Flimsy Excuses

Thursday, October 12, 2017, 12:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Living Sacrifices.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Beginning of Knowledge

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

If we want to have a relationship with Jesus Christ to where we hear him speaking his words to our hearts, and to where we understand what he is saying to us, so that we can apply what he is teaching us to our daily lives, and so we can walk daily in intimate fellowship with him, then we need to begin with the fear of the Lord. So, we must understand what this means.

The fear of the Lord is us giving respect, honor, value, esteem, reverence, obedience, submission, worship, devotion, faithfulness and love to God the Father, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit. When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, our thoughts should not be solely focused on what he is going to do FOR us, but they should also be on what he will do THROUGH us as we submit our lives to him to follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will. For, belief in Jesus is not just about him saving us from our sins so we can go to heaven one day. It is about him saving us so that we can honor and glorify HIM with our lives day by day.

If Sinners Entice

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait for blood,
Let us ambush the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
13 We will find all kinds of precious wealth,
We will fill our houses with spoil;
14 Throw in your lot with us,
We shall all have one purse,”
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
16 For their feet run to evil
And they hasten to shed blood.

Believing in Jesus Christ means we are delivered out of slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, but it does not mean that we cannot or that we will never sin again, or that we won’t be tempted to sin. We most likely will be tempted, because Satan wants nothing more than to captivate us once again, and because we still live in flesh bodies, which still have the propensity to sin. So, it is likely that, at some point, we may sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2). But, sin should no longer be our practice. It should not be the normal course of our daily lives, for we died with Christ to sin, so how can we live in it any longer? (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, what do we do when we are tempted to sin? The Bible says that no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, and he will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, so that we will be able to endure it (or to bear up under it) (1 Co. 10:13). So, what escape has he provided? For one, he put sin to death on the cross and he rose victorious over sin from the grave, so that we can also die to sin and live to righteousness. He, too, has given us the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) to put on daily, so that we might fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us. And, he has given us much instruction in the NT on how to overcome sin. He also gives us much wisdom, if we will heed the wisdom and counsel he provides.

So, what are some of those instructions and wisdom’s gems? For one, the scriptures tell us we must resist Satan and flee temptation and sin, and draw near to God. And, it teaches us that we are to throw off the sin that so easily entangles and the weight that hinders so we can run the race God has set for us to run (our spiritual journey). And, it instructs us that, if something is leading us into sin, we should cut it out of our lives. As well, we are to put off what we know is sin (or sinful practices) and replace them with what is holy and righteous, such as we must put off lying and tell the truth, put off stealing, and work, and give to others, etc. So many people are still practicing sin because they are not utilizing the armor of God, the wisdom of God, and the instructions in God’s word in how to defeat sin in our lives.

Wisdom Shouts

20 Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you…
33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

So many people claim ignorance when they are not ignorant. It isn’t that they don’t know what to do, but it is that they don’t do what they know, or that they ignore what they know and/or avoid learning what they need. Or, because they want to continue in sin, they willfully remain naïve, always claiming that they didn’t know or that they are just learning, when they have been learning a very long time – always learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. They willfully choose ignorance over knowledge in hopes that they can excuse away willful and continued sin against God, but their excuses don’t hold water. Their excuses are useless!

I hear so many Christians say that they are “struggling” with sin, but what does that really mean? Is that just another excuse for willful and continued sinful practices? We shouldn’t be “struggling” with sin, at least not in the sense of regularly and consistently yielding to the same sins over and over again, for Jesus set us free!

The bible teaches us that if we make sin our practice, that we will die in our sins, not live with Christ for eternity, and this includes anyone who claims to believe in Jesus Christ, too. It isn’t that we will never repeat a sin, but it is that we should no longer be addicted to sin. It should no longer have dominion over us. But, for many who call themselves Christians, they are very much addicted to sin, but they will just say they are “struggling” as a way to gloss over it and make it not sound so bad.

So, wisdom is shouting out to God’s people, and it is asking them how long they will love being simple-minded. How long will they take pleasure in remaining naïve, in hopes that they will not have to take responsibility for their lives? How long will they continue to claim they are “struggling” with sin, while they don’t take the necessary steps to not give in to the sin? You see, we have to flee sin, and we have to resist Satan, and we have to cut out of our lives those things which trip us up and cause us to fall.

You can’t keep claiming ignorance. You must turn to God’s reproof, turn away from your sins, put them off, and put on Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and then you will experience the fullness of the Spirit of God in your lives, and you will be at peace in knowing that you are following the Lord with your lives.

Living Sacrifices / An Original Work
September 14, 2012

Based off Romans 12:1-2; 6:11-14 NIV

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you,
In view of God’s mercy,
To give yourselves to God in love
As living offerings,
Pleasing to God, holy in love.
This is your true worship.
Do not conform to worldly lives.
Let God transform you today.
Then you’ll be able to
Test and approve of what
God’s will is – His pleasing
And perfect will. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Offer yourselves unto God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Do not be conceited.
Humble yourselves before your God.
Do not be self-righteous.
The strength you have to live in love
Comes from your Lord God, so
Live your new lives in pow’r of God.
Be changed in heart, mind and will.
Do this because of what
Christ did for you when
He died on the cross to save
The world from sin. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Humble yourselves before God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Count yourselves dead to sin,
But be alive to God in Christ.
Do not let sin reign in
Your earthly lives so you
Obey its evil desires.
Offer yourselves unto your God
As those who’ve been born again.
For sin shall no longer be
Your lord and master.
Give of yourselves to God
For righteousness. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Be alive to God in Christ.

 

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That is Grace!

Sunday, October 8, 2017, 8:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Power of The Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 43:8-13 (NASB).

Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes,
And the deaf, even though they have ears.
All the nations have gathered together
So that the peoples may be assembled.
Who among them can declare this
And proclaim to us the former things?
Let them present their witnesses that they may be justified,
Or let them hear and say, “It is true.”
“You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe Me
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
And there will be none after Me.
“I, even I, am the Lord,
And there is no savior besides Me.
“It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed,
And there was no strange god among you;
So you are My witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“And I am God.
“Even from eternity I am He,
And there is none who can deliver out of My hand;
I act and who can reverse it?”

Eyes and Ears

People who are blind, for the most part, have physical eyes. They just can’t see out of them, because their eyes are defective in some way. The same is true with those who are deaf. They have ears, but they just can’t hear out of them, because their ears are malfunctioning. Yet, this is not talking about the physically deaf and blind, but concerning the spiritually deaf and blind. It isn’t that they can’t see (have understanding) or that they can’t hear (perceive and learn), but it is that they choose not to (Ro. 1:18-32). Their spiritual eyes and ears are defective (malfunctioning) because of willful sin and/or stubborn rebellion against God. Yet, sadly enough, some of these deaf and blind claim to know God and/or to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives.

In other words, these deaf and blind have knowledge of God and/or of his Word and/or they have heard some form of the gospel preached with their physical ears. Some of them have even grown up in the gatherings of the church, i.e. they have attended church gatherings possibly from birth to adulthood. They, if they have confessed Christ as Savior, may even be in possession of a Bible, or of multiple Bibles, and they are quite free to read it, at will. Some of them may even have Bible college or seminary degrees, and a few of them may even be pastors and elders of local congregations. You don’t have to be ignorant of God to be blind. Some of the blind have massive Biblical (head) knowledge. They just have never applied it to their hearts.

So, this is the difference between the blind and the one seeing, or the deaf and the one hearing. The one has the knowledge, but lets it go in one ear and out the other, or else he uses that knowledge strictly for intellectual purposes. The other, the one seeing and/or hearing, has no more advantage than the blind and the deaf. He just does what the Word says, instead of walking away from the mirror, forgetting what he looks like (Jas. 1:22-25). Our God is not satisfied with us merely knowing his Word, but he requires that we obey his Word by doing what it says. His salvation for us is not just so we can be forgiven our sins and have the hope of eternity with God in heaven, but he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He saved us not just out of the punishment of sin, but out of addiction to sin.

False gods

This is a call of God to assemble all the deaf and blind (spiritually), who have ears to hear but don’t listen, and who have eyes to see but do not receive. The call is to examine their idolatrous ways and to account for them and for their idols (the gods of men). What good are they? Are they able to save, bring healing and deliverance, or bring perfect peace, fulfillment and joy everlasting? Are they able to lead and guide in the ways of God, and in his righteousness? Or, are they useless, but more than useless, but do they, instead, bring you down, trap you, steal your joy, lead you into sin, ruin your life, and destroy your relationships with others? And, lead you to hell?

So many people, including Christians (or professing Christians) are led down a path of self-destruction or complacency, regarding spiritual matters, because they are following after their own fleshly desires, and because they are followers of humans rather than, or over and above being followers of God. So, their itching ears want to hear messages which tell them that all they have to do is just accept Jesus’ forgiveness of their sins, and now they are guaranteed heaven when they die, and their spiritual maturity is wholly in the hands of God, and they have nothing to do with it at all. Nothing is required of them – no repentance, obedience or submission to Christ Jesus.

So, what good is salvation to them then? If we are not saved out of slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, then we aren’t really saved, because we are still dead in sins, walking according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit. For, the Bible teaches that if we walk (in lifestyle, in practice) in sin, we don’t have the promise of heaven when we die, but a fearful expectation of judgment and of eternity in hell, no matter what prayers we prayed to receive Christ and his forgiveness of our sins (See: Lu. 9:23-26; Ro. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9). So, don’t be fooled! Don’t listen to those liars and deceivers who are telling you that God requires nothing of you other than to accept Jesus’ forgiveness of your sins, and who say that heaven is guaranteed you, no matter what. Read God’s Word, and believe and follow the truth!! Your life and eternity depend on it!

No Other God

Our God – Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit – the creator of the universe and all living things, is the one and only true God. His written Word can be found in the Bible (Genesis to Revelation). This is where we will find truth and righteousness and God’s plan for our lives and his purposes and will for each one of us. Though there are godly men and women in this world who are teaching the truth, as best as they understand it, there are many more who are teaching outright lies, half-truths (lies) or who are twisting the truth (lies) to their own advantage, but to your demise. It may sound good, especially to itching ears, but it isn’t good, and so we must be very discerning so that we don’t get trapped and tripped up by such deceptions.

There is no savior (rescuer) besides the one true God. No drugs, alcohol, TV shows, movies, recreation, games, sports, automobiles, houses, lands, possessions, fame, or fortune, and no human being dead or alive can save you from hell and bring you into God’s wonderful kingdom. They will never fulfill the deep longings of your soul, which God put within you for him alone, but they will leave you empty, dissatisfied, unfulfilled, always craving more and more, hoping the next time will bring you happiness, but more times than not these idols only kill and destroy, ruin entire households, lead people to suicide, and ultimately end up leading people straight to the pit of hell.

And, not only is our God our only true savior, but his salvation is also not what many like to present it to be. Jesus came to deliver us out of addiction to sin, not to forgive the sin and then to do nothing to rescue us. Although it is only through faith in Jesus Christ, and not of ourselves, that we receive such a great salvation, the salvation we receive is freedom from bondage to sin and freedom to walk in Christ’s righteousness. So, to truly believe in Jesus, it involves death to sin and living to his righteousness, only not in our own power and strength, but in the power and strength of God’s Spirit now living within us. God’s grace to us is not him just forgiving our sin while we go on in sin. That is not grace! His grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. Now, THAT IS GRACE!

Power of The Cross
Shelly Johnson

Once in darkness now in light
Once blind now you see
Once a sinner now a saint
Once bound now free.

That’s the power of the cross
See the chains fall…

Buy and Eat

Thursday, October 5, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Our God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 55 (Select vv. ESV).

Listen Diligently (vv. 1-3a)

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live.

I use to eat just about anything. I have never been a big eater, though, at least not by American standards. But, I ate burgers, fries, chocolate candy, and cookies, and I drank sodas, milk shakes and sweet tea, etc. Unless something made me sick, or unless I just didn’t care for the taste of it, I was ok with eating it. Yet, I did eat vegetables, and I ate fruit occasionally, and I mostly avoided fried foods and preferred grilled, but I was not a gung-ho health conscience person. It wasn’t the way I was raised. I ate food in moderation, and I did try somewhat to eat healthy, but I ate a lot of stuff that was bad for me, too, but I just didn’t realize how bad it was for me.

Occasionally I would have a problem with acid reflux, and then I would change my eating habits for a while, until I got better, and then I would go back to eating normally, well normal for me, that is. And, then one day I finally came to the realization that I had to drastically change my physical health lifestyle and my eating habits. I believe the Lord brought me to that realization through pain. Pain is a great motivator. It gets us to do things we probably would not do otherwise, like exercise as much as we should. So, now I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, some meat, fish, bread, and cereal. But, I don’t count every calorie, and I don’t read every label, yet I am eating what I know is good for me, and I am mostly avoiding what is bad for me. And, I am getting in lots of exercise, too. And, overall I feel much healthier.

Well, this passage of scripture is not talking about physical thirst and hunger, but it is talking about spiritual thirst and hunger, but there are many parallels between the two, which is why I just shared what I did. We are born into this world with sin natures, with an insatiable hunger for what can never satisfy the deep longings of our souls, and so we try to fill that hunger with all kinds of stuff from this world, thinking if we just have this or that, that we will be happier, or if we can just accomplish this or that, that we will be fulfilled. And, we go a lot by our emotions, and by what makes us feel good. But, the happiness and the fulfillment are fleeting, and often, what we choose to fill that hunger with only makes matters worse, and only digs the cavity that is already in our hearts even deeper, and so we come up empty.

So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) to die on a cross for our sins. 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. So, he invites us to believe in Jesus Christ, to die with him to sin, and to live with him to righteousness, but not in our own power and strength, but in the strength of the Lord who called us and who will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. So, when we fill our minds, hearts and lives with what is of God and with what is pleasing to him – what is pure, righteous and holy – and we forsake the bad stuff, i.e. what will only do damage to us spiritually, then we will be healthy spiritually, too.

Seek the Lord (vv. 6-9)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Are you familiar with the word “repent”? Well, it literally means to have a change of mind, but in the context of scripture, it is most always used in the context of changing our minds about sin and about God by forsaking our lifestyles of living for sin and self and choosing, instead, to now live for Jesus Christ and to walk in obedience to him in his holiness, and in the power of the Spirit of God now living within us. Jesus said we must repent, as did his apostles, if we want to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God.

Jesus said, in fact, that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) that we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin and self), for his sake, that we will gain eternal life with him. And, the Apostle Paul reiterated this message when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh (sin), we will die in our sins, but if we walk according to the Spirit, and if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, that we will live with Christ for eternity (Lu. 9:23-26; Ro. 8:1-17).

Know His Word (vv. 10-11)

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s Word is found in the Bible (Genesis to Revelation), yet, as believers in Jesus Christ, we also have the Living Word abiding within us, and God’s Spirit teaching us all that Jesus ever taught his disciples, and instructing us in all things of God. So, this is where we learn what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ, and what God expects of his followers, and also how to live this newfound Christian life. We learn to know God and his character and his will for all of our lives when we read His Word and when we listen to His Spirit speaking God’s eternal truths to our hearts and minds, and then as we obey and we do what his Word teaches us.

As Christ’s followers, we are to spread the Word of God and his gospel of salvation to the people of this world, so that many more can come to faith in Jesus Christ, too. Plus, we are to instruct one another and encourage one another in the faith so that we are not led astray, and so we don’t fall into sin, but so we grow in maturity and holiness in our walks of faith in Christ. But, sometimes we may not see results for the seed that we sow into people’s lives, so this serves as an encouragement to us that God’s Word will not return empty, but it will accomplish what he purposed, and it will succeed in the thing for which he sent it. We just have to be patient. People’s hearts will be changed, we just have to give it time, and keep believing in the power of God to transform human minds and hearts.

Peace and Joy (vv. 12-13)

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

This is a wonderful stanza to end on. Although there are many right now who have not yet trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord, and as Savior of their lives, many still will, and when they do, they will go forth in peace and joy because Jesus set them free, not just from the punishment of sin, but from slavery (addiction) to sin! Amen! In fact, it so glorious when sinners turn from their wicked ways, and when they turn to walk with Jesus, in surrender to his will for their lives, that creation rejoices with them. And, we should rejoice, too! For, it is an awesome thing to be delivered out of slavery to sin and to be brought into God’s wonderful kingdom, and to now walk with Him in freedom from sin, and in freedom to now live in his holiness and righteousness.

Our God / Chris Tomlin / Jesse Reeves
Jonas Myrin / Matt Redman

Our God is greater; our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?

Tested by Fire

Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, I Need You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1 (Select vv. NASB).

His Great Mercy (vv. 3-5)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

When we are all born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, having come up short of attaining his divine approval (Ro. 3:23; Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49). So, God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, to take on human flesh, and to die on a cross for our sins. Thus, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (2 Co. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). And, when the Father resurrected his Son from the dead, Jesus rose victorious over sin, hell and death in order that we might live with him and to his holiness and goodness.

So, when we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to new life (born again) in Him, in which we were created to be like God (Christ-like) in true righteousness and holiness. Righteousness is what is deemed right in God’s eyes. It is what is pure, holy, godly, upright, moral, honest and honorable. It is the opposite of sin, which includes such things as hatred, idolatry, spiritual or physical adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, murder, lust, and immorality, etc. And, holiness is being separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being transformed in Christ’s likeness, of the Spirit of God.

But, our salvation has only begun when we believe in Jesus Christ, for it is a lifetime process of being saved (sanctified) and then, when Jesus Christ returns for his bride, our salvation will be complete. While we live in these flesh bodies, we will still be tempted to sin, but Jesus made the way of escape for us out from underneath the temptation so that we don’t have to give in to sin. For, we are no longer under its control once we give our lives to Jesus, because Jesus set us free. Amen! And, one day Jesus will return, and he will take us to be with him forever, and then we will no longer be tempted to sin or be sick or have pain or sorrow, for he will wipe away all the tears from our eyes.

Various Trials (vv. 6-9)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

We all go through trials, at times. Some of them are small and some are very big. Some are extended, while others are short lived. I have been going through a series of them, of late. They are not huge, but are trying just the same. It began with a recent development of a skin allergic reaction to cold. Then, when we had our new patient visits with our new doctor after moving here over a month ago, and I told him about it, he just wanted me to take an antihistamine for it, even though I told him I have been pharmaceutical drug dependent free for about 10 years now. So, he mocked me. But, I stood my ground against his insistence that drugs were my “savior.”

And, then he said I looked anemic, so he took blood, and the blood test showed I had low vitamin B-12, but I don’t take vitamins, either, because of bad reactions to them. But then I thought maybe if I could find something all natural that it would work. And I did, so I thought, but when I sprayed the first spray in my mouth my tongue swelled and my throat began to close up, which is a serious reaction (side effect), plus I got a headache and nerve pains, which is often my body’s reaction to drugs. The Lord, after I had taken this, warned me, I believe, of the dangers of this, so I stopped.

During all of this I was also constipated, and no foods or drinks I was taking in to help with that were working, so I was miserable. On top of this I had some kind of skin rash or something on my thigh, so I started putting Vaseline on that, and it is much improved. But, then we went away for the weekend, and we stayed in a hotel, and there were bad issues with the first 2 rooms they gave us, but the third one finally worked for us. Then, I got 3 bug bites in a cluster on my chest, over my heart, which were reminiscent of when we got bed bugs nearly a year ago to date (we had those for about a month then). Now, 3 days later, the recent bites (source unknown) are still there, but they are disappearing. And, then yesterday, when I was getting out of my car to get the mail, my foot caught in my purse and I took a fall down on the pavement. But, by the grace of God I was not seriously injured.

By the grace of God, as well, I have been able to bear up under these trials and not let them undo me. I have been daily committing myself and these situations to the Lord, praying for help and healing, and for much needed wisdom, and the Lord has been seeing me through them all, and other trials, too. He has been giving me grace to make it, to keep trusting him, and to keep smiling and singing despite the pain and misery associated with any of them. I believe God is absolutely sovereign over my life, and that he has allowed these trials to come into my life as a way both to test me, and also to mature and to strengthen me in my faith and in my resolve to make him my only Lord and Savior. When we go through such trials, they teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves. We learn that our dependency must be in Christ alone, and not in humans or in drugs, or in anything else but God.

Prepare Your Minds (vv. 13-16)

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

So, because of all that Jesus Christ has done for us, in dying for our sins, in freeing us from slavery (addiction) to sin, and in giving us new lives in him, and because he is our helper, strength, counselor and guide, we should commit our all to him. We must lay aside all which hinders our walks of faith and that which leads us into sin, so that we can run the spiritual race he has marked out for each of us to run. And, then we must put on our spiritual armor daily with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and schemes against us (Eph. 6:10-20).

What this means for us, in all practicality, is that we have to stop entertaining ourselves with the sins and trappings of this world, and we have to bathe our minds and hearts with the things of God – His Word, His Spirit, His Truth, and with His righteousness, goodness and holiness. And, then we have to obey what His Word teaches us, not merely being hearers of the Word only, but doers (See: Jas. 1). And, we should not live for the pleasures of this sinful world, but for the glory and praise of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Again, we are to be separate (unlike, different) from the world (holy) because we are being made to be like Jesus.

We need to take this to heart and not take God’s grace to us for granted, for if we continue in sin (in practice, in lifestyle) we don’t have that hope of heaven, but a fearful expectation of judgment. So, don’t be led astray.

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

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

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

 

Run to God

Friday, September 8, 2017, 6:37 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Cry for Mercy.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 143 (ESV).

Our Prayers (vv. 1-4)

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a shared enemy, who is Satan. His goal is to destroy us or to reform us to his ways, which also destroys us. The closer we walk with the Lord, and the greater impact we have for Jesus Christ in the lives of others, the stronger the opposition is against us. But, Satan does not act alone. He has a myriad of demons and humans who serve him, and who do his bidding, and they, too, will come against us to try to kill us, one way or another.

They will try to discourage and dishearten us, in hopes we will give up, or they will try to sully our reputations so that people will not listen to us. Or, they will attempt to trick, deceive, shame and persuade us into abandoning our commitments to Christ Jesus, and to forsaking the sharing of his gospel of salvation with others. Or, they will lock us up, drug us up, or do whatever they know how to do to hinder us from sharing the gospel, for that is their ultimate goal, to keep the gospel of Jesus Christ from spreading further, in hopes people will not turn their hearts over to our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, when the enemy is coming strong against us, we need to look up. We need to not let him get the best of us, but we must keep our eyes firmly focused on Jesus Christ and the hope we have in him. Just because things look bad, in the light of this world, it does not mean God or his plans have changed or that he has abandoned us. He will never leave or forsake those who are truly his, and he will work all things for good for us who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose.

Thirst for Him (vv. 5-8)

5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

7 Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

I think that, sometimes, when things get bad in the present, we have a tendency to forget all the times previously when God brought us through difficult circumstances. That is one of the reasons it is good to journal, or to make notes in our Bibles or somewhere that we can refer back to, so when things get tough, and our hearts begin to fail, we can look back and see how God moved in our lives before, and then it encourages and strengthens our hearts in the present. Many times I have read through previous journals and have just wept when I read how God ministered to my heart at another time when I was going through a time of trouble, and it just blessed my heart.

When we go through tough times, though, it has a way of drawing us to our Father’s bosom. When things are going well for us, we may have a tendency to get lazy or apathetic about our relationship with God, and to, perhaps, drift from our pure devotion to him. So, he allows us to go through difficulties, trials and tribulations so that we will call on him, and so we will draw closer to him, and so we mature in our walks of faith with him, and we learn greater dependency on him. It is for our good that he disciplines us, in other words, in order that we may share in his holiness, and so that it might produce a harvest of his righteousness in our lives (See: Heb. 12:1-11).

On Level Ground (vv. 9-12)

9 Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
I have fled to you for refuge.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.

It is good for us to be afflicted that we might learn his commands (Ps. 119:71). We often learn more through suffering, concerning following our Lord in obedience, than we ever learn when life is going forward without even a bump in the road. Jesus, who was/is God, and who was perfect (sinless), learned obedience through the things he suffered. So, how much more should we, mere humans, learn through the times of testing we go through how to follow our Lord in surrender to his will for our lives.

So, when we go through suffering, we should call on God, and we should ask him to teach us what we need to learn through our time of testing, instead of always wanting to be rescued out of it. If we are rescued too soon, we may not learn what we need for walking closer to our Lord, and for knowing his will for our lives. I think, as Americans, that we often miss out on all God has for us because we are prone more towards trying to relieve our suffering rather than learning what God has to teach us through it. I am all for relief, don’t get me wrong, but we should not so easily look for quick fixes that we miss the blessings God has for us in the process.

We should want (desire) to know and to do the will of God more than we want instantaneous relief from pain and difficulties. Too many people run to drugs for relief and never run to God. Or, they try to escape their pain in other ways, rather than trusting the Lord to see them through and to bring healing to their bodies, minds and hearts. So, if you are going through a tough time right now, seek God with all your heart. Ask him to teach you his way, that you may walk in it. Ask him to give you an undivided heart with which to serve him. Trust him to walk you through your circumstances, and believe him to accomplish his good for you through what you are experiencing. And, then believe him to fill you with his peace and joy.

My Cry for Mercy
An Original Work / October 31, 2013

Based off Psalm 86

Hear my prayer, Lord, I am needy.
Guard my life, for I’m devoted to You.
Save me! I’m Your servant.
You are my God. I trust in You.

O, Lord, have mercy on me,
For I call to You.
Bring joy to me, for to You
I will lift up my soul.

You are giving and forgiving.
You abound in love to all who
Call upon You. Hear my prayer, Lord.
Listen to my cry for mercy.

In days of trouble I call to You,
Knowing that You will
Do marvelous things,
Because You are my God.

Teach me Your way; I’ll walk in it.
In Your truth, Lord, You will guide me.
A pure heart, Lord, You will give me,
So that I may glorify You.

Turn to me, Lord, and grant
Strength to Your servant.
O, Lord, You are my help,
For You love and You comfort me.

Teach me Your way; I’ll walk in it.
In Your truth, Lord, You will guide me.
A pure heart, Lord, You will give me,
So that I may glorify You.

Keep His Way

Saturday, August 26, 2017, 4:57 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 37 (Select vv. ESV).

Trust in Him (vv. 3-6)

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

What does it mean to trust in the Lord? It means we place our hope and confidence in him, and in what he did for us in saving us from our sins, and in what he promised us that he would do. It speaks also of assured reliance upon God and his divine character, sovereignty, holiness, righteousness, power, strength, kindness, grace and compassion towards us. It means, as well, that we are fully convinced that what God says is true, that it is just, and that it is righteous and merciful, and thus we commit our ways to the Lord, to do what he says, and to follow him in all of our ways.

If we truly put our trust in the Lord, we will delight (find pleasure) in him and in his ways. We will want to do what pleases him, not because we must, but because we love him, honor him and revere him. Thus, he will give us the desires of our hearts, because our desires will be in line (agreement) with his. He does not, nonetheless, promise that he will fulfill our every want, but he will fulfill all his promises, and he will provide all that we truly need. And, he does not necessarily work at the pace we might like, either. His thoughts and his ways are not the same as those of humans. His timing is always perfect, although we don’t always comprehend it.

While we live on the face of this earth we will have troubles and hardships. We will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake. There will be those who will not like us, and who will speak evil against us. Not everyone will understand us, or why we do what we do, and they may reject us and falsely accuse us. But, if our way is committed to the Lord, to follow him in obedience, and to do what he has called us to do, we can trust him with our reputations, believing that one day we will be honored for our obedience and that it will be evident that we loved God, and that we were his servants.

Be Still Before Him (vv. 7, 10-11, 14-15)

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

Because Satan, a fallen angel, decided he wanted to be God, and so he rebelled against God, and because he tempted humans to sin against God, from the very beginning, sin entered into the heart of man. And, thus wickedness of every kind imaginable now exists on this earth. But, God has allowed wickedness to continue, for a time, because he is very patient towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. If he cut off all wickedness, he would have to remove all of us from the earth, because we are all prone to sin at some time or another.

But, because of his great love for us, and due to his grace towards us, he has provided a way in which we can be saved from our sins, and be delivered out of bondage (addiction) to sin. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, died on a cross for our sins, and put sin to death on our behalf. And, then he was resurrected from the dead victorious over our sin. So, through faith in him, we can be crucified with Christ in death to sin and be resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Thus, we are set free from our slavery to sin so that we can become bondservants of Christ and of his righteousness.

Because we are now in Christ Jesus, through faith in him, and our trust is now in him, and not in ourselves or in other humans, we can be at peace in this world even when all hell is breaking loose all around us. Although evil is allowed to exist, our God is still absolutely sovereign over all that he has made, he has all things under his control, and he has a plan and a purpose for all that he allows, and he will fulfill everything he said he would do. So, we can be at rest in him, and not fear when the wicked seem to prevail.

Wait for Him (vv. 34, 39-40)

Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Sometimes it gets really hard, doesn’t it? Sometimes we just have to cry it all out to our Father in heaven, and then rest in him, and wait on his perfect timing. We don’t see the end from the beginning. We only see what is in front of our faces. And, at times, it can get very discouraging and disheartening, if we let it. So, we learn to wait on God, trust in his sovereignty, believe in his promises, and trust him each and every day to just show us what he has for us for that day. And, then we do what he says, and believe he will work all things out for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose.

While we are waiting, we keep his ways. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, nor is it merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. Jesus Christ did not give his life up for us just to forgive us our sins, but he “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” (See: Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Eph. 2:8-10).

Although this Christian life is promised to have difficult times, and to know hardships, persecutions and rejection, our Lord also promises to always be with us, to protect us spiritually from evil, and to give us all the strength, wisdom and counsel we need to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to draw near to God in full assurance of faith. He has given us the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, too (See: Eph. 6:10-20). So, we have no need to fear humans or what they might do to us, for our Lord will carry us through every circumstance, and he will provide all that we need to endure, and he will bring us safely into his eternal kingdom.

So, we just need to trust him, rest in him, believe him, and do what he says, and know that what he says, he will do, all in his perfect timing.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas O. Chisholm / William M. Runyan

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Our Merciful God

Thursday, August 24, 2017, 4:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 116 (Select vv. ESV).

Deliver My Soul! (vv. 1-4)

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

We are able to love God only because God first loved us. We did nothing to earn or to deserve his love, for even while we were dead in our sins, Jesus Christ died on a cross to deliver us out of slavery to sin. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to him.

Thus, we love the Lord because of his great love for us and for all that he did for us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to the earth to die for our sins, and to be resurrected from the dead victorious (triumphant) over our sins. We love him, too, because he heard our cries for mercy when we were dead in our sins, and he saved us out of bondage to sin. And, he continues to deliver us from all that would hold us captive, or that would bring us down (low), when we call on him in truth, and when we accept his help and his guidance.

The Lord is Gracious (vv. 5-9)

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.

While we are still in these flesh bodies, and we live on this earth, we will have trials, tribulations, heartaches, disappointments, pain, and sorrow, etc. We will have friends and loved ones who will abandon us, either physically or emotionally, or who will get ill and die, or we will face much persecution and rejection, even from those within the gatherings of the church. Or, we will experience financial troubles, loss of jobs, sickness, and death of children, etc. We will also be tempted of Satan to sin against God, and so we will have to resist him, flee the temptation, and draw near to God.

When we go through difficult times, we may be like Peter, and we may get our eyes off of Jesus and on to the waves (difficult circumstances) splashing all around us, and we may begin to sink. But, when we cry out to God in our distress, he will lift us up, if we will let him. And, I say “if” because many people will call on God for help, but then they will not accept his help, but will continue to go their own way. They may say “help,” but then they are not willing to let go of their problems and to put their complete faith and trust in God for him to work it all out according to his will, and for their good. So, we have to not only desire his help, but we have to cooperate with the help he gives us, and follow his lead, and his will, and in his way.

Your Servant (vv. 15-19)

Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.
O Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. 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. The old has gone. The new has come. We are born again of the Spirit of God, and our lives are transformed away from living for sin and self to living for God and for his righteousness and holiness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Jn. 3:1-21; Acts 26:16-18).

When Jesus walked the face of this earth, he talked much about the cost of following him. He said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose our lives for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life with God. Paul reiterated these words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, that 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). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (sin), that we are liars (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

Basically, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we (our flesh) dies with Christ so that he might live his life now out through us (Gal. 2:20). Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ. So, we are to honor God with our lives (with our bodies). Now Jesus is our Lord (owner-master), and we are his bondservants. Now we are under obligation, but not to live according to the flesh, but to walk according to the Spirit in the power of the Spirit now living within us. We are to live lives worthy of Jesus Christ and of his gospel, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship of him. And, we are to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed in the renewing of our minds of the Spirit.

And, we are to follow the Lord Jesus wherever he leads us, and to do whatever he has called us to do, no matter where that takes us or the cost involved. For, we were not put on this earth for our own pleasure, but to live holy lives pleasing unto God, and to do his will, and for his purposes, and for his glory and honor and praise.

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.