This Brings Favor

This Brings Favor

“For it brings favor if, mindful of God’s will, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if you sin and are punished, and you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God. For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:19‭-‬23 HCSB

How many people these days say, “I’m blessed and highly favored,” by the Lord? According to God’s word at 1 Peter 2:19-23 that means they are enduring injustices, and unfair treatment, without complaining, threatening, or cursing those who abuse and mistreat them. They do this because they are conscious of God’s will. They put God’s feelings ahead of their own. Just as Christ suffered for them they are willing to suffer for Him. God says this brings His favor. So I guess all those people who claim to be blessed and highly favored are meek, patient, humble people, who live in submission to God. Naaaaah, not all of them. Many are just quoting an affirmation like a nursery rhyme that makes them feel good. Telling yourself you’re blessed even if you’re not sounds good. But God says truly blessed and highly favored people are those who are enduring trials patiently, following Christ’s example. Being conscious of God’s will to the point of denying self is a fight, and a requirement to be one of Jesus’ followers:

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 NIV

This teaching goes contrary to our sinful nature. But oh how blessed and truly highly favored we are for being willing to suffer for our God who suffered so much for us.

WHO DOES GOD LIVE WITH?

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15 KJV

God: the High and Holy One, lives with those who are humble and contrite. That would mean they have His favor. These have their sins washed away in the blood of Jesus, and God lives with them. Wow! They have the Holy Spirit literally living inside of them. What a great mystery this is:

“This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” Colossians 1:26‭-‬27 NLT

That’s right, Jesus Christ Himself lives in us! WE have accepted His sacrifice for our sins, and they are ALL FORGIVEN! We belong to eternity just as He does, and will share in His glory. What greater gift can anyone have? Scripture often says that God’s favor is with the humble and contrite. But He opposes the proud:

“In the same way you younger people must submit yourselves to your elders. And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another; for the scripture says, “God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 GNT

THIS ALSO BRINGS FAVOR

“Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.” Ecclesiastes. 28:27 NIV

“When you give to the poor, it is like lending to the Lord, and the Lord will pay you back.” Proverbs 19:17 GNT

Givers are freed

from the sin of greed

Even in tough times

God provides their needs

God assures us that givers have His favor. They will always be taken care of. To go against our selfish sinful nature, and have a big generous heart, is true evidence of being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Did you know that the whole world will be judged by whether or not they gave to others? (Matthew 25:31-46) This shows how important it is to be a giver, and that only these have God’s favor:

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6‭-‬7 ESV

So the next time someone says, “I’m blessed and highly favored,” by God, I hope they are a cheerful giver too. Otherwise they have no idea of what they are saying.

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Our Age

Our Age

Mankind doesn’t know, they have not a clue, that they are living in an age decided by God. That’s right. We’re living in a period of time, among two stocks of people. There are really only two races of human beings on earth, not the many we’ve been taught. Jesus said this using a parable:

“He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from? ’ “ ‘An enemy did this! ’ he told them. “ ‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up? ’ the slaves asked him. “ ‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’ ” Matthew 13:24‭-‬30 HCSB

JESUS EXPLAINS THE PARABLE

“Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, “Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us.” He replied: “The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; and the good seed—these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.  Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!” Matthew 13:36‭-‬43 HCSB

Jesus said everyone in the world is either wheat; a son of the kingdom (sons of God), or weeds; sons of the evil one, the Devil. There’s really only 2 kinds of people on earth. These will coexist until harvest time, which is the end of this age. If we believe the word of God we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. (John 8:31-32) Understanding this truth helps us comprehend how people can be so cold, and do the most horrific things. Jesus told the truth about that too. When speaking to some religious leaders (wolves in sheep’s covering) who were breathing murder against Him, Jesus said:

“You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.” John 8:44 HCSB

You know how folks say, “We’re all God’s children?” According to Jesus words that is a lie. Jesus Himself said that Satan has children on earth too y’all.

Understanding this truth makes it easier to understand this passage:

“And a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” Matthew 10:36 HCSB

There are some in the same physical family who are not from the same stock spiritually. Some are of God, and others are from the Devil. Physical blood ties do not trump spiritual lineage. This explains why some brothers, sisters, mother’s, father’s, husbands, wives, etcetera, hate each other so much. (Proverbs 28:27) They’re from opposing spiritual families. To further prove this God told a woman who was going to have twin sons, “I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.” (Romans 9:13 HCSB) God knew who both of these sons were before they even came from their mother’s womb. One He hated, the other He loved. One was from Him, the other belonged to the Devil. Though they both had the same human parents, and were twins, they were not the same. This shouldn’t be too hard to believe; look at Cain and Abel. They too had the same parents and we know what happened there:

“Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.” 1John 3:12 NIV

There it is. The Bible clearly says that Cain, “belonged to the evil one,” and throughout scripture we read that Abel belonged to God. (Hebrews 11:4 ) Some human families do have spiritual brothers and sisters within them, others do not.

HOW IT ALL ENDS

Remember in the parable of the wheat and the weeds the man who sowed the good seed in his field (Jesus) was asked, ‘Where did all these weeds come from? Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ Then Jesus said, ‘No. Because while uprooting the weeds you might pull up the wheat also. Wait until harvest time (the end of the age). Then the angels will be given the command to uproot all the weeds, and burn them. That is those who practice lawlessness, and cause sin.’ Only God fully knows who’s who. We don’t. Weeds can look like wheat, and wheat sometimes look like weeds. We can easily mistake the two. Sometimes we think someone is a believer who is not. And sometimes we think someone isn’t a believer who is. Let’s just do our part and pray for everyone, even our enemies. Some of them are wheat; our brothers and sisters. They just don’t know it yet. Or they do know but they’ve fallen down, and will get back up again.

“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 NLT

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Kings

Kings

“When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.” Proverbs 29:2 NLT

Rulers affect the people they rule over. God says they do. They can help make their lives better or miserable. For the greater majority of Solomon’s reign he was a good king. Israel enjoyed 40 years of peace and no war while he was king. Just think of how many lives were spared because of 40 years of no wars. But how many throughout history have suffered under the hand of selfish rulers?

SOLOMON

“Some time later two prostitutes came to the king to have an argument settled. “Please, my Lord,” one of them began, “this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house. Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house. “But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it. Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her. And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t my son at all.” Then the other woman interrupted, “It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine.” “No,” the first woman said, “the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours.” And so they argued back and forth before the king. Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other. All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king. Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!” Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, “Oh no, my Lord! Give her the child—please do not kill him!” But the other woman said, “All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!” Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!” When all Israel heard the king’s decision, the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice.” 1 Kings 3:16‭-‬28 NLT

Can wisdom like this be found in kings today? While I do believe there are many smart kings and queens those possessing godly wisdom is another matter. Having godly wisdom is far better than being smart.

JESUS

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 KJV

Jesus is King Of Kings and Lord Of Lords. So why don’t people vote for or choose him? Well, Jesus’ kingdom (government) is not a part of this world, and people can’t see him. Folks claim to believe in only what they can see. Also this king makes you see yourself. Though invisible to the naked eye Jesus shows people their sins and the need to repent. Human beings don’t like that. So they choose human kings who make a bunch of false promises that appeal to the flesh. These kings tell people what they want to hear much like false prophets do. And people love false prophets. True ones they can’t stand. Jesus is the prophet of all prophets and so much more.

“‘Jesus said, “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.”   “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:36‭-‬37 NIV

From the above text we see that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world but, “from another place,” heaven. We also see that Jesus was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. Only those on the side of the truth can listen to him. They are and always have been a minority. I know, many have claimed through the centuries and do today to be Christians, but it’s just a claim. Only a few truly obey Jesus as their Lord, as their king. Jesus himself testified to this fact:

“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!’” Matthew 7:21‭-‬23 NIV

Wow! How horribly disappointed so “MANY” will be. The works they thought they were doing in Jesus’ name they depended on so much could not save them. They allowed themselves to be fooled by Satan. They truly didn’t know Jesus at all. Had they honestly studied the scriptures they would have come to know him. They also would have been given understanding of the text that says:

“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.” Ephesians 2:8‭-‬9 NLT

Jesus words show that on Judgment Day MANY will think God owes them salvation because of all the good things they think they did in Jesus’ name. They really didn’t know Jesus as Lord, and he doesn’t know them either. So MANY use the name of Jesus and their good deeds to give the appearance of being righteous:

“They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” 2 Timothy 3:5 NLT

It seems like after living this way for so long and refusing to repent they begin to believe their own lies.

WHAT WILL WE DO?

“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 2:10 NLT

Do we know Jesus? Do we believe scripture when it says the good things we do were planned for us by God long ago? So how could any of us ever boast? Instead we can only thank God for His mercy, for choosing to use us in his service? Are we really getting to know Jesus as our Lord, as our king?

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As In The Days Of Lot

As In The Days Of Lot

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49 NIV

It’s interesting what God says the sins of Sodom were compared to what others say. They usually focus on just one thing.

“Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.” Genesis 13:13 NIV

A righteous man named Lot and his family lived in Sodom. What affect do you think Lot’s environment had on him? The same affect this world has on you if you’re righteous:

“For that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard.” 2Peter 2:8 NIV

No, Lot did not mirror the wickedness around him. He was strong in the Lord. But that doesn’t mean that nothing bothered him. He was tormented in his soul by what he saw and heard. If you feel tormented by the wickedness you see and hear around you just like Lot, you’re in a good place. I know, it doesn’t feel good, buy you are in a good place spirityally.

THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS

Jesus said the last days right before his coming would be just like it was in Lot’s day:

“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. Luke 17:28‭-‬30 NIV

Remember that God said Sodom’s sins was her arrogance, she was overfed (greedy), had no concern, and didn’t help the poor and needy. Does that not characterize the world we live in today? Jesus said in Lot’s day the people of Sodom were buying and selling, eating and drinking, building and planting. It was all commerce and pleasure and business as usual. The problem was these were the only things they were selfishly consumed with. Their hearts were callous. They had no mercy, no love. Is that not the same kind of world we live in today? We’re definitely in the time Jesus foretold would mark his second coming. He will surely come. But for the world it won’t be pretty.

“Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” Revelation 16:15 NLT

“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” 2 Timothy 3:1‭-‬5 NLT

We are in modern day Sodom indeed. We are in the last days. What happened to Sodom is about to happen to the entire world. And there are a few Lots who live in Sodom today. If your heart aches at the evil all around you, it’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re in a good place. Just fight not to become overwhelmed and overly saddened by it. God will sustain us during these times just as he sustained Lot. Do what Jesus says; bless those who curse you, pray for and do good to them that persecute you. Continue to shine God’s light in your hearts by imitating Jesus. Don’t let anyone or any bad experience take that (your light) away from you. Jesus will fully and eternally reward all who are faithful to the end. All the chaos going on today that’s designed to distract us still doesn’t change the fact that Jesus is coming soon:

“So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” Luke 21:28 NLT

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