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Yes, the Church Definitely Stinks! Letter to an (Absent but Vocal) Church Critic

sinners-wanted-001[In response to a Facebook post about the sad, sin-plagued state of the church today.  Names have been withheld, changed, or translated into Common Eldarin & Westron to avoid offense.] 

My response:  Guilty.As.Charged. 

Is the capital “C” Church, and are all the many, many individual churches, populated by sometime cantankerous, grumpy, judgmental people?  Yes, absolutely; guilty as charged.  Do those same people fall short of biblical expectations for life and service?  You betcha! 

Should those facts make me stay away?  Better yet, should those facts make me stay away and then target those in the camp with explosive-laden complaint drones?  Well… 

There are a million reasons not to be connected with a local church or regularly in worship.  I’ve heard them all and, in moments of personal honesty, I’ve used some of them myself.  At the top of the list: many of the people you find there.  One seminary wag said it:  “Ministry is great, except for the people.”  Or, as a former parishioner of mine put it so eloquently, “I love God’s church; it’s God’s people I can’t stand!” 

There are a million reasons not to be in worship regularly.  But there is one overriding reason to be there:  God says so.  So, from a simple “obedience” perspective (for those of you concerned about the disobedient people in the church), I think you’d need to deal with that.  The Writer of Hebrews says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24,25). 

But, in the purity of the power of a relationship with the Heavenly Father, that’s not what moves me to be among God’s people, in church.  I don’t “have” to go; I “get” to go…and there are light years difference between those two things. 

The God who loves me wants me to hang out with Him AND He wants me to regularly hang out with those other people He loves…not so that we can all show off how much better than the rest of humanity we are, but to worship Him and adore Him and face our need for His grace and power to accomplish His purposes.  “Apart from me you can do nothing,” Jesus said…nothing

The church is not a beauty contest, it’s a “Critical Care Unit” — “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  That’s true before people come to know Christ and, sadly, still true after we come to know Christ.  This side of heaven we are still plagued by sin. 

Is the Bible full of calls to be better?  Certainly.  But that “betterment” is not a self-help effort.  It’s an “only Jesus can make this possible” effort.  And the very second we start to compare “betterment” we are in serious, serious trouble.  “Do not judge,” Jesus said, “Do not judge.” 

I think a wise church leader friend of mine is right: many in the church over the years have thought they were going to a spiritual Lowe’s to pick up the tools to be able to become better people (Let’s Build Something!).  When, in fact, worship is about God, not the life “score card” of the person sitting next to me–nor even my own spiritual “batting average.”  I don’t have to go; I get to go.  And, when I do go, I get to worship the God who loves this broken sinner.  And (and here’s the key point in this particular ramble): I get to hang out with others just like me who know they’re broken and who are partnering with each other and the Living God to experience grace such that we might show grace to each other and to the rest of the world. 

Do we get that right?  Sometimes…ok, maybe rarely…perhaps hardly ever…but when we do, it’s a wondrous thing to behold…and it’s worth every second of church-based stupidity I’ve ever experienced.  And trust me, as a pastor, I have seen, heard, felt, and been bashed by more of that stupidity than anyone observing from the sidelines will ever know. 

And…by the way…I do know that many have been egregiously wounded by those in the church…wounded by those who thought they knew better…or perhaps even wounded by those who did know better but couldn’t “speak the truth in love.”  This is not to diminish any of those hurts and pains.  It is to say, with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).  And, if we think we can have Jesus (Simply Jesus) without the pains, travails, and (yes) joys of the church, then I think we miss the entire tenor of the New Testament’s witness about the church. 

Winston Churchill, in commenting on the frailties of democracy, once remarked: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise.  Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those others…”  The same could likely be said of the church:  “No one pretends that the church is perfect or all wise.  It’s the worst form of Christian gathering, except for all the others.” 

To a more “Christianly Correct” audience, perhaps it would be better for us to hear Billy Graham’s pithily profound observation: “There’s no such thing as a perfect church; if you think you’ve found a perfect church, don’t join it–you’ll ruin it.”  

I regularly hearken back to John Newton’s, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found; was blind but now I see.” 

What do I see? Not how much better I can perform now, but how much I desperately need the power of God every day.  What do I see?  That grace is not a onetime proposition, but the constant outpouring of undeserving love on this weary and wary sinner.  Where do I see that best?  With and among God’s people…in worship…even when they’re cantankerous, grumpy, and judgmental. 

Before you discard the church, friend…remember that the church was (and is still) God’s idea (Matthew 16:17-19).  Standing on the outside looking in and lobbing verbal grenades?  Well, that’s someone else’s idea.


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Kingdom Power and Authority, part III

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Ephesians 4:3-6 (NAS): Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is ONE body and ONE Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

We are never to war in the flesh. Satan will send his demons to coerce the unsuspecting to lash out at you. Resist temptation to verbally or physically defend your honor: for it is not your honor at stake, but God’s. With this mindset grounded in the Kingdom of heaven, you will be more self-disciplined when confronted with insults hurled at you. God WILL contend with those who contend with Him ambassadors – every time, but in His timing, not ours.

We must be patient to wait upon the Lord. Knowing this and the wrath that will be unleashed toward the unrepentant, we will more quickly intercede in prayer for mercy for our human foe. We should never wish destruction for mankind; God loves them and expects His people to intercede whether we want to or not. Again, as an ambassador, our personal opinion and desires are irrelevant. God and His desires alone are our motivating factors.

John 19:10-11, NAS: So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above…”

Here in John 19, we see where, without using pride behind His words, Jesus spoke plainly and with Kingdom confidence that Pilate had zero authority to do anything with Him lest God the Father granted him access. Jesus, even in the face of death, did not waver, but stood firmly in the knowledge and power and authority of God. This is how we, those filled with the Spirit of the Living God, should conduct ourselves at all times. This is Kingdom of God conduct. Anything less is earthly, of the evil one, and full of pride – that conduct will destroy you and it will chip away at God’s Kingdom.


I hope you’ll come back next time. If you’re interested in reading more, please go to my website and check out my books or my ministry Facebook page.

Peace and blessings,

Alexys V. Wolf


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Fall On His Grace!


“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”   1 Peter 5:10

GRACE:  “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”                                                   

Grace is unmerited divine assistance given to the human race for the purpose of enduring the sanctification process. It is a gift that comes directly from God. Because of our Lord’s sacrifice and crucifixion, His blood has set us free from the guilt of sin. This precious offering is what enables us to carry on through even the most painful of circumstances. 

When you find yourself in the middle of a fiery trial or furnace, and dross (personal sins) is painfully rising to the surface, you may think God has forgotten your frame and misjudged your ability to persevere. The absolute truth is that He hasn’t ever stopped thinking of you! You are always in His sight and on His mind. Grace is why you are able to carry on and endure the refining process. With grace, God gives you His strength, wisdom, and courage to face your challenge. 

We are told that Paul had a “thorn” in his flesh and that he petitioned God to remove it three times. Although it was within the power of God to heal Paul, He had a better idea. God told Paul that the grace He would provide would be sufficient. He further explained that His strength is made perfect in weakness. 

Paul understood that when he was weak he would be strong.  Strong because God was the one supernaturally providing him with the power to face his personal “thorn” and live through the day. It was the power of God within Paul’s frail body that enabled him to persevere. His weakness was a living witness of God’s power and might. 

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NKJV)

You may be facing an incredible trial right now, but you can choose to either wallow in self-pity or find consolation in God’s words to Paul.  He will be your strength, if you ask Him. He wants to hear your cry for help. He longs for your fellowship and He wants to provide you with His abundant grace.

In this life, there are an endless number of surprising and unexpected opportunities to glorify God. One way is by responding to your circumstances in a godly manner. Will nonbelievers witness a peace and calm in your nature while you ride out moments of incredible pain and suffering? Will those around you observe a reliance on God’s strength to carry you through another day? Will your faith in God’s love, goodness, mercy, and grace strike awe in the hearts of everyone you meet? Will your trial be the reason some fall to their knees in repentance and the scales of deception drop from their eyes? 

Call upon the grace of God to carry you through your affliction and adversity. With His strength, your life will be a witness to the lost and provide God with the glory He deserves.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”   Ephesians 2:809 (NKJV)

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18 (NKJV)

“God’s grace is not given to make us feel better, but to glorify Him… Good feelings may come, or they may not, but that is not the issue.  The issue is whether or not we honor God by the way we respond to our circumstances.”  – Jerry Bridges  (Transforming Grace)

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Book Review: Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full

I would love to buy cases of this book and hand it out to all the moms I know!

If you are looking for an honest and gospel centered book on mothering – Buy this book!  Whether you are a mom to small children or grown…even grandmas!  You will want this book!
Husbands:  This would be a great Mother’s Day gift! Buy this book for your wife!

“Yes, mother, your hands are full, literally. And your hands are filled to overflowing with grace by the one who stretched his hands out for you on the cross. “

I highly recommend (can you tell?)  Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman. 
Gloria’s bio states, 

“I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, wife to Dave, mother of four young children, and a Tex-Mex enthusiast. When my husband and I moved to the Middle East in 2008 to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai it was just the two of us and our baby girl, and we had no idea what the Lord was going to do. Not a day goes by that we’re not astonished by God’s grace in calling us here, in using us to minister to people from many nations, and in blessing us with three more children along the way.”
 She is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home and blogs regularly at the Gospel Coalition, Desiring God,

I was so thrilled to read a book, written by a young mother, that is so full of godly wisdom and truth.  So much so, that I have little doubt that it was written through the power of God and for His great glory.

“The gift of motherhood points mothers to treasure Jesus Christ as he transforms our heart from the inside out. That’s the subject I am going to unpack in this book. In case you’re too busy to read the rest of it (I know what that’s like!), the gist of my thesis is this:
Because of the gospel—the news about what Jesus did on the cross to save sinners—mothers who make Christ their treasure can rejoice in their work as God works in them. “

I love how she points out in the beginning of the book that, 

“Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full is not a to-do list on how to be a good mother. It’s about our good God and what he has done.  And, While I do not venture to give sage advice in the how-to’s of mothering (my oldest child is still in primary
school), the application of the gospel to motherhood is immensely practical. I kept a note on my desktop while writing these pages. The note says: “Resist the urge to reduce God’s Word to nice tips for nice living: give them the gospel.”

Once I got to this point in the book, I knew I wanted to read more!


Mrs. Furman has an uncanny way of shining a scriptural light upon the lies and misconceptions of motherhood.  She is transparent in the motives of the heart and quick to combat her sin and wrong thinking with the Truth of the Word.  I so love her heart in this book and her desire to point everything to Christ.  Sometimes a book will have a title that is just catchy.  Not this book.  It is clear that Treasuring Christ is not only the title, but the intent of the entire work.  From first page to last, Furman points herself and mothers to Christ: Part 1-God Made Motherhood for Himself and Part 2-Motherhood for Worship. Every section of this book is so filled with Christ and the Truth of scripture, that there are 3 full pages in the back to notate the Scripture references!  I always say don’t read any man-written book without your bible right beside…I still say it for this book, though it is wonderfully on point with referencing every thought or statement against the Word of God.  So refreshing.

And grace.  Grace is a popular topic throughout the history of Christian writers, yet many are seeing and understanding grace in a new light in this generation.  Furman stays biblically firm in her application of God’s grace:

Family Tradition #1: We Always Need God’s Grace

He fulfilled God’s highest expectations of perfection, and in Him all the promises of God find their Yes (2 Cor. 1:20). In Him we find mercy in our time of need—which is alwaysGrace is the most important thing for us to keep in mind as we shape the expectations of our home. Our children need to grow up knowing, “We always trust God because he’s willing and able to help us,” and, “We always praise God because he is our most valuable treasure.” And we need to get up every morning knowing, “I always trust God because he’s willing and able to help me.”


Yet, she lovingly causes us to take an honest look and  true inventory of our need for grace:

“Do you need God’s grace? Or do you have what it takes to multitask your busy routine? Do you need God’s grace? Or have you been “down this road before” with your husband, and your conflict will sort itself out in time? Do you need God’s grace? Or do you just need Google? Do you need God’s grace? Or do you pretty much have this motherhood gig in the bag? 

She gives so many real world and transparent examples in her own life…when she blows it, being willing to ask her children forgiveness, and to defeating unrealistic expectations and guilt:

“Things like “mommy guilt” cannot crush us because Christ was crushed on the cross in our stead. Jesus is our consistency;”

“The Lord is just as near to you when you’re using a bulb sucker on a tiny, congested nose and as you’re summoning the wisdom of Solomon to settle a spat over a disputed toy.”

“Indeed, the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life (Ps. 63:3) because his love gives us his life. Because of his love we are able to love. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

It is this love—the love of Christ—that compels Christian mothers to love their children.”

“Why was I so depleted in love for others? Why was my attitude so hostile toward the people I love the most? In my prayerful reflections on that incident, the Lord graciously revealed to me that I had a deep craving to satisfy my own needs before the needs of others. I saw how my nearly unceasing service toward my family had actually been powered by attempts to resuscitate myself through sheer willpower and control my environment. “

“There are no perfect moms,” we quip, but we’ll die trying to prove we might be the exception. “

In a time when countless books are being written on how to be a better mom, how to get your kids to love you more or how to get more “me-time”, Gloria Furman’s book stands out as the book that shows us how to treasure Christ more, how to glorify God in the privilege of motherhood, and how to point our children to Christ by showing and embracing grace.

“Treasuring Christ as preeminent in our lives gives our children a self-sacrificing, neighbor-serving, sin-forgiving, grace-extending illustration of how God is worthy to be seen, admired, and displayed as the greatest hope we could ever have. Jesus is the one who loves us most of all with his redeeming love.”

(I was given a copy of this book by Beyond the Page/Crossway Books in exchange for an honest review)

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Bad Bosses and Irritating People, part IV

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Standing in Judgment

“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions…who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way…(Romans 14:1, 4, 7-13, NAS).”

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged (Matthew 7:1, NAS).”

It is exceedingly difficult, nay, impossible, for the flesh of mankind to not pass judgment on those who offend and/or irritate us. However, it is through the Spirit of God exclusively that we are supernaturally capable of overcoming such judgment against others. Sufficed to say, there is no one who can honestly say that judgment does not cross their mind and heart from time to time – after all, it is human nature and we dwell temporarily is this earthen vessel.

In order to be successful in this or any area of God’s commands, we must remember that we are no longer of the human race, but of the heavenly race – the Kingdom race. We are but strangers and aliens in the earth sent from heaven to bring heaven down to earth. This is so because we are dead and our only life is Christ. In other words, once in Christ, our earthly origin ceases and our heavenly origin begins.

If you are like I, people irritate you! In our irritation, judgment can easily take hold of our hearts and grow bitter roots. Hebrews 12:15 is clear about bitterness: “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” Operating in a judgmental/critical spirit against others no matter how innocent it may seem, causes bitter roots to spring within our hearts like weeks and they taint not only our walk with God with it takes others down with us.

Because of the nature of the flesh in which we currently remain, it is altogether a necessity to hone in on the Spirit of God within us through our spirit-man. If we do not daily (moment to moment) purposefully tap into Holy Spirit, we will find ourselves in the midst of fleshly judgment. We can defend it all day long but unless we, one, choose to recognize that we have indeed passed critical judgment in our hearts as well as, two, choose to repent of it and lay it at the foot of the cross, things will not change as we would otherwise hope. Pray though we may for God to remove us or the irritant, nothing will change until we allow God to transform us from the inside out and love and accept others as they are.

We are not to regard a brother with contempt. This is why we are urged to go to a brother with whom we have a problem so as to resolve the matter. We are to conclude our conflicts, not simply for our selves, but for the greater good of the Kingdom of God. For this reason, there is to be unity between the brethren and we should seek peace at all times, respecting one another.

One who is rebellious, for instance, will be perpetually faced with people who “force” them to rebel because, from where God stands, He recognizes the need for the weaknesses of rebellion to be exposed so that the individual will choose to deal with it through God’s strength. Otherwise, if they continue in their rebellion, the same old obstacles and irritating people will continuously come in their path; hence, frustration remains.

Likewise, one who is impatient will continually come in contact with people who try their patience. One who is timid in their faith will continuously be put in situations where they need to be bold. One who is confrontational will be put in situations where they need to submit in both humility and silence, and so on.

For me personally, the nature of the flesh in which I dwell is exceedingly confrontational. I have to be diligent with my time tapping into Holy Spirit continuously so as to be able to clearly discern when to confront a situation and when to be silent. In everything we say and do, it is a walk of balance that can only come from personal intimacy with Holy Spirit. There should never be a break in our communion with Yahweh.

Until we begin to view everything in everyday life as for the Kingdom of God instead of for or against us personally, not only will circumstances not change, but they will invariably grow worse. Since everything ultimately originates from God whether it comes from Satan’s hand or wicked men, we must say with humility instead of irritation, “What is it You, Yahweh, are trying to show me that I have not yet seen? Reveal my weaknesses to me so that Your strength may prevail in order for Your Kingdom to be advanced through me in the earth. I trust You and submit to You for Your honor and Your glory. Whatever You desire, I desire. Whatever You love, I love. Whatever You hate, I hate.”

There’s always a lesson. There’s always a God-plan. There’s always hope. There’s always growth that He desires to come forth from us, for us and, most importantly, for His great name’s sake. No situation or scenario is in vain or to hurt us. It isn’t even for punishment’s sake; it is always for the Kingdom of God. May we keep our spiritual eye open to see the bigger picture always and remember that you do not belong to yourself, but to the Lord our Great God. I remind myself of this daily so as to stay on heavenly point instead of veering away from the path of God.


“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).”


I hope you’ll come back next week. If you’re interested in reading more, please go to my website and check out my books or my ministry Facebook page.

Peace and blessings,

Alexys V. Wolf

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Bad Bosses and Irritating People, part III

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Bad Bosses and Irritating People, Part III

Philippians 1:27 (NAS): “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

Ephesians 6:5-8 (NAS): “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, AS TO CHRIST…as SLAVES OF CHRIST, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, AS TO THE LORD, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this HE WILL RECEIVE BACK FROM THE LORD…”

I Timothy 6:1-2 (NAS): “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that (here’s the “why” of it) the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.”


Verse after verse we read God’s instruction as to how to treat a boss, believer or non-believer. Since all authority is placed by God, good or bad in the natural, they are there to serve so as to refine us in our walk with Yahweh. We are to honor them, not for our sake or theirs, but more so for the sake of God’s great name and His kingdom. When we refuse to obey, we are refusing obedience to God; of course we are not speaking of doing that which is ungodly.

If you, for instance, have a boss that is constantly making demands of you that you feel are unreasonable, you should do it without grumbling or complaining. Certainly if you need to go up the chain of command, that is not out of the question. However, in the mean time, you are commanded of God to honor and respect whoever is in a position of authority over you. This is when you would need to rely solely upon the promise of Yahweh that says that God will repay you. When God’s people honor those in authority, we honor God. Our reward if forthcoming; it is not an if, but a when.

If you are dealing with law enforcement, they are not your boss from whom you receive your pay, but they are in fact your authority. If you don’t want to be in fear of them, it would behoove us all to obey the law. Romans 13-7, reads “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves…therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake… render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

I often think of Daniel when the law was set against him for the purpose of entrapment. He did not kick and scream and shout profanities at the king or his enforcers. He did not protest by chaining himself to a tree or hold a sit-in. He did not demand that they make things right and boastfully state, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the servant of the Most High God! You better make things right or else!” – on the contrary.

Daniel being the true man of God that he was quietly continued to do as he always did. He didn’t change anything. He wasn’t loud or obnoxious – he remained steady and sure. He did not obey the wicked law because it was against God. At the same time, he did not disrespect the king who made the law, foolish though it was. By humbly conducting himself in a manner worthy of the King of kings, God protected him. Even the king who made the law did everything he could to release and save Daniel.

That is how the supernatural Kingdom of God is able to manifest itself in the earth! When we do things God’s way, solely depending upon God to render good back to His people, the atmosphere shifts in ways that we ourselves could never make happen. Because of Daniel’s humility, faith, and steadfastness, multitudes witnessed the righteous, supernatural, mighty had of God.

Let us be ever mindful of doing things God’s way as unto Him so as to preserve the good name of Yahweh whom we say we serve. Taking matters into our own hands will surely cause chaos. Hebrews 13:17 states “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

I hope you’ll come back next week. If you’re interested in reading more, please go to my website and check out my books or my ministry Facebook page.

Peace and blessings,

Alexys V. Wolf

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Neil Andeerson

By Neil Anderson
March 20

2 Corinthians 7:10
The sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death

A graphic example of the contrast between accusation and conviction is found in the lives of Judas Iscariot and Simon Peter. Somehow Judas allowed Satan to deceive him into betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Luke 22:3-5). When Judas realized what he had done, he was so remorseful that he hung himself. Was his suicide the result of Satan’s accusation or of God’s conviction? It had to be accusation because it drove Judas to kill himself. Accusation leads to death; conviction leads to repentance and life.

Peter also failed Jesus by denying Him. It apparently began with pride as the disciples argued over who was the greatest among them (Luke 22:24-30). Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat” (verse 31). That’s right–Jesus allowed Satan to put Peter through the mill because Peter had given the enemy a foothold through pride. But Jesus also looked at Peter and said, “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (verse 32).

Peter vowed to die with Jesus, but Jesus told him that he would deny Him three times (verses 33, 34) which he did. The remorse Peter felt was every bit as painful as that which Judas experienced. But Peter’s sorrow was from conviction which led to his eventual repentance and restoration to Christ (John 21:15-17). When your feelings of remorse drive you from God, you are being accused by Satan. Resist it. But when your sorrow draws you to confront Christ and confess your wrong, you are being convicted by the Spirit. Yield to it through repentance.

According to Revelation 12:10, Satan’s continuing work is to accuse the brethren. But the good news is that Christ’s continuing work is to intercede for us as He did for Peter (Hebrews 7:25). We have a persistent adversary, but we have an even more persistent, eternal advocate who defends us before the Father on the basis of our faith in Him (1 John 2:1).

Prayer: I rejoice, Lord, that You are constantly defending me against accusation before the Father.