The Debt We Owe

This is a song about how Jesus paid the debt for our sins, and how we should praise him and adore him for dying for our sins, and for offering us the free gift of salvation from sins.

Oh, how I praise and thank the Lord Jesus for saving me from my sins. I thank him and praise him for his marvelous grace to me in reaching down to me and lifting me out of the pit, and for putting me on the Solid Rock where I can stand secure. I am so grateful for his love for me, but also for his patience and his mercy and forgiveness in taking one such as me and making me into a pure vessel which he can use for his glory. This has nothing to do with me or with my goodness, either, but only with his grace. And, because he has done so much for me, I owe him everything!

The Debt We Owe / An Original Work / July 2, 2011

I adore You, Lord, my Master.
I worship and praise You, King.
You are such an awesome God who
Loves us so much, grace You bring.
You died to save us from our sin
So that we could be set free.
I adore You, Lord, my Master.
I worship and praise You, King.

Lord, You are our Great Redeemer.
You paid the debt that we owe,
So that we might be forgiven,
And our God we’d come to know;
Be transformed to be like Jesus,
Who conquered, in death, our foe.
Lord, You are our Great Redeemer.
You paid the debt that we owe.

Jesus our Messiah, Savior,
Lord and Master, King of kings,
You provided our redemption,
So we’d live in victory.
From our sin and self You ransomed
Us for all eternity.
Jesus our Messiah, Savior,
Lord and Master, King of kings.

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They Conspire Against

Wednesday, December 30, 2015, 4:45 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Keeps Me Singing.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 12:14-21 (NASB).

But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

“Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen;
My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased;
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
“He will not quarrel, nor cry out;
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
“A battered reed He will not break off,
And a smoldering wick He will not put out,
Until He leads justice to victory.
“And in His name the Gentiles will hope.”

God’s Righteousness

Jesus Christ is God the Son, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He left his throne in heaven, came to earth, and “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7). When he was on this earth, he was fully God, yet fully man. He suffered like we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet he was without sin. During his years of ministry on the earth, he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, encouraged the fearful, and delivered people from demons. He also preached the whole counsel of God (Ac. 20:27), i.e. the full gospel message. He confronted sin in sinful humans, warned of judgment, and called the people to repentance and to faith in him.

Jesus taught the righteousness of God. He trained us to be humble and contrite in spirit, to show others the mercy of God, to be pure in heart, and how to live at peace with others, as much as is within our ability to do so, without compromising our faith and convictions, and without following after the norms of society, or giving way to sinful practices. He showed us, as well, how to endure and respond to persecution because of our faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ, and to rejoice when people revile us, for we are sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings. He explained to us how to live and to preserve his word and to share the truth of the gospel with the people of this world so that they could know him, too.

Although Jesus showed compassion toward the lost and the hurting, he strongly accused many of the religious leaders of false humility, hypocrisy, and of lack of love and mercy towards others; of appearing clean on the outside, but of being full of wickedness on the inside. He condemned pride and arrogance, yet he commended child-like faith. As well, he instructed us that God’s grace to us does not mean that we are now free to live however we want or that we no longer have to obey his commandments, yet he summarized the commandments of God into two: 1) Love God, and 2) Love others (Matt. 22:37-39).

Jesus Christ was and is absolutely perfect in heart, mind, attitude, and in behavior. Thus, his motives in doing what he did were also absolutely pure and righteous. He was not in it for the fame and fortune. He was not a circus performer who went around just trying to draw attention to himself. What he did, he did because he loves us, and for no other reason. He was completely humble and selfless, thinking primarily of our salvation from sin. He was and is patient, loving, merciful and gracious to those who are seeking him in truth, and he teaches us gently concerning the kinds of things we must put off, and the kinds of things we must put on, i.e. he teaches us how to live the Christian life, holy and pleasing to God.

They Conspire

The religious leaders of his day, though, did not like him. They were jealous of him and his popularity among the people, and felt threatened that their own positions of power and influence were in jeopardy because of this man and his teachings. They also didn’t like it that he claimed to be God, which he was and is. So, they went on a campaign to destroy him and his ministry, trying to discredit him and his followers wherever possible. Then they plotted his death, which they eventually carried out. Yet, Jesus did not resist them when they sent soldiers to arrest him, but humbled himself, and became obedient to death on a cross (Phil. 2:8).

It was necessary, though, for him to die, for when he died he took upon himself the sins of the entire world, i.e. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Co. 5:21). Through faith in Jesus Christ, via repentance, Christ’s righteousness is credited to our accounts.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, his Holy Spirit comes to live within us to lead, counsel, teach, guide, convict, urge, nudge, encourage, comfort, empower, and strengthen us in our walks of faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We walk no longer after our sinful flesh, as we did when we did not believe, but by the Spirit we now walk according to the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of our sinful flesh so that we might have eternal life with God in heaven (Luke 9:23-25; John 6:35-66; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

Yet, when we are walking according to the Spirit, and no longer according to our sinful flesh, the world will hate us as they hated Jesus, and thus they will conspire against us, too, as they are doing right now. They will try to discredit us, or to get us to jump ship and to follow the ways of the world again, or to discourage and dishearten us. They will persecute us, falsely accuse us, try to destroy our witness, or else they will plot our deaths, as well.

The Lord Jesus continues to show me the many ways in which this is taking place in our world today. I believe that, if we are observant, and if we are paying attention, that we can see most of this, if not all of it taking place. We have leaders both within our governments and within the gatherings of the church, including within the false church, who are teaching a false, diluted gospel absent of true repentance and faithful obedience to Jesus Christ. As well, they are verbally, even from the pulpits, chiding those who hold to the tenets of the Christian faith and practice, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles. I have even had pastors tell me they were warned against people with “strong convictions” or that they were taught to “filter out” those who did “not fit,” and they offered to help me, in these cases, to “find a better fit.”

Many are discouraging people from bringing Bibles to gatherings, and will try to get the people to get their teaching from the pastor only. I had one pastor tell me that I was to let him be God’s voice to me. He is not the only one like this, though, sadly enough. Many pastors are being trained to filter out those who have strong convictions with regard to the tenets of the Christian faith, and to target the people of the world who have little knowledge of God’s word. Mysticism is even being taught and promoted in many church gatherings as a way of finding one’s “true self.”

Many congregations are leaning away from the old time gospel and are going to something that is more agreeable to all people, regardless of walks of life or religious affiliation. I believe it will soon become illegal to preach the gospel, because, it will be considered a hate crime to tell people they are sinners, and that without God they are headed for hell, but that Jesus died on the cross for their sins so they can be forgiven and have the hope of eternal life, and that they need to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus if they want to be set free from slavery to sin and to spend eternity with God in heaven.

Justice to Victory

I live in America, so we have not yet had the severe persecution other followers of Christ have experienced throughout the world, though it is coming to America, too. The signs are everywhere. Many of our governments here in the west are convincing the people that ISIS is our enemy, and that they are the ones murdering Christians abroad. Yet, the Lord has been showing me otherwise. I believe, and many internet articles support, that the US government, in coordination with the New World Order “Beast,” is ISIS, i.e. we are the true terrorists of the world who are going throughout the world conquering nations and peoples, confiscating property not our own, and stealing other nations’ natural resources, as well as we are the ones, via our hired killers, who are murdering followers of Christ, and soon this will be happening in America, too. The same Modus Operandi they used in many other nations they are now using here, as well, so this is where it is all headed.

I believe that the world right now is under the judgment of God, but more specifically the church which is living in adultery against her Lord. I believe God is using the US government and the New World Order “Beast” as his divine instruments of judgment against the church and the nations, but that one day they will be judged, too. As well, I believe that scripture teaches us that through judgment the adulterous church will be revived, and that many people will flock to faith in Jesus Christ before our Lord returns for his bride. In this way God is also showing mercy, because he knows what it will take to get his church revived and taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, and for the people of the nations of the world to hear the gospel message, to accept it, and to be saved from their sins.

Our Lord is very patient, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. And, that is why he will take us through this period of divine correction and discipline, in order to purify us, yet we are not to be afraid, for he will never leave us or forsake us. For those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose, he will work out all things for our good. We just have to trust him, and rest in his love.

He Keeps Me Singing / Luther B. Bridgers

There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low:
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
In all of life’s ebb and flow.

All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
Discord filled my heart with pain;
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirred the slumbering chords again.

Though sometimes he leads through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep,
See his footprints all the way.

Soon he’s coming back to welcome me
Far beyond the starry sky;
I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown;
I shall reign with him on high.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.

Against the Flow

Monday, December 28, 2015, 9:11 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “In Faithfulness He Leads Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 11:12-19, 28-30 (NIV84).

Forcefully Advancing (vv. 12-15)

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear.

John the Baptist was called of God, even before he was born, to be the messenger prophesied about in the Old Testament who would prepare the way for the ministry and ultimate life sacrifice of Jesus Christ – our Messiah, Savior and Lord (God). Jesus gave his life up for us on the cross so that we might be forgiven our sins and be delivered out of slavery to sin. The prophets of old, as well, foretold the coming of the Christ, our Messiah, who would take away the sins of the world. In addition, the law was put into effect to lead us to Jesus Christ until he came. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets. And, he is the embodiment of the kingdom of heaven, which is concerning his life, death, resurrection, ascension into heaven, his sending of his Spirit, the life of the church (his body), his coming again to judge and to take us to be with him forever, his millennial kingdom reign on the earth, and the new heavens, the new earth, and eternity with God in glory.

Although many translations translate verse twelve to say that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and that violent men take it by force, neither the context of the passage, nor the Greek language bear that out, from what I can tell. While it is true that violent men are advancing against the kingdom of heaven, against our Lord, and in opposition to his gospel of salvation, and in hostility toward his servants and witnesses, I don’t believe that is what is meant here. In context, this is speaking of John as a messenger of God, preparing the way for Christ, and of the prophets who came before him, who were also God’s messengers. These men, in the power of God, advanced the kingdom of God forcefully, i.e. persuasively, powerfully, insistently, and urgently, and with much determination, faithfulness, and purpose of heart and mind. They did this by being obedient to God’s leading, his call on their lives, and by telling the people what God gave them to say.

This is what we should be doing, too. As Christ’s Body, his representatives, and his messengers in this world, we should be safeguarding, upholding and defending the truth of God’s Holy Word against all evil and opposing forces, in particular against all that would malign the word of God and would try to bring it into disrepute, or that would try to distort the truths of scripture in order to deceive and to persuade people to follow after lies. We should also be maintaining and continuing in our walks of faith with Jesus Christ, and we should not be guilty of straying from his word or from our pure devotion to him. We should be faithful and steadfast in faith. Our very lives, as well as our words, should be influencing the world around us away from lifestyles of sin, and to faith in Jesus Christ – to repentance and obedience to his commands – all in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us. We should be giving the world the message that Jesus came to set us free from our captivity to sin, and that he will empower us to live for him in his righteousness. Amen!

This Generation (vv. 16-19)

“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

“‘We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.”

There are always going to be people in this life who will not approve of us, and who will find something about us they don’t like. There will be those who think we should act a certain way or do certain things which fit in with the culture or with what they might consider to be the norms of society. If we are different (unique), they might think us strange, weird, quirky, crazy, extreme, or whatever tag they might assign to us, as they did to Jesus and to John. But, different is not necessarily bad. It is perfectly ok to go against the flow, providing you are going God’s way and not the way of sin. In fact, God’s messengers throughout Biblical history were not popular, not generally well received, and not accepted by society as a whole. Yet, there will be those who will try to convince you that there is truth in numbers, and that if you seemingly stand alone that you must be wrong, but that is bad theology.

The majority is not always right. In fact, scripture teaches that the way to heaven is narrow, and that few find it, but that the way to destruction is broad, and that many travel that path to their own demise. Many are teaching that we must immerse ourselves in the culture of our day, and that we should blend in with the world so the world will accept us, with the premise that they, too, will accept the message of the gospel of salvation. Yet, the gospel is opposed to this sinful world and to blending in with our culture. It teaches us to come out from the world of sin and to be separate, and to touch no unclean thing. God commands that we be holy, which means to be set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming like Christ. And, God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. A godly life is a life separate from the world, and set apart unto God and his service.

So, we will face pressure to conform to the ways of this world and to compromise our faith and convictions in order to not stand out, but to be accepted by others. Yet, it is not for the acceptance of humans that we live, breathe and worship God with our lives. It is God’s approval we must seek, not the praise of humans. We might be mocked, hated, made fun of, disapproved, rejected and persecuted for our stand for Christ and for his gospel, and for our commitment to “forcefully advancing” the kingdom of heaven, but that is ok. God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. He will give us all we need to endure, to stand strong, to fight the enemy with the armor of God (Eph. 6), and to keep on keeping on in sharing the gospel of our salvation, even against great opposition. We just need to trust him, rest in his love and in his promises, and never ever give up!

Rest for the Weary (vv. 28-30)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

In Faithfulness He Leads Me

An Original Work / March 20, 2013 / Based off Various Scriptures
(Ps. 26:3; 86:11; 91:4-5; 111:7-8; 119:73-76; Is. 25:1,4&9; 42:6-7; Hos. 2:16-20)

Teach me Your ways, Lord, and I’ll walk in them.
Give me a pure heart. I’ll fear Your name.
Your love is always, ever before me.
Continually I’ll walk in Your truth.
You will cover me with feathers.
Under Your wings I’ll find refuge.
My Lord’s faithfulness will be my
Comfort and my shield.
The works of His hands are faithful and just.
Trustworthy are all of His precepts.

Your hands have made me, and they have formed me.
Give understanding of Your commands.
I have put my hope, O Lord, in Your word.
Your teachings, O Lord, are righteousness.
Lord, in faithfulness You have
Afflicted me so I may learn of
Your unfailing love and comfort
And Your truthfulness.
You are my husband; You have betrothed me
In love, compassion and faithfulness.

O Lord, You are my God, I’ll exalt You.
In faithfulness You’ve done wondrous things.
You’ve been a refuge for those who’re needy;
A shelter in storms; shade from the heat.
This is the Lord, we trusted in Him,
Let us be glad and rejoice
In His salvation which He
Provided through the Lamb.
Open the blind eyes; free all the captives.
Tell them of Jesus: “Be born again!”

To Be Like Him

Monday, December 28, 2015, 5:50 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 11:1-6 (NIV84).

After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.

When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

Today, rather than going into a discussion as to why John the Baptist might have sent his disciples to ask Jesus this question, I believe, in this section, that I am to focus my attention primarily on Jesus Christ’s response to the question posed by John. I believe the purpose of Jesus’ answer was to encourage John and his disciples, and us, too, that Jesus is indeed the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God, our Savior and Redeemer from sin.

The Lord put in my mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” The message in the song describes the character of Jesus Christ, and prays that we might be like him in these various ways – in his humility, unselfishness, and servant heart; in his care and concern for the needs of others, and in his obedience to the Father; and in his love, mercy, kindness, compassion, gentleness, forgiveness, purity, meekness and concern for the lost sinner.

Jesus, in his response to John’s question, described for us the kinds of things Jesus did when he walked the face of this earth during his years of ministry. What he did, though, revealed his character, i.e. who he was, too. Jesus was a healer, not just of physical ailments, but of human hearts, of damaged emotions, and of sin-sick souls. He gave many people a new lease on life, not just in salvation and forgiveness of sin, but by healing their blinded eyes, and their deaf ears, and by bringing some literally back from the dead.

As well, Jesus Christ preached the Good News of salvation to the poor (destitute) in spirit, i.e. to those who were in need of salvation from sin. He told them that if they wanted to come after him that they must deny self, take up their cross daily (die daily to sin and self), and follow (obey) him. He said that whoever holds on to his own life (of living for sin and self) will lose it for eternity, but whoever lets go of his life (dies with Christ to sin), will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Jn 6:35-66). He told them they must repent of their sins, and he promised them forgiveness of sins, the release from the control of sin and Satan over their lives, and eternal life for all who believe in him as Lord and as Savior of their lives.

So, if we are to be like Jesus, which we are, then we should desire to be like him in his divine character and in his deeds. In the power and working of his Spirit within us we are being transformed into the image of Christ, if we are willing. So, it is just a matter of us yielding daily the control of our lives over to the Lord, submitting to his will and purposes, dying daily to self and sin, putting off the deeds of the flesh, and putting on Christ and his character and deeds. The Spirit of God will give us all we need to live holy lives for God.

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.

Nothing Can Separate Us

Based off Romans 8:28-39

This is one of the greatest and most precious promises of scripture which applies to those whom God is for, who are in Christ Jesus by faith, who love God, and who have been called according to his purposes; who walk not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Nothing and no one can separate us from Christ’s love. Amen! No matter what we go through, Jesus will always be there for us.

Even when we fail him, and we fall into sin’s deceptive ways once again, he is there to pick us back up and to restore us if we will repent of our sins and choose to walk in obedience to him once again. He will never leave us or forsake us. We can always count on him! He is completely faithful to all his promises. No matter what tragedies in life we face, what difficulties, and/or what seemingly impossible situations we may encounter, he will always be there for us to comfort, encourage, strengthen and bring much healing to our hearts and bodies. Amen!

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. How are we conquerors? We are victorious over sin and the effects of life’s difficulties on our minds, emotions and bodies when we choose to apply the truths of scripture, and the teachings and remedies of Christ, to our sin problems and to our human weaknesses, trusting the Lord Jesus daily to work in and through us for his honor and glory and praise.

Nothing Can Separate Us / An Original Work / March 28, 2013

Based off Romans 8:28-39

Nothing can separate us
From Christ’s love now within us:
Not trouble, hardship, nor famine,
Nor danger, nor sword.
No, in all of these things
We are more than conquerors!

For your sake we face hardship.
We are sheep to be slaughtered.
I am convinced that death,
Nor life, nor anything else
Will separate us from
The love of God now in Christ.

What, then, shall we say to this?
God for us: who against us?
He who did not spare His Son
But gave Him for us all –
How will He not, with Him,
Graciously give us all things?

Who brings a charge against us?
God justifies His chosen.
Who is He that condemns?
Christ Jesus; died, rose again.
He’s at the right hand of God,
Interceding for us.

A People Divided

There are so many things which divide us as a nation, as a people, and as the children of God. We are divided by hatred, violence, political affiliation, denomination, race, religion, social status, culture, belief systems, etc. We are also divided by greed, love of power, idolatry, spiritual (and physical) adultery, wars of men, lies, deceptions, manipulations, betrayal, rejection, false prophets and teachers of the people, false gospels of men, etc.

Not all which divides us is bad, though. In fact, one thing is necessary, and that is the gospel of our salvation. It divides the believer from the non-believer in Jesus Christ. It promises eternal life with God in heaven to the repentant sinner who trusts in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of his life, but it warns of eternal punishment and torment to the one who rejects Jesus Christ, and who chooses his life of sin, instead.

God calls us, his people, to leave our idols, our desires for wealth and power, and the things that divide us as a people of God that are not of God, such as hatred, unforgiveness, pride, adultery, and all that is called sin in the Bible. We are to turn from our sins, and we are to make the Lord Jesus Christ the Lord and master of our lives, choosing to walk with him in full surrender to his will for our lives and in obedience to his commands.

A People Divided / An Original Work / July 4, 2011

Flick’ring torches; hatred; violence;
Crashing windows; guns of men;
We are a people divided
By our love of pow’r and fame.

Idols marching; they’re in chorus;
Their goal to destroy the church,
Tempting us to follow them in
Pure devotion; them we search.

Leave your idols. Follow your God.
Make Him your Lord God and King.
Be a living witness for Him,
And your off’rings to Him bring.

Repent of your sins and worship
Him; a living sacrifice,
Put your all upon His altar.
Leave your old life way behind.

Flick’ring torches; hatred; violence;
Crashing windows; guns of men;
We are a people divided
By our love of pow’r and fame.

Shrewd as Serpents

Sunday, December 27, 2015, 2:50 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “To Be Like Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 10 (Selected NASB).

As Sheep Among Wolves (v. 16)

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.

In scripture, Jesus’ followers are often depicted as sheep, and him as their shepherd. Wolves are enemies of sheep. They represent false teachers and/or leaders (shepherds) of the people, some of whom outwardly present themselves as followers of Christ, and/or as sincerely devoted to us, but who inwardly are ferocious wolves who come in among the sheep in order to kill and to destroy. So, Jesus counseled his followers here that we need to be as shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. What this means is that we need to be wise, quick-thinking, perceptive and discerning of the enemy, so that we can quickly flee danger and not fall into the devil’s trap. Yet, we must couple this shrewdness with purity, love, righteousness, and truth, being unmixed with the world and its trappings, and unadulterated in our relationships with Jesus Christ, not engaging in sinful practices.

Sheep are also depicted in scripture as those who are easily led, either by the Lord or by false shepherds; either into the right way or along a crooked path. So, the danger here is that we might, as sheep, follow the wrong shepherds if we are not shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves. We need to be wise and discerning of evil, and we need to test everything we hear, see or read against the Word of God, in prayer, with the witness of the Spirit giving us counsel and direction, and against what we know of God’s divine character and will for our lives. What this means is that just because we see it on TV, or the media tells us something happened, it does not mean it really happened, or that it happened in the way they depict. Just because we are told there is a right and left does not mean it is true. Remember that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, as do his followers. Just because a preacher tells us something is in the Bible doesn’t mean it is, or that it is in the way in which he is presenting it. Not everyone tells the truth, so be wise, and be discerning.

They Will Hand You Over (vv. 17-22, 24-25)

But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved…

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!”

We do have to be wise and discerning, but we also need to show love, kindness and mercy to people. Sometimes, in showing love and mercy to others, we might become prey to the enemy and he may falsely accuse us, hinder our work for the Lord in some way, persecute us severely, and/or even put us to death for our testimonies and witness for Jesus Christ. Yet, we can’t go around distrusting everyone and everything, and living in paralyzed fear, afraid to do anything. That is what Satan wants. On the other hand, we must not trust everyone and everything, and thus end up following the wrong path, or wind up walking into the devil’s traps because we failed to be judicious and prudent. I believe that is why we must combine “shrewdness” with “innocence,” and discernment with mercy.

Yet, because we are out in the world, and we are being lights for the gospel of Jesus Christ, Satan is going to come against us, so we should expect that we will be treated much the same way Jesus was treated. We have to be prepared, though, that our own family members, and our closest friends may turn against us, betray us, and may turn us over to our enemy to be persecuted. The US government, and other world governments, already have programs in motion where they are recruiting private citizens to spy on and to report on their family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, etc.

As well, many of our leaders within our governments and in the church are daily deriding those who hold firm to their convictions and who believe we are to spread the message of the gospel of salvation so that others may come to know Christ, too. Their interpretation of “mercy” is to accept all religions and all walks of life as viable, and for all people to unite as one voice in calling for world peace, which means we must get rid of all which divides us, which includes the gospel of salvation, for it divides the believer from the unbeliever.

Do Not Fear Them (vv. 26-31)

“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

One of Satan’s biggest weapons waged against us is his lies, some of which are intended to instill within us much fear. Being wise and discerning does not have to translate to living in fear. We have to keep trusting God in every situation, believing him to give us the wisdom we need to make the right kinds of judgments in individual circumstances. We also must not be afraid of the enemy being temporarily successful in his schemes against us, for he may be able to kill the body, but he can’t kill our souls. He can do nothing but what God permits him to do, and that God has allowed it for a purpose, so in all things we must commit our way to the Lord, and trust him with our lives and with other people, too. It is essential that we continue to follow our Lord, obey him, and keep sharing the messages he gives us to share. And, we must keep loving and forgiving others, even when they severely mistreat us.

The Cost of Discipleship (vv. 32-39)

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”

To be a follower of Jesus Christ means that we will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Nevertheless, we should not ever allow fear of what people will think of us, say about us, or do to us to keep us from sharing Christ’s love, his mercy and his gospel of salvation with as many as who will receive it and/or who will listen. Jesus did not come to bring world peace, as many would have you believe. The sword he brought was the Word of God which confronts sin in sinful human beings, warns of divine judgment, and which calls people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. This sword of truth turns even family members, one against the other, because those who refuse to believe do not like to be around those who do, or because the unbeliever is offended by the message of the gospel. Yet, we should not ever compromise our faith to be liked by others. The Christian life is a crucified life, i.e. it means daily we die to sin and self and we live for Christ’s righteousness.

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.