Keep the Faith

Monday, August 28, 2017, 4:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Timothy 4:1-18 (NIV).

Preach the Word (vv. 1-5)

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Although these words were directed to Timothy, we can all learn from them, and apply these truths where applicable to our individual lives. For example, we read in 1 Peter 2:9 that we who believe in Jesus Christ are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of spiritual darkness (sin) into His marvelous light (truth, righteousness). Each one of us, not just preachers and evangelists, thus, have an obligation to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world around us (See: Matt. 28:18-20; Act. 1:8; Matt. 5:13-16; Mark 8:38; Ro. 1:16).

Yet, we need to make certain that what we are proclaiming is the truth, and it is the gospel according to Jesus Christ, and not according to humans. For example, much of what is passing for the gospel these days is not the gospel as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles. It is a “chewing gum” gospel, i.e. it is sugar-coated, fake, and offers no real solution for sin, because it is based in a lie which is intended to tickle itching ears and to give them what they want to hear, not what they NEED to hear. It requires no repentance, no obedience to Christ and his Word, and it teaches that God is pleased with us no matter what we do. There is no death to sin in this gospel, thus there can be no resurrection to new life (eternal life) in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

The truth we must preach (proclaim) is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God without guilt or remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. For, Jesus Christ gave himself up for us “to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good deeds” (See: Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21). So, if we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

Finishing the Race (vv. 6-8)

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Nonetheless, when we do share the truth of the gospel, and we don’t compromise truth in order to tickle itching ears, or so that humans might like us and accept us, we will be hated and rejected as was Jesus and his NT apostles and God’s prophets of old. We may also be falsely accused of being bigoted, hateful, intolerant and self-righteous because we stand on the truth of God’s holy Word, we don’t compromise with the world of sin, and we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, not in absolute sinless perfection, but in a consistent and persistent walk of faith and obedience to Christ and to his Word. Yet, we should praise the Lord that he counts us worthy to suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation.

As Jesus had many opponents, and he faced much opposition to his message, so will we also if we are teaching what he taught. And, since his greatest opponents were those of his own race, his own religion, his own town, and even within his own family, we should not be surprised if some of our greatest opposition comes, not from the world, but from within the church and from those closest to us. And, that is where it hurts the most, too. Yet, daily we must put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, and we must run with perseverance the race (path) God has marked out for us, and we must never give way to discouragement or give up hope, but we should remain focused on Jesus and on his gospel, and on his mission for us.

One day, when we have finished our race on this earth, and we have completed the mission God had for each one of us, we will go to be with our Lord forever, either through death, or through his second coming. In the meanwhile, we should keep our eyes fixed on him, expectant of his soon return, trusting him in all things, and believing him to fulfill all that he has promised us he would do. We should rest in him and allow him to satisfy the deep longings of our hearts, for there will be much trouble and hardship in this life leading up to the time of his return. Yet, we should continue in the work to which he has called us while we wait for him to take us home.

Rejected and Deserted (vv. 9-18)

Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. Serving our Lord in sharing his gospel message with others, by the very nature of it, is a self-denying ministry. It is because we will be hated, rejected, persecuted and even abandoned by those who, perhaps, once professed love and devotion to us. The closer we walk with our Lord, in fact, the greater risk that people (friends, family, church people) will desert us, not understand us, and perhaps even falsely accuse us of motives, attitudes and behaviors which are not true of us at all.

I am certainly not saying that we are so holy and perfect that everyone who rejects us is doing so because of our walks of faith, for they may not like us for other reasons, such as our personalities or looks, etc. Yet, many will forsake us because they love the world and its pleasures, and thus we are an offense to them if we are truly walking in the way of holiness. Jesus said the world hated him because he told them that what they did was evil. If we confront sin in sinful humans, but they want to remain in their sin, they won’t like us, and they won’t want to be around us. I am not talking about going around finger-pointing, but I am talking about speaking the truth in love, and rescuing people out of darkness and bringing them into God’s wonderful light. Not everyone wants to be rescued.

Some of those who reject us will also mistreat us and will speak evil against us to others so that they will reject us, too, but we must know that this is part of the cost of following Jesus with our lives and sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings. Some people will slander us in order to try to destroy our reputations, because they hate us, or because they feel threatened by us because of what we teach.

And, we may have no other humans to stand up for us, either, but Jesus Christ is and always be our defense, and he will give us all the strength we need to endure whatever he allows to come our way. And, he will do so in order that he may get the glory through whatever he accomplishes in and through our lives, and for the spread of his gospel. He will deliver us through every evil attack against us, and he will bring us safely to his heavenly kingdom when he has finished with us on this earth.

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting
Jean Sophia Pigott

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ‘neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

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Destroyers of True Intimacy

Monday, August 7, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 33 (Select vv. ESV).

A Destroyer (v. 1; cf. Psalm 2:1; Rev. 11:18)

Ah, you destroyer,
who yourself have not been destroyed,
you traitor,
whom none has betrayed!
When you have ceased to destroy,
you will be destroyed;
and when you have finished betraying,
they will betray you.

What comes to mind here is John 10, in particular v. 10, where it says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

So, who are these thieves and robbers, i.e. these destroyers? They are the nations spoken of in Revelation 11:18 and in Psalm 2:1 who rage against Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation, who persecute and martyr Christ’s followers, who kill innocents, and who overtake kingdoms, confiscate property not their own, and destroy lands and houses. The US government and their political allies are the ones who are doing this today.

Yet, they are also those strangers who have entered the gatherings of the church by a door other than Jesus Christ. They are false shepherds of the people, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and hired hands who care nothing for God’s people, but only for themselves. They have infiltrated the assemblies of the church for the very purpose to deceive, manipulate, lead people astray and to destroy the relationship between the church and their Lord.

Their goal is to pull as many people as possible away from the One and Only True God of the universe, who is the creator of the world and the people who live in it. And, it is to lead them to follow the world, the beast, the culture of society, and their own flesh. It is also to render spiritually powerless Christian men and women and church leaders, and to vilify those who are truly following Jesus Christ in pure devotion and dedication. It is to call evil good and good evil, to put darkness for light and light for darkness, and to put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Is. 5:20).

These destroyers have been working at this for many years, to bring the church down, to emasculate Christian men, in particular, to destroy the gospel by diluting it beyond recognition, and by physically conquering peoples and nations throughout the world. They have reinterpreted key Bible verses to make them not say what they are saying, or they have ignored them and have focused on only a few verses which fit with what they want to believe, which fits with the lifestyles they want to live. As well, they have placed lewd images in grocery store checkout lines, in store windows, on TV, and on general sites on the internet to lure men and women into sexual sin.

They have redefined marriage, have stirred up strife among various people groups, have falsified information, and have persuaded many to believe their lies and deceptions. They also have convinced many to abandon the true faith in Jesus Christ in favor of a more lenient, acceptable and tolerant religion which accepts all religions as viable and sinful lifestyles as standard (customary). And, they have persuaded many to believe that repentance and obedience to Christ are not only not necessary, but not required by God at all, and that God is pleased with them no matter what they do.

Our Stability (vv. 5-6)

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
and he will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

A day is coming when the Lord will put an end to the work of these destroyers and it will be payback time. What goes around comes around. What they have done to others will be done to them. The nations which have destroyed others will be destroyed. God will judge them, and that includes the USA, most especially, for all the evil they have done throughout the world to others, and including within our own nation. And, this includes all these false shepherds of the people, too, who feed only themselves, and whose goal it is to bring down the church and to destroy the gospel.

For, the Lord is exalted, and he will revive his adulterous people and he will bring many to faith in Jesus Christ. Not only will he judge, but he will also save. He will judge not only to punish, but to revive his people. Yet, this judgment will bring hard times on many people. If what our nation has done to other nations is done to us, much of our country could be reduced to rubble, as well as we could suffer much financial loss, loss of liberties, and loss of human lives, too. Yet, our Lord God will be our stability. And, the fear of the Lord will be, if it is not already, our treasured possession.

Who Walk Righteously (vv. 13-16)

Hear, you who are far off, what I have done;
and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”
He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
who despises the gain of oppressions,
who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe,
who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed
and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
he will dwell on the heights;
his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks;
his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.

When judgment comes, which it will, those who are rebelling against God will be afraid, for they will not be able to stand in the judgment (See: Ps. 1:5; Rev. 6:17). Thus, the call of God is that all people would pay attention to what He has done (or will yet do) in judgment, and that they would acknowledge his might (power and authority), that he alone is God, and he alone is to be worshiped, sought after, and honored above all else.

Only those who walk righteously before God will be able to stand. They are those who, by God’s grace, have repented of their sins and are walking in obedience to their Lord, who reject evil, and who pursue what is godly and holy. Only they will be able to dwell in peace with God, who is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:28-29). Only they will be able to withstand the judgment and not lose faith, but will persevere and endure to the end, but only in the strength of the Lord, and empowered by the Spirit of God living within them.

Those who walk righteously, i.e. who conduct our lives according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, and who prefer what God prefers, will live in God’s continual presence. We have the Lord as our security and as our provider. He will supply all that we need. The fear of the Lord is our treasure. He is our defense and our stronghold (fortress). So, even though the earth gives way, and all hell breaks loose all around us, and even though God visits our nation(s) in judgment, and supplies are scarce, and troubles and hardships are numerous, we can rest in the Lord, believe in his promises, trust in his mercy and compassion, and lean on his strength. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will be our constant in a changing world. And, our desire will be for him, and to be like him.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.