Children of Light

Friday, September 29, 2017, 5:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Peace of Christ.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 5:1-21 (NASB).

Imitators of God (v. 1-2)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Who is an imitator? He or she is a follower, sheep, look-alike; someone who emulates and models another, who is another’s representative, but not here in the sense of a fake copy, but in the sense of us genuinely patterning our lives after the life of another, which in this case is God/Jesus Christ. We are to be like him in all that we do and say and think and are. But, this is a lifetime process. We won’t be like him fully in character, attitudes and actions until we reach heaven. Yet, this should be what we strive toward, not in our own strength and wisdom, but in the power and might of God’s Holy Spirit now living within those of us who have been crucified with Christ to sin and born again of the Spirit of God in newness of life, to be lived to Christ.

So, Christ Jesus is our model for how we are to live our lives, and for how to walk (in lifestyle) in love (agape). This love is not like human love, though, for it prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, godly, moral and upright. It will do no harm to others, but good. This love is also not dependent on others loving us, or on their personalities, positions in life, social status, skin color, or material wealth, etc. For, we love like Jesus Christ loved and still loves us. It is unselfish, thinking of others above ourselves, and considers what is in the best interest of others. It is honest, though, and it doesn’t tell people lies just to make them feel better about themselves, especially in their sin. It will speak the truth in love, when necessary, because it cares more about others than it does about itself.

Not Partakers (vv. 3-14)

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says,

“Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

Because we have been born again of the Spirit of God, and we are imitators (followers) of Jesus Christ, and we are walking (in lifestyle) in love (agape), and we are considering others above ourselves, and we are doing them no harm, but good, then we won’t participate in adultery, perjury, immorality, coarse jesting and the like, because we love others as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. Idolatry and immorality should have no place at all in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ. We should have reputations which are above reproach. This is not to say we will never sin (1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that sin should not be our practice, for if we make sin our practice, we have no eternal life with God in heaven (1 Jn. 1:6; Gal. 5:19-21).

Let no one deceive you with empty words. Wow! That packs a punch these days, for many liars and deceivers have infiltrated the church and are teaching a do-nothing entitlement gospel which says God does everything and nothing is required of us – no obedience, submission or repentance. But, that is not what the Bible teaches. It teaches that faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God (in his likeness) in true righteousness and holiness. It teaches us that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. And, it says that God’s grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; Tit. 2:11-14).

How We Walk (vv. 15-21)

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Our salvation in Jesus Christ is not just so we can escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. There is a whole life in between that is to be lived for Christ and for his righteousness, and not for ourselves, or for our own entertainment. We are to grow in the grace of Jesus Christ, and put on the full armor of God daily with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and his schemes against us (Eph. 6:10-20). We are to walk according to the Spirit, and to no longer fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We are to spend time daily in His Word, drinking in His Spirit, listening to what God says to our hearts, and then doing what he teaches us. And, we are to go where he leads us, and walk in his ways, and be the light of the world and the salt of the earth so that others will come to know our Savior, too.

And, we are to encourage one another (fellow believers) in our faith and practice, warn against falling away, calling for repentance and renewed faith, where needed, and to help one another to grow and to mature in our Christian walks. We are NOT to be living to sin and self, for our own pleasure and entertainment, while ignoring the needs all around us and the sharing of the gospel of our salvation with others so they can come to know him, too. Our lives should be sold out to Jesus Christ, with him truly as our Lord (owner-master) in practice, and not just in title (in words only). And, then we should be sharing with the body of Christ what our Lord is doing in our lives as a way of encouraging them to live godly and holy lives, too.

The Peace of Christ / An Original Work / October 31, 2011

Based off of Col. 3:1-17; Eph. 5:19-20

Let the word of Christ dwell in you,
As you teach with all wisdom,
Teaching one another to not
Think on earthly things;
Think instead on things above,
Where Christ sits with God, in love,
Saving us from all of our sins,
Cleansing us; made new within.

Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts,
As you sing songs unto Him;
Speak to one another with psalms,
Hymns, and spir’tual songs;
Always giving thanks to God,
In the name of Christ, His Son,
Who gave His life up for us all,
And gave us eternal life.

Let the love of Christ within you
Rule in your hearts; grace within,
Purifying you from your sin,
Make you whole within.
Forgive as the Lord forgave.
Show His kindness ev’ry day.
In word or deed, whate’er you do,
Glory give to Jesus Christ.

 

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Fame and Treasure

Monday, September 18, 2017, 8:08 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read varied scriptures on the topic of taking up our cross.

Treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

The Lord Jesus has been impressing on my heart for a while now the thought of a time that is coming in America, in particular, when we are going to have a financial crash of some kind, but at the hand of thieves who come to steal, kill and destroy, but from within our own nation, not from without. Yet, economics is not my strong suit, so I don’t comprehend it all. But, I do know that the “beast” is going to bring the world to the point where we can’t buy or sell unless we have its mark, so just from what the Word alone teaches, we know this is inevitable. We already know that our dollar is not worth anything, i.e. it an I.O.U., so America could go bankrupt, and at the hands of our own government, in agreement with their political allies in the world of banking and industry, i.e. the wealthy and powerful of the world.

So, our focus needs to be on our Lord God and on his kingdom and not on the things (possessions, wealth) of this world, because it could all go away in a flash. Yet, even if it didn’t, still we are not to focus our time, attention, value, passion and devotion on things that are bound to go away. But, we are to store up treasures in heaven. Our time, resources, talents, passion and affection should go to ministering to people’s needs and to sharing with them the gospel of our salvation instead of living for self-pleasure, fun, entertainment, and storing up “stuff” that is just going to rot one day anyway. We need to hold lightly the things of this world, and not make them our gods, and be ready to respond with grace when the time comes when our human resources all disappear. And, we must be about living for God and using what resources he has given us for his kingdom and for his glory.

A Person’s Enemies (Matthew 10:34-39)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

There is much talk these days both about “unity” and “peace.” But, what kind of unity, and what kind of peace is the question, even within the gatherings of the church. Much of it is unity with humankind and humanistic philosophy, values, morals, marketing schemes, attitudes and behaviors, and NOT unity with God/Christ and His Word. Much of it is also peace with other humans, but at the cost of compromise of truth, faith and conviction. So, we need to know the difference so that we don’t fall for a lie thinking we are actually following the truth. For many liars and deceivers exist even within the gatherings of the church who are leading God’s people astray.

Many of these liars and deceivers also mischaracterize Jesus, his mission, and his ministry on the earth, and in order to support their manipulations of truth. They do this to gain disciples after themselves, not after Jesus Christ. So, they paint Jesus as this “do-gooder” who went around making everyone feel good about themselves and who never made waves or made anyone uncomfortable or who never offended anyone with his words or actions. And, thus they promote that, to be like Christ, that is how we should also act.

But, Jesus didn’t come here to make everyone feel good or to be accepting of all religions and sinful addictions or immoral lifestyles. He came here to deliver us out of addiction (slavery) to sin and to free us to now come under the control of his righteousness, for this is why he died. What he taught stepped on a lot of toes, and made people very uncomfortable and even angry, and that is what got him killed. So, if we follow the Jesus of the Bible, and not the man-made version, we can expect to be hated and persecuted, not have everyone like us. Even people of our own faith, in our own cities, and in our own families are likely to turn against us and to reject us when we stand on what is truth and we reject the lies of Satan, so be prepared that if you truly follow Christ with your life, that it could cost you your life.

Losing and Saving (Luke 9:23-26)

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

So many people today are teaching a false grace do-nothing “entitlement” gospel message which has Jesus doing everything for us but with us being required nothing in return. But, that is just not biblical. Jesus said we have to deny self and die daily to sin if we want to be his disciples. Paul said the same when he said that if we walk (conduct our lives) after the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, we will live with Christ for eternity. The Bible does not teach that nothing is required of us. It teaches the opposite, for if we profess faith in Christ, but we continue living sinful lifestyles, in addictive sinful behavior, we do not have the hope of heaven when we die, but a fearful expectation of judgment. If we want to be Jesus’ disciples, we have to walk in obedience to him and to his Word.

For Our Good (Hebrews 12:7-11)

“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, 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. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs 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. Yet, we still live in these flesh bodies, and we still have the propensity to sin against God, so God disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness, and that it might yield a harvest of righteousness in the lives of those of us who have been trained by it.

What this discipline looks like, though, could vary depending upon the individual or depending on what God needs to do in an individual’s life to mature him or her in his or her faith and to conform them to his likeness. Yet, what we do know is that God’s Word says we will go through hardships, trials, persecutions and troubles, and that through these we will learn perseverance, patience, compassion and to rely on God and not on ourselves, among other things. So, such trials are for our good, and we should not fear them when they do come, but we should trust in God’s sovereignty over our lives, submit to his perfect will, and go with him wherever he sends us, for he has a plan and a purpose for it all.

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
Henry F. Lyte / Mozart/ Arr. Hubert P. Main

Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought or hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heav’n are still mine own.

Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, show Thy face and all is bright.

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service pain is pleasure; with Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, “Abba, Father”; I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, all must work for good to me.

Man may trouble and distress me, ’twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me; heav’n will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me, while Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heav’n’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

A Stranger’s Voice

Sunday, July 2, 2017, 3:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 10 (Select vv. ESV).

They Will Flee (vv. 1-6)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Jesus Christ is the door (The Way, The Truth and The Life) to God the Father in heaven, to salvation from sin, and to eternal life with God. He is the ONLY door to heaven. There is no other way. The sheepfold is the church, his body, the saints of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, God’s Holy City. Yet, there are many false shepherds of the people who have infiltrated the gatherings of the church (of the sheep). These false shepherds have entered by another way, i.e. by a door of deception, wickedness, lies, and the manipulation of naïve minds. For, they do not truly know Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, but they are “false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (See: 2 Co. 11:12-15).

Jesus Christ is also the True Shepherd who enters the sheepfold by the door, i.e. by way of his death and resurrection in putting our sins to death on a cross so that we might walk with him in righteousness. When we enter by the door, it is by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, in which we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). The true sheep hear the voice of the True Shepherd, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him. But, they will not follow a stranger, i.e. one who enters by way of deception. In fact, they will flee from him, because the voice (teaching) of a stranger they do not know (intimately), in the sense of hearing, believing, accepting and following the stranger. The Holy Spirit will give them discernment to reject the stranger’s voice, and to only follow the voice of the True Shepherd.

To Kill and Destroy (vv. 7-13)

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

It is essential that we understand the difference between truth and lies, so that we do not follow the lies and reject the truth. Many false shepherds, who have infiltrated the church, are telling the people lies, and they themselves are rejecting the truth, as well as they are leading others to reject the truth and to accept the lies (See: 2 Thess. 2:1-12). Thus, they are thieves and robbers, because they are stealing the truth from people’s hearts in order to fill their minds with the lies of Satan, whose goal it is to deceive them and to turn them away from God and genuine faith in Jesus Christ. These false shepherds, who have infiltrated our ranks, are not there to lead us to Christ, but they are there to destroy and to kill all that is holy and is of God, for they are Satan’s messengers, and his goal is to destroy the church, Jesus Christ, his messengers, and the gospel of our salvation.

Since these false shepherds disguise themselves as apostles of Christ and as servants of righteousness, their messages will be a mixed bag of truth and lies so that it will appear as though what they are teaching is truth. But, the lies will be subtle, and will be cleverly inserted into the truth, so that naïve minds will easily accept them and not discern the error. Since this is the goal, these clever enchanters have devised a plan to discredit the gospel and its messengers by calling it “works-based salvation,” and to discourage all who would listen to the true gospel message from accepting it as valid. And, they cloak these lies in fine-sounding arguments, intended to sound as though they are somehow delivering the people out of the clutches of what is false, and that they are somehow leading them to true freedom in Christ, but nothing could be further from the truth.

What these false shepherds are telling the people is that they can have eternal life with God, salvation from sin, and the hope of heaven when they leave this earth merely by acknowledging Jesus’ existence, or what he did for us in taking our place on a cross to free us from the punishment of sin, and by accepting his forgiveness for their sins. And, they call this the gospel of grace. Yet, they also tell them that God requires nothing of them at all, other than to “believe,” i.e. to acknowledge Jesus’ existence, and to accept his forgiveness of their sins. They tell them that they don’t have to repent of (turn away from) their sins, and they don’t have to obey Jesus Christ or his commandments (his instructions to us), or submit to his Lordship, and that God is pleased with them no matter what they do. So, they give free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse.

Yet, the truth of the gospel of our salvation is that Jesus Christ died on that cross, not merely to free us from eternal damnation and to promise us heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us on that cross. He died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. If we walk (in how we conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh (in darkness), 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. God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin, but it instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

[See: Luke 9:23-25; John 6:35-66; Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Gal. 2:20; Gal. 5:19-21: Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24.]

My Sheep / An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV

My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.

So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.

Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…

They know my voice, so they follow me.

Following Jesus

Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read select scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of following Jesus.

Fishers of Men (Matt. 4:18-22)

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

I always love reading this account of Jesus calling some of his disciples and of how they immediately left everything behind them to follow Jesus. This is absolutely what it means to believe in Jesus Christ! When we trust him to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we leave our old life of sin behind us, and we follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. There should be no hesitation on our part when he calls us to follow (obey) him wherever he leads us. There should be no bargaining with God, either, thinking that God will be ok with us letting go a little bit at a time, and when we choose to do so. Believing in Jesus means we die with Christ to sin, that we may live new lives in Christ Jesus to him, and to his righteousness.

I also love it that Jesus wasted no time in letting them know what they would be doing when they became his followers. He would make them fishers of men. In other words, Jesus doesn’t save us just for ourselves. He saves us and then we are to tell others so that they can be saved, too. Jesus saved us that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. This is what it means to follow him. Our lives are no longer our own for we were bought with a price, the blood of Christ, so we are to now honor God with our lives. He is our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bond-slaves (servants), and so we now desire to please him, and to do what he says, speak the words he gives us to say, and go where he sends us.

Wherever You Go (Matt. 8:18-22)

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea. Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”

There is a cost to following Jesus Christ. There is a cost to becoming one of his disciples. Now, it is true that our salvation is a free gift from God, but we need to understand what that free gift entails. It is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. It is also not merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die, either. The free gift of grace from God for us to be saved is that he made the way possible for us to die with him to sin and to live with him to righteousness. He provided the way for us to now walk (in lifestyle) with him in the Spirit of God and no longer according to our sinful flesh. He demands repentance and obedience, or we don’t have eternal life with him. If we want to keep on sinning, we will die in our sins, not have heaven as our eternal home.

Jesus didn’t die for our sins so we could ignore him and go our own way. He wants total surrender. The free gift he offers is his grace to deliver us out of slavery to sin and self and to free us to now live godly and holy lives pleasing to him. Being his follower means we obey him, and we do what he says, and we go where he wants us. If he did not deliver us out of slavery to sin, then we would still be bound in our sins and still on our way to hell. So, it isn’t that we have to do anything to earn his grace, but his grace to us means that we leave it all behind us to follow him, for that is why he died.

More Than Him (Matt. 10:37-38; Matt. 19:29)

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.”

When we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, which is not optional for the truly born again believer in Jesus Christ, we are to have undivided loyalty to our Lord. We should never shrink back from doing what he says in order to please family or friends. He is to have first place in our lives. If he tells us to leave our family behind us (not minor children who are dependent on us), and to go wherever he sends us, we are to obey him and go. He should always get precedence over everyone else. We should never hold on to our own lives, family, and friends, etc. while ignoring God’s calls on our lives. Daily we are to take up our cross (die to sin and self) and follow (obey) him.

Lose Your Life (Lu. 9:23-24; Jn. 8:12; Jn. 10:27-28; cf. Ro. 8:1-14)

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

In fact, if we want to be saved from our sins, and have the hope of eternal life with God, which is to come after Jesus Christ, we must deny ourselves, our own pleasures, our own plans for our lives, and our own selfish will. And, we must follow (obey) him. For, if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose our lives for eternity, and we will die in our sins. But, if we die with Christ to sin and self, for the sake of Jesus, we will save our lives for eternity, and we will have the hope of eternal life with God.

In other words, we can’t be saved and still walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin). If we are following Jesus, we will not walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh and our sinful nature, but we will walk according to the Spirit, and we will have the Light of life. We will listen when Jesus speaks to our hearts, and we will obey him. Yet, this is not to say we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is to say that sin will no longer have dominion over our lives, i.e. we will no longer be slaves to sin, but we will be slaves to God and to his righteousness.

What is that to you? (Jn. 21:19b-22)

And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”

Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

And, it doesn’t matter what other people do or don’t do, with regard to our obedience to our Lord. If we have to walk alone, i.e. if we are the only fish in the sea swimming against the flow, we have to still follow Jesus. If all forsake their Lord, we must remain faithful. If people call us crazy, weird, not normal, out-of-touch with reality, hyper-religious, super spiritual, goody-goodies, self-righteous, or religious extremists just because we take God and his Word seriously, and we follow our Lord in obedience, then so be it. If we are hated, rejected, persecuted, abandoned, gossiped about or slandered, falsely accused, ridiculed, mocked or verbally attacked for our stand for Christ and for his gospel, then praise the Lord! They treated Jesus that way, too, so we should rejoice that we share in his sufferings.

Or, if Jesus calls one person to do one thing while he calls us to do another, what is that to us? We just need to follow Jesus and do what he says. We need to get our eyes off people, and we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and then follow him wherever he leads us, even if where he sends us, or what he calls us to do, is out of the norm (not fitting with the world’s or the worldly church’s standards, values, culture and morals), but is always in line with His Word, His Truth, His Will and His Ways.

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

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

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

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

Save It, or Lose It?

Friday, June 16, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 9 (Select vv. NASB).

Take Up Your Cross (vv. 22-25)

Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?”

Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God (and God) was rejected by the elders, the chief priests, the scribes and the Pharisees. They hated him, and they were jealous of him, and they were threatened by his popularity among the people, for they feared losing their own positions of power and control.

So, they harassed him at every turn, continuously questioned his authority and his actions, and made numerous attempts to try to discredit him. They didn’t like it that he didn’t follow all their ceremonial laws and customs, which were handed down to them by the elders. They despised the fact that he healed people on the Sabbath. They resented his accusations against some of them, that they were hypocrites who tried to look good on the outside while inside they were full of wickedness. And, they definitely hated him when he intimated that he was equal with God. So, eventually they killed him by having him crucified on a cross, as though he was a criminal.

Yet, it was God’s will that Jesus should die, because in his death he put our sins to death, and in his resurrection, he conquered sin and the grave, that we might live. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. And, Jesus told his followers that they, too, would be hated, rejected, persecuted and even killed for their faith in him, and for their testimonies of God’s saving grace, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. In fact, coming to faith in Jesus Christ means that we are crucified with him in death to sin, and that we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

“Knowing this, that 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” (Ro. 6:6-7).

So, if we want to believe in Jesus to be Lord and Savior of our lives, so that we might have eternal life with him, and so that he might save us from our sins, then we must die with him to our old lives of living for sin and self (daily). Paul said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our 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 (See: Ro. 8:1-14). And, Jesus said that if we want to save our lives, i.e. if we want to hold on to our old lives, we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives for His sake, i.e. if we die with Christ to sin, we will save our lives, i.e. we will have eternal life with God.

So many people today are telling people that faith in Jesus Christ requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross, but they are lying to you, and their lies will send you straight to hell if you believe them. Believing in Jesus is not just some intellectual assent to who Jesus is (or was) or some emotional decision we make because we don’t want to end up in hell, or because we want to have heaven guaranteed to us when we leave this earth. Faith in Jesus is not just some mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins, either, while we continue living for sin and self. John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. He also said that if we say we know God, but we don’t obey him, we are liars.

Basically, if we think salvation and eternal life means we do nothing, then we have it all wrong. Yes, we are saved by God’s grace, through faith – and not of ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. But, we are saved TO good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (See: Eph. 2:8-10). Jesus gave his life up for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died, too, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (2 Co. 5:15, 21; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Pet. 2:24).

God’s grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God. 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 soon return (Tit. 2:11-14). If we continue in sinful lifestyles, in practicing what our flesh desires, we will die in our sins. Count on it!

Don’t Be Ashamed (v. 26)

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Part of our death to sin and self, and living to Christ and to his righteousness, means we consider the will of God for our lives above and in place of our own selfish will and desires. Instead of living our lives so that others will like us and think we are wonderful, we live our lives for God and for his purposes, and for his glory. We realize that “Lord” is not just a title given to Jesus, but it means he is now owner-master of our lives, and that we are his bond-servants, here to do his will. We also realize that the earth is not our home, but heaven is, and so we are not here to build earthly kingdoms, but we are here to advance God’s heavenly kingdom. Jesus did not put us on this earth, in other words, for us to live selfish lives for our own pleasure. We are not here to entertain or to be entertained continuously. We are here on this earth to serve God, and to live holy lives pleasing to him, and to tell others about him.

Too many people these days are describing “the gospel” as though it means nothing more than being “good deed doers,” which gets us liked by people, not hated. But, anyone can be a good deed doer. Now, good deeds are certainly a part of what we do, as followers of Christ, but they are what God has called us to do, and they are the deeds he prepared in advance for us to do, which includes sharing his gospel message of death to sin and living to righteousness. And, yes, that means we will be rejected and hated by some when we tell others about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. But, if we are ashamed of Jesus and his gospel in this life, he will be ashamed of us when he comes again one day.

Don’t Look Back (vv. 57-62)

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Yes, our salvation is a free gift, and we do nothing to earn or to deserve it, but that gift, if understood correctly, is NOT just an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die. Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross, and take upon himself the sins of the entire world, just so we could be forgiven our sins and have the hope of heaven when we die. Salvation is not mere forgiveness of sins, but it is DELIVERANCE from BONDAGE to sin. It is death to sin and living to righteousness. It is death to self, and it is living to God and doing what pleases him. We are born again of the Spirit of God, created to be like God IN TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS. And, holiness means to be separate (set apart, unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming LIKE CHRIST.

Jesus made it clear that following him is no picnic. It isn’t about us and our comfort and enjoyment (pleasure). It isn’t about what we want to do, or what we think will please God, but it is total surrender to God and to his will and to his purposes for our lives. It is going where he sends us, saying what he wants us to say, doing what he says, and being who he has called us to be. It means leaving homes, families, friends, and worldly comforts in order to go with God to the regions beyond with the gospel of our salvation. If we want to be Jesus’ followers, it means total abandonment to God, i.e. we must forsake all to follow him, and we must yield ourselves fully to his will and to his ways. We can’t hold on to our old lives and follow Jesus, too. We have to let go, and let God have his sway in our lives. And, then we will be fit for the kingdom of God (See also: John 6:35-66; 10:27-30).

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.