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© 2018 Seeking the Narrow Way

All verses used are NIV unless otherwise noted.

Since this is a free publication, any part can be used in a non-commercial or non-profit way.

Dedicated to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for loving me,

paying the price for my sins,

and comforting me.

You have made my life worth living.

While this book was written with Christians in mind, anyone who doesn’t currently believe can, at any time, turn to Jesus as their savior. A sinner’s prayer is not necessary, but a sincere desire to get to know Jesus plus a repentant attitude (turning away from a sinful life) is. This doesn’t lead to a life of bondage, but a life of freedom from unhealthy desires that can never be satisfied.

John 3:33-36 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

Table of Contents

The Narrow and Wide Gates

Our Father!

Perfect God

Perfect Trustworthiness

Perfect Love

Perfect Righteousness

Our Savior!

Treasures in Heaven

Fruit of the Spirit

Laodicean Church Age

Our Seal!

The Helper


Our All in All

The Narrow and Wide Gates

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Matthew 7:13-14

In today’s day and age, many people believe that as long as they proclaim Jesus is Lord then nothing else matters. This can be traced to a wide variety of reasons, but presently, it has more to do with churches caring more about quantity than quality. Many (not all) churches focus on providing an “inspirational message of the week” rather than taking the time to explain the will of God and the true message of Christ. And parishioners believe attending church is all that matters. But the bible states:

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

While it’s true the blood of Jesus is quite powerful and covers all and there’s nothing anyone can do to add to the completion of His work on the cross, it’s also true that actions are a result of belief, as proven with James 2:19: You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. Even though they’re fallen, the understanding of Who God is causes the demons to act.

So, can a person believe Jesus is Lord yet live as though it’s not true?

Hebrews 11:8-9 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.

Can a person claim to appreciate the wonderful and amazing gift God has given us yet sin without shame?

Hebrews 10:29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Can a person believe God fearfully and wonderfully made people yet treat others horribly?

1 John 4:20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

And can a person claim to follow Jesus yet live purely to satisfy selfish desires?

Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

Christian should be a lifestyle, not a label. A person’s actions should show trust that God, our Father, knows the purity of hearts and the desires of souls. A Christian who understands this should never want to belittle another person, think the worst about them (which can lead to misunderstanding who they are and then to mistreating them), and tell lies or act harshly to “teach” them a lesson. Everyone belongs to God and, therefore, should be shown basic human respect.

The strait gate and narrow path isn’t about works-based salvation; it’s about not being hypocritical, not having beliefs and actions out of line. After all, Jesus says:

John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands.”

And those commands are quite simple:

Matthew 22:37-40 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Jesus also speaks about putting His words into practice:

Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

He also clearly states that not everyone who knows He exists will enter heaven.

Matthew 7: 21-23 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

This further highlights how believing in God with words only is not an accurate understanding of Christianity. Jesus states he will say “Away from me, you evildoers!” Not evil people or atheists. So many people will stand before Jesus believing they will enter heaven only to be turned away because they lived a life worshipping themselves and their own desires rather than serving the will of God.

The poem below puts it poignantly:

Ye call me the “Way” and walk me not.

Ye call me the “Life” and live me not.

Ye call me “Master” and obey me not.

If I condemn thee, blame me not.

Ye call me “Bread” and eat me not.

Ye call me “Truth” and believe me not.

Ye call me “Lord” and serve me not.

If I condemn thee, blame me not.

-Geoffrey O’Hara

Reading the bible in its entirety is the ONLY way to know The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, and in knowing Them and committing to follow Jesus is the sure-fire way to find that strait gate and narrow path. Fellow-shipping with other believers is absolutely integral since we are to edify and correct one another in love. But it is also important to understand and act out Christian beliefs. Spending time with fellow Christians in a worldly way just isn’t enough.

That being said, we all kneel down before our Lord and Savior alone to give an accounting of our lives. As you read, please accept everything that resonates with you and ignore the rest. As Paul states:

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Romans 14:10-12 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,

every knee will bow before me;

every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, please oversee this journey to ensure we stay on that narrow path. We pray the Holy Spirit lights the way as we think deeply and carefully about Your Words. And this we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Our Father!

Through the work completed on the cross, Jesus has created a new covenant which includes allowing gentiles to be welcomed by God. His sacrifice tore the veil between people and God and allows us to approach His throne with confidence.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 10:19-22 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Before entering His throne room, it might be a good idea to get to know Him, first. Please pick up your bible, set yourselves aside, and take time to wonder at the Majesty of our God.

Perfect God

It’s impossible for finite minds to comprehend an infinite God, but by His grace, we have the God-breathed bible to understand not only who He is (as much as humanly possible), but also what He expects from us.

God’s attributes could be summed up as everything good, not a stitch of darkness or evil, the summation of all positive qualities we could only hope for in ourselves and those around us. He’s loving, caring, truthful, all-knowing, creative, righteous, holy, glorious, and plenty of other positive things! In reading the bible, it’s quite easy to see where His creation diverges from His perfect will.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

God created everything, even things we’re unaware of. Many who do not understand the grace and love of God wonders why He didn’t create a world free of murder and death, free of hurt and pain. He had!

Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

Even marriage was set up as perfect:

Genesis 2:23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

Ephesians 5:28-31 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body...

This is how God had intended the world, free of sin, hatred, selfishness, and the like. But how could God be righteous and truthful, how could He give human beings free will if they have no way of exercising it? If we didn’t have the option of doing wrong, we wouldn’t have free will. Not having a means to make the wrong decision would be equivalent to offering lip-service, and God won’t do that. He is reliable and trustworthy.

Numbers 23:19 God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

So the world being cruel and unfair is due to sinful human beings exercising the free will our God graciously gave us. He’s perfect in every way, which is why He’s given us an opportunity to be free of the bondage of sin, hatred, and selfishness that destroys many.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, please give us wisdom in the Holy Spirit, allowing us to see your perfect way rather than being blinded by our own desires and follies. Guide us as we seek the narrow path to understand that in Jesus giving His life for us, He’s given us the ability to see the truth and be set free from the lies of others and ourselves. In all of this we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Perfect Trustworthiness

Before the cross, before Israel became a nation, and before Abram received his new name, God has always shown Himself to be trustworthy. Please read Genesis Chapter 3 and focus on how Adam and Eve ignored God’s one rule simply because of what they thought they could gain from doing so.

Now, after the fall of Adam and Eve, God had every right to be angry, to turn away from them in disgust, or to destroy them for destroying His perfect work. But instead, He chastised them and covered them with garments of skin.

When Adam and Eve first realized what they’d done, they attempted to cover their shame with clothes of their own making. God, in His amazing love, gave them clothes better than they could make themselves. So even in our shameful state, God wants to give us the best. (It’s important to note that our rewards and treasures are in heaven, not on earth. Our best is yet to come, so this isn’t a Prosperity Gospel understanding.)

Another good biblical example showing God’s love is with Abram. The Lord credited his belief as righteousness. Trusting God and believing Him to be good and mighty is aligning with truth. Those who have doubt or those who think God has evil attributes are not aligned with truth.

Please read Genesis 12:10-20.

Abram’s belief allowed him to follow God’s commands, never believing for a second that God would lead him wrong. Because of this, God always took care of Abram. Even when Abram told a half-truth (and, therefore, still lied) to Pharaoh about Sarai being his sister, God still protected Abram’s marriage.

When God afflicted Pharaoh and his household, the truth about Abram’s and Sarai’s relationship came to light. If God hadn’t acted, then Abram’s future, and the future of the Israelites, might not have happened.

In looking at this story, it’s easy to see that God is trustworthy and righteous and will always follow through on His promises for those who believe.

God’s trustworthiness can also be seen in the covenant He made with Abram.

Genesis 15:17-21 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

God completed the covenant with the blazing torch, sealing His word and promises. And God followed through! No matter what, God will follow through. He will not leave or forsake those who believe in His Son, Jesus, and show this belief by following His commands. This is why Christians can enter the throne room with confidence. It has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him!

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, please be patient as we learn to trust You and Your perfect words. Our limited understanding and finite experiences sometimes blind us to Your truth, but thankfully, You’re trustworthy and loving, kind and generous, and though we stumble, we pray we can obtain the same righteousness Abram received with his belief. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Perfect Love

God’s perfect love can be seen on the cross. But there are examples of His love and kindness throughout the Old Testament, as well.

When God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, Moses was full of doubt and fear. He didn’t jump into action, doing every single thing that God said without hesitation. Instead, Moses tried several times to turn down the assignment.

Please read Exodus 3:1- 4:17, focusing on the interaction between God and Moses.

Being fearful of his assignment, Moses questioned God time and time again, but God never refused Moses an answer. And when Moses pushed one last time to be released from this command (Exodus 4:13), God allowed a bit of room for Moses’ comfort.

While he still had to play the part God assigned to him, Moses didn’t have to be in the forefront which would’ve caused his fears to overwhelm him. One thing God will never do is insist a person walk in a lie, and as a human being, Moses’ fear wouldn’t have magically disappeared. God worked with him out of love and kindness.

Another example of His love can be seen after the folly of the Israelites in Exodus 32. Please read Exodus 32:1 – 34:14.

They created a golden calf and worshipped it, even giving it the praise for freeing them from slavery and leading them from Egypt. After seeing for themselves the Glory of God, they still made this ignorant decision. God told Moses that He couldn’t travel with them because their unrighteousness might cause Him to destroy them (with God being so perfect, grievous imperfection cannot stand in His presence). Moses then begs God to go with them, fearing that without God, they wouldn’t succeed. In love, He not only relents, but proclaims His majesty to put Moses at ease.

Even after God stated He would travel with them, the next day Moses still asked God to come with them. Instead of anger or a smart-mouthed response, God assured Moses that He would travel with them, even going so far as to make a covenant. God had every right to call Moses out on his doubt, but He knows everyone’s heart and understands humans are faulty. With love and kindness, He only affirmed His decision and didn’t seek to destroy Moses’ self-esteem just to get him to do what He wanted. God, in His loving kindness, got His point across with gentleness and a show of His glory.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, give us the wisdom to approach Your throne not only in reverence, but also in truth. Help us understand that unlike human beings, You’re not looking for puppets who put on a smile even though we’re hurting inside. You’re not looking for false bravery when fear rocks us from within. You’re looking for trust, for belief, for us to be human as we approach You, but we also need to respect You for the sovereign and loving God that You are. And as Moses had asked, we pray “If you are pleased with [us], teach [us] your ways so [we] may know you and continue to find favor with you.” (Exodus 33:13). All of this we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Perfect Righteousness

In His sovereignty, God is righteous! He cannot abide evil getting away with evil. Though it seems to run rampant today, God is merely giving people time to learn, to grow, and to repent. While we’re awaiting the end when Jesus will judge all, we need to be sure we don’t supplant God’s sovereignty with our own narrow understanding by seeking vengeance or our own form of justice.

Jails and our justice systems exist to punish and prevent criminals from repeatedly hurting people, and we certainly should use the system to prevent others from being hurt. But what I’m referring to is the petty and sometimes dangerous things people do to one another daily, such as gossiping or speaking down to a person. No matter the perceived wrong done against us, we don’t have the right or authority to punish, plus since we’re not omniscient, we may not have a complete understanding of the situation. The Dunning–Kruger effect shows that we can’t know what we don’t know, so that handful of information that seems to point to a person being nefarious may not be enough to see that person in serious need of help.

The Old Testament focuses on God’s people, the Israelites and the promised Messiah who would be born through their lineage. But that doesn’t mean God didn’t have other people He loved and blessed!

In Numbers 22, Balaam is introduced as a prophet, but he’s not an Israelite. He isn’t in scripture for long, but it’s made clear that God speaks to him. God even opens his eyes so that Balaam can see the angel of the Lord.

Numbers 22:31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

People can get so caught up in their own lives that they sometimes forget other people exist independent of them. Maybe a person is going through trials of his/her own making, or perhaps the person is in the middle of a vicious spiritual attack, or, as it turns out with Balaam, maybe the person is wicked and selfish. No matter the answer, everyone belongs to God. He knows all that’s happening and the very nature of a person’s heart. It isn’t a Christian’s job to control or punish, especially if that Christian has to turn away from Jesus’ principles in order to do so. We are called to be kind, honest, and loving. A harsh word, “kind” lie, or dismissive treatment may appear to be right in the moment, but it could also cause confusion and further misunderstandings, as well as unnecessary pain.

Jesus suffered, bled, and died for all human beings, and it’s His sovereign right to judge. As Paul explains:

Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

While many might read this as let God take care of it, I’m not entirely convinced it doesn’t mean we might get caught up in that wrath if we get too close by “punishing” people as though it’s our right. Because of His righteousness, He must avenge and repay!

Another example of this is in my favorite bible story: Jonah. It’s very short, and very eye-opening when it comes to God’s sovereignty and love. Please read the story of Jonah.

After Jonah completed his task of warning Nineveh of God’s judgment, he sat east of the city and waited for the destruction. Once it became evident that God had provided compassion on the city because they repented, Jonah grew angry. And God made it very clear that Jonah had no right to decide the fate of people he knew nothing about. That right belongs to God, alone.

Christians should know God is righteous and sovereign, so we should follow Jesus’ commands. One such command is:

Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Without knowing what God has planned for a person, without knowing an individual’s heart as God does, we may be acting against the mercy God has decided to give them. And the last thing a God-fearing, God-trusting person would want to do is act against God’s sovereign righteousness.

Before moving on to the next section, I’d like to present another example of God’s righteousness. Because God is righteous, there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ. Not only did Jesus say this Himself, but God confirms it when Jesus prays three times for the cup to pass from His lips, if at all possible. As Christians, we have to get God’s attributes right, and He wouldn’t put His only begotten son in whom He’s well pleased through the crucifixion if we could merely meditate or use some other simple method to connect with Him. That would not be righteous, so this belief skews who God is and guarantees a lot of people will find their way to destruction.

The fact is that we all sin, and those sins won’t magically disappear. Think of it this way: if we commit a criminal offense, we can’t then say to a judge, “Sorry, but I’ll do a nice act to balance it out so there’s no need for judgment.” A just society can’t allow criminals to go free simply because the criminal will commit a “nice” act.

In the same way, a just God can’t ignore all the bad we’ve already committed. For a perfect God, nothing short of perfection can be around Him. If we would like those past sins forgotten, only Jesus’ sacrifice is capable of doing that. His perfect record is exchanged for our poor one so that we can be in God’s presence in the end. And while this is a free gift, how can a person collect it from Jesus if they don’t even believe He exists? This is why the idea that there are many paths to God is false and dangerous.

This is the last attribute I’m going to touch on for our Father, but please read the Old Testament and get to know Him for yourself. He truly is glorious, and having that understanding will help carry Christians to the finish line!

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, please give us the strength to leave judgment up to You. Nothing we do could ever equal Your righteous judgment, anyway. As we pick up our crosses and follow after Jesus, we pray the Holy Spirit keep reminding us of our true home with you in heaven. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Our Savior!

Our Creator, the King of kings and Lord of lords, stepped down from His rightful throne to wallow in the fallen world with us and for us. Forget earthly and heavenly treasures! This fact, alone, is worth praise and worship. It is an absolutely perfect example of love.

He lived a perfect life not only to lay down His life for our sake, but to also show us how to live. In a world filled with hypocrites, how much more striking is it that Jesus would practice exactly what He preaches? And what He preaches helps align a Christian with not only His will, but also the will of His Father (and ours!). Jesus holds every attribute of our Father, being both fully man and fully God. Now is a time to understand His teachings and who we are to be in Him.

Treasures in Heaven

God’s plan for a perfect world was set back by Adam and Eve in the garden. But this doesn’t mean things are over. Because God is not man that He would change His mind (Numbers 23:19), free will continues and must do so until the end.

Because of this, a new world is sanctioned and will be taking the place of this one. And the good news preached by Jesus is that those who love Him and abide in Him will enjoy life as God intended… once this world has ended.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 18:36 My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.

Many engage God only when they’re in need, rather than forming a relationship with Him. Jesus is to be our intercessor with God, but He is not a genie, and He didn’t sacrifice Himself just so selfish desires can be filled. This isn’t to say God won’t heal or bless, but it is done with His purpose and for His glory. While this might not sound too nice to those who believe God wouldn’t want people to suffer, this is not His Kingdom. We have better things ahead of us, as it states in 1 Corinthians 2:9.

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—

Right now it’s about finishing the race, making it to the end so that we may see what He had in mind before human selfishness, in conjunction with the free will He so lovingly provided us, put us where we are today.

In the four gospels, Jesus does perform many signs and miracles, but this was with purpose. Please read Matthew 9:1-8.

Jesus’ main concern was in explaining about the forgiveness of sin, but the healing and miracles were signs to prove His authority and the truth of what He spoke. Without those signs, Jesus might have been ignored and forgotten in history.

His lessons are meant to free us from the ways of this world, which are full of self-serving beliefs, as shown with the following verses:

Ephesians 2:1-3 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

I John 5:19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

God only cares about human beings. We are eternal, and we all belong to Him (believer and non-believer, alike). This can best be seen in the bible verses:

Matthew 22:18-21 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

God created human beings; Jesus suffered, bled, and died for human beings — aside from God, there’s nothing more important. Christians should recognize this, and at the very least, we shouldn’t make another person’s life harder than it already is.

Living in a world dominated by a “survival of the fittest” mentality, and one where lawlessness is increasing and love is growing cold, many Christians face a difficult situation. How easy is it to give to people who refuse to give back? How can a Christian continue living according to the will of the Spirit surrounded by those who see it as weakness, as a trait meant to be taken advantage of? Living a true Christian life can mean enduring severe trials and tribulations. And while we are promised these things while on Earth, sometimes living a life devoted to Jesus amplifies tribulations.

Jesus understands the difficulties of dealing with negative people, especially since He’s lived a life being tempted in every way we are. So, since following His commands even when they don’t immediately benefit us are a show of faith, and God is trustworthy to reward those who have faith. We are promised treasures in heaven.

While some may say doing nice things in exchange for heavenly reward is the same as being selfish, it isn’t. Being kind to those who hate you, or giving when you have very little without expecting anything in return at that moment isn’t an easy thing to do. It takes a great deal of faith and love, plus God knows each person’s heart. These are treasures provided for those who trust Jesus with their life.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Please read Luke 6:32-36.

This prevalent belief that each person should stand alone is incorrect. Our actions are our own choice, but Jesus has personally shown us that doing for ourselves and ignoring others in need is not Godly.

Matthew 15:19-20 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person…

When Jesus stated the two great commandments of love God and love others as one loves oneself, He then stated: All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. This is because evil can be wrapped up as what is done against another person (and this does include sexual immorality because people are being used as objects to satisfy fleshly desires, even if it is mutual). Christians should have their hearts in heaven, not on worldly, earthly things. This was demonstrated when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. Please read John 13:12-34.

The point in the scene isn’t to highlight washing feet. During those days, washing feet was necessary. A need. Something that couldn’t go undone. In His action, Jesus showed us that the need of others shouldn’t be seen as beneath us.

Our goal is to get through this life as sanctified as possible, and being surrounded by those who don’t follow Jesus (truly follow Him) makes things that much more difficult. This is why regular fellowship with other believers is important and commanded. Being filled with the love of the Holy Spirit, we should have each other’s best interest in mind. As Paul says in Philippians 2:2-4:

make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

We should be edifying one another, helping each other prepare for the better life ahead. While we have to work to pay bills, our main focus should be in building up one another.

Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

This doesn’t mean a person has to give up every bit of time or money to assist someone else, but Christians should be willing to go above and beyond for one another. Maybe listening to all a person has to say, maybe providing a shoulder to cry on, or even taking the time and energy to provide possible suggestions/advice might be beneficial to another. Christians often go to the “I’ll pray for you” mode, and it’s not that prayer isn’t powerful or beneficial, but it shouldn’t take the place of practical help.

When giving our lives to God, we submit ourselves to His will. He does answer prayers, and when He does, He often uses us! In Judges, while speaking to the Lord, Gideon stated that the Lord couldn’t be with them because there were no wonders like when the Lord rescued them from Egypt. He stated that the Lord had abandoned them, but the Lord replied:

Judges 6:14 Am I not sending you?

Waiting for God to act when it is well within our powers and ability (by His grace, love, and mercy) is akin to becoming spoiled children. We should be willing to move and act purely for the benefit of one another. We are to be about our Lord’s business, and He loves others just as He loves us.

It’s fine if an issue comes up that we can’t help with. In Matthew 5:37, Jesus explains All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. So a Christian doesn’t have to say yes to everything (steer clear of anybody who doesn’t accept the answer no). But it’s also important to understand the difference between “can’t” and “don’t want to”. After all, Jesus says:

John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

And love is defined as:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Saying the word “love” while acting hateful or humiliating a person only serves to muddy the definition of love for that person. If we are to be known by our love for one another, it should be visible, unmistakable, and consistent with the biblical definition.

We need to come back to this simple truth because who can Christians depend on in spiritual matters if not one another? This is why Jesus made a show of redefining family.

Matthew 12:48-50 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

The verse doesn’t even go on to explain why Jesus’ family showed up. The readers don’t know if they needed help or had questions. This is because the scene is to show Christians that we should have a strong bond with one another.

To fully live this way according to the will of God in such a fallen and dangerous world, Christians will need to sharpen judgment and discernment so that we have the right people for support when we need it. And Jesus said:

Matthew 7:16 You will know them by their fruits. (NKJV)

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, please fill us with the Holy Spirit so that we may be there for one another in a real way… not just with hollow words. Allow our actions to reflect our belief that Your words are true, Your love is real and tangible, and Your Kingdom is worth more than this fallen world! We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Fruit of the Spirit

In this day and age, it’s more important than ever for Christians to use discernment. Many people proclaim to be Christians, but in their heart, they’re not. While a Christian shouldn’t judge if a person is or isn’t under God’s grace (only God can know that), it’s important to avoid others who are detrimental in our walk with Jesus.

Matthew 24:12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…

This passage shows that wickedness will (and has) increased. This isn’t just murders and killings; it’s a deep-seated, self-centeredness that allows some people to lie, cheat, and steal – to hurt others in subtle ways for their own benefit. This could be for entertainment or punishment for a perceived wrong. So it’s important to discern who should be a part of a Christian’s life, not only for the sake of sanity but also for faith.

Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

The Fruit of the Spirit is sacred, being provided by the Holy Spirit for our sanctification. If there are people around who insist the Fruit is a negative trait (kindness being foolish; forgiveness being naivety; etc.), then this is against God. While the person may be in a bad place, may be in need of encouragement or a good example, or even needing companionship, continuing to be around them could jeopardize the Christian’s walk in faith. We are human, after all, and this is why Jesus taught the above verse.

This is distinctly different from people taking advantage of these traits. It should be up to each Christian whether or not to deal with people who genuinely couldn’t care less about anyone else and are only looking to advance their own desires. Each Christian knows his/her limit and should stick with it, choosing to break ties before being broken.

Proverbs 25:21-22 teaches that:

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

As a little bit of testimony, I’ve seen coals heaped on two people’s heads. In being kind to those insisting on mistreating me, extreme guilt eventually overcame them, and one of them I didn’t even think capable of feeling guilt. In saying this, I’m highlighting the truth of the bible. The Christian stays aligned with the Holy Spirit by doing nice things even if those around freely choose to act horribly. The best news for any Christian is that we answer for our own actions, not another’s. And considering that no person can be controlled outside of lies and fears, this is a huge relief. I’d hate to become a liar and push fear on a person out of a misguided belief I have to control them. After all, I have to live with myself and every action I freely choose to take.

Once again, each Christian has to look at his/her own situation and decide when that line is crossed. Walking away from those who claim to be Christian isn’t a bad thing if their actions don’t line up with the word of God. After all, Jesus states:

Matthew 10:14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

Sometimes, walking away from a person or situation is the best way to handle things. God will never take a person’s free will, so if someone insists on belittling, insulting, or otherwise trying to get you to drop your spiritual belief, walk away and shake the dust off.

1 Timothy 4:6-10 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

And last, words are meaningless without action to back it up. Please read 1 John 3:14-24.

Titus 1:16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.

It’s true that we’re all human, that we all fall short of the glory of God, but anyone who insists that they are Christian but don’t show it a majority of the time with their actions and love of truth may not be. As stated in 2 Timothy 3:2-5:

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Any true Christian will struggle with sin, with the self-serving nature all humans have, but where there’s effort, there’s evidence. A person who doesn’t struggle will repeatedly do the same hurtful things. And when it becomes apparent they don’t want to change, walk away and shake the dust off!

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, please grant us the serenity to accept the things [we] cannot change, courage to change the things [we] can, and wisdom to know the difference (Reinhold Niebuhr). And guide us to those who live in the faith with actions and not just with words. Help guide us to those who believe in agape, who will genuinely care about our needs, and help us understand that we must do the same. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Laodicean Church Age

Many may not be familiar with the Seven Letters to the Seven Churches Prophecy Theory. If this is so, then I highly suggest researching it. One good resource is:

Believing this theory isn’t important to salvation in any way shape or form. But I bring it up to explain what I believe so that I can make the last point for this section. The theory states that the order of the letters in Revelation represents the stages the church has gone through over time, and we are now at that last church age represented in the letter to Laodicea. Jesus writes to the church:

Revelation 3:15-16 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

To many, this speaks to the apathetic nature of a majority of Christians today — those who are happy living their earthly lives with no concerns about Jesus’ Kingdom. What makes this interpretation even more likely is the next verse:

Revelation 3:17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

This speaks to those same Christians who see their earthly life as symbolizing their standing with Jesus. But Jesus stated:

1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

This doesn’t mean that a true Christian can’t have a good life, but if the only evidence is their possessions and how much others like them, then they may not be right with God. They may be deluding themselves.

This verse can also point to the Prosperity Gospel becoming more and more prominent. Taking into account the apathy and belief of wealth being positive in Christianity, this aligns with other bible verses that show the hostile environment Christians will have to endure near the end. Jesus, Himself, stated that love would grow cold. And there is also:

2 Timothy 3:2-5 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

For the sake of God’s people, I believe it’s more important than ever for Christians to edify and love one another. Small home groups where people are encouraged to share what they’ve learned and how they’ve grown with God would be a great way to infuse more love and care, helping one another move forward and make it through difficult times. This wouldn’t be instead of church, but a supplement as churches are growing more and more superficial.

Also, online groups would be great for those who haven’t forged close relationships with other Christians. It would take time to get to know another Christian and ensure that goals and desires (following Jesus fully and completely) line up.

While interacting with other Christians, it’s important to embody the traits that Jesus spoke of. As followers of Christ, we are to call out evil and not let it hide, we are to rebuke and correct any false teachings. But this is only for other Christians willing to submit to Jesus. Our method for interacting with other Christians is clear:

Matthew 18:15-17 If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

We aren’t taught to belittle others, only to correct them with love. While it might not be possible to get a person kicked out of a church now-a-days, they can be removed from one’s life. Nastiness and hatred doesn’t have to take over, but two people can stay away from one another.

Another point to consider when interacting with other Christians is that if I enjoy my free will, I need to allow others to, as well. This isn’t about forcing another person to accept a specific point of view or convince them to think a specific way. Either they’ll see the truth of an error or they won’t (and it’s always good to keep in mind that the error may not be theirs). Never use Christian beliefs to bind another person. This goes directly against Jesus and His purpose.

John 3:17-18 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

We shouldn’t condemn, punish, or force. We should merely abide in His truth. And the truth is that we will only answer for our own actions, not another person’s.

Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

James 1:19-21 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

As thing grow more and more difficult for those who want to stick to the bible, it is so very, very important to remember the full armor of God: as described in Ephesians 6:13-18:

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

The full armor allows us to hold tight to our spiritual beliefs despite what is happening around us.

Ephesians 6:14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,

In a world full of subjective truth, Christians should hold tight to the fact that God created everything, and in creating things a certain ways, He determined what is proper and true. We can’t change truth simply because it doesn’t work for us, because it doesn’t give us what we want. Reality will remain reality no matter what.

Truth is mentioned first and likened to a belt because it is the most important, and once a person lets go of truth, the rest of the armor is sure to fall away. If someone in a Christian’s life refuses to hold to truth, I suggest walking away. Those who refuse to adhere to reality are dangerous, even unintentionally.

Ephesians 6:14 …with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

One of the more common insults Christians face is that we think we’re better than others. There are some Christians who look down on non-Christians, but they typically do so with insults and words. For one who has a relationship with Jesus, there isn’t hateful actions towards others, but there is a refusal to commit certain sins which that Christian doesn’t struggle with.

For instance, a Christian may struggle with lust, but someone who doesn’t know that may ask the Christian to lie about a minor issue. If the Christian refuses, he/she may then be bombarded with insults of being holier-than-thou or looking down on others. This circles back to the belt of truth coming first. The Christian should understand no one is perfect and saying no to sinful acts isn’t the same as looking down on others. So the Christian should keep on the breastplate of righteousness, understanding the truth of their nature and the truth that they have a choice with their actions.

Ephesians 6:15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Every Christian should be willing to speak up if the situation is not too hostile. Always be ready to explain the peace and grace the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 6:16-17 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

In Romans 8:31, Paul writes If God is for us, who can be against us? This is how the shield of faith works. Stormy weather may bother us while we’re on earth, but Jesus’ judgement lasts for all eternity so that’s all that truly matters. If we have faith in His word, in His resurrection, and in His promise, then the flaming arrows of the evil one will never move us from truth, from righteousness, or from spreading the good news of our Lord and Savior.

Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

And with a better understanding of God, Jesus, and our need to align with Their will, a constant connection to God can be maintained. This will squash all loneliness, all desire to be understood. This will tamp out any fears of what others can or may do because who is bigger than God? Jesus absolutely means what he states in John 4:14:

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

He is the fountain of Living Water, and remaining connected to Him through prayer helps tamp down those deep-seated desires that can never be satisfied.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, please give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Allow us to understand that we have no control over others, only ourselves. In lining up with your perfect will, we ensure that when we kneel before you, we can truly say “I believe in Jesus”, and our actions will prove it true. Please forgive our past trespasses and help us forgive those who trespass against us. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Our Seal!

While many may think the Holy Spirit is an unseen entity Who occasionally causes parishioners to dance uncontrollably down the aisles at churches, He’s actually so much more. He’s the evidence of our salvation! Our seal meant to represent the greater things to come! He is everything we need to prepare us for everlasting life!

Ephesians 1:13-14 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory

1 Corinthians 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

The Helper

For those who are sealed by the Holy Spirit, truth cannot be ignored. One such truth is that labels — like gender, ethnicity, nationality — don’t matter because all people were created by the One we worship. The way I think about it is God created humans, and humans created labels (like “race”). I’d rather live in God’s truth than man’s lies.

Some bible verses that point to the Holy Spirit providing truth are:

John 14:15-17 “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—

Many wonder how to hear the voice of God, how to abide in His will for their lives, and how to be sure they are walking in His way. There are many books out there that try and give a short-cut, try to teach people how to hear God about a job, or a car, or a house, but the solution is so simple. Read the bible and talk to God regularly. He is truthful and faithful, loving and kind! He has given us the Holy Spirit who will be with us to the end. His ways and His truth are in the bible, and the Holy Spirit will always remind us of what the word says.

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