Selfless Service

Tuesday, August 29, 2017, 6:36 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 Romans 12 (Select vv. NASB).

A Holy Sacrifice (vv. 1-2)

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Because of all that Jesus Christ did for us in dying on a cross for our sins, and being resurrected back to life, so that we could have new lives in him, we ought to give our lives to God, to live holy lives pleasing to him. In fact, this is what it means to believe in him, and to be in Christ by faith in him. It means we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. It means our lives are no longer our own, to do with what we want, because we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ, and we now belong to God, so we are to honor God with our lives. It also means that we now live lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the image of Christ.

I think a lot of people think of worship of God as a song service during a worship service in a formal setting where we sing praise and worship songs together. But, singing is only one part of our worship of God. The main way in which we worship our Lord is with our lives via surrender, obedience, and walking in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. If we ignore his commands, and we still live to please the flesh, then we are not worshiping him no matter how enthusiastic we are when we sing during “worship” time. Our Lord is not looking for what we are willing to sacrifice or to give to him of our own accord, in our own way, and according to our own thinking. What he wants is us on the altar, submitted to him, and surrendered to his will.

Part of this worship of God not only means we give our lives to him, to be lived for his purposes and his will, but it means we forsake our lives of living to please ourselves. We no longer conform our lives after the ways (attitudes, thinking, believing, philosophies, culture, and behaviors) of this sinful world. We should stand out from the world and be different. We should not immerse ourselves in our societies and blend in with the world so that the world will like us. So, we should not be giving our lives over to self-pleasure, entertainment, and to doing just what makes us feel good, either. But, we should be considering how to please God in all that we do, and we should be thoughtful of others and their true needs, especially of salvation.

Sound Judgment (vv. 3-8)

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

What is striking me about this passage of scripture today is this running theme of self-sacrifice, humility, and selflessness. We can become so self-focused in this life that we lose sight of God, and what he requires and desires of us, and we can lose sight of others and their needs, too. So, we need to refocus our attention and affections on our Lord, to hear from him, and to do what he says, and we need to keep our eyes and ears open to see the needs of others all around us, and to help meet those needs as God leads and directs us in what he would have us do. We can become so inward focused, in other words, to where we miss out on opportunities to share the love, grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus with others who need him.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we all form one body, which is the body of Christ, his church. We, the people of God, are his church, regardless of location or the distance between us. And, we are to use the gifts and ministries God has given to us, as he directs, within the body of Christ, for the mutual encouragement, strengthening, and maturing of one another in Christ. Yet, God has not gifted us all in the same way, nor has he given us all the same assignments within his body (see also 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). We are all different, uniquely designed and gifted by God to be used of God in ways which he had planned for us even before the creation of the world.

So, not one of us should be jealous of another or think we are better than others because of our gifts or assignments, for everything comes from God, not us. So, we should do all that we do for the glory of God and for the edification of the body of Christ, without regard to our own giftedness.

Without Hypocrisy (vv. 9-13)

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

In what ways can we be hypocritical in our expressions of love for God and for others? One way is by lip service only, i.e. by saying we love God or we love others, but then by our actions speaking just the opposite, i.e. by being hateful instead. Another way is to stay focused on ourselves and on our own needs while ignoring the needs of others, yet while vocalizing that we love them. How are they going to know that we love them if we don’t show it? Words can be cheap if they are not followed up with action. If all we do is talk about ourselves, or think about ourselves and our needs, but we don’t inquire as to what others are going through, and if we don’t show genuine interest in their lives, how will they know that we love them?

Yet, at the same time, we need to remain focused on our Lord, and on his Word, and never compromise our faith or join in with the sinful pleasures of this world in order to “make nice” with the world. It is not loving others with God’s love if we compromise our faith and convictions in order to have others like us or think we are being loving. Jesus was loving, but he spoke the truth in love, and he told people what they truly needed, even if they didn’t respond with belief. So, we should never feel that selfless needs to be godless so that humans will think we are being selfless and not selfish. In other words, we should continue to hate what God hates and to love what he loves, and to follow Jesus’ example for how to love others with God’s love.

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.


Do You Not Know?

Saturday, August 12, 2017, 7:18 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 6 (Select vv. NASB).

Lawsuits Among Believers (vv. 1-8)

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.

In the USA, lawsuits are big business. It seems, at times, that when anyone even feels that he or she has been injured by another that they are far too ready to sue the ones they believe are the offending party. I have even found this to be a common practice among those who call themselves Christians. And, so much of this appears to have more to do with seeking revenge than in seeking reasonable damages (an award) for serious loss or injuries. At least, this has been my observation. Yet, some statistics seem to support the idea that lawsuits in the USA are outrageous in the numbers of them, in the context of them, or in the ease with which they are obtained.

It is bad enough when a Christian goes to court against a non-Christian and seeks unreasonable damages, just out of revenge or greed, and thus destroys any testimony for Jesus he or she might have otherwise had. But, when a Christian takes another believer to court, instead of taking the matter before the church, then that is even a more grievous matter. Where is the justice in all of this? Where is love, mercy, kindness and forgiveness? Where is the thought or belief that God is absolutely sovereign over our lives? What happens to our Christian witness and testimony? And, what about loving our enemies (or those we feel are our enemies), praying for them, doing good to them, and blessing them? Have we forgotten?

When we go to court against other people, especially against other believers, in order to sue them, and we ask for more than we need in damages, especially out of revenge (to get payback), or out of greed, to spend the reward on our own pleasures, we wrong and defraud (swindle, cheat, and take advantage of) others. And, it destroys the work of God in our lives and through our lives in showing his love, grace and mercy to others. Do we truly believe we must do this, and that God was absent during our injury, or that he can’t provide for all that we need? It is far better that we suffer this wrong than for us to seek revenge, for it is God’s job to take revenge, not ours! We are to show love, kindness and forgiveness, instead.

The Kingdom of God (vv. 9-11)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

This is a warning, not to the unsaved, though it certainly applies to them, too, but to Christians or to professing Christians who are practicing sinning against God. If we wrong (ill-treat, abuse) and defraud (swindle, cheat or take advantage of) others, as our practice, we should not think we have any inheritance coming to us from God. We should not bank on having eternal rewards, but we should consider what scriptures teach on this subject, and know that those who practice sinning, who continue in sin, and who walk (in lifestyle; who conduct their lives) according to the flesh, will die in their sins (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-25; & Eph. 5:3-6).

Flee Immorality (vv. 15-20)

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

As you can tell from the long lists of sinful practices in 1 Co. 6:9-11, Gal. 5:19-25, & Eph. 5:3-6, they cover a wide span of sinful practices. One of the ones which is predominant, though, and is repeated over and over again in scripture is immorality, or most especially sexual immorality. Immorality can be anything which is wicked, depraved, corrupt, dishonest or adulterated, including idolatry. Sexual immorality is confined to such areas as adultery, lust, fornication (sex outside of marriage), homosexuality, same-sex marriage, oral sex, incest, and viewing of pornography or sexually charged (or insinuated) movies or videos, or sexting, or having sexual conversations with someone with whom you are not married, et al.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives we are united with him in spirit, and we become members of his body, the church (not the institutional church). We become the bride of Christ, and he is our husband, and in faith we vow faithfulness, love, and commitment to our Lord and master, Jesus Christ. Our desire is to please him in all that we do, say, think and are. When we are married to our spouse, we also vow love, faithfulness, commitment and fidelity. And, our desire should be for our spouse, to please him or her, and to do to or for the other according to love and faithfulness, and according to the teachings of Christ and his Word. So, it is absolutely sinful and wrong (harmful, injurious) to do what is contrary to these vows of fidelity and love, either to God or to our spouses.

So, we are to flee all immorality, idolatry, wickedness, lies, deceit and sexual immorality, and we are to commit ourselves to faithfulness and love toward both our Lord and toward our spouses. When we marry, we become one flesh with our spouse through sexual union, so we are to regard our spouses as though they are one with us, and to treat them accordingly, in love, purity, and in all kindness, respect and honor. As well, when we believe in Jesus, and his Spirit comes to dwell within us, our bodies become his temple, and we are no longer our own, to live however we want, for Jesus bought us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins. So, we are to honor and glorify God in our bodies, and in our minds, hearts, attitudes, words and actions, too. For, Jesus set us free from slavery to sin in order that we might become bondservants (slaves) of his righteousness.

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

House of Prayer

Saturday, July 1, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Pray, Pray, Pray.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 19:37-46 (ESV).

Don’t Be Silent (vv. 37-40)

As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

We have many Pharisees in today’s church gatherings, as well, who are trying to silence the Lord’s servants and witnesses. Some of them are pastors or elders, and some of them are politicians. They are all part of a movement sweeping across the globe which is diluting the gospel message to make it more appealing and acceptable to the world, and as a precursor to a one world religion, which is accepting of all religions as viable. Their goal is to get the people of the world to all come together and unite as one voice and one heart in breaking down all which divides us as the people of the world. Their message is one of tolerance (lenience, broad-mindedness) towards all religions, and towards certain chosen sinful lifestyles.

Basically, if you hold on to the truths of scripture, and of the full gospel message, as taught by Jesus Christ and his NT apostles, then you are tagged as intolerant, bigoted, hateful and as a religious extremist who must be silenced, reprogrammed, or eradicated from the planet. It isn’t as though they come right out and state that they are speaking against evangelical Christianity, though, at least not in so many words, but it is obvious to anyone who is really paying attention to their words. For, when they give a description of hate speech, a bigot, of intolerance, or of a religious extremist, it includes the gospel of our salvation and its messengers.

The gospel divides people as saved and as unsaved, as believers in Jesus, and as non-believers, and as those who are promised eternal life with God, and as those who are not, and that does not set well with these hypocrites, liars and deceivers. It also confronts sin in sinful humans, and it calls for repentance, warns of judgment, and promises eternal life for the penitent. None of that fits with the one world religion agenda, so the gospel is changed to “gospel lite” so as not to offend anyone, and we are outcasts.

Jesus Wept (vv. 41-44)

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Jesus is grieved over his idolatrous church, which has fallen prey to these liars, deceivers and hypocrites (Pharisees). The church is the body of Christ, with Christ Jesus as its head, and we are to follow Jesus with our lives, not man in his deceitful scheming. And, yet, the church, which is God’s holy city, has now been trampled upon by those who would destroy it, and these false shepherds of the people have largely been successful in their campaign against what God has established, but God has the final word in this. Amen!

I am not certain of the beginnings of this present campaign to destroy the church, and to transform it away from Christ, and his gospel, and to turn it into a business, which is marketed just like any other business, but I suspect this has been going on a long while, and that it has come in slow and subtle stages (1). Satan works like that. He is very sly, cunning and crafty, and patient, too, in how he works in stealthy ways in slowly introducing lies into the church and into the gospel presentation. The lies are blended so well into the truth, and they sound like truth, and so the naïve listener accepts the lies as truth a little bit at a time until they can’t discern what are lies.

I was first introduced to this global campaign as early on as 1999, though I did not recognize it fully for what it was until maybe 2004 or after, though there were signs that something was wrong about it early on. It began seemingly innocent enough, and the bulk of the teaching seemed biblical, but over time I began to notice a pattern about it, and how it was so widespread, and how it was cross-denominational. And, then the Lord made me aware of many of the sinister aspects of it, and of its overall message. It has many messengers, but one of the primary ones was/is Rick Warren. Slowly it began to unfold, and I came to realize that its overall goal was to break down the gospel, to turn the church into a business, and to silence those who were still preaching the gospel according to Jesus.

Over time, more and more names were added to the list of those who are promoting this global one world religion agenda, for that is really what it is.

A House of Prayer (vv. 45-46)

And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

This is what has taken place in the church, particularly here in America, though I know this false grace (and peace) message is being spread across the globe. They have turned the Lord’s house, his church, his body, into a den of robbers; into a marketplace. And, the world is their target customers. So, they use worldly and sensual means and methods to attract the world to their meetings, and they push aside those who are still holding on to the gospel as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, even to the point of trying to discredit them or even to invite them to leave and to go “someplace else” which will be a “better fit.”

So, in order to market (sell) the “church” to the world, they have altered the gospel to where it barely even resembles the gospel anymore. They have turned the narrow road, which few travel, into a broad road, which all can travel, and which leads to destruction, not to eternal life with God. They teach that all one has to do is to acknowledge who Jesus is or even that he existed and then to accept his forgiveness for their sins, and then they have heaven guaranteed them, but they don’t have to change their lifestyles. In fact, they teach that Jesus is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that he smiles on them even when they are trapped in gross sins and rebellion. The hope they share, though, is no hope, but a lie, and a trap.

For, Jesus taught that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, 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), we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die to sin and self), we will gain eternal life. Paul reiterated the same message when he said that Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk (in lifestyle) not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. He said that if we walk according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we don’t live by the truth (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, we need to turn the church, the body of Christ, back into a house of prayer by repenting of our sins of idolatry and spiritual adultery, and by following our Lord in obedience, and by praying in the Spirit with all kinds of requests to God for the church, his body, and for its members (parts).

Pray, Pray, Pray / An Original Work / September 6, 2012

Based off Various Scriptures

Pray that eyes may enlightened be,
So they may know Christ.
Pray that they may Him better know,
Strengthened by His pow’r.
Pray that they may grasp
How wide and long
And high and deep
Is Christ’s love.
Pray that they may be filled
To the fullness of God’s love.
Pray with thanksgiving.

Pray for an open door for me,
So I may share Christ.
Pray when the gospel is proclaimed –
Shared with clarity.
Pray words are given me so
I declare the gospel fearlessly.
I pray for you to be active
Sharing your faith, too.
Pray continually.

We oft not know for what to pray,
So we ask for help.
The Spirit intercedes for us –
Words cannot express.
Just keep on praying for the saints
With all kinds of requests to God.
Pray they may have faith to
Please their God in ev’ry way.
Pray with joyfulness.

(1) (This is NOT an endorsement of the producers of this video or of all its content.)

My Love Song

Friday, March 17, 2017, 8:33 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 5:1-7 (ESV).

His Vineyard (vv. 1-2)

Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.

The vineyard being spoken of here, as applied to today, is the church, the body of Christ, the house of God. The plants (grape vines) are the people of God, i.e. those who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives. The grapes (fruit) are the deeds, words, attitudes, values and thoughts (thinking) of those who are believers in Jesus. The grapes (fruit) are the result (yield) of what was cultivated (nurtured, and encouraged) and then produced (generated) in our lives. They are the end result (what we reap) or the outgrowth of what was sown (planted) in our lives.

God planted us in his vineyard. How did he do this? He sent his ONLY begotten Son to the earth to take on human flesh, and then to die on a cross for our sins. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When he died he put our sin to death with him, and then he rose from the dead victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf. By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, in which God persuades us of his will for our lives, we are saved from our sins. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be our Lord, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life (born again) so that we might live to his righteousness.

On the third day after Jesus was crucified on a cross for our sins, he was resurrected from the dead. He appeared to many people for 40 days, and then he ascended back to heaven where he sits at the right hand of God the Father. After he ascended back to heaven he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell and to empower those who had trusted in Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit serves as our watchtower, keeping watch over us, observing what we do, warning of danger, cautioning against the tricks of the devil and urging us to obey our Lord. He teaches us the ways of the Lord, counsels us in what is right, encourages us when we are timid, strengthens us when we are weak, and empowers us to live holy lives.

God/Jesus Christ did all of this for us that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He did this, not just to save us from the curse of sin, and to promise us heaven when we leave this earth, but he did this that we might be delivered out of slavery (addiction, bondage) to sin so that we might become his bond-slaves to his righteousness. He called us out of darkness (sin) into his wonderful light that we might live holy lives pleasing unto him. To live holy means to be separate from this sinful world because we are being made into the likeness of Christ. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, but it teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

So, based upon what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, and God’s gift to us, not only of salvation from sin, but even of the faith to believe in Jesus, and based upon us receiving this salvation and being indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, the fruit (outgrowth) we should bear should be reflective of what our Lord cultivated in our lives. We should produce love, righteousness, holiness, godliness, obedience, submission, faithfulness, purity, and honor, etc.

Yet, we are not puppets on a string. We are free to live for God or to live for self, but we have to know that we will reap what we sow. And, I don’t mean we have the liberty in Christ to do what is wrong, because we don’t, but that we still have free wills to choose to obey God or not, but if we choose to continue (in daily practice) in sin, we must know that, according to God’s Word, we don’t have the promise of eternal life, and we don’t really know God. Yet, this is not to say that Christians will not sin, or that they can’t fall back into sin and rebellion against God. Obviously this is possible (See: Rev. 2-3).

Wild Grapes (vv. 3-7)

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!

Well, it is not that God failed. God has done everything to ensure that we have all we need to live holy lives pleasing to God, so we can resist Satan, flee sin (or temptation to sin) and draw near to God in full assurance of faith. There is not anything more that God needs to do. He has done it all!

So, why do believers in Jesus fall back into sin and go astray and end up yielding “wild” (uncontrolled and unrestrained pursuit of pleasure) grapes? I believe it has everything to do with whether or not we allow what God is cultivating into our lives to sink in and to take hold or if we, instead, or in addition to what he encourages in our lives, invite in other (or outside) influences into our lives which lead us in another direction.

For example, if we spend little (or no) time with God each day in prayer and in his Word, and/or if our times with him are mostly mechanical or routine, and/or if all we do is just take in head knowledge but it never gets to our hearts, and/or if all we do is hear the Word but we don’t apply it to our daily lives, then we are ripe to be drawn back into the ways of the world. In addition to this, if we spend hours upon hours watching TV, surfing the internet, chatting on social media sites, playing video (or computer) games or doing whatever we choose to do, especially as it disregards what God wants us to do, then we are in danger. As well, if what we are consuming daily is glorifying sin or if we are allowing ourselves daily to be entertained by sin, then we are in real hot water.

There is a saying which says that “we become what we eat.” And, that basically is what this is talking about. If we take in the Word of God into our minds and hearts, and we do what it says, and we spend time talking with and listening to our Lord, and we make it a practice to do what he tells us, and to follow him wherever he leads us, we should yield good fruit in keeping with repentance and with God’s will and purposes for our lives. Yet, if we are daily taking in the garbage of this world, and we are regularly yielding to the flesh and resisting the Holy Spirit, and we are choosing the course of our own lives instead of inquiring of the Lord as to what he has for us, then we are going to produce wild fruit instead.

The Bible teaches us that God disciplines those he loves, and he scourges every son he receives. He “disciplines us for our good, so that we may share his holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (See Heb. 12:1-11). Sometimes the discipline is for training purposes and other times it is to correct wrong, but the result is the same, that it might produce holiness and righteousness in our lives. Our Lord prunes us so that we might be more fruitful or he scourges us when we go astray so that we will come back to him and get back on track with God in what he has for us to be and do.

So much of today’s church, at least here in America, has become so worldly. It is barely distinguishable between the world and the church anymore. They sort of blend together. And, one of the reasons is that the church has been marketed like big business, and thus they are focused on attracting the world to the church via worldly means and methods. Sensuality even comes into play during stage productions during what are called “Worship services.” Sermons are replaced by mere “talks” and preachers now have to be entertainers and funny men (clowns) in order to keep the audience happy and coming back for more. Thus, the gospel has also been diluted to appease the people of the world.

So, God/Jesus Christ is calling out to his wayward people, who are yielding “wild” grapes, and he is asking them to repent of their idolatry, spiritual adultery, and immorality and to return to him as their “first love.” Then, they will yield good fruit in keeping with God’s holiness and righteousness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Separate

Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 12:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “A Believer’s Prayer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 (ESV).

Unequally Yoked (6:14-16a)

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?

I can think of no more appropriate application of this passage of scripture than that of the body of Christ being united in a contractual (partnership) relationship (via the 501c3) with the US government (here in America). The body of Christ is just that, Christ’s body. We are his holy bride. We are to be married to no other, especially not to the ungodly. So, when the church, Christ’s body, enters into a partnership agreement with the US government, or any other government, she is, essentially, committing adultery against her Lord, who is to be her ONLY husband and head. She has, thus, made the government her head in place of Christ, and she has become a state church.

Lest we forget, though, the true church is not a legal entity under the authority of any state. It does not have to adhere to the principles that govern a corporation. It does not need the state to give it the right to exist. It is not a business of human-making, nor is it to be marketed as such. It is not a building nor an institution nor an organization nor a social club nor a public charity. It is the body of Christ, with Christ ONLY as its head. It is a living organism made up of the people of God, who are believers in Jesus Christ. And, its (her) only allegiance is to be to God and to God alone!

So, why has the vast majority of the church, especially here in America, decided to be unequally yoked together with the government? Someone in authority over them within church denominations, most likely, convinced them this was necessary in order to be tax exempt, yet they were already tax exempt. But, even if they weren’t, should the church be concerned with such matters? Do we give to God and to his service only because we can get a tax break on our giving? Where did this all go wrong? I believe it went wrong when the people of God decided to institutionalize the body of Christ, which seems to be somewhat a carryover from the OT temple.

In other words, in the OT, or before Jesus died and was resurrected and ascended to heaven and sent his Holy Spirit to indwell his followers, the temple of God was a physical building built by human hands. The Holy of Holies was within this temple structure, and this is where the Ark of the Covenant was placed in which was the presence of God. And, it was only the high priest who could enter into God’s holy presence, and only once a year, to make sacrifice for the sins of the people. Yet, when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, the veil that hung between God’s holy presence and us, the people, was torn in two. Jesus, through his death on a cross, and through his resurrection, made the way possible for us to come into God’s holy presence through faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

So, what this means for us is that a church building is not the house of God. When we enter that building, or when we enter a room called a sanctuary, we are not entering into God’s holy presence. God does not dwell in buildings built by human hands. He dwells in the human hearts of those who have repented of their sins and who have turned to follow Jesus Christ with their lives. We also don’t need human priests to mediate for us, between us and God, or to somehow facilitate the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus Christ is our only high priest, and his blood sacrifice for sins was a done deed, i.e. he died once for all, so no more sacrifice is needed. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are now his kingdom priests. And, God now dwells within us. We are the church. The church is not someplace we go, and it is definitely not a corporation or a business of human making to be marketed as such.

Yet, making the church into a corporation under the authority of the government paved the way for the church to be adulterated even more than before. Now that it (the institutional church) was incorporated, it was, thus, marketed in the same way most any other business is marketed, which is to the world (its customer base). So, the gospel had to be diluted in order to appeal to human flesh so as not to be offensive. Entertainment and the big show became the focal point of “church” meetings in order to attract the world to come to the “church,” i.e. to these businesses of human-making. And, humanistic philosophy and sensuality and ungodliness began to take over biblical teaching, holiness and righteousness. Also, the Holy Spirit was kicked to the curb in the vast majority of these corporate churches.

The Temple of God (6:16b-18)

For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

So, God is calling out to his true church to come out from among the ungodly, i.e. that there would not be an unholy union between God’s holy people and the people of this sinful world. The church needs to be the church again, i.e. she needs to be the body of Christ, with Christ as her only head, and she needs to operate as his body and not as a business of men. The only way that the ungodly can be brought into the church, which is Christ’s body, is through faith in Jesus Christ, not via human marketing schemes. The purpose of the gatherings of the church is for the body of Christ to be encouraged, strengthened, built up in the faith, grow to maturity, be instructed in holiness and godliness, and for true Christian fellowship, true (unadulterated) worship of God, and for the breaking of bread and prayer. Then, she is to go out into the world with the gospel of salvation so that many will be saved, and the saved then ARE the church.

The church, Christ’s body, needs to be reeducated as to who the church really is, because many have it all backwards. I don’t have to go to a building called “church” to be in obedience to my Lord in not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. And, if I do join in with an institutional church, and I become a member of such an organization, I am being unequally yoked together with unbelievers, and so I would be acting in disobedience to my Lord, for the institutional church is unequally yoked together with an ungodly government and with the world. So, to be in obedience to my Lord I must not participate with the institutional church in their ungodly ways and in their spiritual adultery, but I must come out from among her, and I must be separate, and not be a partaker in what I know is not only not of God, but is against God and his Word.

Cleanse Ourselves (7:1)

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

So, what is the church’s responsibility with regards to all this? I believe it is to separate from the institution of church, and to unincorporate the church, and to come out from the unholy union with the government, and to no longer market the church to the world as a worldly business. The body of Christ needs to meet together as the body of Christ, not as a business, and not invite the ungodly into our meetings, and thus end up conforming the meetings to the desires of human flesh. The gatherings of the church should not be places where the ungodly feel at home and comfortable. If any unsaved person should come into one of our meetings, they should fall under the conviction of the Holy Spirit because the uncompromising word of God is being taught with the full conviction of and under the enormous power of the Holy Spirit. The church’s purpose is not to “make nice” with the world, but it is to walk in humble obedience and surrender to her ONLY Lord and master, Jesus Christ.

To walk in the fear of God means we honor God by all that we do and say and are. It means we obey him, and we do what he says. So, if he says we are not to be unequally yoked together with the ungodly, and that we are to come out from among them and be separate, then that is what we need to do, not matter how hard it may be, or how unpopular, or even how impractical it may seem by human standards. We need to break with human tradition in order to do what is right. And, we need to be willing to face the scorn of others who are so steeped in tradition that they will not understand why we are not “going to church” someplace, and may thus judge us to be among the ungodly, or at least they will probably think we are backslidden. Yet, we are NOT to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We need to meet regularly together with other believers in Jesus for the purpose of teaching, fellowship, communion, prayer and service. This is essential!

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.