Dead or Alive?

Thursday, June 22, 2017, 8:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Wake Up!” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 3:1-6 (ESV).

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Jesus is speaking here to the church in a specific location, at a particular time in history, but this could apply to the church today, too, and in any location. Yet, this can also apply, at least in part, to us individually, as well. So, as we read this passage of scripture, we should prayerfully consider how this might apply to you and to me, and to our local fellowships of believers in Jesus Christ, or to the church universally across America or the world.

By Reputation Only

The church has a reputation of being alive, but they are dead, or they are mostly dead, it would appear. So, what does alive or dead look like?

Well, if you were to ask a group of Christians in America if they believed their church was alive, and to describe what that looks like, what do you believe they would say? I believe the majority would describe “alive” as having to do with the music being lively and loud, the preacher being funny and entertaining or culturally relevant, church being fun rather than boring, and there being plenty of activities and fun and entertaining events. And, “dead” to them would be a church that was too serious, that was boring and not fun and entertaining, that didn’t blend in with the culture of the day, and that spoke too much on repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ.

Obviously that is not what this passage of scripture is talking about, or it may actually be the reverse of how the majority of Christians in America might describe “alive” and “dead,” with regard to their local fellowships.

In other words, “alive,” in this context, has to do with being spiritually alive, which has very much to do with repentance, obedience, and submission, and with taking God and his word very seriously. Yet, it also has to do with the joy of the Lord, the peace of Christ, and walking in fellowship with Him. As well, being “dead” (or mostly dead) has to do with being spiritually dead, which may mean that they focus too much attention on externals, and on meeting felt needs, and on entertaining the masses, to the exclusion of repentance, obedience and submission to Christ and to his cross. And, to the exclusion of taking God and his word seriously, and applying its truths to their daily lives. Yet, inclusive of worldly attitudes and behaviors, and even encouraging such behaviors by teaching a false grace gospel, which gives its adherents free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse.

Many people who call themselves Christians, or many Christian churches, have the presumption of spirituality (being of the Spirit of God) based on the name Christian or the name church, or because they might be “good deed doers,” but it may be only performance. In other words, they may honor God with their lips, but their hearts may be far from God. Their “spirituality” is in form only, but not in the practice of godly and holy living. They clean up nice on the outside, and they have the appearance of godliness, but they deny its power by their lifestyles. They have bought into a false grace gospel which teaches them that God does not require repentance, obedience or submission, and thus they think they have free rein to continue in willful sin against God and still have the promise of eternal life with God.

Wake Up!

So, the call here is to wake up from your spiritual slumber, and to revive what still has life in you, but which is about to die completely. So, how do we do this? Well, first off, we have to pray, seek God’s face, and ask him to show us what is mostly dead in our lives, and what needs to be brought back to life. We probably already know what that is, if we are paying any attention to our spiritual lives at all, but we may need the Lord to point these things out for us, if we have not been paying attention to how our lives may have slipped away from our pure devotion to Christ, and how we may have become entrapped by the world and by sinful attitudes and behaviors once again. It is possible to become desensitized to evil and to the Spirit’s voice speaking to our hearts, to where we can become complacent and apathetic or lazy about our spiritual walks with Christ, so that we need the Spirit of God to show us where we need to be brought back to life.

When the Spirit of God, thus, points these things out to us, and shows us how we have gotten off track, and where we need to get back on point, then we need to repent of our sins, turn away from them, and turn back to following our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. We must realize here that “Lord” is not just a title or a name given to Jesus to signify that he is God, but that it means “owner-master.” And, we are his bond-slaves (willing submission). He is the owner of our lives, and he is the one to direct our paths and to guide the course of our lives, not us. We are not on this earth for our own enjoyment and pleasure, but we are here to honor God with our lives, and to do what he has called us to do and to be.

If we choose to keep going our own way, though, doing what we want, and still addicted to sinful behaviors and attitudes, God will use divine discipline in order to judge, correct, rebuke, chastise and scourge us, and in order to get us to turn from our sinful ways, and to get us to come back to him in full submission. And, we don’t know when this will take place. And, we can’t even be certain that we would survive such a judgment. Yet, if we are conquerors through Jesus Christ, who loves us, and we give up our sinful practices, and we follow our Lord in obedience, then we will have our eternal rewards in heaven with God. But, if we refuse to repent, and if we continue to practice sinning, the Bible teaches that we don’t have the assurance of eternal life with God (Jn. 6:35-66; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 5:1-21).

Walk in White

Yet, not every individual, and not every church congregation which professes the name of Jesus is mostly dead and in need of repentance and revival. There are those who believe in Jesus throughout the world who are not soiling their garments, i.e. who are not in the practice of willfully sinning against God and giving in to the sinful desires of their flesh. They walk with Christ in purity (decency, integrity) of heart, mind, attitude and behavior.

They live in unadulterated fellowship with their Lord. They are spiritually alive, and they follow their Lord in obedience. They walk in a manner worthy of the calling they have received from the Lord, “to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (See: Col. 1:9-12; cf. Eph. 4:1-3; Phil. 1:27-28; 1 Thess. 2:11-12).

And, this is how we should all live, who profess the name of Jesus. But, if you are among the “mostly dead” spiritually, then you need to turn from your sins today, trust Jesus Christ with your life, and choose to walk from this moment forward in a manner worthy of your calling, in purity of heart, mind, attitude and behavior.

Wake Up! / An Original Work / November 25, 2011

Based off Ephesians 5:1-21; Revelation 3:1-6

Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead.
Your God awaits you to do what
He says to you.
Be not conformed to your selfish will.
Trust in the Lord. Do what He says.
He will give you victory.
Do not walk in darkness;
Come into the light of love.

Listen to your Savior calling
You to obey all His teachings.
Repent of your sin, and
Christ will shine His love on you.
He waits patiently for you to
Heed His whispers to your heart.
Will you hasten to obey Him;
Not from Him depart?

Live your life from this day forward,
Walking in His love and mercy.
Let Him cleanse you of all your sins.
Dwell with Him today.
Do not insult God’s grace to you.
Do not make light of your sin.
Let the light of His truth come
And free you from within.

Arise and Speak

Saturday, June 17, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “God Be with You till We Meet Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Appointed by God (vv. 4-8)

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.

We read in Psalm 139:

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

And, we read in 2 Tim. 1:8-9 & Eph. 1:3-4 (respectively):

“Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

And, we read in 1 Pet. 2:9 & Matt. 28:18-20 (respectively):

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all called (chosen, appointed) by God to a holy calling, which includes proclaiming and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples of Christ of people throughout the world. And, we, too, were called of God to this even before the creation of the world; even before we were formed in our mother’s wombs. So, we should not neglect our calling out of fear of what others may think of us, or what they might do to us, or out of complacency and apathy, thinking this is only for those God calls to be preachers or teachers. But, we should be purposeful and intentional in sharing the gospel so that others might hear, and so they may be saved before our Lord Jesus returns to judge and to take us home.

Pluck Up and Build (vv. 9-12)

Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,

“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
“See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant.”
The word of the Lord came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”

The truth of the gospel of our salvation involves this plucking up, breaking down, destroying, and overthrowing, yet also building and planting. How so, you say? Well, the truth of the gospel is that we are all born sinners (Ro. 3:23), and we all, thus, come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit. Not one of us can earn or deserve our own salvation. So, Jesus died on a cross for our sins so that, through faith in him, we might be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we might have new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

So, how does this take place? Well, first of all God draws us to Jesus, and then he gives us the faith to believe in him, but we have to take ownership of that faith and apply it to our lives. We have to receive Jesus by faith. And, this faith involves turning from our sins, and turning to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience to his will for our lives. When we believe in Jesus, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with him to newness of life, to be lived to him and to his righteousness. The old has gone, the new has come. We no longer live our lives to gratify our sinful desires, but by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are conducting our lives in accordance with the Spirit of God.

But, this does not mean we will never sin again, or that we won’t ever wander off the path and get off track, and need to be reminded of our calling and prompted to throw off those sins which so easily entangle, and the weight of all that is hindering our walks of faith, so that we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us that we should follow (run). So, sometimes God calls certain people to speak his words of correction and instruction to us, in order to get us back on track with God, and this involves, too, this breaking down of stubborn hearts, and the plucking up of what is causing closed ears, and the overthrowing of sinful behaviors and attitudes so that God may revive us, restore (build) us, and use us again.

A Fortified City (vv. 13-19)

The word of the Lord came to me a second time saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” Then the Lord said to me, “Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For, behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,” declares the Lord; “and they will come and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls round about and against all the cities of Judah. I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.

Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them. Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.

One of the ways in which God accomplishes this plucking up, breaking down, destroying and overthrowing of sinful behaviors and attitudes, stubborn hearts and wills, and blocked (stopped up) ears, which are unwilling to obey him, is via divine discipline and correction (judgment; reproving; scourging). He does this for our good, that we may share in his holiness, and that we might be trained (taught) by the discipline, in order that it might produce in our lives the peaceful fruit of righteousness (holiness, godliness, decency). And, this is a painful process (See: Heb. 12:1-11; cf. Rev. 2-3).

Sometimes God will use trials, tribulations and difficulties in our lives as his instruments of divine discipline and correction. Other times, if this is widespread, i.e. if a large percentage of his children are living in stubborn rebellion and/or complacency and apathy, he will use foreign powers or even our own nations’ leaders to come against us, and to war against us – God’s people, his saints – in order to revive and restore (build and plant) us. And, this is where much of the church, at least here in America, is today. So many have gone the way of the world and have gotten off the “straight and narrow” path of righteousness and holiness, and they have wandered off to follow after the flesh and the gods of this world. So, God is going to discipline them in order to bring them back to him.

These “kingdoms of the north,” in our world today, is an alliance of nations, CEOs of corporations, big banks, the Elite (wealthy and powerful) of the world, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, et al. They are called “The New World Order,” and they are definitely coming against the saints of God BIG TIME! They want to break down all which divides us as the people of the world so that we can all come together in unity – with one voice and one heart. They want us all to accept all religions as viable, and to tolerate (be lenient toward) sinful lifestyles. So, they are going after “religious extremism,” which, by definition, includes all those who are preaching the full gospel message. So, they are declaring the gospel, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, to be intolerant, bigoted and hateful speech, although they have not yet, to my knowledge, said that directly, but it is implied over and over again.

Yet, we are not to fear their threats, but we are to rely on the strength of the Lord, and we are to keep on speaking, and not be silent, for our God is in control. They will fight against us, but God will help us through it all.

God Be with You till We Meet Again
Jeremiah E. Rankin, William G. Tomer

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
neath his wings securely hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life’s perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
smite death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

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.

A Benediction

Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “God Be with You till We Meet Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 30:23-31:11: (Select vv. ESV).

A Whirling Tempest (30:23-24)

Behold the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intentions of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand this.

We are living in those latter days now. And, there are many storms and tempests blowing all around us. Some of them are literal storms, while others are outbursts and eruptions of a different kind (nature). Some are impacting the atmosphere associated with the physical earth, while others are influencing our surroundings on a more social, economic, religious and/or political sphere. And, both kinds of tempests can result in violence and destruction of property, and can cause loss of life and health and well-being. Some are literally storms of the Lord, which he generates, even though he may use human beings to carry them out. Others are allowed by God, because he allows evil to exist in this world, but he sets limits on them.

In context, what we learn here is that God first judged his wayward and rebellious people. He used wicked people, who were bent on the destruction of Israel, as his divine instruments of judgment on his adulterous and idolatrous children. And, then, when he had accomplished his purposes in the hearts of his people, he turned on their enemies, and he did to his people’s enemies what they did to Israel.

And, so it is again in these last days. God is judging and will judge his adulterous and rebellious children, i.e. his wayward church (See: Rev. 2-3), and he is using and will use the US government, their allies, the beast and the false prophet, as his divine instruments of judgment, but then he will turn on them, and it will be payback, and they will receive back in spades what they did, are doing, and yet will do to others. And, this storm is not far off, I believe. Although God uses evil and wicked people to accomplish his purposes in the hearts and minds of his followers, yet he still judges them for their evil deeds.

They Found Grace (31:1-6)

“At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”
Thus says the Lord:
“The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O virgin Israel!
Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant
and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when watchmen will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”

Throughout history, the primary purpose for God judging his people, and for discipling them and scourging them, was to revive and to restore them, and to turn their hearts away from their idols back to God, to follow him in all their ways from that day forward. He also uses divine discipline as a means to holiness and sanctification, that we might bear much fruit for his eternal kingdom, and that we might yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness. And, this, too, is his grace to us, because he loves us so much, so he will do what is needed (necessary) in order to bring us back to him, because what we need is to be in fellowship with him and to be walking in his ways. God always wants what is best for us, and this is what is best for us.

When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Jesus died, not just to free us from the penalty of sin (spiritual death/eternal damnation), and not just to give us the hope of eternal life with God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace is NOT a free license to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars.

So, for those who have wandered off from the purpose for which we were saved, or for those who make a profession of faith in Jesus, but who never have truly believed in Jesus Christ, because they never did turn from their sins or follow the Lord in obedience, the call is to repent of your sins, leave your life of sin behind you, and turn to God to follow him in all his ways. He will revive and restore you, or he will save you from your sins for the first time. Concerning the adulterous, idolatrous and worldly church now, when he disciplines them in judgment, and he revives them, they will once again have the joy and peace of the Lord, and of their salvation, and they will walk in his holiness, and they will be his witnesses so that others can be saved.

A Straight Path (31:9-11)

With weeping they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.

When we sin against our Lord, and the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts, it should bring us to tears. Yet, we should not be sorrowful with a worldly sorrow, just because we got caught, or just because we got disciplined, but we should have a godly sorrow which leads to genuine repentance, i.e. to a change of heart and mind which results in change of words and actions. We should be humbled that God spared our lives, and that he cared enough about us to move us to repentance, and that he did not leave us floundering in our sins. We should be so grateful for his grace to us in bringing pain and suffering into our lives so as to motivate us toward his holiness and righteousness; and away from sin and rebellion, to walks of faith and obedience to our Lord.

Yet, when this time comes, and the church is scattered because of God’s judgments, and because of the severity of the persecution of the saints of God who are following the ways of the Lord, which may already be what is taking place in other parts of the world; and many are martyred for their faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ, many of us will be separated from each other, and we will not be rejoined until we are all with our Lord forever. So, for those who survive this storm, let this benediction be for you (for us).

God Be with You till We Meet Again
Jeremiah E. Rankin, William G. Tomer

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
neath his wings securely hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life’s perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
smite death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

A Tree Shaking

Thursday, April 27, 2017, 1:06 a.m. – I woke up from sleep with the phrase in mind “Shake someone’s tree and see what falls out.” The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Why Are You Afraid?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 6:43-49 and Hebrews 12:25-29 (NIV).

I looked up the phrase “to shake someone’s tree,” and it means “to arouse to action or reaction, disturb” (dictionary.com). A tree can symbolize human character, nations, kingdoms and/or institutions. As well, “shaking” means agitating, stirring, unsettling, and/or distressing.

By Its Fruit (Luke 6:43-49)

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Here a tree symbolizes an individual person, and the tree’s fruit represents the person’s moral fiber, his character, his temperament and what is stored in his heart. The fruit can be that of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Or, it can be, that, out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander (Matt. 15:19). When we are put through trials and difficult circumstances in this life, they have a tendency to bring out the true us, i.e. what is hidden in our hearts.

Yet, I am not certain that it is all as black and white as this may appear. What I mean by this is that a Christian, although cleansed by the blood of Jesus, is still flesh and blood, and thus still has the propensity to sin, to feel pain, and to react to that pain in ways which might indicate bad fruit if the individual does not immediately respond in the Spirit, but rather in the flesh.

So, this may not indicate that his whole tree is bad or that all his fruit is bad, but that he still has some things in his life which need to be brought to the cross of Christ. For instance, Jesus said that daily we are to take up our cross and follow him, and Paul said that if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, that we will live. We are being made into the image of Christ. So, what I believe this comes down to is lifestyle, i.e. our daily walks; what we are made out of on a consistent and continuous basis. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of,” i.e. what fills his life.

Basically, this has to do with what we practice as the normal course of our lives. Obedience to Christ does not necessitate absolute sinless perfection, but it does indicate that obedience is what we practice on a day-to-day basis. It is what is our customary way of acting and reacting, our habits, routines and normal procedures. Paul said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit, we will live with Christ for eternity, but if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. So, if we do sin, we confess it, turn from it, and keep following our Lord in obedience, and do not keep repeating the same sins over and over and over again.

If we call Jesus “Lord,” this means he is our owner-master, and that we are his servants (slaves). He is the one in charge of our lives, not us. So, if he is Lord, then the normal practice of our daily lives should be to listen to what he says and to obey it (do what he says). If we do not do what he says, this means we do not practice obedience, but our practice (habit, routine), instead, is to ignore his words to us and to do what we want, instead.

We may be able to perform well, for a time, but when we are put to the fire, and our world is shaken, what lies underneath will be brought to the surface, i.e. when a tree is shaken, we see what falls out. Then, the truth comes out. Our foundation, and I don’t merely mean our initial decision to believe in Jesus, but rather the basis for our lives (for our lifestyles) by which we build our lives in Christ, if shaken, should not destroy us, because our lives are built on Christ and on his Word and on obedience to his Word. But, if we do not put into practice what God teaches us through his Word, then when we go through trials, which shake our very foundation, then our lives will come crashing down, because they were not truly built on Jesus Christ.

What May Remain (Heb. 12:25-29)

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Again, if we walk (in practice) according to our flesh (bad fruit), we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh (the bad fruit), we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 8:1-14). Yet, if we refuse to obey the Lord as the normal practice of our lives by ignoring what he teaches us so as to live to please our sinful flesh, instead, we should not expect that when we die that we have the promise of eternity with God.

God is going to shake this earth, and the people of the earth, and when this tree is shaken, we will see what falls out. What falls out (i.e. what is removed from the tree) may be human lives, either in the loss of positions of power, or in death, and loss of life for eternity, or it may be the removal of literal trees, animals, or plant life which we need for food and survival. But, this will be so that what is eternal (righteous, holy) will remain. What this may indicate here, as is discussed earlier in this chapter in Hebrews, is that God will discipline us (shake us) in order to remove from our lives what is of this earth so that what is eternal (righteous, holy) is what remains.

This is a call to obedience to Christ, to surrender to his will, and for us to walk in the fear (honor, respect and awe) of our Lord. Too many people take God too causally, and they think he doesn’t notice their sins or that he will do nothing to them, and so they think they can keep on sinning and God’s grace will cover it all. But, scripture does not teach that. It says that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars. We cannot walk according to our flesh and have the hope of heaven when we die. We need to know that God will judge those who call him “Lord” but who do not make a practice of doing what he says. Yet, obedience is done all in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit, living within individual followers of Christ. True obedience cannot be done in our own flesh or willpower.

And, lastly, we have to know that this “shaking” is going to bring about troubled times, and persecution of Christians, and enemies attacking us, yet we are not to be afraid, but we are to put our trust solely in the Lord Jesus and trust him with our lives. And, we are to keep on sharing Jesus Christ with others, because many need to believe on him before Christ returns.

Why Are You Afraid? / An Original Work / December 5, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Do not be afraid.
Your Lord is always by your side.
Serve the Lord in righteousness
Before Him all your days.

Those who hate the light
Will not come to the Lord.
They fear their deeds
Might be noticed.
So, they hate the light,
And they embrace the night.

Do not be afraid,
Although your enemy attacks.
Dare to share your testimony
Of God’s saving grace.

Do not fear their threats,
But honor Christ, your Lord.
Be prepared to give an answer
For the hope you have,
With gentleness; respect.

Why are you afraid?
For all that’s hidden will be shown.
What I tell you, speak in daylight.
Let the truth be known.

Do not be afraid
Of those who’ll take your life.
Fear the Lord with understanding.
Trust Him with your life,
And give not up to strife.

Do not be afraid.
Take courage, it is I, your Lord.
Bow before Me; now adore Me.
Oh, why do you doubt?

Listen to the Lord.
Get up, and bear His name!
Run and tell the world He loves them.
Jesus came to save.
Give Him your all today.

Walk in The Way

Friday, April 14, 2017, 8:08 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Near the Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Malachi 2 (Select vv. ESV).

If You Don’t Listen (vv. 1-3)

“And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it.

Lest we might think that this is Old Testament, and thus it does not apply to the church today, let me share with you that there are many “If” verses in the New Testament, too.

Jesus said that IF we continue in his Word, then we are really his disciples, and we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. Jesus’ kindness (his grace) is extended to us provided (IF) we continue in his kindness (grace). Otherwise, we can be cut off just like the Jews were cut off who refused to believe in Jesus Christ. [Grace = NOT a free license to continue in sin without guilt. Teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and to live uprightly – Tit. 2:11-14.] We are saved by the gospel IF we hold firmly to the Word preached to us by Jesus Christ and by his NT apostles, i.e. IF we hold to the preaching of The Word of God. IF we don’t, we have believed in vain.

We are reconciled to God by Christ’s death for us on a cross IF we continue in our faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. IF we disown him, he will also disown us. We are God’s house IF we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. IF the Word of God remains in us, we will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life. And IF, when God calls us to repent of our sins, we don’t listen, and we continue to go our own way, we can expect divine discipline and correction (judgment).

[John 8:31-32; Romans 11:17-24; I Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; I John 2:24-25; Revelation 2-3]

He Stood in Awe (vv. 4-7)

“So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

In contrast to those who do not listen to God and to his Word (the whole counsel of God), who do not take his Word to heart, and who do not give honor to his name, is a picture of those who walk in integrity and in the fear of the Lord. They are those who stand in awe of his name. Boy, is this so lost in today’s modern church. The fear of the Lord is not being taught much at all today in American churches, but this is not just O.T. This is N.T., too.

In every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. [See: Ac. 10:34-35; 2 Co. 5:6-11; 7:1; Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 12:28-29; Rev. 11:18; 14:7; 15:4.]

You Have Turned Aside (vv. 8-9)

“But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

Wow! This is SO relevant to today’s church here in America! It does not apply to everyone, mind you, but it does fit with the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians and who are part of the church, the body of Christ, or who are part of the institutional church here in the USA.

So, what is “the way”? Well, it is the way to God the Father through faith in Jesus Christ, who is God the Son (the Son of God). Jesus Christ (God) came to earth, took on human flesh, died on a cross for our sins, was resurrected from the dead, ascended back to heaven, then sent his Holy Spirit to give new life in the Spirit to his followers, to convict of sin, and to empower Christ’s disciples (us) to walk in holiness, godliness and with integrity, etc. Through God-given faith in Jesus Christ we can be saved from slavery (addiction) to sin, be forgiven our sins, be given new lives in Christ to be lived to his righteousness, and have eternal life with God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This IS the gospel of Christ.

But, many have turned aside from the way and have wandered off to follow after the gods of this world, such as entertainment, lust, greed, immorality, sexual deviation, lies, money, power, sensuality, violence, hatred, mockery, slander, and gossip, etc. And, this is not speaking of just the people out in the world, but this is speaking of many who say they are Christians. Their lives are not much different from those who make no claims to faith in Christ at all. And, even many leaders in our churches are leading their people, and all who would listen to them, to believe in a false grace gospel which gives them carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt and remorse.

A Foreign God (vv. 10-12)

Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!

The vast majority of the church here in America has partnered with (married) the U.S. Government via the 501c3 not-for-profit corporation status for tax exempt purposes, which they did not have to do since they were already tax exempt. Thus, they have turned the church, the body of Christ, into a business of human-making and with the government as head instead of Christ. And, God sees this as an abomination and as profaning his sanctuary, which is the hearts of those he loves, who have believed in him as their Lord and Savior. We, the people of God, are the church, not some institution of men, and especially not with the government as our head, but with Christ ONLY as our head, master and Savior. So, God is calling out to his church to come out of her (the institutional 501c3 church) so that she does not share in the sins of this Babylon, and in her punishment.

Evil Called Good (v. 17)

You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

This is such a picture of what is going on in our world today and within much of the institutional church here in America. So many things are backwards.

Our churches are teaching their people to worship the government by teaching and encouraging them to vow (pledge) their fidelity (allegiance) to our republic with hand over heart, by singing patriotic songs, and by the honoring of our military as heroes and as our “saviors,” who they say are keeping us safe. And, yet they water down the gospel, do not teach that we should vow our fidelity to God, and, in fact, teach that God requires nothing of us at all – no allegiance, no loyalty, no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross. In fact, they paint God as weak and as a doting grandfather in the sky there to grant our every request, and that he is pleased with us no matter what we do, even if we are enslaved to sin. And then they picture salvation as merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die. Yet, salvation = death to sin; alive to God in Christ.

They will also not confront sin within the church, in most cases, but will teach tolerance, “love” that is not love, and will smooth over sin by calling it something less offensive like “I messed up,” or they will give it some kind of psychological diagnosis in order to excuse it away, so as to say the person can’t help himself (or herself). Yet, they will attack and accuse those who preach the Word of Truth, and who do call out sin, warn of judgment, call for repentance, and yet tell of the hope that is ours for the one who is penitent. They call us hatemongers, intolerant, bigoted, and teachers of “works-based salvation,” even though we are teaching the very words of Christ and of his NT apostles. So, their argument is with God, not with his messengers.

So, God is calling out to them to repent of their sins and to turn to him, to walk in his truth, in the fear of the Lord, and to walk in his ways, while there is still time.

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

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

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

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

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.

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

A Roadway of Holiness

Saturday, March 25, 2017, 10:32 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 35 (NASB).

From Darkness to Light (vv. 1-2)

The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus
It will blossom profusely
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
The majesty of our God.

Do you ever get heavy of heart over this sin-sick world? I do! I especially get burdened for my nation, the USA, and for the church here in America. I grieve and mourn over the spiritual condition of the church, overall, though not necessarily representative of all gatherings of the church in America.

Our nation is an affluent nation. Even some of the poorest of people here have cable TV in their houses, and not only do many of the adults in the household have smart phones, but many of the children do, too. People living on welfare or living in government subsidized housing often seem to be better off than those working for minimum wage. I think the vast majority of Americans have cell phones and cable TV. At least, it seems that way. And, many of them plan their lives around their TV shows, too. And, it seems most people have private (unrestricted) internet connection, too.

Now, I am not against these things, except for in the hands of young children who are being unsupervised by adults, or in the hands of those who are not mature enough or self-disciplined enough to choose good from bad. Yet, I can see where TV, movies, the internet, and private internet access via tablets (I Pads) and smart phones have been a great source of deception, mind control, and of spiritual decline of the church here in America. These devices have sucked in so many Christians and have captivated them to the point to where they take over their lives, and God has often been pushed into a corner and barely noticed. Yet, this is just a small picture of the spiritual wilderness that exists here in America.

Still, the Lord has been encouraging me that he has a plan of action in mind which will deliver his people out of this spiritual wilderness, and which will bring them into a time of great joy and of blossoming spiritually.

Take Courage (vv. 3-4)

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Say to those with anxious heart,
“Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you.”

Sometimes, when I see all the evil going on all around me, and all the Christians (or professing Christians) living not much different at all from the people of the world, I get disheartened. When I see so much of the church embracing the world of sin in order to connect with the world, and seemingly so few truly seeking after God with all their hearts, it saddens me greatly. When I know that the Word of Truth is going out to the people, and that many are hearing the truth, though many are not, yet they seem to let the truth just go in one ear and out the other, so that they can continue on the same course they have been on, it tears at my heart, and I cry. And, when Christians see Christian fellowship as merely a church social where they eat and play games with each other, I groan inwardly to have true fellowship.

I am torn in my emotions because I want to see the church awakened to all the lies they have been buying into, and I want to see them walking in truth and purity, and serving the Lord with great zeal. But, from what I read in scripture, it does not appear that this is going to happen unless we, as the church in this nation, are put through some enormous time of suffering and great trials. It isn’t as though I long for this time, though, but what I hunger for is to see the church in America revived, and God’s people set on fire for him, and the Word of Truth going out from the revived church to the people in their communities, and people flocking to Jesus Christ (See: Isaiah 2). And, so I need to be reminded to “take courage,” and to trust the Lord, and to believe him to change people’s hearts, all in his perfect timing.

New Birth (vv. 5-7)

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.
For waters will break forth in the wilderness
And streams in the Arabah.
The scorched land will become a pool
And the thirsty ground springs of water;
In the haunt of jackals, its resting place,
Grass becomes reeds and rushes.

The Bible teaches us that God disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness, and that for those of us who have been trained by it, it will yield a harvest of righteousness in our lives. But, this isn’t light stuff here. He uses the terms “scourges” and “reproves,” and he says that the discipline is painful and not pleasant, but it is for our good. Sometimes when things are going too well for us in this life we can lose sight of eternity and we can end up focusing our time and attention on the things of this world rather than on the things that matter for eternity. We end up spending our time on what is going to pass away and on what has no eternal value whatsoever. And, so God has to discipline us in order to refocus our attention on what really matters, and so he can purify us and make us holy unto him.

So, there are times when we need this wake-up call in order to have our blinded eyes (or deceived minds) opened to the truth, so that we do follow the truth and we don’t follow after lies. And, when the church is awakened spiritually, they will be that light of the world and the salt of the earth. They will be sharing the gospel, so that the people of this sinful world will have their spiritually blinded eyes opened, too. Thus, they will be born again of the Spirit of God and be given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived to him and to his righteousness. Where they were once in a spiritual wilderness (desert), now they have springs of living water flowing from within them. They have the Holy Spirit living within them empowering, encouraging, comforting, teaching, strengthening and guiding them into all truth. Amen!

Highway of Holiness (vv. 8-10)

A highway will be there, a roadway,
And it will be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean will not travel on it,
But it will be for him who walks that way,
And fools will not wander on it.
No lion will be there,
Nor will any vicious beast go up on it;
These will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk there,
And the ransomed of the Lord will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
With everlasting joy upon their heads.
They will find gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

By God’s grace, through God-given faith, we can be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God. This God-given faith, though, is not like human faith. It is divinely convinced (persuaded) as to God’s will for our lives, and so it submits to Jesus Christ, and it chooses to walk in obedience to our Lord and to forsake the old (former) way of living to sin and self. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives with this kind of faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

The lives we live, we no longer live according to our sinful flesh, but according to the Spirit of God who now lives within us, and who empowers us to live such godly lives. We walk by faith and not by sight. We live to please God in all that we do, or we should. Yet, if we continue living in sin, we don’t know God. If we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), yet we claim to have fellowship with God, we are liars. If we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, and if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, 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.

So, if you want to be on this Highway of Holiness, which leads to eternal life with God, then you need to believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith which yields to Jesus as our Lord, and which submits to his will for our lives, and which cooperates with his work of grace in our lives. While it is true that we do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation, and that our salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, that gift means we die with Christ to sin so that we are “born again” of the Spirit of God to live lives no longer for ourselves, but for the one who gave his life up for us. In other words, Jesus didn’t die just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died, not just to forgive us our sins, but to free us from slavery (addiction) to sin.

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

Based off Isaiah 55

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

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

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