People are seeing what I’ve been saying for years. I’d like to feel “validated,” but I’m just sad. Even so, I’m glad someone is able to articulate this so well.
He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.
The language here is challenging. What is this saying?
I think the proverb is saying something like this: He that strikes a deal with a stranger will regret it and he that refuses alliances is secure.
If that is the saying, it makes sense.
Sometimes people make alliances with strangers and this does not necessarily include people we do not know. A stranger in this sense could be someone whose aim in life is at odds with our own.
It is better to stand alone and with integrity than it is to band together with many who are against the things you stand for.
For example, Paul the apostle said that we should not be “unequally yoked with unbelievers.”
Sometimes in our haste to have allies in a situation, we might be tempted to ban together with anyone who is willing without considering the larger matters. An ally on one front might be an enemy on a larger and more important matter.
For example, we might have allies in the realms of politics or other matters that influence our society. However, not all who share our views politically or socially uphold Christian values—or at least, they do not uphold the teachings of Jesus that might be inconvenient when dealing with matters that we fear or feel passionately about.
Before we know it, we are bound with many allies—but these allies are not allies of Christ, but of their desire to build their kingdom in this world—and in their ambition, they forget things like loving your enemy, praying for those that persecute you, a respect for the patience of the Lord that leads us to repentance, and the fact that any good thing we have came from God.
They might fall into fear, wrath and vengeance, despair, and lose sight of Jesus in their pursuit for worldly ambitions. Perhaps these ambitions were just, but when pursued to the exclusion of Christ, they are of no benefit.
When weighing all things in our world with a focus on staying faithful to Jesus, we might find that our true allies are few and far between. However, we can rest assured in the promises of Jesus knowing that He is at work, our brethren are in differing stages of growth and serving different purposes, and one day all things will come together as they should—and this will be for our good.
Another thought comes to mind.
Jesus once said, “he that is not against us is for us.” However, Jesus also once said, “he that is not with us scatters abroad.”
There is a time for all things. As the ways of the Lord are tested and we find ourselves tried in them, we might find it increasingly difficult to say, “he that is not against us is for us.” However, as much as is possible, we look for ways to be at peace with all. We can be at peace with many without making hasty alliances.
Jesus will call together those who are aligned with Him and His purposes, and we will have a strong assembly of brethren who are truly united in spirit as those who stand with Jesus above all else.
For many Christians who feel cast out or ostracized from mainstream Christian religion or from friends and family who are Christian, it can seem as if there is no hope and no one who really cares for the calling we have in Jesus. There are many out there. We just need to trust in the Father’s perfect timing and perfect will.
If this is a concern for you, perhaps the best thing to be done is to keep seeking to your own growth so that you can be of use to others, trusting in Jesus to send people to you who need what you have to offer, and He will also send people to you who offer something that you need. We are a body of believers and none is above another. So, in our striving to avoid foolish alliances, we do so in humility and in faith.
PREVIOUS STUDY: Considering Proverbs 11:14 – “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
The purpose of this bible study in The Proverbs is to consider present-day events in terms of the teachings and wisdom of Jesus Christ. Follow in WordPress or subscribe by email (red button at the bottom of each page below the comments) if you would like to join this discussion and receive updates of future posts. Visit the link above for easy access to all posts within this series.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. – Matthew 6:9-15
Why did Jesus instruct us to pray in this manner?
First, Jesus acknowledges the Father in a particular way. The Father is seated above all things and His name is above every name.
Next, Jesus asks that the kingdom of the Father would come—that His will would be done on earth as in Heaven.
Let’s pause and consider.
God is good and His ways are superior in every way. We know that the Father reigns in heaven, and although we trust that He is in control of all things on earth, we do not experience life as it would be if God were personally enthroned on earth as He is in heaven.
In many ways, God seems far removed from us. As a Christian, we want the Father to look favorably on us in the earth and have His will done in the earth because we trust that His will is good.
After these acknowledgements, Jesus prays for the necessities: daily food, forgiveness of sins, and the leading of the Father towards doing His will instead of succumbing to temptations and sin.
Jesus humbly acknowledges that all good things come from the Father, therefore it is by Him only that we can be sustained.
All things are created by and ordained by the Father in heaven. When we pray to the Father in the name of the Son, Jesus, we are coming to Him as those who are poor and needy and we are seeking to have our needs fulfilled by the only One who can truly help.
Jesus’s prayer also helps us consider how we can avoid praying amiss. When we come to God in humility and reverence, this is a good start. Next, we humbly make our simple petitions. We do not ask for things that displease God—things that serve the natural man (aside from necessities) or things that neglect the spiritual needs which often go against the needs and desire of the natural man.
We need food to sustain our bodies and we need the forgiveness of God to sustain our soul and the strength of God to refrain from sin. Since we need the forgiveness of God and the strength of God to abstain from sin, we recognize that we should be forgiving towards others also.
Following this prayer, Jesus reminds us of this fact.
We must forgive others of their sins if we want the Father to forgive ours. Forgiveness can be a complicated subject. What does it mean to forgive? How does forgiveness play out in the actions we take and our heart towards others? Is there a time to forgo forgiveness? For example, is repentance necessary for forgiveness or should we be like Jesus who said, “forgive them, Father for they know not what they do?”
If we seek the Lord earnestly and honestly, He will lead us in the right way. However, if we must fall short, let’s fall short in mercy and forgiveness. It is better to forgive that which should not be forgiven than it is to condemn that which should not be condemned. Jesus by His Spirit will teach us all things as necessary for the individual circumstances we face, but in all things, look for mercy as much as possible because we need mercy too.
This article is part of a series that considers the Parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the statements Jesus made during His Sermon on the Mount, to which He referenced in His Parable of the Building on Rock and Sand. Visit the link for quick access to all articles written within this series.
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6 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.
“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
This is the promise given to the church of Smyrna. Words of comfort are also provided. Jesus knows. He sees. He instructs this church not to fear suffering, but to expect it, knowing that the end for those who do not deny the Lord, Jesus is eternal life.
This idea might seem strange and foreign to many Christians today. The thought that we must remain faithful to Jesus, even unto death, is replaced by false comforts through fables such as the rapture doctrine—a doctrine that is a spinoff from the teaching of the return of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and the transfiguration of those who are alive at His coming.
This idea might seem strange and foreign to Christians who suppose that Jesus only wants us to experience a life of ease and comfort, counting blessings of God in terms of worldly comforts only, not realizing that it is a blessing to be counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus also.
However, let us not be as Satan who accused Job before God. Let us not say that our brethren are only faithful because God has put a hedge of protection about them, and if that protection is removed, they will curse God to His face.
Instead, let us encourage one another and rest on the promises of God in Jesus Christ for us. If His grace is for us, He will not let us fail.
However, it helps to consider our areas of weakness. In what ways might we deny Jesus? What do we truly worship? What do we place our trust in?
If we love riches and the things of this world and if we trust in them instead of Jesus, that is something to think about. If we love popularity and value being accepted by man rather than staying true to the teachings of Jesus, that is something to think about. We are not to be as God’s people of old who trusted in Egypt and not God, are we? Jesus came to free us from a land of slavery to this world, not to make us comfortable in our servitude.
What do we say about the exhortation to “remain faithful?”
As Christians, we trust in the blood of Jesus to cover our sins and we are passed from judgment to life by faith in His sacrifice. This is true. Is it possible to deny the faith and therefore lose our salvation?
The scriptures paint a picture of assuredness of salvation. The scriptures also provide stark warnings about denying Jesus and falling away from the faith. How should we reconcile this?
It is better to preach to the faithful and the faithful will hear because God Himself opens their ears. Therefore, let us trust. Trusting the Lord is always rewarded and so is honesty. I believe it is most profitable to trust in Jesus while considering our weakness at the same time.
We need to face the reality of our flesh. In our natural state, we would do as Peter. We would deny the Lord when faced with trying circumstances. It is good for us to consider this and be honest about our weakness so that we can turn to Jesus for strength.
We should not do as those who treat salvation as a free pass to deny the Lord. Such a mind reveals a wicked heart towards the sacrifice of the Son of God and the grace that was bought therewith. Many treat the grace of God with willful disregard, and these might find that the grace of God is not truly with them.
However, many do so unknowingly, and we can trust that the Lord will find a way to reach them. He sends faithful ministers of the gospel who are willing to combat the falsehoods of the failings within much of mainstream Christendom, and He will show mercy on who He will.
We should not overly despair about the unfaithful, but rather continue speaking to the faithful and those who want to be more faithful as those who trust the Lord to work all things according to His perfect will. However, His will is often shown through His servants, so to this end we work in faith, knowing that all things will be accomplished as God the Father has declared it.
When the grace of God is for us, He will work all things in us as necessary for His purposes which is to bring many sons of God to glory, as the scriptures say. As a son of God, we should expect to experience the same things that Jesus, the first begotten Son of God, experienced. Jesus said so Himself.
“If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world the world would love its own, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
If the world loves us, then something might be wrong. The world might love us because we love the world, and if we love the world how can we say that the love of Jesus is in us—He who died to save us from this world and bring us into His Kingdom?
The love of this world is something we might struggle with, but if we confess our shortcomings to Jesus, He will forgive us and strengthen us. We are His workmanship and we can have faith in this. We do not naturally possess the strength to remain faithful unto death. We need His Spirit to help us.
Peter is a great example of this also. He did not yet have the Spirit of God when He denied Jesus. The Spirit was with Peter, as seen by Peter’s ability to recognize Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 16). However, the Spirit was not within Peter until the day of Pentecost. After denying Jesus and receiving the Spirit in power, Peter went on to live—and die—for Jesus.
If we are weak in the faith, then we need to seek more from the Spirit of God to help. I sincerely believe that we will see a revival of Spirit within the faithful remnant of God’s people before the time of great tribulation, because the Father will not leave us without hope or help.
Many Christians are like Peter before Pentecost. They hear the Spirt speak and they know that Jesus is the Son of God, but there is no power to keep His ways or to suffer for His sake. This is especially true among Western Christians, but I sincerely believe and hope in the mercy of God for us.
“He will repent himself for his servants when he sees that their power is gone and none is protected or left.” – from the Song of Moses.
We need a “latter rain,” and I believe this will happen; however, I can not say so with all certainty. In any case, let us keep seeking Jesus. Get to know His ways and His teachings—many of which are contrary to pop Christian culture and the failed fables of our worldly churches—churches that encourage us to be faithful to the world and to trust in riches instead of Jesus; churches that deny the suffering of the saints and the Spirit of God that makes enduring all things for His sake possible.
We will discuss the issue of the churches’ negligence of the Holy Spirit in greater detail when we get to the Church of Sardis. Meanwhile, let us consider in faith, trusting in Jesus to forgive us of our shortcomings and to strengthen us by His Spirit.
How can we be more like Sardis?
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
I wrote in These Things Saith He: Contents that I will publish the drafts here first and offer opportunity for others to share their thoughts before the final work is completed.
I’m open to and greatly value the insight, experiences, and thoughts of my Christian brethren because we are a body knit together in Christ that is meant to work together without over reliance on our leaders. I am not your leader, but I do try to be faithful to what I have received to the best of my ability, and I look to Jesus for gracious judgment of my service and the service of all who truly love Him.
PREVEIOIUS CHAPTER: These Things Saith He – Smyrna Overview
All Chapter Drafts: These Things Saith He
57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. – Luke 9:57-62
Sometimes it is hard not to look back. Maybe we had an idea about where we wanted our life to go, hoping that we could have that life and remain faithful to the calling we had in Jesus Christ. As that hope is pulled out of our grasp, do we cling to it or do we let it go? As we move forward in the things of the Kingdom of Heaven, do we look ahead or do we look back at dreams lost for His sake?
I’m prone to looking back. Unless the Lord strengthens me to forsake my ambitions for the sake of doing His will, I might wind up as Lot’s wife. God forbid.
I trust that the Lord will not allow this to happen.
It is hard to let go of relationships with people who are focused on building up the kingdoms of this world and not the kingdom of God—especially among family or the household of the faith. Or both.
It would be so easy in the short term for me to just build up my little life. I could focus on building my business. I could buy a house and a better car for my family. I could focus on gaining the approval of those who look down on me and my family because of our poverty. I could join a church to gain the approval of those who consider non church goers to be insincere or lesser-than in the faith (if you go to church, that’s your choice. No condemnation from me. I visit but I do not join for reasons unstated here).
I could join myself with the battles of the day politically and socially and become so consumed by them that I forsake the task that the Lord has given me—to say things that few seem to want to hear—because they’d rather fight the sins of the world instead of our own.
All I ever wanted in this life was the “American Dream,” but as that dream fades into a land of Sodom, I cannot look back. Lord help us.
I could pursue all these worldly things, some of which are not unethical or evil. They simply get in the way. However, for all that I would gain, I would be utterly miserable because I would know that I forsook the Lord to gain the world.
The thing is, I know that without Jesus strengthening me, I would do just that and I still have things to let go of. It’s so painful, but I know that Jesus will make a way.
It is easy to look back, especially when you feel as if you are leaving most everything and most everyone that you loved behind. It’s scary. It’s sad. It’s lonely.
However, I know that Jesus promises us that we will gain back all that we gave up for His sake, and more. Even in this present life. I’m not seeing much of that now, other than some positive changes in my home that were gained by forsaking some things in order to get my house in order. And now, I fear I will have to forsake even that for the sake of doing what Jesus has called me to do.
I write this because I feel ashamed of my tendency to look back and I’m certain that other people can relate. I don’t think any Christian is without this experience in some form. We all have to give something up in order to follow the life that Jesus would have us to live.
How much more might we have to give up?
I don’t want to induce fear or burdens that are unnecessary. I’ve encountered some ministries that imposed extreme standards on people that are not of God. I don’t put any standard on anyone other than to remind us all of this teaching and to offer some encouragement. I tend to look back and Jesus is merciful so long as I confess this to Jesus, ask for help to continue, and strive to remain focused on Him. He can do this for all of us.
“I thank you, Father.” This is something Jesus said a lot.
Life is hard. Trials are hard. Service to our Lord, which is to live a God-fearing Christian life first and foremost, can be hard.
I’ve been practicing saying, “Thank you, Lord.” It helps a lot.
I am prone to complaining, self-pity, fear, and feeling overwhelmed.
Lately, when those feelings or thoughts spring up, I try to turn to Jesus and say, “Thank you, Lord.”
I also like to think about the things we take for granted–things that we might find become scarce if things do not change in our nation. We have so many blessings. It is good to thank Jesus for them.
The more I say, “Thank you, Lord,” the more my spirits are lifted. Even in troubling circumstances.
This makes me think of a verse from one of my favorite Psalms: Psalm 119.
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statutes. The law of thy mouth is better for me than thousands of gold and silver.”
Sometimes God takes things away that are not really good for us, especially when these things are getting in the way of something better that He has in store for us.
“Tribulation works patience,” as the scriptures also say.
Not all trouble is chastisement nor is all trouble actually trouble. Sometimes we are like babies that only want to eat junk food. Father is just taking that away and giving us something better!
“I thank you, Father.”
It’s easy to be thankful for the “good” things, and we should be. Maybe we should practice thanking the Lord for trouble too and praise Him in faith, knowing that He is good and all things are working out for our good.
If trouble comes because we need to repent, then we can praise Jesus for this too because this means we are being dealt with as sons. All things are for our good if we belong to Jesus. Have faith. Praise Him. Thank Him. Have your spirits lifted and rejoice even more in experiencing peace that can only be attributed to His divine goodness.
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“One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
“The Holy Spirit will cause you to remember all things that I have said to you.”
This is something that Jesus said to His disciples and this is true for us also.
The first few years after I received of the Holy Spirit in a demonstrative manner (which occurred in January of 2016), I had a handful of visions and auditory experiences. There have been very few and most were in those first few years.
When these happened, having been raised a cessationist I had mixed feelings about it. I had considered that perhaps these were “abundance of business” dreams or “lying divinations.” So, I did not publish them. I did share most of them with at least one other person. I also forgot them. Sort of. I put them out of my mind because I did not know what to do with it all.
I’ve been recalling these lately and some of the information is not so pleasant for me. This is in-part why I stated what I stated in a recent Proverbs study about discretion. Some things might be better kept to ourselves. I don’t know, really. Maybe we should be bold.
In any case.
The details of one of these visions is starting to unfold.
I was in a room talking to a group of people. I turned to a black man (His race did not seem important at the time. This was before the racial tension really took hold of our nation). He had headphones in his ears. I pulled them out and told him that we are talking about the things of the Kingdom of God! He sat up and listened.
Behind me was a large screen television. I turned to see a woman on the screen. I recognized her as a “good” woman. She said, “Rejoice! There is still time to repent!”
Her appearance dissolved away and was replaced by many people—hundreds, maybe thousands—being baptized in a large body of water.
They faded away and were replaced by a vile, “bad” woman. She was standing on two sunken ships. Perhaps battle ships. She was angry and forceful with her words—which were no real or meaningful words. She only shouted, “I, I, I, I, I, I” over and over. I felt as if I were being attacked.
I turned to the group. They were furious with me. I knew that I was done. I woke up.
I don’t know the full meaning, and there is more that happened in the dream before the scene that I am sharing now. I don’t know what to make of it yet.
However, there is one idea that the Spirit has revealed.
We must choose. As a Christian people. Who are we going to be? Who am I going to be?
Are we going to be as the “good” woman who rejoices in the gospel of Jesus—rejoices in that there is still time to turn to Him and repent?
Or are we going to be as the “bad” woman who, without mercy, shouts and subdues her enemies? “I, I, I, I” Or in other words, “it’s all about ME! See what I have done! I have subdued my enemies! And you…you’re next!”
There are two women in Revelation and elsewhere in scripture. As the church, called to be one as the body of Christ and members of His Holy City, who are we going to be?
There is a time for all things. There will be a day of vengeance but there are some who take that day up too soon. They turn on those who wait on the Lord also.
“Rejoice! There is still time to repent!”
And we have things to repent for. Despite what some say within Christian circles. Lord willing, I will be bold in that also to share what He is showing by His Spirit as He wills and the These Things Saith He articles unfold.
It is good to make a stand against all evil. However, in our stand, we remember WHO WE SERVE. We remember WHO WE ARE. We look to our own sins first instead of losing focus in our fight against the sins of others in a self-righteous, indignant, vengeful manner.
No. Not us. Not Yet. Not until “there is time no longer.”
“Rejoice! There is still time to repent!”
In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me.
2 Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.
3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
5 Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.
7 Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God.
8 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
9 When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.
10 In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word.
11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
12 Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.
13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?