Do you dwell in Christ as Christ dwelt in the Father?

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This is picture is only half of the reality. Christ dwells in every believer as well. The power of that truth is that in every believer exists Jesus love, forgiveness, strength, steadfastness, compassion, wisdom, care, faith, provision, holiness, faithfulness and finally, the most glorious thing of all, salvation unto eternal life! Shouldn’t we just rejoice every day! Let Christ dwell in you richly! Dwell in Christ every moment of every day! Praise Him!

Do you live in the Father as Christ lives in the Father, as the Father lives in Christ? Is your every movement, your every thought, your every motivation presented to the Father for consideration, review, council and approval? This is abiding, living and remaining in the Father as Christ dwelt in Him. (Jhn 14:10) See “Knowing you are saved,” published by Xulon Press, pages 189 and 216.

The Greek word “menō” which is pronounced almost like “minnow” but with an “e” means to remain, stay, or abide. It has the connotation of living in, existing in and enduring. It indicates steadfastness or a stick-to-it-iv-ness. One puzzling aspect of this verse is that the first time you see menō in the first sentence, it is an imperative. An imperative is a command. In addition, the predominant verb or action word is the word for hear, which is in the past tense. The sentence could read more like, “Stay with what you heard from the beginning.” This takes on the more commanding sense in the sentence. (Pg 189)

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When we look throughout 1 John, we find this word used 24 times. Outside of “love” and “knowing,” it is the third most frequently used word. This was a very important word to John. Ladies and gentlemen, living in Christ is probably one of the most vital things with which John is concerned. Some other biblical facts will help you understand. The word translated “remain” is used over 118 times in the New Testament, and 24 times here by John. John’s writings use menō 68 of the 118 times or well over half of all the times it is used in the whole of the New Testament. John’s first epistle uses menō fully 20% of all of the New Testament… where a believer is concerned, remaining in Jesus Christ during persecutions and trials, as well as just a normal testimonial life with Him at the center, is a vital part of our assurance of salvation. That abiding life at the center of your spiritual life is what produces the fruits of the Spirit that Paul talks about in Galatians. We cannot know man’s heart, but His fruits do belie him. (Pg 216)

Many claim Christ, but just live a life in the world and seldom actually seek God’s approval for anything in their lives, let alone how they should rear their children, spend their funds or orient their spare time. Many see opportunities in their lives and leap through those doors for vacation, for business, for relationships, for entertainment, for all sorts of things considered normal everyday elements of life.

Christian, you are to remain in Christ and in the Father as Jesus remained in Him. Christians, we are supposed walk in Jesus feet as He tread upon the earth. Jesus was intimately in contact with the Father. So in His counsel was Jesus that being separated from the Father for a mere three hours was excruciatingly painful (Psa 22:1; Mat 27:46; Mar 15:34).

If you were denied access to God’s word, would it really bother you? If you were denied the privilege of prayer, would it really bother you? If you were denied any aspect of your relationship with God, would it really hurt you? That is what Jesus is talking about when He says, “I am in the Father, and the Father in me.”

God’s spirit is part of Jesus. Jesus is part of God. Every aspect of Jesus is exposed to and exists in coincidence with the Father. Every aspect of the Father is exposed to and exists in coincidence with the Father.

Dwelling in one another makes the Father and the Son one. On the cross, when Jesus is forced to be separated from His Father it is as though His very being is divided, ripped apart He is being violently divided from himself. It tears Him apart. We have to ask if we would feel this way if any aspect of our relationship with the Father or the Son were affected in just such a way.

Christian, is your relationship so intertwined with the trinitarian Father, Son and Holy Spirit that the absence of any one would feel as though you were being torn apart. Is your life dependent upon the regular, faithful, devoted communion with God? This is what dwelling is in John 14:10.

Everyone worships the same God?

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One god is not about God. One god is all about self. This belief actually admits limited intellectual and spiritual abilities. It says I may not be right, so I better be inclusive. In other words, “I” don’t know what “I” believe or why “I” believe it therefore, “I” have to be inclusive.

John 14:7 has always been a challenging verse for man to submit too. Man realizes that if he truly believes, especially Jesus final phrase, then he must be somewhat dogmatic. Man does not like being dogmatic, unless he likes the dogma. Resting in the truth of God incarnate is difficult mostly because it makes us aware that God may  have standards, He may limit access to His kingdom, He may have requirements, He may not be interested in our defining Him, He may not be as open to allowing everyone before Him because of what they think individually, He may not respect our thoughts on what He might do, worst of all we might not be able to define God’s design for ourselves.

The statement, “no one comes unto the Father but by me” is definitive, final, dogmatic, absolute, unwavering, without ability to alternatively analyze or contemplate. There is only one path to God the Father, that is through the Son. There are more scriptures that tell how zealous the Father himself is about this truth.

In my book “Knowing You Are Saved,” I wrote about this verse on pages 175-186,

You can think what you want, but God is God and your thoughts about who He should be and how He should act do not change Him (Is 55:8-9). Just as we can deny truth in our lives, denying eternal truths will not affect the truth itself. This denial will however affect our lives eternally.

The fact is that God the Father wants us to focus upon His Son. Neither the Father, nor the Holy Spirit went through the trials and challenges, neither were tempted in all ways like we are, neither suffered the cross, neither left their heavenly abode to live here and experience man’s challenges. Both the Father and the Holy Spirit have great respect for the Son’s personal sacrifice from the moment He left Heaven. I also wrote about this in an article titled, “A Story.” Where people are uncomfortable with truth, they insult those whom may have to live, or have lived, through those truths. They also insult anyone honored and even saved by those truths. Where politicians take credit for the heroism of first responders is simply reprehensible. This is the same thing people do when they deny Christ to say they are God and they individually determine their entrance into Heaven or the entrance of others. (1 John 2:23)

Ultimately, man is afraid to commit because he knows he does not have all the answers. But the answers are available to us in the scriptures. They reveal God to us. God is clear, He alone makes rules for Him. Just follow them, and trust Christ to help you do so. (Matt 19:26)

Following Christ

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No mode of transpiration, no cell phones with bibles on them, you have your feet and your mind and your faith in the leader of the universe, Jesus Christ.

When we consider following Christ, we should consider those who have already walked those paths and given the investment involved in doing so. When we do so, our most direct examples, the most impactful lives and testimonies are in scripture and in the early church.

When we look over scripture, we must fact the fact that every single disciple was persecuted and killed for their faith in Jesus. If we consider the rich young man in Mark 10:17-31, we see the level to which we are called to sacrifice. Jesus tells this young wealthy individual whom has been a very good man,and obeyed the commandment. By his testimony, which is not disputed by Jesus, “all these things have I observed from my youth.”

As we consider this testimony, we are wise to be observant concerning the circumstances and events surrounding it, the context of the scripture. The wealthy young man is concerned about his eternal life. He wants to live forever. There is certainly an air of self-interest in his exchange with Christ. This is Meeism in worship and Meeism in Christian liberty wrapped into one package. Meeism in worship because the young man claims to want to do what God wants, but for his benefit. Meeism in Christian liberty because he wants to do what he wants, but still find a way to shuffle both desires into the same deck. Jesus cuts to the quick in His response.

Jesus asks How far are you willing to go? You obey laws, you work hard, you acquire wealth, you show humility and seem even to try to esteem another better than yourself, but this wealthy individual seems to miss what faith really means.

Serving God, giving one’s life to Christ, means personal, complete, wholehearted sacrifice. Sacrifice on all levels is what is being displayed in the scriptures. We are encouraged not to give all up, but to be willing to give everything. In Mark 10:22 he went away saddened because he was not willing to sacrifice everything, he was not willing to do what Jesus would do, he was not willing to emulate the Savior, he was not willing to be like Christ.

Everyone committing to Christ must ask this question of themselves and answer honestly. This is where walking by faith and not by sight becomes operative. (2 Cor 5:7) Jesus will challenge every believer. God will put the believer through tests to strengthen us and accomplish His will. (1 Thes 3:3; Heb 11:17-19, et. al.)

If we are not willing to lay it all on the line for Christ, how can we with a clear conscience accept His atonement for us where He forfeited everything from His life in Heaven to His life on earth. He forfeited rights to the universe to walk among mankind’s most meager. He forfeited perfect comfort to feel cold, heat, scrapes, cuts and freezing winter nights. How far will you go Christian? Jesus will help you get there just ask Him.

Your life speaks

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When you walk with Jesus, your life speaks of His path, His joy, His peace, His salvation. Your life speaks.

John 13:35 speaks of how all men will know Christians. All mankind can recognize christians through many different stereotypical observations. If you think about it, our lives activity mark what we believe in. That is why, right or wrong, people of the world see people who are hard workers, don’t swear, don’t smoke, don’t drink, believe in life at conception, go to church regularly, believe in the nuclear family see these people as Christians. Christians are seen as traditionalists.

Christians are also seen as loyal, faithful, trustworthy, loving, caring, dedicated and above all individuals who pour their hearts out to those in their church. Consider how Christians in the first century were identified. The Church at Cenchrea (Rom 16:1), The Church at Corinth (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1) even the church at Babylon (1 Pet 5:13). The people of Jesus are known as kind, generous, humble, self effacing, hospitable and compassionate.

The church is also commonly  identified in another way – the church of God (Act 20:28; 1 Cor 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:13; 1 Tim 3:5). The Christian Church is identified with all the attributes of the people within those churches. We should always be concerned with how our church is identified and not run from it, but seek to change the perception because it is born from us, right here in these walls. In other words, if we are not properly identified, we should be striving to change our testimony to change the testimony of the church in which we worship.

The truth is we need to see how our part individually effects all those around us. Ephesians 5:25 tells us that Jesus so loved the church that He gave himself for it. You, too, Christian should give your life out of love for your church. Many question the definition of church in this verse. It is not a building, but it is the group of believers you regularly identify with and they worship in the same place you do.

Ladies and gentlemen, the commandment is that we love one another. This prevailing sense, that we are, we embody and we exemplify those things listed above through that love is vital. It not only stigmatizes and identifies us, it gives the pigments, the varying hues and colors to our lives and the lives around us. Yes, you are, whether appropriately or not, identified by those you keep company with.

We must not shy from the public. Where we have failed, we share Christ’s loving forgiveness. Where we have success, we share His loving provision. No matter the circumstance, bemoaning our life is self defeating. We, as Christians, must stand up, change for Christ and properly identify with Him to properly identify His church. If we do not, we violate 1 John 1:6 by claiming fellowship with Christ, but walking in darkness and not doing the truth. Doing the truth is doing the things of Christ. Actively loving as Christ actively loves is the key to a successful Christian testimony. Christian, love one another as Christ loves you.

Just lost until enlightened

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And they hear, "South."

And they hear, “South.”

In John 13:18-29 we find a very strange occurrence. Jesus tells the whole lot of disciples that one of them will betray Him. In fact, He tells them twice. (18, 21) They all murmur amongst themselves doubting whom it might be. (22) None of them believed that any one of them would betray Jesus. All seemed to have confidence in one another mostly, and in themselves most of all as they look upon one another to analyze those around the table. So, Jesus tells them they have a traitor amongst them and none of them believe it, certainly none believe it of themselves.

Amazingly, the entire table of disciples seem to ask Jesus whom the betrayer is in verse 22. In verse 24 Simon Peter specifically asks, as does John in verse 25, for a name, specifically who among us disciples are you talking about? Jesus gives them an answer with a specific sign attached. Then in verse 29 we find how effective the deceiver is as everyone makes excuses for Judas’ departure.

When we think about what is happening at the Last Supper, every one there except Judas saw Jesus as the Messiah. At this time, their ideas of what He would do to free Judea are certainly wrong, but they saw Jesus as the Messiah. They believed He was the very Son of God. They did not believe He had to die for them taking all sins upon himself for all mankind. They did not believe He had to live again to provide the hope of resurrection in His person, to prove He had power over death and Hell and Satan. They were not saved because they did not believe in Jesus. They could not see many things including the fact that Jesus, God, will choose those whom enter His Kingdom and He will even choose unbelievers to further His will, to complete His mission, to accomplish the Fathers desires.

How often do we see this in our lives. We are warned of a serious circumstance, but we don’t listen, or we do not give the warning credence. We are told specifically what will happen, yet we ignore this warning, we give it little thought or we simply think it is too confusing to contemplate. We look at others, knowing we could never be the culprit, and we question the loyalty or honesty of others. Instead of looking at our own spirit, analyzing things introspectively, we look at others. We are told specific signs of destruction, of betrayal, of wickedness, of worldliness warning us of sin and things we should be mindful of, to stay away from them and we ignore them. Then we wonder why we get into trouble, why we face the challenges we face. All too often we may blame God, but it is really our fault.

Disciples that walked, talked, ate meals, listened, prayed, worshiped and spent almost every moment of every day of His earthly ministry with Him. All that and they still did not listen to Him. We should strive to not imitate their example here. We should learn from it to attend to the finer guidance God gives us in His word.

One Another – God’s direction concerning relationships

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one_another     Chris and I were riding home yesterday and listening to J. I. Packer’s book “Knowing God.”  We heard something that resonated with us. It applies to all biblical understanding and the challenges we see every day for individual interpretation. It flies in the face of the fact that the Bible says one thing, that one thing can mean different things to different people. That is not interpretation, it is instead personal application; an application only binding personally. This is what Packer said:

     Modern muddle-headedness and confusion as to the meaning of faith in God is almost beyond description. Men say they believe in God, but have no idea who it is tha tthey believe in, or what difference believing in Him may make. The Christian who wants to help his floundering fellows into what a famous old tract used to call ‘safety, certainty, and enjoyment’ is constantly bewildered as to where to begin: the fantastic hotch-potch of fancies about God that confronts him quite takes his breath away… “people have got into the way of following private religious hunches rather than learning of God from His own Word; and we have to try and help them to unlearn the pride and, in some cases, misconceptions about Scripture which give rise to this attitude, and to base their convictions henceforth, not on what they feel, but on what the Bible says. A second answer as that modern man thinks of all religions as equal and equivalent, and draws his stock of ideas about God from pagan as well as Christian sources; and we have to try and show people and uniqueness and finality of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s last word to man. A third answer is that men have ceased to recognize the reality of their own sinfulness, which imparts a degree of perversity and enmity against God to all that they think and do; and it is our task to try and introduce people to this fact about themselves, and so make them self-distrustful and open to correction by the word of Christ. A forth answer… is that people today are in the habit of dissociating the thought of God’s goodness from that of his severity; and we must seek to wean them from this habit, since nothing but misbelief is possible as long as it persists.

To summarize Packer, many if not most self-identified Christians today regularly make decisions on scriptural doctrine that help them define and support their own ideas, personal convictions and desires rather than seeking deep truth and applying those to ones life. For instance, many think that because Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, that regardless how we live or what our testimony may be, if one claims belief in God they’re going to Heaven regardless how they’ve lived their life  (1 John 2:2). It is not a matter of ignoring scriptural direction, but making it their scripture, not owning it, but coopting it into a personal application alien to the rest of Scripture. It takes a single scripture on personal authority and ignores the free, unattached and non-reciprocative agape love of God. Love one another first and foremost.

Promises to His Chosen

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1_pet_2_9The Chosen are promised to be treated by God as the Son of God in John 13:20. Think about that. Those who believe in Jesus as their savior, believe that Jesus is God, came to earth, ministered, served, died and rose again are promised to be received by God in His Kingdom.

We face many truths in this. First, the promise provides vision to any individual’s future. Regardless how we might see our life unfolding, regardless our past sins, regardless our future sins those who seek Christ, believe in Him, trust in His salvation and rest in that salvation will be received by our heavenly Father. Those who exercise life through faith in Christ enjoy eternal life with the Father just as the Son. Those who serve in their faith will receive their reward. There are spiritual rewards for service (Rom 5:3-4; Jam 1:2-4). The gift of reward may simply be a day’s wage (Matt 20:9-16). It may be a marriage banquet (Matt 25:10). Rewards may be in wealth (Matt 25:20-23). The reward of faithful service may be authority over nations (Rev 2:26-27).

All these are wonderful rewards for faithful service. However, the most oft descried reward, the most important reward, the longest lasting and eternally effective reward is life with God the Father. We should desire rewards in Heaven.

Promises. Do you realize that God is so powerful that when He remembers, things happen. A friend of mine wrote his dissertation on divine remembrance (A Biblical Theology of Divine Remembering, Vernon Edward Myers, BJUPress, 2007). He does not have to speak, just remember. When God remembers people more often the He remembers anything else. He remembers people then forgives them (Psalm 78:38-39). In Jeremiah 2:2 we could translate the verse, “I have recalled in your favor the loyalty of your youth…” (William L. Holladay).

We have to face the fact that, if when God remembers amazing things happen, then if He speaks, more grand amazing things happen. Then, when He proclaims a promise after He remembers His scripture, even more tremendous and amazing things happen.

Here is the promise given, “He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” If you receive Jesus, you receive the Father.

Receive Jesus, receive the Father and He will remember you, He will reward you and ultimately He will receive you in Heaven.

Exemplify Christ

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fruit_of_christlikenessJesus simply asks that we exemplify Him in all things, especially service. Exemplify Christ is our theme for this year. It is only fitting that Christ would guide us to this theme in January in the simple course of our study of the scriptures together. But many ask, how do we know that we are growing in Christ? How do we know we are changing for His glory? The answer is very simple, ask yourself is you are changing for His glory, becoming more like Him. On page 189 of my book I explain how one can have confidence in being Christlike.

Staying in fellowship with the believing church, remaining under the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, desiring and seeking fellowship with believers rather than unbelievers–these are proofs that you belong, and that He is abiding in you, that you are abiding in Him. This steadfast remaining faith testifies of your salvation. When we continue to seek others out who know Christ and we more covet relationships and time with them than we do with unbelievers, this is an assurance of our salvation. When we desire and gravitate toward and implement the things in our lives of other believers, these are further evidences of our salvation. As we see Christlikeness displayed and we look to implement that in our lives because we remain and are steadfast in our testimony, this is evidence of and assurance in our salvation. When our heart yearns to be as Christlike as Jesus himself and we hunger and thirst for the righteousness that is in the scriptures, we have further assurance of our salvation. All of these are marks of abiding, remaining and the stick-to-it-iv-ness that labels the Christian as a Christian and pushes out the world. As we see the world’s treasures and lures fade away and our desires are replaced with a yearning for godliness and the things of God, His Son and the Holy Spirit we are assured of our salvation.  (Knowing you are saved, Xulon Press, 2016, pg 189.)

Understand that exemplifying Christ is a joy. As Jesus before us, we are persecuted, but we are to be joyful. (Matt 5:10) As Jesus before us, we are vilified, but we are to be blessed. (Matt 5:11) As Jesus before us, we are abused, but we are to be content.

When our contentment in life grows, no matter the adversity, we are more exemplifying Christ. When our contentment for persecution grows, we are more exemplifying Christ. When we are more content being in church, living and remaining in God’s house, being around His people, we are more exemplifying Christ. When we exhibit greater levels of forgiveness, love, mercy and faith, we more exemplify Christ. As we grow in grace, grow in His forgiving light and grow in His loving and generous attitude toward others we better exemplify Christ. That, Christian, is our challenge.

For an interview on my book click here.

God’s salvation unto purpose

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Jesus washes us, and His washing is sufficient regardless what we may think. He washes us for His glory, His purposes, His loving salvation.

Jesus washes us, and His washing is sufficient regardless what we may think. He washes us for His glory, His purposes, His loving salvation.

You cannot have Jesus until you allow Him to save you where He chooses, how He chooses and when He chooses. That is hard to swallow. You ask, “Does that mean I cannot choose to be saved.” The answer is an unequivocal yes.  He puts people in your life you need. He places you in circumstances you need to experience. He organizes things throughout our small historic passing on this earth so we can best serve Him. If this challenges your spirit, are you saying you know better than God what you need? Do you know better than God what you need cleansed in your soul? Think about what you are implying. Are you being a Peter in John 13:9 saying, “…not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” In other words, are you  self-deprecating to look pious?

I meet a lot of people. Because I am a pastor I see my share of those who give lip service to the Lord. I can often sense it, feel it. When talking to them they say something like, “The Lord is my only guide in life.” But, their actual life and testimony do not validate the statement. This is Peter. Peter is stepping out trying to say, “Jesus, you are so much greater than I am, I need far more purification than you’re giving me now.” What Jesus is saying is, unless you let Me wash you the way I know best, you cannot be washed. Further, Jesus says, the way I wash you completely washes you regardless what you may think.

Those are extremely serious charges and they vex the Holy Spirit because it calls His scripture a liar. (1 Jn 5:10) Only trusting our own counsel is foolhardy enough. On page 460 of my book, “Knowing you are saved” I explain another form of pride,

It never ceases to amaze me how much like our children we continue to be, even when we are provided better wisdom outside ourselves. I used to point out to my children how foolish their argument in understanding was, when they came home with “But Mary (or Joey, or Bobby, or Susan) said…” All Mary can relay is an equivalent childlike understanding of a concept. It does not change for some, as they grow older. Instead of seeking the truth where the best authority lies, they still ask others their opinion as if to say, “But Joe said…” Try that one on God and see how far you get. One could envision the evolutionist saying to God, “But Charles Darwin said…” Think about it folks. People all over this nation are seeking the purpose in life, the reason for living, and the origin of life. People all over this country, all over the world for that matter, are looking for the answer to eternal life. The Scriptures have that answer in Christ yet man still says his contemporary, who has never been to, and cannot qualify for Heaven, who are admittedly imperfect.

Jesus service is perfect. If we try to question it, gather more of it, modify it or in some way manage it we are saying we do not trust Him to care for our soul, our salvation, our spiritual needs. We’re saying, we know best regardless what Jesus thinks. We’re not submitting to Him, His decisions, His ideas, His vision, His plans for our lives to serve Him. We’re saying Jesus is not God, He is not perfect, He is not worthy of my trust. We’re saying, we do not believe in Him. Don’t remain a spiritual child. Mature in Christ by releasing control to Him.

God’s grace through His children

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Granted, this can apply in so many ways (and you may find this reused on this blog). However, one way we often act pagan is in our prideful response to those who offer assistance. So often we drive to the independent desire, and to a point we certainly should be.

Granted, this can apply in so many ways (and you may find this reused on this blog). However, one way we often act pagan is in our prideful response to those who offer assistance. So often we drive to the independent desire, and to a point we certainly should be. However, how often do we consider whether God is making that offer of help through that person? Just because we do not think we “need” does not mean God has to agree. (Is 55:8)

Did you know there is a gift of gifts? How about service, giving, mercy? In all instances, these gifts are given to individuals by the Holy Spirit because He has determined they are needed. If the Holy Spirit controls these gifts, and we believe God is sovereign and in control, doesn’t He place these special people where they are needed? If we see God as perfect in all things, does He waste resources?

We all know stories of individuals witnessed to one time on one day by a person they never saw again, who then became on fire for Christ. Some with the gift of evangelism witness to thousands. Others without it witness to just that one. Has God wasted His resources? His Son was given to atone for the sins of the whole world, many of which God knew full well, Jesus knew at the time of His crucifixion, they would not accept this heavenly gift. Was that a waste?

Think about what happens to people who do not accept God’s grace in Christ. Do we treat the grace in God’s people differently than we treat the grace given from Christ? Is there consequence if we turn away His people, His children, His loved ones? What scriptures point us to answers?

How about Luke 9:5 “And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony AGAINST THEM.” Or consider this passage, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” (Mar 9:37) Consider Matthew 18:6, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:10 is also enlightening, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in Heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in Heaven.”

It is very clear as we consider these passages that God has identified there are consequences for rejecting his children, or even offending them. What a great offense we perpetrate upon God’s people by rejecting their loving care, their spiritual gift, their extending a loving hand. What a great offense we press as our pride gets in the way of our having to simply accept the inspired service, gift or mercy of a loved one in Christ. If a brother or sister in Christ extends themselves to you out of love, don’t reject it. Many consider the admonition in Hebrews 13:2, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” This admonition can weigh equally as one shuns mercy, grace, giving, service or any gift. Do we think we know better than God?