The One Great Subject in the Scriptures (The Longer Version)

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

Jesus Christ is the one great subject of the Scriptures, no matter where we read in the Bible ― from the Old Testament, the Gospels, or the New Testament. The Scriptures both foretell and foretold about the Savior of the world (in past, present, or future realities). As we find Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, he alone reveals the Father and discloses unspoken truth that resonates in the hearts of searching men and women, young and old. Jesus literally breaths life, spiritual life, into the Scriptures as the realities of eternal life begins surging into our understanding.

I cannot, nor can anyone else, prove God to be real because God is Spirit, and Spirit is beyond or outside the realm of the five senses, yet Christ indeed reveals God to the heart of our understanding as (and only when) we discover Jesus within the written Word of God. Whether the written Word is spoken, preached, or read, the absolute mission of Christ in the Word is to make known His Father, for the Written Word of God takes the place of the visible Christ. This is why the believers in the Book of Acts always went about preaching in the name of Jesus Christ, and of his resurrection (for a few examples, see Acts 2:32, 4:33, 13:23, 33, 17:18), for preaching without preaching Christ, is not preaching at all, but is lecturing in one form or another.

When Jesus Christ becomes known to us, he then can begin revealing God to the heart of those who crave for righteous judgment, eternal life, and spiritual understanding. “For he {the Apostle Paul} mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:28), and what Paul used to convince them was the Old Testament Scriptures.

John 6:63b:
. . . the words that I {Jesus} speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

The actual voice of Jesus Christ still speaks to our hearts ― truths that may not be uttered; only thought, only spiritually realized and ascertained, and can only be received by believing faith.

I Corinthians 2:9, 13:
-9: But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
-13: Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual {things}.

Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). Jesus was referring here to the Old Testament Scriptures since when he spoke these words, the Gospels and the New Testament were not yet written. The words ye think ye have eternal life were not written to suggest any kind of doubt; on the contrary, think means that the Scriptures reveal Christ to our minds, deep down in our thinking processes. When we think about and contemplate on the Scriptures, we begin receiving true understanding, and believing in God’s Word functions and is accomplished as we bring our biblical thoughts up to the level of recognizing that Christ is revealed to us in the Scriptures.

II Corinthians 10:5:
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every {biblical} thought to the obedience of Christ;

Bringing every thought to the obedience of Christ literally means that we can bring every biblical concept and detail back to Christ because he is the subject of the Word. Verse 5 is a request, exhorting us to keep Christ at the forefront of our lives. The more we discover Christ in the Scriptures the closer our walks with God will become and the further our understanding of God Himself will continue growing in our inner hearts.

The Old Testament Scriptures reveal Jesus Christ; in truth, every writer of the Old Testament wrote divine revelations concerning Jesus Christ.

In the following verses of Scripture, Jesus is speaking to a group of people who refused to believe the words he spoke:

John 5:46-47:
-46: For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
-47: But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

As Jesus Christ was and still is the underlying subject of the Old Testament, he is also the subject of the Gospels and the New Testament, revealing to the spiritual heart of believers the true essence of God. The Apostle Peter summed it up quite well by saying to Jesus “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68-69). Who would not want to know if God is really alive? It is through Christ, the Son of the living God that we find the words of eternal life.

Acts 3:21-22:
-21: Whom the heaven must receive {Jesus Christ ascended up to heaven} until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets {How many? All!} since the world began.
-22: For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me {Moses}; him {Jesus Christ} shall ye hear {in your heart} in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

Today, Jesus Christ is still living, still fulfilling his mission of revealing the living God to believers who look to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He can and will continue revealing his Father to us as we continue looking to him in the Scriptures, for Christ Jesus stands at the threshold of eternity asking for us to allow him into our life and us into his, as he is still the power and wisdom of God (I Corinthians 1:24).

One may read the Bible a lifetime without ever knowing or discovering the one great subject in the Scriptures because without spiritual understanding and knowledge — the Bible may as well be all Greek or only spoken in Latin. The greatest experience in this life is as the Apostle wrote: To come to a personal “knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

Some have only a vague idea of Jesus Christ and suppose that he was between a man and a spirit and walked on this Earth about two thousand years ago as a genteel miracle worker. Nowadays it is suspected that he has gone missing, for many lack tangible understanding of his actual whereabouts. The angel said “Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6). Jesus gave his life for all the people on this Earth and he is personally excited and blessed when people actually look for him and find him to be resurrected, alive, and honestly, according to the Scriptures, he is doing quite well.

Hebrews 7:25:
Wherefore he {Jesus Christ} is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by {through} him, seeing {perceiving} he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Jesus Christ came into this world so that men and women could live a life he titled: “life ― more abundantly” (John 10:10); this is why he came in the first place. Now today he is our resurrected Lord and Savior, and one of his missions in his own life is to make intercession between God and man. In truth he ever liveth for this purpose! “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). What gives Jesus Christ joy and purpose is to make intercession (rather than condemnation) as he continuously presents us in a favorable light before our heavenly Father! So if you ever wondered what Jesus Christ does every moment of every day the world round, perhaps now you might understand just how busy he really is, being our personal advocate (I John 2:1), and our continuous mediator (I Timothy 2:5-6).

In the Book of Revelation, we have one of my favorite verses of Scripture in the whole of the Word of God that Jesus spoke after his resurrection.

Revelation 3:20:
Behold, I stand at the door {of our hearts}, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

One thing that makes this verse so exciting to me is that in the biblelands, in the culture that Jesus was raised in, whenever they would have a close, personal friend over for dinner, the host always served and waited on his welcome guest. The host would never sit down at the table. This demonstrated to his friend (or friends), the utmost honor and respect he held for the welcomed guest. When Martha served Jesus and some of his followers in Bethany, she was displaying her humble love and respect (John 12:1ff). In the Book of Revelation 3:20, we have a dinner invitation that is even more personal than a close friend because Jesus says that he actually eats with you and you with him ― breaking the traditional protocols to sup with you!

Jesus has always been standing at the door of our hearts ―― knocking. The knocking is another biblical custom meaning that one would actually stand outside the gate of the house and yell out the name of the person they wanted to call on, as the messengers of Cornelius had done when calling out for Peter in Acts 10:17-18. This is why the verse says if any man hear my voice.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus further discusses his calling by saying that there were to be other people besides those of the first century who would hear his voice.

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.

We today, who are in God’s family, are those to whom Jesus was referring. Reading the words of Christ is easy but it is an entirely different experience to actually hear his sweet voice that speaks directly to our heart and soul with inspiration that always strengthens our believing with a heavenly calmness. Our Savior’s voice encourages, exhorts, and edifies men and women who answer his call to walk with him who walks with the Creator.

When you answer the call of Jesus today, you will be allowing him into your life and heart. When you hear his wonderful voice, you may recall hearing his heartfelt calling as well as recalling some in-depth echoes of past memories that in truth have been beseeching you all along, perhaps even since your first memories of childhood. It certainly will bless his life to bless your life for allowing him into your heart as you answer him, “I am here Lord,” and begin dining together on the bread of life (God’s Word), and enjoy your close personal relationship with him who gave his utmost for you.

Who Are the Others? You and Me!

“In the Gospel of John, Jesus discusses his calling by saying that there were to be other people besides those of the first century who would hear his voice, 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– John 10:16). Jesus is the good Shepherd and the great Shepherd and the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls and the chief Shepherd (John 10:14, Hebrews 13:20, I Peter 2:25, and 5:4). Today, you are among those others to whom Jesus was referring. Reading the words of Christ is easy, but it is an entirely different experience to actually hear his sweet voice that speaks directly to our hearts with inspiration that always strengthens believing with a heavenly calmness. Our Savior’s voice encourages, exhorts, and edifies men and women who answer his call to walk with him who walks with the Creator.” ~LMJ~

Folly, Oh, the Folly of It All

“Whenever anyone or any group of people think that they are the only people in the Church of God, something is most definitely amiss (Luke 9:49-50, John 10:16). God does not look at the human race by way of brand names because God so loved the world (John 3:16), and He changes not (Malachi 3:6). We can simply be thankful that God called us rather than worrying about who is in or out. God can and does bless and has mercy on anyone He feels like blessing and giving mercy to (Romans 9:18). We can be so thankful that He is eternally our heavenly Father Who will always honor our believing (period)!” ~LMJ~

 

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.

Our Christian Neighbors

“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 in other Churches. 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.” ~LMJ~