Category Archives: Grace / Forgiveness

Entering His Rest

In Hebrews 3, we read about Yeshua as our high priest and about how the Israelites were not permitted to enter his rest (the promised land) due to their unbelief. In a way, the Israelites entering the promised land through faith (or not entering for lack of faith), foreshadows our own opportunity with Yeshua as our Messiah. We have not earned our way to his rest, but we can find his rest through grace.

The Sabbath is another view which foreshadows ultimate rest. YHWH teaches us about physical rest on Sabbath days as a way of helping us physically but also helping us to understand the spiritual rest we may find in Yeshua. We can better understand the spiritual when we first understand the physical. That is why Yeshua taught in parables so often. The physical Sabbaths remain a meaningful instruction for us from the LORD. We also rest from relying on our works to earn salvation through Yeshua, but in doing so we should be following his example and instructions in how to live because we have submitted to him. Ultimately we also find rest when we die and are brought into the presence of the LORD and / or when the LORD returns for the millennial reign.

In all cases, the rest is not obsolete. In all cases, faith is required.

Hebrews  4

The Believer’s Rest

      1Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

3For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,
“AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,”
although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

4For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; 5and again in this passage, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” 6Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

7He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”

8For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. 12For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

      14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Fear YHWH and Keep His Commandments

Followers today too often discard the Biblical instruction to fear YHWH. The word can mean to awe, fear, reverence, etc. But let us not forget to have the right amount of fear of our loving Father, who will discipline those whom he loves. Let it, along with our love for him, help guide us to obey him, just like with an earthly Father.

In Ecclesiastes 12, the writer reminds us to remember our Creator in the days of our youth, when things are going well, before hard times come. We do well to build relationship with him early in life and in good times so that when the hard times come we already know him and are close to him.

At the end, as the writer closes the book of Ecclesiastes, we get the summation or conclusion of the whole book. He has lived a long life with many diverse experiences. He concludes with very solid advice in verse 13-14 that we all do well to heed.

Ecclesiastes 12

Remember God in Your Youth

      1Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”; 2before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; 3in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim; 4and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly. 5Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. 6Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; 7then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. 8“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!”

Purpose of the Preacher

      9In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. 10The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.

      11The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. 12But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.

      13The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

There is nothing hidden from YHWH, not even our thoughts. We should fear the LORD and keep his commandments. We should embrace Yeshua as Messiah so that through his death we may be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to YHWH.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Celebrating Freedom

Many in the USA celebrate freedom as a key part of the heritage of our July 4 national holiday. It commemorates independence for the USA from England and the policies of the government there for which the colonies were not represented. We can be reminded to value our freedom and not take it for granted. Fireworks and parties are commonplace. The birth of a free nation is celebrated. We do not celebrate this freedom by rebelling against the very nation that protects and provides our freedom. We do not declare that our freedom means we are no longer subject to any laws.

This day is a good opportunity for us to reflect deeper on one who is greater than us who also allows us the freedom to make our own choices. Our Creator made us in His image and allows us the freedom to follow Him or live in rebellion to Him, choosing instead to honor and follow the desires of our flesh and sin nature. All of us are inherently sinful. Babies at birth need not be taught to scream when they want something. Young children need to be taught to share, taking what they want comes naturally. We must learn to focus on the needs of others just as we must  learn God’s ways in order to be set apart and different than the world.

Our Father, YHWH, provided us instructions to follow as any good father does for His children. Often the instructions are for the benefit of the children themselves, even if they don’t understand that fully. The instructions have been communicated through thousands of years and neatly compiled into the Bible we have so readily available to us today, so long as we choose to open it or click the link to it. We need only pray for enlightenment from the Spirit and read with a desire to learn and change our behaviors to follow God’s instructions. We should not read with a desire to justify all of our current actions and attitudes… that is redefining God in our image rather than redefining ourselves in His image.

We talk often in Christian community about freedom through Christ. It is amazing, but sadly many get confused by false teaching about this freedom. What are we set free from?

The short answer is that all too often people essentially say we are set free from all boundaries and can do anything and God will be pleased. This is false. This would be akin to saying we are free in the United States and then pretending that there are no laws or boundaries governing what is acceptable behavior and what will land you in prison. God has established guidelines and instructions for us to follow to help us, as a father does for his children. Are we to use our freedom to rebel against the one who gives it to us? No. Christ sets us free from the law of sin and death. He sets us free in that we can be reconciled to YHWH even when we do not live out his instructions perfectly to his standard. This means, simply that we can be forgiven for our sins, because Jesus already paid the price required by the law for our sins. We can be set free from condemnation and guilt, but we are to repent from the sinful ways and do things according to God’s instruction. We are to follow Christ.

Romans 8:1-4

1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Many teach that we are set free from the law, from God’s instructions, but this is absurd. Jesus followed God’s instructions throughout His earthly ministry and so did His disciples. In fact, he was judged righteous in that he lived perfectly according to the law. He never taught against following God’s law, only against following the man made traditions of the Pharisees and Sadducees that were overburdening people with meaningless traditions and distracting from or even contradicting God’s law. We must ask ourselves… “Is Jesus our example to follow? or our excuse to live how we want rather than how God tells us to?”

Throughout the scriptures, God’s law is highlighted as good, as worthy of love, of setting us free from the lure of sin by showing us what is right. It is a light unto our path to guide us. I have included a few excerpts from Psalm 119, but you should click the link and read the whole Psalm. Many others have similar content. The law of God is to be obeyed. Jesus did not come to set us free from it.

Psalm 119 (excerpts – I encourage you to read 119 completely)

     97O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

98Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.

142Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.

143Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.

162I rejoice at Your word,
As one who finds great spoil.

163I hate and despise falsehood,
But I love Your law.

164Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous ordinances.

165Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.

171Let my lips utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.

172Let my tongue sing of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.

Would it make sense that Jesus came to set us free from wisdom, delight, truth, and peace? Certainly not. This would be absurd. Jesus came to set us free from the law of sin and death. Yes, we all sin, and thus deserve death. However, Jesus sets us free from that guilt and condemnation and judgment because He already paid the price for us. What He calls for in return as part of this freedom is that we submit to God, repent of our sinful ways, and seek after God. True repentance transforms us to be different from the world and to become more and more like Jesus as we continue to grow in wisdom and maturity in our faith over the course of our lifetime.

Just as we see so obviously in the physical world, freedom brings responsibility and accountability for the choices we make. It is similar with our Father in heaven. Freedom comes with responsibility and accountability. There are spiritual consequences in our relationship with God and ultimate destination when we die from this life and go into eternity to heaven or hell. There are also physical and emotional impacts in our lives today based on how well we follow the instructions He has provided. After all, the loving Father and Creator knows how best to guide His creations. He gives us the answers, but we need to listen and obey… even when we don’t understand fully.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Hope In The LORD’s Forgiving Love

A simple but powerful message in focus in Psalm 130. Don’t miss it.

Psalm 130

Hope in the LORD’S Forgiving Love.

A Song of Ascents.

      1Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD.

      2Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

      3If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?

      4But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

      5I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.

      6My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.

      7O Israel, hope in the LORD;
For with the LORD there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.

      8And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.

But we must turn from our sin and toward YHWH if we expect to receive forgiveness. We must accept Yeshua as our savior and lord. He is the way.

John 14:6

6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

An Image of Our Relationship with Father Reflected in Philemon

Philemon is another example in which Paul writes to a specific and narrow audience to address a specific issue, but there are some things we can learn and apply broadly.

It is actually a short letter. Paul is writing to a fellow brother in Yeshua. Paul starts his letter in a very positive and encouraging manner, and I think he is being genuine. I don’t think he is simply “buttering up Philemon” to get him in a good mood before addressing the main topic of his letter. How often might we jump right into a request or rebuke without first really sharing how much we appreciate our fellow brother or sister in Yeshua? I am definitely guilty of this and need to improve. I want to jump in and get right to the business at hand. This diminishes fellowship and unity rather than enhancing it as Paul does in his letter here.

The main intent of Paul’s letter appears to be to intercede on behalf of an escaped slave who has become a follower of Yeshua. Paul highlights how Onesimus can now truly be more than just a slave and is more valuable a companion and helper than ever before. He asks for any debts to be put on his account, which I take to mean that he is asking they be forgiven in recognition of what Paul has already done in bringing the message of Yeshua to the others.

Paul did not have to intercede. He wanted to. Paul did not allow Onesimus to take the easy road and just remain a runaway. He sent Onesimus back to face his master and ask forgiveness and to be accepted back.

This is actually a picture of our relationship with our heavenly Father to a point. We too are bondservants who are supposed to be serving the Lord. We often stray and do our own things, live our own way. We were not righteous in straying, but one who was more righteous than we (Yeshua – who was totally righteous) has interceded on our behalf and instructed us to return to the Father and ask for forgiveness and grace and to be accepted now as more than a servant, though still to serve.

I can imagine Onesimus may have been intimidated or scared to return. Sometimes we may feel intimidated to return to the Father when we know we did what was wrong in his eyes. It may seem easier to simply keep moving away from him, trying to hide. However, the only way to peace and forgiveness and a fresh start is to return with humility and repentance and trust in his grace and mercy and in the name of the one who intercedes for us, Yeshua.

What a powerful metaphor in this letter to our own relationship returning to the Father!

Philemon 1

Salutation

     1Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, 2and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philemon’s Love and Faith

     4I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, 5because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; 6and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake. 7For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.

      8Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, 9yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—

Plea for Onesimus, a Free Man

     10I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, 11who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. 12I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, 13whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; 14but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. 15For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, 16no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

      17If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. 18But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; 19I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well). 20Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.

      21Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.

      22At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.

      23Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.

      25The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Abundant Redemption

Praise YHWH for his forgiveness, lovingkindness, and abundant redemption! We are sinful and he gives us so much more and better than what we deserve. His grace and mercy abound toward his children.

Psalm 130

Hope in the LORD’S Forgiving Love.

A Song of Ascents.

     1Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD.

      2Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

      3If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?

      4But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

      5I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.

      6My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.

      7O Israel, hope in the LORD;
For with the LORD there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.

      8And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

What Does God Say About Homosexual Behavior?

Since the United States supreme court ruling that same sex marriage is now legal, many seem in an uproar on one side or the other. Many act as if those people in black robes have some godly power to define what is morally right and wrong in the eyes of the Lord. They do not. They simply have power over the laws of one increasingly pagan nation that is far from YHWH. For those of us who follow Yeshua, the answer is not dictated by one or more governments but rather by the very words of YHWH himself. We can point to countless examples of governments throughout history that reject his instruction and choose to endorse immoral behavior as legal. What’s more, just like with the Supreme Court decision, the decisions and opinions of man shift and change over time. However, there is an absolute standard of what is right and wrong and it is defined by the Lord. It does not change. Man does not have the authority to change it, only to rebel against it.

[Matthew 9:4-6 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’[a] And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’[b] Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

[1 Corinthians 6:9-11] 9Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

[Romans 1:25-28] 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. 28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.

[Leviticus 18:22] 22 “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.

Genesis 19:1-13 tells of the wickedness of sexual sin that led to God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Despite many governments or cultures throughout human history that try to re-define what is moral… YHWH is very clear and consistent on the issue of homosexual behavior.  Throughout Old and New Testament He confirms the same message, that it is a sin… an act of rebellion and rejection of God. He does not establish rules arbitrarily or to punish us. He establishes and provides His guidance knowing what is best for us, as He is the one who designed and sustains us. He wants His children to flourish.

To highlight a rather silly example… my DVD player does not work well if I stick pizza in it. It was not designed that way. It is intended for a specific purpose… a DVD. It would be silly to knowingly put something in that is not according to its design and then expect it to work as designed. This is true as well with the design of the human body, both physical, emotional, and spiritual. We flourish best when in proper relationship with the Lord and when we act in accordance with our design.

The story does not have to end with condemnation for any sinner. Yeshua loves sinners and through YHWH’s grace has made a way for us to come back in relationship with him. Repent from your sin, turn to YHWH and seek him wholeheartedly, and ask forgiveness. Pray the Spirit would fill you and guide you as you turn from sin toward YHWH. Then separate yourself from those influences which would pull you back to your old ways and make new connections with followers of Christ who can help encourage you to grow closer to Him.  Yeshua can set you free from your sin!


Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die?  Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

O My God, In You I Trust!

Psalm 25 is an inspiring prayer for protection, guidance, and pardon. Don’t just read it, but pray it before almighty God with a genuine heart.

1To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.

2O my God, in You I trust,
Do not let me be ashamed;
Do not let my enemies exult over me.

3Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.

4Make me know Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.

5Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.

6Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they have been from of old.

7Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.

8Good and upright is the LORD;
Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.

9He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.

10All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.

11For Your name’s sake, O LORD,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

12Who is the man who fears the LORD?
He will instruct him in the way he should choose.

13His soul will abide in prosperity,
And his descendants will inherit the land.

14The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant.

15My eyes are continually toward the LORD,
For He will pluck my feet out of the net.

16Turn to me and be gracious to me,
For I am lonely and afflicted.

17The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses.

18Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
And forgive all my sins.

19Look upon my enemies, for they are many,
And they hate me with violent hatred.

20Guard my soul and deliver me;
Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You.

21Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.

22Redeem Israel, O God,
Out of all his troubles.

Share this prayer with others you care about!

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Pray Humbly and Wholeheartedly for Personal Repentance

For those of us who wish to truly submit to Yeshua and follow him, we must be willing to humbly admit our faults in order to change them. Yeshua provides a wonderful example of a sinful man who genuinely comes before YHWH for repentance and contrasts that with someone who is praying in a noticeably prideful manner. I encourage each of us to thoughtfully and humbly read the scripture from Luke and then come before our father in genuine humility, admitting our sins, and ask for genuine forgiveness with wholehearted commitment to repent and sin no more.

Luke 18:9-14

9And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

All of us remain sinful, no matter where we are in our journey. Take time to identify an area in which you need change and come before YHWH with pure motive and pure heart, privately, and ask forgiveness and ask his help with repentance. Then work consciously to change your wrong behavior and he will help you. Avoid the trap of just asking forgiveness and then continuing in your sin, without repentance and change on your part. If you refuse to change, that is not true repentance and acknowledgment that you are wrong. There is a distinction between having difficulty changing and refusing to change or not trying. Often we will need his help to change our ways as it is difficult for us.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Forgiveness and Mercy Contrasted With Strong Rebuke

In 1 Timothy chapter 1, Paul paints a stark contrast that may make many feel uncomfortable. Christians generally are quick to agree and feel comfortable with the first part of today’s scripture. Paul was a blasphemer, a violent aggressor and found grace and mercy in the Lord because he acted in unbelief… and because he has now repented and turned to the Lord.

The second part may be worthy of prayerful consideration and time of reflection. In the very same chapter, Paul now draws stark contrast to this backdrop by highlighting some that have had the faith and been “shipwrecked” in the faith. I take this to imply they have known Christ and now they have turned from the faith, not in ignorance, but in spite of their knowledge about it. He speaks here not about mercy but about handing them over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

This may be very uncomfortable for many, but consider it none the less. Those who sin and repent can expect mercy. Those who rebel against God can ultimately expect accountability and judgment before God. We can debate what exactly Paul means by handing them over to Satan, but it seems obvious that Paul means they should not continue to be treated as intimate members of our fellowship in the body of Christ. He clearly calls them out for wrong doctrine rather than making excuses to accept their wrong teaching.

1 Timothy 1:12-20

     12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

      18This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.

Do not dismiss uncomfortable scripture. Rather, take time to prayerfully reflect on this passage of scripture and its application to us today. Let scripture help to redefine us in God’s image rather than us skip or dismiss parts of scripture in an effort to redefine him in our image.

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