The Goodness of God

Wednesday, August 9, 2017, 5:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 27 (Select vv. NASB).

My Salvation (vv. 1-3)

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

We are all born into this world with sin natures. We all fall short of attaining God’s divine approval, by human effort. So, God the Father sent his Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) into the world to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross so that we might become the righteousness of God (1 Co. 5:21). So, when he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. But, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death, on our behalf. He died that we might die with him to sin. And, he lives that we might live with him to his righteousness. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:14; & 1 Pet. 2:24).

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, thus, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). The old has gone. The new has come. This is what it means to be “born again” of the Spirit of God. Our lives are changed, transformed of God’s Spirit away from living to sin and self and to living to Christ and his righteousness. Now we no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, not necessarily in sinless perfection (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but in a consistent and persistent walk of faith, daily, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are given the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. The Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell within us, and he lives within us to empower, strengthen, guide, teach, counsel, convict, rebuke and encourage us in our walks of faith with our Lord Jesus. Through our times of fellowship with our Lord each day in his Word, listening to him speak his truths to our hearts, and through prayer, talking with him and listening to him, we grow in our faith and knowledge of our Lord, and we are strengthened in our faith, and mature in our spiritual walks. We learn to know his sovereignty over our lives, and that we never have any reason to fear the enemy of our souls (Satan) or any of his servants and messengers, for our God and Lord will give us all we need to remain faithful to him.

He Will Not Leave (vv. 7-10)

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.

Coming to faith in Jesus Christ does not mean we won’t face difficulties in this life, or that we won’t know trouble, hardships, pain, suffering or heartaches. In fact, Jesus said that if we follow him, we will suffer like he suffered, and we will be treated like he was treated. But then he, although he was perfect, learned obedience through the things that he suffered. And, we, as well, learn obedience, including patience, perseverance, love, faithfulness, trust, and humility, etc. through our sufferings and hardships.

Our Lord will never abandon or forsake us, though. He will remain faithful even if we are faithless. He will always be there to comfort, encourage, give hope and healing, and to counsel us in the way that we should go. He will give us everything we need to live godly and holy lives for him in this present world and to not give way to fear. We just need to keep seeking his face and his counsel, and we must trust him with our lives, and rely upon his strength and power, and then rest in him, and believe that he will work out all things for good for those who love him, who obey him, and who have been called according to his purpose (Ro. 8:28).

Teach Me Your Way (vv. 11-14)

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless
I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.

The goal of our salvation is not merely that we should escape hell (eternal damnation) and have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth. God’s grace to us is also not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, 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 (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we lie and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:5-9). And, if we continue to make sin our practice, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

The goal of our salvation is that we forsake our sinful lifestyles, and that we walk righteously before God to please him in all that we do, and think, and are, and say. Jesus becomes our husband, and we, as his church, become his bride. So, we forsake our former “lovers,” and we commit ourselves to him to faithfulness, obedience, and to making him our only Lord and Master. We do this because we love him, and because we are now in relationship with him, and our desire is now for him. So, we want him to teach us his ways, because we want to walk in them, and no longer live to please our sinful flesh. This is not to say we will never sin again, but that our desire should now be for him, to walk in his ways, and that we will now walk (in lifestyle) according to his Spirit, and no longer according to our flesh.

When we make that decision to follow our Lord in obedience, though, we will face opposition from our enemy and from his followers (his servants and messengers), and from those whom he has deceived with his many lies. And, there will be those who will bear false witness against us, who will slander us, and because they hate us and our testimonies for Jesus Christ, and our relationship with our Lord. They are those who are still bound in their sins or are those whom the enemy is deceiving that they can still be addicted to sin and that God’s grace covers it all. And, so they will find the true gospel and its messengers an offense to the lifestyles they choose.

Yet, we are not to fear them or their slanderous tongues, or their mistreatment of our bodies, for our Lord is completely sovereign over all that he has made, and he will see us through it all to victory. He will carry us through it all, and he will give us everything we need to endure and to come out shining like gold. And, one day we will get to be with our Lord forever, and all sorrow, pain and crying will cease. Amen! So, we just need to wait on our Lord, believe what he says, trust in his promises, take courage, keep on loving others, and keep on loving and serving our Lord with our lives.

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

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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.

Fear Them Not

Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 3:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Touched My Mouth.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 10:16-39 (ESV).

Sheep Among Wolves (vv. 16-23)

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

When the Lord Jesus sends us out into the world to be his witnesses, he is sending us out as sheep among wolves, for not everyone will receive our messages with joy, but many will malign us, and will resist the truth. So, we need the wisdom of God in knowing what to say, and in what not to say. And, we need to trust the Lord, that he will give us the words to speak.

Many Christians who have gone before us have already experienced what this passage speaks of. In our world today, many followers of Christ are experiencing this persecution in spades (to a very high degree). Some of us have already faced this, to some degree, while others of us have yet to undergo any of it. Yet, it will most surely come. So, we need to be prepared.

Yet, we should not fear being persecuted or maligned (slandered) for our faith in Jesus Christ, or for our stand on his Word of Truth. We should not be afraid of being hated and mistreated even by those within our own families, or even by those who also profess faith in Jesus Christ. But, we must trust our lives into God’s capable hands, and believe him to give us all we need to endure to the end, and to remain faithful to him in love, faith, and in service. And, if God leads us to do so, there may be times when he says to “leave” where we are, and to “go” where he is sending us next.

They Malign You (vv. 24-33)

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

When we follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives, and we allow him to put his words into our mouths, and we choose not to be afraid to speak the truth in love, we must be prepared for repercussions. People, even those within the gatherings of the church, will not like us, and they will think all manner of evil against us, and they will reject us and what we tell them. We will be accused of being hyper-religious, or of being unkind, hateful, opinionated, critical, bigoted and/or judgmental. Even some pastors of some church fellowships are being trained to watch out for people like us, and to discourage us from participation within their gatherings, because they are afraid we may tell people the truth and/or offend them with the truth.

But, again, we are not to be afraid of them. We are not to shrink back from sharing the messages God gives us to speak from his Word, just because we are persecuted, ignored, ostracized or rejected in return. If God gives us words to speak, which are in line (consistent with, not contrary to) his Word, then we are to speak them, and not be afraid. Yet, I know that not everyone who claims to have a word from God is actually speaking from God, so we must be very discerning about what we hear, and we must test it against the Word of God to make certain that what we are listening to is actually truth, and from God, and not out of someone’s own imagination.

So, regarding us speaking the words God gives us to share, we must remember always that God can take care of us. He will never abandon us. We are extremely valuable to him. He has a plan and a purpose for everything that he does. His thoughts and ways are much higher than ours, and we don’t always comprehend why he does things the way he does. So, be bold, be brave, and keep on speaking in his name and for the sake of his gospel, because he is working in ways which we cannot see.

Not Peace; A Sword (vv. 34-39)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

There are many preachers and religious speakers today who like to give the impression of Jesus that he was a do-gooder who just loved on everyone and that he didn’t make waves or ever say anything to offend anyone. They would like you to believe that if you follow Jesus as your model, that you will be liked by all, and that you will “stay in your own lane,” and that you will not ruffle any feathers, i.e. that you will never irritate or annoy anyone with your words. Some of them go so far as to imply that Jesus would be inclusive of other gods from other religions, and that he would be accepting of sinful lifestyles, as well. But, they would be dead wrong!

Jesus Christ would never compromise with the one world religion which is pushing the notion of “world peace” in order to get people to compromise their faith and convictions for the expressed goal of “unity” or “solidarity” with the rest of the world. Jesus didn’t come to bring “world peace” or to get us to join hands and hearts with the people of this world in singing “Kumbaya,” either. He came so that we might be delivered out of slavery to sin and be set free from the control of Satan over our lives. And, the devil doesn’t like that, so he fights back, and he fights dirty, too. And, so he tries to convince professing Christians that Jesus would be pleased if we all united together as the people of this world in denying our faith.

But, Jesus’ goal was never to bring harmony (agreement) among the people of the world regardless of religion or lifestyle choice. His goal was our salvation, and since Satan hates that, the devil’s followers also hate it, and so they will hate us, will persecute us, and they will turn against us – even those of our own households. So, we can either love ourselves and others more than God, and compromise with the world of sin, in order to be accepted, or we can stand tall and strong in our faith and convictions, without wavering, and be prepared for some strong persecution.

Jesus said that if we lose our lives (die to sin and self), we will find our lives (live with him eternally), but if we hold on to our lives, in order to be accepted of men, we will lose them (die in our sins without Christ) (See: Lu. 9:23-25). So, what shall it be?

He Touched My Mouth / An Original Work / June 13, 2012

Based off Isaiah 6:1-8; Jeremiah 1:4-9

Oh, I saw the Lord seated on His throne,
High and lifted up; Holy is the Lord!
The earth is full of His glory.
“Woe to me,” I cried,
“I’m of unclean lips.”

My Lord touched my mouth
With His cleansing pow’r;
Removed all my guilt, paid for by His blood.
He asked, “Whom shall I send;
Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Before I was born, God set me apart;
He appointed me to His servant be.
I said, “I don’t know how to speak.
I am but a child.” Then, the Lord replied:

“Do not say to me, ‘I am but a child.’
You must go to all, and do what I say.
Do not fear them, for I’m with you.”
My Lord touched my mouth;
Gave me words to say.

Born for This

Friday, May 5, 2017, 7:03 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Why are You Afraid?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 18 (quoting select vv. NASB).

Prophecy Fulfilled (summary chapters 13:1-18:18)

Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) had just been betrayed by one of his closest companions, Judas, who turned him over to the authorities to be arrested and to be put on trial, as though he was guilty of committing a crime. As well, Jesus had just predicted the denial of another one of his disciples, Peter. Then, he spoke words of encouragement, hope, comfort and instruction to his disciples (the 11 who were left), in order to prepare them for what was coming next. Following this he prayed to the Father for his disciples, and for all who would yet believe in him as Lord and as Savior.

When Jesus had finished praying, Judas came with a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees, who then arrested Jesus and took him away. In the midst of all this, Peter fulfilled Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial of Jesus, by denying his Lord three times.

Why Strike Me? (vv. 19-24)

The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.” When He had said this, one of the officers standing nearby struck Jesus, saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?” So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Jesus Christ had done no wrong. During his years of ministry on the earth, he healed the sick and afflicted, comforted the sorrowful, encouraged the timid, raised the dead, fed the hungry, and delivered people from demons. He performed miracle after miracle in people’s lives and hearts. Although he was tempted of Satan, he never once sinned in all that he did. Yet, he also confronted sin in sinful humans, warned of divine judgment, and called for repentance and for faith in him as their Messiah and Lord, and promised hope, healing and eternal life for the penitent and the obedient (to him).

And, for this, plus his healing of people on the Sabbath, and his refusal to follow the traditions of men, and because he claimed to be who he is, he was hated, persecuted, falsely accused, arrested, put on trial, and put to death. Yet, while on trial, Jesus defended his ministry, and he questioned the authorities as to the legitimacy of their actions. Yes, there were moments when he kept silent, but he also answered his accusers by telling the truth. He didn’t mince words, either, but he was direct in what he said, and he got right to the point of the matter. He was never wishy-washy at all.

Jesus told us that we would be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted, and eventually put to death, so he is our example for how we should respond when we are falsely accused, arrested on trumped up charges, and put on trial for believing in him and for sharing with others the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He did not resist arrest, for he knew this was the reason why he was put on this earth, to die for our sins, yet this did not mean he kept silent in the whole process. He used this as an opportunity to give testimony to who he is, and to defend what he did and said.

What Hypocrisy! (vv. 28-32)

Then they *led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. Therefore Pilate went out to them and *said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.” So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.

Do you see the hypocrisy in all of this? The chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the Pharisees hated Jesus. They were jealous of him. They refused to believe he was the Son of God, the Christ, their Messiah and Lord. They closed their ears to the truth. They opposed him at every turn, and they tried frequently to trip him up, hoping to discredit him. While they were good at appearing righteous on the outside, though, inside they were full of wickedness. And, now here they were getting ready to put a righteous and innocent man to death, and yet they were concerned about being ceremonially clean (not defiled), so that they might take part in the celebration of the Passover, which was, in fact, a precursor to Jesus’ blood sacrifice for us on the cross for our sins so that we might be liberated from slavery to sin and so we might be partakers of God’s heavenly kingdom.

What is Truth? (vv. 33-38)

Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate *said to Him, “What is truth?”

If we have not already been brought before those in authority to give an account for who we are (in Christ), and for why we do what we do, one day this may take place in our lives, if we live long enough. And, we will need the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit to speak the words God would have us to say as a testimony to him, to his saving grace, and to his gospel of grace. And, we should not be afraid of those who can kill our bodies, but who cannot kill our souls, but we should pray that we would speak boldly in Jesus’ name in sharing the reason for the hope that is within us.

There are a lot of people now, in both the world of politics and in the Christian world who are coming against the true gospel, as taught by Jesus and by his NT apostles. And, they are coming against Christ’s servants and messengers, too, because they tell people the truth of what Jesus taught. These people are pushing for tolerance of all faiths and of all lifestyles, and thus they object to a gospel which warns of divine judgment, which confronts sin in sinful humans, which calls for repentance and obedience to Christ, and to his Word, and yet promises hope and healing for the penitent. They are, thus, pushing a gospel which is comprised of “good deeds” only, but that doesn’t teach Jesus as the only way to God, or repentance and obedience to Christ as required for eternal life with God in heaven.

Yet, Jesus (his Word) told us that these things would take place. The Bible says we are destined for afflictions, persecutions, and hardships, and even some of us for captivity and for martyrdom. We were born into this world not just to be saved from our sins, and to live for our Lord, but also to suffer for the sake of his name, to share his gospel with the world around us, and to be hated, persecuted, mistreated and, perhaps, even to die for our faith.

Jesus did not die for our sins just so we could escape hell and just so we could have the promise of heaven when we die. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self and take up our cross daily and follow him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return (See: Tit. 2:11-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

These are some of the things we must teach, because there are many liars and deceivers who are giving people a false hope of security with God in heaven based on half-truths (lies). Yet, when we teach these things, we must be ready to be hated and persecuted, in return, for there are many enemies of the cross of Christ who do not want us telling people the truth. And, yet, we must not fear their threats, but we must honor Christ our Lord.

Why Are You Afraid? / An Original Work / December 5, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Do not be afraid.
Your Lord is always by your side.
Serve the Lord in righteousness
Before Him all your days.

Those who hate the light
Will not come to the Lord.
They fear their deeds
Might be noticed.
So, they hate the light,
And they embrace the night.

Do not be afraid,
Although your enemy attacks.
Dare to share your testimony
Of God’s saving grace.

Do not fear their threats,
But honor Christ, your Lord.
Be prepared to give an answer
For the hope you have,
With gentleness; respect.

Why are you afraid?
For all that’s hidden will be shown.
What I tell you, speak in daylight.
Let the truth be known.

Do not be afraid
Of those who’ll take your life.
Fear the Lord with understanding.
Trust Him with your life,
And give not up to strife.

Do not be afraid.
Take courage, it is I, your Lord.
Bow before Me; now adore Me.
Oh, why do you doubt?

Listen to the Lord.
Get up, and bear His name!
Run and tell the world He loves them.
Jesus came to save.
Give Him your all today.

Arise and Shine

Sunday, April 2, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Be Strong and Take Courage.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 60 (Select vv. NASB).

Your Light has Come (vv. 1-3)

“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
“For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will rise upon you
And His glory will appear upon you.
“Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.

Do you ever get discouraged or disheartened by all the wickedness and evil in the world? Or, even by that which exists within the gatherings of the church, or within the individual lives of those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior? Do you grieve over such? Does your heart hunger for revival and for the church to be who God created her to be? Do you cry out to God to deliver his children from the grip of Satan and the wave of deception which is covering the earth? Are you heavy at heart when Christians see “fellowship” as merely a time to party, but not as a time to get intimate with God and to share the deep truths of God’s words with one another in order to encourage each other in our walks of faith?

Are you grieved over many Christians, who have returned to sinful ways, and who are largely ignoring God’s truths? Does your heart ache when you witness church gatherings which are not for the edification of the saints, but are for the entertainment of the world? Do you want to shout “NO!” at the top of your lungs when those who profess to be ministers of the gospel dilute the gospel to the point to where it loses its power to deliver people from slavery to sin? Does it concern you that so many who profess Christ as Savior spend hours upon hours a day watching TV, getting on social media, surfing the NET, playing video games and chatting with friends, but then claim they don’t have time to read their Bibles and pray? Or, that they don’t understand why they can’t hear God’s voice speaking to them?

If you experience any of what I have just described above, and perhaps more, you may find these things weighing in on you, and you may find yourselves focusing in on only or primarily the negative, and you may begin to drown in your sorrow, wondering if you will ever see the light of day.

If so, there is hope! While we should feel most of what I have described above, as that is how God largely feels about these things; and while having such deep concern as this should lead us to being passionate about getting out the truth of the gospel, we must guard our hearts against discouragement. We must not let these things get us down and depressed. We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ, and on the hope he has given us, not only of our own salvation, but that we will see fruit for our labors, if not now, in the days to come. His word will never return empty, but it will accomplish what his heart desires. Although sometimes now things can look pretty bleak, we must know that it will not always be this way. God has a plan to bring many people to Jesus Christ in these last days. So, we should never lose hope, but we must persevere and never give up!

Lift up Your Eyes (vv. 4-5a)

“Lift up your eyes round about and see;
They all gather together, they come to you.
Your sons will come from afar,
And your daughters will be carried in the arms.
“Then you will see and be radiant,
And your heart will thrill and rejoice.

When these kinds of things weigh in on us, we need to lift up our eyes and see what God has promised. Our labor in love for God’s people will not be for naught. God has a plan and a purpose for it all, and he will accomplish all that he has planned.

Have you been praying for years for an unsaved loved one? Are you struggling to raise a rebellious teenager? Is your marriage in trouble, but the healing has not yet come? Do you serve the Lord in ministry without much evidence of any fruit for your labor? When you teach the Word of God, does it seem to go in one ear and out the other of those whom you teach? Are you despised and rejected of men, a person of sorrows and acquainted with suffering? From all outward appearances, Jesus’ death on a cross looked as though he had failed, as nearly everyone had deserted him. Do you feel deserted and abandoned by those who should love and support you?

I believe with all my heart that there is hope. I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for everything we are going through, and that we must persevere, even when all looks hopeless, at times. We must keep trusting him, believing him, and keep doing what we know he has called us to do. And, we must believe that he is going to change hearts, like he changed ours and is continuing to change our hearts to make us more like Jesus. So, we must focus on the hope that we have of a harvest of righteousness in people’s lives, whether we ever see those results in this life or not.

Forsaken and Hated (v. 15)

“Whereas you have been forsaken and hated
With no one passing through,
I will make you an everlasting pride,
A joy from generation to generation.

There are many reasons why we might be forsaken and hated. It could be because of sin in our own lives, or evil things we have done to others now or in the past. Or, it could be for the same reasons Jesus was hated and persecuted, because he told people the truth, and they didn’t want to hear the truth, because they didn’t want to change their lifestyles.

Jesus said that if we are his followers, meaning we are walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and we are doing what he says, and going where he sends us, we will be hated as he was hated. It is a given, so we should not let this discourage us, but it should be cause for rejoicing that we are considered worthy to suffer for the sake of His name and for His gospel.

So, when we are feeling sad and tears are streaming down our cheeks because we have been abandoned, forgotten and rejected by others, because of our relationship with Jesus Christ and our stand on his Word, we must remember these words of encouragement. God is going to bless us for our faithfulness to him, and we will bear fruit for his eternal kingdom.

Maybe we don’t see it now, but it is coming. Now we may be met with much resistance to the truths of God’s Word, but one day, if not now, God is going to move in people’s hearts in a mighty way, and many are going to turn back to the Lord, and many, too, will put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives. Even if we don’t see the fulfillment of this while we are still on this earth, we will see the results in heaven in the people who will be there, whose lives we have touched with God’s love and grace. And, that is hope! And, it is something worth waiting for.

Sorrow Will End (vv. 18-20)

“Violence will not be heard again in your land,
Nor devastation or destruction within your borders;
But you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise.
“No longer will you have the sun for light by day,
Nor for brightness will the moon give you light;
But you will have the Lord for an everlasting light,
And your God for your glory.
“Your sun will no longer set,
Nor will your moon wane;
For you will have the Lord for an everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning will be over.

Now, this is definitely a future promise of the time when Jesus returns for us and he takes us to be with him, and of his millennial reign on the earth, at which time we will also reign with him. Although my finite mind has difficulty grasping this concept, at times, I know that God’s promises are true, and that they will be fulfilled. A day is coming when all evil, sin, sickness, hatred, violence, war, and sadness will be gone. We will no longer need to grieve, because all that we now grieve over will be no more. He will wipe away the tears from our eyes for good. And, we will be in perfect fellowship with him and with one another, too. Won’t that be grand? And, our Lord will be forever all we will ever need to live and breathe and serve him. Oh, that will be glorious! What a wonderful day that will be when my Jesus I will see!

Be Strong and Take Courage / Don Moen

Why don’t you give him all of your fears?
Why don’t you let him wipe all of your tears?
He knows, He’s been through pain before
And He knows all that you’ve been looking for

So, be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way…

Alas, Sinful Nation

Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 7:47 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Give Ear to Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 1:1-20 (Select vv. NASB).

They Have Revolted (vv. 2-4)

Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth;
For the Lord speaks,
“Sons I have reared and brought up,
But they have revolted against Me.
“An ox knows its owner,
And a donkey its master’s manger,
But Israel does not know,
My people do not understand.”

Alas, sinful nation,
People weighed down with iniquity,
Offspring of evildoers,
Sons who act corruptly!
They have abandoned the Lord,
They have despised the Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away from Him.

The children of Israel in the Old Testament were in a unique position as God’s chosen people. They were a physical nation of people as well as they were God’s covenant people. No other nation on this earth has ever been or ever will be equal to what they were. Yet, the Old Covenant was just a precursor to the New Covenant, for God had planned all along that he would send his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to become our sacrificial Lamb, given up to death on a cross to take away the sins of the world. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Old Covenant relationship, which God had with his people, was abolished, and the New Covenant was instituted in its place. God destroyed the barrier that stood between Jew and Gentile and he made both one in Christ, through faith in Jesus Christ.

So, God’s covenant people now are those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives. They have been reborn of the Spirit of God through death to sin and via resurrection to new life in Christ. The old has gone. The new has come. Once they were in slavery to sin, but now Jesus has set them free from bondage (sin addiction) so that they can now become slaves of his righteousness. Now God’s holy nation is the church, the body of Christ, the saints of God in Christ. It is no longer a physical nation, but it is a spiritual nation. So, it does not exist in one specific location, but it exists all over the world in multiple locations.

So, if we were to apply these words to God’s people today, I believe the application would have to be confined to a specific location, though the area of land could be broad in spectrum. For, I don’t believe this description fits the body of Christ worldwide, but it definitely fits in America. Yet, if it fits where you are, then surely make the application. And, hear what God wants to say to you. For I believe this is certainly a picture of the times in which we now live. Even though the church is comprised of believers in Jesus Christ who have been delivered out of slavery to sin, we all have the propensity to still sin, as long as we live in these flesh bodies. So, we are all capable of straying from our Lord and of turning back to the sins from which he set us free, and that is a sad picture indeed (See Rev. 2-3).

Hear God (vv. 10-15)

Hear the word of the Lord,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our God,
You people of Gomorrah.
“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
“When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
“Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
“I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.
“So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.

In the gatherings of the church there are those who are genuinely saved from their sins and those who make a profession only of faith in Jesus Christ. Among the genuinely saved are those who are walking in obedience to their Lord, and those who have gone astray from the Lord and have wandered off to follow after other gods. There is probably a fine line between those who are wandering Christians and those who are Christians in name only. Yet, the message is still the same. God is not interested in what we are willing to sacrifice for him. He doesn’t want our leftovers. He wants it all! The sacrifice he wants is us (our whole being) on the altar as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed of the Spirit in the renewing of our minds and hearts.

God sees our religious performances as the “trampling of his courts,” especially if we are living in sin while pretending to be righteous before him. In fact, he is sick of them. If we profess to love him with our lips, but we dishonor him with our lives, and we choose how we will worship God, rather than giving him the worship he requires, then it is like a slap in the face to him and an insult to the sacrifice of Jesus, given on the cross for our sins.

It is a lot like a person professing love to his or her spouse and then going out and committing adultery over and over again, yet then bringing her or him some “offering” of flowers, candy, a ball cap, sports memorabilia, service, time, praise and other gifts to cover-up for the sin. If the spouse is aware that this is going on, he or she would not find pleasure in these gifts knowing that the spouse is giving himself or herself to another (or others). And, that is how God feels about religious performances, too, that are put on in place of genuine worship, love, respect and worship of him, and that are a cover-up (mask) for willfully giving in to sin over and over again.

Wash Yourselves (vv. 16-20)

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
“If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
“But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

So, the counsel here is to wash yourselves, if you find that this is where you are. So, how is this done? You have to remove the evil deeds from your life. You have to STOP sinning, and you have to START obeying God and his Word. I hear so many Christians say they can’t help it, or they feel trapped, or they are just struggling, as though it is perfectly ok to keep repeating the same willful sins over and over again, and as though they can’t say “NO!”

Yet, it isn’t ok with God to keep giving yourselves over to lust, greed, and self-pleasure. Jesus Christ died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Co. 10:13). Jesus already made the way of escape. He put sin to death on the cross. He conquered sin in his resurrection. And, in Christ we have all we need to say “NO!” to sin and to say “YES!” to God. Yet, if we ask, he will show us specific ways in which we can escape temptation. But, we do have to make it a daily practice to resist Satan, flee (run away from) sin and draw near to God in full assurance of faith.

The Bible teaches us that if we say we have fellowship with God but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin), we are liars. It says that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to our flesh, we will die in our sins. But if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. Jesus said that if we hold on to our old lives of sin, we will die in our sins. But, if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (See 1 Jn. 1:6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

So, how do we reconcile this teaching with the knowledge that Christians can have believed in Jesus as their Savior, but now they have gone back to sin and rebellion against God? What I know is that the Word also describes our salvation as ongoing and as a process. The Word says we must remain in Christ and him in us, and we must continue in him till the end with the faith we had from the beginning if we want to have eternal life. We are not saved on the basis of past belief, for it is the believing who have the promise of eternal life.

Also, believing has to do with submission to Christ, because belief is a gift of God, not something we generate in our own flesh, i.e. it is spiritual. So, if we have wandered away from Jesus Christ, we need to come back to God. If we consent to his will and we obey his instructions to us, we will have our eternal rewards. But, if we persist in rebellion and we refuse to repent, then judgment is surely what awaits us, so repent of your sins today.

Give Ear to Jesus / An Original Work
Based off Isaiah 55 / February 16, 2016

Call on your Savior.
Seek the Lord while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way;
Turn to the Lord.
God will have mercy.
He’ll forgive you of your sin.
He will freely pardon you
And give peace within.
Turn from your sin, follow Jesus,
Be cleansed from sin.

Give ear to Jesus.
Come to Him. Your soul will live.
Listen to Him speaking to you:
“Eat what is good.”
If you are thirsty,
Come to Jesus, drink from Him.
Drink His Spirit given to you.
Be born again.
Listen to Him. Do what He says.
Rejoice in Him.

God’s Word, eternal,
Will achieve what He desires.
He is willing none should perish,
Saved by His blood.
Share now the gospel.
Jesus died so we’d go free.
Walk in vict’ry,
Free from your sin, eternally.
Die to sin, and live to Jesus.
In Him believe.