Sharing the Gospel

Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 6:48 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Should I Not Preach Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 19 (Select vv. NASB).

Servants and Witnesses

As followers of Jesus Christ, and as his servants and witnesses, we need to be about sharing with other people the truths of God’s Word and the gospel of our salvation. So many Christians do not share their faith much at all, so they need to begin telling others about Jesus Christ, and of how he died and rose again in order to save them from their sins and to give them new lives in Christ, free from the control of Satan. We also need to be about exposing lies and deceptions and bringing people to the knowledge of the truth, including we must share the truth with many who profess Christ as Savior, but who are believing Satan’s lies.

Yet, we need to do this in the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us, and in the wisdom of God, and with the kindness of our Savior towards all people. There is a right way and a wrong way to share what we believe. Here we are given some insights into what we ought to do, and into what we should avoid doing when talking with others about our faith in Jesus Christ.

Foolish

1 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.
3 The foolishness of man ruins his way,
And his heart rages against the Lord.
20 Listen to counsel and accept discipline,
That you may be wise the rest of your days.
29 Judgments are prepared for scoffers,
And blows for the back of fools.

Many preachers of the gospel are notorious for inserting humor (jokes, sarcasm) into their sermons as a way of connecting with the people and making their points. God has given us the gift of humor, so not all humor is bad, and it can be effective, if used properly. Sometimes, though, they do this to entertain the people, and their messages come across more like a comedy show rather than as God-inspired and Holy Spirit-led, convicting hearts of sin, and leading people to repentance. Sometimes their humor, too, is borderline or all the way mocking (making light) of God, the scriptures, serious spiritual matters, or it is even making light of sin.

The Bible speaks much of our need to be serious (sober) minded. It isn’t that we go around with a frown on our faces or that we are grumpy and negative all the time. But, we need to be so careful that we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot and our messages end up backfiring on us because we thought more of ourselves, or of how people might receive us, than we thought about human souls going to hell, and of how they need to be rescued from hell and to be brought into God’s eternal kingdom. In other words, we can’t take lightly God’s grace, or his gospel, or the seriousness of the task before us in spreading the message of salvation to a world lost in their sins. We may gain followers after ourselves if we entertain people by our jokes and jesting, but we aren’t going to lead people to God’s saving grace.

Quick Tempered

2 Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge,
And he who hurries his footsteps errs.
16 He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
But he who is careless of conduct will die.
19 A man of great anger will bear the penalty,
For if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again.
11 A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger,
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

We should weigh carefully, in prayer, our words before we speak, and not be quick to speak, and quick to anger when someone disagrees with us, or opposes us strongly, or even mocks us. For one, they may be right and we may be wrong, perhaps because we are lacking in complete knowledge on the subject due to false information we had taken in, which we have not yet searched out against the Word of God to see if it is true. So, we need to be patient, and we should sincerely listen to others, but not just long enough so we can get in our own thoughts, and not just so we can get in a jab in order to make our point, but which will wound the other person’s heart. Instead, it should be to gain understanding and to treat others with honor and respect.

We should also not fight and argue with people. This does not mean we cannot kindly debate a subject or that we can’t have a discussion with someone with a difference of belief or opinion from us in order to try to persuade that individual to what we believe is the right way of thinking and believing, or that we might grow in our understanding and learn from him. But, we must not be insulting, nasty, and hateful, attacking the person personally, etc. We must also not say things that we know are going to incite him to anger, i.e. we should not knowingly and willfully push people’s hot buttons just to get a rise out of them, which is not the kind of response we should desire. And, if they say “No,” we should walk away and not force the issue. Our job is to share the gospel. The Holy Spirit will convince them.

Lazy

15 Laziness casts into a deep sleep,
And an idle man will suffer hunger.
24 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish,
But will not even bring it back to his mouth.
27 Cease listening, my son, to discipline,
And you will stray from the words of knowledge.
21 Many plans are in a man’s heart,
But the counsel of the Lord will stand.

We also should not be lazy or unconcerned about lost souls and their need to be saved from their sins. Not only should we be deliberately sharing Christ with people, but in our approach to sharing the gospel we should not be sluggish, thus coming across as though we don’t really care, or appearing as though we are doing this because we feel like we have to or that we are just going through the motions. We also should not short-circuit (impede) the gospel message in any way because we are too lazy and unconcerned about getting out the truth (the whole counsel of God) to the people. Sure it is easy to use a gospel tract, but do we really know what it says inside? Is it teaching the whole gospel, or a watered-down version intended to appeal to human flesh?

We must know the truth through studying the Word of God so that when we share the gospel, we know we are telling people the truth. We must also be living the truth so that when we share the gospel with others that we are not being hypocritical in teaching them what we do not put into practice ourselves. This is not to say that we must first be absolutely perfect, but we should not knowingly be practicing sin against God and then telling others they need to repent of their sins when we have not done so. And, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to empower us and to guide us into what we should say or not say instead of relying on our own intellect, reasoning or feelings.

Liars

9 A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will perish.
22 What is desirable in a man is his kindness,
And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.
28 A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice,
And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity.
23 The fear of the Lord leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

There are many, many false shepherds of the people; many wolves in sheep’s clothing among us, whose goal is not to save, but to steal, kill and destroy us and the gospel of our salvation. So, they lie, manipulate, twist the truth, and cleverly and very subtly insert their lies into the truth so that the naïve will not know that what they are accepting as truth are actually lies. Many of these shepherds are great entertainers and clowns, gifted speakers, and charmers who easily convince people to follow after their lies. And, if we are not wise and discerning, we may easily get caught in their traps. Their main goal is to remove from the gospel all necessity of repentance, obedience and submission to Jesus Christ and his cross.

So, we need to first of all make sure we know the truth, as much as is possible for us, depending on how long we have known the Lord, and depending on the availability of Bibles to us. And, then we need to make certain, to the best of our understanding, that what we are telling others is actually the truth. We don’t have to be Bible scholars to share the gospel, though, or to have memorized a whole lot of scriptures, for our testimony of what Jesus did for us is very powerful. But, for those of us who have known the Lord for many years, and who have the scriptures in our homes, we should know what the scriptures teach. Yet, if I was a recent convert, and I had to pick just one scripture verse that describes the essence of the gospel message, I would probably choose 1 Peter 2:24, which says:

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. ‘By His stripes you are healed.’”

Should I Not Preach Jesus
An Original Work / July 4, 2013

Based off 1 Corinthians 9:16-10:13

Woe to me should I not preach Jesus.
I’m compelled to preach the full gospel.
I make myself a slave to ev’ryone
To win their hearts to Christ.
All this I do for my Lord Jesus,
And for the sake of His Name;
Do it for the sake of His gospel,
So that I, its blessings gain.

Scripture notates the sins of others;
Written down for us as examples
To keep us from setting our hearts
On evil as did those of old.
Do not worship other gods of man;
Do not give your hearts to them;
Not partake in immorality.
Do not test your Lord and King.

So, be careful if you think you are
Standing firm in your faith in Jesus.
God has given his word to warn us,
So through faith we will not fall.
No temptation has o’ertaken you
Except what is commonplace.
God is faithful to not let you be
Tempted past what you can bear.
He gives the way of escape.

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Called to Freedom

Monday, October 9, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 5:13-26 (NASB).

Law in One Word (vv. 13-15)

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

What does it mean to be called to freedom? What does freedom in Christ really look like? There are divided thoughts on this issue. Many people think freedom in Christ means we are no longer obligated to obey Christ’s commandments. But, is this true? These same people also teach that God requires nothing of us other than some obscure (vague) belief in Jesus Christ and an acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins. Some even go so far as to say that we don’t have to repent of our sins and we don’t have to obey God. But, aren’t they missing the whole point of what our salvation is all about? Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not just so we can be forgiven our sins and have the hope of eternity in heaven.

What has happened here is that many people, in order to forsake legalism, have gone to the other side of the pendulum, i.e. to the opposite extreme. Instead of now being legalists, they follow the way of libertinism. They think they are escaping man-made religion only to go to another form of man-made religion, because neither side is based primarily in the truth of God’s Word. I am not saying there are not elements of truth on either side, because I am certain there are, but that they have many distortions of truth, too, for one adds to God’s grace while another subtracts from God’s grace. And, neither one teaches true biblical freedom in Christ, but both get their cues from human beings, whom they often follow above God and His Word.

Ok, so what is the correct balance? If you weighed your beliefs on balance scales, with God’s standard on one side, and your beliefs on the other, would your beliefs be in balance with God’s standard of measurement? If you say, “Yes,” how are you measuring that? The only true measurement is God’s Word, primarily the New Testament, and not just select scriptures, and not what you hear from some preacher, or read in some book authored by some famous person or in some devotional book or meme you read on Facebook.

Yet, God’s standard has been simplified for us here. The whole law is fulfilled in one word (love), in the statement “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Yet, this love is not human love which may often be compromised by the flesh – by sinful passions. This kind of love is God-like (agape) love which prefers what God prefers, embraces God’s choices, and obeys them through his power (1), so it will do no harm to others. In practice, this love won’t lie, cheat, steal, hate, do evil, murder, slander, gossip, or commit adultery or fornication (includes viewing pornography), etc. And, loving others in this way means we also must love ourselves in this way, for when we sin against God, we are not loving God or ourselves or others.

By the Flesh (vv. 16-21)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So, if we follow the way of (agape) love, we will first of all love God, and we will desire his will for our lives, and we will want to obey him, and not be looking for loopholes as a way to avoid obedience. Obedience does not demand absolute perfection, though, which is why Jesus died for us on a cross, so that through faith in him we could be reconciled to God. But, God’s standard does have to do with our walks, i.e. the way we live, day in and day out. Do we walk according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God or do we still live our lives (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh?

So, how do we NOT conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh now that Jesus has set us free from slavery to sin? We live our lives, instead, according to the Spirit, according to God’s Word, and in agreement with God’s divine character and will. If we do that, scripture teaches, then we won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For, you see, many who call themselves Christians are not really living their lives for Christ. They may do good things, and avoid killing people and robbing banks, etc., and they may attend church services, and even serve in some capacity within the organized church, but then live no different from the world, or think their lives are to do with what they want the rest of the time.

If Jesus is not Lord (owner-master) of our lives in actuality, but just in theory, then we can’t expect that we will be able to resist Satan and flee temptation to sin. If we are not submitting to his Lordship over our lives, and if we are not walking in obedience and surrender to him, then we are not daily putting on the armor of God, with which we are to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and his schemes against us. And, if we are filling our minds daily with the values, principles, philosophies, attitudes, morals, thinking and behaviors of this sinful world via TV, movies, music, the internet, social media, video games, and the news media, and the like, we should not be surprised when our thinking, attitudes and behaviors reflect the world of sin.

Yet, we must know here that to be in Christ, and to have the hope of heaven when we die means we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. This is not saying we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that sin no longer has mastery over our lives, but Christ does, and we now live to his righteousness and no longer to gratify our sinful desires. If we continue in sin (on a sinful course), we should not expect to be rewarded with God’s heaven, but we should anticipate that, instead, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Believe this!

By the Spirit (vv. 22-26)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

But, if we walk according to the Spirit, to do what God desires for us, and what he requires, the outgrowth of that should be evident in our lives. This, again, is not saying we will have arrived or that we will be perfect, and that at all times we will display perfectly the fruit of the Spirit, and never the flesh. But, as we grow in Christ, and in his Word, and as we walk with him day by day, and by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, these qualities should become more and more evident in our lives.

But, we still have to resist Satan, flee temptation and sin, and we have to draw near to God, and lean on him and on his grace to help us to daily die to our flesh and to be able to walk (in lifestyle) according to and by the Spirit. This keeps us daily dependent on Christ and not on our own flesh (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

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.

Sources:

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/25.htm

That is Grace!

Sunday, October 8, 2017, 8:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Power of The Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 43:8-13 (NASB).

Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes,
And the deaf, even though they have ears.
All the nations have gathered together
So that the peoples may be assembled.
Who among them can declare this
And proclaim to us the former things?
Let them present their witnesses that they may be justified,
Or let them hear and say, “It is true.”
“You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe Me
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
And there will be none after Me.
“I, even I, am the Lord,
And there is no savior besides Me.
“It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed,
And there was no strange god among you;
So you are My witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“And I am God.
“Even from eternity I am He,
And there is none who can deliver out of My hand;
I act and who can reverse it?”

Eyes and Ears

People who are blind, for the most part, have physical eyes. They just can’t see out of them, because their eyes are defective in some way. The same is true with those who are deaf. They have ears, but they just can’t hear out of them, because their ears are malfunctioning. Yet, this is not talking about the physically deaf and blind, but concerning the spiritually deaf and blind. It isn’t that they can’t see (have understanding) or that they can’t hear (perceive and learn), but it is that they choose not to (Ro. 1:18-32). Their spiritual eyes and ears are defective (malfunctioning) because of willful sin and/or stubborn rebellion against God. Yet, sadly enough, some of these deaf and blind claim to know God and/or to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives.

In other words, these deaf and blind have knowledge of God and/or of his Word and/or they have heard some form of the gospel preached with their physical ears. Some of them have even grown up in the gatherings of the church, i.e. they have attended church gatherings possibly from birth to adulthood. They, if they have confessed Christ as Savior, may even be in possession of a Bible, or of multiple Bibles, and they are quite free to read it, at will. Some of them may even have Bible college or seminary degrees, and a few of them may even be pastors and elders of local congregations. You don’t have to be ignorant of God to be blind. Some of the blind have massive Biblical (head) knowledge. They just have never applied it to their hearts.

So, this is the difference between the blind and the one seeing, or the deaf and the one hearing. The one has the knowledge, but lets it go in one ear and out the other, or else he uses that knowledge strictly for intellectual purposes. The other, the one seeing and/or hearing, has no more advantage than the blind and the deaf. He just does what the Word says, instead of walking away from the mirror, forgetting what he looks like (Jas. 1:22-25). Our God is not satisfied with us merely knowing his Word, but he requires that we obey his Word by doing what it says. His salvation for us is not just so we can be forgiven our sins and have the hope of eternity with God in heaven, but he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He saved us not just out of the punishment of sin, but out of addiction to sin.

False gods

This is a call of God to assemble all the deaf and blind (spiritually), who have ears to hear but don’t listen, and who have eyes to see but do not receive. The call is to examine their idolatrous ways and to account for them and for their idols (the gods of men). What good are they? Are they able to save, bring healing and deliverance, or bring perfect peace, fulfillment and joy everlasting? Are they able to lead and guide in the ways of God, and in his righteousness? Or, are they useless, but more than useless, but do they, instead, bring you down, trap you, steal your joy, lead you into sin, ruin your life, and destroy your relationships with others? And, lead you to hell?

So many people, including Christians (or professing Christians) are led down a path of self-destruction or complacency, regarding spiritual matters, because they are following after their own fleshly desires, and because they are followers of humans rather than, or over and above being followers of God. So, their itching ears want to hear messages which tell them that all they have to do is just accept Jesus’ forgiveness of their sins, and now they are guaranteed heaven when they die, and their spiritual maturity is wholly in the hands of God, and they have nothing to do with it at all. Nothing is required of them – no repentance, obedience or submission to Christ Jesus.

So, what good is salvation to them then? If we are not saved out of slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, then we aren’t really saved, because we are still dead in sins, walking according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit. For, the Bible teaches that if we walk (in lifestyle, in practice) in sin, we don’t have the promise of heaven when we die, but a fearful expectation of judgment and of eternity in hell, no matter what prayers we prayed to receive Christ and his forgiveness of our sins (See: Lu. 9:23-26; Ro. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9). So, don’t be fooled! Don’t listen to those liars and deceivers who are telling you that God requires nothing of you other than to accept Jesus’ forgiveness of your sins, and who say that heaven is guaranteed you, no matter what. Read God’s Word, and believe and follow the truth!! Your life and eternity depend on it!

No Other God

Our God – Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit – the creator of the universe and all living things, is the one and only true God. His written Word can be found in the Bible (Genesis to Revelation). This is where we will find truth and righteousness and God’s plan for our lives and his purposes and will for each one of us. Though there are godly men and women in this world who are teaching the truth, as best as they understand it, there are many more who are teaching outright lies, half-truths (lies) or who are twisting the truth (lies) to their own advantage, but to your demise. It may sound good, especially to itching ears, but it isn’t good, and so we must be very discerning so that we don’t get trapped and tripped up by such deceptions.

There is no savior (rescuer) besides the one true God. No drugs, alcohol, TV shows, movies, recreation, games, sports, automobiles, houses, lands, possessions, fame, or fortune, and no human being dead or alive can save you from hell and bring you into God’s wonderful kingdom. They will never fulfill the deep longings of your soul, which God put within you for him alone, but they will leave you empty, dissatisfied, unfulfilled, always craving more and more, hoping the next time will bring you happiness, but more times than not these idols only kill and destroy, ruin entire households, lead people to suicide, and ultimately end up leading people straight to the pit of hell.

And, not only is our God our only true savior, but his salvation is also not what many like to present it to be. Jesus came to deliver us out of addiction to sin, not to forgive the sin and then to do nothing to rescue us. Although it is only through faith in Jesus Christ, and not of ourselves, that we receive such a great salvation, the salvation we receive is freedom from bondage to sin and freedom to walk in Christ’s righteousness. So, to truly believe in Jesus, it involves death to sin and living to his righteousness, only not in our own power and strength, but in the power and strength of God’s Spirit now living within us. God’s grace to us is not him just forgiving our sin while we go on in sin. That is not grace! His grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. Now, THAT IS GRACE!

Power of The Cross
Shelly Johnson

Once in darkness now in light
Once blind now you see
Once a sinner now a saint
Once bound now free.

That’s the power of the cross
See the chains fall…

His Steadfast Love

Saturday, October 7, 2017, 4:09 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Praise Be Told.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 63 (ESV).

His Power and Glory (vv. 1-4)

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

Our God, the One and Only True God, creator of the universe and all mankind – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is the only God whom we are to worship and to whom we are to give our praise. He is the one who made us, who knows all about us, and who created us for a purpose, which is to give glory to HIM by our lives. We are to seek after him earnestly, with all our hearts, and desire him above all else, and want to know and to do his will.

As most all of us should realize, we were not born saints, but sinners. By nature, we have a propensity to sin against God and to do what displeases him. And, we have all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval. Also, we can’t save ourselves. There is nothing we can do to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We will never be good enough, in our own merit, to be rewarded with God’s heaven. So, what hope do we have?

Well, that is why God the Father sent his Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. God the Son took on human flesh, was born as a baby to a human mother, with God as his Father, and grew up to be a man. He suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, cast out demons, comforted the sorrowful, fed the hungry, confronted sin in sinful human beings, and preached repentance for forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. And, because of this he was hated by many.

So, his enemies plotted and carried out his death on a cross. But, it was the will of God that Jesus should suffer and die for our sins, for when he died our sins died with him and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death, on our behalf. So, through faith in Him we might be forgiven our sins, have the hope of eternal life with God, be delivered out of slavery to sin, and be free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. For, when we were under the control of sin, we were free from the control of righteousness (Ro. 6).

God, My Help (vv. 5-8)

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, is not only our Savior, but he is our helper, healer, friend, comforter, counselor, teacher and guide. After he died and rose again, and he ascended back to heaven, he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of those who believed on him to be Lord and Savior of their lives. So, when we believe in Jesus, and we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life in him, his Holy Spirit comes to live within us – God within us – to teach, counsel, help, and comfort, etc. He guides us into all truth, speaks to us through God’s written word (the Bible), and shows us the way we are to live to give honor, glory and praise to God.

So, what should this look like, in all practicality? I mean, if we truly have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to his righteousness, and he is our helper, guide, healer, comforter, teacher and friend, what difference should that make in our lives? How should we be changed from how we were before we met Christ as Savior? How should we live differently than we did before?

Well, we should desire our Lord above all else, he should be first place in our lives, we should want to do what pleases him, and we should not be looking for a way to excuse away willful and addictive sinful practices. When we do sin, we should humble ourselves before him in repentance, and we should seek his counsel and help in fleeing sin and in hungering and thirsting after God and his holiness and righteousness. And, then we need to do what he shows us. We, too, must cut out of our lives what leads us into sin, and we should not tempt fate by continually going where we ought not to go, and then be surprised when it continues to end up the same way.

In other words, we can’t put on Christ in our lives if we are putting on the junk of this world every day. If we spend hours upon hours playing video or computer games, reading novels, watching TV shows, viewing movies, getting on Facebook, surfing the net, watching sports, or otherwise wasting precious time with what is mostly junk, and with what is often in direct contrast to God, to his Word, and to his divine character and will, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. And, then we act surprised when we fall into sin time and time again, and we can’t seem to get victory. So, we have to get rid of the junk in our lives and we have to seek after God with all our hearts if we want to experience his power and victory in our lives.

Enemies of Christ (vv. 9-11)

But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

There are many people in this world who are enemies of the cross of Christ and who want to live life however they want, and who will not submit to God or to his purposes for their lives. Many of these are strongly opposed to the gospel of our salvation, and willfully work against Christ and his followers. They may even be among those who are persecuting the Lord’s saints – his servants and witnesses. And, some of these, sadly enough, even profess to believe in Jesus Christ and to be his followers, but they believe in a man-made Jesus and a false gospel which gives permission for its followers to continue in sin against God, yet still promises them heaven when they die.

What we must know about this is that the true gospel teaches death to sin, living to righteousness, repentance, and obedience to Christ as crucial to saving faith in Jesus Christ and to eternal life with God in heaven. We must also know that the Bible teaches that if we continue in (practice) sin, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment and of the fires of hell. And, this is in the New Testament. So, if you bought into the lie that says that you have the hope of heaven when you die, but that you can still play with sin and not get burned, then think again. It isn’t that we must be sinless, but that we should no longer walk in sin, and that now, by the grace of God, we should walk in his holiness.

Praise Be Told! / An Original Work
Based off Various Scriptures / December 28, 2013

He was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for all our sin.
Our chastisement was upon Him.
By His stripes, we now are healed.

He has witnessed all our trials,
And the sins we choose to wear.
Yet, while we were dead in our sin,
Jesus died, our sins to bear.

He himself bore all of our sins
In His body on a cross,
So that we might die to our sin,
And live for His righteousness.

By faith in the pow’r of Jesus
And His blood shed for our sins,
We can be forgiven our sin,
And have life with God in heav’n.

He will lead us and He’ll guide us
In the way that we should go.
He will comfort and protect us,
Because Jesus, we do know.

Though He disciplines for our good,
He will heal us – Praise be told!
Do not fear, your Lord is with you.
Just have faith in Christ your Lord.

 

An Everlasting Rock

Friday, October 6, 2017, 6:27 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Our God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 26 (Select vv. ESV).

A Strong City (vv. 1-2)

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.”

The City of God used to be a physical city with physical walls, but now it is a spiritual city with God’s salvation as our protective barrier (walls). What this means, for one, is that the physical city of Jerusalem is no longer the Holy City of God (See: Gal. 4:22-31). The church, the body of Christ, is now God’s Holy City, heavenly Jerusalem, and our salvation is our defense and shield against Satan, sin and (spiritual) death. And, when I say “church,” I don’t mean physical buildings called “church,” or denominations, or human-based organizations and businesses also called “church.” God does not dwell in buildings built by human hands, but he dwells in the hearts of those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, and we, the people, are the church. We, the people of God, are the City of God, which is a strong city, because our salvation is our shield against all enemy forces.

We, the people of God, via faith in Jesus Christ, are also a holy nation. True Israel, that is of God, is not a physical nation, but a spiritual nation. And, it is believers in Jesus Christ who make up this nation (1 Pet. 2:9). But, it is not merely those who profess the name of Jesus, or who say they believe in him, that comprise this holy nation, but it is those who keep the faith and who are righteous, not merely positionally, but in practice. For, if we walk (in practice) in sin, we do not have the hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment. But, if we walk in the light, according to the Spirit, and by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live forever with Christ (See: Lu. 9:23-26; Ro. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:6).

Perfect Peace (vv. 3-4)

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

So many people are teaching salvation as though it is a once in a lifetime experience, then you have your ticket into heaven, and now you can live however you want, and one day you get to go be with Jesus. But, that is not what scripture teaches! Scripture teaches that we are saved (past), we are being saved (present) and that we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns. It teaches us that we must walk in the Spirit and no longer live to gratify the sinful cravings of our flesh, if we want the righteous requirement of the law to be fulfilled in us. It teaches us, too, that God’s grace is not carte blanche to continue in sin, but that his grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. We have to continue in Christ and in His Word and be keeping (in practice) his Word, and not be those who make a practice of sin, if we want to have eternal life with God.

The Christian life is to be lived to God, not to ourselves. Jesus is to be Lord (owner-master) of our lives, but not in name only. We are to be surrendered to our Lord, to walk in his ways, and in his truth, and to not have divided hearts of loyalty to “other gods” of this world, which could be our jobs, houses, entertainment, TV, sports, possessions, money, politicians, political platforms, famous people, traditions, culture and prestige, etc. We have to have minds which are stayed on (settled, remained, continued in) Jesus Christ. We can’t do this, though, if our minds are being bombarded with sensuality, seductiveness, immorality, lies, cheating, stealing and killing as a form of entertainment, especially on a daily or consistent basis. We need to be filling our minds, hearts and lives with what is godly, holy, righteous, moral, pure and good, and then we will know this perfect peace.

The Righteous Path (vv. 7-9a)

The path of the righteous is level;
you make level the way of the righteous.
In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.

The path (way) of the righteous (godly) is level (straight, upright, unmixed), not crooked (dishonest, corrupt, perverse). So, why do so many Christians (or professing Christians) live like this is not true? Why do so many live as though Jesus did not cleanse them and deliver them from sin? I believe partly it is because they are deceived into believing that faith in Jesus Christ does not have to impact their daily lives. They have been told that a mere prayer or a mere acknowledgment of what Christ did for them in dying for their sins is enough to secure them heaven for eternity, and that nothing they do from this point forward can change that. Partly, too, this has been modeled to them by their parents, their church leaders, and their peers. And, growing up on TV, as we did in the 1950s and 1960s, had an enormous influence on what we considered as acceptable behavior vs. unacceptable.

So, how many of us truly desire after God with all our hearts? How many of wake in the morning hearing him speak his words to our hearts, and think about him in the stillness of the night, and even in the middle of the night? And, how many of us inquire of him throughout the day, seeking his wisdom and counsel for what we are to do and what we are to say and how we are to live? And, if we do, how many of us then follow our Lord in obedience and surrender to his will for our lives consistently, but not necessarily perfectly? Were we taught this by our leaders? Was it modeled to us? Or did we have to learn this on our own with our Lord only as our teacher? Or, is worldliness what has been our model, instead, yet mixed with religious practice?

We Learn Righteousness (vv. 9b-11a)

For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
If favor is shown to the wicked,
he does not learn righteousness;
in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly
and does not see the majesty of the Lord.
O Lord, your hand is lifted up,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.

If we did not learn righteousness from our leaders, and if we did not learn it on our own (without godly human leadership) by seeking God with all our hearts, then we may have to learn it the hard way. We may have to face some divine correction, rebuke and discipline in order to learn what we need to learn concerning God’s righteous requirements for the lives of those who choose to follow him. Yet, even if we were taught what was right, and even if righteousness was modeled to us, but we, instead of following it, went our own way, and we did what we wanted, instead of what God wants for us, and if we have not repented of our sin, then we, too, may have to face some divine chastisement in order that we might humble ourselves before God in true repentance and faith (or renewed faith) in Jesus Christ. For, our God is holy and righteous, and he has called us to be holy and righteous, too.

Our God / Chris Tomlin / Jesse Reeves
Jonas Myrin / Matt Redman

Our God is greater; our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?

 

Buy and Eat

Thursday, October 5, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Our God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 55 (Select vv. ESV).

Listen Diligently (vv. 1-3a)

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live.

I use to eat just about anything. I have never been a big eater, though, at least not by American standards. But, I ate burgers, fries, chocolate candy, and cookies, and I drank sodas, milk shakes and sweet tea, etc. Unless something made me sick, or unless I just didn’t care for the taste of it, I was ok with eating it. Yet, I did eat vegetables, and I ate fruit occasionally, and I mostly avoided fried foods and preferred grilled, but I was not a gung-ho health conscience person. It wasn’t the way I was raised. I ate food in moderation, and I did try somewhat to eat healthy, but I ate a lot of stuff that was bad for me, too, but I just didn’t realize how bad it was for me.

Occasionally I would have a problem with acid reflux, and then I would change my eating habits for a while, until I got better, and then I would go back to eating normally, well normal for me, that is. And, then one day I finally came to the realization that I had to drastically change my physical health lifestyle and my eating habits. I believe the Lord brought me to that realization through pain. Pain is a great motivator. It gets us to do things we probably would not do otherwise, like exercise as much as we should. So, now I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, some meat, fish, bread, and cereal. But, I don’t count every calorie, and I don’t read every label, yet I am eating what I know is good for me, and I am mostly avoiding what is bad for me. And, I am getting in lots of exercise, too. And, overall I feel much healthier.

Well, this passage of scripture is not talking about physical thirst and hunger, but it is talking about spiritual thirst and hunger, but there are many parallels between the two, which is why I just shared what I did. We are born into this world with sin natures, with an insatiable hunger for what can never satisfy the deep longings of our souls, and so we try to fill that hunger with all kinds of stuff from this world, thinking if we just have this or that, that we will be happier, or if we can just accomplish this or that, that we will be fulfilled. And, we go a lot by our emotions, and by what makes us feel good. But, the happiness and the fulfillment are fleeting, and often, what we choose to fill that hunger with only makes matters worse, and only digs the cavity that is already in our hearts even deeper, and so we come up empty.

So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, he invites us to believe in Jesus Christ, to die with him to sin, and to live with him to righteousness, but not in our own power and strength, but in the strength of the Lord who called us and who will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. So, when we fill our minds, hearts and lives with what is of God and with what is pleasing to him – what is pure, righteous and holy – and we forsake the bad stuff, i.e. what will only do damage to us spiritually, then we will be healthy spiritually, too.

Seek the Lord (vv. 6-9)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Are you familiar with the word “repent”? Well, it literally means to have a change of mind, but in the context of scripture, it is most always used in the context of changing our minds about sin and about God by forsaking our lifestyles of living for sin and self and choosing, instead, to now live for Jesus Christ and to walk in obedience to him in his holiness, and in the power of the Spirit of God now living within us. Jesus said we must repent, as did his apostles, if we want to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God.

Jesus said, in fact, that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) that we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin and self), for his sake, that we will gain eternal life with him. And, the Apostle Paul reiterated this message when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh (sin), we will die in our sins, but if we walk according to the Spirit, and if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, that we will live with Christ for eternity (Lu. 9:23-26; Ro. 8:1-17).

Know His Word (vv. 10-11)

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s Word is found in the Bible (Genesis to Revelation), yet, as believers in Jesus Christ, we also have the Living Word abiding within us, and God’s Spirit teaching us all that Jesus ever taught his disciples, and instructing us in all things of God. So, this is where we learn what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ, and what God expects of his followers, and also how to live this newfound Christian life. We learn to know God and his character and his will for all of our lives when we read His Word and when we listen to His Spirit speaking God’s eternal truths to our hearts and minds, and then as we obey and we do what his Word teaches us.

As Christ’s followers, we are to spread the Word of God and his gospel of salvation to the people of this world, so that many more can come to faith in Jesus Christ, too. Plus, we are to instruct one another and encourage one another in the faith so that we are not led astray, and so we don’t fall into sin, but so we grow in maturity and holiness in our walks of faith in Christ. But, sometimes we may not see results for the seed that we sow into people’s lives, so this serves as an encouragement to us that God’s Word will not return empty, but it will accomplish what he purposed, and it will succeed in the thing for which he sent it. We just have to be patient. People’s hearts will be changed, we just have to give it time, and keep believing in the power of God to transform human minds and hearts.

Peace and Joy (vv. 12-13)

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

This is a wonderful stanza to end on. Although there are many right now who have not yet trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord, and as Savior of their lives, many still will, and when they do, they will go forth in peace and joy because Jesus set them free, not just from the punishment of sin, but from slavery (addiction) to sin! Amen! In fact, it so glorious when sinners turn from their wicked ways, and when they turn to walk with Jesus, in surrender to his will for their lives, that creation rejoices with them. And, we should rejoice, too! For, it is an awesome thing to be delivered out of slavery to sin and to be brought into God’s wonderful kingdom, and to now walk with Him in freedom from sin, and in freedom to now live in his holiness and righteousness.

Our God / Chris Tomlin / Jesse Reeves
Jonas Myrin / Matt Redman

Our God is greater; our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?

About Tomorrow

Wednesday, October 4, 2017, 7:44 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 Proverbs 27 (Select vv. NASB).

Do Not Boast

1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth.
5 Better is open rebuke
Than love that is concealed.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

Not one of us knows if he or she has tomorrow. It is not guaranteed us. Anyone of us could die at any moment, at the spur of a moment, via an auto accident, a natural disaster, a mass shooting, or a plane crash, etc. In fact, the way things are going these days, it is pretty much guaranteed we are going to be seeing more and more uprisings, factions, and mass killings, etc.

The reason? We live in the last days. We are seeing the fulfillment of prophecy of scripture regarding these days on a daily basis. The “beast” is rising, and he (it) is taking over the world, one nation and one people group at a time. And, a good number of these uprisings and mass killings are either fully faked, or partially faked (staged), but fully orchestrated by this “beast” New World Order, and the blame put on someone else. The purpose is obvious for anyone who has been paying attention. It is to bring in the rule of this “beast” New World Order and one world religion. So, they have to first create the chaos in order to bring in this new order out of the chaos.

Satan is, of course, behind all of this, and he is our enemy, as well as are those who carry out his bidding. But, his servants often disguise themselves as servants of righteousness and they will act like they are our friends, and that they care about us, and that they are thinking about what is best for us, but don’t trust them. Deceitful are their “kisses,” for their goal is to steal, kill and to destroy, not to save. We cannot trust many people, even those who claim to be ministers of the gospel, or our politicians, or our news media, for many of them are liars and deceivers. So, just because it sounds good does not mean it is good. Better to have someone love you enough to tell you the truth, than to buy into the lies of an enemy who wants to steal your soul.

Do Not Wander

8 Like a bird that wanders from her nest,
So is a man who wanders from his home.
12 A prudent man sees evil and hides himself,
The naive proceed and pay the penalty.
17 Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.

In light of the fact that tomorrow is not guaranteed anyone of us, especially, we should take note of how we are living our lives, to see if they are in line with the Word of God and with his holy and righteous character, or whether we are living for sin and self and self-pleasure. Are we walking in holiness, obeying the Word of God, or have we wandered off from our pure devotion to Christ, and are we living in sin (addiction) and in spiritual adultery? Is Jesus Christ truly our Lord (owner-master), or do we mouth loyalty to him while we go on about our own business living life how we want?

If we are to be wise, and to be living what we say we believe, then we need to be prudent (sensible and discerning) about what we think, say, look at, listen to, participate in, and take into our minds, eyes and hearts on a daily basis. And, I am not speaking here merely about obvious evil, sin, rebellion, wickedness, and immorality, but about the subtle lies of Satan that come at us via TV, movies, music, the internet, games, magazines, advertisements, and social media, especially the memes, etc. Too many people take at face value everything they see and hear on the news, for instance, without ever questioning whether it makes sense, or even if it is true. We need discerning minds which see the evil in deception, too, or we will be caught in their trap.

So, we must be people first of all committed to Jesus Christ and to walking in his ways, not holding back anything from the Lord, and not holding on to addictive and/or secret sins, though not secret from God. We must listen to our Lord when he speaks words of correction to our hearts and not go on our own stubborn way, thinking we know what is best. Also, we need to humble ourselves and be willing to receive loving and caring rebuke or correction from those who have close walks with the Lord, who are following his Word, and who see that we are in danger or that we are being deceived. We should not write them off as religious fanatics or as “conspiracy theorists,” just because maybe they see something we are not willing to see. Perhaps, we need to have our eyes opened to see that we have been following after lies.

The Heart Reflects

19 As in water face reflects face,
So the heart of man reflects man.
20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.
22 Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain,
Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.

The Bible says that out of the heart the mouth speaks, and if it speaks out of the heart of mankind (of the flesh), it is likely to speak what is evil. Our words often reflect what is in our hearts, as well as our hearts reflect what is filled up in our minds. If what we are taking into our minds and hearts every day is what is sinful, immoral, wicked, and hateful, such as backbiting, gossip, mockery, and adultery, that will be what is in our hearts, and that is what is going to come out of our mouths. But, if what we are taking in and following with our lives is what is righteous and holy, this should be reflected in how we live, think, act and speak. Yet, it is not all black or all white, for we are continually growing, learning, and changing, hopefully for the good.

Yet, there will be those who will ever be learning, but who will never come to the knowledge of the truth, because they are stiff-necked, self-sufficient, prideful, stubborn and unwilling to yield to God’s control over their lives. So, they live their lives like someone driving a vehicle around and around in a cul-de-sac, but never going anywhere, but just repeating the same mistakes over and over again, and never maturing or changing. Or, if they do change, it is superficial, at best, which is why they keep returning to their vomit. And, there isn’t anything you can do or say that will change them, because they don’t want to hear it, and so they continue on a sinful course.

Not Forever

23 Know well the condition of your flocks,
And pay attention to your herds;
24 For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations.

About tomorrow, not only are we not guaranteed life, but we are not guaranteed a particular quality of life. What we have today could all be gone tomorrow, in an instant, at the touch of a key pad on a computer, for instance, and all could be wiped out – all we have ever saved for. Yet, we are not promised wealth and success in this life, but we are promised grace, peace, joy, contentment, security, protection, comfort, encouragement, strength and power in our lives, with Christ, which are everlasting lives. Our houses, lands, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, 401Ks, Social Security, and pensions, etc. could all be gone tomorrow, and then what?

Our trust cannot be in the things of this world, which are passing away, but our trust must be solely in God, in His Word, and in our salvation from bondage to sin that we might forever live with Christ to his righteousness.

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.