But You Denied the Holy One and the Just, and Desired a Murderer

14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;

15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.

18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. — Acts 3:14-21

Words fail when communicating a swift stream of connected thoughts, but there are a few things to say, at the very least. Lord willing, with some measure of decent articulation.

The above sentiment is true in many ways for Christians today. Of course, not all, but many.

In what ways have we denied the Holy One and the Just and desired a murderer?

Of course, Peter who said this was speaking of the Jews release of Barabbas and condemnation of Jesus. If we can get past a fundamentalist view of scripture—which is one murderer among many—we could see the spirit of what Peter says and consider.

There are many “murderers” among us who kill the Prince of Life and replace Him with the dead ways of man, and the worse among these are within the household of the Christian faith.

As much as I, at times, want to shy away from this topic, I cannot. For better or worse, whether I have a “hook in my jaw” or no, I cannot run away from this.

I want to be a teacher of “pleasant things.” I want to encourage with soft words and tell everyone that it will all be alright. In some sense, this is true. Because, praises to God, we serve a God of mercy and if we are chastised of Him, we rejoice knowing that He deals with us as sons. We rejoice in knowing that all things are working together for our good, even when it does not feel like it. So, on that I will rest all the hard things that must be said.

With that foundation of trust in Jesus, we as a Christian body do in-fact have much repenting to do because we have placed many murderous things in the stead of the Holy One who we call Lord and Savior—who, by His grace and mercy have made me strong. One, who like the man in this story, was spiritually paralyzed, laying at the door of the temple and unable to get in because it was shut from me. It was shut by Christians who failed to uphold the gospel properly. In God’s mercy, He healed me, and I stand with Him now.

I still call all Christians brethren. For now. I still say “we” have much to repent for because we are body and I also stand with all of my brethren. There will come a day when I will not be allowed to say “we” with all who call themselves by His name, but only to the faithful. On that day, we all want to be standing on the right side of Christ as He sends a time that will divide the faithful from the unfaithful, as He has said He would do.

By the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ we can stand. We say this. We say a lot of things, but the reality of our faith is not in Jesus as it should be.

The reality of our faith is in murderous things that we have made Lord instead of Jesus. Dead things like wooden and fundamentalist use of the bible. Dead things like laws and legalism over the things of the Spirit. Dead things like self-righteous indignation and all manner of unclean spirits instead of the things of the Spirit. Dead doctrines that corrupt the gospel. Dead allegiances with the powers of this world and the pleasures of this world. None of us are without some form of culpability.

Many of us will continue to look at all the evils that this world is doing and focus on that instead of the evils within our very own brethren. Some even call themselves prophets even though they sound little different from a right-wing unbeliever.

God does not change. Jesus will return and as the prophets have said, the earth will melt with fervent heat. What manner of men should we be, seeing we look to this day when all works of darkness are burnt up by the brightness of His coming?

This is not to say that we are justified by works. We are not. It is to say that when we place murderers in the stead of the Prince of Life, we have something to answer for.

Remember what all the hard things I say rest on: the mercy and faithfulness of Jesus. God chastens those He loves. All things are coming together for our good if we trust in Jesus. Many things must come down in preparation for His return.

This is good news for us. Do we think the dead things can stand when He returns?  Of course not. In His mercy, He will overthrow much ahead of time at the hands of our enemies. We are not to join with them, nor are we to overly focus on fighting them. We are to focus on our own repentance and preparation.

How long until that time? I have no idea. All I know is that I was once lame, and now I walk, and it was not by the power of mainstream Christianity, but by Jesus who rebukes us for many of our murderous ways.

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake: Part 2

22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.

25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.

26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. – Luke 6:22-26

A lot comes to mind when considering Christian persecution, so I apologize because I feel like I’m not doing the best job of communicating it well.

As mentioned in the last article, I have thoughts about Christian persecution in the United States. I believe more is coming, and I believe that this is chastisement from God because of failings within Christianity. I understand why that might seem backwards to many and you do not have to agree with me.

The reason I think this is because of scripture and my personal experiences, and I am not unaware of how limited my experiences are. My experiences might reflect a certain area of the nation predominately or people of certain personality traits.

Yet, I do know that these issues are widespread enough to have natural consequences for our nation. We see these consequences. Whether we say these consequences are God or simple cause and effect, we will not escape it, and I believe in a fully sovereign God.

When I think of Christian persecution, my thoughts go first and foremost to our own tendency to be the ones who persecute.

I can look at the above scripture and say, yes. I have experienced this. Not at the hands of unbelievers, but at the hands of other Christians. I know many others have also.

How many have been hated, separated from the company of others, and slandered by other Christians? We do this to our own. We do this between our denominations. We do this within our own families.

How many Christians cannot find a place of acceptance among our various churches because they disagree doctrinally or in some manner of rule and regulation? How many Christians are hurting and unable to find support? How many Christians are on the verge of unbelief because of bad teaching, corrupt leadership, and isolation?

And all the while, many Christians continue to grow in worldly riches, social status, and all comforts of this life. They call themselves “blessed” as they neglect to seek Jesus above Man and as they cast out, accuse, slander, and isolate many of their brethren. Are they blessed, or will they later weep?

They will weep, and I do not delight in this. I do not delight in knowing that many fellow servants will suffer, and I do not delight in the suffering of those who already suffer due to the negligence of our faith.

I once wanted to see it all come down, and not for good reasons. Or at least I struggled with this desire because of resentment and malice. This is one of the reasons I repented of my former ministry and began afresh. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” We need to know what “spirit we are of.” I was also hypocritical considering it was the grace of God that led me out, and I did many of these things myself.

Even so, the facts are the same despite my failings with unjust human emotion and wicked desires. I do not repent of what is true.

Our legalism hurts people. Our self-righteousness hurts people. Our calling evil good and good evil hurts people. Will not God deal with this?

Will the blood of Jesus cover it? I pray so. I am not the judge. I cannot know where judgment ends and mercy begins for Christians who do such things—but I do know this: “We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness in high places.”

My hope is that in the overturning of our corrupt leaders, establishments, and traditions, we will be spared. We will ban together when persecuted, and no more will it matter whether we worship on Saturday or Sunday. No more will it matter if we celebrate holidays. No more will it matter if we use music in our gatherings or not. No more will it matter how long our hair or shirt sleeves are. No more will it matter if we agree or disagree on secondary matters of doctrine.

What will matter is that we trust in Jesus and love one another. That is all that matters. If we put Jesus first, we will see how silly many of our divisive matter are and how harmful.

We will see how we harm people when we neglect the issues of the heart and harp over outer sins. We will see how we harm people when we lay laws on our brethren and attempt to regulate behavior outwardly according to wooden interpretations of scripture.

We will see how we harm people by neglecting the calling we have been called to.

If we worship the world too much as we call evil good and good evil, we won’t see any of this at all because we will be “taken” by the deception of the false prophet and beast system.

I will get no pleasure out of the “woe” that will come on this earth, except that many of my brethren will repent and turn to Jesus more fully. I know He can lead us away from all of this. I know it is hard. I know there is so much information out there and it can be hard to sort it all out. I know there is a lot of pressure from the various churches to conform.

I know there is suffering involved for Christians on the outskirts, but you are not alone. Blessed are you, and to you belongs the Kingdom of Heaven, and to all of our brethren according to the mercy and grace of God that surpasses our understanding.

It is okay to disagree with me because I am not Lord and the only authority I have is to exercise what Jesus gives me as a growing son of God by the adoption of Jesus into the Kingdom of God. Let each person be persuaded in their own mind, as Paul the Apostle wrote. If you find me lacking, pray for me as I do for all who wear the blood and name of Jesus.

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. Subscribe for notifications of future posts.

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake: Part 1

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. – Matthew 5:10-12

Christian persecution isn’t something we experience much of in the United States. We do on some level, mostly socially, but not as they do in other countries and not as the early Christians experienced it.

So, for me to write about Christian persecution feels somewhat cheapened by the generally protected society I have lived in.

I also feel somewhat ashamed and at the same time understanding of why Christianity in the United Stats can, at times, be lacking in zeal. For all of our protections, what have we done with our faith?

Our attempts to deal with unrighteousness within our society have failed massively, and largely due to our own failings to uphold what the faith is really about.

You don’t fight heart issues with law. Yet, many do just this, both inside the judicial system and within our churches. I could go on and on about our futile attempts to make man right with law and legalism—we who hold a gospel that brings change to heart by Spirit. How foolish we have been and how negligent!

You don’t fight heart issues with demeaning chants and protests. You don’t fight heart issues with self-righteous indignation and hypocrisy. Yet, many do just this, both in the public sphere and within our churches. I could go on and on about the hatefulness of many who carry the name of Jesus—hatefulness that rivals the most stubborn of unbelievers. We do not go into the kingdom of Heaven and we shut the door on others.

You don’t fight heart issues with “love” that accepts unrighteousness, encourages it, and praises it. Yet, many do just this, both within society and within our churches. I could go on and on about our butter backbones that are too weak to stand up for anything good and true but instead melt under societal pressures, conform to the world, and worship the world. We make children of Hell instead of children of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Do we even know how to suffer for righteousness’ sake in this country?

I have seen precious little of it. Not in any real and meaningful sense. My own “suffering” is pathetic. I have suffered mildly socially for my failure to align myself with any particular Christian sect. I have suffered mildly socially for saying hard things about the failings of United States Christianity in general. I have suffered mildly socially—and immensely in heart—for failing to see the working of Jesus in my heart that I believe the gospel promises—of which I am mocked.

Yet, I know that the gospel does indeed promise righteousness: righteousness that comes from a change of heart by the working of Jesus. Not law. Not abuse. Not calling evil good. According to the measure of grace we receive, we are healed from the inside out.

Christians in the United States are in danger of persecution. I have said this for a few years now—and this is not because the wicked are doing wickedly—but because we do not carry the name of Jesus faithfully. We do not preach the gospel adequately. We do not pursue righteousness effectively. We—for all of our protections—have no idea what it means to suffer His Name’s sake.

Now, this is not to belittle those who do suffer. Many suffer in their families, in their homes, and in their communities for living an upright Christian life. I see this too and it is a beautiful thing. However, the sad result is often one of hardness, self-righteousness, and hate. We have to rise above those who hate us as we rest in the teachings of Jesus and His promises for us. We cannot let His love in us grow cold.

It is because of our lack of real hardship that we do not know how to endure. For all of our blessings, we are poor. We are poor in spirit in this nation. How will we endure it when severe persecution comes?

I know that Jesus will make a way. I believe that for all of our failings, He is extraordinarily merciful. He has been so to me, and He continues to be merciful despite my own failings. I believe that He will strengthen us in spirit by the Holy Spirit if we truly believe in Him and trust in Him.

We will learn of our errors. We will come to better understanding. We will find the zeal of a convert yet again as we realize what being Christian is really about. We will see it and we will live it. We will be immeasurably thankful and in awe of how merciful our God is. We will praise Jesus for turning us around and bringing us to Him more fully.

At least, these latter things are my hope and prayer for many. It is also true that many will fall away when real trouble comes. They will fall away into more law and oppression. They will fall away into more unrighteous hate and self-righteous hypocrisy. They will fall into more prosperity seeking and worldly pleasures. They will fall into worship of something that is not Jesus—because they do so already.

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. Subscribe for notifications of future posts.

Considering Proverbs 10:24

24 The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.

What do the wicked fear? In this context, I don’t want to think of run-of-the-mill sinners. I want to think in terms of that which we war against as Christians: “principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness in high places.”

The supremely wicked things in this world are not mere individuals. They are ideologies, corrupt policies, enshrined systems (religiously and politically), and any entity that unjustly rules over, oppresses, and destroys mankind.

As with Legion, “there are many.”

And as with Legion, Jesus will cast it all out. What a day that will be, eh?

Do they not fear it?

The greatest fear of the wicked is God, whether they fully realize it or not. They fear exposure. They fear judgment and justice. They fear that those who stand for what is true and just will overthrow their power.

So, they do all they can to keep these things from happening.

In order to avoid exposure, they simply lie. When that does not work, they gaslight or blame shift. They even go so far as to call the wicked things they do righteous, and righteousness is turned into wickedness. With the latter, they no longer have to hide the evils they do because that which was once taboo is praised. That is a great trick, isn’t it?

In order to prevent judgement and justice, they simply bribe those who are in charge of judgment and justice. They say, “one rule for thee and not for me.” They re-write laws—even re-write history—so that they can escape judgement and justice. They say that the ultimate source of judgment and justice—God Himself—is not real. Truth is subjective, they say. They bend truth, confuse minds, and escape justice as they trample everyone who could become a threat.

All things that the wicked do: the ideologies, corrupt policies, enshrined systems (religiously and politically), and any entity that unjustly rules over, oppresses, and destroys mankind, have similar motivations. They have similar tactics too.

Large and small, the wicked are easy to predict.

God is also, if we know Him well enough. At least, He is easy to predict in some ways.

We know that no matter how the wicked try, they cannot hide from God. They cannot escape judgment and justice. They cannot retain power, and though they might rise to great power one day, Jesus will overthrow it all “with the brightness of His coming.”

Their fears will come on them.

Those who trust in Jesus alone will be saved.

If we face our own wickedness, repent, and approach God for mercy and forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus the Son, we are spared.

Yet, if we are truly saved from this world, we will enter the service of the Kingdom of God. In serving Him, we will continue to be purged from sinful living as we walk in self accountability and repentance, righteous judgment, justice, mercy, and humility. We do not seek our own power or glory, but the power and glory of our Lord. We work in His Kingdom with faith that His Kingdom will come.

Meanwhile, we are to “occupy” until He comes. As Christians, we fight against the Legion of injustice, corruption, and murder also. However, we do not do so as man does. We do not fight flesh with mankind’s weapons of flesh. There is no power there. Not the kind of power a child of God should wield. We fight in Spirit against that which is spirit.

What does this mean? How do we fight in Spirit against that which is spirit?

Our weapons are of the Spirit of God that allows us to wield the very word of God: a word that makes alive and destroys (not as man does, but as God does). His Word exposes the wicked, shows us what is true, defends us, and shows us how to live our lives. Our faith keeps us as we rest in the promises of God.

We begin with ourselves as we “seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.”

Get to know Jesus. Know His words. Live His words. Speak His words. Shield yourself with faith.

We always seek to our own sin and growth so that we have the right perspective to fight in the world around us. Then, we fight to make our homes a more upright place. We fight to better our communities. As for the public sphere, we fight according to whatever Jesus calls us to do. Most importantly, we fight by living and preaching the gospel of the kingdom of heaven.

Our warfare does not have to be some big and glamourous thing. In-fact, the big and glamourous things are usually corrupted and become one with that very “Legion” we fight against.

Small is good. Humility is good. A lot of small, humble deeds amount to much, especially for us as individuals. We will hear “well done good and faithful servant.”

As Jesus says, “he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful in much. He that is corrupt in that which is least is corrupt in much.”

Focus on being faithful in the small things, and Jesus will give us more. Run our homes uprightly. Bring peace to our families. Serve our communities. Live and preach the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pray that the wicked turn. Show patience and mercy as much as possible, knowing that our God is one who will remove justice from our enemies and turn in onto those who desire to see the ruin of others.

Put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6). Have faith and know that our Lord will bring the fears of the wicked onto them and praise Him and thank Him for sparing us because we deserve no better.

As for the desire of the righteous, what do we desire?

We desire to see the God’s perfect and pleasing will be done as His Kingdom is established. We seek to see Jesus reign in our hearts first, then we seek to see Jesus reign in those around us as we lead them to Him. We look forward to a kingdom that will come to the whole world in a very real and present way when Jesus returns. The Kingdom of Heaven should be our first desire, and we will see that Kingdom.

The fear of the wicked and the desire of the righteous are the same: God and His Kingdom. “He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” This Kingdom will come. Both in small and large ways, and in one ultimate way that the whole world will see when Jesus returns in the same manner He left. How wonderful!

This is part of a series of articles considering the Proverbs from a Christian mindset and applying these lessons to present-day events. You can find all of the Considering Proverbs writings here. Subscribe to receive future posts by email.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. – Matthew 5:9

The gospel of peace—which we are to walk in as according to Ephesians 6—is an instrument of our armor and warfare as Christians on this earth.

What is the gospel of peace? How does walking in the gospel of peace equip us to be peacemakers, and therefore children of God?

Is the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven the same as the Gospel of Peace?

The Kingdom of Heaven is a kingdom of peace. However, the Kingdom of Heaven seems to come in multiple forms.

There is an earthly kingdom of heaven that is corrupted, but that is for another time and we will discuss this, Lord willing, as we work through the parables of the Kingdom. For now, I want to focus on the kingdom that will overcome these corruptions—corruptions that take us off the path of peace.

There is the kingdom that comes when Jesus returns bodily to overthrow the false prophet and establish His rule on this earth. There is also the kingdom that comes “not with observation” and is “within you.”

Jesus died to forgive us of our sins so that we can approach God through Him. In knowing Jesus, we know God. As we get to know God, our sins are revealed to us, we repent, and as we continue to seek the favor of God to overcome by His Holy Spirit, He writes the knowledge of the Lord, Jesus on our hearts, changing our natures from corruption to incorruption.

We strive in this throughout our lives, knowing that the more we live like Jesus, the more this world might hate us and kill us. Yet, we know that there is another kingdom. Jesus will return. He will raise the dead who trust in Him, and He will return with His saints to avenge, overthrow the false prophet, and establish His rule of justice, judgment, and mercy. We will serve Him in this kingdom as faithful servants, joint heirs, and sons of God.

This is the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We should preach the gospel of the kingdom of heaven: a kingdom of righteousness, a place that is full of the knowledge of the Lord, a place of healing and a place of peace. This Kingdom comes in Spirit and this Kingdom will come to the earth—and these promises should guide our steps in this world.

In the earth presently, though we serve a kingdom of peace, we might not be at peace with all. Jesus taught that many would hate those who follow Him. Jesus also said, “you suppose that I come to bring peace, but no. I come to bring a sword and division.”

I wonder if Jesus said this with a bit of relenting. Maybe it was His desire to bring peace, as He said when He approached Jerusalem, “Oh Jerusalem that stones the prophets. How I would have gathered you under my wings but you would not.” I think His desire is for peace, but He knew that mankind would not have it. He knew that He would be rejected, mocked, and killed. He also knew this was the Father’s will.

This same Jesus gives us peace despite being rejected by this world.

We should strive to “be at peace as much as is possible with every man.” We should strive to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Though many in the world hate us because they are rebellions against God and against Christians, Jesus gives us peace.

“My peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Jesus spoke of this when talking to His disciples about how He must leave this world, but He would return. He would return and make His abode with us by His Spirit first. And by His Spirit we have peace and strength. He will also return to establish His Kingdom. He is preparing this future promise for us also.

Whatever we endure as Christians, we will overcome because Jesus overcame first. Even death has no power over us. Those who do not know Jesus are dead and they will face the second death. Having received the grace of God that gives us soul-saving faith, we can learn to lay aside our self-preserving nature in favor of those who do not know Jesus, so that perhaps, they can come to know Him too.

This is what Jesus did, and I don’t think He expects anything less of us.

As Christians, we are joint heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven with Christ as adopted sons of God. So, we too should be peacemakers as Jesus is, even though we know that to live and proclaim the kingdom of heaven will mean rejection by this world.

It can be easy to let fear overcome us. It can be easy to let resentment and malice corrupt our hearts. It can be easy to forget the patience of God that leads us to repentance. It can be easy to take vengeance into our own hands. In small ways and in large ways, our day to day lives present us with challenges that tempt us to go astray from the path of peace that Jesus set before us.

He walked that path perfectly. He shows us how to do the same and by His Spirit—which is the beginning of our inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven—His word in our heart comes to life and we find the strength to walk even as He walked. When we go astray, He will come for us. He will set us right and we will prevail for His Name’s sake.

If we seek Jesus with all that we have and continue to do so, we will find the “peace that surpasses all understanding.” We cannot let the Adversary and the Accuser overtake us and use us as instruments of his kingdom of death.

We need to know “what spirit we are of.” We are not among those who are “drunken” with the blood of our opponents. We are not among those who will be found “smiting their fellow servants.” We will not stain our garments that were washed in the blood of the Lamb of God by forgetting to walk in the gospel of peace.

However, we might for a time. I did. Even this is for our good. It is good to experience the failings of mankind, both outside of the Christian faith and within the Christian faith.

Having done so to a degree myself and having received much mercy and grace from God to overcome—and I will daily work to overcome by His blood and teachings because so long as we live, we must live in a state of overcoming—I know He is exceedingly patient and merciful. I know that He is in control of all things and His timing is perfect. I know that He will not lose a single soul that belongs to Him so we can trust in Jesus.

He will prepare our feet to walk in the gospel of peace, even the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven now and to come. This world loves violence. This world loves to destroy all who stand in the way of their “towers of babel.” We are not of this world, even as Jesus is not of this world. We cannot forget this.

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. Subscribe for notifications of future posts.

Considering Proverbs 10:23

23 It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

I think most of us can think of times in our lives when we participated in ungodly behaviors for the fun of it. Especially during younger years.

As we get a little older, and hopefully a little wiser by the grace of God, we realize how immature that kind of mindset is. We have lived long enough to see what ungodly lifestyle brings: destruction of self and others.

If we will remember what it was like to be enthralled with the foolishness of youth, that for many of us continued well into adult years before we became Christians, then we can find some patience and compassion for those who also live ungodly lives for the fun of it.

We would be wise to remember what Jesus did for us, how we are not one bit better than the “foolish” and how we ourselves have been very foolish—and even now—after having received the grace and mercy of God through the sacrifice of Jesus, how foolish we can be when we lose patience with others.

There is a cultural norm that encourages many to live ungodly, even extremely wickedly, because it is fun to do so. For many, a rebellions lifestyle is more than fun—it is vengeance against God and against Christians.

We need to rise above this.

I was once a Christian who did not like Christians much. Some of the reasons I almost lost faith was because of the fraction among believers, self-righteous hypocrisy, and money-grubbing preachers. I know how it feels to want to rebel. By the grace of God, I was drawn into seeking Jesus earnestly, and not a moment too soon.

I am almost certain that if He had not intervened just when He did, I would be dead. If not physically, then spiritually as one who denied the faith and went on to worship all of the social ideologies of the day that I am now, by the grace of God, able to see for the destruction they bring.

How has Jesus kept you from being swept away by deception? How has Jesus saved you from the grave? How much more do you have to look forward to in His everlasting Kingdom?

I say all of this because there are many Christians who forget how to handle themselves when dealing with the foolish who do wickedly for the fun of it, or worse yet, as an act of rebellion against God and Christians. I have to be reminded of this too.

First, we need to remember what Jesus did for us and remember that we carry His name, therefore we are held to a higher standard. We should always be more patient with those who do not know Jesus. If we humbly seek the Lord in each situation, He will tell us what to do.

Maybe He tells us to gently speak to the person about their destructive behavior. Maybe we relate by sharing how we were once the same before Jesus saved us.

Maybe He tells us to let the person be and lead by example.

What Jesus will not tell us to do is hate them, use overly harsh and demeaning words, gossip, or in any way harm them. What Jesus will not do is tell us to placate them, encourage and support their sin, or worse yet praise them for it.

You might think of a few hot topics of today that fit this proverb, like a man who sold some controversial shoes and made a Satanic music video. Why did he do this? Is there some compassion to be found? How do we, as stewards of the name of Jesus, respond?

There are many such examples in our culture right now. We have ample opportunity to grow in showing Jesus to this falling nation! How wonderful that we live in a time when the faith is needed and we get to exercise all that God gave us!

However, as Jesus says, “because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”

We cannot let our love grow cold. We need to remember humility, patience, and the fact that God is in control of all things. Yes. Even the changes in our society. Why might He allow all of this? Could we bear some responsibility?

We will seek Jesus and we will overcome. We will not deny the faith. We will not deny His Name and this includes who He is, what He teaches, and how He expects us to live and represent Him and His Kingdom.

A Kingdom of righteousness will come. A Kingdom of death will come first. We need to know the difference and live the difference. We need to preach the difference.

There is mercy and forgiveness for all who come to Him. There is freedom from hatred, delusion, and self-destruction. There is hope for all who trust in Jesus. We need to show what this hope is about, not forget it as we tear down all who oppose us.

We do not fear. We do not avenge. We do not deny the truth. We do not allow the world to consume us. We seek Jesus for strength. We have faith that He will revive us. We have faith that He can still change hearts. We have faith that vengeance is God’s and He will have it.

As Jesus said about His return, “will I find faith on the earth?”

Isaiah 53

53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Psalm 22

22 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.

They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.

10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.

11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.

13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.

21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.

27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations.

29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.

30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. — Matthew 5:8

“The heart is deceitful above all things. Who can know it?”

We don’t always know ourselves well, but there is One who does and He tries our hearts—not so He can know us, because He knows us fully before we are born—but so we can know ourselves better, repent, grow, and find the place we were created to inhabit in His Kingdom.

This process of having our hearts tested, revealed, and cleansed seems to be an on-going part of the Christian life. The more open we are to this experience, the more we can gain. Yet, it all depends on the grace of God. It is the grace of God that opens our hearts in the first place and it is the grace of God that works in us as we learn to trust in the promises made possible through the Son, Jesus.

We are promised a new nature that is not contrary to God, and therefore blind to God. We are redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and therewith we can boldly approach God and get to know who He is.

This goes back to what I was thinking about yesterday concerning perspective. Our perspective matters. The way we look at people, the world, and the way we view God matters.

As we seek Jesus and as our relationship with Him grows, our perspective on many things will change. As we continue to strive in the knowledge we receive, our nature will also change. As this process occurs, we begin to know God better because our hearts are being cleansed—which is intimately connected to our perspectives.

A heart full of sin cannot see clearly. A heart full of sin cannot know God nor please God. The promise of having our hearts renewed through the knowledge of the Lord “written on the fleshly table of the heart” is an immeasurably valuable gift we are given.

Who is more worth knowing than God Himself? Who is more interesting and worthy to be known and loved than Jesus Himself?

It’s really incredible and I’m struggling to find the right words.

The closer we draw towards Jesus, the closer we draw towards God. In so doing, our hearts are tried by He who is a Spirit and a devouring fire. Life also tries us, as does our Adversary. As we are tried, admit our faults, repent, and seek new knowledge that replaces our wicked ways, we grow in our understanding of who Jesus is. Who God is.

This plays out practically. Our perspective on humanity changes. Our perspective on individuals change. Our perspective on the world’s problems change. Our perspective on the most important matters of life change. Our perspective on the creation change. As we see all things for what they really are—as we are enlightened by the Holy Spirit of Truth—we are made free from our captivity to this world and we become residents of the Kingdom of Heaven.

How wonderful it is to lay aside the things that blind us: pride, resentment, jealousy, fear, greed, despair, vengeance, and misinformation.

How wonderful it is to really see people. How wonderful it is to really see the world. How wonderful it is to begin to see the purposes of God in all the troubles we go through. How wonderful it is to get to know our Lord, Jesus and what His Kingdom is about. There is nothing more worth knowing, and this knowing is an integral part of the gospel.

The gospel is more than forgiveness. It is healing. It is knowing. It is growing in a Kingdom that will never end. It is faith in the promises of our Lord who will return, defeat death once and for all, and establish His kingdom forever. Even in this present life.

There is always more to gain, which is a blessing because if there were not always more to gain, then why live? The point of life is to grow into a son of God through continued striving against sin that corrupts and blinds us, and we do so through faith in Jesus who is the First-Born, Fully Divine and Perfect Son of God.

Jesus is the only way. Period. His blood is the only way we can find forgiveness for our sin, continue to approach God boldly, and seek the Spirit of God who can make all things known to us according to the measure of grace we receive of God.

There is none like Him. None more worthy to be known, yet none more cast aside by the world. It is a shame. Let us never grow stagnant in our desire to get to know Him, because knowing Him is life. Knowing Him is to know God, and to know God is to be a son of God.

There are many in this world who want you to fear them and trust in them instead of God. Don’t. The world does not know Him and cannot know Him. Don’t trust in the world. Don’t trust in Man. Don’t fear the world. Don’t fear Man. Fear God and trust in Him, and He will provide everything you need.

Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God, but he that doeth evil hath not seen God (3 John:11)

Jesus made a promise to us. If we seek to keep His commandments: love towards God and towards fellow man, then He will send us the Holy Spirit (John 14-16). The Holy Spirit is grieved continually by the hatred in this world. Even among believers who argue, slander, and accuse one another as we fight over who Jesus is, misuse His word, and trust in the world and our religious leaders over God.

It’s no wonder our churches are powerless to a large degree. Let us lay it all aside.

Let us get to know Jesus ourselves and stop trusting in the corruptions of this world—especially our Christian world. It is corrupt, and though I trust in the mercy of God for all believers, I make no apology for saying it is corrupt. It is love to say so. It is love to tear down as well as build, so long as we know what to tear down and what to build.

We cannot say that we know God if we do not love our brethren (1 John 4).

The teachings of Jesus show us what this love means. The Holy Spirit brings His word in us to life. Seek more from God. Seek more ability to keep His commandments, to learn His teachings, and to receive more from the Holy Spirit so that we are given the power to walk in the Kingdom of God and not the kingdoms of this world.

The more we grow, the more we gain. The more we gain, the more is required of us. Even our lives. I am certain all that we gain is far more valuable than our little lives on this earth. I am certain that the power of the Spirit will make us able to joyfully give our life for the namesake of Jesus Christ and all that He stands for.

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.

Considering Proverbs 10:22

The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

As a Christian, the greatest blessings and riches we should seek pertain to richness in the Kingdom of Heaven. Striving in these things can be challenging, even painful and sorrowful. There are many scriptures and accounts within history pertaining to Christian suffering. However, when it comes to the nature of the blessings we seek, once attained, there is no sorrow with it.

Maybe that’s the best way to look at this. I’m grappling with the idea because there are times when sorrow is a kind of blessing. Sorrow that leads to repentance is a blessing, for example. Jesus also tells us that “blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” The comfort is blessing, and there is no sorrow with it. The fruits wrought through sincere repentance are blessing, and there is no sorrow with them.

As a person who is prone to sorrow, but has also experienced joy in the Lord, this proverb is interesting to me.

At times, I feel like it is blessing to be able to sorrow over sin—both my sin and the sins of the world. Many are hardened and they cannot sorrow. Yet, too much sorrow is destructive. When I find that I am wondering into ungodly sorrow, I try to repent and turn to Jesus so that I can find that comfort He offers.

I am probably immature in the faith concerning sorrow. I don’t know. Maybe I should never sorrow. Maybe trust in God should always override sorrow. Maybe, as I grow in the righteousness I seek through faith in the grace of God promised by the seed of the Kingdom I was given by the Holy Spirit, I will not sorrow anymore.

I do know that when my mind is fully set on Jesus, there is no sorrow. Even during times of pain and hopelessness, I feel assurance. I can find some meaning behind the sorrow and suffering, and I can hope in the good things to come. I can think about all the wonderful things Jesus has done and will do. I can ponder the wonders of His Kingdom to come, and I can hope to see more of that Kingdom in my heart. I can hope for good results in my life and for those around me as He works. I can trust that He has a plan, and wherever I go He is there already.

Jesus says:

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

The way we look at things matter. If our perceptions are evil, then everything we do will follow. For example, if we see the worst in someone or in a life scenario, then our actions will proceed in a direction that is destructive towards self and others.

To make matters worse, we might think our perceptions are true and the harmful things we do are valid. There is so much of this in the world. I am certain I also have evil perceptions that need to be enlightened.

If we focus on Jesus above all else, then our perception of many things will change. As we learn and seek to have a change of nature that conforms to our changed perceptions, we find freedom from the destructive forces of this world. We find joy—and as it promised of the Kingdom of Heaven—there is no more sorrow. How wonderful!

The light of Jesus Christ can guide all that we do, and though we might fall many times because of our faulty nature, we can trust in the mercy of God towards us. We can get up, refocus, and try another day.

I don’t know how much of the Kingdom of Heaven we can attain in this present world, but I do know that any measure of blessing we gain is worth a lifetime of seeking, and it is true that there is no sorrow with it!

Do you have thoughts on this proverb? Please feel free to start a discussion below.