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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Buy and Eat

Thursday, October 5, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Our God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 55 (Select vv. ESV).

Listen Diligently (vv. 1-3a)

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live.

I use to eat just about anything. I have never been a big eater, though, at least not by American standards. But, I ate burgers, fries, chocolate candy, and cookies, and I drank sodas, milk shakes and sweet tea, etc. Unless something made me sick, or unless I just didn’t care for the taste of it, I was ok with eating it. Yet, I did eat vegetables, and I ate fruit occasionally, and I mostly avoided fried foods and preferred grilled, but I was not a gung-ho health conscience person. It wasn’t the way I was raised. I ate food in moderation, and I did try somewhat to eat healthy, but I ate a lot of stuff that was bad for me, too, but I just didn’t realize how bad it was for me.

Occasionally I would have a problem with acid reflux, and then I would change my eating habits for a while, until I got better, and then I would go back to eating normally, well normal for me, that is. And, then one day I finally came to the realization that I had to drastically change my physical health lifestyle and my eating habits. I believe the Lord brought me to that realization through pain. Pain is a great motivator. It gets us to do things we probably would not do otherwise, like exercise as much as we should. So, now I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, some meat, fish, bread, and cereal. But, I don’t count every calorie, and I don’t read every label, yet I am eating what I know is good for me, and I am mostly avoiding what is bad for me. And, I am getting in lots of exercise, too. And, overall I feel much healthier.

Well, this passage of scripture is not talking about physical thirst and hunger, but it is talking about spiritual thirst and hunger, but there are many parallels between the two, which is why I just shared what I did. We are born into this world with sin natures, with an insatiable hunger for what can never satisfy the deep longings of our souls, and so we try to fill that hunger with all kinds of stuff from this world, thinking if we just have this or that, that we will be happier, or if we can just accomplish this or that, that we will be fulfilled. And, we go a lot by our emotions, and by what makes us feel good. But, the happiness and the fulfillment are fleeting, and often, what we choose to fill that hunger with only makes matters worse, and only digs the cavity that is already in our hearts even deeper, and so we come up empty.

So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, he invites us to believe in Jesus Christ, to die with him to sin, and to live with him to righteousness, but not in our own power and strength, but in the strength of the Lord who called us and who will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. So, when we fill our minds, hearts and lives with what is of God and with what is pleasing to him – what is pure, righteous and holy – and we forsake the bad stuff, i.e. what will only do damage to us spiritually, then we will be healthy spiritually, too.

Seek the Lord (vv. 6-9)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Are you familiar with the word “repent”? Well, it literally means to have a change of mind, but in the context of scripture, it is most always used in the context of changing our minds about sin and about God by forsaking our lifestyles of living for sin and self and choosing, instead, to now live for Jesus Christ and to walk in obedience to him in his holiness, and in the power of the Spirit of God now living within us. Jesus said we must repent, as did his apostles, if we want to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God.

Jesus said, in fact, that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) that we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin and self), for his sake, that we will gain eternal life with him. And, the Apostle Paul reiterated this message when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh (sin), we will die in our sins, but if we walk according to the Spirit, and if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, that we will live with Christ for eternity (Lu. 9:23-26; Ro. 8:1-17).

Know His Word (vv. 10-11)

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s Word is found in the Bible (Genesis to Revelation), yet, as believers in Jesus Christ, we also have the Living Word abiding within us, and God’s Spirit teaching us all that Jesus ever taught his disciples, and instructing us in all things of God. So, this is where we learn what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ, and what God expects of his followers, and also how to live this newfound Christian life. We learn to know God and his character and his will for all of our lives when we read His Word and when we listen to His Spirit speaking God’s eternal truths to our hearts and minds, and then as we obey and we do what his Word teaches us.

As Christ’s followers, we are to spread the Word of God and his gospel of salvation to the people of this world, so that many more can come to faith in Jesus Christ, too. Plus, we are to instruct one another and encourage one another in the faith so that we are not led astray, and so we don’t fall into sin, but so we grow in maturity and holiness in our walks of faith in Christ. But, sometimes we may not see results for the seed that we sow into people’s lives, so this serves as an encouragement to us that God’s Word will not return empty, but it will accomplish what he purposed, and it will succeed in the thing for which he sent it. We just have to be patient. People’s hearts will be changed, we just have to give it time, and keep believing in the power of God to transform human minds and hearts.

Peace and Joy (vv. 12-13)

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

This is a wonderful stanza to end on. Although there are many right now who have not yet trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord, and as Savior of their lives, many still will, and when they do, they will go forth in peace and joy because Jesus set them free, not just from the punishment of sin, but from slavery (addiction) to sin! Amen! In fact, it so glorious when sinners turn from their wicked ways, and when they turn to walk with Jesus, in surrender to his will for their lives, that creation rejoices with them. And, we should rejoice, too! For, it is an awesome thing to be delivered out of slavery to sin and to be brought into God’s wonderful kingdom, and to now walk with Him in freedom from sin, and in freedom to now live in his holiness and righteousness.

Our God / Chris Tomlin / Jesse Reeves
Jonas Myrin / Matt Redman

Our God is greater; our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?

Holy and Beloved

Thursday, September 28, 2017, 10:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Peace of Christ.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Colossians 3:1-17 (NASB).

Things Above (vv. 1-4)

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

IF you have been raised with Christ, not assuming you have been, but as a prerequisite to what follows next, then do what this teaches. So, how are we raised with Christ? Well, just as Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins and was resurrected back to life, victorious over sin and death, we must, if we have truly put our faith in him, die with him to sin so that we can live with him to righteousness. This is also called the “new birth,” or being “born again.” And, it is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives in turning us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we can receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-18; Acts 26:16-18).

Therefore, IF this has taken place in our lives, then we are to continue seeking what is from God and of Christ and of his Spirit. We are to keep on walking in the ways of the Lord, in his righteousness and holiness. We are to persist in fellowship with our Lord, in hearing his voice speak his words to our hearts, and in following him wherever he leads us. And, we are to fill our minds and hearts with what is godly, holy, righteous, true, just, upright, honest, trustworthy, pure, and moral, and not willfully and consistently be filling our minds with what is earthly, wicked, immoral, impure and unholy.

Dead to Immorality (vv. 5-11)

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

Since we have died with Christ, we should consider ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we should not let sin reign in our mortal bodies, so that we obey its lusts, but we should present our members as instruments of righteousness to God, for this is why Jesus died (See: Ro. 6:1-23). He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24), not to free us to continue in willful sin against God. We should not even be entertaining ourselves with the sins of others, for when we do, we are giving hearty approval of their sin by applauding their sin (Ro. 1:32).

Yet, so many preachers these days are not teaching this at all. In fact, they are teaching an entitlement gospel which says God does everything and nothing is required of us – no obedience, submission or repentance. They are giving their adherents, thus, carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt. And, this is a big fat lie! They distort God’s grace to appeal to human flesh, and to their own advantage. But, God’s grace is not merely for the purpose to deliver us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die. His grace is to free us from addiction to sin and to free us to walk in his holiness and righteousness. For, if we walk (live) in sin, we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God.

Put on Love (vv. 12-17)

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

We who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and who have been raised with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, are called to be holy, not given permission to be promiscuous now that we are under grace. And, holiness is being separated from the world of sin because we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. So, we are to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, instead of embracing them and thinking we are ok, because we are under grace. And, then we are to put on (put into practice) love, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, kindness, etc. And, love is preferring what God prefers, which is holiness, righteousness, truth, integrity and morality, etc.

When we are living righteously before God, not in absolute perfection, but walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and we are daily dying to sin and self, and we are, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are practicing love for God and for one another, then we should also be teaching and admonishing one another to do likewise. And, we should be strengthening and encouraging one another in the faith, so that we don’t grow weary and lose heart, and so that we don’t fall into sin’s deceitfulness. But, to do so in love, also means to do so in truth, for lies only hurt. So, tell the truth, but do so in love, and care more about others than you do yourself, and be willing to have others hate and speak badly about you in order to tell them the truth of the gospel, which can save their souls.

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.

 

Sound an Alarm

Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 7:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Joel 2 (Select vv. ESV).

Warning of Judgment (vv. 1-3, 11)

Blow a trumpet in Zion;
sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.

Fire devours before them,
and behind them a flame burns.
The land is like the garden of Eden before them,
but behind them a desolate wilderness,
and nothing escapes them…

The Lord utters his voice
before his army,
for his camp is exceedingly great;
he who executes his word is powerful.
For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome;
who can endure it?

So many times, in Christian circles, when they talk of judgment, they are speaking of the final judgment when we humans will all be called to account for what we did with our lives on this earth – whether or not we believed in Jesus Christ and followed him in obedience and surrender, or whether we chose to not trust in him as Lord and Savior of our lives, and thus did not surrender to and obey him (See: 2 Co. 5:10; Ro. 8:1-14). Yet, that is not the only judgment referred to in scripture, and God’s judgments are not just directed at the unsaved who have not followed our Lord in obedience.

All throughout the Old Testament, most of the judgments appear to be directed against God’s people, not against the ungodly, though he judged them, too. And, the purpose of them was not merely to punish, but to bring God’s people to repentance and to renewed faith in Him as their ONLY God. As well, many of these prophecies of scripture (Old and New Testament), concerning the judgments of God against his people, were either intended to apply to these last days, or had dual fulfillments intended for both that period of time as well as for these final days. At least half of Isaiah, for instance, is about Jesus Christ and the Messianic age, from best as I can tell.

Even in the NT we are warned of judgment against those who call themselves followers of Christ and against Christ’s church (See: 1 Pet. 1:17-19; 1 Pet. 4:17; 1 Co. 11:29-32; Heb. 10:30-31; Heb. 12:1-12; Jas. 3:1; Jas. 5:9; Rev. 2:1-29; Rev. 3:1-22). God also judges nations, and Christians live in these nations, and thus we will incur at least some of what the nations themselves endure when our nations are judged by God. And, God will also judge the “Great Prostitute” of Revelation. Generally speaking, she represents the world’s system, but more specifically the worldly church living in adultery against God. Even more specifically I believe her location is mainly in the USA, and directed primarily at our government and military, in union with the institutional church, which shares culpability for their crimes.

Bottom line, I believe God has declared judgment on the adulterous church, which, in many cases, is living in adultery against God with their respective governments, but more specifically with the US government, and that this was prophesied in the Old and New Testaments. And, this judgment entails physical and financial disasters, the takeover (conquering) of nations and peoples and Christians, utter chaos, ruin, and much hardship, trouble and persecution for followers of Christ (See: Rev. 13, 17-19). And, we, who are servants of the Lord, are to sound the alarm and blow the trumpet and let the people know this is coming, and to call for all people to repent of sin.

A Call for Repentance (vv. 12-14)

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the Lord your God?

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20). Yet, that does not mean we will never sin again (1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it does mean sin is no longer our master, we are set free from enslavement to sin, and we are now free to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). Yet, it also does not mean that we can never wander from our pure devotion to Christ and not need to repent and to be brought back into fellowship with our Lord (See: Rev. 2-3). It is possible for anyone who has genuinely put their trust in Jesus Christ to drift away and to need to be brought back.

So, this is a call to those who have strayed from their pure devotion to God to repent of your sins, and to return to God with all your heart. We can compare this to a husband or a wife who has committed adultery against his or her spouse repeatedly, over a period of time, being called upon to return to his or her spouse and to be faithful to him or to her from this point forward, not reluctantly, but sincerely and in truth, truly desiring his or her spouse above all else. This is the call! It is to forsake your “other lovers” and to make God your only LOVE, GOD and LORD. And, it truly is to desire him above all else and to make him truly master and owner of your lives.

Many people who profess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives live not much differently from the people of this world who make no profession of Christ as Savior, and this should not be! God called us to come out from the world and to be holy, set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into the image of Christ. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace to us is NOT carte blanche (free rein) to continue living in sin. His grace 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 (See: Jn. 15:19; 2 Co. 6:17; Rev. 18:4; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).

A Promise of Restoration and Revival (vv. 28-32)

“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

God’s purpose in judging (discipling, chastising, scourging, reproving and/or testing) his children, i.e. those who have trusted in Jesus Christ to save them from their sins, is not just to punish (correct) wrong doing, but to mature us and to revive us. His purpose in disciplining us is for our good, that we may share his holiness, and that, for those of us who have been trained by it, it may yield a fruitful harvest of righteousness in our lives. It is also to produce in us perseverance, proven character and faith, patience, endurance, and hope. We also go through such difficulties in order that we may learn compassion, that we may comfort others in their sorrows, and that we may learn to rely on God and not on ourselves (See: Ro. 5:3-5; 2 Co. 1:3-11; Heb. 12:1-12; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 1 Pet. 4:12-17; Jas. 1:2-4).

So, even though it is painful when God judges us or when he disciplines us, it is for our good, either to return us to pure devotion to Christ or to mature us in Christ. If repentance is what is needed, then when we repent, God restores us, renews us and revives us, and he pours out his Spirit on us, too. I personally believe that God is going to bring difficulties into our lives which will lead his wandering saints back to him, and which will mature his faithful ones in him even to a greater degree. I also believe this is happening or will happen on a large scale, and that when this takes place, his Spirit will be poured out on us in a mighty way, and the gospel will go forth like it has not done in a really long time, and that many people will be saved before Jesus Christ returns for his bride. So, I am believing God for this, even when all looks hopeless, for faith is believing in what we yet cannot see.

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.

 

In the Potter’s Hand

Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 7:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 18 (ESV).

Spoiled Clay (vv. 1-11)

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’

God/Jesus is our potter. We who are Christians, by faith in Jesus Christ, are his clay. He designed us for a specific purpose, which is to give honor and glory to him through our lives. Yet, many people today who profess faith in Jesus Christ are not honoring him by their lives. In fact, many of their teachers are telling them that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ or to his cross. They make the gospel of salvation out to be an “entitlement gospel,” which is very “me-focused.” It is, thus, not focused on God/Jesus, and what he wants from the relationship, but solely on what they, the adherents, can get out of the relationship, and not on what we are required to give to God at all.

And, so, what these teachers are producing are “spoiled” children who think God is there to grant their every request and to meet all their needs, but that he is ok with them still floundering in their sins, for he should be so grateful that they decided to “believe” in him. They give this notion of God’s grace as though it is a free pass (carte blanche) to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, as though Jesus died just to cover our sins but not to eradicate sin from our lives. And so we have a large number of these spoiled (clay) children who think a mere acknowledgment of Christ is enough to get them into heaven, and thus they can continue to live for themselves and feel no obligation whatsoever to submit to Christ or his cross.

Since they are, because of their choice to follow this false gospel, not fit for the purpose the Potter first intended, God has in mind to do what needs to be done in their lives in order to remake (revive) them, and to mold them into his image, and to make them into the likeness of Christ. Since they have not turned from their evil ways, even though his Word teaches them that they must, and so they have ignored God’s Words, and have chosen to go their own way, instead, God has in mind to judge (discipline, chastise) them, but not to destroy them, but so that he can remold them. So, he is calling out to these “spoiled” children, and he is saying “Return, everyone from his evil way, and change your ways and your deeds.”

But They Say (vv. 12-17)

“But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’

“Therefore thus says the Lord:
Ask among the nations,
Who has heard the like of this?
The virgin Israel
has done a very horrible thing.
Does the snow of Lebanon leave
the crags of Sirion?
Do the mountain waters run dry,
the cold flowing streams?
But my people have forgotten me;
they make offerings to false gods;
they made them stumble in their ways,
in the ancient roads,
and to walk into side roads,
not the highway,
making their land a horror,
a thing to be hissed at forever.
Everyone who passes by it is horrified
and shakes his head.
Like the east wind I will scatter them
before the enemy.
I will show them my back, not my face,
in the day of their calamity.”

Even though God’s Word is abundantly clear on what it means to be “in Christ Jesus,” by faith in him, many, many professing Christians are continuing to follow their own plans and to act according to the stubbornness of their own human hearts, which are being given over to wickedness on a daily basis, in many cases. They willfully ignore the scriptures which convict their hearts of sin, and they cling to the ones which make them feel good about themselves, even in their sins, because they take the scriptures out of context to make them say what their itching ears want to hear.

Yet, God’s Word says that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin, and that we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. It says that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It teaches us that faith in Jesus Christ means we conduct our lives (lifestyles) no longer after the flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. It tells us that God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, but that it instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return.

And, yet, even though God’s Word teaches this clearly throughout the New Testament, many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ have willfully forgotten their Lord and his instructions to them in order to continue to live however they want. And, so, they follow after humans, the world, their culture, and the gods (idols) they have made for themselves, giving their hearts, minds, emotions, devotion and passions over to what is sinful in God’s eyes, instead of over to God and to his will for their lives. They are, thus, not traveling the highway of holiness, but they have wandered off to follow the ways of the flesh, which is why God plans to do what is necessary in order to bring them back to him to follow in his ways and in his truth.

Good Repaid with Evil (vv. 18-23)

Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words.”

Hear me, O Lord,
and listen to the voice of my adversaries.
Should good be repaid with evil?
Yet they have dug a pit for my life.
Remember how I stood before you
to speak good for them,
to turn away your wrath from them.
Therefore deliver up their children to famine;
give them over to the power of the sword;
let their wives become childless and widowed.
May their men meet death by pestilence,
their youths be struck down by the sword in battle.
May a cry be heard from their houses,
when you bring the plunderer suddenly upon them!
For they have dug a pit to take me
and laid snares for my feet.
Yet you, O Lord, know
all their plotting to kill me.
Forgive not their iniquity,
nor blot out their sin from your sight.
Let them be overthrown before you;
deal with them in the time of your anger.

If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, burdened in heart for God’s people, the church, who are wandering off the pathway of righteousness to follow after the gods of this world, and if you care enough about your wandering brothers and sisters in Christ to speak the truth in love to them, you may find yourself right where Jeremiah was. You may find that your words, spoken in love and concern and conviction of the Spirit of God, will not only fall on deaf ears, but that you will be rebuked, criticized, ridiculed, mocked and even falsely accused because you cared more about them than you did about your own life and reputation.

Even though you intended good by your words, they will return your good to them with evil by slandering you and intentionally causing you harm, and by speaking evil against you in order to make other people reject you, too. Yet, we must trust God with our lives, believe in his sovereignty, and know that he is working all things for good for us who love him and who are called according to his purpose. We must remember God’s Words to us warning us in advance that we will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and that we will be rejected even by those in our own households, and by those of our own towns and in our local church congregations, too. Yet, this is God’s will for us that we should suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of his gospel, so we should not fear what humans might do to us.

God has all things under his control. He has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, so trust him, rest in him, believe him, and keep pressing on in being who he has called you to be and in doing what he has called you to do, and trust him with the results. His Word will not return empty, but it will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it (See: Is. 55:11).

Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

Our Merciful God

Thursday, August 24, 2017, 4:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 116 (Select vv. ESV).

Deliver My Soul! (vv. 1-4)

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

We are able to love God only because God first loved us. We did nothing to earn or to deserve his love, for even while we were dead in our sins, Jesus Christ died on a cross to deliver us out of slavery to sin. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to him.

Thus, we love the Lord because of his great love for us and for all that he did for us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to the earth to die for our sins, and to be resurrected from the dead victorious (triumphant) over our sins. We love him, too, because he heard our cries for mercy when we were dead in our sins, and he saved us out of bondage to sin. And, he continues to deliver us from all that would hold us captive, or that would bring us down (low), when we call on him in truth, and when we accept his help and his guidance.

The Lord is Gracious (vv. 5-9)

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.

While we are still in these flesh bodies, and we live on this earth, we will have trials, tribulations, heartaches, disappointments, pain, and sorrow, etc. We will have friends and loved ones who will abandon us, either physically or emotionally, or who will get ill and die, or we will face much persecution and rejection, even from those within the gatherings of the church. Or, we will experience financial troubles, loss of jobs, sickness, and death of children, etc. We will also be tempted of Satan to sin against God, and so we will have to resist him, flee the temptation, and draw near to God.

When we go through difficult times, we may be like Peter, and we may get our eyes off of Jesus and on to the waves (difficult circumstances) splashing all around us, and we may begin to sink. But, when we cry out to God in our distress, he will lift us up, if we will let him. And, I say “if” because many people will call on God for help, but then they will not accept his help, but will continue to go their own way. They may say “help,” but then they are not willing to let go of their problems and to put their complete faith and trust in God for him to work it all out according to his will, and for their good. So, we have to not only desire his help, but we have to cooperate with the help he gives us, and follow his lead, and his will, and in his way.

Your Servant (vv. 15-19)

Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.
O Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. We are born again of the Spirit of God, and our lives are transformed away from living for sin and self to living for God and for his righteousness and holiness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Jn. 3:1-21; Acts 26:16-18).

When Jesus walked the face of this earth, he talked much about the cost of following him. He said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose our lives for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life with God. Paul reiterated these words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, that 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). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (sin), that we are liars (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

Basically, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we (our flesh) dies with Christ so that he might live his life now out through us (Gal. 2:20). Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ. So, we are to honor God with our lives (with our bodies). Now Jesus is our Lord (owner-master), and we are his bondservants. Now we are under obligation, but not to live according to the flesh, but to walk according to the Spirit in the power of the Spirit now living within us. We are to live lives worthy of Jesus Christ and of his gospel, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship of him. And, we are to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed in the renewing of our minds of the Spirit.

And, we are to follow the Lord Jesus wherever he leads us, and to do whatever he has called us to do, no matter where that takes us or the cost involved. For, we were not put on this earth for our own pleasure, but to live holy lives pleasing unto God, and to do his will, and for his purposes, and for his glory and honor and praise.

Lord, Move Me / An Original Work / October 16, 2011

Be my desire, my heart set on fire,
Lord, move me to worship You only, I pray.
Fill with Your Spirit, my heart overflow.
Lord, may I long for You; Your word to know.
Teach me to walk with You, Lord, in Your power,
And may I serve You, Lord, right now in this hour.

Lord, how I want to obey You forever.
Help me to hear You, Lord, so I will not stray.
Teach me to love You; adore You always.
Envelope me, Lord, with Your grace today.
Meet me in my need, and show me Your mercy.
Forgive me for all things, as I humbly pray.

Counsel me, lead me, direct me, and guide me,
So I follow You, Lord, where’er You lead now.
I love to hear You speak Your words to me.
I am so grateful that You set me free.
Wash me, and cleanse me, and make me like You, Lord,
And I will live with You for eternity.

His Grace to Us

Sunday, August 13, 2017, 2:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB).

Dead in Sins (vv. 1-3)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

The Bible teaches us that ALL have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). Not one of us is righteous before God in our own merit. We can never be good enough to gain eternal life with God. In fact, we cannot even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to His Son (Jn. 6:44). Without Christ we are spiritually dead, without hope, and without God. Our destiny is eternal damnation in the fires of hell, no matter how many good deeds we might do in this life, or how seemingly kindhearted we may be towards other people.

In our sin natures, we are drawn towards sin, and towards doing even what we know is wrong. We are under the control of Satan, not of God. We are of this sinful world, not of the kingdom of heaven. And, we are under the influence of the world, not conformed to the image of God. We are bound towards disobedience rather than obedience. We live and walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, and not according to the Spirit of God. And, we indulge ourselves in the desires of our flesh, rather than resist Satan, flee temptation and sinful desires, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith.

This is what an UNSAVED life looks like. So, if you profess to be a Christian, but this is what your life looks like, then something is terribly wrong.

By God’s Grace (vv. 4-9)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

But, thanks be to God, he did not leave us bound in our sins, without hope. He provided the way for us to be saved from our sins, to be delivered out of slavery to sin, and to become bondservants of his righteousness. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered like we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering (Is. 53). And, those who hated him saw to it that he was crucified on a cross, thinking that would be the end of him.

Yet, it was God’s will that he should suffer and die for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:14; 1 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24). Yet, Jesus did not remain dead. God the Father resurrected him from the dead. And, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf.

So, by God’s grace to us in sending his Son to die on a cross for our sins, and to be resurrected back to life, we can also die to our sins and be given new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we repent of (turn from) our sins, and we turn to God to follow him in his ways. We are forgiven our sins, and we are given eternal life with God in heaven (See: Acts 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). All this is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives, and nothing we do in our own flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation.

For Good Works (v. 10)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Many people who quote this passage of scripture in Ephesians 2 stop at verse 9, and they assume that good works are not required at all of us. Yet, although it is true that we are not saved by our own fleshly works, and that we cannot earn our way into heaven, our salvation is not absent of good works. We are saved not just FROM something, but we are saved TO something. In other words, we are saved from sin, but we are saved to righteousness.

When we become children of God, it is not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. When Jesus died on that cross for our sins, and he put sin to death, on our behalf, he bought us back for God with his blood, so that when we trust in him to be our Savior and Lord, we are no longer our own, to do with our lives what we want. He is now our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bondservants (his workmanship). And, he has good works which he created us to do, and which he prepared beforehand that we should walk (in lifestyle) in them.

Some of these good works are specific to all of us who believe in Jesus, whereas some of them are specific to each of us as individuals. What I mean by this is Jesus not only has a purpose for all of our lives, which applies to all his followers, but he also has individual callings, giftings, and assignments he has for us to do (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). And, we would do well to seek his face concerning what purpose and calling he has for our individual lives, and then to be about doing what he had prepared in advance for us to do, and to live the lives he had marked out for us, all in the power and working of his Spirit now living within us, and to his glory!

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.