To The Obedience of Christ

Sunday, May 31, 2015, 5:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Jesus, Rescue Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 10 (NASB).

Every Thought Captive

Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

Paul addressed these thoughts to the church collectively. Although, in reality, the church is the body of believers in Jesus Christ, there were, even from the beginning, false brothers and sisters and false apostles who came in among them, who met with them, and who tried to persuade the true believers in Christ to distrust Paul and to not follow the true gospel. So, Paul had to write to them in defense of his apostolic authority and in defense of the gospel of our salvation so that they would not be led astray, though it appeared some of them were already being strongly influenced by these false brethren and/or false apostles.

One of the accusations against Paul and the other apostles was that they walked (conducted their lives) according to the flesh, i.e. that they lived by the standards of this sinful world. So, Paul set out to dispel that theory and to put it to death. Paul explained that, although they lived in the world, as we all do, they did not wage war as the world does. What kind of war? I believe Paul was making reference to spiritual warfare in which we fight against the forces of evil which are in the world, which come against us, and in which we fight against the temptations of our own flesh which war against us. So, how does the world wage war?

When it comes to what the world terms as “evil,” depending on the evil, the world might fight with guns, knives, and bombs, etc., or they may fight with cutting remarks, slander, false accusations, false arrests, persecution, hatred, violence, rejection and by ostracizing those they term as “evil,” even if what they call “evil” is really good. Yet, when the world wishes to embrace what GOD calls evil, but which they might call “good,” they compromise, make excuses, justify, rationalize, twist truth, blend truth and lies together, or give their evil some “godly” false front in order to make it look like the evil is really something good. The worldly church of today is guilty of all of this, I believe. This verse comes to mind:

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter! ~ Isaiah 5:20

Paul said, though, that the apostles did not wage war in the way the world did. He said they did not fight with the weapons of the world. The spiritual weapons of warfare he and the other apostles used were, instead, the ones they had received from God Almighty (See: Eph. 6:10-20). They are faith, salvation, truth, righteousness, the Word of God, prayer, and feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (peace with God). These have divine power, because they are from God, to demolish strongholds, i.e. to defeat these evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realms which come against us, and which try to bring us down. When Satan throws his lies our way, we respond with the truth, i.e. with the Word of God. When he tempts us to sin against God, we respond by resisting him, fleeing temptation, drawing near to God, and by embracing Christ’s righteousness in our lives.

When Satan tries to convince us to believe his lies (his arguments against truth), and his deceptions (his made up stories), we have to stand strong against them, we have to expose the lies and the fruitless deeds of darkness for what they are, and we have to bring them into submission and obedience to Christ by revealing the truth of God’s holy word. For instance, there are so many false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing within the church today who twist the word of God, who make up stories out of their own imaginations, and who try to pass off their lies as truth. They will throw in scripture to give what they say some sense of credibility, and so that Christians will buy it, but we have to be discerning of error, and we have to pay attention to what they are doing, so that we can see the deceptions, and so we can expose them, reject them, refute them and defeat them.

One example I just became aware of is John Eldredge’s book, “Waking the Dead.” That book, I believe, is straight from the pit of hell. Avoid it, expose it, but don’t buy into it.

Looking Outwardly

You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame, for I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.” Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present.

God does not say we should never judge anyone. We should judge sin in our own lives, and in the church, and we should judge false teaching, and error, and we should expose it. That is what Jesus and the apostles did, and that is what we must do. Yet, we should not judge hypocritically or for the purpose to get even with someone or by human standards, traditions, values, culture or by what is seen outwardly only, i.e. by surface evaluations. And, when we do judge, it should be for the purpose of restoration, either to restore someone to fellowship with God or to restore the truth, which has been corrupted by the lies and deceptions of human beings.

As well, what we see on the outside may not be a true picture of what is going on on the inside of someone. Certainly, if someone says he or she is a believer in Jesus, but he or she is living like hell, treating God and his word with contempt, and is showing absolutely no regard for truth or righteousness whatsoever, that would certainly be grounds, Biblically speaking, to judge that person not to have had a genuine transformation of heart and mind away from sin and toward God. Yet, we must be so careful that we don’t make quick judgments based in human thinking and reasoning or based in surface evaluations only. When it comes to Biblical error, in particular, we should search out the scriptures prayerfully before God, pray for wisdom and understanding, compare scripture with scripture, interpret scripture within context, and rely upon the Holy Spirit to lead us to all truth.

Measuring Others by Ourselves

For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ; not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another. But he who boasts is to boast in the Lord. For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.

As well, we need to be so careful that we don’t judge others by our own experiences. I can tell you that I have been the recipient of such judgment on more than one occasion, where someone said that, because he or she had acted in such a way under similar circumstances, that translated to an accusation that I am just like him or her, and that I am doing the same things and for the same motivation. Wow! Yet, we are each unique individuals, wonderfully and beautifully made by God, designed for a purpose, and not one of us is exactly like another, not even identical twins. Just because someone does something we did, and just because we may have done it for the wrong reasons, it is not ours to judge that another person is doing exactly what we did and exactly for the same reasons. Oh, how wrong! We should judge what God calls sin as sin, though. That never changes.

So, who does this all apply to? You have probably heard the saying, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” Paul wrote this to the church. Yes, he indicated that some of the people to whom he was referring may not have been of the true body of Christ, but may have just been passing themselves off as fellow believers or as apostles of Christ. His indication was clearly that some of what he was saying, at least, also did not directly apply to everyone in his hearing, by the mere fact of his making mention of “some people” with regard to the issues he addressed. But, then v. 6 comes to mind where he said that he would be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once their obedience was complete. I believe there is an element here in which even the true fellowship of believers had allowed themselves to get caught up in these lies, and so what he was saying, I believe, is that he was giving them opportunity to repent and to obey before he punished those who were stirring things up against him.

So, what makes me draw this conclusion? First of all, I believe that is what the Spirit has put in my heart. Second of all, when I then read the next chapter, I could see where he told them that he was jealous for them with a godly jealousy, for he had promised them to one husband, Christ. His concern was that they might be led astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Why? Because they were putting up with these false teachers who were bringing them a false gospel, and to some extent they were buying into their lies and deceptions. A similar situation existed when he wrote them his first letter. There he warned them not to be misled, because bad company corrupts good character. He said, “Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” (See: 1 Co. 15:33-34).

So, what can we take away from this and apply to our lives? For one, we should test everything we hear and not so easily fall prey to the deceptions of false teaching. Secondly, we should remain in the Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, and we should study the scriptures (not human beings), in context, and pray for understanding from the Holy Spirit, even if it goes against something we have always been taught. I have had my own beliefs shaken on more than one occasion and have had to relearn what the scriptures teach because of where I had been taught wrong. I still remain open to hear from God if I am getting something wrong, and when I am challenged in my faith, I take it to the Lord in prayer, search the scriptures, and seek God’s face to know what is true and what is false, and pray he would direct me to anything I am getting wrong so that I may correct it. And, if the Lord Jesus shows us that we are following a false gospel, we should turn from it, and we should begin to follow him and his word, instead, obeying whatever it is he teaches us.

Jesus, Rescue Me / An Original Work / September 18, 2011

Based off of Romans 7:7-8:39

Jesus, rescue me today.
Listen while I bow and pray.
I need Your help to obey You;
Live for You always.
Meet me in my hour of need, Lord,
As I pray to You.
Help me walk in fellowship, Lord,
Living in Your truth.
Jesus, how I long for You to
Change my heart anew.

Father, God, my heart’s desire
Is to live for You this hour
In Your Holy Spirit’s power
Living in me now.
Teach me to walk in Your love, Lord,
Guiding me each day.
Help me to show love and kindness
To the lost, I pray.
Father, teach me to love others
As You love always.

Holy Spirit come in pow’r.
Revive our hearts in this hour.
Change our hearts to be like You, Lord;
Live for You each day.
Help us to forsake our sins, Lord,
As we humbly pray.
Teach us how to live for You, Lord,
Obey You always.
Holy Spirit come in power,
Revive us today.

Jesus, My Savior

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:8-10

Truly God’s love for us is unending! Amen! His love for us sent Jesus Christ to the cross to die a cruel death so that we could be set free from slavery to sin and so we could have eternal life with God in glory. His love for us sustains us and holds us together. He loves us so much that he gave us his Holy Spirit to live in us to guide, lead, counsel, encourage, comfort and urge us in the ways of the Lord.

My Lord not only died so that I could be free from slavery to sin, but he died so that I would no longer live for myself but for him who gave himself up for me. And, not only did he die, but he lived on this earth as a human being so that he suffered like we suffer, and so he was tempted in all ways in which we are tempted, yet without sin. He did this so that he could sympathize with us in our weaknesses, and so we would know his compassion, comfort and healing.

Jesus, My Savior / An Original Work / May 7, 2011

Jesus, my Savior, my Master and friend;
His love will guide me; of which there’s no end.
Saving and keeping and cleansing within;
Jesus, Messiah, my Lord and my King.
He died for me on Calv’ry’s tree.
Saved me from sin; made pure within.
Jesus, my Savior, my Master and friend;
His love will guide me; of which there’s no end.

Jesus, our God, our Creator; I AM;
He came to earth, born of God as a man.
He suffered so He could be our High Priest,
In love, compassion, and great sympathy.
He bore our sin; sin died with Him.
He conquered hell; with Him we dwell.
Jesus, our God, our Creator; I AM;
He came to earth, born of God as a man.

Jesus, Redeemer, His blood set us free.
He purchased our pardon, so we’d believe.
He loves us so, and He wants us to know
His love redeemed us; out from us should flow.
Repent of sin. Be whole within.
Follow His ways all of our days.
Jesus, Redeemer, His blood set us free
He purchased our pardon, so we’d believe.

Hang in There!

Friday, May 29, 2015, 9:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Fully Ready,” and the song “All Through the Night.” Each of these songs speaks of persecution of the Lord’s servants. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 7:2-16 (ESV).

Make Room (vv. 1-5)

Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.

For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within.

Paul began this letter to the church in Corinth by talking with them about suffering for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ and for our faith in him. Yet, he also spoke of how God comforted (consoled, encouraged, strengthened, inspired, and/or counseled) the apostles in their sufferings, so that they could offer the same comfort they had received from God to any who were also going through difficulties, hardships and/or persecutions. Then, Paul went on to describe the depth of the suffering they had endured, which was that they had despaired even of life. Yet, he acknowledged, that this happened that they might not rely on themselves, but on God, who raises the dead. So, there was a dual purpose in their trials and tribulations: 1) So they could comfort others with the comfort they had received from God, and so 2) They would learn to not rely on themselves but on God. Amen!

Paul, it appears, wrote this letter as a follow-up to his previous letter. It seems, as well, that, among the followers of Christ in Corinth, some people in the church might have questioned his motivations for writing the previous letter, or that they might have felt that he was too harsh in his dealings with a specific situation he had addressed with them in that letter. A man in the church was in a sexual relationship with his father’s wife, and thus had to be put out of the church in order to spare his spiritual life and the spiritual life and holiness of the church, as a whole (See: 1 Co. 5). Yet, the man who had been put out of the church must have eventually repented of his sin, because Paul then encouraged the church to forgive the man and to restore him to fellowship, and to cease with the punishment.

Paul, thus, in several places in this letter, came to his own defense to let the church know that his motivations were pure, and that he loved them very much, which is why he was so grieved over this situation, and which is why he had to do what he did for the sanctity of the whole body of believers there. Yet, he got no pleasure out of doing this, and he hoped he would not have to do it again. I empathize!

As well, more than one time he mentioned the persecutions and afflictions the apostles suffered for the sake of Christ and for the sake of being ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ in preaching the truth of God’s holy Word. I believe he did so to encourage them in their sufferings, but perhaps he did so also to demonstrate the sincerity of his and the other apostles’ commitments to Christ, to the gospel, and to the church. Paul was not one of these fly-by-night peddlers of a false gospel who would turn tail and run at the first sign of opposition. He was in it for the long haul, and he was willing to go through “hell on earth” if it meant the salvation of souls and the spiritual growth of the church, the body of Christ.

So, he appealed to them, on the basis of his love for them and his commitment to their welfare, that they not withhold their love for him, but that they make room for him in their hearts. Yet, this was not just about them accepting Paul as a person and them liking him or approving of him. This, I believe, had to do with their acceptance of his apostolic authority. And, I believe that is why he went to such great lengths in this letter to demonstrate to the church the apostles’ commitment to the church, to Christ and to the gospel; and also the sincerity, holiness and purity of their motivations and their actions toward the church, as a whole, on their behalf. If they distrusted him, and if they did not acknowledge his authority over them in Christ, and willingly submit to his authority, then he could not have an effective ministry among them, and therefore he could be of no help or comfort to them.

Even if I Grieved You (vv. 6-16)

But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. Therefore we are comforted.

And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.

Let’s revisit for a moment the situation in question here. It seems to be generally accepted among theologians and Bible commentators that the situation to which Paul is referring here is that of the sin of the man who had his father’s wife, either that he had married his father’s wife or that he was in a sexual relationship with her outside of marriage. Yet, it was considered that the man was sinning greatly. So, what was the role of the church in all of this? They were proud, not necessarily of the situation, but of their church and ministry, perhaps, thinking they were doing pretty well. But, they evidently knew of this man’s sin, as it was out in the open, and yet they failed to grieve over the man’s sin and to do anything about it to correct it. They also failed to protect the rest of the fellowship from being influenced negatively by this man. Basically, through their silence, they were giving approval of this man’s sin, and that sent a message throughout the fellowship that it was ok to live (conduct their lives) in sin and to still enjoy the fellowship of the body of Christ.

Yet, now Paul was writing to express his joy in hearing the good report of their repentance (their turning from their sin) and of their obedience to Paul’s instructions in putting the man out of the fellowship in order to spare the church and to spare the man’s life, too. Because they had repented of their sin, and had done as Paul had instructed them to do, they would not face any type of discipline. Yet, because they had repented, they had cleared themselves of all guilt in this matter. Their obedience not only saved this man’s life, and the life of the church, but it also demonstrated their willingness to submit to Paul’s authority in these matters, and this greatly encouraged his heart, for this was for their good. Without the proper exercise of authority within the church, and submission to that godly authority, the church is likely to be prey for wolves in sheep’s clothing and to the temptation to return to what is familiar to them, i.e. to sin. Yet, we must be cautioned against misuse of authority or submission to those who might lead us astray from our pure devotion to God.

In Conclusion

Not all of us are in positions of authority within the church, especially those of us who are females, as we should not be in positions of authority over the church, as a whole. So, we can’t always have that type of authoritative influence over what goes on within the church as did Paul and the other apostles. Yet, God has placed each and every one of us within the body of Christ for a purpose, and that purpose is that we might each encourage, serve, edify, love, and minister to one another for the purpose that we might all mature in Christ, conduct our lives in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and walk in love and obedience to our Lord, and in love, one for the other. We are to speak the truth in love, one to the other, and speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and make use of the gifts of the Spirit given to us by the Spirit, in the mutual encouragement and building up of the body of Christ, with each part doing its work assigned it (us) by God himself.

Yet, we may face opposition and persecution within the body of Christ because we are obeying the Lord in showing great love and concern for the church in calling them to repentance, as did Paul, and in calling them to obey God, and to follow his instructions for godly and holy living. Remember that Jesus’ greatest persecutors and opposition came from within God’s temple, and came from within the leadership within the temple, so we should not be surprised if some of our greatest opposition and persecution comes from others who profess the name of Jesus, who meet regularly with the church, and even who are in positions of leadership within the church. We may even be kicked out of some fellowships because we stand on the Word of Truth, we point out sin, we call people to repentance, and we call them to walk in holiness and righteousness, all in the power of the Spirit within them. We may, as well, be insulted, accused falsely, be slandered, and have attempts made to try to discredit us and the message God has given to us from his word.

So, what was Paul’s response to such persecution? For one, he put his trust in the Lord, and he continued to rely on the Lord in all matters, and he followed the Lord in obedience no matter how much it hurt, and no matter how often he was mistreated or spoken badly against. Why did he do this? – Because he loved God with all his heart, mind and strength, and because he loved his neighbor as himself. He did this because he loved the church and the unsaved so much that he was willing to lay down his life for them so that they, too, could have the hope of eternal salvation, and so that they could walk (conduct their lives) in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, free from the control and weight of sin over their lives. He didn’t give up just because things got harder. He kept going in the strength of the Lord, committing his life and ministry into the hands of the Lord, trusting that the Lord had a purpose for all things he allowed in Paul’s life, and that God would get the glory through it all, and that he would bring forth the fruit in Paul’s life and in the lives touched by his life.

Secondly, where necessary, Paul continued to defend the Word of God, and the message of salvation from sin, and himself, and his calling, because when he was attacked, so was the message he was preaching, and thus his defense was largely so that the gospel of salvation from sin would not come under ill repute, and so it would not be discredited, but that it would continue to go forward, in the power of the Spirit of God within him, so that many would come to repentance and would follow the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience. As well, in his case, he had to defend himself and the message he was given in order to defend the authority of God in his life and ministry from those who would attack it and would try to move the church to reject him and his message and to follow other messages instead.

We are not all apostles, so we don’t all have apostolic authority over the church, but we are all ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ if we have the Spirit of God living within us by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. So, when we speak God’s words, if we are listening to God, and if we are searching out his word diligently, and if we are open to hearing from the Spirit what God has for us, and if we are obeying the Word ourselves, then we speak with authority, but not our own, but the authority of scripture, the Lord’s God-breathed words to us. So, we should defend that authority against all attacks against it.

This is not to say we will always have things right, but we should always be open to the Lord correcting us where we are wrong, and we should be willing to change our thinking if the Lord teaches us, from his Word, something we didn’t know before. Yet, we should not be immature followers of Christ, tossed back and forth by various winds of doctrine, but we should stand firm on the Word of God and continue to speak with boldness the words given us by the Spirit, even in the face of great opposition, and even threats against our own lives.

Fully Ready! / An Original Work / June 19, 2013

Based off Acts 20-22, 26; Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 1:8

Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?
I’m fully ready to suffer for Christ.
If I must die for the sake of His name,
I am convinced it will not be in vain.
Glory to God and to His Son Jesus,
Who has redeemed us; bought with His blood.

May I speak to you? Jesus came to me;
Asked of me, “Why do you persecute me?”
He said, “Now get up and stand on your feet.
Go, and you’ll be told all I have for you.
I have appointed you as a servant,
And as a witness; you have been sent.”

“Go into the world and preach the gospel.
Open the blind eyes. They will receive sight.
Turn them from darkness to the light of Christ;
From power of the evil one to God,
So they may receive forgiveness of sins,
And a place among those who’re in heav’n.”

“Fully Ready” – https://vimeo.com/115439432

“All Through the Night” – https://vimeo.com/112899981

Why Are You Afraid?

Many throughout the world are presently being severely persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ and for their testimonies for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Numerous saints of God are being martyred because they refuse to deny the name of Jesus Christ, they refuse to bow to the world’s system, and because they will not stop sharing the true gospel of salvation.

Jesus said we would be hated as he was hated, and that as he was treated, so would we be treated, if we are his true followers. So, this should not take us by surprise when this happens, and it will come to America, too, because scripture teaches us that in the last days this persecution will increase, and that the dragon will be enraged, as though he is not already, and he will pursue Christ’s true servants and witnesses with hateful vengeance.

Yet, we are not to be afraid of those who can kill the body but who cannot kill the soul. We must believe that God is sovereign over all things – events and all people – and that nothing can enter into our lives outside of ourselves but what he allows it, and he has a purpose in it which will bring glory to his name, and many to saving faith in Jesus Christ. So, trust Him. Rest in His love. Believe Him that He will work it all for our ultimate good. Divine discipline is painful, but necessary in order to mature us, to purify us and to make us holy. We are not here on this earth for our own pleasure, but rather to honor and magnify our Lord God.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. ~ Lu. 1:68-75

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. ~ John 3:19-21

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. ~ 1 Peter 3:13-17

Why Are You Afraid? / An Original Work / December 5, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Do not be afraid.
Your Lord is always by your side.
Serve the Lord in righteousness
Before Him all your days.

Those who hate the light
Will not come to the Lord.
They fear their deeds
Might be noticed.
So, they hate the light,
And they embrace the night.

Do not be afraid,
Although your enemy attacks.
Dare to share your testimony
Of God’s saving grace.

Do not fear their threats,
But honor Christ, your Lord.
Be prepared to give an answer
For the hope you have,
With gentleness; respect.

Why are you afraid?
For all that’s hidden will be shown.
What I tell you, speak in daylight.
Let the truth be known.

Do not be afraid
Of those who’ll take your life.
Fear the Lord with understanding.
Trust Him with your life,
And give not up to strife.

Do not be afraid.
Take courage, it is I, your Lord.
Bow before Me; now adore Me.
Oh, why do you doubt?

Listen to the Lord.
Get up, and bear His name!
Run and tell the world He loves them.
Jesus came to save.
Give Him your all today.

If You Love Me

Jesus speaking: “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.” ~ John 14:15-17a

“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.'” ~ John 14:23

Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, was very passionate, but he was also extremely impulsive, and, though he was sincere in what he felt, he didn’t always follow through with what he said he would do. Yet, Jesus transformed his life and he became the first disciple to share the gospel message on the Day of Pentecost when thousands of people believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and received His Holy Spirit within them.

Subsequently the church was formed and began meeting together daily for teaching, fellowship, prayer and the breaking of bread. Yet, prior to Peter’s transformation, he denied Jesus Christ three times when Jesus was arrested, put on trial, and ultimately was crucified on the cross. Once Peter heard the rooster crow, he knew that what Jesus had said would happen had come true, and he wept in repentance for what he had done.

Later, after Jesus had been resurrected, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus was asking Peter if he loved (Agape – God-like love) him and Peter responded that he friendship (phileo) loved him. Jesus asked again a second time to Peter if he (agape) loved him, to which Peter responded that he (phileo) friendship loved him. The third time Jesus asked Peter if he (phileo) loved him, to which Peter responded, “Lord, you know that I (phileo / friendship) love you.” Jesus then responded to Peter, “Then, feed my sheep.”

This song, thus, is based off this idea that if we love Jesus, we should obey and serve him by feeding (spiritually) his sheep.

If You Love Me / An Original Work / May 6, 2011

Based off of John 21:15-25

If you love Me, why not serve Me?
If you love Me, why not serve Me?
If you love Me, why not serve Me?
Won’t you feed My sheep?
Tell the world that Jesus loves them.
He died for their sins.

If you love Me, why not trust Me?
If you love Me, why not trust Me?
If you love Me, why not trust Me
To do what I say?
Give your lives to Jesus only.
Serve Him as your King.

If you love Me, I will bless you.
If you love Me, I will bless you.
If you love Me, I will bless you.
I’ll give you a crown.
When I come I will receive you
As My very own.

An Appeal

Friday, May 29, 2015, 12:28 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 (ESV).

Be Obedient

Paul wrote this letter (2 Corinthians) to the church of God in Corinth, “together with all the saints throughout Achaia.” When Paul said “church of God,” though, he was not speaking of a Christian church denomination, a building (called a church), or an organization or a corporation of human origin and of the will of man (also called church). He was speaking of the body of believers in Jesus Christ who had been born of the Spirit of God by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. That faith involved repentance (turning from sin) and obedience to God (turning to God to follow him), for Jesus Christ “bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24). This body of Christ (the church) can meet together most any day, anytime and anywhere in the will of and for the purposes of God/Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit among them.

Paul indicated that he had made up his mind not to make another painful visit to them, i.e. to not come again to them in grief over unrepentant sins existing among them. He loved them so very much that it grieved him greatly when they, the body of Christ, sinned against God. He said, “The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything” (2:9). He said, “We, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (3:18). This transformation is ongoing (progressive). It is like the scripture teaches when it says we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. We are being made holy. We are daily putting to death the deeds of the body. We are no longer conducting our lives according to the sinful nature, but we are on a continuing (ongoing; progressive) course of conducting our lives according to the Spirit (See: Ro. 8:4).

Then he went on to talk about walking (conducting their lives) by faith and not by sight. He said “We make it our goal to please him,” meaning Christ, and then he reminded the believers that all of us, Christian and non-Christian, must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, “that each may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (5:10). This is not works-based salvation or us being brought back under the law. Yet, it is a reminder that James said, “Faith without works is dead.” Paul then reminded them that Jesus Christ died for all, “that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Our Christian life is not about “getting saved,” living how we want, and then going to heaven when we die. This whole letter is an appeal to the true church to live the life for which Jesus Christ gave his life for them. We are saved from sin that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.

Lastly, just prior to chapter 6, we read where he told them plainly that being in Christ means we are a new creation, not just a slightly cleaned up old one so that we look better on the outside. He reminded them that this means that our old lives of living for sin and self were done away with at the cross of Christ, and that we have been given completely new lives to be lived in the Spirit, for God, in obedience and surrender to his will for our lives, for his glory and for his purposes, and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. And, on that basis, he implored them to be reconciled to God, not to be “born again” again, but to change, and to become like Jesus “in true righteousness and holiness,” to which they were created by God when they were given new birth in Christ Jesus, by God’s grace, through faith in him. He was basically appealing to them to walk (conduct their lives) in a manner worthy of their calling from Christ; worthy of the gospel of Christ (Eph. 4:1; Phil. 1:27).

Not In Vain

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

So, what he is telling the church, I believe, is that they must continue in Christ, and they must continue to put to death the deeds of the body, dying daily to sin and self, and they must walk (conduct their lives) in obedience to their Lord or else they will have received God’s grace to them in vain, i.e. it will be ineffective and unproductive in their lives. From what I understand of scripture, a person can be a believer in Jesus Christ and still sin against God (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that Jesus died to put sin to death in our lives, so we don’t have to give in to sin, for he has made a way of escape for us. We just have to take it. If a believer in Christ could not possibly sin against God, then there would have been no need for much of the writings of the New Testament which were clearly, in many cases, written to those who had been “sealed for the day of redemption” (See: Eph. 4:30), and in which they were instructed to get rid of sin and to live godly and holy lives instead.

When we understand that our salvation is progressive, that it has a beginning, a middle (ongoing) and an end (a day of completion – future), I believe it helps us understand what this is teaching us. We must understand that eternal life is promised only to the one who believes (present tense), i.e. who is presently believing on Jesus Christ. What this means is that we are not guaranteed life in Christ Jesus, or heaven when we die, on the basis of past belief. Scripture says “the one who is believing,” not “the one who once believed.” If we don’t continue in Christ, and if we don’t remain in him and in his Word (in his teachings), then we are not his disciples; we are cut off from the vine; we are not truly saved; and we have not come to share in Christ, etc. (See: John 8:31-32; Romans 11:17-24; I Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; I John 2:24-25).

Jesus Christ “condemned sin in sinful man,” not just so we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die, but “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live (conduct our lives) according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” (See: Ro. 8:3-14).

Open Your Hearts

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

The apostles did not speak out of impure motives. They were not fly-by-night, slick, forked-tongued and smooth speaking preachers who passed themselves off as ministers of the gospel of Christ. They walked the talk. They lived what they preached. They went through many hardships and persecutions for the gospel of Christ so that they could see many people come to faith in Christ, and so they could see the church of Christ, his body, grow and mature in their relationships with their Lord and in their walks of faith and obedience to their Lord Jesus. Paul loved the church. He grieved when they sinned against God. He opened his heart to them, gave himself to them, and spent himself on their behalf over and over again in order to see them walk in the truth, and to live holy lives pleasing to God.

So, his appeal to them was not only for them to live for the Lord, and to forsake sin, but that they would receive what he was saying to them in the Spirit of love in which it was given, and that they would reciprocate by opening their hearts to him, and by not rejecting him and the message. The truth is not always received well, even when given in love and in the power of the Spirit within us. Some people just won’t agree with us, or might not like what we have to say. Yet, certainly it is possible that we have some things wrong, and so we should always be open and teachable to hear from God, and to do the homework, and to see if maybe we have been misled. We need to not ignore scriptures just because they don’t fit with our theology, or because they make us uncomfortable, or because they might require something of us that we don’t want to do, or that we feel we shouldn’t have to do. We should search the scriptures daily so that we can know and can do the will of God.

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012

Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.

Clothed in Righteousness

Wednesday, May 27, 2015, 5:48 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 5 (NASB).

In This House

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

Our earthly tent is our physical body in which dwells the real us (our human spirit). If we are believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, via death with Christ to sin and being made alive to God and to his righteousness, by the Holy Spirit’s work of transforming our hearts and minds away from sin and to God, our bodies will also house the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to us as a pledge of what is to come for the one who is believing in Jesus Christ, which is the promise of eternal life with God beginning now and forevermore.

One day we will die (our bodies will die), if Jesus does not return before then and take us to be with him, and our physical bodies will be “torn down.” These bodies in which we live are just temporary. Yet, when believers in Jesus Christ die physically, we have a dwelling in heaven made ready for us by Jesus. In the meanwhile, we groan because in these bodies we suffer pain, sickness, sorrow, grief, distress, persecution, rejection, abandonment and temptation to sin, etc. We also groan because we long to be free of these physical bodies which are subject to decay, and to be in a place where there is no more sin, pain, sorrow, suffering, loneliness or sickness. Amen! Oh, what a glorious day that will be! Most especially we long to be with our Savior face-to-face in perfect harmony and fellowship with him.

Walk by Faith

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Yet, God put us on the earth for a reason. Certainly we should long for heaven and to no longer be in these flesh bodies, but we should not do so to the exclusion of living the life God has for us on this earth. We should fulfill the purpose for which he placed us here by submitting to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives in being and in doing what he has called us to be and do. We are not here to entertain ourselves, and to revel in self-pleasure, though I do believe God gave us the gift of laughter and the ability to enjoy life, providing it is not outside of his perfect will for our lives, i.e. providing we are not being entertained by what is sinful, and providing we are not living for self-pleasure (See: Jas. 4:1-10).

I see many people who say they are “saved” talk about how they can’t wait until they get to heaven one day, yet they are living for themselves and their own self-pleasure while they are on this earth and seem to give little thought to God or to what would please him, and to what he has called them to be and to do, for his purposes and for his glory, while they walk the face of this earth. He didn’t save them, if they are truly saved, just so they could go to heaven when they die and so they could escape hell. He saved us so we would no longer live for sin and self but so we would live for him and would walk in his righteousness and holiness, all in the power and working of the Spirit, while we walk the face of this earth. He saved us so we would become his willing servants and messengers, and so we would live holy lives pleasing to him now, on the earth, and until the end of our lives on this earth.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, where each one of us will receive what is due us for what we have done, good or bad, while we lived in these bodies. This is not speaking of works-based salvation. This is not salvation based on our good deeds outweighing our bad deeds. We are saved by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and not via works done in the flesh (See: Eph. 2:8-10). Yet, as James said, “Faith without deeds is dead.” The Bible says the way in which we believe in Jesus is by forsaking (dying to) sin, being transformed in heart and mind (of the Spirit of God), and by putting on Christ, being born of the Spirit of God, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Luke 9:23-25; John 6:35-65; 10:27-30; Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 8:3-14; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:8-10; 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

The Fear of the Lord

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

What does it mean to fear the Lord? It means to show him reverence, respect, honor, value, esteem, obedience and submission, and to worship him by living holy lives, pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds away from living for sin and self to living for the one who gave himself up for us. We do this by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Spirit of God now living within us.

Since the apostles knew, not just intellectually but experientially, what it is to fear the Lord, they tried to persuade human beings to also fear the Lord. They did so by telling people the truth of what the Word of God teaches with regard to our salvation and to belief in Jesus Christ, that it means death to sin and living to righteousness, no longer walking according to the flesh, but now walking according to the Spirit. Amen!

When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, and we die with Christ to sin, we are also resurrected with Christ to new lives in Christ Jesus, born of the Spirit of God. By faith in Jesus Christ, we are no longer under the condemnation of sin nor are we under slavery to sin, for he has freed us to be slaves of righteousness. Yet, all this is the working of God.

But, so many people are being taught that faith in Jesus is a mere acknowledgement of what he did for them in dying on the cross for their sins and in being resurrected from the dead in conquering death, hell, sin and Satan. Or, they are being instructed to pray a certain prayer, and then they are told they are now saved, guaranteed heaven when they die, and that nothing can ever take that away from them, no matter how they live their lives from that day forward. Yet, they leave out the fact that we must die to sin and self, and that we must be born of the Spirit of God, and that we must now walk in obedience to our Lord. A saved life is a changed life. It is not a slightly cleaned up old life. We died to sin. How can we live in it any longer?

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.