CHRISTIAN LIFE and WORSHIP
Faith, False Christian teaching, false prophets, cults, Family responsibilities, Fasting, Favouritism, Fear, Food, Fooling ourselves, Forgiveness, Freedom as Christians, Fulfilment as a Christian, the Future, Generosity, God - finding Him, God - His promises, Godlessness, God provides all our needs, God's ways are not ours, Gossip, Government, Greed, Grumbling ....
"Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see." (Hebrews 11:1)
Matthew 17:20b - "I (Jesus) assure you that if you have as much faith as a grain of mustard-seed you can say to this hill, 'Up you get and move over there!' and it will move - you will find nothing is impossible."
Matthew 21:21 - "Believe me," replied Jesus (to the apostles, referring to the fig-tree that withered away), "if you have faith and have no doubts in your heart, you .... should say to this hill, 'Get up and throw yourself into the sea', it will happen!"
Mark 9:23-24 - "If you can do anything!" retorted Jesus (when asked if he could heal the boy with epilepsy). "Everything is possible to the man who believes." "I do believe," the boy's father burst out. "Help me to believe more!"
Luke 17:5-6 - ... the apostles said to the Lord (Jesus), "Give us more faith." And he replied, "If your faith were as big as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this fig-tree, 'Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea', and it would do what you said!"
John 20:24-29 - ... one of the twelve, Thomas (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came (after his resurrection). The other disciples kept on telling him, "We have seen the Lord", but he replied, "Unless I see in his own hands the mark of the nails, and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe!" Just over a week later, the disciples were indoors again and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood in the middle of them and said, "Peace be with you!"
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your fingers here - look, here are my hands. Take my hand and put it in my side. You must not doubt, but believe." "My Lord and my God!" cried Thomas. "Is it because you have seen me that you believe?" Jesus said to him. "Happy are those who have never seen me and yet have believed!"
Colossians 2:6-7 - Just as you (the Christians of Colossae) received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him - in simple faith. Grow out of him as a plant grows out of the soil it is planted in, becoming more and more sure of the faith as you were taught it, and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness.
Faith - continued
Hebrews 11:6b - The man who approaches God must have faith in two things, first that God exists and secondly that it is worth a man's while to try to find God.
Hebrews 11:8-10 - It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the summons to go out to a place (travelling from Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia to Canaan or Palestine) which he would eventually possess, and he set out in complete ignorance of his destination. It was faith that kept him journeying like a foreigner through the land of promise, with no more home than the tents he shared with Isaac and Jacob (his son and grandson), co-heirs with him of the promise. For Abraham's eyes were looking forward to that city with solid foundations of which God himself is both architect and builder.
James 2:14-26 - ... what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he "has faith" if his actions do not correspond with it? Could that sort of faith save anyone's soul? If a fellow man or woman has no clothes to wear and nothing to eat, and one of you say, "Good luck to you I hope you'll keep warm and find enough to eat", and yet give them nothing to meet their physical needs, what on earth is the good of that? Yet that is exactly what a bare faith without a corresponding life is like - useless and dead. If we only "have faith" a man could easily challenge us by saying, "you say that you have faith and I have merely good actions. Well, all you can do is to show me a faith without corresponding actions, but I can show you by my actions that I have faith as well."
To the man who thinks that faith by itself is enough I feel inclined to say, "So you believe that there is one God? That's fine. So do all the devils in hell and shudder in terror!" For, my dear short-sighted man, can't you see far enough to realise that faith without the right actions is dead and useless? Think of Abraham, our ancestor. Wasn't it his action which really justified him in God's sight when his faith led him to offer his son Isaac on the altar? Can't you see that his faith and his actions were, so to speak, partners - that his faith was implemented by his deed? That is what the scripture means when it say: 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness'. And he was called the friend of God
A man is justified before God by what he does as well as by what he believes. Rahab, who was a prostitute and a foreigner, has been quoted as an example of faith, yet surely it was her action that pleased God, when she welcomed Joshua's reconnoitring party and got them safely back by a different route.
Yes, faith without action is as dead as a body without a soul.
FALSE CHRISTIAN TEACHING, FALSE PROPHETS, CULTS
Matthew 7:15-20 - "Be on your guard against false religious teachers, who come to you dressed up as sheep but are really greedy wolves. You can tell them by their fruit. Do you pick a bunch of grapes from a thorn-bush or figs from a clump of thistles? Every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree is incapable of producing bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. The tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and burnt. So you may know men by their fruit."
Matthew 15:14 - "Let them (the Pharisees) alone. They are blind guides, and when one blind man leads another blind man they will both end up in the ditch!"
Matthew 24:4-5,23-26 - "Be careful that no one misleads you," returned Jesus (to the disciples when asked about the signs of the end-times), "for many men will come in my name saying 'I am Christ', and they will mislead many. .... (Verse 23 ....) "If anyone says to you then, 'Look, here is Christ!' or 'There he is!' don't believe it. False christs and false prophets are going to appear and will produce great signs and wonders to mislead, if it were possible, even God's own people. Listen, I am warning you. So that if people say to you, 'There he is, in the desert!' you are not to go out there. If they say, 'Here he is, in this inner room!' don't believe it.
Romans 16:17-18 - .... I (Paul) implore you, my brother, to keep a watchful eye on those who cause trouble and make difficulties among you, in plain opposition to the teaching you have been given, and steer clear of them. Such men do not really serve our Lord Jesus Christ at all but are utterly self-centred. Yet with their plausible and attractive arguments they deceive those who are too simple-hearted to see through them.
2 Corinthians 11:3-4 - I (Paul) am afraid that your minds may be seduced from a single-hearted devotion to him (Jesus) by the same subtle means that the serpent used towards Eve. For apparently you cheerfully accept a man who comes to you preaching a different Jesus from the one we told you about, and you readily receive a spirit and a Gospel quite different from the ones you originally accepted.
Galatians 4:17-18 - Oh, I know how keen these men (false teachers) are to win you over, but can't you see that is for their own ends? They would like to see you and me separated altogether, and have you all to themselves. Don't think I'm jealous - it is a grand thing that men should be keen to win you, whether I'm there or not, provided it is for the truth.
False Christian teaching, false prophets, cults - continued
Colossians 2:4,8 - I (Paul) write this to prevent you from being led astray by someone or other's attractive arguments. .... (Verse 8 ....) Be careful that nobody spoils your faith through intellectualism or high-sounding nonsense. Such stuff is at best founded on men's ideas of the nature of the world and disregards Christ!
Colossians 2:18-19a - Nor let any man cheat you of your joy in Christ by persuading you to make yourselves "humble" and fall down and worship angels. Such a man, inflated by an unspiritual imagination, is pushing his way into matters he knows nothing about, and in his cleverness forgetting his head.
1 Timothy 6:3-5 - ... if anyone tries to teach some doctrinal novelty which is not compatible with sound teaching (which we base on Christ's own words and which leads to Christ-like living), then he is a conceited idiot! His mind is a morbid jumble of disputation and argument, things which lead to nothing but jealousy, quarrelling, insults and malicious innuendoes - continual wrangling, in fact, among men of warped minds who have lost their real hold on the truth but hope to make some profit out of the Christian religion.
2 Timothy 2:16-17a - ... steer clear of these unchristian babblings, which in practice lead further and further away from Christian living. False teachings are as dangerous as blood-poisoning to the body, and spread like sepsis from a wound.
2 Timothy 3:6-9 - From their number (men claiming to be religious, but whose behaviour is non-Christian) come those creatures who worm their way into people's houses, and find easy prey in silly women with an exaggerated sense of sin and morbid cravings - who are always learning and yet never able to grasp the truth. These men are as much enemies to the truth as Jannes and Jambres (in Jewish tradition, the names of Pharaoh's magicians who opposed Moses before the Exodus) were to Moses. Their minds are distorted, and they are traitors to the faith. But in the long run they won't get far. Their folly will become as obvious to everybody as did that of Moses' opponents.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 - .... the time is coming when men will not tolerate wholesome teaching. They will want something to tickle their own fancies, and they will collect teachers who will pander to their own desires. They will no longer listen to the truth, but will wander off after man-made fictions.
Hebrews 13:9 - Do not be swept off your feet by various peculiar teachings. Spiritual stability depends on the grace of God, and not on rules of diet - which after all have not spiritually benefited those who have made a speciality of that kind of thing.
1 John 4:1-3 - Don't trust every spirit, dear friends of mine, but test them to discover whether they come from God or not. For the world is full of false prophets. You can test them in this simple way: every spirit that acknowledges the fact that Jesus Christ actually became man, comes from God, but the spirit which denies this fact does not come from God. The latter comes from the anti-christ (the "lawless man" or "man of sin" under the control of Satan), which you were warned would come and which is already in the world.
Matthew 15:3-7a - "Tell me," replied Jesus (to the Pharisee and scribes), "why do you break God's commandment through your tradition? For God said, 'Honour your father and your mother', and 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death'. But you say that if a man tells his parents, 'Whatever use I might have been to you is now given to God', then he owes no further duty to his parents. And so your tradition empties the commandment of God of all its meaning. You hypocrites!"
1 Timothy 5:3-4,7-8,16 - You should treat with great consideration widows who are really alone in the world. But remember that if a widow has children or grandchildren it is primarily their duty to show the genuineness of their religion in their own homes by repaying their parents for what has been done for them, and God readily accepts such service. ..... (Verse 7 ....) You should therefore make the following rules for the widows to avoid abuses:
You should make it clear that for a man to refuse to look after his own relations, especially those actually living in his house, is a denial of the faith he professes. He is far worse than a man who makes no profession. ..... (Verse 16 ....) As a general rule it should be taken for granted that any Christian, man or woman, who has a widow in the family should do everything possible for her, and not allow her to become the church's responsibility. The church will then be free to look after those widows who are alone in the world.
Matthew 6:16-18 - "... when you fast, don't look like those miserable play-actors! For they deliberately disfigure their faces so that people may see that they are fasting. Believe me, they have had all their reward. No, when you fast, brush your hair and wash your face so that nobody knows that you are fasting - let it be a secret between you and your Father. And your Father who knows all secrets will reward you.
Acts 13:2-3 - While they (Saul or Paul, and other disciples in Syrian Antioch) were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke to them, saying, "Set Barnabas and Saul apart for me for a task to which I have called them." At this, after further fasting and prayer, they laid their hands on them and set them free for this work (Paul's First Missionary Journey).
Romans 14:6b - The man who fasts .... does it "to God", for he thanks God for the benefits of fasting.
1 Timothy 5:21 - Timothy, I (Paul) solemnly charge you in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the holy angels to follow these orders (on looking after the members of the church) with the strictest impartiality and to have no favourites.
Matthew 10:28 - "Never be afraid of those (fellow men or women) who can kill the body but are powerless to kill the soul! Far better to stand in awe of the one (the devil) who has the power to destroy body and soul in the fires of destruction!"
1 John 4:18 - Love contains no fear - indeed fully-developed love expels every particle of fear, for fear always contain some of the torture of feeling guilty. This means that the man who lives in fear has not yet had his love perfected.
Acts 10:9b-16a - Peter (staying in Joppa) went up about mid-day on to the flat roof of the house to pray. He became very hungry and longed for something to eat. But while the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance and saw the heavens open and something like a great sheet descending upon the earth, let down by its four corners. In it were all kinds of animals, reptiles and birds. Then came a voice which said to him, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat!" But Peter said, "Never, Lord! For not once in my life have I ever eaten anything common or unclean."
Then the voice spoke to him a second time, "You must not call what God has cleansed common." This happened three times ... (the vision, although about food, reveals God's plans for the Gentiles to be baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ, starting with the centurion Cornelius and his family at Caesarea).
Romans 14:1-3,14-15,20b-21 - Welcome a man whose faith is weak, but not with the idea of arguing over his scruples. One man believes that he may eat anything, another man, without this strong conviction, is a vegetarian. The meat-eater should not despise the vegetarian, nor should the vegetarian condemn the meat-eater - they should reflect that God has accepted them both. ....
(Verse 14 ....) I am convinced, and I say this as in the presence of Christ himself, that nothing is intrinsically unholy. But none the less it is unholy to the man who thinks it is. If your habit of unrestricted diet seriously upsets your brother, you are no longer living in love towards him. And surely you wouldn't let food mean ruin to a man for whom Christ died. ..... (Verse 20b ....) I freely admit that all food is, in itself. harmless, but it can be harmful to the man who eats it with a guilty conscience. We should be willing to be both vegetarians and teetotallers if by doing otherwise we should impede a brother's progress in faith.
1 Corinthians 8:4,7-9,13 - In this matter .... of eating meat which has been offered to idols, knowledge tells us that no idol has any real existence, and that there is no God but one. .... (Yet ... verse 7 ....) this knowledge of ours is not shared by all men. For some (previously pagans), who until now have been used to idols, eat the meat as meat really sacrificed to a god, and their delicate conscience is thereby injured. Now our acceptance of God is not a matter of meat. If we eat it, that does not make us better men, nor are we the worse if we do not eat it. You must be careful that your freedom to eat meat does not in any hinder anyone whose faith is not as robust as yours. (Verse 13 ....) This makes me determined that, if there is any possibility of meat injuring my brother, I will have none of it as long as I live, for fear I might do him harm.
1 Corinthians 10:25-26 - You should eat whatever is sold in the meat-Market without asking any of the questions of an over-scrupulous conscience, for 'The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness'.
Colossians 2:16a,17 - ... don't let anyone worry you by criticising what you eat or drink, ..... (Verse 17 ...) All these things have at most only a symbolical value: the solid fact is Christ.
1 Timothy 4:3b-5 - These men (false teachers) ..... command abstinence from food - good things which, in fact, God intends to be thankfully enjoyed by those who believe in him and know the truth. Everything God made is good, and is meant to be gratefully used, not despised. The holiness or otherwise of a certain food, for instance, depends not on its nature but on whether it is eaten thankfully or not, It is consecrated by the man who has accepted the message, and thanks God for food.
1 Corinthians 3:18-19a - Let no one be under any illusion over this. If any man among you thinks himself one of the world's clever ones, let him discard his cleverness that he may learn to be truly wise. For this world's cleverness is stupidity to God.
Galatians 6:3-4 - If a man thinks he is "somebody", he is deceiving himself, for that very thought proves that he is nobody. Let every man learn to assess properly the value of his own work and he can then be glad when he has done something worth doing without dependence on the approval of others.
1 John 1:8-10 - If we refuse to admit that we are sinners, then we live in a world of illusion and truth becomes a stranger to us. But if we freely admit that we have sinned, we find God utterly reliable and straightforward - he forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil. For if we take up the attitude "we have not sinned", we flatly deny God's diagnosis of our condition and cut ourselves off from what he has to say to us.
Matthew 5:43-44 - "You have heard that it used to be said, 'You shall love your neighbour', and 'hate your enemy', but I tell you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Heavenly Father."
Matthew 6:14-15 - "... if you forgive other people their failures, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you will not forgive other people, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you your failures."
Matthew 18:21b-22 - "Master (Peter addressing Jesus), how many times can my brother wrong me and I must forgive him? Would seven times be enough?" "No," replied Jesus, "not seven times, but seventy times seven!"
Mark 11:25 - "... whenever you stand praying, you must forgive anything that you are holding against anyone else, and your Heavenly Father will forgive you your sins."
Luke 17:3b-4 - "If your brother offends you, take him to task about it, and if he is sorry, forgive him. Yes, if he wrongs you seven times in one day and turns to you and says, 'I am sorry' seven times, you must forgive him."
1 Corinthians 6:8 - .... when you go to law against your brother you yourself do him wrong, for you cheat him of Christian love and forgiveness.
Ephesians 4:32b - Be as ready to forgive others as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.
Colossians 3:12b-13 - .... be most patient and tolerant with one another, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone. Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you.
FREEDOM AS CHRISTIANS
John 8:31-36 - ... Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, "If you are faithful to what I have said, you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!" "But we are descendants of Abraham," they replied, "and we have never in our lives been any man's slaves. How can you say to us, 'You will be set free'?" Jesus returned, "Believe me when I tell you that every man who commits sin is a slave. For a slave is no permanent part of a household, but a son is. If the Son (of God), then, sets you free, you are really free!
1 Corinthians 6:12 - As a Christian I may do anything, but that does not mean that everything is good for me. I may do everything, but I must not be a slave of anything.
1 Corinthians 7:22-24 - .... a slave who is called to life in Christ is set free in the eyes of God. And a man who was free when God called him becomes a slave - to Christ himself! You have been redeemed, at tremendous cost; don't therefore sell yourselves as slaves to men! My brothers, let every one of us continue to live his life with God in the state in which he was when he was called.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24 - ..... the Christian position is this: I may do anything, but everything is not useful. Yes, I may do anything but everything is not constructive. Let no man, then, set his own advantage as his objective, but rather the good of his neighbour.
Galatians 4:31 - .... we are not to look upon ourselves as the sons of the slave woman (Hagah, who bore a son to Abraham - Genesis 16) but of the free, not sons of slavery under the Law but sons of freedom under grace.
Galatians 5:13a - It is to freedom that you have been called, my brothers. Only be careful that freedom does not become mere opportunity for your lower nature (the flesh).
Galatians 5:15 - But if freedom means merely that you are free to attack and tear each other to pieces, be careful that it doesn't mean that between you destroy your fellowship altogether!
James 1:21-25 - Have done .... with impurity and every other evil which touches the lives of others, and humbly accept the message that God has sown in your hearts, and which can save your souls. Don't I beg you, only hear the message, but put it into practice; otherwise you are merely deluding yourselves. The man who simply hears and does nothing about it is like a man catching the reflection of his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, it is true, but he goes on with whatever he was doing without the slightest recollection of what sort of person he saw in the mirror. But the man who looks into the perfect mirror of God's law, the law of liberty (or freedom), and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who sees and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness.
1 Peter 2:16 - As free men you should never use your freedom as an excuse for doing something that is wrong, for you are at all times the servants of God.
FULFILMENT AS A CHRISTIAN
Philippians 3:7-11 - ... every advantage that I (Paul) had gained I considered lost for Christ's sake. Yes, and I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For his sake I did in actual fact suffer the loss of everything, but I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ. For now my place is in him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the Law. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions! Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 4:11b-13,19 - I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of facing either poverty or plenty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me. ..... (Verse 19.....) My God will supply all that you need from his glorious resources in Jesus Christ.
Matthew 6:34 - "Don't worry at all .... about tomorrow. Tomorrow can take care of itself! One day's trouble is enough for one day."
Matthew 5:42 - "Give to the man who asks anything from you, and don't turn away from the man who wants to borrow."
2 Corinthians 8:2-4 - Somehow, in (the) most difficult circumstances, their joy (the Macedonian churches) and the fact of being down to their last penny themselves, produced a magnificent concern for other people. I (Paul) can guarantee that they were willing to give to the limit of their means, yes and beyond their means, without the slightest urging from me or anyone else. In fact they simply begged us to accept their gifts (for the church in Jerusalem) and so let them share the honours of supporting their brothers in Christ.
2 Corinthians 8:12-14a - .... the important thing is to be willing to give as much as we can - that is what God accepts, and no one is asked to give what he has not got. Of course, I don't mean that others should be relieved to an extent that leaves you in distress. It is a matter of share and share alike. At present your plenty should supply their need, and then at some future date their plenty may supply your need.
2 Corinthians 9:6-11 - .... poor sowing means a poor harvest, and generous sowing means a generous harvest. Let everyone give as his heart tells him, neither grudgingly nor under compulsion, for God loves the man who gives cheerfully. After all, God can give you everything that you need, so that you may always have sufficient both for yourselves and for giving away to other people. As the scripture says: "He has dispersed abroad, he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever."
He (God) who gives the seed to the sower and turns that seed into bread to eat, will give you the seed of generosity to sow, and, for harvest, the satisfying bread of good deeds well done. The more you are enriched by God the more scope there will be for generous giving, and your gifts, administered through us (in this case, Paul and his companions for the church in Jerusalem), will mean that many will thank God.
Hebrews 13:16 - ..... we should not forget to do good and to share our good things with others, for these too are the sort of sacrifices God will accept.
GOD - FINDING HIM
Matthew 6:33 - "Set your heart on the kingdom (of God) and his goodness, and all these things (needed for life on Earth) will come to you as a matter of course."
Matthew 7:7-8 - "Ask (of God) and it will be given to you. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you. The one who asks will always receive; the one who is searching will always find, and the door is opened to the man who knocks."
2 Timothy 2:19a - God's solid foundation still stands .... with this double inscription: 'the Lord knows those who belong to him' ....
Hebrews 11:6b - The man who approaches God must have faith in two things, first that God exists and secondly that it is worth a man's while to try to find God.
GOD - HIS PROMISES
Luke 1:37 - "For no promise of God can fail to be fulfilled (the angel Gabriel talking to Mary, the mother of Jesus)."
Luke 1:45 - "Oh, how happy is the woman who believes in God, for he does make his promises to her come true."
Romans 1:18-23 - ... the holy anger of God is disclosed from Heaven against the godlessness and evil of those men (the entire Gentile world) who render truth dumb and inoperative by their wickedness. It is not that they do not know the truth about God; indeed he has made it quite plain to them. For since the beginning of the world the invisible attributes of God, e.g. his eternal power and divinity, have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving these men without a rag of excuse. They knew all the time that there is a God, yet they refused to acknowledge him as such, or to thank him for what he is or does. Thus they became fatuous in their argumentations, and plunged their silly minds still further into the dark. Behind a facade of "wisdom" they became just fools, fools who would exchange the glory of the eternal God for an imitation image (or man-made idol) of a mortal man, or of creatures that run or fly or crawl.
GOD PROVIDES ALL OUR NEEDS
Matthew 6:25b-33 - "... don't worry about living - wondering what you are going to eat or drink, or what you are going to wear. Surely life is more important than food, and the body more important than the clothes you wear. Look at the birds in the sky. They never sow nor reap nor store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you much more valuable to him than they are? Can any of you, however much he worries, make himself an inch taller? And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the wild flowers grow. They neither work nor weave, but I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was never arrayed like one of these! Now if God so clothes the flowers of the field, which are alive today and burnt in the stove tomorrow, is he not much more likely to clothe you, you 'little-faiths'?
"So don't worry and don't keep saying, 'What shall we eat, what shall we drink or what shall we wear?! That is what pagans are always looking for; your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart on the kingdom and his goodness, and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.
Matthew 7:9-11 - "If any of you were asked by his son for bread would you be likely to give him a stone, or if he asks for a fish would you give him a snake? If you then, for all your evil, quite naturally give good things to your children, how much more likely is it that your Heavenly Father will give good things to those who ask him?"
2 Corinthians 9:8 - .... God can give you everything that you need, so that you may always have sufficient both for yourselves and for giving away to other people.
Philippians 4:19 - My God (Paul closing his letter to the Philippians) will supply all that you need from his glorious resources in Christ Jesus.
James 1:17-18 - ... every good endowment that we possess and every complete gift that we have received must come from above, from the Father of all lights (God), with whom there is never the slightest variation or shadow of inconsistency. By his own wish he made us his own sons through the Word of truth that we might be, so to speak, the first specimens of his new creation.
GOD'S WAYS ARE NOT OURS
Matthew 5:3-12a - "How happy are the humble-minded, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs!
"How happy are those who know what sorrow means for they will be given courage and comfort!
"Happy are those who claim nothing, for the whole earth will belong to them!
"Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for goodness, for they will be fully satisfied!
"Happy are the merciful, for they will have mercy shown to them!
"Happy are the utterly sincere, for they will see God!
"Happy are those who make peace, for they will be sons of God!
"Happy are those who have suffered persecution for the cause of goodness, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs!
"And what happiness will be yours when people blame you and ill-treat you and say all kinds of slanderous things against you for my sake! Be glad then, yes, be tremendously glad - for your reward in Heaven is magnificent."
Matthew 7:13-14 - "Go in by the narrow gate. For the wide gate has a broad road which leads to disaster and there are many people going that way. The narrow gate and the hard road lead out into life and only a few are finding it."
Matthew 16:22-23 - .... Peter took him (Jesus) on one side and started to remonstrate with him over this (the prediction of his death). "God bless you, Master! Nothing like this must happen to you!" Then Jesus turned round and said to Peter, "Out of my way, Satan! ... you stand right in my path, Peter, when you look at things from man's point of view and not from God's"
Luke 16:15b - ".... God knows your hearts. Remember, there are things men consider perfectly splendid which are detestable in the sight of God!"
Romans 9:18-24 - It seems plain, then, that God chooses on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will harden in their sin. Of course I can almost hear your retort: "If this is so, and God's will is irresistible, why does God blame men for what they do?" But the question really is this: "Who are you, a man, to make any such reply to God?" When a craftsman makes anything he doesn't expect it to turn round and say, 'Why did you make me like this?'
The potter, for instance, is always assumed to have complete control over the clay, making with one part of the lump a lovely vase, and with another a pipe for sewage. Can we not assume that God has the same control over human clay? May it not be that God, though he must sooner or later expose his wrath against sin and show his controlling hand, has yet most patiently endured the presence in his world of things that cry out to be destroyed? Can we not see, in this, his purpose in demonstrating the boundless resources of his glory upon those whom he considers fit to receive his mercy, and whom he long ago planned to raise to glorious life? And by these chosen people I mean you and me, whom he has called out from both Jews and Gentiles.
2 Corinthians 6:8b-10 - Called "impostors" we must be true, called "nobodies" we must be in the public eye. Never far from death, yet here we are alive, always "going through it" yet never "going under". We know sorrow, yet our joy is inextinguishable. We have "nothing to bless ourselves with" yet we bless many others with true riches. We are penniless, and yet in reality we have everything worth having.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 - .... his reply (from God to Paul about the "thorn in his flesh") has been, "My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely." Therefore, I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ. I can even enjoy weaknesses, suffering, privations, persecutions and difficulties for Christ's sake. For my very weakness makes me strong in him.
James 3:7-8 - Beasts, birds, reptiles and all kinds of sea-creatures can be, and in fact are, tamed by man, but no one can tame the human tongue. It is an evil always liable to break out, and the poison it spreads is deadly.
Matthew 22:16b-21 - "Master (the Pharisees and Herodians addressing Jesus), we know that you are an honest man who teaches the way of God faithfully and that you don't care for human approval. Now tell us - 'is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not'?" But Jesus knowing their evil intention said, "Why try this trick on me, you frauds? Show me the money you pay the tax with." They handed him a coin, and he said to them, "Whose face is this and whose name is in the inscription?" "Caesar's," they said. "Then give to Caesar," he replied, "what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God!"
Romans 13:1-7 - Every Christian ought to obey the civil authorities, for all legitimate authority is derived from God's authority, and the existing authority is appointed under God. To oppose authority then is to oppose God, and such opposition is bound to be punished.
The honest citizen has no need to fear the keepers of law and order, but the dishonest man will always be nervous of them. If you want to avoid this anxiety just lead a law-abiding life, and all that can come your way is a word of approval. The officer is God's servant for your protection. But if you are leading a wicked life you have reason to be alarmed. The "power of the law" which is vested in every legitimate officer, is no empty phrase. He is, in fact, divinely appointed to inflict God's punishment upon evil-doers.
You should, therefore, obey the authorities, not simply because it is the safest, but because it is the right thing to do. It is right, too, for you to pay taxes for the civil authorities are appointed by God for the good purposes of public order and well-being. Give everyone his legitimate due, whether it be rates, or taxes, or reverence, or respect!
Titus 3:1-2 - Remind your people (in the church) to recognise the power of those who rule and bear authority. They must obey the laws of the state and be prepared to render whatever good service they can. They are not to speak evil of any man, they must not be argumentative but gentle, showing themselves agreeable to everybody.
1 Peter 2:13-17 - Obey every man-made authority for the Lord's sake - whether it is the emperor, as the supreme ruler, or the governors whom he has appointed to punish evil-doers and reward those who do good service. It is the will of God that you may thus silence the ill-informed criticisms of the foolish. As free men you should never use your freedom as an excuse for doing something that is wrong, for you are at all times the servants of God. You should have respect for everyone, you should love our brotherhood, fear God and honour the emperor.
Luke 3:12-13 - Some of the tax-collectors ... came to him (John the Baptist) to be baptised and they asked him, "Master, what are we to do?" "You must not demand more than you are entitled to," he replied.
Luke 12:15 - ".... be on your guard against covetousness in any shape or form. For a man's real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions."
Hebrews 13:5a - Keep your lives free from the lust for money: be content with what you have.
James 4:1-3 - .... about the feuds and struggles that exist among you - where do you suppose they come from? Can't you see that they arise from conflicting passions within yourselves? You crave for something and don't get it, you are jealous and envious of what others have got and you don't possess it yourselves. Consequently in your exasperated frustration you struggle and fight with one another. You don't get what you want because you don't ask God for it. And when you do ask he doesn't give it to you, for you ask in quite the wrong spirit - you only want to satisfy your own desires.
James 5:9 - Don't make complaints against each other in the meantime my brothers (as you wait for Christ's return) - you may be the one at fault yourself. The judge himself is already at the door.
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate