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“Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8

Any gardener or farmer knows the truthfulness of the words: “Whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.” One cannot plant thorns and thistles and expect to reap good fruits and vegetables – it just doesn’t work that way. What you sow is what you will also reap.

In fact, it is also true that the thorns and thistles don’t need much help in taking over a garden plot. If they are not constantly pulled or hoed out, they will quickly spread and choke out the good seed planted there.

This is also true of our spiritual lives. Though many think they can live as they please, read what they want to read, watch what they want to watch, spend time doing those things which gratify their sinful human natures and still live and grow spiritually, it just isn’t true.

The Apostle Paul warned his readers: “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

Though it is the Spirit of God who brings us to faith and keeps us trusting in Christ Jesus as our Savior, God will not be mocked. We cannot sow to the sinful longings of our flesh and expect to continue in the faith and go to heaven. We will reap what we sow – spiritual corruption and death and, finally, eternal damnation.

On the other hand, when we sow to the Spirit of God by continuing in His Word and partaking of Christ’s Supper, He will use what is sown to nurture and strengthen our faith in Christ Jesus and preserve us in the true faith unto life everlasting. The Spirit of God will give and assure to us forgiveness for all our sins and eternal life for the sake of the innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Don’t sow to the flesh, but sow to the Spirit and reap the results – life everlasting through faith in your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Forgive me, O Lord, for the times I have sowed to the flesh. Move me to sow to the Spirit by continuing in the Word, that You might strengthen and preserve me in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14

While we might commonly think of adultery only in the narrowest sense of being unfaithful to the marriage vow by engaging in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, this commandment of the LORD God really applies to all perversions of – all adulterating of – God’s original design and intent for the marriage relationship described for us in Genesis 2:18-25, in which God created woman from man, brought her to the man and instituted and established the lifelong union of marriage between one man and one woman.

Thus, a person commits adultery when he or she is unfaithful to the marriage vow and has a sexual relationship outside of marriage; but a person also commits adultery through divorce, evil thoughts, pornography, fornication, sexual immorality, homosexuality, and any other sexual perversion (cf. Lev. 18). Even a refusal to fulfill one’s duties in marriage is contrary to God’s intent and design for marriage (cf. 1 Cor. 7:1ff.; Eph. 5:22ff.). And, whatever is not in accord with God’s intent and design at creation – the lifelong commitment and union of a man and a woman in marriage – is adultery.

This is why Jesus said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). He also says, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt. 5:32; cf. Mark 10:11-12; Matt. 19:3ff.). And, the Bible clearly teaches: “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).

When we consider this commandment, we again see our sins and failures to live up to God’s holy intent and design in creation. In fact, our whole culture is in rebellion against God’s will and design for marriage between one man and one woman and a sexual union only within marriage; and we, as individuals, have also disobeyed and rebelled in our thoughts, desires, words and actions.

Our only hope is in Christ Jesus, who kept this commandment perfectly in our stead and then bore our full punishment and won our pardon and release when He suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose again on the third day.

He calls upon us all to repent of our evil ways and turn to Him in faith for mercy, forgiveness and life everlasting (cf. Acts 3:19). Only in Him and His blood shed for us on the cross can we sinners find pardon and peace (Cf. 1 John 1:8 – 2:2)!

O dearest Jesus, forgive me for my sins in thought, word and deed. Change my heart to be like Your heart. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” John 7:37-39

We think little of the importance and need for water. We just turn on the faucet and water flows. It wasn’t so in the Bible days and especially in the arid regions of the Middle East. Water was a precious commodity, and obtaining all the water needed was a continual task and concern.

Think of the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 17). They had no water to drink and thirsted. They complained against Moses, accusing him of bringing them out into the wilderness to die of thirst. And God commanded Moses to strike the rock with his rod, and water gushed forth, meeting the needs of God’s people. And the Bible tells us that God provided water for the people from the rock on more than one occasion (cf. Num. 20:8ff.; Deut. 8:15).

Now, it was the feast of tabernacles, the last day of that great feast in which the people dwelt in tabernacles to remind them of their living in tents in the wilderness for 40 years. On each day of the feast, the priests drew out a vessel of water from the Pool of Siloam and the people sang psalms as they returned to the temple to pour out the water into a basin there on the side of the altar – a reminder that God had given them water from the rock in the wilderness.

Then, on the last day of the feast, Jesus cried out in the temple, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

That rock in the wilderness pointed to Christ Jesus. As God satisfied the thirst of His people in the wilderness with water from the rock, so Christ offers to meet the spiritual thirst of God’s people — their greatest need — with living water, water which continues to flow and meet all our needs and to quench the thirst of those around us as we point them to Christ, the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world by his sacrifice upon the cross (John 1:29).

As Jesus offered living water to the woman at the well in Samaria (John 4:10,13-14), so here He offers it to all who had come to the temple in search of God’s mercy and blessing. And, He offers it to you and to me, as well!

How does Jesus quench our thirst? He offers and gives us pardon and forgiveness for all our sins when we come to Him in faith, trusting that He indeed is God’s Son and our Savior and that He has satisfied the demands of God’s law for us and suffered the full and just punishment for all our sins (cf. Eph. 1:6-9; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rom. 3:21-26).

And, as John explained, when we trust in Jesus, He gives to us His Holy Spirit, who continually works through God’s Word and Sacraments to keep us in the true and saving faith. He convicts us of our sinfulness with God’s Law and comforts us with God’s pardon and forgiveness through the message of the Gospel, the good news of His mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus (cf. Isa. 55:1ff.; 12:1ff.; Matt. 11:28ff.; Acts 2:36-39; Phil. 1:6).

We are living in a spiritual wilderness. True spiritual water is scarce – we can’t find it on our own. But God has provided it for us in His Son – the Rock which follows us in this wilderness of sin and death (cf. 1 Cor. 10:4; Psalm 36:9). And in Jesus, our thirst is quenched. Our greatest need – forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God our Maker – is met. And when we come to Jesus in faith, which is in itself of the gracious working of God (cf. Eph. 2:8-9; Col. 1:12; John 6:44,63), the Holy Spirit will be given to us and our spiritual thirst will be continually quenched as He sanctifies and keeps us in the true faith in Christ Jesus, our Savior (Rev. 22:17)!

We come to You, O Jesus, to quench our thirsting souls. Forgive our sins and keep us within Your flock and fold. And grant to us Your Spirit, and may the rivers flow, that others, too, may hear us, their Savior come to know. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus 20:13

Every human life is a creation of God, and every human life is precious to God. Why? Because God created man in His own image and Jesus Christ died for all people (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:7,21-22; 9:5-6; Psalm 139:13-16; 1 John 2:1-2; 2 Cor. 5:15).

Except in cases of punishing evildoers and waging just wars to protect life and property, God has reserved for Himself the right to end or destroy any human life (Gen. 9:5-6; Rom. 13:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:13-14; Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17; Psalm 31:15; 39:4-5; 90:1-3; Job 14:1-12; Acts 17:24-28). The Bible teaches that the practice of euthanasia, abortion, self-inflicted death (suicide) and all other unjustified taking of human life is murder and sin.

Most feel they have kept this commandment of the LORD as long as they have not actually killed or murdered another human being. However, as we see from the Scriptures, this commandment is far more reaching than the act of murder itself.

Exodus 21:29 and Deuteronomy 22:8 expand this commandment to manslaughter – the taking of human life through carelessness or negligence.

Jesus, in His sermon on the mount, says: “That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matt. 5:22). The Apostle John also writes: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15).

Perhaps you have not actually killed another person, but have you ever hated someone or called him a fool or empty-headed? If so – and which of us has not – you are guilty and condemned by this commandment of the LORD! This is why the Scriptures tell us “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20); and that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

It is also the reason why each of us needs to repent – acknowledging our sins and failures to keep God’s holy commandments in our thoughts, desires, words, and deeds, and trusting in the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Messiah Jesus as full payment for our sins. In the crucified and risen Jesus, we sinners find mercy, forgiveness, and life everlasting!

Dear Lord Jesus, true Son of God and true man, for the sake of Your blood, shed for us on the cross, forgive us for our failures to keep Your holy commandments. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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[Editor’s Note: The letter below is the first in a series of letters written to my children urging them to continue in the true faith. The letters may also prove helpful to others who wish to read and consider their message.]

My Dear Children,

The first and most important thing I can encourage you to do is to read your Bibles. I know that there are so many other things to keep you busy that finding time to read and study the Scriptures is difficult, but this is so essential to your well-being, both here in this world and hereafter in eternity! In fact, if you do this one thing and continue in it, you will learn the rest of what I intend to say to you without my letters and instruction.

St. Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:14-17): “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

You see, the Bible tells us that, when we study its pages, we will learn of the salvation which is ours through faith in Christ Jesus. We also learn that the Scriptures are useful and beneficial to us – indeed necessary – to teach us, reprove us, correct us, and instruct us in righteous living. When we diligently read and study our Bibles, we will learn of our salvation in Christ Jesus and be thoroughly equipped to follow Christ and live for Him. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Now, the Bible is no ordinary book. While we are flooded every day with books and articles to read, coming from all sorts of different human authors and groups, the Bible is different. It is the Word of God to man! It is the revealed word and message of the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven, earth and all things; and it is written and recorded for you and for me.

Why do I say this? Because the Bible itself tells us that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16)! Peter also writes: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the 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 1:20-21).

The Bible is God’s Word because God moved men to write and guided and directed them in their choice of words. St. Paul wrote: “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13). And, so we see that all of the Bible, and each and every word of the Bible, is inspired by God, or God-breathed!

David, the human author of many of the psalms, also spoke of this when he said: “Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:1,2).

Since the Bible is not man’s writing but God’s Word, it is not surprising that the Bible, which is made up of 66 books and was recorded over a period of about 1600 years by over 30 human authors, says and teaches the same things throughout. Nor is it surprising that even the minutest points in the Bible are accurate and true. In fact, since God cannot lie and is always faithful (cf. Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:13), we could simply conclude that everything in the Bible is true and accurate and without mistake. But the Scriptures themselves also clearly teach that they are in all points true and without error.

Jesus said, in His high priestly prayer, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). In another place, Jesus stated, “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Therefore, we hold not only to the inspiration of the Scriptures, but also to the truthfulness and accuracy of every word of Scripture; for it is not man’s word, but God’s! Furthermore, the Scriptures say: “Every word of God is pure” (Proverbs 30:5); and, “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160).

Now there are many who say that the Word of God has been lost and corrupted down through the centuries and that what we have in our Bibles may not actually be the very Word of God. This too is false, for there are more copies, translations and quotations supporting the authenticity of our Bible than for any other ancient historical book or writing.

But we also have the word and promise of God to faithfully preserve His Word as a witness to all the nations down to the end of time. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14); and, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). The Scriptures also say: “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89); “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8); and, “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:25).

It is true that we only have copies of the original Hebrew and Greek writings, but these copies were made with the greatest of care and precision to ensure that nothing be changed or lost. The vast numbers of manuscripts which still remain and their remarkable unity and agreement testify to this care and to God’s hand in preserving the Scriptures for us today. The Old Testament books were copied and preserved through the work of Hebrew scribes. Their work was preserved through the work of the Masoretes. Thus, the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures have been preserved for us in what is known as the Masoretic Text.

Thousands of manuscripts of the Greek New Testament remain, along with ancient translations, lectionaries and citations. The vast majority of these manuscripts agree throughout. They have come to be known as the Majority or Received Text.

Since all of the Bible and each and every word of the Bible has been given to us by inspiration of God, and since God has faithfully preserved His Word for us down through the centuries, it is both beneficial and important for us to use great care in choosing a Bible translation which accurately translates both the thoughts and words of the original languages. In fact, God Himself warns against adding to or taking away from the Word of God in any way.

The Bible says: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). Jesus Himself said: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot [smallest Hebrew letter] or one tittle [smallest part of a Hebrew letter] shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:18-19).

The Bible closes with the warning: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).

This is why I continue to use, teach from and recommend the King James Version of the Bible (or the New King James Version, the Modern English Version, or the Revised Common Version for those who need a more modern translation), for this English translation is not only beautiful to read and easy to memorize; it very accurately and faithfully translates the Word of God from the Hebrew Masoretic and Greek Received Texts – in my opinion, it is far more accurate than any other. In contrast, many of the other modern English translations are poorer translations, rely upon only a few less reliable texts, or both.

I hope this helps you to see the importance of reading and studying your Bibles. Remember, the Bible is the Word of God, your Maker, your Redeemer, and your Judge. He has given it to you to teach you of Him and to show you the way of life through faith in Him. Please, I plead with you, take the time to read and study its pages! Read a few verses or a chapter a day. Pray about it, apply it to yourself, and meditate upon it.

I close this letter for now, praying that our God will give you the desire and willingness to read and study His life-giving Word. God bless and keep you all!

Until next time, with all my love,

Dad

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