As He Thinketh in His Heart So is He (Proverbs 23:7)

As he thinketh in his heart

God’s Word clearly reveals that if we aren’t getting the right results, it’s because we might not have a clear understanding of the true meaning of the gospel.

In Luke chapter 2, when the angels of the Lord showed up to the shepherds, they proclaimed (verse 14) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”

So what were they announcing? Peace and good will toward men from God.

Prior to Christ’s coming, according to the law, sin was not brushed over. It had to be dealt with daily by sacrifices. So many times in the Old Testament we read where God was angry with the people because of their sin. God’s wrath and judgment was against His own people almost continuously. Kind of like us today. We can’t go an entire week without messing up, sometimes.

Now, here’s the problem, unless taught properly, people run the New Testament and the Old Testament all together. Some Christians still look for God to punish them for everything they do wrong. They mistakenly believe there is still “Penance” to be paid for their sin, even after being born-again.

When the angels proclaimed “Good will toward men, they understood that a Savior was about to be born who would pay the price for sin, redeem us, and stop God’s wrath upon man-kind, if they would receive His Son.

Yes, God is a just God and sin has to be dealt with, but Jesus paid the penalty. We were bought with a price that had to be paid (1 Corinthians 6:20). Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22)

The word Gospel translated in Greek, actually means “nearly too good to be true.” It’s the goodness of God that leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Jesus is the only way that saved us all from paying the penalty of sin for ourselves. We couldn’t do it. There had to be a perfect sacrifice.

Too many think there are many ways to God or heaven, but there is only One mediator between man and God – 1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Jesus Christ.

So, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. When we receive Christ, we are reconciled, brought back in harmony, with God. So there is no reason for God to be angry with us any more.

Here’s another thing: He’s not angry with unbelievers either. He hates the sin, but loves man-kind. “God so loved the world…” Jesus mad the difference in how God relates to man-kind.

This is what the angels were praising  Him for in Luke 2:14. God’s wrath had been appeased through His only begotten Son.

God has been reconciled to man, but you must believe by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You must receive in order for you to be reconciled to Him. The offer is there; the price is paid; love can flow again, if you believe and receive.

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Psalm 90

Psalm 90

Author: Moses

Verse 1 – Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Verse 2 – Before the mountains were brought forth, or even You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Verse 3 – You turn man to destruction, and say “Return, O children of men.”

Verse 4 – For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.

2 Peter 3:8 – But, beloved do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Maybe that is why we think God is slow sometimes in answering our prayer. We have to also remember two things; God’s timing is perfect and He works all things out for our good! God is outside of time.

Verse 5 – You carry them away like a flood; they are like sheep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up:

Verse 6 – In the morning it flourishes and grows up; in the evening it is cut down and withers.

Verse 7 – For we have been consumed by Your anger, and by Your wrath we are terrified.

Verse 8 – You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.

Nothing is ever really done in secret, God sees it all. However, when our sin is under Christ’ blood they are remembered no more. That doesn’t mean we continue in the same sin He has forgiven us for.

Hebrews 8:12 – “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Verse 9 – For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; we finish our years like a sigh.

Verse 10 – The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Perhaps Moses was referring to that generation that did not enter the promise land because they did not believe God. Most of them were adults at the time and were probably in their late 20’s or 30’s. So 40 years after that would put them in their 70′ or 80’s. It was only Caleb and Joshua and the next generation that got to enter the promise land.

Verse 11 – Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.

Verse 12 – So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Do you set goals to reach before a certain age? Do they involve God’s Kingdom? We look at years of youth, like “I’ll always be young.” And before we know it we’ve turned 50 or 60. Did you accomplish what you set out to accomplish in your 20’s? Most of us didn’t . The only accomplishments that will matter at the end of anyone’s life, will be what was done for eternity. Great is the reward to those who remain faithful to the One True God – Jesus!

Verse 13 – Return, O Lord! How long? And have compassion on Your servants.

Verse 14 – Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!

Verse 15 – Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, and the years in which we have seen evil.

What would our lives be like without any trials or hardships. I think it would lead to an attitude of self-sufficiency. Would we even pray? I don’t think so. I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it: Some of the hardest people to reach and tell them about Christ, are the  ones who have everything they need and want and don’t feel like they need God. Most Christians that I know came to Christ when their lives were falling apart and were in desperate situations that they or no one else could fix. When the Israelites were in the desert, they needed God for their very survival. He wants us to depend on Him and only Him.

Verse 16 – Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children.

Verse 17 – And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.

By establishing the work of our hands, it shows we do have a role in our provision. God will bless what we do, but He will also do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

How Do We Grow in Grace and Learn to Rest in Him?

The measure of faith

Resting and growing: Do some of you ever wonder, as a Christian, what it would be like to be living “that abundant life” that Christ died to give us? Some know, but some wonder, as I have and still do at times.

Matthew 7:7, 8 – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” (8) For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”

Now look at Ephesians 3:20 – Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above and all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.

Don’t forget the end of the sentence, it’s according to the “power that works in us!” Who lives in you if you are a believer in Christ? Christ Jesus. So who did all the work or is doing all the work? Christ finished it all at the cross. So what does Hebrews tell us to do? Hebrews 4:1 – Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, least anyone fall after the same example of disobedience (unbelief). Unbelief in, not believing God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above, all that we ask or think.

Resting in Christ is not the same thing as being inactive. We are at rest in our hearts, knowing God is working in us to the point of “growing in His grace.

Here is the clue – God doesn’t need our abilities. He can equip us for any challenge or assignment. He needs our “availability.”

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (30) For My yoke is easy and My burden light.”

Stress, worry, and anxiousness, are the burdens of life. In our panic modes of, “What am I going to do now”, we forget that Jesus already has the solution. It’s called total dependency and complete trust in the One who already knows the outcome.

This is a process. It takes time in growing and learning of Him, in order to build the confidence in Him to know He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, more, than we can even think . But, it’s according to the power that works in US! By His Spirit, He reveals answers to us and by faith we believe.

When we take  Jesus’ yoke on us, it means becoming His disciple and a life long learner, willingly. Our souls will experience the greatest peace and harmony imaginable when we allow His Spirit to guide us in all areas of life.

When we face difficult decisions, remember, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20). And that takes place because we have already yielded our will and authority and standards to the Word of God, which is the truth. We act according to His Word by faith and leave the results to Him. Problems will become an opportunity to trust in the Lord.

When we are controlled by the love of Christ we can claim this promise: Philippians 4:6, 7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (7) and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

So we pray about things, give thanks for Him answering us, and leave the results to Jesus. When we are motivated by the love of Christ, we trust that God will meet all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). When our focus gets off self and placed on Him, things will change. We praise Him in the bad times as well as the good, because we trust Him for the outcome – We Rest in Him! Amen!

Do Some Think Grace is a License to Sin?

The measure of faith

Will some believers take advantage of the message of grace and keep on living by their flesh? If their understanding of the gospel goes no further than the forgiveness of sin, then probably yes.

However, if they understand that Christ not only died for the forgiveness of sin, but rose again to come and live in us and through us, then absolutely not!

Some will become immature and rebellious, thinking grace is to cover everything they continue to do, but they will soon discover a turmoil on the inside that is far worse than before they came to Christ. We don’t continue in what God has delivered us from. When you have an understanding of the true gospel, you have a responsibility to respond accordingly.

Knowing the difference between discipline and punishment can help those who don’t understand how to get back on the right track.

Discipline is not punishment. Too many times people confuse what parents or others have done to us, and think God’s character is the same – not so. This error in thinking this way is a stronghold of legalism. It has to be corrected in order to rest in God’s grace. And never think you have sinned so much that a loving Father won’t forgive you.

Punishment – is a penalty imposed on an offender for breaking a law – wrong doing. It is retribution for a crime committed.

If you get a ticket for speeding, the police officer doesn’t really care that you had something else on your mind or you were late for work. The why doesn’t matter, you still pay a fine. There is a penalty for breaking the speed limit.

Discipline – is training that develops self-control and character. Punishment and discipline sometimes feel like the same thing, on the receiving end, especially when you first start exercising body or mind. However, the attitude for punishment is anger and indignation and its goal is justice. The attitude for discipline is love to develop and benefit for the person. You can’t start a diet today and reach your goal the next.

We should know that under the “New covenant”, God does not deal with His children on the bases of punishment. I know I’ve probably just shocked some of you but continue reading.

God placed all the punishment for yours and my sin, on Jesus Christ at the cross of Calvary! He deals with us through discipline when we need it, not out of anger, nor with a demand for justice. He deals with us as a loving Father, teaching us to grow in grace.

Until we learn this, when tragedies happen in our lives, we will ask, “Why did this happen to me? Is God mad at me for something I’ve don?” Remember: Jesus already said that, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). So you know trouble, hardships, and tragedies are going to happen. But Jesus said in John 16:33 that, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!” So we still need to trust in Christ when bad things happen.

Chapter 11 in Hebrews was written to the Christian Jews who were facing tremendous persecution for their faith. They were being barred from the temple and synagogues; were being ostracized and threatened, many were wavering in their faith. They might have assumed, as we do at times, that God must be angry about something. But Hebrews reminded them and us of all the historical characters that had faced even bigger tragedies, hardships, challenges, and pressures, to keep going, “by faith.” They all did what they did, by faith!

The Bible tells us in James 1:2 – My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. It’s a testing of our faith.

And the good news to the trials we go through is; the promise that He will go through them with us; the promise that all things will work together for our good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28); the promise to steer us back on track if we stray, through a loving corrective discipline to restore us; the promise of peace and joy in the midst of our trials through trusting and thanksgiving from us; and the promise, that nothing that happens to us is a sign of rejection.

So we accept our trials as an opportunity for God to build character qualities that have an eternal value. Philippians 1:6, reminds us that, “He who began a good work in you, will complete it, until the day of Jesus Christ!” We are not to focus on the circumstances because that only brings frustration. We focus on the promises of All Mighty God because He knows the “End from the beginning and its all good!

Psalm 89

Psalm 89

Author: Ethan (A Levite leader, possibly one of the head musicians in the temple or one of his descendants, 1 Chronicles 15:17, 19).

This psalm was written to describe David’s glorious reign. God had promised to make David the mightiest king on earth and to keep his descendants on the throne forever (2 Samuel 7:8-16). However, Jerusalem was destroyed, so these verses look forward to the future reign of Jesus Christ, David’s descendant.

Verse 1 – I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.

Verse 2 – For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.”

Verse 3 – “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn to My servant David;

Verse 4 – Your seed I will establish forever and build up your throne to all generations.” Selah

Verse 5 – And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.

Verse 6 – For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the mighty can be likened to the Lord?

Verse 7 – God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him.

The word “fear” used here is to stand in awe, a holy reverence to the “Most High!” The “afraid”, kind of fear comes from those who don’t know Him.

Verse 8 – O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You.

Verse 9 – You rule the raging sea; when its waves rise, you still them.

Verse 10 – You have broken Rahab (mythological monster) in pieces, as one who is slain; You have scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm.

Verse 11 – The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and all its fullness, You have founded them.

Verse 12 – The north and the south, You have created them; Tabor and Hermon rejoice in Your name.

Mount Tabor was where Deborah had her victory in Judges 4. Mount Hermon was a 9,000 feet tall and majestic mountain.

Verse 13 – You have a mighty arm; strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand.

Verse 14 – Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face.

Verse 15 – Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.

This is one reason why I love reading and studying the Book of Psalms; it shows me God’s character. Righteousness, justice, love, mercy, and faithfulness are His thrones foundation. If we too, have love and mercy as our foundations, we will begin to imitate our Father’s ways.

Verse 16 – In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted.

Did you catch that? In His righteousness the people are exalted. We as born-again believers gained the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ!

Verse 17 – For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn is exalted.

Verse 18 – For our shield belongs to the Lord, and our King to the Holy One of Israel.

Israel’s King was a shied given by God to protect and defend God’s people. The king was the servant of God, therefore belonged to God. When God’s Spirit flows through a person, nothing is impossible.

Verse 19 – Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one, and said, “I have given help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people.

Verse 20 – I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him,

Verse 21 With whom My hand shall be established; also My arm shall strengthen him.

Verse 22 – The enemy shall not outwit him, nor the son of wickedness afflict him.

Verse 23 – I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague those who hate him.”

Verse 24 – “But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him, and in My name his horn shall be exalted;

Verse 25 – Also I will set his hand over the sea, and his right hand over the rivers.

Verse 26 – He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’

Verse 27 – Also I will make My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.

While these words fit David, they were fulfilled in Jesus.

Verse 28 – My mercy I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall stand firm with him.

Verse 29 – His seed also I will make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.”

The covenant promise is realized through the line of David. The longevity of David’s seed is guaranteed by the Lord, and the eternal rule of David’s dynasty will continue as long as heaven exists.

Verse 30 – “If his son’s forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments,

Verse 31 – If they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments,

Verse 32 – Then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.

Verse 33 – Nevertheless My loving-kindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail.

Verse 34 – My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.

Verse 35 – Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David;

Verse 36 – His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me;

Verse 37 – It shall establish forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky.” Selah

In spite of Israel’s continual disobedience down through history, God’s amazing promise to David remained faithful. Centuries later, the Messiah arrived, the eternal King from David’s line, just as God promised. God is always true to His word. He cannot lie!

Verse 38 – But You have cast off and abhorred, You have been furious with Your anointed.

Verse 39 – You have renounced the covenant of Your servant; You have profaned his crown by casting it to the ground.

This tone of accusation in a series of charges toward Yahweh suggests the psalmist saw his current circumstances as a breach of God’s covenant agreement.

Verse 40 – You have broken down all the hedges; You have brought his strongholds to ruin.

Verse 41 – All who pass by the way plunder him; he is a reproach to his neighbors.

Verse 42 – You have exalted the right hand of his adversaries; You have made all his enemies rejoice.

Jerusalem became vulnerable to enemies through a breach in her defenses. Back in verse 13, the Lord had lifted David high. Now the Lord had lifted high the hand of David’s enemies.

Verse 43 – You have also turned back the edge of his sword, and have not sustained him in the battle.

Verse 44 – You have made his glory cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.

Not only did the Lord empower David’s enemies, but He also removed David’s military power. I remember reading about that last battle David fought, and he was almost killed. After that, he did not go out again.

Verse 45 – The days of his youth You have shortened; You have covered him with shame. Selah

Verse 46 – How long, Lord? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire?

Verse 47 – Remember how short my time is; for what futility have You created all the children of men?

Verse 48 – What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave? Selah

Now the psalmist is questioning God’s motives in creating man kind and establishing a covenant with David that He seems to be breaking. He just didn’t understand the Lord’s actions.

How often we question the Lord’s actions, on our behalf. When things first start to snowball out of our control, we do a self-examination to see if we did something wrong. Then when we can’t seem to understand why things are happening, we question God. I keep reminding myself there is a bigger picture. The things we go through involve “much more” than just us personally. A lot of time, we don’t see it until we have weathered the storm. However, when you know your God is “All loving, and All good,” you will have the confidence that everything will turn out for your good!

Verse 49 – Lord, where are Your former loving-kindness, which You swore to David in Your truth?

Verse 50 – Remember, Lord, the reproach of Your servants – how I bear in my bosom the reproach of all the many people,

Verse 51 – with which Your enemies have reproached, O Lord, with which they have reproached the footsteps of Your anointed.

Verse 52 – Blessed be the Lord forevermore! amen and Amen.

The psalmist felt like we do sometimes. We can be going along in life, seeing all good, and then “Ba-mm,” the enemy starts attacking in every area. Things start breaking; people start attacking with their talk; relationships can start to crumple.

Here’s what I’ve discovered through experiences. When we want things to stay the same because all is good and comfortable, we forget that every Christian has a calling on their life for God’s Kingdom. When God starts moving us closer to that calling, things will get “turned upside down!” God will get us out of that comfort zone to move us forward. We are not to be lukewarm. When we finally figure out what God is doing and stand in agreement with Him, the enemy will and does kick up the attacks to a higher level. The stronger the attacks, the bigger the victory. The testimony we have when we come out, is all for His glory! It’s so others will see and hear about how Christ sustained us through the storm and the miracles of a way out along the way.

We stand on His Word, because it cannot fail! He is faithful to His children and will uphold each one of us by His right hand. Our position is to keep believing and don’t give up!

God’s Love for Us

Jesus on the Cross

1 Corinthians 13, not only describes how we should love one another, it describes how God loves us. Let me substitute the word love for God (God is love). God is long-suffering; God is kind; God does not envy; God does not parade Himself; God is not puffed up; God is not rude, God doesn’t boast; God is not easily angered; God keeps no record of wrongs; God does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes the best for you, always preserves. God’s love never fails.

1 John 4:8 – He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Do you ever wonder why some people, even Christians, are not very nice to others? It’s because they have never realized how much God loves them.

Look at these scriptures: John 13:34 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Romans 15:7 – Therefore receive one another, just as Christ received us, to the glory of God.

Ephesians 4:32 – and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.

If people only think God loves them when they’re doing good, then how do you think they will treat others around them? I think we need to be reminded just how much God has forgiven us for. Our concept of God’s love and grace is an issue that will affect every area of our lives, especially our relationships with others.

Someone who is “Religious” and are used to hearing “Beat me up sermons,” are some of the most hateful people I’ve ever met. Do you know why? Because in their mind if you do good, you get good, if you do bad, you get bad. They think God is the same way. But, if we begin to love others the way Christ loves us, we not only forgive others much more easily, we begin to see ourselves transforming into what Christ’ intention for our lives was all along.

By the Holy Spirit’s power, He will enable us to comprehend this great love of God. Most think the power from the Holy Spirit enables us to accomplish things “to do.” Paul implies we need power to : Ephesians 3:17-19; (17) that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height (19) to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

So, why do we need this power, again? To understand the love of Christ. Knowing the love of Christ will surpass knowledge and we will be filled to the fullness of God!

To be filled with the Spirit is to be totally filled with the knowledge of God’s love and grace in Jesus Christ! I know this is a little deep for some of my casual readers, but it needs to be told how much you are loved. When a Christian is filled with the Spirit of God, it means we are under the influence of Him.

If we allow ourselves to be angry, bitterness and unforgiveness will control you. However, if we are filled with the knowledge of God’s love and grace, what takes control? God’s love! When we realized how much God loves us, that can’t help but spill over into other people’s lives.

The problem is, the flesh will still rise up to be critical, judgmental, and unforgiving. This is a battle between the flesh and spirit almost daily, but we can control it by what we set our minds on. We learn to be more sensitive to what the Spirit is saying rather than what our emotions scream out.

Part of being self-controlled is not replying to someone who just wants to argue to prove they are right about something. Don’t misunderstand, some things have to be confronted or they will continue. It’s how we do it that’s important. We can’t control or change anyone’s behavior for them. Sometimes the nicer you are to someone, the more advantage of you they will take. When that has occurred in my life, I walk away and have no more dealing with them. I can’t make anyone treat me nice. I can only control how I respond to them.

Always remember how much you have been forgiven for and it will make a huge difference of how you treat others.

Jesus went around doing good, not all but some turned on Him, and He forgave them anyway. You can’t have favor with them all, but that’s why we still sow the seeds of love and see what sprouts up.