Archive for the ‘The Christian Standard’ Category

“One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.  He replied, ‘ You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow; red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times!‘” (Matthew 16:1-3)

“Jesus told them, ‘Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’  They will deceive many.  And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic.  Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.  Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.  Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed.  You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.  And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.  And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.  Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:4-14)

“Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.  They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again?  From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.’  They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.  Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood.  And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire.  They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.  But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.  The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think.  No, he is being patient for your sake.  He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.  But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief.”  (2 Peter 3:3-10a)

“Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.  Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along.  On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames.  But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.  And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.  And remember, the Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved.  This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him–speaking of these things in all of his letters.  Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture.  And this will result in their destruction.” (2 Peter 3:10b-16)

The whole world is in turmoil and news of world-wide happenings (propaganda or otherwise) is instantly broadcasted everywhere, sowing uncertainty, fear, and discord in the hearts of the world’s inhabitants.

Wars, threats of wars, terrorism, persecution, pestilence, apocalyptic weather, earthquakes, and famine are just some of the signs that give testimony to the times we are living in; signs Jesus told us to look for and pay attention to. These signs, just as a red sky in the morning signals foul weather all day, are signs that the end is near.

Many scoff, “Yeah, yeah, there have been wars, terrorism, pestilence, earthquakes and really bad weather and famines and plagues that have wiped out hundreds of millions of people since the very beginning of time.  How is today any different from the rest of Earth’s history?”

From a spiritual perspective, it is interesting to note that the acceleration of one bad event after another and even simultaneous bad events on the world stage are de-sensitizing mankind’s perspective on atrocities and disasters.  The more we hear of horrendous events happening throughout the world, the less we care.  It is too much to process in our minds and our emotions.  The very things that should be bringing us to our knees in prayer before God are instead eliciting a deep desire to distract ourselves.

It is more desirable to distract ourselves and there is no limit to the distractions at hand in these times.  And so, while the world rumbles, apathy reigns.  And when apathy reigns, evil does, too.

And this may be the most important sign of these times.  Jesus told us that “the love of many will grow cold” and this little gem of truth is the separating factor that answers the scoffers.  In our time, on a world-wide scale, mankind is bombarded with incessant bad news and our hearts are growing cold.

As Christians, we are admonished by our Holy Father in Heaven to guard our hearts above all else (Proverbs 4:23), to turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14), fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable; to think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).  We are, each of us, commanded to share the Gospel with others according to our own abilities given to us by God and above all, to love others, especially our enemies (1 Corinthians chapter 12 and 13).

While we witness the sporadic and violent gasps of this age coming to an end, Christians are the ones chosen by the Most High God to usher in the Day of the Lord, which will make all things new.

Our very lives should be a testimony that we belong not to this dying world, but to Christ.  Let us check ourselves and ask God to search our hearts and correct us while there is still time.  He is being patient with everyone, the lost and saved alike.

The fruit of our lives should be godly living instead of a life tossed to and fro by the desires and selfishness of the flesh, prayer for everyone and everything instead of cold apathy to what we see and hear, love and grace given to all including our enemy, and the bold willingness to share Christ whenever the opportunity knocks.

The Christian life is not for the faint of heart nor the fickle, as it demands more from us than we are capable of on our own.  But the Spirit who lives in us is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.  And through Jesus Christ, who has overcome the world, we look forward to the day of God and hurry it along.

When we hear of our brothers and sisters in Christ being raped, violated, persecuted, imprisoned, mocked and murdered across the world, let us remember that Jesus told us long ago it would happen and that it would escalate exponentially in the last days.  We must not be dismayed.  We must watch and be alert and live the way He told us to.  We must pray and guard our hearts from apathy, understanding that these things are happening just like He said they would.  He is near.

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“Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has come at last–salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.  For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth–the one who accuses them before our God day and night.  And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.  And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.  Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!  And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!  But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.'” (Revelation 12:10-12)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

‘You are the salt of the earth.  But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again?  It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.  You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.'” (Matthew 5:13-16)

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy–a place where my name will be honored forever.  I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.” (2 Chronicles 7:14-16)

“Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:14)

“I have the same hope in God that these men have, that he will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous.  Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.” (Acts 24:15-16)

The Holy Scriptures tell us that in the last days there will be a “great falling away” and that people’s hearts will “wax cold”.  These are Scriptures about so-called “Christians” who are morally and spiritually indifferent. We are wise to take note and take stock of our own lives if we call ourselves Christians.

David prayed to God to search his heart, all the nooks and crannies, and hidden places inside him and bring forth anything that offended Him so that David could address his shortcomings with God and walk in righteousness.  David was eager to repent of anything that grieved the Lord and to live in right standing with God.

When God says “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways”, this is directed at His people, not the world-at-large. He is expectantly waiting for us to turn to Him and repent of our sins and live righteous lives.

This may be a terrifying expectation for many of us. There may be frightful consequences awaiting us if we repent of sinful things we are doing and instead choose the path of righteousness.  We may be in over our heads in sin, making one poor judgment decision after another, having followed our hearts and “what seemed right” into messes we cannot fathom being free from without paying such a price in consequences that our knees buckle at the thought.

Yet our conscience convicts us no matter where we run and hide.  We may lie to the people in our lives and we may lie to ourselves in an attempt to justify what we do, but our conscience haunts us.  Yes, we are grieving the Holy Spirit of God who lives within us and He is trying to get our attention so that we can address this thing before it is too late.

Immediately upon being convicted of our sins, we have a decision to make.  The longer we postpone doing the right thing, the harder it becomes to do the right thing.  But living in denial does not make the consequences of our sins go away.  Sooner or later, we will face them.

Below are 5 unfortunate realities of the unrepentant “Christian”:

1) What is done in the dark will be brought to light.  Try as we might to keep our sins hidden, all the heavens see what we are doing.  Even if God and the host of the heavens wanted to avert their eyes and ears to our sins, Scripture tells us the devil accuses us before God day and night. Satan is actively before the throne of God, airing all of our “dirty laundry”.  We are in the spotlight, whether we know it or not.  In the spiritual battles of our lives, when we are unrepentant, we lose; even worse, we dishonor God, for our enemy proudly points out the fact that we choose to continue our life of sin over our Lord who gave His life to buy our freedom.

2) Sin is what separates us from God.  Christ Jesus conquered sin and death once and for all for the very purpose of reconciling us, reuniting us, with God.  Confessing and repenting of our sins is our testimony that Christ Jesus is the Lord of our lives and that we live freely in Christ, not in slavery to sin and death.   If we are “saved” from the power of sin and death, our lives bear the proof of this. Our very lives are the evidence.  Living unrepentant, sinful lives is the evidence that we are separated from God, not united to Him.

3) The prayers of an unrepentant “Christian” are not effective.  Part of our daily prayers must be that we ask God to forgive us of our sins.  We have this amazing privilege through the power of the blood that Christ Jesus shed for us; the power through which God forgives us so that we can approach Him without shame.  Yet, a condition for receiving forgiveness is that we do not continue doing that which we are asking forgiveness for.  And if we do not have forgiveness from God, how do we have His ear when we pray?  We do not.  Deep down we know this and it keeps us from praying anyway because we cannot boldly approach the throne of God while we choose sin over righteousness.

4) The unrepentant “Christian” is the salt that lost its flavor; the lamp put under a basket.  If Christians are called to be “the salt of the earth” (being the preserving presence in the earth) by our righteous lives and our prayers, what does it mean if we are not living righteously or praying?  If the Christian is called to light the darkness of the world, what does it mean if we are instead living in the spiritual shadows?  It means there is no evidence that we are even saved.  For a saved soul is a repentant soul; a saved soul is one that actively seeks right standing with God, that walks toward the light and in the light, not in darkness.  There is no such thing as an unrepentant Christian.

5) There are always consequences for our sins.  For every action, there is a reaction.  If the fear of the consequences of our sins is keeping us from repenting and doing the right thing, we are living in denial; we are hoping that if we can somehow stay hidden, we will not have to pay the consequences for our actions.  However, delaying the inevitable most often just makes the situation worse. David was wise when it was time for him to face major consequences for his sins.  He said, “I am in a desperate situation!  But let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great.  Do not let me fall into human hands.” (1 Chronicles 21:13)  Yes, no matter what our sins are or the consequences we face, when we repent, God is on our side and He is merciful.  The world is not merciful. Do we want to face the consequences doled out by God or do we want to face the consequences doled out by the world?  Either way, there are always consequences.

May we fear the Lord more than we would ever fear any earthly consequences of our sins.  May we approach Him in humility, confess our sins and REPENT while there is still time. May our lives be the lives of overcomers, servants of the Most High God, representing His Holy Kingdom in every way.  May we be faithful to the end and may it never be said of us that our hearts waxed cold or that we were part of the “great falling away”.  May it never be said that we were lukewarm, following our hearts wherever the wind blew us. May we never hear the words, “I never knew you” from the Lord Jesus Christ.

“The Lord, the Mighty One, is God, and he has spoken; he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets.  From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance.  Our God approaches, and he is not silent.  Fire devours everything in his way, and a great storm rages around him.  He calls on the heavens above and earth below to witness the judgment of his people‘Bring my faithful people to me — those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.’  Then let the heavens proclaim his justice, for God himself will be the judge.  ‘O my people, listen as I speak.  Here are my charges against you, O Israel:  I am God, your God!  I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.  But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.  For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.  If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.  Do I eat the meat of bulls?  Do I drink the blood of goats?  Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.  Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.’  But God says to the wicked:Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to obey my covenant?  For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash.  When you see thieves, you approve of them, and you spend your time with adulterers.  Your mouth is filled with wickedness, and your tongue is full of lies.  You sit around and slander your brother — your own mother’s son.  While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care.  But now I will rebuke you, listing all my charges against you.  Repent, all of you who forget me, or I will tear you apart and no one will help you.  But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.  If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.‘” (Psalm 50)

Even before Jesus Christ our Redeemer came to the earth, the Lord made it clear to his people and to all who would listen that animal sacrifices were void of meaning when it came to matters of the heart.  The Lord Almighty searches people’s hearts, looking for even one who reveres him, loves and obeys his ways, travels his path, and is thankful for him. 

Giving thanks to God and obeying his ways should come as naturally as breathing to us, yet are such rare occurrences that God considers them pleasing sacrifices.  If we desire to make sacrifices to the Most High God, sacrifices that he will accept and that will please him, we need go no further than giving thanks and obeying his Commandments, the most important of all being that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, followed by loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Jesus is the Lamb whose blood sacrifice perfectly and completely trumps all blood sacrifices set in the Law of Moses once and for all, thereby fulfilling all the requirements of the Old Covenant.  (Hebrews Chapters 9 and 10)  In Christ Jesus, we have the New Covenant where blood sacrifices are not needed at all.  Yet in the New Covenant, God’s commands remain the same and as his chosen people, we show that we belong to him when we obey his commands and give him thanks.  These actions set us apart from the wicked, from the world.  These actions are the ultimate spiritual warfare.

“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again.  One of them, an expert in religious law tried to trap him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?’  Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.'” (Matthew 22:34-40)

“Listen to this, all you people!  Pay attention, everyone in the world!  High and low, rich and poor — listen!  For my words are wise, and my thoughts are filled with insight.  I listen carefully to many proverbs and solve riddles with inspiration from a harp.  Why should I fear when trouble comes, when enemies surround me?  They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches.  Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God.  Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave.  Those who are wise must finally die, just like the foolish and senseless, leaving all their wealth behind. The grave is their eternal home, where they will stay forever.  They may name their estates after themselves, but their fame will not last.  They will die, just like animals.  This is the fate of fools, though they are remembered as being wise.  Like sheep, they are led to the grave, where death will be their shepherd.  In the morning the godly will rule over them. Their bodies will rot in the grave, far from their grand estates.  But as for me, God will redeem my life.  He will snatch me from the power of the grave.  So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become ever more splendid.  For when they die, they take nothing with them.  Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.  In this life they consider themselves fortunate and are applauded for their success.  But they will die like all before them and never again see the light of day.  People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like animals. (Psalm 49)

“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.  May your Kingdom come soon.  May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10)

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33)

And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all people will hear it; and then the end will come.”  (Matthew 24:14)

Everything moves into its proper place when our first priority in our day is the Kingdom of God.  The Living Word of God says that where our treasure is, there our heart also is.

And we know by simple observation of human behavior that the things we treasure in our hearts, the things we hold dear and cherish are the things we think about the most, that we cannot help but talk about, that we worry about.

For some, this treasure is our family.  For others, it is our work, dreams, reputation and status, money, power, leaving a legacy behind, fighting for a cause we believe in, and the list can go on.  These things in and of themselves can be great treasures and worthy of pursuit, if pursued with the right attitude.  But we have to be discerning and wise about the place of these things in our lives.

We are to seek the Kingdom of God FIRST.  All other worthy causes should fall neatly under our pursuit of the Kingdom of God in our day-to-day lives.

Christ gave us one job: to get the Good News about the Kingdom of God to the whole world, so that all people will hear it.  Yes, God is Almighty and could do this all by himself and just get it done, but He chose His children to do it.  He gave us this honor and entrusted his Kingdom to us.

If we are seeking first our own kingdom, then God’s Kingdom is not our priority.  And there are so many things within our own kingdom that dominate our time and thoughts that days can turn into weeks, which turn into months, which become years that go by without us achieving the one thing that was delegated to us for our life on earth by God.

Paul tells us candidly in 1 Corinthians 3:13 that on Judgment Day, the refining fires of God will reveal what kind of work each person did in their life.  If our life’s work was of and for our own kingdom or the world’s kingdom, we will watch it burn up before our eyes.  We ourselves will escape the fire because of our faith in Christ Jesus, but we will have little or nothing to show for our life on earth.  Paul warns that we will suffer great loss if our work does not withstand the purifying fires.  We do well to think this over on a regular basis and apply it to our lives while there is time.

Many of us have nothing to give except our prayers, but we do not realize that our prayers are the most effective work we can offer the Kingdom of God.  God does not just go ahead and fulfill his will on the earth whenever He wants to.  He fulfills his will through the prayers of the followers of Christ Jesus.  Know this truth and pray.  Each one of us is the vessel by which the Kingdom of God comes to the earth.

Lord Jesus, may we have a clear understanding of the precious treasure you have given us, the trust you have placed in us to fulfill your will on earth.  May we firmly grasp the power we hold in our prayers and understand how we fulfill your will by praying.  Let us not fall into the trap of a life of fruitless pursuit of things that we must leave behind when we die, leaving this world as naked as the day we came into it.  But let us store up for ourselves eternal treasure in heaven by obeying what you have asked us to do.  Give us eyes to see and ears to hear; give us wisdom and discernment and burden us with a deep desire to pray.  May your Kingdom come soon!

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7)

“I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”  (Matthew 18:18-19)

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.  For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:19)

“You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it.  You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.  Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.  And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong–you want only what will give you pleasure.” (James 4:2)

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear them from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

What if we discovered that God will not act independently to implement His will on Earth?  What if we found out that when God gave his children dominion over all the Earth, that truly included ALL things?  What if it was revealed to us that, although we cannot manipulate God to do anything against His will, we as his children, hold the keys to that which IS His will on Earth?  What would we do if we realized that NOT praying actually does hinder God’s work on Earth?

Would we see the power that has been entrusted to us?  Would we embrace the responsibility of being those who PRAY?

If we are in right standing with God, obedient to Him, living our lives with a clear conscience, then rest assured that when we pray we are heard and our prayers accomplish much.

As Watchman Nee writes in his book Let Us Pray, Chapter One ‘What is Prayer?’, “The foremost question to be asked is, Why pray? What is the use of praying? Is not God omniscient as well as omnipotent? Why must He wait till we pray before He commences to work?  Since He knows, why must we tell Him everything (Philippians 4.6)? Being almighty, why does God not work directly?  Why should He need our prayers?  Why is it that only those who ask are given, only those who seek find, and only those who knock enter in (Matthew 7.7)?  Why does God say: ‘Ye have not, because ye ask not’ (James 4.2)?

Upon asking the above questions we must then continue to inquire as follows:  Is prayer contrary to the will of God?  What is the relationship between prayer and righteousness?

We know God never does anything against His own will.  If opening doors is God’s will, why should He wait until we knock before He opens?  Why does He not simply open for us according to His own will without requiring us to knock?  Being omniscient, God knows we need to have doors opened; why, then, must He wait for our knocking before He opens?  If the door is to be opened and if opening doors is in accordance with God’s will, and if furthermore He also knows that we need it to be opened, why does He wait for us to knock?  Why does He not just open the door?  What advantage does our knocking give to God?

Yet we must further ask these questions:  Since God’s will is to open the door and since opening the door is in accord with righteousness, will God nevertheless open the door if we do not knock?  Or would He rather have His will and righteousness delayed without accomplishment in order to wait for our prayers?  Will He really allow His will of opening doors to be restrained by our not knocking?  If so, will not the will of God be limited by us?  Is God really almighty?  If He is almighty, why can He not open the door all by himself–why instead must He wait till we knock?  Is God really able to accomplish His own will? But if He truly is able, then why is His opening of doors (God’s will) governed by our knocking (man’s prayer)?

By asking all these questions we come to realize that prayer is a great mystery. For here we see a principle of God’s working, which is, that God’s people must pray before God himself will rise up and work: His will is only to be realized through the prayers of those who belong to Him: the prayers of the believers are to accomplish His will: God will not fulfill His will alone — He will perform only after His people show their sympathy in prayers.

Such being the case, it can therefore be said that prayer is none other than an act of the believer working together with God.  Prayer is the union of the believer’s thought with the will of God.  The prayer which a believer utters on earth is but the voicing of the Lord’s will in heaven.  Prayer is not the expressing of our wish for God to yield to our petition and fill up our selfish desire.  It is not a forcing of the Lord to change His will and perform what He is unwilling to do.  No, prayer is simply speaking out the will of God through the mouth of the believer.  Before God, the believer asks in prayer for the Lord’s will to be done.

Prayer does not alter that which God has determined.  It never changes anything; it merely achieves what He has already foreordained.  Prayerlessness, though, does effect a change, because God will let many of His resolutions go suspended due to the lack from His people of prayerful cooperation with Him.”

If only the children of God understood the stakes here.  Our enemy Satan does all he can to distract us and discourage us from prayer because it is by prayer that his worldly kingdom is rebuked and forced to submit to the cross of Jesus Christ every day.  If the children of God are silent, Satan’s works abound and he does as he pleases.  It’s just that simple.

Let us ask our Father in heaven for wisdom and discernment concerning prayer.  Let us ask Him every day for guidance from his Holy Spirit, that He will place upon our hearts a burden to pray and that he will make known to us His will so that we can pray for it to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In light of the enormous responsibility we have been entrusted with by God our Father, let us be sensitive to ALL THINGS as Paul instructed the church in Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

We approach the throne of God with praise and thanksgiving for Who He is and all he has done and will do.  This proclamation announces to all the heavens that there is one God who is worthy of praise and worship. This act shows all the heavens the rightful place God holds, and it puts Satan in his rightful place as well. We confess our sins with a repentant heart and mind and ask for forgiveness, as this puts us in our rightful place before God as his children and it shames our accusing enemy Satan, who accuses us day and night before our Father in heaven.  The blood of Jesus covers us and answers our enemy Satan.  We announce that we are covered by the blood of our precious Lord and Savior Jesus.  We get to work, interceding for all children of God, and all people everywhere, all political authorities, those who labor in the Gospel, we ask for more laborers to be sent into the fields of the world, we pray for all who are in adversity, for believers who have fallen into sin and for one another. (Ephesians 6:18, 1 Timothy 2:1, Ephesians 6:19-20, Colossians 4:3, Matthew 9:38, Hebrews 13:3, Galatians 6:1, James 5:16).  Then we petition God for our own needs, whatever burdens our heart, as we know he cares deeply for us and delights in the details of our lives.  We ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit in all things.

Know the truth about life in Christ Jesus and be set free.  Are you troubled about the condition of your country, the world, your leaders, your peers and friends, your family?  Does it hurt your heart to watch or hear the news?  Does the wickedness in the world discourage you?  Do the conditions of your own life and world discourage you?  Have you looked on, wondering why God doesn’t rise up and squash evil and wickedness in the land?  Align your will with the will of God and pray. You have no greater responsibility than this.

Our silence enables Satan and his kingdom to thrive and expand.  If he could cut our tongues from our mouths to prevent our prayers, he would.  But it’s just as well if he can silence us through other means, such as distraction, shame, guilt, feelings of unworthiness, discouragement, pride, ignorance or the lie that God will do what He wants anyway, so we need not pray. 

As ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, we fail God miserably and shamefully when we are silent.  Let it not be so. Let us demonstrate our faith by praying.

“And the Lord saw it…and wondered that there was no intercessor…” (Isaiah 59:15,16)

“…Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23)

The majority of the content of this post is from Watchman Nee’s “Let Us Pray” and from “The 2959 plan”.

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.  Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.  But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.  When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties and other sins like these.  Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:16-23)

“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.  But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.  (Mark 11:24-25)

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!  When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.  Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.  My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.  Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.  I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And you forgave me!  All my guilt is gone. (Psalm 32:1-5)

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation.  There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow.  But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)

And this is the message I proclaim — that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.” (Romans 2:16)

We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born.  We can’t take our riches with us.” (Ecclesiastes 5:15)

Look! I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear my voice and 0pen the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20)

Clutter tends to build up over time and can turn an otherwise nice room into a place of discomfort and embarrassment, where objects lack their proper, rightful place.  A cluttered room mixes valuable, worthy pieces with garbage and the overall theme and experience is disorder. No one likes to be in a place like this.  Those who live in places like this are generally overwhelmed and suffer from anxiety and other debilitating issues.  They want to hold on to the garbage “just in case”, but the more clutter that builds up, the more debilitated they feel.

They can barely function in the mess.  They are embarrassed by it and wouldn’t dare invite any company over to see what they are living in. In extreme cases, the place cannot even be dusted and cleaned because of the piles of clutter everywhere, so filth is added to the disorder, resulting in overall socially unacceptable living conditions.

Most people put forth the effort to keep their living space socially acceptable and even orderly and nice.  It is important to most of us to keep our things nice, organized and clean. If keeping our material belongings orderly and acceptable is important, how much more important is the condition of our spiritual life, our spiritual house?  As the days pass, our interactions with others, our thoughts, temptations and actions build up. They clutter and hamper what should always be an orderly and peaceful relationship with our Father in heaven.

Many of us would be mortified if the door to the room of our soul and thoughts was suddenly sprung upon, revealing all our secrets, all our filthy garbage to our neighbors and people whose opinion of us we deeply care about.  It should make our heart race to realize that God Almighty stands at our door right now, knocking, wishing to come in. Is our house in order? How long do we need to get it in order? How long would it take us to put things in their proper place, to scrub, to freshen up, to make our room acceptable to God so that we would not be ashamed to open our door to Him? Some examples of spiritual garbage/clutter are fear, bitterness, worry, resentment, hatred, pride, selfishness, envy, regret, grudges, covetousness, greed, laziness, hostility to others, outbursts of anger, sexual immorality, shame, and guilt.

This clutter and garbage has no rightful place in our lives, but we live with it, often collecting it, nurturing it and fostering it.  We provoke it in ourselves and in others, and of our own free will, hold tightly to it and justify it. What an embarrassing and shameful mess.

Fortunately for us, God has given us the tools we need to clean our spiritual house and keep it clean and orderly. He has given us His Word so we know with clarity what the worthy, valuable pieces are in our house, and what the garbage and clutter is.  He has taught us in His Word about the fruit of the our sinful nature so we can differentiate between what our flesh is doing and what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives.

When we see clearly where the fruit of our sinful nature is growing and ripening, He has taught us how to cut it from the corrupt vine of our sinful nature through confession and repentance.  When we confess and repent, we show that we have identified garbage in our life and that we agree with God that it’s time to throw it away and rid our house of it.

He has taught us in His Word about forgiveness, both in asking him for it and in granting it to others.  When we confess our sins and repent of them, we are invited to ask God for His forgiveness of them and we are assured that he grants the forgiveness that we’ve asked for, with one condition: we must first grant forgiveness to anyone we are holding a grudge against. If we want a clean and orderly spiritual house, then we must use the tools we’ve been given by our loving Father in Heaven, Who wants us to thrive in our lives and experience true joy and peace.

The wise confess, repent and forgive daily as part of their routine, understanding that these things are as critical to their spiritual lives as nutrition, exercise and rest is to their physical bodies.  Those who understand spiritual warfare have a very real, sober clarity on how these tools keep us safe from our enemy Satan’s attacks and in right standing with God. It is up to each of us to take an honest look at the condition of our spiritual house (our actual house/room too if needed!).  What are the conditions we are living in? Do we have years of clutter that we need to sift through and make decisions about?  We have all we need to keep our house clean and the Holy Spirit will help us.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.  There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.  God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.  A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.  To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge.  The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.  He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy.  He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit.  Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.  It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts.  He alone decides which gift a person should have.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

“Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you?  But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, that will be helpful.  Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody.  And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle?  It’s the same for you.  If you speak to people in words they don’t understand how will they know what you are saying?  You might as well be talking into empty space.  There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning.  But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me.  And the same is true for you.  Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church. Well, then what shall I do?  I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand.  I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand.  For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you?  How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t understand what you are saying? You will be giving thanks very well, but it won’t strengthen the people who hear you.  I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you.  But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.  Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things.  Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind.  It is written in the Scriptures: ‘I will speak to my own people through strange languages and through the lips of foreigners.  But even then, they will not listen to me,’ says the Lord.  So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers.  Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers.  Even so, if the unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your church meeting and hear everyone speaking in an unknown language, they will think you are crazy.  But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say.  As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, ‘God is truly here among you.‘” (1 Corinthians 14)

When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them.  I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5-6)

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.  You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.  Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.  Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” (Matthew 8:15-20)

The Kingdom of God is orderly. 

When non believers look at Christians, they should see order; they should see deliberate, clear, righteous living.

The Apostle Paul, in his many letters to the churches, took great care to explain the expectations of how the Church is to conduct itself.  And what stands out more than anything is that if an action’s fruit is helpful to the Church and/or strengthens the Church, it is good.  If an action’s fruit is confusion or chaos, it is not of God, but of some other spirit.

Many of us have never personally experienced speaking in tongues or prophesying or the gift of healing or performing miracles. Yet, wolves in sheep’s clothing and their followers who would have us believe that we are not saved if we haven’t experienced these things, especially speaking in tongues which they say is the so-called ‘evidence’ of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

In fact, there are whole denominations centered around speaking in tongues and the phenomenon known as “being slain in the spirit”.  Unbelievers who walk into these “churches” experience chaos and hear incomprehensible blabbering that no one in the room understands.  They see people falling down and moving like they’ve been electrocuted.  They see pastors (many of whom are broadcasted on television) blowing in people’s faces and touching their foreheads, which somehow causes the people to fall down, prostrate.  This is chaotic, not orderly.  What fruit do these actions bear?  How do these things help or strengthen the Church?

In any other circumstance, if someone was behaving that way, we would call an ambulance or the police.  We would think they are out of their mind, on drugs or drunk.  There may not be a more gross demonstration of spiritual pride as conscientiously opening our mouth to utter sounds in front of others that neither we nor anyone who hears us understands or by behaving in ways that we wouldn’t dare do in public, like randomly falling down and spasming.  People who do not have control of their faculties do these things; something’s wrong with them, not right.  This isn’t something the Church of Christ should be striving for, but running from.  If there is a spirit involved in this, it is NOT the Holy Spirit of God.

The Scriptures clearly teach us that where the Holy Spirit gives one person the gift of tongues, He gives another the gift to interpret what is being said by the person who is speaking in tongues.  Where He gives one the ability to prophesy, He gives another the ability to discern what the prophetic message means. He gives gifts where they are needed, in an orderly fashion, to help and strengthen the Church. 

And, of all the gifts even available to the Body of Christ, the most important of all is the ability to LOVE (1 Corinthians 13)

When we read the Gospels about Jesus Christ, we see his many miracles, his prayers, his actions, behavior and interactions with others.  There is not one instance of Jesus speaking or praying in front of others in a language they could not understand. There is not one instance of him healing someone and them falling prostrate, paralyzed.  Even when He cast out demons, a situation where one would think the demon-possessed person would exhibit extreme behavior upon demons leaving them, we instead see immediate calmness and self-control in the person who has been delivered from their affliction.  Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are One.  The Holy Spirit does not contradict the orderly life and actions of Jesus Christ.

Quite a contrast from the embarrassing theatrics in the video below:

 

“Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder.  Now others are building on it.  But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have — Jesus Christ.  Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials — gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw.  But on the judgment day, fire will reveal with kind of work each builder has done.  The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.  If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.  But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss.  The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.”  (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

Finding our purpose in life is a deep-rooted human quest; we want to know why we’re alive, what we were created for.   Some people are so obviously blessed with talent, passion and drive for specific purposes that the rest of us may wonder how we missed the boat when it sailed through, laden with spectacular abilities for the choosing.

At any age, in any walk of life, for many of us, days turn into months and years that just seem meaningless and mundane.  We look back on our lives and cannot find much of any significance, nor can we realistically envision a big break through of clarity; the coveted “Ah-Ha!” moment where we know why we’re here and what we are supposed to be doing.

Meanwhile, we are bombarded with reminders of others who are chasing their dreams, making life count.  They are excellent athletes, entertainers, artists, business people, motivators, soldiers, parents, visionaries, inventors, adventurers, writers, the list goes on and on.  They seem to have been created for exactly what they are doing.  Good for them. We can celebrate that.

But, for those of us who are not enjoying the fruits of being truly excellent at something, for those of us who have always been just average (even less than average) in our ambitions and abilities, who don’t have a clear vision, who don’t have a clear passion that we can live out on a grand scale, lack of clarity in our purpose for living is a heavy burden we carry.  In truth, this is the reality of life for MOST OF US, not some of us.

So, from an eternal perspective (the only perspective that matters), it is important to get clarity from the Scriptures.

If we feel like our work is meaningless because we aren’t on the fast track to or do not even want to achieve the ‘Big Title’, let us remember that, while some people in the Bible held high status in society, most did not.  Jesus was a carpenter, His disciples were fishermen, tradesmen, and a tax collector.  Rachel was a shepherdess.  Paul was a tent maker.  David was a shepherd and musician before God elevated him to another purpose as soldier and King.  Scripture places no importance at all on these people’s work titles, but does highlight that they were all hard workers, setting their hands to work daily to earn their living. 

Contrary to the popular belief that people’s work should be in line with their passion, it does not matter what our occupation is as long as we treat it as though we are working for the Lord Himself.  When we approach our work from this eternal perspective, when we are dependable to our employers and perform our tasks with integrity, we will always find happiness and satisfaction in our work.  We work for the Lord and we are where we are supposed to be. Our work becomes a testimony to our relationship with Christ and we bring His Name glory in this way without even speaking a word about our faith.

So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work.  That is why we are here!” (Ecclesiastes 3:22)

Again, “Everything has already been decided.  It was known long ago what each person would be.  So there’s no use in arguing with God about your destiny.  The more words you speak, the less they mean.  So what good are they?  In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent?  Our lives are like a shadow.  Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone?” (Ecclesiastes 6:10-12)

So we can break free from the burden of the lie that if our profession isn’t our passion, we are somehow on the wrong path.  We are right where we are supposed to be.  So if our work isn’t necessarily our purpose in life and we don’t necessarily have any clear direction on what our purpose is, what is the answer?

“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:16-20)

Yes, it is that simple.  We have one purpose: to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world. 

All else is vanity, entertainment, fleeting.  All else goes to the grave with us when we die.

Lest this revelation spark some drastic thought that we need to quit our job and leave our family and go be a missionary in some remote, dangerous part of the world, we are exactly where we are supposed to be.  Our very lives are a testimony to Christ Jesus if we are living in obedience to His commands.  Christ lives inside of us so wherever we are, anyone we engage with, the opportunity is always there to share the Gospel just by living our lives.

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.  Yes I am the vine; you are the branches.  Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.  For apart from me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers.  Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.  But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!  When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples.  This brings great glory to my Father.  I have loved you even as my Father has loved me.  Remain in my love.  When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes, your joy will overflow!  This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves.  Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.  You didn’t choose me.  I chose you.  I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.  This is my command: Love each other.”  (John 15:1-17)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And having chosen them, he called them to come to him.  And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself.  And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.”  (Romans 8:28-30)

“God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

‘Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless.’ Keep this in mind:  The Teacher was considered wise, and he taught the people everything he knew.  He listened carefully to many proverbs, studying and classifying them.  The Teacher sought to find just the right words to express truths clearly.  The words of the wise are like cattle prods — painful but helpful.  Their collected sayings are like a nail-studded stick with which a shepherd drives the sheep.  But, my child, let me give you some further advice.  Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out. That’s the whole story.  Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.  God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing.” (Ecclesiastes 12:8-14)

So let us make our lives truly count.  Let us fulfill the purpose we were created for.  And along the way, let us enjoy the many passions, things, talents and entertaining moments that make life fun.  That is what they are there for.  Just don’t confuse the importance of the things in this life with the infinitely greater importance of the things of our eternal life.  When it comes to finding our purpose, our Purpose already found us and gave us our assignment. 

If we are called to pray, we must pray.  This is our purpose in life.   If we are called to give, we must give faithfully and according to our ability.  If we are called to care for others, to encourage others, to protect others, to be the best friend we can be, to be the best employee we can be, to be the best parent we can be, to be the best child we can be, whatever we are called to do, this is our purpose. Own it. Our example is Christ Jesus and we represent Him in this world.

Everyone’s life and deeds will be subjected to the refining fires of God on judgment day and we may be surprised to see what survives the fires and what does not.  May God’s Kingdom Come!

Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble.  For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them.” (Psalm 24:17-18)

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.  But I say, love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.  For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?  Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.  If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?  Even pagans do that.  But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:43-48)

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!  Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you.  Pray for those who hurt you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also.  If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.  Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.  Do to others as you would like them to do to you.  If you love only those who love you, why should you get any credit for that?  Even sinners love those who love them!  And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit?  Even sinners do that much!  And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit?  Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.  Love your enemies!  Do good to them.  Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.  Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. (Luke 6:27-36)

Never pay back evil with more evil.  Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.  Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.  Dear friends, never take revenge.  Leave that to the righteous anger of God.  For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:17-21)

How do we feel inside when someone who has hurt us, humiliated or disrespected us or our loved ones falls upon hard times, devastating times?

In the world, when people “get theirs” or when “karma shows up”, it is most often celebrated.

But in the Kingdom of Heaven, rejoicing at the troubles and suffering of another person displeases the Lord.

The whole world is a spiritual battlefield and our actions can impact the eternal lives of others.  When someone is being dealt with and they are mocked or their unfortunate situation is celebrated, their hearts will harden, their hatred will grow worse.  Where they may have otherwise turned to God and repented of their sins, they may instead be lost forever.  This is not a burden that any of us wants to bear, no matter what has been done to us.

So what’s the appropriate thing to do? 

The appropriate thing is to outwardly show grace, compassion.  Depending on the wrong committed, maybe the only appropriate thing we are capable of outwardly doing is to be silent, saying nothing.  But we are commanded to love our enemies and this “love” is a verb, a word of action; actively doing good to those who hate us, blessing those who curse us, praying for them.

When God’s command to do this is obeyed, miracles happen.  Countless stories are told of the absolute worst among men and women being turned to God’s glory.  Persecutors, murderers, traffickers, wracked with guilt, show up at the doors of those they’ve hurt, asking about Christianity, asking for forgiveness.  If they are wicked and evil, they are lost, and as long as they draw breath, there is the opportunity for them to be found (Luke 15).  Once found, they turn their lives around with the help of Almighty God, crossing from darkness into light, and this is a glorious event, celebrated in heaven (Luke 15:7).

When we leave it God to serve up justice, to take revenge on our behalf, to pay back wrong-doing and we obey his command to do good to others, especially those who wrong us, we demonstrate that we fully understand the eternal stakes and are trustworthy soldiers in the service of God.

That said, it is a normal, very human reaction to feel vindicated; to experience the satisfaction of the knowledge of a wrong being righted, however our hearts tally up the score.

Whatever is going on inwardly, the safety-zone is prayer.  Prayer is the place where we are safe to be completely honest with God.  Prayer is where we say whatever our hearts are yearning to say, thanking Him for His justice, for vindicating us, that we have been able to witness it.  Tell it to the Lord alone, and then love your enemies.  In this way, while followers of other so-called gods wreak havoc across the world, seeking revenge and justice for themselves, the followers of Jesus Christ stand out as lights in the darkness.

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?  She is more precious than rubies.  Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.  She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.  She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.  She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.  She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.  She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.  Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.  She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.  She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes.  She makes her own bedspreads.  She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.  Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders.  She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.  She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.  When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.  She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.  Her children stand and bless her.  Her husband praises her: ‘There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised Reward her for all she has done.  Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.”  (Proverbs 31:10-31)

“And I want women to be modest in their appearance.  They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.  For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.”  (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

According to the Holy Scriptures, there is nothing more precious than a Godly Woman.  So what characterizes a Godly Woman?

She is virtuous, possessing moral excellence.

She is capable; having the ability required for a specific task or accomplishment.

She is trustworthy, reliable.

She begins each day early and with purpose, planning the day’s work.

She is a hard worker, energetic, strong, passionate about her craft and spends her days perfecting it.

She suffers nothing from laziness.

She is intelligent and business-oriented, a co-provider for her family, making sure her work is profitable.

She is attentive to the worthy things in her life, carefully watching; she is not aloof.

She does not worry about her future or the future of her family; instead, she obeys God and trusts Him to provide their every need.

She cares about the poor and needy and helps them.

Her appearance is modest yet dignified, respectable.

When she speaks, her words are wise and kind.

If she is single, you will find her working hard at whatever craft(s) she is capable of.  She has a purpose that drives her; wakes her up early and keeps her occupied even into the night.  Her judgment is trusted by her family, employer, friends and even acquaintances. She is not known by flashy possessions or a flashy appearance, still people describe her as attractive because of her virtuous character.  Her friends confide in her with no worry that she would betray their trust.  She does not gossip.  When she speaks, she speaks intelligently and with kindness.  She cares about the poor and needy, thinks about them, helps them. Her solid relationship with God is evident in everything she does.  She is known by her virtues.

If she is married, her husband trusts her completely and he enjoys the confidence and freedom that comes with having a wife of noble character.  Her judgment is sound and trustworthy, especially in the areas of business and money.  She earns her own money and contributes to the family purse by her hard work.  She is a living example to her children on the matters of hard work and moral excellence.  She has the respect and praise of her family because she earns it every day; her husband is proud of her and he is highly respected by others because of her.  She and her husband are a power-couple the likes of which the secular world can only dream, because the foundation of their relationship is God, who blesses them. She greatly enriches his life, supporting him in anything he sets out to do.  Her husband and her children adore her as God adores her, and their relationship as a family glorifies God.

This woman may seem rather intimidating.  Is all this really possible?

Lest we get lost in the details or overwhelmed by what Scripture characterizes a Godly Woman as, reading the Scripture in the context of order and balance that reflects the perfect nature of God, she is NOT a workaholic, never stopping to relax.  But she is passionate; as evidenced by her laughter, she is balanced and free.  She laughs without fear of the future; she is not a worrier, but a woman of purpose and action, with a zeal for life.  She is quite simply a force to be reckoned with.

In sharp contrast, what we often see in TV shows, Hollywood, on the internet, on the news and even in the church are as follows:  Women who dress in revealing clothing that draws attention to their sexuality; who have vulgar mouths and short tempers; who are lazy and greedy and do not want to work; who actively look for others to fund their lives and recreation; who enjoy and look forward to activities of debauchery, drunkenness, promiscuity; who gossip and even make up lies to hurt or manipulate others; who cannot be trusted to do their job or to follow through with their promises or to be faithful; who frivolously and carelessly spend every cent they have and then spend even what they don’t have by using credit; who are self-absorbed, selfish, emotionally cold, with no care for those in need; who have no worthy ambition or purpose in life.

When choosing female friends, a girlfriend, a wife, the world is pretty shallow in its choices which usually fall into the categories of physical attractiveness and popularity.  As such, a lot of trouble, strife and pain are experienced both by the women and the people in their lives.  But that is what can be expected of the world; of Satan’s kingdom.

In the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the woman is the companion of the man and together God has given them dominion of the whole world.  She is more precious than anything and she is a compliment to the lives of everyone she meets.  May God’s Kingdom come!