November

image118

November 1

 The only way we can truly walk in love is to first grasp the depth of love our God has for us. Once we begin to walk in that love our flesh will be less tempted to follow the wrong path.

Ephesians 5: 1- 6, 1, Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

                As I pointed out in the past, love is what we must purpose to walk in. We have the ultimate example of love in the life of Jesus and what God did for us even while we were in our sins. What I want to address in verse 3 – 6 is a misunderstanding that many people fall into regarding inheritance versus salvation. I have heard it preached, and many pastors and fellow saints use these verses to condemn fellow saints that stumble in one of these areas, as scripture of proof that they will not enter heaven because of their sin, even though they have accepted Jesus as their Savior.

                Inheritance is just what it says, inheritance. When a parent or relative passes away the family members left behind will receive the inheritance; the stuff. If a son or daughter has fallen out of favor from a parent, they may not be in the Will and therefore cannot receive anything from the estate. This does not mean the son or daughter is no longer a son or daughter, just that they will not receive any blessings from the estate of the deceased parent. Salvation is not just the forgiveness of sins, but the complete removal from all sin, past, present, and future. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”, In case someone did not catch this; everlasting is without end. Our salvation is eternal unless we reject it once we realize we have it. The actual verse people stumble over that appears to justify Ephesians 5:3-6 as loosing ones salvation, from backsliding is: Hebrews 6:4-6. “4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame”. The key to fully understand these verses is to look at some of the actual words used. It is impossible for those who “were once enlightened”, “tasted the heavenly gift”, filled with the Holy Spirit, and “tasted the good word of God”. To be enlightened is to have full and complete understanding of something; to the point that the knowledge itself actually controls your very actions in life. A person that is enlightened on the knowledge of gravity will not step off a tall building without any type of support to prevent eminent death at the bottom. A person that has tasted the heavenly gift, and has felt the presence of God in their life, or the Spirit filled saint that has tasted the good word of God is one that has become intimate, or at one with God to the point they are guided with his eyes. (Psalms 32:8) A person that truly fits these criteria will not allow themselves to fall into sin, but may stumble in sin while growing up to this state of understanding. If a person does fit this criteria and makes a conscience decision to reject their salvation with complete knowledge of the consequences, than there is no other way of salvation. Bottom line is you cannot easily lose your salvation, but you do risk hardening your conscience that helps you stay away from sin. If you live in sin long enough you risk making that statement of denunciation.

                Where we miss it regarding sin is that the wrath of God is for the sons of disobedience not the saints that stumble into sin. If you are sleeping with the enemy when the wrath comes you may get caught in the cross fire. If you are holding hands with someone that is about to jump off the roof of a building, they may take to with them even though you would never consciously jump yourself. If you are holding on to your sin, there are natural consequences to sin that will affect your walk here on earth. The saint walking in sin cannot receive the blessings from God while here on earth as God is not mocked. Those that have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior have been adopted by God as sons and daughters, Galatians 4:6. In Romans 8:17 the word says we are children of God and joint heirs. We need to come to a better understand of being a son of God. Making stupid decisions I life or walking away briefly, only to return does not take away your adoption as God’s child. To better understand our position as child of God we need to understand the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The son took his inheritance and left the presence of his father. Never does it say the father disowned him, but when the son was out from under his father’s covering he was left alone to the deception of the world. He eventually lost every possession that had been given to him by his father and ended up feeding pigs. The most significant thing to realize regarding where the son ended up is for a Jewish person, pigs are considered unclean and they are not to eat pork or even touch them. This mean the son had ended up in the lowest place of disgrace a Jewish person could ever reach. While away he could no longer partake of the wealth and blessings associated with his father. When the son came to himself, realizing how he had sinned against himself, his father, and his God, he decided to return home, ask forgiveness. He also intended to ask for a position as a servant in his own father’s house. The prodigal son new that even the servants that lived in his father’s house, lived better then he ended up. In Luke 15:20 we read that the father saw him when he was still far off, but returning. God is forever looking for our return when we slip into sin. We are still God’s children, just as the prodigal son was still his father’s son. Not only did he see his son returning because he was looking for him, but ran to him and restored him to his rightful place of inheritance. True the son lost all that was given to him when he first left, but his father started the process of restoration by placing a ring on his finger, giving him the best robe and even had a celebration. (20 And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry)

God will restore His children. You may have natural consequences to walk out as a result of your sin, but you are still His child. I mentioned earlier, you risk getting caught up in the cross fire if you are sleeping with the enemy. While you are away from God you cannot partake of God’s blessings even though you are still a son. There is also a strong risk of getting so far from God that you make the choice to never return. I encourage you to make a decision if you are reading this and see yourself as the prodigal son in Luke 15. Look at where you have ended up and return to God, you’re Father, and let Him restore you. If you see yourself as the angry son that never left the father and wanting to condemn the prodigal brother, check your heart. God is love and when you are not walking in love, especially to your fellow saints, “children of God”, than you are really no better off than the son that physically left. In fact you could be worse off since you may not recognize the fact that you to have fallen in to the sin of the accuser of the brethren. (Revelations 12:10)These diffuse two opposing schools of religious doctrine; “Once saved, always saved”, and “if you have sinned and die without repentance”, or are “still in sin when you die, you will not go to heaven”. A person can stay in sin long enough that, with full understanding of what they are doing, denounce their salvation. It is not the sin that keeps you out of heaven, as all sins have been paid for by the blood of Jesus. It is your knowingly rejecting your salvation after you had a solid understanding of the truth. Other people get born again without any real understanding of salvation, either when a small child because they were encouraged to do so by a parent, or as an adult having heard a stirring sermon and making a quick decision. These people may have never had a full understanding of what they had. There is room in God’s grace for them to come to back to Jesus with true repentance and salvation without fitting into the category of a person that had knowingly rejected Jesus. Hebrews 6:6 does not apply to this person as they never truly accepted Jesus’ death for their sin in the first place. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, if you are reading this and realize you are that prodigal son, there is grace for your return. Only you and God know how far you have gone, and without full understanding, Satan can deceive you that you have gone too far to come back. If this is you, contact this ministry and ask for council and prayer, and let God determine your outcome not man’s doctrine. If you are in the North Houston area, get involved with our bible study. If you live elsewhere find a full gospel church that has a solid understanding and teaching of God’s grace and go there. God is watching and waiting for your return so that He can restore you .

image119

November 2

 To walk as children of light is to seek what is acceptable in the Lord and not just be driven by the desires of our flesh.

Ephesians 5: 7-10, 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit* is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.

                Many people associate this verse with 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 where Paul reminds the Corinthians of his earlier epistle where he told them not to keep company with sexually immoral people. In Verse 10 he explains himself, “10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world”. Paul was more concerned with our fellowship with a brother or sister in the Lord that was actively participating in a sinful lifestyle. In verse 7 of Ephesians 5 Paul is concerned with two things. First, if you participate in a friendship with a person walking in open sin and do not let them know, in love, that you do not approve of their sin, than by staying quiet you are giving your stamp of approval. Secondly, since our natural minds will always gravitate toward sin we risk sliding into their lifestyle. Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be”. I also want to reference back to May 1 where I mentioned that if you are joined to someone jumping off a roof, even though you would not do so willing, they may pull you down with them. Another reason to be careful with relationships outside of a Godly brother or sister is the fact that you also once walked in the darkness of sin and depending on how deep you were before you accepted Christ, you have the potential of stirring up old memories and emotions. We cannot and should not avoid everyone we know that is not a fellow believer in Christ. In doing so, we would be putting a wall between us and them. Being on guard full and walling yourself off are two different things. God restores people through people. If the goodness of God is what draws people to repentance, as said in Romans 2:4, then how can people see His goodness if we condemn them and avoid them? God is referred to as Light in some verses and we are His child which means we are children of light. We must let our light shine in this world. 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 is dedicated to learning how to walk in love. Regardless of how strong a person is spiritually, if their actions and words are not in love it profits them nothing. Being righteous and truthful without the goodness of love will only push people away from God.

There are not any rules to follow on how to act or respond to people for every situation. There is the life of Jesus while here on earth, and the Apostle Paul in regards to communication with people and walking by the Spirit. Both were led by the Holy Spirit and not their emotions or what they saw with their natural eyes. The only way to learn that which is acceptable to the Lord regarding your walk before man is to study the word and ask the Holy Spirit to bring you into all wisdom. 1 Corinthians 2:12 tells us, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God”. We should walk in the power of the Holy Spirit knowing that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind, (1 Timothy 1:7). A person that truly understands this power is not fearful to love people, or share the gospel of Christ. They will not participate in actions that are not pleasing to the Lord. They will, however, have the grace to allow a person to be who they are, but through prayer and guidance of the Holy Spirit can encourage that friend or person to make the decision to not only believe in Jesus but to confess Him as their Lord and Savior. 

image120

November 3

 The difference between friendship and fellowship is determined by the depth of the relationship. Often we think exposing unfruitful works is to point out faults in the other person. However to live your life for Christ and have fellowship with a brother in Christ (iron sharpens iron), light of the Lord will increase in you. His light will expose the darkness in your friendships.

Ephesians 5:11-13, 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.

                Verse 11 gives me the opportunity to expand on the difference between friendship and fellowship. Most of us develop different levels of friendships throughout our life. These friendships are often around kindred activities, hobbies, work, church, and even political venues. There is usually something about that person that stirs up a good emotion or memory of past experiences. Having a childhood friend is a typical example or seeing each other during adulthood and remembering the old time fun. A healthy friendship will not drain you, but should be one of mutual enjoyment. There may even be levels of encouragement between friends. In 1 Corinthians 1:9 the Apostle Paul tells us that God has called us into the fellowship of His Son Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul warns us, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” The interesting point is his connection of communion in a similar context as fellowship. When we take communion we are actually participating in the body and blood of Christ. This is an outward expression of our inward joining of ourselves with Jesus. Romans 6:11 tells us we are alive together “in Christ”. (Emphasis mine) When we join ourselves to a person emotionally or partake of their friendship to the point we become at one with them in spirit, we have crossed over from friendship to a deeper level called fellowship. They look very close in outward appearance. Where we would slip into fellowship with an unbelieving friend, instead of keeping it on a friendship level, is if we decide to physically participate in, or give approval to, their sinful lifestyle.

Example; You could have an unbelieving friend from work or college that you have fun being around. Let’s say you both like skateboarding; So far no problem. If that friend happens to have an addiction to porn and you know about it hopefully you would encourage him to come to Christ so he could be set free. If you decide to go with him to watch or buy a porn movie because you are afraid of losing that friendship, or have been hanging around him enough that you decide to participate in that sin, you have just fallen into fellowship with his darkness. Even if you decide to not make a different sound to your friend for whatever reason, then your silence is giving approval to his actions. Your different sound would be shedding light on his sinful actions and could lead him to Jesus where he could be delivered. You may be the only friend he has that cares enough to help him get free from that addiction, but your spiritual strength and commitment to Jesus must be strong enough for that level of spiritual warfare. Friendships with people in the world can be used by God to bring more people into the kingdom of Christ, but the call of darkness to our natural mind can be overwhelming if we are not grounded in truth and “fellowship” with Jesus. This is all the more reason to find likeminded believers to develop friendship with. God can use this friendship to encourage and strengthen each other. Iron sharpens iron.

                For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret, is another stumbling block for believers both old and young alike. If you are telling a believing friend of another friend’s sin, even for the purpose of asking for prayer, you could be falling into gossip. Choose your words carefully when you are giving reason for your prayer request. I have personally heard Christians sitting around and bring up a fellow believers dirty laundry, only to follow up with, “well we need to pray for so in so”. The damage has already been done; they have acted shamefully by speaking of things done in darkness. Another stumbling block can happen when a testimony of what God has done in a person’s life is shared. I have heard people give a several minute account of all of the sinful things they did, even going into greater detail than need be only to follow up with, “then God came into my life and now I am born again”. It is a good thing that they have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, but their emphasis was on their past sinful life and not on the glory of God and Jesus.

                Our walk with Jesus should be one of His light shining through our lifestyle. This can only happen through understanding what He has done for us and who we truly are in Him. Fellowship with likeminded believers is one of the main keys to growing up in this revelation. This fellowship will only be enhanced with continual hearing and study of God’s word. The word of God is alive and ever growing in our lives. It has the ability to speak to us right where we are and as we grow in Christ, the word seems to grow with us, shedding additional light on our walk. 

image121

November 4

 Becoming born again is the simple act of faith in Jesus, and asking Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. Walking as a Christian in the light of Jesus instead of acting like the world only comes from developing a relationship with Him and not just following a religion about Him.

Ephesians 5:14-15, 14 Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light. 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,

                Remember that Paul wrote Ephesians as a letter to active Christians. I’m confident that he was not aware he was writing a portion of what we call the bible. Not only is it interesting that he used the phrase, “Awake you who sleep”, but that phrase can apply today. I was one of those Christians for the first few years of my born again life. I went to church and believed that Jesus had died and rose again, and gladly called Him my Lord and Savior. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact it is the most important step anyone can take. Unfortunately most of us stop there and do not go deeper into a relationship with God and Jesus. It is extremely easy to make a profession of faith, only to stay stuck in your own mind with what to do next. If you were raised with stiff rules as a child, so will your walk with the Lord be. If you were left to raise yourself, than you will have little restraint in what you think. I was left to raise myself and when I became born again there was no change in my life style. I never knew how to show love toward others; other people were just something for me to use to get what I wanted. I did change my outward appearance since I was told that people with long hair and a beard had sin in their heart and the long hair and beard was a sign of rebellion. I followed that rule and once I became clean cut, people were no longer afraid to be around me and I was able to use them even more because now I had more people to choose from. Are you starting to get the picture, I was spiritually asleep to what a Child of God was or what my purpose was. Even though I was alive to God, I was spiritually asleep to the fruit of the Spirit.

The world looks down its nose at Christians and sees us a mindless, insecure, insignificant, people. If the Prince of England was to come over and walk in any street in America, people would flock to him to hear what he said. We would even see him on the six pm news. People see his position as one of power even though his power has no jurisdiction in the US. Trust me, people in the world and especially people here in the US do not look at Christians as children of royalty. How much more royalty is there than to be the God of the universe? None! How much more royal can people become than to be the child of the living God? None! If we do not understand the position we have as joint heirs with Jesus, but continue to walk in beggarly legalisms and a limited understanding of the power and authority we have been given, then the world will never see it in us either. What the world sees in Christians, as a whole, is a group of people who do not walk circumspectly, but as fools. Quick to point our finger at other people’s sins while practicing our own. We show very little joy in being a Christian because we are too busy letting people know we have “picked up our cross” for Jesus. In Luke 14:27, Jesus told his disciples, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple”. Here we are today striving to show the world we have picked up our cross with all of our legalisms in dress and actions to the point the world no longer sees something in us they would want. This life style of self-denial is not picking up your cross! It is just another form of a modern day Pharisee.  Jesus wanted His disciples and us to understand that just as He would lay down His life for them, we are to lay down our lives for Jesus. Not in self abatement, but in willingness to do all we can to grow the kingdom of God, to show His love for people. In the words of Jesus, (my yoke is easy and my burden is light), Matthew 11:30. In Matthew 23:27 Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs because they put on the appearance of religion, but did not hold the true word of God in their heart’s. Today, even more than when Paul wrote to the Ephesians, we must wake up to who we are, Children of the living God.

As a child in the sixties I heard Martin Luther King on television make a statement “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”. Martin Luther King is the answer when I ask people today, who was the first man to make that statement? I then watch their mouths drop open when I tell them it was Jesus over two thousand years ago. John 8:31-32, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Jesus was telling His disciples that the religious leaders of their day, and those who claimed a natural birth right to Abraham as their father, were not living in the true word of God. The same is true for us today. If we do not purpose to understand the true word of God’s grace and the price Jesus paid for our freedom, we will by nature gravitate back into man’s form of religious works. When we fail to see ourselves as real children of the living God and joint heirs with Jesus then we also fail at showing the love of God to those who come into our paths. Learn, know, and grow is the only way we as Christians can truly reach this world for Christ. 

image122

November 5

 Redeeming the time is to recognize the call on every Christian’s life; to lead others to Jesus and bring them into His kingdom. Teaching people the love of God which will lead them into repentance is to first understand the difference between Christianity and what I call churchianity.

Ephesians 5:16-17, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

                Earlier I focused on waking up from dead works and walking circumspectly, not looking toward man’s light, which is another way of saying man’s approval, but the light from Christ. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil: is the purpose for waking up and learning the true grace of God. We must recognize that there is a large spiritual battle going on and Christians are not truly engaged in it. Would you step into a boxing ring with a professional boxer without first preparing yourself? No, and yet Christians wake up every day unknowingly walking into a spiritual battle without proper preparation. To redeem the time is to understand that the end is near. I am not one of those end times preachers saying “turn or burn”, “repent or be sent”, because the world is about to end. What I want to convey is the enemy is walking about like a roaring Lion looking for whom he may devoir. The type of people he is looking for to devoir are Christians that do not understand who they are in Christ or the power they have to walk in. If Satan can convince you that you are unworthy, or get you stumbling in a sea of works trying to become righteous rather than accept the righteousness of Christ, then you are no longer a light from God to the world. The problem with Christianity as a religion is just that, it has become another religion. Church leaders have been more effective at teaching Churchianity instead of Christianity, and end up pointing their followers to “the church” instead of to Christ. (I am not putting down the church as Christ died for the church, which we all are if we have called Jesus our Lord and Savior.) What I am saying is teaching Churchianity can only produce legalism and loyalty to a specific church or denomination, instead of building up strong followers of Christ able to seek God for their own answers. God wants a relationship with each of us, not just to be able to look down and see numbers sitting in pews. If you continue in a modern day Pharisee way of life where you are acting religious while point out the faults of others and stumbling in your own walk at the same time, then you are counting the blood of Christ as nothing. I have read studies from several different Christian based groups and they all agree that 75 – 84% of college age adults have not only walked away from the church, but from any form of evangelical, bible based belief. The following generation, our youth, comes in at about 4%. These are sad statistics especially when the same studies indicate that the World War II generation was about 85%, strong bible believing Christians. The world looks down their noses at Christians and we as a whole have spent more energy pointing fingers at the sins of the world and each other instead of living lives of Grace and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, drawing people into the kingdom by the goodness of God. Redeeming the time is to say, buy back the lost time spent on man’s doctrine and get into the true word of God. Make His word your own, first for yourself, so your walk will be stronger with Jesus. Second so your walk will be one that is authentic in Christ, and not lean toward laws of religion. We must engage in the battle over the next generation and we must do so with aestheticism of life our life in Christ, not of our works and rules. This is true wisdom; “understanding what the will of the Lord is”.

                So what is the will of the Lord and how does that tie in with redeeming the time? Here is the will of the Lord. Ezekiel 33:11-15 tells us that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked; that no man’s righteous works will be remembered; that if the wicked turn from their ways and do what is right they shall surely live. So what is “doing what is right in the sight of the Lord”? John 3:16 & Romans 10:8-10 tells us that we must accept what God did for us, believe in Christ with our hearts, and confess Him with our mouths unto salvation. Ephesians 4:13 tells us that God’s will is that “we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”; God’s will is 1 Timothy 2:4,“all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”. Redeeming the time is to come out of the Churchianity way of thinking and living, and become followers of Christ with our whole hearts not just focusing on our outward appearance. 1 Corinthians 12 tells believers of all the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit that we can walk in, but 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that without love, nothing matters. The only true difference that will stand out between Christianity and all other religion is we are called to love each other and give ourselves for each other, just as Christ gave Himself for the church. Jesus tells us to love others as we love ourselves. Every religion has a god and their own way to their god. Followers of Christ are called to love, not stick our fingers in the eyes of each other and people in the world, crying out sinner, sinner. Remember that Jesus Himself rebuked the religious, calling them whitewashed tombs. Only by gaining wisdom and understanding of God and what Christ has done for us, through the teachings of the Holy Spirit, can we show the world the goodness of God which will draw people to repentance. This sums up redeeming the time and the will of God; get yourself saved and into heaven first, gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of what God and Jesus have already done for you, not focusing on your own righteousness; then make it your goal to take as many people to heaven with you as you can. 

image123

November 6

 The ability to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, and etcetera actually parallels the depth of relationship a person has with Jesus. Religion places so much stress on the outward appearance of a person’s actions, it creates a lack of internal peace with God which prevents these qualities from developing in a person. 

Colossians 3:12-13a “12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another…”

            If Christians could grasp this concept in verse 12 we all could draw more people into the church. I have said this often and will say this now, “the United Stated is never more segregated than it is on Sunday mornings”. The other sad thing is because of misunderstandings of grace over rules and regulations, there seems to be a harshness of many Christians toward people in the world and other denominations. Have we missed the verse “the goodness of God leads to repentance”, Romans 2:4. The word “therefore” is a reflection of what has just been said. You used to be a “son of disobedience” and absent from God. You have been given a new spirit in Christ Jesus and there is no more separation between the children of God as in the day of the Jews (Colossians 3:7-11).

                We are the “elect of God” which means we did not do anything worthy of receiving what follows. Since every person is elected by the grace of God only (Romans 9:11 & John 3:16-18), we must extend the same grace toward other Christians and people we cross paths with in the world. Remember God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. We must remember that we are holy only because He is holy and we are loved before we become saved and we most of all we must remember that we were elected not for our goodness, but because of His purpose (2 Timothy 1:9). Notice how Paul says we are to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;” instead of saying we are to develop these character traits. This is another indication of how we are to wrap our actions and attitudes into a “coat” and wear them always. Every human is capable of these character traits or God would have not told us to walk in them. Everyone exhibits these character traits at one time or another depending on the circumstances, but God is saying make them your constant outer garment.  

For starters “Mercy” is not just being kind and tender to your friends and loved ones; it is compassionate treatment of an enemy and the disposition to be kind to the same. Kindness is not much different than mercy and in 1 Corinthians 13:4 the word charity is used in the KJV and translated into love in the NKJV “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up”. Remember this was extended to us before we were born again. Humility is not humiliation but rather humbleness of mind, putting others first. Humility is the “prized” characteristic of a Christian and the only antidote for pride. We are encouraged to walk in humility from the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. Paul does the same in Ephesians 4:2 and Philippians 2:3 and Peter tells us to “be clothed” in humility in 1 Peter 5:5. Meekness is NOT weakness but rather a fruit of the Holy Spirit as explained in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law”. Long-suffering is not suffering for long periods of time. The Greek word for long-suffering is MAKROTHUMIA and according to Thayer, it means “patience, endurance, consistence, steadfastness, and perseverance”. The Greek word for forbearance is to hold up, sustain, and endure. In modern vernacular we would say “to put up with” and it is typically used in the negative tense, “I am not going to put up with your attitude”. Forgiveness should be the premier character trait of every Christian, providing they understand that God’s forgiveness toward them was unconditional and had nothing to do with what good they did.

Read these following verses from Ephesians and 1 Corinthians to help understand Colossians 3:12-12. 

Ephesians 4:1-3 “1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”,  

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a “4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never fails”. These character traits should be the foundational character traits of every Christian. They are exactly the same traits of God and He has not only extended them to us, He has given us the power and ability to walk in them daily. Unless a Christian is able to exhibit these traits, they will never be able to show the “goodness of God that leads to repentance” (Romans 2:4).  

image124

November 7

 Forgiveness of others parallels the forgiveness of self. Jesus forgave you of “all” your sins and loves you unconditionally. Once you have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior it’s time to begin forgiving yourself for your past failures. Only then can you truly show others the love of God.

Colossians 3:13b-14 “13; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

            We are to forgive even as Christ has forgiven us. This may seem a tall order, but it is possible for us to walk in. Forgiveness is not like giving someone trust or giving them authority in your life. Trust and authority must be earned, but forgiveness is a command and obtainable through the Holy Spirit. We were forgiven before we asked, even before we were born and yet Christians often use the words, “I have forgiven, but I will never forget”; that is not forgiveness that is still holding the offence over the person. Praise God He does not hold any offences over our head.  Holding an offence over a person is just not true forgiveness; it is not any type of forgiveness. With this said even a Christian being a mortal cannot forgive exactly like Jesus forgave since we are not called to literally die for another person, but the heart of forgiveness in letting go completely the offence is a command that God can require of us and we can do it. In times of difficulty in walking in forgiveness we can draw on God’s forgiveness toward us for our strength to forgive others, Ephesians 4:32. 

                I want to point out that the verses in Colossians Chapter 3 were Paul is using the phrase “put on” are similar to applying layers of clothing which is a beautiful word picture for adding these characteristic to our lives. With that being the case verse 14 where we are called to “above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection, is the final overcoat that covers all of the other clothing. In 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, Paul tells us that no matter what we do or how good we do it without love we are nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:13 the final verse in the chapter says, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Faith is in the past having confidence that what Jesus did on the cross was real. Hope is in the future in that our faith will provide for us in the future, but love is right now. Love is actually acting and moving in the “here and now” in the faith you have. They actually couple together in that with the same measure you show love; the same measure of faith you have in what Jesus did for you.

Paul calls love the “bond” of perfection. The Greek meaning for bond means “that which binds together” so we could call it the glue. Love is more than a gushy feeling or emotion; it is a characteristic that extends far beyond emotions. Even when our emotions do not feel good we can show the love Paul is speaking of. The Greek word for love in verse 14 is AGAPE, which was not actually in the Greek language nor did it have a meaning prior to the writings of Paul. AGAPE actually comes from the Greek word AGAPAN which means “great with affection, love”.  The early Christians used it for their “love feast” in conjunction with the Lords Supper. In 1856 AGAPE was translated into “Christian love” which is actually in opposition to “EROS” which is carnal or sensual love; Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper. This kind of love, AGAPE, would also be much stronger than FELIO which is another Greek word meaning a deep mutual friendship. AGAPE is what God showed us in John 3:16 in that even when we seemed unlovable due to our sin nature, God’s love for us led Him to give His only begotten Son that we might have everlasting life. Because this kind of love is not tied to an emotion, but rather a chosen state of being, it can be commanded of Christians to walk in it. Notice I said of Christians and not mankind. Without the love of God and becoming born again, thereby receiving the Son Spirit, a mere natural man can never exhibit AGAPE love. This is why it was never recorded in any language prior to Paul’s day. 

image125

November 8

W Understanding the love of God is the first step in allowing the peace of God to flow through your life to others.

Colossians 3:15-16 “15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

            My recommendation is to make sure you understand Colossians 3:5-14 to understand fully what we are to put off in our attitudes and actions and what type of Godly garments we are to put on in our daily walk with Jesus. Without the full understanding of what God has done for Christians and the Godly attributes He has given us to wear, a person can never fully have the peace of God, much less let that peace rule and reign in their heart. The Greek word for rule means to arbitrate or to govern. This is telling us that the peace of God in our hearts should be the governor for all of our actions and attitudes. Remembering that we “Christians” were called into “one body”, not multiple bodies clumped together. Paul gives us a perfect explanation of how we should function as the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. Not one normal person would cut off their own hand if for some reason it offended them and yet brothers and sisters in the Lord are cut off daily from each other for simple offences and doctrinal differences that fall outside of the truth of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for our salvation.

                Verse 15 concludes with “And be thankful”, as if letting the peace of God rule our hearts is not enough we are also commanded to be thankful. We are not only to be thankful for our own salvation, but are to be thankful for our fellow brothers and sisters who answered the call to salvation. Even if you may not like a person for whatever reason, surly you would not want them to go to Hell and as God forgave you; know that He wants to forgive them also. Put all of this together; from putting off our worldly attributes and actions, to putting on our Godly attributes.  Coupled with “let the peace of God rule in your hearts”, and it would be impossible to receive an offence or have any type of dissension between Christians. The accuser of the brethren has been cast down (Revelations 12:10), and yet Christians still bite and devour one another, even within a single family.

                At this point someone is saying to themselves; “now we are back into works again, how are we supposed to be able to live up to this standard?” For starters Christians are only perfect in their inner man the new creation, not in the flesh (John 3:3). God knows that we are still walking here on earth in our fleshly condemned body, but He has provided us with a means to overcome along with extending us His grace not to be held accountable for it overnight. Paul even says in Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me”. We will never become perfected until the day we meet Jesus face to face in heaven and receive our glorified bodies as He has. Remember that Paul wrote this letter sitting on death row, in a Roman prison. If anyone had a natural reason to walk in bitterness, anger, wrath, etc it would have been Paul who was in prison for preaching the truth of Jesus Christ and Him crucified: he had broken no other laws.

Paul has given us the solution on how to strengthen our spiritual man toward the upward call of God, thereby enabling us to put off all of the deeds of the flesh. He has brought a simple point to the light that many Christians, too busy spinning their wheels in earthly attempts to walk holy, cannot see or comprehend. Read verse 15 carefully. Paul has given us the “how to” for living a peaceful life with God and how to communicate with our fellow Christian believers. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly with all wisdom. There is no way you can comprehend the gospel of Christ or begin to glean His truths by just showing up to church once or twice a week. Showing up is good and listening is even better, but Christians need to study the word for themselves and ask the Holy Spirit to bring all understanding into their hearts. I cannot say enough for admonishing or encouraging one another with God’s word. This should always be done with “AGAPE” love and not as a whip for wrong doings and misunderstandings. The word of God is sharper than a two edge sword (Hebrews 4:12), if you cut someone with it you are actually cutting yourself as well. Remember we are all of the same body of Christ. Singing the word of God with grace in your heart to the Lord is the best antidote for a heavy heart and makes it very hard to receive an offence. 

image126

November 9

 When a person truly understands Jesus’ perfect work on the cross they will purpose to keep Him in everything they do in life. It is impossible to sin if you purpose to do all things both in word or deed in the name of Jesus.

Colossians 3:17 “17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

            Verse 17 is the second point Paul has given to us for walking in Godly attributes. This too seems like a tall order much like putting off all ungodly attributes and putting on the Godly attributes mentioned in verses 5-14. Just like everything else in the walk of a Christian, with man everything is impossible, but with God all things are possible, Mark 10:27. The key to taking the first part of verse 17 out of the natural / works mode and into spiritual accomplishment is “thanksgiving”. In verse 15 Paul says to be thankful. Think about what Paul is saying in these two verses; do you want to have Godly attributes, be thankful for what He has done. Do you want to avoid falling into various sins, be thankful to God for everything you are about to do and the ability to do it? This verse just brought everything into a different light. If you desire to live in lust, you now have to figure out how to be thankful to Jesus for your lust. THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE! For a Christian who understands that Jesus died for our sins and that only by the grace of God we can have forgiveness for our sins; it is impossible for that Christian to perform any sin in the name of Jesus. We would never steal; commit adultery, lie, slander, curse, show anger, or any other sin if we purposed to live our life in thanksgiving to Jesus for what we are actually doing. Do you want to take your spiritual temperature to see how you measure up, look at your level of thankfulness? Those who are not thankful are probably not committed believers and the lack of thanksgiving is one of the signs of the end times according to 1Timothy 3:2. 

                To live contrary of thankfulness to Jesus is to live carnally and Romans 8:6 tells us that the carnal mind is enmity to God. Let me take some pressure off. I am not saying that if a person does something without being thankfully conscious to Jesus at the time that they are in sin, but when people stay in carnal thinking for extended periods of time they lose their God consciousness every time. That is why it is called stumbling; you are just not being as mindful of where you are walking at that time. Making the decision to not get back up after a spiritual fall is walking in sin. I watched a movie called “Fireproof” which is about a married couple having marital troubles to the point of both wanting out. The father of the husband gave his son a 40 day challenge to “fireproof” his marriage. Would you like a simple daily action to follow to fireproof your walk with the Lord? “3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, For in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” This is the continuation of the prophesy from the book of Isaiah which starts in chapter 26 and is the prophesy to the children of Israel of our time. Since the resurrection of Jesus, every person that believes on the name of Jesus can claim verse 3 & 4 for themselves. God will keep you in perfect peace as your mind is stayed on Him, because you trust in Him. Do you want to fireproof your walk with God, do you want to simply take off the old coat of sins that so easily ensnared you in the past, do you want to put on the new coat of righteous that was given to you by God, do you want to walk in AGAPE love toward your brother and the rest of the world; trust in Him, stand on His strength not your own?

                Do everything you do in the name of Jesus and never quit giving thanks to God the Father through Christ Jesus. God wants you blessed more than you want to be blessed. He has already given you all of the promises and blessings written in the Old and New Testaments, all you have to do is learn how to spiritually adjust the receiver on your life. 

image127

November 10

 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord is a commandment from God. Husbands: are you providing a godly man for your wife? If so it will be peaceful for her to follow her commandment and your live will be pleasant. Husbands; if you do not provide a godly man for your wife to submit to, your life will be full of strife and all that strife rests on your shoulders.  

Colossians 3:18 “18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

            This verse from Paul is almost word for word as the verse he wrote to the Ephesians 5:22. In Colossians he does not expand on this comment as he did in Ephesians. My only conclusion to why so little additional input is since the church in Colosse is an outcropping from the church in Ephesus, we can only assume that these churches passed Paul’s letters to one another. Remember the bible is a modern product and Paul did not know he was writing a part of the bible. In verse 22 Paul adds in “workers” to the category of people who should submit and also shed additional light as to what level of submission is truly required. Paul uses the term “according to the flesh” in that we are to show our obedience to Christ through our day to day actions. If we work for someone we are to show respect and submit to their leading in the natural. Likewise a wife is to submit to the leading of the husband in the natural regarding day to day decisions. God is no respecter of persons and in Christ we are spiritually neither male nor female. The wife has equal authority in the spirit world as the husband and she may have information that the husband needs or depends on to make the right decision. The problem of having a household government of two where there can and often is deadlock, the Husband has been given that responsibility to make the final decision. A very wise husband will not take this lightly or rashly, but will do so with reverence because he is called to be the head of his wife as Christ is to the church and gave Himself for it. Bottom line the husband decisions should always be for the mutual benefit of the couple or lean to the blessing side of his wife. He is to never lord his position over her, just as Jesus does not Lord His position over us, but at every opportunity He chooses to show grace and mercy over sacrifice (Matthew 9:13). Also since we all come to Jesus by ourselves and will stand alone in His presence, a wife is responsible for her own spiritual walk. The husband does not have spiritual authority over his wife to make her live contrary to the word of God.

                In Ephesians 5:21 Paul starts out with submit to one another before he says anything about the wife submitting to the husband. This is a key point in that all Christians are to submit to one another. The word submit; is to give preference to, not become a slave of. If we submit our hopes, dreams, and fears to one another and pray for one another we will all be healed?

                An additional thought to consider on these verses is that Paul is writing to a people with much different customs and morays than today. I believe we should take this into consideration as well when interrupting these verses. Just as in 1Timothy 2:11-12 where Paul is telling women to be quiet and not teach a man; women of that day did not have any voice according to Jewish or Roman customs. Today we need to keep verse 18 completely in the natural and the Godly husband needs to be mindful that God will not be pleased if the husband abuses his authority over the woman. I also recommend reading my comments on Ephesians 5:22 in my bible study of Ephesians. 

image128

November 11

 Understanding the power and authority of Jesus’ position as High Priest in our lives will help the believer understand the depth of total forgiveness we have to live in.

Hebrews 7:17-19, “17 For He testifies: "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek." 18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”

Verse seventeen is referencing verse four from Psalms 110, and Psalms 110 is the announcement of the Messiah’s reign. Our Messiah will reign forever; is a statement that carries more weight than man understands. Most importantly we must realize the importance of verse eighteen. The former commandment was annulled because of its weakness and unprofitability. Why would you want to hold on tightly to something that makes you spiritually weak and is unprofitable?  Yet Christians do so today through their doctrines of man, the laws of the Old Testament and its ways of living and judgment of lifestyle? Living by the law makes you weak in the spirit and the spirit realm is where all life is established. Galatians 4:6 tells us that in living by the law we fall from grace. So why is the Law of Moses and doctrines of man preached so much from pulpits, because without the leading of the Holy Spirit the natural mind of man can never understand the spiritual things of God. And most denominations have removed the Holy Spirit, our Helper sent by Jesus, from the church. The carnal mind is enmity to God, Romans 8:7 and the Devil who lives in man’s natural thinking cannot afford to let man understand the freedom he can have in walking by faith in Jesus’ perfect work on the cross.

                Many people question my statement in the previous paragraph that living by the Law makes you weak in the spirit. Remember Paul’s comment in Romans 8:3 “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.” Starting with Romans 7:13 Paul shared the turmoil he had as a man trying to live under the law and the harder he tried the more he failed. Failure breeds doubt and is a part of fallen man, but when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior we receive the spirit of the Son according to Galatians 4:6. However, our battle is not with flesh and blood but spiritual according to Ephesians 6:12 and every time we lose another battle in life we become weaker. At some point a Christian must realize the truth that it is when we are weak He is strong. At that point you will begin to let go of your efforts and start holding on the only one who can deliver you from yourself and that is by faith in Jesus’ perfect work on the cross. 

Verse nineteen stated “the law made nothing perfect”. Stop right there and read this again and again until you get the truth within this statement. The Devil is having a field day with the children of God by keeping us focused on our actions, faults, and shortcomings, instead of focusing on Jesus and our one on one relationship with Him. Our messiah will reign forever which means the New Covenant between God and man will never change again. Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the only way man will ever have to come to God and James 2:10 tells us that “whoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, is guilty of all.” Let go of any doctrine and hold on to Jesus. People, especially the religious pastors and their followers want to argue this point with me all the time, and yet it is not me they are arguing with it’s God’s word found in the same bible they have, that they are arguing with. Can you see how strong our belief in something is? People can believe in something so strongly, they will not even let the word of God stumble them into the truth. Put that same level of belief in Jesus’ perfect work on the cross and you will never be the same. .

image129

November 12

 God is the one who has set Jesus at His right hand to make intercession for us. This means it was His choice to sacrifice His Son for our sins. God is not mad at you or else He would not have provided such a precious sacrifice for you.

Hebrews 7:20-22, “20 And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath 21 (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: "The Lord has sworn And will not relent, 'You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek' "), 22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.”

                Many people miss the double negative in verse twenty and the importance of its comparison of the Levitical High Priest in verse twenty one. What is truly being stated is that Jesus was made our High Priest by an oath from God, whereas a High Priest under the Law was simply born into the tribe of Levi and if a man met all of the other physical requirements of perfection he was appointed High Priest until he died.  Also his death could happen once every year when he entered the Holy of Holies because of any imperfection. The quote within verse 21 is taken from a prophesy of King David written in Psalm 110:4 where God is proclaiming the superiority of Jesus reign when He assumes His position as our Lord and Savior.

                According to the Law of Moses the appointed High Priest could only enter into the Holy of Holies once a year to make a blood sacrifice for the people of Israel and that atonement from sin was just good for a year. Many people consider the message of grace as their free “get out of jail card”. In comparison to the atonement made once a year by the Levitical High Priest the Law only provided a “deferred adjudication”, but the convection remained over the head of man. Do you want to go through life where every year you have to go back to court and ask for another year of staying out of jail knowing that one mistake would put you away forever? I know your answer is no, but in essence this is what a person is saying when they are determined to live by the law or man’s doctrines as effort to show righteousness. The hard truth is found in Galatians 5:4, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”

                Jesus is our surety of a better covenant in that He completely removed the criteria against us with His own life and instead of only entering the Holy of Holies once a year with fear of failure as the Levitical High Priests did, Jesus is actually seated at the right hand of God making consistent intersession for us, Ephesians 1:20, Hebrews 7:25, and Hebrews 8:1. 

image130

November 13

 The comparison of Jesus to Melchizedek was important for the Jews to understand since they put so much trust on the High Priest to make the Sacrifices for them. It is equally important for non-Jews to understand this because there was no end, by man’s terms, of the priesthood of Melchizedek. This means his priesthood would have lasted as long as he lived, but Jesus lives forever.

Hebrews 7:23-28, “23 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.”

                 The author of Hebrews has been using the comparison of the High Priests under the Law of Moses, to Jesus’ Priesthood as similar to Melchizedek. I have found that many Christians reading this section of Hebrews tend to blitz through it because this has been the same theme since Hebrews 5:6 and the natural mind tends to look over similarities by clumping them all together. And since most Christians are not descendants from the Jews they do not have an existing foundation of lived history to base their understanding of this comparison on. However in verse 28 we begin to see additional importance to Jesus’ Priesthood.

                 The word perfected should stand out with understanding that once something is perfected there is no need for change, modification, or repetition. Under the Law of Moses the only constant was change. Their High Priests, the only person allowed into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for all of the Jews, was never in office long thereby creating never ending change. As each generation of High Priests were replaced and different kings came into power, modification or in some cases complete rebellion to the Law happened. And the only thing the children of Israel could do was to live in repetition of what they had since there was no other way. Einstein’s definition of insanity was to do the same thing over and over expecting different results. Would you consider yourself to be an insane person? Most people, and especially Christians will answer no.

                Every Protestant Christian and even many non-Christians can see the weakness of Catholicism in its enforced dependency of the congregation upon the Priest, then their Bishops, Cardinals, and the Pope. I ask you, how many people are you willing to allow to stand between you and God? Many Christians will say none, and yet there is still this underlying push for confession of sins to the pastor or one of the elders. And the mega churches officially call them counselors.  Still others will answer the same as the children of Israel did in the wilderness when they told Moses to speak to God and then they would listen to him. By nature it is a fearful thing to stand in the presence of God as written in Hebrews 10:31 and therefore the carnal mind is ok with going to a priest, pastor, or some other religious person instead of going directly to God. Notice I wrote “by nature” and “carnal mind”. There is nothing natural man can ever do that will allow him to enter into the presence of God and when asked, most Christians will agree. However it does not take great research to realize that all denominations and even most of the non-denominational churches are full of man’s efforts, rulings, and predetermined ways of life necessary to be accepted by that denomination and ultimately God. Some even go as far as stating their religion produces the only true Christians. Other Christian religions even discount the infilling of the Holy Spirit. And some denominations hold on to a gross misunderstanding of the term predestined, (as found in Romans 8:29-30, Ephesians 1:5 & 11), and believe that God has predestined those who can and who cannot get into heaven. And I have found very few Christians who do not place the lion share of emphasis on their actions and appearance, over the heart connection and relationship with Jesus. What does this mean; unless you are placing your entire walk with God based on Jesus’ perfected priesthood which rests on His perfect work on the cross, you are guilty of holding on to man in addition to holding on to God. To mix in man’s efforts with the blood of Jesus as some hybrid way of connecting to God is to actually taint the precious blood of Jesus that was shed for you. This is a hard thing to understand, but necessary to begin living by faith in all areas of your life, and not just your go to church part of life.

                 I tell people that the greatest stand out concept of Hebrews 12, the faith chapter, is found in what is not said as much as what is. While the great works of faith are mentioned in chapter 12 of many of the Old Testament saints, not one failure from their life is recorded in this chapter. In fact if a person has never read anything else in the bible and then reads Hebrews chapter 12, it is highly probably they would consider these mentioned saints of old as people who must have walked perfect before God in their day. The only thing recognized is their walk of faith and what was produced. They did not have Jesus to base their faith on, they simply believed God and purposed to follow Him. Under the New Covenant we have Jesus and the full message of the gospel and yet we still stumble, lean, or in some cases prefer to walk by religion over having a walk in faith. I believe this is because it is easier to walk by a set of rules like following a map, then to take step by step directions from God in our daily life. When we do take a step of faith in one direction and it seems to work, by nature we will attempt to do the same thing the second time instead of seeking God again for His direction. As proof of my statement, look at the life of Moses when he was leading the children of Israel in the wilderness. The first time they needed water he went to God and was told to speak to the rock and then strike it and water came out. The second time they needed water he went to God and was only told to speak to the rock, but when the time came he spoke and then struck it again even when told not to, because it worked the first time. Even though water came out the second time, he failed at following God’s lead. His actions may have produced the needed water for the complaining children of Israel, but he lost out on his full reward of entering into the Promise Land. Don’t risk losing out on your full reward by holding on to an action over holding on to Jesus’ perfect work on the cross which paid the way for you to boldly go to the throne of grace in your time of need.     

image131

November 14

 Jesus is at the right hand of God making intercession for us at heavens court. Understanding the power of this is to understand the power of grace in our daily lives.

Hebrews 8:1-2, 1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”

                Chapter 8:1 is actually the continuation from the end of chapter 7 and in context should not have been separated by a chapter. Many people studying the bible will stop their study at the end of seven and when returning to chapter eight may lose the context of thought. We have Jesus to hold onto and in fact the word tells us that it is God who will complete that which He started which means that He is holding stronger to us than we can ever hold on to Him, Philippians 1:6. The other concept often missed is the importance of Jesus being seated at the right hand of the throne of God in the heavens.

                In today’s society where there are very few true kings in power around the world, we miss the importance of being seated at the throne and especially at the right hand of the king. For starters for a person to be allowed to sit in the presence of the king meant that person was in a powerful position because he had great favor from the king. The queen, when allowed to be in the public presence of the king, could only sit at his left hand which is to be recognized, but also considered to be in a weaker position. Everyone else had to be invited into the presence of the king and upon entrance they had to bow and wait for acceptance then they could only kneel or at best stand at the foot of the throne looking up at the king. Joseph was given the position of being at the right hand of Pharaoh when he was appointed over all the Pharaoh had except his own wife and household. Every time Joseph walked through the streets and everything he spoke was received as if the Pharaoh himself were present and speaking. Today we can look at Joseph as the type and shadow of the importance of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God. Although we do not see God we see Jesus and His word carries the full authority of God.

The second point of importance is the “true tabernacle” in verse 2. Remember Hebrews is comparing what the children of Israel had with the Law of Moses in the wilderness to what we have with Jesus today. The tabernacle is where God would come to meet with the children of Israel which was portable and had to be taken down and put back up each time they moved in the wilderness. Remember Jesus told the woman at the well that the time had come when we shall worship God in spirit and truth. Our connection with God is now established in the heavens and we no longer need to build something here on earth for Him to come to us. Our tabernacle will never go away, but no one knows where the tabernacle or the Ark of the Covenant is today. 

image132

November 15

 Understanding the difference between Jesus’ High Priesthood in heaven, verses that of the High Priests under the Law of Moses here on earth will strengthen the faith of the believer to trust in Jesus’ perfect work on the cross. 

Hebrews 8:3-5, 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."   

                Two things to remember, one Jesus was from the tribe of Judah not the tribe of Levi where Old Testament priests were appointed from. Secondly The gifts and offerings of the Old Testament were made over and over since none of them actually cleansed anyone from their sin, but merely gave them atonement which is a satisfaction or a since or repairing a wrong. If you think about the definition, something that has been repaired still has the break or damage; it has simply been covered up to “appear” whole again. With the New Covenant there is a complete replacement of what was broken with a brand new. Our old “Adamic” fallen spirit, was replaced with the new Son of God spirit as read in Galatians 4:6. Because Jesus was not a Levite, under the Old Covenant He would have never been appointed a High Priest, therefore His priesthood must be over different covenant. The High Priests offered bulls and goats, but Jesus offered Himself. In nature one man could offer to die for another man’s crime, but once dead he could never die for another. Jesus, however has the Sons spirit not the Adamic spirit and although He walked on earth as a Man, He was in fact spiritually God in a Man’s body. Because He did not have sin, the grave could not hold Him and once risen God sat Him at God’s right hand. Today there is no more need for sacrifice, which is just atonement or repairing of what is broken because we have been made brand new.

                Because Jesus could not have been appointed High Priest over the Old Covenant, and His sacrifice gave us His Son’s spirit instead of temporarily repairing our broken spirit, there must be a New Covenant for Him to be High Priest over. Everything about the Law of Moses was at best a temporary fix to something that could never be replaced only repaired. Verse five is reminding us of this truth. The Old Testament, priesthood, and tabernacle were only earthly copies of the real which is in heaven. The importance of this is often overlooked. Everything we see in the natural here on earth is in a constant state of change and if not maintained decay will always set in. Look at anything made by man that is left uncared for and it will begin to fall apart without consistent repair. And even if cared for there is always something breaking or wearing out that needs replacing. Once you start repairing and replacing the manmade item is no longer the same as when it was when created, it is now altered and less perfect even if it “appears” to be the same. Why would anyone understanding the imperfection and limited ability of the Old Covenant want to hold on to it when we have Jesus? 

image133

November 16

 To allow yourself to become drunk with wine, or any other intoxicating drink, or mind altering chemical, is actually an escape from reality. Paul tells us to filled with the Spirit, speak to one another in psalms and give thanks to God and Jesus Christ. He is giving us God’s plan on how to deal with reality with power instead of trying to escape from it.  After all you will have to wake up from the stupor sooner or later and the reality is still there. 

Ephesians 5:18-20, 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Those who have faith, have liberty in both food and drink. I do not want to go into this truth regarding liberty in food and drink at this time, but I encourage you to study Romans14:1-23. The point I want to bring out is to not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit. At first this is an unlikely contrast, but there is great truth and substance here, Paul did not make a mistake in writing this contrast. For starters we need to look back into the day this was written, remembering that Paul did not know at the time that he was writing a portion of the bible for us to read over 2000 years later. He was simply trying to help new believers see how their old ways were hindrances to their new found faith in Christ Jesus. There is also a great truth today in this verse. Wine was possibly the most common drink, and at times more readily available than clean water. Wine was served with nearly every meal, and mealtime in those days was most often used as a time of intimate fellowship between families and friends. Wine was also used for medicinal purposes; the point being it was prevalent in their culture.

Alcohol is also prevalent today, but the point made here is being drunk which is dissipation which is actually an escape from reality. Most people have no real idea what dissipation is. Drinking to the point of dissipation is when you begin to loosen control of your thought processes; you reach such a point of mental distraction that your time and physical ability is disintegrated. We call it amusement without knowing what we are actually saying. Amusement is simply “mindless entertainment”. A person is literally becoming so amused they are out of their minds. Christians are called to be in control of our mind. We cannot prevent the initial thoughts that may pop into our minds, but we can control what we meditate on, 2 Corinthians 10:5. Satan can only attack us through our minds and the natural mind is enmity to God. When we lose control of our thought processes we are actually leaving ourselves open and unprotected from the enemy. The other potential here is not just what this does to your own walk, but those who are around you. 

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a sharp contrast here. The Holy Spirit is the one person that brings us into ALL understanding of the will of God, and the Holy Spirit reveals to us the mind of Christ, 1 Corinthians 2:9-16. I have heard recounts of some believers filled with the Spirit where they had the feeling of euphoria when they first became Spirit Filled. This was not the case with me. The one thing I recognized the most was when I picked up the bible to read, it came alive. Robbye and I were not married then and we spent every morning before we started getting ready for work, talking over the phone and sharing all of the wonderful things God had revealed to us the night before while studying our bibles. There was a melody in our hearts and we soon found ourselves on dates at a restaurant filling up our entire time talking about the Lord. There was not only awesome encouragement toward each other while on our dates, but we never had to worry the next morning if we said the wrong thing or made fools of ourselves because of having too much to drink. In fact we didn’t even think of having a drink because there was so much joy in our hearts from what the Holy Spirit was revealing to each of us. Are you starting to get the picture? When a person is Spirit filled and purposes to walk and learn God’s truth, the joy of the Lord will surpass any type of remembered feeling you get from drinking wine or any other alcohol beverage.  If you happen to be a person with a drinking problem believing for and receiving the Holy Spirit will give you the strength to overcome. On May 12, 2008 Robbye and I will have been married eighteen years. Just like every marriage, there have been times of trouble, but the one thing we held on to was that we knew each other had an Agape love for one another. This was built from the beginning as we set our own walk with Christ first in our personal lives and allowed the Holy Spirit to minister God’s words to our spirits. Instead of reaching for a drink we chose to reach for a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit. Instead of engulfing ourselves with wine or strong drink, we chose the better way. “To be filled with the Holy Spirit” 

image134

November 17

 The term “submitting to another” is very difficult for most people to understand in today’s society of self-centeredness. The term “fear of God” is equally misunderstood. To do both as Paul suggests in Ephesians 5:21 is seldom done due to a complete lack of understanding. However there is great freedom in doing both. 

Ephesians 5:21, Submitting to one another in the fear of God,

                I chose to focus just on this one verse as it has caused much turmoil in the lives of many Christians. Where people get confused is in their understanding of the word submitting. The following verse in Ephesians, “Wives submit to your own husbands”, is also a problem and this too has caused much grief in many Christian circles due to its misunderstanding. Everyone understands one of the definitions of submitting to be “To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another”, as found in the American Heritage Dictionary. What we seldom realize is there are additional definitions and just like many words that have different definitions you not only have to read it in the context of the sentence, but in this case it must be read in the context of the chapter and even more so in the spirit of the new covenant we call the New Testament. There is only “one” true Shepherd the Man Christ Jesus. If we chose to be a follower of Christ, He is the only person we should submit to in the definition I just mentioned above. He is the one that paid the price of the cross for us and when we put the will of a man between us and Jesus, we are actually participating in idolatry. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say to submit to a man over Jesus.  We are not called to surrender ourselves over to the will of another person, making them Lord over our lives, but we should allow ourselves to hear from another person if they have a deeper understanding in the Lord. This does not mean that a pastor’s word is the final word and must be followed no matter what. They too are clay vessels and capable of misunderstanding the word. We must take the preached word and search the scriptures for ourselves. By doing so we will either make the preached word our own, or the Holy Spirit can lead us into the truth, that’s His job. Christ Jesus must be the ultimate authority in our lives, not any man. Neither are we called to be separate from each other having only our own relationship with the Lord. The word tells us that we individually, we in a church, and we as all the churches, are the temple of the God. He lives in each of us and in all of us.

Unity is the key that when mixed with faith unlocks the heavens; either our being in unity with the word of God regarding our personal walk with Jesus, or jointly in unity with one another and together agreeing upon the word of God. When we allow division among believers, or division of ourselves from the word of God, we become easy prey for Satan. “Submitting to one another in the fear of God”, is simply sharing your heart’s desires with a believing brother or sister so that they can pray with you, whether it is for help in overcoming a sin in your life or even a change for the better, such as a better job. In Genesis when God is calling Abram out from his people to a walk with Him, God establishes a principle where something is established as truth at the voice of two or more witnesses. Jesus confirms this in Matthew 18:16 when He says, “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established”. In this verse Jesus is referencing the act of judgment of a sin worthy of death as found in Deuteronomy 17:6 regarding punishment under the Law of Moses. Jesus takes this same concept of unity between two or more and brings it into our daily walk of unity among Christians in Matthew 18:18-20, when He is telling us, the church, of our authority here on earth and where the greatest power lies. 18 Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."  In James 5:16 when we are told to “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”, this concept is not just for healing, but rather a principle of unity and exercise in faith. Jesus is the one that paid for our healing by the stripes on His back, healing does not come just because of the unity of prayer. This principle in James 5:16 is referring back to the agreement and unity of two or more by faith in the word of God. Whether your battle is for healing, overcoming sin or a bad habit, or for an answer in any direction for your life, there is great authority in the heavenly places when you submit your heart to a believing brother or sister and ask them to pray with and for you. .

image135

November 18

 God commands wives to submit to their own husband. However my question to the husband is; are you fulfilling your shoes as a godly husband by giving yourself for her as Christ did the church?

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

                The first and most important point I want to make is that every person, male or female, is to have their own relationship with God through Jesus and Him only. Nowhere in any part of the New Testament does the word say that a person must only come to Jesus through another person. A wife must have her own relationship with Jesus and it is not just through her husband. In fact if her husband is walking in sin and not with Christ Jesus, she has some very important decisions to make and they should not be made lightly. She cannot follow him in his sin and expect to keep her own relationship pure with Jesus.

                I want to start with the word submit found in Ephesians 5:21. Submit is a voluntary action and is no longer submission when forced. Second we are to submit to each other. This means husbands submit to wives as well as wives to husbands. Anywhere there are two or more people involved in a matter there must always be one final authority or deadlock can happen. The one with that authority has the greatest weight to make the right decision and God is not pleased with anyone leading another in the wrong direction. Read Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, & Luke 17:2, husbands; do not cause your wives to stumble you will not be happy with the results when you come face to face with Jesus! What Paul is telling us in Ephesians 5:22 is that in the unity of marriage where the two have become one; God has placed the weight of the final authority on the husband. Notice also that God is telling the wife to submit, not for the husband to demand submission, which is altogether different. Many a marriage has been destroyed by a husband misunderstanding this verse and demanding his position of final dictatorship. Proverbs 17:28 tells us that even a fool is counted as wise when he keeps his mouth shut. Submission is always voluntary.

                Secondly submission and obedience are NOT synonymous.  Acts 4:19 makes it clear that we are to listen to God over man. A wife should never submit to her husband’s will at the point of disobeying the word of God. It is also the wife’s personal responsibility to study the word for herself and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to her so she will be able to discern the truth. Standing before the Lord in ignorance saying, I did what I did because I submitted to my husband and he was the one making the wrong decisions, will not cut it. We are to never disobey God in an effort to obey a person in authority. This is not what Romans 13:1-3 is referencing. Authority is from God, but being in right standing with God is preeminent. History shows us that rulers can and sometimes are evil. 

                Another point here is to recognize that a wife is called to submit to her own husband. The emphasis is “own” and does not imply that all women are to be submissive to all men in general. 1 Corinthians 14:34 is a reference back to the curse in Genesis 3:16 where the Lord made Eve subject to “her” husband, not to all men. The word also tells us there is neither male nor female, Galatians 3:28. This is proof that women are not inferior to men, and Ephesians 5:22 is telling men that their authority is only over their wife, providing she chooses to submit.

                The final point here is “as to the Lord”, where some people use this advocating that women are to submit everything to their husbands with the same level of completeness as we are called to do so to God. This works for God because He does not sin and never makes mistakes, men do both. As I mentioned earlier a wife must stand before Jesus on the Day of Judgment on her own, she must do the word over anything spoken by the husband if his guidance is anything sinful. In Colossians 3:18 Paul uses slightly different wording, “wives submit to your own husbands, as it is fitting in the Lord”. There is an unfit type of submission where the wife would do everything the husband says regardless of whether he is leading her into sin. This verse does not give the wife cart blanch to enter into a sin just because her husband is the leader and is going in that direction. 

image136

November 19

 God places the Lion’s share of the stability of the marriage on the husband. Christian men all want a Proverbs 31 woman, but are they providing her a Proverbs 31 husband for her to trust in?

Ephesians 5:23 – 24, 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

                                The word Savior is only capitalized in the NKJV, but in the original KJV is was not. This is an interesting point in that the Greek word “SOTER” which is used 24 times in the KJV bible is capitalized everywhere but in Ephesians 5:23. The word “he” in verse 23 is also not capitalized in KJV which coupled together is stronger indication that the husband does not have salvation authority over his wife in some type of priestly fashion as some people have believed. This is congruent to the Spirit of the New Testament which point to Jesus as the only Savior of our soles and not any man. This verse cannot stand out above the New Testament and give the husband some kind of supernatural salvation power over his wife. In Galatians 3:8 Paul tells us we are neither male nor female, which takes away any gender superiority, but in 1 Peter 2:9 we are told that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. This should be proof that a man is not the spiritual savior of the wife, but there is a responsibility that does rest on the husband.

                The word savior in the dictionary is one who rescues, preserves, or provides safeguarding. Christ has done this for the church in that He not only paid for our salvation He is the protector of His church. Likewise in the natural, which is the only headship a husband has, he is responsible for the safety and preservation of the wife and his family. He has been given this authority by God, but the word is very clear in Luke 12:48 that to whom much is given, much is required. Verse 23 should be read as a charge to the husband to step up to the plate and be the protector and provider for his wife in physical matters. He is called to grow up and be the responsible one over natural matters not the priest over the wife.

                I added verse 24 with this devotional because it is a recap of verse 22. You must always look at verses in the bible in context of how they are written. It is clear that the context of these verses for the wife to “choose” to submit to her husband regarding physical matters and not as her spiritual head. She must do what is right before the Lord regarding spiritual matters; likewise the husband has a huge responsibility to do what is right before the Lord as the physical head of his wife and family. Remembering that according to the word of God “the two shall become one”, In 1 Corinthians 12:14-23 Paul uses the analogy of the human body as to how the body of Christ, the church, is to function in unity. This same analogy works for the marriage. When a person develops Alzheimer’s, they not only lose their memory, but their brain “the head” causes havoc for the rest of the body. When the husband does not line himself up with the word of God in all of his actions and thoughts, he causes problems for his wife and family.  

image137

November 20

 Love is powerful because God is love and there is none more powerful than He is. When a husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church he will draw her to himself stronger than any natural gift he could ever give.  

Ephesians 5:25 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

Verses 5:23 & 5:25 are actually instructions to each gender on how to relate to the other in marriage. Men by nature relate to other people in a manner of mutual respect. Even if men do not like each other in the business world, but there is a mutual respect between them, they can and will overlook even major differences. Women are more likely to connect to each other on an emotional level and will be more concerned with having a good relationship where the thought of respect does not enter if the emotional connection is not felt. Boys in school can have a major falling out one day and as long as one does not show disrespect to the other they will be playing on the playground together the next day. Girls, however, can have a falling out and will not speak to each other on one hand, but will worry about the broken relationship on the other hand until the relationship itself is mended. If God did not tell the husband to love his wife even to the level that Christ loved the church, he would fail at giving her the true attention she needs for the relationship to flourish. Likewise if the woman does not show respect to her husband, he will not be able to connect to her on any emotional level.

                Here is where the problem lies: A man will equate respect with love and think that if he is showing honor to his wife, and provides for and protects her, that he is showing her his love. The problem here is he is not reaching her on any emotional level that she needs to be validated. The wife with a beautiful home and nice furnishings will not feel loved just because she has those things if the husband does not make a genuine effort to connect to her on an emotional level showing her he truly loves her. On the other side, a wife can truly tell her husband she loves him and try to connect and engage him on an emotional level, but if he ever hears her put him down regarding something he has said or done, even if she is making a joke out of it, or just telling one of her friends and it gets back to him, she has lost him because he feels she does not respect him.

                Ephesians 5:25 is the perfect recipe to follow for a husband to learn how to show love for his wife. The love Christ has for the church was given long before it was asked for and was never earned. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. This is confirmed in John 3:16 as well. Christ had to be a willing sacrifice in order for His death to pay the price for our sins. In this act of sacrifice Jesus took our shame and bore our pain. Likewise a husband should never take this stance with his wife, “this is your problem, so you fix it”. Men need to look at where they would be if Christ had not done what He did and in learning from that make every effort to show the same kind of love to his wife in all things. Wives, what does the word say about slanders, back biters, and gossips; they will not enter the kingdom, Romans 8:29-31. Love covers a multitude of sins and no weapon can be formed against love. A wife can best show her love for her husband by first showing him her respect first which is the key to understanding Ephesians 5:23.

                If you are single these verses still apply to you and will be a huge benefit to you in the future if you learn and practice them while dating. If you both are Christians, which is the best situation to be in, the person you are dating is first your brother or sister in the Lord. There may be a physical attraction that brought you together, but a real man would never emotionally harm, nor violate his sister sexually. Even if brothers and sisters are at each other’s throats, so to speak, a good loving brother will be the first to step up and protect his sister in a bad situation, and will still try to show her his brotherly love.  A loving sister would not put her brother down to his face nor behind his back and would never allow him to see part of her nakedness. Take these same two people out of the family situation and put them in a dating scenario and it changes. The man allows his lust to take over any agape love for the young woman and is willing to take what is not rightfully his. A woman’s love and physical affection belongs to her husband, and you may not be that husband. Likewise, the man you are talking about in a disparaging manor, or pointing faults out to could someday be your husband and in any case he still is your brother in the Lord. And don’t cause your brother to stumble, by showing him parts of your body that rightfully belong to your husband someday.

                If a husband learns how to show his love to his wife it will be easier to translate that into an agape love for his brother and sister in the Lord. If a wife learns and understands how to show respect to her husband, then she can translate that over into all relationships in the body of Christ. Now we are getting to the underlying message Paul is teaching and sums up in Ephesians 5:32.

                Wives you are called to make the decision to submit, “Respect”, your husbands, and this is not to be forced by the husband. Husbands you are commanded to love your wife as Christ loves the church even before she asks for it, or earns it. .

image138

November 21

 o weapon can be formed against love and when a husband can love his wife unconditionally and not allow himself to become bitter toward her, his love will strengthen the relationship between the two of them. Remember from Ephesians 5:25 that God places the weight of the marriage on the husband.

Colossians 3:19 “19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”

            For additional help on understanding this verse you can read my comments on Ephesians 5:25 in my Ephesians bible study. In Ephesians 5:25 Paul adds, “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”, whereas in Colossians 3:19 he stated do not be bitter. There is an old saying “if mamma isn’t happy, nobody is happy”, and still rings true today. The flip side of that statement can be seen in Ephesians 5:28. Husbands do you hate yourself and want to be miserable in marriage, than stay bitter toward your wife, you WILL get more than you ask for? On the positive note a Godly husband will recognize and understand Proverbs 12:4, “an excellent wife is the crown of her husband”. Husbands if you want an excellent wife treat her with excellence. Remember Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”, if you apply this to your wife you will never go wrong.

                I want to touch on what bitterness is and what it does to everybody around it. Bitterness as defined by the unabridged dictionary as “causing pain; piercing; stinging: characterized by intense antagonism or hostility”. This meaning tells us that it defiles everything it touches including the person it comes from. Even words intended as kind or up lifting from a bitter heart will always be heard with an edge of harshness. God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ dies for us, Romans 5:8. Jesus tells us in John 13:35 that people will know His disciples by the love they show one another. In Romans 12:10 Paul tells us to be affectionately kind to one another and in honor show preference toward one another. There may not be a better way of showing the world and people around you loving kindness than for a husband to publicly and privately show his undying love for his wife.  

image139

November 22

 Children not obeying their parents has become an increasing problem in today’s society. My question is; are fathers provoking them to the point of discouragement. Dad’s should lead and train them with godly examples, not just rules of control where then never engage with their children.

Colossians 3:20-21 “20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

            I chose to put these two seemingly contrasting verses together because they actually go hand in hand. There are several Proverbs that tells us that obedience from a child pleases the Lord, Ps 1:8, 6:20, 7:1, & 23:22. Ephesians 6:1says “Children obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right” and in Ephesians 6:3 Paul further states "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth", which is a reflection of the only one of the Ten Commandments that comes with a promise, found in Exodus 20:12 and in Deuteronomy 5:16. There are several examples in the bible of Godly children, Isaac, David, Josiah, Samuel, Esther, John the Baptist, Timothy, and Jesus. I added Jesus because we often forget that He too was a child and growing up under the Law of Moses had to be true to the Law in everything He did. All became great men and woman of God. There is not any evidence where a bad child grew up to become anything great. In the two verses from Paul on children being obedient, the one in Ephesians adds “in the Lord”. This is not to say that if your parents are not Christians you can get by with being disobedient. In Matthew 21:28-31 Jesus tells us of two sons both were given instructions by their father. The first said no, but later regretted his comment and did what the father had asked. The second son said yes to his father’s instructions, but never did what his father requested. In verse 22 of Colossians 3, Paul stated that “obedience should not be with eyeservice, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.” If you are a Christian child regardless of age there is only one reason you can avoid obeying your parents and honoring their requests. In Acts 5:29 we read that when a decree given is contrary to the word of God we are to obey God and not man. With few and rare exceptions I believe the reason children grow up not honoring and obeying their parents rests on the shoulders of the parents and specifically the father.

                Godly parents are the only parents that can rise up Godly children as the word says in Psalms 127:4, children are arrows shot forth from a parent. Shooting forth does not mean the arrow is shot in the right direction, it just means that the child will go beyond where the parent was when they were shot forth. If the parent is going in the wrong direction, the child will go further in the same wrong direction unless God somehow intervenes. As I mentioned earlier I believe the father carries the most weight in the direction the child goes. After all he is head over the wife just as Christ is head of the church and gave Himself for it, Ephesians 5:25. If the father is head of the wife and the children are subject to their parents than the father is at the top of responsible for the spiritual direction the family and children go; end of discussion. Sad thing is there are God fearing mothers all across our country making every effort to point their children in a Godly direction without the help of a Godly father. Godly seed is being planted, and there are Godly men and women raised up from a single mom home, but the child could have a better foundation if the father is an active Godly man.

A critical point I need to make is that just being a believer does not make a natural Godly acting person. Remember that we are “new creatures spiritually”, but the old man’s ways of thinking and acting needs to be changed. Verse 17 of this chapter is the key to being a Godly father. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  If a father wants to provoke his children and discourage them all he has to do is beat them over the head with bible verses and quotations but live a Godless life in front of them. For the father that wants to raise a Godly child, do so through letting them see you as a Godly man in everything you do. There is an old saying, “preach always and on occasion use a few words”.

One more additional note on provoking children; mothers are not off the hook just because Paul only identified fathers. When either parent displays less than Godly attributes in their life the child sees the difference and gets the idea that the parent is saying, “do as I say, not as I do”. From my observation, moms tend to try to “fix” everything in the child’s life. This is not necessarily a bad thing and quite often is a good thing, but not always the right thing to do. I am no psychologist, but have watched parenting and studied the word of God a long time. I have noticed that when children are in the formative years there is a needed “mommy fixit” time to help the child feel loved and nurtured; this is when fixing things is both the good and right thing. As the child grows up they reach a time, and I do not know exactly when this is, that the child needs to begin experiencing more of the fix it yourself problems, while the mom continues to take care of the major ones and keep up encouraging words. As they mature children need to experience adversity in order to learn how to avoid some of life’s potential pitfalls and how to overcome problems they find themselves in. One pastor called this “attending the Adversity University”, and those children that have been taught through this college of life, with Godly principles, will be the PhD’s from AU of tomorrow for the kingdom of Christ. 

image140

November 23

 Whether you are self-employed or work for a company, you will always work for some. Work as unto the Lord and He will lift you up and give you favor.

Colossians 3:22-4:1 “22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. 4:1 Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.”

                Since we no longer have slavery in the US, people should look at this verse and apply it to the actions of an employee. Just for the record Paul was not advocating slavery, but chose to focus on the word to change hearts not societies. Slavery was an acceptable way of life in Paul’s day. Just like the wife obeying her husband, an employee is not responsible to follow the instructions of an employer if they are contradictory to the word of God or illegal. This could mean the loss of employment, but in Paul’s day it meant the loss of life. The key here is how we are to respond to the employer’s request for a task. Remember that in verse 17 Paul tells us that in whatever we do or say that we are to do it as unto Jesus. Verse 23 lines up with verse 17 in that the attitude behind what we do is as important as what we do. Christians need to remember that we are called ambassadors for Christ. As an ambassador our personal actions are a direct reflection on Jesus. We are to please the Lord because He first loved us and died for our sins. We do not try to please Him to gain our reward since it has already been given. This takes our actions out of the “works” mentality and into one of praise.  Fearing God is actually an overwhelming since of love and utmost respect for the grace He has extended to us, not for anything we did but because of who He is. The reward spoken of in verse 24 is our salvation, our blessings, and the ability to come into His presence boldly, Hebrews 4:16. In many cases the rules and regulations that Christians try to follow are actually from men and not God since with Christ the only commandments are to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, sole, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself. With the understanding of rules vs. faith, if our actions are actually for the pleasing of man instead of God, then we risk falling into making wrong choices. Not trusting Jesus is doing wrong, rejecting His salvation is wrong, leading people into works or legalism instead of into an understanding of grace is wrong, and according to verse 25 God does not show partiality in His judgments. This is why it is so important to learn about grace and increase our faith, because without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6.

                I have added Colossians 4:1 with the last three verses from chapter three since thay are all of the same thought. Paul is teaching us that our behavior in public and private is important to God. We are encouraged to walk Godly in all that we do. In verse 4:1, Paul has singled out the master of the bondservant with specific instructions on treatment of a slave. This is no different than an employer to his/her employee. 

image141

November 24

 Prayer, when filled with faith and all doubt suppressed, is the most powerful tool we have to move things in the spirit realm.

Colossians 4:2 “2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

            I have heard some Christians say, “How can I always be in prayer since I have other things I must do in life besides sit and pray”. This is not an unusual response for the person that does not understand what prayer truly is. Those of us who were taught to pray when we were children did so with simple requests. As we grew older our requests became more intense as our needs intensified. So many Christians have bought the lie that prayer is what you do when you have exhausted all other means of getting what you want or need. People tend to wear themselves out doing before praying and find themselves wondering why God didn’t answer their prayer. I have found very few Christians that even believe God answers prayers today and I believe part of the reason is found in James 4:2-3. Prayer is not just for the purpose of asking God for things we want. James is telling us that one of the reasons we do not have is the motive behind our asking. This is not to say that God does not want to bless us because He does. Jesus tells us God knows how to bless His children better than man does, Matthew 7:11. The true reason behind developing a true prayer life is for communication with God. There are much more answers in life He wants to give us that just fulfill our wish list. He wants to have fellowship with us which means we need to sometimes shut up from all of our whimpering and pleading and listen to His still small voice, 1 Kings 19:12. We often forget that God is truly not a forceful God. He is the ultimate gentleman and will patiently wait until we spin ourselves dry of tears and prayers and finally shut up before He speaks; At that point we need to have trained our ears to hear. I was a grown man before I went on my first hunting trip and I did not ask anyone I knew that hunted what to do, it was boring and I came back empty handed.  A few years later I had another invitation, but this time I ask some questions and the first thing I was told was to begin learning the quiet sounds of the field at day break. When the sun had not yet begun to shine and the time was near, there I sat in the dark quiet listening to nothing when all of a sudden I heard something in the distance. The hair went up on the back of my neck and I began to quietly focus my eyes and my ears in the direction of any sound I heard. As the sun began to break the horizon the different noises became louder and louder in my ears and shortly after it became daylight the sounds stopped just as quickly as they started. I didn’t see a Deer, but experienced my first forest symphony of noises and movements. I had never heard such noise before because I never was told to quietly listen. That morning is when I realized how God’s children were supposed to hear His voice. I still didn’t bring a Deer home, but I brought home something much greater; an understanding on how to hear God. Philippians 4:6 says to let your requests be known, but after that we are to shut up and focus with quiet intensity on what we know of God, Philippians 4:8.  Meditation and listening for the still small voice of God often is the second half of our prayer life, but actually should become the first part of our prayer life. As we realize that much of our prayers should be meditating on God’s word that is in us, coupled with few of our words, we should begin to grow to the point of being in consistent prayer with God. If you are truly after “more of God” and not just more of His blessings in your life, He will give you the desires of your heart plus the blessings in your life. This is what Jesus was telling us in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

                In the King James Version the second half of verse 2 reads “and watch in the same with thanksgiving”. This is more in keeping with continuing earnestly in prayer. To watch prayerfully is to focus with your spiritual eyes, which takes much more effort that to just look at the outer appearance of something. Gentiles, non-believers, do not have the ability to see spiritually and are trapped in the temporary reality of their five senses. Even in the days of old before Jesus’ death removed the veil, God was able to show His prophets things in the spirit realm. In 2 Kings 6:17 the army of Syria surrounded the home of the prophet Elisha with orders to kill him. When the servant of Elisha saw the army of men and chariots and was afraid. When Elisha’s servant told his master, Elisha simply prayed for God to open his servant’s eyes and see the army of God surrounding the entire army of Syria. In our walk here on earth we will have many opportunities to be fearful, angry, or doubtful about various situations, but to God there is always another picture that He wants to show us.  All we have to do is ask Him to open the eyes of our heart.

Blindness of heart is what keeps people stuck in their sins and absent from the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, Ephesians 4:18 “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” To those who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, if they believe and ask they will be able to see the true spiritual world of God. It is the blindness of heart that keeps a Christian’s stumbling in the sin that so easily ensnares them, Hebrews 12:1.

                The key to answered prayers and seeing into the spiritual realm of God is the last two words, “with thanksgiving “of which those who are not truly thankful and ever mindful for what God has done for them will not experience their full blessings, Philippians 4:6-8. 

image142

November 25

 As you pray for yourself and family, remember to lift up those who labor in the word and live to reach others for Christ. You heart felt and sincere prayers will strengthen and help open doors for those called into the fivefold ministry. 

Colossians 4:3-4 “3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.”

                This is an interesting comment from Paul who was in prison at the time and one similar to that of the Apostles in Acts 4:29 after they had been threatened to not speak the gospel by the “religious” Jewish priests. The world wants to shut the mouths of Christians from spreading the gospel because of the blindness of their hearts as I mentioned in Colossians 4:2. There are also numerous “religious” leaders of today, many of whom call themselves Christians who resist the preaching of the grace message insisting that it is only pleasing the flesh of the hearers. These “religious” are still trying to keep righteousness tied to works of the flesh and they are actually walking in spiritual blindness of heart, not being able to see into the spirit realm of God. This spiritual blindness which leads to works of the flesh for righteousness is the direct result of lack of thanksgiving and meditation of the good things of God, Philippians 4:6 & 8, Philemon 6, & 1 Titus 4:15. The mystery of Christ mentioned by Paul is fully expressed back in Colossians 1:27, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  This hope of glory is the grace of God to receive complete salvation and be able to enter into His presence freely on our faith of Jesus Christ and the blood He shed for our sins. To understand grace is to understand Jesus’ perfect work on the cross.

                Paul reminds us that he is in chains for preaching the gospel, but wants the opportunity to preach the gospel even more. Many Christians today walk in fear of ridicule for sharing their true faith with their friends, fellow workers, and acquaintances. In the US we are nowhere near the level of persecution as many of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are, but we are heading that way if righteousness does not stand in the streets. This Grace of God message has to start in your own backyard so to speak. Missions are great and I praise God for those who are called to go into foreign countries and risk their lives to spread the gospel. The problem is the spreading of the gospel in the United States is basically left up to TV and when a seeker stumbles into the right church. There are other religions that see the US as their mission field and two of them are “look a likes” to true Christianity. These two religions are anti-Christ in that they cannot say that “Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior”, the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Paul’s prayer needs to be ours as well that we too can make the gospel manifest as we ought to. Notice that Paul says that he should still be making the gospel manifest even after he is in prison for doing so. All Christians are called into a commission with Jesus Christ to spread the gospel in our daily lives. I am not saying that every believer is called into the fivefold ministry, but all can share their faith in Christ Jesus and as a whole Christians do not. The reason the ministry of the gospel is not fulfilled by the saints, is because there is not enough of the knowledge of the gospel of Christ in our hearts. Many may have it in their minds, but according to Jesus it is not what goes into a man that is of any importance, it is what comes out of the man’s mouth that reveals his true heart, Matthew 12:34 & Luke 6:45 “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”, and Matthew 15:18 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.” What is in your mind that comes out of your mouth?

Here is the truth of spreading the gospel, Acts 4:1-8 tells us that the evangelism of the gospel was never meant to be done by churches, the pastor, or the clergy. Saul, long before he had his Damascus road experience after which God changed his name to Paul, thought he was doing a great work for God by persecuting the church at Jerusalem which scattered the believer’s abroad preaching the gospel; only the Apostles stayed. Saul did more for spreading the gospel back then most people realize. Had he not first disbursed the church into all regions around Jerusalem with his hate letters from the Pharisees, the spreading of the gospel would have been crippled. The gospel must be spread door to door, friend to friend, and acquaintance to acquaintance. Many Christians including pastors believe inside the church is where the gospel is to be spread, but Paul knew that evangelism had to be done outside the church building and by the saints, not the pastors and clergy. That is why he knew how he ought to speak, verse 4, and why he asked for prayer for the door to opened for him to go spread the word of God. Many people will argue that Paul was a pastor and taught in churches. No Paul was an evangelist and teacher preparing the saints for the ministry of the gospel. Read his words from Ephesians 4:11-12, “11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” The fivefold ministry was never meant to be the hierarchy of authority that some religious people try to make it. The fivefold ministry was given as servants to God and to the saints, “ for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry”. The fivefold ministry is to buildup, teach, and encourage the saints in Christ Jesus, the saints are the ones to spread the gospel with what they have learned and know in their hearts. .

image143

November 26

 All Christians are called to inter into the great commission which is to reach others for Jesus Christ. Even if you are not evangelical in nature, by walking in wisdom toward those who are not believers, you become salt in their lives which may lead them to Christ. 

Colossians 4:5-6 “5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”

            This takes spiritual eyesight and discernment since the world has a much distorted idea of what Christianity is all about. Matthew 7:6 tells us to not cast our pearls to swine which translates not to spend time telling some people about Jesus if they are not willing to listen. Sad thing is the very thing Christians tend to do is pick out by natural sight the ones they think will want to hear and miss the leading of the Holy Spirit to talk to the ones that He wants them to tell about Jesus. Our everyday walk (actions and attitudes) will speak louder than most words we can use. With the world and its distorted view of Christianity our walk is often more important than our words. Redeeming the time is saying we need to take advantage of every opportunity that crosses our path to witness for Christ. Christians cannot wait for someone to walk into the church seeking before they are witnessed to. The New International Version says “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”

                Verse 6 is a continuation of instruction on how we should be aware of our actions and words toward those outside the kingdom of God. We should always remember that God’s kingdom is not closed off with rigorous criteria for citizenship, but available to all who will believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. As ambassadors for Christ, our co-mission is to increase the population of kingdom citizens. There is not one country in the world that had the primary objective of spreading God’s love and adding citizens to the count, like the kingdom of God. For our speech to be with grace, we must first understand God’s grace toward us. If a Christian is still in the mind set of works and legalism their speech will reflect it. Our speech needs to be seasoned with salt and be able to, with grace, meet the needs of everyone we come in contact with. As a Christian you need to remember that when you are commissioned with Christ, it is His spirit working through you to reach people; this should take the pressure off of what to say, just study God’s word for the Holy Spirit to have something to use in your life. Jesus has left us an example of witnessing His gospel to non-believers. In Mark 10:51 when Jesus heard the blind man calling Him, He summoned the man to come. When the blind man came Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” As Christians we may have no idea that a person has been seeking God or even crying out to Him in their darkest hour; we may be His answer to that person.

                There is not one situation in life that an answer cannot be found in the word of God. With Jesus having paid the debt for our salvation, in God is always yes and amen. A person in the world just looks like they have the answers and are alright, but the truth is inside is turmoil and strife. Most people think that if God is real, He is not interested in them because of their personal short comings. The truth is almost every person you come in contact has the thought that there must be something out there bigger than them; otherwise there is little difference between the ant and man. Let’s show them the difference and let them see the grace of God in us. 

image144

November 27

 In all of today’s Facebook, vine, Instagram, and other social media it has never been easier to stay connected with friends and family. Are we using this media to encourage, exhort, and comfort our fellow Christians? Take heed to the ministry which you have received, that you may fulfill it. We are called to love one another as Christ love us first.

Colossians 4:7-18 “7 Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. 8 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, 9 with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here. 10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. 15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house. 16 Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it." 18 This salutation by my own hand--Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen.”

            Today with all of our technology and just about everyone in the US owning a phone and many have personal cell phones, we do not understand the difficulty and time constraints on communication in Paul’s day. Remember that the church in Colosse had never seen Paul, but was most likely started by Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) who went to Colosse from Ephesus, and held church in the home of Philemon (Philemon 1:2).  Paul’s letter to the Colossians had to be hand delivered and because of the spiritual weight of the word itself, and having not established his own personal relationship with the Colossians, he sent a fellow minister who the Colossians could identify with. Onesimus is an interesting fellow in that he is actually a runaway slave from the house of Philemon, but after he came to Paul became a great help to Paul. We read in the book of Philemon that Paul pleaded to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, not only for his life, but for his acceptance as a brother in the Lord. In the Roman culture the owner of a runaway had every legal right, and for the sake of control of the other slaves, could have had Onesimus put to death. So here we are at this time of where Paul is correcting some of the thinking of the Colossians and pointing them toward actions of grace and love toward each other and those on the outside that he sends a runaway slave back to his Christian owner as a brother in the Lord. What a test!

                The Mark in verse 10 is the same one that was with Paul in the book of Acts and most likely the same Mark that was with Peter when he started the church in Ethiopia. Mark was not an apostle as some people think even though he wrote the book of Mark, but actually acted as a scribe for Peter. He is the same John Mark in 1 Peter 5:13 and according to Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, Bishop Papias describes Mark as “the interpreter of Peter”. In verse 11 Paul identifies both Mark and Justus as converted Jews. Paul also identifies Mark as a proven comfort to him which is important because in Acts 15:38-39 we read that Paul and Barnabas parted ways over Paul not wanting Mark’s presence. According to verse 38 Mark had deserted them during the work in Pamphylia and Paul had taken an offence to it. This is proof that the very teaching of grace and love was actually lived out by Paul himself.

                Paul also identifies Luke, verse 14, as being with him while in prison. Luke was not one of the original twelve apostles either, but record shows that he was there during the life and ministry of Jesus while He was here on earth. Luke was a very educated physician who takes account for the factual recording of events that we read in the book of Luke and Acts. Verse 15 is another indication that church in the early days was actually held in people’s homes. Romans 16:6, 1 Corinthians 16:19, and Philemon 2 are additional records of the church in the homes of believers.

An interesting note is it was in the year 323 AD when Constantine commissioned the building of a temple, similar to those used by Pagan worshippers, to be built for the Christians. Until then records show the church to be held in the homes of Christians. This was the beginning of a massive growth in churches in the Roman Empire and these churches were identified by a name from the New Testament. Church as we know it today did not start out that way, and I have to admit that this movement did cause an explosion in “church” attendance, but the attendees were not all believers. Many were Pagans attracted by the beauty of the building itself. History also shows that some of the holidays we celebrate today were actually aligned with preexisting Pagan days of worship in effort to aid in conversion of the Pagans. Even Halloween which is short for “All Hallows Eve” came about when the Roman Catholic Church named November 1 as All Saints Day since they had identified more people as saints than there were days in a year. October 31 was already an existing Pagan night of worship of the dead when the church declared All Saints Day as November 1. The church may have exploded in membership, but the original intention of the spread of the gospel was to be person to person. Conversions in this manor are more real.  

image145

November 28

 Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant then the people of the Old Testament had. So why do so many Christians strive so hard to go back to the Old Testament laws, rituals, and ways of life or worship?  Could it be that it is easier to teach religion then to teach someone else how to have a relationship with Christ?

Hebrews 8:6-9, 6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-- 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.  

For those Christians who continue to hold onto the Old Testament with its judgments and condemnations while claiming their belief in Christ as their Lord and Savior one must ask have they ever read these verses, much less the first ten chapters of Hebrews. The question that comes up from most Christians reading verse 6 is “what is the better covenant”? What are the better promises that this better covenant is established on?

In the original covenant through the Laws of Moses everyone had to be taught the laws from one person to another; God only spoke to Moses not to everyone. For the best comparison between the two covenants we must read the prophesy of Jeremiah of a better covenant and he also pointed to a better mediator. Keep in mind Hebrews was written to the Jews who understood the harshness and impossibility of any man on earth fulfilling this prophesy.  However, they also had heard and believed that Jesus was their Messiah, the Son of God who fulfill all of the requirements of the first covenant and since He was without sin the grave could not hold Him. They knew Jesus was sitting at the right hand of God, but were having a difficult time letting go of their Old Covenant because that is all they had ever known. They knew of a better covenant as they had the Torah where Jeremiah’s writings were found and studied. But the Jews had difficulty realizing the depth of the gospel and its full impact on their lives.

The New Covenant can be read and understood through the prophesy of Jeremiah as found in chapter 31:31-34. Jeremiah 31:31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—(SIDE NOTE to help the reader understand that by faith you are now a spiritual part of Israel and the promises here is what Paul wrote in Romans 9:6-9. - 6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called." 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.") Jeremiah 31:33-34 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." 

As you can see from Jeremiah 33 it is God who puts His laws in our hearts and minds. Ask yourself how God can do this unless there is a one-on-one communications between the believer and God. The first covenant was based on a men following another man who heard from God. Under the New Covenant that we live in today we have a direct connection with our God through our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Just in this verse alone we have a better covenant. Remember that the New Covenant is based on better promises. The promise of a son was to Sarah and she had to receive by “faith not actions”. This means that we must receive from God our Father by faith and not based on our actions. Under the Old Covenant all of the blessings came through “cause & affect”. Under the New Covenant everything we receive from, revelation of the word to natural blessings, comes through our faith and never based on our actions. It is our bad actions that will keep our minds from “believing” we deserve those blessings which are based on God’s promise. I have emphasized believing because without believing we can never receive. Remember that Abraham “believed” God and it was accounted to him as righteous, Romans 4:3.
 

image146

November 29

 God is able to make a better covenant with us because of Jesus’ perfect work on the cross.

Hebrews 8:9, 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.  

In my opinion Satan has done an excellent job of keeping the Old Covenant alive in the minds of Christians through the preached misunderstanding of the gospel of Christ and mixing in the Old Covenant with the New. Remember what Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16:6 and Mark 8:15, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees”. Jesus was not talking about bread, He was talking about legalism. In Luke 12:1, Jesus added in Herod along with the Pharisees’ leaven indicating we should also not mix the natural ways of life in with the spiritual truth. Any kind of legalistic teaching mixed in with the Gospel of Jesus Christ will spoil the entire Gospel. Paul tells us this in 1 Corinthians 5:6 and Galatians 5:9. “a little leaven leavens the whole lump”.

Legalism is not just following the Laws of the Old Testament either. Legalism is following a list of rules or doctrines of man in effort to be righteous or to receive from God. I hear Christians all the time who think they are walking by faith, talk about how they received a blessing from God “because they did something” to receive it. Here are some broad examples of legalism comments I have heard Christians use as if they are faith.

“I heard God challenge me to go preach the gospel in the street and I didn’t want to do it, but because I was obedient and did it anyway he opened this door for me”.
“God told me to do something a while back, but because I was timid and afraid to step out of my comfort zone when I needed a specific blessing He must have said no because of my disobedience”
“I was in a situation where I was heavily tempted and even told that I would be changed into a bad person over time, but because I held my faith God gave me the desires of my heart” 
“If I read and speak all of the healing scriptures over me, God will eventually give me my healing” 
“your obedience is required by God more than your faith”

I have heard well known TV preachers with entire teachings like “Seven things God wants from you to receive His blessings”, “Six things to do to receive your healing”, “Seven means complete in the bible, so here are the seven things you need to do to become complete in Him”. Anytime an action or list of actions are required before a blessing is to come are actually “cause and affect” legalisms and have nothing to do with faith. They put the hearer under such bondage that what little faith they may have is squelched and will feel rejected if they fail at any point. I have actually heard a preacher speak of his fear of flying to the point that as soon as the plane takes off until it lands, he is praying in tongues that the plane will not crash. That’s legalism; that’s bondage and has nothing to do with the New Covenant.

Hebrews 7-9 supports the truth of a New Covenant in that the first covenant was flawed because it all rested on mans actions and not on faith. The Old Covenant itself was flawless, but a covenant is only as good as the people on both sides of the covenant. God is perfect so His side of the covenant was upheld perfectly, but because of the imperfection of man he could never uphold his side of the covenant. Remember Hebrews 11:6, 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  To diligently seek God is where your reward will be, not in how good you are as a person.     

image147

November 30

 This new covenant we have today is based on God’s desire to have a personal relationship with His children. The Old Covenant was a religion with the purpose of pointing people to Christ. The New Covenant is all about relationship with Him.

Hebrews 8:10-13, 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." 13 In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

As covered in the previous study where Jeremiah 31:31-34 was looked at, Hebrews 8:10-13 is a conformation of that prophetic word spoken by Jeremiah. Remembering that those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior are spiritually a part of Israel and therefore the blessings promised to Israel are for us as well. Also, for God to place His laws in our hearts and minds we must first have a revelation of who He is and then begin a relationship with Him. The most difficult thing for people to overcome which keeps them from developing a relationship with God, is the remembrance of their own sins and shortcomings. As we grow in understanding of His love for us we begin to see and believe verses like Psalms 103:12 where we read that He has removed our transgressions as far as the east is to the west. The truth of this is the east and west will never come together, hence our transgressions will never come back against us if we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Psalms 103:12, Jeremiah 31:34, and Hebrews 8:12 are all saying the same thing; it is God’s mercy toward us and our “faith” in Jesus’ perfect work that has cleansed man from his inequities. Nowhere can we see our efforts as accountable for anything.

I tell people there is often as much truth in what is not mentioned in the bible as there is in the words we can read.  Hebrews 8:13 is bringing a revelation of the hidden truth from Jeremiah 31:31. God told the Jews in Jeremiah 31:31 in those days He would have a New Covenant with them. In Hebrews 8:13 God reveals the true revelation in that there would not be a New Covenant if the Old were still valid and fruitful. We must remember that unlike man, God does everything for a purpose. The purpose of the Old Covenant was twofold. From our study of Exodus and Leviticus we see where the children of Israel did not want to hear directly from God, but preferred Moses to go to God and they would follow whatever God demanded of them. This was actually a grandiose comment in telling God they were capable of doing whatever He asked. The Laws of Moses and the Prophets were so strict that the harder a person tried, the more hopeless they would become at fulfilling the Laws. This would cause the true seeker to cry out to God for mercy. Their cry for mercy would be the opening to a relationship with God. Except for those Christians born into a Christian home and raised to understand God and His love for man, most people come to God in a time of need with Hope of His mercy to help them. The Old Covenant was more of a spiritual corral then it was a means to receive from God. The New Covenant is about receiving from God by faith as Abraham did except we now have the bold of Jesus to stand on whereas Abraham didn’t.

On a side note I have heard pastors make the statement that we can still fall today, because if Adam fell we can fall too. The flaw making that statement is; Adam didn’t have the blood of Jesus to stand on like Christians do today, all he has was himself. .