteousness and pride rule us, and become critical of all those around us and their actions, declaring that we have all the answers and know what everyone’s true motive is. We are not God or the Holy Spirit. Who have many of us allowed ourselves to become? Praise the Lord He does not give up on us.
No one wants to be in a one-sided relationship. It is not fun to try to eat dinner with someone who prefers to be on their phone. Or take a trip, with a dear friend or spouse, and then for them to be constantly on their phone or always have their mind in another place. And when one says to the other that they are not paying attention to them anymore, the other placates them with insincere attention, but not from the heart.
The Lord wants us to belong to Him with all our hearts, and in sincerity and truth. He will not be insincerely placated. He will work with us to help us get back on track, but it is up to us to do it. We must do so out of love and respect for the Lord, as well as for our own sake. It is not He who built the wall or went down the wrong road. We must repent for allowing whatever came between us and our patient and loving Savior, Jesus. We must die to self once again. And return to cherishing the Lord and listening for the Holy Spirit’s voice, and seeking to honor whatever He directs. Without intimacy with the Lord, there is no real life.
Break us if you have to Lord, but please help us get back to where we first began.
Here is a collection of verses for further thought to help us return to, or stay in, right relationship with the Lord.
Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
Matthew 10:37-39 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
James 1:23-27 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
2 Peter 1:5-11 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:3-6 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."
Hebrews 12:12-13 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
Proverbs 14:14 The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? --unless indeed you are disqualified.
John 14:21a “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me."
Galatians 4:9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?
Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Revelation 2:1-7 "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.'”
Revelation 3:14-22 "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-- I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
READING THE BIBLE
STUDYING THE BIBLE
THE BIBLE WORKING IN US
HAVING THE BIBLE IN OUR HEARTS
Have you ever wondered why reading the Bible daily is so important? As you already know, the Bible is the inspired Word of God, directed by the Holy Spirit, through those who wrote it. God reveals Himself to us throughout the Bible, and teaches us everything we need to know, so that we can have the abundant life He has for us, through Jesus Christ, His Son.
The motivation and the way we read the Bible, reveal whether we are being religious or truly hungering for God’s Word. If we read the Bible as a duty, reading a certain number of chapters, according to a certain plan, just because we know we must or because we are asked to do so, then we are doing so religiously. But if we read the Scripture out of hunger to know His will, from a heart of love, wanting to know God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit more, then it is done because of having a real relationship with the Lord.
The depth of any relationship is directly proportional to the time spent together. If we only spend a certain amount of time a day reading the Bible, praying and praising the Lord, even if that interval is even an hour or two, and then forget about the Lord, for the rest of the day, doing whatever we want, then in reality we are not allowing the Word to become part of us and change us. The Lord wants us to be personal and intimate with Him all day, and to meditate on what we have read, so that we can be transformed by the truth of Scripture.
Why consider this topic? As the darkness of this world intensifies around us, it is up to us to get the Bible deeper into our hearts. If we know the truth about who God is, what His will is, what His promises are, what the Lord does and doesn’t like, we will not be deceived by some of the current watered-down versions of the Bible and likely twisted ones that may be coming soon. There really may come a day when true Bibles will be confiscated and outlawed, and only the “allowed versions” will be permitted. And it could happen sooner than some of us might expect.
Many recent news headlines have said that creating a new version of the Bible was discussed by the World Economic Forum (who then denied it). At the bottom of this article, a link can be found where you can read more about it. One of their top officials, Yuval Noah Harari, gave a speech where he discussed how amazing AI, artificial intelligence, is and how it could rewrite the Bible and all other religious books to create the perfect “globalist vision of “equity and inclusivism.”
Also seen in recent headlines, the Communist party in China, is out to do the same. Though their mission to do so was publicly reported as far back as 2016, lately there has been more talk about their new version, which will be the only one allowed for the people of China when complete.
Back in 2016, at a national conference of religious leaders, Chinese leader Xi Jinping decreed that religion in China needed to be “Sinicized.” The term literally means to make something more Chinese.
Consider the following involving the new Chinese edition. First know that in every authentically translated version of the Bible, in John chapter 8, when asked about the woman caught in adultery, Jesus responded, “Let him who is without sin among you, be the first to throw a stone at her.” These words disperse the angry crowd, and Jesus tells the woman, “Go, and from now on sin no more” (ESV).
The Chinese Communist Party’s version makes a different and blasphemous change. It says, “the crowd leaves, but Jesus tells the woman, “I too am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead.” Then Jesus proceeds to stone the woman.”
We believe that just about anyone who is a true believer and knows their Bible even a little, knows that Jesus never sinned and would never claim to be a sinner and would have never stoned the adulterous woman brought before Him.
Here is the question: If all true Bibles were confiscated and no longer allowed, would you have enough of God’s written Word in your heart to make it?
As stated earlier, the darkness of this world is intensifying all around us. We must know and have the truth of God’s Word working in us to live as a believer. From the Garden of Eden and certainly through today, the devil knows God’s Word and he and his forces work to hide it, twist it, and misuse it any way they can. We must have the Word of the Lord securely and effectively working in us, and consider what might lie on the road ahead for us, even in America, and the rest of the world.
From Genesis to Revelation, the heart of God can be seen. He created Adam and Eve so that He could be their God and they be His people. He walked with them and talked with them. He set before them a great life giving them dominion over the earth. All He asked for was simple obedience. When Eve fell to the devil’s deception and Adam chose to listen to the devil instead of God, consequences happened. And just as God had warned.
The price of free will is expensive for both mankind and God. For our privilege to honor God or not, means the allowance of pain and suffering. Before the fall in the Garden, there were no thorns or thistles, no backbiting or hurting each other. It was a world of innocence. As Adam lost the dominion, and the devil gained it. Only when Jesus came and sacrificed His innocent life for us, was the devil’s dominion broken. And only for those who choose to fear the Lord and accept the pardon Jesus acquired for us.
With free will, we can hurt ourselves and each other. And many do not realize it, but it hurts God also. Recently, I had to watch someone I love suffer greatly and there was nothing I could do to help. It was horrible. Have you ever suffered because someone you loved was suffering? It is a bad feeling. And God suffers for us continuously. And while God can handle it, it does not mean that it does not hurt. Just read the book of Jeremiah. God’s heart is clearly seen there, breaking for the people of Israel. Read the book of Judges and see how He had to let His people go with their bad decisions and work to help them get back on the right path.
God loves every single person ever created. Whether they ever love Him back or not. Does rejection of your love bother you? It is a bad hurt when you love someone, and your love is rejected. Or you love someone, and you believe that they love you back and then they betray you. God deals with it 24 hours a day, with millions of people and He never, ever, ever stops loving them. Never. It is too big for comprehension. He does everything He can to help us all, within the confines set forth. And it goes on all day and night, beyond our sight and understanding. And then people have the audacity, to blame what we do to each other or ourselves on Him. Free will is expensive for God’s heart.
Why bring this up? Simply because it needs to be said. God loves us. He wants to be our God and for us to be His people. And He does all He can to help us. It may not seem like it from our perspectives at the time, but His perspective is all-knowing and He is working to help us with love and wisdom from His position. If only people could realize His love and care. Sending Jesus to pay the price and build a bridge over the gap, was expensive. Our sin and the price of His love to save us, is love beyond comprehension and His love is in action 24 hours a day still. Loving the lovable and unlovable. Loving the ones who love Him back and those who will never even respect Him, much less love Him.
Our story is His story and it is the greatest love story ever told. As the Book of Revelation starts to conclude, we see our future in the following verses.
Revelation 21:3-4 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Forgiveness is vital to one’s eternal salvation. Without being forgiven and forgiving others, we cannot be real Christians and enter heaven. As our Lord spoke in Matthew 6:15 with a slight paraphrase, “if we do not forgive others, Father God will not forgive us.” Ministers can give message after message trying to coddle people into forgiving those who they feel or know did them wrong, but in all honesty, it is not a matter to be gentle with. It is a matter of eternal life and death.
Common sayings such as, unforgivenesss is like drinking a cup of poison, hoping it hurts the other person, have great value. And bitterness does consume a person internally. But the fact of the matter is that God will not forgive us if we do not forgive others.
Here are some other strong verses on the subject.
Colossians 3:12-13 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
Mark 11:25-26 "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."
Matthew 18:32-35 “Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
I believe unforgiveness is a form of pride and self-righteousness. As in, “I should be forgiven but the other one should be held accountable” and this is a grave mistake. To the Lord, as shown in Matthew 18, He forgives each of us a multitude of sins and yet if we cannot forgive someone else of even an inkling of how much we have been forgiven, then our forgiveness is revoked. If we refuse to forgive, then the Lord will still hold us accountable. I personally believe it comes down to this: If I receive mercy, then I must give mercy. But if I demand justice against another who did me wrong, then I must receive justice for my wrongs also.
So I plead to anyone still holding on to another’s offense to: let it go. And from the heart. We are to forgive as we have been forgiven. My Bible tells me that, the Lord loved me even when sin was my master and died for me when I was living in complete rebellion to Him. So, whether another person is sorry for how they did me wrong or not, it does not matter. Love forgives.
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.
1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."
Human love is a very selfish love. We love someone else as long as they are lovable. But God’s kind of love is unselfish love. It loves even when the other one does not love back or is even hateful. This is agape love. This is the kind of love we are recipients of. And as such, we are to love with the same kind of love. It is not always a feeling as much as it is a choice. We choose agape love, even if our carnal nature would choose the opposite. This is being Christlike. Remember when Jesus was on the cross and cried out, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Some might have had an idea of what they were doing with their hearts full of hatred, but if they would have truly known the mistake and consequences of their actions, it might have all been very different. And I believe Jesus was praying for all of us, not just those there that day. And Jesus was also showing us the way. He could have prayed it quietly within Himself. But by the manner He chose to pray it, we can all follow His lead.
Remember the young rich man who came to Jesus and asked what he had to do to be saved? It is found in Mark 10:17-27. And the Lord told him about following the commandments and he said that he had been doing it all right. And then the Lord told him: “Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." And the young rich man went away sad. Even if this young man’s problem was riches and not unforgiveness, the principle is the same. Whatever we have in our heart that occupies space from what should belong to the Lord, which holding a grudge and having unforgiveness does, we must not let that happen. We must give our all to the Lord 100%. Ninety nine percent is still not enough. This includes forgiving others. And we may all struggle in doing it sometimes. But if our heart is one hundred percent to the Lord, He will help us overcome, even if we struggle some. As long as we keep getting back up when we fail, and keep trying, we will make it.
In closing, I believe if a person insists on holding the grudge of unforgiveness, they should plan on spending eternity in hell. They can claim to be a Christian all day long, but a true Christian forgives, even as they have been forgiven. And how can we forgive as we have been forgiven? By choice and the grace of God. Even if it is a battle for a while with the carnal nature. After a while, the habit of choosing love and forgiveness will become stronger and natural. This is biblical forgiveness.
Important note: Forgiving does not mean to remain in abuse. We must forgive the abuser but the Bible does not say to continue letting someone abuse us.
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
The physical eye, like the spiritual eye, reflects the state of the heart, respectively of the spirit. If we keep our hearts full of the peace and love of Jesus, living in obedience to the Lord, our eyes are full of light. When we have healthy, perfectly functioning eyes, they flood our entire body with the light of truth. And if our body is led by light, it means that our actions will also be pleasing to God. But if someone has sins for which they have not asked for forgiveness and love what is bad, not what pleases God, it means that the light of Jesus is no longer in their heart, and darkness has taken over. The physical eye, which does not aim at what pleases the Lord and seeks the pleasures of this world, also begins to see what belongs to the kingdom of darkness, and as a result, the light begins to diminish until only darkness remains. Jesus even said, "how great is that darkness!" Why? Because the heart of the one who has had the light of the Lord, knows the truth, and yet has renounced the light, ends up in complete darkness. Next, the Lord explains more clearly that no one can serve or love Him and sin at the same time. When someone sins, they are actually serving the devil.
Every person chooses what they like to watch. Everyone's eyes are drawn to what they love and enjoy. If our hearts are full of Jesus and the desire to do the Lord's will, we avoid going where the Lord does not want us to go and looking at things that promote sin. We avoid magazines, books, pictures, TV programs, or Internet sites that are not clean and look for what Jesus would look at. The eyes of those who do not choose to behave this way will become "bad" because they look at what leads to evil and the price will be high. As the light in the heart fades and darkness takes over, the behavior and vocabulary of those who have chosen darkness over light will reflect their choices.
The word “breath” in the original Hebrew language means the “breath from God” that is in man, which is the “spirit” of man. So if the spirit is no longer a light of the Lord, because someone chose to let all kinds of bad things enter their heart through the eyes, the darkness reaches the “inner depths of their heart,” meaning that, it affects the whole body and there will be consequences.
In conclusion, the eye can be interpreted as representing man's reasoning, judgment or his mindset on life. If we think soundly, according to biblical principles, without thinking about what our fallen human nature prompts, we can say that we have healthy or good eyes and live in the Kingdom of light. Thoughts centered on the truth, on the values of heaven, create a real state of well-being. It is true that living in this world we have many reasons to be upset and we must also think about what we don't like when we have to solve everyday problems. But we can choose to approach issues from a biblical perspective and ask God's counsel in prayer to make decisions that will keep us in the light.
Whenever we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we think rightly, love what is good, and choose what is beneficial to us and those around us. Thus, the Lord finds His pleasure in us and we can be truly happy, because we do not serve the darkness, but only the true Light, Jesus Christ.
Through His sacrifice, Jesus opened the way for us to have a blessed and victorious life. If we are redeemed from sin and reconciled to our heavenly Father, and we realize and understand what we have and who we are in Jesus Christ, we can reign in life. Those of us who have received Jesus as Lord and live to please God, have everything needed to enjoy life. (If you have not yet experienced being born-again and want to follow Jesus, you can find out more in the "Salvation" article).
When Adam ate of the forbidden fruit he died spiritually and all future mankind inherited his sinful, fallen nature. If death through sin, had such great power to rule over man, how much more true life which comes from God, “zóé,” may make us reign through Jesus Christ! But we cannot reign or rise above problems or circumstances, if we do not understand and receive all the grace that the Lord has for us and know that we are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
Only through the Lord's grace, through His unmerited favor for us, can we be righteous. It is a divine righteousness that could only come from the Son of God, who was made sin for us, paying in full for mankind’s sin. Only after we truly understand that because of Jesus we are forgiven and have favor with God, can we fully obey the will of God. Whenever we submit to the Lord, we reign in life as we conquer sin and the many problems and issues we face daily. Our Lord wants us to enjoy His presence and continually communicate with Him, never doubt His love and know that He will always see us through.
We reign in life when we live led by the Holy Spirit, fulfilling God's plan for our lives. The more we live pleasing the Lord, the happier we are. When we ask for God's direction and do as the Holy Spirit leads us, we spare ourselves of the pain of bad decisions and sin. Our time is also used more efficiently, and we gather real treasure in heaven, which no one can steal from us.
God's sovereignty is often misunderstood. Many errantly say that everything that happens is God's will and He has a reason for all things and that we cannot expect anything good. While it is absolutely true that God is sovereign and there is no one and nothing above Him, He has given us free will and tells us through His Word that His permissive will can be changed through prayer. Would the Lord ask us to pray if He did not want to change situations for us? What good would prayer do if God overrules everything that happens in our lives? The truth is that if what we ask in prayer is according to His will, the Lord does it for us and changes bad situations into something good.
The Lord would not say that we can reign in life, if He did not want us to, and He did not equip us with the right weapons to fight against the enemy and all that is evil. To "reign in life" means "to exercise dominion, the highest influence over one's own life." The dedicated Christian is not driven by what happens to him, but through Jesus he has authority over the life he lives on earth. Let us not forget that we can only reign through Jesus, because of what we have in Him and through Him. When we allow the fruit of the Holy Spirit to manifest in our lives, through love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, longsuffering, self-discipline, we have authority and dominion over hatred, anxiety, fear, malice, impatience, lust, and all their bad effects.
As we seek "the kingdom of God and His righteousness more than anything else” (Matthew 6:33), the Lord will take care of all our needs. God is full of goodness, faithfulness and truth, and He fulfills what He promises us in His Word. We can be on top of our problems and not under them, when we know that the Lord knows what we are going through, and He has prepared what it takes for us to be victorious. We know all too well that we have never solved any problem by worrying and focusing on the bad that could’ve happened, and in so doing, we only made things worse. But whenever we choose to give the Lord our problems and worries, we can have the peace and assurance that He will solve them in whatever way is best. The real reign of Jesus in our hearts results in us truly reigning in life. As we fulfill God’s plan for our lives, we find the most blessed life and true success!