24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
For a person to deny oneself means to put others before him or her. In other words, he or she is to behave as that of a servant through humility. We are to follow the example of Jesus Christ as we see in Philippians 2 and in Matthew to John.
When taking up the cross, this does not mean one wear a big wooden cross necklace, but to follow our Savior in all He said and did no matter what the cost. After all, when He was on that cross, He took on all the sin of the world from the beginning of time until now, and that is 6,000 years. Wow! As a result, a person should follow the Lord in all aspects of his or her life, especially in these last days.
25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
People who want to save their life are in survival mode, but they will soon lose it forever. However, those who give their life voluntarily for the Lord Jesus will find it.
Luke 9:23-24 is a parallel passage, but it is worth mentioning because of the relevance of it. Let us look below at what Luke wrote.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Notice the word “daily.” This means that a person is to do this every day, and not once a week or in a year.
24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
This is the same idea as Matthew 16:24-25.
Now 2 Corinthians 11 was written by Paul, and this book is more personable than all the others he wrote throughout the New Testament. 1 Corinthians has much doctrine in it, and unity is stressed in the midst of division. Let us look below at 2 Corinthians 11: 1-15.
I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 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. 4 For if someone 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.
Paul is speaking of the deception that is already occurring now that has gone on since the creation of the world and man. Believers are to use discernment and wisdom from the Holy Spirit living in them by not becoming gullible to what Satan has to offer but to resist, and he will flee (James 4:7-8).
5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
Paul behaves with much humility and boasts in the Lord. He doesn’t want to become a burden to anyone, but that he loves everyone very much.
12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
Paul describes these false apostles by their behavior. They come across nice but deep down they are mean. This is a lot like what is taking place in the churches in America due to them watering down the Gospel and only talking about “love” rather than everything that is written in the Word of God.
In Ephesians 4:4-6, Paul was writing to the church in Ephesus in one of his epistles. He was very bold in his stance, but he was also correcting them in their behavior too.
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Paul made it clear that there needs to be unity in the body of Christ, and for all to know through him reassuring them that there is hope. Jesus is Lord and no one else. God the Father is the only one that exists too. They are one and the same.
As one reads Philippians 3:1-11, he or she will quickly realize that Paul is talking about having no confidence in the flesh. In other words, a person should walk in the Spirit of the Lord and put away those worldly desires. This can make an eternal difference if the right choice is made. Here is what he said.
Further, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
He says up front to not watch out for those who want to devour the flesh. Paul goes on to say that a person serves God by the Spirit and are to boast about Jesus Christ. After that, he breaks down why he has confidence in the flesh because of his past before he came to the Lord.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul gives his background on his past behavior, and then he focuses on how Jesus changed his life for the better. He talks about how he considers everything loss in comparison to knowing Christ through faith in Him. Furthermore, he discusses how he would like to participate in His sufferings in order to attain life eternal.
Much can be said about 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Paul gave great insight on what is to come or currently taking place.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says the following:
Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
He is confirming Jesus words in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 with His return at the end of the Tribulation.
Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, and he had much to say. Let us see what he said in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
People have been saying “peace and safety” since September 11, 1990 going back as far as George W. Bush. The difference between then and now is the intensity. One will soon see the fallen ones taking on this philosophy in order to create this new order when there is nothing new about it. Every inch of it is Satanic. The pains that are spoken of are in regards to the Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 and Revelation 15.
4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Now Paul is doing a comparison and contrast between the first and second paragraph. The latter is that of those who have Jesus in their life and to rejoice when facing suffering for believing and following Him wholeheartedly. Those who follow the Lord will not face His wrath, but we will see some of it and have already (For example: Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Daniel). He gives reference to Ephesians 6:10-20 as well with the armor of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:20-22
20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
Test everything as we see in 1 John 4 including prophecies. As a result, a person will reject evil because one will know the difference between those who follow God and those who do not.
2 Thessalonians 2
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
The fallen ones will say that the rapture has already come when the Great Tribulation begins soon. They will do this by using the television and a holographic image to make others think that mankind is actually getting raptured. However, in Ken Peter’s dream/vision from the Lord, the dead in Christ do actually resurrect, so we will see what takes place soon. All he or she can know is that those of us who are alive will face intense persecution soon because of us about to enter perilous times.
5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
When looking at this Scripture, a person learns quickly that it is the Lord holding things back, and he is doing so until Satan comes to power, and the Lord punishes him through going directly to Hell. Everyone will see how evil he is, and the majority of the world will fall for his schemes because of his hate for mankind. All who fall for this delusion from the beast will perish with eternal damnation.
13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul is thankful for the family of God. He speaks of how the Lord called them through the Gospel, so that one might share in His glory.
15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
He is encouraging those who follow Jesus wholeheartedly to stand firm and hold fast in their faith no matter what the cost. Every person has hope; let us never forget it.
In regards to 2 Timothy, Paul was teaching Timothy how to lead a holy life in the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 3:1-9 states the following:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
Paul describes how corrupt society will be in the last days. In fact, do you see a resemblance now? One will see this more so as we enter the Great Tribulation soon; however, the Lord used him to prepare us on what to look for in regards to bad fruit (Galatians 5).
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
He goes on to say further that they will exploit and harm others with their evil desires. This includes the kind of division that one will see prevalent in the world today. Everything about their behavior will be out in the wide open for all to see. An individual will know immediately who as Jesus in their life or not.
2 Timothy 4: 1-8
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
A follower of Jesus is to preach all the times of the year no matter what season. He describes how the people will behave when it comes to the new age doctrine and philosophy and rejecting the Word of God. This is especially true in churches today. Paul contrasts it with encouraging Timothy to keep his mind clear, and to obey God no matter what the cost because ministry is not easy.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Paul encourages others by letting them know that his time is almost up on Earth, and he will be with the Lord Jesus Christ soon. He boasts about the Lord and for his longing to see Him again.
Now the book of Hebrews is filled with end-times prophecy that is important including the ways in which to notice if a person is mature in their walk with the Lord Jesus or not. Let us look at Hebrews 5:11-14.
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
This passage of Scripture discusses those who are either babes in their walk with the Lord or mature. One quickly learns what to look for in regards to another individual’s behavior. The difference is if he or she is taking milk or solid food.
Let us compare and contrast this with Hebrews 6: 1-12.
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
The writer reminds us here of what he said previously with Hebrews 5:11-14, and then he expands on it below. Instead of a person getting caught up in the things of this world, one should remain focused on the Lord and boast about Him no matter what the cost.
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
An individual can fall away from the Lord Jesus. The book of Hebrews makes that very clear. Calvinists believe that a person is always saved once they accept Jesus as Lord, but it is possible to lose salvation by getting caught up with the things this world has to offer and in return fall away from the faith. For example, Miley Cyrus was a devout believer in Jesus until she went to Hollywood and had her own show. Now she sings pop music and her behavior is inappropriate when she guests on other television shows. Her dad has a Christian show called “Doc,” but he is devastated over his daughter’s behavior because Hollywood ruined his marriage and his family.
The book of James is full of wisdom and insight on how to live a godly life and to do so in practically. Anyone can learn from James, and what the Lord showed him, but it first takes an open mind because otherwise an individual will learn nothing due to their closed mind.
The first passage is that of James 1:2-15. Here is what the Lord revealed to him.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
This passage describes what it means to rejoice when persecuted. Anyone who believes and follows Jesus wholeheartedly will face this soon in these last days. The person will have to make a choice to follow the Lord or Satan when facing death. Whatever the case, he or she should seek the Lord and ask him or her what their role is, so that one is not weak in their faith but strong.
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
The previous verses from 9-15 remind the believer to remain humble in the Lord, and what will happen to the rich if they fail to repent of their ways. The goal is for those who follow Jesus to persevere while getting tested in their faith in order to obtain eternal life; however, no one should blame God because He does not tempt anyone at all. James discusses how sin grows in a person, which eventually leads to death.
James 4:1-10 are significant because the author teaches the individual how to overcome and to deal with division. The reader should take note and apply what is written here from James and apply it daily.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
The author reminds the reader that you are your own battlefield. A person should follow and obey the Lord, but to do so without having the wrong motives and worldly desires.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
James makes it very clear to not become friends with this world. When someone behaves in this manner, he or she becomes arrogant. One should strive for humility in any and all circumstances because this world is not your home.
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
The follower of Jesus should submit to God no matter what, so that the devil does flee. Satan will run away and he does. The individual has to have faith in Him alone (Hebrews 11-12). The goal is for the person to come near to God and to cling to Him. This means making sure that one repents of their ways daily, so that one does not repeat the same sin over and over again. Humility is stressed here yet again, which is significant.
James 5:1-12 is the last chapter of the book with much wisdom one can learn from and apply on a daily basis. Let us see below what one can learn from it.
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
This passage is in regards to those who rule over us. They seek to gain all the materials in the world in order to remain rich and have world domination. The issue is that one does not know that they are temporary due to following Satan rather than the true living God.
7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
An individual is to remain patient, and an example is given in regards to a farmer. He or she should remain firm in the faith no matter what the cost. Avoid division but strive to get along in the body of Christ. James also gives another example of patience with that of the prophets of old, especially of Job. As a result, one learns that God loves everyone very much because of His compassion and mercy. He is so good.
12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
In other words, consistency is important because by doing so one is firm in their faith, and he or she will not give in to the things of this world and Satan.
More to come. Please stay tuned and keep looking up. God bless you.
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