Are We Slaves?

Monday, June 26, 2017, 2:02 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Grace Divine.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 6 (ESV).

Died with Christ (vv. 1-11)

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

When we are baptized with water, subsequent to our faith in Jesus Christ, it symbolizes our death with Christ to sin and our resurrection with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Yet, this death with Christ to sin, and resurrection to newness of life, does not take place in the waters of baptism, but in the heart of man. When we are baptized into Christ and into his death, this is speaking, not of water baptism, but of the baptism with the Spirit of God, which is done by Jesus Christ (Matt. 3:11). It is a spiritual, not a physical baptism. And, it is an immersion (participation, engagement) with Christ into his death to sin and into new life in the Spirit. We die with Christ in death to sin, and we live with Christ to newness of life, to be lived to Christ and to his righteousness.

Because Jesus Christ put sin to death on the cross, and by faith in him, we, too, are able to die to sin. And, because he was resurrected from the dead back to life, we, by the Spirit, are able to live new lives in Christ Jesus to the glory and praise of God. This is God’s grace to us. This is his free gift to us, not just that he took our place on the cross, and thus he took our punishment for sin so that we could go free from eternal damnation and have the promise of eternal life with God.

God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not just forgiveness of sins, and freedom from punishment (hell for eternity), but it is death to sin; it is deliverance from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, and it is freedom to now walk in his holiness and righteousness in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us. His grace instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

In this baptism (immersion, participation) into Christ and into his death to sin, our old self (flesh nature) was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. So, how is it that so many preachers are telling people that believing in Jesus is nothing more than an acknowledgment of him and of what he did in dying for our sins, and that it is a mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins, but they do not teach death to sin or living to righteousness, which was the very reason for which Jesus died? (See: 1 Pet. 2:24).

If Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, then why are they telling people that God requires nothing of us? – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ or to his cross? Their false grace gospel is giving its adherents free license to continue in willful sin against God, and that is wrong!

Slaves to Sin or Obedience (vv. 12-19)

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

So, if we have truly believed in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, and we have, thus, been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and resurrected with him to newness of life, sin should no longer reign (rule, govern) our lives. We should no longer obey the lusts of our flesh, but we should now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and in the power and strength of God’s Spirit, whom we were given when we trusted in Jesus Christ. Jesus delivered us out of slavery to sin, so we are no longer under its power.

If we are still living as though we are still enslaved to sin, we have to understand here that this leads to death, not to eternal life with God. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we still walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. If we still walk according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25). It is obedience which leads to righteousness. So, we are now to become slaves to righteousness which leads to sanctification (purification, holiness).

Set Free from Sin (vv. 20-23)

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If we are still living as though we are enslaved to (addicted to) sin, we are free from the control of righteousness. We can’t serve two masters. So, if Jesus set us free from all that, why continue in sin and sin addiction? Don’t you know that will lead to death? If we continue to practice sin, and if we continue walking (living) in sin and according to our flesh, we will die without Christ and without the hope of eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

So, don’t play around with sin. For, if we truly have been saved of our sins, by God’s grace, via Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we should now be slaves to God/Christ, and to his righteousness, and he should be our ONLY Lord (owner-master).

Your Grace Divine
An Original Work / November 6, 2011

All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.
Crucified for my sins;
You paid what I owe,
So I’d be forgiven;
My God come to know.
All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.

Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.
I have been forgiven
For all of my sins,
So I’d live with Jesus;
His grace flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.

Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.
Sitting at Your feet, Lord,
List’ning to You speak,
Leads me to love You, Lord,
More throughout the week.
Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.

Take No Part

Friday, June 23, 2017, 3:16 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “More About Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV).

Be Imitators (vv. 1-2)

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

We, as followers of Jesus Christ, and as God’s children, are to imitate (emulate) God. In other words, we are to pattern our lives after Him, become like Him in all that we do, say and are, and we are to follow (obey) Him in doing what he says, and in being who he has called us to be and to do. So, first of all we need to get to know our Lord, first by his saving grace to us, through faith in him, and then in growing (maturing) in him and in our faith. We do this through time spent daily with him in his Word, listening to our Lord speak his words to our hearts, and then by obeying what he teaches us. We also do this through times spent with him in prayer, talking with him, listening to him, and resting (trusting) in him for all things.

As we better get to know Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, and we learn more about him and his will and plan for our lives, and we follow him in obedience, and in surrender to his will, we begin to walk in (live in) love. This love, though, is not human love, but it is God-like love, in which we are to live and to conduct our lives. Therefore, it focuses in what God approves. It prefers what God prefers. It centers in moral preference (1). It is self-sacrificial and considers others’ needs above our own. And, it looks out for what is in the best interest of others, rather than for what their flesh may desire. So, it is not going to lie to people to make them feel better about themselves, especially about their sinful behaviors. But, it will speak the truth in love, because that is loving and kind. Lies are never loving or kind.

Not Named (vv. 3-6)

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

It should not be heard of that there is sexual immorality, all impurity (corruption, adulteration), and covetousness (greed, jealousy, envy) among the saints of God. We, too, should also not be involved with others in conversations which are sexual, immoral or corrupt (dishonest, crooked, perverted or harmful) in nature. Wow! So, how is it that so many Christians today, including pastors, do not follow this, and, in fact, many are struggling with sin addiction? These things should not be! They should not be common place. Christians should also not be viewing movies or TV shows or internet sites which glorify sin, or which entertain with sinful attitudes and behaviors. We should not be taking these things into our minds at all! How can we be pure in heart if we regularly consume what is impure? And, then call it entertainment? Too many Christians today are obsessed with having to be entertained incessantly. This is not why Jesus saved us from our sins!

I believe one of the reasons why sexual immorality is rampant among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ is because of private internet access via smart phones, tablets, and laptop (portable) computers, the influence of TV, lack of accountability, and the notion that we are here to be entertained and to gratify our own fleshly desires, which is what the world promotes.

Another big reason for the vastness of sexual immorality within the church is due to the teaching of a false grace gospel which teaches its adherents that they can just acknowledge who Jesus is, accept his sacrifice for their sins, and that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross. And, then they tell them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that he smiles on them even when they are willfully engaged in immoral acts, including viewing pornography or watching sexually charged TV shows or movies. And, to top it off, they tell them that they now have heaven guaranteed them when they die, no matter what they do from this point forward, thus giving them free license (carte blanche) to continue in willful sin against God.

Yet, the Bible does not teach this false grace gospel. It says plainly that if we continue in sin, if we practice sinning, and if we walk (in lifestyle and conduct) in darkness (sin) or according to our sin nature (flesh), we will die in our sins, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9). If we regularly, consistently, and habitually are involved in immorality, impurity and in idolatry, and this is the practice of our lives, over the course of our lives, and it is always what we fall back on, and there are no obvious signs that we are actually moving away from these sins, then we have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Don’t let anyone deceive you by telling you that you have eternal life guaranteed, and that you don’t have to repent.

Not Partake with Them (vv. 7-14)

Therefore, do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

We are not to partner with or partake with those who are sexually immoral, impure, corrupt, or who are idolaters. And, this includes not allowing ourselves to be entertained by those who do these things, or who act (as in a play) as though they do, or who promote sinful acts. Those who practice such things must not be our close friends, and if they profess to be Christians, we are not to hang out with them at all. Bad company corrupts good character. If we take garbage in, garbage is what will come out. If we want to be pure in heart and mind, we need to take into our minds what is wholesome, pure, true, right, honorable, holy, and godly, etc. And, we need to choose our friends and companions wisely and prayerfully. Instead of pacifying or participating in what is unholy, unrighteous and ungodly, we should be those who expose the fruitless deeds of darkness. And, we should find out what pleases our Lord, and do that, instead.

How You Walk (vv. 15-21)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

As saints and as children of God, followers of Jesus Christ, and as those being led by the Spirit of God, we need to be careful about how we live our lives, examining our conduct before God in prayer, rejecting the impure and immoral, and clinging to what is good, wholesome, pure and righteous. We need to read our Bible, see what it says about how we are to live, and then walk in that truth, instead of following after the pattern of the world. We also need to examine before God in prayer, and in the reading of his Word, as to what purpose we were placed on this earth. Why are we here? What are we supposed to be doing? Are we here for our own pleasure, or to please God?

Instead of just existing, putting in time, entertaining ourselves, and gratifying our fleshly desires, we need to find out what the will of God is for our lives, and then do it! We don’t have tomorrow guaranteed. We need to live for God today while we still have today, and we need to not forget what the Bible teaches with regard to who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Instead of living our lives outside of the Spirit’s control, we need to be living and walking in the power of the Spirit of God, filled to overflowing, giving thanks to God, submitting to one another, and sharing with God’s people all the riches of God’s grace which he has bestowed upon us. And, we must be encouraging one another away from sinful practices, and toward godliness and holiness, so that none of us will be led astray by sin’s deceitfulness.

More About Jesus / Hewitt / Sweney

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.

More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

More about Jesus; on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/26.htm

Gospel of Grace

Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 7:20 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures on the subject of the gospel of God’s grace (NASB).

The Gospel Message (Acts 26:16-18)

But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

Paul was called of God to be an apostle of Jesus Christ and a minister of the gospel of Christ (of our salvation from sin). This is the call he was given by Jesus Christ, which embodies the message of the gospel of our salvation.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures and we come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (his glory). We are bound in slavery to sin, without the hope of eternity with God. So, by God’s grace, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died on a cross, putting our sins to death, and he was resurrected from the dead, victorious over sin. He did this so that we could have our spiritually blinded eyes opened, be turned from darkness (sin) to light (his righteousness), be delivered from the power of Satan, and be turned to God, to follow (obey) him. When this takes place in our lives, we receive forgiveness of sins, and we are given an inheritance among others who have been sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ. Amen!

Instructing Us (Titus 2:11-14)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who 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.

While it is true that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, and that this is not of ourselves, not of works lest anyone of us should boast, but it is the gift of God, this does not mean we do nothing, or that nothing is required of us (See: Eph. 2:8-10). God’s grace is not a “do nothing” gospel. It instructs (commands) us to deny (reject, refuse) ungodliness and worldly desires. The main reason Jesus died on the cross was not just to give us the hope of heaven when we leave this earth, or to give us an escape from hell, but it was that we might die with him to sin and be resurrected with him to newness of life to be lived to him and to his righteousness (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).

In other words, this also fits with Paul’s calling to the gospel, to turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and so they might have an inheritance among the saints of God. God’s grace is not just that he took our place on a cross so that we would be free of the punishment of sin (eternal damnation). It is for the purpose that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, that sin would no longer be our master, but that we would now be bond-slaves of Christ’s righteousness. Therefore, faith in Jesus Christ means turning from our sins (repentance) and turning to our Lord to follow (obey) him. Instead of now living for sin and self, we now live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the power of God’s Spirit now living within us, and for God’s glory.

A False Grace (Jude 1:3-4)

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

There are many people today, including many who call themselves ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are turning God’s grace into a free license for immorality (for continuing in willful sin against God). Some of these people even used to preach the full gospel message, but have since wandered off from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ to become followers of men, and to market the church to the world, much like they would any other business. Since the world is their target customers, they now dilute the gospel of our salvation in order to make it more acceptable and appealing to the world, and to the worldly church. Thus, they have turned God’s grace into licentiousness and they deny our ONLY MASTER AND LORD, JESUS CHRIST, by the very messages they proclaim.

Basically, what they do is teach a half-truth (false) gospel. Most of them do teach that we are sinners at birth, and that we can’t earn or deserve our own salvation. They teach that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, and not by works, lest any of us should boast. And, they do preach that it is only by Jesus’ sacrifice for sins that any of us can be saved from our sins, escape the fires of hell (if they even mention that), and have the hope of eternal life with God.

All this is true, but it is only half the truth. They leave out the other half which is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. They strip the gospel message of the cross of Christ in the life of the believer, which is death to sin and living to God and to his righteousness and holiness. They fail to proclaim that if we walk (in lifestyle) in our flesh (in sin, in darkness), we will die in our sins, not live eternally (Ro. 8:1-14).

And, they tell their adherents that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ and to his cross. Not only that, but they tell them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, even when they are engrossed in willful sin against God. So, the way they teach the gospel is more like the broad road that leads to destruction, rather than as the narrow road, that few find, which leads to eternal life with God. They turn faith in Christ into nothing more than a mere acknowledgment of who Christ is or of what he did for us in dying for our sins, and as a mere acceptance of that fact. But, there is no death to sin or living to righteousness in their gospel message, thus there is no new birth of the Spirit of God, and no promise of eternal life with God, either.

Be Holy (1 Pet. 1:13-16)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Another factor that many of them fail to mention, as well, is that our salvation is not a one-time event, after which we live however we want, and that one day we get to go to heaven. That is hogwash! Scripture disputes that notion all throughout the New Testament! Our salvation is progressive, i.e. we are saved (past), we are being saved (present and continuous), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns and our salvation is complete. It is not just our initial faith which saves us, but it is us continuing and walking in that faith which secures our eternal salvation (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 8:31-32; Ro. 8:1-14; Ro. 11:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Jn. 6:35-66; etc.).

Here again is the message which says we must not only obey our Lord, but that we must forsake our former way of living for sin and self. This is what it means to be “born again.” And, this is what it means to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, for if we walk (conduct our lives), according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25). Instead of living for self and for sensual pleasure, we are to be holy. To be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the likeness of God/Christ. And, we are to do this in all our behavior. Amen!

Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!

Save It, or Lose It?

Friday, June 16, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 9 (Select vv. NASB).

Take Up Your Cross (vv. 22-25)

Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?”

Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God (and God) was rejected by the elders, the chief priests, the scribes and the Pharisees. They hated him, and they were jealous of him, and they were threatened by his popularity among the people, for they feared losing their own positions of power and control.

So, they harassed him at every turn, continuously questioned his authority and his actions, and made numerous attempts to try to discredit him. They didn’t like it that he didn’t follow all their ceremonial laws and customs, which were handed down to them by the elders. They despised the fact that he healed people on the Sabbath. They resented his accusations against some of them, that they were hypocrites who tried to look good on the outside while inside they were full of wickedness. And, they definitely hated him when he intimated that he was equal with God. So, eventually they killed him by having him crucified on a cross, as though he was a criminal.

Yet, it was God’s will that Jesus should die, because in his death he put our sins to death, and in his resurrection, he conquered sin and the grave, that we might live. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. And, Jesus told his followers that they, too, would be hated, rejected, persecuted and even killed for their faith in him, and for their testimonies of God’s saving grace, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. In fact, coming to faith in Jesus Christ means that we are crucified with him in death to sin, and that we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7).

So, if we want to believe in Jesus to be Lord and Savior of our lives, so that we might have eternal life with him, and so that he might save us from our sins, then we must die with him to our old lives of living for sin and self (daily). Paul said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 8:1-14). And, Jesus said that if we want to save our lives, i.e. if we want to hold on to our old lives, we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives for His sake, i.e. if we die with Christ to sin, we will save our lives, i.e. we will have eternal life with God.

So many people today are telling people that faith in Jesus Christ requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross, but they are lying to you, and their lies will send you straight to hell if you believe them. Believing in Jesus is not just some intellectual assent to who Jesus is (or was) or some emotional decision we make because we don’t want to end up in hell, or because we want to have heaven guaranteed to us when we leave this earth. Faith in Jesus is not just some mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins, either, while we continue living for sin and self. John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. He also said that if we say we know God, but we don’t obey him, we are liars.

Basically, if we think salvation and eternal life means we do nothing, then we have it all wrong. Yes, we are saved by God’s grace, through faith – and not of ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. But, we are saved TO good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (See: Eph. 2:8-10). Jesus gave his life up for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died, too, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (2 Co. 5:15, 21; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Pet. 2:24).

God’s grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s soon return (Tit. 2:11-14). If we continue in sinful lifestyles, in practicing what our flesh desires, we will die in our sins. Count on it!

Don’t Be Ashamed (v. 26)

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Part of our death to sin and self, and living to Christ and to his righteousness, means we consider the will of God for our lives above and in place of our own selfish will and desires. Instead of living our lives so that others will like us and think we are wonderful, we live our lives for God and for his purposes, and for his glory. We realize that “Lord” is not just a title given to Jesus, but it means he is now owner-master of our lives, and that we are his bond-servants, here to do his will. We also realize that the earth is not our home, but heaven is, and so we are not here to build earthly kingdoms, but we are here to advance God’s heavenly kingdom. Jesus did not put us on this earth, in other words, for us to live selfish lives for our own pleasure. We are not here to entertain or to be entertained continuously. We are here on this earth to serve God, and to live holy lives pleasing to him, and to tell others about him.

Too many people these days are describing “the gospel” as though it means nothing more than being “good deed doers,” which gets us liked by people, not hated. But, anyone can be a good deed doer. Now, good deeds are certainly a part of what we do, as followers of Christ, but they are what God has called us to do, and they are the deeds he prepared in advance for us to do, which includes sharing his gospel message of death to sin and living to righteousness. And, yes, that means we will be rejected and hated by some when we tell others about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. But, if we are ashamed of Jesus and his gospel in this life, he will be ashamed of us when he comes again one day.

Don’t Look Back (vv. 57-62)

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Yes, our salvation is a free gift, and we do nothing to earn or to deserve it, but that gift, if understood correctly, is NOT just an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die. Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross, and take upon himself the sins of the entire world, just so we could be forgiven our sins and have the hope of heaven when we die. Salvation is not mere forgiveness of sins, but it is DELIVERANCE from BONDAGE to sin. It is death to sin and living to righteousness. It is death to self, and it is living to God and doing what pleases him. We are born again of the Spirit of God, created to be like God IN TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS. And, holiness means to be separate (set apart, unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming LIKE CHRIST.

Jesus made it clear that following him is no picnic. It isn’t about us and our comfort and enjoyment (pleasure). It isn’t about what we want to do, or what we think will please God, but it is total surrender to God and to his will and to his purposes for our lives. It is going where he sends us, saying what he wants us to say, doing what he says, and being who he has called us to be. It means leaving homes, families, friends, and worldly comforts in order to go with God to the regions beyond with the gospel of our salvation. If we want to be Jesus’ followers, it means total abandonment to God, i.e. we must forsake all to follow him, and we must yield ourselves fully to his will and to his ways. We can’t hold on to our old lives and follow Jesus, too. We have to let go, and let God have his sway in our lives. And, then we will be fit for the kingdom of God (See also: John 6:35-66; 10:27-30).

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.

Dead or Genuine?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 8:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 2:14-26 (ESV).

Dead Faith (vv. 14-17)

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

I believe there are two types of faith. One is human faith, and another is God-given faith. God-given faith, which is the kind necessary for salvation, is divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives, and if persuaded, and originating in God, it then conforms to God’s holiness and righteousness, because it is supernatural (of God), not natural (of human origin).

Many people today are presenting the gospel of salvation in such a way that the faith they describe as necessary for salvation is human faith, not God-given faith, because they teach that God requires no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ and his cross. They are being taught that all they have to do is believe that Jesus took their place on a cross, that he died for their sins, and that he took their punishment for sin so that they could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when they die. But, they are not being taught that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. The prayer they pray for salvation is more like just a thank you to Jesus for what he did, but without confession or repentance of sin, and without turning to God to walk in obedience to Christ and his Word.

And, this is what James is addressing here, I believe. If we say we have faith in Jesus Christ (in God), but our lifestyles speak the opposite, then do we truly have God-given faith? Or, is it human faith, which acknowledges only what Jesus did for us, but does not bow to Christ, nor does it feel it has to? If we say we believe in Jesus, and in his sacrificial death on a cross for our sins, then it should make a difference in our lives, shouldn’t it? If it doesn’t, then what good is the faith? James gives the illustration here of seeing someone truly in need and yet not lifting a finger to help. If all we do is tell them to go in peace, but we do nothing to help, what good is that? He says, then, that in the same way if our faith is not followed (accompanied) by works (not of the flesh, but of the Spirit), it is thus dead (useless) faith.

Genuine Faith (vv. 18-26)

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Hebrews 11 is considered the “faith” chapter of the Bible. In nearly every account in that chapter it describes someone’s faith much like this: By faith he (fill in the name) did (something). Abel offered a sacrifice acceptable to God, and Noah, in reverent fear, constructed an ark for the saving of his household, as God had commanded him to do. Abraham obeyed when he was called of God to go to a place he was to receive as an inheritance, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith Moses considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt; by faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, etc. And, by faith the people crossed the Red Sea on dry land, and the list goes on (See: Heb. 11).

And, by faith in Jesus Christ, and in what he did for us in dying on a cross for our sins, so that we could escape hell, be delivered from slavery to sin and have eternal life with God, we willingly die with Christ to sin. 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. We leave our old lives of sin behind us, and we turn to follow Jesus Christ with our lives in obedience to him and to his Word. If we say we have fellowship with God, though, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we lie, and we do not live by the truth (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 6:35-66; Acts 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:6).

So, God-given faith is inseparable from corresponding action (works of the Spirit). It is not enough to just believe with human or with intellectual or even with emotional faith generated in oneself. James said that even the demons believe in the existence of the ONE true God, and that they even shudder. And, that is because they know God exists because he created them, and because they used to be angels in heaven. But, that belief was not enough, because they still rebelled against God and became demons.

It is true that we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation, and it is only by God’s grace that we are saved, through faith, and this not of ourselves for it is a gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2:8-9). Yet, we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (v. 10). If we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25). So, faith is active along with works (of the Spirit), and faith is completed by such works. So, as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

Feed On Him

Sunday, April 30, 2017, 9:05 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 6 (select vv. NIV).

Seeking Blessings (vv. 26-27)

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Many people will believe in Jesus Christ with human faith just because of what they perceive will be the benefits of such a faith, such as forgiveness of sins, relief from punishment in hell, and the hope of heaven when they die. Although it is true that these are some of the benefits of faith in Jesus Christ, it is apparent that these people want their resurrection without the cross, i.e. that they want the benefits of salvation from sin without death to sin, submission to Christ and his cross, and obedience to his word. So, it isn’t Jesus they seek, but what they can get out of him. So, they end up worshipping the gifts rather than the creator who gave the gifts.

If we look only to the end game, and what rewards we think we will receive, then we are missing the boat. Jesus didn’t die for our sins just so we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He 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. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. He commands all people everywhere to repent, i.e. to turn from their lifestyles of sin, to be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and to receive new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Acts 17:30; 26:16-18).

Bread of Life (vv. 35-40)

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

So many people today, especially here in America, are seeking and are following after what will never satisfy the deep longings of their souls. Yet, is God against us having houses, lands, automobiles and possessions? I don’t believe so. I do believe, though, that he is against us having excess (more than we need) while we see those in need and we refuse to help. I believe he is also against us making these things our gods, i.e. to where we worship them rather than the creator; to where we give our hearts, passion, time and energies over to what is going to perish, while we neglect what is eternal.

Many people, including many Christians, are also seeking after self-pleasure and entertainment, idols of men, politicians, preachers, and the like to satisfy them, to give them a sense of security or fulfillment, or to be their saviors. But, they will always come up empty, and always wanting more, and they will often be disappointed, let down, and betrayed by what gives a false sense of hope for joy and peace, because the things of this world and humans can never fill the God-void in our lives, which only HE can fill. They will all wear out like a garment, but the Word of God stands forever!

Jesus Christ is our sustenance and our supply for everything we need. In him we find complete satisfaction, fulfillment, peace and joy. If we come to him, and we find in him all that we need for this life, our hearts will be fully satisfied. Yet, he says that if any would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (for eternity), but if we lose our lives (die to sin and self), we will gain eternal life, i.e. we will find our lives in him (Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Rom. 8:1-14).

Flesh and Blood (vv. 48-58)

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Jesus is the bread from heaven; the bread of life. The things of this life to which we look to satisfy us, or to bring us happiness, are temporal. They have no power to impart life. Jesus is the giver of life in creation, and he is the giver of eternal life for all who eat of (partake in) him. Yet, in order to receive this life (eternal) we must eat of his flesh and drink of his blood. So, what does that mean?

Jesus gave his body for us in death to sin on a cross. He also shed his blood for us that we might be reconciled to God. So, to eat of his flesh and to drink of his blood means we partake with him in death to sin so that we might live with him to righteousness, and so we might be reunited in fellowship with God. There can be no resurrection without the cross. There can be no life in the Spirit without death to sin, and not just Jesus’ death to sin, but us being crucified with Christ in death to sin (Rom. 6:1-23; Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:24).

In other words, faith in Jesus Christ is so much more than just an escape from hell and the hope of heaven. It is a life, and it is a lifestyle, and it is in Christ, and to be lived in his power and strength, and guided by the Holy Spirit. It is a radical life transformation away from living under the yoke of slavery to sin, to now walking in freedom from the control of sin over our lives, in the Spirit, and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. It is trusting in Jesus to meet our every need and not looking to the flesh of man or to the things of this world for our provision, hope, healing, or for our deliverance.

This is not to say, obviously, that we don’t have jobs or earn our living or provide for our families or that we just sit around waiting for manna to drop from heaven while we do nothing. But, it is to say that we should trust in Jesus Christ for all things, and that we should not operate in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and that we should look to him for our fulfillment, for our deliverance from evil, and for meaning, purpose and direction for our lives. He is the one who should get our vows of allegiance, our passion, desire, loyalty, devotion, fidelity, worship and praise. He alone should be our God. And, we should feed on him daily via prayer, the study of the Word, and through following him in obedience to whatever he tells us to do and to be.

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
William Williams / John Hughes

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold.
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer
Sin and Satan and the grave,
Sin and Satan and the grave.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee. Amen.

The Great Motivator

Sunday, April 23, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Lifted Our Burdens.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 8:1-13 (NIV).

Saul Approved (v. 1a)

And Saul approved of their killing him.

When Stephen was persecuted, and then killed for his faith in Jesus Christ, Saul (later called Paul) was standing there giving approval to his death. Yet, Saul was a Pharisee, a leader in the temple, and a follower of God, or at least he thought he was following God, and that what he was doing was right. Yet, he was deceived until Jesus opened his blinded eyes and turned him from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that he might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (Act. 26:16-18).

Satan is deceiving many minds of people today, too, and convincing them that evil is good and that good is evil. He is convincing them that Jesus Christ died merely to take away their punishment for sin and to give them the hope of heaven when they die, but that nothing at all is required of them – no death to sin, no repentance, no obedience to Christ and to his Word, and no submission to Christ as Lord (owner-master) of our lives. He is convincing them that once we are saved that God doesn’t even see our present sins anymore, but that all he even sees is Christ’s righteousness. Truly, if we have trusted in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, Christ’s righteousness has been credited to our accounts, but if God no longer sees us sinning, then he is not all seeing and all knowing, and that makes liars out of the NT apostles who repeatedly remind the believers to stop sinning against Jesus and to obey their Lord who saved them from bondage to sin.

Satan is also deceiving many minds of people by convincing them that if anyone is teaching repentance (turning from sin to God), obedience to Christ, death to sin and living to righteousness, as required for our eternal security, then they are liars and deceivers because, according to them, we are teaching works-based salvation. Yet, if this is what we are teaching, then we are teaching what Jesus taught and what his NT apostles taught, so did they teach works-based salvation? No! They didn’t. So, then, neither are we. We are teaching the truth of the gospel, and Satan doesn’t like it, and so he is accusing us in order to discredit us and the full gospel message (the whole counsel of God) so that he may lead people to believe that they can remain in slavery to sin, and still have their hope of heaven. But, that is wrong.
[See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 6:35-66; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9.]

Great Persecution (vv. 1b-3)

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

This is happening today, and at the hands of many who call themselves Christians or ministers of the gospel or leaders within the church. Men who are clever enchanters have convinced many of these church leaders that certain individuals with “strong convictions” are to be discarded while they are to encourage the world to participate with them in their gatherings. They have been convinced, of men, that they are to dilute the gospel message of salvation and to ignore the bulk of teaching in the New Testament concerning our eternal life with God and what constitutes the kind of faith which saves us, and to, instead, use only a few select scriptures which say what they want to believe, because they take them out of context.

So, if anyone does teach what Jesus and what his NT apostles taught regarding our salvation, sin, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, they are being targeted for expulsion, church discipline, rebuke, censure, rejection and persecution in many “Christian” circles, including within many of today’s institutional churches, which are following the gospel according to men. And, in countries outside the USA, many are even being put in prison, tortured or are being put to death for their testimonies for Jesus Christ and for his gospel, and because they stand on the word of truth and do not compromise with the world. And, this is coming to America, too, because God’s word teaches us that this is what we can expect if we are following our Lord.

The Word Preached (vv. 4-8)

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.

Persecution, though, is not to be thought of as a bad thing, for it often produces revival in the church and many people coming to Christ. As well, when people are persecuted for their faith they tend to get more serious about God and about getting the gospel of Jesus Christ out to a world dying in their sins. Pain is a great motivator, in other words. Without divine discipline we may have the tendency to become complacent and lazy about our spiritual walks, or to get distracted by the things of this world so that we don’t follow our Lord in obedience nor take his word seriously and to heart.

Changed Lives (vv. 9-13)

Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

Because the church was persecuted, too, the people were scattered, and what that meant was the gospel spread even further, so that more people heard the message of salvation from sin and trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives.

I believe one of the reasons the vast majority of Christians in America are not busy sharing Christ with people is because we have too much comfort here. Many American Christians are far too easily distracted by the offerings of this world, too, and will spend hours upon hours per day entertaining themselves while they spend minimal time in the Word and in prayer, if at all. Too many are worshipers of TV and the internet, too, and allow them to be their gods instead of God. They give much more time and attention to their smart phones and to their electronic devices than they do to hearing God’s voice speaking to their hearts and then obeying what he shows them.

So, some Christian persecution in America would be a good thing, because it would mean that people will have to come out of their comfort zones and they will have to make a choice as to whom they will serve – the flesh and the devil or God and his Spirit. There will be no more room for middle ground or for riding the fence. Either they will have to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and to following him in obedience and in surrender to his will, or they will reject and deny Jesus as their Lord, and thus take the mark of the beast on their lives. But, when this happens, I believe we will see in the world, and in America, Christians being revived, the gospel being preached far and wide, and many people coming to faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord (owner-master), and as their Savior.

He Lifted Our Burdens / An Original Work / February 15, 2014

Based off Isaiah 9:2-7

People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.

Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.

Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.

We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.

Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.

He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.