As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. —Ephesians 2:1-10

This is a marvelous passage as to what God has done for us! Those of us who have truly trusted Jesus were once “dead in…transgressions and sins.” We used to follow “the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air.” Yes, Satan once had us “ensnared, holding us captive to do his will” (II Timothy 2:26). We lived for gratifying of the flesh and sinning did not bother us. We were by nature deserving of God’s judgment and this is the terrible fate of all those who have not trusted Jesus!

But the good news is that God has “great love for us” and “is rich in mercy.” He does not give us the judgment we deserve, but “made us alive in Christ” and saved us by His grace— “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” He did this “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Now “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The question is: What are the works God prepared beforehand for you and me that we should be doing them? Here’s where reality sets in. If I am truly a follower of Jesus then I will be active in the “work” He has prepared for me out of love for God and people (Matthew 22:37-40). Am I? Are you?

These two “works” are true for every follower of Jesus. These are not the only ones, but He has commanded us to be “witnesses” (Acts 1:8) and He commanded us to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20). I am to be sharing the gospel and the praises of God and disciple those who call on the Name of the Lord (Romans 10:13). So are you and I being obedient in these areas? Our Lord will work these our differently in our lives, but are we being faithful to His desires? May we be so!

Dear Father, please help me to be faithful in Your desires for my life. May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.



Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. —Galatians 6:1-10

And so this is how it has been from the time of Jesus gave the commands to —- “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). The normal process of spiritual growth comes because “the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (II Timothy 2:2). It is important that those who have trusted Jesus to have reliable men who are able to teach them. Those responding to the gospel should be “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (I Peter 2:2). But they surely better have reliable men who themselves have been discipled to disciple them. Otherwise they open themselves up to false teaching.

One evidence of a faithful teacher is the “fruit” they produce. At the Concord State Prison there are those who seek after new believers to suck them into their false systems. The babe in Christ needs “milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14). Because the infant in Christ doesn’t understand “the teaching about righteousness” false teachers are able to confuse them. These false teachers encourage the infant in Christ that their teaching is a teaching that only they or their group has. They claim to have insight more than anyone else and their “fruit” they produce is arrogance and a self-righteousness cloaked in Christianize. These infants in Christ did not have the “elementary truths of God’s Word” taught to them and so they are prime targets for Satan’s lies.

Look at the fruit of one who professes Christ. What is their life like? Are they servants? Are they involved in discipleship relationships? Are they teachable? Is their authority the Word of God? Do they believe in the Jesus revealed in God’s Word? Are they self-focused or others-focused? Are they involved in a local church? Or… are they resistant to these things?

Father I am so grateful to know You and Jesus Christ who You sent. May I be faithful in teaching Your Word, teaching for application, in whatever circumstance You put me in. Oh, that I would grow in this by the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus. May it be so.



If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand. —Isaiah 7:9

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. —Hebrews 11:1

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. —Hebrews 11:6

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. —James 2:14-26

Faith encourages a person to stand firm (Ephesians 6:14). Faith encourages confident hope and assurance in the unseen. Faith pleases God. Faith believes in God and His Son (John 17:3). Faith is rewarded by those who earnestly seek him. Faith is active in deeds. Faith that is active gives evidence that righteousness has been credited to his account— he is considered righteous by God. Faith without works is a dead faith. We were created in Christ for good works (Ephesians 2:10).

Truly, is there evidence seen in our lives that indicates that we truly have faith in God and in His Son? May it be so.

Dear Father, I am thankful for Your great love and patience, grace and guidance, care and compassion… May I be more like Jesus today than I was yesterday and more like Him tomorrow than I will be today. May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the Name that is above all names— that Name of Jesus.



In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people. —Isaiah 6:1-9

We hear about His glory. We see His glory in the earth. We understand who we are when we see the King, the Lord Almighty. He takes our guilt away. Our sin is atoned for. The call to go for Him comes. Is my desire to be sent? Will I go and speak as He wants me to? May it be so.

Dear Father, may I go when You want me to go and speak what You want me to speak. May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.



“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” —Galatians 2:17-21

We are justified in Jesus, but He absolutely does not promote sin. Paul was, apparently, accused of this in Romans 3:8— “Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!” Paul also wrote, as moved by God’s Holy Spirit that we “were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13; I Peter 2:16).

Paul was not going to become a lawbreaker by trying to rebuild and be justified by the law. No, through the law he died to the law that he might love for God. He understood that when Jesus was crucified that he was crucified right there with Him. The life He now lived was a life of faith in Jesus who lived in him, loved him and gave Himself for him. This righteousness of God came through Jesus and is all of grace, not of works, not of a check off list.

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” —Romans 3:19-22

The absolutely only defense we have against the wrath of God is the righteousness given to us through Jesus when we called on His Name (Romans 10:13; II Corinthians 5:21). “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5:9). Praise God for His mercy and grace!

Dear Father, I am so grateful for Jesus’ willingness to take my sin on the cross and give me Your righteousness. This is all of You and I am grateful. Now may I live a life of gratitude in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.



I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! —Galatians 1:6-9

So what is the gospel? It is “living in the grace of Christ.” His Word in Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” So grace “is the gift of God.” The grace of God is a gift. In Romans 6:23 we read that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The grace gift of God is “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3-4), “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5:21) and “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

There are those who preach “a different gospel” and “comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (II Corinthians 11:4). Paul was concerned for the Corinthians—- “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3).

Those that seek to lead believers astray are those with a Christian veneer of truth. They “are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (II Corinthians 11:13-15). The false teacher “masquerades as an angel of light” and will snare the unsuspecting. This is how cults work… beware!

1. Opposing critical thinking

2. Isolating members and penalizing them for leaving

3. Emphasizing special doctrines outside scripture

4. Seeking inappropriate loyalty to their leaders

5. Dishonoring the family unit

6. Crossing Biblical boundaries of behavior (versus sexual purity and personal ownership)

7. Separation from the Church

How Cults Work

Dear Father may I stick to the Truth of Your Gospel revealed in Your Word. May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.



For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. —II Corinthians 13:8

Truth… Pilate said, “What is truth?” Today truth is pretty much what someone wants to believe. When people disagree with someone and hear an accusation against them, they want to believe it or do believe that it is true even before the truth is known. People also believe that various lifestyles are true even when these lifestyles go against the science they say they believe! Truth today is a relative term. What is truth to one person is not truth to another. People believe truth to be what they want to believe is truth even when it is so obviously false. They do not want to believe in absolutes. Their world is one of deception and delusion and that is a dangerous place to be.

Look what happened with the truth some believe in. It led to the 1940 murder of Jews in Poland, the 1944 extermination of the Hungarian Jews, the 1945 slaughter of 6,000,000 Jews, the 1952 murder of Jews in Russia, the 1969 execution of Jews in Iraq and this is a short list and only of one people group! Or consider the wicked lie of abortion that has slaughtered well over 50,000,000 children in the United States since 1973 and that same number is being slaughtered yearly worldwide! All because of what people believe to be true. How destructive thinking the truth to be true when what is being believed is actually a lie.

What is truth? Well, Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6) and His Word is the Truth (John 17:17). Everything needs to be measured by His Truth which is the only Truth. All other truth claims that do not line up with Jesus and what He has to say are lies. The only way to avoid deception it to live according to the Truth.

So, what is your foundation for truth? It better be Jesus and His Word. If you are depending on your brain only or the brain only of others that have written books then your dependency is on yourself or others. All men are faulty. “Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person” (John 2:24-25). He knew that people need to “come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (II Timothy 2:26). People need the Truth. They need Jesus. Brother and sister that is one main reason you and I are still living— to bring the truth to people! May we do so!

Dear Father, please help me to regularly encourage people toward You as I live life. May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.



Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” —II Corinthians 12:7-8

So think about this! Whatever the “thorn in my flesh” was it was there because of Satan and it was there because God allowed Satan to bring this thorn. Was God being mean for doing this? Some people would surely question God on this one. But, God has purpose in everything He does and so this “thorn” was allowed to keep Paul from being conceited. God’s power is sufficient for any of us going through anything. We just need to understand, as Paul did, that His “power is made perfect in weakness.” There is power in His Name AND He seeks to accomplish His will in our weaknesses.

Our life is in Jesus— “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Those who would be conceited think that they are doing things in their own strength. They think they can do things in their own power. They do not give glory to God.

Let us depend on the power of God and acknowledge that we are weak in ourselves. Yes, let us depend on His grace today and every day of our lives. May it be so!

Dear Father, I acknowledge that I do not have any power of my own. It is only by Your grace power in my life that I can honor Your Name. So may I allow that grace to flow in and through my life for Your glory. May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus. Yes, so be it.



Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. —II Corinthians 11:23-28

And what difficulty are you going through as you follow Jesus? As we read the passage above there are not many of us that have gone through what the Apostle Paul did as he followed Jesus and for following Jesus. There are those in the world today who are going through great difficulty as they follow Jesus, but in the U.S. that typically is not the case. We still have religious freedom. Very few in the U.S. are in jail for preaching Jesus. None that I know of have been flogged in the U.S. for following Jesus nor beaten with rods or stoned. Some of greatest danger in the U.S. comes from false believers as they seek to lead the unsuspecting believer astray. There are followers of Jesus around the world that have suffered similar things as the Apostle Paul did.

What an example the Apostle Paul is to us! All that he suffered for the Name of Jesus did not cause him to turn back or give up. No, he knew what the truth was and trusted God with his life. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). His desire was actually to die and be with Jesus— “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23). Can we say that? Are we at the place where we would rather be with Jesus than be here?

Paul’s desire to go on living was not for himself but he saw it as “more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:24-25). As long as he lived his life was to be lived for others regardless of the difficulties he endured. He wanted to be used by God so other believers would progress in their faith and to have joy in their faith.

Is that our mindset? Will we continue to serve others even as we go through difficult situations? Do we truly have the desire to be with Jesus as Paul did? Do we have that mindset of serving others even in adversity for their maturity and joy? May it be so.

Dear Father, may I follow You, serve You and serve others regardless of what difficulty comes into my life. Be pleased to work through me to encourage others to mature in faith and to have joy in their faith walk. Oh, may this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus. Yes, so be it!



Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands. —Ecclesiastes 5:15

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. —Matthew 6:19-21

What do I treasure? Where is my treasure? Who is my treasure? Do I focus primary on earthly treasure that I will not take with me when I die or am I storing up “treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal?”

How sad it is when people work and work and work only for wealth that they will not take with them when they die. My wife and I were talking with a fellow recently who said he has been working 7 days a week since he was eleven years old. For what? It is wonderful that he helps family out, but ultimately what is he working for? His focus is purely on the material and that will all be left behind. We had opportunity to talk with him about what is most important—- knowing Jesus…

But how about you and I as followers of Jesus? Where is our focus? Where is our treasure? Where is our heart focus? Are we focused more on earthly treasure that fades away and cannot be taken with us when we die? Or, are we focused on storing up treasures in heaven that will never perish? We cannot serve two masters… “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Where our heart is focused is evidence of whom or what we are serving and the result of that heart focus will either be earthly, perishing treasure or heavenly, eternal treasure. So, brother and sister are you and I focused on that which we cannot carry with us when we die or on that which will be kept in heaven for us? Oh, may it be on heavenly treasure!

Dear Father may I be a faithful steward of the responsibility that You have given me. Oh, that I would have a heart focus on the eternal and not on the temporal. May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.