How to be holy in two easy lessons–and what to do when you’re not

Being holy thoretically depends on two easy concepts:

  1. Knowing God’s Word—what He wants.
  2. Obeying.

The problem is, we can’t do it. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10). For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10).

Not one person in the history of the whole world has been able to live up to the standard of holiness, even the first two, Adam and Eve, who were created holy. The only exception was God in the flesh, Jesus.

So, does this mean we throw up our hands in despair?

Of course not. The command to be holy is part of Scripture: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

We can’t be holy, but we should be? Is that right?

Yep.

It’s a goal.

How do we do this? Know God’s Word. Obey it.

For example, here are some of God’s commands:

  • Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it (Psalm 34:14).
  • Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22:37).
  • But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Romans 6:22).
  • There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).Take the escape!
  • Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).
  • Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).

And, so many more!

When we sin, we can get clean again by confessing our sin and forsaking it. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

The only goodness that we can have is through forgiveness in Christ. We have none by ourselves. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5).

Holiness will ultimately happen when our spirits are completely redeemed—in heaven. Until then, we learn and obey—and confess—and go on.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 1:24)

Women of the Bible 13: Who am I?

I’m a woman who likes money and the things it can buy.

My husband and I are in the early church. I’m not sure I’d call myself a believer exactly, but we like the people and the atmosphere, and their dedication to God is impressive.

Hubby watches as Barnabas brings the whole price of land that he sold to the apostles as an offering. Of course, it was well received. At this time, there are a lot of Jesus followers in need and suffering persecution. Everyone chips in to help others. You can feed a lot of people with the price of Barnabas’ land.

So, my husband says to me, “We have an inheritance, too. Let’s do the same thing. We’ll be respected. And, we don’t have to tell that we keep back part of the money for ourselves. We’ll give the impression we’re giving the whole price.”

At once, I agree. It will be our secret. We’ll be able to live well while appearing sacrificial in the eyes of these Jesus followers. It’s a win-win.

That settled, my husband puts the property up for sale, and to our surprise, it sells fast to one of those Roman guys with silver to spare. We squirrel away our part, and my hubby takes the rest to Peter. “I sold a property, and here’s all the money. Use it for the poor.” (I was not there at the time. I found out three hours later that he’d presented the money.)

So, when I arrive later, would you believe—the nerve of him—the Apostle Peter questions me? “Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much?”

I answer, “Yea, for so much.”

Then Peter says to me, “How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.”

I lied. And, I died.

The young men came in, confirmed that I was dead, and carried me away and buried me beside my husband.

In my attempt to fool people and gain money, in three hours I lost wealth, my husband, and my own life. Peter said we lied to the Holy Spirit and that Satan filled our hearts. Looking back, I know that’s true.

As a result of God’s judgment on my husband and me, great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

Who am I?

What was my husband’s name?

For bragging rights, in which book of the Bible can you find our tragic story?

Proverbs 6, Part 2: Don’t get burned!

What advice would parents give to a grown son? Some of the best advice in the world is found in this second part of Proverbs 6. (If you missed the first part, you can access it here.)

First, the son is reminded to keep his father and mother’s commandments. Every child should know to obey his mother and father. They are a protection for him. Although this son is obviously an adult, he’s admonished to heed his mother and father’s wise advice.

Proverbs 6:20-23 says, My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

The sentence hasn’t ended. Good parental advice continues: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids (verses 24-25). I think this is such an accurate picture! She flatters. “Hey, Handsome. Love your muscles. You are such a wonderful man.” Or whatever. She appeals to him with her words. Plus, she’s pretty. This woman bats her eyes and knows how to use body language to her advantage. Her aim? To entrap. Notice she’s called evil and strange—which is biblical code language for promiscuous.

If anyone was in doubt about her character, it’s explicit in the next verse: For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life (26).

The next section addresses the way fornication affects the man. There are some profound teachings here, and I believe it’s important to understand the consequences of “playing around.” First two rhetorical questions: Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? (27) Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? (28) The answer to both, of course, is no.

Application time: So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent (29). This goes for women, too, by the way. I read on social media a sign that says, “Ladies, God will never send you another woman’s husband.” The sin of adultery isn’t innocent.

The next statement needs to be taken in its context. It is not teaching that it’s quite okay to steal if you’re hungry. We know from the Ten Commandments; Thou shalt not steal couldn’t be clearer. This is in the context of “stolen bread” as in adultery. Notice that for the thief, there are serious—sevenfold—consequences. Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house (30-31).

Now, the consequences of adultery are spelled out. The person who does it:

  • lacks understanding (32)
  • destroys his own soul (32)
  • will be wounded and dishonored (33)
  • His reproach shall not be wiped away (33)
  • He might become the brunt of the wronged husband’s anger, vengeance, etc. (34)
  • There’s no way the adulterer could pay the wronged husband (35).

Maybe you wouldn’t be tempted by an adulterous person. I have no idea, but the Bible advises all of us to be wary. It doesn’t matter how old you are or if you’re a man or a woman, you can be tempted in this way given the right circumstances. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).

When I was a teen, I was working in a summer camp. One of the co-directors was a drop dead handsome young man a few years older than I. He said he was a Christian, and he smoked. I didn’t. I never had any desire to smoke and never even gave it a thought.

One evening, the counselors were sitting around after the campers were in bed, and some of the counselors were smoking. This good-looking man offered me a cigarette. Now remember, I had never even entertained a thought towards smoking. None. But, for a split second, when this gorgeous guy was offering me the cigarette, I was tempted to take it … to fit in … to impress. Thankfully, the temptation was momentary, and I said no, thank you.

That experience taught me a valuable lesson. Though I thought I would never have any inclination to smoke, I did entertain the idea for a moment.

Though you might think you will never be tempted to commit fornication or adultery, take heed. You might.

When the time comes—and it probably will—remember that the Scripture guarantees that one’s reproach shall not be wiped away. Once a sexual sin is committed, it has already happened. Its reproach and destruction are present. Can a man (or woman) take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? No.

Listen to wise advice. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.

Formulas for Prayer

I’ve read all kinds of kooky articles and a few short books about “magic prayers” in my time, but recently I saw some posts on social media that shared Bible verses and biblical thoughts about prayer. Some years back, I did an extensive study about what the Bible says about the discipline of prayer. But for this post, I’d like to share some of the “formulas” for prayer in the Bible.

What kinds of prayer does God honor?

How can we be sure our prayers are getting higher than the ceiling?

The first prayer that God is for sure going to answer is the call for salvation. He might choose to answer an unsaved person’s other prayers, as well, but we can be sure He will answer this one: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

When the disciples wanted instructions on how to pray, Jesus replied with what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It’s a model for everyone. What should we include in our prayers? Jesus says, After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6:9-13).

We’re to be in communication with God all the time. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And he (Jesus) spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint (Luke 18:1).

Jesus also instructed the disciples to pray believing: And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matthew 17:20).

Similar to this is praying with faith, And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (James 5:15).

A wonderful formula for prayer is trusting, even when we don’t quite understand. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

This formula helps us see the value of prayer to ask and also give thanks. Be careful (full of care, anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). Notice that the result of praying like this is awesome peace.

Here are a couple more verses about praying with thanksgiving. There are many. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30). Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20).

We need to ask the Lord to lead us in His way, not ours. Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies (Psalm 27:11). Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5).

Something very important is to know how to ask. We need to ask the Lord according to His will. The only way we can know what that is is to learn what the Bible (God’s Word) says about things. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us (1 John 5:14).

There is definitely power when Christians pray together. Jesus is speaking: Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 18:19).

I am not sure if you actually have to say the words “in Jesus’ name we pray,” but we need to be conscious of how we are praying. Jesus says, And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it (John 14:13-14).

God will answer seekers and askers. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7:7).

He also answers sincere, repentent, intercessory prayers. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:18).

I personally love this verse: Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah (Psalm 62:8). Do you need a refuge? Pour your heart out to the Lord.

Just as the Bible gives us encouragement in prayer, it also gives us warnings about praying like people who don’t know God.

What should we not do?

Don’t be a showy hypocrite. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him (Matthew 6:5-8).

Don’t look down on your wife; honor her as equal but different. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

Don’t be unforgiving. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (Mark 11:25).

Prayer is an awesome privilege and an incredible spiritual tool. It is so amazing that we have 24/7 access to God, that He hears, listens, and answers prayers from needy people. Let’s take advantage of it and enjoy our Refuge and Help.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

God bless you!

When you’re gleaning in your field and “Boaz” never comes

I have heard the messages, and they’re not entirely wrong:

  • Stay in the castle.
  • Wait for Mr. Right.
  • Prepare yourself, and God will bring a husband to you.
  • Be like Ruth. She did the right thing, and Boaz showed up.

But, Boaz doesn’t always show up.

And that’s okay.

The way I read my Bible, I see two clear paths for both men and women. There are a lot of single people in God’s will, and there are a lot of married people.

The Apostle Paul—always a single man—wrote, He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. Statement of fact. There are two roles. The will of God for Paul was singleness, but there are two clear paths and two different lifestyles, both in the will of God.

Here, the same teaching is for women: There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).

Since I write for women, we will talk about the second part. Single women are supposed to be conscious of and caring for the things of the Lord. How does she do that? She—like her married counterpart—gets to know God in salvation and in Christian growth and service. I honestly don’t see any difference between a single’s walk with God and a married woman’s. 

The single woman also keeps herself holy (without sin) in body and spirit. Obviously, she’s supposed to be a virgin, and she’s to guard her body in holiness. I think it’s interesting that God adds “spirit” to this. It is very important.

How many singles do you know who have been waiting and waiting and waiting for their handsome prince to come—and each year that they wait, they are getting more and more anxious and bitter and antsy, looking out the window for him to show up—to no avail? Which makes them more anxious and bitter and antsy. It’s an ugly cycle.

This idea comes from false teaching—that everyone needs to be married—and from false expectations.

Waiting for Boaz is not a principle in the Word of God.

There, I’ve said it.

It simply isn’t God’s will (His best plan) for every woman to marry. This doesn’t mean He’s withholding something wonderful from you. This doesn’t mean you’re missing out.

Let’s look back at 1 Corinthians 7:34, the last part: she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. A single woman doesn’t have to live for the world. She doesn’t have to please a husband. Oh my!

Her purpose is to please God—like every Christian woman—and to keep herself pure—like every Christian woman.

The difference is the pleasing a man part.

Let that sink in.

A single woman frankly has more freedom. She doesn’t have to make dinner every evening if she doesn’t feel like it. Even though single women have to work and care for themselves, they don’t have to also please a roommate.

I’ve been married over 41 years now and happily so. I know a few things about marriage. But, I’ve also learned that God has designed two happy lifestyles for Christians, and they are both full and satisfying and wonderful.

Read your Bible. Make a collection in your mind of all the singles in the Bible with very satisfying lives. Make a list, if you want. Which ones were always sad and bitter? What was their problem?

How can you live a victorious life?

Forget Boaz.

Look to the Lord.

Enjoy your life.

Trust … in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (Paul, to Timothy—both were single men—from 1 Timothy 6:17).

May God bless you.