That is Grace!

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

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

Eyes and Ears

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

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

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

False gods

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

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

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

No Other God

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

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

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

Power of The Cross
Shelly Johnson

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

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

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Above All Else

Friday, August 11, 2017, 5:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “As the Deer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 101:1-5 (NASB).

I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
To You, O Lord, I will sing praises.
I will give heed to the blameless way.
When will You come to me?
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will know no evil.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.

His Lovingkindness

God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Begotten Son to come into the world to die on a cross for our sins, so that anyone believing in him will not perish, but have eternal life. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Light that came into the world in order to show the way to God, and to provide the way for us to be saved from our sins. But, many people love the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds are evil. So, they will not come to the Light lest their evil deeds will be exposed (See: John 3:16-20).

Yet, if we want to come to the Light, Jesus said that we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life. Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) 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, i.e. we will have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

For, Jesus did not die on that cross merely to give us an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross so that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus gave his life up for us that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for Him. When we trust in him as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. So, if we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in the darkness (sin), we are liars who don’t live by the truth (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 5:15, 21; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-25).

The Blameless Way

The purpose in Jesus dying on that cross for our sins was not to just forgive us our sins, but to deliver us out of slavery to sin, and so that we might walk in (live to) his righteousness. And, his righteousness is what is approved in His eyes, i.e. what is deemed right by him, such as morality, purity, justice, decency, truth, integrity, uprightness, and holiness, etc. His grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. So, if we continue in sin, i.e. if we make it our practice, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-25; Eph. 5:3-6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we die to sin. So, how can we continue in it? Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. So, we should consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Sin, thus, should no longer reign in our bodies so that we obey its lusts. Instead, we should present ourselves to God as instruments of his righteousness. Sin should no longer have mastery over us, because Jesus set us free from sin addiction. When we were enslaved to sin, though, we were free from the control of righteousness, but now that we have been set free from sin, we should have become slaves (bondservants) to righteousness, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life (See: Ro. 6:1-23).

So, our salvation from sin is something that is to be lived out in our lives day by day. God’s grace to us turns us from darkness (sin) to light (righteousness) and from the power of Satan to God, so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Acts 26:16-18). And, “Lord” means “master-owner,” for we were bought back for God with the price of Jesus’ blood shed on a cross for our sins. Thus, our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, but we are to honor God by all that we do, say, are and think. We are to walk in obedience to his commands. And, this is how we know that we love him, and that we are his very own.

Integrity of Heart

So, what does this all look like? It means we walk no longer according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. We conduct our lives in truthfulness, sincerity of heart, purity, faithfulness, lovingkindness, morality, and obedience and loyalty to God. We don’t seek after, long after, or look to (or at) what is evil and contrary to God and to his Word. This means we don’t let our eyes watch TV shows, movies, magazines, books, videos or still pictures or images which reveal even partial nudity, appealing to sensual lusts, or which glorify or present physically before us what is immoral, wicked and evil. We should never allow ourselves to be entertained by what is evil and by what is in conflict with God’s Word and his Spirit now living within us.

We should hate evil, in fact, and we should grieve over those who are caught in sin’s deceitfulness, praying for their deliverance. We should have no part with what is evil so that it does not get a grip on our lives once again. So, we must be careful concerning our close associations and with regard to those with whom we partner so that we do not surround ourselves with those who will only bring us down spiritually and morally. There is no fellowship between light and darkness. So, we can’t have true fellowship with those who are walking in darkness and who are conducting their lives according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit. Bad company corrupts good character, so choose your friends wisely.

Instead of longing after and running after and seeking after what is worldly, immoral, ungodly and contrary to the teachings of scripture, we should be those who seek after our Lord, and who run after him to follow him in his ways, and in his truth. We should hunger and thirst after righteousness, not after the things of this world. We should desire God with such passion that it would be like longing for water when one is parched and is thirsty. He alone should be our hearts’ desire. We should long to worship him in spirit and in truth by yielding our hearts, minds and souls over to him, to live holy lives, pleasing to him.

We should find our full satisfaction in this life in Him, and he should be the one to whom we go with our problems, our concerns and our requests. He is the one we should lean on, rely upon, and learn from. We should not trust in ourselves and in our own resources, thinking or reasoning. And, we should not follow other humans above God. Our full allegiance (commitment, loyalty, faithfulness) should be to him alone, and to no other gods should we give our worship, praise, adoration and devotion. Our Lord should be everything to us, and we should love and desire him above all else.

As the Deer / Martin J. Nystrom
Based off Psalm 42:1

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after You
You alone are my heart’s desire…

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield…