As Julie moves toward the light, she has to step carefully. Another misstep could land her back in the mud. So, she tries to keep one eye on the light and feel the ground ahead with her foot before putting it in place. Then, the light flickers and disappears. Surprised and more than a little bit fearful, she emits a big sigh of indignation, throws her arms in the air, then does exactly what she has been trying so hard to not do–she slips and falls. This time, she falls into a mud puddle. In exasperation, she just sits there–then she looks up in the direction she thinks she was going. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees a flicker to her right. “Now, how did it get over there?”
“But . . . now there are two.”
She slowly rises, gives up on the idea of trying to look presentable, and decides to try again. Standing still for a moment, she offers up a prayer asking for help and guidance. Then–taking a slow, deep breath–focusing on the light, she steps slowly and gingerly forward toward the small beam. Suddenly, she sees another flicker back to the left where the first light was shining. “Now what do I do?” Deciding to continue toward the light on her right, she calls out, “Who’s there?”
“Can you hear me?”
“I’m lost, and I have no light. Can you help me?”
No one answers.
Suddenly, a third light appears, a bit brighter than the others. This one is a little to the right of the second light–then a fourth light pops up between the first and second light. Trying hard not to get distracted, she continues toward the second light and calls out again, “Help!!! Somebody, can you hear me????”
From behind, she hears a voice saying, “Stay where you are, and I will come to you.”
“Don’t move, just talk to me.”
“How did you get out here in the middle of this field?”
Then the man’s voice says, “No, don’t answer that. It is of no matter how you ended up here. The fact is you are here. So, we need to try and get you out of here.”
“What is your name?”
“My name is Julie.”
“What is yours?”
“My name is Jesse–now, just keep talking. I will shine the light toward your voice, and I will follow your voice to you. Just stay calm. Tell me where you are from or something about you.”
“I am so thankful you are here. It got pitch dark out here. I was taking a short cut across the field. Then, all of a sudden it was sooooo dark, I couldn’t see anything. Then, I fell and lost my sense of direction.”
Jesse is flashing the light back and forth in the general direction of her voice. Suddenly, he thinks he sees her. Then it disappears. “It must not have been her.” He is getting closer, but “Why am I having such a hard time zeroing in on her with the light?“
He says, “Julie, what color clothes do you have on?”
She responds, “Black pants and a blue jacket.”
“But, I am covered with mud too,” she whimpers. “I have fallen twice–the second time in a big mud puddle. So, be careful. You could fall too.”
“Well, I have the light; so, I have a little bit of an advantage.”
“I should have brought one, but it wasn’t real dark when I headed out. It got soooo dark all of a sudden. I couldn’t see anything.”
About that time, the light flashes across her. She begins to slowly move toward Jesse. When he gets to her, he takes her hand and begins leading her back the way he came. Finally, they arrive at the road.
“Which road is this?” she asks.
“This is State Road #4. Is it the road you came in on?”
“No; I came in on Magnolia Lane. I am thinking it should be back to the right. Am I correct?”
“Yes; back to your right. Do you want me to walk over there with you?”
“No, I can make it ok since I am back on a road. I should never have ventured off State Road #6 with it getting dark, and I should have brought a light. I will not make these mistakes again.”
“Thank You, so much, Jesse, for your help!”
“Can I buy you dinner sometime to repay you for your kindness?”
“No; that won’t be necessary. I am just glad I was passing by this way. I usually take another road.”
“I am too! You were an answer to prayer!”
“I’m just glad I could be of some help. You take care now. I am off in the opposite direction.”
She starts walking to the right, and he to the left. He is continuing the way he was going. She is backtracking to the road she should have stayed on when she cut across the field–State Road #6.
The darkness surrounding her is so thick and black, she is certain it can be cut with a knife. The intensity of the weight it carries threatens to take her breath, leaves her dizzy with anxiety. There is no hint of light anywhere.
Julie cannot remember ever trying to maneuver in such vexatious surroundings. The dead silence only adds to the unwelcoming ambience which renders familiar surroundings unhinged. The unrealistic fear of stepping off into the unknown–a great abyss–besieges her. Moving forward stealthily, carefully placing one foot in front of the other, trying to recall the territorial map in her mind, Julie slips in the mud, stumbles, screams as she lands with a “Splat!!”
The scream is totally unexpected and only adds to the breach of peace skittering through her.
“Who’s there???” (a little less than forcefully).
“Who screamed?? she quivers.
Dead silence responds.
If only there were the least hint of light, the effort of traversing the familiar field would not be so affronting. She can almost hear the howling scene in any one of the mystery thriller movies she has ever seen. The scream, apparently emitted by some imagined other, has set her nerves on edge. There is nothing to hold too, . . . nothing to help her calm the jerkiness of movement. She slowly rises from the muck and steadies her stance by separating her feet just a bit. Standing there, covered with mud, she forces a slow steadiness to her inhale, then to her exhale–followed by another, and another.
Now, as she calms herself enough to think more clearly, it dawns on her that the fall has shifted her sense of direction and darkness is confounding her ability to decide which direction to take now. Bit by bit she turns, tries to orient in the inkiness, and bit by bit she searches the darkness for even the tiniest hint of light. At this point, any direction will do if it helps her find familiar territory again.
There, she sees it. Then it’s gone. She sees it again–a hint, ever so slight, a hint of light. It seems to be moving. As she watches, it grows ever so slowly–then a flicker–and she is sure of it. A light to move toward. Step by step she inches forward toward the light, not allowing any thought into her mind except the task at hand–move toward the light!
The hand that made this earth was a very intelligent hand. The land masses consist of soil, rocks, ores, and minerals–most of which are essential to man’s life on earth. In the beginning when God performed His handiwork, this land was “without form and void.” The water, according to Genesis 1:2, was dark and deep.
“The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
Genesis 1:2 — Holy Bible: Old Testament, King James Version (KJV)
As the sun shines upon the water–whether the ocean or the rain–evaporation rises into the atmosphere. Then it comes back to the earth in the form of dew, rain, sleet, hail, or snow. This allows for a constant recycling of moisture. God planned all of this so you and I might live in relative comfort upon this earth. According to Morris and Woolfenden (2018), vegetation inhales carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen. This is done during the daytime as a part of photosynthesis. The plant uses water in combination with the carbon dioxide to complete photosynthesis. Oxygen is a by-product of this process. Thus, we humans are supplied with the oxygen needed to live here on earth (Stancil, 2019). No one person could have thought of all the necessary components to create our functional universe. In my opinion, whether or not science believes it, science itself is daily proving the Holy Bible to be true.
At this point I feel I must ask: Why is Creationism not given equal time in our science texts alongside the Big Bang Theory — Darwinism — Evolution? Maybe because it makes far more sense; it just requires a little bit of faith. There are some major components missing from those theories. For example, what caused the Big Bang? Where did the components that created the Big Bang come from? How did the Big Bang create conditions conducive to life and to evolution? From my point of view, current scientific explanations leave much to be explained and the answers to the queries I just put forth can never satisfy a truly curious mind.
What caused Evolution to begin, and then to continue? All conditions had to be just right for everything to happen at just the right time. My faith tells me Creationism is the most valid theory out there. God has planned the beginning of this universe, and He tells us the earth and all the elements will burn up with a fervent heat (2 Peter 3:10); so, he also knows how and why the earth will be destroyed.
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
2 Peter 3:10 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
My faith assures me, God made all things. It is an event I did not see, but I read about it in Genesis chapter 1 of the Old Testament and in other scriptures throughout the Bible. So, I believe what I am told therein. Hebrews 11:1 says:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 1:1 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
My evidence is before my eyes every waking moment. As I said earlier, I did not see God create this universe, but I am told of His handiwork in His Word. Since it exists and I am a part of it, His Word is sufficient to convince me. Thus, my substance is also found in God’s Word. Even today, science debates the life-giving element in our bodies.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”
Genesis 2:7 — Holy Bible: Old Testament, King James Version (KJV)
According to the Holy Bible, God breathed life into Adam. Subsequently, He has breathed life into every living thing since then. So, according to God’s Word, our breath is the life-giving substance in our bodies. Science cannot explain it, but my faith says “God’s Word does explain it!”
The first five books of the Holy Bible: Old Testament–Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy–contain the “Law of Moses” which was inspired by God as Moses wrote it. The detail in this law would be impossible for one man to conjure. This says God is a very intelligent being.
1 — “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
2 — “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
Genesis 1:1, 2 — Holy Bible: Old Testament, King James Version
David’s faith assured him God created the earth. He writes about it in the book of Psalms. In chapter 33, David tells us, God formed the heavens, He gathered the waters together as a heap and lays up the excess in storehouses. Could these storehouses be the underground rivers known as table-waters. These underground rivers are the sorce form whence water has traditionally been tapped for drinking, cooking, and other home uses. Today, much of the underground storehouses has been depleted. Now, cities need such large quantities of water that most resort to lakes and above-ground rivers to supply the needs demanded by those living within their limits. This water is then passed through water treatment plants to remove impurities and make it safe for human consumption. God has also provided other “storehouses” filled with crude oil, coal, iron, and a host of other ores, minerals, etc to be tapped in order to provide for our needs.
David went on to say the entire earth and everyone who is a part of this world should fear and stand in awe of God. The reason he gives is, “He spoke and it was done, He commanded, and it stood fast.” I know–personally, I stand in awe of what God has done, is doing, can do, and will do. I stand in awe of his knowledge and his power.
6 — “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”
7 — “He gathers the waters of the sea together as an heap: He layeth up the depth in storehouses.”
8 — “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”
9 — “For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”
Psalms 33:6-9 — Holy Bible: Old Testament, King James Version (KJV)
We have seen evidence, in previous discussions, showing Jesus is the Word (mentioned in John 1:1-3). The Word was with God in the beginning, and the Word was/is God. Therefore, Jesus was a participant in the world’s creation. Then, He came to earth in fleshly form to die for my sins–and for your sins. Do you know anyone else who would die for your sins? I can assure you, I do not know anyone else who would die for my sins. But, Jesus did just that. He died for our sins that we might have an eternal home with Him in heaven.
1 — “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
2 — “The same was in the beginning with God.”
3 — “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.”
John 1:1-3 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
When things get rough in my life, I turn to God and Jesus. I tell them, in prayer, what is happening and describe the troubles I am having with the events taking place. I ask for their assistance, guidance, and protection. Then, my faith assures me they will respond in like manner–and they do! Just as David said in Psalms chapter 9, verses 9 and 10, the Lord is my refuge. I can always trust God and Jesus to be there when I need Them, and I know They will never forsake me.
9 — “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”
10 — “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”
Psalms 9:9, 10 — Holy Bible, Old Testament, King James Version (KJV)
In Psalms chapter 119, verse 105, David said:
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Psalms 119:105 — Holy Bible: Old Testament, King James Version (KJV)
So, as we saw above, the first three verses of John, chapter 1, tell us Jesus is the Word of God, the Word was in the beginning, and the Word was God. Then the next verse, John 1:4, tells us He is also the “Light of men.”
“In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.”
John 1:4 — Holy Bible: Old Testament, King James Version (KJV)
Are we beginning to see that Jesus coming to earth in fleshly form to die for our sins was already planned when “God” created this universe?
“And God said, ‘Let there be light:’ and there was light.”
Genesis 1:3 — Holy Bible: Old Testament, King James Version (KJV)
There is so much talk today about the sixty-six books that make up the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Holy Bible, and much of this talk seeks to discredit the validity of the Word. While this is often discussed among those who follow Jesus’ teachings, what we do not tend to discuss is the essence of this posit. The ultimate goal of discrediting the Word of God is to discredit Christianity. The idea that the books of the Bible are not inspired by God is not a new one, but there are falsehoods being touted as fact in these attempts to discredit God’s Word. These untruths focus on invalidating the divine conception and the purity of Christ’s life here on earth. All sixty-six books of the Holy Bible were inspired by God, and they form a cooperative effort to describe God’s love as well as the truth and grace which Christ imparts.
Attempts to discredit and destroy the Bible have never been successful because God will not allow it. The opening scripture (above) tells us God’s Word will never pass away. When the 2020 protests were occurring at the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, one fact that was not widely reported was the burnings of the Bible and the American flag (Holton, 2020). According to Holton, there were some Christians involved in attempts to resolve the problem, but many Christians across the nation were not aware of this part of the protests. This says the protests that occurred across America in 2020 were intended to discredit Christianity as well as the American government. America was founded upon Christian principles. Freedom of religion–the right to worship as a follower of Christ, the Reformation Movement– was one of the main principles upon which the United States of America was founded. The world may try to destroy the Bible and Christianity, but Christ and His church will live forever.
1 — “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
2 — “The same was in the beginning with God.”
John 1:1, 2 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
14 — “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
15 — “John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, ‘This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.'”
John 1:14, 15 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
John, in the first two verses of his Gospel, tells us “the Word was in the beginning. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” A little further down in the first chapter (verse 14), John tells us the Word was made flesh. Reflecting on this in combination with the first verse, we can see–Jesus is the Word. Then in verse fifteen, we are reminded that John the Baptist bore witness of Him and said, “This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.” How could this be possible when John the Baptist was born before Jesus (refer to my Lesson on Scripture: “Zecharias’ Son John is Born“).
“Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
Romans 10:17–Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
Faith is the primary tenet of Christ’s teachings. As we see in Romans Chapter 10, Verse 17: “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Thus, we must “hear” the message in order to have a “faith” that the message is true. As the verse continues, we are told this message is from “the Word of God” (Jesus). ” In scriptures noted above, we learned that Jesus is the Word of God.
7 — “‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:'”
8 — “‘For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.'”
Matthew 7:7, 8–Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
In His “Sermon on the Mount”–Matthew Chapter 7, Verses 7 and 8–Jesus said, “If we ask, we will receive; if we seek, we will find; if we knock, it will be opened unto us.” Therefore, if we are truly and diligently seeking the truth, Jesus will guide us to it. Once we find it, if we knock, He will open the door of eternal life to us. At this point, it will still be up to us to enter into that door, because He will not force us to enter. Christianity is an act of faith; by faith we follow Christ’s teaching and enter into eternal life.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1–Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
Once we have diligently searched for the truth and Christ has guided us to that truth, it is by faith that we act upon that truth as Jesus instructed through His apostles. We hope for the ultimate reward of an eternal home and life in heaven with Jesus and God, but we cannot see that home in heaven until Jesus returns to receive His own. Our faith that Jesus brought God’s Word to us, that He “is” God’s Word, that He “was” in the beginning with God, and that He “is” God in heaven is the substance that leads us to action. Our faith is the evidence that convicts us of these truths and compels us to act upon these truths. Our faith is what prompts Jesus to open the door to eternal life when we knock.
24 — “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?”
25 — “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
Romans 8:24–Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
Our hope of salvation is the basis upon which we “knock”; this is the faith upon which we enter into salvation. If we could see and reap the reward Jesus promised to us during His life here on earth, we could have no doubt it exists, but we cannot see heaven and eternal life until Jesus returns. It is our faith in the reality of this hope that leads us unto salvation. We must then act upon that faith and “knock” if we want Jesus to open the door to eternal life, and we must follow through on that knock with obedience of the commands He gave, continuing in His commands until He returns to receive us into that eternal life in heaven. If we had no hope, there could be no faith. If we have no faith, there can be no obedience unto eternal life, and there would be no continuation in that faith and obedience. The hope of eternal life fuels our faith which transports us into life eternal.
“Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make the bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.”
Ezekiek 4:9 — Holy Bible: Old Testament, King James Version (KJV)
As a girl, I learned to make bread–corn bread specifically. Cornbread was typically a staple at our evening meal, so I was about nine years old when I learned to make it. We would make a large pan of cornbread to supplement whatever else we might be eating that night. It served as a filler making the meal “stick to our ribs” so we did not get hungry again until time for breakfast. During wintertime, often we had cornbread and milk as our evening meal. A bowl of cornbread soaked in milk is somewhat akin to porridge for breakfast. Both are made of grain which helps to satiate a person. Thus, hunger is held at bay for a time.
As a young wife and mother, I had already expanded my knowledge to embrace making cinnamon rolls, puff pastries, and other goodies. Thus, I decided it was time to try my hand at making yeast bread. My first batch flopped. It was hard as a rock and never raised even a fraction of an inch. Even the dog wanted nothing to do with it. Later, I discovered the yeast was long out of date. So, lesson learned: always be sure the yeast is still within active dates of usage. If the expiration date is in the past, the yeast should be in the trash.
My second batch of yeast bread turned out beautifully. I was thrilled to see it actually take shape as loaves similar to those bought at the store. Always striving to improve upon the food I prepared for my family, I learned of the important role whole wheat bread serves in our daily diet. The whole grain includes fiber which aids in digestion by slowing the process to allow time for nutrients to be absorbed across the intestinal wall. So, I decided to use whole wheat flour when making my bread. The result was quite satisfactory.
I always knew beans were nutritious and occasionally made a big batch of chili beans. During the holiday season, I would make baked beans as part of our traditional celebration. When we moved to the Gulf Coast, I learned how to make Red Beans and Rice. A close relative had grown-up on the coast and was quite adept at cooking with a southern flair. Therefore, it was not long until I, too, had learned to cook in like manner at least part of the time. As more years passed, I learned how to cook other types of flavorful bean dishes and began to truly appreciate the value of their inexpensive but very nutritious addition to the mealtime budget. As a result, a number of bean varieties are included in my dietary routine.
Suffice it to say, with knowledge of the important roles grains and legumes play in our nutritional intake, when I happened across the scripture quoted above during the course of my recent Bible study, I was amazed at the rich quality of the ingredients God specified for Ezekiel to include in his bread. This bread would provide almost all of a person’s nutritional requirements for a time. The one ingredient I was not familiar with–fitches– is actually the name of an ancient grain known as modern-day spelt. I have seen it mentioned when perusing various grain products available for purchase, but until now had not been overly inquisitive as to its dietary value. As with the manna from heaven which provided the Israelites with their nutritional needs during the weekly Sabbath observation while wandering forty years in the desert prior to entering the Promised Land, God now is providing Ezekiel with the knowledge of how to prepare a bread to satisfy his nutritional needs while serving as His prophet to the Israelites.
In Deuteronomy 8:2, and 3, God told Moses:
2 — “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”
3 — “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”
Here, God tells the Israelites they are not to live on only the physical bread in their daily diet, but to the physical bread, they must also add “. . . every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” These words equate “God’s Words” with “bread.” He is telling them, both provide sustenance for life. The physical bread is sustenance for physical life, and the “bread” of “God’s words” is sustenance for the spiritual life.
Knowing God is so focused upon the nutrition needed by the human body, we can also know it is possible to look to the Bible for understanding as to which foods are best at meeting our nutritional needs. The foods mentioned in the Bible can be wholesome and nutritious additions to our physical diets.
Further, we find in the New Testament, Jesus’ response to Satan while being tempted of him in the wilderness:
“But He answered and said, It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
Does this mean we must know and abide by every “word” in the Bible? Well, yes, but probably not in the same sense you might understand. First, we must learn how we are to receive “. . . every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” To begin this understanding, let’s look at some words from the apostle John.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:1 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
From these words, we can see God’s Word has existed from the beginning. As long as God has existed, His Word has existed.
We also see, “the Word was with God.” This indicates, not only did the Word come “from God.” It also existed “with God.”
Hmmmmm; so, while His word emitted from Him, it also co-existed alongside Him.
The end of this verse takes this thought process one step further, ” . . . and the Word was God.” Now, how often have you thought “the Word” not only is “from God,” but “the Word” actually “is God?”
How can this be? Well, let’s see what Jesus says about the matter. Remember, we are looking at the word “bread,” how there is a “physical bread” which we physically ingest, but there is also a “spiritual bread,” which is necessary to ingest in order to attain life eternal. The “spiritual bread” comes from “every word out of the mouth of God.”
“I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
John 6:35 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
In the above scripture, Jesus is telling us, He is “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Looking back to John 1:1, He is also telling us, “He” was the “Word” referred to in this verse. In other words, “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word (Jesus) was with God, and the Word (Jesus) was God.” If you notice, in this scripture the “Word” is capitalized, equating it with “someone”–equating it with “God.” Now, in John 6:35, Jesus tells us, “I am the bread of life, . . .” He tells us, “whoever comes to me shall not hunger, . . . ” If we are truly pricked in the heart and present ourselves to Jesus for His guidance, our physical needs will be provided, but our spiritual needs will be provided too. This is not the only place Jesus tells us this, and His apostles follow His teachings with the same message.
Finally, Jesus said, “. . . and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.” Here, He is telling us there is more to “life” than eating and drinking; there is more to “life” than the physical life we know. This portion of the verse needs to be looked at more in depth, but for now–that is another devotional. I hope you will join us for that one as well.
Today, my prayer for each of you–and for the world–is that God and Jesus might place the knowledge and the surety of their existence–side by side–within our hearts and minds. Give us the understanding that the needs of this life will be provided for those who come to You. Give us the understanding of these scriptures. Help us to know that God and His Word (Jesus) existed in the beginning, that the Word (Jesus) was with God in the beginning, and the Word (Jesus) was God. Help us to understand: If Jesus is the bread of life, then He is God’s Word–He is every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Thank You for stopping by to read and commune with me, with God, and with Jesus. As I strive t o learn more about the message God and Jesus are imparting to me through the Scriptures–the Holy Bible–I am honored that you choose to share this journey with me. Please “Like,” “Share,” “Follow,” and keep coming back!
22 — “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,”
23 — “meekness, temperance: against such there is no law,”
24 — “and they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
25 — “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Galatians 5:22-25 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
In Galatians 5:22-25, Paul tells the church at Galatia, the Spirit works to increase love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance in those who live and walk in the Spirit. Based on this text, Paul tells us it is possible to “live in the Spirit” but not “walk in the Spirit.” Some might differ with this interpretation of these words. However, I would direct your attention to the last part of verse 25. There Paul says, “let us also walk in the Spirit.” Since the first part of the verse notes, “If we live in the Spirit,” Paul is telling us we can “live in the Spirit” and not “walk in the Spirit.” Thus, if we “walk in the Spirit,” others can see a difference in the pre-Christian person we were and the Christian person we are continually becoming.
Let’s look back up to verses 22 and 23. Here, we see, “the fruit of the spirit is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.” Then in verse 24, Paul says, “”and they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. ” Thus, if we ‘walk in the Spirit,’ we belong to Christ and have ‘crucified’ our “fleshly affections and lusts.” This does not mean we will automatically exhibit the traits associated with walking in the Spirit. It means we must do something to achieve those traits as a part of whom we are becoming. We must crucify the cravings and fruit of the flesh in order that we might “walk in the Spirit.” Looking at verse 16 of Galatians chapter 5, Paul states, “if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfil the lust of the flesh” — in other words, we will “crucify the flesh.”
16 — “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
17 — “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
Galatians 5:16, 17 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
In verse 17, we read: the flesh and the Spirit engage in behaviors contrary one to the other. Thus, if we belong to Christ, we cannot do the things that we would in the flesh–we will “walk in the Spirit.” As we continue to “walk in the Spirit,” we will see an increase in the “fruit of the Spirit” in our own behavior and a decrease in the affections and lusts of the flesh displayed in our lives.
These verses tell us: belonging to Christ means we will strive to emulate Him in our daily living. The term, “American,” means I am a citizen–a member, if you will–of the United States of America. When we look at the word, “Christian,” in this same light, being a Christian means we are a citizen of–a member, if you will–of the kingdom of Christ, (Acts 11:26). As such, we strive to abide by the laws, guidelines, and statutes set forth by Christ for the New Testament churches of Christ. Paul established churches of Christ among the Gentiles; there were seven churches of Christ in Asia. The other apostles established churches in the area where Christ lived, taught, healed, and preached. Each church was taught, by the apostles, to emulate the life of Christ as they grew in the faith.
“And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
Acts 11:26 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
Thus, as we grow in the faith, we will see our lives increase in: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.” We will begin by “crawling,” as newborn babes in Christ. Then–just as a babe must grow from toddler to young child, older child, pre-teen, teen, young adult, and finally to adulthood–we must grow as Christians. It will be a life-long endeavor if we continue in the faith and hope of an eternal life in heaven with God and Jesus Christ–God’s Son.
1 — “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,”
2 — “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
3 — “if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”
1 Peter 2:1-3 — Holy Bible: New Testament, King James Version (KJV)
First, we nurture a babe with milk, then with puree of solid foods, and finally he/she is able to digest solid food. In like manner, we must also nurture our Spiritual Self by “laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking.” Then, “as newborn babes [in Christ], desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby [in Christ].” In 1 Peter 2, verses one through three, we see: “if we are able to lay aside these fleshly affections and lusts,” then we “have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”
My daily prayer is that I might continue to lay aside my worldly lusts and affections of the flesh and grow in the nurture, the admiration, and the wisdom of the Lord. I ask that God strengthen me in the faith, hope, knowledge, goodness, and graciousness of Christ Jesus that I might live a life pleasing unto Him and ultimately be granted an eternal home in heaven.
May God be with all who endeavor to live for Him through the name of Christ Jesus.
Oftentimes, when we read the Bible, we do so with our mind somewhere else. For example, how often have we read The Beatitudes with our thoughts truly centered on the meaning of those words. Today, I decided to center my devotional upon one scripture, separated from The Beatitudes and viewed in detail according to the scriptures. For this purpose, I chose:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:3 — Holy Bible: New Testament (KJV)
Matthew and Luke present scriptures that say something a bit different from the other–even though both are relating a scripture from the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. While Matthew (above) refers to “. . . poor in spirit . . .,” Luke, in chapter 6 and verse 20, says:
And He lifted up His eyes on His disciples and said, ‘Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.'”
Luke 6:20 — Holy Bible: New Testament (KJV)
Granted, most who are poor are also poor in spirit because the poor are usually the downtrodden, those who are accustomed to doing without. When a poor person does without, there is usually no repercussions to anyone for allowing this to be–no one suffers other than the person who is poor. Thus, both presentations are correct. One does not detract from the other.
I decided to see what the Old Testament (Old Covenant) says about the “poor” or the “poor in spirit.”
For all those things hath mine hand made,and all those things have been, saith the Lord; but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
Isaiah 66:2 — Holy Bible: Old Testament (KJV)
Here, God–Himself–acknowledges that the poor person is much more likely to “fear the Lord” and strive to live according to the Lord’s word. The wealthy are typically much more inclined to focus upon the fortune amassed and the means necessary to keep it. However, being poor by itself does not grant an eternal home with God. Rather, God said, “. . . even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.”
If we are contrite in spirt, God is able to mold and shape us according to His will. Thus, the “poor” must also be “poor in spirit.” He or she must have “a contrite spirit and tremble at [His] word.” Here, I must ask myself: Do I have a contrite spirit? Do I tremble at God’s word? Even if I think the answer is “Yes,” I must study on it to know the truth. The Beatitudes are a small portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which tells us “the spirit” of those who will go to heaven. How often–when we recite these in worship services–do we look at ourselves to determine if our spirit is right with God?
In Luke 18: 9-14, Jesus tells a parable regarding differences between the haughty, self-righteous man and one with a contrite heart.
9 — “And He spake this parable unto certain 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.”
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, but smote his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”
14 — “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
Thus, Jesus said, those who are haughty in spirit will be least in heaven–if they even make it there–and those who are of a contrite, repentant spirit will be in heaven.
Have we ever TRULY REPENTED of something specific we have done? Have we talked to God about it as if He were a long-lost friend whom we had wronged and were begging their forgiveness?
Each of us has, or have had, something for which we should repent with such a spirit! Others may not be aware of this sin, but WE ARE! WE know what we have done, and we know it is wrong–even if it is not wrong in the eyes of man. Are we willing to humble ourselves as this publican did–as the apostle Matthew must have done? Matthew was a publican when Jesus called him to be His disciple. Have we ever declared ourselves to be a sinner” because of our sin whether it be past or present? The cleansing such a prayer provides is beyond the imagination of most.
Reading on in the same chapter, Luke 18: 15-17,
15 — “And they brought unto Him also infants, that He would touch them; but when His disciples saw it, they rebuked them.”
16 — “But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.“
17 — “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”
Infants have no sin. They are pure of heart. If they do wrong, they do not realize it is wrong, thus it is forgiven. Jesus goes on in Luke chapter 18 to show that even those who have done good all their lives may be lacking what it takes to make it into God’s kingdom and into heaven. The parable of the ruler shows how a “good person” may not have a “contrite spirit.”
Luke 18: 18-25
18 — “And a certain ruler asked him saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 — “And Jesus said unto him, ‘Why callest thou Me good? None is good, save one, that is, God.”
20 — “Thou knowest the commandments. Do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother.”
21 — “And he said, ‘All these have I kept from my youth up.'”
22 — “Now when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, ‘Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.”
23 — “And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”
24 — “And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, He said, ‘How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”
25 — “For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
From an early age, this parable was powerful to me. I began sewing by hand at about the age of seven or eight. So, I knew how tiny is the eye of a needle! I knew, if this man had been good all his life, yet lacked the contrite spirit required to be a child of God, I must change my ways. For, while I rarely disobeyed, I was far from sinless; and it was time I look that sin in the eye.
There have been times throughout my life when I had to look deep into my soul and come face to face with God about something I had done which was keeping me apart from Him. My prayer, now, is: if anyone reading this devotional has been pricked in the heart and has need for a session of supplication unto you, God–give him or her the strength to humble self before you.
Here in the United States, we are beginning to see the first days of spring–signs of “life renewed,” which has been our subject today. Not all days here are pleasant–some reap harvests filled with pain. On those days, I try to remember–“This, too, shall pass. — Anonymous.
I hope, wherever you are, you can–at least–enjoy some of the weather bestowed upon you. Blessings!
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”
Matthew 5:9 — “Holy Bible: King James Version” (KJV)
I grew up going to Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Worship Services from the age of two. So, by the time I was a Freshman in High School (1st year), I was well versed in the Bible. After my fourteenth birthday, I was asked to teach the Sunday night Bible Class for children. There were five ranging in age from five to twelve.
At one point in Physical Science class during my Freshman year, we were studying the Big Bang Theory versus Creationism. I was the only person in the room who supported Creationism. The teacher and all other students in the room supported the Big Bang Theory. Subsequently, I was the recipient of jeers and ridicule from all others in the room–including the teacher. After that–through my High School years–I did not like science and took no more science classes throughout. I never complained to anyone about the incident. In fact, I was in undergraduate studies seventeen years later (1985) when I first mentioned it to anyone. However, I launched extensive Bible Study–personal and group–because I wanted to be able to respond intelligently to questions about the topic.
When my youngest child was a toddler, one Wednesday night in Bible Class we were discussing scientific evidence against Creationism and how to discuss it with others. I asked the preacher (who was teaching the class) how to explain–when engaged in house-to-house Bible Study with someone–the earth’s age when the Bible indicates an age of 6,000 to 7,000 years, and science has unearthed dinosaur and other fossils which are said to be millions of years old. I was convinced by his answer.
He responded, “There is nothing in the Bible that says there were not other worlds before this Earth was created.” He was right! No where does the Bible even hint there were no worlds before this one. Genesis 1:2 says, “And the earth was without form, and void; . . . ” (Eds. Bible Gateway, 1993). This indicates elements existed from which God “formed” the earth. Who can say those elements did not include dinosaur fossils from the remnants of previous worlds?
As I went through Undergraduate and Graduate classes in college, I never had that dilemma again. During undergraduate Physical Science classes, I talked with the instructor after class one night about what had happened in High School. She said, “I will never do that to you or any other student. That teacher was wrong for allowing the other students to ridicule you, and he was wrong for joining them. There was no excuse for his behavior.” Immediately, I knew this instructor knew what she was made of and what other instructors should be made of. After that, I was never afraid to engage as an equal, and the ridicule never again occurred. I grew to really enjoy my science classes because they presented ideas that stimulated my desire to study both sides–Creationism and Scientific Theory.
I do believe there were other worlds that existed before this one. Science is now proving this to be possible by the evidence being amassed to support past life on other planets. Now, as the asteroid flew past our planet in 2018 (Earl, 2018; George, 2018), a meteorite from another asteroid recently fell to a driveway in England (Lewis, 2021), and just last week, one flew past Vermont so closely it “shook and rattled buildings” (Eds. Associated Press, 2021; Eds. CBS Boston, 2021: Hall, 2021), divergent scientific theories attempt to explain the cosmic events. One theory regarding the 2018 meteorite noted the similarities between it and comets sailing through outer space. It was quite long and would have done much damage if it had hit the earth. It probably would have severed a part of the earth which would then have joined it traipsing around through space. Was it perhaps a fossilized portion of another word?
Through the years, I never created a scene about any incident related to the topic of Biblical Creationism Theory versus Scientific Theory of Earth’s beginnings. I peacefully said what needed to be said and exited the topic. I was never one who enjoyed heated disagreements. I have always preferred to calmly discuss concerns to resolve any disagreement. I have continually prayed about this and other related and similar concerns. I have noted much by way of scientific research supporting rather than disproving Biblical Creationism. I have seen the truth of 2 Peter 3:16 which says, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of things in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction,” (Eds. King James Bible Online, 2007). As much as I wish it were otherwise, I can do or say nothing to change the beliefs of those so hardened against the scriptures. I must accept it and move on. I will say, though, my extensive studies on the topics have only served to strengthen my beliefs in God, Christ, and the Creation.
24 — “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, for why does one still hope for what he sees?”
25 — “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
26 — “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
27 — “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
28 — “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
29 — “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
30 — “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
31 — “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
32 — “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
33 — “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”
34 — “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
35 — “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
36 — “As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'”
37 — “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
38 — “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come,”
39 — “nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Source: Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV).
In the eighth chapter, twenty-eighth verse of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul tells us to keep uppermost in our mind the promise: “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Oftentimes, we tend to become discouraged by all the negatives in our lives, and we might complain there are not enough positives happening. The past year is one of the times this might be more apt to occur. Is this something you struggle with? Are you discouraged by all that has happened to you, your loved ones, your family, and your country during the past year? If so, you are not alone. Many others struggle with the same spiritual ailment. Furthermore, it is not a new trial faced by modern-day Christians. It has been here since the inception of Christ’s life on earth and before.
When we are tempted by Satan or one of his many demonic slaves, we can rest assured that nothing they do can harm our soul–unless we allow it. There is an old saying my Mama often quoted: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” (Anonymous). As many have pointed out, words can and do hurt, often for a lifetime. However, Paul is telling the Romans, “If you are one of those who have been called according to His purpose, Jesus life, death, resurrection, and ascension offers hope for life after death through Him becoming “sin”–all of the world’s sin–and the sacrifice of His life in place of ours. All who hear His calling, obey His commands, and continue in His Light have this “hope,” and those who abide in His Way can be assured of eternal life with Him and God the Father.
When we mess up, if we have heard and obeyed the requirements He sets forth in the New Testament, Christ and the Spirit make intercession for us with God the Father. Christ determines who is abiding Him and who is not. If I abide in His Way unto death, I not only have the hope of that gift, He assures me I will receive that gift, and I will be in heaven after I die. If I know I am abiding in Him, I no longer have to hope for eternal life, I can know I will receive it–I can “see” it.
I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I am a sinner. Because of my sin, I deserve eternal damnation, not eternal life with God and Christ. When I sin, I have the assurance, as God’s child, Christ will make intercession and insure that sin is wiped from my slate IF I repent of that sin and go back to living the way He has instructed. He also has assured me–as Paul states in Romans 8:28–I can know that whatever happens to me in “this life,” it all works together for my good.
Each trial and tribulation we endure–and remain in Him as we endure–works with all other events in my life for my good. If I learn from my mistakes, I can also learn from the mistakes of others. I can ask (pray) for guidance when I do not know what I should do in a specific situation. He will guide me to the answer in some way. I may read the answer in something I come across. I may hear someone talking and “say” the answer even though that person is talking to someone else. I can even “know” His will by the fact that I have no choice as to what I do. Someone or some statute tells me what I “must” do. Even when what I am doing appears to be sin to others, if I learn from it and address it through prayer, He makes intercession for me. If the prophets of old were hindered from attending tabernacle by being cast into a dungeon–or by some other means–it was not held against them when they addressed it through prayer to God.
Again, whatever life throws at us, we can know it will work to our ultimate good if we abide in the way Christ set forth. No one else can do it for me, and no one else can offer me forgiveness for my sin unless that sin involved that person in some way. We can rest in peace with the assurance that everything we experience and endure will work together for our good. This is faith in His promise. He said it–albeit through His apostle–but He said it; so, it is true.
God knew before we were ever birthed on this earth, what our response would be to His calling. He is omnipotent. He was, and is, and always will be. His Son is basically His apology to mankind for not having a plan for “all” to be forgiven and live eternally with Him in heaven.
I, personally, appreciate His sacrifice. What more can one do to let another know he/she loves that person? God’s Son died on the cross for MY SIN– not His sin–MINE! How can I ever justify not abiding in His Way? How can I ever “not” want to spend eternity with God and Jesus Christ?
If you heed Christ’s calling and obey the instructions He set forth, you too can be assured of your home in heaven. So, whatever happens here on earth–know there is a purpose for it in God’s great plan for things. Know, that everything will work together for your good, too–if you heed and abide in His Way!
In the book, Acts of the Apostles, chapter 10, verses one through five tell of Cornelius, an Italian centurion. He and his whole house were good people; they gave alms and prayed for guidance. Their faith and Christ-like actions came to God’s attention. As a result, God maneuvered events in Cornelius’ life so he and his house could know what they must do to be a part of Christ’s church and abide in heaven forever. Thus, Cornelius and his whole house immediately became Christians–in the middle of the night–and they became the first “Gentiles” to be added to Christ’s church.
Prior to this time, God’s plan of salvation had only been available to those of the Jewish nation. If a Gentile wanted to be the recipient of that salvation, he/she had to first become a part of the Jewish nation. Then they could be offered God’s plan. Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, and ascension changed this. He freely “gave” so that we might “freely live.”
So, if a person iis truly searching for answers, as we see in the example of Cornelius and his household, God will guide that person to the answers, or He will guide others to that person to provide those answers. Then, the choice lies with that person. He/She has the choice to obey or to reject Christ’s teachings. So, the choice that person makes determines their eternal destiny.
I pray that all will want to live with God and Christ in heaven throughout eternity. However, His Word tells me this will not be the case. Many will not believe or obey Christ’s teachings. Even so, I continue to pray all will obey Him.
My hope and prayer is that each of you will have a peaceful and blessed day amid all the turmoil in the world about you. Be Blessed and Stay Safe!
I Corinthians 13:13: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
The word “charity,” in the New King James Version (NKJV), is translated “love.” Thus, in this passage written by Paul to the Corinthians, the two words might be used interchangeably. Apparently, there were many issues concerning the Christians at Corinth. In chapter 13, Paul addresses the need for love to abound. He notes a number of achievements to be worked toward as Christians in Christ’s church; then he cautions that without “charity” or “love” none of these is worth anything in Christ’s church. Though one may attain a high level of honor, without love, that person is nothing in God’s eyes.
How often do we, today, teach the importance of “charity” or “love?” Love, or charity, should be a frequent topic of our Bible lessons. It takes extensive study on the topic to exhibit the love Christ had, and has, for His church.
Love is one character trait deserving of frequent address. Too often we “go through the motions” but they mean nothing to us. Verse 2 says:
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing”–I Corinthians 13:2–NKJV.
Though it is possible to have faith enough to accomplish any feat—with God’s help–if I have not ”charity” or “love,” faith profits me nothing.
Faith, hope, and love are the three most essential characteristics of a Christian. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17–NKJV). “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1—NKJV) Faith is instilled by hearing, reading, and learning the word of God. It is important to follow hearing with study in order to learn the true meaning of the scripture presented. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15–KJV). When we hear the Word, that hearing must be followed by our own private study to ensure we understand what is being said, when it was said, to whom, and about what. Thus, we learn the true meaning of the scripture uttered in our hearing.
The more we study God’s Word, the more it impresses upon us the need for love in our own character. Jesus said:
43 — “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy,”
44 – “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you;”
45 – “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
46 – “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?”
47 – “And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?”
The more we try to emulate Christ, the more love we will extend love to others. It is a tall order to “love our enemies and do good to them.” This tells us, if we have not love we are not emulating Christ—we are but pretenders. This pretense means nothing to God and will not ensure entry into heaven. We must grow as Christians if we are to hold the love for others that Jesus requires.
A new Christian has learned to love him-/herself enough to want to spend eternity with God and Christ. A mature Christian has grown in the emulation of Christ so that love is evident. Christ laid down His life to save us. How many of us would do the same?