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Posts Tagged ‘Paul’


KJV and NKJV Scripture

– He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray. – Proverbs 5:23

– But they shall proceed no further for their folly shall be manifest unto all – as theirs also was. – 2 Timothy 3:9

Folly means a lack of good sense or judgement.  Even if folly is only in thought or idea, it births foolish and irresponsible words and behavior.  It’s not a very wise way to live as Christians.  God is the way of life to those who keep His instructions.  Folly is refusing to in err (lead verse, Proverbs 10:17, James 1:16).

Since we were children we have all known the Holy Scriptures given by God’s inspiration.  The Bible is able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  It is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and righteous instruction (2 Timothy 3:15-16).  Ignoring or forgetting any part of it is folly.

God’s Word is full of stories about folly and no one is ever immune from it.  Israel often found themselves wound up in folly, and so can Christians who aren’t diligent and sober at all times.  Our Father tells us to take constant heed as to what is filling up our souls (Deuteronomy 4:9, Luke 6:45, Philippians 4:6-7).

The world produces folly – but the Word prevents it. However, common sense can be lacking in believers just as much as it is in unbelievers.  Folly is not fully acknowledging God in all our ways, but leaning on our own understanding of how life in the world and Word is supposed to “work out” for us (Proverbs 3:5-6).

If things seem to be going pretty much the way we want in life or with the Lord, it is easy to become wise and prudent in our own eyes.  God warns of woe to those who become like this (Isaiah 5:21).  If we ever profess to be wise with mouth or in mind, we become fools, vain in our own imagination (Romans 1:21-22)

This is when problems can suddenly arise without warning.  Causing major headaches and rough rides never imagined because folly blinded our minds from seeing God’s wisdom.  Our craftiness initiated the situation, not Him (1 Corinthians 3:19).  Our Father’s foolishness is wiser than man (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Folly is present in a Christian when they are still filled with their own will and ways.  This is why believers backslide (Proverbs 14:14).  It’s not repenting as God commands, but repeating old worldly behavior.  It is not faith, but a dangerous drawing back from it, and He has no pleasure in such people (Hebrews 10:38).

Folly breeds ungodliness.  It is spiritual indiscretion instead of discipline.  It’s impatience and imprudence, instead of tolerance and truth.  Blessing and cursing spring forth from the same mouths (James 3:9-12). Hasty spirits are a folly hallmark, and anger rests in foolish bosoms (Proverbs 14:29, Ecclesiastes 7:9).

When folly exists, it is not walking circumspectly with God.  It is not understanding what His will is, nor is it redeeming the evil days wisely (Ephesians 5:15-17). Instead, folly is a readiness and willingness within a Christian to sin without care, even though there will never be another sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:26).

When folly persists, it is a forerunner to falling away from repentance, from which it impossible for God to renew a person to.  Each unconfessed, uncleansed, and uncorrected act of folly hangs Jesus Christ back on the Cross.  It puts Him to open shame (Hebrews 6:4-6), and leads to a bad ending (2 Peter 2:20-22).

When folly resists God it fosters apostasy, a total abandonment of belief in the soul, despite any lip service claims to the contrary (Mark 7:6).  Apostasy will be part of man’s last days (2 Timothy 3:1).  Folly will fill pulpits and pews as people learn a lot about God, but not knowledge of His truth (2 Timothy 3:7).

Christians have enough to stand fast in the faith, and withstand in the evil day, without wading into polluted pools of foolishness.  Doing so is making a decision to remove any section of God’s armor – giving plenty of place to Satan, and lots of space for his fiery darts of folly to land (Ephesians 4:27, Ephesians 6:13-17).

Once they ignite and start burning brightly inside a Christian, they become a fool if they still profess to be following the steps of Jesus.  Instead, they’ve turned aside after the devil (1 Timothy 5:15), and departed the living God with an evil heart of unbelief (Hebrews 3:12-19).  Foolishness rules in the soul once again.

Apostates have strayed too far from Jesus in the greatness of their folly.  They have refused to heed heavenly instruction (lead verse).  Even though they were once returned to the Shepherd of their souls (1 Peter 2:25), they’ve fallen from their steadfastness to wander off in err with the wicked one (2 Peter 3:17).

Regardless of what godly or spiritual words they may speak, apostates hold God’s truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).  They serve and worship the creature more than the Creator.  It is evidenced by such traits as pride, boasting, backbiting, and loving pleasure more than God (Romans 1:25-32, 2 Timothy 3:2-4).

God is long-suffering towards all, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  However, continuing in any folly is not repenting according to His Word and command.  It is not obeying Christ’s voice (Luke 6:46, John 10:27). It’s climbing to heaven the wrong way (John 10:1).

Christian folly does not do anything to light the path of the lost, except lead them into foolishness of their own.  This is not the message of the Cross.  All folly keeps believers following this world, loving its things, and falling for Satan’s lies.  It keeps one lustful and prideful, with no godly love inside (1 John 1:15-16).

As Matthew Henry once alluded to, “People who practice or prefer folly as Christians are still those of corrupt minds.  Prejudiced against the Word’s truth, and found to be without faith, just so they can keep on doing what they want in life.  Perverting Scripture – even if in their mind – to do so (Galatians 1:6-7).

Henry continues, “They follow every new notion, get swayed with every wind of doctrine, and become deceived into thinking they’re acquiring knowledge of God – when they’re not.  Because they are too easy of belief, ignorant, or fanciful, they never seek the truth of Jesus within them (2 Timothy 3:7).” (end).

Knowing he would be between flesh and Spirit, folly and faith daily (Philippians 1:23), the apostle Paul knew he had not been saved yet (Philippians 3:11-13, Romans 8:24-25).  Therefore, he walked along with prudence as he pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus (Philippians 3:14).

Once folly begets apostates, our Father tells us such people will proceed no further (second lead verse). Just as the two Egyptian wizards Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses in their folly (2 Timothy 3:8), folly in a Christian is withstanding His wisdom.  A God who’ll give it to all who ask, without upbraiding (James 1:5).

Failing to request it from God is disobedience because folly is still not knowing Him.  It remains as a way of thinking about, and walking with God.  It has fiery consequences (2 Thessalonians 1:8).  Believers can’t endure all He commands until the end to be saved, by continuing in folly (Matthew 24:13, Hebrews 12:20).

Tragically, it seems many have been deceived into thinking they have succeeded in getting to heaven while still living.  Propelled safely beyond the Pearly Gates forever by the foolish pride that cast Satan out like lightning long ago (Luke 10:18).  Who fell forever from eternity with God by his folly (Isaiah 14:12-15).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers; especially they of the circumcision.  Whose mouths must be stopped – who subvert whole houses teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake. – Titus 1:10-11

– 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. – 1 Timothy 6:10

Money taints and money talks – and it can rapidly turn any house of God into a den of robbers.  Money corrupts, causing people to behave dishonestly and fraudulently against others and God.  Obtained in such a sordid manner, money is known as lucre, and arouses moral distaste in the mouths of others.

Lucre soils the soul with lust and spoils godly love (1 Peter 1:22).  Following its filth keeps any Christian far from heaven (Mark 7:6), despite feigned words often smooth as butter to the contrary of following Jesus (Psalm 55:21).  Unbelievers can stay far from the Word if they see believers “in it” for worldly gain.

However, people following the path of dishonest profit and lucre is nothing new to God (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10). It can exist as much in the church as outside of it.  In Jeremiah’s days, Judah was so saturated with idolatry and immorality, they could not see they had made God’s house into a den of robbers (Jeremiah 7:11).

We see similar money scenes in the New Testament. Simon the sorcerer thought the gift of the Holy Ghost could be bought with money.  Although he had been baptized with water, Peter told Simon his heart wasn’t right with God (Acts 8:13-21).  The Spirit couldn’t be received, as he was still in iniquity’s bond (Acts 8:23).

Jesus was recorded as being angry just once – when He went into God’s temple and cast out those who bought and sold within (Luke 19:45).  Overthrowing the tables of the money changers, and upsetting the seats of dove sellers (Mark 11:15).  No one must ever have to buy something and pay a price to hear Christ.

These people had turned God’s house of prayer into a house of profit – a deceitful den of greedy thieves (Matthew 21:13).  A pack of grievous wolves Paul warns us about, who speak perverse things to draw disciples after them (Acts 20:29-30).  Altering and distorting God’s gospel for dollars (Galatians 1:6-7).

And, Titus warns us of whole houses being subverted, with preachers teaching things they should not for filthy lucre’s sake (lead verse).  They are greedy dogs who can never have enough; nor understand (Isaiah 56:11).  Scratching itching ears with unsound words; but sure sounding good (2 Timothy 4:3, Titus 2:1).

Getting those in the pews to turn away from truth – and to fables (2 Timothy 4:4).  This is when people get tired about hearing the plain gospel of Christ, the one preaching against worldly gain (Matthew 6:19-20).  Dull of listening to such (Hebrews 5:11), and weary of being unprofitable servants (Luke 17:7-10).

We are to buy the truth placed inside us a Christians, and not sell it.  Nor, are we to market and charge for any godly wisdom, understanding, or instruction we have acquired (Proverbs 23:23).  Paul would work occasionally as a tent maker so he could come to people and preach without gainsaying (Acts 10:29).

Again, goals of earthly gain is not new to God.  There were those back in Old Testament days who couldn’t see any worldly profit by following His ways; including Job.  Job had said “What profit shall I have, if I am cleansed from my sins (Job 35:1-3)?”  Some men in Malachi’s times had similar minds (Malachi 3:14).

God will give us a mouth and wisdom to where our adversaries will be unable to gainsay from – or resist what we speak (Luke 21:15).  However, gainsayers want others to turn from attending to truths of the Word.  Leading greedy souls astray with deceptive words of how to get profit from it (Matthew 24:4).

This has led to ungodly pursuits like the creation of Christian investment programs.  Where participants pool their money and put it into such, so they can all be of one purse when they get a profitable return. Exacting more than God has appointed; and filling their homes with spoil (Luke 3:13, Proverbs 1:13-14).

Greed is an intense and selfish desire for gain.  It has also fueled the explosive growth of merchandising His Word.  It’s turned the church into one giant mall of countless products for Christians to purchase.  This is deceiving masses into believing spiritual growth can occur by spending money on such – over and over.

The damnation of all those who market Christian merchandise for even a penny – does not slumber (2 Peter 2:3).  Those who preach for profit are running greedily after the error of Balaam for reward.  They’re heading for woe – and shall perish in the gainsaying of Core if not repented of (Jude 1:11, Luke 13:3).

All for a love of money and lucre.  All because their god is their belly, and their belief is based on bank account balances.  Bolstered when there is more – bottoming out when there is less.  Minding earthly matters like money and materialism, but whose end is always destruction (Philippians 3:19).

Given everything written so far, keep in mind money by itself is neutral.  If left out of mortal hands, it is harmless.  However, when one has just a little bit of money, it can start wreaking havoc in any home – any life.  Challenging and questioning one’s motives for doing anything, even within a church or ministry.

Even if money is gained honorably from God through humble obedience (e.g. Malachi 3:10, Luke 6:38), it can put people at odds with Him.  Creating more problems than providing any lasting sense of inner peace.  They are never fully satisfied with having riches once dreamed of in the past (Proverbs 27:20).

At one time, Solomon was richer and wiser than any king on earth (1 Kings 10:23).  He had obtained this fortune through unselfish means (2 Chronicles 1:11-12).  Because of this, there was a later time where Solomon withheld no joy from his heart.  He could have whatever he set his eyes on (Ecclesiastes 2:10).

It was not enough.  Solomon foolishly began doing evil in God’s sight.  His father David had fully gone after the Lord – Solomon did not in disobedience (1 Kings 11:6, Acts 13:22, Mark 12:30).  It caused God to stir up an adversary for Israel and Solomon the rest of his days as king (1 Kings 11:14-25).

Wealth can make people many friends.  However, it can make them wonder who their real ones are, and who would disappear when the money does (Proverbs 19:4).  In a similar vein, wealth can cause people to live in constant worry of having worst fears realized. Losing all their riches, regardless of reason or season.

This happened to another man of God in Scripture – Job (Job 3:25).  Worldly prosperity will always drive a wedge between even how the most upright believers (Job 1:8) talk of following God, and how they actually walk.  Spirits must never waver or wander – spiking or dipping based on having favorable finances or not.

Earthly riches are hedges for honoring God.  It is easy to raise hands to heaven and praise His name when one has the money they want.  However, it is a hedge Satan is always ready to cut down.  All he needs is a green light from God as with Job.  Job lost everything short of his life and wife in one day (Job 1:2-3, 9-19)

Jesus warned that our lives do not consist in the abundance of things we possess (Luke 12:15).  We brought nothing into this world – and it is certain we can carry nothing out (1 Timothy 6:7).  What does it profit if we gain the whole world and lose our soul in the end?  One penny can’t save us (Matthew 16:26).

As Christians, we serve the Messiah or Mammon (Luke 16:13).  We cannot do both (1 Corinthians 10:21).  Mammon is wealth considered as an evil influence, or a false object of worship and devotion. Pursuing it debases and demeans God.  It shows Him where faith is really focused (Colossians 3:2).

Those who will be rich in this life fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts; drowning them in the worldly waters of destruction and perdition (1 Timothy 6:9).  Those who are rich are charged not to be high-minded.  They are not to trust in uncertain riches, but God (1 Timothy 6:17).

Regardless, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Mark 10:25).  Riches do not profit in the day of our death, but righteousness will deliver us from it (Proverbs 11:4).  The former will cause falling, the latter flourishing (Proverbs 11:28).

Jesus Christ is the only foundation we can lay and build upon as believers.  God warns us to take heed how we build on it (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).  Chasing after greenbacks or greed is building upon a flimsy foundation of Mammon, and another man’s – but not the Son of Man’s (Luke 6:48-49, Romans 15:20).

We are to follow spiritual riches and desire such gifts from our Father.  These are the peaceable fruits He commands us to produce until death (Galatians 5:22-23, Acts 17:30, John 15:16). – meet for repentance (Matthew 3:8).  It is so our faith grows exceedingly, as does our love towards all (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

If we earnestly covet these best gifts, God will show us a more excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:4-31).  If we desire something, then we do all we can to get it. Spiritual gifts cannot come from spending or seeking money, but by spending alone time with God and His Word – away from the steady noise of the world.

We do this through private prayer (Matthew 6:6), studying the Bible to be approved to Him (2 Timothy 2:15), and by being doers of the Word – not just hearers (James 1:22).  This is the godly exercise required to gain contentment in life.  This is how we gain the profit and promise of heaven (1 Timothy 6:6)

Broad is the road to destruction (Matthew 7:13).  God warns us not to err from our walk on the straight and narrow (James 1:16, Matthew 7:14).  Satan is always waiting to lead us away to a faith shipwreck (2 Peter 3:17, 1 Timothy 1:19).  Instead of the Almighty – following the almighty dollar is a sure-fire way to err.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– Here is the patience of the saints: Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. – Revelation 14:12

– Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6

Impatience in life is marked by ungodly attributes such as anxiety or complaining.  Impatience with God is marked by the same things.  It’s a feeling one gets when something is just not happening as quickly as expected.  It’s a restless wanting or ache to do or get something – and something/someone is preventing it.

Impatient people have trouble waiting for anything, and pride is a common cause.  Often wanting others to serve them in a timely fashion, in accordance with anticipations based on their inordinate opinion of themselves, even if only in their mind.  Otherwise, contentions are bound to begin (Proverbs 13:10).

Long check-out lines at the store, or short traffic light times annoy them.  Almost everything in their life takes on an air of urgency or emergency, even if just imagined in their head – as is usually the case.  They easily get aggravated when delays and interruptions, whatever the cause, interrupt their schedule.

An impatient Christian sins because it’s a lack of faith (Hebrews 11:1).  It shows reluctance to wait on His promises not yet seen to come true.  They don’t like waiting too long for worldly things, much less those of the Word.  Hold-ups irritate, creating impatient traits such as cursing or murmuring (Philippians 2:14).

Impatient people also have a tendency to exaggerate the importance of their daily activities.  Whatever they’re involved with matters much more than what anyone else is – even among family, friends, or co-workers.  If anything or anyone interferes with their efforts to have a productive day, they get annoyed.

However, the words important and productive do not appear in Scripture.  As Solomon wisely pointed out many times, our life is vanity and vexation of spirit (Ecclesiastes 1:14, 2:11,17,26, 4:4,16, 6:9) without salvation.  Vanity means useless, a waste of time – not producing end results one desired at the outset.

We all arrived upon earth as creatures subject to vanity (Romans 8:20).  When we die, all claims of belief in God will have been in vain, if we did not endure all He commanded (Matthew 24:13, Hebrews 12:20).  We failed to hold fast in patient faith; and forgot what was preached to us (1 Corinthians 15:2).

Salvation is our expected end in this life (Jeremiah 29:11).  It is a hope we are to wait with patience for – for any hope seen is no longer hope (Romans 8:24-25).  This patience is one of the many spiritual fruits God commands us to produce continually until our death (Galatians 5:22-23, Acts 17:30, John 15:16)

Fruits to be brought forth meet with our repentance to salvation (Matthew 3:8) – to keep us climbing up heaven’s staircase the correct way (2 Peter 1:5-8). Impatient rushing in this world can cause us to skip or forget steps, and make us slip a little or take a tumble (Hebrews 2:1).  Spiritual impatience can do the same.

It’s why we must be diligent and make our calling and election by God sure.  If we do, then He promises us we will never fall.  We will take each step with Him in steadfast patience (2 Peter 1:10) – so an entrance will be administered abundantly unto us at the end into heaven’s everlasting kingdom (2 Peter 1:11).

Otherwise, Jesus will call us a robber and thief for climbing up the wrong way (John 10:1).  Spiritual stealing works the same way as the physical kind. People who don’t want to wait and do things legally to acquire an item desired, will rob.  Physical theft leads to prison; spiritual theft to death without deliverance.

Why is having patience so crucial prior to and for salvation?  One reason is because our Father is a God of patience and consolation.  Without patience we can’t learn to be like-minded, one toward another in Jesus – nor receive each other with any forbearance and tolerance; as God is to us (Romans 15:5-7).

Another reason is patience purifies our hearts by faith (Acts 15:9).  If we’re impatient in the world one day, and patient the next, we are still wavering in our walk with God (Ephesians 4:14).  This is having a double mind (James 1:6-8).  It is trying to eat and drink at two tables simultaneously (1 Corinthians 10:21).

In the same vein, patience purifies our motives.  It shows God if our prayers are amiss, asking for things just to consume on our lusts (James 4:3).  Or, do we trust Him to know our needs before we do (Matthew 6:8)?  We are to be content with what we already have – and not want (Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 23:1).

If we ever want anything from God, then we have impatience within us to deal with and correct.  Why? Because our Father is going to try our faith to work patience in us, and we are to let this patience have her perfect work.  So we may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing from God ever again (James 1:3-4).

A third reason is we’re all running a spiritual race of faith.  If we were running something like a marathon, we wouldn’t sprint out of the starting gate and run as hard and fast as we could right off the bat, or we’d be exhausted in the first few miles.  Instead, we would set a steady, straightforward pace from start to finish.

Even then, we might not win.  There could be other contestants better conditioned, and who trained with much more discipline and commitment than we did. Spiritual training is very similar.  If we are doing it in accordance with the Word, we are to lay aside the weight of all sin that so easily besets us in the world.

This is so we can run with patience the race of faith set before us.  Even though we have a heavenly cloud of witnesses along the route rooting us on, we are to be looking ahead at all times towards the finish line. Only Christ is waiting there to hand us our eternal crown of victory if we endure (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Patience commands moderation and self-restraint.  It means we learn temperance.  This is another fruit to be produced (Galatians 5:23), and another step on heaven’s staircase (2 Peter 1:6).  Spiritual growth should show more abstinence from worldly things and ways each year, and more abidance to the Word.

It all plays an integral part in patiently running our spiritual race as the apostle Paul wrote about as follows:  “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.

Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we for an incorruptible one.  I therefore so run – not with uncertainty.  So I fight – not as one who beats the air (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).”  Running around to and fro aimlessly without a steady direction, purpose, or focus (Colossians 3:2) – is vainly beating the air.   

Sadly, it seems we are living in a world teaching less patience each year.  We have so many on-demand devices and programs available, we can get used to having things now – not later.  This is coupled with an incentive-laced system of earning gifts or monetary rewards for many purchases we make (Isaiah 1:23).

However, impatience is never a new thing to God (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).  We see examples throughout Scripture, starting off with Abraham and Sarah not wanting at first to wait for Isaac to be born in God’s timing.  Instead, they rushed the matter with Hagar, who birthed the wild child Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-15).

Also in the Old Testament, Esau’s impatience cost him his birthright (Genesis 25:24-34).  We see impatience in the New Testament with the Prodigal Son, who did not want to wait until later to receive his inheritance. So he got it, wasted it, and began to be in want as the swine dined better than he was (Luke 15:11-16).

Impatient behavior leads to hasty words – towards each other or heaven.  It is hard to let words be few, when stewing about in impatience (Ecclesiastes 5:2). Hearts can only hold so much before something spills out of a mouth (Luke 6:45).  Blessing and cursing from the same ought not to be so (James 3:9-10).

We must never be ignorant about any of this, as impatience is a powerful tool the devil uses to pull us away from the truth.  To keep us bustling about in bursts and flurries of impatient activity in the world he’s the prince of (John 14:30).  Reaping nothing more than the whirlwind being sown (Hosea 8:7).

The devil roars around like a starving lion.  Trying to devour us in impatience – to gain advantage with deceptive devices we can’t be unaware of (1 Peter 5:7-8, 2 Corinthians 2:11).  We should not marvel. Satan and his angels are transformed into ministers of light and righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Deceiving the whole world is the only job God gave Satan upon casting him out from heaven (Revelation 12:9, Luke 10:18).  We are warned by our Father to let no man or the devil ever deceive us (Mark 13:5). Heavenly wrath comes down upon His children who succumb to such disobedience (Ephesians 5:6).

Deception thrives on impatient people.  It is often those who are greedy for gain (Proverbs 15:27) or fame.  They want such with no desire to count the cost beforehand (Luke 14:28) and put the time in. Instead, they dream of instant riches or success; and think becoming a Christian meant instant salvation.

Scam artists and con men use deception to prey upon such desires.  They dupe people into believing there’s great gain down the road, by getting them to buy into likeable lies along the way – until it is too late to do much about it.  It is how Bernie Madoff “made off” with so much.  It is how Satan makes off with souls.

Jesus said “By your patience possess your souls (Luke 21:19).”  If we have no rule over our spirit, we’re like a city of old broken down by invading forces – and no longer with walls (Proverbs 25:28).  Uninvited and ungodly guests like impatience walk in unhindered and take up residence in our hearts and minds.

Their landlord is Satan, who is always ready to lead us away in err to faith shipwrecks.  If so, it’s because we failed to grow in patient grace (2 Peter 3:17-18, 1 Timothy 1:19).  We had no time to hear people out in any matter, or give them benefit of the doubt.  We were too busy rushing about in unsaintly impatience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– Who did hinder you, that you should not obey the truth?  This persuasion does not come from Him who called you. – Galatians 5:7-8

– Wherefore we would have come unto you – even I, Paul, once and again – but Satan hindered us. – 1 Thessalonians 2:18

We can never blame any disobedience to God – on God.  Our Father’s commands aren’t meant to grieve us (1 John 5:3), but to grow us up in grace (2 Peter 3:18).  To stop us from serving sin (Romans 6:6) by serving Him, and to keep us humbly obedient until death like Jesus (Philippians 2:8).  Thus, He’ll never hinder our obedience (lead verse); never tempting us to commit any sinful, disobedient act (James 1:13).

If we are ever persuaded to disobey God; then do – it is from sinful lust still in us.  It hasn’t been confessed for forgiveness (1 John 1:9), then corrected with His chastisement (Hebrews 12:5-11).  If God punishes to right us, then we go out and disobey the same way, we offend Him again with sin.  We did not learn our lesson (Job 34:31).  It means we’re still conformed to this world in some fashion or form (Romans 12:2).

Satan hinders us from many things (2 Corinthians 12:7, second lead verse) such as obeying God.  If we’re drawn away from Him by lust, we have been enticed by the devil and erred from God’s way.  Lust conceived brings forth sin.  Sin when finished brings forth death (James 1:14-16).  Succumbing to worldly temptation means we’ve yielded to tools Satan uses to swerve us away from His truth (1 Timothy 1:5-6).

The devil gets advantage of us if we become ignorant of such devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).  Failing to obey God means we have failed to resist Satan so he will flee (James 4:7).  We have failed to put on our whole armor of God each day.  We have not done everything our Father commands to withstand the devil, and his fiery darts of disobedience during our evil days upon this earth (Ephesians 6:13-18, Matthew 6:34).

We give plenty of place to Satan when we disobey God (Ephesians 4:27), because we’ve chosen to serve and worship him more than God, changing His truth into a lie (Romans 1:25).  If so, God has power to make us sin so many other ways (Romans 1:26-31). Despite knowing His judgement of death against such; we do them.  Taking pleasure because we still prefer worldly lust over godly love (Romans 1:32).

Each time we willfully sin as Christians, we turn aside after Satan again (1 Timothy 5:15).  This, after we had been released from his power (Acts 26:18) upon being born again (John 3:5).  When we disobey this way, we have departed from our Father in unbelief (Hebrews 3:12-19) – counting the blood of the new covenant as unholy (Hebrews 10:27-29).  There’ll never be another final sin sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10).

Hinder means to create difficulties for something or someone, causing delays or obstructions.  Tragically, there’ll always be Christians who think God’s promise of sending Jesus back is still far off – or never going to happen (Ezekiel 12:27-28, 2 Peter 3:4).  They say in heart, “The Lord delays His coming (Luke 12:45)” – so they delve into disobedience without delay, as if there’s no more hell to pay (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

God will never create difficulties for us, causing us grief or affliction, without reason (Lamentations 3:32-33).  If there is anything hindering us in bringing forth all the spiritual fruits He commands us to produce – meet for our repentance unto salvation, we cannot point fingers at Him (Galatians 5:22-23, Acts 17:30, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Matthew 3:8).  We can’t say “What are You doing (Job 9:12)?” – as if He is at fault.

Why?  Because the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and reserve the unjust unto the day of judgement … but chiefly those who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness (2 Peter 2:9).  There is condemnation to Christians who live as such – and it still leads to death if unconfessed and uncorrected.  Only mortifying the deeds of the body through the Spirit leads to life (Romans 8:1,12-13).

If there is any hindrance to this, it is only because we still want to keep on living in the world like we always have.  Loving its things (1 John 2:15-16) and filled with our own ways.  This is why believers backslide – often perpetually (Proverbs 14:14, Jeremiah 8:5). Leaving little in Satan’s way to hinder him and lead worldly Christians away in err (2 Peter 3:17); and making a shipwreck of their faith (1 Timothy 1:19).

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– And Jesus said to him, “No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:62

– Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul – seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?  Fill your horn with oil, and go.” – 1 Samuel 16:1

The Sower” is a painting by van Gogh.  It shows a stark country setting.  A simple farmhouse sits far off in the background.  The foreground shows a young man walking across a dirt field with a seed bag slung over his shoulder – the sun blazing above.  His gaze is fixed ahead as he scatters seeds behind – unaware a few birds have gathered there; already eating some of them.  It is a good illustration of the lead verse.

A bad illustration is sitting in the same Sunday seats week after week, year after year.  Doing so develops a complacent Christian life not in accordance with God’s Word.  The more we feel at home here in our body – including that of a church – the more we’re absent from the Lord.  We don’t want to be found naked at the end because we clothed ourselves in the comfort of any physical church (2 Corinthians 5:1-6).

This is not God’s idea of spiritual farming.  Failing to move when God commands is stubbornness.  When He told Noah to build the ark – Noah moved with fear (Hebrews 11:7).  He didn’t tell God it wasn’t a good time.  Stubbornness is a sin (1 Samuel 15:23).  It is a refusal to move in accordance with the Word, because one is still conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2). It is remaining in a state of disobedient unbelief.

We don’t see people chosen by God to follow Him (John 15:16) like Moses, David, and Paul attending weekly Sunday church services or mid-week Bible studies.  Then, wandering about in the world outside of those times, wondering what God wanted them to do.  Jesus did not hang on a Cross for us to hang around in an idle haze, confused at any time about what God wants us to do (1 Corinthians 14:33).

There are many reasons why we have to be on the move much of the time.  One reason is God always has something for us to do – as long as He is the One leading us by the Spirit (Romans 8:1).  We cannot make things up in our minds as some accused Moses of doing (Numbers 16:28).  God warns us of having false dreams or lying divinations; misled by them – or misleading others (Jeremiah 23:32, Ezekiel 13:6-7).

While Samuel mourned over God’s rejection of Saul as Israel’s king – Samuel was going to be of no use to Him sitting in the same place too long (second lead verse).  There was a new king to go find and anoint. Still, Samuel didn’t wander off without a clue, hoping he would happen upon the right person.  God had set directions and instructions for Samuel, as is always the case with us (1 Samuel 16:1-13, Proverbs 5:23).

Another reason we have to keep moving is because we are all being pursued by the devil.  Satan is a spiritual predator who does not sleep.  He always knows where we are and who we are (Job 1:6-11, Acts 19:15) – roaring about like a lion seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8-9).  It’s easier for physical predators to attack and kill sick, weak, or stationary targets.  It’s easier for Satan to do the same.

God designed our bodies – physical and spiritual – to move.  A third reason for both to be in movement is it promotes health and healing.  As Christians, we are not our own anymore.  We have been bought with a price, and we are to glorify God in our body and our spirit; which are His (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Lack of use with either leads to atrophy; a gradual decline in vigor or effectiveness due to underuse or neglect.

Any person in such a state often wants or requires others to do things for them physically or spiritually. In the book of John, a man with an infirmity (physical weakness) had sat by the pool at Bethesda – for 38 years.  Many other impotent people were also there. An angel would enter the pool in a certain season and stir it up.  After this troubling of the waters, the first person in after would be made whole (John 5:2-5).

When Jesus saw this man – He knew the man had been infirm a long time.  Christ asked, “Do you want to be made well?”  The man replied, “Sir, I have no man to put me in the pool when the water is troubled. But, while I am coming, another steps down before me.”  Jesus said, “Rise, take your bed and walk.”  The man did and was immediately healed (John 5:6-8). Christ never touched him.  Jesus simply said “Move.”

Movement prevents us from having too much idle time on our hands.  Idle time leads to idle words we will all give account of on judgement day (Matthew 12:36).  It also creates idol walks and talks, and worldly conversations we are not to have (Exodus 23:13, 2 Corinthians 1:12).  In addition to other sins like pride, an abundance of idleness led to God’s fiery destruction of Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49, Genesis 19:24).

Movement does not mean staying busy all the time. When the Pharaoh oppressed Israel, he wanted them to be so busy making bricks, they wouldn’t have time to make sacrifices for God.  This is too busy (Exodus 5:6-8).  We have to stop from time to time to clearly hear God’s still, small voice – to get new instructions as Elijah did (1 Kings 19:11-15).  However, once we do – we move with fear and without delay like Noah.

Staying in one place too long leads to familiarity. Familiarity tends to breed contemptuous, complacent, careless, and/or lukewarm spirits.  Such ungodly attributes arise from getting too accustomed to something or someone.  Relaxed Christians are the end result (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8).  Even in their churches where Satan could be sitting, or preaching from the pulpit (Revelation 2:13, Ephesians 6:12).

If we move ahead and don’t look back in accordance with God’s Word (lead verse), in humble obedience to His commands unto death (Philippians 2:8) – we’re doing His will.  God’s charge in Matthew 24:14 can’t be fulfilled any other way.  If we sit still in one place too long, the sin of stubbornness is sure to stagnate our spiritual growth.  This gives place to Satan and plenty of room to devour us (Ephesians 4:27).

Much like the style of van Gogh’s “The Sower” – we’re to sling a spiritual seed bag over our shoulder and set out across the farmlands of faith.  Sowing the Word of God as our seed as He leads us by the Spirit (Mark 4:14, Luke 8:11).  Not looking back over our shoulder to see if they are landing on stony ground – or if the devil is there to take them away, or we’re not fit for God’s kingdom of heaven (Mark 4:15-16, lead verse).

This keeps us from sowing the same spiritual fields over and over.  When farmers of God’s physical fields do this year after year, the dirt becomes stressed and unfruitful.  The same goes for the spiritual soil of our hearts.  Instead, we scatter a handful of seeds on the ground and move on ahead.  God will send another person along to water it – but He alone will be the One to provide the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Only God decides what any physical or spiritual seed will ever become, giving each one its own body as it pleases Him (1 Corinthians 15:37-38).  We can’t grow seeds planted in human hearts into producing spiritual fruits God commands them to become in ourselves or any other person (Galatians 5:22-23).  If we try to, we only defile His crop (Deuteronomy 22:9).  This doesn’t move anyone closer to heaven, does it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– Only by pride cometh contention; but with the well advised is wisdom. – Proverbs 13:10

– Woe unto him that strives with his Maker! – Isaiah 45:9

The simplest definition of “contention” means being opposed to something or someone.  Carried out to extremes, it develops a zeal to emerge as the winner in arguments or debates with anybody – including with God.  Contentment usually only comes with victories – while losses often generate contempt.

Any contention in life develops an existence of strife, discord, or disagreement with any number of people. It does the same with our Father above.  Contentious opposition to His ways can birth enmity or bitterness (Hebrews 12:15), leading to discontent lives of always questioning Him in an air of conflict and quarreling.

It’s a sign of having a carnal mind still conformed to the world; not renewed and transformed by His truth yet (Romans 8:7, 12:2).  It creates spiritual stress, struggles, or stagnation – and a burdensome, heavy yoke (Matthew 11:30).  It often creates a confusion God is never the author of (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Contention is a state of dissention with heaven.  It keeps hearts far from it – even though lips may speak many feigned words to the contrary (Mark 7:6).  It’s not growing in God’s grace, but it gives place to the devil – and space for his many devices of devouring (2 Peter 3:18, Ephesians 4:27, 2 Corinthians 2:11).

It is sin – for only by pride does it arise (lead verse). It is being at odds with God – at any time, for any reason.  It is disobedient complaining coming from a lack of faith and trust – and this is displeasing to Him (Numbers 11:1, Philippians 2:14, Hebrews 11:6).  It is walking contrary to His ways (Leviticus 26:27-28).

To contend, or being in any contention with God is ungodly.  Some synonyms for both words reflect this, such as conflict and friction.  It’s hard to walk with anyone in such disharmony (Amos 3:3).  People can only disagree with others for so long, before they say “so long.”  The same goes with God (Hebrews 3:12).

Contention implies God does not know what He is doing.  It suggests He is unfair (Ezekiel 33:20), lying (Hebrews 6:18), or wrongly judging because violence, spoiling, and strife abound (Habakkuk 1:3-4).  Those contentious with God tend to perceive their goodness or innocence (Proverbs 20:6, Jeremiah 2:35).

However, our Father is always right – His ways are perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4).  Contention with Him says He is not – and makes mistakes.  If we say we’re Christians, then we have been born again of the Spirit (John 3:5).  We’ve been reconciled back to God into one body by the Cross of Christ (Ephesians 2:16).

Reconciliation means being brought into agreement and alignment with something or someone.  If we are Christians, then it is God.  Contention prohibits any concurrence with Him.  If we claim belief, then we always agree with God.  If we don’t, we are devoid of the truth, despite any claims to the contrary.

Our Father’s commandments are not meant to be grievous, but to grow us up into mature Christians (1 John 5:3).  Contentions against Him grieve the Holy Spirit – and we’re warned not to do this (Ephesians 4:30).  When we do, it upsets and saddens God.  It shows we haven’t learned Christ (Ephesians 4:20-32).

Remember, our Father causes and creates all things in life – light and dark, good and evil (Isaiah 45:7). However, He will never grieve or afflict us willingly without reason (Lamentations 3:32-33).  Griping or grumbling about troubles or trials in life is not the way to grow spiritually and in grace (2 Peter 3:18).

We must look within at sin still not confessed and corrected as the source of any difficulty with Him.  Sin angers God, especially when committed by Christians who cannot be ignorant about His command to repent (Acts 17:30).  Otherwise, complaining and contention with Him are bound to begin (Lamentations 3:39).

If contentious arguing arises against God, it is being lifted up in the same arrogant pride that got Satan cast out from heaven (1 Samuel 2:3, Proverbs 16:18, Luke 10:18).  Christian novices are prone to prideful contention – and this puts them in danger of falling into the condemnation of the devil (1 Timothy 3:6).

New believers are unlearned and unstable.  They still wrestle with Scripture and require a lot of spiritual milk.  The Bible is hard to understand (1 Peter 2:2, 2 Peter 3:16).  It includes those who should be teachers by now; but who have to keep being retaught the first principles of God’s oracles (Hebrews 5:12).

Contention can also be fostered by failing to speak or preach wholesome words becoming sound doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3-4, Titus 2:1).  Instead, it is putting a personal “spin” on Scripture.  With catchy quotes or phrases sounding very spiritual and godly, but being unable to affirm them with His Word (1 Timothy 1:7)

However, this is swerving from the truth (1 Timothy 1:6), and being removed to another gospel (Galatians 1:6).  This is how people get deceived by vain words (Ephesians 5:6).  Contention has likely led to rewrites of Scripture into many new versions so they sound more agreeable to man (Revelation 22:18-19).

Whatever the cause, contention is never a good state to be in very long.  Satan roars around like a starving lion, waiting to lead us away in err (1 Peter 5:8-9, James 1:16, 2 Peter 3:17).  The devil is our 24/7 accuser (Revelation 12:10).  Stirring up contention with God is a deadly device he uses to devour souls.

This doesn’t mean we will never be contentious with others – even with believers.  We were all raised in the world first, and have various viewpoints, theories, and opinions about life we may still be entangled in (2 Timothy 2:4).  Jesus has to untangle these so we stop minding earthly matters (Philippians 3:19).

These can lead to sometimes heated disagreements with each other.  In the book of Acts, contention separated two brothers in Jesus.  What happened would be similar to a group of church elders today unable to agree on who to send on a mission trip. However, why it happened merits some examination.

Paul and Barnabas were at an impasse about whether to take John Mark – the cousin of Barnabas – as a third companion to go visit brothers in cities they had previously preached in.  They wanted to see how these brothers were faring.  The contention was so sharp, they went separate ways (Acts 15:36-39).

Scripture reveals they never met face to face again. Still, Paul later makes favorable mention of Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:6), and expresses a desire for John Mark to join him in ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).  Even though Barnabas and Paul disagreed, they did not end up making a mountain out of a molehill.

Also, keep in mind their dissension did not involve Scriptural content or doctrinal issues.  They did not engage in profane or vain babblings about the Bible (1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Timothy 2:16).  The split between the two men involved a personal dispute based upon a judgement call on who to take with them.

To their credit, neither Paul or Barnabas permitted the contention to sideline them from personal efforts in spreading God’s Word.  Yes, it was prideful and partial (1 Timothy 5:21).  However, they didn’t allow their inability to arrive at a decision to get them angry enough to sin more against God (Ephesians 4:26).

There will always be times when brothers and sisters in Christ will not see eye-to-eye in matters of opinion. However, the important thing is how we respond.  Do we mope, sulk, and stew because somebody didn’t agree with our point of view – or do we stay focused on doing God’s will, regardless of disagreements?

Paul and Barnabas pushed forward, putting their hand to the plow (Luke 9:62).  As a result, more work was done for God because of how they handled their rift. They didn’t permit it to spoil them spiritually.  They didn’t let it fester and end up getting the best of them in ignorance of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).

There’ll be several situations throughout life leading to potential strife, dissention, or disagreement.  It’s even understandable between Christians, depending on the progress of their spiritual growth.  We still have to live in the world, but we have to watch with caution what we’re filling our hearts with (Luke 6:45).

Even with the Spirit inside us, our flesh lusts against it, and vice versa.  We don’t always say or do things we want to or should (Romans 7:18-19, Galatians 5:17).  However, contention is strife, and strife leads to evil works (James 3:16).  Individually, or in the churches where it has no place (1 Corinthians 11:16).

God tells us to take heed because we can easily be consumed if we continue biting and devouring each other in any contention (Galatians 5:15).  This shows a total lack of devotion to God’s ways and discipline in our walk with Him.  There’s no rest in life (Proverbs 29:9).  Contention makes people tense and on edge.

This is why we are well-advised to learn godly wisdom (lead verse).  It is letting God tame our unruly and evil tongues by His truth (James 3:8) – learning like David how to ask Him to set a guard over our lips (Psalm 141:3).  So our words are few and we refrain from rash talk (Ecclesiastes 5:2, Proverbs 10:19).

Strife in life leads to a lot of wrong, unrighteous, and ungodly thinking (Philippians 4:8).  Precious time is wasted and mental energy is spent dreaming up ways trying to prove a point on any topic, even Scripture, to those we disagree with.  Giving them a piece of our mind can’t lead to peace of mind (Philippians 4:9).

No thought can be hid from our Father (Job 42:2) – God knows them all (Ezekiel 11:5).  Even if we may think our contention is hidden to the masses in our mind, it is immediately manifest before the Almighty (Hebrews 4:12-13).  We can fool others with feigned and fake faith, but not God (Jeremiah 3:10).

We can also go out and speak the most convicting words about God – then come back home and rail accusations against Him behind closed doors about something we think He is doing wrong.  However God knows our abode; when we come and go.  If we rage against Him like this, it can’t be hid (2 Kings 19:27).

Many things increase vanity in this life and contention with God is one (Ecclesiastes 6:10-11).  It is counter-productive to bringing forth spiritual fruit meet with our commandment to repent of sins (Matthew 3:8, Acts 17:30, Galatians 5:22-23).  Who are we to contend with God and command Him (Job 40:2)?

Contention with God shows Him we desire to establish our own righteousness and then declare it as such – just as the Israelites did.  However, it’s not submitting to His righteousness (Romans 10:3).  Instead, it is subversive and condemns Him.  If we do, we disannul His judgment, just so we can be righteous (Job 40:8).

Contention is everything but peace.  It is sin and it is ungodly.  We are to follow peace with all men, and holiness or we won’t see God (Hebrews 12:14).  If we should stay ungodly by blaming Him for our problems in prideful contention, and fail to repent of our ways, we will not stand in the judgement (Psalm 1:5).

Therefore, God tells us to avoid foolish questions, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law. They are unprofitable, and vain (Titus 3:9).  Starting strife is like opening floodgates to release dammed up water.  So we don’t meddle with contention, we’re to walk away from it, before it begins (Proverbs 17:14).

However, there is one thing we all have to contend for – and earnestly, meaning intently and seriously.  It is the faith once delivered to the saints of yore (Jude 1:3).  It is the kind Jesus wonders about; if it will be found upon returning (Luke 18:8).  It means we have to be in contention with the devil (Proverbs 28:4).

It means we have to hold fast.  It is keeping our souls from straying by having them firmly secured by the anchor of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 6:19).  This is so we hold fast to instructions from God (Proverbs 4:13), the profession of our faith without wavering (Hebrews 10:23), and all that is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

It is so we can hold fast to the form of sound words (2 Timothy 1:13).  So we hold fast and repent unto salvation as commanded – or perish (Revelation 3:3, Acts 17:30, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Luke 13:3,5).  If we don’t it will be easy to backslide into contentious ways – and hold fast to deceit (Jeremiah 8:5-6).

Prideful deceit is the state of our heart from the start of life (Jeremiah 17:9, Obadiah 1:3, 1 John 2:16).  If we should keep slipping (Hebrews 2:1) back to it as believers, we swerve from a good conscience, to contention again with God (1 Timothy 1:5-6).  It’s how we veer off the straight path (Matthew 7:14).

Straying in any contention too long is staying in uncorrected sin.  It’s failing to consider the eternal consequences of disobedience (2 Thessalonians 1:8). If we remain in contention too long, we will have no excuse if God says to us when we meet Him, “Depart from Me, for I never knew you (Matthew 7:23).”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– For the customs of the people are vain. – Jeremiah 10:3

– Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy, and vain deceit – after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world – and not after Christ. – Colossians 2:8

Customs are widely accepted ways and beliefs of doing things – specific to particular places or people.  Tradition is transmitting such customs down through the years – so they are carried on after we’re gone.  In Scripture, the Pharisees didn’t seem pleased when the disciples wouldn’t wash their hands – like their elders did – before eating bread. It was customary and traditional to do so – and they didn’t.

When they asked Jesus about it, the Son of man said  “Why do you also transgress the commandments of God by your traditions?  Isaiah has prophesied well of you, saying,’ These people draw nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips – but their hearts are far from Me.’  But they worship Me in vain – teaching for doctrine the commandments of men (Matthew 15:1-3, 7-9). ”

Just because we’re accustomed to customs – doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to God.  We could just be trapped in tradition – still trying to find His truth.  Our tongues can be talking about one thing – but our hearts could be harboring something else.  The Pharisees were really good at appearing religiously good outwardly – perhaps as tradition had taught them to be – but Jesus knew they were hypocrites inside, full of ravening and wickedness (Luke 11:37-44).

Saul of Tarsus – who would become the apostle Paul – was a Jew brought up according to the perfect manner of Moses’ law (Acts 22:3). As Paul, he would later declare that during his days as Saul – he thought to do things contrary to Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 26:9). Christianity was considered a sect at his time – of which he would later be accused as being the ringleader of – and a threat to the traditional Jewish way of doing things (Acts 22:3, Acts 24:5, Acts 28:22).

Customs and tradition can easily birth factions and sects within any religion – where everyone may believe they’re doing the right thing in their own eyes (1 Chronicles 13:4) – but wrong in God’s eyes.  When Saul of Tarsus went around – rounding up these new Christians for punishment and imprisonment – he believed he was doing the right thing, being zealous towards God in this manner (Acts 22:3-5).  He wasn’t  – he was persecuting Christ (Acts 22:6-8).

Upsetting long-standing ways of doing things in life – can be very upsetting.  It usually happens when we’re born again of the Holy Spirit – and we start learning the ways of God’s Word, and unlearning our worldly ways.  When St. Stephen – the first Christian martyr – went around speaking God’s wisdom from the Holy Spirit inside him, false witnesses were set up against up him.  He was accused of speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God (Acts 6:8-11).

They claimed Stephen had said Jesus was going to destroy their holy places – and change the customs Moses has delivered unto them (Acts 6:13-15).  Although they are vain (lead verse), Christ didn’t come to change or destroy our customs   Jesus told the disciples to observe whatever the Pharisees bid them to observe. But, not to follow their works.  They would say and not do – unless they had an audience (Matthew 23:1-5, Galatians 6:4).

We observe days, months, times, and years – but God has not suffered us to do so (Deuteronomy 18:14, Galatians 4:10).  Our Father does not operate according to our concept of time (Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8).  Our observances are not obedience.  They are tied to a calendar.  We celebrate certain customs and traditions at regularly scheduled times throughout the months – repeating them year after year.

We can’t obey God just by specific dates on a calendar created by man, but by our daily repentance and remission of sins – through the regeneration of our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit and our Creator (2 Corinthians 4:16, Titus 3:5.).  So we don’t keep repeating the same sins year after year.  Putting on external shows of religion according to custom and tradition – is not the same as our internal spiritual growth – through a truthful relationship with Christ.

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– Therefore, if any man be in Christ – he is a new creature.  Old things are passed away – behold; all things are become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

– In Christ alone my hope is found,  He is my light, my strength, my song, this Cornerstone, this solid Ground. – “In Christ Alone”, written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, copyright 2001

Billy Graham once said, “One’s identity in life is directly proportionate to one’s level of involvement with anything.”  We can slowly and subtly start to lose our true identity in life – when it becomes more wrapped up in our involvement with others – professionally, socially, even within a family.  This is not wrong by itself.

However it often might not be the reality we may so want it to be – even among Christians.  Even believers we may know and love for years – may have to move away one day.  God forbid, but they may stray from us – or betray us down the road. Others just pass away and leave this earth before we do.  

This can cause us much grief as any loss can.  It’s not just someone dying a physical death.  We can experience things like grief, pain, and confusion when a child leaves the nest – or when we retire from a career after many years.  What then? What do we with our time that’s left?  We either try to hang on to what’s already gone – or face the future with hope.

Read what Meghan O’Rourke once wrote about what can happen when we lose someone – or even something we’re close to: “When you lose someone you were close to – you have to reassess your picture of the world and your place in it.  The more your identity was wrapped up in the deceased – the more difficult the loss.”

When Saul of Tarsus first became a chosen vessel of God (Acts 9:15) to spread His gospel as the apostle Paul – he removed himself from involvement with flesh-and-blood for 3 1/2 years. With the exception of James – he didn’t confer with humans – only the Holy Spirit (Galatians 1:15-19).  Although Scripture does not say it exactly – it’ seems God desired for Paul to understand his identity was in Christ alone.

Only God has the power to raise us up from the dead – and without the Holy Ghost in us when we die – He has no power to do so (Romans 8:11).  Identifying ourselves as a Christian just by being involved with Christian things doesn’t automatically make us one (Luke 6:32-34).  We are none of God’s without the Holy Ghost (Romans 8:9).   We can’t say Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3).

We can slowly and subtly start to lose our true identity in Christ as believers – if it becomes more wrapped up in our involvement with other believers, and perhaps our Christian busy-ness, than it is in Christ.  If disagreements arise between believers causing divisiveness (Matthew 10:34) – or there are church upheavals to the point where we permanently walk away from each other, what then?

These can send us into a real crisis – and maybe make us wonder again who Christ really is – and what the Son of man’s role is going to be for the rest of our lives.  Can we put our faith back in Jesus – when others seemed to have failed us  – or fled? Referring back to Meghan O’Rourke’s words above, do we then have to reassess our perception and picture of the Word – and our place in it?

If we’re believers, our identity is in Christ first – because God has put the crucified Christ in us through the power of the Holy Ghost (Ephesians 3:16-17, Galatians 2:20).  Yes, new believers will wrestle with Scripture – and will probably struggle with their new identity to begin with (2 Peter 3:16).  There are still many old things for God to make new again (lead verse).

However, if life seems to be the same old, same old after years – shouldn’t there be cause for concern?  If we’re still angry, bitter, unforgiving – what’s been made new?  Those are parts of our former man we are to put away through the daily regeneration and renewal of our hearts and minds – through obedience by repentance (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 4:22-23, Titus 3:5).

If we still don’t know what it is we are truly supposed to be doing as Christians – or where we are supposed to be going as God desires it – it might be because our identity is more proportionate with Christianity than it is Christ.  This is one of the issues Paul addressed in his letters to the church leaders in Corinth.  Other believers were not baptized or crucified for us (1 Corinthians 1:13).

We are to follow Christ first – not other Christians (1 Corinthians 3:4). We are to be led by the Holy Spirit who works within us (Romans 8:1-14) – not other Christian speakers, preachers, and teachers – who work outside us.  So that if, God forbid, everyone one we knew left us – we could still be led by the Holy Ghost – and not lose our identity in Christ.

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Then Agrippa said unto Paul, “You almost persuaded me to be a Christian.” – Acts 26:28

– “A man hears what he wants to hear … and disregards the rest.” – Paul Simon

There was nothing more Paul could do.  King Agrippa had sat and listened patiently – perhaps even intently – as Paul told much of his life story.  From his days as Saul of Tarsus – imprisoning and persecuting Christians – to his life as an apostle preaching Christ after being struck down by God on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6).

It “almost” worked.  Paul “almost” persuaded the king to become a Christian – but he didn’t.  It was all very convincing – but not quite.  So, what did Paul do next?  Nothing.  He didn’t try to persuade, pressure, or push King Agrippa any further – even though he knew the king believed the prophets (Acts 26:27).

We will all believe exactly what we want to believe – and hear what we want to hear – no matter who we are.  We can’t persuade people any further than they want to be persuaded. Well, we can try – but we will probably be viewed as being pushy if we do.  When we become pushy – it can cross over into pressuring very quickly.

When we feel like we’re being pressured into something – it’s usually unpleasant.  Most of us have probably experienced some sort of high-pressured sales pitch in our lives.  Many of these spiels can frequently smack of desperation.  Somebody wants us to buy into something – but we’re not really sure what it is they are selling – or what we will truly get out of it if we do.

As believers, we can’t be like this.  We can’t go around pitching God’s gospel as some sort of commercially-made product we have to pressure people into buying and trying (2 Peter 2:3). Well, we can – but doesn’t that make us come across as those pushy Christians?  We can easily appear as being desperate to the lost – especially if we are just trying to get them to attend church – before they have been persuaded and convicted by God to come to the Cross (John 6:44, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10).

If we do it this way – perhaps even trying to pound some people over the head with Scripture – are we not perilously close to proselytizing?  That’s attempting to induce someone to convert to a particular faith – Christianity not excluded – and/or recruit them into our religion.  If we do this, we are making that person twice the child of hell than ourselves (Matthew 23:15).

Persuasion to become a Christian must come from above – not below (John 6:44, John 6:65, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10).  The apostle Paul simply went around presenting the truth of the gospel as it was revealed to him from above.  He did this according to the persuasion and power of Christ working in his heart through the power of the Holy Ghost (Romans 15:19, Galatians 5:7-8).

Paul did not go around trying to get people saved – for he knew that he wasn’t yet himself (Philippians 3:12-20).  He knew salvation was a hope (Romans 8:24) – and that Satan would be a constant thorn in his side to give him the desire to stop following Christ (2 Corinthians 12:7, Philippians 1:23).  Paul simply kept pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling in God by Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).

When we witness to the lost and unbelieving – we’ve done all that we’re supposed to do – we’ve sown a seed (Mark 4:14). This seed is the Word of God (Romans 8:11).  From that point on, we are to move on and not look back (Luke 9:62).  God will send someone else along to water that seed – but it is He alone who provides any increase – and who alone decides what any seed becomes (1 Corinthians 3:6, 1 Corinthians 15:37-38).

If any human heart is fully prepared to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost – to become a Christian (Romans 8:9) – it is by God’s persuasion and decision alone. There is no other Saviour but God (Isaiah 43:11).  Unless we hold the keys to hell and death (Revelation 1:18) – we must never believe someone has become a Christian by our own efforts.  Perhaps Paul had a much clearer understanding of this – than many of us seem to have today.

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(Scripture from the KJV)

Being content is a state of peaceful happiness.  The apostle Paul found this internally with Christ – no matter what was going on around him – and it wasn’t very pleasant many times (2 Corinthians 11:23-27, for example).  He endured far more than we could probably ever imagine going through as modern-day Christians.  Yet, he attained this sense of inner peace.  As believers like Paul was, we are to be content with such things as we have (Hebrews 13:5).

Anything more than food and clothing should be considered a plus for us (1 Timothy 6:8).  We are not to exact any more than what has already been appointed to us – being content with our wages.  Whatever they are – they are enough to spread the news of the gospel (Luke 3:13-14) – and we don’t need to be making any more by doing so (Titus 1:11, 1 Peter 5:2).  We don’t have to make merchandise of people to make the gospel known to them (2 Peter 2:3).

When we want for anything, we are not trusting God to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Psalm 23:1, Philippians 4:19). It’s very difficult to be wanting and content simultaneously.  We’re usually discontent when we want – because we see what we have as not being enough for whatever reasons – usually very worldly.  Our prayers will tend to be wanting as well when we don’t have inner contentment – full of asking God for thing amiss to consume on our own lusts (James 4:3).

Discontent is often a harbinger of contention and contending, which frequently gives way to mutually measuring and comparing ourselves with each other – even among our closest of brothers and sisters in Christ.  This is not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12).  If we’ve yet to find the inner peace in all situations we face like Paul – will we not have tendencies to praise and thank God only when we’re getting what we want from Him – not what He wants us to have?  We can’t contend with God (Job 40:2) – and be content with Him at the same time.

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