Deeply Despised

Thursday, October 12, 2017, 9:44 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “For Our Nation.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 49 (quoting vv. 5-10 ESV).

His Servant (vv. 5-6)

And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

The speaker is Isaiah, and yet this is a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, so, in essence, this is Jesus Christ speaking. And yet, to a certain extent, this also applied to Isaiah and it applies to us, too, as the Lord’s followers, for we are his servants, who were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him (Eph. 1:3-4).

Jesus Christ called us to be his servants and witnesses. Part of our calling is that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Pet. 2:9). Included in that calling is that we should encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have wandered from their pure devotion to Christ, to come back to the Lord in submission and obedience to him. It is also to proclaim the truth of the gospel to those who profess Jesus Christ as Savior, but who have never been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and thus have not truly been born again of the Spirit. And, it is to share with the world around us that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died to deliver us out of sin, in other words.

The Chosen (v. 7)

Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation,
the servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Our Lord Jesus, although he was God in the flesh when he walked this earth – i.e. he was fully God, yet fully man – and even though he did no wrong, but he taught truth, and he lived it, too, and he loved people and helped them, still he was hated, rejected, despised, persecuted, abandoned, mocked, spat upon, beaten and then hung on a cross to die. He came to save his own people, the Jews, but most of them turned away from him and would not believe in him as their promised Messiah. And, many of them called for him to be crucified, too.

Yet, it was God’s will that our Lord should suffer and die for our sins, and then be resurrected from the dead. For, when Jesus died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. Then he rose from the dead victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can be delivered out of slavery to sin, be set free from the ultimate punishment of sin, and be set free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. For, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to him.

It is also the Lord’s will that we should suffer in this life, and that we should be hated, persecuted, abandoned, betrayed and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because, through suffering we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, we are being made holy, and we are maturing in our walks of faith. We are being humbled, we are learning to rely on God and not on ourselves, and we are learning grace, compassion, forgiveness, patience, endurance and perseverance. God is developing his character within us, as he carries us through these trials, in order that we will be his faithful ministers in sharing the love, grace and mercy of Christ with others.

Come Out (vv. 8-10)

Thus says the Lord:
“In a time of favor I have answered you;
in a day of salvation I have helped you;
I will keep you and give you
as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land,
to apportion the desolate heritages,
saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’
to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’
They shall feed along the ways;
on all bare heights shall be their pasture;
they shall not hunger or thirst,
neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
and by springs of water will guide them.

When we, the body of Christ, serve the Lord faithfully in being his servants and witnesses, in taking the gospel of our salvation to the ends of the earth, we don’t have to do this in our own strength or by our own resources. When the Lord calls, he also equips and empowers. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are indwelt by God’s Spirit who comforts, encourages, strengthens, helps, empowers, counsels, teaches, and guides us in the way we should go. He will give us all we need to be able to share his gospel with many people.

So, what is this gospel that we are to take to the ends of the earth? It is not only that Jesus Christ died, and was resurrected, and that he did this to conquer sin in our lives, but that he did this that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So many people are teaching the gospel as though it is just a get-out-of-jail-free card and the promise of eternity in heaven with God when we die. But, Jesus didn’t die just to take our penalty for sin, but he died that we might be delivered out of addiction (slavery) to sin and so we might live in victory, and for him the rest of our days, for his glory.

So, our message to the people should not be merely that they should believe in Jesus Christ and accept what he did for us on the cross, but it should be that they should come out of darkness (sin) into the light of Christ’s holiness and righteousness. And, their lives should now be a light that shines forth to show to the world what it means to be truly “born again.” The Lord will now be their shepherd and helper, and he will guide them and lead them in the way that they should go. They just have to humble themselves before God, turn from their sin, and turn to follow Jesus Christ with their lives.

For Our Nation / An Original Work
September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

 

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A True Heart

Sunday, September 24, 2017, 6:39 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 Hebrews 10 (Select vv. ESV).

Draw Near (vv. 19-22)

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human flesh, humbled himself, became a servant, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. During his years of ministry, he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, and preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God. He, too, spoke often of the cost of following him. And, he confronted sin in sinful human beings, warned against hypocrisy and unbelief and of divine judgment, and called for repentance (turning away from sin) and for faith in himself, their Lord and God.

Some people loved him and followed him genuinely, while others hated and rejected him. Some of them had him put to death on a cross, although he had done no wrong, because they were jealous of him, threatened by him, and because they didn’t like what he preached and did, in particular because he didn’t follow their customs and traditions and he claimed to be God. Yet, it was God the Father’s will that Jesus should suffer and die for our sins so that we could be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we could become bond-servants of his righteousness. For, he who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross, so that when he died, our sins died, too, so we could die with him to sin. When he was resurrected from the grave, he rose victorious over sin, so that we could also live with him in victory over sin. Amen!

Coming to faith in Jesus Christ, though, is not a mere profession of faith, or a religious exercise, or an emotional decision, or an intellectual assent to what Jesus did for us, or something we do in order to join a church organization. God’s grace to us is also not a free license to continue in sin, for his grace instructs us to say “No” to worldly lusts and to live godly and upright lives. When we believe in Jesus Christ, with a true heart, we die with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in Christ, to be lived to God and to his righteousness. We turn away from living life for sin and self, and we turn to God, to Jesus Christ, to walk in his ways and in his truth, in true righteousness and holiness, and in the power of the Holy Spirit who has cleansed and purified us from our sins.

Hold Fast (vv. 23-25)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

So, this is how we should live, not as the ungodly do, but in the fear (honor, respect) of the Lord, in full assurance of faith in Christ, and for the purpose for which he died, which was to FREE us FROM our sins, not to just give us a FREE PASS. We should hold strong to the truths of God’s Word, and to his gospel, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, not only in profession, but in how we live day in and day out. And, we should not waver back and forth in unbelief or in sinful practice or in apathy or complacency. Instead, we should gather together with other believers where we can encourage one another in the faith, in love, in purity, and in true devotion to our Lord and Savior, for one day Jesus is going to return, and we need to be ready for him.

Practice Sinning? (vv. 26-31)

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

We should never assume, just because we prayed a prayer to receive Jesus Christ as Savior of our lives, at some point in our lives, that we have heaven guaranteed us when we leave this earth, or just because we regularly attend church services somewhere. Again, true faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin so that we can live with Christ to his righteousness. It means that we no longer conduct our lives according to the ways of our sinful flesh or to the pattern of this sinful world, but we live our lives (in lifestyle) in agreement with and according to God’s Holy Spirit, now living within us, for if we live to please the flesh, we will die in our sins.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Gal. 6:7-8

So, don’t be fooled by clever enchanters who will tell you that it doesn’t matter how you live your life once you are “saved,” or who will suggest to you that God requires nothing of you – no repentance, no obedience and no submission. They are liars and deceivers who are looking to win you over to themselves, not to Jesus Christ. If, after you have heard the gospel preached, and even if you make a profession of Christ as Savior, then you keep on living in sin, making it your practice, and you disregard the Lord’s commands, then you don’t have the promise of heaven, but a fearful expectation of divine judgment. Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us, not to free us to continue living as though we have never been cleansed of our sins.

Your Confidence (vv. 35-39)

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,

“Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

So, if you have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, you have been cleansed of your sins, and you have been given new life in Christ, don’t throw that away or disregard it or ignore it. Don’t trample the grace of God underfoot in order to continue living the way you want. Don’t listen to the lies of Satan which tell you that you can live however you want and that God is still pleased with you, and that you still have the promise of heaven. If you shrink back from the truth of the gospel, and you reject the Word of Truth, God has no pleasure in you! He is not pleased with you if you continue living for the pleasures of this world and for the lusts of your flesh. It is when you have done the will of God that you receive what was promised. If we don’t obey our Lord, we don’t know him! If we are truly in the faith, we will walk in the Spirit and no longer to gratify our flesh.

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.

 

United by Faith

Monday, September 11, 2017, 5:01 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Lord’s Anointed.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 4:1-13 (NASB).

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,

“As I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest,”

although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,

“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Entering His Rest

To whom are these words addressed? They are addressed to all those who make a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, who are regarded as being in the faith (See: Heb. 3:1, 12). We are being warned and cautioned against ignoring God’s Words, against hardening our hearts, and against having sinful unbelieving hearts that turn away from the living God. And, we are being strongly exhorted to keep our thoughts focused on Jesus, to encourage one another daily, and with the understanding that if we hold firmly to the end the faith we profess, then we share in Christ, and we are God’s house, the body of Christ, his church (See: Heb. 3:1-19).

So, what is God’s rest that we are to enter? It is our salvation, it is eternal life with God, and it is the promise of eternity with God in heaven. It is life in the Spirit, and fullness of life in Christ Jesus, our Lord. And, it is freedom from bondage to sin, deliverance from the punishment of sin, and freedom to walk (in lifestyle) in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. As well, it is victory over darkness, and walking in the Light of Christ and His Word. For, our eternal life with God begins when we first trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, as well as it is what we receive when our lives on this earth are done (Jn. 3:36; Jn. 5:24; Jn. 6:47-54; Ro. 6:22-23; Gal. 6:8).

Coming Up Short

So, if we believe in Jesus Christ, how is it that we can come up short of entering into God’s eternal rest? Well, for one, our belief in Jesus Christ may be superficial and not genuine faith, for it may be based in a lie, and not in the truth. For, we may have had “good news” preached to us, but it may not be the “Good News” according to Jesus and His Word, but rather a diluted version introduced by humans whose goal it is to appease human flesh.

So, we must understand here what the real “Good News” is. First off, it is not merely an escape from punishment in hell and the promise of heaven when we die. It is not merely forgiveness of our sins, either. It is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It is that we need to have our spiritually blinded eyes opened to the truth, that we may be turned from darkness (sin) to the light (truth, righteousness), and from the power (control) of Satan over our lives, to God to walk in his holiness. Then, we can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ, their Lord (1 Pet. 2:24; Acts 26:16-18).

In other words, coming to faith in Jesus Christ is not a mere acknowledgment of him and what he did in dying on a cross for our sins, or a mere acceptance of his grace and his forgiveness of our sins. When we genuinely believe in Jesus Christ, we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness. Our lives are no longer our own to be lived how we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Christ, so we are to honor God with our lives. We now no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our flesh, but we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit of God and his righteousness and holiness.

For, if we walk according to our flesh, or if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will die in our sins, and not have eternal life with God. If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars, in fact. And, if we continue and persist in sinful practices, we do not have the hope of eternal life with God, as we might have come to believe, but, instead, a fearful expectation of judgment (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

Failure to Enter

So, what is the determining factor as to whether we have eternal life with God or we don’t? It all comes down to obedience. So many people today are teaching a gospel message absent of obedience to Christ, and thus they are leading their adherents straight to hell. For, they tell them or they lead them to believe that God requires no repentance, no obedience and no submission to himself or to his cross, but that goes against what the Bible teaches us. If we do not die to sin, we do not live with Christ. And, if we don’t obey him, we don’t know him, we don’t love him, and we don’t have eternal life in him (See: Jn. 8:51; Jn. 14:23-24; Heb. 5:9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; 1 Jn. 3:24; 2 Jn. 1:6).

Many people try to get around this by claiming that this is works-based salvation, but that isn’t true, because Jesus taught it, and his NT apostles taught it, and they didn’t teach works-based salvation. We don’t obey God and his Word to earn or to deserve our salvation, but we obey, in the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us, as a result of our salvation. Yet, obedience is not optional! Again, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This is the essence of the gospel message, which is taught throughout the New Testament, and in the Old Testament, as well.

If we want to enter into God’s rest, i.e. if we want to have eternal life with God in heaven, then we need to walk in obedience to our Lord, not necessarily in sinless perfection (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but in consistent and persistent walks of faith in Christ and in his Word, and in His power and strength within us. If we choose to walk in disobedience, instead, and to gratify our sinful cravings by living sinful lifestyles and by practicing sin, then we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God.

These are not my words! These are the Words of God! The whole purpose of our salvation is to deliver us out of slavery (addiction) to sin, not to placate sin or to entertain it, or to endorse it, or to pacify it in any way, shape or form. So, if you are playing with sin, thinking you have the hope of heaven, and that God’s grace covers it all, think again. God has the final word!

The Lord’s Anointed

An Original Work / December 16, 2011

Based off Isaiah 61

The Spirit of the Sov’reign Lord on me;
Anointed to preach the Good News;
Sent me to bind up the brokenhearted;
Proclaim freedom for the captives.
He sent me to preach release for pris’ners
Who are walking in sin’s darkness;
Proclaim God’s grace to all men who’ll listen;
And tell them about God’s judgments;
Comfort all who mourn;
Give crowns of beauty;
Oil of gladness and thanksgiving.

They will be called oaks of God’s righteousness,
A planting of our Savior, God,
For the display of our Lord’s splendor, and
They will rebuild God’s holy church.
God will renew them, and will restore them,
And you’ll be called priests of the Lord.
You will be ministers of our God, and
You will rejoice in salvation.
The Lord loves justice;
He is faithful to
Reward those who are seeking Him.

I delight greatly in the Lord;
My soul rejoices in my Savior, God.
He has clothed me with His salvation,
And in a robe of His righteousness.
He has given me priestly garments to
Wear, as the bride of Jesus Christ.
As the garden of our Lord and Savior,
He causes us to grow in Him.
He makes righteousness,
Praise, and thanksgiving
Spring up before all the nations.

Favor or Curse?

Sunday, August 27, 2017, 4:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Bless This House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 26 (Select vv. ESV).

In Perfect Peace (vv. 1-6)

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height,
the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust.
The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.”

The day being spoken of here is a day of judgment on the inhabitants of the earth for their wickedness, including the wickedness of those who proclaim God Almighty as their Father and Jesus Christ as their Savior. It is a judgment of God against all sinful rebellion, immorality, arrogance, abuse, wickedness, idolatry, spiritual adultery and unbelief. Yet, the purpose of this judgment in these last days is not just to punish wickedness, but it is to revive God’s adulterous church and to bring many people to salvation in Jesus Christ before the day when our Lord returns for his bride.

In that day a song will be sung among the saints of God. It will be sung by those who survived the judgment and who honored the Lord by their lives and by their faith, endurance, steadfastness and faithfulness. They will sing a song of praise to God for all that he has done for them, and in them, and through them. They will thank him for his great salvation, and for bringing them into his eternal kingdom, the city of God, which is a spiritual city, not a physical one. They will acknowledge the Lord as their Savior, their helper, their Lord, and their strength. He alone is the one who saved them, who delivered them out of Satan’s grip, and who brought them from death to life, and out of slavery to sin to now live to Christ and to his righteousness.

Although the world is in utter chaos, and wickedness is spread far and wide, and there is much danger, sword, and strife all around us, we can live in perfect peace inwardly if we keep our minds focused on Jesus Christ, and we do not let the cares of this world or the wickedness of other humans undo us. We must always keep in mind that our God is absolutely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made, and he has a plan and a purpose for all that he allows, and through it all he will gain the glory and the praise. So, we need to rest in him, believe in his promises, trust his Word, and follow him wherever he leads us, and do whatever he instructs us to do.

Path of the Righteous (vv. 7-11)

The path of the righteous is level;
you make level the way of the righteous.
In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
If favor is shown to the wicked,
he does not learn righteousness;
in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly
and does not see the majesty of the Lord.
O Lord, your hand is lifted up,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.
Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he did so in order that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we believe in Jesus to be Lord and 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 (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-18). This is what it means to be born again of the Spirit of God. The old has gone. The new has come. We were walking (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but now we are walking by faith in the opposite direction, according to the Spirit of God. For, the Lord, through his death and resurrection, made the way for us to now walk in his righteousness and holiness, in all uprightness, honesty, integrity, and in undiluted (unmixed) faith and devotion to him.

Where we once craved the desires of our flesh and the pleasures of this sinful world, now our desire is for our Lord to please him in everything. Instead of yearning after what our flesh desires, we now yearn (long for) God and his holiness. I’m not saying we do this perfectly, though lack of perfection should never be used as an excuse for willful defiance against our Lord or for willful and continued sin against God. But, we should be growing in the grace of God, maturing in our walks of faith, and our desire for God should be daily increasing, while the cravings of this sinful world should be dissipating from our lives.

What we often consider to be the good things of this life are not always a blessing if having them means we are far from God, so sometimes favor can be a curse, and judgment a blessing. Sometimes having many possessions or affluences can be a curse and not a blessing. So, just because we have money and possessions, it is not necessarily a sign that we are being blessed by God. What good is it if we have much in the way of the things of this world but they keep us from following the Lord with our lives, or they don’t lead us to follow him in obedience? And, instead, we become lazy and wicked and rebellious because we have too much, and thus we don’t know what it means to really have to rely on the Lord and not on ourselves?

Other Lords (vv. 12-15)

O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works.
O Lord our God,
other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but your name alone we bring to remembrance.
They are dead, they will not live;
they are shades, they will not arise;
to that end you have visited them with destruction
and wiped out all remembrance of them.
But you have increased the nation, O Lord,
you have increased the nation; you are glorified;
you have enlarged all the borders of the land.

The peace that we need is not world peace where everyone joins hands with one another and sings “Kumbaya.” True peace is not tolerance and acceptance of all religions and all walks of life. It is also not lack of judgment of what God calls sin. True peace never compromises with the world of sin nor does it compromise the Word of Truth in order to not make waves. The peace that we need, as the people of this world, is peace with God, which only comes through faith in Jesus Christ, which results in obedience to Christ and to his commandments, not a watering down (diluting) of the gospel in order to “make nice” with the world.

When we try to “make nice” with the world in order to be accepted by them or to join in with them, thinking that is the way we will win them over, or because we desire sin more than obedience, and thus we compromise our faith, we allow “other lords” to rule over us in place of Jesus Christ. These “other lords” can be other people, Satan, the things of this world, sin, fear, or whatever we have made to be our idols, such as entertainment, pride, position, influence, and/or reputation, etc. The Bible says that we are slaves to whatever or to whomever we obey, either to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness (Ro. 6:16).

But, it is the Lord’s will that we should live holy lives, pleasing to him, so if we will not do that of our own choosing, and if we continue to give ourselves over to idolatry and to spiritual adultery, because God loves us, he will discipline us in judgment in order to prune and purify us, and to revive us, and to put to death those idols in our lives so that we can walk in purity of devotion to him alone. Then, we will be able to say that those “other lords” are now dead and that they will no longer arise because God has put them to death in our lives in order that we might walk in his holiness and righteousness, and so that we might follow him in obedience to his will for our lives. And, then God will restore, revive and purify us and make us holy and fit for his service, so that we can be a light for him in a dark world.

Bless This House
Helen Taylor / May H. Morgan

Bless the people here within,
Keep them pure and free from sin . . .

Bless us all that we may be,
Fit O Lord to dwell with thee . . .

Keep His Way

Saturday, August 26, 2017, 4:57 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 37 (Select vv. ESV).

Trust in Him (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.

What does it mean to trust in the Lord? It means we place our hope and confidence in him, and in what he did for us in saving us from our sins, and in what he promised us that he would do. It speaks also of assured reliance upon God and his divine character, sovereignty, holiness, righteousness, power, strength, kindness, grace and compassion towards us. It means, as well, that we are fully convinced that what God says is true, that it is just, and that it is righteous and merciful, and thus we commit our ways to the Lord, to do what he says, and to follow him in all of our ways.

If we truly put our trust in the Lord, we will delight (find pleasure) in him and in his ways. We will want to do what pleases him, not because we must, but because we love him, honor him and revere him. Thus, he will give us the desires of our hearts, because our desires will be in line (agreement) with his. He does not, nonetheless, promise that he will fulfill our every want, but he will fulfill all his promises, and he will provide all that we truly need. And, he does not necessarily work at the pace we might like, either. His thoughts and his ways are not the same as those of humans. His timing is always perfect, although we don’t always comprehend it.

While we live on the face of this earth we will have troubles and hardships. We will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake. There will be those who will not like us, and who will speak evil against us. Not everyone will understand us, or why we do what we do, and they may reject us and falsely accuse us. But, if our way is committed to the Lord, to follow him in obedience, and to do what he has called us to do, we can trust him with our reputations, believing that one day we will be honored for our obedience and that it will be evident that we loved God, and that we were his servants.

Be Still Before Him (vv. 7, 10-11, 14-15)

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!

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 wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

Because Satan, a fallen angel, decided he wanted to be God, and so he rebelled against God, and because he tempted humans to sin against God, from the very beginning, sin entered into the heart of man. And, thus wickedness of every kind imaginable now exists on this earth. But, God has allowed wickedness to continue, for a time, because he is very patient towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. If he cut off all wickedness, he would have to remove all of us from the earth, because we are all prone to sin at some time or another.

But, because of his great love for us, and due to his grace towards us, he has provided a way in which we can be saved from our sins, and be delivered out of bondage (addiction) to sin. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, died on a cross for our sins, and put sin to death on our behalf. And, then he was resurrected from the dead victorious over our sin. So, through faith in him, we can be crucified with Christ in death to sin and be resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Thus, we are set free from our slavery to sin so that we can become bondservants of Christ and of his righteousness.

Because we are now in Christ Jesus, through faith in him, and our trust is now in him, and not in ourselves or in other humans, we can be at peace in this world even when all hell is breaking loose all around us. Although evil is allowed to exist, our God is still absolutely sovereign over all that he has made, he has all things under his control, and he has a plan and a purpose for all that he allows, and he will fulfill everything he said he would do. So, we can be at rest in him, and not fear when the wicked seem to prevail.

Wait for Him (vv. 34, 39-40)

Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Sometimes it gets really hard, doesn’t it? Sometimes we just have to cry it all out to our Father in heaven, and then rest in him, and wait on his perfect timing. We don’t see the end from the beginning. We only see what is in front of our faces. And, at times, it can get very discouraging and disheartening, if we let it. So, we learn to wait on God, trust in his sovereignty, believe in his promises, and trust him each and every day to just show us what he has for us for that day. And, then we do what he says, and believe he will work all things out for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose.

While we are waiting, we keep his ways. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, nor is it merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. 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. Jesus Christ did not give his life up for us just to forgive us our sins, but he “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (See: Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Eph. 2:8-10).

Although this Christian life is promised to have difficult times, and to know hardships, persecutions and rejection, our Lord also promises to always be with us, to protect us spiritually from evil, and to give us all the strength, wisdom and counsel we need to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to draw near to God in full assurance of faith. He has given us the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, too (See: Eph. 6:10-20). So, we have no need to fear humans or what they might do to us, for our Lord will carry us through every circumstance, and he will provide all that we need to endure, and he will bring us safely into his eternal kingdom.

So, we just need to trust him, rest in him, believe him, and do what he says, and know that what he says, he will do, all in his perfect timing.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas O. Chisholm / William M. Runyan

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

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…

The Wicked Draw Near

Saturday, August 5, 2017, 4:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “It is Well with My Soul.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 119:129-152 (NASB).

Wonderful Testimonies (vv. 129-136)

Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul observes them.
The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
After Your manner with those who love Your name.
Establish my footsteps in Your word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.
Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.
Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of water,
Because they do not keep Your law.

The Word of the Lord is awesome! It is my bread and butter, i.e. it is my livelihood, my means of support, but not financially or materially, but spiritually. From the Word of God, I learn about God and his will for my life. I learn his statutes, and to know what pleases him, and what he desires of me, his servant. I learn of his righteousness and holiness and how to walk in his love and in his grace. I discover his goodness to me, and his boundless mercies which overflow into my life. And, I am taught with regard to his strength, comfort, correction, instruction, and guidance which he provides for me to walk in his footsteps and to know his will and his ways.

I want to walk in the ways of the Lord and to not have any other gods in my life to which I give my devotion and praise. I don’t want to do what displeases my Lord, so I pray for his guidance to show me the way he has for me to go. I love him, and thus I want to serve him and to obey him. Since he delivered me from slavery to sin, and thus sin no longer has dominion over me, I pray that he will keep me from falling, and that I will continue to obey him in all things.

Other human beings will try to lead us astray. They will try to convince us to not be so serious about our walks of faith, and to lighten up and just have fun, as though “fun” is to be our goal in life. They may try to trip us up, too, in order to bring us down with them, because it bothers them that we walk closely with the Lord. So, they will even tempt us to sin against God. And, they will even try to “guilt trip” us into having a lesser commitment to Christ and to be more “normal” like everyone else. Yet, we must not give in to them for a moment, but we must continue to follow our Lord in his ways.

Small and Despised (vv. 137-144)

Righteous are You, O Lord,
And upright are Your judgments.
You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness
And exceeding faithfulness.
My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.
Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.
I am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.
Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.
Your testimonies are righteous forever;
Give me understanding that I may live.

When we commit our lives to Jesus Christ (to God) to walk in his ways and to do what he says, other humans will mock us, reject us, despise us and will persecute us, too, even among those who also call themselves followers of Christ. And, that is because they have been taught and have been convinced that Christians are not to be too serious about God and that they are to immerse themselves in the culture of their societies in order to connect with the people of the world. Or, they have been taught, as well, that “love” does not tell people that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and to heaven, that it does not talk to people about their sin or about judgment, and it does not call people to repentance and obedience to Christ.

Yet, this should only serve to deepen our commitments to Christ and to increase our zeal for our Lord and for his gospel, when we see so many people being led astray from the truth to follow after lies, most especially within the gatherings of the church.

Revive Us, O Lord (vv. 145-152)

I cried with all my heart; answer me, O Lord!
I will observe Your statutes.
I cried to You; save me
And I shall keep Your testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.
My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your ordinances.
Those who follow after wickedness draw near;
They are far from Your law.
You are near, O Lord,
And all Your commandments are truth.
Of old I have known from Your testimonies
That You have founded them forever.

The church of today, at least here in America, is in great need of revival. And, I believe it is coming. So many preachers and so many professing Christians are living far from God, and it is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. Church congregations have been turned into big businesses and are marketed to the world just like any other business. Pastors are even being trained in who their target audience should be and who they should “get rid of” and should encourage to go someplace else where they will be a “better fit.” Many of them are being taught to lie and to deceive and to manipulate naïve minds to follow after humanistic teachings and philosophies, and many of them are, thus, paving the way for the one world religion of the antichrist beast, i.e. the wicked drawing near.

We, as followers of Christ, need to be crying out to the Lord for lost souls and for Christians gone astray and for the church which is turned upside down. We need to ask him to send revival, and to let it begin with us. We need to desire this spiritual cleansing of people’s hearts and lives above anything else we might desire on the face of this earth. And, we should all wake up to the reality of the times in which we now live, and see how the world is going down the toilet, and cry out to God to save us by his mercy and grace.

As well, we need to be willing to let go of the treasures of this world in order to lay up treasures in heaven, i.e. human souls turned from sin to God to follow him in his ways and in his truth.

It Is Well with My Soul / H. G. Spafford / P. P. Bliss

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well; it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well; it is well with my soul.