Instructions for Life

Monday, September 25, 2017, 4:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Near the Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 2 (Select vv. ESV).

To Know Him (vv. 1-6)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

It is God’s will that we not sin, which is why Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. So, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are set free from slavery (addiction) to sin so that we can now become bond-servants of his righteousness. Now we no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and in the power and strength of God’s Spirit now living within us (Ro. 8:1-17).

Yet, this is not to say that we will never sin again. We probably will, at one time or another. But, sin should no longer be our practice, for Satan no longer has a hold on our lives, for Jesus set us free from his control. But, if we do sin, this also does NOT mean that we are now back under condemnation, for Jesus provided the way for us to come out from under that condemnation via his blood shed on the cross for our sins. So, if we do sin, we repent of our sin, and we continue to walk in Christ’s holiness. God will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him.

Yet, if we continue walking in sin, and we make sin our practice, and we don’t practice obedience, holiness, godliness and righteousness, then we don’t know God, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, even if we prayed the sinner’s prayer and felt as though we received Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives. True faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin and living to God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

Love and Hate (vv. 7-11)

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Not only do we NOT have the hope of eternal life if we practice sinning and if we don’t walk in obedience to Christ’s commands, but we are still in darkness and without Christ if we profess to be in the light but we are actively hating our fellow humans or our fellow Christians. So, what is hate? Hate is the opposite of love. And, Christian love prefers what God prefers, it embraces God’s will, and it makes a practice of obeying God’s commands. Love, too, does no harm to its neighbors, but it is kind, thoughtful, forgiving, and giving of oneself to others’ needs. Hate is hostile, unforgiving, unkind, slanderous, harmful or wishing harm, backstabbing, and the like. It is especially egregious for a Christian to actively hate another Christian.

Don’t Love the World (vv. 15-17)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

The world we are NOT to love is NOT the people of the world, for God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Begotten Son to die on a cross for our sins, so that whoever is believing in him might have eternal life with God. The world we are NOT to love IS the world of sin, worldliness, wickedness, immorality, lust, hatred, violence, envy, and adultery, etc. We are not to love it, embrace it, agree with it, join in with it, become partakers of it, prefer it above all else, worship it, idolize it or be entertained by it. Our hearts, passion, desire, time, energies, thoughts and values should not be focused on what is worldly, fleshly and temporal, but they should be centered on God, His Word and his values, and on what has eternal value.

So, why do so many Christians (or professing Christians) spend so much of their waking hours, money, energies, passion and conversations on what is going to pass away, and on what has multiple elements of immorality, impurity and idolatry in the mix? Why is it that it appears so few professing Christians here in America make Christ, his Word, his morals, his thinking and his values the primary focus of their daily lives, 24/7? Why the discrepancy between their confession of faith in Christ and the reality of Christ being lived out in their daily lives? And, why is this considered the norm? And, if someone does truly follow Christ wholeheartedly, why are they are considered weird and abnormal? Something is wrong with this picture.

Do we not know that if we embrace the world of sin, make it our practice, idolize it, and give it our affections, passion, desire, minds and hearts, that we don’t have the love of the Father within us? And, do we not know that those who practice following God, and doing his will, are the ones who will abide with him forever? This world is not our home. We are just passing through. None of the things of this world should we idolize and make our gods, for they are not God, who is the ONLY one to whom we should give such adoration, value, esteem, respect, honor, praise, loyalty and devotion. We need to die to sin, self and to the world of sin and the things of this world, and we need to live for God, his gospel, his Word, his holiness and his righteousness, giving him our passion, desire, affections and obedience.

Near the Cross
Fanny J. Crosby / William H. Doane

Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

 

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Take His Hand

Monday, September 4, 2017, 9:16 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 4 (NASB).

Things Hidden (vv. 1-2)

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

When we share with people the gospel of our salvation from sin, in Jesus Christ, our Lord, we should do so in truth and in complete integrity. So, if we want to be certain that what we are sharing with people is the truth, then we must study the Word of God, in particular the New Testament, and we need to learn what the gospel message teaches. For, many people today are adulterating (polluting, infecting) the Word of Truth by twisting scripture to their advantage or by picking and choosing only a few select scriptures which, taken out of context, say what they want to hear, while they ignore the rest. They, thus, fit the scriptures to their lifestyles rather than fit their lifestyles to the teachings of scripture.

Also, when we share with people the gospel of our salvation from sin, we need to not do so hypocritically. We should make certain we are walking the talk and not just talking the walk. We ought to be people of God, born of the Spirit of God, who are walking in holiness and righteousness, and who are not given over to sinful addictions. We must be godly people who have renounced secretive and shameful ways, instead of being people who make a profession of faith only, or who are not living what we are teaching others. It is imperative, too, that we make no pretense, and that we participate in no hidden sins, as well as that our walk matches our talk.

Blinded Minds (vv. 3-6)

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

The truth of the gospel should not be hidden from people on our account because we failed to learn the truth, and because we trusted in the lies (half-truths) being taught by others. If the truth is hidden from them, it should be because Satan has blinded their eyes, and because others, not ourselves, are the ones polluting the gospel to make it more acceptable and appealing to human flesh. We should be ones who are committed to knowing and sharing the truth of God’s Word, because the truth is what will change human hearts, and set them free, not clever lies disguised as truth which leave people still in bondage (slavery, addiction) to sin.

So, we must be bearers of Light, not of a mixture of light and darkness, disguised as light. What we proclaim must also be focused in Jesus Christ and not in giving glory to ourselves. We should be promoting Jesus, not humans. And, we ought to present ourselves as servants of Christ and give him all the glory for all that he does in us and through us. For what we have, and what we are, and what we do should be all because of what Jesus did for us in dying on the cross for our sins, and because he delivered us out of slavery to sin so that we might walk in his righteousness, in his power and strength. And, all the praise, honor and glory ought to go to him alone.

Earthen Vessels (vv. 7-12)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.

It was God’s design and plan that he would use human beings, his followers, to spread his gospel message throughout the earth. Yet, we live in flesh bodies, and we get sick, tired, and weak, and we have our enemy Satan fighting continually against us, even through other humans, so we must rely on the strength, power and wisdom of God to continue in the work of the ministry to which he has called us. But, that is a good thing, because then we know that when God uses us that it wasn’t us who did it, but it was God. So, it keeps us humble and trusting and resting in our Lord, even for the strength to keep going, at times, and then for the empowerment of his Spirit in our lives in knowing what to do and say. Then, he gets the glory, not us.

Sometimes life can get pretty tough. Sometimes the opposition against us can get pretty severe, too. We may feel, at times, as though the weight of the world has come crashing down upon us. We may lose sight of God’s sovereignty over our lives, and feel like we are drowning in our circumstances, but we should never give up hope. We may go through some serious trials on this earth, because we are being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our lives. But, our Lord is always with us, he is in control over all that he has made, and he will never abandon us. He has a plan and a purpose for what he allows us to go through on this earth, and it is to make us holy, to purify our hearts, and to make us more like Jesus, so that his life shines through ours to the world.

Don’t Lose Heart (vv. 13-18)

But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Even though we may be going through some hard stuff in this life, on this earth, we do not lose heart, or we should not lose heart, because we have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Not only that, but Jesus Christ is doing some awesome things in our lives while we still live on this earth, if we will let him by submitting to his will for our lives, and by walking in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh. He uses these trials in our lives to mature us in him, and to grow us in our faith, and to teach us to rely on him and not on ourselves. So, even though we may be going through a difficult period of time, he is busy changing our hearts by inwardly renewing us day by day. So, he is working it all out for our good (what is best for us).

So, we need to keep our focus on Jesus and not on our circumstances or on ourselves or what we are going through. We must trust him with our lives and with our life situations and let him lead us in the way he would have us to go. We can’t see what lies ahead for us, so we don’t always know why things are happening to us the way they are, but God knows. So, we must trust him. And, we must follow his lead. He won’t lead us down the wrong path. We just need to take his hand, and follow him. We should always keep an eternal perspective and not let what is temporary cause us to lose sight of what is eternal. God will make a way where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see. So, rest in him. Believe him. And, follow him.

Lord, Move Me / An Original Work / October 16, 2011

Be my desire, my heart set on fire,
Lord, move me to worship You only, I pray.
Fill with Your Spirit, my heart overflow.
Lord, may I long for You; Your word to know.
Teach me to walk with You, Lord, in Your power,
And may I serve You, Lord, right now in this hour.

Lord, how I want to obey You forever.
Help me to hear You, Lord, so I will not stray.
Teach me to love You; adore You always.
Envelope me, Lord, with Your grace today.
Meet me in my need, and show me Your mercy.
Forgive me for all things, as I humbly pray.

Counsel me, lead me, direct me, and guide me,
So I follow You, Lord, where’er You lead now.
I love to hear You speak Your words to me.
I am so grateful that You set me free.
Wash me, and cleanse me, and make me like You, Lord,
And I will live with You for eternity.

Led to Repentance

Sunday, July 23, 2017, 3:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of repentance.

From Darkness to Light (Acts 26:15-20)

And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your 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 power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

Many preachers today are teaching that God does not require us to repent of our sins, or else they are just deleting (or omitting) repentance from the gospel message, or else they are teaching that repentance is simply having a change of mind in the sense of deciding to believe in Jesus Christ. Yet, is repentance required by God for salvation, and, if so, what all does repentance entail? What is this “change of mind” we are supposed to have? Is it merely to decide to believe in Jesus, or is there more to it?

Well, to repent certainly means to have a change of mind, but it is also a change of the inner man (of our inmost being, our hearts). This change is an indication of our acceptance of the will of God, too, after which we should think, believe and act differently than we did before. In the context of most biblical references to repentance, the indication is that one leaves his former life of sin behind him, casting aside his idols, and his rebellion against God, in order to turn to God/Jesus to follow (obey) him in all his ways.

And, this is made clear for us here in this passage in Acts 26 where Jesus called Paul to open spiritually blinded eyes, turning them from darkness (sin) to the light (Jesus Christ, truth, righteousness), and from the power Satan had over them to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ.

So, Paul obeyed what Jesus told him to do (vv. 16-18) by telling the people that they must repent of their sins and turn to God, and that their actions from that point forward should, thus, reflect (reveal) their repentance.

Obey the Truth (Rom. 2:3-11)

Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

God’s kindness is his grace to us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to the cross to die for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died on that cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. When he died he put our sins to death with him so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. In fact, he died 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; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

So, the purpose of his grace to us is not just so we can escape hell and have forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven when we die. His grace to us is to lead us to repentance. In fact, his grace, which brings salvation, 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. God’s grace is NOT carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and remorse. For, if we walk in sin, according to the flesh, we will die in our sins (1 Jn. 1:5-9; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

Thus, God’s grace should lead us to repentance, and that repentance should produce a change of heart and mind away from living for sin and self to faith in God/Jesus Christ, to follow him (obey him) in all our ways. Yet, if we continue living (practicing) sin, we should expect God’s wrath and fury, not his warm acceptance with open arms into his heaven. If we do not walk in obedience to Christ and his commands, but we go our own way, instead, we will die in our sins, not be saved in the end. Yet, if we follow our Lord in obedience, and we are, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity.

Flee and Pursue (2 Tim. 2:22-26)

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

So, repentance is a change of heart and mind away from sin and Satan and to (toward) God and his righteousness. And, it results in a change of thinking, believing and behaving so that we don’t do the things we did before. Now our desire is for God/Jesus, to obey him and to walk in his ways and in his truth. So, it is a lot like making a U-turn in a road. First we were going one direction, and then we changed course, we turned, and now we are going in the opposite direction as we had been traveling.

And, it entails fleeing worldly passions and desires and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace. If all we do is just try to stop doing what is wrong, but we don’t do what is right, then we are a lot like a thief in between jobs, because nothing has really changed. Our character hasn’t changed, nor have we truly had a change of heart and mind. True repentance means we leave the way we use to live behind us and we now live holy lives pleasing to God. This is not to say we will be instantaneously perfect, i.e. that we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that being born again is a new life, not the old life slightly cleaned up to be more presentable.

When we come to repentance, via God’s grace to us, we come to our senses, we realize we were heading the wrong direction, we are broken and contrite over our sins, and we follow our Lord in the right direction. We escape (break free from) the snare of the devil, who had taken us captive to do his will, and now we submit to our Lord, and we are desirous to do his will. And, we continue on this path until the day we die or until Jesus comes back to take us to be with him forever.

And, all this is made possible because of God’s grace to us and due to his sustaining power in our lives. All glory to God. Great things he has done in granting us repentance and forgiveness of sins so that we can now walk in freedom from slavery (addiction) to sin, and so we can walk in the Spirit, by faith in Christ, and according to his righteousness.

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012

Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

Slavery to Sin

Friday, July 21, 2017, 5:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Reached Down.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read varied scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of slavery to sin.

Practicing Sin (Jn. 8:34; Ro. 1:28-32; Gal. 5:19-21)

“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.’”

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

“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.”

When Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), died on the cross for our sins, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died, in fact, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He was put to death on a cross so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, He gave his life up for us in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk (in lifestyle; in practice) not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. [See: 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 8:1-4.]

So, if we practice (continue in) sin, i.e. if sinning against God is part of our normal course of life as a matter of habit, routine, or the way we live, then we are not free, but we are still enslaved (in bondage) to sin. And, we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God. For, God’s grace to us is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt. God’s 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 Christ’s return. So, don’t be led astray! We should not even be entertained by the sins of others, for we are thus approving of others’ sins.

Slaves to What? (Ro. 6:6-7; Ro. 6:16-23)

“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.”

“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.

“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.”

When we truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives with God-given faith, and not with mere intellectual assent or acknowledgment, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old nature is put to death that we might no longer be slaves to sin, but that we might live new lives in Christ Jesus to his righteousness.

This is not to say, nonetheless, that we will never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that sin should not be our practice (lifestyle). Daily, by the Spirit of God, we should be putting the deeds of our flesh to death, and daily we should be taking up our cross and following (obeying) our Lord Jesus (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). For, this is the reason for which Jesus was crucified on a cross. For, if we are still making sin the practice of our lives, we are enslaved to sin, and that leads to spiritual death, not life in the Spirit. But, if we walk in obedience to Christ and to his Word, that leads to righteousness, which then leads to sanctification (being made holy), and its end is eternal life with God.

Freedom to Captives (Lu. 4:18-19)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

So, if we want to share the gospel of our salvation with others so that they can come to know Christ, too, then we need to tell them the truth. So many preachers and teachers of the Word today are proclaiming a half-truth gospel, which is a lie, and which deceives naïve minds into believing that they can “believe” in Jesus, but that they don’t have to repent of (turn from) sin, and that they don’t have to obey Christ, and that God is pleased with them no matter what they do. Yet, scripture clearly teaches that if we proclaim we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars who don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

Freedom from sin is not merely forgiveness of sins or deliverance from hell. True liberty is freedom from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin. Freedom from sin is deliverance from the power and control Satan had over our lives so that we can now walk in freedom from sin addiction and its hold on our lives. No born again Christian should be addicted to (controlled by) any sin. Jesus set us free! We just have to live like we believe that, and all in his power and strength and working of his grace within us. This is the GOOD NEWS! It is not good news if we are still bound in our sins, and especially if we have been given a false hope of eternal life with God based on a lie.

When we are still in bondage to sin, we are free from the control of righteousness so that we cannot please God with our lives. We are blinded to the things of God and of his righteousness until he opens our eyes to the truth and he awakens our minds and hearts to see our sinful condition and our need of him as Savior (deliverer from sin) of our lives. So, know that there are many liars and deceivers out there who are disguising themselves as servants of righteousness and as ministers of the gospel, but whose messages are lies cleverly disguised as truth in order to deceive naïve minds. They are messengers of Satan sent to turn people away from the truth so that they will not be saved, while still promising them the hope of heaven when they die. So, know the truth, and the truth will set you free!

He Reached Down / An Original Work / February 3, 2014

Based off Psalm 18

How I love You, Lord, my Rock and my strength.
My God is my fortress; I hide in Him.
He is my shield and the horn of
My salvation, whom I praise.
I have found my refuge in Him.

He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
Drew me out of waters so deep, I’d sink.
He delivered me from Satan
And my slavery to sin;
Gave me hope of heaven with Him.

My God turned my darkness into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes; gave me sight.
As for God, his way is perfect.
He gives strength to stand secure.
I have found my vict’ry in Him.

My Lord lives! Praise be to my Savior God,
Jesus Christ, who died on a cruel cross.
He is my Rock and the source
Of my salvation, whom I trust.
I will give praise always to Him.

Our Walk

Thursday, July 20, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (ESV) on the subject of our spiritual walk with Christ.

Walk in Daylight (Ro. 13:11-14)

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Those who are outside of faith in Jesus Christ are spiritually asleep, i.e. they have not yet been awakened to the gospel of our salvation and to eternal life with Christ Jesus, our Lord. This results in death spiritually. And, this also describes many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, but who do not truly know him. Yet, true believers in Jesus Christ have been awakened spiritually, and have received salvation from sin and new life in the Spirit, in which they now walk, or in which they should now be walking. Nonetheless, it is possible for those who have once been awakened to begin to drift off into a spiritual slumber and to fall back into some of their old ways of living (See: Rev. 2-3), and they need to be reawakened (revived), for the time of the Lord’s return is nearer, when our salvation will be completed.

So, the counsel here is that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we need to cast off any works of darkness in our lives, and we need to put on the light of truth, righteousness, and holiness. We are to live our lives in a manner which is consistent with our confession of faith in Jesus Christ, in all decency, honesty, integrity, uprightness, and morality. And, we are to rid our lives of all lies, deceit, impurity, immorality, indecency, rage, spite and malice.

Our walk is how we live day in and day out. It is how we conduct our lives. It is our lifestyle. This is not to say we will never sin (See 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that we should not conduct our lives after the flesh, but that our lifestyles should reflect Jesus Christ and his purity and righteousness. In fact, we should make no allowance at all for immorality, deceit or malice in our lives whatsoever. This means we should not even allow ourselves to be entertained (via TV, movies, games, etc.) by anything containing sensuality, immorality, and indecency, or promoting lies, cheating, mockery, or malice.

Walk Worthy (Ephesians 4:1-3; Col. 1:9-14)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to walk (conduct our lives) in a manner (way, behavior) worthy (commendable) of the Lord and of his calling on our lives. We are his representatives, his body, and as such, our lives should reflect him and his righteousness and holiness, and not our sinful flesh. For, when God calls us to be his servants, and his heirs of the promise of eternal life with God, it is not merely so we should escape hell and go to heaven when we die. We are called to be holy, and to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into Christ’s likeness. In fact, we are predestined to be conformed into the image of Christ, and even before the creation of the world we were called to be holy. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not that we should have a free license to continue in sin without guilt.

So, daily we should be becoming more like Jesus in all that we do, think, are and say, and we should be daily putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, in order that we might live with Christ for eternity (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6). And, we should live lives pleasing to God, and not to please ourselves (2 Co. 5:15). We should be growing in our walks of faith every day, maturing in Christ, being transformed in mind and heart, and being strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit of God. We should live our lives, in other words, as though God has truly delivered us out of the domain (ownership) of darkness (sin, Satan), and as though we are now living in the light of his truth and his righteousness (what is deemed right in the eyes of the Lord).

Walk in Him (Col. 2:6-8; 1 Thess. 4:1-8)

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

If we are walking (conducting our lives) in Christ Jesus, we are not living to gratify the desires of our sinful flesh. We don’t love the world of sin, i.e. we don’t long for what is unholy, unrighteous, wicked, and evil, etc. Our passion (zeal) is for Christ and his truth, not for what tickles itching ears, or for what appeases our sinful flesh. We don’t follow after human beings and their philosophies and worldly ways, but we follow the path of righteousness and holy living. We are also not tossed back and forth by the winds of false doctrines, “by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (See: Eph. 4:11-16). We are not looking for feel-good messages which make us comfortable in our flesh, but we long for the deep truths of scripture which teach us the way of holiness, that we may walk in it.

So many people today are teaching that God requires nothing of us at all other than some non-descript faith in Jesus Christ, which does nothing more than acknowledge who Jesus is and/or what he did for us in dying for our sins, and which merely accepts his forgiveness of our sins, but which never dies with him to sin and which does not live with him to righteousness. They also teach that God is always pleased with us and that he delights in us even when we are engrossed in sinful rebellion against him. But, scripture does not teach that. Scripture teaches that we must repent (turn from) our sins, and we must walk in obedience to our Lord and live lives pleasing to him if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God.

Zeal for Your House
An Original Work / August 1, 2016

Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
Lord, I love my times with You.
I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
List’ning to You speaking to me,
Gently guiding me in truth.

Lord, You are my life’s example,
Showing me how I should live.
I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
No greater joy have I when serving You.
Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
I’m yielding to Your will.

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
See the church turned upside down:
Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
Gospel message made appealing,
So the world will feel at home.

Lord, we need a great revival.
Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
Be restored to God again.

A Missionary Call

Thursday, July 13, 2017, 11:11 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “It All Depends.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of the call of God on our lives.

Send Me (Isaiah 6:8-9a)

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people…”

A Christian missionary is called of God, a disciple (follower) of Christ, and a messenger of God in sharing the gospel of our salvation and in teaching the Word of Truth (the Word of God) to the people of the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all called to be missionaries in that we have all been called to be Christ’s witnesses and to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, and we are all to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. Also we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we are to let our light – the light of Christ and of his gospel – shine before all people. The light is not to be hidden or kept only to ourselves (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9; Matt. 5:13-16).

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and his Holy Spirit comes to live within us, we are gifted of the Spirit of God with spiritual gifts and we are given assignments by God within the body of Christ, his church, which we are to fulfill (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). We have all been called to belong to Christ, to be holy, to be his saints, according to God’s purpose, by the will of God, into fellowship with Christ, by his grace, to freedom in Christ, to eternal life, and to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and for the sake of the gospel (various scriptures). Yet, we are each given specific assignments, as well, which God will reveal to us if we are listening to him (See: Psalm 139:16). So, when God speaks, we should listen, and we should respond, “Here I am, send me.”

God Appointed (Jeremiah 1:4-9a)

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth.

Before the creation of the world, we were chosen by God to be conformed to the image of Christ. We were called to a holy calling in Christ Jesus. And, we were chosen in Christ to be holy and blameless before him. All the days ordained for us by God were written in his book before one of them came into being (Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4; Ps. 139). God placed us in the wombs of our mothers, which means he placed us in the homes we were brought up in, even knowing the good and the bad that would happen to us. God is completely sovereign over all that he has made. He had a plan and a purpose for our lives even before he created the world. He knew us and he chose us and he called us to something very uniquely designed by God for us to do and to be.

God did not place us here on this earth so we could live life however we want, and so we can entertain ourselves and be entertained continuously by others. He has a mission for each one of us to fulfill. He has a specific assignment for us. He has somewhere he wants us to live and to go, and messages he wants us to give and people to whom he would have us minister the love, grace, and mercy of Christ, and with whom he would have us share the full gospel message of salvation. And, we don’t have to worry about whether or not we can do this, because if God is in it, and if he has called us, he will equip us, and he will give us all we need to do what he has called us to do. He will supply all we need, and he will go before us and prepare the way and guide our steps, and give us the words to speak.

A Servant and Witness (Acts 26:15-18)

“And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your 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 power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”

Perhaps you have been resisting his call on your life, because you want to live your life how you want, make all your own decisions, live where you want, and go about your day according to your own plans and purposes. Or, perhaps you only serve God on your own terms, and will only follow him if he doesn’t ask you to do anything that would involve much personal sacrifice. Yet, he may ask you to leave friends and loved ones behind to go to the regions beyond. Still, you may be among those who fear that if they listen to the Lord, and if they seek his will for their lives, that God may ask them to do something they don’t want to do, something that would take them into the unknown, or something that may get them majorly rejected, persecuted or even killed for their testimony for Christ and for his gospel.

So, he is calling us to take a stand for him, to not waver back and forth in our commitments, but to be faithful to him in service in being who he has called us to be, going where he wants us to go, and doing what he says. He is calling us to accept his call on our lives and to say “Here I am. Send me.” And, he promises to provide all we need to do the work of the ministry to which he has called us.

Yet, God has not called us to just be nice people and to make people feel good about themselves while they are still dead in their sins. He has called us to open blinded eyes, to turn them from darkness (sin, wickedness) to light (truth, Christ, righteousness) and from the power Satan has over their lives to God to walk in his ways. Then they will receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ. So, we need to tell them the truth, for their eternity depends on it. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. True faith in Jesus Christ results in being crucified with Christ in death to sin that we might live with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

It All Depends
Jerry Nelson / Don Marsh

Would I leave the place
Where I have lived and settled down?
It all depends.
Break with my attachments,
Sentimental though they be?
It all depends.
Would I find myself uprooting
All the stakes I’ve driven down,
Leaving friends and loved ones far behind,
Captive to the call of some far off distant land?
I can only answer, that depends.

It all depends on where He needs me,
For where he leads me my feet must go.
It may be down an unfamiliar pathway
Or cross the mountains so bleak with snow.
His faithful hand will always guide me.
He’ll walk beside me, let come what may.
Why should I dread the night?
My faith has found its sight.
I’ll do his will through the rest of my life.

Forgiveness

Sunday, July 9, 2017, 4:15 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in The Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of forgiveness of sins.

Repentance for Forgiveness (Luke 24:44-47)

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

What is repentance? Literally it means to have “a change of mind, change in the inner man” (1). It is used almost exclusively in scripture to signify a turning away from sin and a turning to walk in obedience to God. It is a lot like making a U-turn, i.e. you were going left, and now you are going right. Only this is talking about a complete change of direction spiritually in one’s life. And, although this is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in transforming us from darkness to light, our faith in Jesus Christ involves us willingly cooperating with that work of grace in our lives.

This repentance, i.e. this forsaking of our former way of living for sin and self, and turning to God to follow him in his ways, and in his truth, is required by God for us to be forgiven of our sins, and to have eternal life with God in heaven (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24).

Turned from Darkness (Acts 26:16-18; Col. 1:13-14)

“But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your 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 power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Paul met Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus where he intended to persecute believers in Jesus Christ. Jesus, who transformed his heart and mind, appointed him to be a minister of the gospel of our salvation. Paul’s calling also summarizes for us the gospel message, the purpose of which is to open eyes which are spiritually blinded by sin, and to turn them from sin to Christ and to his righteousness, and from the dominion of Satan over their lives to now walk in obedience to their Lord. The result is that they receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified, cleansed) by faith in Jesus Christ. So, again we have here the prerequisite of repentance prior to the forgiveness of sins.

Holy and Blameless (Ephesians 1:3-10)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, who have been redeemed with his blood, and forgiven our sins, were chosen by God even before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless before him. To be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made to be like Jesus. Blameless means “unblemished from the marring effects of sin” (2). Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When we believe in him, his righteousness is credited to our account so that we are no longer charged as “guilty,” but we are set free from the condemnation of sin. Yet, we must also live righteously. We must walk in the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

We were also chosen according to the purpose of God’s will, to the praise of his grace. And, he made known to us his will, according to his plan and purpose for our lives. In fact, faith in Christ means to be persuaded of God as to his will for our lives. And, if persuaded (convinced), we will want to do his will. And, what is his will? It is that we should be sanctified and made holy, that we should forsake our sins and follow him in obedience, and that we should live holy and godly lives pleasing to him.

The reality of his grace to us is not just that we have escaped hell and that we have the promise of heaven when we die, but that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). His grace, which brings salvation, 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). So, if we are chosen according to the purpose of God’s will, to the praise of his grace, then our lives should reflect both his purpose for our lives, and his grace, which instructs us to say “No” to sin and “Yes” to his righteousness and holiness being lived out in our lives.

Circumcised in Heart (Col. 2:11-15; cf. Ro. 6:1-23)

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

While physical circumcision is a cutting away of physical flesh, the circumcision made without hands, which is also called “circumcision of the heart,” is a spiritual cutting away of our sinful flesh (sin nature, worldliness, wickedness). This is what takes place when we genuinely trust in Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord (owner-master) of our lives. We die with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. The old is gone. The new has come. We are given completely new lives in Christ Jesus which are created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness. We were once dead in our sins, but God made us alive in Christ Jesus! He cancelled the debt that stood against us, and he forgave our sins. Amen!

But, forgiveness alone is not the end result of our faith in Jesus Christ, for we were set free from slavery to sin, as well, so that we would no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, but so we would now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit. If we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh (if we keep on practicing sin), 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: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6). So, not only must we be forgiven our sins, but we must no longer continue in willful sin against God if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God.

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!

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/3341.htm

(2) http://biblehub.com/greek/299.htm