Instructions for Life

Monday, September 25, 2017, 4:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Near the Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 2 (Select vv. ESV).

To Know Him (vv. 1-6)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

It is God’s will that we not sin, which is why Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. So, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are set free from slavery (addiction) to sin so that we can now become bond-servants of his righteousness. Now we no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and in the power and strength of God’s Spirit now living within us (Ro. 8:1-17).

Yet, this is not to say that we will never sin again. We probably will, at one time or another. But, sin should no longer be our practice, for Satan no longer has a hold on our lives, for Jesus set us free from his control. But, if we do sin, this also does NOT mean that we are now back under condemnation, for Jesus provided the way for us to come out from under that condemnation via his blood shed on the cross for our sins. So, if we do sin, we repent of our sin, and we continue to walk in Christ’s holiness. God will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him.

Yet, if we continue walking in sin, and we make sin our practice, and we don’t practice obedience, holiness, godliness and righteousness, then we don’t know God, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, even if we prayed the sinner’s prayer and felt as though we received Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives. True faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin and living to God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

Love and Hate (vv. 7-11)

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Not only do we NOT have the hope of eternal life if we practice sinning and if we don’t walk in obedience to Christ’s commands, but we are still in darkness and without Christ if we profess to be in the light but we are actively hating our fellow humans or our fellow Christians. So, what is hate? Hate is the opposite of love. And, Christian love prefers what God prefers, it embraces God’s will, and it makes a practice of obeying God’s commands. Love, too, does no harm to its neighbors, but it is kind, thoughtful, forgiving, and giving of oneself to others’ needs. Hate is hostile, unforgiving, unkind, slanderous, harmful or wishing harm, backstabbing, and the like. It is especially egregious for a Christian to actively hate another Christian.

Don’t Love the World (vv. 15-17)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

The world we are NOT to love is NOT the people of the world, for God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Begotten Son to die on a cross for our sins, so that whoever is believing in him might have eternal life with God. The world we are NOT to love IS the world of sin, worldliness, wickedness, immorality, lust, hatred, violence, envy, and adultery, etc. We are not to love it, embrace it, agree with it, join in with it, become partakers of it, prefer it above all else, worship it, idolize it or be entertained by it. Our hearts, passion, desire, time, energies, thoughts and values should not be focused on what is worldly, fleshly and temporal, but they should be centered on God, His Word and his values, and on what has eternal value.

So, why do so many Christians (or professing Christians) spend so much of their waking hours, money, energies, passion and conversations on what is going to pass away, and on what has multiple elements of immorality, impurity and idolatry in the mix? Why is it that it appears so few professing Christians here in America make Christ, his Word, his morals, his thinking and his values the primary focus of their daily lives, 24/7? Why the discrepancy between their confession of faith in Christ and the reality of Christ being lived out in their daily lives? And, why is this considered the norm? And, if someone does truly follow Christ wholeheartedly, why are they are considered weird and abnormal? Something is wrong with this picture.

Do we not know that if we embrace the world of sin, make it our practice, idolize it, and give it our affections, passion, desire, minds and hearts, that we don’t have the love of the Father within us? And, do we not know that those who practice following God, and doing his will, are the ones who will abide with him forever? This world is not our home. We are just passing through. None of the things of this world should we idolize and make our gods, for they are not God, who is the ONLY one to whom we should give such adoration, value, esteem, respect, honor, praise, loyalty and devotion. We need to die to sin, self and to the world of sin and the things of this world, and we need to live for God, his gospel, his Word, his holiness and his righteousness, giving him our passion, desire, affections and obedience.

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

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

 

Advertisements

His Own Purpose

Monday, September 4, 2017, 3:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, Name I Love.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Timothy 1:8-14 (NASB).

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

Not Ashamed

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mk. 8:34-38

If we truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, and we sincerely love him, worship him, and revere him, we should never be ashamed of him and his Words to us. It should not even enter our minds to shy away from speaking of him. So, why do so many Christians (or professing Christians) feel uncomfortable talking about Jesus and his Words, even among themselves? And, yet, they have no problems at all talking about major sports figures, sports teams, movies and movie stars, TV shows, or political heroes? I believe a lot of it comes down to rejection or acceptance by others, and our culture, including church culture, but some of it has to do with lack of true, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Yet, if we look at these words here in Mark 8 (cf. Lu. 9:23-25), we see that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means denial of self, death to sin, and following our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will. Our lives are no longer our own to live how we want, and to please ourselves, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Christ shed on a cross for our sins, therefore we are to honor God with our lives, not try to save our lives for our own selves. For, if we hold on to living our lives to please ourselves, and to preserve them for this world, so that we will be liked and accepted by other humans, then we will lose our lives for eternity. But, if we die with Christ to sin and self, we will gain eternal life in him.

It saddens me to get together with other Christians, and to find they are not comfortable talking about Jesus or their relationships with him, or his Word, but they are perfectly fine talking about everything this world has to offer. They may even call their gatherings “Christian fellowship,” and they may even pray to God to “bless” their times of “fellowship” together, but other than that, Jesus’ name is not even mentioned, and if you try to begin a conversation about Jesus, it is real obvious that is not a subject many Christians (or professing Christians) want to talk about. Yet, Jesus said that if we are ashamed of him and his Words, he will be ashamed of us when he returns for us. And, not only that, but many people are dying in their sins, and they need someone to tell them about Jesus and his salvation, but if we don’t tell them, who will? We need not be ashamed of Christ and his Words!

Suffering for the Gospel

Instead of shying away from talking about Jesus and his Words with other humans out of fear of being hated, rejected or mistreated for our faith and testimonies, we need to be bold in our witness, and not fear what other humans might do to us or think or say about us to others. We are to share with Christ in the fellowship of his sufferings, first in his death to sin, and in his resurrection to new life in Christ, and then in suffering persecution for our testimonies for him and his gospel of salvation. For, we are not here on this earth to please ourselves, or to have people like us, but we are here to reflect Christ in all that we do, say and are, and to be lights for him and his gospel to a world lost in sin, so that they, too, can believe in Jesus and have eternal life with God.

A Holy Calling

For, our Lord did not die on a cross for our sins just so we could be forgiven our sins, escape hell, and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He saved us and called us to himself with a holy calling. And, to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from this sinful world, because we are being conformed into the likeness of Christ. He called us according to His own purpose for us, which is that we might live holy lives pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways (patterns, behaviors) of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds to make us more like Jesus. His grace to us is not free license to continue in sin, but it instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for Christ’s return.

Retain the Standard

God has given us a standard by which we are to live. We have it recorded for us in his written Word, but his Word is also living within those of us who are his by faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son (and God). We are to hang on to or to keep a hold of that standard, and preserve it, not just intellectually, but by how we live our lives day in and day out. It is not enough to just know the Word of God, but we need to DO what it says. We need to live it! And, we need to do it, not just because God commands that we do, but because we love him, and we want to please him in all that we do, think, say and are.

So, if we are doing this, and we are living holy lives, pleasing to God, and we are not ashamed of Christ and his gospel, and we are suffering for the sake of his name and for our testimonies for him, what should that look like? Well, for one, we should not be one (united) with the world in their thinking, culture, philosophies, attitudes, values and beliefs. We should not adopt their ways and thinking and make them our own, so that it is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. So, that means that we should also not be choosing each day to saturate our minds with all that the world is offering us, nor should we be engaging ourselves in being entertained daily by their sinful attitudes and behaviors. But, we should come out from them and be separate (unlike, different) from them.

This also means that we are now living for our Lord, living holy lives pleasing to him, and that we are walking in his ways, and in his truth, with undivided hearts, in order to bring honor, glory and praise to his holy name. We are not ashamed of him and his Words, and in the power of the Spirit within us, we are bold in our witness for him, in saying what he wants us to say, despite how other humans may respond to us. And, we are being hated, rejected and persecuted because people, including many of those who call themselves Christians, will be offended by us and our stand on God’s Word, because it won’t mix with their sinful, ungodly, lackadaisical lifestyles. And, although we may not live in absolute sinless perfection, we are conducting our lives (in lifestyle) according to God’s Holy Spirit, and no longer according to our sinful flesh, to do what our flesh desires, but our desire is for our Lord, to please him in every way.

Jesus, Name I Love
Or, Like the Strain of Sweetest Music
William M. Runyan

Jesus, Jesus, name I love,
Sinful needy hearts to move.
Name, all other names above,
Jesus, name I love.

Do You Not Know?

Saturday, August 12, 2017, 7:18 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 6 (Select vv. NASB).

Lawsuits Among Believers (vv. 1-8)

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.

In the USA, lawsuits are big business. It seems, at times, that when anyone even feels that he or she has been injured by another that they are far too ready to sue the ones they believe are the offending party. I have even found this to be a common practice among those who call themselves Christians. And, so much of this appears to have more to do with seeking revenge than in seeking reasonable damages (an award) for serious loss or injuries. At least, this has been my observation. Yet, some statistics seem to support the idea that lawsuits in the USA are outrageous in the numbers of them, in the context of them, or in the ease with which they are obtained.

It is bad enough when a Christian goes to court against a non-Christian and seeks unreasonable damages, just out of revenge or greed, and thus destroys any testimony for Jesus he or she might have otherwise had. But, when a Christian takes another believer to court, instead of taking the matter before the church, then that is even a more grievous matter. Where is the justice in all of this? Where is love, mercy, kindness and forgiveness? Where is the thought or belief that God is absolutely sovereign over our lives? What happens to our Christian witness and testimony? And, what about loving our enemies (or those we feel are our enemies), praying for them, doing good to them, and blessing them? Have we forgotten?

When we go to court against other people, especially against other believers, in order to sue them, and we ask for more than we need in damages, especially out of revenge (to get payback), or out of greed, to spend the reward on our own pleasures, we wrong and defraud (swindle, cheat, and take advantage of) others. And, it destroys the work of God in our lives and through our lives in showing his love, grace and mercy to others. Do we truly believe we must do this, and that God was absent during our injury, or that he can’t provide for all that we need? It is far better that we suffer this wrong than for us to seek revenge, for it is God’s job to take revenge, not ours! We are to show love, kindness and forgiveness, instead.

The Kingdom of God (vv. 9-11)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

This is a warning, not to the unsaved, though it certainly applies to them, too, but to Christians or to professing Christians who are practicing sinning against God. If we wrong (ill-treat, abuse) and defraud (swindle, cheat or take advantage of) others, as our practice, we should not think we have any inheritance coming to us from God. We should not bank on having eternal rewards, but we should consider what scriptures teach on this subject, and know that those who practice sinning, who continue in sin, and who walk (in lifestyle; who conduct their lives) according to the flesh, will die in their sins (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-25; & Eph. 5:3-6).

Flee Immorality (vv. 15-20)

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

As you can tell from the long lists of sinful practices in 1 Co. 6:9-11, Gal. 5:19-25, & Eph. 5:3-6, they cover a wide span of sinful practices. One of the ones which is predominant, though, and is repeated over and over again in scripture is immorality, or most especially sexual immorality. Immorality can be anything which is wicked, depraved, corrupt, dishonest or adulterated, including idolatry. Sexual immorality is confined to such areas as adultery, lust, fornication (sex outside of marriage), homosexuality, same-sex marriage, oral sex, incest, and viewing of pornography or sexually charged (or insinuated) movies or videos, or sexting, or having sexual conversations with someone with whom you are not married, et al.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives we are united with him in spirit, and we become members of his body, the church (not the institutional church). We become the bride of Christ, and he is our husband, and in faith we vow faithfulness, love, and commitment to our Lord and master, Jesus Christ. Our desire is to please him in all that we do, say, think and are. When we are married to our spouse, we also vow love, faithfulness, commitment and fidelity. And, our desire should be for our spouse, to please him or her, and to do to or for the other according to love and faithfulness, and according to the teachings of Christ and his Word. So, it is absolutely sinful and wrong (harmful, injurious) to do what is contrary to these vows of fidelity and love, either to God or to our spouses.

So, we are to flee all immorality, idolatry, wickedness, lies, deceit and sexual immorality, and we are to commit ourselves to faithfulness and love toward both our Lord and toward our spouses. When we marry, we become one flesh with our spouse through sexual union, so we are to regard our spouses as though they are one with us, and to treat them accordingly, in love, purity, and in all kindness, respect and honor. As well, when we believe in Jesus, and his Spirit comes to dwell within us, our bodies become his temple, and we are no longer our own, to live however we want, for Jesus bought us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins. So, we are to honor and glorify God in our bodies, and in our minds, hearts, attitudes, words and actions, too. For, Jesus set us free from slavery to sin in order that we might become bondservants (slaves) of his righteousness.

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

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

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

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

Wait Patiently

Sunday, July 30, 2017, 9:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Letters.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 37:1-11 (ESV).

Fret Not! (vv. 1-2, 7)

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

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

Who is an evildoer? He or she is one who is wicked, immoral, sinful. Evildoers make a practice of doing what they know is wrong, and they often resist doing what they know is right. Evil is opposed to (against) God’s Word, his holiness, his righteousness, his divine character and his justice. Therefore, evildoers are also opposed to the Lord’s servants and witnesses, and they will try to drag them down with them. They love the darkness, rather than the light, because their deeds are evil.

So, how are we impacted by these evildoers? Well, for one, not all evildoers are blatantly (obviously) evil in the eyes of all people. Many of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing who masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness and who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ Jesus. They are actors, performers, and frauds who give off a public image of being good Christians while they secretly (in the dark) carry out their evil plans. Evildoers may be adulterers, thieves, liars, cheats, murderers, gossips, greedy, abusers, persecutors of Christ’s followers and/or betrayers, etc. So, we may be the recipients of their cheating, lying, thieving or persecuting.

Yet, we are not to fear their mistreatment of us or of those we love, but we are to pray for them, do good to them, and speak kindly to them, which includes speaking the truth in love to them. And, we are to be still (peaceful) before the Lord, trusting him that he has a purpose for everything we face in our lives, and that he is working all things together for good for those who love him and who have been called according to his purposes. He allows us to face adversity and opposition because it helps to mature us in our faith and to strengthen us in our resolve to follow our Lord in obedience to his will. And, he will accomplish his purposes both in our lives and in the lives of all those who will come to him in faith, repenting of their sins.

Trust the Lord (vv. 3-6)

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

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

So, instead of letting evildoers get to us, upset us, or get us to worry about our lives or our circumstances, we need to place our absolute trust in our Lord in all things, knowing that he is completely sovereign over all which he created. And, we need to continue to do good to all people, even to those who hate us and who persecute us. We must remain faithful to our Lord in all things, and not let trouble or hardship get us to doubt God and his promises, or to push us toward shrinking back in our faith and testimonies for Christ and for his gospel. For this is Satan’s goal, to undo us, and to get us to give up, back down, shrink back and retreat back into sinful behaviors.

So, when evildoers threaten to undo us, we need, instead, to delight in our Lord and in his ways, and continue to serve our Lord in faithfulness and in devotion to him. Although there may be those now who are trying to bring us down, who may be falsely accusing us or gossiping about us to others, or who may be attacking us verbally or trying to discourage us in our walks of faith, we must remain strong in the Lord and keep holding on to the truth we know. For, there will be fruit for our labors of love to our God and to our fellow humans. If we are being rejected and despised now, one day we will be exonerated (vindicated) for our love and faithful service to our Lord.

The Wicked and The Meek (vv. 8-11)

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

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

The people of this world are divided into two groups of people, i.e. the wicked and the righteous. Those who choose to practice evil, even if they have professed Christ as Savior of their lives, will not have the hope of eternal life with God but the fearful expectation of judgment and eternal damnation. Those who have genuine faith in Jesus Christ, who have died with Christ to sin, who make righteousness their practice, and who are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, will have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

The problem here, for many, is that so many shepherds of the people within the organized church are teaching the people that salvation is nothing more than an acknowledgment of who Jesus is and/or of what he did for us in taking our punishment for sin, and that it is a mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins. And, then they teach them that their salvation and their eternal life with God are secured forever, and that nothing they can do can take it away from them, no matter how badly they sin against God from this moment forward. So, what they are doing is giving them carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt or remorse.

Yet, the Bible teaches that if anyone would come after Christ, they must deny self, take up their cross daily (daily die to sin and self) and follow (obey) Jesus. If they hold on to their old lives of living for sin and self, they will lose them for eternity, but if they lose their lives (die with Christ to sin) for the sake of Jesus Christ and his gospel, they will gain eternal life with God. For, Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk (in lifestyle) not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit of God. If we walk 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 (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). So, know the truth, and the truth will set you free!

The Letters / An Original Work / December 17, 2013

Based off Revelation 2-3

To the angels of all the churches write:
These are the words of your Lord and your God.
I know all your deeds, and your witness, too,
And who holds to My words and tells what’s true.
I know all your hard work and your perseverance,
Yet I hold against you: you’ve forsaken Me.
Listen to what I say to you.

You have people there who deny My name,
And who put the cross of Christ up to shame.
They entice the people to Me, profane,
And their worship of Me is all in vain.
They are so adult’rous as they chase their idols,
And you put up with them easily enough.
Listen to what I say to you.

You give off an image of godliness,
But what you present is so fraudulent,
Or else you lack passion for Jesus Christ,
So you look to others to tell what’s right.
I say turn from your sin, or you will face judgment.
He who overcomes will have eternal life.
Listen to what I say to you.

I know your afflictions and poverty;
How you suffer for your Lord patiently.
Do not fear the devil and company.
You be faithful to your Lord endlessly.
I know all your weakness and your dedication.
You have kept My Word and not denied your Lord.
I will write on you My new name.

Hunger and Thirst

Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 9:30 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of spiritual hunger and thirst.

For Righteousness (Matt. 5:6)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

To hunger or thirst after something is to long for, yearn for, strongly desire, or to crave it. There is a sense of urgency in this longing, too, as though without it you will not survive, or apart from it you will not be fully satisfied. Yet, we don’t do this just once and we have it, and it is done with. Literally this says that blessed are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, i.e. this involves actively pursuing righteousness, not just once, but continuously, and not because we are not satisfied, but because we are satisfied and we realize that we need to go after it daily, for Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It needs to be part of our everyday lives, in our conduct, speech, thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.

So, what is righteousness? It is “what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes” (1). It is morality, justice, decency, uprightness, honesty, purity and holiness. And, to be holy is to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into the image of Christ. So, we are to be continually pursuing purity, honesty, uprightness, holiness and godliness in our lives, and we should not be chasing after what is ungodly, impure, deceitful or wicked.

Yet, many Christians, or professing Christians, especially here in America, seem to be doing just the opposite of this. So many of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ are chasing after the pleasures of this world and those things which will satisfy the cravings of their human flesh, rather than hungering and thirsting after righteousness as part of who they are and how they live their lives day by day. And, their relationships with God (with Jesus Christ) are often given minor attention, affection and passion or desire for what God deems right and good, and for what is approved in his eyes. Not only that, but if Christians are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, in today’s culture, they are often tagged as out-of-touch with reality, or too serious, or hyper-religious. And, even others who claim faith in Christ will encourage them away from taking God and his Word so seriously, and will tell them they need to “lighten up,” sit back, relax and enjoy life.

For Jesus Christ (Jn. 6:35, 51, 53-56)

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’” “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.’”

But, Jesus Christ wants us to take him very seriously, and those who don’t have no real life of the Spirit in them. Hungering and thirsting after Jesus Christ is not “gospel lite.” It is not “happy hour,” i.e. this is not about having a party and just having a good time (fun). This is not saying we do not have joy, we do, but we don’t take God and his Word lightly or casually. To hunger or thirst after him is to deny ourselves and daily take up our cross and follow him. It is to be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and to be resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. It is sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, too.

When Jesus spoke about us eating his flesh and drinking his blood, he was not speaking literally of eating his physical body, but figuratively of partaking with him in death to sin and living to righteousness, which is what his body and blood symbolize. When he was crucified on a cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. So, when he died, our sin died with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose triumphant over sin, Satan, and death on our behalf. He put sin to death for us so that we would no longer be slaves to sin, but that we might be free to be slaves to righteousness.

So, if we want to have eternal life with God and the hope of heaven when we leave this earth, then we must be crucified with him in death to sin, and be resurrected with him to newness of life. We must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, for if we walk according to the flesh (in sinful practice), 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 we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle, practice) in darkness (sin), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

For Living Water (Jn. 4:13-14; Jn. 7:37-39; cf. Rev. 21:6-7; 22:17)

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.’”

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, by God’s grace, via death to sin and resurrection to new lives in Christ Jesus, we are indwelt, filled and empowered from on high with God’s Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God, thus, empowers, strengthens, encourages, and teaches us to live holy lives pleasing to God. We can die to sin and live to righteousness, not in our own flesh, but in the working of God’s Holy Spirit within us, as we yield to our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will, and as we cooperate with God’s work of grace in our lives.

The Spirit of God teaches us all things regarding Jesus Christ and his righteousness and holiness. When we read the Word of God each day, the Holy Spirit speaks God’s words to our hearts to encourage, counsel, and guide us, or to rebuke, correct and warn us. We don’t live the Christian life in our own strength, or according to our own will and desire, but the Spirit of God provides us with all we need to walk uprightly and in purity and holiness. He gives us spiritual gifts, as well, to be used within the body of Christ to encourage one another, and to strengthen one another in the faith, so that we do not grow weary and lose heart, but so we are built up in the faith, and we mature in our walks of faith.

Because we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, God lives within us, and we are his temple (his church, Christ’s body). We can talk with him at any time, day or night, and he speaks to us, as well. We don’t have a religion, per se, but we have a relationship with our God which is real, personal and intimate. He is our God, and we honor him as such, and we stand in awe of him, and give him our respect, and yet he is our best friend and companion, and our husband and Father, and the more we spend time with him, and follow him wherever he leads us, the sweeter our relationship with him grows. He helps us through all difficulties, and he wraps his loving arms around us when we are hurting and in need of comfort and encouragement, too. He completely satisfies all of our needs both now and forevermore!

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.”

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/1343.htm

Are You Free?

Monday, July 3, 2017, 5:52 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in The Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of freedom in Christ Jesus.

What is Freedom?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead to Sin – Free from Sin (Rom. 6:6-7, 16-23)

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!

Are We Slaves?

Monday, June 26, 2017, 2:02 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Grace Divine.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 6 (ESV).

Died with Christ (vv. 1-11)

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

When we are baptized with water, subsequent to our faith in Jesus Christ, it symbolizes our death with Christ to sin and our resurrection with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Yet, this death with Christ to sin, and resurrection to newness of life, does not take place in the waters of baptism, but in the heart of man. When we are baptized into Christ and into his death, this is speaking, not of water baptism, but of the baptism with the Spirit of God, which is done by Jesus Christ (Matt. 3:11). It is a spiritual, not a physical baptism. And, it is an immersion (participation, engagement) with Christ into his death to sin and into new life in the Spirit. We die with Christ in death to sin, and we live with Christ to newness of life, to be lived to Christ and to his righteousness.

Because Jesus Christ put sin to death on the cross, and by faith in him, we, too, are able to die to sin. And, because he was resurrected from the dead back to life, we, by the Spirit, are able to live new lives in Christ Jesus to the glory and praise of God. This is God’s grace to us. This is his free gift to us, not just that he took our place on the cross, and thus he took our punishment for sin so that we could go free from eternal damnation and have the promise of eternal life with God.

God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not just forgiveness of sins, and freedom from punishment (hell for eternity), but it is death to sin; it is deliverance from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, and it is freedom to now walk in his holiness and righteousness in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us. His grace instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

In this baptism (immersion, participation) into Christ and into his death to sin, our old self (flesh nature) was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. So, how is it that so many preachers are telling people that believing in Jesus is nothing more than an acknowledgment of him and of what he did in dying for our sins, and that it is a mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins, but they do not teach death to sin or living to righteousness, which was the very reason for which Jesus died? (See: 1 Pet. 2:24).

If Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, then why are they telling people that God requires nothing of us? – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ or to his cross? Their false grace gospel is giving its adherents free license to continue in willful sin against God, and that is wrong!

Slaves to Sin or Obedience (vv. 12-19)

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

So, if we have truly believed in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, and we have, thus, been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and resurrected with him to newness of life, sin should no longer reign (rule, govern) our lives. We should no longer obey the lusts of our flesh, but we should now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and in the power and strength of God’s Spirit, whom we were given when we trusted in Jesus Christ. Jesus delivered us out of slavery to sin, so we are no longer under its power.

If we are still living as though we are still enslaved to sin, we have to understand here that this leads to death, not to eternal life with God. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we still walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. If we still walk according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25). It is obedience which leads to righteousness. So, we are now to become slaves to righteousness which leads to sanctification (purification, holiness).

Set Free from Sin (vv. 20-23)

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If we are still living as though we are enslaved to (addicted to) sin, we are free from the control of righteousness. We can’t serve two masters. So, if Jesus set us free from all that, why continue in sin and sin addiction? Don’t you know that will lead to death? If we continue to practice sin, and if we continue walking (living) in sin and according to our flesh, we will die without Christ and without the hope of eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

So, don’t play around with sin. For, if we truly have been saved of our sins, by God’s grace, via Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we should now be slaves to God/Christ, and to his righteousness, and he should be our ONLY Lord (owner-master).

Your Grace Divine
An Original Work / November 6, 2011

All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.
Crucified for my sins;
You paid what I owe,
So I’d be forgiven;
My God come to know.
All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.

Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.
I have been forgiven
For all of my sins,
So I’d live with Jesus;
His grace flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.

Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.
Sitting at Your feet, Lord,
List’ning to You speak,
Leads me to love You, Lord,
More throughout the week.
Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.