When listening to advice, we need to ask ourselves these 6 questions:
- Is the advice biblical?
- Is the advice factual in foundation?
- Is the advice necessary?
- Is the advice teachable?
- Does the advice acknowledge the imperfection of the individual giving the advice?
- Is the advice given in love?
“Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.”- Job 5.27
This is the summation of the end of a long string of advice that Eliphaz gave to Job, when he was trying to encourage him. He came from a false assumption that Job was being punished for sin, or disobeying God. His advice was to confess, repent and beg for mercy. He told Job that God would surely deliver him out of his troubles if he would repent.
Sometimes people offer advice, meaning well, they do however not have a proper understanding of God or you, or your situation. Sometimes the advice is sought out, and sometimes it comes unsolicited. Whenever we receive advice or move to give advice, we should really examine our motivations and intent. First we need to make sure that the advice in biblical.
Advice received or given should always come from the Word of God. It should be plain and straight forward, and in context with biblical doctrine. We should always test everything against the scriptures, whether it is a sermon, Sunday school, or even advice. Even advice from a church elder of Pastor needs to be tried by the Scriptures. This means that you have to have a foundation in place, prior to your trials or testing. In order to know if the advice is biblical you need to have a familiarity and understanding of scriptures. You need to have a daily walk with the Lord. Daily prayer is a necessity to hear the Spirit of the Lord.
Daily reading and study helps to develop a foundation of faith. How can you say you believe in the Bible if you do not know what it says? In reading the scriptures we see examples of people who have gone through trials, and had to make decisions. We see how those who sought God’s counsel and searched the scriptures have been rewarded. We also see how those who did not seek God’s counsel and acted on the poor advice of others failed to overcome their trials or made poor life decisions.
While I was in the army they taught me what is called the problem solving process. It goes something like this. (1) Identify the problem, (2) Gather information, (3) Decide on a course of action, (4) Implement the course of action, and (5) Evaluate the course of action. In simple terms it would mean to gather the facts. Make sure what the problem actually is.
For instance, if there is a problem with a relationship between two individuals you would first have to determine what the root of the problem is in the relationship. The problem could be one of selfishness, pride, jealousy, or some other sin. It could also be that there is only a problem of perception on one or both sides of the relationship. If someone have been wronged in the past, they are likely to be on the watch for certain types of behavior that indicate that they may be harmed again. Getting the facts straight may be exhaustive, but it is necessary to develop possible courses of action.
When developing courses of action, one needs to take the time to consider all the options available. This is not only when giving advice, but when receiving. Seeking the scriptures, and advice from a Pastor or others who have actually been through a similar experience can show you different avenues. Seeing the different ways this trial or problem can be approached can be invaluable in later deciding on the way to handle the situation. In seeing how others have handled similar situations you will be able to further identify pitfalls and successes. Prayer, and possibly fasting, should be a part of this process.
The scripture say we should seek the Lord first. Before making a decision we should take to time to ensure that the advice is necessary. Based on the facts and scriptures, does this advice actually require action? Sometimes we receive advice on things that are not actually necessary to change. Sometimes, things will resolve themselves through natural processes. Sometimes in the process of the before mentioned considerations, the situation will reveal that the advice is bad. If considering to open your mouth, maybe you should evaluate your own reasons for offering advice.
Often times we give our opinions as advice. We assume to know more than we do about a situation. We think that we know better than someone else. We call that “giving out two cents”. Other times we have a genuine empathy for someone going through a difficult time, and inadvertently offer insensitive advice. An example would be when someone has lost a loved one, or been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and we tell them, “God has a plan”. Yes, he does have a plan, but as a friend, it is probably best just to be there. Let them know that they have support and be silent, hold them while the morn. Grief is a natural part of the healing process, and you are not there so you can feel better, but to allow them to go through the grief process with someone there to help them pass through the fire.
Something else to consider is if there is a teachable lesson in the advice. Is there a life lesson that is revealed in either the advice or the omission of the advice? When considering the advice someone gives you look if this is something that is going to have a good positive change in your life. If you are planning to give the advice, look to see if the advice you give is going to have a good impact. Is the advice teaching and edifying? Does it teach a truth about God? When teaching a truth about God, again refer back to scriptures. Does it teach a biblical truth? Is it a lesson that can then be passed on to someone else for their benefit?
Mentioned earlier is the person perspective. Consider the advice, whether it is given with the understanding that it is not infallible. Scriptures can be misquoted, and pulled out of context. Our own personal perspectives and twist our view of proper avenues. Sometimes advice, like that from an advice column, is purposely given with an end result in mind. The actual intent of the advice is to control the outcome. An example would be a young girl who, got pregnant and went to seek advice on how to best deal with the unexpected pregnancy. Questions like, “How will I get medical treatment?’; “How will I afford to raise a baby?”; “How can I ever expect to have a life again?”; “How do I tell my parents?” Would not receive the same advice from a Pastor, or a woman’s shelter as they would at a company who’s primary business is performing abortions. This brings us to the final question.
Is the advice given in love? 1 Corinthians 16.15 says that all things should be done with love. Love should be the primary motivation for everything we do. When someone gives you advice, or when you give advice make sure that the reason is that you love them. Love covers a multitude of sin. Advice given out of spite, fear, envy, or anger should always be ignored. We should never in anger curse one another, and that includes in giving bad advice. In the same measure we should never listen to advice in anger. Cool down, go through your mourning process, seek the Lord. Study the scriptures now, so that you will have a firm foundation to discern trials, and the advice that comes while your in them. Scripture tells us, to seek wisdom, pray for wisdom both before and during trials. Pray always.
1 Corinthians 15:12-20 – You Cannot Believe in Just Half the Gospel and Be Saved.
This letter of Corinthians was written by the apostle Paul. It is believed that the letter was written around 55 AD. The letter deals with spiritual and moral issues that had arose in the church since Paul’s preaching there in 50 AD. The main emphasis on this of Chapter 15 verses 12-20 deals with the Athenian philosophers of the Epicurean and Stoic beliefs concerning death and the resurrection, and their influence on the church.
The Epicurean believed that when one dies, they simply no longer exist. The Stoic believe that when we die, our soul is absorbed into the soul of the universe, there in no individual conscience. These two philosophies originated between 341-313 BC. These two philosophies are still very prevalent in today’s one world philosophy.
They are portrayed in popular writings and movies like Star Trek and Star Wars. Among the other thoughts in these philosophies are man’s oneness with the energy of the universe, the end justifies the means, and that everything that happens to a man is a cause and effect relationship, man has no real will of his own, or Kharma. For this selection in Corinthians we are concerned with the beliefs of what happens after one dies and the resurrection beliefs in modern churches.
There are many Christians today that don’t believe that a body can be resurrected out of the grave. They make silly arguments about the condition of the body, the decay, or it the person was mutilated or burned to death. This becomes their basis to say that the physical body cannot be raised. The dead will not come out of the grave.
In 2006 a poll released by the Scripps Howard News Service and posed on the Ohio University Survey Research Center website stated that only 65% of professing “Born Again” Christians believe in the physical resurrection of Christ.
A more recent poll released in 2014, by Thomas D. Williams, PH.D., showed that 3 out of 4 Americans believe in some sort of life after death, but only 37% believe in a bodily resurrection from the dead. This is from Americans who have some sort of “religious affiliation”. What seems to be an odd trend is that those with higher educations are more likely to believe in life after death of some sort.
The frightening aspect is that those who call themselves “Followers of Christ”, and “Born Again” in increasing numbers do not believe in the resurrection of the body, and do not believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead. Christians are rejecting one of the fundamental beliefs of their own religion because of improper discipleship and ignorance of the full gospel. For an answer to this heresy we turn to Paul’s writings to the Corinthians.
Paul tells us that it is necessary to believe in the resurrection of the body. You have to believe in the whole gospel or none of it. The resurrection is not just a fable made up to give us a false since of security.
Let us begin at verse 12 in 1st Corinthians chapter 15.
V12. Now it Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is not resurrection of the dead?
Paul is saying here that this is essential to the gospel. Remember he is speaking to believers. Paul says if you have believed on Jesus, that you have then been baptized as an outward showing of your faith, then how can you deny the resurrection? This is inconceivable to Paul.
Romans 10:9-10 “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
I can hear Paul saying, don’t you remember what we preached to you? Don’t you remember how we told you that even the Apostle Thomas had his doubts because he did not see what the others saw? Don’t you remember how we testified to you that Jesus appeared again to the disciples and told Thomas, and I quote;
“Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27)
So this is what we preach, that Christ died and is risen again, because you cannot be saved unless you believe that He is risen. This being so, if you confess that Christ is risen, then how can you not believe there is a resurrection of the dead? The Greeks looked at themselves as very logical and philosophical people, Paul appeals to this reasoning they were so proud of. It is illogical to say you believe that Jesus rose from the dead so you could have eternal life, but don’t believe you will be resurrected.
V13. But if there is not resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.
Here Paul starts his logical argument. He says, “OK. Let’s say that there is not resurrection of the dead.” Let us say that a dead body cannot rise from the grave. Let’s forget about the story of Lazarus, and how Jesus raised him from the dead. If when a man dies he simply ceases to exist, or he is absorbed into the cosmos, then it is impossible for Jesus to have risen from the grave. If this is what you believe concerning death, then you cannot believe that Jesus arose, it is not logical. Even though there were other examples that we have been told about. The scriptures tell us about a resurrection and a judgment to come.
Let’s forget about how Psalm 19:9-10 prophesies about Jesus and says, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”
Let’s even forget how the scriptures of Daniel tell us in 12:2 about a general resurrection of the body where it is written, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
If there is no resurrection of the dead…. Then Christ did not rise either…. That is the first argument. If you don’t believe in the dead rising from the grave, then you cannot believe that Jesus rose from the grave. Why….? Because Christ, while being the Son of God, was also human. He died and was as dead as any other human. Yes he was sinless, a sacrifice. Stay with me now, in order for a sacrifice of death to be complete, something has to die in it’s place. You see, Jesus was, “dead as a doornail.” As we say in south-east Texas.
How do we know that Jesus was a man? The scriptures testify to it:
- Acts 2:22 “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God…”
- Galatians 4:4 says Jesus was born of a woman
- 1 Timothy 2:5 says that there is only mediator between God and Man and that HE is the Man Christ Jesus
There are at least 12 other references in the New Testament that describe how Jesus, wept, felt tired, slept, spit, breathed and so on, testifying that he was not some ethereal presence, but a real flesh and blood human being.
V14. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
So in following that thought process, the deeper reality would begin to sink in. If there is no resurrection of the dead, and Jesus therefor did not rise from the grave, because it is impossible for a man to be raised from the dead. Then there is no basis for what we preach.
The whole of the apostolic preaching was the crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. That was the whole point of the message! Therefore, if you believed our preaching, and it was not based on fact, then you have believed in nothing. Christianity itself is empty.
There was never a claim that Mohammed rose from the grave. There was never a claim that Buddha rose from the grave. In fact neither of them said they were the Son of God. But Jesus said he was the Son of God. In fact in Matthew 12:38-40 Jesus says that a sign of Him being the Son of God would be His resurrection.
V15. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up_ if in fact the dead do not rise.
Paul goes farther, he says that if you do not believe in the resurrection of the Dead, and by extension do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and we have testified that we have seen his resurrection… then we are liars, and false witnesses. You cannot believe anything we say. If you cannot believe in the simple doctrine we put forward to you, then you cannot believe anything else.
V16. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.
Truth be told, if it is not possible for the dead to rise, then Christ did not rise. If a man cannot come back from the dead, then Christ could not have come back from the dead either.
V17. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
Now Paul shows why it is so important to believe in the resurrection of life. The physical resurrection of Jesus. IF Jesus is not risen, then Jesus is not alive and with the Father, then you have believed a lie. So your faith is unfounded, and there is no forgiveness of sins. You have not mediator for men. Death is still inescapable. Now you have a real problem to fear. You have to enter into eternity within your fallen, unforgiven state. You will be condemned.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6.32)
V18. Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
This means that those who have been martyred for the cause of Christ have died in vain. Those who believed and have passed on, are lost forever. This also means all of the Old Testament prophets and patriarchs have also died in vain, because they prophesied about Jesus and His resurrection. The prophets of old looked forward to the resurrection. If a man cannot be resurrected, then Jesus could not have been resurrected. If Jesus was not resurrected and the whole thing was made up. If it was all made up then you cannot believe in a lie. If it is a lie, then there is no hope for mankind in Jesus. If the resurrection was a lie then so is the rest of the gospel, and all who have died, have died in sin. That means that the war in Heaven is over and that God lost. Everyone is doomed. If Jesus did not accomplish our salvation, then no one can.
V19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
If all this has been a lie, and we have believed in vain, then we are the stupidest people on Earth. If we live a life to show love toward one another, and selfless sacrifice in gratitude for the hope of life we have in Jesus, and there is no basis for this belief, then we have been fools. If we have put others first, and been beaten, and tortured, lost our homes, jobs, and even family ties for Christ sake, and it is a lie, then we are the most miserable people on the face of the earth. It is right for others to call us stupid and mistreat us, because we deserve it. We have purposely made ourselves a victim. If the only benefit to believing in Jesus, in this life, is to be a good person, then we have wasted our lives. Because we don’t believe in Jesus just to live a good life.
- The scriptures tell us that none is good! (Matthew 19.17)
- There is none righteous (Romans 3.10)
- Everyone, altogether has become filthy and can do no good, NO NOT ONE! (Psalm 53.3)
V20. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
How do we know Jesus was resurrected? We have witnesses; that is how know he was resurrected.
”For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, and then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once,…” 1 Cor 15:3-6a.
Paul tells us, Hey, I myself have seen Him, Peter has seen him, the scriptures testify to God’s plan, and even 500 believers have seen him… All at the same time! This is not made up, there are too many witnesses.
Jesus himself told us that the sign of His being the Son of God would be “the sign of Jonah”. How Jonah was in the belly of the whale 3 day, so would the Son of Man be in the ground for 3 days, then he would rise. This is God’s testimony of Jesus. This is His Word fulfilled! – Amen
Jesus rose from the dead, he physically came out of the grave! This is a sign that we are forgiven. This is God’s signature at the end of the letter! He is saying, “Here is the guarantee!
If Jesus didn’t rise from the grave, then sin killed him. If sin killed him then death was not subdued. But… scripture tell us that the resurrection of the dead out of the grave is not only possible, but that it will occur for everyone. You do not need to believe it is possible for you to be resurrected. But you do need to believe that Jesus was resurrected in order to avoid being condemned by your own lack of belief, not God’s. Listen to John 5:28-29.
John 5: 28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
Therefore, we know that the resurrection of the dead is possible. Therefore we know that the resurrection of Jesus is not only possible, but that it did occur. It occurred as a testimony of the forgiveness of sins, and of the resurrection of life.
We also know that there is a day coming when everyone will be called up out of the grave and brought to judgment. Those who have believed in Jesus will be rewarded. Those who have not believed, those who were filled with how intellectually important they were, will be brought to face their condemnation. But there is hope! There is hope in Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was slain for the remission of sin.
By God raising Jesus from the dead it means that God was satisfied with the sin offering made by Jesus. In Romans 4 the scriptures tell us about how Abraham’s faith in God being able to do what He said he would do was enough for God to impute righteousness to Abraham. Having faith in God to do what he said He would do concerning Jesus, also imputes righteousness to us.
“It shall be imputed to use who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4: 24-25)
The resurrection of Jesus is a testimony from God that the sacrifice Jesus made for our sin, is acceptable to God, and that believing in this is how righteousness is imparted to us.
Romans 5:8-10 says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
The grace of God is that we have eternal life through Jesus Christ, the proof of that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus was resurrected, we will also be resurrected to eternal life.
How do we know that Jesus physically arose?
- John 20.17 – Jesus tells Mary not to touch him yet because He still has to ascend to the Father.
- Acts 20.11 – Tells us that Jesus ate with the disciples
- Luke 24.38-39 – “Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”
Paul wrote to the Corinthians explaining, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15.20-22)
So I ask you today. Do you believe that there is life after death? Do you believe that a man can be brought back from the dead? Do you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead as a sign, that as the scripture records, and even Jesus himself told, that the sign of Jonah would be the only sign given concerning his atonement?
If you do then you need to confess it.
Acknowledge to God and to man, that Jesus was resurrected and that He is the only mediator between the Father and man.
He is because he lives. – Amen
Hebrews 2:1-3 Take Heed!
“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the work spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,” (Hebrews 2:1-3NKJV)
This is an earnest plea to reason. God has spoken to us by His Son. Jesus is the Son of God and as such has a direct line to the Father, like no other person in heaven or on earth. He sits beside the Father and all the kingdoms of the earth and all authority has been given Him, by the Father. The message he has given us is such an important message that we should take extra care to listen to what He said. Here in Hebrews Paul is saying PAY ATTENTION! God is doing something in our lives, in the lives of men. God Himself directly intervened in the lives of everyone here!
Paul warns us, “Hey, if what the angels, and the Son of God Himself told us about EVERY thing we do or say will be held accountable then we need this salvation that is offered. If even the very motivation of our actions, whether they be good or bad, is recorded for examination in court, then we need an attorney. You know why, because the same ones who said these things also said that there is none good! The cost for your salvation was so enormous, how can you not pay attention to the suffering endured.
Paul also gives credence to the fact that we should pray and study earnestly, “lest we drift away”. There are false teachers that are in the “Church” today that try to tell us that “times have changed” and that the statutes that the Lord established in his Word are no longer relevant. There are even some pastors who will water down the scriptures and tell you their own private interpretations so that they can justify sin in their own lives. I know that some of you will not hear the things I am going to say. But living in sin disrupts your fellowship with God. Paul said being forgiven is not a license to sin.
If we become superficial in out prayer life, or in out scriptural studies we put ourselves in jeopardy of drifting away from our first love. Even as Jesus said in the Book of Revelation, “Never the less I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2.4) Jude also wrote that he found it necessary to encourage us to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1.3).
Folks the saints are us, we are the saints, saved by grace and set apart for the kingdom of God. We are to fight for our faith! Keep it and hold it close! Strive with all our hearts! Now I’m not saying be rude and stiff-necked. I am saying study and be prepared to have an answer in love, for when you are confronted concerning your faith. Stay away from TV and radio shows that encourage immoral behavior. Society itself is drifting away from the One true God, because too many saints are keeping salvation a secret. We have become, in large, ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. We have conformed to the world. Do the work you are called to do. Be salt! Now may peace and mercy and love be multiplied to you. Amen
2 Timothy 3.5 states’ “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:” Paul here is saying that these people, who he discussed previously in the chapter (2 Timothy 3.1-4), would consider themselves religious people. They would say to themselves that they were “Christians” and may even appear to be Christian in outward appearances. However; they are not true Christians, for they have never experienced the power of God in their lives. They would have a false religion, a false Christianity. While they said that they were “saved” they would not have the appreciation of salvation demonstrated in their lives. Going to church once or twice a year, or some may even go every Sunday, but there is no ministry showing in their lives. No love for the brotherhood of the church. No compassion for the poor or the widows.
Like the Pharisees that Jesus rebuked in Mathew 23:27 when he said “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye ae full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” They are just acting a part and not really living in the Spirit of God. Jesus further explained the root of the problem in Matthew 15:8 when he said that people draw close to God and worship Him with their lips, but there is no real love there for Him, they worship in vain because they have no substance in believing or honoring God for who He is. The way they live their private lives is a testimony against them.
Their language and attitude would be a big indicator of their spiritual walk. These are the signs listed in 2 Timothy: covetousness, boasters, proud, disobedient to parents, unthankful, without natural affection, incontinent, fierce, despisers of good, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, and unholy. Now there is a time period where change has to happen, where the mind has to be renewed, and the Spirit of the Lord chastises and reproves. So we dare not put ourselves in place of God and judge any man. For who knows the hearts of men, except God. Paul is just warning us, that there are those who are out there and we should be aware.
Paul warns us from these people, even if they call themselves Christians, TURN AWAY from them. Do not associate with them, they are false brethren. The issue with these people who profess to be Christians and do not live a Christian lifestyle is that they will cause divisions and draw away others from the central focus of Christ. We do not live GOOD lives to gain salvation from Christ, rather we do “good” because we are being changed from the inside outward, from the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling in the true believer. It is the Spirit of God that enables us to love one another.
Contrary to what Paul described as signs of false believers, if we walk in the Spirit and it dwells within us then there are certain things that should be evident in our lives. These signs are referred to as fruits of the Spirit. We find these things should be evident in our lives if we are walking in the Spirit of God, who comes to dwell within us once we have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ. We should see love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. With believers whom we see these signs, we should have fellowship. But above all, pray for one another.
Survey of Jude
Jude is especially important to the modern Christian as it pertains to the dangers that we face as the end times draw near. Jude expressed a severe opposition of the Roman Church’s idea of Docetism. Docetism is a heretical doctrine that denies the real humanity of Christ. Of importance is the urgency of Jude in proclaiming that the original doctrines of the Apostles are being perverted by false teachers that have already infiltrated the church. Jude further warns that the great apostasy prophesied, for a sign of the end of times, has already begun. Jude warns us that we must contend for our faith!
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 1:3 (KJV)
The letter itself designates the author as “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,” (v1). During the time of writing, the name Jude (Judas) was very popular. There is Judas Maccabaeus who was one of the heroes of postexilic Judaism; Judas the son of James (disciple); Judas Iscariot (disciple and traitor); Judas the Galilean (acts 5:37); Judas of Damascus (Acts 9:11); Judas called Barsabbas (Acts 15:22); and Jude the brother of James. In 230 AD Clement believed the author to be Jude, the brother of Jesus. Jerome in AD 392 also wrote that the author was indeed Jude, the brother of James and half-brother of Jesus in writings for the early Catholic Church. It is safe to assume that the author is the half-brother of Jesus and the brother of James mentioned in Matthew 13:55. (Acts 15)
Jude is closely related to the book of 2 Peter, as allot of the contents are the same. It appears that either 2 Peter was used as a source for some of Jude or vice versa. The book of Jude is believed to have been written between 60 and 80 A.D.
Jude first exposes false teachers in the church v5-16, then denounces their spirituality and describes their character v8-16. The author also gives examples from Israel’s and mankind’s past on how the Lord deals with rebellion and immorality. The examples used show how a few false teachers and nay-sayers lead many into judgement from the Lord. (Gen 19:24; Duet 29:23-29) Jude then exhorts believers to living holy lives in true faith and prayer in the Holy Ghost. v17-23. In his benediction Jude reassures the believers that they are safe in their salvation through Jesus.
The main point of doctrine in Jude is that all revelation has been given, there is no other doctrine of salvation, other then what has already been delivered by the Apostles. They should guard their faith against anyone who tries to change what they already know to be true. Note every believer is equipped or mature enough in their faith to deal with false teachers. In order to protect the flock, false teachers should be guarded against, identified, and confronted. True believers are preserved, yet if we do not want to stumble then we need to firmly rely on Jesus and walk correctly not for salvation, but to avoid chastisement and to express our love and gratitude towards our savior.
I. Introduction (Jude1-4)
II. False Faith (Jude 5-9)
- Israel (v5)
- Fallen Angels (v6)
3. Sodom and Gamorrah (v7)
4. Cain, Balaam, Korah (v11)
3. Character of False Teachers (v8-10)
4. Results of False Faith (v12,16,19)
III. True Faith (Jude 20-25)
- How to contend for the faith (v20,21)
- How to respond to false teachers and their followers (v22,23)
- Encouragement (v24,25)
King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible: King James Version. Chicago: Moody, 2008. Print.
The Interpreter’s Bible. Vol. 12. New York: Abingdon, 1982. Print.
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Vol. 2. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2008. Print. Ephesians-Revelations.
Survey of Genesis
Genesis means “origin”, and as such is a fitting name for the book. It is the history of all humanity. Genesis is the first book of the Pentateuch. This portion of scripture covers the beginning of creation, sin, civilization, and Israel. Genesis is comprised of a series of short stories that cover a time period prior to Adam to the death of Joshua in Egypt.
Genesis is commonly referred to as the first book of Moses. Moses is accepted as the author of the five books of the Pentateuch. There are several scriptural references in both the old and the new testaments that refer to Moses as the author even though the book itself is anonymous in origin. It is believed that Moses wrote the book drawing on oral traditions and historic writings of his time, under the divine inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
The book of Genesis can be divided into two general parts. The first portion describes the early history of mankind and his relationship with God. The second portion gives specific examples of individuals whom God chose to reveal himself to. Both sections show the divine grace God has shown to man both as individuals called and as a whole as His creation. Genesis shows how God has always had a plan for mankind and that man was created with a specific purpose for God.
Important theological themes of the book of Genesis include the following doctrines:
- A living, personal God
- Man being made in the image of God
- The fall of Mankind and Original Sin
- The anticipation of the redeemer
- The covenant promises with Israel
The reoccurring pattern in shown in Genesis is one of (1) Sin; (2) Judgement; (3) Grace of God; and (4) the consequences of sin. Of importance to note is that God always provides mercy and grace even in judgement.
Genesis covers a long time period in history and begins with the story of Adam and Eve and the fall of mankind. Then moves through the stories of Cain and Able, Noah, and on up to the patriarchs of Israel. These include Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the covenants God made with them to secure a people devoted to Yahweh. Genesis warns us of the dangers of sexual immorality and the evilness that can lurk in men’s hearts. Genesis concludes with the provisions God made for the growth of Israel from a tribe to a nation under Joseph and the Egyptians.
- The Beginnings (1-11)
- The Story of Abraham (12-25)
- The Story of Isaac (25:19-26;35)
- The Story of Jacob (27:1-37:1
- The Story of Joseph (37-50)
King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible: King James Version. Chicago: Moody, 2008. Print.
Longman, Tremper. “The Book of Genesis.” Introducing the Old Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. N. pag. Print.
I remember when I was in the Basic Non-Commissioned Officer’s Coarse while stationed in the U.S. Army, at Hawaii. We had a 12 Mile forced march that we had to complete under 3 hours. Now this doesn’t seem to difficult at first mention. Especially if you consider that we were all Infantry soldiers, and this was a small distance for us. We got up early, as usual, and drew our weapons, and load bearing equipment. Now the load bearing equipment is what we wear that allows us to carry a bayonet, ammunition, and water on our person. This equipment with the Kevlar helmet on average is about 35 lbs. Then we add on our weapon and ruck sack (backpack).
The recommended weight allowance for an Infantry soldier is 60 lbs in total. However, as a leader we are expected to go farther, carry more and do it faster. So I was required to carry a 95 lbs rucksack. Now you begin to see, that even seasoned soldiers can be put to the test with such requirements, and as Sgt and a Infantry Squad Leader, I was very seasoned. The walk I will tell you is not hard, the pace is not hard. The weight, although common, is a burden.
12 miles can get to feeling very long, and 3 hours, gets to feel like forever, and yet doesn’t seem long enough time. Your mind can start to talk to you. But by keeping the end in mind, you step-by-step get through the hills and the valleys along the way to the finish line. Your heart sometimes feels like its will burst, the breeze sometimes feels like God is cheering you on. Focus is what gets you through. You walk, and you focus on the goal. You focus on your pace. You focus on your distance left to go.
Philippians tells us that Paul kept his focus. He focused on the goal. He said I forget those things which are behind, and I reach forward to the things that are before. Paul pressed toward the mark. He kept Jesus in front of his eyes the whole way! Throughout Paul’s ministry he was beaten, stoned, hungered, homeless, betrayed, thrown in prison, mocked, ridiculed, and attempts were made on his life ; all for Christ’s sake.
Paul was called by Jesus Christ, just as you are. The scriptures tell us that Paul focused on one thing, “Christ Crucified”. We must remember that in all things that Jesus was crucified for us, and for all those around us. We must keep in mind that Jesus was not only Crucified and was buried, but that He arose from the grave. The resurrection of Christ is our sign of acceptance. In Romans chapter 6 the scriptures tell us that we shall also be resurrected in the likeness of his resurrection! Brothers and sisters, death has no hold on us! We do not need to fear what man can do to us. He cannot touch our soul!
We can rest in the knowledge of what the Lord has brought us through this past year, and let it be an encouragement that He will see us through this year also. Yes there are some things that will happen that we may not understand or that we wont want to go through. Right about now, you’re going to expect me to say that the Lord will not give you more than you can handle, but I’m not going to say that. I will say that He said he will always be with you, even until the end of the age. I will remind you that He told Joshua to “be strong and of good courage”, more than once. I will remind you that the scriptures tell us that we should encourage one another, and that we should pray for one another, and that we should love one another. I will remind you that Jesus’ intercedes on your behalf!
I do know that He who has begun a good work in you, will complete it. I have the utmost expectations for this New Year, that it will be better than the last. Not because of who is president, but because my God is the God who appoints the kings of the earth. I know that even though there is going to be persecution, that the Lord’s message will be spread as a result. I do know that the Lord has stirred up the Spirit in Christians all over the world, and that He is soon to return. So I encourage you, when your rucksack gets too heavy, or when your feet are sore and want to stop, or when your weapon is to hard to raise, to keep your eyes on the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. If you share anything this year about your faith, share Christ Crucified. Share the hope that is within you. Let someone know what you know… the Truth. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, and have a great new year!
Survey of Jonah
The Book of Jonah is one of the few books of the Bible that is actually written about a prophet, with the prophet being the center of the story. In the story, Jonah received a commandment from God to go to Nineveh and preach what the Lord would tell him to preach. Jonah, however; did not immediately do what the Lord had required him to do. Instead Jonah went the opposite direction. Jonah rebelled from God out of prejudice and selfishness. Jonah knew that if the people of Nineveh were to hear the message of the Lord that they might repent. Jonah also knew the Lord, and that He is merciful. Jonah knew that God would have mercy on the people of Nineveh if they repented. In his rebellion, Jonah has to be chastised severely. Jonah then repents and cries out to the Lord for deliverance. The Lord, in His mercy, gives Jonah a second chance to go to Nineveh and deliver the message the Lord tells him. The story of Johan is referred to by Jesus himself as a sign that the story of Jonah is a revelation from God concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah.
Jonah is accepted to have been written by the prophet himself, although there is no direct evidence of this. The story itself is anonymous, as the story does not identify the writer or when it was written. It is believed that the story took place around 760 B.C. In 2nd Kings 14:27 Jonah is connected with the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel (793-753 B.C.). There was a plague in 765, an eclipse in 763, and then a second plague in 759 that may have made the Ninevites prepared to receive the preaching of Jonah. The theory for this is that the signs of the plagues and the eclipse would have been seen as judgements of God and would have prepared the hearts of the Ninevites. The king calls for fasting and repentance and the Lord hears their cries and shows mercy, even though, none was promised in the preaching of Jonah.
Nineveh is probably the most famous of the capitals of Assyria. Nineveh became the capital of Assyria during the reign of King Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.). During his rule the empire expanded and became prosperous. Nineveh was strategically located east of the Tigris River and 250 miles north of Babylon, in a very fertile region. Nineveh was the center of worship of Ishtar, the fertility goddess. The size of Nineveh as revealed in the bible (Jonah 3.3 and 4.11) was over 120,000 people and took approximately 3 days to walk across. Scholars believe the circumference to have been from 55-60 miles. Some of the inventions we use today that come from Nineveh during this time period are, locks for doors, a time system that kept track of time in a 360 degree circle, paved roads, the first postal system, and flush toilets and aqueducts. Military leaders were known for being exceptionally brutal, and used terror to keep areas under control.
There are a number of miracles in the story of Jonah that are also reflective in the gospels. That include the calming of the sea, Jonah’s being in the belly of the whale for three days, and the grace shown by God to his servant Jonah. These also include the following by chapter and verse:
- Calming of the sea (1.15)
- Preparing of the great fish (1.17)
- Throwing up of Jonah on dry land 3 days latter (2.10)
- Preparing of the gourd (4.6)
- Preparing of the worm (4.7)
- Preparing of the wind (4.8)
- Salvation of the people of Nineveh
There are twelve doctrinal issues that can be drawn from the story of Jonah. James in the epistle of James 1:15 tells that sin in its ultimate form brings death. “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1.15) Sin comes from our own selfish desires. This is then the root that sin has in our lives, that we only seek what is in our own interest. This is the problem that Jonah had. Even though he wanted to rid the world of the wickedness of Nineveh and therefore remove a threat to Israel, God had other plans. Quite possible, God chose the Nineveh, because He knew they were among the most evil people on the earth at that time. In showing them mercy to the people of Nineveh, He lets us know that it is not by our own works that we deserve mercy, but by his grace. “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; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3.5-7) Even as this is a direct show of the mercies of God towards us, no matter what the condition of our life, the portion of Johan being in the belly of the whale was given to us as a testimony of the resurrection of Jesus.
Matthew 12:38-45 tells us that Jesus confirmed the importance of this story. Jesus told the scribes that the sign of his being the Christ was the sign of Jonah being in the belly of the whale. Jesus used this story as a fact that Jonah’s plight in the big fish was accurate and true, and as it was, so would his death, burial, and resurrection. Even more so, if you look at this, Jonah then went and preached and the people were saved. Well the apostles, after Jesus’ ascension, went and preached, and people were saved. “How then shall they call on him in which they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10.14 KJV).
12 Lessons from Jonah
- Sin always has consequences (Jonah 1:4)
- Sin always affects others eventually (Jonah 1:5,8)
- It is a sin to serve God in the wrong place (Jonah 1:3)
- God’s chastening can be unusually strong (Jonah 2)
- Pay your vows (Jonah 2:9)
- Our God is the God of a 2nd chance (Jonah 3:1)
- God is more merciful than some of us expect him to be (Jonah 3:9-10)
- God blesses the city whose king orders them to turn to God (Jonah 3:5-10)
- It is possible for an entire city to get right with the Lord (Jonah 3:5-10)
- Suicide is nearly always a selfish act (Jonah 4:3)
- We should be merciful to others as God has been merciful towards us (Jonah 4:10-11)
- If you don’t believe the story of Jonah then you don’t believe the Gospel (Matthew 12:38-45)
God’s mercies with Assyria did not end with this story. Even though, later in time he still had to judge Nineveh, when they were finally conquered their people were not wiped off the face of the earth. Instead they were ruled by other nations, like Babylon. Assyrians were among the first converts listed by the early church. Assyria became a thriving Christian community that still exists today.
- Jonah Fleeing, 1.1-17
- Johan Praying, 2.1-10
- Jonah Preaching, 3.1-10
- Jonah’s Lesson, 4.1-11
King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible: King James Version. Chicago: Moody, 2008. Print.
Longman, Tremper. “The Book of Jonah.” Introducing the Old Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. N. pag. Print.
“Ancient Nineveh – Background Bible Study (Bible History Online).” Ancient Nineveh – Background Bible Study (Bible History Online). N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2016.
I remember one night, when I was very young that I had a terrible nightmare. I had dreamed that my dad passed away. I was in such turmoil, I woke from my nightmare, tears streaming down my face. My heart was in such pain and agony. I laid there looking into the darkness. The dream was so real, that I didn’t know if it had actually happened or if it was just a dream. I laid there and cried. I wanted to get up and go to my dad’s room, but I was afraid he wouldn’t be there. Even remembering the dream now, brings tears.
Finally I got up and walked to my parent’s door. There room was right next to mine, but it seemed forever as I slowly crept into the hallway. I stood there for a long time, wiped my eyes and took a deep breath. Gently I grabbed the handle and twisted the knob. If he was there I dared not wake him up. Quietly I opened the door, there was my mom lying asleep, she slept closest to the door. I looked over for my dad. My heart fell, he was not there. I stood there frozen.
Then I heard him whispering from the kitchen, “Hey little buddy, what’s wrong?” Man! I turned and saw him standing in the entrance to the dining area, and ran and put my arms around him and cried. He picked me up and held me tight. I told him about my dream. He took me and laid me back in bed, and told me, “You don’t need to worry, I am with you, right here.” Then he laid beside me until I fell asleep. When I awoke the next morning, he was still there. He was late to work, just to let me know he was with me.
I never miss the point in that. It may seem silly, but every time I read in Matthew 1:23 where the angel tells Joseph that Mary is having a baby sent by the Lord and that he will be called Immanuel (God with us), I can remember the security of the feeling of my dad saying that he is with me and his big arms holding me, and how good it felt to wake up and know that he loved me enough to stay with me through the night.
This is the same love that our heavenly father has for us. This year when you read the Christmas story and read through the verses, remember that God not only came here to be with us while Jesus was incarnate , but that he is risen from the grave, and that He is still with us. When your done reading about the wise men and the shepherds, and the little baby in the manger turn over and read Matthew 28:20 where Jesus says, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Kiss your loved ones, and tell the Lord, thanks for always being there, even when He didn’t need to be.
Exposition James 2: 1-13 (Why partiality at all levels is wrong)
When I read this passage in James I am reminded of an old Johnny Paycheck song that my dad use to listen to. The song is called the Outlaw’s Prayer. It talks about how he was held over in a town and decided to take a walk. He heard the sound of a church choir and decided to go into the church. When he entered, a man met him and asked him to leave because he wasn’t dressed appropriately for the church.
The problem is, the song is based on a common sentiment shared by allot of people who wonder into churches. They are met with condescending looks, sneers, and even people who move away from them. Sometimes this is because of their uncleanliness, sometimes their race, and sometimes because of their obvious financial or social condition.
Unfortunately, this problem seems to have been around since the 1st Century church. James takes a good amount of time to let us know, that not only is this unacceptable, but it is sinful and is detrimental to the unity of the church and the cause of Christ.
(v1) My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
James warns us that we should have no partiality in who we accept into the local church, with respect to the person based on anything, other than the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who enters the assembly seeking the Lord should be treated as unique and important as they are seen in the eyes of Christ. Christ after all died for all. The Spirit said in Revelation 22:17 “And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” Salvation is not just for the rich or the socially important.
(v2) For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
The word assemble literally means the synagogue, though not indicating a Jewish synagogue, but the meeting place of the church. The reference to the gold ring was a common symbol of status at the time, it was common place for influential people to wear several rings to show their wealth and importance. James is drawing an example of one of the ways people receive favor and places of honor based on appearances or social status. The same way that if a nicely dressed man or woman entered a restaurant and receives the attention of the host, and the wait staff, so that they can gain a better tip.
(v3) And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool.
Leviticus 19.15 commands us, “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgement: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor. “ We are not to look at the outward appearances of one another, but at Christ’s righteousness in us all, those who believe. This is unjust judgement based on false motives and assumes that earthly statues determines certain privileges.
Galatians 3.28 tells us “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” God is not respecter or persons. (Deut 10.17; ) “For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2.11) God does not care how important you think you are, nor how important you think someone else is. Giving someone an honored place in worship and ignoring someone else because of their appearance is ungodly behavior.
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and by such all need to have his grace. He is not impressed with how nice we dress, or how many cars we have. We should not care either. Skin color, financial or social status should not matter, those who are believers are family and should be treated that way. Those who are not are in danger of hell fire and need to be earnestly sought after no matter what their status or condition. It is a matter or life and death. Drawing such distinctions in the church causes divisions in the church, and causes some to stumble.
(v4) Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
When we judge others based on their wealth, race, or social status we put ourselves in danger of judgment. Only God can judge the true motives of a man, or his stature. We bring ourselves into condemnation, assuming the role of God to judge who is right with God or who is not. Showing partiality to the rich, or the color of skin is wrong in many ways and shows a flawed value system, thus meaning your judgements are based on evil thoughts.
(v5) Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
Jesus opened his ministry in Luke 4.18 by quoting the prophet Isaiah in saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set them at liberty them that are bruised,” It the lowly in the earth were who Jesus himself said He came for, why would we as His disciples minister to anyone, but who needed to hear the gospel?
(v6) But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgement seats?
In showing favoritism to the rich and oppressing the poor we miss the mark. We embolden those who oppress us, and neglect those who need our assistance the most. This is sin, James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” Neglecting the widows, or the orphans, or the poor… is SIN.
(v7) Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
The rich and the prideful and well educated, mock believers in Jesus, and talk ill of the church. They work to get laws passed and sue churches and Christian employees because their deeds are evil and to not want them brought to light. I am not saying everyone who has money is inherently worse than someone who does not. I am saying that it is wise not to place to much importance on the fact that someone has money, and assume that they are more important than someone else because they are financially endowed.
(v8) If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:
Here James is referring to the second of the two great commandments given by Jesus in Matthew 22.39 where Jesus says the 2nd greatest commandment is similar to the 1st. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” We should love our neighbors “selfishly”. When we want something, nothing stops us from doing whatever is necessary for us to get it. That is the same way we should love others, so that we put their needs above our own.
(v9) But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
By failing to obey the love of Christ, we put ourselves in sin. Our motivation to others should be from our hearts, to share the love of Christ. From out of the heart comes sins, and blasphemies, and all manner of evil doings. So by showing partiality or racism, we are living in sin, and forgetting the grace in Jesus Christ.
(10) For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
It does not matter how small a sin you thing you commit, all sin is punishable by death. You can keep all the laws of the land that you want, but if you speed, you are still in violation of the law and will be punished. It is the same precept, it only takes one broken law to become a criminal, it doesn’t matter if it is a felony or a misdemeanor, you are still a criminal. So with spiritual law, if you keep every statute, every dot, and every line, if you miss one letter, you still violated the law. So by showing partiality, you have broken the whole commandment of God.
(v11) For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also , Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou are become a transgressor of the law.
(v12) So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
As disobedience to the law brings death, so can obedience to God’s grace bring liberty from the law. We should live in the grace that has been afforded to us. By living in the grace that has been freely given to us without regard to our race, riches, social status, or even our nationality, we are free to treat other in the same manner. We are responsible to treat others with the grace that has been shown to us out of gratitude.
(v13) For he shall have judgement without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgement.
Jesus told a story in Matthew 18 about a servant who had been forgiven a lot of debt by his master. However, the servant did not show compassion to another servant that owed him money. The master then hearing of this cast the 1st servant into prison and demanded he pay all that he owed, because he was unforgiving of the 2nd servant. We should do well to read this scripture closely, and examine our hearts.
Jesus also told his disciples, that when you come to the altar and if you have a grudge against your brother, to leave your gift at the altar and go and make amends with your brother. Once you have made things right with your brother, then come back and offer your gift at the altar.
It seems clear that there is a cause and effect here in relation to how we judge others and how we show our love and gratitude towards Jesus for saving us from the meaningless lives we had before we know him, and the importance of knowing that we did not deserve His love and grace. Take a look around the next time you are in church.
Make an effort to see who is visiting. Show a genuine interest in them, they might be there just to meet Jesus for the first time, or to ask Him for forgiveness for being away so long. They may be looking for an excuse to just point a finger and walk back out… don’t give them the excuse. You just might be the harvester the Lord uses to bless their life.