Troubles of the Heart

Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Lifted Our Burdens.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 25 (Select vv. ESV).

Our Enemies (vv. 1-3)

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Very few people, I would suspect, know no enemies. Even if we were to try our hardest to not make enemies, we couldn’t please all people at all times. Yet, our goal in life should not be to be people who everyone will like, but it should be to live for God, to serve him, and to live holy and godly lives, pleasing to him, as well as it should be to love our neighbors as ourselves. And, when we do that, we will incur enemies, because loving God and loving others with God’s love is bound to be met with opposition and resistance.

For, it will mean that we will love as God/Jesus loves, we will stand for righteousness and holiness, and we will hate what God hates. God hates wickedness (sin), but he loves the sinner. It will also mean that we will stand on the Word of Truth, because therein is found the only hope of salvation from sin and eternal life with God Almighty, which comes from God. Yet, when we do that, we will be hated and persecuted as Jesus was hated and persecuted, because not all people will embrace the truth, but many will, instead, buy into the lies, because the lies tell them they can continue in their sin but still have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

God’s Ways (vv. 4-5, 8-10)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

The goal of our salvation is not merely to be forgiven our sins, to escape hell, and to have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth. If that is all there is to it, then why not die as soon as we are saved? What would be the point of living, if we are just going to continue in our sins? We are no better off than we were before, if this is true, because we will still be in bondage (slavery, addiction) to sin, and bound for hell, if God’s grace to us does not deliver us out of slavery to sin and free us to now walk in his righteousness.

But, thanks be to God, his grace to us is that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God made the way for us to be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and to be resurrected with Christ to newness of life (to be reborn of the Spirit of God), created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. By the Spirit, we can now be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we can now be walking according to the Spirit and to God’s righteousness on a daily basis. For, Jesus set us free, not just from the punishment of sin, but also from our addictions to sin. Sin no longer is to have dominion over us.

So, now that we have died with Christ to sin, by faith in Jesus Christ, and we have been born again of the Spirit of God, and we have been given new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to be lived to his righteousness, our desire should be to want to know the ways of the Lord, and then to walk in those ways. We should not be looking for loopholes to continue in our sin while claiming that God’s grace covers it all. We should be so in love with God/Jesus, that we continually seek to do his will, his way, with his heart, and in his power.

Fear God (vv. 11-15)

For your name’s sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Yet, if we want to know the ways of the Lord, so that we may walk in them, then it begins with the fear of the Lord. We must walk in the fear (honor, respect, esteem, value, worship, obedience, submission to, and reverence) of God. Too many people who preach “the gospel” these days do not teach the fear of God or obedience to God/Jesus Christ and his Word, or submission to Christ and his cross. But, they teach an “entitlement” gospel which says that God does it all, and that nothing is required of us. There is no death to sin or living to righteousness in this “gospel,” and thus there is no fear of God, no honoring of him or respect shown to him.

Yet, where there is no death to sin, no living to righteousness, and no fear (reverence, respect) shown to God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), there is also no salvation from sin, and there is no hope of eternal life with God. For, the scriptures teach that if we continue walking in sin, i.e. if we make sin our practice, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven, but a fearful expectation of judgment and the fires of hell. But, for the one who walks in the fear of the Lord, who conducts his life according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, he/she will have the hope of eternal life.

Our Troubles (vv. 16-18)

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

One of the blessings (or benefits) of our salvation from sin, and our walks of faith with our Lord, is that God/Jesus/The Spirit is our helper, our counselor, and our comforter in times of trouble and distress, as well as he is our healer, deliverer and strength. In our loneliness or affliction, he desires that we call on him and that we trust in him to be all that we need and to supply all that is necessary for us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. He cares deeply about us, he has a heart of compassion for us, and he will see us through any and every trouble or difficulty which comes our way. Although he doesn’t always deliver us from our troubles, he will help us and strengthen us through them, resulting in his praise, honor and glory. Amen!

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.

 

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Becoming Complete

Monday, October 16, 2017, 10:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 19 (Select vv. ESV).

God’s Word (vv. 7-11)

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

We read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

So, even though some passages of scripture may not directly apply to us, given to whom the words were originally addressed, and whether or not they were written under the Old Covenant or the New Covenant, still there is something we can learn from all scripture (Genesis to Revelation). We can learn from the examples of other people’s lives, and from historical events, and be taught God’s divine character and will for our lives, especially regarding his holiness and righteous, as to be applied to our daily lives.

The scriptures are God’s words to us, his instructions, his teachings and his divine counsel for our lives. Through the reading of God’s Word, we get to know him, we hear him speak his words to our hearts, and we gain understanding into his will and his purposes for our lives. When we drink in the Word of God into our daily lives and practice, we are encouraged and strengthened of heart, we are spurred on toward love and good deeds, we are guided into all truth, and we are given specific direction for our lives.

When we are downcast, we are lifted up, when we are sad, we learn to rejoice, when we are confused, we are enlightened, and when we are contemplating going a particular direction, or making a specific choice or decision, we may be warned to not go there.

The beauty of God’s Word is that it is how he primarily communicates with us his will and his directives for our lives, his mercy and his grace, his love and his kindness, his holiness and his righteousness, his justice and his judgment, his gentleness and compassion, and his passion and his concern for us that we live holy and godly lives, pleasing to him, for his glory. So, we should desire his Word, we should study it so we know what it teaches, we should open our hearts to hear God speak, and we should walk in his truths.

No Dominion (vv. 12-13)

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

Can we do what is displeasing to God and not be aware of it? We can, because we may be blinded to our own faults, at times.

Yet, certainly this is not speaking of hidden sins, in the sense of secret sins that we fully know we are doing, and which we are purposefully hiding from others, though. God is not going to declare us innocent of such sins which we consciously commit and then hide and even cover up with lies so as to deceive others. These sins may fall under his grace, and therefore we may not be eternally condemned because of them, if we are not walking in them, but God is not going to excuse them away or look the other way, and then not address these wrongs to us. For, his goal is that we walk in holiness and righteousness, and not according to our flesh.

Yet, it is possible to sin and to miss it. For example, we may have a wrong attitude concerning something God has placed in our lives, or unkind thoughts about someone, or God may be trying to tell us something, but we are missing the cues, maybe because we are distracted with other things. Or, perhaps we are taking stuff into our minds which are not spiritually healthy for us, but we are just not sensitized to it. But, the more we mature in our walks with the Lord, and the more we respond to his Word and to the Spirit’s voice, speaking God’s words to our hearts, the more aware we will become regarding what is pleasing or what is displeasing to our Lord, so that we can correct those errors and then do what is right in God’s eyes.

Definitely we want to be kept back from presumptuous (bold, arrogant, insolent, willful) sins, for if we walk in them (make them our practice), we will not have the hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment. But, if we walk according to the Spirit, and by the Spirit we are putting sin to death, then we do have that promise of eternal life with God.

For, when Jesus Christ died on a cross to deliver us from sin, it was so 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 to us is not merely forgiveness of sins, but it is deliverance out of slavery (addiction) to sin. His grace is also not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin, but it instructs 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. Jesus Christ gave his life up for us on that cross, in other words, so that sin would no longer have dominion over us, but that now Jesus Christ would be truly Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and us his faithful servants.

My Mouth (v. 14)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

If we have been born again of the Spirit of God, and have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and have been made alive to God in Christ, to the glory and praise of God the Father, then our desire should now be for God (for Jesus Christ), to please him in every way. The closer we walk with him, the more sensitized we will become to not doing what we know is contrary to his Word, and the more we will want to do what is right in God’s eyes. Thus, we will join with the psalmist in this prayer that our thoughts, our hearts, our attitudes, our actions and our words would be acceptable to God.

And, no matter where we are in our Christian walks, or what we are presently going through, we will look to our God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and to his Word for our strengthening, comfort, encouragement, counsel, instruction, hope, healing, guidance, peace and security. Thus, we will put our trust and our hope in Him and in His Word, and not in ourselves or in our own resources, or in humankind, who are bound to fail us.

Trust Him / An Original Work
August 15, 2012 / Based off Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.

God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.

Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.

 

Prepare for Action

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 9:34 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Born Again (vv. 3-5)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

What does it mean to be born again? First, we are born physically of a mother, and then, because of God’s grace to us, and by faith in Jesus Christ, we are born of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord. One is a physical birth. The other is a spiritual birth. So, how are we born again?

Well, first of all Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) had to die on a cross. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). He put our sins to death on that cross. And, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, when we believe in him, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. We are born again of the Spirit of God, and Christ now lives in us.

Various Trials (vv. 6-9)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

So, we rejoice in our salvation and in the hope of eternal life with God. Yet, our hope is not just that one day we will be with our Lord forever, but our hope is in the freedom he has given us to walk (conduct our lives) not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Our hope is that we have a Savior, who is our Lord, but who is also our friend, confidant, counselor, guide, helper, strength, healer, comforter, encourager, and teacher, etc. Our hope is that we are in a personal and intimate relationship with our God, which gives us not only future hope, but present and living hope day by day, which is what keeps us going when times get tough.

Our hope, too, is that God created us for a purpose, and he has given meaning to our lives, and purpose and direction, and that even our trials are part of his plan for our lives in order to purify us, to make us holy, and to prepare us for his service. Also, our trials are for the purpose to test our faith, to make it stronger and more resilient. When we suffer, it is for our good, to make us more like Jesus, and to teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves. We, too, learn patience and perseverance through difficult times. And, we grow closer to our Lord, mature in our faith, and increase in our seriousness of our walk of faith, when we respond to our trials with grace, with trust in our Lord, and with submission to his perfect will for our lives.

Prepare Minds (vv. 13-16)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

In our minds we store memories, good and bad. In our minds we think, we believe, we discern, make decisions, and react to our circumstances. In our minds we entertain sinful thoughts or we dwell on heavenly things. Part of God’s saving grace to us is in the renewing of our minds, in the healing of past hurts, and in transforming how we believe and perceive things. Yet, we have a responsibility regarding our minds, in the renewing process, and that is in the putting off of the old, and the putting on of the new; in thinking about things which are pure, right, true, and beneficial, rather than thinking hateful thoughts or impure thoughts.

We also have a responsibility for what we take into our minds, to make sure that we are not feeding our minds with what is garbage, or what is immoral, wicked, and ungodly, etc. If we take garbage into our minds, that is what is going to come out in our words and actions and attitudes. If we entertain our minds with the sinful acts of others, this is what our minds will dwell on, and often our actions and words will follow suit. So, if we are going to prepare our minds for action, we need to keep our minds pure and focused on Jesus Christ and on the truths of his Word. And, we need to take God’s Word seriously and apply its truths to our daily lives.

Conduct Yourselves (vv. 17-19)

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

What does it mean to conduct ourselves in fear? I believe this is speaking here of the fear of the Lord, which is reverence, respect, honor, value, esteem, adoration, worship, obedience and submission to our Lord. Our conduct is the way in which we live, i.e. our daily practice. This is how we should live, day in and day out. Conducting ourselves in fear is also living on this earth as though we truly do not belong here, as though this world and all its stuff is really not our home, but with an eternal focus in mind. We are not here to build kingdoms on this earth, but to help, to work to advance God’s heavenly kingdom while we still live here. We are not here, in other words, to live to please and entertain ourselves, but we are here to give glory to God in all that we do and say and think and are.

It also means that we live holy lives, pleasing to God. Being holy means we are separate (set apart, unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made to be like Jesus. We should no longer be conformed to the ways (patterns, attitudes, values) of this world, but we are to be transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds. Our new lives should not look like our old lives, and only slightly cleaned up to be more presentable. Our new lives should be radically different from our old lives, because we died with Christ to sin, and we were resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to him and to his righteousness.

Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be
Norman J. Clayton

Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day,
Yielded completely to Jesus alone
Every step of this pilgrim way…

His Ways, His Truth

Monday, May 29, 2017, 8:08 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Draw Me Close.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 25 (Select vv. ESV).

His Ways (vv. 4-5)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

We who profess faith in Jesus Christ need to know His ways, His truth and His paths. The primary way in which we know these is through the study of God’s Word, the Bible, in particular in the New Testament, although all scripture (Genesis-Revelation) is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Yet, we must be diligent to present ourselves to God as those approved, workers who have no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Thus, we must be careful to read scriptures in context, and to compare scripture with scripture, if we want to rightly handle the Word. And, we must interpret what we read in light of the gospel of Christ.

Also, as believers in Jesus Christ – we who have died with Christ to sin, and who have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life – we have the Holy Spirit of God living within us, teaching us the ways of our Lord, and guiding us into all truth. So, when we study God’s Word, we must do so under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who will give us spiritual understanding into its truths. He is the one, as well, who makes practical application of God’s Word to our lives. So, when we study God’s Word, we should pray for the Spirit of God to open God’s Words to our hearts and to teach us what we need to learn, and for him to apply its truths to our hearts and lives. And, then we must listen to the Holy Spirit, and obey our Lord, and do what he says.

His Instructions (vv. 8-10)

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

Our God is holy, righteous, good, merciful, gracious, compassionate and just. His goal in saving us from our sins is not just to give us an escape from hell or to promise us heaven as our eternal destiny. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (1 Pet. 2:24; Tit. 2:11-14). His grace is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God. When God saves us from our sins, he gives us the faith to believe in Jesus Christ, thus the faith to believe in Jesus is in accord with God’s holiness and righteousness, so it submits to Christ and His Word.

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we humbly come to God in godly sorrow over our sin, we repent of our sins, we turn away from them, and we turn to God to follow Him in his ways. And, he leads us in what is right. He is not going to lead someone who won’t be led, who thinks faith in Jesus merely means Jesus forgives us our sins, but who rejects the teachings of scripture with regard to repentance and obedience to Christ. So, if we desire to know and to follow his ways, we must humble ourselves before him, we must turn from our sins, and we must walk in obedience to him, according to the Holy Spirit of God (Ro. 8:1-14). For, the ways of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness. Amen!

Fear Him (vv. 11-15)

For your name’s sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

I think sometimes we get the idea that God’s forgiveness of our sins is solely for us, the sinners. Yet, it is for the honor of His Name that he pardons us, as well. Like for instance, a man was born blind, and the reason was that, when Jesus healed him, “the works of God might be displayed in him” (Jn. 9:3). When God saves us, his glory is revealed in us. His divine character is, thus, shown, so that all may see that he is loving, gracious, merciful and all powerful, in that he can transform human lives. By his grace and his power, we can be translated from death to live, and be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ.

If we want to be instructed in the ways of the Lord, and in his truth, we must fear the Lord. We must revere, honor, value, esteem, respect, obey and worship him. We do this, not just with our lips, though, but with our lives (by our lifestyles). We live holy lives, pleasing to him, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of him – no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds, so that we might prove what is the perfect, good and acceptable will of God. We no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God.

His Grace (vv. 16-18)

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

If we want God to turn to us, and to be gracious to us, when we are in trouble, in distress, in loneliness or in affliction, we must honor him with our lives. For, it is not the one who merely professes Christ as Savior who is saved from his sins, but it is the one who is walking in the Spirit, who is being led by the Spirit, and whose mind and lifestyle is no longer controlled by the sinful nature. He is a child of God, and an heir of the promise (See: Rom. 8, the whole chapter, in context). For those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose, all things work together for good. And, how do we know if we love God? Our obedience bears testimony.

Draw Me Close To You / Donnie McClurkin

Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend

You are my desire
And no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else can take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace…

Walk in The Way

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

If You Don’t Listen (vv. 1-3)

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

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

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

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

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

He Stood in Awe (vv. 4-7)

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

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

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

You Have Turned Aside (vv. 8-9)

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

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

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

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

A Foreign God (vv. 10-12)

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

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

Evil Called Good (v. 17)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words to Encourage

Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 9:32 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 44 (Select vv. NASB).

Water on Thirsty Land (vv. 1-4)

“But now listen, O Jacob, My servant,
And Israel, whom I have chosen:
Thus says the Lord who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you,
‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant;
And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants;
And they will spring up among the grass
Like poplars by streams of water.’

In case you are not familiar at all with the book of Isaiah, although it is Old Testament, nearly one third to half of it, perhaps, is given over to prophecies concerning Jesus Christ, our Messiah, and the messianic age and kingdom. Some prophecies are clearly last days (messianic) while others seem to combine both a more current (of that time) fulfillment, as well as a future fulfillment in the end of the age (messianic era). A common theme among these prophecies is that of a last days revival of the church.

Much of the church at the end of time is complacent, rebellious, idolatrous and spiritually adulterous. Thus, God is calling out to his adulterous people, he is confronting them with their sins, warning of divine judgment, calling for repentance and obedience, and he is promising a time of spiritual refreshing, renewal, revival, restoration and healing for the repentant. Where things right now look pretty bleak (the dry ground), at least for the church here in America, because of all the idolatry, complacency and spiritual adultery, there is a promise of hope that one day God’s people, his church, will return to him as their only God and Lord (owner-master).

Yet, this is also a prophecy concerning the coming of their (our) Messiah, of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, and of our redemption: By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Christ, we have new birth in Christ. And, Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to indwell and to empower the lives of those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Still, I see this, also, as the pouring out of God’s Spirit in revival on the church in these last days. It is very hopeful!

Who is Like God? (vv. 6-8)

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:

‘I am the first and I am the last,
And there is no God besides Me.
‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it;
Yes, let him recount it to Me in order,
From the time that I established the ancient nation.
And let them declare to them the things that are coming
And the events that are going to take place.
‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid;
Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it?
And you are My witnesses.
Is there any God besides Me,
Or is there any other Rock?
I know of none.’”

The main problem with much of today’s church is that they have lost the awe (honor, respect, fear, esteem) of God, for they have reduced God down to human level, and have made him out to be not much different from us. God is often pictured as a doting grandfather in the sky there to grant our every request while requiring nothing of us in return. They picture Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins as nothing more than him paying the price so we can go free of the penalty of sin, and so we can have the hope of heaven when we die (or when we leave this earth). And, they picture our faith in Jesus Christ as a mere acceptance of what Jesus did for us in taking our place so we are not punished for our sin, while they ignore the fact that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23).

Because the church has lost the fear of God, they have no problem, on a large scale, with diluting the gospel message of salvation, too, to bring it down to an acceptable level for human consumption. So, instead of teaching the gospel, as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, they pull scriptures out of context to make them say what their itching ears want to hear, while they ignore the verses which make them uncomfortable, or which don’t fit with their theology or with their chosen lifestyles. And, this, too, is why they have no issues with idolatry, because they have lost the fear of God.

They think that all they have to do is repeat some words after someone in a prayer and they have their salvation and eternity secured, but that they can continue living sinful lifestyles, because they are taught that God does not require repentance or obedience and that he is pleased with them no matter what they do. But, that is NOT at all what God’s Word teaches us.

Idols of Humans (vv. 9-11, 18, 20)

Those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile, and their precious things are of no profit; even their own witnesses fail to see or know, so that they will be put to shame. Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no profit? Behold, all his companions will be put to shame, for the craftsmen themselves are mere men. Let them all assemble themselves, let them stand up, let them tremble, let them together be put to shame… They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend… He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

In today’s world, at least here in America, I don’t know of many people who physically carve for themselves, with a knife, what is clearly an idol (a god) to be worshiped. At least, I don’t think that they think of it in those terms. Yet, America is full of idols, and the church is full of idolatry. And, it is so because people are deceived, and their eyes are blinded to the truth, and their hearts are so filled with their chains of idolatry that they cannot deliver themselves, nor are they willing to submit to the one who died for them that they might be delivered from their chains (bondage; addiction). And, this is largely why the gospel has been diluted, in order to soothe their guilty consciences, and to give them license to continue in sin without remorse.

Yet, no idols of human making will ever profit us anything. They may bring some temporary sense of security, peace, comfort and/or pleasure, but it is temporary, and it does not bring true peace, but frequently only more guilt, and often negative consequences, too. No sports’ hero, no political hero, nor even religious personalities will ever heal our sin-sick souls. No wide-screen TV, or smart phone, tablet or personal computer will ever satisfy the hunger and thirst God has planted within each one of us for Himself alone, either. As well, no career, no ministry, and no possessions, houses, cars, and money, etc. will deliver us from ourselves and from our selfishness, pride, envy, and lust for what is evil. Not one of these will ever give us true hope or healing.

Shout Joyfully (vv. 21-23)

“Remember these things, O Jacob,
And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant,
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.
“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud
And your sins like a heavy mist.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Shout for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done it!
Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth;
Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains,
O forest, and every tree in it;
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob
And in Israel He shows forth His glory.

Our only hope is Jesus Christ and him crucified on a cross for our sins, and him resurrected from the dead so that we might be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we might be born anew of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Our God created each and every one of us for his glory and for his purposes. He has a plan for each one of our lives. His plan is that none of us should perish (die in our sins), but that we should all come to repentance and have eternal life with God. And, repentance means leaving our lives of sin behind us, and turning to faith in Jesus Christ, and walking now in the Spirit in obedience to our Lord, and in submission to his will for our lives (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Acts 26:16-18; Gal. 2:20; Lu. 9:23-25).

Since Jesus died for us, that he might put sin to death in our lives, and that he might give us new lives in Him to be lived to his righteousness, he is grieved when his children turn away from him to follow after their idols (gods of human making) and their own fleshly desires. So, he is appealing to his wayward people on the basis of his sacrifice for our sins, and on the basis of his grace to us in delivering us out of our sins, and he is calling them to return to him as their only God. Not only is there rejoicing when a lost sinner is saved from sin by God’s grace, but there are also shouts of joy in heaven when wandering saints return to the Lord and make him their ONLY LORD!

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

Based off Isaiah 55

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

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

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

His Bride

Saturday, March 11, 2017, 7:50 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Give Me Courage, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 19:1-9 (NASB).

Hallelujah! (vv. 1-4)

After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,

“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.” And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”

I don’t know about you, but I am conflicted every time I read this. Why? Because this judgment on the Great Harlot means the death of ungodly people, and the end of their hope. As long as people are alive on this earth, and they are not robots, but they have human souls, there is hope that they could be saved, I believe. That is why scripture teaches that God is not slow in his promises, but he is patient, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But, once they are dead and gone and buried, all hope for them is gone. And, the thought of that breaks my heart.

Yet, I also know the pain and suffering these wicked people have inflicted and continue to inflict on the people of this world, and so my heart goes out to the hurting, and I pray for God to rescue them from evil men (and women). I especially pray for the children to be rescued. All the evil that is in the world just tears my heart apart as I think about all the lives which are being destroyed by hatred, bitterness, abuse, addiction, perversion, and by predators, liars, deceivers, and adulterers, etc. I hurt for the hurting, but I know judgment means much bloodshed, and I find it hard to rejoice in that.

There are so many people who know the right way, but they continue to live the wrong way. God sends out his warnings, and he confronts them with their sins, and he calls for repentance time and time again, and yet they refuse him every time. No matter the consequence, it doesn’t seem to faze them, as though they think they are invincible, and as though they truly believe God will never do what he says he will do. And, this breaks my heart for I know what awaits them if they do not repent, and I know none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

Yet, the thought of being delivered from this evil world and from wicked and evil human beings is cause for rejoicing! Just thinking of all these children being handed private internet access, which they can take into their bedrooms where they can teach other children how to get on pornographic sites just kills me inside. I want to strangle (not literally) their parents. I want to knock (not literally) some sense into them, i.e. I wish there was a way I could communicate to these young parents that they are handing their young children a death sentence, for many will never recover from what they view on those smart phones and tablets (I Pads). Only by the grace of God can they be delivered from these ungodly influences and be set free.

So, I rejoice in knowing that one day Satan’s power and influence in this world will be no more. I can rejoice in the punishment of evil and the setting free all those who have been victimized by such evil. The thought of no sin, no pain and no sorrow is awesome! The idea of people no longer harming one another is so welcome! The concept of children being safe from those who would take advantage of them is much cause for rejoicing! So, yes, I rejoice that one day we will be safe from harm and no longer have to endure hatred, persecution, and abuse. I am happy knowing that one day, when Jesus returns, we who believe in Him can be forever relieved of these flesh bodies and this world of sin, and we can live at peace forever with HIM.

Fear Him (vv. 5-6)

And a voice came from the throne, saying,

“Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying,

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.

One of the reasons there is so much evil in the world is that the people of this earth have largely forgotten that they are to fear God, not in a frightening way, but in showing him much awe, honor, respect, regard, value, praise, adoration and worship. Even within the church the fear of God is rarely taught or lived anymore, it would appear. Instead, they often present God as a doting grandfather in the sky there to grant their every requests. They also present him as soft on sin, and as one who just looks down on them and smiles, even if they are sitting there engrossing themselves in pornography or other sexual entertainment. They teach that when God looks at us all he sees is Jesus, and he never sees our sin, but that is just not biblical.

Another thing they do is they teach a half-truth (diluted) false grace gospel which appeals to human flesh, and which gives its adherents carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. They tell their listeners that all they have to do is repeat some words in a prayer and they are saved and heaven is guaranteed them no matter what happens from this point forward. They teach salvation as though all it is is a get-out-of-jail-free card and a promise of eternal rewards and bliss in heaven with nothing required at all in between. In fact, they teach that God requires nothing of them at all – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to God/Jesus and the cross of Christ. What a mockery that is of what Jesus did for us in dying on the cross for our sins so that we might be free!

Freedom is not freedom to continue in sin. NO! The Bible says that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars. It says if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. It teaches us that being a follower of Christ means we forsake our old lives of living for sin, and that we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God (born again), and we put on our new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6; Lu. 9:23-25).

If we are the Lord’s bond-servants, then he is our Lord (owner-master) and we are his willing and obedient slaves. We don’t have ownership rights over our own lives anymore, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus, shed on a cross for our sins, so that we could be set free from bondage to sin and walk in victory over sin. Jesus reigns supreme over our lives, i.e. he is the one in control, not us, and he is the one calling all the shots. So, it is not our choice what we do every day, but it is his. He is the one now directing our path, or he should be. We should now be walking (in lifestyle) in the fear (respect, honor and worship) of our Lord. And, our worship of him, which is acceptable to God, is that we give him our lives on the altar sacrificially, holy and pleasing to him, and no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds.

She is Ready (vv. 7-9)

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”

The book of Revelation is written to the church (See: Rev. 1). In chapters 2-3 there are seven letters written to seven churches, which most people, I believe, accept as speaking to the church of all ages, i.e. the number seven meaning completeness, though some people feel the Church in Laodicea speaks primarily to the church in these final days before the return of Christ. No matter your point of view, the Bible says that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). So, we can learn something from each one of these letters.

In these letters Jesus commended the churches for what they were doing right, with the exception of one (Laodicea), and in five of the letters he confronted them with what they were doing wrong. He warned of divine judgment, called for repentance, but promised hope and heavenly rewards for the repentant and the overcomers (who overcome sin). Then, following these seven letters we have the proclamation of the judgments of God.

And, we see that there were Christians (the saints of God) present during the time of tribulation and the rule of this beast. And, they are being persecuted. Then, here we read that the Bride has made herself ready for her husband. I believe that the saints of God will be present and will be persecuted during this time, at least for part of it, and that through this tribulation, trials and persecutions God will make her holy, purifying her, and pruning her so that she will be even more fruitful for his eternal kingdom.

For those bond-servants of the Lord who have labored hard in presenting the truth of the gospel and in strongly encouraging the church to repent of her sins, and to be restored to fellowship with God, when the Bride has made herself ready, and she is now prepared to meet her groom, this will be our reward. We may not see much fruit now for our labors, but they are coming.

Give Me Courage, Lord
An Original Work / November 13, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Do not let your hearts grow weary,
For your work will be rewarded.
Be strong; let your hearts take courage.
Do not fear, but wait on Jesus.

Be strong and very courageous,
For your God will go before you.
Do not fear. He will not leave you.
Wait for Him. He’ll not forsake you.

Be careful to do what He says.
Do not turn away from your Lord.
Take courage! You’ll be His witness,
For God will guide and protect you.

So we are always encouraged.
We walk by faith and not vision.
We make it our aim to please Him,
So in Christ, we glorify Him.