Self-Made Religion

Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 11:16 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Colossians 2 (Select vv. NASB).

Walk in Him (vv. 6-7)

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

So, how do we walk in Him? Well, first of all, to walk has to do simply with how we live our lives each day, day in and day out. It has to do with lifestyle and with how we conduct our lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But, this isn’t just about behavior, but it is about heart, attitude, words, faith, mind, emotion and body, i.e. our whole being. What or who guides (directs) what our minds are given over to, or what words we speak, or our attitudes about life and about God? You know that what we truly believe about God, about life, and about ourselves will be reflected in how we behave and in the words we speak. And, this isn’t something we put on or take off depending on who is around us or what day of the week it is, either. This is about how we live our lives consistently no matter where we are or who we are with.

So, what does it mean to walk in Him? “In Him” means in Christ, so if we walk in Christ, it means we live (conduct) our lives according to Christ and his divine character, and according to his teachings (his instructions for us). If he is Lord of our lives, then he is master-owner of our lives and we are his bond-servants. This means he is boss, not us, and we are here to do what he says, not what we want. So, is that the reality of the situation in our lives? Do our lifestyles reflect that Jesus is truly Lord (owner-boss) of our lives? Do we live to do what pleases him, or do we live to do what pleases us? I think it might be easy to forget, if we are in Christ, that it means he is living within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, so he is always with us. But, what if you could see him in the flesh right next to you every day, would you do anything differently? I think most of us would have to say “Yes.”

Deceptive Philosophy (v. 8)

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

So, if we are going to walk (in lifestyle) in Christ, in accord with what we know of him and his divine character and his Word to us, then daily we need to be drinking in his Word, not the World. The vast majority of American (professing) Christians seem to spend much more time consuming the World than they do the Word of Christ, thus their attitudes, behaviors, thinking, reasoning and values often reflect the world more so than they reflect Christ. And, it seems most of them really have no concept or have little idea of what it means to truly walk in Christ day-by-day, because their minds are continually being inundated with the world via TV, video games, secular music, movies, the internet, social media and the like. And, smart phones in the hands of even children is making this so much more accessible.

But, you know, it isn’t just via the world that Christians are being influenced to follow the ways of the world, but this is happening in the churches, too. So many of today’s church congregations here in America have adopted the ways of the world in order to win the world, but not to Christ, but to their “churches,” i.e. to their human-made religious institutions and businesses. Yet, if we are truly going to win people to Christ, then we need to do it God’s way, not man’s way. When men (and women) determine how to attract the world to the church, this isn’t about building God’s heavenly kingdom, but it is about kingdom building here on earth, and it is about making followers of men, not of God. And, all too often the gospel of Christ is, thus, diluted in order to appeal to and be acceptable to the people of the world. And, this should not be.

For in Christ (vv. 9-15)

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

If our faith is truly in Jesus Christ, then our lives should be about HIM, not about the world and not about us, nor about entertaining ourselves. Americans are way too pleasure driven, and even the church is teaching people that they need to have “fun,” and if the church isn’t “fun” that we should, then, go someplace where it is. Of course, this is under the assumption that the “church” is a place and a business and an institution rather than it being the body of Christ, i.e. the people of God. But, the real church isn’t a place or a building or an organization or a business, but it is people who believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) of their lives.

And, if Jesus truly is our Lord, then we should be about him and his business rather than about living our lives the way we choose to live them. And, we also need to see that faith in Jesus Christ is not about joining a particular religion or becoming members of or being baptized into a particular church denomination. When we believe in our Lord, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). I believe this is the true meaning of baptism of the Spirit, when by the Spirit we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to new lives in Him, to be lived to his holiness and righteousness, and that our water baptism is an outward symbol of what has already taken place in our hearts, which is why immersion, if it can be done, does the best job of symbolizing this.

If You Have Died (vv. 20-23)

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

In context, this passage of scripture is referring to legalistic practices, i.e. to that which is man-made and is external, not of the heart, such as was practiced by the Pharisees. This is NOT referring to the scriptures which teach us to not lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, and gossip, etc., although there are those teachers who would like to convince you that you no longer have to obey Christ’s commands (his instructions to us), but that is not what the Bible teaches us. This is talking about Christians who were being led to believe that they had to follow Old Covenant laws with regard to such externals as food, drink, religious celebrations, circumcision, the Sabbath, etc. or that they had to obey man-made rules regarding ceremonial washings, etc. Yet, most or all of “these are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (v. 17).

Yet, we can go through all kinds of religious practices, ceremonies, rites and rituals and it have absolutely no effect whatsoever on our spiritual lives and moral purity. And, this includes attending services at an institutional church once a week, or doing a church ministry, or volunteering in a homeless shelter, etc. Externals don’t change the internal. Only Jesus Christ, via his blood shed on our cross for our sins, can change our hearts and make us new creatures in Christ, and can empower us of his Spirit to walk in Christ in holiness, righteousness and moral purity. Yet, we have to be willing recipients of his grace to us by submitting ourselves to his lordship over our lives, and in allowing him to transform our hearts away from living to sin and self and toward following after Jesus Christ and his righteousness.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his 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 (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life with God. Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that if we walk according to our flesh, 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). As well, we read in scripture that God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and remorse, but his 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. And, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24).

My Sheep / An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV

My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.

So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.

Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…

They know my voice, so they follow me.

The Same Things

Sunday, January 29, 2017, 1:36 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 3:1-4:1 (Select vv. NASB).

A Safeguard (3:1-4a)

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

If one thing the scriptures are, they are repetitive. The same message is preached throughout the Old and the New Testaments. And, the reason they keep preaching the same message over and over again is that we need to be reminded periodically of why we are here, and what faith in God (in Jesus Christ) is really all about. And, this is for our protection and as a preventative measure to keep us from losing sight of God’s purpose for our lives, so that we don’t fall away from grace and begin to slip back into giving lordship to our flesh once more.

So, if I had to pick just one Bible verse to sum up that same central message that keeps being repeated, I would choose 1 Peter 2:24 (ESV):

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Beware Evil Workers (3:2-4a)

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh.

Following the flesh is directly opposed to (opposite of) following the Spirit, so we can’t do both at the same time. Either we are slaves to sin and the flesh or we are slaves to righteousness (See: Ro. 6:1-23). This is not saying we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but it is saying that, once we believe in Jesus Christ, that our flesh and sin should no longer have mastery over our lives. And, as far as our flesh is concerned, that includes all things opposed to God and to his express will for our lives, which includes human-based religion, fleshly works, and doing what is harmful to our neighbors, i.e. such as gossip, slander, murder, hatred, adultery, lying and cheating, et al.

At the time this was written, Paul was concerned with evil workers who were trying to convince believers in Jesus Christ that they had to follow Jewish customs, ceremonies, celebrations and and/or traditions, and/or that they had to follow some of which was required under the Old Covenant God had with his people. So, they were adding to God’s grace that which God did not require or intend. And, today this is called legalism, which is basically focused on what is external, and on man-made rules being added on to God’s grace, and as required for right standing with God. Yet, God rejects all such human effort to try to gain his divine approval.

Yet, today, I think the biggest concern is not over legalism, although I do believe it still exists, but rather it is about a different type of man-made religion, which is a false grace gospel. Rather than adding to God’s grace, it takes away from his grace, and gives people the sense that they can continue living sinful lifestyles and yet have the hope of heaven because they prayed some prayer after someone else to “receive Christ.”

This false grace gospel teaches that God does not require repentance, obedience or submission to the cross of Christ as part of genuine believing faith, yet the New Testament scriptures teach over and over again that believing in Jesus Christ means, with regard to our former way of life, to put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23). It teaches that if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will have eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).

Counted as Loss (3:7-11)

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

We may do lots of “good things” in the flesh, which we may be able to credit to ourselves, but they are not what God requires or desires of us. He sees our self-righteous acts as filthy rags in his sight. What he requires is that we give our lives to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable or acceptable worship of him. We are to no longer be conformed to the pattern of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed in the renewing of our minds, so that by our lives we prove what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God (See: Ro. 12:1-2). When we say Jesus is our Lord, it should mean that he is owner-master of our lives, and that we are his bond-servants. All that we might have gained for ourselves in our own flesh should be as nothing to us now that we belong to Christ.

I Press On (3:12-16)

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, although we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, to be lived to his righteousness, we don’t become instantly perfect. The Christian life is a process of dying daily to sin and self and putting on Christ and his righteousness. It is a process of sanctification, whereby our God is maturing us in Christ, making us holy, and conforming us into the likeness of Christ. This does not mean, however, that we can use “I’m not perfect” as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. The Bible says that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars, and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

Enemies of the Cross (3:17-4:1)

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.

Who are these enemies of the cross of Christ? They are all those who oppose the gospel as taught by Jesus, and by his NT apostles. They are the ones who dilute the gospel message in order to make it more appealing and acceptable to the people of this sinful world. They do so because they know the true gospel offends, and they don’t want to offend their customer base, so they do all kinds of worldly things in order to draw in large crowds of people into their “churches,” i.e. into their places of business. Their “worship” services are often not more than large stage productions intended to entertain the people of the world so they will want to come back. And, their “Bible” studies are often studies of books written by contemporary authors who may or may not be teaching accurately the Word of Truth.

They are those, basically, who follow a flesh-driven human-based form of Christianity which does not teach death to sin and living to righteousness, but which comforts and consoles people in their sins by getting them to just claim who they are in Christ, while teaching them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do. So, they remove both consciousness of sin and divine discipline and correction from their teaching and leave their adherents believing they can live however they want and still go to heaven when they die. They lie to them, and they give them a false hope of salvation, but truly they are sending people straight to hell.

Jesus didn’t die just so we could be forgiven of our sin, escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died to radically transform our lives away from sin to living to him and to his righteousness. And, this is the standard of living that we are to keep living, that we no longer walk according to the flesh, but that we walk according to (in the power of and in agreement with) the Spirit.

Zeal for Your House
An Original Work / August 1, 2016

Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
Lord, I love my times with You.
I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
List’ning to You speaking to me,
Gently guiding me in truth.

Lord, You are my life’s example,
Showing me how I should live.
I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
No greater joy have I when serving You.
Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
I’m yielding to Your will.

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
See the church turned upside down:
Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
Gospel message made appealing,
So the world will feel at home.

Lord, we need a great revival.
Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
Be restored to God again.

Be King in Our Hearts

Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 9:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in The Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 4:25-32 (NASB).

Speak Truth (v. 25)

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

In the times in which we live, lying has become epidemic, even among the people of God, and even among those who profess to be ministers of God. In some cases, the culture of the area dictates that we should lie to one another in order to be “polite.” But, is it polite to lie to people? No! And, it certainly is not kind or loving. In some cases, pastors are actually being trained to lie to people, i.e. to manipulate them so that they conform to the “church’s” (business’) goals and objectives, or in order to save their own skin, for fear of being exposed, when someone sees through their facade. As well, they are lying to people when they dilute the gospel, i.e. when they teach a half-truth gospel in order to not offend the people of the world.

So, if you are one who speaks the truth in love, not in harshness or anger or bitterness of spirit, but truly in love, it seems the vast majority of the church here in America considers you unkind and unloving. And, they think they are being loving and kind by telling people lies, i.e. by telling them what they WANT to hear rather than what they NEED to hear. But, lying is neither loving nor kind, especially if the lie leads people straight to hell. So, if you are in the habit of telling lies, this is an exhortation to stop telling the lies, and to start telling the truth, following the principle of the put offs and put ons. In other words, if we want to stop doing something, we need to replace it with something else, which, in this case, is the opposite behavior.

In Anger, Not Sin (vv. 26-27)

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.

The emotion of anger is not sin, in and of itself. It can be rooted in sin, though. For instance, if you are a selfish person who thinks everyone should do what pleases you, you might be prone to anger whenever anyone gets in your way, or does what you don’t like, or doesn’t do what you think they ought to. If you are filled with pride, you might get angry anytime anyone says anything that might suggest that you got something wrong, no matter how kind their words, or how pure their intentions. If you know you are living in sin, or that you have a secret sinful habit, but you are covering it up with lies, you might get angry just being around people who are doing what is right, or if someone does speak the truth in love to you about your sin.

As well, anger can result in sin. The anger may be righteous anger, or it may be anger rooted in sin, yet it may also result in sin if not dealt with in the right way. By righteous anger I mean we get angry over injustice and we hate the things God hates – “arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers” (Prov. 6:16-19 HCSB).

These things may stir the emotion of anger within us, but we must direct the anger to what is positive, not negative. In other words, anger is an emotion given to us by God to motivate us to some type of good action. It either points to the root of sin in our lives or it helps us to feel what God feels about sin, so it should motivate us to forsake sin or it should call us to some type of ministry which would help to alleviate these things God hates from people’s lives, or would minister God’s healing to those who have been hurt by the sins of others. Passion for what is good often results from the emotion of anger we feel when we witness injustice being done to others.

Don’t Steal (v. 28)

He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.

When we think of stealing, what comes to mind? Perhaps we think of someone robbing a bank or burglarizing another’s home. But stealing goes much deeper than that, and much broader, too. When we steal from another we take what belongs to another without asking, i.e. without being given permission to take it. Stealing is also robbing and cheating another of what is rightfully theirs. A husband or a wife is cheating (stealing) from his or her spouse when they commit adultery (including viewing pornography), or when they have a private intimate conversation with another of the opposite sex or of same sex attraction, etc. When we fill out a time sheet at work, claiming to have worked a certain number of hours, but we lie, that is cheating the company. If we take things from work that are not ours to take, that is stealing, and we can’t justify it with “everyone does it.” Or, if we lie on our tax forms, that is cheating the government.

As the remedy for lying is to stop lying and to tell the truth, so the remedy for stealing is not only to stop stealing, and to earn your own way, but it is to share with those in need. Regarding cheating, it is to stop cheating and to stop lying, and to do what is right and honest and loving towards others. If you are cheating your spouse by viewing pornography, or by having private intimate conversations with another, or even by spending all your free time doing only what you want, without regard for what pleases your spouse, thus robbing him or her of love and affection, you should stop doing what you know is wrong, and you should begin doing what you know is right.

Speak Edification (v. 29)

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

What is unwholesome can cover a lot of ground. Gossip definitely fits into this category, as does slander, lies, manipulation, sarcasm, and some teasing and kidding, cutting remarks, foul language, obscenity, and course joking or crude humor, etc. But, it also includes focusing our conversations around what is fleshly and worldly, rather than around what is godly. What comes out of our mouths says a lot about what is stored up in our hearts. For instance, if we are bitter and unforgiving with someone, it will probably come out in cutting, hateful and nasty remarks, or in sarcasm, or in unkind teasing remarks, as well as it may come out in gossip or slander, et al. What we think about people or about anything affects what we do, which is why we need to be renewed in our minds by the Spirit of God. When our minds and hearts are in the right place, our words should follow suit.

So, in place of what is unwholesome coming out of our mouths, which I believe is a heart issue, as is all sin, we are to speak what is good for the edification of the hearer, and according to the need of the moment. Now a lot of people think edification is just saying what makes people feel good, but it isn’t. It is a part of it, but not the whole of it. To edify literally means to teach, enlighten, inform, educate, instruct and improve another by what we tell them. It also means to build up, i.e. to encourage in the Lord and in the faith and in what is right, and to teach against what is wrong. It basically means to help one another to grow spiritually in our relationships with Jesus Christ, to follow him in obedience, to be in his Word daily, and in prayer, and to walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh.

Included in this are warnings against falling away from grace, idolatry, spiritual adultery and the like, and encouragements to obey God’s Word.

Grieve not Holy Spirit (vv. 30-32)

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

So, how do we grieve the Holy Spirit? I believe we grieve the Spirit when we go against God’s Word, and against what we know is right, and we willingly and knowingly do what we know is wrong, and what is displeasing to our Lord, and right in his face, too. It is when we take God’s grace to us for granted, or when we treat God’s grace as though it is all about us and our pleasure (freedom), rather than about God and doing what pleases him. We forget that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live to please ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. We forget, too, that “Lord” means “owner-master,” and that he freed us from slavery to sin so that we might become bond-servants of his righteousness, and walk (in lifestyle) in the Spirit and in his holiness.

He is also grieved when we sin against other people, and take advantage of them, and when we don’t love them as God loves us and gave himself up for us. We are not here on this earth to live for ourselves, but we are here to love God in all ways and to love others with god-like love, which prefers what God prefers, and which treats others with the same grace God has given to us. If God, who is holy and perfect can forgive us our sins, who are we to not forgive others their sins against us, for we, too, are sinners.

When in The Stillness
An Original Work / September 26, 2011

When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.

While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.

Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.

The Trickery of Men

Monday, January 23, 2017, 8:52 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 4 (Select vv. NASB).

Walk Worthy (vv. 1-6)

Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have been called to holiness. To live a holy life means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because you are becoming like Jesus. Jesus died for you to set you free from slavery to sin so that you might become a servant of his righteousness, i.e. that you might die to sin and live to righteousness. And, he died that you might no longer live for yourself, but for him who gave his life up for you. His grace, which brings salvation, 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 (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).

So, we are to walk (in lifestyle) in a manner worthy (commendable) of this calling to holiness and righteousness. If we are truly in Christ Jesus, by faith, we should no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but we should now be walking (conducting our lives) according to the Spirit of God (See: Ro. 8:1-14). And, it should be evident that God’s Spirit is now living within us, transforming us away from lifestyles of sin and selfishness to living for God in obedience to Christ and to his commands (his Word). His fruit should also be apparent in our lives, not that we will immediately be perfect, but it should be obvious that a transformation of heart and mind has taken place, and that we truly are new creatures in Christ Jesus. As well, we should have a change of attitude, purpose and direction toward God.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within us, so that we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit, where God dwells. Collectively we form one body, which is the church, the body of Christ, yet we will meet in various locations because we are spread out throughout the earth. Yet, if we are baptized as believers in Jesus, no other baptism with water is needed, i.e. we don’t need to be baptized by a particular denomination, for we only need one believer’s baptism. We are also members of the church when we believe in Jesus Christ, so we don’t need additional membership in local fellowships. And, if we truly believe in Jesus Christ, we are Christians, period. We are not Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, et al, for all that divides the church.

Deceitful Scheming (vv. 11-16)

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Where God is at work in growing his followers to maturity in Christ, Satan is also at work trying to contradict him, and is trying to get Christ’s followers to disavow him and to follow the ways of the world instead. Although the first six verses of this passage refer to the words tolerance and unity, in the correct context, these same words are used by the enemies of God to try to pull us away from our pure devotion to Jesus Christ.

You see, the kind of tolerance meant here is that of showing patience, understanding, and endurance in our relationships with others, even with other believers, because we are imperfect people, mere clay vessels in the potter’s hands, and we’re going to have times when we rub each other the wrong way, even unintentionally. This is not speaking of tolerating or being lenient about sin, i.e. this is not about accepting sin in others, as though it is ok to sin against God, nor is it about accepting that all religions are viable and/or that we all worship the same God.

And, the unity spoken of here is unity with the Spirit of God, not with human thinking, reasoning, morals and values, and especially not with people of all religions or all walks of life. And, yet, the enemy of our souls is pushing this kind of unity with the world, and this tolerance (acceptance of) of all religions and lifestyles on Christians, and some of this teaching has even infiltrated into the church, and it is destroying the church from within.

The vast majority of the church here in America has become one with the world, and she has turned the church into businesses of men, which are marketed just like any other human-based businesses. “Worship” services have largely become nothing more that big shows to entertain the world so that the people of the world will want to come to these “churches,” i.e. to these businesses. In other words, the church (institutional) is being marketed to the world, so their leaders often pattern their meetings after the flesh of humans in order to appeal to the world so that the world will feel at home in the “church.” Thus, they have also diluted the gospel of Jesus Christ so as not to offend the people of the world, i.e. their customer base, although they don’t mind at all offending, rejecting and ostracizing mature followers of Christ, it would appear, as they are being trained to weed us out and to target the unchurched who they can mold into their image.

The New Self (vv. 17-24)

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Our new self is not to be just like the old self, only cleaned up a little, and now attending institutional church services once a week, and even serving in some kind of function within the “church.” Jesus Christ did not die on a cross just so we could escape hell, if hell is even mentioned at all, and just so we can go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He didn’t just forgive us our sins, but he delivered us out of slavery to sin in order that we might become bond-slaves of his righteousness. “Lord” means “owner-master,” which means we are his bond-slaves. Jesus bought us back for God with his blood, so we are not supposed to live like we did before we believed in Jesus Christ. And, faith in Jesus Christ does not give us the right to follow our Lord according to our own time-schedule and according to what we will agree to do or not do.

If we truly are in Christ Jesus, by faith, and we have been born anew of the Spirit of God, then we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, to be lived in the power of the Spirit within us, and to be lived to Christ’s holiness and righteousness. This means that we have willingly laid aside our old self, that we have chosen to no longer live for sin and self, that we have been radically and drastically transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we have put on our new self in Christ, which is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. So, we no longer live to please our sinful flesh, right? For if we do, the Bible says we will die in our sins, and it says we are liars if we claim to have fellowship with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).

So, don’t get caught up in the lies of those who would lead you astray with their deceitful scheming, and who would tell you that being a Christian does not require repentance, obedience and submission to God/Jesus Christ. Do not trust their words when they try to get you to tolerate sin and to unite with the ungodly in order to bring “peace” to the world, either. And, do not join in with those who tolerate (allow for) the wicked, who worship false gods (idols of men), who have turned the church upside down, and who promote the flesh of humans as a way to “reach” the people of the world. The church is not a business, nor a corporation under the federal government, nor is it a building or an organization of human origin, but it is Christ’s body, his holy people, who listen to him and who follow (obey) him.

Zeal for Your House
An Original Work / August 1, 2016

Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
Lord, I love my times with You.
I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
List’ning to You speaking to me,
Gently guiding me in truth.

Lord, You are my life’s example,
Showing me how I should live.
I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
No greater joy have I when serving You.
Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
I’m yielding to Your will.

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
See the church turned upside down:
Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
Gospel message made appealing,
So the world will feel at home.

Lord, we need a great revival.
Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
Be restored to God again.

Unfathomable Riches

Monday, January 23, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Look to God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 3:8-21 (NASB).

Unfathomable Riches of Christ (vv. 8-13)

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.

When we are born into this world of ours, we are born sinners, separate from God, and without hope, because of Adam’s sin (See: Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49). We fall short of attaining God’s divine approval (See: Ro. 3:23). Yet, God had a plan for how he was going to save us from our sins and give us the hope of eternal life with him, even before he created the world. His plan was to send his Son (God the Son) to the earth, to take on human form, to suffer as we suffer, to be tempted in like manner as we are tempted, yet without sin, and to die on a cross for our sins. When he died our sins died with him, and were buried with him. When he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over hell, sin, Satan and death on our behalf. He put sin to death on a cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (2 Co. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). By his stripes we are healed!

Yet, not everyone is saved from their sins. We must individually put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives. How? First God the Father draws us to faith in Christ, and then he gifts us with the faith to believe and with the ability to repent of our sins and to turn to God to follow him in obedience (See: Jn. 6:44; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). Through faith in Jesus Christ we are, then, crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). Through faith in Jesus Christ we forsake our former way of living for sin and self, we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we are given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived to his righteousness.

Because we are now in Christ Jesus, through faith, we have complete access to God the Father. We can come boldly and confidently into his presence in prayer to him. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, his Holy Spirit comes to live within us to comfort, instruct, teach, encourage, counsel, strengthen and empower us to live holy lives, pleasing to God. Because we now have this relationship with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – we have no more reason to fear death or tribulation or difficult circumstances in our lives. Our God is absolutely sovereign over our lives and he is in control of all things and all powers. Nothing can touch us but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose. And, He will give us all we need to endure, to persevere, and to keep believing and trusting in him. So, we should not lose heart when difficult times come, which they will, but we should remain confident in our Lord and be faithful to him to the end.

Rooted and Grounded in Love (vv. 14-19)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

We do need to pray for one another, though, because we have an enemy who is hot on our trail, and whose goal it is to destroy us. And, he will pull out all the stops (do everything he can) for the express purpose to destroy us, to dishearten and discourage us, and to try to get us to give up hope and to abandon ship. And, that enemy is Satan, who disguises himself as an angel of light. He also has servants who do his bidding, both evil spirits and humans who are under his control, who also share his goal of destroying God’s holy saints. These humans can be in powerful positions of rule and authority in the world, or within the institutional church, or they can be our next door neighbors, or someone who is a member of an institutional church, or our friends or co-workers or even those of our own family.

So, be wise, be discerning, and don’t trust everyone, but put your hope in God. He will strengthen us, encourage us, and give us hope for our future, even when all hell may break loose all around us. He always has our best interest in mind. And, his purposes are much higher and greater than we could possibly imagine. He will never abandon us, but he will keep us in his love always. May we truly comprehend the vastness of his love for us.

Beyond all that We Ask (vv. 20-21)

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Again, Satan’s goal is to destroy us or to discourage and dishearten us so that we will give up all hope. So, we must know this, and we must be on our guard so that we don’t fall prey to his evil schemes against us. God has given us spiritual armor with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us, so that we don’t succumb to his devices (See: Eph. 6:10-20). Satan will throw his fiery darts of despair, doubt, dismay, and fear, etc. against us, so daily we must put on faith, hope, love, truth, righteousness, and the Word of God, etc. – all in the power and working of the Spirit within us – to fight off these evil attacks. We must remember that Jesus already conquered Satan at the cross, so he is a defeated foe. He may be powerful and convincing, but he is subject to God, i.e. God/Jesus is completely in control over all. So, we must stop fighting Satan as though we know we are going to be defeated, but we must fight him as conquerors in Christ because of what Jesus did for us when he gave his life up for us on that cross.

And, we must know that our God is all powerful and he is able to do far above all we could ever think or ask. Nothing is too hard for God! Yet, we must also know that he often has greater purposes in mind than what we can imagine, too. We often are tempted to defeat because things didn’t turn out the way we had imagined they would, but God doesn’t think like we think. For one, he knows the end from the beginning, and not only does he know it, but he planned it, and it is going according to his plan, even if we can’t always see that. So, we must rest in our Lord, believe in his sovereignty over all things, and know that he is going to work out all things for good for those who love God and who have been called according to his purposes. So, don’t be afraid, but trust Jesus Christ with your life.

Look to God / An Original Work
November 11, 2016

Fear not. Look to God.
He will strengthen you. He is your Rock.
He’ll meet all your needs.
Rest in Him, and be filled with His peace.
When sorrow fills your life, pray to the Lord.
Believe His promises. Trust in His Word.
He’ll lead you each day.
Give your life to Him. Follow His ways.

Lean on Him today.
He will comfort you. Trust Him always.
Read His Word and pray.
Tell the world of His love and His grace.
When trials come your way, be not afraid.
God watches over you. Be not dismayed.
He’ll work all for good,
For the called of God. Jesus, they love.

Sing songs. Praise your Lord.
Lift your voice to Him. Shout out His Word.
He forgave your sins,
Cleansed your heart. You are made new within.
When you are faced with temptation to fear,
Remember God will be with you. He’s near.
He’ll take care of you.
He will keep you in His love, tis true.

How We Live

Sunday, January 22, 2017, 8:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Servant of the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB).

Dead in Sins (vv. 1-3)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

When we are born into this world, we are born sinners. By nature, we do what we ought not to do. But, when we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, that should all change. We won’t be instantly perfect, but when we are delivered out of slavery to sin, and from the power sin and Satan had over our lives, we now have the power, in Christ, to say “No” to sin, and to live holy lives, pleasing to God. In other words, Jesus didn’t die just to rescue us from the punishment of hell and to take us to heaven when we die. He died that we might die with him to sin, and live with him to righteousness. We are not just forgiven our sins, but we are radically transformed of the Spirit of God away from living to please our flesh, to God, to live lives which are being conformed daily into the image of Christ.

Yet, many people who call themselves Christians are still in slavery to sin, and they live like Jesus didn’t rescue them at all from slavery to sin. They still live much like they did before they professed Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of their lives. There is not much distinction between them and the people of this sinful world at all. This should not be! Jesus made the way of escape for us. Satan has no real power over us. Yes, he can tempt us, as well as our own flesh tempts us to sin, but in Christ Jesus we can resist Satan, flee temptation, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith. As well, we can cut out of our lives those things which lead us into sin, and we can throw off every hindrance to our walks of faith, and forsake those sins which so easily entangle us. And, yet so many people use God’s grace as an excuse to continue in willful sin against God.

Alive with Christ (vv. 4-7)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Being made alive together with Christ is not merely God forgiving our sins, removing the punishment of sin, and giving us the hope of heaven when we die. Being made alive together with Christ means we can now, in the power of the Spirit within us, live to please God. We can now walk in holiness and righteousness. We now have the Spirit of God living within us, speaking daily to our hearts words of wisdom, counsel, guidance, direction, etc. He teaches us all the things which Christ taught his disciples. The Spirit within us convicts our hearts when we sin against God, and he rebukes and corrects us, as well as he encourages us and gives us hope and healing. Instead of still being dead in our sins we are now alive to righteousness. We are no longer held in bondage, but now we are free from our prisons. So, why should we want to go back to living in prison? And, yet many do!

Being raised with Christ, too, and being seated with Him in the heavenly realms is not just positional, but it is practical and it is applicable to our daily lives. In other words, God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His 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. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:11-14). He is now our Lord (owner-master), and we are his bond-servants, to do what he desires, not what our flesh desires.

Grace and Faith (vv. 8-10)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Yet, it is only by God’s grace that any of us can be saved from our sins, have the hope of eternal life with God, and live holy lives, pleasing to God. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Our good will never outweigh our bad. Our own righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. Our own fleshly works will never earn us merit with God, no matter how hard we may try in our flesh to do what we think will please God.

He is not interested in what we decide to “give” to him, while we hold back the rest for ourselves. What he desires is us, on the altar, as living sacrifices, living holy lives, pleasing to him, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of him. He wants us no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world. His desire, and why he died for us, is to transform us in thought and heart away from sin, to Him, and to his holiness (See: Ro. 12:1-2). And, to be holy means to be separate from (different, unlike) this sinful world, because we are being conformed into the image of Christ.

So many people use this passage of scripture to teach that God does it all and that nothing is required of us – no repentance, no obedience, and no surrender to God and to his will. But, that’s not true. It is true that it is only by God’s grace, and because of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, that any of us can be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God. It is also true that God’s grace even gifts us with the faith to believe and the ability to repent of our sins, i.e. to leave our lives of sin behind us in order to follow our Lord in obedience. Yet, we must each make that decision to personally put our trust in Jesus Christ, which means leaving our lives of sin behind us, and allowing Christ to put that sin to death in our lives and to empower us to live for him. We read in the Bible that coming to faith in Christ means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

Also, when people quote this passage of scripture, they typically exclude verse 10 which says, we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. We can’t be his workmanship if we haven’t truly given our lives to him in surrender to his will. Also, faith in Jesus Christ is clearly not absent of good works, but they are works in the Spirit, which God prepared beforehand that we should do, so that we can walk in them. So, faith in Jesus Christ does not mean we don’t have to turn from sin or that we don’t have to obey God/Jesus. It means just the opposite of that. If we are his workmanship, and if he created us to do the works which he prepared in advance that we should do, even before the creation of the world, then we should find out what those works are, and we should walk in them – all in the power and working of the Spirit of God now living within us.

Jesus said that if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose our lives for eternity, but if we lose our lives, i.e. if we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, we will live with God for eternity, i.e. we will have eternal life with God. Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) in the flesh, we will die in our sins without Christ and without the hope of eternal life. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in the darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars, and we don’t live by the truth (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Gal. 2:20; 1 Jn. 1:6).

So, believe in Jesus Christ, let his grace transform you, and in his power and by his grace live by the truth, forsake your lives of sin, and walk in the Spirit, and no longer live to gratify the cravings of your sinful desires in the way you once lived before you made the decision to believe on Jesus Christ.

Servant of the Lord / An Original Work
Based off Romans 1:1-17 / July 26, 2012

Servant of the Lord;
For the gospel you’re set apart.
Promised through the prophets of old:
Jesus, Son of God.
Through Him, and for His name alone,
We receive His grace
To call people, Him to obey;
Coming from their faith.

You belong to Christ;
Loved by God, and called to be saints;
Serving God with whole heart and mind;
Preaching Jesus Christ;
Always praying for others’ needs;
Helping hand to lend;
Giving courage to others’ faith,
For the praise of God.

Servant of the Lord;
Of the gospel, I’m not ashamed;
For salvation, power of God
To those who have faith.
In the gospel find righteousness:
Being right with God.
Turn from sin, and trust Jesus Christ.
By faith, live in Him.

His Will and Purpose

Friday, January 20, 2017, 4:04 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 1:1-14 (NASB).

To the Faithful (vv. 1-2)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul wrote here to the saints of God, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus. They are the loyal, true, trustworthy, dedicated, committed, persistent and continuous followers of Jesus Christ, who are full of and steadfast in faith and in allegiance to God, yet not yet perfect (fully mature). Yet, all the glory goes to God, for only in Him, by his grace, and in the power and working of His Holy Spirit within us, can any of us be found faithful in Christ Jesus.

Holy and Blameless (vv. 3-8a)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.

We who are in Christ Jesus, by faith in him, have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. So, what are some of those spiritual blessings we have been given? We have been granted faith and repentance unto forgiveness of sins and salvation. We have been delivered out of slavery to sin so that we can now become bond-servants (or bond-slaves) of God and of his righteousness. Also, we have been provided with new lives in Christ Jesus, free from bondage to sin, and free to now walk in the Spirit in God’s holiness, as well as the promise and hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

We, too, have been furnished with the Holy Spirit of God to indwell us, and to empower, strengthen and keep us in his love, as well as to teach, counsel, admonish, encourage, comfort and help us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing unto God. We have been given spiritual gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the body of Christ, and we have been assigned, by God, roles and responsibilities (body parts) within the church for the mutual edification of one another and for the furtherance of the gospel of Christ. And, we have been granted all we need, in the Spirit, to exercise these gifts and to fulfill these assigned roles, in love, and for the benefit of others.

We were chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before God/Christ. What this means is that, even before God/Jesus created the world, he chose us to be one of his, and to be holy (set apart from the world because we are becoming like Christ) and blameless (because of what Jesus did in dying on the cross for our sins). He is the one who knit us together in our mother’s wombs, and who called us into his service even before we were born. What this is saying is that our God is absolutely sovereign over all that he has made, and that God even placed us with the parents he gave us, and he allowed us to go through the things we have gone through in our lives in order to make us into the people he wants us to be for his purposes and for his glory. And, he didn’t make us to be self-serving but to be God-honoring and obedient in all that we do.

According to His Purpose (vv. 8b-14)

In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Our God is eternal, i.e. he is without beginning and without end. I, who am human, and finite, have difficulty with this concept, and yet I accept it by faith. My human mind thinks in terms of beginning and end, so eternity is something that is just difficult for my mind to grasp, and yet I believe it because God said it. Yet, because our God is eternal, and all knowing and all powerful, etc., he sees the whole big picture, and he planned the whole big picture, too. Even before he created the world he had us in mind, and who we should be, and what we should do, and what our ultimate end would be. And, yet, I believe he has also given us the will to choose him or to reject him, i.e. he didn’t make us puppets on a string and him the puppet master, as though we have no choice in what we do or how we behave. We do!

Anyway, the whole point of this is that we were not placed on this planet earth by chance or by accident. God made us for a purpose, and with eternity in mind. We are not here for our own will and good pleasure, but for the glory of God, and to serve his purposes for our lives. We are here on planet earth, in other words, to serve our Lord and to love our fellow humans with god-like (agape) love. We are also here to love God, and we love God by obeying Christ’s commandments (his Word).

When Jesus Christ died on a cross, he became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. He 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. We are for the praise of his glory! Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, 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 (for eternity), but if we lose our lives (are crucified with Christ in death to sin), we will gain eternal life (See: 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Ro. 8:1-14).

A lot of people are giving the impression these days that God’s grace is a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, but this is far from the truth. God’s grace, which brings salvation, 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. In fact, Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:11-14). Through Jesus’ death on a cross he redeemed us (bought us back for God) with his blood, not so we could live however we want, but so we would be his very own possession and he would be our Lord (owner-master).

When Jesus is truly our Lord, and we are following him in obedience, and in surrender to his will for our lives, which he had planned for us all along, not everyone will like us. Many will hate and reject us, just as they hated and rejected Jesus Christ, and for many of the same reasons. And, yet we are not to fear what humans may do to us, because God has a plan for it all, to bring many to faith in Jesus Christ, and for the growth and maturity of his followers. We often grow the deepest in our faith with our Lord when our faith is being put to the test, i.e. when it is challenged by opposition. So, don’t be afraid of persecution, because it must come before times will have reached their fulfillment, and our Lord will return for us, his bride. Be strong in the Lord and in his love, and keep sharing Christ and love God fully.

Trust Him / An Original Work / August 15, 2012

Based off Psalm 27:14

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

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

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