Will You Be Going to Heaven Someday?
In a letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 6:9, 10: "Know ye not [don't you know] that the unrighteous [people--those who are unjust, sinful, wicked] shall not inherit [possess or enter into] the kingdom of God [heaven]? Be not deceived [don't be misled]:
neither fornicators [unmarried people who engage in sexual intercourse with a partner who is either single or married to someone else],
nor idolaters [worshipers of false gods, referring to men, women, and children who worship people and/or things instead of the one true God],
nor adulterers [people who have sex outside of marriage; i.e., with someone other than their spouse (their own husband or wife)],
nor effeminate [men or boys who display feminine (womanly, unmanly) characteristics],
nor abusers of themselves with mankind [sodomites, homosexuals--those who engage in unnatural types of intercourse, such as anal sex],
Nor thieves [or robbers; those who steal other people's property],
nor covetous [or greedy people, who love or crave things like money, power, and possessions, especially when they belong to someone else],
nor drunkards [people who frequently become intoxicated (drunk) from having too many alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, liquor, and mixed drinks],
nor revilers [people who say mean things about others with the intention of humiliating, insulting, and embarrassing them],
nor extortioners [those who use force or threats (as in blackmail) to obtain money],
shall inherit [enter into] the kingdom of God [heaven]." [In other words, they will not enter into it.]
1 Corinthians 6:11: "And such [the same kind of people as listed above] were some of you [referring to the Corinthian people before they were saved--see note below*]: but ye [you, the people of Corinth, after salvation] are [now] washed [in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ--and thereby cleansed from sin], but ye are [now] sanctified [by the Holy Spirit--and thereby made holy], but ye are [now] justified [by Jesus' righteousness--and thereby made acceptable in God's sight] in the name of the Lord Jesus [Christ; i.e., by his authority], and by the [Holy] Spirit of our God [… and consequently, as born-again Christians, you (in this case, the Corinthian believers) will inherit the kingdom of God]."
The above verses apply not only to the Corinthian believers but also to all born-again Christians.
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*Romans 3:23 says that we have all sinned, but according to 1 Corinthians 6:11, when a person gets saved (or trusts Jesus Christ as personal Savior), no matter what he or she has done in the past, his or her sins are forgiven, a spiritual transformation takes place, and he or she becomes a "new creature" in God's sight (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). That's what happened to some of the people in Corinth.
If you want to be saved, or born again (like the people mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:11), but don't know what to do, please read one or more of the gospel tracts in the "Printable Gospel Tracts" section of my website. Here's the direct link to that page: https://www.mansioninheaven.com/PrintableGospelTracts.html.
Proverbs 29:12: "If a ruler [i.e., someone who has authority over others, including kings and queens, presidents, employers, and even husbands ruling over their wives] hearken [pays attention] to lies, all [or many] [of] his [or her] servants [and/or loyal followers] are [or will become] wicked."
Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church has an excellent commentary on this verse. In the introduction, he says: "This short proverb makes a connection between a ruler and his servants; and in particular, the influence a ruler has on his servants."
Here are some excerpts from the commentary:
"• The proper attitude [as expressed by King David] is found in Ps. 119:104 -- 'I hate every false way.'
"• But this ruler [i.e., the one, in the above verse, who hearkens to lies] does not hate deception.
"• He is attracted to it. He listens to it and takes heed to it.
"• He surrounds himself with deceivers and cheats; and they share with him all their dishonest schemes to scam and cheat the people."
"c. Solomon is describing a ruler who not only listens to dishonest liars, but he pays attention to their lies. He gives heed to what they say.
"d. WHY would this ruler give heed to liars and cheats? Probably because he himself is a liar and a cheat.
"e. There is an old proverbial saying: Birds of a feather flock together.
"f. A ruler (employer; master; politician; person of authority) surrounds himself with people like himself… people who think like he does… people who have the same ideology and values--or lack thereof."
"» Character matters much to God."
"» Whether you are running a kingdom, or a church, or a business, or a school, or a lemonade stand… character counts!
"» Wisdom demands that we avoid those who are unscrupulous… those who cheat… those who steal… those who are wicked…"
"1. The second part of this proverb speaks of the influence this dishonest ruler has on his servants.
"a. If everybody knows that the boss cheats; if everybody knows that the ruler lies; if everybody knows that the leaders are corrupt; they too are encouraged to be corrupt… wicked.
"b. If he [the ruler] listens to cheats and liars, then he must approve of them.
"c. Therefore, the servants under him feel empowered to lie and cheat themselves.
"d. Why not? The boss seems to reward that kind of behavior."
"e. It is BECAUSE the ruler is a dishonest cheat that his servants are wicked.
"f. The bad behavior of the leader will encourage more bad behavior from his servants.
"g. Corruption spreads from the top down very quickly.
"h. A leader sets the moral tone for those under him--either for good or for evil.
"i. This is true in a kingdom, a business, or a home."
The commentary ends with this:
"3. Prov. 20:8 -- A righteous king can discourage wickedness by not engaging in it himself and by making it clear to those around him that he disapproves. Just a simple but stern glare at the right time will let others know he disapproves of dishonest behavior."
If you want to read the rest of the commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-29-index/proverbs-29_12/.
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Regarding the second part of today's verse, another Bible commentator wrote:
"… instead of saying the truth which the ruler does not wish to hear, they [the 'servants'] seek to gain his favour by deceitful flatteries, misrepresentations, exaggerations, falsehoods …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/proverbs/29-12.html, "Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary")
The Bible is the Word of God
In these verses, the apostle Peter tells us why we should read and trust the Bible.
2 Peter 1:20: "Knowing this first [as a very important truth], that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation [i.e., the Bible contains the 'mind of God,' so its words are God's actual words, not the writers' interpretation (explanation) of what God said]."
2 Peter 1:21: "For the prophecy [everything that the prophets taught, including prediction of future events] came not [didn't come] in old time [in the Old Testament] by the will [suggestion] of man [mankind, human beings]: but holy men of God [prophets, etc.] spake [spoke and wrote] as they were moved [inspired, influenced, guided] by the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit]."
1 Thessalonians 5:17: "Pray [to Almighty God] without ceasing [stopping]."
Christians should pray often, or frequently.
In other words, on an ongoing basis, talk silently to God. For example, comment on things that you see and hear throughout each day, tell him your problems and ask for his help, seek his advice and guidance, ask for forgiveness whenever you sin, etc.
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GotQuestions.org has a good explanation of this verse in their article entitled "What does it mean to pray without ceasing?" Here's an excerpt:
-- "Paul is not referring to non-stop talking, but rather an attitude of God-consciousness and God-surrender that we carry with us all the time. Every waking moment is to be lived in an awareness that God is with us and that He is actively involved and engaged in our thoughts and actions." He goes on to say, "Unceasing prayer is, in essence, continual dependence upon and communion with [God] the Father."
If you want to read the entire article, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/pray-without-ceasing.html.
Ezekiel 18:20: "The soul [of a person] that sinneth [sins], it shall die. The son [or daughter] shall not bear the iniquity [shall not be punished for the sins] of the father [or mother], neither shall the father [or mother] bear the iniquity [be punished for the sins] of the son [or daughter]: the righteousness of the righteous [person, or 'the things that a righteous person (one who obeys God) does'] shall be [placed] upon him [or her--the righteous person], and the wickedness of the wicked [person, or 'the things that a wicked person does'] shall be [placed] upon him [or her--the wicked person]."
In other words, in God's sight, we are all responsible for our own sins. No one else can be punished for them.
This is a warning for worldly-minded Christians:
James 4:4: "Ye [you] [spiritual] adulterers and adulteresses [referring to Christians who are unfaithful to God], know ye not [don't you know] that the friendship of the world [i.e., loving the things of this world (unsaved people, worldly pleasures, etc.) more than we love God] is enmity with [or hostility against, or 'shows that we are actively opposed to or are unfriendly toward'] God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
Regarding the above verse, Matthew Henry wrote:
"… A man may have a competent portion of the good things of this life, and yet may keep himself in the love of God; but he who sets his heart upon the world, who places his happiness in it, and will conform himself to it, and do any thing rather than lose its friendship, he is an enemy to God; it is constructive treason and rebellion against God to set the world upon his throne in our hearts …"
(Source: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/james/4.html, "Verses 1-10")
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In addition, Albert Barnes said:
"… This spirit exists in all cases where no worldly interest is sacrificed for religion; where everything that religion peculiarly requires is sacrificed for the world. If this be so, then there are many professing Christians who are the "enemies of God." See the notes at Philippians 3:18. They have never known what is true friendship for him [God], and by their lives they show that they can be ranked only among his foes [enemies]. It becomes every professing Christian, therefore, to examine himself with the deepest earnestness to determine whether he is characteristically a friend of the world or of God; whether he is living for this life only, or is animated by the high and pure principles of those who are the friends of God. The great Searcher of hearts [i.e., God] cannot be deceived [fooled], and soon our appropriate place will be assigned us, and our final Judge will determine to which class of the two great divisions of the human family we belong - to those who are the friends of the world, or to those who are the friends of God …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/james-4.html, "Verse 4")
Advice for "Commoners"
Proverbs 23:1:"When thou sittest [when you sit down--at a state dinner, royal banquet, etc.] to eat with a ruler [someone who is 'out of your class' (a person of influence and power, with a position of authority or leadership), such as your boss, the chief executive officer (CEO) of a company, or a senator, governor, billionaire, etc.], consider diligently what is before thee [or in front of you, or 'carefully consider your surroundings']:"
Proverbs 23:2: "And put a knife to thy [your] throat [meaning exercise self-control], if thou be [if you are] a man [or woman or child] given to appetite [overeating or talking too much]."
Proverbs 23:3: "Be not desirous of [don't covet or crave] his [the ruler's] dainties [delicacies]: for they are deceitful [deceptive, misleading] meat [food]. [In other words, watch what you say and do, and don't believe everything that you see and hear, because the ruler may have ulterior motives for dining with you.]"
Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church has written an in-depth explanation of these verses.
At the beginning of the commentary, Pastor Delany says:
"If Solomon wrote this, these words are words of advice from a King to perhaps ordinary citizens, who because of their diligence, competence, and skill, find themselves in a setting with the upper class. … The point is that 'commoners' don't always know how to behave themselves before the upper crust of society and sometimes make a fool of themselves [as in 'The Beverly Hillbillies' TV show]."
He goes on to offer some advice on how to avoid making a fool of yourself if and when you sit down to "eat with a ruler." Here are some excerpts:
"1. The first part of the exhortation was to 'consider whose presence you are in.'
"2. The second part of the exhortation is to curb your appetite.
"3. You may really LOVE to eat. The food and the presentation may be fabulous…like you've never seen or tasted before.
"4. But before you ask for your third plateful, you might want to consider this proverb.
"5. 'Put a knife to your throat' before you go for thirds.
"a. Obviously, this is a figure of speech -- an idiom.
"b. The author is not suggesting you commit suicide. This is hyperbole [a statement that is not intended to be taken literally].
"c. But in a very graphic way, he gets his point across."
"e. In the setting of Proverbs 23--before the ruler--you want to demonstrate restraint, self control, moderation, and self discipline.
"f. This goes for eating, but could also be applied to the conversation. Don't eat too much. Don't talk too much. Know your place. Keep things under check… under control. Restrain yourself."
The commentary ends with a warning that the host may have ulterior motives. Pastor Delany says, "The invitation to the feast might at first seem like a wonderful opportunity for advancement and promotion (and it may be)… but don't be so sure. … The ruler may have something sinister in mind."
If you want to read more of the commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-23-index/proverbs-23_1-3/.
This message from God was delivered to the people of Israel (and to everyone else in the world) by God's prophet Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 23:1: "Woe [great sorrow or distress shall] be unto the pastors [in this case, referring to both religious and government leaders] that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! [i.e., born-again Christians] saith [says] the LORD."
Jeremiah 23:2: "Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed [lead, guide, direct] my people; Ye [you] have scattered my flock [my people], and [have] driven them away, and have not visited [or paid attention to] them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings [deeds], saith the LORD."
Jeremiah 23:3: "And I will gather the remnant [remainder, or survivors] of my flock out of all countries whither [to which] I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds [safe places, just as a sheepfold is a pen or shelter for sheep]; and they shall be fruitful [fertile] and [shall] increase [in number]."
Jeremiah 23:4: "And I will set up shepherds [rulers and leaders] over them [the sheep] which shall feed them: and they [the sheep] shall fear no more, nor be dismayed [alarmed, worried], neither shall they [any of the sheep] be lacking [missing or lost], saith the LORD."
God punishes and gets rid of false prophets and wicked rulers, who mislead and/or neglect or refuse to feed, care for, and protect his people.
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Regarding Jeremiah 23:1, Charles Spurgeon wrote:
"… What a dreadful woe this is upon all false shepherds, -- those who profess to be sent of [by, from] God to instruct the people, but who are not sent of God at all, whose labours only result in the scattering of the sheep, and destroying them, instead of gathering them to [Jesus] Christ for their salvation! …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/spe/jeremiah-23.html, "Verses 1-32")
Proverbs 20:21: "An inheritance [money, property, possessions, etc.] may be gotten hastily [quickly] at the beginning [for example, before or after a parent dies]; but the end [result] thereof shall not be blessed [by God]."
According to Pastor Delany of Salem Bible Church, the real lesson of the this proverb is "Easy come; easy go."
He says that the term gotten hastily in the above verse can be taken in two ways--good and bad. The good way is when a parent dies of natural causes and leaves an inheritance for his or her children. A bad way is when one of the children tries to speed everything up (i.e., receive his or her inheritance faster) by poisoning the parent, declaring him or her incompetent, tricking the parent into signing over his or her finances, lying about why the "child" needs the money (e.g., to pay off a gambling debt), etc.
In addition, many people get in trouble when they suddenly become rich due to fame (this includes movie stars, rock stars, and athletes), winning the lottery, inheriting a business, etc., especially when they are young and inexperienced. Because they lack wisdom, they spend the money foolishly and it doesn't last very long.
There is much more excellent material in Pastor Delany's commentary on this verse. If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-20-index/proverbs-20_21/.
Earlier in the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon "discussed" various things that people try to find fulfillment in, and he rejected each one of them as "vanity" (meaningless). He finally concluded that without God, there is no truth or meaning to life. In addition, as stated by Matthew Henry, "serious godliness is the only way to true happiness." Solomon writes:
Ecclesiastes 12:13: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter [i.e., the search for true happiness and meaning to life]: Fear God [see note below*], and keep [obey] his commandments: for this is the whole duty [obligation, responsibility] of man [mankind, human beings, all people]."
*According to Matthew Henry, the phrase Fear God in the above verse includes having "a reverence of [respect for] his majesty, a deference [humble submission] to his authority, and a dread of his wrath [anger]."
Source: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/ecclesiastes/12.html, "Verses 13-14"
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According to the dictionary, vanity has more than one meaning. When applied behavior, it can destroy many things, including people's lives, as is noted in the following article: "What does the Bible say about vanity?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-vanity.html.
Serving God on Earth Earns Rewards in Heaven
While preaching his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:
Matthew 6:19: "Lay not up [don't hoard, store up, accumulate] for yourselves treasures [riches] upon earth, where moth [bites, as on fine clothing,] and rust [as on metal and some types of food, including corn and grain] doth [do] corrupt [cause things to decay, spoil, rot, or be destroyed], and where thieves break through [the wall or door of a house] and steal [valuable items, like money and jewels]:"
Matthew 6:20: "But lay up for yourselves treasures [in this case, rewards] in heaven [by serving God with your time, talents, money, and influence--see note below*], where [referring to heaven] neither moth nor rust doth [does] corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:"
Matthew 6:21: "For where your treasure [the thing that you value most] is, there will your heart [and, consequently, your love and desire] be also."
*GotQuestions.org has an article entitled "How can we store up treasures in heaven?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/treasures-in-heaven.html.
Proverbs 17:4: "A wicked doer [an evil or morally corrupt person--someone who intentionally does bad things] giveth [gives] heed to false lips [i.e., pays attention to what a liar says, and is inclined to do what the liar says to do]; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue."
In his commentary on the above verse, Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church wrote that:
-- "The person who DOES evil things pays attention to the person who SAYS evil things."
-- "Giving heed to evil communication affects one's behavior."
-- "By LISTENING to the lies, wickedness, and gossip, we share responsibility with the one speaking the lies."
Also in the commentary, Pastor Delany lists the following reasons why "wicked doers give heed to false lips":
"6. Wicked doers (those who practice wickedness) are those who listen to corrupt and immoral and false speech.
"a. They listen to corrupt speech with delight and great pleasure!
"• Such speech supports them in their evil doings…
"• They FEED upon such speech…
"• It motivates them… encourages them…
"• They get new ideas from such speech…
"• They feel justified by such speech…
"• Without hearing such things from other wicked men, they might be AFRAID to practice their wickedness.
"• Without the support they get from such speech they might be too cowardly to act alone…
"• They NEED this speech to live the way they do."
If you want to read more of Pastor Delany's commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-17-index/proverbs-17_4/.
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Also commenting on the above verse, Matthew Henry wrote:
"… Those that design to do ill support themselves by falsehood and lying: A wicked doer gives ear, with a great deal of pleasure, to false lips, that will justify him in the ill he does, to those that aim to make public disturbances, catch greedily at libels [false statements that damage a person's reputation], and false stories, that defame [harm the good name and reputation of] the government and the administration …"
(Source: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/proverbs/17.html, "Verse 4")
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And here is one more quote:
"… The liar and he who listens to him divide the responsibility of the sin between them. These two characters help to increase each other's guilt by strengthening each other in their ungodliness. The liar is encouraged to go on in his lying by those who give heed to his lies; if there were none willing to listen to him he would soon cease to sin in this direction. So that the receiver of falsehood will have to share the punishment of him who propagates [spreads and promotes] it. Then the liar increases the wickedness of the wicked doer by his false words, which help to make his heart yet more ungodly and his doings yet more wicked. Thus ungodly men exert a reciprocal influence upon each other for evil …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/proverbs/17-4.html, "Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary")
Judging Others, Hypocrisy
Jesus addressed the above two subjects during his Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 7:3: "And why beholdest thou [why do you see, notice, focus on] the mote [small particle, splinter] that is in thy [your] brother's [or sister's or someone else's] eye, but [you] considerest not [don't consider] the [wooden] beam [a long, heavy piece of squared timber] that is in thine [your] own eye?" [In other words, why do you criticize the faults (or sins) of others while ignoring your own, even greater, faults (or sins)?]
Matthew 7:4: "Or how wilt thou [will you] say to thy brother [or another person--relative, neighbor, friend, etc.], Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?"
Matthew 7:5: "Thou hypocrite [or 'you who are engaging in the same behaviors that you condemn others for'], first cast out the beam out of thine own eye [get rid of your own problems first]; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye [and then you'll be able to give other people good advice]."
Charles Spurgeon summarized the above verses as follows:
"… Sin we may rebuke [criticize], but not if we indulge it. We may protest against evil, but not if we willfully practice it …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/matthew-7.html, "Verses 1-8")
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Concerning hypocrites, I found an excellent quote from GotQuestions.org:
"… It must be noted that hypocrisy is not the same as taking a stand against sin. For example, it is not hypocrisy to teach that drunkenness is a sin, unless the one teaching against drunkenness gets drunk every weekend--that would be hypocrisy …"
If you want to read the entire article ("What does the Bible say about hypocrisy?"), here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-hypocrisy.html.
Among Other Things, Steady Faith is Required for Answered Prayer
The apostle James wrote this in a letter to the twelve tribes of Israel (specifically, Jewish Christians), but what he says also applies to all born-again Christians.
James 1:5: "[Regarding guidance needed, both in general and for specific trials and temptations,] If any of you lack [don't have the needed] wisdom, let him [or her] ask of God [through prayer], that [who, referring to God] giveth [gives] [wisdom] to all men [and women and children] liberally [meaning he generously gives wisdom to everyone who asks for it], and [who] upbraideth not [does not criticize or scold those people for asking]; and it [i.e., wisdom] shall be given [to] him [or her]."
James 1:6-7: "But let him [or her--in this case, the person seeking wisdom] ask in faith, nothing wavering [not hesitating or doubting]. For he [or she] that wavereth [wavers] [between belief and unbelief, or goes back and forth between two opinions or courses of action and has trouble making decisions] is like a wave of the sea [that is] driven with the wind and tossed [about, meaning the person is agitated and restless like the ocean]. For let not that man [or woman or child] think that he [or she] shall receive any thing of [from] the Lord."
According to the Bible, these are some of the requirements for answered prayer. You must:
-- Be born again, or saved (per John 9:31)
-- Obey God's commandments and do things that are pleasing in his sight (per 1 John 3:22).
-- Not have unconfessed sins in your life (per 1 John 1:9).
-- Pray to God in faith (per James 1:6-7).
-- Pray in accordance with God's will (per 1 John 5:14-15).
-- Pray "in Jesus' name" (per John 14:13-14).
The Lord's Prayer (a "Model" Prayer)
Teaching them how to pray, Jesus said this to his disciples (and to all born-again Christians, who, at salvation, have become 'children of God,' according to John 1:12):
Matthew 6:9: "After this manner therefore pray ye [you, meaning they should follow this example, or pray like this]: Our Father which art [are] in heaven [referring to Almighty God, whose throne is in heaven], Hallowed [honored as holy, treated with respect and awe] be thy [your] name [i.e., YHWH, or Jehovah]."
Matthew 6:10: "[Let] Thy kingdom [God's kingdom, which is also called the kingdom of God, or kingdom of heaven--see note below*] come. [Let] Thy will [what you (God) want; i.e., that everyone obey your word, as set forth in the Bible] be done in earth [by humans], as it is [done] in heaven [by the angels]."
Matthew 6:11: "[Father,] Give us this day [today] our daily bread [food--everything necessary to sustain (support) life]."
Matthew 6:12: "And forgive us our debts [sins], as we forgive our debtors [referring to people who have sinned against us--those who have said and/or done things to cause us harm]."
Matthew 6:13: "And lead us not into temptation [do not allow us to be tempted to sin and/or to experience overwhelming trials and afflictions], but deliver us from evil [including the evil one (Satan, the devil), evil people, and evil things (sin); i.e., protect us from Satan and sin and prevent us from being corrupted or destroyed by Satan's attacks]: For thine [yours, or belonging to you (God)] is the kingdom [meaning God has control over everything and everyone in his kingdom (the universe)], and the power [meaning God has the power to do everything that we ask], and the glory [meaning God deserves honor and praise], for ever. Amen."
*GotQuestions.org has an article that answers the question "What is the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/kingdom-heaven-God.html.
We don't know who wrote this psalm, but its words are applicable to all of us:
Psalm 66:18: "If I regard [see, perceive, am aware of] iniquity [wickedness, evil] in my heart [mind] [and do nothing about it--meaning that if I take pleasure and delight in sinful thoughts and/or actions], the Lord will not hear me [when I pray]:"
In his commentary, Matthew Henry explains the above verse like this:
"… 'If I have favourable thoughts of it [i.e., iniquity, or 'heart-sins'], if I love it, indulge it, and allow myself in it, if I treat it as a friend and bid it welcome, make provision for it and am loth [loath, or unwilling] to part with it, …, if I delight in it …, God will not hear my prayer, will not accept it, nor be pleased with it, nor can I expect an answer of peace to it …'"
(Source: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/psalms/66.html, "(v. 18)")
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Albert Barnes says that regarding iniquity in our hearts, meaning we are unwilling to forsake sin (or that we have a desire to hold on to our sins) "… is applicable
"(a) to secret purposes of sin; to sinful desires, corrupt passions. and evil propensities [having an inclination or natural tendency to do bad things];
"(b) to acts of sin in individuals, as when a man is pursuing a business founded on fraud, dishonesty, oppression, and wrong;
"(c) to public acts of sin, as when a people fast and pray Isaiah 58:1-14, and yet hold their fellow-men in bondage; or enact and maintain unjust and unrighteous laws; or uphold the acts of wicked rulers; or countenance [approve of] and support by law that which is contrary to the law of God; and
"(d) to the feelings of an awakened and trembling sinner when he is professedly seeking salvation …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/psalms-66.html, "Verse 18")
Which God Will You Serve?
Speaking to the nation of Israel, Joshua said:
Joshua 24:14: "Now therefore fear the LORD [i.e., because of his supreme power and authority, you should love, honor, and respect Almighty God], and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods [images, idols, false gods] which your fathers [forefathers, ancestors] served [worshiped] on the other side of the flood [in this case, referring to the Euphrates River], and in Egypt [when they were sojourners (temporary residents) there]; and serve ye [you] the LORD."
Joshua 24:15: "And if it seem evil [hard, unreasonable, disagreeable] unto you to serve the LORD [the living God], choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether [it be] the [false] gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood [the Euphrates River], or the [false] gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye [currently] dwell [live]: but as for me and my house [household, family] [as far as I can influence them], we will serve the LORD."
There is only one true God. All other so-called "gods" (i.e., people and things that are worshiped, either intentionally or unintentionally) are idols.
Joshua's challenge in verse 15 (i.e., 'choose you this day whom ye will serve') applies not only to Israel but also to everyone in the world today.
Jesus Begins His Public Ministry by Being Baptized
Matthew 3:13: "Then cometh [came] Jesus from Galilee [specifically, from Nazareth, the city where he had lived for nearly 30 years] to [the river] Jordan unto John [the Baptist], to be baptized of [by] him."
Matthew 3:14-15: "But John forbad [refused] him [Jesus], saying, I have need to be baptized of thee [by you], and comest thou [you come] to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer [allow] it to be so now: for thus it becometh us [it is suitable and proper for us to do this in order] to fulfil all righteousness [of the ceremonial law, by obeying God's commands]. Then he [John] suffered [permitted, allowed] him [Jesus] [to be baptized]."
Matthew 3:16, 17: "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway [immediately] out of the water: and, lo [an exclamation meaning look, see, observe], the heavens were opened unto him [John the Baptist], and he saw the Spirit of God [the Holy Spirit] descending [coming down from heaven] like [in the shape of] a dove, and lighting [landing] upon him [Jesus]: And lo a voice from heaven [from God the Father] [was heard, probably by all who were there], saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
As you can see from these verses, all three persons of the Trinity were present during Jesus' baptism:
1. God the Father, speaking from heaven
2. God the Son, in person
3. God the Holy Ghost, in the form of a dove
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In his commentary on Matthew 3:16, Albert Barnes said that the Holy Spirit probably appeared in the form of a dove because "… The dove, among the Jews, was the symbol of purity of heart, harmlessness, and gentleness … The form chosen here was doubtless an emblem of the innocence, meekness, and tenderness of the Saviour …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/matthew-3.html, "Verse 16" - "The Spirit of God")
Colossians 3:20: "Children, obey your parents [both father and mother] in all things [that are good and lawful--i.e., not sinful]: for [because] this is well pleasing unto the Lord [God]."
The above verse especially applies to children who are minors (which usually means they are under the age of 18) and who live with their parents and are still under their care, guidance, protection, and authority.
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In his commentary on Ephesians 6:1, which is similar to the above verse, Albert Barnes said this about God's command for children to obey their parents :
"… it is important, because the family government is designed to be an imitation of the government of God. The government of God is what a perfect family government would be; and to accustom a child to be obedient to a parent, is designed to be one method of leading him to be obedient to God. No child that is disobedient to a parent will be obedient to God; and that child that is most obedient to a father and mother will be most likely to become a Christian, and an heir of heaven. And it may be observed, in general, that no disobedient child is virtuous, prosperous, or happy. Everyone foresees the ruin of such a child; and most of the cases of crime that lead to the penitentiary [prison], or the gallows [a place for hanging, representing the death penalty], commence by [or begin with] disobedience to parents …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/ephesians-6.html, "Verse 1")
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Regarding children's obedience being "well pleasing unto the Lord," Mark Dunagan said:
"… Children were obeying their parents long before Jesus died for our sins. But this is a different type or quality of obedience. This isn"t the grudging obedience found in the world. And neither is it, 'I will merely cooperate now, but once I turn 18, they can"t tell me what to do anymore.' Rather, this is an obedience that pleases God, that finds favor with both God and men (Luke 2:52)."
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/colossians/3-20.html, "Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible")
One Reason People Don't Get Saved
In a letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul explained why some people don't get saved.
2 Corinthians 4:3: "But if our gospel [i.e., the good news that Jesus died to pay for our sins so we could have eternal life] be hid [hidden], it is hid to them that are lost [unsaved, not born again]:"
2 Corinthians 4:4: "In whom [referring to 'them that are lost'] the god of this world [i.e., Satan, the devil] hath blinded the minds [has blocked the understanding] of them which believe not [or 'those who don't believe'] [the gospel], lest [otherwise,] the light [excellence, beauty, splendor] of the glorious gospel of [Jesus] Christ, who is the image of God [who 'resembles' the invisible God in all ways, having the same glory and perfection, moral attributes, etc.], should shine unto them [and make them want to be saved]."
Since people can only be saved if they hear, understand, and believe the gospel (Romans 10:14), Satan tries very hard to prevent that from happening.
Note: If you're interested in learning about God's simple plan of salvation, please visit the "Printable Gospel Tracts" page on my website. Here's the link: https://www.mansioninheaven.com/PrintableGospelTracts.html.
We Need the Holy Spirit's Help to Understand the Bible
1 Corinthians 2:14: "But the natural man [or woman or child--someone who is not born again] receiveth not the things of the [Holy] Spirit of God [meaning he (or she) has no interest in spiritual matters]: for they are foolishness unto him [or her--because he (or she) thinks they're stupid]: neither can he [or she, referring to the 'natural man,' or unsaved person] know [comprehend, understand] them ['the things of the Spirit of God'], because they are spiritually discerned [only revealed (made known) by the Holy Spirit, who, according to Jesus in John 14:16, 17, lives in the hearts of born-again Christians]."
According to the above verse, unsaved people don't understand God's word because the Holy Spirit does not live in their hearts. That explains why most unsaved people do not like to go to church and/or read the Bible.
We Should Consult God When Planning for the Future
James 4:13: "Go to now [hear this], ye [you] that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue [stay] there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain [make money, accumulate possessions, etc.]:"
James 4:14: "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow [you don't know what will happen tomorrow]. For what is your life? It is even a vapour [it is like gas or moisture floating in the air, such as steam, smoke, mist, fog, etc.], that appeareth [appears] for a little time, and then vanisheth away [disappears]."
James 4:15: "For that [reason--i.e., because you don't know what will happen in the future] ye ought to say [you should say instead], If the Lord will [if it is God's will], we shall live, and do this [thing], or that [thing]."
The following are examples of assumptions that people make when they say something like, "To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain" (James 4:13):
"… Tomorrow ... Of course, we shall be alive and in health tomorrow. No emergency will arise, no sickness lay us low, no sudden death overtake us. Tomorrow is our apple, and we'll cut it up like we please.
"We will go into the city ... The weather will be good; transportation will be available; we shall meet with no accident; no car will be wrecked, airplane fall, or train derail; we shall arrive exactly as planned.
"And spend a year there ... Lodging will be available to us, and at a price we can afford; no problems! No rioting shall break out; no epidemic shall occur; no war will break out; no disastrous fire will hinder; no earthquake will level the city; no flood will sweep it away. No thieves or robbers shall injure us!
"And trade ... Ah yes! Goods will be available, and of the kind, quality and price we want; financing the operation will be no impediment; there will be no shortages, no damaged freight, no ruined merchandise, no change in style or taste that would hinder trade; no city regulation, no competition, no shortage of labor - nothing will get in the way!
"And get gain ... Of course, buyers for our products will be plentiful; they will have the money; they will wish to purchase our goods, at a prince [price] substantially higher than we paid; the profits will roll in! …"
(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/james/4-13.html, "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible")
About his vision of future events (i.e., those that will occur after the "resurrection of the dead" and judgment day), the apostle John wrote this:
In Revelation 21:1: "And I [John] saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven [our current universe] and the first earth [the one we live in now] were passed away [changed]; and there was no more sea."
When the above verse was written, John was waiting for the above prophecy to be fulfilled, and many years later, born-again Christians are still waiting. When that time finally comes, what a wonderful day it will be!
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In the Old Testament, God promised that there would be no more worldwide floods.
-- In Genesis 9:11, God said to Noah: "And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth."
So, the next time that God needs to rid the world of sin (by removing evil people and evil things), he'll have to do it a different way. The Bible says it will be with fire.
-- 2 Peter 3:12, 13 says: "Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we [born-again Christians], according to his [God's] promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."