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.

Advertisements

Take His Hand

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

Things Hidden (vv. 1-2)

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

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

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

Blinded Minds (vv. 3-6)

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

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

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

Earthen Vessels (vv. 7-12)

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

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

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

Don’t Lose Heart (vv. 13-18)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something New

Thursday, August 31, 2017, 9:42 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 43 (quoting select vv. NASB).

Do Not Fear (vv. 1-4)

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
“For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.
“Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you,
I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and his Holy Spirit comes to live within us, we come into a personal intimate relationship with God Almighty. We are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We no longer walk (live our lives) according to the sinful passions of our flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) in accord (agreement) with the Spirit of God.

By the Spirit we are now putting to death the deeds of the flesh so that we can now live to Christ and to his righteousness. We who are now being led by the Spirit are the children of God, fellow heirs with Jesus Christ, and bondservants of our Lord Jesus. And, he is our Lord (owner-master), for we were bought back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins, so we might be free from slavery to sin.

The waters and the fire are figurative for troubles, hardships, persecutions, danger and sword, threats from the enemy of our souls, and/or judgment. Whatever we go through in this life, if we are in Christ Jesus, by faith in him, our Lord is with us, and he will carry us through. So, we are never to fear what humans may do to us, or our circumstances, or hardships or dangers. If our trust is in the Lord, we will not be overcome by all these things, but we will remain steadfast in our faith, sure of His promises to us, and hopeful of what we know is our future inheritance.

One day our enemies will be no more, though we should pray for their salvation, and hope that God will transform their hearts and lives as he has done with us. We should pray that they may know Jesus Christ, too, who gave his life up for us on that cross so that we might die to sin and live to him and to his righteousness.

A Summons (vv. 8-13)

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?”

This is a summons by God Almighty to all the people of the world, including to his children who are living in idolatry and spiritual adultery against him, i.e. who have ears and eyes to hear and to see, but who are not listening to God, but who are closing their ears to his Words. They know the truth, but they are not walking in the truth. Even the ungodly people of this world have the knowledge of God within them, because God has revealed himself to them through his created works, so that they, too, are without excuse (See: Ro. 1:18-32). It isn’t that they lack knowledge, but that they choose to reject what they know and to make their own way, and to create their own gods and religions which allow them to continue to live sinful lifestyles.

But, none of their gods, idols, beliefs, religions or chosen lifestyles are able to help them, or to bring them salvation from sin and peace with God. They cannot hear God or know his will for their lives, because they are not listening, and they are not obeying his commands. They lack sensitivity to God’s Holy Spirit speaking to their hearts, so they are totally unaware of the times in which we live, and of the dangers lurking around the corner, and so they continue on as though God will do nothing, and that life will continue as it always has, not realizing or not willing to recognize the truths in God’s Word concerning sin, judgment and our eternal destiny.

So, the summons here is to open their eyes and ears to see and to hear that God Almighty and Jesus Christ, God the Son, maker of heaven and earth, is the ONLY true God, and the ONLY savior of mankind, and in no one else will they ever find freedom, peace, joy, salvation, eternal life and heaven as their eternal destiny. Their idols may be able to bring them some temporary satisfaction in this life, but they are no good for promising them eternal life with God or true heavenly peace and joy. Only through faith in Jesus Christ, in death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ, of the Spirit of God, can we be in relationship with God and have the hope of eternal life with God.

In the Wilderness (vv. 16-21)

Thus says the Lord,
Who makes a way through the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
Who brings forth the chariot and the horse,
The army and the mighty man
(They will lie down together and not rise again;
They have been quenched and extinguished like a wick):
“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
“The beasts of the field will glorify Me,
The jackals and the ostriches,
Because I have given waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My chosen people.
“The people whom I formed for Myself
Will declare My praise.

God does not promise any of us, saved or unsaved, that we will never have troubles, hardships, sorrow or pain. In fact, he promised his followers that they would be hated, persecuted and even put to death for his sake, and for the sake of his gospel of salvation, and because of their testimonies for Christ. He also does not promise us that, if we follow him wherever he leads us, that all will go smoothly and that we won’t face roadblocks along the way. But, he does promise us that he will go before us, that he will prepare the way, and that he will make a way for us through these difficult times.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, we leave our old lives of sin behind us, and we move ahead (forward) in the direction our Lord now has for our lives. We are not to look back and yearn for the lives we had before, or to continue to dabble in sinful pleasures, but our desire should now be for our Lord, to please him in every way. We should understand that faith in Jesus is not a religion, but a relationship. It is not merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die, but it is a life given over to God to be lived for him and for him alone. Jesus doesn’t just slightly clean up our old lives, but he radically transforms our lives and he makes us new in him. Praise God!

Well, when God calls us to go with him somewhere, and he asks us to leave behind houses, lands, family members, friends, possessions, etc., we should also not look back and yearn for what we had before, but we must see that he is making things new for us, and that what he has for us now is not like what we had before, but it is actually better. Although we may not yet see it, we should trust him, believe him, and follow him, and rest in him and in his perfect timing. He can make a way where there seems to be no way.

Lastly, I believe this passage is a picture of revival and of the salvation of human lives out from the darkness, who are being brought into God’s wonderful light. God will often allow difficulties in our lives as a way to get us to see him for who he is and to get us to follow him wherever he leads us, and to remove us from all which is drawing us away from him and our pure devotion to him. Yet, we are not to fear these times, because God has good he intends for us, to make us holy, to purify and prune us, and to mature us in him. All that he allows into our lives is under his control, and he has a plan and a purpose, to bring glory to his name, and for us to give him all the praise, worship and devotion he has for us to give to him.

‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
Louisa M.R. Stead / William J. Kirkpatrick

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise, just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

O how sweet to trust in Jesus, just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me ’neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking life, and rest, and joy, and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me, will be with me to the end.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Thee! How I’ve proved Thee o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Thee more!

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.

Of Faith

Thursday, July 13, 2017, 4:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “His Tender Mercies.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of faith.

Be Not Anxious (Matthew 6:25-34)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I think it is human nature to want to know the end from the beginning of a situation before we will venture into that area. It can be, in the natural, a fearful thing to step out into the unknown, not knowing what lies ahead or how things are going to come together. Yet, when we walk by faith, we learn to trust the Lord in all things, and we believe him to work it all out according to his plans and his purposes.

In the natural, so many things could go wrong, and our plans could fall apart. But, when we are being led by the Lord, and he is the one directing our paths, he will go before us, and he will prepare the way for us. This is not saying we will never face obstacles, but that God is completely sovereign (in control), and that he will work all things out for the good of those who love him; who have been called according to his purposes.

So, we learn to trust him, and to rest in him, and to believe him to supply all that we need for what he has called us to do. And, so we inquire of him to know what we are to do, where we are to go, and what we are to say. We do what he says, and then we leave the results in his hands. We follow him and his lead in our lives, and we trust him, too, with the people in our lives.

Of Little Faith (Matthew 8:23-27)

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

When we follow the Lord in obedience, it does not mean it will always be “smooth sailing.” Sometimes we will face storms, i.e. difficult and troubling situations which shake us, and which may be life threatening, as well. And, it may seem to us that God is asleep on the job, and that he is not paying attention to what is going on in our lives. But, he is still sovereign (in control), and he has it handled. Nothing escapes his notice. He has a plan and a purpose for it all, and he will see us through any and every situation.

So, we should not let the storms of life unsettle us or to make us feel as though there is no recourse or that there is no hope. We must be steadfast in hope and in faith no matter our circumstances. Walking by faith often means that we don’t know what lies before us, and how things are all going to work out. But, when we know God is in it, we have to know that he will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Why Do You Doubt? (Matthew 14:22-33)

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Sometimes, when things get particularly bad, which they will sometimes, we lose sight of Jesus and we get lost in the details of what we are going through. And, that is when we begin to fear and to fret. And, that is because we are looking at the circumstances and we are focusing on them rather than focusing on the God who is sovereign (in control) over our circumstances. So, we may begin to listen to the lies of Satan, instead, and begin to think that God can do nothing about what we are going through.

And, even though Jesus is right there with us in our circumstances, we may not recognize him, and so our hearts may begin to sink. And, when we cry out to him, he reveals himself to us, and he shows us how he is there. Sometimes it isn’t just that he is there with us through our trials, though, but that he is the one initiating the trials in our lives, because he has a plan and a purpose for them to mature us, to get us to rely on him and not on ourselves, and to teach us patience and endurance.

We might, at times, step out in faith, and be walking with the Lord in obedience, and then along the way get sidetracked by troubles or hardships and forget that our Lord is in control. And, then we begin to drown in our difficult circumstances because we took our eyes off Jesus. So, we need to refocus our attention on Jesus, be renewed in our faith, and keep going forward, even when we don’t know what lies ahead. We must walk by faith and not by sight, believing God to do his work in our lives, and in the lives of those we love, even if we don’t see yet what has been promised.

His Tender Mercies / An Original Work / January 26, 2014

Fear not! I’m with you.
Be not dismayed!
God watches o’er you.
Trust Him today.
He’ll lead and guide you;
Give you His aid.
He’ll love and keep you
With Him always.

Walk in His footsteps.
He’ll lead the way.
Trust in His love;
Believe that He cares.
He will not leave you.
Faithful He’ll be.
His tender mercies
Now you will see.

Fellowship with Him
Throughout the day.
Tell Him your heartaches.
He’ll heal always.
Rest in His comfort.
He is your friend.
Your faith He’ll strengthen,
True to the end.

Our Spiritual Journey

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 5:16 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 15:11-32 (NASB).

Two Sons (vv. 11-16)

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.

Life is a journey, is it not? Every day, hopefully, we wake up, we get out of bed, if we have a bed to sleep on, that is, and we start a new day. Either we do so with purpose and direction, or else we wander aimlessly, going here and there trying to find satisfaction for life, but always coming up empty. Either we are on a straight (righteous, holy) path, because we are trusting God/Jesus Christ with our lives, or else we are on a winding path or life course with no particular destination in mind other than self-pleasure. Yet, it is possible to be somewhere in the middle between these two paths, I believe, for someone could be on the straight path, but they have gotten off course, at least in some respects, and so they need to get back on course.

I believe there are four types of people in this world (four types of soil). The first type is the one who has not ever made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The second is the one who makes a profession of faith, but it is surface level only (no root), probably because he was taught a false grace gospel which told him that God does not require repentance or obedience, so when things get rough, he yields to pressure, and he abandons the faith altogether. Neither of these have truly believed in Jesus as Savior. And, then there is the one who has believed in Jesus, who was crucified with Christ in death to sin, and risen with Christ to newness of life, but over time the temptations of this world entrapped him again, and so he got off course. And, he needs to return to God and forsake his idols. And, the fourth type is the individual who is walking by faith, is following his Lord in obedience, and who is bearing fruit for God’s kingdom, in keeping with repentance.

God is our creator, which means he gave life to all people, so God is the true father here. So, the two sons could represent the saved and the unsaved. As well, for believers in Jesus Christ, God is our Father and we are his children, so the two sons could also represent the faithful believer in Jesus, though certainly not perfect, and the believer who has gotten off course and has been entrapped by the sinful pleasures of the world once more. The bottom line, though, is that they represent one in fellowship with the Father, who is serving God with his life, who is walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands, and one who has abandoned God, is going his own way, and is living in sensual pleasure and self-indulgence. Yet, even the one in fellowship with the Father has some maturing to do in some areas.

He Came to His Senses (vv. 17-24)

But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Oftentimes, sadly enough, it takes some type of a tragedy or difficult situation in life to get people to come to their senses, and to escape the trap of the devil. When sin gets a grip on people, they can do senseless things, even dangerous things, and stuff which might even get them in trouble with the law, or which might ruin their marriages, etc. And, yet, they go headlong right into what they know is wrong, and what they know is destroying their lives and relationships, even their relationship with God, because their desire is greater for the sin than it is for anything else. They don’t want to let go of the sin, because the sin gives them a false sense of security, or because they are angry with God, and so they feel justified in continuing in the sin, or because they have a sense of entitlement, and so they believe God’s grace gives allowance for their sin, and that God requires nothing of them at all.

When things are going well for us, and we are healthy, and all our physical needs are being met, there may be a temptation to rely on ourselves more than we rely on God. We may become complacent regarding fellowship with our Lord and walking in his Spirit, and the trappings of the world may begin to consume us, our time, thoughts, energies, passion and desires. We may give God a back seat in our lives, and even our devotional lives may begin to ebb away. We don’t necessarily have to even get to the point of gross sin and rebellion to be a prodigal son, but we may just neglect our relationship with Jesus Christ, and what we want and desire may, thus, take first place.

So, God may bring into our lives, or may allow in our lives, some difficult trial, tragedy, sorrow, pain or sickness in order to get our attention, and for the purpose to bring us to our senses. This is not to say that those who are living righteously will not also face such troubled times. They will, and it will be for the purpose to mature them, and so they share in God’s holiness, and so they bear the fruit of God’s righteousness. But, he also disciplines his wandering saints in order to bring them back to himself in humility, repentance and obedience. Sometimes we can be so stupid, so strong-headed, and so bent on our own ways, even though we know better, and so it will take being hit over the head by a two-by-four (not literally) to bring us to our senses. And, even this is God’s grace to us, in order to free us, because he has compassion for us. And, when we do return, he revives and restores us to fellowship with him, and he welcomes us back home.

The Curse of Jealousy (vv. 25-32)

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

Like I said, even those who are walking righteously are not yet perfect (without fault). We are maturing in our walks of faith day-by-day. Daily we are putting to death sinful deeds, by the Spirit, and we are responding to the Spirit’s still small voice in convicting us when we falter, or we should be. And, sometimes our Lord will put a finger on an area of our lives where we need to yield control to our Lord and not do it ourselves. And, we need to respond to his voice by submitting to his will, and by walking in his way.

The one who stayed in communion with the Father ended up being jealous of the one who repented of his evil ways, and who returned, because the Father received him with open arms and he celebrated the son’s return. He felt that the father treated the wandering son, who then later repented, greater than he treated him who had remained with the father. And, that can happen to us, too, if we allow self-righteousness to settle in, and if we forget that our righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight, and it is only his righteousness granted to us, to be lived out through us in his power, that amounts to anything. We were once lost, too, and God found us and saved us by his grace, so we have nothing to boast about or to feel self-righteous about, because it is only by God’s grace that we are not still in the gutter.

Yet, I find another jealousy existing among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, which is equally as bad. Sometimes, when a wandering saint does return to the Lord, and is restored to fellowship with God, and is now walking in the Spirit, and is not gratifying the sinful flesh any longer, those who are still giving way to the flesh, who have not yet repented of their sins, will be jealous and resentful of the relationship the faithful believer has with the Lord. And, that may drive the unrepentant even further into sin and rebellion because of their anger with God and with the repentant. Yet, all of us need to have the perspective that it is only by God’s grace that any of us can be restored to God and have communion with him, and that all of us have the opportunity to walk in faithfulness, if we so choose to do so.

Amazing Grace / John Newton

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.