Faithful Servants

Monday, July 31, 2017, 12:31 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of being faithful to God.

Found Faithful (1 Co. 4:1-2)

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (master-owner) and Savior of our lives, we become his servants, i.e. his bond-slaves. Bond-slaves are “without any ownership rights of their own.” They are “believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers” (1). Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, for Jesus Christ bought us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our redemption. Therefore, we are to honor God with our lives and no longer live to please our flesh.

We are not saved from our sins merely to give us an escape from hell and to promise us 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 who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. Therefore, we are obligated (required) to be faithful to our Lord and to his will for our lives, and to no longer live to gratify our sinful desires (See: Ro. 8:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).

Fruit of Spirit (Gal. 5:19-24)

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, via being crucified with Christ in death to sin, and being resurrected with Christ, of the Spirit of God, to newness of life, the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within us. And, he lives within us to empower, strengthen, equip, encourage, teach us and guide us in the ways of the Lord and in order that we might live holy lives pleasing unto God. Because God now lives within us in the person of his Spirit, the fruit (result) of Christ living his life out through us is love, joy, peace… faithfulness, etc. In other words, being faithful to God should be the natural outgrowth of a life committed to Christ and to his service.

Thus, if we truly belong to Christ, we should have crucified (put to death) the flesh (sin nature) with its passions and desires. Things such as sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, fits of anger, envy, drunkenness and things like these should no longer be a part of our lives. They should no longer have a hold on us, and we should not be controlled by (addicted to) them, for Jesus Christ set us free from slavery (bondage) to sin. Instead, we should walk according to the Spirit and then we will not gratify the cravings of our sinful flesh.

Unto Death (Rev. 2:10)

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Some people like to have a “Me-Me” attitude about God’s grace to us, as though it is all about what Jesus Christ does for us, and as though nothing at all is required of us other than some non-descript “belief” in Jesus. Yet, that is not the gospel taught by Jesus or by his NT apostles, but it is a man-made gospel intended to appeal to and appease human flesh.

But, YES, Jesus did die on a cross in order that he might take our punishment for sin for us, but that is not the whole story. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died to deliver us out of slavery to sin, not just so he would expunge the punishment of our sins. Coming to faith in Jesus Christ is not just a get-out-of-jail-free card, but it is a life committed to Christ and to his service and to obedience to his instructions and to his will for our lives.

So, when we believe in Jesus, and he becomes our Lord (owner-master) and we become his bond-slaves, and our lives are no longer our own to be lived how we want, we submit to him and to his will for our lives. We die with him to sin and self, and we willingly lay down our lives for his service, too. We go where he says to go, we do what he says to do, and we say what he tells us to say, even if it gets us hated, rejected, persecuted or even killed in return.

Faithful People (2 Tim. 2:1-7)

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

So, we must be faithful in service to our Lord, in being who he wants us to be, and in doing and saying what he commands, yet we must also disciple others to also be his faithful servants (See: Matt. 28:18-20). Yet, not everyone will want to become his disciples, even many who profess to believe in him, because they don’t want to give up their own lives to serve Christ, but they are comfortable just living how they want. They just want their religion, but not at the cost of having to yield to the Lord and to obey what he says. They want to pick and choose what they will or will not do in service to God, and faithfulness to God is not what interests them. So, we need the Lord to lead us to willing disciples who will be found faithful.

Faithfulness to our Lord, though, means sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. It means we will be hated, rejected, abandoned, persecuted and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ and for our testimonies for him and for his gospel. We, thus, will not immerse ourselves in the culture of our society, but we will immerse ourselves in our Lord and in his holiness and righteousness, and in his service, even unto death.

Yet, this takes courage and strength from the Lord to remain faithful to him despite all opposing forces coming against us. So, we need to keep trusting our Lord, no matter how bad it gets, knowing that he will work all things together for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. So, keep the faith, rely on the strength and wisdom of God, stand firm on the Word of Truth, do not be silent, and keep on serving your Lord.

Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/1401.htm

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Wait Patiently

Sunday, July 30, 2017, 9:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Letters.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 37:1-11 (ESV).

Fret Not! (vv. 1-2, 7)

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

Who is an evildoer? He or she is one who is wicked, immoral, sinful. Evildoers make a practice of doing what they know is wrong, and they often resist doing what they know is right. Evil is opposed to (against) God’s Word, his holiness, his righteousness, his divine character and his justice. Therefore, evildoers are also opposed to the Lord’s servants and witnesses, and they will try to drag them down with them. They love the darkness, rather than the light, because their deeds are evil.

So, how are we impacted by these evildoers? Well, for one, not all evildoers are blatantly (obviously) evil in the eyes of all people. Many of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing who masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness and who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ Jesus. They are actors, performers, and frauds who give off a public image of being good Christians while they secretly (in the dark) carry out their evil plans. Evildoers may be adulterers, thieves, liars, cheats, murderers, gossips, greedy, abusers, persecutors of Christ’s followers and/or betrayers, etc. So, we may be the recipients of their cheating, lying, thieving or persecuting.

Yet, we are not to fear their mistreatment of us or of those we love, but we are to pray for them, do good to them, and speak kindly to them, which includes speaking the truth in love to them. And, we are to be still (peaceful) before the Lord, trusting him that he has a purpose for everything we face in our lives, and that he is working all things together for good for those who love him and who have been called according to his purposes. He allows us to face adversity and opposition because it helps to mature us in our faith and to strengthen us in our resolve to follow our Lord in obedience to his will. And, he will accomplish his purposes both in our lives and in the lives of all those who will come to him in faith, repenting of their sins.

Trust the Lord (vv. 3-6)

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

So, instead of letting evildoers get to us, upset us, or get us to worry about our lives or our circumstances, we need to place our absolute trust in our Lord in all things, knowing that he is completely sovereign over all which he created. And, we need to continue to do good to all people, even to those who hate us and who persecute us. We must remain faithful to our Lord in all things, and not let trouble or hardship get us to doubt God and his promises, or to push us toward shrinking back in our faith and testimonies for Christ and for his gospel. For this is Satan’s goal, to undo us, and to get us to give up, back down, shrink back and retreat back into sinful behaviors.

So, when evildoers threaten to undo us, we need, instead, to delight in our Lord and in his ways, and continue to serve our Lord in faithfulness and in devotion to him. Although there may be those now who are trying to bring us down, who may be falsely accusing us or gossiping about us to others, or who may be attacking us verbally or trying to discourage us in our walks of faith, we must remain strong in the Lord and keep holding on to the truth we know. For, there will be fruit for our labors of love to our God and to our fellow humans. If we are being rejected and despised now, one day we will be exonerated (vindicated) for our love and faithful service to our Lord.

The Wicked and The Meek (vv. 8-11)

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

The people of this world are divided into two groups of people, i.e. the wicked and the righteous. Those who choose to practice evil, even if they have professed Christ as Savior of their lives, will not have the hope of eternal life with God but the fearful expectation of judgment and eternal damnation. Those who have genuine faith in Jesus Christ, who have died with Christ to sin, who make righteousness their practice, and who are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, will have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

The problem here, for many, is that so many shepherds of the people within the organized church are teaching the people that salvation is nothing more than an acknowledgment of who Jesus is and/or of what he did for us in taking our punishment for sin, and that it is a mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins. And, then they teach them that their salvation and their eternal life with God are secured forever, and that nothing they can do can take it away from them, no matter how badly they sin against God from this moment forward. So, what they are doing is giving them carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt or remorse.

Yet, the Bible teaches that if anyone would come after Christ, they must deny self, take up their cross daily (daily die to sin and self) and follow (obey) Jesus. If they hold on to their old lives of living for sin and self, they will lose them for eternity, but if they lose their lives (die with Christ to sin) for the sake of Jesus Christ and his gospel, they will gain eternal life with God. For, Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk (in lifestyle) not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit of God. 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 live (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). So, know the truth, and the truth will set you free!

The Letters / An Original Work / December 17, 2013

Based off Revelation 2-3

To the angels of all the churches write:
These are the words of your Lord and your God.
I know all your deeds, and your witness, too,
And who holds to My words and tells what’s true.
I know all your hard work and your perseverance,
Yet I hold against you: you’ve forsaken Me.
Listen to what I say to you.

You have people there who deny My name,
And who put the cross of Christ up to shame.
They entice the people to Me, profane,
And their worship of Me is all in vain.
They are so adult’rous as they chase their idols,
And you put up with them easily enough.
Listen to what I say to you.

You give off an image of godliness,
But what you present is so fraudulent,
Or else you lack passion for Jesus Christ,
So you look to others to tell what’s right.
I say turn from your sin, or you will face judgment.
He who overcomes will have eternal life.
Listen to what I say to you.

I know your afflictions and poverty;
How you suffer for your Lord patiently.
Do not fear the devil and company.
You be faithful to your Lord endlessly.
I know all your weakness and your dedication.
You have kept My Word and not denied your Lord.
I will write on you My new name.

A Believer’s Prayer

Coming to faith in Jesus Christ means so much more than just Jesus forgiving us of our sins so that we can go to heaven one day. When we trust Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, we give our whole heart and devotion to him to obey him, to forsake our former lives of sin, and to follow him wherever he leads. He said his sheep hear his voice, they listen, and they follow (obey) him. When we invite Jesus to be our Lord (owner-master), it means he is now the boss of our lives, but not just the boss of our lives, for he is our very best friend.

When he is truly our Lord and our Savior, our desire is for him to please him in all that we are, and do and say. We want to be his forever. We yearn to know him better, and to understand what his Word teaches us, so that we can follow him in truth and in obedience to him and to His Word. The fellowship we have with him each day in prayer and in his Word is unmatched by any other. No one else will ever love us like he does. We can always depend on him to lead, guide, protect, nurture and comfort us daily. He will never abandon us. He is completely faithful. And, one day he will come again to receive us to himself.

A Believer’s Prayer / An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

Pure Devotion

Saturday, July 29, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Letters.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) related to Revelation 2-3, in subject matter.

Readily Enough (2 Corinthians 11:1-4)

I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

I empathize with Paul’s sentiments here. I feel that same divine jealousy for God’s people, i.e. for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, i.e. his church, his body. I have witnessed how masqueraders of righteousness have crept into the church, largely unnoticed, and how these false shepherds of the people have led them astray from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ. And, I have read how this has been happening all across America and in other parts of the world.

Many of these false shepherds of the people are teaching a Jesus and a gospel other than what Jesus and his NT apostles taught. Yet, it is done in such a way so that it looks right and feels right to many naïve people. For, they use the Word of God, but they twist it to their advantage. They pick and choose the scriptures which fit with their theology, though, while they ignore the bulk of teaching in the NT with regard to our salvation and eternal security. So, what they teach is a half-truth gospel, which then makes it a lie because they purposefully leave out the parts of the gospel which are an affront to the flesh (sin) nature, because they want to appease the flesh.

The danger here is that even many seasoned Christians are buying into this half-truth gospel and this false (half-truth) image of Jesus Christ, too. For, he is presented as a do-gooder who just went around loving on everyone and making everyone feel good about themselves, even in their sins. If that was true, though, why did they kill him? They killed him because they hated him, because he told them that what they were doing was sinful. Jesus spoke the truth, he confronted sin in sinful humans, he called for repentance and obedience, and he warned of judgment and against hypocritical liars. He didn’t immerse himself in the culture or blend in to be accepted. He stood out like a sore thumb. And, they resented him for it.

Lip Service (Matt. 15:8-9)

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

There are many people who call themselves Christians or followers of Christ who give lip service only. They know how to talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. Many of them have been a part of church gatherings for years, or for all their lives, but they have never committed their lives to Jesus Christ. They are still living to please their sinful flesh, while they put on a mask (a false persona) of righteousness, and while they claim heaven as their eternal destiny. They have heard the Word of God preached, and some of them have even studied the scriptures themselves, but it is more of an intellectual exercise for them rather than having it impact and change their lives. They want to hold on to their sin, but they want others to think they are good Christians, so they fake their relationships with Christ to look good on the outside, while inside they are full of wickedness.

Perverted Grace (Jude 1:3-4)

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

More of us need to be contending for the faith because there are hundreds of people out there, maybe thousands, who are perverting the grace of God and are turning it into a license for lasciviousness. They teach that all we have to do is acknowledge the existence of Jesus, or that he died on a cross to take our punishment for sin, and that all we have to do to secure our eternal life is to accept God’s forgiveness of our sins. And, then they tell us that heaven is guaranteed us, and that there is not anything we can do to lose our salvation. So, according to them, we can basically live however we want, since Jesus already took our punishment. Oh, how wrong!

Jesus didn’t die on that cross to take our punishment for sin so we can now live in sin without guilt and without remorse. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He gave his life up for us that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who died for us. His grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin. His grace instructs (commands) us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. If we continue in sin, in practice, in lifestyle, we will die in our sins, not live in heaven with Christ eternally. This is what the Bible teaches!

[See: Luke 9:23-25; John 6:35-66; Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Gal. 2:20; Gal. 5:19-21: Eph. 2:8-10; Eph. 4:17-24; Eph. 5:3-6; Col. 1:13-14; Col. 1:21-23; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9.]

Most Holy Faith (Jude 1:17-23)

“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’ It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”

Many of these false shepherds of the people are all receiving the same (or similar) training on how to grow their “churches,” i.e. their businesses, and in how to market the church to the world. One of the main subjects they are being taught to impress upon their people is unity (solidarity), but it is not unity with Christ or with his gospel, but with the goals, objectives and mission statements of the “churches,” i.e. their businesses. And, they push this idea that anyone not unifying with these businesses called “churches” are dividers of the people and that they are to be avoided or kicked out.

They tell them something like this: “If you can’t unify with us, then you should go someplace else, and we will even help you find another place where you will be a better fit.” Some of them are even being taught who to avoid and who they don’t want in their churches, and who to use to get up and running, and then who to discard once they are on their way to success. So, in reality, these who are telling others that they are dividers and that they need to leave the church are the ones who are not unifying with Christ and with his word, and they are the ones causing division in the church by leading their people toward worldliness and away from holiness.

So, we need to be discerning of their errors so that we do not get caught up in them ourselves. We need to stand strong on the Word of Truth, even if it gets us kicked (or invited) out of local fellowships. And, we need to keep growing and maturing in our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and walking in the Spirit in righteousness and holiness, even if sometimes we may feel as though we are standing alone. As well, we need to be those who are proclaiming the truth of the gospel so that we can snatch people out of the fire so that they will be saved from their sins and have the hope of eternal life with God. Yet, we must guard our own hearts and minds against all that is corrupt and worldly and fleshly so that we don’t go astray ourselves.

The Letters / An Original Work / December 17, 2013

Based off Revelation 2-3

To the angels of all the churches write:
These are the words of your Lord and your God.
I know all your deeds, and your witness, too,
And who holds to My words and tells what’s true.
I know all your hard work and your perseverance,
Yet I hold against you: you’ve forsaken Me.
Listen to what I say to you.

You have people there who deny My name,
And who put the cross of Christ up to shame.
They entice the people to Me, profane,
And their worship of Me is all in vain.
They are so adult’rous as they chase their idols,
And you put up with them easily enough.
Listen to what I say to you.

You give off an image of godliness,
But what you present is so fraudulent,
Or else you lack passion for Jesus Christ,
So you look to others to tell what’s right.
I say turn from your sin, or you will face judgment.
He who overcomes will have eternal life.
Listen to what I say to you.

I know your afflictions and poverty;
How you suffer for your Lord patiently.
Do not fear the devil and company.
You be faithful to your Lord endlessly.
I know all your weakness and your dedication.
You have kept My Word and not denied your Lord.
I will write on you My new name.

Reaching Forward

Friday, July 28, 2017, 7:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 3 (NASB).

Beware of Dogs (vv. 1-6)

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.

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. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

So, what is meant here by “dogs”? The term “dog” is used of humans who are contemptible and spiritually unclean, and/or who are false teachers and persecutors of Jesus’ followers. It is used as a term of reproach. These are those who may profess faith in Jesus Christ, but it is profession only. They do not have the promise of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of hell’s fires. Yet, since they often disguise themselves as apostles of Christ, and as servants of righteousness, we must be very discerning so as not to get trapped in their snare, for they can be very charming and convincing.

Some of these dogs will add human rules on to the gospel message, and others will remove critical components from the gospel message. Whether adding or subtracting, still what they teach is based in human philosophy and not in the Word of Truth. They will include much of the truth, though, but will twist it to their advantage. But, truth mixed with lies is still lies. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. No amount of external works of the flesh can add anything to our salvation. Yet, our salvation is not absent of works, but they are the works of God’s Spirit in our lives, which he prepared in advance for us to do (See: Eph. 2:8-10).

So, if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (sin), we are liars who do not live by the truth. 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. His grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt or remorse. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await his return (1 Jn. 1:6; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:11-14).

Counted as Loss (vv. 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.

It doesn’t matter how smart we are, or how gifted and talented, or how much Bible knowledge we have, or our social or financial status in life. What matters to God is that we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin so we might live 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). For, this is why Jesus gave his life up for us on the cross. He did not die merely to give us the hope of heaven when we die or to deliver us out of the pit of hell. His purpose in saving us from our sins was that we would no longer be slaves to sin, so that we could now become bond-slaves of his righteousness.

Press On (vv. 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 as Lord and Savior of our lives we do not become instantly perfect so that we never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2). Yet, lack of perfection should never be used as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God, for if we walk according to our sinful flesh, we will not have the hope of eternal life, but 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 (Ro. 8:1-14).

Our salvation is not a one-time experience where we live however we want, and then one day we go to heaven when we die. We are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns to take us to be with him forever. We are being sanctified and made holy. We are being conformed into the likeness of Christ. Daily we die to sin and self and we follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives. By the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh. And, we walk, not according to our sinful flesh, but we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit. It is a process, yet if we keep practicing sin, we are not part of that process, for we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

How we Walk (vv. 17-21)

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.

It is a sad reality here in America that we don’t have many preachers of the Word we can emulate today. So many professing Christians, or those who are in positions of spiritual authority within the church, have fallen prey to deceiving spirits and are themselves teaching what is false, i.e. a diluted gospel and a false grace which gives free license to continued sin against God. So many of the “greats” of the faith here in America have died off, and there has been such a rise in the number of “dogs” now serving in positions as pastors (shepherds) of church congregations. So, we must be careful that we don’t follow the wrong examples, thinking we are doing what is right.

Those we want to follow are those who are walking (living) according to the teachings of Christ and of his NT apostles. I am certainly not saying that they must be absolutely perfect, but that their lifestyles should be evidence of a walk of holiness and righteousness, i.e. that they should be above reproach. They should not be those who are caught up in the world or who are, themselves, captives (addicted) to sinful practices. And, they should not be those who are teaching people they don’t have to repent of their sins or that they don’t have to obey God, and that God is pleased with them no matter what they do.

Yet, more importantly than finding human beings we can follow, and who will most likely let us down at some time or another, is that we need to be those who emulate Christ, who desire to be like him, to walk in his ways.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Forgetful Hearer?

Thursday, July 27, 2017, 8:29 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 1:21-25 (NASB).

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Put Them Aside

Whether you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, or you are a Christian by profession only, or you have never believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of your life, this message is for you. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) died on a cross for your sins so that you could be delivered out of slavery (addiction, bondage) to sin and be set free to walk in his holiness and his righteousness. He who knew no sin became sin for us, when he died on that cross, so that we might become the righteousness of God. And, righteousness is what is approved in God’s eyes, i.e. what he deems right.

So, faith in Jesus Christ means that we die with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ to righteousness, for he was resurrected, too. It also means we walk (in lifestyle) no longer according to what our sinful flesh desires, but we now walk by faith – and in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit, now living within us – according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars. And, if we walk according to our sinful 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 (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

So, we need to repent of our sins by turning away from all moral filthiness and wickedness, forsaking them, casting them aside, and by turning to God/Jesus Christ to follow (obey) him in all his ways. If we continue to practice sinning against God after we have the knowledge of the truth, we don’t have the hope of heaven, but a fearful expectation of judgment.

In a Mirror

The Bible is filled with messages concerning what we are to put off, and what we are to put on. When we believe in Jesus, we put off our sinful lifestyles (our old self), and we put on our new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (See: Eph. 4:17-24). So, when we put off (or put aside) all moral filthiness and wickedness, then, in humility, we are to receive (accept, adopt) the Word of God ingrained into our lives, which is able to save our souls. Yet, it is only able to save our souls if we apply what we read to our lives.

God is not interested in how much head knowledge we have about the Bible, or if we can recite all the books of the Bible in order, or about how many scripture verses we have committed to mental memory. He is not impressed by Bible college or seminary degrees, or by how much Greek or Hebrew we know, or by ministry positions within the church as teachers of the Word. What God cares about is if we DO what we read, what we know, what we have studied, and what we teach others. We can be great expositors of the Word, but if we are not living what we teach, then it is fruitless.

Time spent with our Lord in His Word is to bring about change in our thinking, attitudes and behaviors. His Word should transform us and conform us into the likeness of Christ. If all we do is read it, and then we close the book, and we walk away, but we forget what we read, then our reading didn’t do us much good. We can say we had “devotions,” but if we go on living however we want, still gratifying the cravings of our sinful flesh, while we go through the motions of a relationship with Jesus Christ, it will not bear fruit in our lives in keeping with repentance, but it will be a meaningless and wasted effort, on our part.

An Effectual Doer

So, what pleases God is when we are DOERS of the Word and not hearers only who delude (deceive, fool) themselves. They fool themselves when they think God is pleased or that they have a relationship with him if they read the Bible every day, or if they are able to expound lots of scripture. It is not what we know that matters in this life, but it is what we do with what we know. And, yet, many people seem to think that knowledge or performance is enough to get a passing grade with God while they cheat on their relationship with God, or what could be a relationship with Him, if they would submit to his Lordship in their lives and would DO what He says.

So, we need to prove ourselves to be DOERS of the Word. In other words, there needs to be evidence from our lives (from our lifestyles) that we actually are putting into practice what we read in God’s Word. We can talk like we are doers, and we can put on an act in front of others, as though we truly are ones who are applying the truths we know, but if there is not enough evidence to corroborate our profession, then we are on pretty shaky ground. Words can be cheap if they are not followed up with action. Actions speak louder than words. If we say we love God, then we need to DO what he says consistently, persistently, and truthfully.

This is not a casual thing, though – this doing what the Word of God teaches. We need to look intently (earnestly and eagerly) into the gospel message of our salvation, and into the teachings of Christ and of his NT apostles, while not neglecting the Old Testament, too. And, we need to abide by (follow, obey) the law of liberty, i.e. the message of salvation from sin. And, that message is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, we are to forsake our sins and follow our Lord in surrender to his will for our lives. For his grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012

Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

Courage

Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 7:57 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of courage.

With Boldness (Acts 4:27-31)

“’For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”

When Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) walked the face of this earth, although he was loved and admired and followed by some, he was hated, rejected and opposed by many, but especially by the religious leaders in the Jewish temple. They hated him so much, in fact, that they plotted his death, which then they also carried out. Yet, this was God’s purpose that Jesus should suffer and die on a cross for our salvation from sin. So, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.

When Jesus lived on this earth, he told his followers that they, too, would be hated and persecuted, and for the sake of the name of Jesus, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. He told them that, as he was treated, so would they be treated. So, it should not surprise us when we are disliked, abandoned, rejected, strongly opposed and persecuted for our faith in Christ, and for our testimonies with regard to the gospel of Christ and of our salvation. Thus, we need to also pray that we might have courage and boldness to keep speaking in Jesus’ name and to keep sharing the full gospel message with all who will listen. For, we also have many who oppose us.

Yet, we can be encouraged, because God has a plan and a purpose for all that we are going through, as well. And, he will see us through to the end if we keep placing our trust in him, and we do not back down out of fear. He will give us all we need to be strong in our faith and to have the courage to keep pressing on in our walks of faith, and to keep proclaiming his name to the nations, for it will not be in our own power and strength that we are able to persevere, but it will be in the strength and power of God’s Spirit within us that we can remain strong and keep pressing on, despite all opposition.

Of Good Courage (2 Co. 5:6-9)

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.”

If we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives, and we are proclaiming his message of salvation to a lost world, and we are encouraging the body of Christ in the faith, and we are urging our brothers and sisters in Christ to live holy lives, pleasing to God, there are going to be people who just won’t like us, and who won’t like the messages we are sharing. And, we may even face strong opposition from those closest to us – from our friends, from family members, fellow Christians, and even from leaders within the church.

Yet, we must maintain an eternal perspective always. God did not place us on this earth for our own comfort and enjoyment, and so that we would be liked by everyone. He placed us here to love, worship, honor and serve him with our lives. His will for us is that we deny self, and daily take up our cross 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 and self), for his sake, we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25).

This world is not my home. I’m just passing through. My home is in heaven with God, and that is where I am going one day, to be with my Lord forever. This body and this world in which I now live is temporary. So, if they take my life, it just means I get to be with my Lord. So, I should never fear what man (or woman) might do to me, because God is on my side, and he will give me all I need to endure to the end and to keep on praising his name and sharing his truths with all those who need to hear. My goal is to please my Lord, even if it means even greater persecution and rejection, or death.

Courage to Speak (Phil. 1:12-14, 18b-20)

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Sometimes, when we are going through difficult circumstances, we may get bogged down in the whole “Woe is me” syndrome, and we may lose sight of the bigger picture. All we see is what is right in front of our faces, and we don’t see that God is working in ways we cannot see, behind the scenes. He has purposes for what we are going through far beyond our ability to even comprehend, at times. So, what may look to us like something bad, he may be working for good in other people’s lives, or even in our own lives.

Persecution is certainly not pleasant. It is painful, whether physically or emotionally, or both. No one I know enjoys being hated or mistreated or falsely accused or gossiped about. Yet, sometimes it is a blessing in disguise. For example, in America we have had little serious persecution of Christians on a large scale, though it is certainly present here. And, in America we also have many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ whose lifestyles speak just the opposite. So, sometimes opposition and rejection can be a good thing in that they produce repentance, revival, and the salvation of souls, and they help to strengthen us in our resolve to live committed lives to Christ, and to be bold in our witness.

And, God is able to see us through any and every situation, for his purposes, and for his glory and praise. He will give us all the encouragement we need to keep pressing on, as we learn to trust him with our lives and with our reputations, too. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. So, we live for Christ to serve him, and to do his will, and to please him in all ways, and we commit our lives into his capable hands. We trust in his sovereign power over our lives, that he knows what is best. And, we believe that God will work everything out for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose (Ro. 8:28).

Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.