Restoring Broken Relationships

PHILEMON

Relationships are a wonderful part of life. The memories of fun and laughter bring a smile to our faces. But as wonderful as relationships are, relationships are not immune to stresses and strains. Relationships can be damaged and broken. Continue reading Restoring Broken Relationships

Love Recovered

© Thomas Kinkade ~ Streams of Living Water

Out of His great love for this church that abandoned their first love, the Lord Jesus offers the solution to their problem. This is a great act of grace and reveals to us His great care and concern for His bride (cf. ). This provides us with a good lesson on how to graciously confront sin.  Consider His counsel to the Ephesian church, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (). In this verse He provides them with a three-fold strategy to recover their first love: Remember, Repent, and Return. Continue reading Love Recovered

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Love Abandoned

 

© pixel974 – Fotolia.com

Love is a very important truth taught in the Scriptures. John wrote the profound words “God is love” () and this great love of God was put on most beautiful display when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross as a substitute for His people. The Scripture says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (). What an amazing demonstration of love! Christ died for sinners because of God’s great love for us. In addition to this, to those who are His people He bestowed even more love, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” ().

Because of this great love, the children of God have entered into a new life, because they have a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is expected and commanded of God’s people that they love their Lord and His people. Continue reading Love Abandoned

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Christ Exalting Communication

Communication

Communication is a gift from God. He spoke the universe into existence (); He speaks to us through His Son (), and the Scriptures are often referred to as Word of God (eg. ). God communicates.

Communication occurs when there is an imparting or sharing of information. Communication can come in many forms like speaking, writing a letter, sending an email, tweeting, or posting on Facebook. The Lord is the greatest and only perfect example of clear and effective communication as seen in His Word. As His people, it is our duty to communicate in such a way that we glorify Him. We need to understand that by using poor communication we can not only tear people down, but we can also provide a terrible testimony. As the people of God, we ought to take communication very seriously.

In this post, I want to consider some principles on how we can have Christ exalting communication.

SPEAK THE TRUTH
Christ exalting communication must be truthful (). In contrast to lying, deceiving, manipulating and exaggerating it is the duty of God’s people to communicate truthfully (). We ought to speak the truth because God speaks the truth (). We need to remember that “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (). Christ exalting communication will be truthful communication. Let us examine our speech that it does not depart from reality. Whether our communication be in speech or writing, it must be true.

SPEAK WITH LOVE
Secondly, Christ exalting communication must be loving (). To communicate with love means to convey information in such a way that it reveals your desire for their welfare. One commentator states, “love seeks the highest good in the one loved” (Harold Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, Baker Academic, 2007, p. 565). This is not referring to a sentimental or superficial kind of “love.” Instead, this is a loyal and deliberate love without hypocrisy (). Don’t speak down to people or employ harsh tones. Communicate in such a way that you are seeking to ultimate good.

SPEAK WITH HOLINESS
The apostle Paul said to the Ephesians, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (). Communication that is Christ exalting will not neglect the principles found in Scripture regarding pure and sound speech. Corrupt, coarse, and crass speech comes in all sorts of forms. It can simply be a thoughtless or stupid approach in which someone doesn’t carefully consider what they are saying. Or it can come in the form of one using words or humour that dishonours God. Christ exalting communication does not make use of a form of speech that is marked by the things we were redeemed from (; ), but rather makes use of words that come from an individual who is a new creation with a message of hope.

Remember that communication is a gift from God. As the people of God it ought to be our desire and practice to convey Christ exalting communication. I will conclude with some observations of speech from an earlier post,

The book of Proverbs has much so say about our speech. Though we could look at many, consider three sample principles to remember: Speaking too much can lead to trouble (); gentle speech can diffuse anger whereas harsh speech can provoke anger () and think before you speak (). These principles provide practical wisdom in the use of our words.

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
but those who act faithfully are his delight.

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Ephesians 5:4

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

13 If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.

How is your Love for other Christians?

Love

The apostle John said, “Beloved, let us love one another” (a). How are you doing with that? Do you have a great love for other believers? According to this verse, it is God’s will that you love one another. In other words, if you are not committed to and caring for one another, the reality is you are going against the will of God. Have a look again at this verse, “Beloved, let us love one another“. How straightforward, the command is that you love. This is the exact same love God granted to His people. Have a look at , “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him“. John is saying that God showed this love toward us when He sent His Son into the world. How was it shown? The One true and eternal God, who consists of three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is perfectly sufficient in Himself. He had chosen to create this world, and the people He created rebelled against Him by sinning. Before the foundation of the world, God had chosen some to be saved (). But the only way in which those individuals could be saved was if the Lord Jesus Christ would come into this world and die in their place as a sacrifice for sin. This is exactly what happened. God the Father sent His only begotten Son into this world. He came into the world taking upon Himself a human nature. He was born, grew up, lived a perfect life, and was ridiculed by many. But at the end of His ministry, He was condemned to the cross. At the cross He died a death for all who would ever believe in Him. It was a horrible death. Physically, He was abused, persecuted, ridiculed. It was a humiliating experience. Worse than the physical horror, God the Father poured out His wrath toward every sin that was laid upon the Lord Jesus Christ – though He never sinned. The question is, why did the Lord Jesus Christ go through all that? Because God loves His people, He “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (). God proved His love by sending His Son Jesus Christ into this world.

So when John says, “Beloved, let us love one another“, we are to do this with the same love God showed us. Clearly, this is talking about a huge kind of commitment to each other. This is not suggesting that you go and pat someone on the back and say, “Hey! I love ya” and then you walk off and never talk to them again. It is not enough to shake someone’s hand once a week and limit that isolated act to showing love. These things are not wrong, but if you limit your acts of love to those things, that is not going to cut it. God did not save us by patting us on the back or by shaking our hands or becoming a friend on facebook. He provided a sacrifice for us in His Son.

We could never truly love to the same level as God does. But we can draw an important principle: We can show love by sacrificing for others. This means, in relationships sacrifice some of your own preferences. You may be in a conversation with someone and you both have different opinions. Do you always have to share your opinion? That is a very small sacrifice to make when compared to what God has done for us. That is only one example. I am sure you could list a lot of things that we could sacrifice in our lives because we love them. Is it time you need to sacrifice? Money? Or even sacrificing opportunities in which you speak with someone you get along with so as to speak to someone you wouldn’t normally talk too.

There are lots of ways that we can show sacrifice. Don’t lose sight of the simple command to “love one another“. This is simple yet it is hard because it demands commitment. In fact, it involves a level of commitment that shows more loyalty to those who are Christians. That doesn’t mean we are to hate or dislike unbelievers, but what it means is that you will show a particular kind of love to those who are of the household of faith. This kind of loyalty sends out a message to those who aren’t saved. Jesus said,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” ().

That is how people will know you are the people of God.

How do you look out for other believers? Are you committed to each other? Do you make sacrifices for one another? I am encouraged when I see other believers show this kind of love. When a visitor arrives for the first time at church, what a joy to see individuals make an effort to talk to them and get to know them. That is not an easy thing to do and I thank the Lord that many are showing an interest and a love for other believers. I also appreciate the way I see examples of believers showing love to each other. They support and stick up for each other. Some sacrifice many of their plans because they desire to help others out. Let us never become settled in thinking that we are OK or have arrived. Let us strive to go further and further in our love to one another.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Worldly Vision

Broken Vision

UPDATE: Just two days after the announcement, World Vision (US) have reversed their decision to hire same-sex couples. Praise be to our Lord. Important lessons can be learnt from this and the importance of maintaining strong Biblical convictions so that we are not moved by our culture.

Earlier this week, World Vision had announced that its American branch will allow same-sex couples who are legally married to be employed. World Vision has provided relief to countless people in need and is unparalleled in its size and practical aid. This organisation has been providing help to those in true need and for this we ought to be grateful.

Then why make this an issue? After all, Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision (US) states that this is a “very narrow policy change”. Stearns adds that “This is not compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of local churches and denominations on theological issues. We’re an operational arm of the global church, we’re not a theological arm of the church.” Interestingly, Stearns says that World Vision (US) “will continue to expect abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage for all staff.” Regardless of what he says, the moment you depart from the clear teaching of God’s Word you have become worldly. This organisation claims to be motived by their faith in Jesus Christ, so they must be accountable to the Word of Christ in what they say.

This sad announcement provides some important lessons for God’s people.

Firstly, regardless of what is going on around us, God’s Word must be our final authority. If the Word says it we believe it! People may say they are not capitulating, but when the world is contrary to Scripture and you go with the world, you have capitulated. The Word of God is our authority. It is our duty to live by it and declare it.

Secondly, Christians are to be a faithful witnesses of the gospel in the world. Yes, let us have world vision but not worldly vision. When it comes to the world, those who profess faith in Christ can fall into one of two extremes. There are those who become worldly and there are those who become isolated. Both are wrong. As Christians, it is our duty to be salt and light in this corrupt and dark world (). I agree with Russell Moore when he said, “World Vision is a good thing to have, unless the world is all you can see”.

Thirdly, let us not lose sight of the priority and power of the gospel. To go against what Scripture teaches on a kingdom and moral issue (cf. ) is to show a lack of true love towards those we minister to. John Piper insightfully states, “When World Vision embraces as an acceptable alternative behavior what God says will lead to eternal suffering (), it sets a trajectory of lovelessness.” Sadly, many have responded with hate speech and a harsh condemnation to homosexuals and others in sin. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ ought to recognise that homosexuality is indeed sexual sin worthy of eternal punishment, but they must show the power of the gospel in providing hope for the homosexual and all sinners. Let us not lose sight of the priority and power of the gospel “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” ().

Recommended Reading:

Pointing to Disaster – The Flawed Moral Vision of World Vision 
by Albert Mohler

World Vision: Adultery No, Homosexual Practice Yes
by John Piper

The Worldliness in World Vision’s New Hiring Policy
by Kevin DeYoung

On World Vision and the Gospel
by Russell Moore

 

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

A Portrait of the Christian Life

992872716_ec92143ef5_o

What does a Christian look like?

When the gospel has taken effect in a person’s life, their life has been transformed. The old has become new () and the dead is now living (; ). For this reason there are clear and obvious changes in the life of believer. In this post I would like to refer to them as a portrait of the Christian Life.

In the opening verses to his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul praised God for the fact that the Colossian believers were an unmistakable portrait of the Christian life,

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (a).

What does the Christian life look like? going beyond physical appearance and personal accomplishments, Paul makes mention of three essential marks of the genuine believer: faith, love and hope. These three terms are not limited to this passage, in-fact they appear to be an important triad in Paul’s letters (e.g. and ). Interestingly, the word “heard” is a present active verb indicating that Paul is constantly hearing this. That is an amazing report! Let us now consider each of these marks of the Christian life.

Faith
The first mark of the gospel life that Paul celebrates is their “faith in Christ Jesus.” The Colossians did not trust in or rely on their own achievements; instead, the object of all their trust and reliance was “in Christ Jesus.” Genuine saving faith is recognizing that we have nothing to offer God in-order to be forgiven of our sin and be saved. “Faith” is God’s appointed means in-order for us to receive salvation. “Faith” is coming to God on the grounds of grace – having nothing to offer – and trusting and adhering to Christ as Lord.

Without “faith in Christ Jesus” there is no hope of salvation, simply because Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life” (). This is what made the Colossians “faith” special – it was genuine saving faith. Paul could thank the Lord because the Colossians had “faith in Christ Jesus.” That certainly was worthy of celebration! That is the first mark of the gospel life.

Love
The second mark of the gospel life is “love…for all the saints.” Anybody who has a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ will love His people. This is not referring to a sentimental or superficial kind of “love.” Instead, this love is deliberate and committed. It is not sourced in ourselves, but like faith, it is given to us by God (). For this reason every believer is commanded to love other believers (). So then, every true believer has the capacity to love the people of God.  The Holy Spirit is the One who produces it within the life of the believer (cf. ) and because God has shown such wonderful love toward us in Christ (cf. ), this then ought to motivate us to love others.

Hope
The third mark of the believer that makes up the portrait of the gospel life is hope. Many today over-emphasize our present life. Such an over-emphasis allows for unbiblical teachings that place all of our attention on the here and now. An example of this could be prosperity theology. But an overemphasis of our present life can also be seen in people’s possessions and what they do with their time. Many are consumed with worldly pleasures. These pleasures may not be sinful in and of themselves, but they become the focus of their life. It is essential that Christians live their life in response to “the hope laid up” for them “in heaven.” This “hope” that the Colossians possessed was not wishful thinking. Instead, it refers to a confident expectation. What were they confidently expecting? According to this verse it is laid up for them in heaven. So then, what is laid up for us in heaven? In addition to experiencing all the majesty and splendour, we will be with the Lord Jesus Christ forever in eternity. But there is something greater, we will not only be with Him, but we shall be like Him (cf. ). The “hope” that marks the believer is a reference to being made like Christ, because He is our hope (cf. 1:27; ). Christlikeness is the greatest reward the believer will ever receive!

The apostle Paul thanked God for the Colossian believers because they were a portrait of the Christian life. Residing in them were the qualities: faith, love and hope. If this is a picture of you, that is worthy of celebration and praise to God.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

Christ Exalting Communication

Communication

Communication is a gift from God. He spoke the universe into existence (); He speaks to us through His Son (), and the Scriptures are often referred to as Word of God (eg. ). God communicates.

Communication occurs when there is an imparting or sharing of information. Communication can come in many forms like speaking, writing a letter, sending an email, tweeting, or posting on Facebook. The Lord is the greatest and only perfect example of clear and effective communication as seen in His Word. As His people, it is our duty to communicate in such a way that we glorify Him. We need to understand that by using poor communication we can not only tear people down, but we can also provide a terrible testimony. As the people of God, we ought to take communication very seriously.

In this post, I want to consider some principles on how we can have Christ exalting communication.

SPEAK THE TRUTH
Christ exalting communication must be truthful (). In contrast to lying, deceiving, manipulating and exaggerating it is the duty of God’s people to communicate truthfully (). We ought to speak the truth because God speaks the truth (). We need to remember that “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (). Christ exalting communication will be truthful communication. Let us examine our speech that it does not depart from reality. Whether our communication be in speech or writing, it must be true.

SPEAK WITH LOVE
Secondly, Christ exalting communication must be loving (). To communicate with love means to convey information in such a way that it reveals your desire for their welfare. One commentator states, “love seeks the highest good in the one loved” (Harold Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, Baker Academic, 2007, p. 565). This is not referring to a sentimental or superficial kind of “love.” Instead, this is a loyal and deliberate love without hypocrisy (). Don’t speak down to people or employ harsh tones. Communicate in such a way that you are seeking to ultimate good.

SPEAK WITH HOLINESS
The apostle Paul said to the Ephesians, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (). Communication that is Christ exalting will not neglect the principles found in Scripture regarding pure and sound speech. Corrupt, coarse, and crass speech comes in all sorts of forms. It can simply be a thoughtless or stupid approach in which someone doesn’t carefully consider what they are saying. Or it can come in the form of one using words or humour that dishonours God. Christ exalting communication does not make use of a form of speech that is marked by the things we were redeemed from (; ), but rather makes use of words that come from an individual who is a new creation with a message of hope.

Remember that communication is a gift from God. As the people of God it ought to be our desire and practice to convey Christ exalting communication. I will conclude with some observations of speech from an earlier post,

The book of Proverbs has much so say about our speech. Though we could look at many, consider three sample principles to remember: Speaking too much can lead to trouble (); gentle speech can diffuse anger whereas harsh speech can provoke anger () and think before you speak (). These principles provide practical wisdom in the use of our words.

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
but those who act faithfully are his delight.

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Ephesians 5:4

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

13 If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.

Bringing Back Backsliders

The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1667-1670 Bartolome esteban Murillo

What is backsliding? In his book Getting Back in the Race: A Cure for Backsliding, Joel Beeke (the modern day puritan) writes, “Backsliding is a season of increasing sin and decreasing obedience in those who profess to be Christians”[1]. Backsliding is the dark and debilitating reality of disobedience. For some it is a season of compromise, whereas for others it is the process that begins to reveal that they are not genuinely converted. In Beeke’s excellent book, he reveals the signs of compromise: (1) coldness in prayer, (2) indifference under the word, (3) growing inner corruptions, (4) the love of the world, (5) declining love for believers, and (6) man-centered hopes (pp. 21-36). All of us battle with this and must be dealing with such practices daily by means of God’s grace.

What can we do for backsliders? At the end of his letter James writes these words,

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” ().

Continue reading Bringing Back Backsliders

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.