Sunday, December 31, 2023

Three Important Steps Before Connecting to Your Tribe


As Christians, we are a part of a bigger group which the Bible calls the body of Christ. We aren’t islands to ourselves, but God connects us to other believers as He sees fit. This is something He does and we yield to. It’s not something we want to force our way into or to fight against, but to be willing to take our place as God wants us to. Unfortunately, for the most part, we fall far short of His vision for us.

We know Christians don’t always get along. There is not yet full unity or maturity among Christians and neither is everyone taking their God-given place in the body. Many people have become discouraged with churches and, though they love God, don’t feel connected to a church body. If that’s you, ask God to connect you with your tribe, making you ready for them and them ready for you.

I think it’s helpful to consider three points in growing to a place in Christ where the body can function as the Head intends. These are three points to take before even trying to connect with your tribe. Not that there are only three points, but I believe these three things will do much toward bringing us closer into security in Christ as individuals, which paves the way for us to connect in a healthy way with other believers.

The body of Christ is made up of individuals just as a human body is made up of many parts—arms, legs, eyes, fingers, etc. A Christian body part may need a certain level of care, healing, or deliverance first before being able to really connect as a healthy, properly functioning member of the body of Christ. While you are waiting for God to connect you to your tribe there are three things you can do in the meantime.

Here are the three things:

  • Know God’s Love: Know and believe His love for you. (1 John 4:16).
  • Strive for the Prize: Respond to His love with diligence. (1 John 4:19)
  • Get Fit: Connect to the body in true love. (1 John 4:21).

Once members of the church are secure in these three things, the church as a whole will be in a much better position to fulfil it’s corporate role of bringing the gospel to the lost.

So let’s look at each one in more detail.

#1: Knowing and believing God’s love for you.

16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us…  1 John 4:16

Do you know God loves you? Do you believe that? Do you know it in your heart, or do you just understand what those words mean in your head? We each must come to “know” His love for us and come to the place where we “have believed,” past tense. We’re not trying to believe that God loves us, but we know it already--it’s already been settled in our minds and hearts. We’re not trying to earn anything from Him, impress Him, so we won't step on others or sabotage them to feel secure in His love. No. We’re not talking about rewards or favor or anything of that, just His love—the thing our hearts long for at the very core of our being.

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

John had a lot to say about the love of God. Remember he called himself, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He would lay his head on Jesus’ chest. He knew something about the love of the Lord.

We also see the love of the Father in this verse. For God so loved the world… The Father loved the people in the world—the human race—so much that He gave the most valuable thing He could to rescue us from the clutches of darkness. He gave His only Son. He paid the highest price He could.

Think about that for a minute and realize the value He has placed on you. He gave the most valuable thing in existence to redeem you from the enemy and bring you into His family, His kingdom. He values you! Don’t worry about getting off into pride, He did it for everyone, but make sure you let that understanding become a part of your entire existence. Let it seep out of your pores.

I’m not kidding when I say not to worry about pride, as long as you remember He paid the same price for everyone. Some people won’t fully absorb the love of God for them because they think they are undeserving on the one hand, or they think it will make them arrogant if they fully receive His love. Those are both lies of the enemy, for the enemy knows once you understand the love of God for you, once you come to know it and believe in it, you are a greater threat to him. He won’t be able to trip you up, get you into guilt, gossip, or arrogance like he used to.

Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to:

1. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30) and 

2. To love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).

Then He told His disciples a new commandment, which was to love one another (other Christians) as He has loved us (John 13:34-35).

You can’t love your neighbor very well if you don’t love yourself very well. And the only way to properly love yourself is to receive God’s love for you—to see yourself as God sees you. So yes, we are to keep the love of God first and foremost as the greatest command, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Yet, the only way we can do that is to receive His love for ourselves first.

19 We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

We can’t love anyone—God, ourselves, or our neighbor without receiving His love for us first.

This brings us to point #2:

#2: Strive for the Prize: Responding to His love with diligence

19 We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Again, we can only, ONLY, love God once we realize—know and believe in—His love for us. You just can’t do it. Love does not originate with you, it originates with God. Don’t try to be super-Christian, 100% unselfish, and think that you can love God without receiving His love for you. That’s just pride. And it’s foolish.

We need Him, and we will always need Him. We will never outgrow Him or His love. Maturity doesn’t mean that we don’t crawl up on His lap and lay our head on His shoulder. We must remain children in our love for Him.

However, His love will mature us. We will grow. His love matures us because we become more secure. We won’t need the approval of people like we used to. The more we know His love, the more we love Him, and we want to get to KNOW HIM more. Our focus is not on ourselves, or on other people and what they think of us. Our focus is on HIM.

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with himJohn 14:23

Read that again. The benefits of our loving Him is that the Father and Jesus will come and “make their abode” with us. They will come and stay, rest, and dwell, with us. Not visit occasionally but stay. Meditate on that until your heart melts with love and appreciation for Him.

Thus says the Lord,

1 “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.
Where then is a house you could build for Me?
And where is a place that I may rest?
“For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord.
“But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Isaiah 66:1-2

There is no place we can build for Him that will impress Him. The only thing He will look to is the one who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at His Word—the one who is humble, broken, and fears the Lord.

So we can come to know, and love, the Lord more intimately, but it will require something of us. This is where many people give up. If we love Him, we’ll keep His commandments (John 14:15). What is His commandment? To love one another as He has loved us (John 15:17). This is a sacrificial love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we love the Head, we will love the body.

Do you want to know a good way to start developing love for others? Start praying for them. In your private prayer place, pray for them until you love them. You’ll find it much harder to criticize a person you’ve been praying for (not praying against, not asking God to ‘go get them’ but praying for).

Once the infatuation of point #1 falls off, knowing and believing His love for you, you will need to be committed to persevere in your relationship with Him. You have an enemy who will send whatever he can your way to try and pull you away from this intimacy with the Lord through the Holy Spirit.

20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. Matthew 13:20-21

We have to have a firm root so our joy over the love of God for us, our joy over the Word of God, is not temporary and dries up in the face of affliction or persecution.

You’ll need to develop a lifestyle of prayer, study, FELLOWSHIP with the Father and Son through the Spirit. You’ll need to determine to become a hearer and a doer of the Word (James 1:22), to become a bond-servant, submitting your will to His (Luke 22:42). This requires commitment and perseverance. It requires taking up your cross daily and following Him (Luke 9:23). Then you’ll grow.

Don’t be the shallow one who falls away during tough times. Some of those who do hide it pretty well. They might continue in the church for a while, or maintain a “form of godliness,” (2 Timothy 3:5) but their heart is no longer in it. Their heart has grown cold and far from the Lord. This is the definition of hypocrisy (Matthew 15:7-8). This is how a person ends up becoming competitive and accusatory toward other Christians—fellow members of the body of Christ. If we love the Head, we must love His body (1 John 4:20-21).

At this point, when you strive for the prize and respond to His love with diligence, you become determined to press on for your purpose in Christ.

12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14.

Press on so that you may lay hold of that for which you also were laid hold of by Christ Jesus! Did you know that Jesus laid hold of you for a reason? Did you know He brought you into His kingdom family for a purpose? Press on, persevere, so that you can grab a hold of your purpose in Christ. Paul went on to say how he did this, by forgetting the past and reaching forward to what lies ahead. He pressed on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. You can do the same.

However, can you see how competitive Christians could become if they haven’t fully come to know and believe in the love of God for them FIRST before striving for the prize? If we’re not secure in our relationship with the Lord and His love, we will be competitive with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We’ll become jealous, suspicious, critical, and so on. 

There’s not just one prize. There’s a prize—a reward—for you, personally. Press on to receive that reward. Don’t try to go after someone else’s reward. Go after yours—the reason Jesus has laid hold of you. Seek Him to find out what that is.

When you understand the value God has placed on you, then you won’t be insecure, you won’t feel de-valued when you “compare” yourself to other Christians. And there is a comparison that is necessary. Which brings us to point #3.

#3: Getting Fit: Connecting to the body in true love

15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15-16

The body of Christ is fitted and held together by what every joint supplies. What is a joint? A joint is a connection point. It’s where we connect to something else. To what? To another part of the body. We, as individual body parts of Christ, are supposed to be connected to other body parts of Christ. We each are to work properly according to our individual part—whatever place we have in the body—but we do so while connected to the rest of the body. Is an arm very useful if it’s detached from the body? No. Even if it managed to stay nourished because it somehow stayed connected to the Head, it wouldn’t help the body at all, and it wouldn’t help the Head either. It would look awfully strange to have an arm sticking out of a head. Nourishment comes from the Head, but through the body as well.

18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 1 Corinthians 12:18.

If we love God, we need to love His body. If we have trouble loving His body—fellow believers in Christ—then go back to #1 and #2, and somewhere along the way begin to pray for those we feel God is trying to connect us to.

Once we are secure in #1 and #2 then we can start to move into this true and sincere love of the brethren. To connect to our tribe, remember first, that God connects us as it pleases Him. But as we connect, we need to see where we fit. This requires a certain level of comparison. This is why it’s so important that we are secure in God’s love for us so our comparison is not competitive.

The comparison required to connect to a body is not to compare for value (like you would judge one person’s skill better than another’s) but it’s to compare for connection, where you fit and connect with each other (like a puzzle). Not value-based comparison but connection-based comparison. Think about that for a minute. The body of Christ—your tribe in particular—coming together like a puzzle. Where do you fit?

Does this take some work? Yes. But we don’t want to neglect connecting with our tribe. We have a job to do and we need each other to do it fully.

24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

There is much distortion in the body of Christ today because people want everyone to fit in where they want. Like trying to force a puzzle piece where it doesn’t belong, it won’t work. It just messes up the big picture. Once you are secure in the love of God for you, and you respond to that love with perseverance, you will be able to connect to your tribe, where God fits you, and as a result, take your place and function in the body. This is His design.

Until we grow up in this area, we are hindered from fulfilling our call to preach the gospel to the lost—the very thing that will usher in His second coming—which we are all hoping for (Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 3:12, 1 John 3:1-3).

Additional Scriptures to consider:

  • Jesus is the Head of the body (Colossians 1:18).
  • His body is made up of many members, or parts, yet it is still one body—Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:12).
  • All believers in Christ are a part of His body and individual members of it (1 Corinthians 12:27).
  • God has placed every member of the body in place within the body as He desires (1 Corinthians 12:18).
  • He has also given gifts to the body to equip the saints (Christians) for service and to build up the body of Christ. These gifts are people—ministers such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11-12).
  • These gifts, leaders, in the body are needed until we all attain to the unity, knowledge of Jesus, maturity and the fulness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
  • These gifts are needed so we do not remain children, tossed around and deceived, but rather grow up into the Head (Ephesians 4:14-15).
  • The body is fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, so the body grows and builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:16).

Sunday, December 17, 2023

A Woman's Place in Church


The apostles and first century believers in Christ were faced with many challenges in establishing the New Testament Church. One of these was combining various groups of people into one body of believers.

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, Ephesians 2:14-15

The “both groups” Paul is talking about here is the Jew and Gentile (non-Jew). They came from completely different backgrounds, each coming to the Lord from different perspectives, yet in Christ they become “one new man.”

When anyone believes in Christ they become a part of a body of believers, which is called the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 4:12). This includes not only Jew and Gentile (Greek), but also the slave and the free man, as well as male and female. All are one in Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28


Though there is no distinguishing between male and female in Christ, because they are one in Christ as a part of His body, this does not mean that men and women do not have different roles. So here we address these roles, specifically the question of whether women can teach, or even speak, in church.

"The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church." 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Paul is addressing the Corinthian church which was extremely zealous for the Lord. He said that they were “not lacking in any gift,” and they were “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Corinthians 1:7). However, there was some disorder in the church so Paul addressed this in his letter. He said he was informed of their quarrels among them by Chloe, and her “people” (1 Corinthians 1:11).

Paul addressed their level of maturity, their sin, their disputes, keeping their bodies pure for the Lord, and fleeing from idolatry. He talked about considering their brothers and sisters in Christ by not using their freedom to cause others to stumble, (chapters 1-10). He went on to praise them for remembering him and holding fast to what he had taught them. Then he addressed the issue of women praying or prophesying without their head covered.

3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3-16

We'll address verse three in a little bit, but here Paul addressed the practice of head coverings during prayer or prophesy. The practice of the day was for married women to have their head covered in public. This may have been a scarf or some type of cloth covering. Paul also referred to the length of a woman’s hair as a head covering (verse 15). This covering was a “symbol of authority on her head,” showing she was under the authority of her husband, because she was created for man’s sake (Genesis 2:18). The role of husband and wife is a profound example of the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-23), as well as an example to the angels as Paul references here (1 Peter 1:12).

Wearing a head covering was the practice of married women in the Corinthian culture. (You might relate it to a married woman wearing a wedding band today). To not do so would send a wrong message in that culture. It was also a disgrace to have a shaved head (and in the Jewish culture it was a sign of mourning), which is why Paul said if a married woman does not cover her head she might as well shave her head too. It was disruptive to the church services due to the cultural norm of that day. Considering Paul’s discussion earlier in the letter about not using their freedom to cause others to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:9-13), he confirmed that this practice of head covering for women was a good thing.  

Today, in most Christian cultures, it wouldn't be considered improper for a woman to have her head uncovered, or to have shorter hair, while praying or prophesying. That alone wouldn't be a sign that she was attempting to present herself in an unnatural way, or as unsubmissive to God's order of authority. Would it be considered disrespectful to the Lord for a man to have his head covered, or wearing a hat, while praying? Not long ago it would have. As he says here, judge for yourselves.

However, not having that custom anymore doesn't mean we are removed from God's order of authority. That still applies. Nor do we cast off all restraints thinking our freedom in Christ means we have no self-control or self-discipline. We don't behave in an unrestrained way and then blame it on the Holy Spirit. Paul addressed this in chapter fourteen when he said that if everyone was speaking in tongues, with no order to the service, then when an unbeliever or ungifted person came into the assembly they would think they were all crazy (14:23). He told them if there was no interpreter in the church then to keep silent and speak to themselves and to God (14:28). This applies to both men and women. Paul said that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets (14:32). In other words, you can control yourself, you can't blame God for your unrestrained behavior. He said to let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner (14:40).

It's worth noting back in chapter eleven that Paul said neither man nor woman is independent of the other (verses 11-12). In Christian living, all of us are to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:21). Earlier in the letter Paul had told the Corinthians that the jealousy and strife among them were a sign of their immaturity in Christ (1 Corinthians 3). Jesus said that the world would know we are Christians by our love for one another, and that we are to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34-35).

It may be wise to consider the custom of the day or region you are in, yet the main take-away from this portion of Scripture is to submit to God’s order of authority from the heart no matter what your God-given role is in Christ, man or woman. When we focus on the letter of the law, we'll often miss the Spirit of it.

Having said that, it’s clear that Paul did not mean women could never speak in the church because he gave instruction regarding women who pray or prophesy in church. If women were allowed to pray or prophesy in the church then of course they were allowed to speak.

So women, and men, should show proper respect for God’s order of authority. That would include an inward submission to God’s authority, however that is respectfully expressed outwardly before God, and taking customs and practices into consideration so as not to be a stumbling block to others. This would especially be true during times of prayer or prophesy.



Let’s move on from there while still considering the order of authority God has established. It’s important to understand that the Greek language does not have separate words for wife and woman, or husband and man. The word gyne in the Greek was the same word for both woman and wife. And the word aner was used for both man and husband.

“But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:3

Literally, Christ is the head of every man, every husband is the head of his own wife, and the head of Christ is God.

"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." 1 Timothy 2:11-12

"Let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the Law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

A woman is to “learn in silence with all subjection.” Subjection to what? To the order of authority God has placed her under. When she is learning in church, she is not to “teach” or “usurp authority over” the one in authority over her—particularly “the man” or her husband. She is not to take over, argue, or attempt to correct her husband. Though the temptation may be there to point out to your spouse where he is missing it, or how he is not practicing the Word that is being read or taught, pointing out his faults, maybe even adding an, "I told you so," we must resist the urge to do that--as wives or husbands. If there were any questions or disagreements, then the wife was to talk it over with her husband at home, and I would add to apply 1 Peter 3:1-2 when applicable. 

The Greek word for teach also means to admonish, so women were not to correct their husbands (or anyone teaching) in public, put them on the spot, or in an embarrassing position. The men in those days were better educated than the women, so if a wife addressed questions publicly that her husband could answer at home, that could be embarrassing and distracting. Paul’s instruction was for the woman to listen quietly, don't be disrespectful, and take any further discussion home with her husband. Of course a woman can have an opinion, and can express that opinion, as long as it’s done in a way that is respectful to all. However, we want to keep in mind that just because women (or anyone for that matter) are better educated today doesn't mean we can now be argumentative. We want to seek the knowledge that leads to truth and speak that in love in the appropriate time and place.

Since women were not as educated, they might not have had a basic understanding of many things that men did, yet as new believers in Christ were most likely very willing to learn and take their place in the body of Christ as God had called them. This would call for some cultural adjustments. The women would have to learn to remain respectful and in submission to the authority of God during the process, and men would have adjustments to make while the merging of these various backgrounds and roles into new relationships in Christ took place. 


Can a woman “teach” a man? Can she teach in the church if men are in the audience? There are disagreements about this. But Paul seemed clear that to teach or usurp authority over “the man” meant that a wife was not to attempt to take her husband’s place of authority away from him, and of course she should be respectful to all positions of authority. Ultimately, she can, and must, do what God has called her to do. Since the Holy Spirit can and does move on women to prophesy to both men and women (1 Corinthians 11:5) He could certainly call her to function in a ministry gift, or a position of leadership or influence in the church. Jesus is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18) and we are all placed in the body as it pleases Him (1 Corinthians 12:18).

A few biblical examples of this are:

  • 1 Corinthians 1:11 which speaks of "Chloe’s people," or some translations say Chloe’s “house” or “household.” Chloe is a female and the one who raised concerns to Paul about the church in Corinth. Paul listened to her and addressed these concerns in his letter.
  • 1 Corinthians 16:19 and Romans 16:3-5 talk about the church in Prisca and Aquila's house (husband and wife). Prisca and Aquila were a husband and wife team who had a church in their home. They are always mentioned together in the Bible, sometimes Prisca (the wife) being mentioned first. Acts 18:24-26 tells of when they took Apollos aside, a man who was eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures, though he had only known of the baptism of John and not of Jesus. They explained “the way of God more accurately” to him, in private.
  • Colossians 4:15 speaks of the church in Nymphas' house. Most translations agree this is a female.
  • 1 Timothy 3:11 includes a reference to women’s role in serving when giving the requirements for deacons.
  • Titus 2:3-5 gives instructions concerning older women in relation to teaching younger women and children.

Women most definitely are to serve in the church and assist in the spreading of the Gospel in whatever capacity God calls them.


Because of the misunderstanding of Scripture which has kept some women from fulfilling what they feel the Lord has called them to, some women may fall to the opposite extreme and rebel against the idea of submitting to God’s order of authority. Wanting to prove there is “no difference” between male and female in Christ they may end up out from under God’s line of authority.

Considering the cultural trends over the last several decades, with women’s rights, “equality” movements, and more recently the blurring of genders, there is a deception trying to settle over the believer’s roles of male and female, husbands and wives.

As women, we do not need to prove anything or try to be something God has not called us to be. We do not need to attempt to teach or correct men simply because we think we can, or should, but we should always seek to take our place in Christ as he has called us, always be respectful of those in authority, of other men, and anyone for that matter, and always speak the truth in love. This is true of both men and women. There are Scriptural procedures in place to address any perceived errors or suffered wrongs. (See Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Timothy 5:19, Luke 17:3-4). On the other hand, a woman does not have to submit to any man who believes he holds authority over her just because he is a man and she is a woman.


In Bible times it was an honor for a woman to be married and have children. It still is, however, it’s not as highly respected in today’s society. To bear and raise children is to fulfil the basic purpose of mankind, the first directive given to the first man and woman (Genesis 1:18).

Not to say that woman cannot ever have an influential place outside the home, but to push that issue, to force it, to desire it at the expense of our own homes and families has already had a disastrous effect on our society.

If a woman is not abandoning her role as a wife or mother (if applicable), and is responding to a call of God upon her life in a way that honors God’s authority in every aspect, then what place do we have to reject her as a gift to the body of Christ?

Just as Jewish and Gentile believers had learned (and are still learning) to form one new man in Christ, so must we learn what it means for male and females to take their place in the body as well.


Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Whose Kingdom Reigns in Your Life?


Satan is in rebellion against God. He has already lost, and he knows it, but until he is locked up for good he still looks for opportunities to wreak havoc any way he can. (1 Peter 5:8). Knowing he cannot overthrow God makes him angry, frustrated, and he has turned his hatred toward humans, who are made in the image of God. He will do whatever he can to devour or destroy the human race. 

If he can’t kill you, he will try and recruit you into his rebellion against God. If that doesn’t work, he will try everything he can to keep you from walking in God’s kingdom and fulfilling your God-given purpose. You are a threat to him and he knows it. If he can keep you under his domain of darkness you will be out of his way for now, but will ultimately end up in eternal captivity and a slave to darkness.

But there’s good news…

For He (God the Father) rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14.

To be under the “domain” of darkness is to be in a place where darkness rules over you. It’s not a place of freedom. It’s not a place where you can do whatever you want. It’s a place of bondage, captivity, stumbling around in the dark, unaware and unable to find your purpose and place in life, and really, unable to find life itself. In this place satan has you where he wants you.

But God…

This Scripture in Colossians tells us that the Father in heaven rescued you from the domain of darkness and transferred you to the kingdom of His beloved Son Jesus. This was done when Jesus died on the cross, and it becomes a reality in your life when you believe in Jesus—that He died for your sin, that the Father raised Him from the dead—and when you confess Him, verbally acknowledging Him, as Lord of your life.

The domain of darkness is still around you, its around all of us, but through faith in Jesus Christ you are pulled out of that domain and placed into the kingdom of Light, even while still here on earth.

The apostle John gives more light on this in quoting Jesus:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:16-17

God, the Father, sent His Son Jesus to the earth to die on the cross so you could have eternal life in His kingdom of Light. He didn’t send Jesus to judge and punish people for sinful behavior. There is a time of judgment coming when that will happen, but not yet. Now, He has given us a way to escape this judgment. He sent Jesus to save us—to show us how to come out from under that domain of darkness and into His kingdom of Light. 

Jesus went on to explain:

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18

Whoever is under the domain of darkness is already judged. Jesus didn't need to come pronounce judgment because judgment is already inevitable for those in darkness. Judgment already rules over them. Instead, Jesus came to proclaim a way out of the judgment and into freedom from the domain of darkness. 

He continues:

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. John 3:19-20.

Judgement comes on those in darkness including those who choose not to accept the Light when its offered to them. These are those who turn from the Light—from the rescuing hand of Jesus—and choose instead to stay under the domain of darkness. Instead of being willing to expose their sin and dark deeds to the light of Jesus so they can be forgiven and their sin eradicated, they choose instead to continue in their sin, to stay in the dark and hide, most likely hoping they won’t be found out, or ignoring the fact that there will be a judgment to come. But there is a judgment, and there is no way to opt out of that reality. We cannot be our own god and create our own truth, and if we think we can we are buried deep under the deception of darkness.

Everyone born into this world is born under this domain of darkness, under this judgment, because of the fall in the Garden of Eden. When the first man and woman yielded to the deceiver, they disobeyed their Creator God, who warned them not to eat the fruit of the tree that would kill them. Their spirits died when they ate it which bound them under the dark domain. They died spiritually while their physical bodies lived for a while. 

The entire human race is born in this condition because everything reproduces after its own kind, whether its apples, dogs, fish, or fallen human beings. The first man and woman, bound under the dark domain, destined their children, and the human race, to be under the rule of this dark domain and its judgment.

In this fallen condition the first reaction to doing wrong is to stay in the darkness—to hide rather than admit to the wrong. This is the root of pride.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the gardenGenesis 3:7-8.

They lost the glory of God as their covering, became full of shame, and hid. The awareness of their sin caused them to hide from God.

So what about the Kingdom of Light?

Every kingdom has a king. Jesus is Lord and King in this kingdom of light. But He is also our priest. A priest is a mediator between man and God. Without Him we would have no access to God. We would be forever bound under the domain of darkness. But He came and offered Himself as the sacrifice for sin in our place. The price He had to pay for rescuing us was His own blood.

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:7-10

When Jesus was here on the earth in the flesh, he offered up prayers to God, the One who could have saved Him from death. Jesus wasn’t looking forward to the death on the cross that He knew He would face to pay for our sin. He could have asked God to call off the whole plan and leave mankind under the domain of darkness and all the torment that goes with that. But instead, Jesus submitted His will to the Father’s. And as a result of His obedience, He became the source of our eternal salvation.

During His agonizing prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane before His death on the cross, Jesus submitted His will to the will of the Father in heaven (Luke 22:42). This is the foundation of the kingdom of Light. The kingdom of Light is a kingdom of submission—willful submission—to the will of the Father. In the kingdom of darkness you are under submission to that dark kingdom against your will. You can’t ever leave without the rescue of God through Jesus Christ.

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray He said “Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” (Matthew 6:9-10). Once again, the kingdom of Light, the kingdom of God’s Son, is a kingdom of willful submission to the Father.

Jesus told His disciples if anyone wanted to follow Him, (follow Him out of the domain of darkness and into His kingdom of Light) then he would have to take up his cross on a daily basis and follow Him. (Matthew 16:24-25). Like Jesus, our cross is the place of death to our own will and submission to the Father’s. However, unlike Jesus we don’t offer ourselves in physical death, but as a living sacrifice. (We don’t kill ourselves physically!)

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2.

Paul the apostle urged the church to present their bodies a living and holy sacrifice to God. Instead of conforming to the world (the world which is under the rule of the dark domain) he said to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. In so doing they would prove the will of God. 

The apostle Peter wrote that those who enter God's kingdom are themselves a kingdom, and priests unto our God. He called the followers of Jesus a royal priesthood.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10.

Peter also said that Jesus bore our own sin in His body on the cross. Our sin is what wounded Him physically and killed Him. Yet, by those very same wounds we are healed.

and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24.

Notice the purpose of our healing is so we may die to sin and live to righteousness. So we are not bound by sin under the rule of darkness, but free to fulfill our purpose in the kingdom of Light.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33.

When we seek His kingdom and His righteousness first above everything else, then all of the things we need for the body, whether food, drink, clothing, extended life (healing), or whatever provision needed for us to live the life we are called to live, is provided for. 

God wants our hearts, our desires, our time and attention, but not by force. He wants us to willingly give them to Him. 

Taking the role of a bond-servant

A bond-servant is one who willingly chooses to serve his master. Jesus was called a bond-servant:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus didn’t try to hold on to His position of equality with God. Instead He took on the form of a bond-servant, He came to earth as a man, emptied Himself of the benefits of His divinity, so He could suffer and die for our sins.

Choose a Kingdom

Which kingdom would you rather serve in—one who keeps you captive, is completely unable to provide for your eternal life, keeps you in bondage and torment under a motivation of hate, and takes out his wrath toward God on you?  Or would you rather serve a loving heavenly Father whose Son came willingly to die for you so you could enter His kingdom and enjoy the benefits of life, love, healing, provision, and fellowship with God, serving in a royal kingdom as a priest unto a loving, all powerful Creator God?

It really is your choice. But the choice is limited to either staying bound under the control of darkness or freely entering the kingdom of light and love. There is no other plan. And there is no way out of the kingdom of darkness except through Jesus Christ. 

The apostle Paul described his pursuit of Jesus as this:

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:10-14.

Jesus reached into the dark kingdom and laid hold of us for a reason. Paul said he pressed on so that he could discover what that reason was and fulfill it. He wanted to lay hold of that for which Jesus laid hold of him. He continued to press on toward this goal, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ. In the kingdom of God, there is a reward, but in the domain of darkness under satan there is bondage and death.

The prophet Jeremiah revealed the heart of God when he said:

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

And the psalmist described God’s thorough knowledge of us, who we are, who He made us to be, and His beautiful plans for us as our Creator:

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
 will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

Psalm 139:13-16


The Lord’s Prayer:

"“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]"

Matthew 6:9-13






Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Is it Fixable? Part Two of "Inevitable or Preventable"


In the last blog, Inevitable or Preventable, I brought up the importance of knowing the difference between what is inevitable and what is preventable. The point being that our actions will be different as God reveals which is which. When He does, we can prepare for what is inevitable or prevent what is preventable as we follow His lead.

In that post I made the comment that we don’t want to waste our time trying to prevent those things that are inevitable. However, it’s important to understand that even if we feel we can't prevent those things, we can still stand against them. For example if some bad thing is inevitable—like the passage of a certain law—We are not wasting our time to speak up or try and do what we can to stop it. We must always stand for truth and righteousness. Psalm 94:16.

In Luke 17:1 Jesus said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!" Certain things are inevitable, but we don't want to be the one that opens the door to those things, participates in them, condones them, or remains silent about them. And we don’t want to have the attitude that we are to just sit back and let it run rampant—Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be. We always want to shine as a light, speak truth, sound the alarm when appropriate, and ask the Lord to show us any part of a seemingly inevitable event we can prevent, along with what and how.

And of course, we don't want to be one who did not discern that it could have been prevented.

What is Fixable?

So, what about those things that have already happened that could have been prevented but weren't?

I think everyone would agree that there are things that happen that we don’t like and didn’t intend to happen. The same is true of God. Since the fall of man there have been things happening on earth that God never intended. Even though He knew they would, for He planned for the solution, His preference would have been for mankind to avoid certain things from happening altogether. Cain killing Abel, the wickedness in Noah’s day, The enslavement of His people, the perversity in Sodom and Gomorrah, the sacrifice of children to a false god, to name a few. We could go on and on through century after century looking at things that happened that God never intended to happen.

These things happen because of the fallen nature within man—the pride and rebellion implanted in the human heart as a result of mankind’s rejection of God’s words and following the words of the rebellious deceiver instead. This had consequence in the Garden and still does today.

These consequences are things that have happened that God never intended, things that could have been prevented if His people would have listened to Him and followed His words. Not all that is happening today was inevitable. Some of it was preventable.

So the question now becomes what is fixable? Is anything fixable? Or are we stuck with these consequences? If so, for how long? What do we do now that we see what was wrong and could have, and should have, been prevented?

God’s answer first and foremost is always to repent. To turn from the wickedness, from the rebellion, from the disobedience to His Word, and turn to Him. To humble ourselves before Him, to seek Him, to follow Him, to acknowledge that His way is the only way—to make Jesus Lord of our lives, and all that that entails.
"(If) My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

There were times God’s people were in such a mess that there was no human solution. Surrounded by armies, besieged, in seemingly impossible situations—seemingly unfixable situations—yet when they turned to God He prevailed over their enemies and rescued them. It happened over and over until they turned so far against Him and hardened their heart so much against Him that they were taken into captivity. Thus it was proven that a Savior who would change the heart of man would be the only way to save him.

From the beginning, God had a plan of redemption for all of mankind. He sent His Son Jesus to pay the ultimate price and restore back to God those who believe in Him.

Is it fixable? It depends on what the “it” is. The human heart, which tends toward hatred, rebellion, pride, selfishness, and so on, is fixable, but only through faith in Jesus Christ, who shed His blood for us so we could be born again into His new nature, filled with His Spirit and hearts which tend toward righteousness.

And that is the first and most important step toward fixing anything else in the world.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Inevitable or Preventable?


A few times over the last week or so I've felt the questions rise within me, "Is it inevitable or is it preventable? (without knowing what the "it" was), and, "are we to prepare or to prevent?"

While asking the Lord for further insight on this He prompted me to rephrase the question and to ask instead, “What is inevitable and what is preventable?” and then “what and how do we prepare for what is inevitable, and what and how do we prevent what can be prevented?”

Inevitable means, “not to be avoided…unavoidable…no escape or evasion.”1
Preventable means, “...may be prevented or hindered.”2

There are some things coming that we will need to prepare for and some things we will be called to prevent. Our actions will be different based on whether the coming event is, in God’s eyes, inevitable or preventable. It’s important to note that the verdict of which is which is based on what God says is inevitable and what God says is preventable, not what we (or any other person) thinks or says about it.

So the questions become:

  • What is coming, (that the Lord will reveal to us)?
  • What is inevitable?
  • What can be prevented?
  • How do we tell the difference?
  • What do we do to prevent or prepare for each one? and
  • How do we prevent or prepare?

What is Inevitable

Concerning what is inevitable, ask the Lord how much of that He will reveal. He most likely will not reveal all of it to us, especially all at once, and especially that which doesn’t concern us. However, there are some things that are inevitable that we may still ask Him to reveal. In fact, we should seek Him for those things because He may not reveal them until we ask.

Why do we ask Him to show us what is inevitable if it’s just going to happen no matter what? So we can prepare, both for ourselves and others. And so we don’t waste our time trying to prevent what is inevitable when we could and should be working to prevent what is preventable and prepare for what is inevitable. Only He can tell us which is which—what to prepare for and what to prevent, and it may be different for different people.

The bigger danger, I think, is not being unaware of what is inevitable (as devastating as that might be) but its more dangerous (and you could say irresponsible on our part) when we assume that something is inevitable when it is not, when it is actually preventable. When we hear of something coming, or He shows us something to come, we must not automatically assume it is inevitable. We need to go to Him and talk to Him about it.

We sometimes underestimate what God has called us to do as His ekklesia—His governing body in the earth. All things are not inevitable, there are things that are preventable when His church takes their place in the kingdom as we are called.

What is Preventable

If something is preventable we need to find out from Him what our place and part is concerning it. Then seek Him on how to be equipped, and then actually ask for that equipping. Once again, He may very well not show us, or equip us, until we ask. Initiate a conversation with Him about these things, including:

  • Revelation about what is to come
  • Discernment to know what is inevitable and what is preventable
  • Wisdom, knowledge, and equipping to prepare for the inevitable
  • Wisdom, knowledge, and equipping to prevent what we can prevent

 In any case, never fear for He is with you always, no matter what is coming!

 Read Part Two Here




Saturday, September 2, 2023

Forgiveness Check-up


Do you ever struggle to forgive someone? Do you feel so obligated to forgive a person quickly that you mumble your forgiveness without a real sincerity? Let's take a look at the process of forgiveness as Jesus described it. 

Luke 17:3-4
3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Jesus was talking to His disciples when He said if your brother repents of his sin to forgive him, even if he sins against you seven times in one day, if he comes to you and repents then forgive him. Notice He said, “if he repents.” So if your brother or sister in Christ comes to you in repentance, seeking forgiveness for a wrong they’ve done, you are to forgive them.

But what if they don’t come to you in repentance?

First, let’s clarify that if your brother doesn’t come to you and repent then that doesn’t mean you don’t “forgive” him. 

Forgiveness is a relational thing. It takes two people. According to what Jesus said here you can't really “forgive” a person if they don’t come to you and repent. In the same way that you can’t withdraw money from your bank account if you don’t ask the bank for it. It’s there, it’s available to you, but if you don’t go through the process of requesting it then the bank won’t just randomly give it to you. They don’t even know you want it. In the same way, if a person who has wronged you doesn’t come to you and ask for forgiveness you can’t give it to him. They have got to go through the process of requesting it—to come to you and repent.

However, that doesn’t mean that you hang on to unforgiveness if he hasn’t repented. That doesn’t mean that you hold on to bitterness and seek vengeance. You deal with all of that (hopefully) at the time the sin is committed, (or when you find out about it). 

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that love “does not take into account a wrong suffered.” Love will not allow any bitterness or resentment to remain in your heart when someone wrongs you or sins against you. Neither will it seek vengeance or revenge on a person who wrongs you.

Romans 12:18-20 
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

We sometimes call forgiveness the thing that we do when we determine we will not become bitter or seek revenge on a person who wrongs us. Or we call forgiveness the thing that we do when we have held on to bitterness and then come to point where we realize we need to let go of our bitterness toward that person. But really, that is simply guarding our own heart against sin and determining that we will walk in love and not take account of the wrong(s) we suffer because of another person’s sin. We call it forgiveness, but it's more accurate to say we are keeping our own heart pure before God, and remaining in His love, which puts us in a position where we stand ready to forgive if/when they ask. Forgiveness is what we do toward them when they come to us in repentance asking for our forgiveness.

The reason I think this distinction is important is because there is a process we go through to come to the point of keeping bitterness and revenge out of our heart. When someone sins against us, we might be able to let it roll off of us without a problem. But there are times we may need to take a minute to acknowledge a wrong done toward us and go to the Lord about it. We may need to talk to the Lord to gain understanding about the person, what they did, or the situation in general. We might need healing from wounds caused by the person's sin. We might need to examine our heart to see if we’ve done anything wrong. This takes a little time, prayer, and thought to work through, but when we feel that we have to immediately “forgive” a person (or God won’t forgive us) then we may bypass this important process of healing, self-examination, and seeking the Lord for His perspective.

Now that we understand what we can do right away when we are wronged to keep our hearts right, let's look again at what Jesus said:

Luke 17:3-4
3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Notice Jesus first said if your brother sins to rebuke him.

Again this is relational, so you don’t go around rebuking every Christian you know for what you perceive to be sin in their life. There was a woman who came to our church once who told us of a time she visited a church with her two young children. Before the service even started some women came up to her and told her they had already found four things wrong with her. That is not what Jesus meant here and I would guess that not one of those four things was actually sin.

So we don't want to go around looking for faults in every Christian we see. Yet with those we have a relationship with, the best course of action to take when they sin against us is to talk to them about it and address it (See Matthew 18:15-22, Galatians 6:1, James 5:16, 20). Try to clear the air right away. Ideally, we want the relationship restored. Sometimes that’s not possible. But in any case, we still do what we need to so we keep our own hearts pure and ready to forgive.

Forgiving as Christ has Forgiven us

Paul said we are to forgive our brothers and sisters as Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13). 

How has He forgiven us? Jesus came and died so we could be forgiven of our sins and made righteous. Yet it doesn’t happen without our coming to Him in repentance asking for His forgiveness and His salvation. Then, once we are born again into His family, we walk with Him endeavoring to keep His Word and not sin. But if we sin, we confess it to Him, and seek His forgiveness.

John said if we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Asking for forgiveness brings us into relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ and it keeps us in relationship with Him even if we sin after we have experienced His salvation. He provided for our forgiveness by dying on the cross and He is not holding our sin against us (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus took our sin on the cross and paid the price. He presents us before the Father without spot (sin, defect) or blemish (original sin).

In the same way, we do not personally hold our brother’s sin against them. We do not hold bitterness in our heart against them or seek their demise. Yet the act of forgiveness doesn’t happen until they ask for it, and we let them know we have forgiven them, having genuinely kept our hearts pure from anything which would result in unforgiveness. In our minds, and heart, we have already forgiven them, it’s ready and waiting for them as we’ve already gone through the process of forgiving them before the Lord—a process that might have included healing, correction, a strengthening, and/or gaining understanding on our part first.

Stephen asked the Lord not to hold the sin (of stoning him) against those who were stoning him (Acts 7:60). God is the one who forgives sin, and though Stephen wouldn’t be around to forgive them if any of his murderers repented later on, at the time of his death he did “forgive” them by keeping his heart free from seeking vengeance and letting the Lord know he did not want anything to be held against them on his behalf.

We do not have to, nor should we, wait for a person to come to us in repentance before we "forgive" them. We prepare our hearts now.

What About Retaining Sins?

John 20:21-23
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

According to Strong’s Concordance the word retain is the Greek word krateo which most often in the NASB version is translated seize or seized. It’s also translated to hold, hold fast, take hold in various forms or arrested.  The word means to be strong, rule.

Keeping the thought in mind that you don’t technically forgive someone until they come to you seeking forgiveness (even though you’ve determined not to hold on to bitterness or a vengeful heart), we might look at this action of retaining sins as something that occurs if a person is seeking forgiveness for a sin but wants to continue in it. In other words, they are seeking permission or tolerance of the sin, not true forgiveness. They want “forgiveness” and fellowship among the brethren, but not through repentance.

There are times that sins are to be “seized” or “arrested.” It is to be ruled over and put in its proper place. We are to declare what God has already judged about sin—that it is not to be allowed to freely operate in the church, among believers. It is to be rebuked, not tolerated.

So what this means is that by our forgiveness we are not saying we condone someone continuing in sin. We seize that sin, arrest it, address it and confront it in our brother or sister. More important than restoring their relationship with us is the restoration of their relationship with God.

 So What to Do?

To check up on yourself, go before the Lord and talk to Him about anything you may be holding in your heart against another person who has wronged you. Ask for healing if needed, ask for understanding, and receive any correction He gives you. Remember that His love has been poured out in your heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Remind yourself of His love for you and receive it fully because receiving His love is what gives you the ability to love others (1 John 4:19). Ask Him for forgiveness for anything in your heart that you are holding against anyone else. You do not need to wait to be free from the pain that their sin has caused you. You can be free right now.

If that person does come to you in repentance, asking for forgiveness, then you will be ready and willing to do so because you already have in your heart. They may never repent and ask for forgiveness. Some may have passed away and others just might never seek your forgiveness, but in any case you are not bound or wounded by their sin anymore. You are free from that sin and the rippling affects of it.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Created on Purpose


Say this today:
"God created me on purpose,
because He wanted to.
I am not a mistake.
I am not a disappointment.
I am wanted and loved.

He predestined me to be conformed to the image of Jesus.
I have a future and hope in Christ.
I press on so I may lay hold of that which I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
I reject all rejection.
God created me because He wanted me.

I have a place and a purpose.
He has poured His love out on me,
in me,
and through me.
I receive it all.

The Love of God Within You

"...the love

 "...the love of God has been poured out within our hearts
 through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
 Romans 5:5

"We love because He first loved us." 
1 John 4:19

God never intended for His love that has been poured out within us to immediately flow out to others without it first doing a work within us.

Allow His love to forgive you, cleanse you, heal you, restore you, and become a part of you.

Then you can love others as yourself and love your brothers and sisters in Christ as He has loved you.