The Opposite of Love is Pride

Pride is the opposite of Love for Pride is esteeming self above others, while Divine Love calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It should be interesting to see how a reversal of Love's qualities as enumerated in 1 Corinthians 13 would look like on Pride.
Pride does not suffer long and is not kind;
Pride envies;
Pride parades itself,
Is puffed up;
Behaves rudely,
Seeks its own,
Is provoked (touchy and fretful),
Thinks evil (keeping record of wrong done to it);
Rejoices in iniquity, but does not rejoice in the truth;
Never bears anything,
Never believes anything,
Never hopes anything,
Never endures anything.
Pride always fails.
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There Are Some Standing Here Who Shall Not Taste Death

Passage 1:
"Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." (Matthew 16:28)

The other Gospels mention kingdom of God or kingdom present in power (Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27).

There are a number of interpretations of this, but the more prominent ones relate to the Resurrection of Christ, His Ascension, and the subsequent Outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

1. The Mediatoral Kingdom View. The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge by R. A. Torrey suggested this coming to refer to His coming in the “mediatorial kingdom which our Lord was about to set up, by the destruction of the Jewish nation and polity, and the diffusion of the gospel throughout the world.” However, Matthew 16:27 refers to this coming as being in the glory of the Father to reward each man according to his works.
2. The Resurrection and Pentecost View. Commentator John Gill suggested that Jesus spoke “rather, of the appearance of his kingdom, in greater glory and power, upon his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension to heaven; when the Spirit was poured down in an extraordinary manner, and the Gospel was preached all over the world; was confirmed by signs and wonders, and made effectual to the conversion and salvation of many souls; which many then present lived to see, and were concerned in: though it seems chiefly to have regard to his coming, to show his regal power and authority in the destruction of the Jews; when those his enemies that would not he should reign over them, were ordered to be brought and slain before him; and this the Apostle John, for one, lived to be a witness of.”
3. The Transfiguration View. Some suggest that the coming referred to Christ’ transfiguration on the Mount of Transfiguration in the next chapter. 2Peter 2:17 talks of this event as Christ’s receiving honor and glory. Yet, it certainly was not the kingdom come in power.
4. Receiving the Kingdom. Others suggest that this referred to Christ’s receiving the Kingdom and glory from the Father as prophesied in Daniel 7:13-14. This looks quite probable. The Son of Man as the Resurrected Lord announces all authority given to Him (Matthew 28:18). Yet, this receiving is not the same as His coming in His kingdom. Still, among the ones who stood there, the disciples were the ones who did see Christ in His power after the resurrection. There is no doubt that Christ as King now reigns till all the enemies are made His footstool (Heb.10:13; 1Cor.15:25). But, His Coming in glory to judge the world is a future event (Matt.24:30).
5. What About the Ones Who Didn’t Die? We know of Enoch and Elijah in the Old Testament who never tasted death. Now, we read in the next passage: “after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” (Matthew 17:1-3). Elijah, specifically, as we know never tasted death. Could it be that Jesus is referring to Elijah and Enoch as standing here? In fact, Enoch already had a vision of the Lord coming in glory (Jude 1:14-15). Were they standing there? Not impossible, seeing that heaven is not about geographical location.

Passage 2:
"When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10:23)

This is a mixed commission, for while it commissions the disciples to not go beyond the house of Israel, it also talks of their persecution by the rulers (which only happened later on). The commission is also eschatological and embraces the Last Days of the Tribulation, which is amplified further in Matthew 24. So, it is not the 12 Disciples who are meant literally, but the witnessing church founded on the apostles and the prophets. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Mat 24:14 NKJ). The reference to the towns of Israel, however, put the focus on the Jewish nation.

Passage 3
Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. (Mar 13:30 NKJ)

Some have understood “This generation” as meaning the generation that sees the re-formation of the State of Israel in May 1948 (or the budding of the fig tree mentioned in Mark 13: 28,29).

John Gill understands “these things” as “the destruction of Jerusalem, the signs of it, and what, should immediately follow upon it.” [AD 70 and beyond]. However, the passage more specifically talks about signs of the Last Day, including the abomination of desolation prophesied by Daniel (Mark 13:14).

Apparently, it seems that “this generation” must be interpreted as “these kind of people” (i.e. of one nature), especially referring to the rebellious house of Israel.

“But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like little children sitting in the marketplaces who call to their playmates, We piped to you [playing wedding], and you did not dance; we wailed dirges [playing funeral], and you did not mourn and beat your breasts and weep aloud.” (Matt.11:16-17)

“The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, Someone more and greater than Jonah is here!” (Matt.12:41)

And He groaned and sighed deeply in His spirit and said, Why does this generation demand a sign? Positively I say to you, no sign shall be given this generation. (Mark 8:12).

"You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it." (Act 7:51-53 NKJ)

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say,`If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. (Matt 23:29-36 NKJ)

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Do Not Harden Your Hearts


But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.


Whenever God speaks, it is Today, and He demands that we respond positively to His voice as soon as we hear His word. Those who neglect to receive the word immediately or procrastinate to obey, harden their hearts. When a person listens to the voice of God and hardens his heart  from obeying God, he puts himself in the path of hardening, and the more a person gets hardened the more difficult it is for the word of God to find a place in his heart. Such a heart becomes like a stone that will take lot of hammering to break.

1. The Rebellious Heart Hardens Itself Against the Voice of God
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, They always go astray in [their] heart, And they have not known My ways. So I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest. (Heb.3:7-11)

God told the Israelites that He was taking them to the Promised Land, but they couldnt accept His word. Their hearts turned towards idolatry, murmuring, criticism, and towards Egypt all the time. Therefore, they could not enter the Promised Land.

2. The Proud Self-Planner Hardens Himself against Gods Will
Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth. (Prov.27:1)

There are those who are full of their own plans and are unwilling to accept the plan of God because they feel that Gods plan interferes with all the hard labor they have put into their own plans and programs. They don't want God to spoil their schedule or arrangements. These are they who rely on their own understanding and do not trust in the Lord with all their hearts. They are so proud and boastful about their own dreams that they will be offended if God asked them to forsake all of their dreams, take up their cross, and follow Him. There are some who say, I will first do this and complete this, then I will serve God. These are those whose heart is becoming hardened and it will be difficult for them to serve God.

3. The Fearful Sinner Hardens His Heart Against the Convicting Work of the Holy Spirit
And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you. (Acts 24:24-25)

There are those who would only love to listen to sermons that suit them and do not like to listen to a preaching that would bother their conscience, because their works are evil and they either want their conscience to be blind about this or to satisfy themselves with the assurance that even the preachers of the word aren't able to follow what they preach. In the next verse we read that Felix was waiting for Paul to bribe him. But, Paul was not a preacher of word alone; he practiced what he preached. He never compromised. Felix was a fearful sinner; who was afraid that the light of the word would expose his sinful heart and he would be bothered in his conscience. There are people who change churches because they find the preaching too hard to bear. There are people who move away from a leadership because they are ashamed to work under a godly leader. They have hardened their hearts.

4. The Self-Oriented Servant Hardens His Heart Against Serving God
Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: This people says, The time has not come, the time that the LORDs house should be built. Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,[Is it] time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple [to lie] in ruins? Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways! (Haggai 1:2-5)

Like the man with the one talent who tried to accuse his master when he was found to have done nothing for the Kingdom of God, there are those who harden their hearts and do very little or nothing for God because all the time their mind is occupied with their own business, job, comfort, and desires. They find reasons and excuses, but such excuses are abominable in the sight of God. If a person has time for himself but has no time for God, it means that such a person is not a servant of God, but a servant of his own flesh. His heart is hardened, therefore, he cannot serve God. For no man can serve two masters.

5. The Foolish Virgins Harden their Heart Against Being Ready All the Time
Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five [were] foolish. Those who [were] foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was [heard:] Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him! Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, Give us [some] of your oil, for our lamps are going out. But the wise answered, saying, [No,] lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us! But he answered and said, Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. (Matthew 25:1-13)

I think that a person who cannot come to church on time, not because he couldn’t find a conveyance, but because of his lazy and procrastinating nature, will not be ready at the coming of the Son of God. I see no reason why a person who is lazy and neglectful can ever be ready on the Day of the Lord. Undisciplined and lazy people are hardened people. They are foolish because they think that whatever they do, they are fine. But, they aren’t. God wants us to make sure that our lamps are full of oil, that we take care of our own lamps, that we carry our own cross, that we be ready for His coming all the time.

Remember:
When the Spirit convicts us of sin, if we do not immediately repent and turn to God, then we only go away from Him. If we become slothful and lazy and uninterested in the plan of God and His desire, we are no longer His faithful servants; we only become stubborn and wicked and chaff for the fire of God's judgment. If we neglect the Gospel of the Kingdom and do not prepare our hearts to seek God and be ready for His coming, we will be astonished and ashamed on the Day of Judgment. So, it's important for us while it is called Today to exhort one another daily.

“Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts”




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Celebrate with Simplicity

The word “celebrate” comes from the Latin celeber or celebr meaning “frequented or honored”. Thus, to celebrate means to commemorate or honor an event or an accomplishment. People usually celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, feasts and festivals, or achievements.

Celebration originates in God. Zephaniah 3:17 talks about God rejoicing over His people with singing. Jesus, in His parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and the Lost Son, pictures heaven as filled with rejoicing every time a lost soul is won to the Lord.

Now, there may be disagreements among Christians regarding dates, events, and days of celebration; yet, celebration, in some form or the other, is present among Christians all over the world. However, one must be careful to not depart from the simplicity that is in Christ when it comes to New Testament Celebration.

The Simplicity of Christ’s Foundation
From the beginning, the Church has faced the threat of being led astray from the simplicity of Christ’s foundation. The threat came not only from heathenizing contexts (e.g. to compromise Christ and Belial, as in Corinth), but also chiefly from Judaizers who tried to understate the superiority of the New Covenant above the Old. The Church today faces both these threats and must guard against them.

First, there is the danger of compromise with the world. The Church faces this problem when it tries to celebrate in the way that the world does and thus lets the world define the meaning of celebration for it. This is as impossible as the impossibility of putting light and darkness together (2Cor.6:4-5). When the world dictates celebration, then worship turns into entertainment or idolatry, faith turns into a ritual, the celebration becomes commercial, and the result is diminishing of the spirit. Under the false pretense of “contextualization” and “incarnation”, the world invades the Church, the “Christianness” of the celebration is lost, and faith is enslaved by cultural identity. The Christian in context is a reality; the Christian consumed by context is a tragedy.

Secondly, and more subtly, is the danger of becoming obsessed with Jewish cultural roots of the Old Testament and thus straying away from the simplicity that is in Christ. Certainly, the feasts of the Old Testament had a national significance for the Jews; they anticipated the coming of the Messiah. However, it is important for the Church to understand the difference between the Old Covenant of Moses and the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. The people of the Old Covenant knew God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because of His covenant with Abraham (1Kgs.18:36). But, today, we the people of the New Covenant know God as the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” because of Christ’s New Covenant in His blood (1Pet.1:3). Christians must watch against any doctrine that extols the Old Covenant above the New and challenges the sufficiency of the New Covenant in opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (2Cor.11:3-4; Gal.3:1). Also, doctrines that exalt bread, wine, oil, water, or even soil as being of superior quality because they have been brought from Israel are alien to the teachings of Jesus. Similarly, veneration of relics, icons, images or earthly things are idolatrous and, therefore, do not qualify as celebration before God. The Bible declares that we are complete in Him (Col.2:10) and that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph.1:3; 2Pet.1:3).

What to Celebrate and How to Celebrate?
The New Testament does not prescribe celebration of any feast or festival, apart from the Lord’s Supper. It, however, does forbid celebration of anything with the intention of procuring merit of some kind or fulfilling some false legalistic obligation.

“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Col 2:16-17)

In the same manner that we are not required to offer sacrifices anymore, since Christ offered Himself for us once for all, and the OT sacrifices were only a shadow of good things to come (Heb.10:1), similarly, we are not required to keep the OT feasts anymore as if Christ has not yet come. Of course, we do anticipate His Second Coming. However, the only observance that Christ handed over to us in connection to His Covenant was the Lord’s Supper.

Note the words “as often as” and “in remembrance of me” in 1Corinthians 11:23-26; they indicate the frequenting of the Lord’s Supper and the purpose of it. Of course, there are now numerous false teachings being circulated regarding this; however, one must note that the Lord’s Supper is not for the purpose of some physical healing or whatsoever, but “in remembrance of” Christ. Also, the prescription assumes that the partaking of this Table is done when the Church comes “together in one place” (1Cor.11:20), not in individual homes alone by themselves.

But, Christians also celebrate a number of other events, which is not wrong. We already have seen that God Himself is a celebrating God, and He is happy when we celebrate in the spirit of freedom and not out of fear or legalistic obligation. Certainly, every time we come together to proclaim His Name and worship Him, we celebrate the praises of God (1Pet.2:9). But, the above discussion should help us celebrate better in the spirit of freedom and simplicity that is in Christ.

Freedom. True Christian celebration is free of every element of carnality and the works of the flesh (1Cor.11:20-22; Gal.5:19-21).
Fruitfulness. True Christian celebration is filled with the fruit of the Spirit and the joy of fruitfulness in the Lord (Gal.5:22-24; John 15:11). It must be filled with good works (Eph.2:10; Tit.3:8).

Fervency. True Christian celebration is fervent and passionate for the Kingdom of God. It is not just about keeping a feast or celebrating a festival, but is about the sincerity and seriousness of the Father’s business. Therefore, any celebration that is blind to evils paraded in the House of God or to leaven in the Church is vile in the eyes of God (1Cor.5:8; Mark 11:15-16). True Christian celebration is a time of refocusing, rededication, reaffirmation, reconciliation, revival, reawakening, and restoration. It is not mere celebration for celebration’s sake but is a time of commemoration, correction, and commitment.

Faith. True Christian celebration puts Christian faith on the pedestal and clearly and forthrightly proclaims the message of Christ. Any celebration that is ashamed of Christ and the Gospel is not a celebration in which heaven participates (Matt.10:32,33). True Christian celebration is only that in which heaven can joyously participate.

Felicitation. True Christian celebration is also a time of thanksgiving, worship, and felicitation; a time to greet and encourage one another with words and stories of faith. Some may use cards and gifts, but these are not compulsory. There will certainly be recounting of the works and mercies of God through words of testimony and thanksgiving or songs during a celebration. In all these, it is important to walk in true Christian spirit and to honor and celebrate Christ alone.

Fellowship. True Christian celebration also strongly highlights the primacy of Christian fellowship and love. It is the fellowship of light (1Jn.1:7) and the love of Christ (Jn.13:35). It has no place for malice, envy, and rivalry (1Cor.5:8). It highlights the unity of faith in Christ (Eph.4:13).

Thus, whether it is a Christmas celebration, the anniversary of a Church, the birthday of a child, or the anniversary of a Christian couple, one must remember that God delights in our celebration and rejoices with us. He first rejoices over us when He sees us walking in His freedom, fruitfulness, fervency, faith, and fellowship in the light.

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Handling Doubt

As Christians How Do We Handle Doubt?

The Bible tells us that the “just shall live by faith” (Rom.1:17). However, oftentimes, doubt invades our hearts trying to expel faith and control our life. Christians must learn what doubt is and how we can handle doubt.

We must understand that doubt is not rational questioning of false beliefs, hasty conclusions or theories. Doubt is a choice to disbelieve in face of sufficient reasons to believe. Doubt is an attempt to find reasons, unreal as they may be, to believe in anything else than what has been made clearly evident by God; in that, it is idolatrous since it finds a false alternative to God’s truth. Doubt is an action inconsistent with belief in God.

There are chiefly seven Greek expressions that have been translated as “doubt” in the New Testament (KJV): aporeo (Jn. 13:22; Gal.4:20) meaning “to be perplexed”; diaporeo (Ac. 2:12; 10:17) meaning “to be thoroughly perplexed”; meteorizo (Lk. 12:29) meaning “to suspend as in mid-air”; airo psuche (Jn. 10:24) meaning “to keep the soul in suspension as in air”; dialogismos (Rom. 14:1; 1 Tim. 2:8) meaning “to reason” or “to argue”; diakrino (Mt. 21:21; Rom. 14:23) meaning “to judge differently” or “to discriminate”; and distazo (Mt. 14:31; 28:17) meaning “to waver”. We can clump these into four groups in order to understand each kind of doubt and how we can handle it.

1. Doubt as Uncertainty (aporeo, diaporea). This kind of doubt arises from lack of sufficient information. This leads to lack of certainty and inability to take a confident decision. It can best be understood as “uncertainty” or “perplexity”. A Christian may find himself in a state of uncertainty or loss of answer; however, he never allows that situation to make him lose his hope in God. Thus, Paul confessed that though the apostles were at times perplexed (aporeo), they were never in despair (2Cor.4:8).

2. Doubt as Suspense, Anxiety, and Fear (meteorizo, airo psuche). Several times, doubt sets in not because God hasn’t given us reasons to believe, but because we are too unwilling to believe in His Word. In some believers, this doubt takes the fearsome form of anxiety and fear. They are in a may-or-may-not-be situation. Thus, they are afraid when their children go out, staying in suspense and anxiety until they hear from them or find them back home. They are in anxious doubt about what is going to happen the next day. Jesus told His disciples to not have an anxious mind with regard to things of this world. If the Kingdom of God is assured for us, things of this world are far less to worry about (Luke 12:29-32).

3. Doubt as Rival Argumentation (dialogismos). This is a more active form of doubt that involves aggressive anti-faith reasoning or speculation on the part of the doubter. Futile imaginations and sophist speculation are foolishness in the sight of God (Rom.1:21; 1Cor.3:20). We see a contrast of true faith and futile reasoning in Luke 5. The people who brought in the sick man had faith (Lk.5:20), but the Pharisees only had doubtful reasoning (Lk.5:21,22). Obviously, the unwillingness of the Pharisees to accept Jesus as God-incarnate led to their accusing Him of blasphemy. Many times human or tradition-inherited speculations prevent people from accepting the faith of God. For instance, traditional views that object to the present active work of the Holy Spirit will make people skeptical of the manifestations of the Spirit in modern times. Sometimes, lust and pride makes it difficult for people to humbly submit to the simplicity of God’s Word. As a result, they end up in wrathful disputations and foolish thinking.

4. Doubt as Double-mindedness (diakrino, distazo). A double-minded person is utilitarian in nature. He keeps both options at hand, so that in case one doesn’t work, he has the other handy any way. This double-mindedness is the greatest enemy of faith, because it actually is nothing but sinful doubt. Therefore, the Bible says that a double-minded person can receive nothing from God as he is unstable in all his ways (James 1:6-8). This kind of person has no faith; he can neither believe nor is reliable for anyone to believe in him.

How to Handle Doubt
1. Do not neglect faith because of the uncertainty of doubt. The Bible says that “faith is substance”. In other words, absolutely certainty is in the nature of faith. God’s hope, faith, and love guards our heart against all uncertainty of doubt.

2. Keep a healthy conscience against double-mindedness. Double-mindedness is unfaithful and adulterous thinking. It is like a person who claims to be married to his wife but has affairs with other women, lacking any sincerity and commitment to his own wife. Faith in God and faithfulness to Him go together. A person who prays to God for something, and then goes about to other sources is wishful, independent, and faithless in his prayer life. He has a doubtful mind. His conscience is defiled (Titus 1:15). God calls us to keep our conscience clean (1Tim.1:19).

3. Cut off sources of unbelief. Avoid negative company, anti-biblical literature or media, carnal talk, coarse jokes, and anything that tries to plant in the mind seeds of unbelief. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2Cor 6:14)

4.  Listen to the Word. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of the Lord (Rom.10:17). What a person fills is heart with is what will work in his life. "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Therefore, God wants our hearts to be filled richly with the Word of Christ (Col.3:16).

5. Look to the cloud of witnesses (Heb.12:1). The Bible recounts life stories of men and women of faith. There are also testimonies of people of God around us that help us in our faith. Biographies of faith abound. When doubt hits your heart, get encouraged by God’s work in your own life and the life of the people of God.

6. Run forward looking unto Jesus (Heb.12:2). He is the author and finisher of our faith. The fact of the incarnation of Jesus, His death, and resurrection is the strongest basis for our faith. His teaching and His works fill us with faith.

7. Don’t allow the trap of human wisdom against the power of God. “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1Cor.2:4-5).

8. Act in accordance to faith, not doubt. Refuse to allow doubt and the visible appearance of things to gain over faith and the invisible realities of God. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2Cor 5:7). If Abraham had responded to God according to what he saw about his body, he would have wavered and never could have believed in the power of God. But, he didn’t consider the condition of his weak body as a problem for God, and therefore he saw the miracle of God in his life. When God makes a way, He doesn’t care if He has to make it through the Red Sea. Let’s act according to faith, and not according to doubt.

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Scriptural Principles for Long Life

PRINCIPLES OF LONG LIFE

1. Seek first the Wisdom of God above all things

So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for--both riches and honor--so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. (1Ki 3:11-13)

The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of wisdom. (Pro 10:21)

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. (Hos 4:6)

2. Make the Lord God your dwelling place
Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. (Psa 91:9-12)

"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Mat 6:25-26)

"Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luk 12:6-7)

3. Love God and seek Him in prayer always
"Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation." (Psa 91:14-16)

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.'" Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the LORD, and said, "Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And the word of the LORD came to Isaiah, saying, "Go and tell Hezekiah, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years. (Isa 38:1-5)

…who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, (Heb 5:7)

Now, some may say, “Well, Jesus did die, at last”. But, the Scriptures say, He rose from the dead and death could not hold Him against the power of God.

He asked life from You, and You gave it to him; Length of days forever and ever. (Psa 21:4)

4. Obey God’s commandments
"So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days." (1Ki 3:14)

My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. (Pro 3:1-2)

My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. (Pro 4:20-22)

"You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time."
(Deu 4:40)

"You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.
(Deu 5:33)

5. Fear God and depart from evil
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. (Pro 3:7-8)

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death. (Pro 14:27)

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For "He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. (1Pe 3:8-11)

The fear of the LORD prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. (Pro 10:27)

For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
(1Ti 4:8)

6. Protect your heart
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil. (Pro 4:23-27)

A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones. (Pro 14:30)

A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. (Pro 15:13)

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. (Pro 17:22)

The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, But who can bear a broken spirit? (Pro 18:14)

7. Honor your father and your mother
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."
(Eph 6:1-3)

Whoever curses his father or his mother, His lamp will be put out in deep darkness. (Pro 20:20)

We live in a wicked age:
There is a generation that curses its father, And does not bless its mother. (Pro 30:11)
backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
(Rom 1:30)
For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
(2Ti 3:2)

The eye that mocks his father, And scorns obedience to his mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it. (Pro 30:17)

"For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' "But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God"; 'then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. (Mat 15:4-6)

But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. And these things command, that they may be blameless. But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
(1Ti 5:4-8)

8. Be humble before God
By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life. (Pro 22:4)
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
(Jas 4:6)

9. Be merciful towards others
He who follows righteousness and mercy Finds life, righteousness and honor.
(Pro 21:21)

10. Be compassionate towards all life
"If a bird's nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; "you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.
(Deu 22:6-7)

A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
(Pro 12:10)

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True Profitable Labor

True Profitable Labor.

“What profit has a man from all his labor under the sun?” (Eccl.1:3)

The Bible asks us to stop for a while and consider the purpose and profit of our pursuits in life.

God instituted that man should work for 6 days and rest on the seventh. Also, the Bible tells us that those who do not work for a living should not also eat.

“We gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2Thess 3:10)

Yet, it is important to understand that life and work is not just about filling our stomach and surviving in the world.

Psalm 90:10 tells us that our life is full of labor
Psalm 104:23 tells us that man goes to his labor till evening

Yet, the wise king Solomon had this to say about all human labor:

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. (Eccl.2:11)

Therefore I turned my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun. (Eccl.2:20)

He exclaimed that all labor is vanity of vanities, meaningless, and a chasing after the wind. What he meant to say was that if work was only about worldly things, “under the sun”, and didn’t have the eternal in perspective (Eccl.3:11), then meaninglessness would be a result, because man is not just a beast or an advanced animal; humans are spiritual beings.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE OF HUMAN LABOR
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. (Eccl.3:11)

I said in my heart, "Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals." For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth? (Eccl 3:18-21)

Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, Or the golden bowl is broken, Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, Or the wheel broken at the well. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it. (Eccl 12:6-7)

"And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, "so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us… (Acts 17:26-27)

Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. (Psalm 127:1)

Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. (Ps 128:1-2)

As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor -- this is the gift of God. (Eccl 5:19)

The labor of the righteous leads to life, The wages of the wicked to sin. (Prov 10:16)

Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labor will increase. (Prov 13:11)

In all labor there is profit, But idle chatter leads only to poverty. (Prov 14:23)

The desire of the lazy man kills him, For his hands refuse to labor. (Prov 21:25)

All the labor of man is for his mouth, And yet the soul is not satisfied. (Eccl 6:7)

Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. (1Cor 6:13)

"Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." (John 6:27)


LABORING FOR THE KINGDOM
Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Matt 9:37-38)

"I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' " (Acts 20:35)

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. (Eph 4:28)

Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. (Rom 16:12)

Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. (1Cor 3:8)

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1Cor 15:10)

To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Col 1:29)
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1Cor 15:58)

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Can You Sing Psalm 1 Yet?

The Psalm contrasts between two kinds of people:

One who is blessed, the other who is not;
One who is like a strong tree, the other who is like chaff;
One who is planted by rivers of water and is well nourished, the other who is driven away by the wind;
One who brings forth his fruit in his season, the other who shall not stand in the time of testing or judgment;
One whose leaf never withers (he is always in good health and right relationship with God), the other who shall not stand in the gathering of the righteous (he has no place among those who are in right standing with God);
One whose every work shall prosper, the other whose way shall perish.

The Bible promises prosperity in every act that the one who is blessed does. To be blessed means to be strong, well-nourished, vivacious, healthy, and prosperous in the will of God. This is not prosperity gospel. The Bible is not telling us that the godly will not have trials; however, the Bible does promise that God has given us His promises and His power so that we can, with His abundant life, swim against the current and experience His power and come out pure as gold in our faith in Him. Hebrews 11 clearly recounts the success of faith in the sense of supernatural experiences especially in the midst of temptation and suffering and a life of pilgrimage in the world.

The Bible doesn’t tell us, to the chagrin of some melancholic theologians, that the blessed will be like the chaff driven by the wind. It doesn’t tell us that the blessed cannot stand in the time of testing. On the contrary, it tells us that it is the ungodly and the sinners who cannot stand in the hour of judgment and in the congregation of the righteous.

The Bible promises power, purposefulness, protection, productivity, and prosperity to the blessed.

The Bible also promises persecution, which is nothing but the counter-current that tries to kill the strong tree. However, to stand in faith and in the will of God is the blessing of the blessed.

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2Tim.3:12)
“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
“But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.” (Gal.4:29)
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1John 4:4)

Of course, sometimes it may seem that the wicked are prospering; but, the Scripture reveals to us their fate:

“Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awakes, So, Lord, when You awake, You shall despise their image. Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind.” (Psa.73:18-21).

Let’s look at some qualities that make a person blessed:

1. The Blessed doesn’t walk in the counsel of the ungodly.
The counsel of the ungodly is anything that ungodly people say and teach in order to lead people away from the Word of God and right relationship with God.

“For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4)

“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” (2John 1:9-11)

“traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” (2Tim.3:4-9).

2. The Blessed does not stand in the way of sinners.
The way of sinners is the path they take to execute their actions. The blessed has nothing to do with the way of sinners.

“My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. If they say, "Come with us, Let us lie in wait to shed blood; Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, And whole, like those who go down to the Pit; We shall find all kinds of precious possessions, We shall fill our houses with spoil; Cast in your lot among us, Let us all have one purse" -- My son, do not walk in the way with them, Keep your foot from their path; For their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed blood. Surely, in vain the net is spread In the sight of any bird; But they lie in wait for their own blood, They lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners.” (Proverbs 1:10-19)

“Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” (Jude 1:11-13)

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. “ (Matt. 7:13-14)

3. The Blessed does not sit in the seat of the scornful.
The scornful are mockers who do not regard the seriousness of human life, the sincerity of God’s Word, and the severity of God’s judgment. They are loose-talkers, loose-livers, and sensual.

“But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Eph.5:3-5)

“But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.” (Jude 1:17-18)

“knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts…” (2Pet.3:3)

“But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption,” (2 Pet.2:12)

4. The Blessed delight in the Law of God.
They love the Word of God. They love to hear the Word of God. They are hungry for the Word of God. Their greatest joy comes when they listen carefully and understand what God is speaking through His Word. These are not emotional people who look for sensational phenomena, lights, show, and sensual entertainment. These are not celebrity-fans. Their pure delight is in the Word of God.

To delight means to desire to spend time in, to derive happiness from, to douse, dip, and be drenched with the Word of God.

5. The Blessed meditates in the Word of God day and night.
There is just this simple key to blessedness: faith; living faith, active faith, total faith. And faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. To meditate means to internalize the Word of God, to take the Word deep within by pondering, meditating, thinking upon, being immersed in, and comparing life events and experiences in the light of the Word of God. To meditate means to ask questions: why, what, when, where, how. Those who do not ask questions in order to understand more deeply the Word of God are like a stony ground on which, when the rain falls, it rolls away or just stops on the surface. But those who ask questions are like the soft soil that drinks the rain water and takes it deep within the ground.

The Bible starts with a Psalm of blessedness. God calls us to a life of blessedness.





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