Deeply Despised

Thursday, October 12, 2017, 9:44 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “For Our Nation.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 49 (quoting vv. 5-10 ESV).

His Servant (vv. 5-6)

And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

The speaker is Isaiah, and yet this is a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, so, in essence, this is Jesus Christ speaking. And yet, to a certain extent, this also applied to Isaiah and it applies to us, too, as the Lord’s followers, for we are his servants, who were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him (Eph. 1:3-4).

Jesus Christ called us to be his servants and witnesses. Part of our calling is that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Pet. 2:9). Included in that calling is that we should encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have wandered from their pure devotion to Christ, to come back to the Lord in submission and obedience to him. It is also to proclaim the truth of the gospel to those who profess Jesus Christ as Savior, but who have never been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and thus have not truly been born again of the Spirit. And, it is to share with the world around us that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died to deliver us out of sin, in other words.

The Chosen (v. 7)

Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation,
the servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Our Lord Jesus, although he was God in the flesh when he walked this earth – i.e. he was fully God, yet fully man – and even though he did no wrong, but he taught truth, and he lived it, too, and he loved people and helped them, still he was hated, rejected, despised, persecuted, abandoned, mocked, spat upon, beaten and then hung on a cross to die. He came to save his own people, the Jews, but most of them turned away from him and would not believe in him as their promised Messiah. And, many of them called for him to be crucified, too.

Yet, it was God’s will that our Lord should suffer and die for our sins, and then be resurrected from the dead. For, when Jesus died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. Then he rose from the dead victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can be delivered out of slavery to sin, be set free from the ultimate punishment of sin, and be set free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. For, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to him.

It is also the Lord’s will that we should suffer in this life, and that we should be hated, persecuted, abandoned, betrayed and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because, through suffering we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, we are being made holy, and we are maturing in our walks of faith. We are being humbled, we are learning to rely on God and not on ourselves, and we are learning grace, compassion, forgiveness, patience, endurance and perseverance. God is developing his character within us, as he carries us through these trials, in order that we will be his faithful ministers in sharing the love, grace and mercy of Christ with others.

Come Out (vv. 8-10)

Thus says the Lord:
“In a time of favor I have answered you;
in a day of salvation I have helped you;
I will keep you and give you
as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land,
to apportion the desolate heritages,
saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’
to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’
They shall feed along the ways;
on all bare heights shall be their pasture;
they shall not hunger or thirst,
neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
and by springs of water will guide them.

When we, the body of Christ, serve the Lord faithfully in being his servants and witnesses, in taking the gospel of our salvation to the ends of the earth, we don’t have to do this in our own strength or by our own resources. When the Lord calls, he also equips and empowers. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are indwelt by God’s Spirit who comforts, encourages, strengthens, helps, empowers, counsels, teaches, and guides us in the way we should go. He will give us all we need to be able to share his gospel with many people.

So, what is this gospel that we are to take to the ends of the earth? It is not only that Jesus Christ died, and was resurrected, and that he did this to conquer sin in our lives, but that he did this that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So many people are teaching the gospel as though it is just a get-out-of-jail-free card and the promise of eternity in heaven with God when we die. But, Jesus didn’t die just to take our penalty for sin, but he died that we might be delivered out of addiction (slavery) to sin and so we might live in victory, and for him the rest of our days, for his glory.

So, our message to the people should not be merely that they should believe in Jesus Christ and accept what he did for us on the cross, but it should be that they should come out of darkness (sin) into the light of Christ’s holiness and righteousness. And, their lives should now be a light that shines forth to show to the world what it means to be truly “born again.” The Lord will now be their shepherd and helper, and he will guide them and lead them in the way that they should go. They just have to humble themselves before God, turn from their sin, and turn to follow Jesus Christ with their lives.

For Our Nation / An Original Work
September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

 

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His Steadfast Love

Saturday, October 7, 2017, 4:09 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Praise Be Told.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 63 (ESV).

His Power and Glory (vv. 1-4)

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

Our God, the One and Only True God, creator of the universe and all mankind – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is the only God whom we are to worship and to whom we are to give our praise. He is the one who made us, who knows all about us, and who created us for a purpose, which is to give glory to HIM by our lives. We are to seek after him earnestly, with all our hearts, and desire him above all else, and want to know and to do his will.

As most all of us should realize, we were not born saints, but sinners. By nature, we have a propensity to sin against God and to do what displeases him. And, we have all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval. Also, we can’t save ourselves. There is nothing we can do to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We will never be good enough, in our own merit, to be rewarded with God’s heaven. So, what hope do we have?

Well, that is why God the Father sent his Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. God the Son took on human flesh, was born as a baby to a human mother, with God as his Father, and grew up to be a man. He suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, cast out demons, comforted the sorrowful, fed the hungry, confronted sin in sinful human beings, and preached repentance for forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. And, because of this he was hated by many.

So, his enemies plotted and carried out his death on a cross. But, it was the will of God that Jesus should suffer and die for our sins, for when he died our sins died with him and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death, on our behalf. So, through faith in Him we might be forgiven our sins, have the hope of eternal life with God, be delivered out of slavery to sin, and be free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. For, when we were under the control of sin, we were free from the control of righteousness (Ro. 6).

God, My Help (vv. 5-8)

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, is not only our Savior, but he is our helper, healer, friend, comforter, counselor, teacher and guide. After he died and rose again, and he ascended back to heaven, he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of those who believed on him to be Lord and Savior of their lives. So, when we believe in Jesus, and we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life in him, his Holy Spirit comes to live within us – God within us – to teach, counsel, help, and comfort, etc. He guides us into all truth, speaks to us through God’s written word (the Bible), and shows us the way we are to live to give honor, glory and praise to God.

So, what should this look like, in all practicality? I mean, if we truly have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to his righteousness, and he is our helper, guide, healer, comforter, teacher and friend, what difference should that make in our lives? How should we be changed from how we were before we met Christ as Savior? How should we live differently than we did before?

Well, we should desire our Lord above all else, he should be first place in our lives, we should want to do what pleases him, and we should not be looking for a way to excuse away willful and addictive sinful practices. When we do sin, we should humble ourselves before him in repentance, and we should seek his counsel and help in fleeing sin and in hungering and thirsting after God and his holiness and righteousness. And, then we need to do what he shows us. We, too, must cut out of our lives what leads us into sin, and we should not tempt fate by continually going where we ought not to go, and then be surprised when it continues to end up the same way.

In other words, we can’t put on Christ in our lives if we are putting on the junk of this world every day. If we spend hours upon hours playing video or computer games, reading novels, watching TV shows, viewing movies, getting on Facebook, surfing the net, watching sports, or otherwise wasting precious time with what is mostly junk, and with what is often in direct contrast to God, to his Word, and to his divine character and will, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. And, then we act surprised when we fall into sin time and time again, and we can’t seem to get victory. So, we have to get rid of the junk in our lives and we have to seek after God with all our hearts if we want to experience his power and victory in our lives.

Enemies of Christ (vv. 9-11)

But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

There are many people in this world who are enemies of the cross of Christ and who want to live life however they want, and who will not submit to God or to his purposes for their lives. Many of these are strongly opposed to the gospel of our salvation, and willfully work against Christ and his followers. They may even be among those who are persecuting the Lord’s saints – his servants and witnesses. And, some of these, sadly enough, even profess to believe in Jesus Christ and to be his followers, but they believe in a man-made Jesus and a false gospel which gives permission for its followers to continue in sin against God, yet still promises them heaven when they die.

What we must know about this is that the true gospel teaches death to sin, living to righteousness, repentance, and obedience to Christ as crucial to saving faith in Jesus Christ and to eternal life with God in heaven. We must also know that the Bible teaches that if we continue in (practice) sin, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment and of the fires of hell. And, this is in the New Testament. So, if you bought into the lie that says that you have the hope of heaven when you die, but that you can still play with sin and not get burned, then think again. It isn’t that we must be sinless, but that we should no longer walk in sin, and that now, by the grace of God, we should walk in his holiness.

Praise Be Told! / An Original Work
Based off Various Scriptures / December 28, 2013

He was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for all our sin.
Our chastisement was upon Him.
By His stripes, we now are healed.

He has witnessed all our trials,
And the sins we choose to wear.
Yet, while we were dead in our sin,
Jesus died, our sins to bear.

He himself bore all of our sins
In His body on a cross,
So that we might die to our sin,
And live for His righteousness.

By faith in the pow’r of Jesus
And His blood shed for our sins,
We can be forgiven our sin,
And have life with God in heav’n.

He will lead us and He’ll guide us
In the way that we should go.
He will comfort and protect us,
Because Jesus, we do know.

Though He disciplines for our good,
He will heal us – Praise be told!
Do not fear, your Lord is with you.
Just have faith in Christ your Lord.

 

Tested by Fire

Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, I Need You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1 (Select vv. NASB).

His Great Mercy (vv. 3-5)

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

When we are all born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, having come up short of attaining his divine approval (Ro. 3:23; Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49). So, God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, to take on human flesh, and to die on a cross for our sins. Thus, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (2 Co. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). And, when the Father resurrected his Son from the dead, Jesus rose victorious over sin, hell and death in order that we might live with him and to his holiness and goodness.

So, when we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to new life (born again) in Him, in which we were created to be like God (Christ-like) in true righteousness and holiness. Righteousness is what is deemed right in God’s eyes. It is what is pure, holy, godly, upright, moral, honest and honorable. It is the opposite of sin, which includes such things as hatred, idolatry, spiritual or physical adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, murder, lust, and immorality, etc. And, holiness is being separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being transformed in Christ’s likeness, of the Spirit of God.

But, our salvation has only begun when we believe in Jesus Christ, for it is a lifetime process of being saved (sanctified) and then, when Jesus Christ returns for his bride, our salvation will be complete. While we live in these flesh bodies, we will still be tempted to sin, but Jesus made the way of escape for us out from underneath the temptation so that we don’t have to give in to sin. For, we are no longer under its control once we give our lives to Jesus, because Jesus set us free. Amen! And, one day Jesus will return, and he will take us to be with him forever, and then we will no longer be tempted to sin or be sick or have pain or sorrow, for he will wipe away all the tears from our eyes.

Various Trials (vv. 6-9)

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

We all go through trials, at times. Some of them are small and some are very big. Some are extended, while others are short lived. I have been going through a series of them, of late. They are not huge, but are trying just the same. It began with a recent development of a skin allergic reaction to cold. Then, when we had our new patient visits with our new doctor after moving here over a month ago, and I told him about it, he just wanted me to take an antihistamine for it, even though I told him I have been pharmaceutical drug dependent free for about 10 years now. So, he mocked me. But, I stood my ground against his insistence that drugs were my “savior.”

And, then he said I looked anemic, so he took blood, and the blood test showed I had low vitamin B-12, but I don’t take vitamins, either, because of bad reactions to them. But then I thought maybe if I could find something all natural that it would work. And I did, so I thought, but when I sprayed the first spray in my mouth my tongue swelled and my throat began to close up, which is a serious reaction (side effect), plus I got a headache and nerve pains, which is often my body’s reaction to drugs. The Lord, after I had taken this, warned me, I believe, of the dangers of this, so I stopped.

During all of this I was also constipated, and no foods or drinks I was taking in to help with that were working, so I was miserable. On top of this I had some kind of skin rash or something on my thigh, so I started putting Vaseline on that, and it is much improved. But, then we went away for the weekend, and we stayed in a hotel, and there were bad issues with the first 2 rooms they gave us, but the third one finally worked for us. Then, I got 3 bug bites in a cluster on my chest, over my heart, which were reminiscent of when we got bed bugs nearly a year ago to date (we had those for about a month then). Now, 3 days later, the recent bites (source unknown) are still there, but they are disappearing. And, then yesterday, when I was getting out of my car to get the mail, my foot caught in my purse and I took a fall down on the pavement. But, by the grace of God I was not seriously injured.

By the grace of God, as well, I have been able to bear up under these trials and not let them undo me. I have been daily committing myself and these situations to the Lord, praying for help and healing, and for much needed wisdom, and the Lord has been seeing me through them all, and other trials, too. He has been giving me grace to make it, to keep trusting him, and to keep smiling and singing despite the pain and misery associated with any of them. I believe God is absolutely sovereign over my life, and that he has allowed these trials to come into my life as a way both to test me, and also to mature and to strengthen me in my faith and in my resolve to make him my only Lord and Savior. When we go through such trials, they teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves. We learn that our dependency must be in Christ alone, and not in humans or in drugs, or in anything else but God.

Prepare Your Minds (vv. 13-16)

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

So, because of all that Jesus Christ has done for us, in dying for our sins, in freeing us from slavery (addiction) to sin, and in giving us new lives in him, and because he is our helper, strength, counselor and guide, we should commit our all to him. We must lay aside all which hinders our walks of faith and that which leads us into sin, so that we can run the spiritual race he has marked out for each of us to run. And, then we must put on our spiritual armor daily with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and schemes against us (Eph. 6:10-20).

What this means for us, in all practicality, is that we have to stop entertaining ourselves with the sins and trappings of this world, and we have to bathe our minds and hearts with the things of God – His Word, His Spirit, His Truth, and with His righteousness, goodness and holiness. And, then we have to obey what His Word teaches us, not merely being hearers of the Word only, but doers (See: Jas. 1). And, we should not live for the pleasures of this sinful world, but for the glory and praise of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Again, we are to be separate (unlike, different) from the world (holy) because we are being made to be like Jesus.

We need to take this to heart and not take God’s grace to us for granted, for if we continue in sin (in practice, in lifestyle) we don’t have that hope of heaven, but a fearful expectation of judgment. So, don’t be led astray.

Lord, I Need You
Songwriters: Christy Nockels / Daniel Carson /
Jesse Reeves / Kristian Stanfill / Matt Maher

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness…

 

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.

 

Good Conduct

Saturday, September 16, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 3 (ESV).

We Who Teach (vv. 1-5a)

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

Not many Christians should become teachers of the Word of God. This is not something we should do lightly, or just because someone asked us to do it, or because we just like to hear ourselves talk. We should also not become teachers just because we have biblical knowledge, or because we might be gifted with words, in the natural, or because we think the position will gain us some kind of prominence or popularity. We should only become teachers of the Word because we are called of God to teach, and because we are trusting in him to give us the words he wants us to say. In other words, teaching the Word of God should be a calling of God, and led of the Spirit, and it should be practiced in complete submission to the Spirit of God.

Even at that, i.e. even when we are called of God and submitted to his purposes, we are still humans living in flesh bodies, and we will stumble, at times, for we are not yet perfect, although we are being perfected (made holy), and we are being conformed into the image of Christ (See: Phil. 3:12-16). Yet, this should never be used as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. Many professing Christians continue to live as though they have never been delivered from slavery (addiction) to sin, and then they excuse it away with “I am not perfect.” May that never be! May we always strive toward maturity in Christ Jesus, holiness, and godliness, in the power of God’s Spirit now at work in our hearts and lives, and for the glory of God!

If we do stumble (sin), particularly in our speech, we should humble ourselves before God and others, admit our wrong, and then seek God’s guidance in turning away from that wrong, and doing what is right.

Tongue a Fire (vv. 5b-12)

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

I think all of us can attest to the truths presented to us in this passage of scripture, with regard to our tongues (our speech). Yet, the tongue, itself, is not the real culprit, for the Bible teaches us that it is out of our hearts that our mouths speak (See: Matt. 15:18-19). In other words, if we want to tame our tongues, we must first deal with what is in our hearts. If in our hearts we are storing up hatred, envy, strife, murder, jealousy, unforgiveness, malice and bitterness of spirit, these are what will come out of our mouths, particularly when we are put under pressure. So, we must willingly yield these things over to God, let go of all wrong attitudes, and replace them with godly thinking and attitudes, and with love for our fellow humans.

Yet, I believe it goes back even one more step further, and this has to do with what we are willfully and knowingly allowing or are taking into our hearts and minds on a daily basis. You have heard the saying, “Garbage in; garbage out,” most probably. It is true. If what we are consuming on a daily basis is rage, pornography, nudity, disrespect towards others, devaluing of people, murder, envy, strife, mocking of others, humor at others’ expense, immorality, sexual perversion, adultery, cheating, and lying, etc., this is what our minds will think on, and this is what will influence our heart attitudes, and this is what will spew forth from our mouths, too.

So, we need to make certain that daily we are taking into our minds and hearts what is godly, holy, righteous, and pure, etc., and that we are applying these right thoughts and attitudes and behaviors to our daily lives. And, we need to put off (or out of our lives) all that is ungodly, unholy, impure and unrighteous, including what we take into our minds via outside influences, as well as any wrong attitudes which we willingly dwell upon. And, we need to let go of all that is evil, and allow God to fill our minds and lives with his peace, holiness and righteousness. Then, our tongues should follow suit.

Who is Wise? (vv. 13-18)

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Do we think we are wise and understanding, and that we have much knowledge, especially with regards to Biblical knowledge and understanding? Then, we need to show it by our good conduct in all meekness and gentleness of spirit. Words can be cheap if they are not followed up with or supported by our actions. If we say we love God, or that we have fellowship with him, but we continue in willful sin against him, we are liars, not truth tellers. If we claim to love God, and to worship him, but we don’t do what he says, in daily practice, we don’t really love him or know him, the Bible says. So, true knowledge and wisdom is not in what we know, in our heads, but it is in what we do with what we know, because it is now applied to our hearts.

We also need to be people who live by the truth, and who are not hypocritical. We should never pretend to be more than we are, or act as though we are living beyond where we are living. We should not make an appearance (act) of godliness while we deny its power in our lives via willful sins against God. We should always be truth tellers, but to speak the truth in love, not in brashness and rudeness and in order to willfully bring hurt to others unnecessarily. In other words, I recognize that sometimes the truth hurts, and we can’t avoid all that, for it is often necessary for true healing to take place. The gospel is truth, but it offends many people, because they do not want to conform their lives to Christ or to his gospel. Yet, we must share the truth of the gospel, because it means salvation for many lost souls.

Thus, wisdom can be godly and it can be earthly. It can be of God, or it can be of the devil. Truth can be for our good, or it be to cause harm. If we preach one thing, but practice another, we do more harm than good. So, we must test our hearts, our attitudes, and our behaviors against the truth of God’s Word, get rid of all which defiles us, and cling to what is good. Make sure, in our teaching, that our motives are pure and godly, and that we are not being hypocritical in our teaching because we profess one thing while we secretly are engaged in willful and continued (addictive) sins against God. If God puts his finger on areas of our lives where we need to repent of sin and follow him in obedience, then we need to obey, and not resist him.

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.

 

For Christ

Thursday, September 14, 2017, 4:59 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 1 (Select vv. ESV).

Gospel Advanced (vv. 12-14)

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

In Jerusalem, Paul had been falsely accused by some Jews, who had stirred up a whole crowd against him. Then, Paul was falsely arrested and he was brought before the Sanhedrin for questioning. The Jews then formed a conspiracy to kill Paul, so Paul was transferred to Caesarea where he stood trial before Governor Felix. He was kept in prison for two years under Felix, and then Paul came under the jurisdiction of Governor Festus, before whom he was also brought for trial. Paul was being encouraged to return to Jerusalem to stand trial, so he appealed to Caesar. Then, Paul was brought before King Agrippa. And then Paul was sent to Rome to stand trial before Caesar, where he lived at least two years in a house under guard (See: Acts 21-28). On each of these occasions, Paul was able to share with them his testimony about Jesus Christ, and concerning the gospel of our salvation.

So, truly, what Satan meant for evil in Paul’s life, God meant for good. Amen! The gospel not only was not hindered from spreading, but the gospel was advanced through Paul’s sufferings, under his imprisonment. All glory to God! And, as a direct result of his imprisonment for Christ, many other believers in Jesus were encouraged and strengthened in the faith and became bolder in speaking the word of God without fear. So, what had the appearance of defeat in the life of Paul was actually in God’s design for the advancement of the gospel. And, so it is often for us, as well.

I can give testimony, myself, that I would not now be doing what I am doing in sharing God’s Word and his gospel of salvation on the internet if it had not been for many instances of rejection and persecution of myself and of God’s gifting and calling in my life, and also from religious leaders within organized and institutionalized Christian religion. It was through these times of rejection and persecution that God placed his call on my life to spread his gospel message on the internet, and so I have been doing that faithfully these past 11 years. All glory to God, for great things HE has done!

To Live is Christ (vv. 18b-26)

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Not everyone, even within the Christian community, will be supportive and encouraging of us if we are proclaiming the whole counsel of God, as Paul did. One of the reasons for this is that so many of them are listening to humans over and above God and his Word. They are buying into humanistic philosophy and a diluted gospel message intended to tickle itching ears and to appeal to the flesh of humans. Not only that, but they are being taught that if anyone mentions repentance or obedience, in the context of the preaching the gospel, that they are teaching works-based salvation and so their words should be disregarded or challenged as untrue and misleading.

Yet, we should not let this discourage or dishearten us, but we should continue proclaiming the truth of God’s Word and of his gospel, and we should rejoice that we are sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. So, even if we are falsely accused, and even if people who oppose us end up poisoning others against us, in hopes to discourage them from believing the truth of the gospel, we should not be afraid. God is still completely sovereign over all things and all people, and his Word will never return empty, but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it (Is. 55:11). Amen! We just need to do what is right, and then trust God with the results, even if we are mistreated in return.

We should always have this attitude in us that for us to live is Christ, but to die is gain, because then we get to be with our Lord forever. It is not that we seek death, although we would like to be with Christ, but that we don’t fear death or persecution, rejection, false accusations, etc. We know we were put here on this earth to give glory to God through our lives, and we know that faith in Jesus Christ also means we die to sin and self so that we might live with Christ in newness of life. Also, we know that Jesus bought us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins, so we are no longer our own, to do with our lives what we want, but we are to honor our Lord in all that we do. So, we accept God’s will for our lives, and we praise Him!

Worthy of the Gospel (vv. 27-30)

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

As followers of Jesus Christ, and as ministers of the gospel of our salvation, our manner of life, i.e. the way we live day in and day out, should be for the glory of God, and for his honor and praise. How we conduct our lives should be worthy of (becoming, suitable, fitting) the gospel of Christ. What this means is that, since the gospel teaches us that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, this should be how we live. We should no longer live to gratify our sinful flesh, but we should conduct our lives in a manner fitting (suitable) to one who has been set free from slavery to sin and who is now walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, according to the Spirit of God.

What this means for us is that we should be ones who take God and his Word seriously, to heart, and who walk in obedience to his instructions to us. We daily, by the Spirit, are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. We don’t lie to ourselves, and to others, or make a pretension of godliness while willfully living in sin, or make excuses for willful and persistent sin against God. We also don’t make compromises with the world of sin in order to be liked, accepted or to not be persecuted, or in order to hold on to pet sins. Jesus died, not just to forgive us our sins, but to cleanse our lives of all unrighteousness.

Instead of playing it safe, and joining in with those who are making “nice” with the world, we should be ones who are standing on the Word of Truth, who are living what we say we believe, and who willingly lay down our lives in order to see others go free from addiction to sin. We should not shrink back from living for the Lord or from sharing his truths out of fear of persecution, but we should accept the fact that it has been granted to us by God, not only that we should believe on him, but that we should also suffer for him and for the sake of his gospel. So, we should be striving side by side with all followers of Christ for the faith of the gospel, standing firm in one spirit, and not frightened in any way by our opponents, which are many.

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.

 

Likewise

Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 4:54 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 3 (Select vv. ESV).

Pure Conduct (vv. 1-6)

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

I am a woman, and I have been married to my husband for 45 years now, so these words speak to my heart. We wives are to be subject to our husbands. We are to yield to their authority, be secondary to them in rule and authority in the household, and we are to be their assistants (partners, helpers). We are not to be head over them. Yet, we are not to subject ourselves to or to be partners with what is sinful, i.e. we are to obey God above all else and to respectfully decline any invitations to sin against God. We should never let our husbands lead us into sin, in other words, and then use “submission to spouse” as an excuse to willfully sin against God.

Our behavior should always be pure and respectful, both to God and to our husbands. We should set an example before our husbands, and before all people, of what it means to live pure and holy lives, pleasing to God. Yet, does this mean that we are never to say anything to our husbands about their conduct? I believe the implication is that the husband, in this case, is not a believer in Jesus Christ, and it is also in the context of the woman being in subjection to her husband, and not lording it over her husband. It also appears that the husband did hear the Word (the gospel) preached, but that he rejected it, so the wife should not try to pound the gospel into her husband through words, but rather to live the gospel before him, which would have a greater effect on him than her preaching it to him.

But, this is not to say that wives must live in absolute silence with their husbands, or that a wife cannot lovingly approach her husband with concerns over inappropriate conduct, or that if her husband is a believer, but he is going astray, that she cannot lovingly speak to him in hopes that he might be deterred from error. There are many passages of scripture, with regard to the body of Christ, that teach us to speak the truth in love to one another so that we might be brought to maturity in Christ, and which speak of what to do if a fellow believer is being led into sin or is caught in a sin, and also regarding what it means to love someone with the love of Christ. It is not loving to see a believer being led into sin and to say nothing. Also, if the wife is the helper, there are times when she does need to speak out.

As far as our outward adornment (beautification) is concerned, it should not be what is gaudy (loud, flashy, tasteless) or sensual. It should not be what attracts people to our bodies, especially, but it should be simple, discerning and modest. We especially do not want to adorn ourselves outwardly in such a way that we might knowingly lead men to lust after us, so we should always dress ourselves in such a way that is appropriate for women who profess Christ as Savior and who want to live holy and godly lives. For, what we want to show to others is the righteousness of God in our hearts, which comes not merely through our words, but through our reverent, submissive and humble attitudes and behaviors.

Honor the Woman (v. 7)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Even though these instructions to husbands are few in words, they “pack a punch,” i.e. these few words are capable of having a powerful effect on the lives of the husbands who take these few words to heart.

Husbands are to live with their wives in an understanding way, via applied knowledge. So, what specific knowledge or understanding is implied here? I believe the “likewise” in both the instructions to the wives and to the husbands refers back to the words spoken at the end of chapter 2, which speak of suffering unjustly, responding in love, and following Christ’s example of humility and holy conduct, especially in the face of unjust suffering. We read there that Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24). Husbands and wives, who profess faith in Jesus Christ, should live as Christ lived, following his example, and should die to sin and live to righteousness, and then we will live with each other as God intended.

This brings to mind the instructions to husbands in Ephesians 5:25-33 where it says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” In this way a husband is living with his wife in an understanding way, with applied knowledge, by following the Biblical instructions on how he is to live with and love his wife. And, this is a “tall order,” yet God can give them all that they need to do and to live this.

Husbands are to honor their wives. If they love them as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her, they will honor their wives. So, how should they honor them? First and foremost, I believe, is by keeping their marriage vows to them, and by not going after “other lovers,” whether through viewing pornography, or via romantic or sexual relationships with other women or men, or by being “married” to their jobs, hobbies, sports or whatever else may have their hearts, passions and desires above God and above their spouses. Secondly, they honor their wives by treating them with decency, dignity, respect, and value, and by showing regard for their thoughts, beliefs and feelings, and by valuing their opinions or input in decision-making. Bottom line – love them like Jesus loves them, and you won’t go wrong. And, in this way, your prayers will also not be hindered.

Kindred Love (vv. 8-12)

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For

“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

All of us, whether wives or husbands or singles (unmarried) or children, if we are in Christ, through faith in him, should have unity of mind, but with what mind? Whose mind? We should have unity (harmony, agreement) with the mind of Christ, not with the mind of humans. Too many humans are pushing unity, but it is not unity with God, with his purposes, with his Word and with his will and his ways, but it is solidarity with the thinking of humans and with humanistic philosophy, and it is a blending in with the world. So, when we hear the word “unity,” even within the church, we must be cautious and discerning with regard to what we are essentially unifying with. Be aware! The beast wants unity, too, only with him. Know the difference!

If we, as followers of Christ, do have unity of the Spirit of God with one another, then we will also have sympathy, kindred love, tender hearts and humble minds, especially in regards to how we treat one another. We will not want to exact revenge on others who we believe have harmed us in some way, but we will love them, forgive them, and we will want to help them, if possible, to be right in their relationships with the Lord. We will not slander others, or speak hateful words against them, in order to cause them harm, but we will speak the truth in love to them, in hopes that we might turn a sinner from his or her sinful ways. Yet, seeking peace should never be at the cost of compromise of the truth, of the gospel message, or of our testimonies and lifestyles, which are to be given over to our Lord in submission to his will. Seek peace, but never compromise with evil!

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.