We Sow, We Reap

Monday, October 23, 2017, 1:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, Your words to my heart. I read Galatians 6 (quoting select vv. NIV).

Caught in a Sin (vv. 1-2)

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

When we believe in Jesus Christ with genuine saving faith, we not only enter into an intimate relationship with Almighty God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – but we become members, one with another, of his body, his church. As mutual parts of the body of Christ, we, thus, have a responsibility to care for one another, not just physically, but spiritually, for we are all now one family. So, when a brother or a sister in Christ is overtaken (overcome, defeated) by sin, in the sense that he or she falls away from their pure devotion to Christ, after being close by him in a sincere walk of faith, we who are living and walking according to the Spirit should restore them. Yet, in most cases, this should be done male with male and female with female.

So, what does it mean to restore them? How is this done? Well, the word translated as “restore” can be a medical term for setting dislocated limbs. And, this process is extremely painful, after which the area which was dislocated is put in a splint to immobilize it so that it can heal. The whole purpose of this process is to put what is dislocated (out of place) back into its proper position. So, spiritually speaking, this is not a mere pat on the back or a gentle encouragement to not continue in the sin, but this is real help (counsel, correction) to put the person back into fellowship with his or her Lord and walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Of course, this requires the full participation and cooperation of the one being restored.

Let’s say that this brother or sister in Christ was involved in an extramarital affair. So, if we are going to restore this person, first of all he or she must be willing to stop the affair and to be put back into a proper working relationship with God and with his or her spouse and with the body of Christ. This may involve public confession of sin, a change of job, moving to another location, even changing church congregations, if both parties to the affair are part of the same fellowship. It may also involve restricted internet use, getting off of Facebook, or whatever it takes to get what is out of place, spiritually speaking, back into place. And, then the person must also work on restoring his or her relationship with his or her spouse, by now pursuing his or her spouse in place of that someone else, but the spouse must also be willing to participate in this process, as well, and some of them won’t.

So, if we are to restore this person, not only must we be walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, but we must do so with meekness, i.e. with gentle strength. Meekness is not synonymous for weakness. Jesus was meek, but he was not weak. When he needed to be forceful and strong in his words, he was, but he was always loving. So, this does not mean we go easy on the person, but that we help him or her in a manner which is truly loving, as God loves us. We must also be humble, and guarded, recognizing our own capability of falling into sin, and we must make certain we take proper precautionary measures, exercising full wisdom, so that, in the course of trying to help someone else, we do not fall.

Testing Our Actions (vv. 3-6)

If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

Pride (arrogance, conceit) comes before a fall. Especially if we are going to be engaged in helping to restore another, we must make certain that we are fully aware of our own propensity to fall into temptation to sin. It is not a sin, though, to be confident in our walks of faith, but let that assurance be based in God’s strength, and not in our own, lest we become overconfident and be overcome by sin ourselves. We must not ever think we can handle a situation or that we won’t ever do such and such as someone else did, and thus walk right into Satan’s trap. We must always put on the armor of God, be guarded in mind and heart, and be prepared for Satan’s attacks so that we are not caught off guard and thus we fall into sin ourselves.

So, it is good for us to test our own thinking, attitudes and actions against the Word of God to make certain that we are walking in truth and that we are not fooling ourselves, thinking we are on solid footing when we are not. Deception is called such for a reason. If we are not fully surrendered to Christ, our hearts and minds daily bathed in his Word, and walking in his ways, but we are regularly consuming the philosophies, attitudes, values and morals of this sinful society in which we live, we may be easily tricked into believing lies and even into rejecting truth. So, it would be good for us to prayerfully examine ourselves to see if we are, indeed, walking in truth.

Sowing and Reaping (vv. 7-10)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

To sow is to plant or to establish, which means “to bring into existence; to bring about; to introduce and cause to grow and multiply” (M-W). And, reaping has to do with producing or achieving. So, if we spend our lives self-consumed, devoted to entertaining ourselves incessantly, and dedicated to self-pleasure, we will achieve selfish, self-centered lives which impact no one for Christ and which produce nothing of eternal value. We will come up empty on the day of judgment and will have nothing to show of value for the time we were given on this earth, and thus what we will reap is destruction.

Too many people have bought into the lie which says they can merely pray a prayer after someone to receive Christ, or that they can merely acknowledge Jesus’ existence, and what he did for us in dying for our sins, and that all they have to do is just accept his forgiveness of their sins, and they are saved forever, and are guaranteed heaven as their eternal home, no matter how they live their lives. But, this is not what the scriptures teach. They teach that we reap what we sow. They teach that if we persist in sinful practices, that if we walk in sin, and according to our flesh, that we don’t have eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment and of fire.

Yet, if we walk according to the Spirit, and do not live to fulfill the lusts of our flesh, and if, by the Spirit, we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity, and heaven will be our final resting place. This means that we will be in daily fellowship with our Lord via the reading of his Word, prayer, worship, confession and obedience. And, we will be walking in his ways, and in his truth, and our lives will not be given over to self-pleasure and sinful practices. This is not to say that we will never sin, but that we will not walk in sin. This is also not to say that we will have instantaneously arrived, for this is a lifetime process, but the process is also not to be used as an excuse for continued and willful sinful practices.

So, walk in truth and in righteousness, know what God requires, and then do it, all in the power and strength of God’s Spirit now living within you. And, love others as God loves us, and as we ought to love ourselves.

Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.

 

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He is Watching

Sunday, October 22, 2017, 6:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “To Be Like Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 15 (quoting select vv. NASB).

Good and Evil

3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good.
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But He loves one who pursues righteousness.
10 Grievous punishment is for him who forsakes the way;
He who hates reproof will die.

There is a popular teaching these days which indicates that, once we are saved, God the Father no longer sees when we commit sins against him, but he only sees Jesus when he looks at us. Because of God’s grace to us, and through our genuine faith in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven our sins, and we become the righteousness of God, because Christ’s righteousness is credited to our accounts. This means that we are no longer under condemnation, and that, if we do sin, we have an advocate to the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (See 1 Jn. 2:1-2). But, does scripture really teach that God the Father can’t see when we sin?

Well, if God is all-knowing, which he is, and if he chose us in him even before the creation of the world, then he knows everything about us, and he can see everything that we do. Also, for God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – to be completely sovereign over all that he has made, he has to be all-knowing, too, which means he can see everything, even when we sin. It is abundantly clear by the teachings of the apostles and by the prophecies written in the book of Revelation that God sees everything that we do, and that he does indeed see when we sin, for we read in the NT many words written to the church warning, scolding, and counseling them to put off their sins and to follow our Lord in obedience. So, God sees, he knows, and he calls for repentance and for obedience (See: Rev. 2:1-3:22, for example).

So, God can see not only what the ungodly are doing behind closed doors, but he can see what we are doing, too. He knows who truly knows him, and who doesn’t, too. He can see who is genuinely following him and who isn’t, and who makes a pretense of sacrifice to God while secretly sinning against him. This popular teaching that says God can’t see our sins is based in a lie, the purpose of which is to allow people to believe they are saved and going to heaven, while permitting them to continue in sin, supposedly sight unseen. Yet, scripture is quite clear when it says that if we hold on to our old lives of sin, and if we walk in darkness and according to the flesh, and if we persist in sinful practices, we will die in our sins without hope of eternity with God, but with a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire.

Upright and Dishonorable

16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
Than great treasure and turmoil with it.
17 Better is a dish of vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox served with hatred.
18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
But the slow to anger calms a dispute.
19 The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns,
But the path of the upright is a highway.

So, we need to test ourselves to see if we are really in the faith, and that test is not with just a few select scriptures at hand, which, taken out of context, seem to say what our flesh wants to hear. We need to look at the whole of scripture, in particularly the whole of the New Testament, if possible, by reading in context the books of the Bible one verse and one chapter and one book at a time. This way we will get a true picture of the character of God, his will for our lives, and of his holiness, righteousness and justice. And, we will see a common theme throughout both the Old and the New Testaments, and that is God’s requirements of both repentance and obedience as part of genuine faith, which is required for salvation.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to walk in the fear of the Lord. This means that we are to honor, respect, revere, follow and obey Him. To worship God means we give ourselves to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing (acceptable) to him, that we are no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but that we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sin and to walking with our Lord in faithful obedience. This means we are putting away (to death) the sins of the flesh, by the Spirit of God, and that we are now walking according to the Spirit.

God’s will for our lives is that we walk in holiness, which means that we live separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being transformed into Christ’s likeness. So, we put off hatred, hot tempers, laziness, gossip, immorality, sexual addiction, pornography, sensuality, cheating, lying, stealing, and the like. And, we pursue righteousness, uprightness, honesty, morality, kindness, compassion, love, and wisdom.

Righteous and Wicked

29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.
31 He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof
Will dwell among the wise.
32 He who neglects discipline despises himself,
But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.
33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom,
And before honor comes humility.

So, just because you have prayed a prayer to receive Christ as Savior, or you have acknowledged who he is and what he did for us in dying for our sins, or you have accepted his forgiveness of your sins, it does not assure you that heaven is your eternal destiny. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we believe on him with genuine faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. His grace to us is not carte blanche to continue in sin without guilt or remorse. But, his grace instructs us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (1 Pet. 2:24; Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 4:17-24).

If we continue in sin, hold on to sinful addictions, and think God doesn’t notice or that it doesn’t matter to him, we need to think again. That kind of thinking makes a mockery of what Jesus did in dying on a cross so we could go free from slavery to sin and so we could live to his righteousness. If we think our salvation is merely a free ride to heaven and that God requires nothing of us, that also is a slap in the face to Jesus Christ who laid his life down for us so that we would be free. To love God is to obey him. To fear him is to revere, respect and honor him with our lives. If he is truly LORD of our lives that means he is owner-master and we are his bond-servants. To know him is also to become like him, and it is to obey him.

To Be Like Him / An Original Work
March 16, 2014 / Based off Scripture

Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.

Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.

Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!

When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.

 

Provoking Jealousy

Saturday, October 21, 2017, 3:34 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “To Be Like Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 10 (quoting select vv. ESV).

Examples for Us (vv. 6-10)

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.

These things which took place were that the Israelites of the Old Testament had been in slavery to Egypt for hundreds of years. So, God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites out of slavery to Egypt, which he did. But, when set free, many of them grumbled and complained, and they wanted to go back. Even though God miraculously delivered them, provided for them, and led them every step of the way, still many of them worshiped idols and they disobeyed God, and they did all manner of evil against Him, so all but a few died in the wilderness and did not get to enter into the promised land.

Their miraculous delivery from slavery in Egypt was a prefiguring of our salvation and of our deliverance from slavery to sin. Just as they had to apply the blood to their doorposts for God to pass over them and to not kill their firstborn, we must apply to our lives the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on a cross for our sins. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was our sacrificial Lamb, given for the sins of the world. And, just as we were miraculously delivered from our addiction to sin, we who have trusted in Jesus Christ also have God now dwelling within us, leading, guiding, and providing for our all our needs.

As well, just as many of the Israelites rebelled against their Lord, turned their backs on God, desired slavery more than freedom, and disobeyed their Lord by worshiping idols, and engaging in many sins, so, many people who profess Jesus as Savior of their lives have done likewise. So, this is a warning to not follow their example. God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is to be our ONLY GOD and LORD. We should not desire what is evil, including we should not be entertained by it, nor should we engage ourselves in evil. And, we should not give ourselves over to the gods of this world to (agape) love and worship (revere) them, adopting their ways and their attitudes, actions, values and morals, and thereby put Christ Jesus to the test.

Take Heed (vv. 11-13)

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

So, what example is being set before us who believe in Jesus Christ? What instruction are we being given here? If what many are preaching today was actually true, and if all we have to do to have eternal life is just to acknowledge who Jesus is and what he did for us, and to accept his forgiveness for our sins, then why the warning? Why the example? If all we have to do is “believe” with some non-descript belief in Jesus, which requires no repentance, no obedience, and no death to sin or living to righteousness, then why are we being given this example of the disobedience, the idolatry and the deaths of the disobedient due to unbelief?

It is because our salvation is not merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. It is also not a onetime deal and then we are in, no matter how we live our lives from that moment forward. We are saved (past). We are being saved (present). And, we will be saved when Jesus Christ returns for his bride and our salvation is complete. Eternal life is not guaranteed us on the basis of past belief or belief that is not accompanied by repentance and obedience. We must continue in our faith until the end, as well, and we must walk according to the Spirit and NOT according to the flesh. For, if we walk according to the flesh, and we persist in sinful addictions, we will not see heaven but only hell’s fury.

So, the warning here is to take heed if you think you stand secure in Christ, lest you fall away from God due to unbelief and disobedience, like the Israelites did. There isn’t any temptation that comes our way that is uncommon to humans and for which God has not provided a way out for us. Jesus put sin to death on that cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and he has given us everything we need to resist Satan, to flee temptation and sin, and to walk in holiness and righteousness.

Yet, many continue in sinful practices and addictions because they have become convinced that the temptations are too strong for them, or that God requires no repentance or obedience, and that all sin is covered by God’s grace, and thus none of their sins will ever be counted against them. But, the scriptures teach that if we walk in lifestyle according to the flesh, and if we make sin our practice, we don’t have eternal life with God, but we will die in our sins, and we will spend eternity without God in hell/the lake of fire. So, don’t be fooled! Not everyone who says “Lord” will enter into heaven.

The Body of Christ (vv. 14-22)

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

So, we must flee idolatry, i.e. we must run away from all that is opposed to God and to his Word, and from everything which entraps us and makes us its slaves. We can’t play with temptation and expect not to get burned. We can’t have one foot in the world and one in heaven. If we daily take garbage into our minds, garbage is what we will produce.

We should test everything we do, everything we take into our minds, and every thought and action against Philippians 4:8. If it doesn’t match up, then we should discard it. We should throw off all sins which so easily entangle us and any hindrances to our walks of faith so we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us to run. Too many people who call themselves Christians are addicted to pornography, TV, movies, Facebook, novels, sports, money, fame, etc. and they regularly consume what is not fitting for those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ. This should not be.

When we who profess faith in Jesus Christ live like we have not been delivered out of slavery to sin, and we prefer slavery to freedom in Christ, because of addiction to particular sins, we are playing with fire, and we will literally get burned for eternity if we don’t repent of our sins and turn back to Christ to follow him in obedience. We can’t partake of the Lord’s table and the table of demons, too. Our communion with God, as well, is not a mere participation in a ritual, but it is a lifestyle committed to Christ and surrendered to his will. If our lifestyles are, instead, dedicated to doing what is evil in God’s sight, then we are on dangerous ground. If we provoke the Lord to jealousy, then we are asking for his wrath to be poured out on us.

To Be Like Him / An Original Work
March 16, 2014 / Based off Scripture

Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.

Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.

Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!

When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.

 

Your Will, My God

Saturday, October 21, 2017, 3:59 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 40 (Select vv. NIV).

He Lifted Me Out (vv. 1-3)

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

If you were to give your testimony of God’s saving grace in your life, what would you say? How would you describe what Jesus Christ did for you? For all of us? What difference has he made in your life? Or, has he made a difference in your life? Is the only difference he has made in your life that you now have your sins forgiven and the assurance you are going to heaven when you die? Or, is there more to this salvation than that? And if so, what evidence of that exists in your life? In my life? What about our lives would cause others to “see and to fear the Lord and to put their trust in him”?

Too many people today, at least here in America, profess to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives, but the evidence does not prove this to be true, for their lives are not much different at all from the people who make no profession of Christ as Savior. They do most all the same stuff, and watch the same sexually charged TV shows and movies, the same disgusting comedians, and the same raunchy commercials, etc. They also have the same attitudes, language, thinking, values, behaviors and morals, too.

So, what should distinguish the life of a believer in Jesus from one who does not believe? It is that Jesus Christ lifted us out of that slimy pit, not that he just forgave us our sins so we could remain in the mud and mire, unmoved by the gospel of our salvation one iota. And, it is that he gave us a firm place to stand in him, and on our faith, and on his Word so that we would no longer sink down into that mud and slime, but so that we would walk in his truth and righteousness, free from slavery (addiction) to sin.

In other words, Jesus died, not just to forgive us our sins and to promise us heaven when we leave this earth, but he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We no longer live our lives like we did before we met Jesus, for if we continue to walk according to our flesh, we don’t have the hope of heaven, but a fearful expectation of the fires of hell. But, if we walk in the light as He is in the light, and we walk according to the Spirit, and we are putting to death, by the Spirit, the misdeeds of the flesh, then we will live with God eternally.

Trust in the Lord (vv. 4-5)

Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

Another distinguishing mark of a believer in Jesus Christ is that he or she is not idolatrous. Our trust is in God alone, not in the things, philosophies, values and morals of our society. We don’t “immerse” ourselves in our culture in order to blend in with the people of the world so that they won’t think Christians are weird, or so we can relate to them, on their level. We don’t withhold the gospel from people so that they won’t be offended by the gospel message, either, or wait until we have known them for two years before we tell them about God’s saving grace.

Also, we don’t take the attitude that Jesus/God does it all and that nothing is required of us, which is an entitlement mindset. We, instead, have the mindset that Jesus paid it all and, thus, all to him we owe. Our lives are no longer our own, to be lived how we want. And, we don’t give our passion, heart, time, energies, gifts, talents and commitments to the things of this world over and above or in place of giving our hearts, time, passion, desire, will, obedience, commitment, and allegiance to God and to his kingdom.

To Do Your Will (vv. 6-8)

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened—
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”

Jesus Christ is quoted in the New Testament as saying this about himself in relation to God the Father (See: Heb. 10:5-10). So, what is the message here? It is that, although the law did require physical sacrifices and offerings, God did not desire them to be given independent of true obedience and heart surrender to his will. In other words, God is not interested in us going through the motions of religious exercise, especially if our hearts are not surrendered to him and to his service. He is not pleased with mere formalities and externals. He wants our all on the altar (See: Ro. 12:1-2).

So, we can go to regular church services, put our money in the offering plate, serve in ministry positions within the organized church gatherings, and help the poor and needy, etc., and still not be in a right relationship with God and be pleasing to him. What he desires is that we spend time listening to him every day, and that we follow that in obedience to what he shows us. He is looking for hearts committed to him and to his service (to his will), choosing his choices, and not our own. Jesus bought us back for God with his shed blood, so our lives are no longer to be our own, but Jesus is to be our only Lord (owner-master) and us his bondservants.

Speak of Your Faithfulness (vv. 9-10)

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.

Another distinguishing mark of a true believer in Jesus Christ is that he or she is not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ or of Christ himself, but that he or she will talk with others willingly about his or her faith. And, we will do so out of a heart of passion for God and his gospel message, and out of a heart of compassion for the people of this world (or of the worldly church) who are still bound in their sins without hope of eternity with God.

We will actively be sharing our faith and testimonies and the truth of the gospel of our salvation so that many will hear and will be saved from their sins, or be revived, and be transformed of the Spirit of God in mind, heart, and in lifestyle, so they will know God and have eternal life with him in glory.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

 

Against the Righteous

Thursday, October 19, 2017, 9:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Wait.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 37:1-15 (NIV).

The Wicked Plot (vv. 12-15)

The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

Who are the wicked? They are all those who practice evil, doing wrong to others. They are those who are immoral, depraved, perverse, and unjust. They are also those who make a practice of being mean, hateful, cutting, cruel and malicious towards other human beings. Although they know that God exists, for God has revealed himself to them through his created works, “they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised” (Ro. 1:21, 25).

So, God gave them over to their sinful ways, to do what ought not to be done. “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Ro. 1:28-32).

Because they resist God, and choose to go their own way, instead, they end up hating and resenting those who do follow the Lord and who live righteously, and thus they plot evil against them. One of the most prominent plots against the righteous which they scheme is to try to find ways to bring the righteous down to their level, to convince them to sin against God and to doubt God’s Word to us, which, of course, comes straight from hell. They will also try to destroy the reputations of the righteous through false accusations, or through setting traps in hopes to trip them up. And, if that doesn’t work, they will persecute them severely and even put them to death.

Do Not Fret (vv. 1-2, 8-11)

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.

Even though the wicked plot and carry out evil against us, we are not to fret (fear, worry). Our God is completely sovereign over all which he has made. The wicked cannot do what they do unless God allows it, and for a purpose. Evil only exists because God has not yet chosen to destroy it. When he does, it will entail the wrath of God being poured out on the people of the earth. And, then the end will come, and the righteous will be forever with their Lord, where there will be no more sin, sorrow, crying or pain. Amen!

Trust the Lord (vv. 3-7)

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

So, what are we to do when the wicked assail us? We are to trust in the Lord and in his sovereignty, believing that God knows what is best, that he will carry out his purposes, and that he will accomplish his will for our lives. Not only are we to trust him with our lives, even in the direst of circumstances, but we are to delight in him, commit our way to him, be still before him, and wait patiently for him to do all that he has promised he would do.

This means that we don’t retaliate (get even, take revenge), but that we pay back evil with good. We love our enemies by doing good to them, praying for them, forgiving them, and asking the Lord to save their souls. Even when people hate and mistreat us, we are kind back to them. But, kindness also means that we speak the truth in love, for it is neither loving or kind to ever tell people lies, even if the lies make them feel good. So, kindness confronts sin in sinful humans, warns of divine judgment, and calls for repentance.

This also means that we take our situations to the Lord in prayer, and we commit (entrust, hand over) our ways to Him. We don’t take action unless directed by the Lord, unless it is action that he has already directed through his written Word. We let him be our defense, our counsel and our help, rather than take matters into our own hands. If we are accused falsely, we ask him how to respond. But, if we blow it, and we respond in the flesh, then we apologize, we ask for forgiveness, and we lean on the Lord and on his strength and power to do better the next time a situation like that arises.

Wait! / An Original Work / February 8, 2014

Wait for your Lord. Be of courage.
Be strong, and take heart today.
God is always watching o’er you.
Trust Him with your life always.

Sing of your Lord. Praise His blessings.
Believe in His sovereignty.
He delivered you from your sin;
Gave you life eternally.

Rest in your Lord. Know His promise.
Beneath His wings rest secure.
Your God has a plan and purpose.
Let your faith in Him endure.

Trust in your Lord. He’ll not leave you,
Because He is faithfulness.
He will lead and guide; protect you.
In His love you can find rest.

 

Waiting

Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 5:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 27 (Select vv. ESV).

No Fear (vv. 1-3)

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

How is it that we can have enemies fiercely attacking and opposing us, and yet we are not afraid? Is it because we are superhuman, and thus we are incapable of being injured? Or, does this mean that we will never suffer physical harm or that we will not ever be cut to the heart, i.e. that we will not ever be injured emotionally? As well, does this indicate that we should never even feel fear nor have legitimate cause to ever be afraid?

With a careful read of the New Testament, concerning the lives of Jesus Christ and his apostles, I believe we can find the answers to those questions. They certainly faced much opposition to the work of the ministry of Christ, and to the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were attacked verbally on a regular basis, accused falsely of things they did not do, and opposed strongly by those of their own nationality, race and religious heritage. As well, many of them were beaten, falsely arrested and/or imprisoned, and many were put to death for their faith and for their testimonies about Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation.

Jesus Christ, when he knew his time had come, and he was about to be crucified on a cross for the sins of the world, and to become sin for us, cried out to the Father, and asked if it was possible for this cup of suffering to pass from him. Yet, he submitted to the Father’s will. Paul said he came to the Corinthians “in weakness with great fear and trembling” (1 Co. 2:3). Later he mentioned that, when they had come to Macedonia, “We had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.” Thus, they did feel fear and apprehension, as well. So, what made the difference for them? How were they able to overcome their fears and to walk in faith and to do what they knew God had called them to do?

They trusted their lives into God’s capable hands, they rested in him, relied on his wisdom and grace, and knew that what they were suffering or were about to suffer was for the greater good, i.e. for the salvation of human lives. They had faith that God is who he says he is, that he is completely sovereign over all that he has made, and that their suffering did not lack purpose. They also knew that good (righteousness) would ultimately triumph over evil, and that one day all their suffering would be over, and that they would be home with their God, and that their tears would be wiped from their eyes. They also knew that our earthly lives are temporary, that this world is not our home, and that we have a better home awaiting us.

In Troubles (vv. 4-6)

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

The greatest antidote to fear is faith. It is confidence in what we believe and in what we hope for. It is reliance upon God, our creator, sustainer, Savior, healer and coming King. It is the knowledge that, through continued faith in Jesus Christ, we have salvation from sin, an intimate relationship and fellowship with Almighty God, and the promise of eternal rest. And, it is the assurance of his continued comfort, help, counsel, guidance, encouragement and spiritual protection from the evil one.

It isn’t as though we are protected from harm and that we won’t suffer, though, for we know that Jesus said we would share in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. But, he has provided us spiritual armor to put on with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and schemes against us. Satan is a defeated foe. We just have to live like we believe that. He and his servants can kill the body, but they can’t kill the soul. From all outward appearances, it may seem as though Satan has the upper hand, at times, when all hell seems to be breaking loose all around us. Yet, when we resist him, flee from sin, stand strong in our faith, and don’t give in to his tricks, we are conquerors over Satan and sin, through Christ who loves us.

Teach Me (vv. 11-14)

Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

But, this means that we must walk in the faith we profess, listen to what our Lord is saying to us, and then follow in his footsteps and in the ways of his righteousness. If we want him to teach us his ways, we must be willing to walk in those ways. We can’t cry “Help! Save me!” and then do what we want, our way, whenever we feel like it. It doesn’t work like that. If we want victory over darkness, and to be rescued in times of trouble and distress, and to know God’s peace and joy, especially in times of trouble, we need to walk the narrow (straight, not crooked) path he has provided for us.

And, when faced with much adversity because we are following the way of righteousness, and we are walking that narrow road, we can be at peace. And, when things in this life and in this world seem to only go from bad to worse, and we wonder when God is going to turn things around, we must learn to wait on him to accomplish his purposes and to fulfill all his promises to us. We must take courage in knowing, again, that all our suffering is not without purpose, and that God will work all things for good, for those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose. We just need to be patient, and wait on the Lord.

Trust Him / An Original Work
August 15, 2012 / Based off Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.

God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.

Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.

 

Troubles of the Heart

Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Lifted Our Burdens.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 25 (Select vv. ESV).

Our Enemies (vv. 1-3)

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Very few people, I would suspect, know no enemies. Even if we were to try our hardest to not make enemies, we couldn’t please all people at all times. Yet, our goal in life should not be to be people who everyone will like, but it should be to live for God, to serve him, and to live holy and godly lives, pleasing to him, as well as it should be to love our neighbors as ourselves. And, when we do that, we will incur enemies, because loving God and loving others with God’s love is bound to be met with opposition and resistance.

For, it will mean that we will love as God/Jesus loves, we will stand for righteousness and holiness, and we will hate what God hates. God hates wickedness (sin), but he loves the sinner. It will also mean that we will stand on the Word of Truth, because therein is found the only hope of salvation from sin and eternal life with God Almighty, which comes from God. Yet, when we do that, we will be hated and persecuted as Jesus was hated and persecuted, because not all people will embrace the truth, but many will, instead, buy into the lies, because the lies tell them they can continue in their sin but still have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

God’s Ways (vv. 4-5, 8-10)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

The goal of our salvation is not merely to be forgiven our sins, to escape hell, and to have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth. If that is all there is to it, then why not die as soon as we are saved? What would be the point of living, if we are just going to continue in our sins? We are no better off than we were before, if this is true, because we will still be in bondage (slavery, addiction) to sin, and bound for hell, if God’s grace to us does not deliver us out of slavery to sin and free us to now walk in his righteousness.

But, thanks be to God, his grace to us is that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God made the way for us to be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and to be resurrected with Christ to newness of life (to be reborn of the Spirit of God), created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. By the Spirit, we can now be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we can now be walking according to the Spirit and to God’s righteousness on a daily basis. For, Jesus set us free, not just from the punishment of sin, but also from our addictions to sin. Sin no longer is to have dominion over us.

So, now that we have died with Christ to sin, by faith in Jesus Christ, and we have been born again of the Spirit of God, and we have been given new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to be lived to his righteousness, our desire should be to want to know the ways of the Lord, and then to walk in those ways. We should not be looking for loopholes to continue in our sin while claiming that God’s grace covers it all. We should be so in love with God/Jesus, that we continually seek to do his will, his way, with his heart, and in his power.

Fear God (vv. 11-15)

For your name’s sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Yet, if we want to know the ways of the Lord, so that we may walk in them, then it begins with the fear of the Lord. We must walk in the fear (honor, respect, esteem, value, worship, obedience, submission to, and reverence) of God. Too many people who preach “the gospel” these days do not teach the fear of God or obedience to God/Jesus Christ and his Word, or submission to Christ and his cross. But, they teach an “entitlement” gospel which says that God does it all, and that nothing is required of us. There is no death to sin or living to righteousness in this “gospel,” and thus there is no fear of God, no honoring of him or respect shown to him.

Yet, where there is no death to sin, no living to righteousness, and no fear (reverence, respect) shown to God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), there is also no salvation from sin, and there is no hope of eternal life with God. For, the scriptures teach that if we continue walking in sin, i.e. if we make sin our practice, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven, but a fearful expectation of judgment and the fires of hell. But, for the one who walks in the fear of the Lord, who conducts his life according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, he/she will have the hope of eternal life.

Our Troubles (vv. 16-18)

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

One of the blessings (or benefits) of our salvation from sin, and our walks of faith with our Lord, is that God/Jesus/The Spirit is our helper, our counselor, and our comforter in times of trouble and distress, as well as he is our healer, deliverer and strength. In our loneliness or affliction, he desires that we call on him and that we trust in him to be all that we need and to supply all that is necessary for us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. He cares deeply about us, he has a heart of compassion for us, and he will see us through any and every trouble or difficulty which comes our way. Although he doesn’t always deliver us from our troubles, he will help us and strengthen us through them, resulting in his praise, honor and glory. Amen!

He Lifted Our Burdens / An Original Work / February 15, 2014

Based off Isaiah 9:2-7

People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.

Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.

Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.

We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.

Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.

He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.