His Grace to Us

Sunday, August 13, 2017, 2:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB).

Dead in Sins (vv. 1-3)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

The Bible teaches us that ALL have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). Not one of us is righteous before God in our own merit. We can never be good enough to gain eternal life with God. In fact, we cannot even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to His Son (Jn. 6:44). Without Christ we are spiritually dead, without hope, and without God. Our destiny is eternal damnation in the fires of hell, no matter how many good deeds we might do in this life, or how seemingly kindhearted we may be towards other people.

In our sin natures, we are drawn towards sin, and towards doing even what we know is wrong. We are under the control of Satan, not of God. We are of this sinful world, not of the kingdom of heaven. And, we are under the influence of the world, not conformed to the image of God. We are bound towards disobedience rather than obedience. We live and walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, and not according to the Spirit of God. And, we indulge ourselves in the desires of our flesh, rather than resist Satan, flee temptation and sinful desires, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith.

This is what an UNSAVED life looks like. So, if you profess to be a Christian, but this is what your life looks like, then something is terribly wrong.

By God’s Grace (vv. 4-9)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

But, thanks be to God, he did not leave us bound in our sins, without hope. He provided the way for us to be saved from our sins, to be delivered out of slavery to sin, and to become bondservants of his righteousness. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered like we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering (Is. 53). And, those who hated him saw to it that he was crucified on a cross, thinking that would be the end of him.

Yet, it was God’s will that he should suffer and 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 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. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:14; 1 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24). Yet, Jesus did not remain dead. God the Father resurrected him from the dead. And, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf.

So, by God’s grace to us in sending his Son to die on a cross for our sins, and to be resurrected back to life, we can also die to our sins and be given new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we repent of (turn from) our sins, and we turn to God to follow him in his ways. We are forgiven our sins, and we are given eternal life with God in heaven (See: Acts 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). All this is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives, and nothing we do in our own flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation.

For Good Works (v. 10)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Many people who quote this passage of scripture in Ephesians 2 stop at verse 9, and they assume that good works are not required at all of us. Yet, although it is true that we are not saved by our own fleshly works, and that we cannot earn our way into heaven, our salvation is not absent of good works. We are saved not just FROM something, but we are saved TO something. In other words, we are saved from sin, but we are saved to righteousness.

When we become children of God, it is not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. When Jesus died on that cross for our sins, and he put sin to death, on our behalf, he bought us back for God with his blood, so that when we trust in him to be our Savior and Lord, we are no longer our own, to do with our lives what we want. He is now our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bondservants (his workmanship). And, he has good works which he created us to do, and which he prepared beforehand that we should walk (in lifestyle) in them.

Some of these good works are specific to all of us who believe in Jesus, whereas some of them are specific to each of us as individuals. What I mean by this is Jesus not only has a purpose for all of our lives, which applies to all his followers, but he also has individual callings, giftings, and assignments he has for us to do (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). And, we would do well to seek his face concerning what purpose and calling he has for our individual lives, and then to be about doing what he had prepared in advance for us to do, and to live the lives he had marked out for us, all in the power and working of his Spirit now living within us, and to his glory!

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

For Our Transgressions

Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 3:34 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 53 (Select vv. ESV).

Who Has Believed? (vv. 1-3; cf. Rom. 10:16)

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah of Israel, our God and Lord, came to earth and took on human form, begotten of God the Father, and born as a baby to a human mother. He suffered as we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. There was nothing about his physical appearance that anyone should be attracted to him. He did have some true followers (disciples), though. And, crowds did follow him, for he healed many, he drove out evil spirits, he performed many miracles, and he fed the hungry. But, when he spoke of the cost of following him, many who had been following him deserted him, never to return.

Many of the religious leaders within the Jewish temple did not like Jesus, and they made it their mission to destroy him. They hated him because he dared to be different, because he did not follow their human rules and traditions, because he healed people on the Sabbath, and he claimed to be God; and because he confronted sinful humans with their sinful conditions, warned of divine judgment and called for repentance and faith in himself. They were jealous of him because of his temporary and short-lived popularity among the people, and because they felt their own positions of power were being threatened by him. So, they plotted his death, and he was crucified on a cross for our sins (See: Jn. 1:1-34; Jn. 6:35-66; Phil. 2:1-11; 1 Co. 5:21).

We Are Healed (vv. 4-6)

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

When Jesus died on that cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. 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. In his death, he put sin to death, and when he was resurrected from the grave, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death for our sake. By God’s grace, through faith in him, via death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ, we can be forgiven our sins, released from the ultimate punishment of sin (eternal damnation), delivered out of slavery to sin, and released to walk in the Spirit and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and be given eternal life with God.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God and unable to attain God’s divine approval through human effort. So, that is why Jesus gave his life up for us, that we might be saved from our sins, walk in the Spirit, and have eternal life with God. Because he died, we are able to die to sin, and because he lives, we can live with him and for him for eternity. Yet, he did not come to earth, take on human flesh, and suffer for our sake just so we can escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died that we might live for him, and he suffered that he might be our compassionate and merciful high priest in taking our sorrows upon himself that he might also comfort us in our sorrows.

The Will of God (vv. 10-12)

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

It was God the Father’s will that his Son should suffer and die for our sins. This was planned for us even before the creation of the world, and that many of us would believe on him as our Savior and would become children of God, and followers of Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are not only made righteous in God’s sight, but we are able to live righteously for Him and for his will for our lives, for this is why he died. Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14).

So, we must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and no longer according to our sinful flesh. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, even if we have made a profession of faith in Christ Jesus. If we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), for His sake, we will gain eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we still walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin), we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). The true story of Jesus (the gospel) is not just that Jesus died to forgive us our sins, but he died to deliver us out of slavery to sin, and to give us new lives in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Gal. 2:20). Amen!

Tell Me the Story of Jesus
Fanny J. Crosby / John R. Sweney

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.

Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

Cry for Help

Sunday, August 6, 2017, 3:34 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “All Through the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 34 (Select vv. ESV).

All My Fears (vv. 4-7)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

This passage of scripture has a special place in my heart. I was abused as a child. My father was a big bully who picked on those weaker than him. He was mean and hateful, and physically and emotionally abusive. I was very much afraid of my dad, and I avoided him as much as was possible. And, in those days they did not have child protective services like they do today. And, no one counseled us in how to deal with the abuse or the pain we were feeling deep inside, and so all those emotions got stuffed. Yet, I prayed often to the Lord, and I did experience his comfort, yet I did not know that, by stuffing those emotions, I had built a wall of fear around myself.

Then, one day it all came to a head, but to make a long story short, I went to my best friend to ask for help. She didn’t know how to help me, either, but she did not give up, and I didn’t either, and then it was as though a light bulb turned on inside her head and she said she knew what my problem was. She said it was a spirit of fear. I asked if God could deliver me, and she said “Yes.” I asked if we could pray, and she said “Yes.” And, when we prayed I physically felt the weight leave my shoulders, and my countenance did change, and I had a smile on my face, and my face was radiant and no longer covered with fear (shame). Praise God!

I wish I could say that I never struggled with fear ever again, but that would be a lie. God had delivered me out of my troubles, but throughout much of my life Satan would try as best as he knew how to try to get me to be afraid again, and sometimes he was successful, when I caved to my circumstances rather than me trusting the Lord. But, God has been faithful, as he always is, and he has delivered me time and time again as I have faced many “giants” in my life, and he has safely brought me through to victory. Amen!

Fear the Lord (vv. 8-14)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

This word translated as “fear” in English can have at least two meanings. One is to be afraid, such as what I described in the section above, but the other is to show respect, honor, esteem, value, and reverence. We are not to fear people or our circumstances, in the sense of lacking faith in God and being afraid of what will happen. But, we are to fear God, yet in the sense of showing him honor, respect and reverence by following him and obeying him despite our circumstances or how other humans may treat us.

When we walk in the fear of the Lord, we honor him with our lives by submitting to his Lordship over our lives and by following him wherever he leads us, but not just physically, but with our whole being – with our attitudes, actions, words, thoughts and behaviors. We are committed to him and to his service, and we take him and his Word very seriously, and to heart, to follow him in obedience. He is truly our owner-master and we are his bondservants, and our lives belong to him, and are no longer our own to do with what we want. He is the one who now directs our steps, and our desire and passion are for him, and not for the things of this world.

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, 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 (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). Yet, it doesn’t end there. We are delivered out of slavery to sin so that we can now become slaves of his righteousness. Now we no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, but now according to the Spirit of God. We are not only made righteous, but now we live righteously.

The Righteous Cry (vv. 15-18)

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, and we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we now live to his righteousness, and we walk in the fear of the Lord, other humans will hate us, reject us, and will persecute us for our faith and commitments to Christ. Yet, we are not to fear what other humans may do to us, or what difficult circumstances we may yet encounter. But, we are to trust the Lord in all things, believing that he is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made, and that he has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows into our lives. He will carry us through it all, and he will give us all we need to endure, to persevere, and to keep following him in obedience and in sharing his truth with all who will listen.

When we go through life’s difficulties, which we will, we are to cry out to God in our pain and suffering, and trust him to heal, to comfort, to encourage and to strengthen us. I believe we should also ask him to teach us what he would have us to learn through our suffering, and to use us for his glory in other people’s lives. He will hear our cries, and he will answer. He may not always answer in the way we would hope, or in our timing, but he will provide us with all that we need to remain faithful to him, and to be his representatives to others who are also in need of his love, comfort, mercy and grace.

When the Lord delivers us out of our troubles, it is not always physical deliverance, though sometimes it is. It isn’t that we always need to be taken out of troubling situations, but that we need to learn to lean on his grace through our difficulties. It is in these times that we grow in maturity in our walks of faith, that we draw closer to our Lord, and that our love for others grows, too. Sometimes what needs to be changed is our hearts, our minds, our attitudes and our actions, not our circumstances, and so God allows us to go through tough times to purify us, to prune us and to make us more like him. He knows what we really need, and he will always do what is truly best for us, and what will bring glory to his name. So, cry it out to him!

All Through the Night / An Original Work / December 7, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.

Troubled Thoughts

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

Then I Spoke (vv. 1-6)

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

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

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

Deliver Me (vv. 7-11)

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

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

My Tears (vv. 12-13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life and Death

Monday, July 24, 2017, 7:23 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Unless You Are Born Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 6 (ESV).

Newness of Life (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.

I believe there is a huge misunderstanding today of God’s grace. So many people are teaching grace as though it is merely Jesus taking our place on the cross so we will be free from the punishment of sin, and so we will have eternal life with God in heaven one day when we die. But, his grace, as taught by many teachers today, does not translate into a changed heart and life, of the Spirit of God. There is no new birth of the Spirit, because there is no death of the “old man,” i.e. of the old self.

The “grace” they often teach is a free license to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and without true remorse. In fact, many are teaching that God does not even require repentance or obedience, and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, even while we are rebelling against him via willful and continued sin.

Yet, God’s grace to us is not just to deliver us out of hell and to assure us of heaven when we die. His grace to us is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. His grace is for the purpose that we, who have died with him to sin, might walk (conduct our lives) with Christ in newness of life; with changed lives, transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God. God’s purpose in saving us from our sins was to put sin to death in our lives so that we would no longer be enslaved (addicted) to sin. Jesus died to sin and he lives to God, so we must also consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Death to Life (vv. 12-14)

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.

So, sin should no longer have mastery over our lives. It should no longer have power or control over us or hold us in bondage. A truly born again believer in Jesus Christ should not be still living in addiction to sin, for Jesus set us free! He or she, by the Spirit, should be putting sin to death, so that he or she might have eternal life with God (See: Ro. 8:1-14). We should no longer be obeying our sinful passions or giving our bodies over to the lusts of our sinful flesh. If we have been brought from death to life, this should be evident in how we conduct our lives day in and day out.

So, what does this look like? Well, for one, we should no longer be feeling as though we just can’t help it when we sin. We can help it! Jesus paid the price for our sins, and he delivered us out of slavery to sin. If we choose to willfully sin against God, we choose to disobey what we know is right and to do what is wrong despite Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. And, we choose to not tap into the strength and power of God within us to resist Satan, to flee temptation and to draw near to God. Sometimes it is because we are not willing to go the distance with God in ridding our lives of those things which lead us down the path of sin, too. So, we end up playing with temptation and toying with sin, and of course, we will eventually sin.

So, we need to cut out of our lives those things which lead us to sin, and then we have to resist Satan and flee temptation and we have to pursue righteousness. For example, if your sin issue is pornography or sexually charged movies, and you keep going back to these time and time again, then it is time to cut the cord. Get rid of your TV, movies, cable, internet, etc. so that you don’t have the opportunity to sin in these ways. Ask for accountability, especially from your spouse. Don’t have private internet access. Do everything out in the open where anyone can see. So many, many people are bound in sin addiction because they have so many avenues to do so in the privacy of their own homes right from their own pockets or purses without anyone seeing what they are doing.

Leads to Righteousness (vv. 15-23)

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.

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.

We have to stop giving our lives over to what is sinful, and we have to give our lives over to what is godly and righteous and holy. We have to stop following the crowd or blending in with the world or immersing ourselves in our culture. The church and other Christians have helped encourage us toward worldliness for many, many years, but that is not acceptable to God. It is not the way he wants us to live. Our lives are no longer our own to live how we want, for we were bought back for God with the price of Jesus’ blood shed on a cross for our sins. He is now our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bond-slaves, slaves to his righteousness. So, we need to live in the power of God’s Spirit like we believe this is true, instead of compromising with the world.

We need to realize here that a mere prayer to receive Jesus Christ as Savior or a mere acknowledgment of Christ’s existence or a mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins does not guarantee us eternal life with God. If we remain slaves to sin, addicted to sinful practices, and we continue to live sinful lifestyles, we are not bound for heaven, but for hell. Slavery to sin leads to death, not life, but if we walk in obedience to our Lord, it leads to righteousness, which leads to sanctification (purity, cleanliness), which then results in eternal life with God. If we walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, regardless of what we believe about salvation and eternal life with God (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

What benefit, then, do we gain if we remain in slavery (addiction) to sin? Nothing! We may get some temporary pleasure for our flesh, but at what cost? Sin not only hurts us, but it hurts those closest to us, too, and it hurts those with whom we come in contact, because when we walk in sin, it is what comes out in our thinking, speaking, attitudes and behaviors. And, this does impact the people around us, as well as it kills the good that was planted in our hearts when we heard the gospel message of salvation from sin. And, it results not in the hope of heaven when we die, but in hearing God say to us, “Depart from me. I never knew you.”

Unless You Are Born Again
An Original Work / November 3, 2013

Based off John 3:1-21

Nicodemus came to Jesus.
He acknowledged God was with Him.
Jesus said, “You can’t see heaven
Unless you are born again.”

“How can a man be born when he’s old?
Can he enter into his mother’s womb?”
Jesus answered, “Flesh is flesh,
So of the Spirit, you must be.”

Jesus said to Nicodemus,
“You’re a teacher, and yet you don’t
Understand of what I tell you,
Because you will not believe.

“For God so loved the world that He gave
His one and His only Son for your sin.
So, whoever believes in Him
Has eternal life in heav’n.

“Light has come into the world,
But human beings love the darkness,
Because their deeds are so evil,
So in truth, they stand condemned.

“Everyone who practices evil
Fears that the Light will expose his sin.
Yet, whoever lives his life by the Light
Does so through his God.”

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.

Are You Free?

Monday, July 3, 2017, 5:52 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 (in the ESV) on the subject of freedom in Christ Jesus.

What is Freedom?

I think most of us, who have any knowledge of scripture, know that Jesus died to set us free from sin, but not everyone agrees on what that means. Some people think of this freedom as merely being set free from the ultimate punishment of sin, which is death, i.e. eternity without God, and in eternal damnation in the fires of hell (or in the lake of fire). And, being set free from the punishment of sin means they get to go to heaven one day when they leave this earth. But, is that all there is to it? Or, is there more?

The Truth Sets You Free (Jn. 8:31-36)

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Here we see that if we abide (stay, remain, continue) in Christ and in his Word, then we are truly his disciples (his followers) (cf. Jn. 15). The result is that we will know the truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, so we will know (intimately, experientially) Jesus Christ. His Word is also truth, so we will know intimately, through first-hand experience, God’s words to us, not just through head knowledge. And, this knowing of The Truth will set us free from slavery to sin, not just from the punishment of sin, because it isn’t just head knowledge, but it is intimately and experientially joining ourselves to Christ and his Word by listening to him and in following (obeying) him.

Here we also see that the opposite of freedom from sin is slavery to sin, for if we practice (walk in) sin, we are still slaves to sin, and we are not FREE. Now, we cannot provide our own freedom, i.e. it is Jesus Christ who sets us free, if truly we have trusted in him as Lord and as Savior of our lives. But, if we do not walk in that freedom, then we are still enslaved to sin, and we have not truly been set free (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21). So, we must understand here that being set free has to do, not just with loss of eternal punishment for sin, but it has to do with death to sin and living to righteousness, as well (See: 1 Pet. 2:24). For, if we continue in sin, we are not free, but we will still face the fury of hell when we leave this earth.

Dead to Sin – Free from Sin (Rom. 6:6-7, 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 trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin in order that we might walk with him in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Rom. 6:1-4; cf. Eph. 4:17-24). Jesus Christ died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). So, Jesus didn’t die just so we could escape hell and have heaven when we die. He died so that, through faith in him, our old self would be put to death in order that sin would be brought to nothing, i.e. so that it would no longer have control over (enslave) us. If we have truly been saved from our sins, thus, it means sin has been put to death in our lives so that righteousness might reign.

Many people are being taught today that faith in Jesus Christ is just an acknowledgment of who Jesus is and of what he did for us on the cross, in taking our punishment for us, and that it is an acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins. And, many of them are being taught that repentance (turning from sin) and obedience to Christ are not required by God for their eternal salvation, and that, in fact, they are works-based salvation, so they are being trained that faith in Jesus has nothing to do with death to sin and living to righteousness. But, God’s Word teaches us that if we present ourselves as slaves to sin, it leads to death, not to eternal life, but obedience to Christ and his Word leads to righteousness and to eternal life with God. Being set free from sin means we are now slaves to Christ’s righteousness.

Walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:1, 16-24)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

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

I know that this is in the context of legalism and of adding to God’s grace what he does not require, but the principle applies, as well, to the subject of being set free from sin, in its entirety. Jesus set us free from sin so that we would no longer be slaves to sin, but that we would walk in freedom, which means to walk in righteousness and no longer according to our sinful flesh. So, we need to stand firm, not only on not adding to God’s grace what is of the flesh, but also in not removing from God’s grace what God has established as the very purpose for his grace to us. His grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God, without guilt and without remorse, but his grace instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14).

So, not only did Jesus set us free, but we need to walk in that freedom. If we walk (in lifestyle) by the Spirit of God, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. So many people believe that they can have the Spirit of God living within them, and have the promise of heaven, and still live their lives however they desire, but the two are in opposition to each other. If we continue to practice sexual immorality, for example, which includes viewing pornography or watching sexually charged movies or TV shows, et al, we do not have the hope of eternal life. If we make it our practice to involve ourselves in idolatry, impurity, sensuality, fits of anger, drunkenness, etc., we will not inherit the kingdom of God.

This is not saying that we lose our salvation every time we sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that we can’t continue living in (practicing) sin, as a matter of lifestyle, and expect to go to heaven when we leave this earth. If we belong to Christ, we have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, so let us live by and keep in step with the Spirit of God, and not give way to the flesh, for Jesus set us free! So, let us live like we believe that. Those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God (Ro. 8:14).

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!