Looking Unto Jesus (The Longer Version)

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

Hebrews 12:1-2:
-1: WHEREFORE seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
-2: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is {now} set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The great cloud of witnesses is the Old Testament believers talked about in Hebrews chapter 11. The witness of these believers was their faith, their positive believing faith and inner hope and conviction in the coming of Jesus Christ which even today is recognized when reading the Bible. In retrospect, from the Old Testament Scriptures, we today are still compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses who left us vividly written examples about how they looked to Jesus in their time, to inspire the people of this current age of grace to reach forward to Jesus.

The race that is set before us is to look to Jesus just like the Old Testament believers practiced. Their past examples encourage us to daily look to Jesus, for in him and with him is continued access to God our heavenly Father and His merciful grace. Jesus taught that when we pray, we are to offer our prayers up to God in the name of Jesus Christ (John 14:13-14). This further helps us place him at the forefront of our daily thinking, just as we are always in his daily thoughts, and through our prayers he is in ours.

Today we can look to Jesus Christ and rely on his believing faith, knowing that he is the author and finisher of our own believing faith. The word author means princely leader, the first and foremost. The word finisher means to bring to full maturity, to the completion of where our believing faith will ultimately take us – to God – to eternity. Thus, the author and finisher of our believing faith is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the first and the last, the alpha and the omega, infusing his own believing faith to enhance our personal believing faith in him who gave his all in all for you and me. Jesus is the finisher, completing and perfecting our believing faith which enables us to believe in God, through believing His Word.

Ephesians 2:8 records, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that {faith is} not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” This verse is not referring to a man or woman’s personal faith, and is why the Epistle says, that not of yourselves, but rather it is the gift of God. Then, to what faith is God referring? He is referring to the faith of Jesus Christ; this is our gift to begin enjoying our Christian life on the Path of Righteousness.

The main difference between man’s faith and the faith of Jesus is that human faith can only rise up to believe in that which is seen. In stark contrast, the faith of Jesus Christ is given so men and women can rise all the way up to believe in that which is not physically seen, yet is spiritually real ― such as salvation.

In truth, man needs Jesus to fulfill his own faith, as we read in Hebrews 12:2 “Jesus {is} the author and finisher of our faith.” Having Jesus’ own faith, we become enabled to perceive the spiritual realities of God. Christ’s faith is given to every believer at the moment of salvation, for “God hath dealt to every man {every believer} the measure of faith (Romans 12:3).

We can genuinely and honestly receive the actual gift of God, which is our salvation, without any works on our part because of the faith salvation imparts. Another reason why Ephesians 2:8 reads, and that not of yourselves is because we did nothing whatsoever to earn salvation, nor can we do anything to lose our salvation ― that is why it is such a precious gift. Salvation is something God through Christ made available to us and is freely given. God’s grace, His divine favor of love, is manifested to us through His gift of salvation.

With Jesus’ own faith, he literally becomes our spiritual window to the Creator; that is certainly much greater than going it alone, with so-called “blind faith.” Jesus’ own faith helps us perceive God in the genuine light that His Word reflects. Rather than God remaining an unknown entity or enigma Who is out there someplace just out of our reach, Christ and his faith helps those who are trying to find their way to the Creator Who dwells through all eternity.

We all receive gifts at certain times of the year, on our birthdays, Christmas, and other special occasions. Yet of all the gifts we have ever received, nothing will be as everlasting as the gift of God. The gift of God is our salvation, given freely on account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

A gift is never worked for, earned, or even necessarily deserved. Gifts are simply given to bless and make one happy. Many of the gifts that we have received as early as last year are already gone, used up, or spent, but the gift of God is eternal. God’s gift is given to men and women by His divine grace, which is unmerited and unearned, yet eternally present, and we can gratefully accept it and daily appreciate its fulfillment.

Ephesians 2:9:
{And this gift is given} Not of works, lest any man should boast.

In the sight of God, no one is more saved than another for we believed unto God’s own righteousness (Romans 10:9-10), which gives complete salvation along with total access into His grace and family (Romans 5:2, and Ephesians 2:19). If salvation could be obtained by works, then logic commands that one could give more or pray more or be a better citizen or Christian than his neighbor is, and he could boast on the works performed, thinking this would give him an edge toward his salvation.

However, if works were the way to get into heaven, then God’s grace (freely given) would become totally worthless and most of us would never make it on through to heaven.

Thankfully, salvation is not based on our works, but as the Scriptures reveal, salvation is by God’s grace because Christ has already done the work and paid the full price in order that we may sincerely believe to receive. We receive our salvation on account of a friend, on our friend, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

This is the friend we read about in Proverbs “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24), and he indeed laid down his life for each and every one of us. I do believe that if you or I were the only person to believe, then this close friend would still have laid down his life so that you or I my walk on the Path of Righteousness with our Savior!

Indispensable completeness of our believing faith is what we may expect to receive by simply looking unto Jesus, rather than only looking to our own abilities (or lack thereof), or our own strength (or lack thereof), in the hopes of receiving spirituality and blessings from God. With the believing faith of Christ, men and women truly have avenues into an abundance of promises recorded in God’s Word.

When studying, for instance, the life of King David from the Books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, or from the Psalms, we find how he looked forward to the coming of his Redeemer, and we can aspire to his examples. We can read about David who was just a man, a man who tried to walk with God to the best of his abilities.

We can also see how David failed when he did not look to Jesus, but more important is that we can see him succeed whenever he was looking ahead to the Savior, the hope of his life. When and where David looked to Jesus, David had believing in God’s Word, and then he became a great recorded witness for us to still read about centuries later.

King David also wrote about the hope of Christ’s coming throughout the Book of Psalms. When teaching about the resurrection of Christ on the day of Pentecost in the Book of Acts chapter 2, the Apostle Peter refers back to David as a witness of Christ. Peter says of David that he always had Jesus Christ in the forefront of his thinking and writing as a great example for Peter and all believers.

Acts 2:25-26:
-25: For David speaketh concerning him {recorded in the 16th Psalm}, I foresaw the Lord {Jesus Christ} always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
-26: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

What gave David this inner joy, continued hope, and a glad tongue was having a personal understanding of his Lord and Savior, inspiring David to speak and write of him, being moved by God’s inspiration (II Peter 1:21).

The Old Testament Scriptures continue giving us joy, hope, and a glad tongue, the same joys that David and Peter knew when reading or speaking the Word of God because they knew Christ’s heart and had placed their allegiance, fidelity, and future hope in him. Peter uses the witness of David to introduce Christ who is our entrance into God’s family.

Acts 4:11-12:
-11: This {Jesus Christ} is the stone which was set at nought {rejected} of you builders {Peter is addressing Israel}, which {or rather who, Jesus} is become the head of the corner {of the spiritual church and family of God}.
-12: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Jesus took our sins and shortcomings to his cross in order to present you and me to God as those who are now saved. When we look to Jesus with a believing heart in expectation to receive, we will find the true spiritual presence and presents that God gives.

God now sets this daily joy before us at the table of life, and all the Word requests is for us to believe to receive, and it is our joy to enjoy by looking to Jesus, our friend, the author and finisher of our faith.

God’s Love Energizes Our Believing

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

God’s wonderful Word is such a healing comfort to His children as we come to Him with a heart to want to discover His healing will for our lives. His Scriptures are truly written directly to the heart, rather than the head. For when the heart of man opens to the wisdom and guidance of God’s Word, His Word begins to grow within the hearts of searching (and receiving) men and women, young and old, as true spiritual revival awakens from within. God’s words are set like precious treasures, waiting for us to accept and receive the blessings contained therein and prepared for us before the world began (Ephesians 1:3-4).

Galatians 5:6 – For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

This verse hinges the love of God that we have received to opening the door of our believing into the magnificent abundance that is truly awarded by our God. “Circumcision” was (past tense) a requirement in the Old Testament.  It was Israel’s membership into the fold of God’s care, made with a covenant by their own blood. However, Galatians 5:6 states that “neither circumcision availeth any thing,” in other words, circumcision is now out, for with circumcision came Law. But the Old Testament requirements have been made void in Jesus Christ with a new covenant (i.e., New Testament) by his own blood on our behalf. He was the end of the Law, and hailed the beginning of God’s super, divine grace to accompany our own believing faith (Hebrews 12:2), and our entrance into receiving all the fullness and righteousness of our God.

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that beliveth” (Romans 10:4).

“Christ is the end of the law” and if he is the end, then he is the end! Because Christ was the end of the Law, we are now given the righteousness of God by our simply believing in Jesus’ completed work on our behalf. “Uncircumcision” for the Old Testament believers meant a banishment from God and His Word, it was also used to describe unbelief and the unbelievers, people who were not members within the fold of Israel. Nevertheless, today in grace, God has called anybody who will simply believe, whether they are of Israel (Jews), or of the Gentiles (unbelievers), and because Jesus gave his life for everyone, anyone can be saved, and walk into the magnificence of all that God in Christ has made available.

In Galatians 5:6 we read, “but faith worketh by love”; faith makes available the things that God has given to us in His Word. The word “faith” means believing, and the word “worketh” means to energize. In other words; believing is energized and works properly by one thing, and one thing only, and that is love – the love of God. Charity (God’s love) in manifestation energizes our believing, and believing appropriates the promises of God, bringing them into focus, so that we may receive to enjoy, with enthusiastic energy.

Ephesians 2:8 reads “for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Your salvation is a gift, and the “faith” here in Ephesians was Jesus Christ’s own believing faith on your behalf to redeem you with his life. The thing that gave him his believing faith was the love of God that he applied (as an example of his loving which energized his believing); it was the greater love, his own charity, for he lived in love. When you are first a lover, God’s love will effortlessly energize your believing, and your believing will open to you the abundance in God’s healing Word.

Have a great day walking in the “more excellent way.”

God’s Merciful Grace!

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

One day we received an e-mail from a woman wanting to know what our thoughts were regarding two religious denominations. I wrote her back and explained that as a Christian, I always endeavor to look at believers from God’s point of view, as God always looks at the heart, and He always loves us (John 3:16). I try to see the best in people and I am very happy to know that people love God, rather than worrying about where someone may fellowship around God’s love, mercy, and grace.

Romans 12:9 encourages us to “Let love be without dissimulation {or without discrimination}.” The next day she e-mailed back and stated that I was perfectly correct, then for about three pages she explained the evils of those two denominations, and warned me about how devilish and sinful they were (in her opinion). We have not been given the privilege from God to be dispensing condemnation or His wrath (Romans 12:19). She became a judge over other people and wanted to hold onto her anger about other churches and people simply because they did not go to her church or believe and practice her denominational doctrines.

We should be so blessed that God called us individually to His gracious Word, and be happy for all of God’s children. Jesus said in the Gospel of John 10:16 “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” It is futile to worry about what other people may think or believe; as someone once said, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” In other words, it is next to impossible to change someone’s mind when they believe in a certain way ― right or wrong.

We would be much better off being concerned and content that we ourselves walk with God and that He has mercy and grace on our souls rather than worrying and being negative about what other people may or may not believe. We Christians could be much kinder, happier, and gentler, Christ-like people if we were more concerned about ourselves rather than worrying about what our Christian neighbors might practice or think (Galatians 6:10). Besides, what other people practice and think is honestly between them and God, and we really do not know for certain what people think in the heart of their hearts as stated in I Corinthians 2:11.

I Corinthians 2:11:
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save {except} the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Only God knows for sure what is in the heart of man “for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee” (I Chronicles 28:9).

Romans 2:1 reads, “THEREFORE thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” This verse is quite expressive in reflecting that one’s judgments will always and ultimately return back to those who assume to sit as judges over other people (not in the laws of the land, but in spiritual issues of the heart).

Matthew 12:36-37:
-36: But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
-37: For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

God’s merciful grace can be discovered and enjoyed anywhere by anyone because wherever you are, so is God, and where other Christians are, so is God because He dwells in believers without discrimination. Recognizing this is acknowledging the immensity of God’s merciful grace upon our own lives because we have not always walked perfectly with God and followed His will completely. Yet God still loves us and He has loved and forgiven us for our faults just as His loving grace and forgiveness is upon others who love and walk with Him to the best of their abilities.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:1 “JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.” This is the instruction from our Savior, and he always spoke for God: “For I {Jesus} have given unto them the words which thou {God} gavest me; and they have received them” (John 17:8). So the question is: Have we received the words of God, have we believed them, are we judged or are we not judged? If we judge not, then the promise of God is that we are not judged. Let us follow Jesus’ teaching of God’s words about judgment in Matthew.

Matthew 7:1-5:
-1: JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.
-2: For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete {measure out}, it shall be measured to you again {“for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”― Galatians 6:7}.
-3: And why beholdest thou the mote {a tiny splinter of wood} that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
-4: Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
-5: Thou {would be a} hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

The beam and the mote are literally the same things with this one huge exception: the beam is like having a figurative “telephone pole” stuck in one’s eye causing one to not have good vision (nor comprehension in terms of judging others), as opposed to a fragment, a small mote that may be in someone else’s eye.

Just to judge for judgment sake and being critical of others is as Jesus said, hypocritical, and the same judgments will always return back to the giver. Jesus is teaching us that it is quite easy to find fault with others, especially when other’s faults are the same as our own (Romans 2:21-22). One of the great lessons in this teaching by Jesus is that as we get healed in our lives from our own faults when we are not judgmental, then we become truly able to, first forgive, and then help another walk with God without judging each other.

Proverbs 26:20:
Where no wood is {such as the beam or the mote}, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer (to murmur, whisper, backbite, slander), the strife ceaseth.

In the context of Jesus’ teaching, the lesson shows us that judging others is having a beam in our own eyes, but when one stops judging, then he or she will become healed from that temptation to judge. Ultimately, then one can begin to help others out of this same temptation of nitpicking away at people they may love or acquaintances or even others they may not even know personally, whether they are living in or out of their spheres of influence. Judging is always detrimental, for with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Psalms 15:1-3:
-1: LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
-2: He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in {or from out of} his heart.
-3: He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

As we become conquerors over our own shortcomings, such as being judgmental, then with God’s help we may show fellow believers the true graces that God has bestowed upon us can also become theirs. This is when we “clearly see” God’s merciful grace upon our own lives when our focus is to bless and help our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Romans 12:18, and 14:19:
-18: If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
-14: Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and the things wherewith one may edify {build up} another.

God sees the motive behind thoughts and actions and He looks at His children with unconditional love and not on the underlying doctrines of establishments to judge one group more chosen or special or holier than He would another. No one group can stake claim to having a corner on all the truth; I do not know it all and neither does anyone else. It is when people think they know it all that they end up shutting all the doors of true outreach and forgiveness, for they will begin to imagine that everybody else is wrong except for themselves. The same thing happened to the Apostles back in the Gospels: “And John answered and said {to Jesus}, Master, we {the Apostles} saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us” (Luke 9:49).

The Apostles shunned someone who was not following their religious practices, so Jesus further instructs them to “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:50). Sure, not every place teaches everything accurately and more than likely, some will teach things that you or I do not agree with. If someone loves God and is fellowshipping with other likeminded Christian believers, then praise the LORD, because He is blessed and so are they.

I have no doubt that most Christian people are motivated and inspired by God’s Word, love, and grace, and to think evil or less of others is a waste of time. If they are teaching God’s Word and the people are blessed to receive it; then praise God for their efforts (Philippians 1:15-18); Paul wrote, “For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth” (II Corinthians 13:8). In other words, “the Word of God is not bound” (II Timothy 2:9) because God’s Word is always liberating and will always build up the believers with grace when it is planted in the fertile ground of the human heart.

“And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). God is all love and His Word encourages us to be followers of Him with and in His love, and not allow the temptation in our minds of judging others who also love God and who are, according to Jesus, “for us.”

Ephesians 5:1-2:
-1: BE ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
-2: And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.

If we are blessed in our place of worship, then praise God for our ministers, teachers, and fellow believers. However, if we are being beaten down over and again with condemnation and hell fire, and if they are teaching us to dislike other believers from other places, then perhaps we should look for a better place to fellowship.

I do believe that there are wonderful ministers, teachers, and preachers living in almost every community who would love nothing better than to teach you the Scriptures, who are inspired by God to encourage, strengthen, and build up their congregation in love. If we need to move on for spiritual nourishment, we can be thankful that our former place of worship helped to propel us into searching for a better way, especially when we find it and our lives become ever more blessed for God’s grace and mercy in our lives.

Philippians 1:15-18:
-15: Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
-16: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: {Paul was in jail for preaching ― no freedom of speech for a man of God back then!}
-17: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel.
-18: What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

I enjoy reading verse 18 above, from the Amplified Bible:

Philippians 1:18 (The Amplified Bible**):
But what does it matter, so long as either way, whether in pretense [for personal ends] or in all honesty [for the furtherance of the Truth], Christ is being proclaimed? And in that I [now] rejoice, yes, and I shall rejoice [hereafter] also.”

Paul’s teaching is that regardless of who preaches Christ there is cause to rejoice, yea to rejoice repeatedly, for he will rejoice as we also can rejoice. When Christ is preached, then people receive the Word of God, and the Word can make people free. God’s graceful Word will bless and strengthen people regardless of people’s motivations for preaching (though most preachers and teachers have only godly intentions). God’s Word will always profit (II Timothy 3:16) and give blessings to the recipient, for this is how God designed His gracious Word!

Isaiah 55:11:
So shall my word {God’s Word} be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void {useless}, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

God’s gracious Word encourages us to always look to Jesus rather than to look on man because the more we look at people, the more we will see error, the sin nature, and imperfection. However, the more we look to Jesus, the more perfect we will become and as we gain his perspective and incentive, we can learn to love believers to a much greater dimension. I Peter 4:8 encourages, “above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”

Hebrews 12:2a (The Amplified Bible**):
Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection] . . .

An honest concern and question for some people is: Which Church, or which group of people are truly the ones that God blesses? For some people the answer is obviously clear, the one they belong to! This is true; however, all believers have received an unconditional and eternal salvation in the sense that God Himself always looks at the heart rather than at the denomination or group we might belong to, “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

God is love (I John 4:8, 16), and according to His Word anyone who is saved belongs to Him for eternity because God is no respecter of persons or groups. Anyone, anywhere, and under any circumstance can become saved and become a member of His household. We are members of the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:27), and we may fellowship around God’s healing Word with whomever we desire.

God is our Father and He is blessed when we are blessed; He is never upset simply because we go somewhere to learn more about Him Who counsels and comforts us in our deepest spiritual thoughts. God loves us unconditionally right where we are, and He never thinks ill of us for fellowshipping with His children and wanting to know more about Him: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). When believers are receiving spiritual nourishment at their place of worship, then who am I to say that they are wrong, devilish, or whatever? Nobody, that’s who!

I John 2:9-11:
-9: He that saith he is in the light, and hateth {disdains, dislikes} his brother {in Christ}, is in darkness even until now.
-10: He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
-11: But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

God has given to His children tremendous light and understanding through knowing His gracious Word and the only thing that will turn the light off (spiritually speaking) is to dislike fellow believers, our brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we will spend eternity. The Bible records that we are to, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5), and Jesus always loved people, he is all love, and he is our daily example.

Acts 2:47:
{The believers were} Praising God, and having favour with all the people {How many? All the people!}, And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Who adds to the Church of God? God! God brings people to Himself; He draws us to Him through Christ who is the mediator between God and men (I Timothy 2:5). God is the searcher of all hearts (I Chronicles 28:9; Psalms 139:1; and Romans 8:27), and God never makes mistakes; His calling us to Himself is by His grace, and this alone should humble our hearts just to know that we were allowed into His household (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Romans 11:29:
For the gifts {of God’s graces} and calling of God are without repentance.

The gifts we receive from God are always by His grace (including our eternal life, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8) and our calling by God is without repentance, meaning that He never takes it back. Our God will never be sorry for calling you nor confess or even imagine for one second that He has made a mistake in calling you because He is perfect and His calling to you is by, with, and through His grace and mercy.

John 10:28-29:
-28: And I {Jesus} give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
-29: My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

We have a wonderful section of Scripture from the Gospel of Luke expressing a vivid mind picture of how to look on others, showing us Jesus’ perspective for perceiving other people who walk with God.

Luke 18:9-14:
-9: And he {Jesus} spake this parable unto certain {people} which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
-10: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican {a tax collector}.
-11: The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
-12: I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
-13: And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven {a custom to show humility and reverence for God}, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
-14: I {Jesus} tell you, this man {the publican} went down to his house justified rather than the other {the Pharisee}: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The Pharisee practiced “good works” of tithing, giving, and fasting ― believing that by his own works he was saved, that his works made him a great believer; however, let us notice what he did not do. He refused to humble himself before God; he believed that his way of religion made him a better man than the humble tax collector. He literally separated himself out from the entire human race, believing in his heart that he was better than other men. He never recognized that he himself was a sinner, unlike the publican who knew it was only by God’s grace and mercy that he could be justified.

The word merciful in the publican’s prayer in Luke 18:13 in the Greek Text is the word for “reconciliation” as in Hebrews 2:17. The tax collector was earnestly praying to be reconciled back to God (he obviously knew that he was a sinner and that he needed God in his life), while the Pharisee believed in himself that he was already reconciled above and more than other men.

The Pharisee was more concerned about the condition of others than of his true condition; he was convinced that he was saving himself by all of his works, yet Ephesians 2:8-9 reads: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” However, only the publican went home justified, and the word justified literally means, “just-as-if-I’d never sinned.” By being humble before our God, our God-given justification can be thankfully received and enjoyed within our hearts. Jesus, in the verses from Luke above, sums up a wonderful Proverb for us:

Proverbs 28:14 (The Amplified Bible*):
Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is the man who reverently and worshipfully fears {respects} [the Lord] at all times [regardless of circumstances], but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

The publican fits into the first category of a blessed man, while the Pharisee will inevitably run into trouble for hardening his heart against other people. Sure, there will be times in life when we are down, when we do not walk in the light, when we have fear and condemnation because of the sin nature. Yet when we do come back to God, back to the throne of God’s wonderful grace like the publican did, then we can enjoy blessed verses of healing Scripture demonstrating God’s loving comfort to us that will always build us back up and strengthen our lives so that we may continue walking for God.

Psalms 34:18 (The Amplified Bible*):
The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent {sorry}.

James 4:10:
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Our loving heavenly Father always sees our heart, and when our heart condemns us because we are out of fellowship, and we then realize it and become thoroughly penitent, God will forgive ― ALWAYS! The greatest blessings in life come to the believer when he can control his thoughts and actions (see James chapter 3) to be a blessing to his fellow man ― especially those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10 (The Amplified Bible**):
So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers].

Enjoy your message because today is The Season for God’s Merciful Grace.

I John 1:5-9:
-5: This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
-6: If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
-7: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
-8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
-9: If we confess our sins {to God}, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

*Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE, Old Testament copyright (c) 1965, 1989 by the Zondervan Corporation.
Used by permission.

**Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE.
The Amplified New Testament copyright (c) 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation.
Used by permission.

Hebrews – Revealing Our Heavenly Calling

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

The Book of Hebrews presents convincing arguments to Christians who were formally from the nation of Israel, to show them that with God’s grace they could walk with the freedom of our heavenly calling (Hebrews 3:1), rather than by the works of the Law, which they were used to practicing.

Hebrews reveals Jesus Christ as Israel’s true high priest for sin, and that Jesus fulfilled the inner heart’s desire of men and women to walk with God, because with Christ the walk of grace becomes significantly more abundant through the absence of the Law.

Hebrews contains more Old Testament quotations than any other book in the New Testament (which were taken directly out of the Septuagint version, which is a Greek Text, rather than from the Hebrew Text).

One way to look at Hebrews when reading is to see the first seven chapters as though one were standing outside (and on the grounds of Old Testament Law), and peeking in the windows of a glorious mansion and seeing all kinds of wonderful things (in God’s grace). Then from chapter eight onward it would be similar to being inside this mansion, but rather than sitting on the furniture and really appreciating what’s inside (rather than noticing all wonderful things that God has given to men and women in grace, revealed to the believer in the Church Epistles), one would stand at the window and focus on what was outside (the Law), only the Law seems to have vanished away.

Hebrews details many truths that can prove beyond any doubt that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and that he was the substitute in every detail so that Israel (as well as anyone in the world) could receive the blessings that emanate from God’s grace. This may help give you a wonderful mind picture when reading Hebrews.

In Hebrews we see Jesus Christ, who was perfect in all that he accomplished for every believer, as he completely fulfilled the Law and revealed our heavenly calling that is founded and built upon God’s divine grace and presented to us to enjoy.

Hebrews 13:5-9:
-5: Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have {in grace}: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. {the Amplified Bible reads: I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax my hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]}
-6: So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
-7: Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith {believing faith} follow, considering the end of their conversation {in the Word of God that they speak and more importantly the Word of God that they themselves follow and practice}.
-8: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.
-9: Be not carried away with divers {many} and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

“Meats” does not mean food, but rather strange doctrines that feed the mind, and which bring no profit whatsoever into one’s life.

The Christian believer is always better off to have their lives flooded with God’s grace, and grace literally means that we have received unearned, undeserved favor from God above. The reason that we can establish our hearts with grace is because we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8), rather than any works that we might do or have done.

We are all partakers of our heavenly calling, given to us in grace and enjoyed by us the more we come to appreciate that our hearts can be established by God’s grace.

Hebrews 4:16 – Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need {and that time is now, and with the comfort we have knowing that God will not leave us alone, we may absolutely enjoy Our Heavenly Calling into God’s very own household – Ephesians 2:18-22}.