Practicing Holiness

Sunday, June 18, 2017, 3:54 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “God Be with You till We Meet Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 4 (Select vv. NASB).

Don’t Be Anxious (vv. 4-7)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

To rejoice means to be “glad for grace” or “to experience God’s grace (favor), be conscious (glad) for His grace” (source: biblehub.com). And, his grace to us is his favor, kindness, and goodness towards us in providing for us the way of salvation (deliverance) from bondage to sin, and for giving us new lives in Christ Jesus, free to now walk in his righteousness and holiness. And, if we are truly glad for his grace, I believe it would mean that we would walk in that grace and not live to gratify the desires of our sinful flesh.

A gentle spirit is forbearing, longsuffering, forgiving, and patient. It patiently endures lasting offense or hardship (M-W). It is also fair, equitable, and reasonable, and it follows the spirit of the law over the letter of the law. The spirit of the law is the true purpose or intent of the law (rule), i.e. what is really at stake (source: biblehub.com). For example, the letter of the law says to not commit adultery, but the spirit of the law says not to even lust after another in our minds and hearts. The letter of the law can be routine, ritual, ceremonial or habitual, and tends to be external only with no real change of heart, mind and attitude. So, if we are to let our gentle spirit be known to all people, it must engage our hearts, it must transform our minds and our actions, and it must be forbearing, forgiving, fair and reasonable.

We are not to be anxious (worried, fearful) about anything. If something is upsetting or disturbing us, we are to take the matter to God in prayer, seek his counsel, pray for wisdom, and rest in his love and in his sovereignty over our lives. And, we are to follow his leading, do what he says, and trust him with the results. Worry never changes anything, except to make matters worse. It is the opposite of faith. When we trust the Lord with our circumstances, and we lean on him in times of need, for him to supply all we need, then his peace will guard our hearts and minds against worry.

Practice These Things (vv. 8-9)

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I think that one of Satan’s fiercest ploys against us is to get our minds distracted from God, and thinking about (dwelling on) what has no eternal value, what is against God and his Word, what is fleshly, and what is worrisome. He also wants us thinking thoughts that are evil, wicked, sensual, hypocritical, hateful, revengeful, bitter and unforgiving, etc. So, we have to rein in our minds by managing, first off, what we willfully allow into our minds. For instance, in 2008 my husband and I took all our movies we had purchased over the years and we compared the content in them to this passage in Philippians 4, no matter how innocent they may have seemed on the surface. And, we were surprised that the vast majority of them did not stand against this test, and thus we trashed them.

But, this isn’t just about the things we choose to watch, read, listen to, etc. This is also about Satan’s tactics against us in introducing thoughts into our minds to try to get us distracted, off track, worried, troubled over minor things, and to get us to be worldly in our thinking, i.e. focused on what has no eternal value, or on what is clearly sinful. So, we need to pray, and we need to guard our hearts and minds against these things by putting them off and by putting on the spiritual armor God has given us to fight off these evil attacks against us (See: Eph. 6:10-20). And, then we need to put on, in our minds, hearts and attitudes, what is pure, right, honest, honorable and worthy of praise. We need to train our minds to be godly – all in the power, wisdom and strength of God’s Spirit now living within us. Amen!

And, not only do we need to change the way we think and believe, and the attitudes of our hearts, but we need to change how we behave, i.e. we need to submit to our Lord, obey his Word, humble ourselves before him, and do what we know is right. Again, this is all in the power, strength and wisdom of the Lord that we are able to do this. Instead of making a practice of doing what is sinful, we need to practice what the Word of God teaches us we must do. And, practice involves repetition, training, habit, obedience, and regularly and consistently living what we believe and what we know is right. And, we have to be intentional about this, and work at it, by the Spirit of God, or we may easily slip back into some of our former ways.

Be Content (vv. 10-13)

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

God has all of us where we are for a reason, if we are walking in his ways and in his truth. He is completely sovereign over all our circumstances. None of what we are going through has escaped his notice or his concern. So, we need to pray and ask him to show us what he wants to teach us through our trials and difficulties, and then allow him to mature us through them. He is teaching me much through this lesson today. I needed this.

Being content in our circumstances, though, does not mean to be lazy, complacent or unconcerned over things which God would want us to learn, change, and put into practice in our lives, or remove from our lives. We should never be content with living sinful lifestyles or in spiritual mediocrity, in other words. That is not what this means! What this is speaking about is being content with having little materially or with having much. But, it can branch out into other areas, too, yet never to the point of being ok with living however we want, giving into sinful pleasure, and indulging in all kinds of lustful passions and desires, and then claiming God’s grace covers it all.

Being content in our circumstances also does not mean complacency or showing unconcern over those who are lost in their sins, or over professing Christians who are living not much different from the world. Gentleness, as well, does not necessarily equate silence and noninvolvement when we see injustices or abuse or when we see Christians practicing sin. We need to remember this: “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:19-20). And, to cover a multitude of sins does not mean to excuse them away or to ignore sinful practices. It means to forgive the sins once committed but now repented of (turned from), and to not punish the offender, but to show him (or her) God’s grace.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. I can, with the strength of the Lord, live righteously, walk in holiness, speak boldly, when needed, yet be gentle, too, and I can live with little or with much, by his grace.

God Be with You till We Meet Again
Jeremiah E. Rankin, William G. Tomer

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
neath his wings securely hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life’s perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
smite death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

Our Spiritual Journey

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 5:16 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 15:11-32 (NASB).

Two Sons (vv. 11-16)

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.

Life is a journey, is it not? Every day, hopefully, we wake up, we get out of bed, if we have a bed to sleep on, that is, and we start a new day. Either we do so with purpose and direction, or else we wander aimlessly, going here and there trying to find satisfaction for life, but always coming up empty. Either we are on a straight (righteous, holy) path, because we are trusting God/Jesus Christ with our lives, or else we are on a winding path or life course with no particular destination in mind other than self-pleasure. Yet, it is possible to be somewhere in the middle between these two paths, I believe, for someone could be on the straight path, but they have gotten off course, at least in some respects, and so they need to get back on course.

I believe there are four types of people in this world (four types of soil). The first type is the one who has not ever made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The second is the one who makes a profession of faith, but it is surface level only (no root), probably because he was taught a false grace gospel which told him that God does not require repentance or obedience, so when things get rough, he yields to pressure, and he abandons the faith altogether. Neither of these have truly believed in Jesus as Savior. And, then there is the one who has believed in Jesus, who was crucified with Christ in death to sin, and risen with Christ to newness of life, but over time the temptations of this world entrapped him again, and so he got off course. And, he needs to return to God and forsake his idols. And, the fourth type is the individual who is walking by faith, is following his Lord in obedience, and who is bearing fruit for God’s kingdom, in keeping with repentance.

God is our creator, which means he gave life to all people, so God is the true father here. So, the two sons could represent the saved and the unsaved. As well, for believers in Jesus Christ, God is our Father and we are his children, so the two sons could also represent the faithful believer in Jesus, though certainly not perfect, and the believer who has gotten off course and has been entrapped by the sinful pleasures of the world once more. The bottom line, though, is that they represent one in fellowship with the Father, who is serving God with his life, who is walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands, and one who has abandoned God, is going his own way, and is living in sensual pleasure and self-indulgence. Yet, even the one in fellowship with the Father has some maturing to do in some areas.

He Came to His Senses (vv. 17-24)

But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Oftentimes, sadly enough, it takes some type of a tragedy or difficult situation in life to get people to come to their senses, and to escape the trap of the devil. When sin gets a grip on people, they can do senseless things, even dangerous things, and stuff which might even get them in trouble with the law, or which might ruin their marriages, etc. And, yet, they go headlong right into what they know is wrong, and what they know is destroying their lives and relationships, even their relationship with God, because their desire is greater for the sin than it is for anything else. They don’t want to let go of the sin, because the sin gives them a false sense of security, or because they are angry with God, and so they feel justified in continuing in the sin, or because they have a sense of entitlement, and so they believe God’s grace gives allowance for their sin, and that God requires nothing of them at all.

When things are going well for us, and we are healthy, and all our physical needs are being met, there may be a temptation to rely on ourselves more than we rely on God. We may become complacent regarding fellowship with our Lord and walking in his Spirit, and the trappings of the world may begin to consume us, our time, thoughts, energies, passion and desires. We may give God a back seat in our lives, and even our devotional lives may begin to ebb away. We don’t necessarily have to even get to the point of gross sin and rebellion to be a prodigal son, but we may just neglect our relationship with Jesus Christ, and what we want and desire may, thus, take first place.

So, God may bring into our lives, or may allow in our lives, some difficult trial, tragedy, sorrow, pain or sickness in order to get our attention, and for the purpose to bring us to our senses. This is not to say that those who are living righteously will not also face such troubled times. They will, and it will be for the purpose to mature them, and so they share in God’s holiness, and so they bear the fruit of God’s righteousness. But, he also disciplines his wandering saints in order to bring them back to himself in humility, repentance and obedience. Sometimes we can be so stupid, so strong-headed, and so bent on our own ways, even though we know better, and so it will take being hit over the head by a two-by-four (not literally) to bring us to our senses. And, even this is God’s grace to us, in order to free us, because he has compassion for us. And, when we do return, he revives and restores us to fellowship with him, and he welcomes us back home.

The Curse of Jealousy (vv. 25-32)

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

Like I said, even those who are walking righteously are not yet perfect (without fault). We are maturing in our walks of faith day-by-day. Daily we are putting to death sinful deeds, by the Spirit, and we are responding to the Spirit’s still small voice in convicting us when we falter, or we should be. And, sometimes our Lord will put a finger on an area of our lives where we need to yield control to our Lord and not do it ourselves. And, we need to respond to his voice by submitting to his will, and by walking in his way.

The one who stayed in communion with the Father ended up being jealous of the one who repented of his evil ways, and who returned, because the Father received him with open arms and he celebrated the son’s return. He felt that the father treated the wandering son, who then later repented, greater than he treated him who had remained with the father. And, that can happen to us, too, if we allow self-righteousness to settle in, and if we forget that our righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight, and it is only his righteousness granted to us, to be lived out through us in his power, that amounts to anything. We were once lost, too, and God found us and saved us by his grace, so we have nothing to boast about or to feel self-righteous about, because it is only by God’s grace that we are not still in the gutter.

Yet, I find another jealousy existing among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, which is equally as bad. Sometimes, when a wandering saint does return to the Lord, and is restored to fellowship with God, and is now walking in the Spirit, and is not gratifying the sinful flesh any longer, those who are still giving way to the flesh, who have not yet repented of their sins, will be jealous and resentful of the relationship the faithful believer has with the Lord. And, that may drive the unrepentant even further into sin and rebellion because of their anger with God and with the repentant. Yet, all of us need to have the perspective that it is only by God’s grace that any of us can be restored to God and have communion with him, and that all of us have the opportunity to walk in faithfulness, if we so choose to do so.

Amazing Grace / John Newton

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Time Not Our Friend

Saturday, April 15, 2017, 7:17 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Here I Go Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Malachi 3 (ESV).

Prepare the Way (vv. 1-4)

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

John the Baptist was the messenger of God who prepared the way for Jesus Christ’s first coming. He preached a message of repentance (turning from sin to God) for the forgiveness of sins, and so did Jesus. Jesus is the Lord who came to the physical temple in physical Jerusalem to preach to them the gospel message of salvation from sin. Outside of faith in Jesus Christ, not one of us can stand before God at the day of his second coming.

All have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval, i.e. the glory of God. Only through Jesus Christ’s shed blood on the cross for our sins can any of us approach the throne of grace and find mercy. And, it is only God-given faith which can save us, i.e. a faith which is divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives, and thus it submits itself to Christ and to his cross. And, the cross is death to sin. And, Jesus’ resurrection is living in the power of the Spirit of God to Christ and to his righteousness.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God (God the Son), who gave his life up for us, so we could be delivered from slavery to sin and eternal damnation, and so we could have new life in him, is coming again one day to judge the world and to take his bride to be with him. And, again, a messenger has been sent before him in the spirit of Elijah (See: Mal. 4:5-6) to prepare the way for his second coming, i.e. to prepare the hearts of the people to be ready for him for when he comes again.

And, I see that messenger in two different forms. One form is those of us whom God has called to give out messages such as this one which confronts sin in the church, in particular, warns of divine judgment (discipline, correction), calls for repentance, and promises the hope of deliverance and internal peace for the one who repents of his or her sin, and who turns his or her heart to Jesus Christ, making him their Lord (owner-master) and Savior.

The other messenger, I believe, is that of the judgments of God which will take place during the time of tribulation, which we may have already entered into, or upon which we may be on the precipice. So, this messenger, just like the one mentioned above, is a divine instrument of God’s judgments, first on his temple, the body of Christ, and then on the world. One messenger speaks words of judgment, but also of mercy, while the other carries out the judgments of God, which is also God’s mercy to bring hearts to (or back to) himself. And, the purpose for this judgment on the people of God is to refine us and to purify us so that we bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.

For Judgment (v. 5)

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Since November of 2004 the Lord Jesus has been showing me these judgments of God which are taking place and will yet take place on nations, peoples, and on Christians throughout the world, including inside America, as is prophesied in the scriptures (the Bible). He has also opened up my eyes to see America and its government in an entirely different light than I had ever seen before. I believe we, the USA, or at least our government and military and financial sector, are Babylon, the harlot which rides the beast. Our government is like the right-hand man of this beast (New World Order), doing the bidding of the de facto government of these United States, i.e. a shadow government of the Elite (wealthy and powerful) of this world.

So, the government we feel we have elected as our leaders are not really the ones running this country. This shadow government is, and behind the scenes. Our “elected” officials work for them, and they can only do what the Elite tell them to do. So, when President Trump orders a strike on Syria, or when a US military general in Afghanistan orders a huge bomb to be dropped on some people in Afghanistan, the orders come from this shadow government of the Elite (the New World Order and/or the All-Seeing Eye). And, their purpose for all the evil crimes they commit against humanity is to bring the world together as one – under a one world totalitarian government and into a one world religion, which embraces all religions and lifestyles.

In a nutshell, judgment is at the door for America, but not just for us, but for the world as a whole, and yet I believe what has been happening and what will yet happen is for the purposes described in this passage of scripture, and that is to refine and to purify the church, and to revive the part of the church which has become complacent, idolatrous, and spiritually adulterous in her relationship with the Lord.

Also, the US government is not who they claim to be, and most of what we read or hear in the media is a pack of lies, because the media is mostly owned by the Elite (this shadow government). I believe the US is behind the chemical weapons attack in Syria and that it was used as a false flag operation in order to aggressively go after the people of Syria. Also, ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, etc. are mostly all supported, trained, and equipped by the US, so we are not going after terrorists, but we ARE the terrorists who are killing innocents across the globe, and in particular Christians – we are the persecutors, under orders from this shadow government. Our own government will also come against us, too, to take down our nation.

I believe nuclear war is coming to the world. I don’t know when. I believe it could be very soon. I believe the weapons, at the hands of the US government are ready to go for whenever they get the order, i.e. the authority to use this type of force. The Lord has shown me nuclear weapons in bodies of water more so than he has shown me them in the air, though certainly they could be transported by air into the bodies of water. This shadow government (New World Order ‘beast’) is using the threat of nuclear attacks as a means presently to get the nations of this world and the people of this world to bow to the beast. Not everyone is complying. Many are resisting. If they do not comply, though, they will face the wrath of this global government. Where we are headed, I believe, is to a divided world, i.e. there will be those who will follow the beast and those who will follow Jesus Christ. There will be no more middle ground – one side or the other.

God Does Not Change (application of vv. 6-18 to today)

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. (v. 6)

I am not familiar with the church across the world, but I am familiar with the church here in America. God is going to come in judgment against America because the vast majority of his church first of all partnered with an evil government (via the 501c3). Thus, they brought the government into the church as head and turned the body of Christ into a human business, and they have marketed it just like a business to the world. They entertain the world instead of preaching repentance to them for forgiveness of sins. And, so they dilute the gospel to make it more attractive to the world, and to give people carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt.

Although this does not apply to all Christians in America, or to all local fellowships of believers, many Christians in America have gone the way of the world and have adopted its ways, values, attitudes, thinking and behaviors. It is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. So many Christians spend hours upon hours watching TV, surfing the NET, chatting on social media sites, texting their friends, exchanging pictures and videos, especially selfies, watching ballgames, playing sports, or taking care of their prized possessions, and often to the exclusion of time spent alone with our Lord. But, it isn’t just the time, but that they give their hearts, devotion, loyalties, commitments, passion, etc. to these things which have no eternal value whatsoever, while they neglect the family of God and the kingdom of heaven and their Lord, who is to be their owner-master.

But, even beyond that, many Christians in America have returned to sinful lifestyles and are involved in pornography or in watching sexual or sensual material on TV or on the internet. A large percentage of our pastors have dabbled in or are addicted to pornography, too. Many Christians have gotten involved in extra-marital affairs at the work place or on the internet, via social media sites and private chats. Since so many Christians have adopted or are influenced by the ways and values of the world, many of them also have no conscience about lying, deceiving, cheating, stealing, gossiping, or overeating, etc. And, even when God convicts their hearts, they don’t listen, and they don’t obey him, but they continue on in their sinful ways. Yet, through judgment, God intends to revive his church and to bring her back to him as her ONLY Lord and Savior.

Yet, this doesn’t describe every Christian, not that we are all perfect who are not walking in sin, but there are Christians in America who fear the Lord with awe, honor and respect, who are praying for revival in our nation and for the salvation of their loved ones before the Lord returns. And, many more will be there, too, when revival does come, and then we will see that division, i.e. that distinction between those who serve God and those who serve the flesh and the devil (and the beast). Yet, until then, we have to realize that time is not on our side. These things prophesied in scripture will take place. God’s Word will be fulfilled. So, take this to heart.

Here I Go Again / Casting Crowns

…So maybe this time
I’ll speak the words of life
With Your fire in my eyes
But that old familiar fear
is tearin’ at my words
What am I so afraid of?
‘Cause here I go again
Talkin’ ’bout the rain
And mullin’ over things
that won’t live past today
And as I dance around the truth
Time is not his friend
This might be my last chance
to tell him that You love Him…

Are You Alive?

Sunday, March 5, 2017, 6:34 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Open My Heart.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 3:1-6 (NASB).

The Reputation (v. 1)

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

This is Jesus speaking. He is speaking to the church in a particular location. Today we can ask ourselves if this applies to us, or to our local church fellowship. What does our character reveal about us? About our church fellowship? Do we have a reputation of being spiritually alive? Or dead? If alive, what is this reputation based on? And, who is the one giving this impression? Are we alive in Christ by name (reputation) only but not in reality? Is this just a façade, i.e. a false persona that we present on the outside while inside we are devoid of the radiant presence and power of the Spirit, while we are still operating primarily from our own flesh?

For instance, what would be your definition of a church that is “alive”? Be honest. I think most people, particularly of this generation, would think that a church was alive if the music was exciting and upbeat, if the church services were fun and entertaining, as well as inspiring, if the people were friendly, and if the sermons were not too long or too serious, but were just light talks to make the people feel good. If they had a really cool logo and a colorful state-of-the-art website, and fun packed activities for adults and children alike, that would make it even more alive. Right? I mean, who likes a church that is boring and that preaches about sin and repentance? That is for old-fogies and stick-in-the-muds, right? Church should be fun, fun, fun!

Obviously I am being sarcastic to make a point. At least, I hope you picked up on that. The sad reality of it all, though, is that does represent the attitude of a large number of church goers, which is evidenced in the masses flocking to the Mega churches which cater to the world. Yet, when Jesus speaks of a church being alive, he is not talking about the cool music and the fun and entertaining preachers, is he? So, what is he talking about?

Well, for one, he is not speaking about the institutional church, but he is talking about the body of Christ, his saints. Yet, included in this is the fact that there are those among them who are not genuine believers in Christ and those who are Christians in name only. But, the people he is largely addressing are born again believers in Jesus, but they are those who have compromised with the world, and who have turned to marketing the church just like big business, and who are following after the philosophies of humans rather than or over and above the teachings of Christ. They have bought into this whole concept of church being run and marketed just like any other business, and they have forgotten that Jesus Christ is the head of his church, not man, and that the Spirit of God is the one to empower us.

So, a local body of believers in Jesus can have a reputation of being alive if that reputation is based on human thinking and reasoning and not on the Word of God. But, if they are following humans and thus they are diluting the gospel to make it more acceptable to the world, and they are turning worship services into big stage productions to entertain the world, though they be alive by the world’s standards, they are mostly dead by God’s standards, because they are being guided by the flesh and not by the Spirit of God. Spiritually alive means walking in the Spirit, in obedience to our Lord, repenting of sin, allowing the Spirit to lead, and following our Lord wherever he leads us to go and to be and to say and to do.

Wake up! (vv. 2-3)

Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

So, the counsel here is to “wake up.” When we are awake physically, we are conscious, alert, and aware. It is the same spiritually. When we are nearly dead, it means we are in a state of insensitivity and unresponsiveness to the Spirit’s voice, and the power and working of the Spirit of God is barely evident in our lives, if at all, because we have probably quenched the Spirit and put out his fire in our lives. This is the condition of much of today’s modern church here in America. They are so wrapped up in the trappings of the world and with trying to entertain the world that they are just about completely missing what the Spirit of God has for them. They haven’t forgotten God altogether, but they have squelched (silenced) his voice so many times, because they want to be acceptable to the world, so they barely hear him anymore, and thus they have mostly pushed him out the door.

If they want to be spiritually alive again, they need to throw out all those marketing books on how to grow their churches (businesses) and all those books written by mere humans which are replacing the Bible in “Bible” studies, and they need to focus their “worship” services on true worship of God and not on entertaining the world. What does God call true worship? It is for us to give ourselves to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways (patterns) of this sinful world, but to be transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind so that we can show what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God by our lives (Ro. 12:1-2). So, they need to repent of their worldliness, and be holy – set apart (unlike, different) from the world because they are becoming like Jesus!

They also need to return to the gospel of our salvation as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, and not as taught by worldly men who are trying to gain followers after themselves, while leading people to a false hope of eternity with God. They need to teach about sin, judgment, repentance, obedience, and submission to God, as well as they need to teach about God’s grace, our salvation, forgiveness, and his mercy. They need to tell the truth that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and not just that he died to free us from hell and to give us heaven when we die. They need to tell people that if we live a lifestyle of sin (practice sin), that we will die in our sins, not go to heaven, and that Jesus died to deliver us from slavery (bondage) to sin, not just to forgive us our sins.

God/Jesus is saying to his complacent and spiritually adulterous church that she needs to remember what she received and heard from Him, not from man, but from the Word of God, and then she (the church) needs to keep (obey) it. He is saying, “Turn from your sins of complacency and idolatry, and turn to follow (obey) me with your lives.” If the “mostly dead” church does not repent, then God is going to visit her in divine discipline (judgment, correction) when she least expects it, not that she is expecting it at all.

Walk in White (vv. 4-6)

But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Not everyone is like this, though, i.e. like the description in the section above. Not all Christians or all church congregations in America are worldly, complacent, mostly dead, and are in need of a wake-up call. There are believers in Christ in America who love the Lord very much and who are walking in his holiness and righteousness, whose desire is for him, to please him in all that they do, and who honor God with their lives and with their witness for him. They take God and his Word seriously, and they are dedicated to the Lord and to his service. They don’t play with sin or make excuses for it, but they call for repentance and obedience to Christ, and they, themselves, walk the talk and they don’t just talk the walk. They walk in purity, in truthfulness and in integrity. Jesus will confess their names before His Father for he found them worthy, because they worship him in spirit and in truth, and they follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

Open My Heart / An Original Work / July 2, 2013
“Be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil” (Rm. 16:19b).

Open my heart. Let Your truth in.
Make of me a servant, pure within;
Sing of Your praise all of my days.
Let Your Spirit transform all my ways.
Jesus Christ died on a cross to
Save me from my sin.
“Repent of sin. Be cleansed within.
Obey all of His commands today.”

“Why do you doubt? Why do you fear?
Jesus Christ will wipe away your tears.
He cares for you. He feels your pain.
Die to sin, and life with Him you’ll gain.
Follow Him where’er He leads you.
Talk with Him each day.
Then you will know what He has planned
For your life before your world began.”

“Come unto Me, weary in heart.
Let My love and grace to you impart.
Believe in Me. Trust in My care.
Take your burdens to the Lord in prayer.
He will meet all of your needs,
And give you peace within.
Rejoice in Him! Tell of His love.
He will give you comfort from above.”

I Find My Delight

Thursday, November 3, 2016, 8:45 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 119:41-64 (ESV).

Waw (vv. 41-48)

Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
your salvation according to your promise;
then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
for my hope is in your rules.
I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever,
and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts.
I will also speak of your testimonies before kings
and shall not be put to shame,
for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes.

Do we, as followers of Jesus Christ, truly find our delight in His Word? We should! Or, do we find more enjoyment in the things of this world, and in worldly entertainment? Do we get more excited about a baseball team winning or losing the World Series than we do about the things of God?

What if Christians began showing the kind of passion and enthusiasm for Christ, His Word, and His gospel, as they show for their favorite sport, sports team, and sport heroes? If we all did, we could set the world on fire for Jesus! I guarantee it! I have seen how dedicated these sports fans are. Oh, that the body of Christ would be that fervent (zealous) in their relationships with Jesus Christ and in sharing the gospel of salvation with the world.

Also, are we committed to obedience to God’s Word, with ardent care and concern to follow what is written in it? Is the Word of God regularly on our lips as well as in our hearts? Is our hope truly found in the commandments of Christ, i.e. in his instructions he has given to us for godly living? And, are we devoted to studying the Word of God, to listening to what the Spirit says to our hearts, and then to following our Lord in obedience, even if people reject, hate and ostracize us because they think we have flipped our lids?

Zayin (vv. 49-56)

Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.
The insolent utterly deride me,
but I do not turn away from your law.
When I think of your rules from of old,
I take comfort, O Lord.
Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,
who forsake your law.
Your statutes have been my songs
in the house of my sojourning.
I remember your name in the night, O Lord,
and keep your law.
This blessing has fallen to me,
that I have kept your precepts.

Are you ignored, made fun of, treated disrespectfully, mocked or otherwise mistreated for your faith in Jesus Christ, for your testimony for him, and/or for sharing with others his gospel of salvation? If so, you are not alone. Many followers of Jesus Christ, throughout the world, are being severely persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ, especially those who are verbal about their faith, and who stand firm in following the Word of Truth without compromise of truth and conviction.

If these were complete strangers who were persecuting us, though, I think we could bear it with much less emotional pain, but, as Jesus said would happen, much of this persecution and/or snubbing is coming from those within our families, from friends and neighbors, from other Christians, and even from our pastors and our governmental leaders within our nations. This mistreatment is coming largely from those who are supposed to love and protect us, but who have turned their backs on us, and who have handed us over to the New World Order Beast, in order for it to trample us down and to spit us out, as though we don’t matter, because we don’t conform to the norms of society, which they have determined as solidarity of mind and purpose with this beast and its world system, and one-world religion.

Also, are we passionately and fervently concerned that so many people who call themselves Christians are living not much different from those who make no claims to faith in Jesus Christ at all? Does it bother us at all that the church has been going down the toilet for some time now, as they have drifted away from purity of mind and heart with regard to Christ and his Word, and have gone the way of the world in order to “win the world”? Does all the wickedness that is going on in the world break our hearts? Do we weep over how many children are being handed smart phones and tablets with free and unmonitored internet access? Or, are we too busy having fun and being entertained to even notice or care?

Heth (vv. 57-64)

The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
I entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
I hasten and do not delay
to keep your commandments.
Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
I am a companion of all who fear you,
of those who keep your precepts.
The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!

It deeply concerns me to see so many professing Christians so casual and even flippant about their relationships with Jesus Christ, and with regard to obedience to his Word. They say “I am a Christian,” but they live just like the world (of sin). The fact that they keep sinning, and that they know they are being disobedient to God’s Word doesn’t seem to faze them. Lies, deceptions, fornication, adultery, sexual immorality, cheating, stealing, hatred, fighting, gossip, etc. all seem so commonplace now among those who profess the name of Jesus. They pick and choose what they will obey and what they won’t obey. Many of them give Jesus Christ barely even an acknowledgment, but then they talk about the day they will get to go to heaven to be with him. I think, “Why would you want to be with Jesus for eternity if you don’t bother with him while you are on the earth?”

I wonder how many people who call themselves followers of Christ actually live like what the psalmist describes for us here in these verses. Do we even think on (consider) our ways, if they are pleasing to God or not? And, if we do, do we turn our feet to God and to his commands, or do we keep going our own way, without regard for his instructions to us? Do we really hasten and not delay to obey his commands, or do we dilly-dally? In other words, do we waste time through aimless wandering or indecision, and then never go anywhere? When we are tempted to sin against God, do we immediately respond with obedience to God, or do we vacillate in indecision? Will we get up during a night of sleep to spend time with God, if he wakens us? Or, will we love our sleep more? I don’t know about you, but I want to be like the psalmist describes in these verses. I don’t want to waste my life away on what has no eternal value at all, and on what is utterly worthless.

We all need to walk in the fear of the Lord. We need to take these verses to heart, and we need to pray to God that these words (most of them) would be true to our lives. If God’s people would have this kind of passion for Jesus and for his Word and for his gospel, the world would not be in the situation we now find it in, I believe. But, we have gotten there largely because so much of the church has gone AWOL, i.e. they are asleep, and are too busy being entertained and having a good time to really get serious about God and about having this kind of relationship with him. So, we need a wakeup call to shake the church out of her slumber into submission to Christ and his cross, so that she can impact this world for Jesus Christ before he returns.

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!