A Missionary Call

Thursday, July 13, 2017, 11:11 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “It All Depends.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of the call of God on our lives.

Send Me (Isaiah 6:8-9a)

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people…”

A Christian missionary is called of God, a disciple (follower) of Christ, and a messenger of God in sharing the gospel of our salvation and in teaching the Word of Truth (the Word of God) to the people of the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all called to be missionaries in that we have all been called to be Christ’s witnesses and to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, and we are all to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. Also we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we are to let our light – the light of Christ and of his gospel – shine before all people. The light is not to be hidden or kept only to ourselves (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9; Matt. 5:13-16).

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and his Holy Spirit comes to live within us, we are gifted of the Spirit of God with spiritual gifts and we are given assignments by God within the body of Christ, his church, which we are to fulfill (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). We have all been called to belong to Christ, to be holy, to be his saints, according to God’s purpose, by the will of God, into fellowship with Christ, by his grace, to freedom in Christ, to eternal life, and to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and for the sake of the gospel (various scriptures). Yet, we are each given specific assignments, as well, which God will reveal to us if we are listening to him (See: Psalm 139:16). So, when God speaks, we should listen, and we should respond, “Here I am, send me.”

God Appointed (Jeremiah 1:4-9a)

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth.

Before the creation of the world, we were chosen by God to be conformed to the image of Christ. We were called to a holy calling in Christ Jesus. And, we were chosen in Christ to be holy and blameless before him. All the days ordained for us by God were written in his book before one of them came into being (Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4; Ps. 139). God placed us in the wombs of our mothers, which means he placed us in the homes we were brought up in, even knowing the good and the bad that would happen to us. God is completely sovereign over all that he has made. He had a plan and a purpose for our lives even before he created the world. He knew us and he chose us and he called us to something very uniquely designed by God for us to do and to be.

God did not place us here on this earth so we could live life however we want, and so we can entertain ourselves and be entertained continuously by others. He has a mission for each one of us to fulfill. He has a specific assignment for us. He has somewhere he wants us to live and to go, and messages he wants us to give and people to whom he would have us minister the love, grace, and mercy of Christ, and with whom he would have us share the full gospel message of salvation. And, we don’t have to worry about whether or not we can do this, because if God is in it, and if he has called us, he will equip us, and he will give us all we need to do what he has called us to do. He will supply all we need, and he will go before us and prepare the way and guide our steps, and give us the words to speak.

A Servant and Witness (Acts 26:15-18)

“And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”

Perhaps you have been resisting his call on your life, because you want to live your life how you want, make all your own decisions, live where you want, and go about your day according to your own plans and purposes. Or, perhaps you only serve God on your own terms, and will only follow him if he doesn’t ask you to do anything that would involve much personal sacrifice. Yet, he may ask you to leave friends and loved ones behind to go to the regions beyond. Still, you may be among those who fear that if they listen to the Lord, and if they seek his will for their lives, that God may ask them to do something they don’t want to do, something that would take them into the unknown, or something that may get them majorly rejected, persecuted or even killed for their testimony for Christ and for his gospel.

So, he is calling us to take a stand for him, to not waver back and forth in our commitments, but to be faithful to him in service in being who he has called us to be, going where he wants us to go, and doing what he says. He is calling us to accept his call on our lives and to say “Here I am. Send me.” And, he promises to provide all we need to do the work of the ministry to which he has called us.

Yet, God has not called us to just be nice people and to make people feel good about themselves while they are still dead in their sins. He has called us to open blinded eyes, to turn them from darkness (sin, wickedness) to light (truth, Christ, righteousness) and from the power Satan has over their lives to God to walk in his ways. Then they will receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ. So, we need to tell them the truth, for their eternity depends on it. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. True faith in Jesus Christ results in being crucified with Christ in death to sin that we might live with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

It All Depends
Jerry Nelson / Don Marsh

Would I leave the place
Where I have lived and settled down?
It all depends.
Break with my attachments,
Sentimental though they be?
It all depends.
Would I find myself uprooting
All the stakes I’ve driven down,
Leaving friends and loved ones far behind,
Captive to the call of some far off distant land?
I can only answer, that depends.

It all depends on where He needs me,
For where he leads me my feet must go.
It may be down an unfamiliar pathway
Or cross the mountains so bleak with snow.
His faithful hand will always guide me.
He’ll walk beside me, let come what may.
Why should I dread the night?
My faith has found its sight.
I’ll do his will through the rest of my life.

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Days Formed for Me

Thursday, July 6, 2017, 6:06 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Search Me, O God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 139 (Select vv. ESV).

He Knows Me (vv. 1-7)

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?

Our God and Lord knows us, the end from the beginning, inside and out, thoroughly and completely, because he is the one who made us. He knows everything we do. We cannot hide from God. Nothing we do is hidden from his sight. Even if we go into a dark place, he still sees and knows everything we are doing. Nothing escapes his notice! He is acquainted with all of our ways. We may be able to fool people, but we can’t fool God. He knows. He sees. So, if we are doing wrong, and we are trying to look good on the outside, while inside, when we are alone in the darkness, we are doing what is wicked, although humans may not see and may not know, God knows. And, what he says he will do will be fulfilled. We can count on it!

Yet, if we are doing what is right, this should serve to be a comfort and an encouragement to us that God knows us completely. Because he does, even if others misjudge us or reject us based on a misconception or on their own prejudice, God knows the truth. He knows our hearts, who we are, and what we do, and the reasons we do it, even if no one else does. And, he will comfort us with that knowledge, fill us with his peace, and assure us of his grace, strength, and the knowledge of his will for our lives. Even before we utter a word in prayer to him, he knows what we are going to say, and he may even begin to answer us or counsel us in our minds before we even vocalize our requests to him, or even before we even know what to ask.

In My Mother’s Womb (vv. 13-16)

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

None of us are here on this earth by chance or by mistake. God formed us in the wombs of our mothers. What this means is that he placed us in the families we were born into, even knowing what would happen to us – good or bad. He didn’t cause evil, but he allows evil to exist for his purposes. He doesn’t always protect us from harm, but he protects us emotionally and spiritually through the storms of life, if we trust him. He didn’t promise us we would never face adversity. In fact, he said the opposite. He said that, as his followers, we would be treated like he was treated. He uses our life experiences to mold us and to shape us into the people he created us to be. And, he is quite capable of seeing us through any and all circumstances, no matter how difficult, and to give us the wisdom and strength we need to endure, to persevere, and to “come out shining like gold” (1).

For those of us who know God, and who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we must know that even before God created the world, he chose us, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He predestined us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. And, he called us to a holy calling in Christ Jesus, our Lord (See: Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4). He has something for each of us to do. He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. He didn’t save us so we could live however we want, and so we could plan out our own lives. He has given us spiritual gifts and he has given us each assignments within the body of Christ which we are to fulfill for his purposes and for his glory (See: Jer. 1). This is my assignment, to write out what he teaches me each day, and to post it on the internet.

Lead Me, I Pray (vv. 17-18, 23-24)

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

God doesn’t think like we do, as humans. His ways are higher than our ways. What might not make sense to us makes perfect sense to God, because he knows the end from the beginning. He knows what lies ahead for us. Sometimes he allows delays and roadblocks because he has a plan that is greater than our understanding. So, what might seem like a failure to us may not be that at all. We need to learn to trust God and not lean on our own understanding, for our understanding is flawed (imperfect), whereas his is absolutely perfect. We also need to understand that God’s timing is not the same as ours. I think that in today’s culture, particularly here in America, we want everything fast, and we have lost the art of patience. But, God is very patient, and he is willing that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance. So, we need to wait on God’s timing.

God knows our hearts and our minds. We sometimes think we know like God knows, but we don’t always, although we do have the mind of Christ (See: 1 Co. 2:16). Sometimes we even misjudge ourselves or we are self-deceived into thinking thoughts about ourselves which are not true. So, it is good for us to have God search our minds and hearts and to show us what we are not able to see about ourselves, so that we can be changed in heart and mind in conformity to Christ and to his will for our lives. We might think we are serving the Lord, and that he is pleased with us, but we might be missing the mark. So, it is good to have those soul-searching times alone with God where we pray and we ask him to reveal to us any sins or if we are going the wrong direction, and for him to guide us and to lead us in the way he would have us to go, because, again, he has a very specific assignment for each one of us which he wants us to fulfill, and so we need to fulfill it.

Search Me, O God / An Original Work / July 12, 2012

Based off Psalm 139

O Lord, You search and know me.
You know all that I do.
O Lord, You discern my ways.
I put my trust in You.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
Where’er I am, You are with me,
Guiding me in love.
O Lord, You search and know me.
You know all that I do.
O Lord, You discern my ways.
I put my trust in You.

O Lord, You made and formed me
In my own mother’s womb.
Your hands beautif’ly made me.
I give my praise to You.
My frame was not hidden from You
When I was made in the dark place.
All the days ordained for me
Were written in Your book.
O Lord, You made and formed me
In my own mother’s womb.
Your hands beautif’ly made me.
I give my praise to You.

O Lord, how precious to me
Are Your thoughts, O my God.
When I wake in the morning,
You are still here with me.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offense.
Lead me in Your truth.
O Lord, how precious to me
Are Your thoughts, O my God.
When I wake in the morning,
You are still here with me.

References:

(1) https://www.scribd.com/doc/101911488/Lyrics-I-Am-Willing-Lord-Joni-Eareckson-Tada

Use It, or Lose It!

Saturday, June 10, 2017, 7:49 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ecclesiastes 6 (ESV).

Wealth and Possessions (vv. 1-6)

There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good—do not all go to the one place?

Some people have been blessed with wealth – either materially and with many possessions, or with knowledge and understanding, or with natural talent and much giftedness. They may have been given many aptitudes for many things. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are blessed with the riches of God’s grace, not only in our salvation from sin, but with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus, and in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. We have been forgiven our sins, delivered from slavery to sin, given new lives in Christ Jesus, to be lived to his righteousness, and indwelt and empowered with the Holy Spirit, and granted eternal life with God (See: Eph. 1:1-14). God gives good gifts to his children (Matt. 7:11; Jas. 1:17).

But, what matters is not what we have, but what we do with what we have. Great wealth, talent, and knowledge means nothing if it is not used for good purposes, or if it is not shared with those who are in need, or with those who may benefit from it in some way. It also means nothing if it is amassed for future purposes, but the person dies before he gets to put it to good use, and especially if he has no heirs, and strangers then get his wealth. Or, if his country is conquered by a foreign entity and he loses it all, and the conquerors then take possession of it. He should have shared it with others while he still had it, for what good is it if an enemy now takes possession of it?

He may also lose it, too, because God takes it away, because he didn’t use it for good, to benefit others, but he squandered his wealth and just used it for his own selfish purposes. And, this can be true of spiritual blessings and giftedness, too. Many people have been given the gift of salvation, and, perhaps, initially they produced fruit in keeping with repentance, or seemed to, but since then they have gotten caught up in the world of sin, or have become lazy and complacent, and they are living their lives wholly for their own self-pleasure. Maybe they initially received the gospel message with joy and with enthusiasm, but as time went on, they went back to their old ways of living for sin and self, and they have forgotten that salvation means death to sin and living to righteousness. They are also ignoring all the warnings in scripture regarding how we will reap what we sow, and instructions which teach that our spiritual walk, or lack thereof, determines our eternal destiny.

Never Satisfied (vv. 7-9)

All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied. For what advantage has the wise man over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

The things of this world will never satisfy us. They are like eating a meal. Hours later we need to eat again. They are also a lot like water that only temporarily satisfies our thirst, for then we get thirsty again, and then we need more. The treasures of this life do bring some temporary satisfaction and pleasure (enjoyment), but they are temporal. They are not lasting. One day they will all perish, too. But, since they are only temporarily satisfying, it is human nature to keep wanting more, thinking if we just have this or that, now we will be happy, but they never truly make us happy. And, some of them come with great debt because people buy what they can’t afford, and thus they come with a great financial burden, too. Or else they come with enormous responsibility, and thus they take a great amount of our time, money and energies just keeping them maintained, and for what?

When I think of the wandering of the appetite, it is not just in wanting more possessions, or more food than what we need to eat (to live), but it is going outside the boundaries of our covenant relationships with God or with our spouses. It is not being satisfied with what we have, or with the marriage covenant, or with God alone, and it is going after “other lovers,” thinking they will satisfy the deep longings of our souls. Yet, these are all just empty cisterns full of holes.

Regarding marriage, this adultery can take place via the mind only, lusting after those who are not our own, but it can also involve viewing pornography, and sexually charged movies, TV shows, and books or magazines, too. It can, as well, involve extramarital relationships, that may begin seemingly innocent enough, but which may lead to romantic and/or sexual relationships. As well, private chats or texts with people of interest with whom you might have intimate conversations, especially without the knowledge or approval of your spouses, and behind their backs, is another form of adultery and a “wandering appetite.”

Sovereignty of God (vv. 10-12)

Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with one stronger than he. The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?

God knows the end from the beginning. He knew before he even created man that he would sin against him. He knew before we were even formed in the wombs of our mothers who we would become, what we would do, and whether or not we would believe in him. But, it is more than just knowing these things in advance. For those of us who know Jesus, or who will yet believe in him, God chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight. He chose us even before the creation of the world (Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4). All the days ordained for me were written in God’s book before one of them came into being (Ps. 139:13-16; cf. Jeremiah 1:4-5). God placed me in the womb of my mother, so he chose the home I would be raised in, even knowing the good, bad and the ugly of it all, because he made me who I am so he could use me in the way he is using me, and all for his glory!

The point here, also, is that there is no point trying to go our own way, or to resist God, because his word will stand true, and he will do what he says he will do. What we sow, that will we also reap. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. If we walk according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, even if we profess to believe in Jesus Christ. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. If we persist and insist on going our own way, and continuing in willful and unrepentant sin against God, and we make a practice of doing what is wicked, we do not have the hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment.

One other thing here is that it says, the more words, the more vanity. This is not saying that we have to be people of few words, though there is wisdom in that, at times, when we say more than is necessary, or more than we should. Yet, what this makes me think of is how words can be cheap if not accompanied by action. If a man or a woman proclaims to love his or her spouse but he or she cheats on the spouse and then covers it up with lies, they should not call it love, for it is not love. If we proclaim to know and to love God, as well, but we cheat on God with “other lovers,” i.e. with the gods of this world, and we go our own way, and we do what we want, and we think we are ok if we keep sinning, and we think obedience is not required, then all is vanity! Because, our expressions of love are vain, because they are just words.

So, we should not take God and his grace for granted. We should be satisfied with where he has us, what he has us doing, and with the blessings he has bestowed upon us, unless he moves us to something else, according to his plans and purposes for our lives. We should not wander outside our covenant relationships with God or with spouse, but we should be faithful in all that we do, think, speak and are (in character). If God has gifted us and has given us wealth, knowledge, talent, salvation, and spiritual gifts, we should use them for his glory, and for the benefit of others, and not hoard them to ourselves, or to use them only for our own pleasure. But, we should rest in the Lord, believe what he says, do what he shows us, go wherever he sends us, and use what he gives us – all for his glory!

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting
Jean Sophia Pigott

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ‘neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

Contract Workers

Friday, February 10, 2017, 10:07 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 1 (NASB).

Bondservants of Christ (vv. 1-4)

Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,

To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

A bondservant is a slave. He or she is “someone who belongs to another; a bond-slave, without any ownership rights of their own. Ironically, 1401 /doúlos (‘bond-slave’) is used with the highest dignity in the NT – namely, of believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers” (biblehub.com). Yet, this is not to apply just to the apostles, but to all believers in Jesus Christ. We read in Romans 6:22: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” When Jesus died for our sins he bought us back for God (redeemed us) so we are no longer our own. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for himself. Now we are his bond-slaves and he is our Lord (owner-master).

As well, we are all called of God to specific areas of ministry. We are all given spiritual gifts to be used to minister to the body of Christ for their uplifting, strengthening, encouragement, instruction, and exhortation. And, we have all been assigned specific roles within the body of Christ for the mutual benefit of one another in order that we might all reach maturity in our faith in Christ. So, each one of us has a responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ to help them or to urge them to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, i.e. to walk in holiness, righteousness and godliness, all in the power and working of the Spirit of God within them. And, every one of us is necessary to the proper working of the body of Christ, too. So, don’t think you don’t matter. We, also, should not write off others within the body simply because they don’t fit within our preconceived ideas of how God might choose to use each one of us (See: 1 Co. 12).

Above Reproach (vv. 5-9)

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

Following the same line of thinking as expressed in the first section of this writing, although what is described for us here is a list of spiritual qualifications for the selection of elders within the church, many of these spiritual qualities are also required or strongly encouraged in all followers of Christ. For example, everyone who professes the name of Jesus should live a life above reproach, i.e. “their interactions with others, are to be of such moral quality that they do not bring shame or in any way disgrace the body of Christ or the name of Jesus” (gotquestions.org). We should all live in singleness of mind and faithfulness to our Lord, and if married, also to our spouses. None of us should be alcoholics, quick-tempered, or addicted to any kind of sinful behavior. And, we should all be those who practice hospitality, who are lovers of what is good, and who are sensible, just, devout and self-controlled, holding fast to our faith and to the Word of Truth.

Empty Talkers (vv. 10-16)

For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

Not everyone who says he is a follower of Christ or a teacher of The Word is truly born of the Spirit and a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Many are they who are more like temporary employees, mere contract workers, who are being paid to do a job, but they are not permanent workers, i.e. they don’t have a genuine commitment to the Lord Jesus or to the people they supposedly serve. So, they easily desert the Lord and those they proclaim to serve, whether they do so physically and/or whether they do so spiritually.

They have no qualms about twisting the Word of Truth to their own advantage in order to manipulate and take advantage of others, which they do for their own personal gain, whether it be financial gain or merely for the thirst of power alone. So, instead of telling people what they NEED to hear, they tell them what they WANT to hear in order to please the people (their customer base) so that the people will want to come back to their meetings, i.e. to their churches, i.e. to their places of business (their corporations).

So, I believe God has a plan to rebuke such as these via divine judgment in order that the saints of God may be delivered out of their hands, and also that many of them may turn to the Lord and be sound in the faith, ceasing to trick, manipulate and lead the people of God away to what is false. He loves those who are misguided, and so he rebukes them in order that they might come to their senses and turn (or return) to him and to the truth. I believe God has a plan to silence them, to expose their evil deeds, and to remove them from their positions of rule and authority over the people. They must go, but God and his Word must remain. God will judge these false shepherds of the people so that he will be his people’s only shepherd (See: Rev. 2-3; 14:6-7; Ez. 34; 1 Co. 11:32; Heb. 10:30; 1 Pet. 4:17; Jude 1).

Yet, I believe there needs to be a warning or a caution here to those who are following after these “empty talkers” who manipulate and deceive naïve minds. If you claim to believe in Jesus Christ, and you call him “Lord,” then you have a responsibility before God to test everything you hear against the Word of Truth and to not buy into everything which sounds good on the surface. And, this goes beyond just testing preachers and their sermons to see whether or not they are teaching what is in accord with scripture.

We should, as well, be testing what we hear from politicians, especially those claiming to be Christians, and what we hear from the news media, too, for not everything that looks real is real. Much is faked, manipulated and made to deceive naïve minds. We need to pray and ask God to show us what is true and what is false, so we don’t end up following lies and perhaps even denying what is truth. We need to run away from “strangers” and follow Jesus Christ and his Word. We do this by being willing to forsake our human traditions and those things taught by mere men, which have been passed down from generation to generation, so that we can hear the voice of the Lord clearly and let him open our eyes and hearts to what is truth.

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.

Submitting to the Cross

Saturday, January 14, 2017, 6:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 12 (Select vv. NASB).

A Thorn in the Flesh (vv. 7-10)

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

When God gifts us in ministry, he may also afflict us in some way in order to keep us humble, and also that we might learn to rely on him and not on ourselves. This affliction, i.e. this “thorn in the flesh” may come in many different forms. No one is certain what exactly was Paul’s “thorn,” although many will speculate. Clearly it was given him by God, for it was for the purpose to keep him humble. Satan does not want us to be humble, but to be proud. Satan does not want us to trust in God but in ourselves. So, this is one of those instances where Satan meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. For example, God may use other people in our lives to keep us humble and seeking his face, or he may use our circumstances or a physical ailment or whatever he chooses to humble us and to mold us into his likeness. The Bible calls this pruning, in order that we might be more fruitful (Jn. 15).

So, when God brings (causes) or permits difficulties in our lives, and we pray for relief, sometimes he may give us the same response as he gave Paul, and that is that his grace is sufficient for us, in order that Christ’s power might be perfected in our weaknesses (not in our sins). And, this is for the purpose that Christ’s power might dwell in us and be evident in our lives instead of us operating in our own flesh and willpower. “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body” (2 Co. 4:11). Our flesh must daily be put at the cross of Christ in order that his life might shine through us. So, instead of fighting against what God is doing in our lives, because we hate pain and suffering, we need to yield to the Lord, and submit to the cross.

I Gladly Spend (vv. 14-18)

Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? But be that as it may, I did not burden you myself; nevertheless, crafty fellow that I am, I took you in by deceit. Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I? I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps?

When God calls us to ministry it must be self-sacrificial. We must not seek our own glory, but the good of others. It will mean giving of our time and our talents, gifts, energies, heart, emotion, and reputations, etc. in order to follow our Lord in obedience, and for the benefit of those to whom we minister his love and grace. And, in return, we may get our hearts stomped on, i.e. we may be falsely accused, despised, hated, rejected, abandoned, gossiped about, slandered, mocked and otherwise treated unfairly, unjustly and unkindly. And, yet, if we love God and we love others as we love ourselves, we will willingly suffer in order that others might come to faith in Jesus Christ, in order that they might grow to maturity in Christ, that they might be comforted and encouraged in their walks of faith, and so that they will not be led astray to false gods or to false gospels. In other words, ministry is not to be about us, but about loving God and loving others.

For Your Upbuilding (vv. 19-21)

All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved. For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.

Certainly there are those who call themselves ministers of the gospel who are in it for themselves, either to gain financially, or for power and prestige, or to build for themselves earthly kingdoms, or in order to build up their own reputations and fame. As well, they may be in the ministry as false apostles, masquerading themselves as servants of righteousness, in order to deceive the masses with false gospels for the purpose of leading people astray from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ. These are Satan’s workers of iniquity to serve his purposes, because he doesn’t want anyone to follow Christ, but he wants people to follow him, instead. And, so he disguises himself as an angel of light in order to deceive many. And, many are deceived, indeed.

Yet, as true servants of the Lord, who follow him in obedience, and who love our fellow humans, we do ministry out of love for God and for the benefit of others. We expend ourselves in many different ways so that our brothers and sisters in Christ might be strengthened in their faith, that their faith in God may increase, and that they be encouraged and be filled with hope.

As ministers of Christ, we, as well, feel what God feels. We are filled with his passion and concern over those who are being led back into sin or over those who are being led astray, and so we caution them and warn them, and we urge them to be faithful to their Lord and to walk in obedience to Christ. And, it isn’t because we feel superior or that we are just being negative that we do what we do, either. Those who would fill your minds only with happy-happy feel-good messages do not love you, but they love only themselves, and they want you to like them, rather than caring about you and your soul and your spiritual walks. But, God’s grace does not ignore sin. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

As He Chose

Sunday, January 1, 2017, 9:37 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Keeps Me Singing.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 12 (Select vv. ESV).

Spiritual Gifts (vv. 1, 4-7, 11)

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed… Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good… All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Spiritual gifts are first of all given to believers in Jesus Christ. Non-Christians don’t have gifts of the Spirit of God. The gifts are also given to us from the Spirit of God as he wills, not as we will. Although the scriptures do teach that we should desire the higher (or greater) gifts (v. 31), it is still God who determines which gifts we get. As well, spiritual gifts are not to be confused with natural talents. We might have a natural talent for singing, drawing, writing, playing a musical instrument, organization, sewing, cooking, teaching, etc., but if we had these talents prior to being saved, they are natural talents, not spiritual gifts, although they, too, come from God.

Also, spiritual gifts are supernatural. In other words, they will often be something that we did not have in the natural, or that the exercise of them goes way beyond what we were able to do naturally. For instance, God may give us wisdom beyond our years, or beyond what we had naturally, so that it will be obvious that this came from him and not from ourselves. He may give us a gift for writing spiritual songs when we did not have this gift before, or he may give us the supernatural ability to have understanding of how God is working in our culture, or in our day and time, so that we can relay this to others as a practical application of the Word of God to today.

As well, spiritual gifts are not for us alone. In other words, they are for the common good, i.e. they are to be used within the body of Christ, or out in the world, depending on the gift, for men’s and women’s strengthening, encouragement and comfort, as well as for the edification (instruction, building up and spiritual maturity) of the church. And, each one of us has a part in using our gifts to minister God’s grace to others. We grow and build ourselves up in love and faith as each part does its work, not as only a few people work while the others are spectators, like attendees to a show.

One Body, Many Members (vv. 12-13)

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within us to counsel, guide, lead, empower, strengthen and equip us for ministry (for service) to our Lord, and to others. The Spirit of God then gives us spiritual gifts as He determines. And, God assigns all of us parts (roles) within the body of Christ which we are to fulfill, which are spiritual roles, and as he chooses. These body parts were predetermined by God, as he had chosen us in Christ even before the creation of the world (See: Eph. 1:3-4; 2 Tim. 1:8-9).

These God-given assignments are not to be confused, therefore, with man-created assignments. They are not the same as being asked to work in the nursery or to teach a Sunday School class or small group, or to serve on a committee, though there may be some overlaps in these areas. Nonetheless, God may guide a church leader to ask us to serve in a capacity as directed by God. And, this may be our God-given assignment, but it may not be if the leader making the decision is not in tune with the Spirit of God, and/or if he is following man-made role models for church ministry, rather than being guided by the Spirit and the Word of God.

You see, too many institutional churches are following man-made models for how to do church instead of being guided by the Spirit of God, and so the body ends up being all lopsided, because the “pastor” is the one giving out all the messages, visiting the sick, counseling the hurting, and managing the daily operations of the church, and all else seems to revolve around this one man (or several) and his (or their) ministry. But, this is backwards! For one, the ministry of the church should revolve around Jesus Christ and be guided and operated by the Spirit of God, not by man. And, all of us should have a part, i.e. all of us should share in the ministry, yet not as man determines, but as God determines (See: Eph. 4:11-16).

“I Don’t Need You” (vv. 14-26)

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

The result of the church being guided by humans, rather than by the Spirit of God, is that there are many gifted people within the body of Christ whose gifts and roles are being snuffed out or ignored. Either they are being made to feel as though their parts (roles) and gifting are unimportant or of less value, and so they feel they are not necessary to the body, or else they are being told, in one way or another, that they are not wanted because they “don’t fit” in with man’s goals and objectives for the church, i.e. with their man-made businesses, which are marketed as such, too.

The sad reality of all this is that many of our pastors and lay leaders are being trained in how to market the “church” to particular people groups, and how to push away or send away the “unwanted” who don’t fit with their particular church role model. More and more the “church” is being marketed to the world, and formed around the “seeker-sensitive” role model of how to attract the world to the “church,” and in how to keep the world coming back and craving for more of the Christianized version of what the world is offering, i.e. entertainment to feed the flesh. So, in order to do this, they have diluted the gospel or they teach a half-truth gospel message in order to make it more appealing and acceptable to the people of the world.

But, they forget that Jesus is the one who will build his church, and he will do it his way, not man’s ways. They forget, as well, that the church is the body of Christ with Christ as the head, instead of a business (corporation) of human-making with the US (or other) government as the head. And, they forget that the gatherings of the church are intended for the building up, strengthening, encouragement and spiritual maturity of the body of Christ, as EACH PART does its work, and as God has chosen and has assigned. And, that the church is then to go out into the world with the gospel so that people may come to faith in Jesus Christ, and THEN become part of the body of Christ, his church.

And, thus, many mature Christians who have much to offer the church have been pushed aside and forced to go someplace else, often to only find more of the same someplace else, and wondering where they can find the body of Christ, where Christ is truly head, and where the Spirit of God is the one gifting, equipping and empowering people in ministry so that everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their God-given roles and to exercise their God-given gifts, according to the teachings of scripture.

Yet, God has allowed all this to take place for his purposes, and he will come out on top, and his will will be accomplished through it all for the sake of his body, his church, in reviving them, and in renewing them in their walks of faith and fellowship with him. And, I believe that even where men may reject us and cast us aside, that if we are listening to God, and we are following his lead, he will make the way for us to be used of him despite man-made religion and their rejection of many of the Lord’s servants. Where we are dishonored by men, God will honor us, and he will use us for his glory, if we are following him in obedience and in surrender to his will.

He Keeps Me Singing / Luther B. Bridgers

There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low:
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
In all of life’s ebb and flow.

All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
Discord filled my heart with pain;
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirred the slumbering chords again.

Though sometimes he leads through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep,
See his footprints all the way.

Soon he’s coming back to welcome me
Far beyond the starry sky;
I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown;
I shall reign with him on high.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.

The Correct Foundation

Monday, December 26, 2016, 7:14 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 3:1-15 (NASB).

Infants in Christ (vv. 1-4)

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

When we first believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, depending upon our physical age or our background, we may know little of God’s word, or of Jesus Christ, or of what it means to be a Christian. So, we need to daily be in the Word of God, reading and studying it, and praying for understanding of just the basics of our salvation. As well, our Lord has provided believers in Jesus with the gift of teaching within the church to teach us those elementary truths of what it means to be a Christian, and concerning how we are to walk in Christ’s holiness and righteousness.

But, as we progress in our walks of faith with Christ, and we grow in him through times spent with him each day in his word, in prayer, and in obedience; in fellowshipping with the body of Christ (the church), and in learning more of Jesus and his word, taught to us within the church, we should soon move on past the elementary truths of our salvation to maturity in Christ, and on to deeper spiritual truths. Yet, not everyone does. Some people remain spiritual infants after many years of knowing Jesus as Savior of their lives, though I suspect that some (or many) of them may be Christians by profession only, who have never been born again (transformed) of the Spirit of God.

So, what distinguished these particular believers as still fleshly (or worldly) was that they were making idols of human beings, and they were even fighting and arguing with each other over what man should be followed, or over who they thought was better. And, this still goes on today, for one says “I am Baptist,” and another says, “I am Presbyterian,” or “I am Methodist.” So, not much has changed. And, some of them argue and fight (down and dirty) with one another over whose doctrine is superior to the other.

Now, we should stand for what we believe is right, and we should correct doctrinal error, if we believe error has taken place, and if it involves doctrines essential to our salvation and our eternal security, but we should not fight and attack one another. Never! We should, instead, present the Word of truth plainly, and trust the Holy Spirit to speak to human hearts. And, we should be willing, when presented with something in conflict with what we were always taught, to search the Word of God, to make certain we are not the ones in error, instead of holding fiercely to our Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian (etc.) doctrines, because we could be wrong. I know I was taught some things wrong, and God has had to correct me, at times.

One Body, Many Parts (vv. 5-9)

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

The church is worldly when it raises one man (or woman) above another, as though some gifts of the Spirit are to be given recognition above others; or when it demeans other gifts of the Spirit and those servants who exercise those gifts; or when it follows human personalities over following God and the witness of the Spirit within them. We are all one body. We just have different parts (roles, assignments). We are not to treat one as less than others just because we have different gifts from them, and we are not to regard ourselves in that way, either. As well, we are not to say to one part of the body, “I have no need of you,” though many churches are doing this today, as they are being taught to do in their training classes, so as to weed out those they don’t want in favor of those they think will be an asset to their “church” (business of human making, and marketed as such).

We need to see one another as essential to the body of Christ and to the growth of his church. We need to stop thinking with human reasoning and think like God thinks, i.e. have his eternal perspective about his church and ministry, instead of buying into human marketing schemes for how to build the church. The church has been turned into businesses of human making, which definitely idolize personalities and particular gifts (or talents). We have to view all of this through God’s eyes, though, which says that all of us who serve the Lord are just servants, but it is God who causes the growth. We can only boast in the Lord and in what he does through us, and not in ourselves, for all we have and are comes from him, and not from us.

How We Build (vv. 10-15)

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

First of all, we need to make certain we have the right foundation before we begin building. If the foundation is wrong, the building will not survive at all, but will come crashing down. For instance, if our foundation is a half-truth gospel or a watered-down version of the true gospel, then that is a faulty (or false) foundation, and we won’t be saved at all, no matter how we build. So, how do we know if we have the correct foundation? We have to read the Bible, preferably the New Testament, for that is where much of the foundation is laid, though the prophets of old also laid some of this foundation. And, we have to read the scriptures in context, and not pull scriptures out of context to make them say what we want to hear.

So, what is the correct foundation? Jesus Christ, God incarnate, though sinless, became sin for us when he died on a cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. He 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. He died, too, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, for if we live according to our sinful flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars, and the truth is not in us. If we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (for eternity), but if we lose our lives (die to sin and self), we will gain eternal life (See: 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:6).

When we truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ (of the Spirit) in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” “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.” “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.” “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23.)

Jesus did not die just so we could be forgiven our sin, freed from punishment in hell, and have the hope of heaven when we die, with no requirements for godly living while we await his return. 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 his return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus said that his sheep listen to him, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him, and they are the ones which can’t be snatched out of his and the Father’s hands (Jn. 10:27-30). Paul was sent to open blinded eyes, “so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in” Jesus (Acts 26:16-18).

God’s amazing grace did not merely rescue me from hell, and give me the hope of heaven when I die. His AMAZING GRACE freed me from the control of sin and Satan over my life, and freed me to live to Christ and to his righteousness – all in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit now living within me. My eternal life with God does not begin when I die. It began the day I met Jesus, and he cleansed me of my sins, and he gave me new life in him to be lived for him – holy and pleasing to him, which is my reasonable and acceptable worship of him (Ro. 12:1-2). Amen!

Amazing Grace / John Newton

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.