FORGIVENESS – How Much and How Often?


Matthew 18:35 – “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”  NASB

The question of how much and how often do we forgive is an issue that has troubled believers for a very long time.  It is argued and debated, frequently out of a self-justifying mindset.  The argument, “But you don’t know what they did?  You don’t know how much the did?  You don’t know how often they did what they did?”  You are right, I don’t but I do know what God says about it and that is far more important than what you or I experienced in the situation. 

This truth is illustrated powerfully in Peter’s question in Matthew 18:21 – “Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Peter, like most people, was looking for a numeric specific or a tally sheet.  We often argue that we don’t keep them, but my experience is WE DO!  Jesus’ response was not a numeric specific in saying “70 times 7” but a Hebraism that meant ENDLESSLY or WITHOUT NUMBER!  We never hide, justify, or excuse their sin, that is not forgiveness it is enabling and pacifying.  We love them and endeavor to lead them to the Light of God’s Love. 

Let me offer this word of caution for anyone having difficulty forgiving others and I believe it will be beneficial.  I suggest that you purpose in your heart and commit yourself to pray for them daily.  I do not believe that we can honestly and from the heart pray for people and continue to hate them.  It may take weeks, months, or even years but there will be a change in our attitude toward them and our desire for them.  I did not say, pray for God to GET THEM but pray FOR THEM!

We see the immense peril of unforgiveness illustrated in Proverbs 17:13 – “He who returns evil for good, evil will not depart his house.”  Who wants that?  I would hope, nobody.  It is a good thing to forgive and a bad thing to refuse to forgive.  It is detrimental to everyone to withhold forgiveness.

There is a distinct difference between Forgiveness and Judgment.  For example, if somebody lies to me ten times, I may forgive that person each time, but in my heart, I make a judgment.  In my heart, I see that person as a liar.  I may have taken care of the individual incidents, but I have rendered a judgment that he/she is a liar and therefore, I see them as a Liar.  I have forgiven the sin, but I am still judging the person!  God is the God of Restoration and bringing Wholeness.

Let me suggest that you do not say, “I’m sorry” when you ask for forgiveness.  What?  That doesn’t sound right, so what could I mean.  I suggest that you say, “Will you forgive me?”  At that point the person that I am confessing to and asking forgiveness of can truly release what is in their hearts and both free me and themselves, at the same time. 

I also suggest that you don’t rush out to everyone you have ever harbored an ill-thought toward or held a grudge against and tell them everything that you thought or felt.  Why?  You should forgive them BEFORE you tell them all the nasty details.  I had a person come to me wanting to tell me all they had ever felt negatively about me.  I said, “I forgive you and I do not need to know or want to know the details of how you felt.  I ask you to forgive me for what I did to cause you to feel that way.”  There may need to be some detailing so that the air can be cleared, and true forgiveness can ensue, but often it is not only unnecessary but unwise.

Some people want you to know, not because they are repentant but because they believe that through their revealing their pain to you and your ugliness, they can change you.  When I perceive that is the intent, I frequently stop them and say, “I forgive you and ask that you forgive me.”  There will be some things that need to be confessed in detail to a counselor in a time of ministry in order to become free, but it should never be a forum to dump or trash another person. 

Forgiveness is a very important and misunderstood key to freedom as believers.  We need to identify any and all areas of unforgiveness in our lives.  We need to repent of those areas and ask forgiveness both of God and the one offended and the offender.  We need to release all bitterness and judgments.  We need to receive forgiveness. I hope these sessions have been beneficial and resonated with you in your pursuit of wholeness and freedom in Jesus. 

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in His Love!

FORGIVENESS – Conviction and Pronouncing Release…


Matthew 18:35 – “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”  NASB

You cannot simply decide to repent and find true repentance or forgiveness.  It requires the conviction of the Holy Spirit brings to light your condition.  Acts 11:18 amplifies that reality, “God has granted to the Gentiles also repentance that leads to life.”  The simple truth is that if a person is not repentant it is impossible to minister life to them.  That being said, it has been my experience that most people are, at least somewhat, repentant. 

A non-repentant person is usually filled with ‘self-justification.’  That is one of the reasons that people grow angry and remain angry over what someone has done, they have accepted the devil’s deliver that they are the victim!  Some truly are, but most simply see themselves as the victim rather than a participant.

It is necessary that we confess our sins.  Some people are far more interested in broadcasting what has been done to them, than repenting of any sins on their part.  Once we have repented, there is a clear biblical directive as to what must come next.  We, must forgive!  We must forgive all those people who wronged us, and we must repent of receiving the anger, making it our own, and allowing the heartache, anger, and rejection that were the fruit that incident bore.  We must repent of believing the lies of the devil.

I call to remembrance the directive of our LORD in Luke 6:41-42 – “And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” 

The first seven verses of Psalms 32 are powerfully descriptive of our Covenant Promise and the Process to remove sin.  There can be no deceit or hiding, but we must become fully transparent and open.  Bitterness causes physical problems such as arthritis and more.  It is healthy to Confess it and allow the Holy Spirit to do the spiritual surgery needed to remove it.

Then we have the dire warning of our Lord in Matthew 18:34-35 that if we do not forgive them from our hearts, the tormentors will come.  Therefore, confession and forgiveness frees from guilt and allows us and them to enjoy God’s wonderful grace, love, mercy, and freedom.  This will never happen without the conviction of the Holy Spirit and our laying our cares and hurts at the feet of Jesus at the Cross.

There is another area that is frequently missed and terribly misunderstood by most evangelical believers.  That is the area of ‘pronouncing forgiveness’.  Before you insist that ‘only God’ can do that, let me ask that you examine some pertinent passages and thoughts from scripture.  God does forgive, but we become the vehicles through which the offender and offended receives forgiveness and enjoy the fullness of pardon.

I would ask that you ask yourself, why does James 5 instruct us to confess our sins to one another?  Then, ask yourself, what do we do after we have confessed to another?  Do we share those juicy tidbits we heard in confession?  No, we can pronounce forgiveness and watch them experience powerful deliverance and freedom. 

Why Confess?  I believe there are two basic reasons that are germane to our discussion.  First, it breaks the power of the fear of exposure and second, it frees from condemnation.  One of the first gifts associated with receiving the Holy Spirit according to John 20:22-23 was pronouncing forgiveness.  “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”  Our great need is to be forgiven.  We need to be forgiven by God and by others, it is liberating.

Matthew 6 teaches that if we do not forgive others God will not forgive us.  The sad reality for many is that we try and try but find it virtually impossible to forgive from our hearts.  There is a residue that keeps hanging on through the years.  I suggest that it is a supernatural thing not a willpower thing.  Ask God to help you to forgive.  Repent and be honest with Him and He will help you and set you free and enable you to set others free.

I want to talk about forgiveness in the light of how many times and how much we are to forgive?  We will address that in the next session. 

May the LORD bless you richly as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him, forgiven and forgiving.

FORGIVENESS – Releasing the Hidden Things…


Matthew 18:35 – “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”  NASB

Forgiveness is not just important in the Christian walk and in all walks of life, it is a matter of life or death!  We wear masks and hide our real feelings and selves because of the ‘fear of exposure.’  We sometimes harbor questions in our hearts such as, “What if they really knew me?”  We justify our animosity, resentment, and hurt and allow the festering sore of failure to forgive to defile us and thereby defile others around us. 

Let me offer this encouragement in the journey to transparency, openness, and forgiveness – Jesus Will Not Reject You!  He declared that in John 6:37 and He never says anything He does not mean and will not fulfill.  If we want total freedom and release from the pain of unforgiveness we must come to God and CONFESS. 

I caution everyone to be aware of where and to whom you confess.  Only confess your faults, failures, and sins to those who have the objective of making whole and restoration.  Never confess to someone who is loading up ammunition for juicy tidbits of ‘news’ (Gossip).  God promises to forgive ALL sin ALL not some but ALL!  Therefore, it is imperative that we forgive Everyone just as He forgives us.

Let me insert this for your consideration – For anyone to be truly forgiven or to truly receive forgiveness there must be Repentance.  I am not talking about installing some new law, rule, regulation, or requirement for them to buy your pardon but repentance.  The reason that I say Repentance is required is the heart will not release what it has not repented of, therefore, if there is no repentance there is no forgiveness.

Beware the devil’s schemes and attempts to ensnare and entrap.  Do not bury your feelings and deny the need for repentance or forgiveness by saying, “Oh, but I got over that a long time ago, it was nothing.”  If that is the truth then explain why when it comes up and you are reminded of it you start crying, getting angry, grow cold inside, get sick at your stomach, etc.?  How is it that you still carry around the guilt and an element of shame?  The Bible says that God removes it as far as the East is from the West, yet somehow, we still have it and can readily find it. 

In 1 John 1:9, we are instructed that “If we confess our sins…”  That is Repentance!  The word confess (Homologeo) means to confess by way of admitting you are guilty of what you have been accused of.  That is the result of an inward conviction by the Holy Spirit. 

It means to agree with God and say the same thing God says about the situation rather than your pious and sometimes self-righteous dismissal of it.  It is speaking the same thing as God, therefore, to confess is to repent.  It is not just uttering words, it comes from the heart and is an admission of guilt and accepting responsibility for the action and turning away from it.  It is to do an about-face and go the other direction and includes Godly Sorrow!

Let me offer this example and hopefully paint an applicable picture.  I had a person who came to me for counseling and was battling many areas in their life.  In the course of the session he said, “Well, I didn’t like my father.”  I said, “You didn’t like him?”  He said, “Well, I guess I resented him a little.”  I responded in the same manner and said, “You resented him a little?”  He had given me a picture of his life in the home and how his father had cheated on his mother, sexually abused his sister, beat him until he bled.  I said, “If my father had done all the things you say, I would not have resented him a little, it would have gone much deeper than that.”  He said, “Well, I was really angry at my father and I guess I had a little bit of bitterness.”  I said, “Oh, really!  No, it goes much deeper than that it is full-fledged hate.”

You may think me too bold in my challenge to this individual, but God is looking for a match in your heart with what He sees with His eyes.  Honesty always precedes repentance.  If we hide behind masks and embrace false religious expectations, we will never become completely honest and never experience true Repentance and true Forgiveness.  It is the Key!

The Psalmists tells us that “God loves a broken and contrite heart.”  (Psalms 51:17).  There is False Repentance which is rooted in emotion.  We see that in the Bible for in Hebrews 12:17 we read that Esau sought repentance with tears but could never attain it.  Why?  Sorrow is not Repentance.  Paul offers some incredible insight in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 – “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 

Sorrow is not Repentance!  Repentance is a matter of the heart, not the emotions.  There are many who are sorrowful that they got caught and were exposed not for what they have done.  Have you ever witnessed children screaming and crying because they got caught, not because of what they had done?  They were sorrowful for the punishment coming and the shame not what they had done.  Repentance leads to deliverance and freedom.

I want to address the reality that we cannot simply decide to repent it takes conviction.  I also want to discuss the Pronouncing of Forgiveness and the power therein.  We will take up those topics in the next session.

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Jesus!

FORGIVENESS – Being Set Free!


Matthew 18:35 – “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”  NASB

Our objective is being set free from the clutches of Sin and the terribleness of unforgiveness.  I have dealt with people bound by this terrible taskmaster and they frequently argue, “I really haven’t done anything wrong.  It is unfair.  Do you know what the have done to me?”  Basically, it is “I Am A Victim!”  It is will often become a demonstration of Self-Pity Syndrome.  If that exists in any area of your life it must be eradicated now!

The crux of the matter is whether or not we receive and internalize what has been done to us.  Tragically too often we own it.  The devil delivers the package to our front door and we can either sign for it or reject it.  The choice is ours.  That is probably overly simplistic, but it is true. 

Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Do you understand what He was saying and doing?  He separated the sinner from the sin.  He was saying, “I see that the devil is using them in this.”  In 2 Corinthians 10 we find the powerful truth that this is War but not a war with flesh and blood, it is spiritual.  Therefore, I do not have to take offense, I can separate the sin from the sinner and Forgive!

Self-Pity says, “They are doing this to me. I am going to blame everyone but myself.  I am the victim.”  It is vicious and deadly.  I’ve tried to pray with and for people who were wallowing in ‘self-pity’ and it was an exercise in futility.  When I tried to console them, they just dug a little deeper into their mire.  The matter grew bigger and bigger and they could not shake their sense of being the victim.

Let me offer this warning – Do not focus on Fairness!  God never said that life would be fair.  That is one of the lies and schemes of the devil and believe me it is impossible and deadly to attempt to engage in a non-aggression pact with the devil.  He will sift you like wheat.  You cannot do that and fight this spiritual war at the same time. 

According to 1 John 2:1, the standard is “not to sin.”  But if we fail and sin, there is provision.  However, our objective and goal must be to “not sin.”  Let me suggest that you meditate on the following realities in 1 John 1, it is enlightening and can be liberating.  1:6 – “if”.  1:7 – “But, if”.  1:8 – “if”. 1:9 – “if”. 1:10 – “if”.  Carefully consider what the ‘if’ means and is instructing in each of those verses.  The objective is “not to sin.”

The Bible teaches the incredible need and benefit of Fellowship (Koinonia) which means – “Community, joining together, fitting together, linking bone to bone.”  It is to become one through with Christ and with each other as the Body of Christ.  If my hand offends my foot, I do not cut off the hand, but they must work together as one body.  Hebrews 10:25 instructs, “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.”  Why?  Because we need it.  No, because it is vital for the life of the body.

I am not talking about meeting but assembling together.  I am talking about all the parts being linked together in the right place and in the right relationship.  I am talking about linking in function and purposes where the Body builds itself up in love.  We are God’s Spiritual House, Christ’s Body, a Community, and the Family of God!

I have upset religious people by saying, “I do not go to church, I am the church.”  They think I mean I do not attend meetings, but I continue, “I go to meetings, but the meeting is not the church, we are the church, the Body of Christ.”

Tragically our ‘fear of exposure’ keeps us from being assembled in the biblically prescribed manner.  To truly be assembled requires a significant amount of transparency and inter-dependency.  Unfortunately, too often we listen to the lie of the devil and run away and wear our masks.  The devil seeks to isolate and separate us, but God wants to link us to each other as one. 

I want to discuss “releasing the hidden things” that shame produces we can be free like we have never been free in our lives.  We will dig into that goldmine in the next session, but for now, we will pause.

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

FORGIVENESS…


Matthew 18:35 – “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”  NASB

It is more than a little needful for everyone to read Matthew 18:21-35 for the full context and understanding of what we are going to discuss. We only listed the last verse for the sake of space but urge everyone to read the entire paragraph.

It is vital that believers learn the ‘schemes’ of the devil to enable us to defeat him and set free those who have been held captive by his deception.  Part of that process is learning more about Forgiveness and the lack thereof.  This is an area in which, I have witnessed satanic strongholds developed in lives.  The devil operates in this area legally as a result of our failure to forgive or understand what true forgiveness involves. 

Jesus identified how important Forgiveness is in numerous passages.  In Matthew 6:12 we are told that we are forgiven (as) we forgive.  In verse 14 we are informed that (if) we forgive others, the Father will forgive us.  In Matthew 18:21 we discover the unlimited requirement to forgive.  In verse 35 we realize that the forgiveness being given us is directly connected to our forgiving others.  In Mark 11:25 we realize that Forgiving others is the key to God’s forgiveness and our prayers being answered.  In Luke 6:37 we can apply this rule and principle of Life – We Reap What We Sow.

The Law of Retribution flows to its inevitable conclusion UNLESS forgiveness is effected in the heart as we read in James 1:13-15.  The matter of anger is an example.  Anger is a stimulus.  It engenders a response and each response becomes a stimulus to the other parties.  Each response demands a response that becomes a stimulus that produces a response that stimulates another response.  It is a vicious cycle.  Arguments incite fights.  Group hassles become riots.  National tensions become wars.  Those truths are incorporated in the words of James 4:1-2.  I suggest that this is the Law of Stimulus and Response; Sowing and Reaping; Retribution.  That’s how powerful Forgiveness or failing to Forgive is in our lives and in our world.

Let me nip something in the bud at the outset.  Will Power and suppressing responses only delays the inevitable, they do not correct the problem.  The Cross is the only real answer.  Our problem is that something has blinded our minds and obscured the Cross creating a situation in which we are ‘held captive, bound, bent’ for destruction UNLESS there is divine help.  It does involve our wills, but it is not simply a matter of Will Power. 

Have you considered the reality that we would not have a problem with Forgiveness if it were not for the Problem of Sin?  Too often, we excuse and justify our sin saying: “I’m only human.  I’m not perfect.”  That is the truth, but it can never be a justification for sin.  God will never accept that flimsy attempt to justify ourselves.  He wants the heart and will accept nothing less.

God’s standard and the plan are for us to be transformed and become new creations with new hearts so that we do not sin.  Before someone argues, “But we do sin and we can’t help it.”  I suggest that taking that view is to guarantee that we will never become what God says we are and can be.  With God, all things are possible including our sanctification.

It is wonderful that Jesus always meets us where we are not where we think we are supposed to be in order to receive His mercy.  He takes us where we are and elevates us to a higher place spiritually. It is a process.  In Luke 6:40 we read, “A student is not above his teacher, but when he is trained, he becomes just like his teacher.”  Also, in 1 John 4:17 we are reminded that “As He is, so are we in this world.”  Not in the world to come but NOW!

I suggest that we become what we behold and what we worship.  If you want to study that reality mediated on Psalms 115-135.  We should never make excuses and accept sin as an inescapable prospect in our daily lives.  When we do, we place a roadblock in the path of repentance.  We must focus on the Root Cause and receive the promise of Jude 24, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling” and the encouragement of 1 John 2:6, “…He who abides in Him ought to walk as He walks.”

My interest is for us to be FREE!  The Truth will enable us to enter into true freedom in Christ and that is my objective.  Therefore, in the next few devotionals, we will focus on Forgiveness and hope that we can mine sufficient truth to bring us to a new level of liberty and freedom in Christ.

God bless you and we will continue this in the next meeting!  Have a fantastic day!

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SHOULD WE BE? – Part Two…


2 Peter 3:11 – “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,” NASB

Previously we considered the reality that we should be a Regenerated People and today we will consider some other types of people that we should be as believers. 

WE SHOULD BE PRAYING PEOPLE.

I believe that prayer is natural for the believer and as natural and needed as breathing.  It is our source of strength and a key in our understanding and guidance from the Spirit of God.  But what is prayer?  In the simplest definition, it is “communication with God.”  It could be stated that prayer is the “spoken or unspoken desires of the heart.”  It is an expression of wants, needs, desires, requests, and inquires uttered to God. 

The Bible gives us some beautiful examples of praying people that we would do well to pattern our lives after.  In the Old Testament, we have Abraham, the friend of God and his petition to God regarding Lot and Sodom is powerful.  There is David, the man God said was a man after His own heart.  David declared his view of communion and communication with God in Psalms 55:17 – “Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice.” 

In the New Testament, the prime example is Jesus and He was so powerful and persistent in prayer that the disciples requested that He teach them to pray.  That request would never have been made had there not been visible evidence of the effectiveness and power of His praying.  We are told in Mark 1:35 that Jesus frequently would rise before the sun came up and pray and in Luke 6:12 we discover that there were times He would spend the entire night in prayer.  He was and is our chief example and pattern for how to live and how to pray.

There are those in more modern times such as David Brainard and the man called Praying John Hyde.  Incredible things were wrought by those who will expend the effort and energy coupled with faith to engage God in the ministry of prayer.  Therefore, we ought to be a Praying People.

WE SHOULD BE A PEOPLE WHO STUDY THE WORD OF GOD.

Paul instructed Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” 

It is vital for the believer to search the Scriptures for Truth.  Truth that is not understood or received by the natural mind.  1 Corinthians 2:14 – “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”  The Word of God is spiritual food and man cannot live by natural food alone as Jesus declared in Matthew 4:4.

The Bible is called the Sword of the Spirit as we read in Hebrews 4:12 and is incredibly powerful and purposeful.  It is a sword to be used against the devil and with that sword we can send the enemy packing and pull-down strongholds.  Jesus used it effectively and gave us a pattern for dealing with the devil through the Word of God.

Therefore, we should be Regenerated, People of Prayer, and those who Study the Word of God.  This world is rapidly moving to the final hour of judgment.  Judgment, the Bible tells us, will begin first at the House of God.  Considering prophecy and world conditions, taking note of history it is incredibly dangerous to delay getting right with God.

Delay in getting right with God is an invitation to destruction.  We have an account that must be settled. Jesus paid our debt, but for us to receive the benefit we must Repent and Receive His Grace.  So, I ask, What Kind of Person are You?  Are you what God desires and what He says you are?  If not, why not?  Now is the time.  His promise is, if we will call upon Him, He will hear and answer our cries.

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day, He has given us!

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SHOULD WE BE?


2 Peter 3:11 – “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,” NASB

It would be beneficial to read 2 Peter 3:1-18 in the Amplified in considering this question.  Peter was writing to believers, the people of God.  Believers were being tempted to turn back to the world and revert to their old way of living and believing.  He makes the impassioned plea for them to stir up their sincere minds and remember the predictions of the prophets of God and the commandments of the Lord Jesus Himself.

Peter asked them to pay careful attention to the existence of the scoffers and mockers that were in their midst and would be prevalent in the Last Days.  These would be carnal self-willed people who reject the truth and follow passion rather than purity.  These would be those who question the things of God, the message of the Cross, and the messengers of God.  This would be those who willfully deny that God created everything and assume that God’s delay is evidence that there will be no judgment.  They are those who lose sight of the reality that God is longsuffering and extraordinarily patient and merciful toward man.  The delay in His coming is directly connected to His great desire that all be saved and that none be lost.

Peter urged them to remember the prophecies of Scripture and the predictions that Jesus would come quickly.  Everything we now see will one day all become ashes and only those treasures stored up in heaven will endure.  In the light of all that, Peter urged them, and us, to examine ourselves and ask ourselves, “What are we and why are we what we are?”

The Greek for “what manner of persons” literally means “of what country.” This amplifies the truth that God’s people are citizens of the commonwealth of Heaven, not just the earth.  The word ‘to be’ is emphatic denoting continuous actions.  Simply, what kind of people should we continually be? 

WE SHOULD BE A REGENERATED PEOPLE.

In that state of regeneration, we should indulge in serious self-examination.  It is important that we determine if we are in the faith and of the faith, born again.  We do not know by experience and ritual alone.  John 3:5-7 – “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” 

Nicodemus was a ruler in Israel.  He had years of experience.  He could quote long passages of scripture from the Old Testament.  He was faithful in attendance to the synagogue and would be considered a religious man in any generation.  However, he was religious but lost.  Too many have been deceived into thinking that because they joined the church and attend regularly following a semblance of moral behavior, they are okay and qualified for heaven.  Jesus expressed the need to be ‘born again.’

There should be no doubt in the heart as to our relationship with God.  Paul addresses this in Roman 8:16 – “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…”  John gives assurance in 1 John 3:14 – “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren…”   And in 1 John 5:19 – “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 

The Scripture teaches us that repentance is required, confession is required, and forsaking our sin is required.  He has promised that if we will come to Him in true repentance, He will receive us and not cast us aside.  Therefore, we ought to be a Regenerant People.

I want to address this a bit further and we will do so in the next devotional.  God bless you and may the richest and best of His blessings be yours today! 

Have a Great Day!

FAITH WITH WORKS – WORKS…


James 2:17-26 – “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”  NASB

The belief that a certain type of medicine will cure disease does not bring about the cure.  The medicine must be administered for the benefit to occur.  Believing that a certain type of weapon will win a war does not bring about the victory.  The weapon must be acquired and utilized for the victory to be realized.  The belief that God desires for His children to prosper and win souls does not fill the bank accounts or the altars.  Actions are required and the implementation of His principles for those things to become a reality.  Faith with works – works!

The biblical account of Caleb in Joshua 14 is a beautiful illustration of faith with works that worked.  There was something he wanted, and he declared, “therefore, give me this mountain.”  He had worked to reach the place of the promise.  He had waited for the day of the fulfillment.  Now, he was ready to possess the promise of God made years earlier. 

He had the promise in his heart and believed the promise. Now he was ready to act upon his faith.  “And Moses swore on that day, saying…”  Caleb was declaring that as far as he was concerned the promise was the assurance of reality.  He considered this a promise of God, not just a declaration of Moses the man of God.

He had determination and confidence.  He wanted what had been promised and he believed was rightfully his.  He was confident that having followed God fully and walked in obedience that God would keep His promise.  He believed that although the promise had been made 45 years earlier and now, he was 85 years old, he could still do what was needed to see the fulfillment in his life. 

The powerful declaration in 2 Chronicles 20:20 is relevant and applicable.  “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall you be established; believe His prophets, so shall you prosper.”  The writer of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 11:6 that, “without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

If we expect to accomplish anything for God and through God, it is mandatory that we not only believe what He has said, but that we do what He has instructed. Caleb’s actions provide an excellent pattern to follow.  There must be an objective.  We must have a promise and provision for that object from the Lord and confirmed in the Word.  We must have determination and confidence. Then we must act upon the Promise and allow our Faith to Work through Works!

Someone said, “God’s Promise plus man’s actions equals God’s miraculous supply.”  The question is, what do you want to accomplish for the Lord?  What is the scriptural basis and validation of that desire?  Do you believe it?  Now, go for it and put your faith into action through application.   Faith with Works – Works!

God bless you as you enjoy the day He has prepared!

WHICH DESCRIBES YOU? – Part Two…


Hebrews 9:27-28 – “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”  NASB

Last time we looked at the folly of being Unconcerned about the eternal.  Today we want to consider another type of person as we seek an answer to the title question.

THE UNCERTAIN.

I have encountered a number of people who are terribly uncertain about their spiritual condition and their eternity.  They are like the rich young ruler described in Matthew 19 and Mark 10.  He ran up to our LORD and asked the powerful question, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 

There are those who do not know the way to God.  They hope but are not sure and live in torment and turmoil Uncertain.  The apostle John offered hope in 1 John 2:3 – “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”  Jesus addressed this in John 14:15 telling those hearing, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” 

To the Uncertain, we say:  You can know about your eternity and settle the question today.  God’s Plan of Salvation is for ‘whosoever will’ according to John 3:16 and numerous other passages.  The pathway to Life is in repentance.  We confess our sins and the Bible declares that He is faithful and just to forgive our unrighteousness.    Therefore, we do not have to live Uncertainly but can live with Assurance.

THE UNAFRAID.

The apostle Paul boldly declared his confidence and the banishment of fear in his life in 2 Timothy 1:12 – “…for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”  He had what could be called a ‘know-so-salvation.’

The Bible gives clear direction on how to be Saved.  The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and leads us to the Light of God’s Mercy and Grace.  The Blood of Jesus has been shed so that we could have life and that life could be abundant and eternal.  I love how Paul addressed it in 1 Corinthians 15:54 – “…Death is swallowed up in victory.” 

It is important that each of us keep in the forefront of our minds the reality that there may not be a tomorrow for us.  Today may be the last day that we live on this earth, but we can have the calm assurance in our souls and have confidence in the Savior whom we have surrendered our lives.

We have an anchor that holds no matter the storms of life and that anchor is Jesus!  We have the promise of Heaven and have the assurance of our LORD in John 14:1-4 – “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.”

So, we ask as the title question, “Which Describes You?”  Are you Unconcerned, Uncertain, or Unafraid?  The Promise of Jesus is that all that come to Him He will receive and not cast out.  Take advantage of the opportunity and turn your life over to Jesus today! 

God bless you as you enjoy this beautiful day in Him!

WHICH DESCRIBES YOU?


Hebrews 9:27-28 – “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”  NASB

Few people enjoy talking about death.  The subject is a morbid one for most people and most prefer to leave it undiscussed.  It is not the normal dinner table topic of conversation.  It is not a party staple where people enjoy discussing the matter.  There are a significant number of people who fear death, and by not talking about it fare better in day to day living. 

Here the writer brings us face to face with the sobering reality that life, for all of us, is at best, temporary.  In the Book of Job, we read, “Man that is born of woman is of few days…”  (14:1).  The reality is that death is not a respecter of persons and comes to one and all.  It is a sobering reality that all of us will die.  All of us die, it is just a matter of when, where, and how.  Because of that fact we need to investigate the future, beyond this life, beyond the grave and into the face of eternity.  We can face eternity in one of the following ways:

UNCONCERNED.

There are those who do not care.  There are those who believe that they have plenty of time to make things right with God, so they procrastinate and live as they live.  There are those that believe that a loving God would not send anyone to hell, therefore it is unimportant how they live.  There are those who believe that this is it, there is no life after death and what we have in this life is all there is.  There are those who believe eternity is not eternal so there is no need to be concerned.  There are others who believe that they are as good as the next person, so no reason to be concerned. 

The folly of the Unconcerned is amplified in James 4:14 – “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”  This thing we call life is too brief to spend addressing matters of earth and neglecting the eternal.  A clear illustration in Luke 12, the rich man and his barns.  In verse 20 Jesus brings the need to address the eternal home powerfully as He illustrates that the rich man’s life ended abruptly.

The Fruit of the Unconcerned is expressed in Proverbs 29:1 – “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”  Living unconcerned and failing to address the needs of the eternal is to assure one’s eternal doom. 

Therefore, to the Unconcerned, we say: Prove to me the surety of more time.  Prove to me the fallacy of an Eternal Heaven and Hell.  Prove to me that no God exists and there is nothing beyond the grave.  If you can do that, then we can join you in being unconcerned but if we are wrong about the existence of God, the brevity of time, and the existence of a literal heaven and hell and there is nothing beyond the grave, we have lost nothing in living as we do.  However, if we are right and you are wrong, there is a heaven and a hell, there is a God, time for man on earth is short, and there is life beyond the grave, you have lost everything. 

Are you willing to risk eternity?  There is too much at stake to be unconcerned about the eternal.  Therefore, I urge anyone that is unconcerned to reevaluate their position and consider what is potentially at stake.  Jesus awaits you now, call upon Him.

We will consider the next person in another devotional but for now, we will pause and say, God, bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!