Against the Righteous

Thursday, October 19, 2017, 9:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Wait.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 37:1-15 (NIV).

The Wicked Plot (vv. 12-15)

The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

Who are the wicked? They are all those who practice evil, doing wrong to others. They are those who are immoral, depraved, perverse, and unjust. They are also those who make a practice of being mean, hateful, cutting, cruel and malicious towards other human beings. Although they know that God exists, for God has revealed himself to them through his created works, “they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised” (Ro. 1:21, 25).

So, God gave them over to their sinful ways, to do what ought not to be done. “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Ro. 1:28-32).

Because they resist God, and choose to go their own way, instead, they end up hating and resenting those who do follow the Lord and who live righteously, and thus they plot evil against them. One of the most prominent plots against the righteous which they scheme is to try to find ways to bring the righteous down to their level, to convince them to sin against God and to doubt God’s Word to us, which, of course, comes straight from hell. They will also try to destroy the reputations of the righteous through false accusations, or through setting traps in hopes to trip them up. And, if that doesn’t work, they will persecute them severely and even put them to death.

Do Not Fret (vv. 1-2, 8-11)

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.

Even though the wicked plot and carry out evil against us, we are not to fret (fear, worry). Our God is completely sovereign over all which he has made. The wicked cannot do what they do unless God allows it, and for a purpose. Evil only exists because God has not yet chosen to destroy it. When he does, it will entail the wrath of God being poured out on the people of the earth. And, then the end will come, and the righteous will be forever with their Lord, where there will be no more sin, sorrow, crying or pain. Amen!

Trust the Lord (vv. 3-7)

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

So, what are we to do when the wicked assail us? We are to trust in the Lord and in his sovereignty, believing that God knows what is best, that he will carry out his purposes, and that he will accomplish his will for our lives. Not only are we to trust him with our lives, even in the direst of circumstances, but we are to delight in him, commit our way to him, be still before him, and wait patiently for him to do all that he has promised he would do.

This means that we don’t retaliate (get even, take revenge), but that we pay back evil with good. We love our enemies by doing good to them, praying for them, forgiving them, and asking the Lord to save their souls. Even when people hate and mistreat us, we are kind back to them. But, kindness also means that we speak the truth in love, for it is neither loving or kind to ever tell people lies, even if the lies make them feel good. So, kindness confronts sin in sinful humans, warns of divine judgment, and calls for repentance.

This also means that we take our situations to the Lord in prayer, and we commit (entrust, hand over) our ways to Him. We don’t take action unless directed by the Lord, unless it is action that he has already directed through his written Word. We let him be our defense, our counsel and our help, rather than take matters into our own hands. If we are accused falsely, we ask him how to respond. But, if we blow it, and we respond in the flesh, then we apologize, we ask for forgiveness, and we lean on the Lord and on his strength and power to do better the next time a situation like that arises.

Wait! / An Original Work / February 8, 2014

Wait for your Lord. Be of courage.
Be strong, and take heart today.
God is always watching o’er you.
Trust Him with your life always.

Sing of your Lord. Praise His blessings.
Believe in His sovereignty.
He delivered you from your sin;
Gave you life eternally.

Rest in your Lord. Know His promise.
Beneath His wings rest secure.
Your God has a plan and purpose.
Let your faith in Him endure.

Trust in your Lord. He’ll not leave you,
Because He is faithfulness.
He will lead and guide; protect you.
In His love you can find rest.

 

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Waiting

Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 5:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 27 (Select vv. ESV).

No Fear (vv. 1-3)

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

How is it that we can have enemies fiercely attacking and opposing us, and yet we are not afraid? Is it because we are superhuman, and thus we are incapable of being injured? Or, does this mean that we will never suffer physical harm or that we will not ever be cut to the heart, i.e. that we will not ever be injured emotionally? As well, does this indicate that we should never even feel fear nor have legitimate cause to ever be afraid?

With a careful read of the New Testament, concerning the lives of Jesus Christ and his apostles, I believe we can find the answers to those questions. They certainly faced much opposition to the work of the ministry of Christ, and to the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were attacked verbally on a regular basis, accused falsely of things they did not do, and opposed strongly by those of their own nationality, race and religious heritage. As well, many of them were beaten, falsely arrested and/or imprisoned, and many were put to death for their faith and for their testimonies about Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation.

Jesus Christ, when he knew his time had come, and he was about to be crucified on a cross for the sins of the world, and to become sin for us, cried out to the Father, and asked if it was possible for this cup of suffering to pass from him. Yet, he submitted to the Father’s will. Paul said he came to the Corinthians “in weakness with great fear and trembling” (1 Co. 2:3). Later he mentioned that, when they had come to Macedonia, “We had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.” Thus, they did feel fear and apprehension, as well. So, what made the difference for them? How were they able to overcome their fears and to walk in faith and to do what they knew God had called them to do?

They trusted their lives into God’s capable hands, they rested in him, relied on his wisdom and grace, and knew that what they were suffering or were about to suffer was for the greater good, i.e. for the salvation of human lives. They had faith that God is who he says he is, that he is completely sovereign over all that he has made, and that their suffering did not lack purpose. They also knew that good (righteousness) would ultimately triumph over evil, and that one day all their suffering would be over, and that they would be home with their God, and that their tears would be wiped from their eyes. They also knew that our earthly lives are temporary, that this world is not our home, and that we have a better home awaiting us.

In Troubles (vv. 4-6)

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

The greatest antidote to fear is faith. It is confidence in what we believe and in what we hope for. It is reliance upon God, our creator, sustainer, Savior, healer and coming King. It is the knowledge that, through continued faith in Jesus Christ, we have salvation from sin, an intimate relationship and fellowship with Almighty God, and the promise of eternal rest. And, it is the assurance of his continued comfort, help, counsel, guidance, encouragement and spiritual protection from the evil one.

It isn’t as though we are protected from harm and that we won’t suffer, though, for we know that Jesus said we would share in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. But, he has provided us spiritual armor to put on with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and schemes against us. Satan is a defeated foe. We just have to live like we believe that. He and his servants can kill the body, but they can’t kill the soul. From all outward appearances, it may seem as though Satan has the upper hand, at times, when all hell seems to be breaking loose all around us. Yet, when we resist him, flee from sin, stand strong in our faith, and don’t give in to his tricks, we are conquerors over Satan and sin, through Christ who loves us.

Teach Me (vv. 11-14)

Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

But, this means that we must walk in the faith we profess, listen to what our Lord is saying to us, and then follow in his footsteps and in the ways of his righteousness. If we want him to teach us his ways, we must be willing to walk in those ways. We can’t cry “Help! Save me!” and then do what we want, our way, whenever we feel like it. It doesn’t work like that. If we want victory over darkness, and to be rescued in times of trouble and distress, and to know God’s peace and joy, especially in times of trouble, we need to walk the narrow (straight, not crooked) path he has provided for us.

And, when faced with much adversity because we are following the way of righteousness, and we are walking that narrow road, we can be at peace. And, when things in this life and in this world seem to only go from bad to worse, and we wonder when God is going to turn things around, we must learn to wait on him to accomplish his purposes and to fulfill all his promises to us. We must take courage in knowing, again, that all our suffering is not without purpose, and that God will work all things for good, for those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose. We just need to be patient, and wait on the Lord.

Trust Him / An Original Work
August 15, 2012 / Based off Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.

God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.

Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.

 

When Problems Arise

Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 4:36 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, I Need You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 27 (Select vv. ESV).

Be Confident (vv. 1-3)

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

We all go through struggles, from time to time, whether they involve solely temptations to sin against God, or they involve hardships, persecutions, financial difficulties, physical enemies pursuing us, marital problems, troubles with our children, disasters, loneliness, or having to make difficult decisions, or plans not working out the way we had hoped. And, we may be tempted to respond in fear, doubt, worry, anger, frustration, disappointment or in retreating back to sinful habits as a way of numbing the pain.

Yet, whatever difficulty, trouble, hardship or temptation we might be facing, our God is all-sufficient to meet our every need, and to give us all we need to remain faithful to him, to rest in him, to trust him with our life situations, and to believe him for the strength and power to endure, to resist Satan, and to flee the temptation to sin against God. In fact, through Jesus’ death on a cross for our sins, he made the way of escape for us out of temptation to sin, for he conquered sin and death for us via his death and resurrection.

As well, we read in Ephesians 6:12 that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. It isn’t to say that we don’t have physical enemies or that we won’t be hated and persecuted by other humans, for we will, if we follow Jesus. But, it is to say that the real forces against us are of Satan and his demons and that this is a spiritual battle that must be won with spiritual weapons of warfare, not with physical weapons or with human scheming. So, this is why God has given us spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-20) to apply to our lives every day so that we can fight off temptation to sin against him, that is the temptation to sin by telling lies, cheating, immorality, fear, and doubt, etc. So, daily we must put this armor on, if we are to be victorious in this battle.

So, how do we do this? How do we make the Lord the stronghold of our lives so that we don’t fear, and so we don’t give into temptation, and so we are confident in Christ in our battles? When we are afraid, we put off fear, and we put on faith. When Satan lies to us, we counter him with the truth, more specifically with the truth of God’s Word. Then, we choose to believe the truth and not the lies. And, when tempted toward immorality, we resist Satan, and FLEE the temptation. Too many people give into temptation to sin because they play with sin and they don’t FLEE. And, involved in fleeing is also being proactive by cutting out of our lives those things which lead us to sin against God. For, if we play with the fire, we are going to get burned!

Sing Praises (vv. 4-6)

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

When difficulties arise or when we are faced with temptation toward fear or toward immorality, etc., we need to immediately seek the Lord. We must call on him for help. But, it is pointless to call on him if we have no intention of listening to or obeying him, or if we are not willing to cut out of our lives what is leading us into sin. In other words, we cannot resist the temptation to have immoral thoughts or actions or to give in to fear if every day we are willingly taking into our minds and eyes what is immoral or which feeds fear and doubt, and for the purpose of entertaining ourselves. We have to decide if we are going to be serious about God and holiness or not. If we are serious, our Lord Jesus, via His Spirit, will help us every step of the way.

One of the best antidotes to fear, doubt and worry is to sing praises to God. Satan loves to whisper lies in our ears, or to get us to stay focused on the waves crashing in all around us, i.e. he likes to get us to think about all the negatives of a situation, and even to create non-existent ones in our own minds (paranoia). So, when we realize we are down in the dumps, and that our minds are dwelling on all the “what ifs” of a situation, we need to stop, pray, and sing songs of praise to our Lord, and songs which will strengthen us in our faith and which will combat Satan’s lies with God’s truth.

Follow Jesus (vv. 11-14)

Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

If we truly desire God’s help, these words here have to be more than just words coming from our lips. Again, there is no point in asking for his guidance and direction if we are not going to listen to him and follow him. If we truly want to be taught his way, then we need to be willing to walk in the way that he shows us. So, don’t say it if you don’t mean it. God knows the difference. We can fool other humans, but we can’t fool God. He knows our hearts, and he knows who are serious about following him, and who are just playing games or are going through a religious exercise.

So, if you or I truly want to be taught the ways of the Lord, then we need to be willing to go the distance with God. We can’t pick and choose what we will obey and what we won’t, or to what extent we will be willing to obey. We need to have undivided hearts that don’t vacillate back and forth between what we want and what God desires for our lives. A level path is not a roller coaster ride. It is steady, even, sincere, committed and determined. And, we have to stay the course, but not in our own strength or willpower, but in the strength of the Lord and in his power and might.

I cannot stress enough that a godly life is a committed and determined life given over to God and to his service, and it takes sin and God and his Word seriously, and it does not take lightly his grace to us. His grace, after all, is not freedom to continue in sin without guilt or remorse. It is not carte blanche (free rein) to live however we want now that we are under grace. No! His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await his return. So, don’t give way to the enemy! Be strong in the Lord, and in his strength. Take courage and put your trust in God alone!

Lord, I Need You
Songwriters: Christy Nockels / Daniel Carson /
Jesse Reeves / Kristian Stanfill / Matt Maher

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You…
My one defense, my righteousness…

 

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