God will never fail

            There are people who are knowledgeable in finances which forecast what they see in the economy and make decisions based on what they see is going to happen in order to protect their investments through down turns in the economy. Jeremiah was prophesying about the coming destruction of Jerusalem due to the sin of the people. A cousin of Jeremiah came to Jeremiah while he was in prison because he was liquidating his physical assets before they were taken over by force and had to suffer financial lose.

            8 Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. 9 So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money—seventeen shekels of silver. 10 And I signed the deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales. 11 So I took the purchase deed, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open; 12 and I gave the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses who signed the purchase deed, before all the Jews who sat in the court of the prison.

            13 “Then I charged Baruch before them, saying, 14 ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days.” 15 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.” ’ (Jeremiah 32:9-15, NKJV)

            Jeremiah was called by God to invest in a future that looked impossible. This would never make financial sense and defies human logic to buy property that was about to be confiscated by another ruler. Jeremiah acted on the Word of God rather than relying on his wisdom. Jeremiah even doubted what he was being told to do until his cousin came to him asking Jeremiah to buy the field as God instructed him.

            Obedience to God will rarely make financial sense and often disagree with common sense. This is due to the fact that God desire people to prepare for the fulfillment of His promises instead of waiting in doubt that God is going to do the things He says He would do. It is much like the rich man who desired for Christ to reveal to him what he must do to be perfect and inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:16-22). This man was paralyzed to go and sell everything and follow Jesus as he was instructed to do. Where was the security in liquidating his assets? How would he live? Where would he find shelter? What would everyone say? These are all valid questions that are certainly going to be asked by others if a person does not wrestle with them in their heart.

            The answer to all these questions are found in the brief parable of the wise and foolish builders recorded in Matthew 7:24-27, “24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

            26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (NKJV). Building life on the foundation of Jesus Christ is the only thing that is guaranteed never to change (Hebrews 13:8). Money and possessions will come and go. Other people will let us down in the same way we disappoint ourselves. Governments and philosophies will all fail to come through and eventually become unstable in sustaining a culture. The eternal truth in Scripture is the only thing a person can build their life upon that will never fail to give proper guidance and direction whenever God’s Word is allowed to be the ultimate authority by which everything else is measured against as the standard of life.

            Praying beyond the physical:

Father, remind me that You are the only One who will never fail and can be trusted in spite of the sin of people.

Jesus, place in heart and mind Your Word and teachings so it is You I build my life upon and nothing else.

Spirit, empower me in my weakness to submit to Your guidance and direction in all things to remain faithful.


Pastor Tom 


Faith is Trusting in God’s Word

“Faith is Trusting in God’s Word”

Hebrews 11:8-22

Trust is revealed in faithfulness that defies circumstances.

Focus on God’s Ability

Proclaim God’s Kingdom

Live by Faith

Focus on God’s Ability

Hebrews 11:8-12, NKJV

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.      

            Can people really trust God’s Word? When people respond with faith to the things God has spoken they proclaim God’s Word is trustworthy. The challenge of trusting the Bible as God’s inspired Word is no different than the challenge those who are recorded in the Old Testament had to deal with in their time. Hearing God’s voice personally still needed to be accepted by faith and acted upon by each person.

            “By faith Abraham obeyed…” is a significant testimony about Abraham. There are two things the writer of Hebrews points out about Abraham to give evidence of his extreme trust that he demonstrated in what God said to him.

            Abraham left a guaranteed inheritance with his physical family for an inheritance that was unseen, impossible to comprehend, and with no immediate documented assurance of its reality beyond the promise of God. Genesis 12:1-3 records God’s calling of Abram to trust Him and leave his family and all that was familiar.

1 Now the Lord had said to Abram:

“Get out of your country,

From your family

And from your father’s house,

To a land that I will show you.

2 I will make you a great nation;

I will bless you

And make your name great;

And you shall be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you,

And I will curse him who curses you;

And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (NKJV)         

            In this calling of God Abram is receiving no specific address, country of destination, or even distance that will have to be traveled. There is a possibility Abram knew where God was going to be leading him. Genesis 11:31-32 records this often overlooked detail about Abram’s father,

31 And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. 32 So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran. (NKJV)

            Terah was headed to Canaan when he left Ur. There are no such things as coincidences since God is sovereign over all things, so it was no accident that God was directing Abram’s father to where He wanted Abram to eventually end up living. Stephen’s testimony before the high priests supports that Terah was led by God to go the Canaan with his son Abram which God had laid upon their heart. “2 And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you’” (Acts 7:2-3, NKJV).

            Moses says nothing about where the call of God to Abram happened in Genesis 12:4, “4 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran” (NKJV). It simply says that Abram was seventy-five when he departed Haran, not that the call of God took place there. There is no discrepancy between Stephen’s witness before the high priest and what is recorded by Moses in Genesis. Abram was called by God to go to the land of Canaan, but stalled in the journey in Haran.

            There are times in walking with God that distractions divert and cause the people of God to get side tracked. Terah is credited for taking his son Abram and his family along with his grandson Lot and his family to travel to Canaan. There was no specific place given to Abram, so he certainly did not know where he was going other than a general area. This is something that all of those who have answered the call of God can relate to personally. God gives as much information as necessary as His people need to know at the appropriate time; not before it is needed and never later than it ought to be known.

            Abram was moved by faith to answer the call of God in obedience to Him on the little information that he was given because he trusted that God was faithful to His word. This faith moved Abram, but also caused him to live knowing that he would not personally see the promise of God come about. Abram trusted God beyond what he could see, know, and imagine.

            “By faith Sarah herself received strength…” is speaking of more than the physical ability to conceive and bear a child in her old age. Sarah judged God faithful to fulfill the promise He made to her,

10 And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.”

 (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” (Genesis 18:10-12, NKJV)

            The things God promises and says will nearly always be beyond the capacity of those who hear and receive to fully comprehend and see how it could possibly be true if they do not listen and see in faith and trust in God. This is why Abraham and Sarah only did what they had done because of faith.

            God has not changed how He deals with people. People’s ability to understand the things of God has not been lost in the twenty-first century. The only reason why the people of God are not doing the same things we read about in the Scriptures is due to the fact that those who claim to worship God have lost their faith in His Word and have become dependent upon mankind’s logic and understanding. Believers today must learn how to trust God’s ability to do all He has promised and proclaimed in spite of their inability to fathom how it could possibly be true.

Proclaim God’s Kingdom

Hebrews 11:13-16, NKJV

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

            Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah all died in faith never seeing for themselves the fulfillment of the promises of God which He had told them in their fullness. These elders and many others who have gone nameless throughout history “…embraced [God’s promises] and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth”. The promises of God have never been grounded in fulfillment in the temporal things of this world which has been corrupted by sin.

            Those who claim that God desires to bless people with health and being void of sickness and harm here upon this earth now are cheapening the reward of God, and draining the promises of God of their ability to strengthen God’s people in the midst of hardship. Worldly wealth is limited; it is easily lost and stolen. Health will always be fleeting since the curse of death is upon mankind physically due to the consequences of sin. Pleasure and comfort in this world is fleeting at best and can be destroyed with the change in weather, someone’s choice to sin against another person, or the careless words spoken by someone.

            Scriptures about God’s promises are often limited to the immediate circumstances of people rather than accepting that they are looking forward to something that presently we cannot even imagine. A perfect example of this is Jeremiah 29:11, “11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (NKJV). God spoke this to those in Jerusalem who were about to be carried into captivity for seventy years. Today, many take this same passage and claim that God is speaking it to them about their immediate situation of how God desires to turn things around for their physical comfort. Another is Romans 8:28, “28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV). The ultimate fulfillment is not in the lifetime of the individual who claims these promises of God, but can be held in expectation in eternity in God’s presence to be greater than the physical “good” that is often imagined by people in the present.

            It is God’s kingdom that they hoped for which cannot be merged with this world that has been tainted by sin as it is presently. Therefore, there must be a new heaven and new earth to bring about in the fullness of God’s plans for “…a future and a hope…” for “…those who are the called according to His purpose”. Those who are proclaiming what has come to be known as the “Health and Wealth Gospel” have stripped the power of the eternal promises of God and reduced the hope He gives to people to knowing more than brief periods of comfort and moments of happiness. God has something greater in store for those who love Him than what can be seen and experienced in this lifetime.

            The people who are recorded in Scripture that took amazing steps of faith to do the unthinkable, go through incredible suffering without losing joy or peace, and constantly were unfulfilled in their endeavors and striving in this world, had their eyes on something other than this world. They were able to see through eyes of faith and with a heart that trusted in what God had told them.

            Those who claim faith in Christ like those who trusted in God before His coming must not lose heart and look back. The temptation to return in order to be comforted in the moment is great. The Israelites coming out of Egypt thought the hardships in the past were much more bearable than their present situation and longed to return to slavery. Jesus made it clear about those who choose to place their faith in Him that, “…No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62, NKJV).

            These are strong words from Jesus and the writer of Hebrews. Is there an attitude and knowledge among those who call themselves disciples of Christ that we are strangers and pilgrims in this world? If God’s people see themselves in this manner then all the things of this world such as wealth, possessions, heartaches, trials, and circumstances are seen as tools to reveal the truth of God to a world that is spiritually dead in their sins rather than things to be hoarded or experiences to be avoided.

            There is no doubt time is short whether speaking in terms of a person’s lifespan or the return of Christ. God’s people ought to be rejoicing over their pending arrival in the kingdom of God and the coming of Christ, whichever is to come first. God’s people ought to be exhausting their resources, time, and energy on kingdom matters more than immediate comfort. Those of the past never accomplished this flawlessly and neither shall we. The question still needs to be asked, is anything more important or pressing in all earthly existence than revealing salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ Jesus?

            Hebrews 11:16 should be one of the verses that believers should place in areas where it can be seen everywhere. “16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (NKJV). If the enemy of God can distract the attention of God’s people to desire this life and sinful world more than His heavenly courts, he has succeeded in minimizing the power of God through His people. The witness of a life that is unsatisfied with the temporary pleasures of this life is eroded, reducing faith to nothing more than empty words and actions.

            God must never be put to shame in this way and be ashamed of His people, but lifted up to reflect His honor and glory by their resolute testimony of what God has prepared for those who love Him which is beyond their comprehension.

Live by Faith

Hebrews 11:17-22, NKJV

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.

            Those who trust and live upon the Word of God were and still are challenged daily. Fears, doubts, and unbelief will continue to plague all who seek to submit to the Word of God in defiance of the desires of their sinful hearts. The failures and stumbles during the journey of faith with the Lord on this earth do not define the child of God; it is what a person does in response to their failures that will define them. Failures will either proclaim God as sovereign Master of life or reduce God to nothing more than just another idol worshiped by people that are powerless to save.

            Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son to the Lord having faith that God could and would raise the dead. Isaac trusted that God’s will would be done even though he was fooled by Jacob to bless him rather than his brother Esau. Jacob never gave up hope and continued to bless even though his life was quickly passing away and would not see the fulfillment of God’s promises in his lifetime. Joseph in faith made the people promise that when they left Egypt as God had promised after a long period of slavery to take his bones with them.

            Each of these men acted on the things God had said as if they would come about in the span of their lives, when in reality many generations would pass before the things God had promised would be realized. These are the things that have been recorded for all who would read and hear about the great things God has done and said so that we would believe and live out the truth of God before all people.

            The references made about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph here in these verses may sound like these men never struggled or wrestled with the turmoil of hearing what God says, but seeing everything around them as just the opposite of how things were in their lives. The difference about these men listed here and everyone else is their refusal to accept that God was anything else but trustworthy.

            Abraham when he was journeying to go and sacrifice his only son simply because God said to do it said some amazing things:

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”

And he said, “Here I am, my son.”

Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. (Genesis 22:4-8, NKJV)

            Abraham’s faith allowed him to know that he and Isaac would be returning to the men even though his plan was to sacrifice his son as a blood sacrifice to God. He also comforted Isaac’s questioning mind about the sacrifice because Abraham trusted that God had plans he was not aware of at the time. Isaac, Abraham’s son was spared, but the Son of God was cruelly sacrificed before God to atone for the sins of all people. God did indeed “provide a sacrifice for Himself” in the Lamb of God, His own Son.

            Isaac still trusted God to bring about His will in spite of being fooled by Jacob to receive the blessing of his brother Esau which Isaac intended for him because Esau was his favorite.

32 And his father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?”

So he said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.”

33 Then Isaac trembled exceedingly, and said, “Who? Where is the one who hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it before you came, and I have blessed him—and indeed he shall be blessed.” (Genesis 27:32-33, NKJV)

            Isaac had chosen Esau, but the Lord had chosen Jacob. The blessing was certainly stolen from Esau. Rebekah manipulated her husband and did what was wrong by instructing Jacob to lie. Does this make what they did right? Certainly not! God brought His will about in spite of the failures and sins of His people. Isaac could not take back what he had blessed Jacob with even though he was tricked. Jacob trusted the Lord to work things out regardless of the actions of others.

            Jacob was reminded about the infinite power of God when he and his beloved son Joseph were reunited, “9 Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.”

            And he said, “Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.” 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!” (Genesis 48:9-11, NKJV). Jacob was coming to the end of his days and blessed his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh as his own children proclaiming the blessing of God overcame physical limitations.

            Joseph also lived with the assurance that all God had told Abraham was as good as present reality even though none of it looked probable in his day prophesied, “24 And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here” (Genesis 50:24-25, NKJV). Joseph was still trusting in the Lord to fulfill all that was promised to Abraham generations before. This is the perfect example of what it means to live by faith and not by sight.

            It is not blind faith that God’s people have; it is faith in the trustworthiness of God and that His Word is true no matter how the current circumstances defy their reality. Living by faith is trusting in God’s Word. The glorious miracles and majesty of God that was displayed in the past can and is still seen presently in the twenty-first century when the people of God refuse to place their trust and hope in anything but the God who created and is sovereign over all things seen and unseen.

            Does this describe how life is being lived by the people of God today? If not, it is time that the children of God live by faith in God and forsake all faith in themselves and all other things.


God’s Word is Truth

Lifespans in Genesis

There is much wasted time in the church discussing things that are plain and simple about Scripture if we truly believe that, “16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV). When Christians proclaim this and then creatively attempt to fit God’s Word into the logic of mankind, then we make 2 Timothy 3:16-17 a false statement and discount the Bible completely. One example would be when we read passages like:

            12 Cainan lived seventy years, and begot Mahalalel. 13 After he begot Mahalalel, Cainan lived eight hundred and forty years, and had sons and daughters. 14 So all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years; and he died.

                15 Mahalalel lived sixty-five years, and begot Jared. 16 After he begot Jared, Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years, and had sons and daughters. 17 So all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred and ninety-five years; and he died.
(Genesis 5:12-17, NKJV) There are believers who want to discount the ages of the genealogy of Genesis 5 because we cannot fathom people living 800 and 900 years. It is true that achieving the age of 90 and 120 is rare in the world today even with our modern medicine. When one part of the Bible is called into question, the entire Bible is open to being discredited among God’s people and the world. There is no picking and choosing what parts of the Bible can be taken literally and which parts need to be viewed figuratively.

            God’s Word is truth from Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Revelation 22:21, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (NKJV). It is true that the Bible is made up of many different kinds of literature styles such as prose and poetry presented in letters, prophecies, historical records, and genealogies. Poetry is certainly to be read differently than prose writing, but it does not make it any less true because it is poetic language that is used rather than formal sentence structure.

            Genesis 5 is not written in poetic form but in straight forward sentences that simply record the history of actual people who lived and had children. These are not groups of people who lived these lifespans, but individuals who benefited from the beginning of creation when mankind was intended by God to live eternally. It was the rebellion of people against God that brought sin and death into the world. The eternal life God created people to live lingered in the physical make up of mankind for centuries until well after the great flood. This view stays faithful to the authority of Scripture and confirms 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Any view different from this erodes the authority of the Word of God in a person’s heart.

            God will never fit into the logic of humanity; He is infinite and we are finite. There will be many who are more educated, scholarly, and wiser than I am who will take issue with this position that is held in my heart. I hold these positions because I firmly believe 2 Timothy 3:16-17, John 5:46-47, “6 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”; Ephesians 3:20-21, “20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen (NKJV).

            How can we possibly say that Moses only wrote truthfully about Jesus and was inaccurate about everything else he wrote by inspiration of God? How is it possible that we can claim that God can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think and proclaim the ages in Genesis 5 are figurative or referring to something other than individuals? Yes, it is impossible for us to fathom how God can do these things, but He has done them nonetheless, believe it or not.

            Praying beyond the physical:

Father, stop me from reducing You to nothing bigger than my understanding and limitations.

Jesus, teach me to trust in Your Word rather than my understanding and logic

Spirit, increase my faith so nothing You share about the Father and Christ is disregarded by me.


Pastor Tom


Calling vs. Profession

Calling versus profession is the difference between submitting to God’s authority or doing what seems best in a person’s own understanding. This was especially true in Saul of Tarsus’ activity following his conversion on the road to Damascus. Paul explains his credentials to preach to the Galatians in this manner,

            “15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

            18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days” (Galatians 1:15-18, NKJV).

            Apostle Paul’s ministry was based strictly on the authority and call of God for him to preach the Gospel of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He recognized first of all that God was the One who had chosen him for salvation as well as being an apostle (one who is sent) of the Gospel. There were three and a half years spent in seclusion from everyone and everything to be taught by Christ himself in Arabia before going to Jerusalem to visit with Peter.

            I have heard this passage referenced to and used this passage myself when speaking with people about entering into full-time or part-time pulpit or missionary ministry within the body of Christ. This passage speaks to more than ministers in pulpit and missionary ministries in a tradition sense, but to all believers who are working in whatever fields of employment they find themselves in.

            It is clear from Scripture that whatever we do as children of God we must do it for God’s glory and as if we are doing it exclusively for Him. “17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him…23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:17, 23-34, NKJV). God does not call all His people to be in full-time or part-time ministry behind the pulpit of a congregation. He has called some to be truck drivers, doctors, engineers, dishwashers, cooks, excavators, clerks, accountants, factory works, farmers, as well as any occupation that children of God are found employed as in their life.

            Is what you are doing today what God has called you to do, or is it something you chose to do because it was good money, what was available at the time, or because someone said you would be good at it? God has a calling on the lives of all His people. It uses their spiritual gifts and natural talents to help them grow in their faith in Him both on and off duty. Paul took time to make sure that his calling into ministry was not influenced by others, but was what God called and equipped him to do in his life.

            Make what you do today your mission field. This does not mean that you become an outspoken evangelist on the employer’s time, but you allow your diligence and character on the job and off the job to be focused on honoring God in all that you do. I have said it many times and will continue to do so: Disciples of Jesus ought to be the most sought after workers and most diligent employees and business owners because they are not working for a paycheck, but striving to lift the name of Christ in all they do. When believers do this they are a blessing to their fellow co-workers, those they are employed by, and serve.

            Praying beyond the physical:

Father, correct my vision and attitude if I stop seeing what I do as a ministry onto You and only see a job I do.

Jesus, instill in my heart a desire to worship the Father in all I do in all my waking hours of life.

Spirit, empower me to work in a manner that reflects the Father’s character and the submission of Christ.


Pastor Tom


Faith is Beyond Sight

“Faith is Beyond Sight”

Hebrews 11:1-7

Faith is worthless unless it is trusting in God for all things.

Faith is Trusting God’s Word

Faith is Acting on Belief


Faith is Trusting God’s Word

Hebrews 11:1-3, NKJV

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.


            Faith is one word which the servants of God use as much as those who have no affiliation with the one, true God. Therefore, it is important that we first of all identify what God’s people are speaking about when they refer to faith so to keep from being confused with the idea of faith all people have in some measure.

            The writer of Hebrews begins this section with, “Now faith is…” The Greek word translated faith here is “pistis” meaning faith: firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality. The next word we need to be sure we grasp the meaning of is the Greek word translated substance. This word is “hupostasis” which means support that is essence or assurance, confidence, confident, substance. God is explaining to all who read His Word that faith is something solid that is evidenced by facts rather than imagination of people or their personal preferences. Faith that is based on anything other than truth is founded in a lie and hopes in things that will never come about since it is nothing that is true.

            Faith is more than some abstract idea or feeling; it is the very substance of what is hoped for which is not seen presently, but has been proven to be true. The writer of Hebrews points out that this is how the “elders obtained a good testimony”. The elders being spoken of here are all those who lived and worshiped the Lord before the coming of the Messiah. These people were faithful in spite of the lack of the availability of God’s Word at their fingertips and on demand as those in recent centuries have had available to them. These elders strictly took God at His verbal word that was passed down to them by those who came before.

            This in itself is difficult for the skeptical attitudes of our modern societies to accept, especially when the idea of absolute truth is called into question. How can there possibly be any evidence of anything if truth is some abstract concept which has no foundation to rest upon? Yet, truth is something mankind cannot escape. Truth exists and is true regardless of whether it is accepted or denied by people. Truth is independent of everything and is unavoidable no matter what is done to escape it. The people of the past who placed their faith in what was true placed their faith in the Word which God has spoken. They found that their faith was not misplaced because they prioritized their life and viewed everything as based upon what they believed.

            The writer of Hebrews explains this “good testimony” they obtained beginning with accepting, “…the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3, NKJV). Genesis 1:1-3 says,

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (NKJV)

And then in Genesis 2:1-7 explains,

1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

4 This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; 6 but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.

7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (NKJV)

            Prior to Moses being inspired to write these things down for future generations this information was passed down verbally through the generations. In the critical mindset of people today there is nothing that would be convincing to stand as fact or truth. A critical mind is not exclusive to the twenty-first century, but has been part of mankind from the beginning. The evidence of this is seen for us in how easily the devil deceived Adam and Eve into breaking the commandment of God not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Solomon centuries later confirmed this when he was inspired to write,

9 That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done,

And there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us.

11 There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, NKJV)

            The elders who heard and placed their faith in the God who they heard made all things out of nothing that was made visible to them did so because of the evidence they found. What evidence is there? Apostle Paul proclaimed, “19 …what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20, NKJV). The evidence of God as the Creator and not the fanciful ideas of people trying to figure out all the answers to life by their own wisdom and knowledge are all around people daily.

            The question has been asked of God’s people, “What about those people who were not born in America that never heard about Jesus?” Fact number one is Christianity did not begin with America; it began in the Middle East at Jerusalem by those who were first disciples of Christ and were later called Christians (Acts 2:1-5, 11:25-26). The question is also wrong because God has been revealing Himself from the very beginning of Creation; His fingerprints are everywhere.

            The order, symmetry, balance, and detail of the world are proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that all was created through intelligent design rather than chaotic, random chance. In fact, even what is seen as random can be measured and approximated through mathematical algorithms. This is only possible since there are established fixed things in creation that are consistent. The only reason why science, mathematics, and technology even exist and can make the discoveries and advancements it has made are due to the balance and order God has established in creation itself. The elders who had a good testimony simply recognized by trial and error that what they heard about God was true based on the factual evidence they discovered by submitting to and challenging what God had established in His creation.

            Science, mathematics, and physics are the greatest evidences of the existence of God and His character. It is the interpretation of mankind that has skewed the evidence to support the sinful desires of their hearts that desire to usurp the authority of God and deny His ownership of all things. The faith of those who turn to God is in no way blind, but supported by evidence that is impossible to deny and can be discovered to be true.

            Take for instance question of the origin of the chicken or any animal that is hatched from an egg: Which came first, the animal or the egg? If you would say the egg, then you have to ask where did the egg come from since there was no animal to lay it. If you would say the animal, then how does it exist if it did not come from an egg, or why did it change to coming from an egg if it did not develop that way from the beginning? This is really a puzzle which theory of evolution cannot answer adequately, but the Bible can answer specifically.

            Evolutionary theory says two non-chickens mated, laid an egg, but a mutation in the DNA produced the first chicken. The Bible says God created the animals. If evolutionary theory is to be believed why are no eggs continuing to be mutated into other species today? If God is to be believed, then there is no problem because the chickens are doing what they have been designed by Him to do: lay eggs and produce more chickens. It seems faith in God is far more consistent than faith in a theory, evolutionary or otherwise.

            Interestingly enough, the idea of mankind is always contrary to the truth which God makes plain in His Word and His revelation in creation. God says the animal came first; mankind says the egg came first goes through some extensive explanation and still ends up at a suggestion of the egg came first. The different conclusions in this question that has been debated for centuries is also clarified by God’s Word, “27 God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29, NKJV).

Faith is Acting on Belief

Hebrews 11:4-7, NKJV

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.   

            Acting on the truth that God is sovereign over and Creator of all things is life transforming if a person truly believes that these facts are true. The writer of Hebrews refers to three elders who lived their life in full belief of the above fact. Abel, Enoch, and Noah were three men who acted on their faith in God in spite of the cost they paid for doing so.

            “By faith Abel offered…” is how the first elder is introduced. The sacrifice Abel offered was of the shedding of blood (Genesis 4:4-5). Abel acknowledged his sinfulness before God by shedding the blood of an innocent animal in order to bring his sacrifice before the Lord. This was how God had taught Adam and Eve about sacrifice immediately following their sin and made them durable clothing instead of the leaves they covered themselves in after their eyes were opened (Genesis 3:21).

            Abel was declared righteous because he followed the instruction of God that was given to him through his parents. Cain was certainly aware of the need for a blood sacrifice to make atonement for sin, but chose to offer God what he thought was good enough, after all it was from what he had harvested. God deserves obedience; He is unmoved by what people believe God ought to be satisfied with in their mind. Abel was righteous in the sight of God since he found atonement through the shed blood of the animal which died in Abel’s place. Abel’s recognition of his need for atonement meant there was nothing that was not worth the effort and sacrifice for God.

            This same attitude can be seen in the apostles as they ministered before the Lord in sharing the Gospel which eventually cost each of them their lives. There are no clear records of most of the apostles’ deaths, but it is reported that Peter and Paul were both martyred by Emperor Nero in 66 A.D.; Andrew is said to have been crucified in Greece; Thomas is claimed to have died after being thrust through with four soldier’s spears; Philip is suspected to have been cruelly put to death in Asia Minor after converting a Roman proconsul’s wife; Bartholomew possibly was martyred in Southern Arabia; Matthew is believed by many to have been stabbed to death in Ethiopia; James is reported to have been stoned and then clubbed to death; Simon the Zealot was murdered in Persia; Matthais is believed to have been burned to death in Syria; John is the only one who escaped being boiled to death in Rome and died a natural death.

            Abel was killed by his brother’s anger because he was faithful to be obedient to God. The Apostles died because they saw sacrificing their lives to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ a worthy price to pay for the privilege. If following Christ is not worth dying for, how much is it really worth? Do you believe that God will be satisfied with what you decide He is worth? Cain surely believed he brought a sacrifice worthy of God in his mind, but was rejected. Jesus has declared what God the Father views as a worthy sacrifice, “21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21, NKJV).

            Abel still spoke even though he was dead because he was the first person to enter into Paradise where Jesus would descend to and lead the captives free after His crucifixion and before His resurrection. God was faithful to Abel and watched over him because he was righteous in His eyes through the sacrifice Abel offered to Him.

            Next we go forward a few generations to the son of Jared who was Enoch. “Enoch…did not see death…because…he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5, NKJV). Little that is known about Enoch is found in Hebrews 11:5 and Genesis 5:18, 21-24, “18 Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and begot Enoch…21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. 22 After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (NKJV).

            Enoch is listed in the genealogies found in 1 Chronicles 1:3 and Luke 3:37. The final mention of Enoch is in the letter of Jude 1:14-15 concerning this prophesy of Enoch,

14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. (NKJV)

            Enoch pleased God is the testimony which he was known for during his three hundred and sixty-five years upon this earth before God took him into Paradise. We know that no one, regardless of how righteous they were considered by God by their obedience and submission to His will, could enter into heaven until the resurrection of Christ from the grave. It is interesting that this prophesy of Enoch God inspired Jude to record in Scripture speaks of the coming judgment of God on all the ungodly ways of humanity.

            There is no record of specific things that Enoch did during his lifetime. The only thing about him proclaims that he pleased God. How is it possible to please God without performance of rituals and sacrifices? God answers this through the inspired writers of Scripture, “4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, NKJV); “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17, NKJV).

            One question Jesus asked during His ministry on the earth should cause all those who call upon His name for salvation to pause and reflect, “8 …when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8, NKJV). Enoch understood long before Apostle Paul was inspired by God to pen the words that he had to walk in life by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Enoch walked with God is a profound testimony to the lifestyle of Enoch. Why the Lord chose to have him and Elijah the prophet for that fact skip death we can only speculate. I personally believe that these are the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11:1-14. It is there that these two men of God will experience death. Scripture makes clear that it is appointed unto man to die once and then face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

            “By faith Noah…moved with godly fear…” is how we are introduced to the third elder who had a good testimony before God. The Lord warned Noah of the coming flood that would come upon the whole earth. It had never rained up to this point in all the history of the world since God watered the whole earth from the mist that rose up from the ground (Genesis 2:6).

            Noah had nothing in which he could refer to in order to comprehend what God was saying He was about to do, or fathom the size of the project God called him to undertake. The people taunted him for building a ship of enormous proportions when there was no water near which would be able to accommodate a ship of that size. Yet, Noah accepted that God could and would do all that He said He would do based solely on the Lord’s word to him.

            It is recorded that Noah was “moved by godly fear.” Noah trusted that God was telling the truth, but it was the fear of the reality of what was God was saying that motivated him to act with urgency to fulfill all God instructed him to build according to the specifications God provided for him. Imagine the amazement Noah would have been struck with upon hear God say,

13 And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. (Genesis 6:13-18, NKJV)

            God has revealed the same kinds of things to the Church, but are those who call themselves followers of Christ by faith moved with godly fear, have a testimony of walking by faith with God daily, and like Abel by faith sacrificing the best of what is possessed even to forfeiting physical life itself? Jesus has made it clear, “12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12, NKJV).

            Faith is trusting and acting upon things that cannot be seen with physical eyes and comprehended in mankind’s understanding; it is trusting in and depending upon God to do just exactly as He has promised He would in and through His people. If we are not living and walking by faith, the life we live is nothing more than a lie.


Forgiveness is Putting Away Guilt

“Forgiveness is Putting Away Guilt”

Deuteronomy 21:1-19

Christ has satisfied the wrath of God on sin which covers over lingering guilt of past sin.

Sin Contaminates Everything

Christ Cleanses Consciousness


Sin Contaminates Everything

Deuteronomy 21:1-4, NKJV

1 “If anyone is found slain, lying in the field in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess, and it is not known who killed him, 2 then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the distance from the slain man to the surrounding cities. 3 And it shall be that the elders of the city nearest to the slain man will take a heifer which has not been worked and which has not pulled with a yoke. 4 The elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with flowing water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and they shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley.       

            In the instruction the Lord is giving to His people as they prepare to enter into the land that He had promised to them, God makes it a point to help them know how to deal with even the things which should not happen in any society. The Lord through Moses is informing the people what to do in the case of an unsolved murder. Many who are not familiar with Scripture believe it to be an impractical book containing instructions on religious ceremonials and ancient laws that have no bearing on the present day. The Word of God is filled with literally everything that a person needs to know about human psychology, ethical business practices, and every kind of way to handle whatever a person will encounter during their lifetime.

            God never ignores the reality of sin and the problems it causes for individuals and society as a whole. For instance, murder has been present in the world and will continue to be a daily occurrence until sin is eliminated in the creation of the new heavens and the new earth (Isaiah 66:22; Revelation 21:1). The first recorded act of sin after the spiritual suicide of Adam and Eve in their rebellion against God which allowed death to enter into God’s creation is Cain killing his brother Abel. “8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him” (Genesis 4:8, NKJV).

            God dealt with Cain by placing a curse upon him that separated him out away from other people and prevented others from taking vengeance on behalf of Abel. There are times when it appears like the murderer escapes justice of the authority the Lord has established in the world through human government. Those who take the life of another in the act of murder will never escape the justice of God even though they are never identified by human government authorities. This is why God provides a way to deal with the guilt attached to murder that is unsolved and void of closure for communities.

            God begins with “If anyone is found slain…” This implies that all human life is of equal value in spite of age, gender, status, title, or location. God’s command and ideal for people is not to kill one another, but to treat one another with respect and dignity. This is seen in the last six of the Ten Commandments,

16 ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

17 ‘You shall not murder.

18 ‘You shall not commit adultery.

19 ‘You shall not steal.

20 ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

21 ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’ (Deuteronomy 5:16-21, NKJV)

These commandments of God are affirmed and expounded upon in the social laws God has given to mankind to reinforce the preciousness of all human life.

32 ‘You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.

33 ‘And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. 34 The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

35 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. 36 You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. (Leviticus 19:32-36, NKJV)

            Life is precious and valuable in God’s sight. This does not mean that death did not exist prior to the sin of Adam and Eve; it merely means death was a reality God protected and spared people from in His grace and mercy. Death was something God never intended mankind to experience. Death is a reality for mankind due to the rebellion against God and lack of trust in Him. Sin was revealed and brought death into the perfection of God’s creation of harmony and glory for people to experience loss, pain, frustration, and separation.

            Those who break God’s law experience the guilt of disobedience by being out of sync with God’s established order. Guilt causes people to hide their deed (Genesis 3:8), justify their actions by giving reasons why they should not be punished (1 Samuel 13:11-12), or attempt to silence all who know about what they have done (Jeremiah 18:18). The idea of putting away guilt is more than removing feelings and thoughts that plague people after their iniquity; it is the idea of bringing restoration and harmony between God and His people and His creation again. The death of a person found murdered and lying in a field somewhere defiles the land and the community that is nearby where the body is slain. Sin has drastic effects on people and property spiritually that goes unnoticed by most people; yet it displays itself by spiritual darkness in that place where human life has been taken.

            The incident God refers to in this portion of Scripture is a hypothetical instance where someone who is guilty of murder cannot be found which leaves the guilt of the murder upon the people of the nearest town. The people of the town may have had nothing at all to do with the person found in the field or had any connection with their death. God in His sovereignty knows who the guilty person(s) is even though the person who committed the murder is never found by human authorities.

            It might seem unfair to many who read this passage in a western context; yet it is the consequences of sin that must be dealt with in the land and in the hearts and minds of God’s people. Therefore, God instructs them in this ceremony to remove their guilt and remember their underserved forgiveness of God.

            A heifer, a cow who has never born a calf, that has never been worked or had a yoke placed upon it was to be brought down to a place where there was some kind of running water which has never been plowed. The requirements of the location where the heifer was to have its neck broken was set apart from where people lived and unusable for agriculture. The land and heifer in this sense represented innocence. The heifer’s blood was not spilt so it was a peace offering to the Lord rather than a blood sacrifice before Him.

            This ceremony was to provide the people with an understanding that atonement had to be made by someone in the case of murder. The Lord gave instructions previously concerning the person found guilty of manslaughter and murder, “4 …Whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally, not having hated him in time past… 5 …he shall flee to one of these cities and live; 6 lest the avenger of blood, while his anger is hot, pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and kill him, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated the victim in time past…11 “But if anyone hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises against him and strikes him mortally, so that he dies…12 …deliver him over to the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with you (Deuteronomy 19:4-6, 11-13, emphasis added; see also Numbers 35:9-24).

            In regards to manslaughter and murder the one who committed the murder is known and dealt with according to their intentions. The one who intentionally kills another will be killed by the “avenger of blood.” This person would be the nearest male relative of the victim. The one who killed someone unintentionally would be confined to the city of refuge he was able to escape until the death of the high priest (Numbers 35:25-28). The ceremony of killing the heifer was the way in which atonement was made for the people and the land. Atonement was made to remove the harmony that was broken between the people and God and the people and the land due to the shedding of innocent blood.

            Forgiveness is putting away guilt in the sense of making restoration of the fellowship with God that existed prior to the sin that was committed. The feeling of guilt which a person experiences is the sensitivity to rebelling against the will of God and falling out of fellowship with Him and His established order in creation. The presence of forgiveness heightens a person’s sensitivity to their fellowship with the Lord. The more mature a person is the more offensive even the slightest infraction or disobedience is for the child of God. The absence of forgiveness makes the heart dull and unaffected by sin as if their heart was seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

Christ Cleanses Consciousness

Deuteronomy 21:5-9, NKJV

5 Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the Lord your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of the Lord; by their word every controversy and every assault shall be settled. 6 And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley. 7 Then they shall answer and say, ‘Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it. 8 Provide atonement, O Lord, for Your people Israel, whom You have redeemed, and do not lay innocent blood to the charge of Your people Israel.’ And atonement shall be provided on their behalf for the blood. 9 So you shall put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.      

            The role of the priests was to serve as witnesses to the ceremony. The elders broke the neck of the heifer, washed their hands over it, and proclaimed their innocence. God is specific in how He describes the position of the priesthood among the tribe of Levi, “5 …the Lord your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of the Lord; by their word every controversy and every assault shall be settled” (Deuteronomy 21:5, NKJV).

            This proclamation by God, that the priests have the final say in judgment, is one that cannot be made as merely a reference to what God had commanded the people earlier,

8 “If a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge, between degrees of guilt for bloodshed, between one judgment or another, or between one punishment or another, matters of controversy within your gates, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 9 And you shall come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge there in those days, and inquire of them; they shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment. 10 You shall do according to the sentence which they pronounce upon you in that place which the Lord chooses. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they order you. 11 According to the sentence of the law in which they instruct you, according to the judgment which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the sentence which they pronounce upon you. 12 Now the man who acts presumptuously and will not heed the priest who stands to minister there before the Lord your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall put away the evil from Israel. 13 And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously. (Deuteronomy 17:8-13, NKJV)

Even in the body of Christ this authority is given to the elders to be able to judge things among followers of Christ. Jesus instructed those who were having disputes, “15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church…” (Matthew 18:15-17, NKJV).

            Paul questioned the Corinthian believers, “1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (1 Corinthians 6:1-2, NKJV). In Acts it was the elders of the Church who made the final judgment on what Gentile believers were responsible to observe (Acts 15:6-22). The qualifications for bishops and deacons in           1 Timothy 3:1-13 and elders in Titus 1:5-9 is so strenuous because of the responsibilities for making sound judgments according to God’s will through His Word.

            There must be some authority that is respected and trusted to have a final word or disputes will continue on without resolve. God provided the priesthood as a means to provide the final judgment that would be respected among His people to settle “every controversy and every assault.” It is the task of the body of Christ to hold accountable the pastors, elders, and deacons who are in leadership to ensure their lives are being lived with integrity before the Church and those who are in the community. It is the pastors, elders, and deacons responsibility to demonstrate godly wisdom and judgments that are consistent with the Word of God and His character.

            When the leaders and the entire body of Christ work together in harmony, Christ is lifted up and unity is broadcast as a powerful testimony to the authority and presence of Christ in His people. There can be no resolution, peace, unity, and harmony in matters of controversy where there is no clear answer that will satisfy people.

            The hypothetical case of an unsolved murder would have caused suspicion to be upon strangers; fear to be in that area of the murder, and the devil to whisper superstitious thoughts into the minds of the community. The ceremony of atonement designed by God allowed for the people to come to closure over the violent act that took place and cleanse the land of the disharmony it suffered from this sin. The consciousness of the people would have been freed from the fear and doubt of the matter so it would not be a hindrance in the worship of God because they dealt with the matter as God prescribed from them to do.

            The elements of the ceremony described here by God shows the elements of the work of Christ who would in the future bring the reconciliation between God and mankind. The heifer was spotless and innocence which was represented in its virginity and inexperience of being worked. This animal died in place of the one who committed the murder; the innocence suffered in the place of the guilty. This is a beautiful picture of Christ dying for the sins committed by people who have done so intentionally, unintentionally, and unknowingly. This calls to remembrance of what John was inspired to write in his first letter to the believers after his Gospel writings, “8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10, NKJV).

            The place where the ceremony was to take place also had significance. The flowing water represented the washing away of sin. It symbolized God removing the guilt of the people away farther than they could see as the water continued on its course. The land itself was set apart. It was not tilled or lived upon by anyone and knowing only the rest of its Creator. The idea of the land having rest and being unspoiled is seen in the commands and warnings God gives His people,

4 but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard…

33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you;

your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.

34 Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land;

then the land shall rest and enjoy its Sabbaths.

35 As long as it lies desolate it shall rest—

for the time it did not rest on your Sabbaths when you dwelt in it. (Leviticus 25:4, 26:33-35).

            The elders breaking the neck of the animal was a sign of responsibility accepted by the whole community which the leaders represent. Leadership carries the responsibility for what happens in the community in which they lead. The priests come and hear the confession of the elders as God’s representatives who have been “chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of the Lord” by affirming their innocence as they wash their hands over the animal. Washing their hands over the animal who died on behalf of the guilty symbolizes they had nothing to do with or knowledge of the murderer. All this was in order to “…put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 21:9, NKJV).

            Jesus did more than merely “put away the guilt”; He has completely restored people in Himself through His atoning sacrifice. The guilt that causes God’s people to be out of fellowship with their Lord has been put away from the children of God. They are justified before the Father through the righteousness of Christ blood that was shed on their behalf and have been washed by the acceptance of His sacrifice on their behalf.

            Feelings of guilt are good because they reveal sin in our lives that is both intentional, unintentional, and completely recognized to those in Christ. Guilt should cause the people of God to run into the arms of the Lord by the power of the Spirit. When they do, the guilt must be put away and not lingered on for the forgiveness of God brings restoration of fellowship to the believer who has fallen into sin regardless of how they arrived there. Guilt remains when we forget what forgiveness brings about in the child of God’s life.

9 …Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NKJV)

19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22, NKJV)

            There is no reason for the children of God to carry around guilty feelings about the past when they have accepted the forgiveness of God through faith in Christ, having confessed their sin to God and trusting in Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Forgiveness is putting away the guilt and not allowing the devil to constantly remind us of what God has chosen to forget about because of the work of Christ on our behalf.

            Therefore, let the body of Christ be free of the weight of guilt and replace it with the joy of the Lord as they live in harmony with the order God has established in His creation. In this way the Church will reveal God’s glory, character and presence as we live in the forgiveness of our sins Christ has provided for us.


From a humble heart

This will be a little different e-mail from my heart today. First, I need to apologize and ask everyone for forgiveness for a mistake made on the one PowerPoint slide during the sermon. I put the wrong reference down for a passage of Scripture that I referred to. The correct passage was supposed to be Proverbs 6:16-19. I had carelessly typed the reference down as Psalm 6:16-19 which does not exist in Bible. The verses which were written out were correct, but the address of where it could be found was wrong.

            I praise God for the one who approached me following the sermon and informed they could not find the reference. This news devastated me, but needed to be heard so the problem could be corrected. I immediately discovered what I had done and ran outside to catch up with the person before they left the parking lot. It is also why this e-mail today is different than the usual encouragement from a portion of Scripture from the reading assignment for the week.

            James 3:1 says, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (NKJV). Jesus said, “Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:1-2, NKJV).

            These are some serious words recorded for those in leadership in the body of Christ, especially for pastors. It might seem like a simple mistake that should not be all that big of a deal to most. Yet, this innocent mistake that was not done intentionally is a perfect example of why we must be sure to check on the accuracy of what is said, especially from the pulpit, in spite of how much a person is trusted.

            While I was just careless in my typing, there are many who are seeking to intentionally lead the people of God astray and into all kinds of unbiblical ideas that sound like truth but are lies. I have said this many times and will continue to ask those sitting in the pews or listening through a digital connection to make sure to NOT take my word for what is truth; trust God’s inspired Word and be sure what is heard is supported by it. Use the Bible as the standard to judge everything in life.

            Jesus who is fully God and fully human was the only perfect person to ever walk the face of this earth. You and I are always going to be in need of improvement and correction. Thank you, once again, to my sister in Christ who brought this error to my attention. I also praise God for the forgiveness He has provided me through His shed blood. Sin is deadliest when people think it is not a “big deal” or that “it is not that serious”. What God told Cain about sin is still true today, “…sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:7, NKJV).

            Praying beyond the physical:

Father, slow me down so what You have called me to do is never only just a task to be completed.

Jesus, teach me how to give more attention to details and to see everyone as worth taking the time to know.

Spirit, open my eyes to see my failings and praise the Father for His loving correction He gives through others.


Pastor Tom


Much to be Learned

Many people have shied away from the Old Testament and focus almost exclusively on the New Testament writings. This is sad to hear but especially devastating when pastors and preachers speak infrequently from the Old Testament and share the majority of their messages from New Testament texts. There are many things that can be learned from the things written about God’s people. Paul expressed this to those in Corinth by reminding them that, “11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.             12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:11-13, NKJV). There is much we can learn from the mistakes of others, including the mistakes of those who have lived and died long before we were conceived. The lessons will help us to prevent from falling into the same traps of the devil who wants to drain the joy and power from God’s people by tempting them and making them ineffective in ministry. The people of Israel were no different than anyone else living today. They were not more naive, more stubborn, or less intelligent. People are generally all the same regardless if we admit that or not. Solomon revealed through his inspired writings which must never be forgotten, 9 That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things, Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come By those who will come after. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, NKJV) The “way of escape” God might be showing you to avoid falling into sin is more than likely found in the pages of the Bible, discovered in something that the people of God centuries ago experienced. It would be good for disciples of Christ to look beyond those disciples who walked with Jesus, their writings, and examples and turn back to the record of Abraham’s life, Isaac, Jacob, and the Israelites for good examples of what to do as well as good examples of what not to do. There is no doubt that the Old Testament is quite foreign in comparison to the twenty-first century American culture and the politically correct atmosphere that has developed. That does not mean it is void of a vast treasure trove of wisdom and advice that will help disciples of Christ to follow Him closer and imitate Him better with each passing day. Praying beyond the physical: Father, open my eyes to the help You have provided through Your Word even when I struggle to understand it. Jesus, teach me to submit myself all I have to You as Abraham was willing to offer Isaac to You. Spirit, speak to my heart to grant me understanding that is beyond by ability to comprehend.   Pastor Tom


Are you invested?

Showing up to do something is only half of the battle in life. There is a big difference between those who go through the motions of work and those who are invested in the work they do. In the work force this is really noticeable. It is the waitress/waiter who goes above and beyond the normal service; the trash collector who makes sure the emptied trash can is placed back off the road rather than just thrown out of the way when it has been emptied. Invested workers are becoming scarce in today’s society, but if you look closely they are still to be found in every line of work. The invested employee is enjoyable to encounter, but the invested disciple of Christ will impact people powerfully whether they are on the job or off duty. The one who is a disciple of Christ is invested in the work of God twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The reason for this investment in living for God is because they have a purpose in life that goes far beyond their comfort and position in life. The Apostle Paul explained his own investment in ministry and living for God in this way: “24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NKJV). The prize Christ’s disciples are chasing after is not salvation; it is and ought to be the satisfaction of hearing from God Himself, “…Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21, NKJV). Salvation comes from the grace of God through the forgiveness of sin provided by the shed blood of Jesus the Christ (Romans 3:21-26). What disciples of Christ do must be done out of love for and a desire to please God the Father who gave His Son in order that they would be reconciled to Him. Paul uses the analogy of a race because it is something people could relate to in their context. The Lord has impressed upon me through my involvement with running in one marathon, a couple half-marathons, and several 5K races since 2012 that finishing strong is more important than what place you are in when the race is over. The course of the Christian race is laid out by Christ and how He lived. He is the Way in which we must go. The prize at the end of a physical race is some type of a metal that eventually ends up hanging on a wall or placed in a box for storage after a while. The prize received for running in the way of God is received immediately upon beginning the race in eternal life through salvation from the wrath of God on sin by the forgiveness offered in Christ Jesus. As we go through each day, living for Christ and doing the will of the Father, we discipline our bodies and bring them into subjection to the authority of the Spirit of God within us to strive on till we physically realize all that we hope for in Christ Jesus. Just like in a foot race, you will get tired, pain will be part of the race, and thoughts of giving up will constantly plague the mind. This is why it is so important to encourage one another, refresh our spirits by drinking deeply of God’s Word along the way, and keeping our eyes focused on the goal which is pleasing the God who created us and died to save us. Praying beyond the physical: Father, help me to run faithfully in the way of Jesus so I can love, serve, and reveal You as He did and does. Jesus, guide me to stay on the course the Father has ordained for me so that I can always run in Your steps. Spirit, grant me strength and endurance to be striving to please the Father by submitting to Your direction.   Pastor Tom


Forgiveness is Imitating Christ

“Forgiveness is Imitating Christ” Ephesians 4:25-32   The character of Christ will be revealed in those who have received forgiveness from God. Forgiveness Changes Actions Forgiveness Changes Attitudes   Forgiveness Changes Actions   Ephesians 4:25-28, NKJV 25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.   The person what has found forgiveness through faith in Christ by God’s grace will live their lives differently. That difference will become more and more evident as the reality of what they have received from God is discovered by growing in their knowledge of God through His Word. The one who is forgiven by God will not change their actions and attitudes in a moment, but over the course of time and long suffering will imitate Christ in a manner that is easily recognizable by others who have received forgiveness of sins. Apostle Paul provides in this portion of his letter to the believers in Ephesus practical, visible ways the forgiven person will change in their behavior. Apostle Paul comes to this portion of the letter which charges the believers to, “Therefore, putting away lying…” having first reminded the believers of how their hearts and minds were once blinded by sin, but now is renewed into a new person “…created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:17-24). The reason to change is based upon what God has done for us through Christ; it is not so a person can have a better life now or live with less pain, stress, conflict, and more comfort. The opposite will take place for God’s people in the eyes of others. Yet, the child of God will   receive strength to endure, hope to encourage, and peace to sustain them through all the trials that will seem to those of the world to flood the lives of those who turn to the Lord in faith. Forgiveness is revealed as those who are forgiven reflect the character of Christ in their daily routines and lifestyles. Paul takes this opportunity to pull from the Scriptures of the Old Testament in order to help the disciples of Christ understand how to put away lying in this new life they have received. Paul first goes back to the inspired writings of Zechariah to reinforce that it is God’s will for people to speak truth and remembering they are all members of the body of Christ belonging to one another.   16 These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; 17 Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ Says the Lord”. (Zechariah 8:16-17, NKJV, emphasis added)   Truth is to be spoken to one another; it should be present along with justice and peace in the places of authority. Lies are to be put away because God hates false oaths and evil thoughts towards others in the heart of people. Paul then goes back into the wisdom writing of the Scriptures to help Christ’s disciples to be aware of sin and avoid it at all costs, “4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah” (Psalm 4:4 NKJV). The first half of Psalm 4:4 Paul quotes but is inspired to paraphrase the second have with practical steps that explain the second half of Psalm 4:4, “…do not let the sun go down on your wrath…” The idea Paul expresses is to settle all anger issues quickly, but not hastily. David in Psalm 4:4 advises the angry individual to think through and be still before acting rashly to avoid falling into sin. Paul instructs that anger needs to be addressed quickly so the devil does not have a place to work his lies from, and tempt a person to act upon their emotions and hurt rather than seeking God’s direction. Forgiveness received from God that has begun the transformation of a person’s heart by the presence of the Holy Spirit will remember that their own sin against God is no worse than what has been done to them. The tendency of the child of God as they grow in maturity is to be slower to become angry and more gracious towards those who are lost or immature in their walk with the Lord. Lies and anger are expressly mentioned since they are two areas which people get tripped up quickest in their life. God continually inspired His prophets in the Old Testament and writers in the New Testament to address these issues. Proverbs 14:17 says, “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of wicked intentions is hated” (NKJV). Proverbs 16:32 says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (NKJV). Solomon was inspired to write, “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9, NKJV). James wrote, “19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20, NKJV). The clearest evidence a person can show to others of the forgiveness they have received is how slow they are to become angry and their self-control over their emotions and reactions. The second visible evidence is speaking the truth to one another, even when it hurts. This ties into anger because truth is what makes people angry when it is difficult to hear or reveals areas of life that need to be changed in us. Lying is a serious thing to God which He literally hates.   16 There are six things the Lord hates,     seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes,         a lying tongue,         hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,         feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies         and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (Proverbs 6:16-19, NKJV, emphasis added)   The hatred of lying is because God is Truth. Lying reflects the sinful nature or the devil rather than the righteous character of God. The truth seems harsh to the ears of people. There seems to be a sense that love is to refrain from telling people what is needed to be heard and telling them what they would like to hear in order to protect their feelings. It is a sign of immaturity in Christ when protecting someone’s feelings is of greater importance than helping them to address things that need to be changed in their life to be more Christ-like. Lying is also detrimental to the whole body of Christ. Paul gives the incentive for speaking the truth to one another as, “we are members of one another.” When lies are told to one another as believers it is the same as lying to self and to Christ. Lies are never once and done. One lie always, without fail, leads to another lie then more lies being told to an ever growing circle of people which only increases the damage of the original lie. When one lie begins to unravel more lies are told, anger develops over being caught in a lie, and foolish actions are taken in order to prevent people from discovering the truth. The one who has been forgiven by God neither needs to be deceitful about things or afraid that others will find out they are in need of grace and help or become angry whenever the day or week has not turned out to be what we expected it would be like. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in God’s people causes their anger to be slower to develop, and their feelings, words, and actions are submitted to the authority of Scripture before being carried out when anger does flare up. Anger is not sinful; it is what we do in response to anger that brings about sin when anger is present. What was done before Christ, which reflected the character of sinful mankind, must be exchanged for actions that reflect the character of God from who forgiveness and new life has been received. Paul uses the example of someone who steals things from others to support themselves to instead work with their hands to provide for others. It is no longer what you can receive or have in life which makes one fill fulfilled, but what can be given to others in their time of need that brings satisfaction and joy. After all, Jesus said it was more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Forgiveness received from God is revealed through actions in those who were once known to do the opposite thing in the past. The one who is forgiven through grace by faith is transformed on the inside immediately because of their new standing before God the Father as being justified. This takes time to be seen in how actions once done and positions once held that were once in line with sinful mankind are now coming into alignment with God’s established order and eternal truth. What was common for a person to do in their sinful nature now becomes foreign to their character and despised in their hearts. The Bible provides us with many practical examples of how to give a testimony to the world of the new life that Christ has given through the forgiveness of sins. Apostle Paul here in this portion of his letter to the Ephesians explains how those who are in Christ can imitate Him in order to open the door to tell others of the forgiveness they have received by God’s grace through faith in Christ. If people do not recognize a change between what the child of God used to do and what they do now, they will certainly see it in the transformation of their new attitude toward people, work, and material things. Forgiveness Changes Attitudes   Ephesians 4:29-32, NKJV 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.   Attitude in its basic understanding is a person’s outlook on life. Attitude is how people, places, work, and circumstances are viewed which affects how the person will respond to each of these things. Each person has a measure of good and bad attitudes towards different things in their lives. Sometimes they can be quite drastic depending on a history of interacting with certain people or difficulties experienced in certain places or performing certain activities. Paul is addressing how the attitude of God’s people should be different than the attitudes of those who have not received forgiveness of their sins. Paul begins with “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth…” Words are neutral; it is the meaning people assign to a word that makes it affect either negative or positive when it is heard. There is not a list of offensive words from which must be refrained from being said that Paul is referencing here. The Greek word translated corrupt here is “sapros” meaning worthless: either literally or morally; bad, corrupt. Everything that a child of God speaks must be for the good of those who are hearing it, including the person who is saying. A person’s attitude is most recognizable by their how they talk and the vocabulary they choose to use. Grace must be imparted to others by the attitude of God’s people in every word that comes out of their mouth. This can be quite challenging because there are so many things that negatively affect peoples’ attitudes. Things as simple as the weather, temperature, and time of day often make a person who generally has a “good” attitude to be coarse and negative about everything around them. God is revealing to us through Apostle Paul that no matter what is being verbally spoken, even if no one else is around to hear it by a person’s own ears, those being spoken to and anyone who indirectly hears what is said should receive grace. Correction and rebuke can be said in a way that “imparts grace to the hearers” if said out of an attitude of the heart that has received grace from God. Jesus spoke of this when addressing the misconception of the religious leaders about what defiles a person.   17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Matthew 15:17-20, NKJV)   It is possible to suffer from hardships, experience great sorrow in the soul, and cry out in pain without having a corrupt word proceed out of the mouth. Job is a perfect example of this. In all that Job said, God proclaimed that Job had spoken rightly about Him, “7 And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has” (Job 42:7, NKJV). David expressed great words of anguish as well which are an encouragement and comfort today in the psalms,   1 How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? 2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? (Psalm 13:1-2, NKJV)   These words are a blessing because David’s focus on the Lord and trust in God always brought him back to the hope he had in God.   5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6, NKJV)   Apostle Paul continues on with, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” The Greek word translated grieve is “lupeö” meaning to distress, to be sad, cause grief, grieve, be in heaviness, sorrow, be sorry. It is possible for God’s people to cause the Lord to be saddened. God’s grace toward mankind is all the more great when time is taken to consider how often throughout Scripture that God was grieved over the behavior of mankind and the attitude of His people. It began with the fall into sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and later brought about the great flood destroying all life upon the land except for Noah and his family (Genesis 6:5-8). Humanity has broken God’s heart and caused Him to grieve. Paul is urging all who have received forgiveness of sin and have new life by God’s grace through faith to do everything possible to be obedient to God’s Spirit living in them. The way people grieve the Spirit most of the time is simply to be resistant to His leading, refusing to trust in His power to do the impossible in spite of great challenges and obstacles, and to insist on living by sight rather than faith (2 Corinthians 5:6-7). The people of God grieve the Spirit of God each time they choose to trust their own wisdom and knowledge over the leading of the all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present God; this causes the Lord sorrow. There is no reason to doubt that God can bring something beneficial to His people and for others through every situation that can be encountered during life in their world. There is no reason to believe that God would not bring His people safely home into His presence even though this world threatens to undo and destroy all who worship and obey Almighty God. If the promises of God are held in the minds of God’s people and acted out through the passion to please God, the boldness of God’s people would be as a light from the lighthouse upon the shore to sailors on a stormy sea proclaiming hope and offering shelter. Apostle Paul goes on to list many things that are expressed through the attitudes of people: “…all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31, NKJV). Each of these things that are to be put away from us all have their beginnings in internal attitudes which are visibly and verbally expressed outwardly. These things demonstrate the character of sinful mankind rather than the righteousness and holiness of Almighty God. What is common among people must uncommon and unbecoming of the one who has been forgiven in Christ. This list of things Paul was inspired to write and encourage disciples of Christ to put away from their lives are spiritual cancers aggressively attacking healthy cells of the body. Bitterness is that nagging dissatisfaction that continually eats away at the joy of the Lord in a person. Wrath and anger of people is nothing more than an attempt to lash out to handle matters in their strength to achieve the results they believe is best instead of allowing God to work in His time and His way. Clamor is to cry out and refuse to be comforted by God or anyone else, but simply choosing to remain in the sorrowful place a person has chosen for themselves. Evil speaking is simply to be negative about everything and everyone in removing any kind of hope and peace in the lives of others purposefully or unintentionally. Malice is the act of tearing others down and destroying the reputation of others for selfish purposes or out of jealousy or fear. These things were among the early disciples of Christ or God would have never had to address the issue through the apostle. The reason for the presence of these things is in part because people have a difficult time accepting the miraculous changes forgiveness of sins by the grace of God through faith in Christ has brought about in their life. It is possible to, “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” each day when a person realizes what they have received in Christ when they have been forgiven of their sins. Forgiveness is imitating Christ because His Spirit lives within them, transforming them into His image which was unimaginable before receiving salvation from the wrath of God the Father. This is expressed in something Apostle Paul said earlier in this letter to the Ephesians, “20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NKJV). The way God can change people miraculously is for those who call upon His name for salvation to entrust everything about their lives into His control. When this is done, Christ becomes the adored and admired person and being like Him is what brings true satisfaction. Material things are no longer the treasured possessions they once were, but mere tools to magnify and lift the true treasure who is Christ. The meaning of life goes beyond what is seen and understood in this world, but is transcended into an eternal frame of mind that focuses more on living than achieving and acquiring things in this physical life. God has the power to change the things a person believes are unchangeable. The idea that a person cannot change because they have always been “that way” is a lie. God can do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” which includes changing the hearts of people who seem immovable. No one can change themselves beyond a temporary adjustment. The person who accepts they are a new creation in Christ through the forgiveness of sins cannot remain unchanged, but must and will imitate Christ in their life with each passing day.