The Cardinal Rule
Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find? (Proverbs 20:6)
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life,
which God has promised to those who love Him.
and He Himself tempts no one.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin,
and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. (James 1:12-18)
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
(2 Thessalonians 3:5)
The Coming of the Kingdom
“But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:25-27)
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (Genesis 6:8, Matthew 24:37)
To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. (Romans 2:7)
Parable of the Persistent Widow
“Now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
“I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly.
However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8)
And He comes to the disciples, and finds them asleep, and said to Peter, “What, could you not watch with me one hour?”
The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (2 Peter 2:9, Matthew 24:14)
Cardinal: Of foremost importance; paramount: a cardinal rule. Dark to deep or vivid red.
“chief, pivotal,” from cardo (genitive cardinis) “that on which something turns or depends; pole of the sky,”
originally “door hinge,” of unknown origin.
A New and Living Way
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:19-25)
“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.
“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept My word and have not denied My name.”
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:
Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
The cardinal is symbolic of the spirit’s awakening to truth and life through the blood of Jesus Christ, as He used the wine as representation of His blood during the last supper. When one sees a cardinal, one is reminded of life and hope that one will live on in eternity. The cardinal reminds people that there is hope.
This is a prayer for knowledge and insight that only can come from God.
Father, may they clearly know Your will and achieve the height and depth of spiritual wisdom and understanding.
May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what’s more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You. Strengthen them with Your infinite power, according to Your glorious might, so that they will have everything they need to hold on and endure hardship patiently and joyfully.
Thank You, Father, as You have made us eligible to receive our portion of the inheritance given to all those set apart by the light. You have rescued us from dark powers and brought us safely into the kingdom of Your Son, whom You love and in whom we are redeemed and forgiven of our sins [through His blood].
He is the exact image of the invisible God, the firstborn of creation, the eternal. It was by Him that everything was created: the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them, all things seen and unseen, thrones and dominions, spiritual powers and authorities. Every detail was crafted through His design, by His own hands, and for His purposes.
He has always been!
It is His hand that holds everything together. He is the head of this body, the church. He is the beginning, the first of those to be reborn from the dead, so that in every aspect, at every view, in everything—
He is first.
God was pleased that all His fullness should forever dwell in the Son who, as predetermined by God,
bled peace into the world by His death on the cross as God’s means of reconciling to Himself the whole creation—
all things in heaven and all things on earth.
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing (James 1:25) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
“Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you.The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day.
My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you.
In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of Him, so the one who makes a meal of Me lives because of Me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always.” (John 6:53-58)
Jesus the Bread of Life
Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.”
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”
It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’
Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. (John 6:43-45)
“And this is the will of Him who sent me,
that I shall lose none of all those He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day.”(John 6:39)
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life,
and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41)
Then He said to them,
“My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow.
Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38)
Jesus Prays at Gethsemane
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying,
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter,
“So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation;
the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:39-41)
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.
All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit;
He’ll always be there to help you come through it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Each victory will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
Ask the Savior to help you,
Comfort, strengthen and keep you;
He is willing to aid you,
He will carry you through.
Shun evil companions, bad language disdain,
God’s Name hold in reverence, nor take it in vain;
Be thoughtful and earnest, kindhearted and true,
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown;
Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down;
He Who is our Savior our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
~Horatio R. Palmer, 1868
There is powerful consistency in Jesus’ life. Again and again, He withdraws from the crowds to pray in solitude. Now, at this dramatic moment, Jesus again withdraws to pray—in a solitude made more intense by the fact that He has asked His disciples to pray, too, but they have fallen asleep. And in this moment of anguished emotion, Jesus mouths a prayer that resonates with His consistent message of the Kingdom. He has taught His disciples to pray, “May Your kingdom come,” which is a request for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Now, drenched in sweat, Jesus Himself prays simply for God’s will to be done, even if it means He must drink the cup of suffering that awaits Him in the hours ahead.
We often speak of having faith in Jesus; but we seldom speak of the faith of Jesus, a faith He demonstrated consistently throughout His life and especially at its end. In a moment of agony, Jesus still trusted God, still yielded His will to God, and still approached God as “Father,” placing Himself in the position of a child, in trust—profound, tested, sincere.
Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed,
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)
He went away a second time and prayed,
“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)
When He came back, He again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. (Matthew 26:43)
Awake to righteousness and sin not for some have not the knowledge of God and I speak this to your shame.
Those who look to Him are radiant and their faces are never shrouded with same.
It’s true; we are His beloved children.
And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either.
When we feel like we are not good enough to be loved by God,
we should remember that God’s love is greater than our doubts.
We must silence the sounds of condemnation so we can hear the voice of God’s loving assurance and remember that He has selected us to be part of His family.
My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now.
The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is.
All those who focus their hopes on Him and His coming seek to purify themselves just as He is pure.
Everyone who lives a life of habitual sin is living in moral anarchy. That’s what sin is.
You realize that He came to eradicate sins, that there is not the slightest bit of sin in Him.
The ones who live in an intimate relationship with Him do not persist in sin, but anyone who persists in sin has not seen and does not know the real Jesus.
Children, don’t let anyone pull one over on you. The one doing the right thing is just imitating Jesus, the Righteous One.
If you are wondering if your faith is authentic, take a look at your life. Are you doing what is right?
The one persisting in sin belongs to the diabolical one, who has been all about sin from the beginning. That is why the Son of God came into our world: to destroy the plague of destruction inflicted on the world by the diabolical one.
Everyone who has been born into God’s family avoids sin as a lifestyle because the genes of God’s children come from God Himself. Therefore, a child of God can’t live a life of persistent sin. So it is not hard to figure out who are the children of God and who are the children of the diabolical one: those who lack right standing and those who don’t show love for one another do not belong to God.
The central truth—the one you have heard since the beginning of your faith—is that we must love one another.
Please do not act like Cain, who was of the evil one. He brutally murdered his own brother.
Why would he do something so despicable? Because his life was devoted to evil and selfishness, and his brother chose to do what is right.
Brothers and sisters, don’t be shocked if the corrupt world despises you. We know that we have crossed over from death to real life because we are devoted to true love for our brothers and sisters.
Anyone who does not love lives among corpses.
Do you ever wonder if you are just silently sleeping through days, months, and years? There is one indicator of real life: true love for others.
Everyone who hates other members of God’s family is a murderer. Does a murderer possess the beautiful life that never ends? No. We know what true love looks like because of Jesus. He gave His life for us, and He calls us to give our lives for our brothers and sisters.
If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God’s love lives in him? My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love.
There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things. My loved ones, if our hearts cannot condemn us, then we can stand with confidence before God. Whatever we may ask, we receive it from Him because we follow His commands and take the path that pleases Him. His command is clear: believe in the name of His Son, Jesus the Anointed, and love one another as He commanded.
The one who follows His teaching and walks this path lives in an intimate relationship with God.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7-8)
“Behold, I am coming like a thief!
Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”
Jesus teaches union with Himself
“I am the real vine, my Father is the vine-dresser. He removes any of my branches which are not bearing fruit and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit to increase its yield. Now, you have already been pruned by my words. You must go on growing in Me and I will grow in you. For just as the branch cannot bear any fruit unless it shares the life of the vine, so you can produce nothing unless you go on growing in Me. I am the vine itself, you are the branches. It is the man who shares My life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from Me you can do nothing at all. The man who does not share My life is like a branch that is broken off and withers away. He becomes just like the dry sticks that men pick up and use for the firewood. But if you live your life in Me, and My words live in your hearts, you can ask for whatever you like and it will come true for you. This is how My Father will be glorified—in your becoming fruitful and being My disciples.
Message to the Church in Philadelphia
Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie– I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.
Because you have kept the Word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. ‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (Revelation 3:9-11)
Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” “The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”
Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Cause me to hear Your loving kindness in the morning, for in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.
Open your eyes. You will see God at work in your life.
Open your ears. You will hear God’s Voice.
Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over Me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent Me is in charge.
He draws people to Me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come.
Only then do I do My work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End.
This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’
Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to Me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from Me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see Me.
“I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in Me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is Myself, this flesh-and-blood self.” (John 6:43-51)
Lord, I pray that I may have a listening ear so that I shall hear You.
I pray that I will have a waiting heart so that You may come to me and show me new avenues of love. Amen.
But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this?
You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day.
We live under wide open skies and know where we stand.
So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. But not us!
Since we’re creatures of Day, let’s act like it.
Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation.
(1 Thessalonians 5:4-8)
God had need of Jesus’ prayers on behalf of others.
Jesus only did what the Father showed Him so this is the process God uses and expects, when others have needs, for us to enter inter in with Christ in prayer for His followers.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:11)
This is like the time when Noah lived.
I promised that I would never again destroy the world by a flood.
So now I am promising never again to be so angry
and punishing as I was when I sent you away.
Even if the mountains heave up from their anchors,
and the hills quiver and shake, I will not desert you.
You can rely on My enduring love;
My covenant of peace will stand forever.
So says the Eternal One, whose love won’t give up on you.
This promise stands to God’s covenant people: nothing can happen to them unless God wills it and makes it so.
Only if they invite it will destruction come.
Throughout this time of rebellion and punishment God makes it clear that they hold their fate in their own hands.
And if they haven’t understood the message, God tells them who will do the nation-building—an unworldly restoration.
He says that He provides the raw materials; He creates the tools and provides the skills with which the builders build.
He alone is responsible for restoring the nation.
And no matter what charges the adversary may concoct, God will not be put off.
Even though Israel rebelled and was unfaithful at one time, that is in the past.
The future is sure: God’s faithfulness to His covenant, His enduring love for His people, will stand for all time.
So the challenge goes out from the prophet to God’s people—speaking on God’s authority—to align themselves with God, accept Him as God, and they will surely win.
Eternal One: Ah, Jerusalem, so miserable and distressed! I will rebuild you
with floors of shimmering mosaics, set sapphires in your foundations.
I will decorate your towers with rubies,
and your gates will sparkle with all manner of precious gems.
Costly jewels will adorn the entire wall that circles your precincts.
Every one of your children, the people who call you home,
will be students of the Eternal; oh, they’ll be so happy and live in peace!
This time, you will be founded and grounded
on right thought, speech, and action.
And no one will trouble you, abuse or oppress you;
you will know no fear and have no worries.
If a nation marches against you,
know that I am not behind it.
Anyone foolish enough to challenge you will fall to you.
I have created the blacksmith
who readies the fire and forges weapons for wars;
And I have created the destroyer to ravage and ruin.
But no instrument forged against you will be allowed to hurt you,
and no voice raised to condemn you will successfully prosecute you.
It’s that simple; this is how it will be for the servants of the Eternal;
I will vindicate them.
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.
So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.
We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn.
Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor.
Consider the life of the One who endured such personal attacks and hostility from sinners so that you will not grow weary or lose heart. Among you, in your striving against sin, none has resisted the pressure to the point of death, as He did.
God “disciplines” His “disciples.”
God is training us not just to live here and now, but to have life in the age to come, to share His life and holiness.
Indeed, you seem to have forgotten the proverb directed to you as children:
My child, do not ignore the instruction that comes from the Lord,
or lose heart when He steps in to correct you;
For the Lord disciplines those He loves,
and He corrects each one He takes as His own.
Endure hardship as God’s discipline and rejoice that He is treating you as His children, for what child doesn’t experience discipline from a parent? But if you are not experiencing the correction that all true children receive, then it may be that you are not His children after all. Remember, when our human parents disciplined us, we respected them. If that was true, shouldn’t we respect and live under the correction of the Father of all spirits even more? Our parents corrected us for a time as seemed good to them, but God only corrects us to our good so that we may share in His holiness.
When punishment is happening, it never seems pleasant, only painful. Later, though, it yields the peaceful fruit called righteousness to everyone who has been trained by it. So lift up your hands that are dangling and brace your weakened knees. Make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame in you won’t be put out of joint, but will heal.
Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, since no one will see God without it.
Watch carefully that no one falls short of God’s favor, that no well of bitterness springs up to trouble you and throw many others off the path.
Watch that no one becomes wicked and vile like Esau, the son of Isaac, who for a single meal sold his invaluable birthright. You know from the stories of the patriarchs that later, when he wished to claim his blessing, he was turned away. He could not reverse his action even though he shed bitter tears over it.
The Bible is a brutally honest book. It contains stories of liars, murderers, and adulterers; and these are the good guys. If we read the Bible looking only for positive role models, we’ll be quickly disappointed. But if we are honest with ourselves and confess our own faults, we will find in Scripture, particularly in the First Testament, that we have much in common with many broken saints of the past. But we must not stay broken. We must follow their path to transformation through repentance and faith. Repentance means a change of heart, a change of mind, and ultimately a change of how we live. God’s grace comes to us and enables us to turn away from sin and to turn back to Him.
You have not come to the place that can be touched (as Israel did at Mount Sinai)—to a mountain crowned with blazing fire, darkness, gloom, and a windstorm— or to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of a voice—a voice and message so harsh that the people begged not to hear another word. (They could not bear the command that was given: that if even a beast touches the mountain, it must be stoned. The sight was so terrible that even Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”)
No, instead you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to heavenly messengers unnumbered, to a joyful feast, to the assembly of the firstborn registered as heaven’s citizens, to God the righteous Judge of all, and to the spirits of all the righteous who have been perfected. You have come to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant between God and humanity, and to His sprinkled blood, which speaks a greater word than the blood of Abel crying out from the earth.
See that you don’t turn away from the One who is speaking; for if the ones who heard and refused the One who spoke on earth faced punishment, then how much more will we suffer if we turn away from the One speaking from heaven— the One whose voice in earlier times shook the earth now makes another promise: “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens”? The phrase, “Yet once more,” means that those things that can be shaken will be removed and taken away, namely, the first creation. As a result, those things that remain cannot be shaken. Therefore, let us all be thankful that we are a part of an unshakable Kingdom and offer to God worship that pleases Him and reflects the awe and reverence we have toward Him, for He is like a fierce fire that consumes everything.