Category: New Life

A Wife With Noble Character

A Wife With Noble Character

The poem about a wife of noble character found in Proverbs 31:10-31 is part of the sayings of King Lemuel which his mother taught him. This poem is an acrostic with the initial words of the twenty-two verses all beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

This acrostic form was a device to help people commit the passage to memory. Perhaps Jewish parents instructed their sons and daughters to memorize this poem and use it as a guide for their lives and in their homes.

Who is King Lemuel?

We don’t know much about King Lemuel, other than what is revealed in Proverbs 31. He is not included in the recorded list of the kings of Israel or Judah but his name means “belonging to God” or “devoted to God.”

Although some commentators proposed that King Lemuel is actually King Solomon and his mother was Bathsheba, there is no evidence whatever that the name Lemuel means Solomon. Furthermore, the time of the writing of Proverbs 31 seems to be much later than the time of King Solomon.

Like Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5), perhaps Lemuel’s mother was Jewish and she taught him the fear of the Lord and God’s wisdom.

The Profile of a Wife Worthy of Honor

What kind of wife is described in Proverbs 31:10-31? The following notes develop the profile of a virtuous wife.

A virtuous wife is a woman of character.

Proverbs 31:10-12 “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

Just as wisdom is more important than wealth (Proverbs 3:15), so character is more important than jewels.

How to be a Virtuous Woman

In his first epistle, the apostle Peter gave this same counsel to Christian wives in his day (1 Peter 3:1-6). Marriage doesn’t change a person’s character. If the husband or the wife has character weaknesses, marriage will only reveal and accentuate them. A husband or wife who hopes to change his or her spouse after the honeymoon is destined for disappointment.

A virtuous wife is trustworthy.

Proverbs 31:11 “The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.”

If the husband and wife trust each other, they will live in harmony. The husband will have no fears or suspicions as she is busy with her work because he knows she has character and will do nothing but good for him and their children.

If brides and grooms take seriously the vows of love and loyalty they repeat to each other and to God at the altar, they will have a wall of confidence around their marriage that will keep out every enemy.

A virtuous wife is a woman who isn’t afraid to work.

Proverbs 31:13b “And willingly works with her hands.”

Whether it’s going to the market for food (Proverbs 31:14-15), buying real estate or planting a vineyard (Proverbs 31:16), she’s up early and busy with her chores. We get the impression that the night before she makes a “to do” list and doesn’t waste a minute in idleness.

She sets about her work energetically (Proverbs 31:17), whether spinning thread, helping the poor, or providing a wardrobe for her children. She prepares the very best for her family, and they have no reason to be ashamed.

A virtuous wife is generous.

Proverbs 31:20 “She extends her hand to the poor. Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.”

As she ministers to her family, she keeps her eyes open for people who have needs, and she does what she can to help them. Happiness comes to those who have mercy on the poor (Proverbs 14:21), and nothing given to the Lord for them will ever be lost (Proverbs 19:17).

A virtuous wife makes it easy for her husband to do his work.

Proverbs 31:23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”

The city gate was the place where civic business was transacted, so her husband was one of the elders in the community (see Ruth 4). While no such restrictions exist today, in that day a woman never would have sat on the “city council.” But his loyal wife didn’t want to take her husband’s place; she just did her work and made it easier for him to do his.

A husband and wife should complement each other as they seek to fulfill their roles in the will of God. Wise is the husband who recognizes his wife’s strengths and lets her compensate for his weaknesses. Doing this isn’t a sign of personal failure, nor is it rebellion against the divine order (1 Corinthians 11:3).

Both leadership and submission in a home are evidences of love and obedience, and the one doesn’t nullify the other.

A virtuous wife is confident as she faces the future.

Proverbs 31:25 “Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.”

In the Bible, to be “clothed” with something means that it is a part of a person’s life and reveals itself in that person’s character and conduct (see Colossians 3:8-14, 1 Timothy 2:9-10).

A Wife Worthy of Honor

This wife can laugh at future problems and troubles because she has strength of character and because she is prepared for emergencies. She is a woman of faith who knows that God is with her and her family.

A virtuous wife is a capable teacher of wisdom.

Proverbs 31:26 “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.”

She certainly teaches her children the wisdom of God, especially the daughters, preparing them for the time when they will have families of their own. But she probably also shares her insights with her husband, and he’s wise enough to listen.

Remember that earlier in the book, King Solomon used a beautiful woman to personify wisdom (Proverbs 1:20-33; 9:1-6); this godly wife does the same.

A virtuous wife attentively oversees her household.

Proverbs 31:27 “She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.”

She isn’t idle, and nothing in the household escapes her notice, whether it’s food, finances, clothing or school lessons. Managing the household is an exacting job, and she does her work faithfully day and night.

Any husband and father who thinks that his wife has it easy should take her responsibilities for a week or two and discover how wrong he is.

A Wife of Noble Character

I’m reminded of the story of a husband who felt that his stay-at-home wife wasn’t working as hard as he was. So he prayed to God and asked to trade places with his “lazy wife.” He wanted to teach her a lesson so she’d know what it’s like to work as hard as he does every day. God granted him his wish, only for the husband to soon realize that he’s the one about to learn a lesson.

You can read the full story here: Husband Asks to Trade Places with His Lazy Wife

A virtuous wife is a woman worthy of praise.

Proverbs 31:28-29 “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’”

It’s a wonderful thing when the husband and his children can praise the wife and mother for her faithful ministry in their home. The suggestion here is that this praise was expressed regularly and spontaneously and not just on special occasions.

They did not have Mother’s Day in Israel so every day should be Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Tragically, often members of the family take each other for granted and fail to show sincere appreciation.

The father ought to set an example for their children and always thank his wife for what she does for the family. He should see in her the woman who surpasses them all.

Finally, the life of a virtuous wife is a testimony to others.

Proverbs 31:31 “Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Her husband and children acknowledge her value and praise her, but so do the other people in the community. Even the leaders at the city gate recognize her good works and honor her.

God sees to it that the woman who faithfully serves Him and her family is properly honored, and certainly she will have even greater honor when she stands before her Lord.

Conclusion

This poem in Proverbs 31:10-31 which is a beautiful tribute to the godly wife and mother gives us the finest description of the ideal wife. But these qualities may seem too high for anyone to attain. What is the secret?

The answer is in Proverbs 31:30. The secret of a virtuous and capable wife’s life is that she fears the Lord. Having charm and beauty is wonderful; the possession of these qualities is not a sin. But the woman who walks with the Lord and seeks to please Him has a beauty that never fades (1 Peter 3:1-6).

A Wife with Noble Character

This passage also describes for every Christian man the kind of wife for whom he ought to be looking and praying. But it also reminds the prospective husband that he’d better be walking with the Lord and growing in his spiritual life so that he will be worthy of such a wife if and when God brings her to him.

The man who has a wife who daily reads the Scriptures, meditates, prays, and seeks to obey God’s will has a treasure that is indeed beyond the price of rubies.


*Reference: The Transformation Study Bible (General Editor: Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe)

*Recommended Resource:

A Woman of Noble Character: Becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman in Todays Busy World
By Susan Sikes

Women today have such busy lives and great responsibilities, yet so many still strive to be the Proverbs 31 women spoken of in the Bible. A Woman of Noble Character gives women practical ways to fulfill their role as wife, mother, or keeper of the house in a busy world.

Practically all areas of home life are covered with quick and easy tips to help. A few of the topics are Priorities/Godly Character, Decorating, Cleaning, Finances, Organizing, Cooking/Recipes, and many other helps and tips. Whether you work within or outside the home, this book makes a great resource to managing a home. 

How Peculiar Are You?

How Peculiar Are You?

The Bible says that God’s people are a peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9 KJV). But what does it mean to be peculiar? When we use the word “peculiar” in the English language, it often means “odd,” “weird” or “strange.” And true enough, God’s people do sometimes seem peculiar to the world’s way of thinking.

But in Biblical English, “peculiar people” means a people possessed by God and particularly prized by Him. The word translated peculiar in Titus 2:14 (KJV) and 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV) is the Hebrew word segullah which carries the meaning of the saints being the Lord’s own special people or treasure.

We are a chosen generation and royal priesthood

Believers in Christ are said to be peculiar or special people because they were chosen from before the foundation of the earth to be God’s own possession. Born again Christians are different from the world around them because they are being led by the Holy Spirit that dwells in them.

Only God Can Change Us

“Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” – Titus 2:14 

It is true that personal standards are just that personal. They are between you and God. That is true. It is also true that the attitudes and standards will show as Matthew 7:20 says.

As I have found, it is human nature to not change. That is why salvation is a miracle. It does not happen without God doing it. When we get saved, we were telling God we wanted to change but could not change ourselves. That is why addictions are near impossible to break for unbelievers. It is human nature to go back to what we know and enjoy. That is why we make habits in the first place.

Over the years, God has taught me that as members of the Church, we are not to judge one another nor put a stumbling block and cause others to fall away. Instead, we must work together, encourage and build each other up. We are to keep the peace but not accept mediocrity.

How Peculiar Are You

This is just the reason why Cain was wrong when He said, “Am I my brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4:9)? As members of the Church, we are each others’ keeper. We all need encouragement. Thus we all need to be encouraged or challenged, because of the mediocrities and sin issues in our lives.

An old pastor of mine had a perfect illustration that fits this encouragement. Challenge each other to be purple people. Challenge each other to be peculiar for God. Not in skin color but in our habits and standards, even down to the clothes we wear. God wants us to be peculiar in every way.

Modesty in heart and clothes profess godliness (1 Timothy 2:10). I know too many people that choose clothes to fit in or to be “normal.” God created all people unique even down to our genetic makeup. There is no definition of normal. God made you unique. Live like it. Since God made you unique and calls us to be peculiar, how peculiar are you?

How Bright is Your Light?

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

Throughout all time, all people were and are sinners. That does not mean God is any less powerful. We cannot frustrate God’s plan. Sometimes He does change us to fulfill His plan. Before we got saved, we had no light of our own. After salvation, God imputes His righteousness to us so that we may live like it and show His light.

There are many examples in the Bible of sinners that were used to point to Jesus. God uses His fallen creation to point to Jesus. The evidence of a changed life only points to an all-powerful God that can enable anyone, including us.

Without God, our good works are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). God changes our rags to a beautiful testimony of what God has done in our lives. Our good works are the evidence of the imputed righteousness of God in our lives. That is the light mentioned in Matthew 5:16.

*Related Article: How to Let Your Light Shine

We can’t take credit for this change. Only God deserves that credit. Do you give all the honor and praise to God for what He has done and is doing in your life?

As we grow spiritually and apply God’s word to our lives, He keeps on changing us more and more into His image. Our mind needs to be renewed continually (Romans 12:2). It is an ongoing process.

Thus, our light needs to become brighter and brighter until we meet God. A candle, a spotlight, headlights, and a lighthouse all give off light but only God gives off the most light. All Christians give off some light, but some give off more than others.

That light points to Jesus, who has changed you. How bright is your light?

Yes, It is Possible

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

Recently I heard the question, “Is love even possible?” I know for a fact that based on this verse it is.

Life is difficult. If we let it happen, almost everyone can become cynical about life. This is also true for Christians. This cynical attitude about life can affect our perspective of everything. Not just life, but also God, society, men, women, police, etc. To me that is a hopeless existence when we doubt God or others. Close relationships end up being nearly impossible because we are not able to trust anyone.

I am here to say God is love. He loves you and will never fail you. He died to save you from your sin. You can trust Him no matter your circumstances. How much do you trust God?

God's Love is Unconditional

On top of that, God is in the people-changing business. People will hurt us in life, but that is not the end of the story. God is changing His children back into His loving image. As we grow spiritually in the knowledge and understanding of who God is, He is changing us into His likeness, starting with how we love each other.

As we give more and more control of our lives over to God, we will be amazed how much easier it will be to love others and live the Christian life. God is not interested in us following rules. He wants to change our heart and this enables us to live the peculiar life.

Are you being enabled as Philippians 4:13 says?

Wait on God

And the firstborn said unto the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.” – Genesis 19:31-32

It is human nature to desire close relationships. More often than not, we look for those relationships in all the wrong places. God created us to have a relationship with Him, but if we don’t communicate, do we truly have a relationship with Him? How is your communication with God?

Lot’s two daughters are a perfect example of a good desire fulfilled in the wrong way. Since they lived in the sexualized society of Sodom, they wanted a relationship now. It would have been impossible to tell them to wait on the Lord. They were worried about the future.

I have done this myself. I am 32 yrs old and have never been married. I have wanted to be married since graduating from college 7 years ago. Most of my closest friends are all married. I have seen the beauty of a close godly marriage relationship. It is amazing!

*Read here: What is the Will Of God in Marriage

Most people in my shoes would think God has forgotten about my relationship needs. I don’t though. God has become more and more precious to me. That is one reason I have been able to write this article. I have the time to do so. Worrying about relationships makes an idol out of relationships.

In Genesis 19:32 we can see where Lot’s daughters made a sinful choice by committing incest with their dad, just because of worrying about their relationships. Trusting God and waiting on Him is true for all of us because we all desire something.

But God has not forgotten about our needs. God wants us to be patient and wait on Him. Let us not be like Lot’s daughters that took the first available choice to have children. We all will make sinful life-altering choices if we do not wait on God.

As a Christian, you have the opportunity to make better choices and be unique for God’s sake. How well are we waiting on God?

Conclusion

What makes believers peculiar is the fact that they are set apart from the world. They have made a deep commitment to God – to obey Him and submit to Him in everything.

Believers in Christ are God’s treasured possession, they are a peculiar people who are not bound by sin and death, and they do not walk, talk, or act like people who are. They are a holy, consecrated people! They are free and they are blessed!

How peculiar are you? 

The Fully Armed Life

The Fully Armed Life

Christians are engaged in a great spiritual battle, with Ephesians 6:10-17 giving the clearest definition of the spiritual war, penned by the apostle Paul. This passage emphasizes a fully armed spiritual life.

We are not only assured of the reality of a spiritual warfare with Satan and his demons but are also warned to never underestimate the power of the devil. The devil is not compared to a lion and a dragon just for fun that is why we need the power of God to be able to stand against him; we need to be fully armed with the whole armor of God.

Be Prepared by Standing Firm

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” – Ephesians 6:10

Paul wants believers to understand that they cannot win the battle through human strength but in God’s strength alone. We are in great danger when we think we can stand in our own strength, rather than in the strength that God provides.

The Christian’s Armour Sermon

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated him in heavenly places over the enemy is in every believer because of the Holy Spirit residing in them.

But just like any other warfare, a soldier cannot emerge victorious without preparation. Soldiers would need to undergo rigid training, both mentally and physically before they go to the battlefield. It’s the same thing with Christians – they need to be spiritually prepared.

Sadly, many lose this battle simply because of failure to prepare.

The Full Armor of God

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:11-13

The Christian in Complete Armour
Photo Credits: homedepot.com

Most times when someone refers to being armed, it has the connotation of owning a gun but this passage has nothing to do with it. Christians are at not at war with evil people; our primary opponents are the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

We do not wear literal pieces of armor the way the Roman soldiers did, but each piece has spiritual significance that must be “PUT ON” on a regular basis to be effective.

In so many words, this entire list must be part of your lifestyle or else you will be vulnerable to Satan’s methods.

In this passage, God has provided instructions on how to stand for God in spite of the raging war around us. The only question we have to ask ourselves is, do we want to stand for God or be crippled and useless for God?

The Belt of Truth

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” – Ephesians 6:14a

Roman soldiers had a harness that was attached to all the other pieces of armor. It showed to their observers that the soldier was prepared for battle.

This is also true of Christians. There is a spiritual war for the souls of men. Some philosophers say there is no truth, even though that is an absolute statement itself. That still leaves the question, “What is truth?”

The Fully Armed Life

God’s word is true as Jesus said. Why not believe it and study it as 2 Timothy 2:15 says? This truth prepares us for the spiritual battles we will go through. If we don’t know the truth, our armor CAN’T stay on us.

God does not automatically put the truth in our mind. We must search and study. Bible literacy is at an all-time low. Can we recite the 66 books in the Bible? How can we be righteous without knowing what righteousness is?

What does it mean to live by faith or be faithful? Only biblical knowledge and understanding can answer those questions. Are you girded with truth?

The Righteous Life

“Having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” – Ephesians 6:14b

This verse does not sound like an ongoing action I realize, but that does not mean Christians don’t have to live righteously. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that when we receive Jesus’ righteousness we become new. Since we are still sinners, our choices need to be continuously made new. Aka live righteously.

Some might ask what or who is always right? If you are a Christian, you should believe the Bible is God’s word and always right. If you are not a Christian, I would encourage you to choose to repent of your sin and turn to Jesus. You never know when your last opportunity will be.

Who is the main subject of the Bible? Obviously, it’s Jesus. Jesus is the only man that was perfectly righteous. Why not live according to His words? God’s word is the final word.

The Christian in Full Armor

This is why we should personally know God’s word well. How can we live righteously if we don’t know what is right? Not to mention, why trust man’s words when you could know the truth. Nobody has to trust anyone else’s word if you already know the truth.

Even pastors claim to know the truth but don’t. Go find the truth for yourself. You don’t need to be controlled by any other man if you are controlled by God. God gives us His righteousness when we give Him control. Are we putting on the breastplate of righteousness?

Preparing to Move

“And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” – Ephesians 6:15

Feet were the original form of transportation and many people still use them a lot. The only downside to feet is that people can be greatly hindered if your feet become injured.

God also gave us the Gospel so that we would reach the world so that all would have the opportunity to get saved. As more people get saved, the greater the opportunity to reach the world.

But how do we reach the world without being able to Share the Gospel with others? I am not talking about the different methods of how to share but rather, do you have a method?

*Related Article: Understanding the Great Commission

Due to the fact that the gospel cannot be changed, the only thing that can be prepared is how to share it with others. This verse is specifically saying that without being able to give the gospel for whatever reason, we are removing the protection from our feet.

Since Satan attacks us at our vulnerabilities, the church will end up retreating and thus won’t be able to reach the world as effectively because our feet are not protected. I have heard a statistic that only 2% of Christians know how to share their faith. To me that is embarrassing. God made us His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) to tell the world His message.

What is His message? The gospel says that all have fallen short of God’s holiness because of our sin (Romans 3:23). Then Jesus, the Holy God in the flesh, died and rose again to pay the penalty of our sin (Romans 6:23). Just ask for that free gift of salvation and God will change your sinful heart to be like Him.

The question still remains; do we know how to share the gospel to the unsaved?

Faith 1, Temptation 0

“Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” – Ephesians 6:16

We need to remember that these pieces of armor are to be put on regularly. They are not put on once and done. We do not defeat Satan just because we are saved. Many Christians have been defeated by him by causing them to sin.

The shield of faith is the right response for any temptation. This is why it also might be the most important piece of armor based on the phrase, “Above All,” at the beginning of the verse.

I also know that many Christians do not practice their faith. Either because they are not truly saved or not living like it. Another reason is that so many Christians are crippled by worry.

Philippians 4:6-7 says that we should be anxious for nothing but we should take all of our concerns to God and He will give us peace that passes ALL human understanding. The one thing He always wants us to have is a calm spirit. Is your spirit calm or anxious?

Taking up the Shield of Faith

The shield of faith is also used to protect us from all other fiery darts as. Satan attacks us with many things: compromise, doubt, dissatisfaction, false doctrine, lust, lies, and every other sin.

It takes an act of faith to refuse to act upon those temptations. It takes faith to do the right thing, especially when you do it on your own. Do you trust God to guide you to the right desires or are you just going to compromise at any pressure?

Do you trust God’s promises to take care of His children? Are you satisfied with what God has given you in spite of being surrounded by materialism? Do you trust God enough to study and know true doctrine? Do you trust God with all of your relationships?

Do you trust that God would never lead you in the wrong direction? Putting on the shield of faith is a regular practice. How faithful are you to God?

Do You Know You are Saved?

“And take the helmet of salvation.” – Ephesians 6:17a

Due to the fact that Satan attacks us throughout our entire Christian life, we always need to be prepared. Each piece must be put on regularly. It is not a “once and done” thing. As humans, we take these articles of armor off when we sin. That is why we need to confess and put the armor back on.

This is also true of the helmet of salvation. Not that we could ever lose our salvation, but that we can live like we don’t have it. 1 John 5:13 says we can know we have eternal life.

The Christian’s Armour Sermon

If we can know we have eternal life and yet still sin, we need to actively trust God’s promises for deliverance. It is a lifestyle of knowing you are saved then living like it.

Since God can deliver us from our own sin, is there anything that He can’t deliver us from? Deliverance also implies protection. God just showed me another verse. Psalm 5:12, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor, You will surround him as with a shield.”

Compass means to protect on all sides, but what was the qualifier? It is only those that live righteously. Aka, those that wear the armor. Do you know you are saved? And if so, do you live like it?

The Unused Weapon

“And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:17b

Without all the practical pieces of armor for born again Christians, we will be hindered or defeated by Satan, if we don’t use our sword.

Why is it important to constantly put on the “sword of the Spirit?” Christians need to be prepared. More and more the world system is challenging us in every arena of life. 1 Peter 3:15 says we need to be ready “always” to answer these questions and threats.

How can we answer these questions or threats without knowing what the Word actually says?

The Christian in Full Armor

Considering that biblical literacy is at a record low among Christians, how do we get to know God’s word? The excuse answer is ‘Talk to the pastor.” The biblical response is found in 2 Timothy 2:15. Study God’s word so we will know the Truth.

Many Christians have no idea that they are in the midst of a spiritual war for their soul and mind. If they are not built up or strengthened, Satan will render them ineffective for Christ. Christians need to be fighting to build each other up.

It’s just sad that too many churches are fighting with each other, rendering one another useless. Not to mention the spiritual war for the heart of America. The Christian heritage of America has been almost erased. Are we going to go the way of atheistic and socialistic Europe or worse the Soviet Union?

At what point are we going to wake up and realize the church is losing because we are not using the only weapon at our disposal?

Does Truth Exist?

The world does not even believe that Truth even exists. Why? We are not taking the truth to the world. We have retreated back into our church buildings because that is still acceptable until it isn’t.

The Truth is still true in politics, education, society, law, the home, etc. God told individual Christians to be light and salt to a lost and dying world, by taking all of God’s truth to them as Matthew 5:13-16 says.

That Truth will convert and change hearts as Psalm 19:7 says. He just wants messengers to take the Truth to the world.

*Here’s a short clip of Dr. Frank Turek answering the question: “Is truth true for you but not for me?”

It does not matter what the world says. The scientists say we evolved. God said He made man in His image then we sinned, which brought death. The ACLU says separation of God and Government.

God says righteousness in government exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34). The Supreme Court says marriage can be almost anything you want it to be. God says marriage is between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24). The world says we need to stay in church, God says Go and be my ambassadors and proclaim my message by word and deed (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Closing Words

We are in a spiritual warfare and we must put on the whole armor of God in order to stand against the enemy. Jesus has already won the victory through His suffering, death, and resurrection. But while we are still in the flesh and living here on earth, we are constantly under attack by Satan and his demons.

In one sense, “every piece of God’s armor” is a picture of Jesus Christ. Christ is the Truth (John 14:6), He is our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), and our peace (Ephesians 2:14). His faithfulness makes possible our faith (Galatians 2:20); He is our salvation (Luke 2:30); and He is the word of God (John 1:1, 14).

Putting on the whole armor of God means we are actually putting on Christ.

Real Joy of the Heart

Real Joy of the Heart

The issue I have seen in the lives of many believers is that they don’t live like they have real joy in their hearts. They have Christ in their lives but they do not seem to be experiencing real joy that is found in Christ alone.

Bible Verse: John 16:22 (NKJV)

“Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”

Reflection and Challenge

In context, this verse is a part of a conversation between Jesus and His twelve disciples. Jesus was trying to prepare them for His crucifixion, but they were not getting it. They wanted more clarity and Jesus understood this very well.

But Jesus also knew that they needed more than just information; they needed their hearts and mind to be prepared to endure the crisis that was coming. They would be very sorrowful but only to have a sudden change of heart. Because God, by His grace and power, will turn their sorrow into joy.

While the crucifixion and all that went with it seemed like a bump in the road or some kind of obstacle to overcome on the way to fulfilling God’s plan, it was exactly how the plan would be fulfilled.

God Transforms our Sorrows into Joy

There’s a principle laid out in John 16:16-22 and that is this: God brings joy to our lives, not by substitution, but by transformation. Jesus’ illustration of the woman giving birth makes this pretty clear. The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy.

In birth, God does not substitute something else to relieve the mother’s pain. Instead, He uses what is there already but transforms it. And so it is in the Christian life: God takes seemingly impossible situations, adds the miracle of His grace, and transforms trials into triumphs and sorrows into joy.

God transforms our sorrows into joy

As Spurgeon put it, “It is most remarkable and instructive that in their sermons or epistles the apostles do not appear to have spoken of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ with any kind of regret. Although the Gospels mention their distress during the actual occurrence of the crucifixion, we hear of no such grief after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost.”

Their extreme sorrow of heart was changed to joy of heart after they realized Jesus rose from the grave. When a person gets saved, he receives a completely changed heart and he can actually experience real joy.

Unlike just happiness, joy is a heart attitude. It cannot be artificially manufactured by great circumstances. Read the middle phrase again. “Your heart will rejoice.” Do you see the root word joy in rejoice?

When Christians Lose Their Joy

The last phrase of John 16:22 says, “True born again Christians cannot lose their joy” (paraphrase). But why are there so many Christians who are like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh? No enthusiasm, gloomy, depressed, or just going through the motions.

I realized that I am talking about people’s heart since I can’t see their hearts. Actually, it’s possible. We can tell what’s in peoples’ hearts by the way they live their lives. Because what’s in their hearts is how they live.

Throughout the Bible, it says that what you actually believe in your heart will show. So if we don’t act like we have found real joy in Christ, perhaps God hasn’t changed our hearts in salvation yet.

Going Through the Motions

Don’t just go through the motions because your denomination says to do so. I have been called “happy go lucky” and “carefree,” because I have a joyous song in my heart.

Unbelievers can’t understand because they don’t have that joy. If you have joy in your heart, it will show in worship, praise, lifestyle, attitudes … EVERYTHING.

Please inspect yourself and find out if real joy is in your heart. If it is, praise God. If not, find out why. You won’t regret it.

Waiting for the Coming of Our Lord

The world today does not want Jesus Christ or His church. The world is rejoicing while we are suffering, longing for our Lord to return. In fact, all of creation is suffering “the pains of childbirth” because of sin, awaiting His return (Romans 8:22)

While the immediate application may have been to the sorrowing hearts of the disciples, the ultimate application is to all of God’s people as they await the second coming of Jesus Christ.

To us, it seems like a long wait, but God does not measure time as we do (2 Peter 3:8). And while we are waiting, we must deal with our trials and hurts on the basis of transformation and not substitution, if we expect to mature as Christians.

The Powerful Statement That Can Save You

The Powerful Statement That Can Save You

“It is finished!” This is the last statement of our Lord Jesus when He was crucified in Golgotha two thousand years ago. After uttering this statement, He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit (John 19: 30).

My brothers and sisters, this statement summarizes what Jesus has done for you and for the entire mankind. Indeed, a strong statement that can redeem you from your sins and hell.

It envisions what Jesus did from the beginning He was born here on Earth and what He did for you. Lead time to contemplate this statement and recall what Jesus has broken done to redeem you.

Jesus is the Son of the Highest

Jesus, the Son God, with all humbleness and obedience to God the Father became a human being. Why would a great God become a mortal man?

In the Book of Luke 1:31-32, an angel appeared to Mary and said, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.

John the Baptist described Jesus and he said, “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” And when He saw Jesus coming toward him, John said, “ Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1: 27- 29).

The Blood Sacrifice

It is written in Hebrews 9:22, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”

Since the Old Testament, blood plays an important role in the lives of people. They see blood as the source of life. In Leviticus 17:14, “for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life.

On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), there is an offering of blood sacrifice from the bull and goat for the atonement of sins of the people. Usually, the high priest would sprinkle the blood on the altar.

Even Moses sprinkled half of the blood of oxen on the altar. And the other half on the Israelites (Exodus 24:6-8). Blood sacrifice with burnt offering is also a sweet aroma to the Lord. (Leviticus 1:13).

The Power of the Blood of Jesus

People have become sinners and could not follow God’s commandments. Nobody is righteous in the eyes of God. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The wage of sin is death. And the blood offering and burned offering are not sufficient to atone for the sins of people. It requires blood that is blameless and spotless and will be offered in a sacrificial way.

For this reason, God gave His only Son Jesus Christ as a sacrificial Lamb for the whole of mankind. (John 3:16) This is how God loves all people and wants everybody to be saved.

Jesus Christ, a God who turned into a man became an everlasting sacrifice for the sins of all people. And through His blood, people can enter into God’s presence and forgiveness.

The Powerful Statement that Can Save You

It is written in Ephesians 1:7, “In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

Jesus also became the High priest. In Hebrews 9:11, “But Christ came as a High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not of this creation.”

Through the blood of Jesus, our consciences were cleansed (Hebrews 9:14). Hence, we could live and think right because of Jesus.

We are delivered from enemies through the blood of Jesus. It is written in Revelation 12:11, “And they have conquered him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

No Greater Love Than This

When Jesus said, “It is finished!” Have you thought of how much He suffered? He was regarded as a criminal, yet without committing a crime. He was beaten many times, yet without fighting back. He was betrayed, yet He remained loyal.

He was accused as a blasphemer, yet a true Messiah. He was ridiculed yet kept silent. He carried a big cross on His back over the heat of the sun yet endured it. He was nailed on the cross, yet without sin.

Blood gushed forth all over His body. Finally, He said, IT IS FINISHED!

After three days, Jesus has risen. Jesus is victorious, and He conquered the grave. Salvation is now achieved for you and to all mankind.

Closing Thoughts

Nobody can do this for you. You are precious, and God wants you to be saved. This is the perfect and unconditional love of God the Father for all mankind to the point that He gave His only Son Jesus.

Take time to pray and accept the redeeming blood of Jesus for you to be saved. Thank Him for what He has done for you. You may worship Him with this beautiful hymn titled “At the Cross” by Hillsong on the video below.

Be blessed everyone!

How to let Your Light so Shine

How to let Your Light so Shine

Being a dedicated Christian is not easy. Even more so because our society is not a friend to God nor to God’s people. But as a Christian and believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are exhorted by the Word of God to let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

In Conflict with the World

Whether we like it or not, conflict exists between us and the world. Why? Because we are different and have different attitudes from the world. As we read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), we find that they represent an outlook that’s radically different from that of the world.

And here are just some of those differences:

  • The world praises pride, not humility.
  • The world endorses sin, especially if a person gets away with it.
  • The world is at war with God, while God is seeking to reconcile with his enemies and make them his children.

Letting Your Light Shine

The Bible tells us that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), which gives us not only a great compliment because Jesus claimed that title to Himself when He walked this earth (John 8:12; John 9:5) but also a great responsibility to be light-givers.

Our concern should no longer be ourselves and we should stop living only to ourselves. Rather, we must focus on having someone to shine to and do it sincerely and lovingly. It’s high time we live up to what God has called us to do when we received His light.

The purpose of light is to illuminate and expose what is there. To properly put it to use, light must be exposed and allowed to reveal everything that’s hidden in the dark. Therefore, a light hidden under a basket is no longer useful.

Sure, there will always be the strong temptation for Christians to hide their light in order to avoid drawing the world’s attention to them which in effect would “expose them to the ill will of such as hate the light” (Bruce).

Be a Light to Everyone

The idea of a lampstand in Matthew 5:15 gives the sense that Christians are to be intentional about letting their light shine and let them so shine among all men. Jesus was inferring that the light that will shine from us is “good works.”

During Jesus’ ministry, He went about “doing good and healing everyone who was oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). Jesus simply did good everywhere He went, no questions about that.

What about us? What kind of good works are expected from us? The fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Having these character traits manifested in our life is a great indicator of the intensity of the light that we received from Christ.

How to let Your Light so ShineHave you heard the story of a young boy who refused to go home even after the Sunday church service has long been over? His mother took him with her one Sunday to church because no one was at home to be with him. After the service is over, he didn’t want to go home.

The mother spent hours convincing him but he refused and held on tightly to his chair. This caught the attention of the minister who approached them and asked what was going on. The mother was quick to reply that her son is having his usual tantrums and does not want to go home.

The minister smiled and asked the boy why. The boy replied, “I do not want to go home because at home my mother is treating me badly. Since she is much nicer to me here, I’d rather stay here for good.”

A sad story indeed! Christians are supposed to be light-givers first and foremost to their immediate family. A lamp is put on a lampstand in order to give light to all who are in the house (Matthew 5:15b). Here’s a quote from Spurgeon:

Bible Verse: Let your light shine

We are to be looking for ways to let our light shine in greater and broader ways which should start in our homes. Jesus wants us to live visible lives not for men to see how good we are, nor even see us at all, but in order to draw attention to the beauty of God’s work in us.

The object of our shining before all men is for them to see God and His grace in us and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16b).

Our Story, Our Purpose

Every born again Christian has a story. Every born again Christian has a purpose. Both your story and your purpose are given to you by God. And let me tell you, “No two Christians are the same.”

Many times I have been impressed by how God uses others. In turn becoming jealous and envious of them, rather than praising God. Many times I got critical of other Christians not doing enough for God. I realized, however, that both of these responses are wrong, so wrong.

How to let Your Light so Shine

We have to understand that God has blessed all of us, His children, with a specific story and purpose. That is the light or message God has given to each one of us and we must USE IT.

The demoniac had the opportunity to learn directly from Jesus but Jesus told him to go back to the Gadarene people and tell them what God had done in his life.

The Bottom Line

We can praise God for whatever story and purpose God has given to us individually. There is no purpose to be envious, jealous or critical of other Christians because we are not them. God has a purpose for you to do.

Don’t concern yourself with the purpose of others because that is not your business. Go live your life as a testimony to what God has done in your life. At the same time, expect some oppositions and persecutions as a result of living as God wants you to live – to let your light so shine before all men.


*Acknowledgment:

My sincerest thanks to Michael Heilman, one of the authors/contributors of this website, for helping me come up with this article topic and also with the last 2 parts of the article.

What is the Cost of Our Salvation?

What is the Cost of Our Salvation?

People often say, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That is sound advice in the world of business where there is always someone – or crowds of someones – trying to separate you from your money. A famous quote by P.T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born every minute” expresses the starting point of every con artist.

When talking about our salvation, people often question how it is even possible to gain eternal life just by believing in Jesus as stated in John 3:16. Modern readers ask by reflex, “What’s the catch?” There has to be more to it than just believe. It’s a simple fact that nobody gives away anything of great value. There has to be a hidden cost.

John 3:16

Still, many others are offended by the Bible’s offer of free salvation. Why? Because they don’t want anything for which they didn’t work hard and pay dearly.  If God forgives them, they want to be able to say that He had to because they earned it. You know what? That’s a pride thing.

Is God’s Forgiveness Cheap?

Is our salvation really cheap because we can have it for free? If not, how much does it cost? And why did God choose to pay for it? What would He get in return for sacrificing His only begotten Son to die on the cross for man’s redemption?

British Pastor G. Campbell Morgan who spent considerable time in the United States in the period between the two world wars, shared how in one of his evangelistic meetings in England, encountered a coal miner who told him that he would give anything to believe that God would forgive sins, “but I cannot believe He will forgive me if I just turn to Him. It is too cheap.”

In reply, Dr. Morgan said to the man, “You were working in the mine today. How did you get out of the pit?” He answered, “The way I usually do. I got into the cage and was pulled to the top.” “How much did you pay to come out of the pit?” Morgan asked. “I didn’t pay anything.”

“Weren’t you afraid to trust yourself to that cage? Was it not too cheap?” The man replied, “Oh no! It was cheap for me, but it cost the company a lot of money to sink that shaft.”

The Cost of Our Salvation

In today’s world of credit cards and electronic banking, it’s pretty easy to disregard the cost of a lot of things that are rather important. This is exactly true with sin. The society we live in teaches us to enjoy temporary pleasures while ignoring the price that God had to pay for the forgiveness of our sins.

Sin is like credit card; enjoy now, pay later

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ suffered the following for our sake:

1) Abandonment

In Jesus’ final hours, He was separated from His Father and their fellowship was broken for the very first time since eternity past (Mark 15:34). Some might think that Jesus feared the cross that is why He was in anguish moment before His crucifixion and started to sweat blood.

Jesus was in extreme, deep anguish as He faces the reality of being separated from His Father, resulting in a rare medical condition known as “Hematidrosis.”

2) God’s wrath

At the cross, the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus because of man’s sin. Christ took on upon Himself the penalty for our sins and the condemnation we all so deserved (Romans 5:9; Isaiah 53:5-6).

Although Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father, all of mankind’s sins were placed upon Him and experienced the fullness of our guilt, shame, and transgressions.

3) Physical pain

During the hours that led to His crucifixion, Jesus was mocked, beaten and humiliated (John 19:1-16). And in His weakened state, He was forced to carry the cross on His shoulders which He was eventually nailed to and died an excruciating death.


*Recommended Resource:

He Died for Me: A Physician’s View of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
By Mark Marinella, M.D., F.A.C.P.

When you meditate on Jesus’ death, do you ever wonder what He really went through? Offering a physician’s view of Christ’s last hours, Dr. Marinella provides historical background on crucifixion as a method of execution; and offers a medical analysis of the physical and physiological pain Jesus endured.


Closing Thoughts

When God offers forgiveness for our sins if we believe in His Son Jesus, that forgiveness did not come cheap. Jesus suffered the agony and shame of the cross as the bearer of the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). He gave His life in our place. That was a payment of infinite value, and it involved infinite suffering on the part of Jesus.

Jesus Christ our Savior has suffered greatly on our behalf. He shed His blood so we might become part of God’s family (John 1:12), all because He loves us so much and He desires that our broken fellowship with God be restored.

*Read here: What Does John 3:16 Teach About Salvation?

In light of what our salvation cost, we are to give up the pride that insists we don’t want anything we haven’t earned. Instead, let us accept His offer of free salvation and respond to His call for us to live a sacrificial life of service, doing the Father’s business and living to please Him.

Nicodemus Transformed By Jesus

Nicodemus Transformed By Jesus

Do you know how many people have been brought to the point of faith in Christ as a result of reading the account of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:1-15? Countless! Transformed by Jesus whom he met in the shadow, Nicodemus has been instrumental in bringing countless others to the light.

Who was Nicodemus?

Nicodemus meets with JesusNicodemus was a Pharisee (John 3:1), which means he lived by the strictest possible religious rules. The Pharisees were a group of influential religious Jews who were extremely fastidious about keeping the written Law, every ritual and every little minute kind of tradition that had developed.

In the gospels, the Pharisees are often presented as hypocritical who often opposed Jesus throughout His ministry. They tell people to do things that they don’t do and they put burdens on people on legalism.

But not all of them were hypocrites (as one may infer from Jesus’ comments in Matthew 23), and evidence indicates that Nicodemus was deeply sincere in his quest for truth. And He came to Jesus because he rightly considered Him “a teacher who has come from God” (John 3:2).

The Bible also tells us that Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin (John 3:1; John 7:50-51), which was the highest legal, legislative and judicial body of the Jews. Under the rule of the Romans in the time of Christ, the Jews were allowed a measure of self-rule and the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem was the final court of appeals for matters that have to do with Jewish law and religion. It is this Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem that Nicodemus was a part of.

The Meet Up

John 3:2 says Nicodemus came to speak with Jesus at night. Why at night? Many speculated that Nicodemus was afraid or ashamed to visit Jesus in broad daylight, so he went to see Him at night. It could also be that he came to Jesus by night because he wanted to have a quiet uninterrupted conversation with the new Teacher “that God has sent.”

Apparently, Nicodemus knew there was something special about Jesus and he wanted to know more. Nicodemus probably thought long and hard about what to say to Jesus. Then he started the conversation by calling Jesus “Rabbi,” which is the Jewish word for Teacher.

We can see that Nicodemus has great respect for Jesus because he calls Him “Rabbi,” a title which no doubt is the same title many used to address him, for he was a teacher of the law as well. He further refers to Jesus as a “teacher come from God.”

How did Jesus respond? He ignored Nicodemus’ greeting and spoke directly to his deepest need, which is to enter the kingdom of God. The Bible tells us that Jesus knows the hearts of men (John 2:24-25; Matthew 9:4; Matthew 12:25) so He knew exactly why Nicodemus had come.

Nicodemus needed help; he knew that he had no assurance of getting into heaven even though he has done everything he knew necessary. He has kept every rabbinic traditional law and biblical law he knew to keep. And that is why he has climbed the ladder to the top and became a highly respected teacher of the Old Testament Scriptures.

You must be born again

In essence, he was asking Jesus, “What do I do? What more do I need to do? What things do I need to delete in my life? What am I doing that I need to stop doing? What I am I not doing that I need to do?”And Jesus said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

To many Jews, to be born a Jew was to be born into the kingdom of God. Can you imagine how shocked Nicodemus was when Jesus tells him that his natural birth as a Jew will not save him and that he must be born again?

Jesus is saying, “Nothing you’ve ever done makes any contribution. Everything you are needs to be dead because everything you have done and accomplished is not enough to get you into the kingdom of God. You can’t get to God’s kingdom unless you’re born from above.”

Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus meant by this so he asked, “How can I be born when I am old? I can’t possibly go back inside my mother and be born a second time” (John 3:4 paraphrased).

*Note: The original words used for “born again” can be stated “born from above” (Strong’s concordance).

And Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again” (John 3:5-7).

The Need for Spiritual Rebirth

In His statement, Jesus made it clear that He wasn’t talking about a physical birth, like a baby being born. Rather, He was speaking of a spiritual rebirth – getting a new life from God. To be born again is to have another birth that comes like your first birth, from above. You have to be created by God, again, spiritually.

His entire life, Nicodemus had been trained to believe that he could earn God’s approval by following a list of rules and so it was difficult for him to understand that this new life was given by God. Here’s a man, “the teacher of Israel” (John 3:10), who thinks he has reserved seats on the 50-yard line of heaven and Jesus tells him that he is not getting into heaven without being regenerated.

*Related Article: Is Born Again a New Religion?

In John 3:5-7, Jesus was not teaching that the new birth comes through water baptism as some may interpret it. In the New Testament, baptism is connected with death, not birth, and no amount of physical water can effect a spiritual change in a person.

The emphasis is on believing (John 3:10-21) because salvation comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The evidence of salvation is the witness of the Spirit within (Romans 8:9), and the Spirit enters the life of a person the moment he or she believes.

To be born from above is to be born of God. To be born of God is to be born by the work of His Spirit. Jesus now describes the sovereign saving work of God through His Spirit by using the analogy of the wind (John 3:8). One of the symbols of the Spirit of God in the Bible is the wind or breath (John 20:22; Job 33:4; Acts 2:2).

What does it mean to be born again

Like the wind, the Spirit is invisible but powerful, and you cannot explain or predict its movements. Neither can the wind be controlled. That is the supernatural work of the Spirit in regenerating a person. No one, by his owns works, or manipulation or striving can direct the Spirit in His work.

But when the Spirit brings about the new birth, the effects are evident and we know that it is God’s Spirit at work, unseen and beyond man’s control. This goes to say that neither Nicodemus nor anyone else can save themselves, or anyone else for that matter. Salvation is the sovereign work of God alone, through the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus must have been so dumb-struck by what Jesus just told him that he cannot conceive nor fathom how Jesus’ words could be true. So he asks in John 3:9, “How can these things be?” And Jesus gives him a gentle rebuke, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not know these things” (John 3:10)?

And Jesus went on to explain to Nicodemus the best news ever told. Nicodemus could be free from all of the rules that he followed. He could be given new life by the Creator of heaven and earth and of everything if only he would place his trust in God’s Son who was standing right in front of him.

The Transformation

As a religious leader among the Jews, Nicodemus came to Jesus representing “we” (John 3:2) but Jesus immediately treated him as “you” (John 3:3). Nicodemus wanted to learn more about Jesus, but he ended up learning more about himself. He came looking for information and Jesus offered him transformation.

After the encounter, Nicodemus must have become a follower of Jesus for we read of his participation in two other memorable moments in Jesus’ life: when he spoke up in defense of Jesus’ innocence in the high council (John 7:45-53) and when he joined Joseph of Arimathea to retrieve Jesus’ body, prepare it for burial, and place it in the tomb (John 19:38-42).

Closing Thoughts

Being religious is not the same as being a Christian. Are you a Christian, or are you just religious? There is a great difference between those who are religious and those who are reborn from above. Many people today could be religious like Nicodemus but our Lord’s words make it clear that we all need to be born again.

Though all human beings have experienced natural birth on earth, if they expect to go to heaven, they must experience a supernatural birth from above. We come to Jesus from many different places and with many different purposes, but wherever and whoever we might be, Jesus lovingly says to each of us, “You must be born again.”

Have you been born from above? Have you accepted Jesus’ offer of a new birth and transformation?


*Recommended Resource: 

The Case for Grace: A Journalist Explores the Evidence of Transformed Lives, Hardcover
By Lee Strobel

In The Case for Grace, Lee Strobel uses his journalistic skill to tell true stories of lives transformed by the grace of God, including his own.

Discover the “how” and “why” behind God’s redeeming love! Traveling 16,470 miles to uncover powerful personal stories from across the world, Strobel offers the experiences of orphans, addicts, wayward children, prisoners, and murderers as examples of God’s amazing grace. Each interview reveals a different aspect of the Lord’s forgiveness –and its transforming power in lives and relationships. 

Condemning Immorality In The Church

Condemning Immorality In The Church

Bible Verse: 1 Corinthians 5:6 & 11 (NKJV)

“Your glorifying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such person.”

Reflection and Challenge

Ouch! Sin infests everything. Like leaven, sin seeps into everything. The church is supposed to be without sin, but even one sin in one person has the tendency to grow throughout.

The same is true in a church. As one person excuses sin, more and more people will excuse it. It sounds to me like God hates sin in the church and wants us to get rid of that sin.

In those days the individuals whom you ate with was significant. Quite often church members ate together. Thus, if you were removed from fellowship and eating together, it resulted in a major barrier in the relationship.

1 Corinthians 5:11 stated several of the sins that God required a break in fellowship. Some people will not like this list at all but it does not matter what people say. It only matters what God’s word says. I have heard that 65% of people today believe cohabitation is acceptable.

That is scary because that 65% must include many Christians. That is, in spite of verses like this that say sex before marriage and cohabiting is a sin, which should not happen to anyone that claims to be a Christian. God commands they should be removed from fellowship. It is a shame that Christians accept any sin. Do you practice or accept this sin? You shouldn’t according to God.

*Related Article: Church Discipline: Correcting Another Believer

This list also included being covetous. Actually, every person commits this sin sometime in their life. The root word implies lust for or a very strong desire for something anything other than God. If we seriously examine ourselves, we all have those things that we set as a priority over pursuing God. These things take our attention off of God. That is sin in God’s eyes. Have you repented for that sin?

Idolatry is the worship of other things. Those things take the place of God in our lives. And yes, it is true, Christians can worship God at church but worship other things the rest of the time. Is God your highest priority all of the time? Or do you focus on other things as well?

Remember, God said Christians that commit these sins should be removed from the fellowship. Do you have pet gods? This includes revilers, drunkards, and extortioners. God does not want sin at your church. It is true you can hide your sin from other believers, that does not mean you can hide it from God. As we examine ourselves is there anything in your life that has not been confessed?

Here is a clip from Paul Washer’s sermon on why Christians must abstain from sexual immorality. He goes on to say that true love for God and for others will lead to sexual purity.

How Fertile Is My Heart?

How Fertile Is My Heart?

Jesus’ parable in Luke 8:4-15 called the parable of the sower is about the receptivity of the human heart. Matthew called this “the parable about the farmer planting seeds” (Matthew 13:18 NLT), but it could also be called the parable of the types of soil.”

The human heart is like the soil in this parable: If it is prepared properly, it becomes fertile and can receive the seed of the Word of God and produce a fruitful harvest. Now, the question you may want to ask yourself is: “How fertile is my heart?”

Hearing Means Listening

Notice how the word “hear” is used several times in Luke 8:11-15. It means much more than simply listening to the words. “Hearing” means listening with spiritual understanding and receptivity. It is a serious thing to hear and understand the Word of God because this puts on us the obligation to share that Word with others.

Everyone who receives the seed then becomes a sower, a light bearer, and a transmitter of God’s truth (1 Thessalonians 1:5-8). If we keep it to ourselves, we will love it, but if we will share it, we will receive more.

4 Different Kinds of Hearts

In the parable, Jesus described 4 different kinds of hearts, 3 of which did not produce any fruit. Let us not forget that the proof of salvation is fruit and not merely hearing the Word or making a profession of faith in Christ. Jesus had made that very clear in His “Sermon on the Mount” in Luke 6:43-45. (See also Matthew 7:15-20.)

A. The hard soil – Luke 8:5, 12

This soil represents the person who hears the Word but immediately allows the devil to snatch the seed away. How did the heart become hard? The “footpath” or “wayside” was the path that ran through the common field, separating the plots, and the foot traffic hardened the soil.

“Whatever goes into the ear or eye finally enters the heart, so be careful who you allow walking on your heart.”

B. The shallow (rocky) soil – Luke 8:6, 13

This soil illustrates the emotional hearer who quickly responds to the message, but his interest wanes and he does not continue (see John 8:31-32). In many parts of the Holy Land, you find a substratum of limestone covered with a thin layer of soil. The shoot can grow up, but the roots cannot go down, and the sun withers the rootless plant.

*Read here: The Christian’s Response to Trials

The sun represents the testing that comes to all professing believers to prove their faith. Sun is good for plants if they have roots. Persecution can deepen the roots of a true Christian, but it only exposes the shallowness of the false Christian.

C. The crowded (thorny) soil – Luke 8:7, 14

This soil illustrates the person who does not repent and “weed out” the things that hinder the harvest. There is enough soil so the roots can go down, but not enough room for the plant to grow up and produce fruit. The plant is crowded out and the fruit is choked.

“Cares, riches, and the pleasures of this life” are like weeds in a garden that keep the soil from being fruitful. The person with a “crowded heart” comes closest to salvation, but he still does not bring forth “fruit to perfection.”

D. The good (fertile) soil – Luke 8:8, 15

This soil alone is fruitful. It illustrates the individual who hears the Word, understands it, receives it within, is truly saved, and proves it by patiently producing fruit (see 1 Thessalonians 2:13 & 1 Peter 1:22-25).

*Not everybody produces the same amount of fruit (Matthew 13:8), but all true believers will produce some fruit as evidence of spiritual life. That fruit may include winning others to Christ (Romans 1:13), money given to God’s work (Romans 15:25-28), good works (Colossians 1:10, Christian character (Galatians 5:22-23), and praise to the Lord (Hebrews 13:15).

Closing Thoughts

Why compare God’s word to seed? Because the Word is “alive and powerful” (Hebrews 4:1). Unlike human words, the Word of God has life in it, and that life will be imparted to those who will believe.

When you consider how much teaching, preaching, and witnessing goes on in the course of a month or a year, you wonder why there is such a small harvest. The fault does not lie with the sower or the seed. The problem is with the soil – the human heart.

In order for the truth of God to take root in the heart, be cultivated, and be permitted to bear fruit, the heart must, first of all, be fertile. Sadly, many human hearts will not submit to God, repent and receive the word and be saved.

To which category does your heart belong? Hard, shallow, crowded or good? And if you say your heart is good or fertile, how fertile is it?


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