Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Our thoughts are what determine our success. It is our thoughts which determine our behaviors, but more than that, it is our thoughts which determine how we feel, and our values.
Beyond the natural, it is also in the realm of our thoughts in which our faith is founded. We have faith in God’s Word. Faith in His promise to heal. And, it is in keeping the realm of our thoughts rooted and grounded in God’s Word that we are able to keep our hearts from doubting what He has told us. So important are our thoughts that they are, indeed, the realm of our salvation, as it is written, if we confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Romanbs 10:9). Our thoughts are what make our lives.
green apple with the red one standing out from the crowd – over a white background with reflection
Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.
Probably no topic is more fraught with ‘divisiveness’ than the subject of ‘separation’. The idea of being separate from another has with it the connotation of doing something better, or, by many people’s estimation, ‘being better’, than someone else. But, that simply is what it is.
Paul pointed this out himself, even while explaining that we should be unified. He said,
For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.
1 Corinthians 11:19
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Desire is the key to self-discipline. If you want something, you are motivated to obtain it.
Consider the promises.
God will always guide you. He will meet all your needs, even when in dry places. You will never be in darkness–even in your darkest moments, it will be like noon day. You will be well-watered, prospering in everything. And, you will restore the things that had gone before, that have fallen, and been destroyed. That which was from generations past, you will rebuild.
If that is the promise, what is God requiring? The removal of the yoke. The removal of the pointing of the finger. An end to bad speech. And, instead, to assist those who are oppressed, and to spend yourself on behalf of the hungry. If this is the requirement for that, shouldn’t we be devoted to it?
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For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:11
As Peter wrote, we have become partakers of God’s divine nature through His precious and magnificent promises (2 Peter 1:4). Now, we are His children, and as His children, we have the right to become ‘like God’, in the degree that He makes available.
Paul makes it clear that we are growing. We do not begin in perfect faith, but we grow in faith, and mature, both individually and corporately, until we reach maturity. This implies change, and this implies growth. It is enough to be like Him.
[U]ntil we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
2 Corinthians 3:7-11
Jesus said that the teacher of the law who was instructed in the ways of the Kingdom, that is, of the Spirit, would be like one who brought out of his storehouses old treasures as well as new (Matthew13:52). So too, today, the most important thing is to understand the life in the Spirit, but now like then, we can bring forth many more great treasures through the history of God’s litany.
The Gospel of John begins by drawing a contrast between the Law and Grace by saying this,
For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
Yet, from the rest of the New Testament, we know that God still has a purpose and a desire for the Law, when understood in the proper spirit. In fact, Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus says clearly that whoever breaks and teaches others to break the least commandment of the Law of Moses will be the least in the Kingdom of God.
Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.
When you study the Law, you see an ox was not to be muzzled while working. Paul said this was not written for the ox, but for men. He said the reason for this law was called HOPE. A man ought not be so bound with profit in his mind that he muzzles his ox while plowing. When man is in a right spirit, he is generous even to beast. But this applies to us today. As we live by His Spirit, we should find ourselves generous as well, giving, and not working out of desperation, but from hope. If not, there is something bound in our hearts that Jesus would like removed so His Spirit can flow free. In the same way, all the Law of Moses points to the upright heart for God to dwell. You can’t follow it and get there, but just like the ox, you can see a picture of where how the Spirit wants to be, and, perhaps, follow. Read more…
And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.
Jesus gives a two-fold warning, to beware of two types of teaching. While many have speculated as to what these are, Jesus says plainly what the leaven, or yeast, of the Pharisees is.
Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
Luke 12:1 (portion)
This warning is like a warning to watch out for the “ditch on either side of the road”. We have clearly identified the one error (which is an error in teaching or doctrine), which is hypocrisy. This religious error stems from pride. The Pharisees claimed to keep the law, to be righteous legalists, but as the encounter with the woman caught in adultery proved (John 8:1-11), none of them truly were. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23. In claiming to be righteous, even though each one of them knew themselves not to be, they were “actors” (the real meaning of hypocrite). While pretending to be righteous, they were each one of them filled with “dead men’s bones” (Matthew 23:27), just as we all are without Christ.
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Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
As Truth is a person, so is The Way. As surely as any understanding of who He was and what He taught could be expressed, it cannot be understood outside of the person of Who He Is, What He Did and Why He Did It. The Path of Life therefore, as it were, is following Jesus. For the original twelve apostles, this was through both observing who Him directly, as well as by hearing Him teach. Today, while we do not see exactly how He lived the words He preached, we have His Spirit within us to guide us into all truth.
But, most assuredly, His Words are to be obeyed. None of His Words can be fully embraced without the provision of His Spirit, but through Him, and His enabling power, we are able to overcome through faith.
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Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2 Corinthians 7:1
You see, it is, at least in part, up to us, how we will walk this Christian walk. Verse after verse, command after command, the writers of the New Testament, in the shadow of the cross, call, exhort, and train us to live godly, after our example and High Priest of the faith, Jesus Christ.
Not one moment may we forget that it is the pure in heart that shall see God. Nor, let us falter into the way of unbelief and die in the wilderness. But, in the same way, let us not make this journey of our own effort, or of the devices of the flesh, but by the power of the Spirit, we do put to death the misdeeds of the flesh, and so live unto God!
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