He Dwells Within Us

Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 5:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 14 (Select vv. ESV).

Another Helper (vv. 15-17)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – was celebrating the Feast of the Passover with his disciples when he spoke these words to them. Satan had already put it into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus, and so Jesus told his disciples that one of them was going to betray him. Then, Jesus told his disciples that he was soon to leave them, and that they could not go with him then, but that they would follow afterward. But, then he comforted them with the knowledge that he was going to prepare a place for them, and that he would come again to take them to be with him. And, that comfort is for all of us who know him.

When Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, the Holy Spirit was present with them, but he was not living in them. The Holy Spirit came to dwell within the followers of Christ after Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross for our sins, buried, resurrected from the dead, and ascended back to heaven to be with the Father. Now, when we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within us, to empower us to live godly and holy lives, and to teach, counsel, guide, correct, reprove, encourage and strengthen us in the faith. Yet, he does not dwell in all who merely profess faith in Jesus Christ, but in those who were crucified with Christ in death to sin, and who have been resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness.

If We Love Him (vv. 18-24)

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”

When Jesus left this earth, shortly afterwards he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell all of his followers. When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are birthed of the Spirit of God, and the life of God now dwells within us and gives us new life in Him. Because the Spirit of God and Jesus Christ and the Father are one God, it is God living within us; it is Jesus Christ, in the person of his Spirit, living within us, and we, as Christ’s followers, are his body. He now lives out his life through us on this earth. And, we are his representatives. Because Jesus Christ lives, we now live and walk in the Spirit of God.

Yet, it is not enough to merely profess faith in Christ, or to pray a prayer to receive Christ, or to acknowledge Jesus’ existence or what he did for us in dying on a cross for our sins. We must walk (in lifestyle) in obedience to our Lord, not in absolute sinless perfection (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but according to the Spirit of God and no longer in accord with our sinful flesh. This is love for God, to keep his commands. If we say we love him, or that we believe in him, but we do not do what he says, we are liars. If we are persisting in living sinful lifestyles (in practicing sin), we do not know God, and we do not have the hope of eternal life with God or of Jesus taking us to be with him when he does come back one day (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:6).

Peace from God (vv. 25-31)

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”

If we are genuinely in Christ Jesus, through faith in him, we have God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, now living within us, teaching us all things, and empowering us to live godly and holy lives. So, if we continue living in rebellion against God in addiction to sin, we do so because we are choosing to disobey God and to go our own way, for he has made the way for us to come out from under slavery to sin, if we will just take what he has given us and apply it to our lives. God makes no provision for sin, nor does he allow excuses for sin against him. He is merciful, and he will forgive us our sins, if we are repentant, but if we continue on a sinful course, and yet claim to have fellowship with him, or to love him, or to know him, then we are mistaken and misguided (See: Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Ro. 8:1-17).

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we have peace with God, but not peace as the world gives. The world is looking for absence of conflict among all people via compromise of faith and conviction and acceptance of all religions as viable and tolerance of sinful lifestyles. But, Jesus said he didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword, and to turn even family members against one another. What he meant by that is that he didn’t come to bring peace as the world defines peace, for if we follow him in obedience and surrender to his will, we will be in conflict with the world of sin, and the world will hate us because we have come out from the world.

The peace Jesus gives us is peace with God in that we are no longer in enmity towards God when we submit to his Lordship over our lives and trust him to deliver us out of slavery (addiction) to sin, because of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins. For, 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. He as crucified on a cross in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk no longer after the flesh, but according to the Spirit. And, He “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).

Jesus told his disciples that the “ruler of this world is coming,” but that he had no claim on Jesus, for Jesus did as the Father had commanded him. And, that is why Satan (the ruler of this world) hated him, because he obeyed the Father, and that is why he hates us too, when we do the Father’s will, who is in heaven. And, Satan did come after Jesus, to have him arrested and then hung on a cross to die. But, it was God’s will that Jesus should suffer and die for our sins, and then to be resurrected back to life, so that we might be delivered out of Satan’s stronghold, and no longer be under his control. So, Satan was not the victor in this, for he was conquered through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and on our behalf, so that we might be free from slavery to sin and be bondservants of Christ and of his righteousness, and all for the glory and praise of our God. Amen!

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

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

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

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

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

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The Lord Knows

Wednesday, August 23, 2017, 2:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 94 (ESV).

Their Arrogant Words (vv. 1-7)

O Lord, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, under the control of Satan. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, God delivers us from Satan’s control and he brings us under God’s headship (Lordship). That enrages Satan, and so he declares war against us. His goal is to either destroy us or to try to persuade us to desert our Lord and to return to following him, instead. Thus, Satan uses other humans to accomplish his purposes by turning them against us in hopes that they might crush us and that we might give up serving our Lord.

God has a day in mind when he will repay the wicked for their evil deeds and for the unjust suffering with which they have afflicted God’s people. Yet, he is very patient towards us, because he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (See: 2 Peter 3). Yet, for those who are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and who are suffering greatly at the hand of these evildoers, they will cry out to God in their trouble, and they will pray for relief. God will then comfort them with the understanding that he knows what is going on, and that he has it all under his control. So, we are to trust him, rest in him, and pray for the salvation of the wicked.

The Thoughts of Man (vv. 8-11)

Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
the Lord—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.

When the wicked are allowed to freely strut about doing their evil deeds, they can become arrogant, thinking that God does not see, and that he does not know, or that he is somehow impotent, and that he will do nothing. So, they may gain a false sense of security in all of that, thinking that they can continue in their evil ways and that nothing bad will ever happen to them. But, that is a false reality, for God does see, and he does know, and he is omnipotent (all-powerful), and one day he will repay them for their evil.

He Will Not Forsake (vv. 12-15)

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,
and whom you teach out of your law,
to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are not signing up for an easy life, nor does God promise us smooth sailing. In fact, he promises us that we will share in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and that we will be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted. So, it should not surprise us if the world hates us and if the wicked strongly opposes us. God has allowed this in our lives for his purposes and for his glory. Through our difficulties God is pruning us, purifying us, making us holy, and conforming us to the likeness of Christ, as well as he is teaching us patience, endurance, and compassion, and that we need to rely on him and not on ourselves.

The rest that our Lord gives us isn’t always rest from suffering or from persecution, though he may do that, too, at times, but the rest he gives us is internal, in our hearts, minds and souls. It is an internal peace that he gives us even when all hell is breaking loose all around us. It is the belief that God is absolutely in control (sovereign) over all that he has made, and that nothing can happen to us but God has allowed it in our lives for a purpose, and that he will accomplish his will through it all. It is also the knowledge that our Lord loves us, that he cares about what is happening to us, and that he will never leave us or abandon us, but that he will carry us through every hardship until the day when he takes us to be with him.

The Lord, My Help (vv. 16-23)

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out.

When the wicked are assailing us, we may sometimes feel deserted and all alone in this world, but we can rest in the knowledge that the Lord is with us, that he has a purpose in it all, and that he will help us through it. His steadfast love will sustain us. He will comfort us in all our troubles, and he will teach us his will so that we may walk in his ways, and in his truth. And, he will use us, if we are willing, in other people’s lives to encourage them in their walks of faith. Even when our troubles are many, we can sing with the hymn writer that “It is Well with My Soul.”

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012

Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.

Of Faith

Thursday, July 13, 2017, 4:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “His Tender Mercies.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of faith.

Be Not Anxious (Matthew 6:25-34)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I think it is human nature to want to know the end from the beginning of a situation before we will venture into that area. It can be, in the natural, a fearful thing to step out into the unknown, not knowing what lies ahead or how things are going to come together. Yet, when we walk by faith, we learn to trust the Lord in all things, and we believe him to work it all out according to his plans and his purposes.

In the natural, so many things could go wrong, and our plans could fall apart. But, when we are being led by the Lord, and he is the one directing our paths, he will go before us, and he will prepare the way for us. This is not saying we will never face obstacles, but that God is completely sovereign (in control), and that he will work all things out for the good of those who love him; who have been called according to his purposes.

So, we learn to trust him, and to rest in him, and to believe him to supply all that we need for what he has called us to do. And, so we inquire of him to know what we are to do, where we are to go, and what we are to say. We do what he says, and then we leave the results in his hands. We follow him and his lead in our lives, and we trust him, too, with the people in our lives.

Of Little Faith (Matthew 8:23-27)

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

When we follow the Lord in obedience, it does not mean it will always be “smooth sailing.” Sometimes we will face storms, i.e. difficult and troubling situations which shake us, and which may be life threatening, as well. And, it may seem to us that God is asleep on the job, and that he is not paying attention to what is going on in our lives. But, he is still sovereign (in control), and he has it handled. Nothing escapes his notice. He has a plan and a purpose for it all, and he will see us through any and every situation.

So, we should not let the storms of life unsettle us or to make us feel as though there is no recourse or that there is no hope. We must be steadfast in hope and in faith no matter our circumstances. Walking by faith often means that we don’t know what lies before us, and how things are all going to work out. But, when we know God is in it, we have to know that he will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Why Do You Doubt? (Matthew 14:22-33)

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Sometimes, when things get particularly bad, which they will sometimes, we lose sight of Jesus and we get lost in the details of what we are going through. And, that is when we begin to fear and to fret. And, that is because we are looking at the circumstances and we are focusing on them rather than focusing on the God who is sovereign (in control) over our circumstances. So, we may begin to listen to the lies of Satan, instead, and begin to think that God can do nothing about what we are going through.

And, even though Jesus is right there with us in our circumstances, we may not recognize him, and so our hearts may begin to sink. And, when we cry out to him, he reveals himself to us, and he shows us how he is there. Sometimes it isn’t just that he is there with us through our trials, though, but that he is the one initiating the trials in our lives, because he has a plan and a purpose for them to mature us, to get us to rely on him and not on ourselves, and to teach us patience and endurance.

We might, at times, step out in faith, and be walking with the Lord in obedience, and then along the way get sidetracked by troubles or hardships and forget that our Lord is in control. And, then we begin to drown in our difficult circumstances because we took our eyes off Jesus. So, we need to refocus our attention on Jesus, be renewed in our faith, and keep going forward, even when we don’t know what lies ahead. We must walk by faith and not by sight, believing God to do his work in our lives, and in the lives of those we love, even if we don’t see yet what has been promised.

His Tender Mercies / An Original Work / January 26, 2014

Fear not! I’m with you.
Be not dismayed!
God watches o’er you.
Trust Him today.
He’ll lead and guide you;
Give you His aid.
He’ll love and keep you
With Him always.

Walk in His footsteps.
He’ll lead the way.
Trust in His love;
Believe that He cares.
He will not leave you.
Faithful He’ll be.
His tender mercies
Now you will see.

Fellowship with Him
Throughout the day.
Tell Him your heartaches.
He’ll heal always.
Rest in His comfort.
He is your friend.
Your faith He’ll strengthen,
True to the end.