Ears Stopped Up

Sunday, September 3, 2017, 4:13 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 Isaiah 48 (Select vv. NASB).

Not in Truth (vv. 1, 4, & 8)

“Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are named Israel
And who came forth from the loins of Judah,
Who swear by the name of the Lord
And invoke the God of Israel,
But not in truth nor in righteousness…

“Because I know that you are obstinate,
And your neck is an iron sinew
And your forehead bronze…

“You have not heard, you have not known.
Even from long ago your ear has not been open,
Because I knew that you would deal very treacherously;
And you have been called a rebel from birth.”

The nation of Israel, under the Old Covenant relationship with God, was in a unique position which will never again be equaled, so we can’t make exact parallels between them and any other group of people today, yet there is much we can learn from these verses which describe them at that time.

For instance, there are many people in the world today who proclaim to be Christians and followers of Jesus Christ. Many of them, perhaps, had parents who also claimed to be Christians, and/or they were brought up attending gatherings of the church or church meetings in localized institutional churches. They may even have been baptized, perhaps as infants, or as adults, possibly as a means of joining a local church fellowship, and they may even be active within these local church gatherings or institutional churches in positions of teacher, elder, deacon or pastor, etc. Yet, their relationships with God, with Jesus, are profession only. Their professions of faith in Jesus Christ, in other words, are not in truth or in righteousness.

So, what does it mean to believe in Jesus in truth and in righteousness? It means that when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we submit to his Lordship over our lives, we humble ourselves in confession of sin, and repentance, and we trust in our Lord, not only to forgive us our sins, but to cleanse our hearts of all unrighteousness.

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. We are not looking just for a get-out-of-jail-free card or merely a promise of heaven when we die, but we truly want to give our hearts to Jesus in full surrender to his will for our lives. So, by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh. We no longer conduct our lives according to the flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, but not in absolute sinless perfection, but in consistent and persistent walks of faith and commitment to our Lord and to his ways and to his will.

Yet, those who make a profession only of faith in Jesus Christ, in many cases, are those who are actually opposed to Christ and his truth and his ways, in many respects. For truly their hearts are obstinate (stubborn) and unrepentant, and they are just using God for what they think they can get out of him, while they have no real intentions of ever submitting to his will for their lives. They want the blessings of God in their lives, but they want to keep going their own stubborn way in living their lives however they want, for their own pleasure, and to thirst after their own sinful desires. So, they stop up their ears, and they refuse to listen (really hear and respond) to God’s Word, although many of them will pretend as though they do.

He Will Act (vv. 9-11)

“For the sake of My name I delay My wrath,
And for My praise I restrain it for you,
In order not to cut you off.
“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
“For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act;
For how can My name be profaned?
And My glory I will not give to another.”

We read in the New Testament that the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise concerning his return one day, but which also includes judgment. He is very patient and longsuffering, giving time for many to repent of their sins before he comes back, and before he judges the people of the earth, because he is not willing that any should perish in their sins, but that all should come to repentance, for this is why he died and rose again.

Yet, the Lord does discipline those of us who are truly his, and sometimes because those who are his are not living like they are his, but they are temporarily straying from their pure devotion to him, and they are going their own stubborn way. And, so he disciplines them in order to bring them back into fellowship with him. Yet he may also allow difficulties, trials and hardships in the lives of those who make a profession of him only, or in the lives of those who make no profession of faith in him, and who don’t know him, and in order to bring them into genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

But, one day he will come in judgment on the people of this earth, and for the sake of his name, which is being profaned by those who give him lip service only, but whose hearts are far from him. And, many will perish in their sins. So, we need to be spreading the truth of the gospel to as many as will listen so that many will be saved before the wrath of God is poured out.

The Way We Should Go (vv. 17-22)

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you in the way you should go.
“If only you had paid attention to My commandments!
Then your well-being would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
“Your descendants would have been like the sand,
And your offspring like its grains;
Their name would never be cut off or destroyed from My presence.”

Go forth from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans!
Declare with the sound of joyful shouting, proclaim this,
Send it out to the end of the earth;
Say, “The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob.”
They did not thirst when He led them through the deserts.
He made the water flow out of the rock for them;
He split the rock and the water gushed forth.
“There is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord.

We, as the people of God, and we, as the people of this earth, need to pay attention closely to what God is saying, for one day we will no longer have this opportunity to heed his words and to follow his ways. We need to listen to his counsel, and we must follow his leading, and surrender to his will for our lives, for he says that if we continue in our sinful ways, and we make sin our practice, we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God, but only a fearful expectation of judgment.

We must understand that God does visit nations and peoples and even his saints in judgment or divine discipline and correction when they go their own stubborn way and refuse his counsel. And, at least some of this could be avoided if we would just heed his Words to us, and obey his commands. Yet, he does not promise smooth sailing even for the righteous and godly, but he promises we will have difficulties, afflictions, and persecutions which are to test our faith, mature us in Christ, make us holy, and to train us in godliness and righteousness. Yet, we can know his inward peace and joy, and know his strength and power in our lives through these trials, and we can be overcomers, if we just put our trust in him, and follow him and his ways.

What our Lord is saying to the people of the world today, and to his saints who are caught up in the world and who have strayed from him, is that they must humble themselves before God, turn from their wicked ways, and follow him in surrender and obedience. They must flee from sinful practices, worldliness and following their own lustful desires, and they must submit themselves to the will of God for their lives. For, he died that they might die to sin and live to righteousness, not in their own strength and power, but in the strength and power of the Lord living within them. He has given us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him, so none of us have an excuse for living in stubborn and willful rebellion against God.

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.

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Dead or Alive?

Thursday, June 22, 2017, 8:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Wake Up!” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 3:1-6 (ESV).

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. 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.’

Jesus is speaking here to the church in a specific location, at a particular time in history, but this could apply to the church today, too, and in any location. Yet, this can also apply, at least in part, to us individually, as well. So, as we read this passage of scripture, we should prayerfully consider how this might apply to you and to me, and to our local fellowships of believers in Jesus Christ, or to the church universally across America or the world.

By Reputation Only

The church has a reputation of being alive, but they are dead, or they are mostly dead, it would appear. So, what does alive or dead look like?

Well, if you were to ask a group of Christians in America if they believed their church was alive, and to describe what that looks like, what do you believe they would say? I believe the majority would describe “alive” as having to do with the music being lively and loud, the preacher being funny and entertaining or culturally relevant, church being fun rather than boring, and there being plenty of activities and fun and entertaining events. And, “dead” to them would be a church that was too serious, that was boring and not fun and entertaining, that didn’t blend in with the culture of the day, and that spoke too much on repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ.

Obviously that is not what this passage of scripture is talking about, or it may actually be the reverse of how the majority of Christians in America might describe “alive” and “dead,” with regard to their local fellowships.

In other words, “alive,” in this context, has to do with being spiritually alive, which has very much to do with repentance, obedience, and submission, and with taking God and his word very seriously. Yet, it also has to do with the joy of the Lord, the peace of Christ, and walking in fellowship with Him. As well, being “dead” (or mostly dead) has to do with being spiritually dead, which may mean that they focus too much attention on externals, and on meeting felt needs, and on entertaining the masses, to the exclusion of repentance, obedience and submission to Christ and to his cross. And, to the exclusion of taking God and his word seriously, and applying its truths to their daily lives. Yet, inclusive of worldly attitudes and behaviors, and even encouraging such behaviors by teaching a false grace gospel, which gives its adherents free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse.

Many people who call themselves Christians, or many Christian churches, have the presumption of spirituality (being of the Spirit of God) based on the name Christian or the name church, or because they might be “good deed doers,” but it may be only performance. In other words, they may honor God with their lips, but their hearts may be far from God. Their “spirituality” is in form only, but not in the practice of godly and holy living. They clean up nice on the outside, and they have the appearance of godliness, but they deny its power by their lifestyles. They have bought into a false grace gospel which teaches them that God does not require repentance, obedience or submission, and thus they think they have free rein to continue in willful sin against God and still have the promise of eternal life with God.

Wake Up!

So, the call here is to wake up from your spiritual slumber, and to revive what still has life in you, but which is about to die completely. So, how do we do this? Well, first off, we have to pray, seek God’s face, and ask him to show us what is mostly dead in our lives, and what needs to be brought back to life. We probably already know what that is, if we are paying any attention to our spiritual lives at all, but we may need the Lord to point these things out for us, if we have not been paying attention to how our lives may have slipped away from our pure devotion to Christ, and how we may have become entrapped by the world and by sinful attitudes and behaviors once again. It is possible to become desensitized to evil and to the Spirit’s voice speaking to our hearts, to where we can become complacent and apathetic or lazy about our spiritual walks with Christ, so that we need the Spirit of God to show us where we need to be brought back to life.

When the Spirit of God, thus, points these things out to us, and shows us how we have gotten off track, and where we need to get back on point, then we need to repent of our sins, turn away from them, and turn back to following our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. We must realize here that “Lord” is not just a title or a name given to Jesus to signify that he is God, but that it means “owner-master.” And, we are his bond-slaves (willing submission). He is the owner of our lives, and he is the one to direct our paths and to guide the course of our lives, not us. We are not on this earth for our own enjoyment and pleasure, but we are here to honor God with our lives, and to do what he has called us to do and to be.

If we choose to keep going our own way, though, doing what we want, and still addicted to sinful behaviors and attitudes, God will use divine discipline in order to judge, correct, rebuke, chastise and scourge us, and in order to get us to turn from our sinful ways, and to get us to come back to him in full submission. And, we don’t know when this will take place. And, we can’t even be certain that we would survive such a judgment. Yet, if we are conquerors through Jesus Christ, who loves us, and we give up our sinful practices, and we follow our Lord in obedience, then we will have our eternal rewards in heaven with God. But, if we refuse to repent, and if we continue to practice sinning, the Bible teaches that we don’t have the assurance of eternal life with God (Jn. 6:35-66; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 5:1-21).

Walk in White

Yet, not every individual, and not every church congregation which professes the name of Jesus is mostly dead and in need of repentance and revival. There are those who believe in Jesus throughout the world who are not soiling their garments, i.e. who are not in the practice of willfully sinning against God and giving in to the sinful desires of their flesh. They walk with Christ in purity (decency, integrity) of heart, mind, attitude and behavior.

They live in unadulterated fellowship with their Lord. They are spiritually alive, and they follow their Lord in obedience. They walk in a manner worthy of the calling they have received from the Lord, “to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (See: Col. 1:9-12; cf. Eph. 4:1-3; Phil. 1:27-28; 1 Thess. 2:11-12).

And, this is how we should all live, who profess the name of Jesus. But, if you are among the “mostly dead” spiritually, then you need to turn from your sins today, trust Jesus Christ with your life, and choose to walk from this moment forward in a manner worthy of your calling, in purity of heart, mind, attitude and behavior.

Wake Up! / An Original Work / November 25, 2011

Based off Ephesians 5:1-21; Revelation 3:1-6

Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead.
Your God awaits you to do what
He says to you.
Be not conformed to your selfish will.
Trust in the Lord. Do what He says.
He will give you victory.
Do not walk in darkness;
Come into the light of love.

Listen to your Savior calling
You to obey all His teachings.
Repent of your sin, and
Christ will shine His love on you.
He waits patiently for you to
Heed His whispers to your heart.
Will you hasten to obey Him;
Not from Him depart?

Live your life from this day forward,
Walking in His love and mercy.
Let Him cleanse you of all your sins.
Dwell with Him today.
Do not insult God’s grace to you.
Do not make light of your sin.
Let the light of His truth come
And free you from within.

Arise and Speak

Saturday, June 17, 2017, 5:55 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 Jeremiah 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Appointed by God (vv. 4-8)

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.

We read in Psalm 139:

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

And, we read in 2 Tim. 1:8-9 & Eph. 1:3-4 (respectively):

“Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

And, we read in 1 Pet. 2:9 & Matt. 28:18-20 (respectively):

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all called (chosen, appointed) by God to a holy calling, which includes proclaiming and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples of Christ of people throughout the world. And, we, too, were called of God to this even before the creation of the world; even before we were formed in our mother’s wombs. So, we should not neglect our calling out of fear of what others may think of us, or what they might do to us, or out of complacency and apathy, thinking this is only for those God calls to be preachers or teachers. But, we should be purposeful and intentional in sharing the gospel so that others might hear, and so they may be saved before our Lord Jesus returns to judge and to take us home.

Pluck Up and Build (vv. 9-12)

Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,

“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
“See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant.”
The word of the Lord came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”

The truth of the gospel of our salvation involves this plucking up, breaking down, destroying, and overthrowing, yet also building and planting. How so, you say? Well, the truth of the gospel is that we are all born sinners (Ro. 3:23), and we all, thus, come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit. Not one of us can earn or deserve our own salvation. So, Jesus died on a cross for our sins so that, through faith in him, we might be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we might have new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

So, how does this take place? Well, first of all God draws us to Jesus, and then he gives us the faith to believe in him, but we have to take ownership of that faith and apply it to our lives. We have to receive Jesus by faith. And, this faith involves turning from our sins, and turning to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience to his will for our lives. When we believe in Jesus, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with him to newness of life, to be lived to him and to his righteousness. The old has gone, the new has come. We no longer live our lives to gratify our sinful desires, but by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are conducting our lives in accordance with the Spirit of God.

But, this does not mean we will never sin again, or that we won’t ever wander off the path and get off track, and need to be reminded of our calling and prompted to throw off those sins which so easily entangle, and the weight of all that is hindering our walks of faith, so that we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us that we should follow (run). So, sometimes God calls certain people to speak his words of correction and instruction to us, in order to get us back on track with God, and this involves, too, this breaking down of stubborn hearts, and the plucking up of what is causing closed ears, and the overthrowing of sinful behaviors and attitudes so that God may revive us, restore (build) us, and use us again.

A Fortified City (vv. 13-19)

The word of the Lord came to me a second time saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” Then the Lord said to me, “Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For, behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,” declares the Lord; “and they will come and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls round about and against all the cities of Judah. I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.

Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them. Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.

One of the ways in which God accomplishes this plucking up, breaking down, destroying and overthrowing of sinful behaviors and attitudes, stubborn hearts and wills, and blocked (stopped up) ears, which are unwilling to obey him, is via divine discipline and correction (judgment; reproving; scourging). He does this for our good, that we may share in his holiness, and that we might be trained (taught) by the discipline, in order that it might produce in our lives the peaceful fruit of righteousness (holiness, godliness, decency). And, this is a painful process (See: Heb. 12:1-11; cf. Rev. 2-3).

Sometimes God will use trials, tribulations and difficulties in our lives as his instruments of divine discipline and correction. Other times, if this is widespread, i.e. if a large percentage of his children are living in stubborn rebellion and/or complacency and apathy, he will use foreign powers or even our own nations’ leaders to come against us, and to war against us – God’s people, his saints – in order to revive and restore (build and plant) us. And, this is where much of the church, at least here in America, is today. So many have gone the way of the world and have gotten off the “straight and narrow” path of righteousness and holiness, and they have wandered off to follow after the flesh and the gods of this world. So, God is going to discipline them in order to bring them back to him.

These “kingdoms of the north,” in our world today, is an alliance of nations, CEOs of corporations, big banks, the Elite (wealthy and powerful) of the world, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, et al. They are called “The New World Order,” and they are definitely coming against the saints of God BIG TIME! They want to break down all which divides us as the people of the world so that we can all come together in unity – with one voice and one heart. They want us all to accept all religions as viable, and to tolerate (be lenient toward) sinful lifestyles. So, they are going after “religious extremism,” which, by definition, includes all those who are preaching the full gospel message. So, they are declaring the gospel, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, to be intolerant, bigoted and hateful speech, although they have not yet, to my knowledge, said that directly, but it is implied over and over again.

Yet, we are not to fear their threats, but we are to rely on the strength of the Lord, and we are to keep on speaking, and not be silent, for our God is in control. They will fight against us, but God will help us through it all.

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.

Share His Holiness

Thursday, February 16, 2017, 6:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “In Faithfulness He Leads Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 12:4-17 (NASB).

For Discipline (vv. 4-11)

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but 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.

The object of why Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins was that we might be delivered out of slavery to sin. So, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Since we died with Christ to sin, “how can we live in it any longer?” “Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” So, we are to count ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23).

Many people who call themselves Christians give in to temptation to sin far too easily. They don’t even try to resist Satan or flee sinful desires. Others make some attempt at trying to combat temptation to sin, but they fail because they are operating in their flesh, and not in the Spirit. They are still toying (playing) with what leads them into sin, and then they wonder why they can’t get victory.

We have to remember the saying here, “Garbage in, garbage out.” If we take trash into our minds and eyes on a regular basis, this is what our minds are going to think about and eventually act upon. There is another saying that says, “If you don’t plan to succeed, then you plan to fail.” Most people who are struggling with sin, I would say, give into temptation because they have no plan in place to flee sinful desires.

So, one of the reasons that our Lord disciplines us is to get us back on track, following him in obedience, and not giving the devil a foothold in our lives. His goal in discipline of the wandering saint is to reprove, correct, and instruct in righteousness. God disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness. To be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being made into the image of Christ, which is another reason for discipline, i.e. to conform us into Christ’s likeness. And, if we are being disciplined by the Lord, it should be painful and not pleasant for it to do its work in our lives. But, if we have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness, which is the goal (objective).

Yet, not all discipline is because we are failing to follow our Lord in obedience. Not all discipline is for the purpose to correct and rebuke us, but it is for training in godliness and holiness, and to help us mature in our walks of faith. It is so we learn to rely not on ourselves, but on God. It teaches us patience and endurance. It prunes us so we can be even more fruitful. It teaches us love, mercy, forgiveness and compassion. It helps us to feel what God feels so that we take on his heart and his passion for ministry. It keeps us humble. And, it keeps us focused on Jesus and on his mission so that we don’t get distracted by the cares of this life and miss out on all he has for us.

Strengthen Weak Knees (vv. 12-13)

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

So, if we are struggling with sin, meaning we are not being successful on a consistent basis in combating temptation to sin, but we are regularly yielding to what we know is wrong to do, then something needs to change. First, we have to really want to change or it isn’t going to happen, so we need to first yield to our Lord and allow him to truly be Lord (owner-master) of our lives. We need to humbly repent of all known sin and trust him to show us the way of escape he has made for us. We have to believe that when Jesus died for our sins that he put sin to death so that sin no longer has mastery over us, unless we let it. Satan is already defeated, so there is not any question who is going to win this battle. We just have to use the spiritual armor God has given to us to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us.

So, we have to get serious about God and about sin if we are going to defeat sin. We have to have an honest heart examination before God and let him show us all the areas of our lives where we are giving in to sin, and to show us what is required for us to gain the victory. One of the first things we have to do is to rid our lives of all that hinders our spiritual walks and which leads us into sin. We can’t watch TV shows or movies, for example, with sexual situations in them or containing sensuality and not be tempted to lust. We also can’t go to websites where they have tempting ads on the side or on the bottom where we have previously given in to temptation. We have to recognize our areas of weakness and not allow ourselves to be drawn into sin by going places where we know we are going to be tempted.

Then, in prayer, before God, we make a plan for how we are going to resist the devil, flee sinful desires and draw near to God. We have to be proactive about this or we will get sideswiped, because Satan knows our weaknesses, and he knows our back doors, too, because he has entered them before. We have to set our face like a flint against sin if we are going to get serious about not giving in to temptation. We can’t wink at it or flirt with it at all! And, we have to be willing to have our friends and family members think we are nuts because we are not doing the things we did before. Sometimes we have to get radical if we want results. If we are too casual about sin, it will bite us most every time.

So, we learn about put offs and put ons. We put off lying by telling the truth. We put off stealing by working and giving to those in need. We put off gossip by loving our enemies – praying for them, doing good to them, and wanting what is best for them. We put off overeating by reducing our portions on purpose. We put off lust by thinking about what is pure, righteous, holy, just, and honorable, and by acting accordingly. We put off adultery by being faithful and by loving our spouse with God-like love. Every time we are tempted to sin in any area we resist Satan, we flee (run away from) the sinful desire, and we put on Christ, his holiness, his righteousness and his Word, and we do what we know is right instead of what is wrong.

No Bitter Root (vv. 14-17)

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

The kind of peace being talked about here that we are to pursue does not involve compromise of faith, conviction, purity, holiness and righteousness. Jesus never compromised truth and righteousness to make peace with human beings. In fact, he said he didn’t come to bring peace but a sword and to turn family members one against another. What this means is that if we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives we will be hated by those who find offense in the cross of Christ. We will be persecuted, rejected, falsely accused, ostracized, ridiculed, mocked, abused, mistreated and gossiped about and slandered because people will not like our stand for Christ and for his word and for holiness. So, pursue peace, as much as is possible without backing down on your faith. Yet, not everyone is going to be at peace with us. Yet, we should not stir up trouble unnecessarily.

The other thing we have to watch out for here is that, when we are hated and persecuted and abused because of our stand for Christ and for his holiness, and when we are crushed in spirit and are wounded in heart, that we don’t let unforgiveness set in, which will then turn into bitterness. We have to be continually forgiving our persecutors and loving our enemies with God-like love, which sometimes means showing them “tough love.”

In Faithfulness He Leads Me

An Original Work / March 20, 2013 / Based off Various Scriptures
(Ps. 26:3; 86:11; 91:4-5; 111:7-8; 119:73-76; Is. 25:1,4&9; 42:6-7; Hos. 2:16-20)

Teach me Your ways, Lord, and I’ll walk in them.
Give me a pure heart. I’ll fear Your name.
Your love is always, ever before me.
Continually I’ll walk in Your truth.
You will cover me with feathers.
Under Your wings I’ll find refuge.
My Lord’s faithfulness will be my
Comfort and my shield.
The works of His hands are faithful and just.
Trustworthy are all of His precepts.

Your hands have made me, and they have formed me.
Give understanding of Your commands.
I have put my hope, O Lord, in Your word.
Your teachings, O Lord, are righteousness.
Lord, in faithfulness You have
Afflicted me so I may learn of
Your unfailing love and comfort
And Your truthfulness.
You are my husband; You have betrothed me
In love, compassion and faithfulness.

O Lord, You are my God, I’ll exalt You.
In faithfulness You’ve done wondrous things.
You’ve been a refuge for those who’re needy;
A shelter in storms; shade from the heat.
This is the Lord, we trusted in Him,
Let us be glad and rejoice
In His salvation which He
Provided through the Lamb.
Open the blind eyes; free all the captives.
Tell them of Jesus: “Be born again!”