The Goodness of God

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

My Salvation (vv. 1-3)

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

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

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

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

He Will Not Leave (vv. 7-10)

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

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

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

Teach Me Your Way (vv. 11-14)

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

The goal of our salvation is not merely that we should escape hell (eternal damnation) and have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth. God’s grace to us is also not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we lie and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:5-9). And, if we continue to make sin our practice, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Troubled Thoughts

Thursday, August 3, 2017, 3:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 39 (NASB).

Then I Spoke (vv. 1-6)

I said, “I will guard my ways
That I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle
While the wicked are in my presence.”
I was mute and silent,
I refrained even from good,
And my sorrow grew worse.
My heart was hot within me,
While I was musing the fire burned;
Then I spoke with my tongue:
“Lord, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am.
“Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
“Surely every man walks about as a phantom;
Surely they make an uproar for nothing;
He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.

When we are going through times of difficulty, persecution, sorrow or pain, we may experience anxious thoughts which may trouble our minds. If we express our thoughts aloud, especially in front of the unsaved, it may give rise to them doubting or questioning God even more, or to them using our words against us in order to accuse us and to persecute us to an even greater degree. But, if we stuff our emotions and we don’t express how we feel, not even to God, it may cause us to suffer even more mental distress.

The Bible teaches us that we should call on the Lord in the day of trouble, and he will rescue us (Ps. 50:15; Ps. 91:15). He will relieve us in our distress (Ps. 4:1). We should cry to him for help (Ps. 18:6; Ps. 28:1-2). And, we should call on him to lead us on a level path despite persecution and difficult circumstances (Ps. 27:7-12). Also, we should humble ourselves before God. And, we should cast all our care upon him, because he cares for us. And, we should remember that our adversary, the devil, is roaming around seeking someone to devour, so we should resist the devil by remaining firm in our faith, and God will strengthen us (1 Pet. 5:6-11).

Deliver Me (vv. 7-11)

“And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in You.
“Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Make me not the reproach of the foolish.
“I have become mute, I do not open my mouth,
Because it is You who have done it.
“Remove Your plague from me;
Because of the opposition of Your hand I am perishing.
“With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity;
You consume as a moth what is precious to him;
Surely every man is a mere breath. Selah.

When God takes us through the storms of life, although we may have many questions in our minds as to why this is happening to us, or concerning what God’s ultimate purpose is in it all, we should rest in him, and trust him that he knows what is best for us. He uses these times in our lives to prune us, to purify us, to mature us in Christ, to teach us to rely on him and not on ourselves, and to mold us into his likeness. His goal is to transform us through our circumstances, not always to deliver us physically from the difficulties. In other words, sometimes these things happen to us so that we might be delivered from ourselves, i.e. from our own selfishness, pride, idolatry, and dependence in self over trust in God.

My Tears (vv. 12-13)

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry;
Do not be silent at my tears;
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner like all my fathers.
“Turn Your gaze away from me, that I may smile again
Before I depart and am no more.”

It is good for us to cry out to God what is going on in our hearts, not because he does not know how we feel, but because we need to express these things to him so that from him we can receive counsel, refreshment, encouragement and guidance, and so we can release those emotions and not let them build up inside us unto resentment or bitterness of spirit. Yet, we should do so respectfully, trusting in him to help us.

The closer we get in our relationship with our Lord, and the more we sit at his feet, and we listen to him speak his words to our hearts, and we follow him wherever he leads us, the more the world will hate us, and the greater sense we will have that this world is not our home, but we are strangers here. But, that is how it should be. We should not be immersed in the cultures of our society. We should not love the world or the things of the world with the kind of passion, yearning and devotion which we should have for our Lord alone. God has called us to be a holy people, unlike and different from the world because we are becoming like Christ. He has called us to come out from the world and to be separate, and so the world will not love us or understand us, but will hate and persecute us.

So, we need to understand this so that we do not become unsettled and troubled of heart when what God said is going to happen comes our way. For, coming to faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin and self, and it means that daily we take up our cross and follow Jesus (Ro. 6:1-23; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24). It means we share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings that we may also share in his glory, too (1 Pet. 4:13; Ro. 8:17).

So, we need to rest in him, trust him with our circumstances, cry out to him in our pain, and listen to his counsel, and then do what he says. He will lead us in the way we should go. And, he will strengthen and help us all the way, no matter what comes our way, and then one day he will take us home.

Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.

Take up The Shield

Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 7:21 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 62 (select vv. NASB).

Jeremiah 17:9 says this:

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?”

When we come into this world, we are born with sin natures. We are fleshly. We are under the control (power) of Satan, slaves to sin. Our human hearts are easily deceived and are given over to deceiving, as well. We come up short of attaining God’s divine approval, because we can’t save ourselves. We can never be good enough. In and of ourselves, our hearts are incurable. So, that is why Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins so that we might be turned from darkness (sin, wickedness) to light (truth, righteousness), and from the power of Satan to God, that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who, by faith in Jesus Christ, are sanctified.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, 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. But, this does not mean we are no longer capable of sin. We are. Yet, if we are in Christ, by faith in him, sin should no longer have dominion over our lives, because Satan has no power over us. Jesus Christ set us free! So, we should walk in freedom! Yet, if we continue in willful sin, i.e. if we make it our practice to sin against God, the Bible says we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. So, it is possible to think you are saved and going to heaven but still be dead in your sins.

Blessing and Cursing (vv. 3-4)

How long will you assail a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
They have counseled only to thrust him down
from his high position;
They delight in falsehood;
They bless with their mouth,
But inwardly they curse. Selah.

So, for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, but who have drifted away from their pure devotion to Christ, and have fallen back into sin, or for those who profess to know Christ, but who are living sinful lifestyles, or for those who have never claimed to believe in Jesus Christ at all, these questions are posed.

How long will you continue in sinful rebellion against God? How long will you continue to hate one another, and attack one another? How long will you accuse falsely and persecute those who are following Jesus Christ with their lives, or will you try to trip them up in order to bring them down with you? When will you stop being deceived and deceiving others with your lies? When will you cease speaking kindly to people only to their faces, but then stab them in the back when they are not in front of your face?

For God Only (vv. 5-8)

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Our only hope for overcoming sin is faith in Jesus Christ, but that faith must be accompanied by repentance and obedience to Christ and his commands. To merely acknowledge what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, but to never turn away from the sin, nor to turn to God to walk in his ways, will not result in eternal life with God, but only a fearful expectation of judgment.

Jesus/God needs to be our only hope. He needs to be the one we give our full allegiance to with all our hearts. Humans are going to disappoint us, reject us, persecute us, falsely accuse us, betray us and maybe even kill us, just because they don’t like us, because we are not like them. Humans will lie to us, too, so we need to be very discerning so that we don’t become deceived, too. We need to pray and ask the Lord for wisdom to recognize the lies so we can reject them, and to know the truth, so we can follow it.

When we are persecuted, because we trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, and because we follow him in obedience to his will, we need to rely on the strength of the Lord so that we are not shaken from our faith and give way to fear. People will attack us. They will hate us. They will try to bring us down, and they will lie to us and will try to deceive us. And, they will speak kindly to us to our faces all the while they are stabbing us in the back when we aren’t looking. Although they act like they are our friends, they may betray us. So, this is why our hope needs to be in the Lord, and we need to find our strength in him so we don’t cave in and lose heart.

So, we need to pour out our hearts to him. It isn’t as though he doesn’t know what we are going through, though, but he wants us to cry out to him in our distress, in our pain, in our sorrow and in our weakness, and he desires that we let him heal us, comfort us, encourage us and counsel us in the way we should go.

We need to keep trusting him, even if all hell breaks loose all around us. For, he is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made. And, he has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows into our lives. And, he will work all things together for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. So, take refuge in him, be of courage, be strong in the Lord, and persevere in your faith.

Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.

Faithful Servants

Monday, July 31, 2017, 12:31 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of being faithful to God.

Found Faithful (1 Co. 4:1-2)

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (master-owner) and Savior of our lives, we become his servants, i.e. his bond-slaves. Bond-slaves are “without any ownership rights of their own.” They are “believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers” (1). Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, for Jesus Christ bought us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our redemption. Therefore, we are to honor God with our lives and no longer live to please our flesh.

We are not saved from our sins merely to give us an escape from hell and to promise us heaven when we die. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. Therefore, we are obligated (required) to be faithful to our Lord and to his will for our lives, and to no longer live to gratify our sinful desires (See: Ro. 8:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).

Fruit of Spirit (Gal. 5:19-24)

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, via being crucified with Christ in death to sin, and being resurrected with Christ, of the Spirit of God, to newness of life, the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within us. And, he lives within us to empower, strengthen, equip, encourage, teach us and guide us in the ways of the Lord and in order that we might live holy lives pleasing unto God. Because God now lives within us in the person of his Spirit, the fruit (result) of Christ living his life out through us is love, joy, peace… faithfulness, etc. In other words, being faithful to God should be the natural outgrowth of a life committed to Christ and to his service.

Thus, if we truly belong to Christ, we should have crucified (put to death) the flesh (sin nature) with its passions and desires. Things such as sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, fits of anger, envy, drunkenness and things like these should no longer be a part of our lives. They should no longer have a hold on us, and we should not be controlled by (addicted to) them, for Jesus Christ set us free from slavery (bondage) to sin. Instead, we should walk according to the Spirit and then we will not gratify the cravings of our sinful flesh.

Unto Death (Rev. 2:10)

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Some people like to have a “Me-Me” attitude about God’s grace to us, as though it is all about what Jesus Christ does for us, and as though nothing at all is required of us other than some non-descript “belief” in Jesus. Yet, that is not the gospel taught by Jesus or by his NT apostles, but it is a man-made gospel intended to appeal to and appease human flesh.

But, YES, Jesus did die on a cross in order that he might take our punishment for sin for us, but that is not the whole story. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died to deliver us out of slavery to sin, not just so he would expunge the punishment of our sins. Coming to faith in Jesus Christ is not just a get-out-of-jail-free card, but it is a life committed to Christ and to his service and to obedience to his instructions and to his will for our lives.

So, when we believe in Jesus, and he becomes our Lord (owner-master) and we become his bond-slaves, and our lives are no longer our own to be lived how we want, we submit to him and to his will for our lives. We die with him to sin and self, and we willingly lay down our lives for his service, too. We go where he says to go, we do what he says to do, and we say what he tells us to say, even if it gets us hated, rejected, persecuted or even killed in return.

Faithful People (2 Tim. 2:1-7)

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

So, we must be faithful in service to our Lord, in being who he wants us to be, and in doing and saying what he commands, yet we must also disciple others to also be his faithful servants (See: Matt. 28:18-20). Yet, not everyone will want to become his disciples, even many who profess to believe in him, because they don’t want to give up their own lives to serve Christ, but they are comfortable just living how they want. They just want their religion, but not at the cost of having to yield to the Lord and to obey what he says. They want to pick and choose what they will or will not do in service to God, and faithfulness to God is not what interests them. So, we need the Lord to lead us to willing disciples who will be found faithful.

Faithfulness to our Lord, though, means sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. It means we will be hated, rejected, abandoned, persecuted and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ and for our testimonies for him and for his gospel. We, thus, will not immerse ourselves in the culture of our society, but we will immerse ourselves in our Lord and in his holiness and righteousness, and in his service, even unto death.

Yet, this takes courage and strength from the Lord to remain faithful to him despite all opposing forces coming against us. So, we need to keep trusting our Lord, no matter how bad it gets, knowing that he will work all things together for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. So, keep the faith, rely on the strength and wisdom of God, stand firm on the Word of Truth, do not be silent, and keep on serving your Lord.

Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/1401.htm

Courage

Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 7:57 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of courage.

With Boldness (Acts 4:27-31)

“’For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”

When Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) walked the face of this earth, although he was loved and admired and followed by some, he was hated, rejected and opposed by many, but especially by the religious leaders in the Jewish temple. They hated him so much, in fact, that they plotted his death, which then they also carried out. Yet, this was God’s purpose that Jesus should suffer and die on a cross for our salvation from sin. So, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.

When Jesus lived on this earth, he told his followers that they, too, would be hated and persecuted, and for the sake of the name of Jesus, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. He told them that, as he was treated, so would they be treated. So, it should not surprise us when we are disliked, abandoned, rejected, strongly opposed and persecuted for our faith in Christ, and for our testimonies with regard to the gospel of Christ and of our salvation. Thus, we need to also pray that we might have courage and boldness to keep speaking in Jesus’ name and to keep sharing the full gospel message with all who will listen. For, we also have many who oppose us.

Yet, we can be encouraged, because God has a plan and a purpose for all that we are going through, as well. And, he will see us through to the end if we keep placing our trust in him, and we do not back down out of fear. He will give us all we need to be strong in our faith and to have the courage to keep pressing on in our walks of faith, and to keep proclaiming his name to the nations, for it will not be in our own power and strength that we are able to persevere, but it will be in the strength and power of God’s Spirit within us that we can remain strong and keep pressing on, despite all opposition.

Of Good Courage (2 Co. 5:6-9)

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.”

If we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives, and we are proclaiming his message of salvation to a lost world, and we are encouraging the body of Christ in the faith, and we are urging our brothers and sisters in Christ to live holy lives, pleasing to God, there are going to be people who just won’t like us, and who won’t like the messages we are sharing. And, we may even face strong opposition from those closest to us – from our friends, from family members, fellow Christians, and even from leaders within the church.

Yet, we must maintain an eternal perspective always. God did not place us on this earth for our own comfort and enjoyment, and so that we would be liked by everyone. He placed us here to love, worship, honor and serve him with our lives. His will for us is that we deny self, and daily take up our cross and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin and self), for his sake, we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25).

This world is not my home. I’m just passing through. My home is in heaven with God, and that is where I am going one day, to be with my Lord forever. This body and this world in which I now live is temporary. So, if they take my life, it just means I get to be with my Lord. So, I should never fear what man (or woman) might do to me, because God is on my side, and he will give me all I need to endure to the end and to keep on praising his name and sharing his truths with all those who need to hear. My goal is to please my Lord, even if it means even greater persecution and rejection, or death.

Courage to Speak (Phil. 1:12-14, 18b-20)

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Sometimes, when we are going through difficult circumstances, we may get bogged down in the whole “Woe is me” syndrome, and we may lose sight of the bigger picture. All we see is what is right in front of our faces, and we don’t see that God is working in ways we cannot see, behind the scenes. He has purposes for what we are going through far beyond our ability to even comprehend, at times. So, what may look to us like something bad, he may be working for good in other people’s lives, or even in our own lives.

Persecution is certainly not pleasant. It is painful, whether physically or emotionally, or both. No one I know enjoys being hated or mistreated or falsely accused or gossiped about. Yet, sometimes it is a blessing in disguise. For example, in America we have had little serious persecution of Christians on a large scale, though it is certainly present here. And, in America we also have many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ whose lifestyles speak just the opposite. So, sometimes opposition and rejection can be a good thing in that they produce repentance, revival, and the salvation of souls, and they help to strengthen us in our resolve to live committed lives to Christ, and to be bold in our witness.

And, God is able to see us through any and every situation, for his purposes, and for his glory and praise. He will give us all the encouragement we need to keep pressing on, as we learn to trust him with our lives and with our reputations, too. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. So, we live for Christ to serve him, and to do his will, and to please him in all ways, and we commit our lives into his capable hands. We trust in his sovereign power over our lives, that he knows what is best. And, we believe that God will work everything out for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose (Ro. 8:28).

Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.

Fear Them Not

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

Sheep Among Wolves (vv. 16-23)

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

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

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

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

They Malign You (vv. 24-33)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.