Walk with Integrity

Sunday, October 30, 2016, 3:04 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 101 (ESV).

Within my House (vv. 1-2)

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;

We read in Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). When we truly trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We put away our old lives of living for sin and self, and we put on our new lives in Christ Jesus, which are to be lived to his righteousness (See: Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23).

We don’t any longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, but now our desire is for our God, to walk in his ways. And, so we now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. This does not mean we will never sin again, but it means sin is no longer our master. It is not what defines us. We are now defined by what Jesus Christ did for us in saving us from slavery to sin so that we can walk in his righteousness. We are now identified by our faith in Jesus Christ, and his work of grace in our lives in transforming us into the image of Christ.

Now, instead of living to do what pleases our sinful flesh, we should desire to walk with integrity, i.e. to have lifestyles committed to honesty, honor, uprightness, decency, and morality. We should live to righteousness, and not look for loopholes to excuse away sinful behavior. We should not view God’s grace as free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, or think that being saved means God requires nothing of us. He does require repentance and obedience. That is why he died, to set us free from the control sin had over our lives, and so we could walk righteously before him, not just be righteous because of his righteousness imputed to us. “He redeemed us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Tit. 2:14).

Far From Me (vv. 3-4)

I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.

So, how can we put what we have talked about so far into practice in our daily lives? Well, first of all we can only live righteously in the power and working of God’s Spirit in our lives, yet as we cooperate fully with that work of grace and heart transformation, and as we submit to Christ’s direction and leading in our lives. We are not puppets on a string. We have instructions to follow, too. We have to willingly turn away from lifestyles of sin, and we have to turn to follow Jesus Christ in obedience, to walk in his ways and in his truth. We have to be in daily fellowship with our Lord, reading his Word, listening to him speak his truths to our hearts, and then we have to do what his word teaches us to do.

We also have to remove from our lives those things which are displeasing to our Lord, and which hinder our walks of faith and obedience to our Lord. We have to choose to not take into our minds what we know is contrary to God’s Word, and that which gives glory to human flesh, or which encourages sinful behavior of any kind. But, it goes beyond just not looking at (viewing) what is sinful, but also what is a waste of our time – of the time God has for us on this earth to be productive for him and for his kingdom work. So, what about TV, movies, the internet or video games, or other forms of entertainment?

A lot of Americans spend a great deal of time recreating themselves with these on a daily basis while the world around them goes to hell. I did, so I know, but God pulled me away from that. I wasted a lot of money and time on what was absolutely worthless, and much of it was sinful, too, i.e. I was allowing myself to be entertained by the sins of others just to fill up time, when I could have been spending that time doing what is honoring to God, and that which ministers to the needs of others. These worthless and sinful things need to be far from us, and we should not be knowledgeable in them.

Walk in The Way (vv. 5-8)

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not endure.

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless
shall minister to me.

No one who practices deceit
shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue before my eyes.

Morning by morning I will destroy
all the wicked in the land,
cutting off all the evildoers
from the city of the Lord.

God/Jesus, who is our King, hates sin because sin destroys our relationship with him, it does serious damage to ourselves, and it ruins our relationships with other people. Sin is a killer! Jesus is not ok with us continuing in sin while we make a profession of him as our Lord and Savior. If we continue living sinful lifestyles, and yet say we have fellowship with God, we are liars, the Bible says (1 Jn. 1:6). If we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, we will die without Christ (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25). We are saved that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, don’t believe the lie that says you can pray a prayer, live how you want, and still go to heaven when you die. It isn’t so! If you do not die with Christ to sin, and you are not resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” then you are not born again.

If we continue to live sinful lifestyles, we will die without Christ, and we will spend eternity in the fires of hell, no matter what you have been told to the contrary. Those who practice sin will not enter into heaven, even if they profess to believe in Jesus Christ. Many will say to God on the day of judgment, “Lord, Lord,” but he is going to tell them to depart from him, because he never knew them. Jesus said his sheep (those who know him) listen to him and they follow (obey) him, not perfectly, but consistently and persistently, and by the Spirit they are putting to death the deeds of the flesh. And, they shall be the ones who minister to (serve) God.

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!

Tremble Before Him

Sunday, October 30, 2016, 4:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Were You There?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 96 (ESV).

His Salvation (vv. 1-8)

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

When God first created man and woman, and he placed them in the garden, they were sinless. They lived in perfect fellowship with God. They did not know disease, sickness, sadness, sin or death. But, then they sinned against God, and since then all humanity has been borne into the image of Adam, in sin, and separate from God (See: Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-49).

Yet, God had a plan to redeem us, i.e. to purchase us back for God so that we could be restored to fellowship with God, and be delivered out of slavery to sin, and from its subsequent eternal punishment. He sent his only begotten Son to the earth to be crucified on a cross for our sins. Jesus Christ, God the Son, knew no sin, and yet he became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). So, when he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him, but then he rose victorious from the grave in conquering sin, hell, Satan and death for our sake.

Because of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, and in being resurrected back to life, victorious over sin, through faith in him we can be forgiven our sins, freed from slavery to sin, and we can be given new and eternal lives in Christ to now be lived to his righteousness, and no longer to our sinful natures. Since Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, our faith in him reflects that. When we believe in Jesus to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior or our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24).

Nonetheless, you will hear many people (and preachers) tell you that our salvation does not require death to sin or living to righteousness, i.e. that it does not call for repentance (turning from sin to God) and obedience to Christ and to his Word. They will tell you that all you have to do is repeat some words in a prayer, asking Jesus into your heart, and that you now have heaven guaranteed to you when you die, no matter how you live from this point forward, and that nothing can take it away from you, not even if you deny Christ and blaspheme the Spirit of God.

But, that is not what God’s Word teaches us. It teaches us that to come to Christ we must lay aside our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, and to be made new in the attitude of our minds. We are to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Eph. 4:20-24). Jesus said we must deny self, and take up our cross daily, and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives, i.e. if we die with Christ to sin, we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul reiterated this when he said that if we walk (live our lives) according to the sinful nature that we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity) (See: Ro. 8:1-14). Our salvation means death to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20).

Fear Him (vv. 7-9)

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!

In today’s culture, at least here in America, we have lost the awe of God Almighty. He is not given the honor due his Name. He is often described or presented as a doting grandfather in the sky there to grant our every request, and yet requiring nothing of us whatsoever. Those who believe this concept of God often have an entitlement mindset where they see God as somehow owing us his grace. By teaching people that they don’t have to repent of their sins, that they don’t have to obey Christ, and that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, they dishonor God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on a cross – so we could be free from sin, and so we could no longer be its slaves. They make him out to be a permissive father who doesn’t care what his children do, and his grace as free license to sin.

Yet, the Bible teaches that if we say we have fellowship with God, and yet we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). We read in Col. 1:21-23: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” And, we read in 1 Jn. 2:24-25: “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.”

Since Jesus died that horrible death on a cross, so that we could die to sin and live to righteousness, doesn’t it make a mockery of what he did for us when people say we don’t have to repent of our sins and we don’t have to obey Christ and his teachings, and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do? It is like a slap in the face to God! Jesus did not go through that horrible death, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world, just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He went through the agony of all that he suffered on our behalf so that we would be delivered from the control sin has had over our lives, and so we could walk daily in the Spirit in his righteousness and holiness. Oh, how we need to get back to walking in the fear (respect, honor, esteem) of the Lord!

He Will Judge (vv. 10-13)

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

One day Jesus Christ is going to judge the people of this earth. He will first visit the earth in divine judgment, and in his wrath, both to mete out punishment on the wicked, and to discipline (correct) his wayward church. During this time the gospel will go forth to the ends of the earth, much of the church will be revived and restored to pure fellowship with God, and many people will come to faith in Jesus Christ before he returns. Yet, many more people will continue to reject him, and will follow the beast, instead.

When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, he will come to take his saints (his true church) to be with him for eternity, and he will judge the people of the earth concerning what they did with Jesus Christ and his salvation. For those who trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, in death to sin, and in living to righteousness, they will have the hope of heaven (eternity with God). For those who rejected Jesus Christ, or who only faked their Christianity, but who never bowed to the Lordship of Christ, they will face eternity in the fires of hell, without God, and without hope.

We, as the people of God, need to get back to walking in the fear (honor, respect, awe and reverence) of Almighty God, instead of taking his grace and his salvation for granted. We need to contemplate, in our minds and in our hearts, all that Jesus went through just so we could be free from sin. And, we need to stop living like God owes us his grace, as though we can live however we want, and like he has to (is obligated to) give us heaven. He isn’t! If we are living to please self, and to be entertained, and we are not living for him, to please him, then chances are we don’t really know him. Jesus said his sheep listen to him, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him, and they are the ones who can’t be snatched out of his hands.

Were You There? / An American Spiritual / 1899

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

If You Hear Him

Saturday, October 29, 2016, 3:41 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 95 (ESV).

He is the Rock of our Salvation (vv. 1-2)

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Yes, let us sing to the Lord, and praise his holy name, for by his grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). We have been set free from slavery to sin, and we have been born of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus, to be lived in/to his holiness and righteousness. Sin is no longer our master, because Jesus Christ bought us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins. He not only saved us from our sins, but he has given us new purpose for living, which is to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him, and all for his praise and glory.

He is above all gods (vv. 3-5)

For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Jesus Christ is God, the Son, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He was with God in the beginning, he is God, and all things which were made, were made by him. Our God and Lord Jesus Christ is far above all rule and authority, power and dominion. God the Father has placed all things under Jesus’ feet. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. In everything he has the supremacy. Amen! He is the ruler of God’s creation; the head over every power and authority; and all angels, authorities and powers are in submission to him. Praise God! In that we can rest secure, knowing that God rules supreme over all. [See: Eph. 1:15-23; Col. 1:15-20; Rev. 3:14; Col. 2:9-10; & 1 Pet. 3:21-22.]

He is our God; our Shepherd (vv. 6-7a)

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

Jesus Christ is our shepherd, and we are his sheep, if we have trusted in him to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:27-28). Many people quote this passage, but they ignore the bulk of verse 27, and focus on verse 28. Yet, not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” is the Lord’s sheep. Just because you say you believe in Jesus does not mean you truly do. Jesus’ sheep, i.e. true Christians, are those who listen to Jesus and who obey him. In other words, they are those who no longer walk (conduct their lives) according to the sinful flesh, but they are those who are walking according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God (Re: Ro. 8:1-14).

Since Jesus Christ, God the Son, delivered us out of bondage to sin, and gave us new lives in Christ, to be lived in/to his righteousness; since he is our God, and he is above all other gods; since he is our creator and the Rock of our salvation; and since he is our shepherd, and we are his sheep, we should live like this is true. Our lifestyles should reflect this reality.

We should live like we have been set free from slavery to sin, not using his grace as an excuse to continue in sin. We should be conducting our lives according to his holiness and righteousness, and not according to the ways of this sinful world. We should not be giving the bulk of our time, praise, adoration, loyalty, passion, fervor and devotion to things, or to other people, or to work, entertainment, sports, and hobbies, etc. But, as his sheep, we should be following him in obedience to his plan and purposes for our lives. We should be walking in his ways and in his truth, abiding in his presence, faithful in prayer, and continuous in faith, and in the study of his Word.

No Hardened Hearts (vv. 7b-11)

Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”

The writer of Hebrews quoted this passage from Psalm 95, as recorded in Hebrews 3:7-11. It was in the context of writing to Hebrew Christians. He told them that “Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (Heb. 3:6). He said, as well, that “We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (v. 14).

Jesus said something similar to this when he said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). Paul said, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain” (I Co 15:2). And, John said, “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life” (I Jn. 2:24-25; cf. Ro. 11:17-24; Col 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; 2 Pet. 1:5-11).

Since our continuing to be God’s house is on the condition of our persistence and faithfulness in our faith and obedience, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, if today we hear his voice speaking to us, we should take care that we do not harden our hearts by shutting out his voice, and by going our own way, instead. The Word of God does not teach that we are saved (past), that we live our lives, and then we go to heaven when we die (future), with the “in-between” optional as to whether or not we obey and honor Jesus Christ. Obedience is not optional. Repentance (turning from sin to God) is not optional. What happens in-between new birth and death is also not optional.

In John 3:16 it says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but should have everlasting life. This word “believe” is actually “is believing.” It is present tense. We are not saved on the basis of past belief. We have to continue believing, and we have to be believing in him when he returns. As well, belief in Jesus is not just an emotional experience, or a mental acknowledgement of what he did for us in dying for our sins, or even a mere admission that we are sinners in need of a Savior. It is also not merely accepting his forgiveness for our sins, and believing in the hope of heaven when we die. When we believe in Jesus we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to new life in Christ, to be lived to his righteousness.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self and take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (die in our sins). But, if we lose our lives, i.e. if we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul reiterated the same thing when he said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, we will die (without Christ), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity) (See: Ro. 8:1-14). John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6).

Jesus did not die just so we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died, as well, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the sinful nature, but who walk (live our lives) according to the Spirit of God. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait for Christ’s return. [See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14 & Tit. 2:11-14].

So, don’t count on some prayer you prayed at an altar one day to get you into heaven. If you don’t continue in Christ, and in his Word, and if you walk according to your sinful flesh, and not according to the Spirit, the Bible says you will not have the hope of heaven when you die, but a fearful expectation of God’s wrath. So, don’t mess around. Don’t play games. None of us knows if he (or she) has tomorrow. You may die in your sleep tonight, and you may spend eternity in everlasting punishment, without God, and without hope. Take God’s word seriously. Take this warning from his word seriously. Repent of your sins today, and turn to walk with Christ in his holiness and righteousness – all in the power, working and strength of his Spirit living within you, and all for the praise, honor, and glory of God, our Lord. Amen!

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!

Unite My Heart

Friday, October 28, 2016, 8:32 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Total Praise.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 86:11-17 (ESV).

Teach Me Your Way (v. 11)

Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.

How do we learn the way of the Lord? For those of us who have been blessed enough to own our own Bibles, or to have access to the internet where we can read God’s Word, we can learn the ways of God through the reading of His Word, which is the Holy Bible (Genesis to Revelation). Through his Word, especially in the New Testament, we learn the ways of God (of Christ), so that we can walk in the truth. This means that we need to spend a lot of time reading the Word, and listening to the Holy Spirit speak its truths to our hearts, and then apply its truths to our daily lives.

So, what are God’s ways in which we must walk? First of all, we must learn that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He did not die merely to rescue us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die. For our sake God made him (Jesus) “to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Co. 5:21). Coming to Christ means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). A saved life is a life transformed by the Holy Spirit from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (See: Ac. 26:16-18).

If we say we have fellowship with God, and yet we walk in darkness (live a sinful lifestyle), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). If we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, we will die (in our sins without Christ). But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity) (See: Ro. 8:1-14). If we want to come to faith in Jesus Christ, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) Christ. If we hold on to our old way of life, of living for sin and self, we will lose our lives for eternity. But, if, for the sake of Christ, we lose our lives, i.e. if we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, we will gain eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25).

So, our new lives in Christ Jesus must begin on the right premise. We must repent of (turn from) our sinful lifestyles, and turn to God to walk in his ways and in his truth. All this is the working of God’s grace in our lives in spiritual transformation, as we cooperate fully with that work of grace. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and we die with Christ to sin, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. Then, we can begin our spiritual journey of walking in the ways of the Lord, empowered, led and strengthened by the Spirit of God now living within us. We no longer choose to conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, but now our desire is to walk in the Spirit, according to God’s will and purposes for our lives.

Yet, we still live in flesh bodies, and our flesh still pulls at us, and Satan tempts us, and the world tries to influence us away from God, so we must remain in Christ and in his Word, and we must daily put on our spiritual armor with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us (Eph. 6:10-20). We must no longer live according to the ways of this sinful world, but we must be transformed in the renewing of our minds (See: Ro. 12:1-2). This means we can’t spend hours a day glued to the TV set or to the internet, taking in the world’s philosophies, values, mindset, and morals, and spend little time with God in his Word, in prayer, and in obedience, and then expect to fight off temptation and to have united (undivided) hearts with God, walking in the fear (awe, honor, respect) of the Lord.

So, if we want to have united (undivided) hearts with God, and we truly want him to teach us his ways, because we honestly and sincerely want to walk in his truth, then we can’t have one foot in the world of sin and one foot in the Word of God. We have to choose whom we are going to serve. We have to make Christ Jesus our only Lord (owner-master), and we have to cut things out of our lives which are hindering our walks of faith and our obedience to Christ – things which are leading us into sin (See: Heb. 12:1; Matt. 5:27-30).

For example, we are not going to conquer lust and walk in purity of heart if we are daily or even weekly viewing pornography, or TV shows or movies which have sexual or sensual (seductive) content. This also includes video games and music which are worldly, which glorify sin, and which are seductive. That is counterproductive. That shows we have divided hearts. So, we need to rid our lives of those things which hinder our walks in the Spirit, so that we can learn the ways of the Lord and can walk in his truth.

I Give Thanks (vv. 12-13)

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

Jesus Christ came to set us free from sin, not to give us a “pass” so we can continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. Through his death on a cross, and through his resurrection, he conquered sin on our behalf so that through faith in him we could be set free from the control that sin once had over our lives. Amen! Praise the Lord! So, we should give him thanks for this, not just with our mouths, but with our whole hearts! If we are truly grateful for deliverance from slavery to sin, and we are honestly thanking him and praising him for our salvation, then it should be evident in our lifestyles and not just in our lip service.

Give Your Strength (vv. 14-17)

O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life,
and they do not set you before them.
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant.
Show me a sign of your favor,
that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

The Christian life is not easy, though. Satan is our enemy, and he has servants who also are our enemies, because they are enemies of the cross of Christ. So, they are always plotting against us in how they might trip us up or get us to fall into sin, or in how they might be able to discredit us (and the gospel) so that people won’t listen to what we have to say.

Some of them are preachers, who claim to be ministers of the gospel, but who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They manipulate and twist the Word of Truth to their own advantage in order to win people for themselves, not for Christ. Others of them are politicians who claim to believe in Jesus Christ, but whose words and lifestyles speak just the opposite. Together they are working to destroy the gospel and those who proclaim its truths. They want all people to unite with them as one under a one-world government and one-world religion. They want us to break down all which divides us as the people of the world. Sovereign nations and Christianity divides us, so they must destroy both. They want us to tolerate (accept, allow for) sinful lifestyles and for all religions as viable ways to God and to heaven.

So, we need to stand strong in our faith and not give way to sin or to compromise, and we need to keep speaking and living the truth of God’s Word, even in the face of great opposition, for many need to be saved, and the church needs to be revived. We need the strength of the Lord to see us through these troubled times, which are only going to get much worse in the days to come. And, we need to not give way to fear, but we should place our absolute trust in our Lord Jesus, lean on him, and rest in him. He will give us his peace and calm reassurance, even though all hell may be breaking loose all around us, which it is (just read the news).

The Lord Jesus is our helper. He will give us all we need to withstand Satan’s evil plots against us, and to be victorious over our enemy. And, to him we will give all the praise for what he has done, is doing, and yet will do in our lives in giving us victory over Satan, and in filling us with his peace and joy even in the midst of suffering.

Total Praise / Richard Smallwood

…Your peace You give me in time of the storm
You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life
I lift my hands in total praise to You…

Restore us Again

Friday, October 28, 2016, 8:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 85 (ESV).

You Forgave Us (vv. 1-3)

Lord, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.

God showed his favor (grace) to us by sending his Only Begotten Son to die on a cross for our sins. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Co. 5:21). So, when Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross, our sins also died with him, and were buried with him. Then, God the Father resurrected him from the dead. When Jesus rose from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Thus, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven of our sins, be set free from slavery to sin, be given new lives in Christ Jesus, and have the hope of heaven with God when we die.

So, how do we receive such a great salvation? We receive God’s gift of grace to us through faith in Jesus Christ. So, what does it mean to have faith in Jesus Christ? It means we accept, by faith, the fact that Jesus Christ, God incarnate, was put to death for our sins, that he rose from the dead victorious over our sins, and that, after having been seen by maybe as many as 500 people, he ascended back to the Father. Then, he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell his followers, and one day he is coming back to take us to be with him forever. Then, we confess (repent of) our sins to God, pray for his forgiveness, and we submit our hearts and lives over to him, to live our lives for him, in obedience to him, from that moment on.

When we put our trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We put off our old lives of living for sin and self, and we put on our new lives in Christ Jesus. We no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, but we now conduct our lives according to his Spirit. For, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15).

Revive us Again (vv. 4-7)

Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.

Nonetheless, it is possible for those who had once turned from sin to walk in obedience to Christ, to be caught up in sin once more. The world and its influences have gradually and subtly seeped their way into the church and back into the lives of Christ’s followers, so that many have strayed from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ to follow after the “gods” of this world. And, so, God is calling out to his wayward people, and he is confronting them with their sins of idolatry and spiritual adultery, and he is calling them to repent of their sins and to turn back to him in pure devotion. Yet, many of them are not paying attention, because so much of the church has gone the way of the world, and it is now commonplace for those who call themselves Christians to live not much different from those in the world.

Because God has been calling out to his adulterous church for some time, and largely she has not listened, and has not repented and returned to her first love, God is sending some divine discipline on his church to get her to repent, I believe. God disciplines all those he loves, so not all discipline is because we are consciously and willfully sinning against God. Some discipline (trials and tribulations) is for the purpose to mature us in Christ and to make us more like Jesus, i.e. it is to prune us and to purify us. Yet, God will send judgment on his wayward church in order to revive her and to restore her to himself, and to return her to pure fellowship with him.

Yet, I believe the church has been under judgment for some time now, and part of that judgment has been to hand her over to those who would deceive and manipulate her, but that God intends to rescue her. Next, the church in America is going to face some severe persecution, unlike what most of us have ever known before in our lives. But, through this, I believe, many eyes will be opened, and that God’s people will be delivered from slavery to those who have deceived them into following after their lies. God will rescue his people, and he will revive his church, and he will restore her to fellowship with him. I believe this is what scripture teaches (Old and New Testament) concerning these last days before Jesus Christ returns for his bride.

Not Turn Back (vv. 8-9)

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.

It is so important that we continually stay connected with our head, Jesus Christ, so that we don’t stray from him, and so we don’t turn back to folly. If we are giving God/Jesus 5 minutes a day for devotions but we are giving ourselves hours upon hours of time spent in entertaining ourselves with the world’s values, morals, philosophies, attitudes and behaviors, how can we expect to stay connected to our head? We can’t. The one will override the other. So, we have to make Jesus truly Lord (master-owner) of our lives, and consider that we are his servants (slaves) to do what he wants, not what we want. We have to believe that our lives are not our own, to be lived how we want, but that we were bought back for God with the blood of Christ. So, we are to honor God with our lives in all that we do and are.

Steadfast Love (vv. 10-13)

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.

Our God is totally righteous, good, faithful, merciful and just in all that he does. He does not have aspects of his divine character which are in conflict with each other. He can be loving and yet discipline us at the same time, because that is what loving parents do. They teach and train their children in the way they should go. They set boundaries and rules for them to follow. And, they correct them when they go astray. And, yet they hug their children and spend time with them, and care about their needs. These are not in conflict. They complement each other. And, this is how God treats us. Though he may have to discipline (chastise or rebuke) us, it just means he loves us enough to tell us the truth, and to help us to get back on track.

Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This is what salvation is all about. So, if you are going astray right now, I pray you will repent of your sins, turn back to God, and walk in his righteous ways.

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!

What is Better?

Thursday, October 27, 2016, 9:25 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “More Precious Than Silver.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 84 (Select vv. NIV).

My Soul Yearns (vv. 1-2, 4)

How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God…
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.

Before Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, God’s dwelling place (his house) was in a physical temple, which was built by human hands. And, yet, during the years of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he also referred to himself as God’s temple. When Jesus died on a cross, the veil in the temple, that stood between humans and God’s holy presence, was torn in two, opening the way for us, through faith in Jesus Christ, to now enter into God’s holy presence without having to go through a human priest to receive forgiveness of sins.

Now the house of God is not a physical building. When we enter a physical building called a “church,” we are not entering into God’s holy presence. We are not in his house. The temple of God is Jesus Christ. His church is his body, so we are also the temple of God, his house, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, in Christ, his Holy Spirit comes inside our hearts (our lives) to dwell. So, God now dwells within those of us who are his followers.

So, what would it mean now to yearn for the courts of the Lord? It definitely does mean to long for a building or an organization. I also don’t believe this would be referring to hungering and thirsting after the body of Christ, though we should desire to be in fellowship with one another. I believe it has everything to do with yearning for God and his presence, or where his presence is felt, and his power is witnessed, and his voice is heard. Since he lives within us, this represents our personal relationships with him, and his Spirit speaking to our hearts, i.e. this represents our personal times of worship of him. But this can happen, as well, as his body gathers together for worship, prayer, communion, ministry, and the teaching of the Word.

Strength in God (vv. 5-7)

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, this is not just so we can escape hell and have the hope of heaven when we die. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the sinful nature, but who walk according to the Spirit. So, this isn’t about just getting saved, then dying, then going to heaven. We were saved from sin so we might live new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

So, we are blessed who have our hearts set on following our Lord Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. We are blessed if we make Jesus our Lord (owner-master), and we submit to his Lordship over our lives. We are blessed, as well, when we find Jesus not only to be just our Savior and Lord, but also our strength, our song, our best friend, our confidant, our comforter and the love of our lives. This is about a spiritual journey, in other words. This is about growing in the Lord, maturing in him, sitting daily at his feet, listening to what he says, and obeying what he shows us. It is about being used of him in the lives of others, too, so that we are a blessing to others. And, it is about impacting other lives for Jesus Christ, that many others might come to know him, too.

I Would Rather (vv. 10-12)

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.

Lord Almighty,
blessed is the one who trusts in you.

Now, if we say that it is better to spend one day in the courts of the Lord than a thousand elsewhere, this has to do with our relationship with Jesus and our times of communion, fellowship and worship of Him. But, do we really believe that? Does our lifestyle prove that to be true? Do we really believe it is better to be in the presence of our God, in fellowship with him, in prayer, in the study of his word, and in following him in obedience, and serving him in ministry (his calling on our lives), than to be any place else, hanging out with friends, doing what we enjoy, having fun, and entertaining ourselves? If we believe that, then our actions should bear that out.

Would we, also, rather be a doorkeeper in the house of our God, than dwell in the tents of the wicked? How would that even be applied to God’s house today? Well, Jesus Christ said he was the door/gate into heaven and also into fellowship with God via salvation from sin. When we trust in Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ through that door, which is Christ. We come into this relationship with God by his grace, through faith (repentance and obedience) in Jesus Christ.

A doorman is one who opens a door to let people inside. Inside is our relationships with Christ, either referring to our salvation or our fellowship and worship of our Lord. So, for one to be a doorman or a gatekeeper in the temple of the Lord today, this would be one who serves as a witness in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and/or one who serves as a watchman in warning the church of danger of sin and rebellion, and one who calls the church to repentance and to genuine fellowship with Christ.

Neither of these positions is glorified, in the eyes of humans, and either one is one that will often meet with resistance and rejection. Yet, the psalmist declared that he would, in essence, rather face ridicule, scorn and rejection for the sake of walking in obedience to God than to have the fellowship and acceptance of those out in the world who are living sinful lifestyles. I agree! It is better to follow our Lord in obedience, and to be his witnesses, and to be hated, rejected, and even scorned because we are telling people about Jesus, than to hang out with the ungodly, and to join in with them in sinful activities, attitudes, and speech, or to be entertained by the sins of others.

But, do we believe this? Our practice speaks volumes concerning what we really believe. We can mouth the words, but unless these beliefs are lived out in our daily lives, chances are we don’t really believe this after all.

So, this brings us to a point of decision. Do we want this to be true in our lives? Then, we need to live like we believe it, yet all in the power and strength of the Lord, as we commit our ways to him, to follow him.

More Precious Than Silver / Lynn DeShazo

Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire compares to You.

God our Strength

Thursday, October 27, 2016, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Total Praise.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 81 (NIV).

Sing for Joy (vv. 1-5)

Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
play the melodious harp and lyre.

Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon,
and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
this is a decree for Israel,
an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
When God went out against Egypt,
he established it as a statute for Joseph.

Our God is not only our salvation, and our deliverance from all evil, but he is our strength and our song in good times and in bad times. When our human strength is gone, and we feel like we can’t go another mile, his strength keeps going, and he carries us through to the end. On this subject, one of my favorite hymns is “He Giveth More Grace,” by Annie J. Flint:

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

When we get to the point to where we say, “I just can’t do this anymore,” God gives us his strength, if we will just lean on him, and rest in him, and let him empower us far beyond our natural ability to endure. He has done this many, many times in my life, so I know this is true. His strength never ends! He keeps on giving us all we need to endure, to persevere, and to continue in him and in his Word, and in testifying to his grace, which is never ending. He is not going to give us what he will not equip us to make it through.

The Burden Removed (vv. 6-7)

I heard an unknown voice say:
“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.

Do you know that you can be in a physical prison, and yet be free, and you can be physically free to go wherever you want, and yet be in prison? You can also be going through a great trial, and yet still have your burden lifted, or you can be care free, and everything could be going smoothly for you, and still you may have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

What it all boils down to is attitude, faith and trust in God. Do we let our circumstances control us, or do we rise above them through putting our faith in the Lord? Do our circumstances define us and what our reactions should be, or does our faith in God define us and determine our responses to our difficulties? In other words, through placing our trust in the Lord Jesus in all things, we should be at peace and rest, even if all hell is breaking loose all around us. We can be at peace in knowing that our God is fully sovereign and completely in control over all things, and that he will give us all we need to endure, to be victorious, and to be at peace even in the midst of storms.

No Foreign God (vv. 8-10)

Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me.
I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

Sometimes God sends storms into our lives because he wants to get our attention, because he has something he wants to teach us that we would not learn in any other way. One thing God’s people have struggled with all throughout history is a temptation or a drawing to follow after other gods. And, so, God often sent messages to his people through his prophets, and now through his written Word, warning us not to have other gods among us, and to not give them our worship. In other words, we are not to give other people or things the level of adoration, reverence, respect, devotion, passion, faithfulness, loyalty and love meant for God and for God alone.

If My People (vv. 11-16)

“But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.

“If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

If we want God to be our strength and our song, and if we want his protection and his deliverance from evil, and if we desire to be filled with his peace, and to have our burdens lifted from our shoulders, then we need to listen to him and do what he tells us. When we go our own stubborn way, we are only adding to our misery, and we will never be at peace.

If we want to follow God/Jesus, and to know the way in which he would have us go, then we need to obey what we already know. So many people are praying for God’s leading, and to know his will for their lives, while they are holding on to known sin in their lives, and they are not willing to let those things go. That won’t work! If we want God to work in our lives, then we need to work with him, i.e. we need to cooperate with his work of grace in our lives in conforming us to the image of Christ. Then, he will be our strength, and he will lift our burdens, and we will know perfect peace.

Total Praise / Richard Smallwood

…Your peace You give me in time of the storm
You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life
I lift my hands in total praise to You…