God’s Word: PRICELESS!

God’s Word:  PRICELESS!

Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.  (Jer 15:16)

This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.  (Ps 119:50)

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  (Ps 119:103)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  (Ps 119:105)

I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.  (Ps 119:162)

Let my cry come before You, O Lord; give me understanding according to Your word.  (Ps 119:169)

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  (John 17:17)

The Word of God should be so important to each one of us believers that it is irreplaceable to us.  The Bible speaks about itself in order to teach us the path of righteousness, and to help us to stay on the path. 

God’s Word says about itself that it:

  • Is the joy and rejoicing of our hearts.
  • Comforts us in affliction.
  • Gives us life.
  • Is sweet in our mouths!
  • Is a lamp and a light for our path.
  • Is great treasure.
  • Gives us understanding.
  • Sanctifies us.
  • Is our truth.

This list is not complete; there is much more to learn about the Scriptures and their incomparable value to us.  There’s only one way to do that:  study them!  Love spending time with the Lord by studying and meditating upon His Word.  It will enrich your life, and open rich stores of wisdom and understanding to you and in you.

You’ll wonder what you’ve been doing with your life prior to this, and why you waited so long to delve into the inestimable Word of God!  Enjoy every truth you discover and rejoice in it.  You’ll be able to feel God’s pleasure resting upon you as you do.

Blessings upon you in the New Year and always.

Not Ashamed

Not Ashamed

They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.  (Ps 34:5)

I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.  (Ps 119:46)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  (Rom 1:16)

For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”  (Rom 10:11)

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.  (2 Tim 1:12)

One thing we learn from all of these passages is that faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ will never make us ashamed—nor should it!  The gospel of Jesus Christ is something that we should be honored to share with others, because it is our calling.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor. 5:18-20 – emphasis added)

This Scripture reminds us that we are ALL called as the Lord’s representatives.  It’s not only ministers or apostles that have this ministry of reconciliation and the role of Christ’s ambassadors—all of us believers do! Additional Bible verses that demonstrate this responsibility are Matthew 5:14-16, 1 Peter 3:15, Philippians 2:14-16, Colossians 4:5-6 and 1 Peter 2:9. 

Let’s take special note of the next passages that state that Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brethren, and that God is not ashamed to be called our God! 

For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren . . . (Heb 2:11)

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.  (Heb 11:16)

Isn’t that wonderful and beautiful to be reminded of? 

Hebrews 2:11 additionally points out that the Sanctifier and the sanctified are united—bonded together!  We are our Beloved’s and He is ours.  (S.O.S. 6:3)  Some additional Scriptures to study are:  

  • John 6:56;
  • “He is the Vine and we are the branches” in John 15;
  • Colossians 1:27;
  • 1 John 4:13; and
  • Galatians 2:20.

In light of all of these confirmations of our union with Christ, let’s joyfully tell other people about our loving, merciful, and powerful Savior!  Remember that we will never be put to shame for being faithful ambassadors for His Kingdom.

PRAISE: The Fruit of Our Lips

PRAISE:  The Fruit of Our Lips

By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.  (Heb 13:15 KJV – emphasis added)

To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.  (Ps 30:12)

Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard . . . (Ps 66:8)

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  (Ps 104:33)

The Word reminds us in many different Bible passages to praise the Lord, and to praise Him continually.  In Hebrews, we are instructed to offer the “sacrifice of praise,” which may mean that God expects us to praise Him even when we don’t feel well, and even when our life circumstances are difficult and painful to us. 

In these types of situations, praise truly feels like a sacrifice.  But praising God in the midst of difficulty is obedience to His Word, and the Lord appreciates our obedience. 

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”  (1 Sam 15:22)

Our praise to God is the best and highest fruit that our lips can produce!  We all know that words—the harvest of our lips—can be uplifting or hurtful, encouraging or critical.  It’s our job and responsibility to be sure that our words bless all who hear them. 

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  (Eph 4:29)

The test of our words is:  will they edify the hearers?  Edify means to enlighten, inform, educate, or improve.  Will our words improve the hearers?  If not, then they’re best left unsaid.

Words that praise the Lord and bring Him glory will bring us blessings and will edify all who hear them.  Let our lips and our words SERVE us, rather than harm us or anyone else.  Let us determine to guard our words from this moment forward, that we may be blessed!

The Christmas Gift

The Christmas Gift

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.  (Mt 1:18)

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  (Lk 2:4-7 NKJV)

Jesus was born as a helpless infant, as every human being since Adam and Eve have been.  He submitted to His Father’s will to become our Messiah, and He grew in size and strength as all babies must. (Lk 2:40)

It’s good for us to recognize that God, the Son—who is Jesus—submitted and yielded to His Father’s plan in all of this.  It required submission and humility on His part because Jesus had to have patience.  He had to wait for 30 years to be acknowledged as an adult before He could even begin His work and ministry! 

Jesus was not only God’s gift to us, but since Jesus is a member of the Godhead, He was also a partner in the giving process!  We might say that He is the Christmas Gift as well as the Giver! 

One of the traits of Jesus is that He gives good things to men.  He was an unexpected gift that mankind wasn’t looking for, and one which we shall never deserve.  Nevertheless, He was integral to God’s plan of salvation, and so He came according to the Scriptures.

His gifts to us are so copious, according to the Bible, that we can’t list them all!  A good beginning is to state the two most obvious gifts of:  salvation and freedom.  We’ve received freedom from:  A) sin; B) guilt; C) the fear of death (1 Cor 15:56); and D) the fear of punishment. 

An additional gift that Jesus gave to us is the expectation of the many blessings of our salvation, among which are:

1) Love (Rom 8:39; 1 Jn 4:8);

2) Joy (Lk 2:10; Gal 5:22);

3) Peace (Isa 9:6; Jn 14:27); and

4) Truth (Jn 14:6; Jn 18:37).

This holiday season, let’s take time to meditate upon the many gifts of our salvation that we have already received thanks to the perfect love and obedience of Jesus, God’s precious Gift!

Hold Onto Hope: LET FAITH SHINE!

Hold Onto Hope: LET FAITH SHINE!

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope [expectation, assurance] without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  (Heb 10:23 – definition added in brackets)

The hope of the righteous will be gladness . . .  (Prov 10:28 a)

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (Rom 5:5)

Hold fast [firm, unwavering] to the confession of hope that you have in Jesus.  In other words, don’t wimp out and don’t give in!  The reason we hang onto faith, hope, and the Word is because we KNOW that He who promised is faithful, reliable, and true. 

God does not lie (Num 23:19; Heb 6:18) and He will not change.  (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8)

We never need to falter or wonder.  Because these statements are true, we can utterly rely upon God’s Word.  We can rest in knowing that He watches over His Word to perform it.  (Jer 1:12 NIV) 

For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment. (Lk 1:37 AMP)

With God, NOTHING is impossible!  How wonderful and awe-inspiring to recognize this truth.  Thankfully, because of Jesus, we are with God—so we qualify to inherit every blessing and every promise of salvation. 

We have the honor of living our lives, each day, in such a way that we demonstrate how completely we rely upon God’s love, faithfulness and reliability.  We have the privilege of serving as God’s own, very bright beacon shining for Jesus in this ever-darkening world. 

Equipped For Good Work

Equipped For Good Work

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man [woman] of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for EVERY good work.  (2 Tim 3:16-17 – bracketed word added by the author)

It’s interesting to understand, from the Scripture shown above, that God uses His Word for:

  • Doctrine [a principle or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief],
  • Reproof [criticism for a fault],
  • Correction [a bringing into conformity with a standard], and
  • Instruction [the action of teaching] in righteousness.

This passage tells us that God uses these methods to thoroughly equip believers for every good work.  Do you feel thoroughly equipped?  If not, then perhaps you haven’t been spending enough time reading, meditating, listening to, and hearing God’s Word preached. 

A key component in being equipped is obeying the Word that you hear and that you read.  Without your obedience to the Word of God, there is no submission to it—nor is there a respect for it.  We also need to respect God, Himself, in order to obey His Word.

Equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.  (Heb 13:21 ESV – emphasis added)

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ . . . (Eph 4:11-16 ESV – emphasis added) 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1 – emphasis added)

The Lord has set all believers free, and He is in the process of equipping us at all times.  We are equipped now, but as we continue our walk with the Lord, He will reveal new truths to us.  Our knowledge and understanding of His ways and His standards will grow and mature.  Our expertise with our spiritual “tool set” will increase.  All we need to do is to keep hearing His voice, and to continue in our willingness to learn from Him.  Yield to His Word and to His will for you.

The Lord has set you free, and He has thoroughly equipped you, so let your light shine brightly!

LOVE: The Bond of Perfection

LOVE:  The Bond of Perfection

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  (Col 3:14 KJV)

This verse is so intriguing to me that I had to look at it in a few other versions of the Bible:

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  (NIV)

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  (KJV)

Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].  (AMP)

The phrase that has always fascinated me is “bond of perfection.”  I always wanted to know what that meant, because it sounds so beautiful to me, therefore I studied it.

Seeing the verse in several different versions helped me.  But I also wanted to see what past Bible scholars had to say about it.  Here’s what the Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary on Colossians 3 says:

bond of perfectness–an upper garment which completes and keeps together the rest, which, without it, would be loose and disconnected. Seeming graces, where love is wanting, are mere hypocrisy. Justification by faith is assumed as already having taken place in those whom Paul addresses, Col 3:12, “elect of God, holy. . . beloved,” and Col 2:12; so that there is no plea here for Rome’s view of justification by works. Love and its works “perfect,” that is, manifest the full maturity of faith developed (Mat 5:44, 48). Love. . . be ye perfect, &c. (Jam 2:21, 22 1Jo 2:5). “If we love one another, God’s love is perfected in us” (Rom 13:8 1Cr 13:1-13 1Ti 1:5 1Jo 4:12). As to “bond,” compare Col 2:2, “knit together in love” (Eph 4:3), “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
(Sourcehttps://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/Col/Col_003.cfm?a=1110014)

I like what the JFB Commentary had to say about “seeming graces” that are without love—they’re hypocrisy.  My understanding is that the only way to be able to operate out of genuine, God-motivated love is to have thoroughly and deeply experienced the love of God yourself, personally. 

As I mentioned in my blog posted on 03/31/2016 (Do Everything With Love), “Because we are loved by God, we have the grace to love others even as we are loved.  God’s love enables us to forgive. His love gives us the wherewithal to extend mercy and understanding to others, not returning evil for evil, but on the contrary—blessing them.” 

This is the type of love that opens the eyes of the unsaved to their need for their Savior.  This kind of love changes situations and brings glory to God.  This love is the “upper garment” which unifies us as believers and unifies all of the other gifts of God within us, as we use them for His glory.  It means desiring the best and highest good for everyone that we know, and for everyone with whom we interact.  

The love that is the bond of perfection is in you, my friend!  Use it and shine for Jesus today.