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Archive for August, 2012

The verse below is found in Romans 2:1-5 (NIV):

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

Starting with verse 1, it talks about our human nature. Our flesh, it is sinful and selfish, when we pass judgement just for seeing people’s actions, when we do the same things, we are being hypocrites. -We pave a bad path and paint a poor picture of ourselves to others. As Christians we must be careful, some have already given us a bad reputation for being “judgmental and thinking of ourselves as better than all” to most people. This is also because those who have showed that kind of manner are, too are quick to judge; being a hypocrite. Others are also too full of it –  themselves, because that’s what flesh does, it’s self-centered. And if not controlled, can be disastrous.

Verse 2 talks about God, it talks about how he is a fair God, *judging wisely.  He judges with truth, a technique we have yet to truly learn in many ways. “Díkaios” is Greek for “fair, just, equitable, right, evenhanded, and level.” It’s one of the astounding and many, many traits of our wonderful Father. When he judges us, he looks at all of us, not just the outside like they do on earth, but he looks particularly at our heart – the source of good and evil.

“As water reflects a face,

so a man’s heart reflects the man.”

– Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)

In verse 3, it asks a question – “So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?”

So do you think you’ll escape? Or do you think he’ll judge? It could go both ways couldn’t it? – Depending on your heart – if you will escape, why? Is it because you think you’re perfect and good enough He won’t count “that thing” against you? God is merciful and gives second chances, right (thousand times over)? If you though along the first answer/question, you’re totally wrong and need to check yourself and consult God to help you. Yes, God is merciful and forgiving, but you have to understand that God also knows the purpose and thought that goes into it. Sometimes he brings something along to discipline because he knows you’re lost. If your though along the second answer/question it’s true, as I said above, he does forgive – he even instructs us to forgive 70 x 7, which adds up to a lot – 490 times, and more (Matt. 18:21-22).  But in reality, we are all going to be judged to a full extent when Christ returns to take his followers home.

Verse 4 continues also with a question asking us if we contempt; despise, what he has done for us? – The “riches of his kindness, tolerance,” of our sinful ways, “and patience” for when we constantly are wandering? Many who despise and have put-off and shunned God,because they are blinded from knowing how truly merciful he is, how his kindness is overflowing, as well as his never-ending love. He is the ultimate gateway to our repentance and salvation.

In the last verse, we come to a conclusion. Because of our often stubbornness we get ourselves in a good bit of trouble. And it’s not just with people, but with God. Our heart is most often the culprit of our poor (or in times, good) actions. When we choose poorly, we are just mounting up evidence files that will one day be used when God judges us all. For those who chose poorly, it says his wrath will be released against them. For those who chose wisely, salvation and grace will be given.

*Shophet is Hebrew for “Judge.”

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The verse I’ll be going over is found in Hebrews, one of my favorites books. The verses are Hebrews 2:1-4 (NIV):

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Starting out with the first verse, it tells us that we need to be careful and be alert and listen so that we don’t drift away from Christ. Now, skipping down a verse to verse 3, The salvation being talked about sin’t like we’re being saved – bailed out – temporarily, but the kind of salvation of where we’re saved to the fullest extent – we are bailed out in full; all our debts are paid, we are saved! This salvation Christ offers us is because of his unconditional love for us. Yes, us. Stinky, smelly, sin-ridden us, but that’s all washed away when we truly believe that when Christ died he washed all that down the drain – he washed it all away, in which, he did!

Going back to verse 2, it talks about us; flesh, how if a message (ultimately given by God) spoken by the angels above was a binding; taunt, message, sealing our fate (if you will). Because of the price we would’ve paid for our sinful actions – the punishment it deserved – there’d be no hope for us. It’d be how our sin; flesh; human nature, would have over ruled us -just  like it is for people now-a-days who don’t believe in Christ’s sacrifice, they are distracted. For us, it’s only through God’s unconditional grace and love that we have been saved.

In verse 4, the last verse, we can just see miracles happening! How God is showing his love and power; His agape love. Though his word we learn. Through His wonders, we learn and come to a halt with life in awe. Through his signs, we can see and discover more. And when we obey and stay steadfast in his love, we are rewarded; given gifts by the Holy Spirit, which lives in us and is actively working.

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In the section of verse going to be ‘read” today is found in 2 Peter 1:5-11 (NIV) and it is this:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In the first verse, verse 5, it makes conclusion that we have a responsibility to grow; supplement; increase our faith in a godly way. Some people think that Christians have a big “Don’t Do” list – don’t do this, don’t do that, blah, blah, blah. Others think that they should let go and “let God lead them.” Truth is: They don’t understand, they have a passive detection. What we mean; true followers (to say), when we say “let go and let God lead” is that we need to let him dictate our actions, not just “deject” like some. We need to think, and I mean think generously, “What would Jesus Do?”

The Greek word, “chorea” which is were “choreography” originates from, which means  to come together – it’s the the art of composing ballets and other dances and planningand arranging the movements, steps, and patterns of dancers [dictionary.com] – like a melody, we need to come together, to work, like a dance. Now, it’s not a “do the dance once and you’re perfect” no, you have to practice; work to get the moves right. Our inward character, we must build wisely. For when we are under another influence we lost that appearance, the pressure causes us to fall down. We must have a virtue, knowledge, and self-control – being steadfast in a time of wen all the odds are against us; you. What must we be steadfast int? Our relationship with our Heavenly Father; just like a married couple are steadfast (committed) to each other. “*Philadelphia” which means  our love of brethren. We must, even if we hate, show compassion, love, and kindness to those who hate us (and don’t hate us). We must sacrifice our own concerns for other’s sake.

There was this story of one of our presidents – **Abraham Lincoln. It went like this:

“Is there anything I can do for you?” asked the compassionate President. “Please write a letter to my mother,” came the reply. Unrecognized by the soldier, the Chief Executive sat down and wrote as the youth told him what to say. The letter read, “My dearest Mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won’t recover. Don’t sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and Father. Kiss Mary and John for me.” The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and then added this postscript: “Written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.” Asking to see the note, the soldier was astonished to discover who had shown him such kindness. “Are you really our President?” he asked. “Yes,” was the quiet answer. “Now, is there anything else I can do?” The lad feebly replied, “Will you please hold my hand? I think it would help to see me through to the end.” The tall, gaunt man granted his request, offering warm words of encouragement until death stole in with the dawn.”

When we show love to those who need help, etc. it opens a door, showing others our kindness and makes them wonder. We are the image of God, we potentially show what He’s like, if we show a bad example, people turn away like a magnet – with the ends negative to negative. Living a balanced life, it leads us to an effective life, one that involves Christ. It is our responsibility to increase our spiritual life to grow fruit – healthy fruit.

We also are led – through God – to a clear perspective on life. A person who’s become in the light cannot see past their stuck up nose. They don’t care, love, or allow their fruit to grow healthy; they are what we call nearsighted. Those who are nearsighted only see the world, they are stuck wandering. They are in need of a Savior, but haven’t found the “time.”

When we have a life full of Christ it leads to assurance. When we have an assurance in God, it leads to a godly-like life, knowing that when we die we aren’t going to be stuck wandering the earth, instead we’ll be rejoicing in heaven. If we are active in our walk with Christ, we increase the good fruit – we have more confidence in our salvation.  Even the greatest Christians known (Apostle Paul, King David, etc.) have started with regrets, but with Christ, they know they are forgiven and have a purpose in life; something to live for!

*brotherly love, a city of Lydia in Asia Minor, about 25 miles south-east of Sardis. It was the seat of one of the “seven churches” (Rev. 3:7-12). It came into the possession of the Turks in A.D. 1392. It has several times been nearly destroyed by earthquakes. It is still a town of considerable size, called Allahshehr, “the city of God.” – biblegateway.com

**The Daily Bread 2 Peter 1:1-11, February 12th.

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I’ll be trying out a new a study technique for this – hope all’s well. The study of the verses is going to “mix-matched.”

2 Timothy 1:6-10 (NIV):

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

In the verse 7, it tells us of what we are like. By ourselves in a time of crisis we are timid, but with the power of God in us, we are able to be bold, burning like a bonfire with plenty of fuel. In verse 9, it tells us about God. Through this we can see that God is a powerful God, one who is able to save; to redeem.

In the last verse of the study, verse 10, we discover that through Christ’s sacrifice death is destroyed and life is re-awakened (renewed to say) and it’s all brought back under the main spotlight through the gospel. In verse 8 there is something that we can be excited for, and it’s this: that we have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be ashamed of for our faith; our belief in Christ. Though we’ll suffer – “pay” for our beliefs – we’ll have a prize and good feeling in the end. The over all concept: we mustn’t be afraid, ashamed, or put-down because of what people think of us. Instead, we need to go out boldly, proclaiming our faith and the wonderful message of Christ. Now, it won’t be easy, but with God on our side, anything is possible.

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View part 1 here: Trust Governs How We Love

The passage we will be looking at today is a continuation of 2 John; 2 John 1:7-13 (NIV):

Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face,so that our joy may be complete.

The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.

Our God is holy and loving to much; everything isn’t good, it must hate something, right? Right, that something is sin. Truth governs the expression of love. In verses 7-9 (the few two) it shows that we must beware of those who deceive us. Satan uses works in the realm of the mind, shifting the image of God; the philosophy, just a bit so that we may become confused and not know the right works of God. He (Satan) and his ‘servants’ are masts actors – “clothing” themselves as righteousness, even though they not really have that relationship with Christ.

The false preachers teach that Jesus did nothave a body, instead they teach that he was just a spirit occupying a body. This means if you don’t believe, you do not accept that Jesus, God’s one and only son, came to earth in flesh, and died on the cross; otherwise they are saying he’s not a savior. They teach that the Bible, well, it doesn’t have the answer we all are “searching” for. – But see, they had this “vision” (etc.) and they know how we can get to heaven and all, cause they  know it.

– Now, before we go freaking out, you have to realize, this is reality. As Christians, in this world, is just time spent in this awful battle; the battle between good and evil; righteousness, salvation, and love against sin. It’s the world between the two kingdoms; the battle grounds. And we are the soldiers. –

Continuing on, now just because out enemies, false teachers, have a different belief doesn’t mean we treat them like crap (excuse my language). Instead, we need to love the truth more. How does this make sense? How does it apply? You may be wondering? Read on and you’ll see why… it’s because we need to watch ourselves, we need to be more careful not to stumble and suddenly loose everything in a snap. This is because if you lose that spiritual stability, you lose the rewards that follow, because there are actually rewards for those who continue to truly believe.

Warning: If you aren’t loyal in truth, you destroy the works God has done.

Through our pride and selfish acts comes our ruin.

Whoever believes Jesus came to the earth, took on sin, and smashed it, then we can only, and only then, say we understand.

Where the believers in Jesus’ time often fell was with people who were the outcast; “underdogs” (whatever you’d like to call them). Why? Because the feeling of empathy happened. Letting them in their home and then suddenly those people would be teaching them false words. They needed to boot them out! But also they needed to just get to know them, to teach them the truth. This applies to us now-a-days.

For those who you push away, are travelers, Jehovah’s witnesses, etc. they use the “excuse:” But you’re a Christian. You have to let me in, what would Jesus do?  to get in, to get to you. Right, they have that right don’t they? NO! Absolutely not. That’s no excuse. That’s them trying to sell you out. You must be prepared to defend yourself and the truth of which you behold. What do I do though? You may ask. Well simple. You tell them this:

“I am no Jesus.”

Simple. Smart. Leaves them shell-shocked (supposedly) .

People these days advertise false things, at first you criticize, but soon people send in money asking for that thing, and everything goes down hill from there. Satan tries to do the same thing, he tries to get us to spend our money on everything, instead of that which is right.

You remember the person John is writing this letter to? If not go back and take a second to read part one, it’ll tell you who the audience  is; the recipient of the letter. The recipient is a woman. John wants to give the woman more, to talk to her face to face, not formally from which he wrote this letter, but personally. He wants to teach her for hearing the truth governs the pure; true joy.

The application is this: When you aren’t believing that Christ dealt with sin, how he came, died, and vanquished sin, well I can tell you this: It won’t get you far, not far at all in your journey of life. You must not believe every word someone who claims to know everything, cause even though they claim to know everything, it doesn’t show that they accept Christ’s sacrifice, because they truly aren’t a believer.

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We all begin with God, everything starts with Him.

In Gen. 1:1 – it begins, goes into, and ends with God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” (Gen. 1:1 NIV), “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light,” (Gen. 1:3 NIV), “‘…And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning —the sixth day,” (Gen. 1:30-31 NIV).

When we die, our end is being with God, eternally. When we are born, we are sinful, but we also begin with God, who made us. In Romans 8:16 (NIV), it talks about being Children of God and how as children, we get an inheritance; we are heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ. So, if we have it all – why work? serve? It’s because we’re taken care of, so just as Christ served us and paid our debt, we are called to do so, too.

Hebrews 12:2 states, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” This talks about us fixing our eyes upon Jesus, the perfect image of love, grace, forgiveness, etc. And how it was he who took on the cross and paid our once unpayble debts. Now, he’s the Prince of Peace, seated up next to his Father, at his right hand, looking down on us with love, compassion, and so many other things.

In John 13, it’s got part of the story of the Passover, and that part is Jesus talking to his Disciples and washing their feet and explaining the meaning and why. Jesus was a servant to others, even though he really didn’t have to, it was out of his amazing love that he helped the people he came to redeem from Sin’s grasp.

“The servant is no greater than the master…”

So if Jesus stooped to a level like so, to wash people’s dirt and gross feet – and served his Disciples – we don’t even have a chance to make up a decent excuse not to back out of washing other’s feet and also serving. God calls us to serve. It may be in missions, it may be in your neighborhood by washing cars, or even going to a retirement home and playing Pictionary with the elderly. But when he calls you to something, answer, listen, and go.

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Our value is this: That we must remember that we are created in Christ’s own perfect image image.

For it says in Genesis 1:27 (NIV):

 “So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.”

Sin is evidently supposed to take us all. It’s like a glass of milk with a drop of blood contaminated with a deadly poison, the milk still has all the vitamins, anti-oxidants, etc. but in the end, because of that deadly blood, it’ll be the permanent end of you.

But. But God had a rescue plan, to save us all from sin, and that plan is to evidently save you from drinking that deadly glass; a warning label has been applied to it. Now, people thought this rescuer would be invisible; like our modern day Superman or Captain America (in a way – if they really existed). God thought otherwise and surprised us, like he normally does with his amazing  plans, he sent a lamb, a delicate Lamb who was nailed to a cross. Now, like most you’re probably thinking, A lamb? You have GOT to be kidding me. Well, no, I’m not and neither was God.

Because of our sin we are in a ginormous debt to Christ. I am going to start in Genesis, with Abraham, who is told to go and sacrifice his one and only son – which he did, almost, “Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son, ‘” (Gen. 22:12 NIV). In the whole summary of the verse, the Lord saw that Abraham’s faith was great and saved Isaac, replacing him with a lamb – ram, which the Lord had provided.

Now, going to Exodus, we see with Moses that he was told off by Pharaoh countless times, even with God’s help – the plagues, etc. – until God sent the Passover Angel, taking every first born – man or animal – and the Israelites had to kill and sacrifice a male, year-old lamb that had no defects; blemishes. They were commanded to eating the meat and take the blood of the animal and put it on the door post and lintel. It was through the blood of a innocent lamb that saved the lives of God’s people.

Jumping to the time of the Passover, Jesus – so the Disciples’ thinking – would’ve explained the meaning of the Passover done over centuries telling the story of how Moses (with God’s apparent help) led the people out of Egypt. But instead, Jesus tells what it really meant: his death on the cross to save the lives of people, them, and countless numbers people; the world from sin. And how he is the ultimate Lamb. The Israelites had really “celebrated” Christ’s sacrifice for hundreds of years.

See, Abraham didn’t need to sacrifice his one and only son, because of losing his son for his own sin, God sent his one and only son to die for the world’s sin and to vanquish it once and for all. If we believe and ask Christ to live in us and walk beside us, we are covered, like those door posts during Moses’ time, in the blood of Christ; the Lamb, then we are saved. There is no greater love in someone, for someone, than when someone lays down their very own life for yours. We needed a substitute – other than the lambs used – and Christ interceded and paid that ultimate and unpayable, till then, price.

In first Peter 1:13-21 (NIV) it says:

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’

Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”

In this passage, it give an amazing image; summary of Christ’s love for us and how his love redeemed us from ourselves; flesh.

Note: The passages with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus’ talk with his Disciples at the Passover can be found in Genesis 22:1-14, Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14, and Luke 22:7-20.

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I’m going to be doing this post a little different that the recent ones I’ve done, being I’m doing it off of some notes I have.

The passage I will be “dissecting” is 2 John 1:1-6 (NIV):

The elder,

To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth —and not I only, but also all who know the truth — because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.

It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.  And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.  And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

First we’ll look at the theme, which is this: “Truth governs how we love.”

Second, let’s ask ourselves, “Who’s the audience?” in most cases it’d be a man, but in this case it appears to be a lady, unnamed.

Thirdly, the base of the passage is that there were “fake leaders” entering the houses of the real – to say – leaders of the church and staying, afterwards they ask who the other leaders of the church are and earn their trust so that they may preach and teach false – only known to them – scripture. Thus, converting, turning, and confusing people.

“Truth is that which accurately reflects God. In the end, that is the scripture.”

The Greek word for truth is “αλήθεια” (pronouced “al-líth-ei-a”). In our time, the 21st century, the post-modernistic era is a talented bender at truth. Companies use “trustworthy” sayings, like: 9 out of 10 Doctors recommend and say it will make you better in beauty (phyical appearance) if you buy our product. They make things sound safe and usable. They want you to love it, not like, but love it, and they even heap all those guarantees and such on, “We’ll guarantee 100% satisfaction, and if you don’t like it you can send it back for a refund, but please keep this (product from us) as a gift (in remembrance of us).” But are they really telling the truth or just trying to get people to suck up and buy it? It may be a cheap product, it may not.

But people (especially in politics) stretch the truth and bend so often it’s hard to tell if they really mean it or not, especially with relationships, sometimes people just fake their love to use people – which is just gross and selfish.

 “Truth defines the love to one another.”

Marriage. Committing your life to someone you absolutely love is huge. And when you say your vows, and mean it truthfully, you really love them, now in some cases it lasts for 50+ years… others 2 years.

Taking a somewhat temporary detour… I want to kind of use my grandparents as an example. They show an amazing example of God’s love for others and are wise people, because of time, and it is always the people like your elders, who know more  than you and can give you advice, and when they do: listen. They’ve been through more and understand how to get through. My grandmother and grandfather are an amazing example of the quote, they are strong Christians, are always full of amazing stories and advice to give, and their love for one another grows stronger each day and hour. They have been married for over 50 years.

“Relationships in the church can only thrive as much as we dwell in reality.”

For the first and second verses, a summary of them is this: “We are love in Christ in truth.” Being part of a local church is not just attending, but in knowledge, truth, and understanding in Christ. When Jesus addresses this woman, look at the detail he uses. “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.” The Israelites were very formal when writing a letter and most often they always put their name at the beginning of the letter, instead of the end, like we do now, so that other can see who it’s from better and not having to read down to the bottom and then discover who it was from.

“If you don’t understand Him, you don’t know how to walk.”

Jesus gave us his all, love is natural, but we as flesh need commandments to help us love like we are supposed to. Loving and showing it properly is hard, even if you really don’t want to. And when I’m talking about love, I don’t mean it in that “ooky” way, I mean it as “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:14) way. We need to understand Christ’s view, and that’s being kind and loving all who persecute, make fun of you, etc.

“If you don’t have an understanding of truth, you cannot love correctly.”

In 1 John, he [Jesus] talks and teaches about love, in 2 John he teaches us how to balance love with truth. In 1 Timothy 3:14-16 (NIV) it says “truth never changes.” Neither should our love for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. When we see a friend who needs help we should do it out of love, not hate or to make ourselves look good. Before you act to anything big, think this:

“What would Jesus do?”

Application: That we never lose sight of Christ.

Concluded Moral: As Christians we need to keep a watch for the fake leaders. Make sure you dig for evidence and truth, before you love and become attached.

“Truth is that which respond to reality.”

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Some people think that trials are the end of us; them. Trials are what tear us down into little pieces, they’re what causes us sickness, depression, and anxiety, as well as many more emotions; feelings. But let me tell you this: Trials are what make us stronger. They help us realize things we never would’ve seen before, had we have not gone through them. In James 1:2-12 (NIV) it says:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

James is telling us here, that we need to be joyful and consider it a blessing when we face trials of all kinds – big or small. You’re probably thinking right now: Are you nuts?! Let me rephrase: Have you lost your mind?! How can I be joyful when I’m sorrowful? How can I be jumping up and down, when all I do is want to go lay on my bed and sleep the day away? How — Stop for a second. Stop with all the negative thoughts, cause though this sounds really cliché – ’cause it’s not, when people are always negative, you lose that capability – so it seems – to think about the positive when you’re in a bad situation. And let me point out that James is saying (if you didn’t notice before) “whenever you face trials of many kinds.” He didn’t say ‘if you do face trials of many kinds,” he said, “whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

If and when are very two different words with and entirely different meaning, though people often mistake them for the same thing. If means, well it may happen, it may not. Dictionary.com defines it as: “a supposition; uncertain possibility: The future is full of ifs.” When means that it could happen any place at any give time during the day on a certain day – or certain days. Dictionary.com defines it as: The time of anything: the when and the where of an act. If you’d like to be specific and define the word used in the verse, then whenever is defined as: at whatever time; at any time when: Come whenever you like. Have I made myself clear enough to the differences. When means it will happen, sometime. If means it may or may not happen. Clear? Good.

Now continuing on, James says that it’s through these trials and temptations of our faith that strengthens it. You may be thinking, But how? All I normally want to do during trials is go curl up in a blanket and sleep my troubles away. Well, you’re wrong. Sure you may feel that way, but it’s just like a thunderstorm, it can be scary at first, with the thunder booming loudly and the lightning crashing to the earth at incredible desctructive speeds, but you have to think about what comes after the storm. Without rain, can you have a rainbow? No. Without the thunder and lightning can you have that fresh clean-air smell? No. Without a storm are you be anxious while waiting for the storm to end and to be able to go outside and enjoy the clean air? No, not really!

The sentence after says, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” This is saying that when we go through hard times, perseverance must be present. It also must finish its work so that we can be more mature in our faith (and physically) and complete, lacking nothing. It’s a very self-explanatory verse.

The next two verses are well-known verses, those verses are verses five and six, in them, James writes, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” When we lack the wisdom we need to guide ourselves, we need to ask God, who, as the verse says, gives generous to those without fault, that it will be given to you. But there’s this teenie, tiny “catch,” to say, and it’s this: You have to believe, don’t doubt that God won’t provide, ’cause he provides for all, otherwise you’ll be, as described in the verse, “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” And you don’t want to be a wave, pushed around by all those temptations, lies, false prophecy, etc. You want to be surround by God’s grace, help, perseverance, truth, etc.

The next verse says, adding to the sentence before it, “That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” James is talking about the man who doesn’t believe and how he is double-minded and in need of grate help, yet he doesn’t believe so. The man is unstable in all he does and think he can ask anything from the Lord, and the Lord will give it to him just like that, he does not realize the components associated with asking wisdom from God above.

In the last paragraph, James is talking about how a poor man should take pride in humble circumstances and then how the rich, “stuck-up” man should take pride in his low circumstances, for he’ll just fade away like a flower. Now, why is a flower reference is used? Because we all know once a flower blooms it’s absolutely gorgeous and people want to pay attention, take images, and comment about it. The flower seems to brag and “exaggerate” its beauty. But once the flower starts to die, because the life span isn’t long, it becomes ugly and the color fades, people don’t want to have a brown, uncolored flower, they want a vibrant-colored flower, so they cut it out or let it die and through it out. Now James does talk about a wild flower, of where a wild flower would just fade without notice; people will forget it quickly.

Finally, the last verse says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” Let me emphasize that this sentence starts out with the words “blessed is the man who perseveres under trial,” otherwise, God is saluting the person who persists under trial, because he proved, in a way, to God that he can with stand the tests and temptations he goes through and still be “one” with God. The reward? That the man will receive the crown of life. James is talking about faith and how when people put their faith and trust in God, as well as commit their life to him and believe, they’ll be able to live eternally with God in heaven when they die, their souls won’t perish, even though their flesh will.

Lastly, here’s something I want to share, which was from a recent Bible study of where we (as a youth group) talked about trials and temptations, and what we think the differences are. We concluded this: trials are what we cause ourselves, because of flesh, yet when we go through trials we emerge stronger in out faith before. Unlike with tempstions, that with trials people be tempted because of sin to do wrong and evil.

Take for example two people who have lost their job, one, knows it’s a trial, but when they trust in the Lord to get them through there is a reward at the end, but they second also sees it as a trial, but since they can’t afford the luxuries they once had, and they have a chance to steal, there’s your temptation.

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“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—”

– Colossians 1:15-22 (NIV)

First off, I am doing something different and it is I’m only going to focus on certain verses, including 16 and 20-22.

We are God’s creations, of whom he made with love and deep, deep thought. He molded us from the clay of the earth – to say. Evolution and the Big Bang Theory have no chance next to the true story of Creation. God put thought in how we are designed; how are bodies are made, how they work, and think. And how intricate the atmosphere had to be in order for us to survive, Evolution can’t compare, and the Big Bang Theory can’t even come close.

In verse 16,  it says, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” This verse is talking about how we are like clay, we were modeled and formed by God in his indescribable, perfect image. But since he formed us out the the dust of the earth, so we will return to dust when we pass (Gen. 2:7, 3:19).

Skipping to verse 20, it states, “and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” What one can see here is that we can be thankful; we are blessed to have such a loving , caring, and forgiving God – and these are just a few characteristics of our mysterious God. He settled our debt, which we are still in and will never have to pay for with such pain Christ did to save us. The religions of the tribal people and others, their gods are man-made, meaning they have characteristic like flesh; us. The sad thing too is, the people are so afraid, take the Aztecs for example, they sacrificed their own kind, their own children to their gods in order for things to stay good and balanced, when in reality they were just creating pain and destruction within themselves.

As we read on in verses 21-22, which say, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation,” it explains there we were once aliens, people of the unknown in God’s eyes because of our sin; the evil inside us. Now, can you believe that through death, we were brought out of this slave called sin? Can you believe through the most painful way of death, in Jesus’ time, we were saved because of his ultimate and unbelievable painful sacrifice? There’s no doubt we are still slaves, but we have a hope, just like the Israelites had with Moses, who, with God’s help were delivered out of Egypt, out of Pharaoh’s cruel hands, that through Christ’s blood shed on that wonderful and also horrid day, we are saved from hell through a trusting and everlasting relationship with him.

We are able, thanks to Christ, control that thing called sin and flesh. Without him we are in dread and shame, but it’s because of Him, we are now free from our debt. In order to be redeemed you have to trust and ask the Lord to live in your heart and direct your ways, even if his ways seem unbearable and utterly ridiculous, you’ll be thankful you followed his ways, because in the end there is always a silver lining and reward.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.”

– Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV)

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