Pause for Conscience to Speak

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” (Matthew 27:3-4)

A pastor once pointed out his belief that Judas, believing the Christ was coming to deliver Israel from Roman rule and set up His eternal Kingdom on earth, potentially believed betraying Him would force His hand to finally move, bringing his expectation to pass. False understanding, false assumptions, false hopes often lead us to go against the better judgment of conscience. Those who benefit by that to gain their desire can care less when our conscience kicks in and we suffer a type of buyers remorse.

Conscience has a purpose that protects us from bad decisions. Listen to it early, so grief of sin is avoided.

Soaking in God’s Word

I have started a new journey, just absolutely soaking in God’s Word. Through the years, I’ve taken a book and focused on it for a month from time to time. This is the first time I have sensed I am to do this through each book of at least the New Testament of scripture. Doing so the way I am sensing God’s leading to do will take several years to complete and will truly allow me to soak up God’s word. I believe doing so will greatly benefit me.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Matthew and will finish it up the 31st. I’ll have read through and listened to it 10 to 12 times by month’s end, using several versions of scripture. It is taking me to greater depths of understanding and setting it securely in my heart and mind, which is my main goal as my aging brain does not memorize and retain as well as in younger years. I’ll skip to Acts starting February 1, kind of following my usual reading plan:

  • #1 Gospel, Acts-Revelation
  • #2 Gospel, Acts-Revelation
  • # 3 Gospel, Acts-Revelation
  • # 4 Gospel, Acts-Revelation
  • # 1 Gospel, Acts-Revelation
  • Genesis-Revelation

For this I will probably rotate, focusing on several letters, then do another gospel. I know I am to at least do the New Testament this way. Then we will see what the Lord leads to as I start Genesis through Revelations.

Whatever plan you use, I pray you get into God’s word daily, and feast on Him. Seek Holy Spirit to open the Word to you and you to it. Then begin. Trust in the Lord, and do the good He shows you.

“But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. [Deut. 8:3.]” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

To Greater Depths

Read Matthew 25:31-46

One purpose in Jesus coming in the form of a man was to clarify the deeper understanding of the intent of God’s Word. This passage in Matthew 25, is one of those greater depth teachings. To get there, we must look at the sermon on the mount. There we find several greater depth teachings in Matthew 5.

For example, in verses 21-26, Jesus reminds us we are not to commit murder. Then He points out that, when we tear a person down to the point that they loose all confidence, feel hopeless and helpless, and become dispirited, we have murdered them already.

In verses 27-30, He reminds us that we are not to commit adultery. Then He broadens that to stress that just looking at anyone other than our mate, with lust for them, is to commit adultery in our hearts. This kills the theory that, “It doesn’t hurt to look.” It does. Sin starts in the heart, then issues forth into words, deeds, and actions. “For from the heart flows the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23 KJV; Matthew 12:33-37; 15:17-20).

On He goes, covering divorce, the “eye for an eye” subject, and more, ending chapter 5 with the greater depths of love, that extends even to those who are our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48 NASB).

Then, in chapter 7, Jesus commands us: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NASB). That leads us to our passage today, in Which Jesus tells those, who did well in their treatment of others, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40 NASB).

In my focus on the Gospel of Matthew throughout the month of January, those Words of King Jesus speaking to His sheep, shouted to me the greater depth of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (KJV). It says to me that I am to treat others as if they are Jesus in flesh. To do so, I must remember, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). So to treat others as Christ in my flesh wants to be treated, I must take every thought captive to make thought and desire obey God in Christlikeness. Only then can l, in Christlikeness, hope to receive Christlike treatment in return.

“… We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ …” (‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:3-7‬ ‭NASB)

My Great Pleasure

“For it (end days as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven) is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.” Matthew 25:14-15 NASB

Everything we have is a gift from God intended for our use in honoring Him and bringing increase to His Kingdom. Our very life is at the privilege of the King of kings, and honoring Him in it is our first responsibility and priority. Our hearts must constantly acknowledge in the use of all God gives, “I serve at the pleasure of The King. It is my great pleasure to do so, and to do it well.”

From our gifts, talents, abilities, and skills, to the jobs and opportunities they open to us; from moneys earned to the way those funds are used and applied to life; everything we possess is there at God’s gifting. Life, breath, and all things, including strength to move, work, and earn wages, come from Him for our use in glorifying Him. And all it’s use requires wisdom to honor God in and through it, thus serving Him well, according to all that pleases Him.

Even relationships we have are gifts from God to grow and mature us and give us opportunity to influence others for His purposes and Kingdom prosperity. Relationships also give us a place to invest God’s fruit of righteousness in the dispensing of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Which brings us to “time”. Time is a gift from God. Will we use it well, or waste it on our way? We must realize that our first priority with time is to seek God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. We cannot know how to use His good gifts as pleases Him, until we know Him, personally and in ever growing depth of understanding. Every breath, every action, every word is spent in time, accomplishing the goal of knowing and rightly representing God. Time: to seek first His righteousness and His Kingdom.

We are first and foremost children of God, called to know Him, and citizens of His Kingdom, required to serve and obey Him. The question is, will we realize His supply and be found faithful in our investments? As we major on this pursuit, even in the minor things of life, we press toward the prize of the ultimate reward, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Read Matthew 25:14-30 AMPC

I’m Here to Stand

Here is what I have learned in my search for where I am to be in these days. We are in a war. Freedom of speech, the Christian faith, righteousness and truth (and then some) are all under attack. It does not matter where we are online or off, war is there and we must choose who we are, what we believe, and who/what we stand for in life.

The only true One I see to follow in this mess is Jesus. He is the only One who sees all; the only One that knows what’s going on and coming down; and He is the only One who will bring us to a glorious destiny. We must watch for where the lines align with Scriptural truth and stand firm there. We must speak and walk that truth, for one thing we do know: Jesus is coming and He, who knows each heart, will separate the wheat from the chaff – the sheep from the goats. The question is, where will I be standing when He comes: with Him or against Him?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

— Ephesians 6:10-13

Be Loosed

“… Flesh and blood [men] have not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven. … I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven. …” Matthew 16:17-20 AMPC

As our Father teaches us of Himself, making us to know what is lawful and unlawful, granting us discernment of good and evil, He hands to us the keys to bind and loose.

When we know the Father, disclosed to us through Jesus Christ in His Holy Presence response to our loving obedience, we learn what is good and proper in His eyes. The Kingdom then comes to live in and through us: righteousness, heart peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17, AMPC). As we grow our understanding of God and His Kingdom, we gain His voice to speak Kingdom purpose into the earth, and lock out that which stands against God’s will and way.

It is vital that we seek God wholeheartedly, seeking after His Kingdom and His righteousness, growing to feast on the meat of His word. Only as we mature in Christlikeness can we grasp the needed keys, and proclaim with power, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

The Christlike Response

“Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him. And He said to them,

“What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other.” Matthew‬ ‭12:9-13‬ ‭NASB

Jesus practiced great wisdom in His responses to people, especially to those He knew were conniving. As I read this in light of current events, it seems to me that we can learn a lot to help situations in our day. Jesus seldom gave a straight answer. He seemed always to respond in a way to promote thought and make a clear point.

In this passage is one such occurrence that I pray to remember when faced with some of the controversies of our day. Here Jesus responds by first pointing out a common, acceptable practice that reveals the hypocrisy behind the question posed.

As people of God in Christ Jesus, we are called and equipped to be His ambassadors, lights on a hill that help people see the way, the truth, and the life. We learn best how to be good in our roles by paying attention to the example set by Jesus, the Christ. May we have eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind to know, a heart to understand, and a willing – teachable spirit of obedience. And may Wisdom be in our mouths.

Humility’s Righteousness

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 6:1-6

This passage of scripture is talking heart motives of a showoff-y pride and arrogance. It doesn’t say our righteousness being noticeable is sin. We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. The fruit of His visible righteousness in us is our light to the world. They should see us as sincerely different from others. They should know that when they come to us, they will find a Christ-in-us response of love and care.

Two specifics covered by Jesus here is in our practice of giving and praying. The Pharisees and Sadducees were hypocritical and obnoxious in both giving and praying, desiring the praise and admiration of men. And yet, there giving was truly nothing compared to their ability to give (Mark12:41-44). Wealth was seen as a sign of being in right standing with God, so they sure weren’t going to give more than was comfortable. They truly gave very little of their great resources. It is an easy practice to fall into. And their praying, Jesus implies, was truly to themselves, not to God (Luke18:9-14, NASB).

Our giving must not be so we are honored by men, but is humbly done as a service to God, seeking Him for the amount and trusting, though the giving hurts our bottom line, He will meet our every need. And I can bear testimony that He always meets our true need. Our giving, especially toward the need of others, should go above and beyond, even to our own hurt. Though someone may see our giving, they also see how quietly it is done. The old woman Jesus pointed to was visible to all putting her meager two cents in. Only God, and those Jesus pointed her to as lesson, knew it was all she had to live on.

When we pray, my understanding of our inner room is that it is a place within our essence where only God matters. It is a place where I meet alone with God. Even when asked to pray aloud, all around disappear from conscious view as I enter my place with God. It cannot be stolen from me, nor closed off to me by any created being. It is my personal, secret hiding place with God my Father and King.

It doesn’t matter who hears, for I’m not aware of their hearing, nor am I concerned for their opinion. We see this in Jesus, who was heard crying out His Garden prayer, and from whom we have the prayer of John 17 to read and agree with.

In praying, my only concern should be to seek God’s face and touch the hem of His garment for the need at hand. And those who hear are drawn into their inner room through prayers of agreement, even adding to my prayer through their inner thoughts.

People learn how to give and how to pray, and how to walk the righteousness of God in Christ out into the world, by the examples they hear and see. May we be found faithful in the humble practice of our righteousness.

BLESSed Are the Humble

“Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” Matthew‬ ‭5:3‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

To be truly humble is to rate oneself as insignificant, knowing that God’s need of me, His plan and design for my life is by His choice, not by my right. It is to realize that I can do nothing apart from God, yet I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. It is to recognize Him as my first, most vital, need and necessity, knowing that He is my unending supply, going far above anything I can ask, think, or imagine. His power is made perfect in my weakness, making God, alone, my boast.

Night Watch

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and (if) My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

I spent three hours crying out to God in the night: three hours seeking Him to hear my prayers, forgive my sin, and heal my land. In those three hours God made me increasingly aware of the repentance needed. Here it is:

God is God alone, there is no other. Do you believe this truth? Repentance acknowledges His sovereign, His Lordship, and my extreme need of Him. I can do nothing apart from Him. He is my first, most vital need and necessity. Because of Him, in reliance upon Him, I can proclaim, “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” All the remainder of Psalm 23 is mine only when my life stands in agreement with Psalm 23, verse 1. The Lord, my Shepherd, meets my every need. Anything short of honoring His Lordship over me-mine is sin. Bow down.

It’s the same in my Lord’s Model Prayer. Matthew 6:9-10 says, “Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” As we bow ourselves to these truths, honoring Him as Father God, our only God, being above all, in all, and over all, worthy of honor and glory; and as we, in honor of His great Name, desire His will over our own wills, all the rest of that model prayer is ours to possess, for the remainder of that prayer guide is His will – His righteous provision for us, the sheep of His pasture. Bow down to His sovereignty. Bow to His will done His way, even and especially when we don’t understand it. (Matthew 26:39-41)

Repentance begins by acknowledging the Lordship of God alone as my God and Shepherd, recognizing my dire need of Him.

Father God, being God, my Lord, I can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5), not even to truly and fully repent. In my typical attempt at repentance, I look at what I do and don’t do from my limited understanding of God’s Word and will, and I believe in acknowledging and deciding to turn from those things that I have successfully confessed as sin. But that only scratches the surface of the cup that is me. True and full repentance comes from the positive of what I know and acknowledge about God. What I believe true of God, am I living that out in life’s situations? Am I trusting Him because I believe? Here is what God led me to and revealed to me in those three hours of crying out.

My greatest good is as filthy rags before our Holy God (Isaiah 64:6). I cannot begin to be good, for only God is good. I cannot possess good apart from Him. Even Jesus, the perfect Lamb that takes away the sin of the world, in the days of His flesh, told those who addressed Him as good teacher from our fleshly understanding of goodness, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

Only God is good. Any true good in me comes as a gift from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting of shadow (James 1:17-18). In repentance, I must acknowledge and accept that I possess no good apart from Him. That knocks a lot of stilts out from under me, forcing me to seat myself fully on the solid Rock of God’s grace – His merciful grace to me.

God looks for the righteous lot. He addresses many promises to those who are righteous. But I am unable to be truly righteous apart from Him. God’s Word tells me that one of His good gifts to me is the fact that He makes me the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. He is my righteousness. Repentance comes to Him fully surrendered to that Righteousness. Claiming any good, any righteousness apart from Him, that is sin. Bow down.

By the same right, when we seek Him truly trusting and surrendered to that righteousness gifted to us in Christ, living in and walking that righteous fruit out into our days, we can know His promise is ours. Watch for it. (Romans 3:21-26, Philippians 3:7-11)

We, who belong to God through Christ Jesus, are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” God empowers us to walk in this truth. Are we fulfilling this purpose? Bow down; “for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

“Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”” Bow Down. Only from a humbled heart toward Him can we draw near to the throne of His grace.

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:5-10)

We draw near to God as we submit ourselves to all we know and believe true of Him, His ways, and His will. That submission automatically puts us in resistance to the devil, where, in the voice and authority of Christ, we can say, “Leave me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” (Matthew 4:10)

Draw near to God today, through the veil of our Savior, and intercede with Him in the authority given those fully surrendered to God’s will done God’s way. Draw near trusting He will hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and heal our land.

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near WITH A SINCERE HEART IN FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:19-25)