It’s easy to ask for something, but it’s a lot more work to search for something, right? Stop for a second and think with me. Is there anything you’re so passionate about that you’re willing to search for it—forever if need be? Last week we talked about asking and receiving. God invites us to ask him for many good things and says he’ll give them to us, such as guidance, grace, and strength to follow him. But, when it comes to apprehending God himself, we are told to “seek” him . . . which is a great deal harder!
Oh, to know God! Even trying to completely understand a spouse takes more than a lifetime. So, it makes perfect sense to me that finding God is not a simple “ask and receive” offer, because understanding the infinite, transcendent God is without a doubt an eternal pursuit. As Einstein posited it: “I want to know God’s thoughts—the rest are details.” I’m not sure if a love relationship with God is the one goal you’ve been spending your life seeking, but it is definitely the pursuit of my life, and God is THE love of my life!
Why? I guess because I fell in love with him the first time I heard that he loves me (and you . . . and every one of us)! Why? I don’t know! I’m not sure there’s a real answer to “why” someone loves another person . . . true love, that is! We appreciate those who do good things for us or benefit us in some way, but that’s different from loving them! To love someone is to willingly sacrifice ourselves for their benefit. It’s the energizing power to bless them apart from their benefiting us, and there’s no logical “why” to that in my mind. Still, I want to say that although I fell in love with God initially as a response to experiencing his love for me, I have been hugely benefited from his love ever since.
What are some of the blessings that I have experienced and are available to all who are willing to seek the Lord? *Salvation and faith. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). *Liberty. “I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts” (Psalm 119:45). *Peace. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). *Hope. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13). *Love. “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5). *Joy and strength. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). *Eternal life. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). *Goodness and other gifts given by the Holy Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV).
Is there anybody on this earth who wouldn’t love to experience all these blessings? However, these gifts are given to “those who belong to Christ Jesus [and] have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24, ESV). Living a life crucified with Christ is a lifelong pursuit of God and his holiness! “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). It’s not an easy “ask and receive” fix; it’s a lifelong commitment to seeking God with all our hearts.
Thankfully, we don’t have to do it all on our own, because Jesus is also pursuing us! “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He loves us so much more than we will ever be able to comprehend! Do you know that? Are you responding to his love by daily seeking him with all your heart? “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified” (Psalm 40:16). Amen? Amen!!
“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:26-28).
Texts for today’s meditation: Matthew 7:7, “Seek, and ye shall find.”Matthew 7:8, “He that seeketh findeth.” Luke 11:9-10, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.“
Last Sunday night was the Super Bowl, and there was some playful bantering about which team was going to win based on the prayers of various people. Someone (not even a Christian by profession) teased that the 49ers lost because there are too many atheists in the Bay Area and more praying Christians backing the Kansas City Chiefs.
These were all lighthearted comments, but seriously, Jesus taught in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” Is that a carte blanche offer from Christ to ask whatever we want, for whatever reason we want, and expect God to be like a genie popping out of a lantern, ready to grant us our every wish?
In meditating my way through the 235 times the word “ask” is used in the Bible this week, I’ve come up with a few ideas that might help as we try to discern what we should (or should not) ask God to give us. I’ll use the format of asking questions and giving answers based on the scripture.*
#1. Does God have the power to give us that for which we ask? For sure! In Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus, he asks that all might “know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:19-20). God is capable of doing above and beyond what we can even think to ask, although notice that the goal is for us to know the love of God and experience his fullness and power in our lives.
#2. Are there conditions God puts on our being able to receive help? Yes again! What are they?
Faith: This is the first condition. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:6). “If ye have faith, and doubt not . . . ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21-22). “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).** (If you struggle with faith, see note at end.)
The request must be consistent with God’s will: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1 John 5:14). I have dear friends whose daughter is in prison today for failing to take her sick child to the doctor for treatment, believing God would heal the child supernaturally. Even Jesus in the garden, prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). God gives us resources as part of his answer to our prayers, and it’s our responsibility to do all we can to accomplish whatever we need.
We must be abiding in God and keeping his commandments: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22).
#3. What are some explained motives behind God answering our prayers?
So our heavenly Father will be glorified as the true God and known through His Son, Jesus: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.15 If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:12-15).
To increase our joy: “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24; answered prayer increases our faith and joy).
#4. What are some examples of things that can be asked for (and received) in the Bible?
Life: “He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him” (Psalm 21:4).
Wisdom: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
The right path for our pilgrimage on earth: “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).
God’s kingdom to come to earth and his will to be done on earth: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven“ (Matthew 6:10).
Provisions necessary for our survival on earth: “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field” (Zechariah 10:1). However, as we see from the life of Christ, sometimes God allows our life to be forfeited for the sake of loving others, as in the case of Kayla Mueller, the devout Christian mentioned in last Tuesday’s State of the Union Address by Donald Trump. Kayla was abducted after leaving a Doctors Without Borders facility that aided injured Syrians. She was murdered 18 months later after great suffering, despite thousands praying for her release. Nevertheless, God invites us to pray for our daily bread: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).
Protection and deliverance from evil: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). Christians are martyred for their faith every day around the world—dozens daily and as many as an estimated quarter of a billion since Christ died for us 2,000 years ago. Still, we are taught to pray for safety and deliverance, so let’s continue!
Forgiveness for our sins: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).
#5. What hinders our prayers from being answered?
If we are living in disobedience to God: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).
Asking for sinful requests: “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:2-3).
#6. What can I do if I want God to answer my prayersbut feel like He’s not listening?
If you are already a believer, confess all known sin and ask God to purify your heart: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
If you are not already a believer, then repent of your sins and become a child of God by faith in Christ: “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31).
Ask others to join in praying with you: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
If you believe your prayer is worthy, continue praying until you receive a definitive answer, which brings us full circle from the command of Christ we’re studying today. Jesus tells us to persevere in prayer, knowing that our heavenly Father loves us and will give us good gifts if we ask.
The texts for today’s meditation remind us of this: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 7:7-11. Also: “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:5-13).
*All emphases above are mine, not in the KJV, from which I’m quoting.
**Side note: If you don’t have faith but would like faith, ask God to increase your faith. As the bereft father prayed in Mark 9:24, “Lord, I believe; helpthoumineunbelief.” “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is one of the good gifts we can ask God to give us, and he promises that he will if we seek for him with all our hearts! (see Jeremiah 29:13).
If I may start at the end and work backward, I’d like to begin this with a quote from the end of Karen Keen’s book on this subject: “The end results surprised me. Rather than a black-and-white answer, I heard God saying ‘freedom.’ Not the kind of freedom that celebrates licentiousness, but the kind of freedom that loves you no matter what, even when you don’t measure up.” In a nutshell, this conclusion resonates in my heart as well.
That being said, let me point out places where I question the logic in Karen’s lines of reasoning in her book, Scripture, Ethics, & The Possibility Of Same-Sex Relationships. It would take hours—possibly even a book—to adequately discuss and counter all her arguments (at least the ones I disagree with, which aren’t all of them, of course! 🙂 ), and I am open to discussing any points or details she’s written about, but for the sake of this post not turning into an alternate doctoral thesis, let me address her four main topics:
1. Attending to the overarching intent of biblical mandates 2. Engaging in a deliberative process for creation ordinances 3. Discussing honestly the feasibility of celibacy 4. Reflecting on the fall in light of science
1. I agree that the overarching intent of biblical mandates is to provide for the common good of all people, and the law can be summed up in “Love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself” (see Matthew 22:36-40). Where we disagree is in what it actually means to love God and love our neighbor. Jesus expanded on that in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (See also John 14:21 and John 15:10). Our love for God is proven by our keeping his commandments, but in the spirit of love, not without it. (See the beautiful description of what love in action looks like in 1 Corinthians 13.) 1 John 5:3 enlarges on this: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” If we truly love God with all our hearts and souls, even the terribly difficult things we endure for his sake will not grieve us, because we understand that our self-sacrifices are done out of love for Him and for the good of others . . . which fulfills God’s mandate.
God’s commandments were given to us for our good and for the good of others. God created us; He understands us; He has given us commandments to train us in the way of godliness. “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:5). Love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith will naturally follow from the prayerful practice of God’s commandments, and it will also result in knowing what true love for others looks like. True love will persevere through failure, but true love doesn’t condone breaking commandments for the sake of accommodating someone else’s failures. Jesus never broke any of the commandments. He fulfilled the law, although he had compassion on the failures of others. To break any of God’s commandments is a failure to love God and our fellow man, and it comes from a lack of faith. From Genesis through Revelation, God is trying to teach us to trust Him to solve our problems rather than break laws attempting to find our own “better” solutions. He doesn’t want us to take matters into our own hands, like Sarah, to make things “turn out right.” They won’t! When we disobey, we open the door to failure, not success. Compassion unhinged from righteousness creates evil, not good. God calls us to overcome evil with good, not succumb to evil because persevering in good is too hard.
Before moving on to her second point, I do want to applaud Karen for her honesty in reporting: “The Old Testament authors speak only negatively of same-sex relations” (17; see Lev. 18:22;20:13 and Deuteronomy 23:17-18). She goes on to explain, “In the New Testament, all mention of same-sex relations is negative” (18; see in particular Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and 1 Timothy 1:9-10). Karen goes on to ask: If both the traditionalists and the progressives agree that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong, “then why the debate? Doesn’t that mean the Bible says same-sex relationships are wrong?” (19). I would say, “Yes! Preach it, sister! 🙂
However, Keen goes on to suggest that the authors of the biblical books may not have had insight into all forms of same-sex relationships, so they “may not” have been addressing homosexuality generally. To me, that is like saying that the Bible always condemns adultery . . . but it may not have been addressing some of the extenuating circumstances. For instance, what if your spouse has an incurable illness and is no longer sexually available? Based on how difficult it is to be celibate, might the Bible turn a blind eye to the man who seeks to relieve sexual tension and find some comfort with another woman in that devastating situation? Or, what about many single people who have the same sexual urges all of us experience but have not been able to secure a mate? What about the widows and widowers who yearn for sexual release? What about those who are imprisioned and can’t be with their spouse? So far, our society does not make exceptions for extenuating circumstances, and although most Christians would feel compassion, no one would deem such behavior godly or to be celebrated.
2. Our response to the second issue is directly connected to our view of the Bible . . . and man’s first temptation: “Hath God said?” (Genesis 3:1). The basic issue is whether or not the Bible’s teachings were superintended by an all-knowing God whose precepts were and always shall be an immutable standard for life and conduct, or whether the scriptures were written by various men who were limited in their understanding, bound by cultural issues, and not aware of current scientific theories, rendering their ideas no longer binding or sufficient. Karen feels we can improve on some of them to better meet the needs of modern people.
“Engaging in a deliberative process for creation ordinances,” in common parlance, is suggesting that even that which was ordained at the time of creation—such as God creating male and female as complimentary halves of a marriage unit—is now up for debate and possible reinterpretation. In part, Karen justifies this by saying that science has disproven the Genesis account of creation. For instance: “Instead of Adam and Eve, the data indicates Adams and Eves” (86) and makes the assertion that the scientifically approved “Y-chromosome Adam” [as the progenitor of all living males] “was not the only Homo sapiens alive in his time nor the first. In other words, he is only the father of male lineages that happened to survive to the present” (86).
To me, it is impossible to have a meaningful conversation about the authority of Scripture with someone who no longer believes the biblical accounts are accurate. For instance, Keen claims that “both science and Genesis indicate that bodily decay and evil existed prior to Adam” (87). Evil pre-existed the fall: The serpent tempted Adam and Eve to sin. However, the Bible clearly teaches that “by man [Adam] came death, by man[Christ] came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21). Yes, evil existed, but not the principle of death and decay working within the bodies and spirits of Adam and Eve.
Keen’s theory that same-sex attraction may be simply variation in species development rather than natural fallenness is based on a failure to understand the clear teaching of Genesis. Keen says Genesis indicates that bodily decay predated the fall because Adam and Eve were forced out of the garden to keep from eating from the tree of life. This is faulty thinking. At the time they were cast out of the garden, they were in the process of decaying, but that is because they had already sinned. The Genesis record is explicit: God said they would die if they ate from the forbidden tree. Death was the result of failing to believe and obey God. Keen can imagine that scientific “evidence” proves death and decay were already present, but there is nothing in the Bible to support her claim. To the contrary, the Bible makes clear that death came as a result of disbelief and disobedience. Also, no ethical scientist would purport to be able to “prove” via any scientific examination of non-existent remains that this woman, named Eve, was predisposed to death before disobeying God. Scientific theory is based on present-day human genetic programming, which according to the Genesis account was changed by the fall rather than predating it. Sending Adam and Eve out of the garden lest their decaying bodies continue to live forever in a state of spiritual death was a mercy! It is only through being born again spiritually that we receive eternal life, and it is only through the process of physical death and resurrection that we will inherit a new, incorruptible body.
The book is filled with hermeneutical inconsistencies. As a couple of examples, she compares homosexual behavior to someone who has Tourette’s. This isn’t even close. Homosexuals make conscious choices to engage in what comes naturally to them. The tics of those with Tourette’s are not controllable by the patient any more than an epileptic can control his seizures. Also, likening people who have a homosexual preference to those who become left-handed as an amoral, natural variation is incompatible with any consistent interpretation of scripture. The 700 elite troops from Benjamin who were left-handed were praised in Judges 20:16, and God used Ehud, who was left-handed, to deliver Israel from the Moabites. Being left-handed is never condemned in the Scripture, whereas homosexual behavior is never approved but always condemned.
3. Okay, let’s have an honest discussion on the feasibility of celibacy. Keen reports: “I came to a greater appreciation that no evidence exists that it’s possible for all people [to remain celibate], I saw that setting a bar that cannot be reached renders the mandate meaningless and perpetuates spiritual and psychological trauma for the person trapped in that impossible situation” (113). This is the voice of reason apart from faith and the Judeo-Christian moral code, because the God of the Bible does demand perfection in all areas: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). The purpose of the law is to make us realize our inability to attain perfection and to bring us to faith in Christ as our only hope for salvation: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Hebrews 4:12). The fact that we can’t keep the law does not “render the mandate meaningless,” however. Instead, it should drive us to Christ for help, as we are taught a few verses later: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Hebrews 4:16). To say that we can’t keep the law perfectly makes it “meaningless and perpetuates spiritual and psychological trauma for the person trapped in that impossible situation” is logical to an unbeliever, but not to a person of faith. Reason without faith is not Christianity. It is agnosticism.
Lest I seem too harsh, I want to stand on record as having a clear recognition that celibacy is nigh unto impossible for most of us. However, it is how we respond to this challenge that will guide us into the paths of life! If you can be celibate, and want to be celibate, by all means do so! Great good can be accomplished by those who are not distracted by mates and family, and we should all honor and help provide community support for those who feel called by God to forgo the joys (and difficulties) of married life in order to serve God unencumbered.
However, for most of us, the awareness of our own need for sexual intimacy drives us to find a mate, and for those of us who believe that sex was created as the uniquely sacred privilege of marriage . . . well, we become driven to marry! Single people who have been unable to find a mate are not off the hook. Again, I’m sure many people feel compassion toward those who end up involved in sexual encounters outside of marriage, but such acts are never condoned in the Scripture. “Fornication,” which is the basket term for sexual immorality, (and if you use the Greek word, “porneía” it’s pretty obvious that pornography would be included) is always condemned.
Personally, my deep conviction that if I left my husband, Alan, I should remain celibate helped keep me in my marriage, because I knew my chances of remaining celibate for the rest of my life were about zippo. 😦 I would recommend that homosexuals who take the Bible seriously consider this point, because I also firmly believe that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). If you find yourself attracted to the same sex, and same-sex relationships are condemned as wrong in the scripture (which everybody agrees is true), then please keep taking your temptation to the Lord. People have some plasticity and ability to change. I have only known a couple dozen homosexuals well enough to say this, but of the ones I’ve known, all of them have had some interest in the opposite sex at some point in their life. I know that the dopamine rush from homosexual behavior can light up your brain like a Fourth of July fireworks and permanently rearrange and reshape your brain chemistry, but if you sincerely believe there is no way out except by learning to love someone of the opposite sex (and I do mean “learn,” as an act of the will, just the way most of us have to “learn” to love our heterosexual partner), then you may find that you are capable of forming a heterosexual union. And, eventually, I am convinced (by faith) you can find deep and lasting fulfillment with that partner, whether or not it’s the most erotic relationship you could ever imagine with a same-sex partner. Frankly, if people could be honestly polled, my guess would be that most people are married to someone who was not the single most sexually attractive person they ever met! However, I can say from experience, that sexual attraction is not the best indicator of whom will make the best life-time partner or most satisfying mate. The best mates are those most like Christ. Think about it! There is hope beyond celibacy. No one HAS to refuse attempting to develop a satisfying relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Be honest, but be willing to try. That is your choice!
4. “Reflecting on the fall in light of science.” For a starter, Keen kind of says it all: “Currently, there is no scientific consensus on why people are gay or lesbian” (91). “Genes do not cause a person to be gay” (93). Fact! To date, scientists cannot explain how people develop an attraction to same sex individuals. Obviously, there are a few (very rare) cases of true hermaphrodites (“intersex”—people born with characteristics of both sexes), but the vast majority of people who self-identify as homosexual have no genetic basis for their orientation (at least, none presently known). Research has been able to find some statistically significant correlations between birth order, sexual abuse, and dysfunctional family life, but so far nobody—including gays—can clearly trace the course of their sexual development. In the few personal histories I’ve known, most of them were abused (or allured) by a homosexual and were caught off guard at first but then “fell in love.” Seduction isn’t the whole answer, though! All sorts of people attempt to seduce others (and by far the greatest number—as reflecting the general population—are heterosexual). What makes one person “fall for it” and another shun the seducer/seductress? Our minds and bodies are so intricately interwoven and complex that even we ourselves can’t understand everything that goes on within us!
Despite the “no known reason yet” of science, we are left with the reality that a small percentage of our population definitely experiences same-sex attraction. As a society, how should we respond? Karen’s answer is completely dissatisfying to me! She sees the desire of Christians to see homosexual people become heterosexual as a “lust for perfection” and suggests that we should re-envisioning how we respond. However, Jesus sets the standard at perfection: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) and the Bible calls us to holiness rather than simply accommodating sins: “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). The Bible never suggests we give up on our efforts to live godly lives, although it does offer forgiveness for us in our failures and imperfections. The Bible never approves simply accommodating natural fallenness with sinful alternatives. For example, someone who feels like they can’t stop lusting isn’t therefore given a free pass to watch porn without any consequences, because there are always consequences for sinful behaviors. To simply say, “It’s okay to be gay” goes against the uniform guidance of scripture on how to provide for a good and just society, and we would do well to heed the Word of God!
If I may, I would like to end back at the beginning. God does give us freedom to choose how we will live our lives, including with whom we choose to live them. He has definitely gifted us as humans with a great deal of autonomy, and in this life on earth, we are granted the right to be the master of our own fate in many ways. BUT, God has provided a way of wisdom through Jesus Christ, who is “the Word made flesh” and the living “Word of God.” If you are a believer, then “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4). Jesus set us free—but His desire is that we obey his commands (found in His Word, the Bible) because we love HIM. His commands are for our own good, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11).
One verse that has really helped me in my own wrestlings with the lusts of my flesh is found in Psalm 16:7, “I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.” The counsels of the Lord in the Bible lead us into the right paths, and his reins (the restrictions that bind us) help us during the times when we are confused and can’t tell clearly which way to go. If you will allow God’s commandments and the reins he puts on us to guide your heart day and night, He will bring you to the place of fullness of joy. As David wrote, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11). May God bless and guide us into the Light as we seek to walk by faith. I know it’s never easy to “live godly in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:12).
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:7-14)
“Don’t cast your pearls before swine” conjures up such a provocative image that pretty much everybody’s heard it. However, what did Jesus mean when he first proclaimed it? Perhaps the most common interpretation among Christians today runs something like this: “Share the good news of redemption through Christ (our Great Pearl) with everyone around you, but if they don’t believe you, don’t keep pressuring them. Instead, share the Gospel somewhere else, among those who may gladly receive Christ and the mysteries of the Kingdom of God (also referred to as treasure hid in a field, Matthew 13:44). Everybody deserves to hear the good news, but those who don’t believe and disparage the gift of God will just trample your treasure (eternal life through Christ) underfoot, possibly turning back to harm you as well.” I think this is good advice and a fair interpretation, although perhaps more narrow than Jesus intended.
Here is a more inclusive paraphrase that I believe fits the parameters better: “Don’t cast your pearls (the wisdom found in the Bible) before swine (in this case, anyone—believer or not—who fails to accept and submit to the teachings of God’s Word).” Why? “Lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6).
I mentioned last week that there is one other thing repeatedly affirmed as “holy” in the scriptures. It is the Bible. The Bible is described as “his holy covenant” (Luke 1:72), “the holy scriptures” (Romans 1:2) that is “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:15). It was not written simply by various men who were limited by their understanding of the world and locked into the culture of their time period, but rather, “prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).
Furthermore, the laws given in the Old Testament were not annulled by Christ but fulfilled by him. He took our punishment for failing to obey the law perfectly, but that didn’t end the value of God’s instructions to us! After the death and resurrection of Christ, Paul affirmed their value: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). One of the things we shouldn’t give away is our confidence that God’s Word is holy: “worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness” (Merriam Webster).
Jesus warned us not to give that which is holy to the “dogs” (as a metaphor often used in the Scripture to refer to those who were without moral scruples and unpredictable). “Pigs,” on the other hand, are unclean but very predictable. Pigs are predictably dirty and have one thing in mind: satisfying their own appetites. Since pearls can’t be digested, they would be useless to a pig. In fact, casting pigs some pearls instead of slop might infuriate them. After squealing and stampeding in hopes of getting their pig’s share—only to find that pearls weren’t tasty—pigs might turn against you in anger!
So, dispersing pearls of wisdom to those whose god is their belly is a waste of time and may merit persecution rather than regenerate pigs. Extrapolating from that: God’s wisdom (found in the Word of God) is something that those who have already given up their holiness (and rejected the authority of our Holy God) will not receive. These people have become like pigs. They are intent on satisfying the appetites of their flesh, and inflamed appetites cannot be satisfied by the Words of Life found in the scripture! Falling for Satan’s “Hath God reaaally said???” is a slow process. First a person wants some forbidden fruit. Next, they refuse to accept the obvious truth as stated and try by sleight of tongue to twist God’s Words into something that will allow or (hopefully even) affirm their desires, intentionally suppressing truth (trampling it in the mud). Eventually, they become as incapable of discernment as spiritual pigs who can no longer even digest the truth, and if you offer it to them, they will be angered, preferring to feed on the slop of this world.
Where am I going with all this? It’s a warning to each of us—believers as well as unbelievers. The Bible is full of wisdom about how to live. Both the Old Testament and New Testament have guidelines intended for the good of all people. It’s the “Guidebook on How to Live” written by the One who built every model of humanity that exists and who knows how we work. These pearls of wisdom are like treasure intended to guard us from evil and draw us into the ways of life and peace. If we cast off our personal holiness and reject the authority of the Bible as the true, holy words of God . . . if we have made an idol of one or another of our appetites and don’t believe that God can really meet our need without our breaking some spiritual law, then we have cast away our confidence in God. We have become like spiritual pigs.
If you happen to read this and it makes you furious, then I wish you would pray and ask the Lord to reveal the true Truth to you, whatever it is. I’m totally open to hearing your response. On the other hand, if it makes you furious, but you have even a glimmering sense that this might be right, then I beg you to pray for God to open your eyes and heart to the truth and give you the grace to obediently follow Him, even if it means giving up something you treasure almost more than life itself. God alone is worthy of our worship!
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:34-36).
Text for Today: Matthew 7:6, “neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
When we say we’re throwing something under the bus, that means we’re giving up on it. We aren’t protecting it; we’re letting go of it; we’re standing by doing nothing while it’s being destroyed. I think this is the spirit in which Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:6, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs.” Dogs receive the leftovers—the scraps that we no longer want or need. Why does Jesus warn us not to give away those things in our life which are holy and let them be destroyed by “dogs” who will devour them? Because those things which are holy are actually the most important things in our life!
What do we have that’s holy, and what is holiness? According to Merriam Webster, something that is holy is “exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.” By that high standard, only God is perfectly holy: “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy” (Revelation 15:4). First and foremost, God is holy, and we should never throw God under the bus or allow anything in life to cause us to leave the name and glory of God undefended. Don’t stand idly by while people profane God or defame His character. Rather, let’s imitate King David: “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:1-3). The proud may think you’re crazy to believe in God, but the humble will be glad! I have long appreciated this statement by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (devout Catholic believer and judge for 30 years): “God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools … and he has not been disappointed . . . If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. . . Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world” (speaking to a group of evangelical Christians in Jackson, Mississippi).
Second, the Church is holy (see Acts. 6:13 and Ephesians 2:21 and 5:27). The Church is the body of believers who come together for worship, prayer, communion, and to build each other up through fellowship and study. The Church is like the fireplace where heat and light are generated, and we are individually like living coals of fire! If we get too hot and pop off, we’ll most likely tumble away from the heat and grow cold. It’s in the community life of the Body of Christ that we grow, flourish, and minister to others. In 1 Peter 2:9, God says, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” Don’t throw away your commitment to fellowshiping with a local community of believers! The Church is sacred! Don’t throw it under the bus!
Third, if we are believers, we ourselves are called to holiness. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). In Romans, every believer is encouraged to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). So, God intends for us to be “sanctified”—consecrated to God and set apart in purity for him. When we make moral compromises with our friends or co-workers for the sake of “getting along” with them or fitting in, we are giving that which is holy (ourselves) unto the dogs (those who do not believe and have no regard for holiness).
One of the most unpopular aspects of holiness today is protecting our purity. God reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3:17, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” And, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We are called to sexual purity—don’t give your body up for immoral relationships—real or virtual! We belong to the Lord
There is a fourth thing that is repeatedly called “holy” in the Bible, and I’ll share about that next week. Can you guess what it is? Meanwhile, as we consider our lives, let’s make sure we’re not giving away our most important possessions—which are spiritual and holy: the Triune God, the Body of Christ, ourselves and our purity!
Have you ever had the experience of looking into someone’s eyes and feeling light and peace, like you can see straight into their soul? I have. I have also had the experience of looking into someone’s eyes and sensing impenetrable darkness, like a black, iron curtain has been drawn to keep me from understanding their thoughts. One makes me feel loved; the other gives me the creeps! Do you know what I mean?
In today’s text for meditation, Jesus warns us not to judge others, but to “first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). I want to consider and contrast the “beam” and the “mote.”
“Beam” has many meanings. All biblical translators and commentators seem unanimous in their opinion that Jesus is using hyperbole and referring to a large timber used for construction, but I’m such a concrete thinker that this word picture never really makes sense to me. You can’t have a literal beam of timber in your eye, because no eye could contain something that large. I’ve heard preachers try to explain it by saying it’s probably just a splinter that looks like a beam of wood to the person who has it in his eye. However, a splinter would totally block a person’s vision and be terribly painful. Anyone with a splinter in his eye naturally goes into a state of emergency and can hardly think of anything else until it’s removed.
No, this “beam” has gone unnoticed by the person. It is of huge significance, but it has blinded him and made proper judgment impossible, even though he is oblivious to this truth. So, that’s made me think about other possibilities for what Jesus could have really meant, and it occurs to me that a beam can also be a shaft of light.
A mote—on the other hand—is a speck . . . just a tiny particle . . . a bit of dust floating through the air and drifting across a shaft of light. If you put those two thoughts together, it makes a beautiful picture of what Jesus might have intended for us to understand on the spiritual level regardless of how we interpret his metaphor! Could it be that Jesus is warning us that when we judge and condemn others, we are most often doing it from a state of our own darkness. Our understanding has become skewed. We are not thinking God’s thoughts; we are judging based on our own selfish, self-serving opinions. Our heart has become blind, and what’s coming out of our eyes are beams of darkness that cause ourselves and others to stumble. Jesus points out, “Can the blind lead the blind?” (Luke 6:39).
Look at the orchids above. Only the ones that have been illuminated with light are clearly visible. There’s no way we could we know if there’s a tiny mite or a speck of fungus threatening the health of the flowers in the background which are out of focus and in the dark. Similarly, I think Jesus is telling us to cast the beams of darkness out of our own eyes so that the Light of life can illuminate us from within. Then, and only then, can we see well enough to know what the real needs of our friends are . . . and not simply what they are doing that irritates us!
Also, I love the vision of a mote as a tiny fleck floating along through a beam of light. Although specks of dust can be seen in strong shafts of light, most of them are insignificant and will drift into obscurity before long. I wonder if God, with his infinite patience, watches us with longsuffering, knowing that the bits of dirt in our lives will soon enough pass into oblivion, cleansed away by gentle puffs of the Holy Spirit.
Are we casting beams of light or darkness to those around us? Do you suppose others sense that we love them—or are they feeling creeped out? Does the light in our eyes illuminate or darken others? How much better to concentrate on becoming filled with Light! Then we will see more clearly to give others true help . . . and I suspect many of the motes that are so disturbing to us now will float away . . . or at least turn into mole hills. 🙂
Want more light in your soul? Look up at Jesus. Fill your heart with his Word, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). “They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed” (Psalm 34:5). Jesus said, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46). “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18). “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Shine On Us (—Phillips, Craig and Dean)
Lord, let Your light Light of Your face Shine on us Lord, let Your light Light of Your face Shine on us
That we may be saved That we may have life To find our way in the darkest night Let Your light shine on us
Lord, let Your grace Grace from Your hand Fall on us Lord, let Your grace Grace from Your hand Fall on us
That we may be saved That we may have life To find our way in the darkest night Let Your grace fall on us
Lord, let Your love Love with no end Come over us Lord, let Your love Love with no end Come over us
That we may be saved That we may have life To find our way in the darkest night Let love come over us Let your light shine on us
Passages for today’s text: Luke 6:39-42, “And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-6, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.“
Do you find yourself struggling to balance giving and receiving? In a perfect world, it seems like giving out should be as natural as breathing out and receiving should be as natural as breathing in, but I (at least) find at times that it’s hard to give—because it’s “giving away” something I want. And, sometimes I struggle with receiving because I fear indebtedness to the one who has given me something. What if I have nothing left for myself? What if I can never repay the giver?
It occurred to me that the breathing analogy works in understanding these quandaries too. “Breathing out” could become an issue if I am afraid I’ll not have enough oxygen for my next breath, and “breathing in” could seem suspect if I’m not sure of the purity of the air I’m receiving from the other person. What if I run out of air and die by giving out everything? What if I contract some terrible disease from breathing in “germy” air?
After a rather pain-staking search of the 1392 instances of “give” being used in the Bible (at least in the KJV version), I’ve come to some pretty reassuring and wonderful conclusions. First, the great majority of verses have to do with all the amazing gifts God offers us. I’ll give you a list at the end if you’re interested, but it pretty much includes more than anything we could ever want, including abundant provisions for both physical and spiritual life.
God promises us sufficient “air” to breathe in, so we don’t have to worry where our next breath is coming from—and we can be assured that it will be good for us! We can also share our air, knowing that we’re not going to suffocate!
In light of the overwhelming graces and kindnesses of God, He asks us to give out of our abundance to meet the needs of those who are lacking. (See verses on giving “alms”—which are provisions freely given to relieve the needs of the poor, such as Luke 11:41, “But rather give alms of such things as ye have.”) God doesn’t normally want anyone to give away everything they own. (That only happened once, when Jesus was trying to teach the rich young ruler that he was making an idol out of his money). The Bible repeatedly emphasizes the importance of working hard and saving to provide for those under our care . . . and warns against laziness: Proverbs 6:6-11; Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” However, He also wants us to help those who are “weak”: “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak” (Acts 20:35).
I think the important distinction is this: Those who are capable and lazy should not be supported; those who are disabled and unable (“weak”) should be.
That being said, there is always room for compassion. The Good Samaritan helped the wounded man without knowing anything about the man’s worthiness or character. (At least, we as readers are told nothing.) Love sees need and tries to help. “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor” (Proverbs 22:9); “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse” (Proverbs 28:27).
The bottom line as I understand it is that God wants us to work hard and provide for our own as well as being charitable and generous toward those in genuine need. God doesn’t “need” anything from us, but we can express our love for God by loving others and helping meet their needs. However, we can give God ourselves (Romans 12:1-2); we can give God glory (Revelation 14:7); and most of all, God wants us to give him thanks for all the wonderful blessings he pours out on us! “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Text for meditation: Luke 6:38, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
Appendix on Gifts God gives: If you’re feeling down and depressed, or you’re struggling to think of anything to give thanks for, here’s a small sampling of God’s blessings, many given to all mankind, and all offered to all of mankind who will receive them!
Life and breath and all things (we see in this present world): “He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:25-26).
Difficulties to bring us to God: Ecclesiastes 1:13 “And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.”
All that we need for this life: Romans 8:32 “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?“
All things we need to live a life of godliness: 2 Peter 1:3 “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”
The ability to recognize God’s good gifts to us: 1 Corinthians 2:12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.“
The prospering of our efforts: 1 Corinthians 3:7 “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”
The holy scriptures: 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
Wisdom Proverbs 2:6 “For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” Ephesians 1:17 “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.“
Life via wisdom: Ecclesiastes 7:12 “For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.”
Understanding: 2 Timothy 2:7 “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” 1 John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
Counsel and restraints: Psalm 16:7 “I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.”
Protection: Psalm 18:35 “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.”
Help from trouble: Psalm 60:11 “Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.”
Strength, power, and peace: Psalm 29:11 “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” Psalm 68:35 “O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.”
Deliverance: Psalm 18:50 “Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.”
The spirit of power, love, and a sound mind: 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Promises to help us partake of God’s divine nature: 2 Peter 1:4 “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.“
Grace: Proverbs 3:34 “Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.”Ephesians 4:7 “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:10 “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” 1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.“
Good doctrine: Proverbs 4:2 “For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.”
Instruction: Proverbs 9:9 “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”
The oracles of God: Acts 7:38 “This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.“
Favor: Proverbs 13:15 “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.“
Mercy: Acts 13:34 “And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.”
Fruit: Proverbs 31:31 “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.“
Knowledge and joy: Ecclesiastes 2:26 “For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.“
The ability to enjoy the fruits of our labor: Ecclesiastes 5:18 “Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.”
Riches and wealth: Ecclesiastes 5:19 “Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.”
Knowledge of salvation: Luke 1:77 “To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins.“
Understanding of the person and work of Christ: 1 Corinthians 12:3 “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.“
Light to find the way of peace: Luke 1:79 “To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:14 “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Revelation 22:5 “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”
The promise of salvation by faith: Galatians 3:22 “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”
Treasure in heaven: Matthew 19:21 “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”
Spiritually abundant life here on earth: 1 Timothy 6:17 “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.“
A physical body for each of us: 1 Corinthians 15:38 “But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.“
Jesus’s life as a ransom: Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
A good shepherd to lead us to heaven and give his life for us: John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
Jesus’s body as a sacrifice for us: Luke 22:19 “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” Ephesians 5:2 “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.“
Everlasting life through the blood and flesh of Christ: John 6:51 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 10:28 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 17:2 “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” 1 John 5:11 “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God: Mark 4:11 “And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables.” Luke 8:10 “And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.”
Rewards for our giving: Mark 9:41 “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.“
Words to speak when we are on trial: Luke 21:15 “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.” 1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
Power for ministry: 1 Peter 4:11 “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
The ministry of reconciliation: 2 Corinthians 5:18 “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
Grace and spiritual gifts: Romans 12:6 “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.”
Whatever we truly need: Luke 11:9 “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
The kingdom of God: Luke 12:32 “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.“
Grace and truth: John 1:17 “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” James 4:6 “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
The water of life: John 4:14 “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Revelation 21:6 “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.“
Spiritual meat: John 6:27 “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”
Spiritual bread: John 6:32 “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.”
Spiritual life: John 6:33 “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.“
An example for how to live: John 13:15 “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.“
A new commandment: John 13:34 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (I notice that Jesus says repeatedly that the law came by Moses, or that Moses “gave” them the law.)
A comforter: John 14:16 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”
Peace and His presence to relieve fear: John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”2 Thessalonians 3:16 “Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.“
The words of God: John 17:8 “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” John 17:14 “I have given them thy word.”
The glory which God gave Jesus: John 17:22 “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.”
Commandments to follow: Acts 1:2 “Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen.” (I was so impressed by this verse two years ago that it has inspired me to study the “commandments” that Jesus gave us.)
The authority to help others “rise up and walk” (if not physically today, for sure spiritually!) through the powerful name of Jesus: Acts 3:6 “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
Authority to build others up: 2 Corinthians 10:8 “For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed.”
Faith that results in soundness: Acts 3:16 “And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.“
The name of Jesus, which is the only name by which the world can be saved: Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.“
Repentance and forgiveness of sins through Jesus: Acts 5:31 “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” 2 Timothy 2:25 “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” (If you have a loved one you wish would come to faith, don’t argue! Teach them whenever they’re willing to listen, but also pray for them, recognizing that God is the one who will bring them to repentance and faith.)
The Holy Ghost: Acts 5:32 “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”Romans 5:5 “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
The Spirit: 2 Corinthians 1:22“Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”2 Corinthians 5:5 “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:8 “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.” 1 John 3:24 “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” 1 John 4:13 “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”
The Spirit, who gives us life: 2 Corinthians 3:6 “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
The Spirit, who gives us many gifts for building up the body of Christ: 1 Corinthians 12:7-9 (and on) “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit . . .”
Assurance of Christ’s resurrection (given to all men to either accept or reject): Acts 17:30-31 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
An inheritance among the brethren: Acts 20:32 “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Psalm 61:5 “For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.”
Suffering: Philippians 1:29 “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.“
Hope and consolation: 2 Thessalonians 2:16 and 17 “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”
Victory over death: 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.“