Like Christ

Saturday, July 15, 2017, 8:41 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (ESV) on the subject of Christ-likeness.

Image of Christ (Ro. 8:29; 2 Co. 3:18 NASB)

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

The goal of our faith in Jesus Christ is not merely to be free from the penalty of sin (eternal damnation), and to have the promise of eternal life with God in heaven. God’s purpose in saving us is that we might be conformed to (to be consistent with) the image (likeness, pattern, character) of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. In fact, His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

So, what does this look like? What was/is Jesus Christ like? Well, he is God, and he is perfect (sinless), and he is holy and righteous and just. He is also kind, compassionate, loving and forgiving. He is also unselfish, and giving of himself to us to meet our legitimate needs. He doesn’t always give us what we want, but he provides for our needs. Yet, his kindness and compassion is based in his justice, in his righteousness, and in his love for us. In other words, if we are Christ-like, we won’t placate (appease) sin in ourselves or in others, and we won’t lie to others just to make them feel good about themselves while they are engrossed in their sinful practices. But, we will be honest with ourselves and we will speak the truth in love to others, too.

Also, we will walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and not walk after the flesh, to please our sinful passions. God, who saved us and who called us to a holy calling, is in the process of transforming us, who have died with Christ to sin, into the image of Christ. Some people refer to this as the process of sanctification. Yet, our salvation is also a process, for we are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved when Christ returns (future), and our salvation is complete.

Like Him in Death (Phil. 2:5-8; Phil. 3:10)

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

When Jesus walked the earth, he told those who would come after him that they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if they held on to their old lives (of living for sin and self), they would lose their lives. But, if they would lose their lives (die with Christ to sin), they would gain eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25). And, the Apostle 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 would live (with Christ for eternity) (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, becoming Christ-like means that we are becoming humble, unselfish, obedient to Christ and his Word, and that by the Spirit we are putting the deeds of our flesh to death, so that sin does no longer reign in our bodies. It means that “I” am crucified (put to death) with Christ so that “I” no longer live, but that Christ lives in me to his glory and for his purposes. And, now I live by faith in Jesus Christ, meaning I now allow Christ to rule and reign supreme in my life, instead of me still having control over what I do or don’t do. I listen to his Word, I do what it says, and I follow Christ with my life. Yet, this is not saying we will never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that we should no longer walk in darkness (sin), but we should walk (conduct our lives) in the light (righteousness, truth, the gospel, Jesus Christ).

Imitators of Christ (1 Thess. 1:6-7; 1 Pet. 4:1-3)

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.”

We are to be imitators of Christ, not in the sense of a performance or a mockery of someone, but in the sense of following him, being his disciples, doing the things he did, saying the things he said, and taking on his character, morals, values and attitudes and actions, making them our own. When we do this, people will think us strange, out of touch with reality, crazy, or hyper-religious, because this is not the norm, not even among those who also claim to be followers of Christ, at least not in America.

Some of them will say we are too serious, and we need to lighten up, or we need to chill (relax) and enjoy life the way they do. They may think it odd that we do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they may heap abuse on us (1 Pet. 4:4). Yet, we are not to fear what others think of us.

As imitators of Christ, we should arm ourselves with the same attitude Christ had about sin. He gave his life up for us so that we could go free from slavery to sin, and so we would be free to walk in his righteousness. And, we should lay down our lives by dying with him to sin so that we might live with Christ to his righteousness and holiness. We should no longer live to fulfill the desires of our flesh, but we should live to please God with our lives, and to do his will. Sensuality, adultery, fornication, lust, gossip, gluttony, lying, cheating, stealing, idolatry, perjury, and deceit, etc., should have no place in our lives. We should not think and act like the world. And, we should be set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming like Jesus.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

No Attractiveness

Thursday, April 27, 2017, 4:17 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Lifted Our Burdens.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 53 (Select vv. ESV).

He Was Despised (vv. 1-3)

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

This is a good question for today: Who has believed what he has heard from us? That is to say, who has believed the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Who has understood that Jesus Christ wasn’t this do-gooder who everyone loved and admired, but that people despised and rejected him? They did not esteem him, but they hid their faces from him. He is not the model for today’s modern church movement here in America at all. He wasn’t attractive to the world so that the world should desire him. In fact, the world hated him, because he told them that what they did was evil. Even his own people of his own faith rejected him, and the religious leaders in the temple of his Father were the ones who had him put to death on a cross.

Yet, did he do good? Certainly! He healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, encouraged the timid, delivered people from demons, and fed the hungry, etc. But, along with this he also preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God. He confronted people in their sins, and he didn’t mince words. He always told the truth, and never did he tell people just what they wanted to hear, or what would make them feel good about themselves, living in their sins.

He told them, instead, that if they wanted to come after him they must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow him. He told them that if they do not “eat his flesh and drink his blood” that they have no life in themselves, i.e. if they would not partake with him in death to sin, and in laying down their lives and in being willing to suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of the gospel, they had no part of him. If they put their hand to the plow, he said, but then looked back, meaning if they chose to follow him, but then they were not willing to let go of their former lives of living for sin and self, they were not fit for service in the kingdom of God (See: Lu. 9:23-25, 62; Jn. 6:35-66). This teaching does not jive with modern Christianity, at all. Jesus is rejected, even within the church today.

He Bore Our Griefs (vv. 4-6)

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. Because he took on our humanity, he is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses. He became our compassionate and merciful high priest to whom we can go at any time with our griefs and sorrows, who will comfort us with his love and mercy, but who will also tell us the truth, and who will counsel us in the right way.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. When he died, our sins died with him and were buried with him, but when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf. When he died on that cross, he took upon himself not only our sins, but all our sicknesses, pain, sorrow and weaknesses so that by his stripes we are healed, not only spiritually, but emotionally, mentally and physically, according to his will, and in his own way, for healing comes in many ways.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He did not die merely so that he would take the punishment of our sin, and so that we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He gave his life up for us that we might no longer live according to the flesh, but that we might walk in the Spirit, for if we live 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 him for eternity. When we believe in him with God-given faith, which persuades us as to his will for our lives. We, thus, are crucified with him in death to sin so that we might live to him to his righteousness. The old has gone. The new has come.

The Will of God (vv. 10-12)

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

It was God’s plan all along that Jesus Christ should suffer and die for our sins, because this was his plan to save us out of slavery to sin and to bring us into his eternal kingdom. Jesus, although he was fully God and fully man, learned obedience through the things which he suffered. And, it is God’s will that we should suffer, too, in order that we might learn obedience, humility, patience, endurance and perseverance, and in order to make us holy and to conform us to the image of Christ.

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, with God-given faith, Jesus’ righteousness is now credited to our account. Our sins are forgiven, and we are set free from the control of sin over our lives. Although Jesus Christ was never married and never had children of his own in the natural sense, all of us who put our faith and trust in him are his offspring. We belong to him and him to us. He is our Savior, Lord, friend, and brother.

Not only are we saved from our old lives (of living for sin and self), but we are given new lives in him, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” We are given joy, peace, love, compassion, assurance, strength and power to live godly and holy lives while we wait for Christ’s return. He blesses our lives with so many spiritual blessings that it is beyond measure. We can go to him in prayer any time of day, he listens, and he cares. As well, we listen to him, and we follow him wherever he leads us, and we practice doing what his word says, because we are in him and him in us, and because we love, worship, honor and adore him.

He Lifted Our Burdens / An Original Work / February 15, 2014

Based off Isaiah 9:2-7

People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.

Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.

Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.

We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.

Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.

He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.

Proven Faithful

Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 7:45 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 4 (Select vv. NIV).

Servants of Christ (vv. 1-2)

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

So, what does it look like to be a servant of Christ, as one who has been entrusted with the gospel of salvation, and as one who proves faithful to that trust? It means, first of all, that we have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives. We have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

Then, it means that we walk in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, we have singleness of devotion to our Lord, and we are living lives separate (different, distinct) from the world because we are being made into the likeness of Christ. We are strong in the Lord and firm in our commitments to his calling on our lives. We are steadfast in faith, and unadulterated of heart. We listen to him speak his words to our hearts, and then we follow him wherever he leads us, to do whatever it is he has called us to do and to be. This is not saying we are perfect, but that this describes our walk with our Lord, i.e. it is what we practice in the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

Followers of Men (vv. 6-7)

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

In the beginning of this letter to the Corinthian Christians, Paul addressed to them a matter of concern that they were followers of men (humans), and that this was causing divisions in the church, for different groups claimed to follow a different person. Today, this might be like saying “I’m a Baptist,” or “I’m a Presbyterian,” or “I’m a Methodist.” And, yet, there is a much greater division which concerns our Lord, and that is that the church is divided by those who purely follow Christ and those who are followers of men, of human wisdom (teaching), a man-made gospel, and the institutional church, which is a corporation of men under the headship of the government.

So, the appeal that Paul was making to the church was that they not be divided, but that they be of one mind and heart, which is the mind and heart of Christ, not that of institutions of men. He said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Co. 1:17). Amen!

Yet, a large percentage of the church here in America has left her first love, Jesus Christ, to follow after men and their institutions. Instead of pure and single-minded devotion to Jesus Christ, they are buying into the philosophies and values of human beings. They have partnered the church with an unholy government, which is forbidden in scripture (2 Co. 6:14-18). And, they have made the government, by way of the 501c3, head of the church. Thus, they are living in spiritual adultery against their Lord. Not, only that, but they have incorporated the body of Christ. What? Yes! They have turned the church, the body of Christ, into a human-based business, and are marketing it just like any other business with gimmicks, seductions and entertainment.

So, God has been calling his bride, his church, which is a living organism, with him as her ONLY head, to come out from among this “Babylon,” so that she does not share in her sins and in her punishment, for her sins are piled high to heaven (Rev. 18:4-8). But, the church in America has been slow in responding to his calls. She needs to repent of her sins of spiritual adultery and idolatry, and follow her Lord in obedience, but she is dragging her feet, i.e. she doesn’t want to leave the institutional church, because she is comfortable there. Yet, the influences of the world are strong within these institutions of men, and humanistic teaching, and a false (diluted) gospel, are rampant, let alone the fact that the church is not a business or a building or an institution of men under the government’s authority, but it is Christ’s body, his bride, the heavenly Jerusalem, under the headship of Christ.

Scum of the Earth (vv. 8-13)

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.

This is a fair description of the divided church in America today. There are those, as mentioned earlier, who are following their Lord in faithful obedience, who are making him their ONLY Lord. They are not perfect, but they are persistent, steadfast, and unadulterated (pure) in their walks of faith and in sharing Christ and his gospel so that others can come to know him, too. They do not compromise the truth of the gospel in order to appease the flesh of man, but they stand strong in their faith and in their commitments to Christ and to his calling on their lives. And, they are being persecuted, mocked, ridiculed, falsely accused and targeted for extinction throughout the world, including inside the United States of America.

Then, there are those who are riding the fence, who are followers of men, who are addicted to entertainment and to satisfying their fleshly desires, who know that what they are doing is wrong, and yet they are dragging their feet about turning from their sins and becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. They are holding on to the world, and they don’t want to let go. They are allowing the world of sin and these institutions of men to seduce (persuade) them to disobey and to be disloyal to their Lord Jesus. And, many of these types of Christians (or professing Christians) can be found within these institutional churches, though there are certainly dedicated Christians inside these institutions, too, I would imagine.

To Warn You (vv. 14-21)

I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?

As followers of Christ, we are to be imitators of Christ, not in a mocking way, but in sincerity, we are to model our lives after Christ and the life he lived when he was on the earth – all in the power and working of the Holy Spirit inside us. And, we are to follow the teachings of scripture which tell us how we are to live as believers in Jesus Christ. We are to walk in the fear of the Lord, meaning we honor, value, respect, worship, and adore him as part of our everyday lives. In fact, our worship of our Lord is in giving our lives over to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds. And, we are to live as though we truly are his servants by not compromising with the world, but by standing for what is right and is of God and is holy.

Yet, so many Christians (or professing Christians) in America are indistinguishable from the people of the world, because they think, act, and speak like the world does. But, they think God won’t do anything about it, because they are convinced that he will never punish them (discipline, judge) and that heaven is guaranteed them, so they have no worries.

But, the Bible says that 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 with Christ for eternity. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars. If we don’t keep Christ’s commandments, i.e. if it is not our practice to walk in obedience to our Lord, we don’t have the hope of heaven and eternal life with God. Words are cheap! True faith in Jesus Christ is a faith which lives what they say they believe. God’s 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 Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).

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.

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.

Unlawful to Practice

Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 12:36 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “His Tender Mercies.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 16:16-34 (NIV).

Before the Magistrates (vv. 16-21)

Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

It is already unlawful to practice the Christian faith, as Jesus taught it, in many countries throughout the world, whether or not that law is actually on the books. And, it is becoming unlawful to do so in America, too. How do I know this? I know this because of the words that our leaders are speaking to the people, and I know it because of the witness of the Holy Spirit within me who gives me understanding to see what these leaders are saying.

For instance, ever since Obama took office, he has made no secret of the fact that he and America are partnering with many other nations across the globe to fight religious extremism. And, he isn’t just talking about people who commit horrible crimes against humanity all in the name of religion, either. Quoting from the vision statement of the UNAOC:

The UN Alliance of Civilizations works toward a more peaceful, more socially inclusive world, by building mutual respect among peoples of different cultural and religious identities, and highlighting the will of the world’s majority to reject extremism and embrace diversity.

The UN, Obama, Pope Francis, the mayor of Akron, Ohio (where I live) and Donald Trump, et al, are all giving the same (or similar) message as one another. The message is loud and clear that we must remove from the earth (or from our nation) all which divides us as the people of the world; that our differences must not define us, for if they do, then that is what sows hatred and conflict. They speak much against individualism, exclusion, differences, division and disagreements. These, they believe, must all come to an end.

They are calling for the people of the world, including in America, to have shared and common ground, goals, resolve, cooperation, integration, purpose and tolerance (permissive indulgence), and, in America, for all of us to “speak with one voice and one heart” (Donald Trump quoting Abe Lincoln). Their goal is purportedly world peace, where all the people of the world live together in harmony, regardless of religion or lifestyle choice.

Yet, Jesus said that he didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword. He came to turn family members, one against another (See: Matt. 10). What he meant by this is if we follow him, in the way in which he taught us to follow him, the world will hate us, and they will reject us. And yet, if we love the people of this world more than we love him, then we are not worthy of him, he said. And, if we do not take up our cross daily and follow him, we are not worthy of him, he said. In other words, Jesus called us out of the world. He called us to be holy – separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming like Christ. So, we are not supposed to be united with the world in harmony, having one mind, heart and purpose with them.

From this, we should know that we are going to be facing serious religious persecution, if we are not already, if we do not compromise our faith in Jesus Christ in order to conform to and cooperate with the international community in breaking down all which divides us so that we can live in a more peaceful and socially inclusive world where all the people of the world, regardless of religion or lifestyle join hands and hearts and sing Kumbaya.

Praying and Singing (vv. 22-28)

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

Satan hates those who are followers of Jesus Christ, because we do not conform to his ways, and we work against him when we tell people about Jesus and they are set free from their slavery to sin (from their demons). He wants to hold people in bondage to sin so they will not serve Jesus Christ, but so they will serve him and do his bidding, instead. He wants the world to all come together in harmony (a false peace), and to break down all which divides us, because then the gospel of Jesus Christ will not be preached, and people will not be saved, and everyone will all be the same. But, they will all go to hell, too, because they have not believed in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of their lives, for they loved their own lives more than they loved Jesus.

But, when they hate us and they persecute us, which they will, we must know that greater is He who lives within us than he who lives in the world. We must believe that our God is completely sovereign and absolutely in control over all that he has made. He is allowing this for a purpose, and it is to make us holy, to revive his wayward church, to spread the gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth, and so many will be saved before the day when he returns for his bride. So, we must not let it undo us. We must keep on keeping on sharing Christ and his gospel of salvation, and we must remain steadfast in faith and faithful in purpose and stand strong on the truth of God’s word and against Satan’s evil schemes against us. And, we must keep on singing, and not be silent, even if they take our lives.

What Must I Do? (vv. 29-34)

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

Amen! Hallelujah! God is faithful! He will take what Satan meant for evil and he will turn it around for good. If we remain faithful to our Lord, even in the face of great opposition and persecution, and we keep on loving God and the people of this world, and we don’t retaliate, but we live in perfect peace with our Lord and we share his joy and his salvation with others, I believe God will use it to bring people to Jesus Christ. So, hang in there. Don’t let what others do or say get you down. Rejoice in the Lord and in his mighty strength, and shout out his message of salvation for all to hear.

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

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

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

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