Called to Freedom

Monday, October 9, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 5:13-26 (NASB).

Law in One Word (vv. 13-15)

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

What does it mean to be called to freedom? What does freedom in Christ really look like? There are divided thoughts on this issue. Many people think freedom in Christ means we are no longer obligated to obey Christ’s commandments. But, is this true? These same people also teach that God requires nothing of us other than some obscure (vague) belief in Jesus Christ and an acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins. Some even go so far as to say that we don’t have to repent of our sins and we don’t have to obey God. But, aren’t they missing the whole point of what our salvation is all about? Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not just so we can be forgiven our sins and have the hope of eternity in heaven.

What has happened here is that many people, in order to forsake legalism, have gone to the other side of the pendulum, i.e. to the opposite extreme. Instead of now being legalists, they follow the way of libertinism. They think they are escaping man-made religion only to go to another form of man-made religion, because neither side is based primarily in the truth of God’s Word. I am not saying there are not elements of truth on either side, because I am certain there are, but that they have many distortions of truth, too, for one adds to God’s grace while another subtracts from God’s grace. And, neither one teaches true biblical freedom in Christ, but both get their cues from human beings, whom they often follow above God and His Word.

Ok, so what is the correct balance? If you weighed your beliefs on balance scales, with God’s standard on one side, and your beliefs on the other, would your beliefs be in balance with God’s standard of measurement? If you say, “Yes,” how are you measuring that? The only true measurement is God’s Word, primarily the New Testament, and not just select scriptures, and not what you hear from some preacher, or read in some book authored by some famous person or in some devotional book or meme you read on Facebook.

Yet, God’s standard has been simplified for us here. The whole law is fulfilled in one word (love), in the statement “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Yet, this love is not human love which may often be compromised by the flesh – by sinful passions. This kind of love is God-like (agape) love which prefers what God prefers, embraces God’s choices, and obeys them through his power (1), so it will do no harm to others. In practice, this love won’t lie, cheat, steal, hate, do evil, murder, slander, gossip, or commit adultery or fornication (includes viewing pornography), etc. And, loving others in this way means we also must love ourselves in this way, for when we sin against God, we are not loving God or ourselves or others.

By the Flesh (vv. 16-21)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So, if we follow the way of (agape) love, we will first of all love God, and we will desire his will for our lives, and we will want to obey him, and not be looking for loopholes as a way to avoid obedience. Obedience does not demand absolute perfection, though, which is why Jesus died for us on a cross, so that through faith in him we could be reconciled to God. But, God’s standard does have to do with our walks, i.e. the way we live, day in and day out. Do we walk according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God or do we still live our lives (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh?

So, how do we NOT conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh now that Jesus has set us free from slavery to sin? We live our lives, instead, according to the Spirit, according to God’s Word, and in agreement with God’s divine character and will. If we do that, scripture teaches, then we won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For, you see, many who call themselves Christians are not really living their lives for Christ. They may do good things, and avoid killing people and robbing banks, etc., and they may attend church services, and even serve in some capacity within the organized church, but then live no different from the world, or think their lives are to do with what they want the rest of the time.

If Jesus is not Lord (owner-master) of our lives in actuality, but just in theory, then we can’t expect that we will be able to resist Satan and flee temptation to sin. If we are not submitting to his Lordship over our lives, and if we are not walking in obedience and surrender to him, then we are not daily putting on the armor of God, with which we are to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and his schemes against us. And, if we are filling our minds daily with the values, principles, philosophies, attitudes, morals, thinking and behaviors of this sinful world via TV, movies, music, the internet, social media, video games, and the news media, and the like, we should not be surprised when our thinking, attitudes and behaviors reflect the world of sin.

Yet, we must know here that to be in Christ, and to have the hope of heaven when we die means we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. This is not saying we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that sin no longer has mastery over our lives, but Christ does, and we now live to his righteousness and no longer to gratify our sinful desires. If we continue in sin (on a sinful course), we should not expect to be rewarded with God’s heaven, but we should anticipate that, instead, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Believe this!

By the Spirit (vv. 22-26)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

But, if we walk according to the Spirit, to do what God desires for us, and what he requires, the outgrowth of that should be evident in our lives. This, again, is not saying we will have arrived or that we will be perfect, and that at all times we will display perfectly the fruit of the Spirit, and never the flesh. But, as we grow in Christ, and in his Word, and as we walk with him day by day, and by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, these qualities should become more and more evident in our lives.

But, we still have to resist Satan, flee temptation and sin, and we have to draw near to God, and lean on him and on his grace to help us to daily die to our flesh and to be able to walk (in lifestyle) according to and by the Spirit. This keeps us daily dependent on Christ and not on our own flesh (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

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.

Sources:

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/25.htm

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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.

 

Spiritually Appraised

Thursday, September 28, 2017, 2:17 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, I Need You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 2 (NASB).

The Power of God (vv. 1-5)

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

If it’s our own words, from our own flesh, what good are those words in leading people to faith in Jesus Christ, or in urging our fellow believers to walk in holiness and not according to the flesh? If we have been to Bible college, or if we have studied Greek or Hebrew, or if we are experts in doctrine and theology, and then we speak from head knowledge instead of heart knowledge (experience), we may impress people with our knowledge, but our words will lack the power of God behind them to change human hearts. Or, if we have the power of persuasion, from our own flesh, and if we are smooth tongued, witty, and charming, we may lead people to like us and to follow us, but we won’t lead them to the cross of Christ.

There is nothing wrong with knowledge, mind you. The Apostle Paul was an educated man who was well schooled in the scriptures. And, we are to study the scriptures to show ourselves approved unto God as workers who do not need to be ashamed, but who correctly handle the word of truth. We are to meditate on the Word, and to know the truth, and to share the truth of God’s Word with others, so that they may also know Christ Jesus, our Lord, and walk in his ways. And, we are to live the truth, and not be those who merely hear the Word but then walk away and forget what they look like. Yet, we are to share the Word of Truth in the power of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to direct our words, so that the message comes from God and not from our human flesh, so that God gets all the glory and praise, and not us.

The Wisdom of God (vv. 6-13)

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,

“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

When we are attempting to share our faith with others, it is imperative that we seek the counsel of God, and that we allow the Holy Spirit to direct our words. This is not to say that our words will be perfect or eloquent, but that if the Holy Spirit is behind them, they have power to change lives. For example, I once heard a testimony from a man about how he came to faith in Jesus Christ. He was in college, and there was a young woman who regularly shared her faith out in the open, on campus, and one day he listened to her, and when she asked him if he wanted to believe in Jesus Christ, he said “Yes.” He said, from a human standpoint, that was one of the worst presentations of the gospel he had ever heard, but the Holy Spirit was in the words the woman spoke, and he responded in faith.

You know, there were probably people there who mocked this woman, or who thought she was foolish, and who probably made fun of her lack of ability to express herself with eloquence in speech, but it didn’t matter, because she was being obedient to Christ, and her ability to communicate with distinction was not essential. What was essential was her submission to the Spirit of God, her willingness to speak the words God gave her to speak, and her faithfulness in service, even if she was derided, in return. For, God chose the weak things, and the lowly and despised things, so that no one might boast in God’s presence (1 Co. 1:26-31). We need to be those who speak words taught us by the Spirit of God rather than those who speak words taught by human wisdom when we are sharing our faith with others.

The Mind of Christ (vv. 14-16)

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

In our human flesh, we cannot comprehend the things of God. This is not to say that all believers in Jesus have perfect understanding of all that is spiritual and is of God. We don’t yet (See: 1 Co. 13:9-12). It is also not to say that unbelievers cannot understand spiritual things, for how else would anyone be saved? But, it is the Spirit of God who quickens their hearts and minds to understand what God is saying to them, the same as it is for us who are believers in Jesus Christ. We, in our sin natures, do not accept the things of God, and we cannot understand them, for they are spiritually discerned. That is why God has given us the Holy Spirit to reveal his words (his truths) to us, but we have to be receptive to hear what the Spirit is saying and to respond in faith and obedience, or it will all fall on deaf ears.

But, if we are willing, and we are receptive, and we will listen and obey, and we will trust Jesus Christ with our lives, his Holy Spirit will come to dwell within us, and he will speak God’s words to our hearts so that we understand what is spiritual, and so we can apply these things to our lives. Then, it is not for lack of knowledge if we do not follow our Lord in obedience, because we have God living within us, and his Spirit revealing God’s truths to our minds and hearts. Thus, we have the mind of Christ within us and we can know God’s will, so that we can DO God’s will. But, we do so, not in our own power and strength, for we still live in flesh bodies, but we do so in the power and strength of our Lord who gives us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him, and for his glory and purposes.

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…
My one defense, my righteousness…

 

For and Against

Wednesday, September 27, 2017, 4:22 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Before the Throne of God Above.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 8:26-39 (NASB).

To whom are these words addressed? They are addressed to those of us who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin and who have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life (born again), created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Sin is no longer our master, because Jesus Christ put sin to death on our behalf, and because he delivered us out of slavery (addiction) to sin. So, now we are free to become bond-servants of his righteousness. We are now those who walk (in lifestyle), no longer according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. We aren’t perfect people, but we don’t make sin our practice. For, if we live according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God (Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

Our Weaknesses (vv. 26-27)

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

So, we no longer live according to the flesh, but by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, for all who are being LED BY the Spirit of God are the children (sons and daughters) of God. If children, then heirs of God and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ, IF INDEED we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Yet, in our sufferings there is hope, first of all the hope we have of eternal life with God, which includes the promise that one day we will shed these earthly bodies, and we will have heavenly bodies free from even temptation to sin, sadness, pain and suffering. Then, we have the hope that, in our sufferings, when we have no strength to endure or to carry on, that the Holy Spirit will help us (See: Ro. 8:12-27).

So, what are some of these weaknesses he helps us with? Well, we don’t always know the right words to pray or even what to pray for, so the Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. Sometimes we don’t know the right things to do, because they are things not clearly defined in scripture. But, we want to make certain we are walking in the ways of the Lord and on the path he has marked out for us, and so we ask for help to know his will and to follow him in the direction he is leading us, and he gives us the guidance and direction we need, as well as he gives us the mental and physical strength and spiritual endurance necessary to complete the assignment (task) before us. Sometimes he just fills us with his peace, which is especially needed if Satan is attacking us with doubts and fears.

For Good (vv. 28-30)

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

This is another wonderful encouragement for us when we are going through times of great suffering for Christ, or when we are being harassed by Satan’s lies, which we are needing to put off so that we can put on the truth. And, that is that God causes ALL things to work together for GOOD to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.

So, what is this saying? Well, it is saying that our God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is absolutely sovereign over all that he has made. There is nothing which we go through on this earth which escapes his notice or what he did not allow in our lives for a purpose. And, he will work it all out, not only according to his will, but for good (for what is best, as it ought to be). But, for whom? For those who love him. And, how do we love him? We love him by surrendering our lives to him, by dying with him to sin, and by following (obeying) his instructions to us. If we say we love him, but we don’t practice obedience, godliness, holiness and righteousness, then we don’t really love him. Again, this is not to say we will never sin, but that sin no longer rules our lives. God does!

He also works together for good all things to those called according to his purpose. And, what it is his purpose for us? It is that we are being conformed to the image (likeness) of Jesus Christ.

For Us (vv. 31-36)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

So, when Satan throws his fiery darts at us, and he tries to plant in our minds doubts and fears, we can be encouraged by these words. We will have enemies, for certain, because the Bible tells us we will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake when we follow Jesus Christ with our lives. As well, Satan is definitely against us and he is working hard to try to trip us up, to get us to give up, or to try to persuade us to come to his way of thinking. Yet, Jesus Christ is on our side, he and the Holy Spirit are interceding for us, and God is not going to short-change us, but he will fulfill all his promises to us. We can take that to the bank (be assured of it).

So, if we are in Christ Jesus, by genuine faith in him, we died with Christ to sin, were resurrected with Christ to new life in him, and we are now walking according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, we can be at peace with God even when the enemy is coming strongly against us, in knowing we are in the center of God’s will. No fiery darts from our enemy and no false accusations or persecutions from other human beings will ever be able to separate us from the love of Christ. He is there watching over us, helping us, giving us strength and endurance, and working his will and purposes in our hearts and lives, even when we can’t see him working.

All Things (vv. 37-39)

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So, we never have to be afraid, because our Lord will never leave us or forsake us. And, we don’t have to get the point to where we are ready to give up because we lack the strength or endurance to keep pressing on, because God will give us all we need, if we will just rest in him and trust him fully with our lives, and with our circumstances, and if we will let him lead and we will follow his lead. We can be CONQUERORS through HIM who loves us, not in our own wisdom, scheming, power and strength, but in the wisdom, strength and power of God who is living within us. Amen!

Before the Throne of God Above
Charitie L. Bancroft

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea,
A great High Priest whose name is “Love,”
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart,
I know that while in heav’n He stands,
No tongue can bed me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free,
For God, the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there! The risen Lamb,
My perfect, spotless Righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace!

One with Himself I cannot die,
My soul is purchased with His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, My Savior and my God.

@Public Domain

 

Sound an Alarm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Call for Repentance (vv. 12-14)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trust Him / An Original Work
August 15, 2012 / Based off Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.

God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.

Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.

 

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.

Fullness of Joy

Friday, August 25, 2017, 9:15 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Just Want to Be Where You Are.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 16 (ESV).

Apart from You (vv. 1-4)

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, and he becomes our Lord, we yield to his will for our lives, and we rest in him to accomplish his purposes in our lives. We should no longer regard our lives as our own, to do with them what we desire, but we should consider that we now belong to Christ, for we were bought back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins. We ought to be grateful for his grace to us, and we should desire him above all else in this life. He should be the love of our lives, and we ought to want to be with him always, doing what he says, and following him wherever he leads us.

When we trust in Jesus Christ, his Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. As his followers, we now become the body of Christ, God’s temple, for God now lives within us in the person of his Holy Spirit. Collectively, we who believe in Jesus Christ are his church. And, the church is comprised of the saints of God (believers in Jesus). Thus, we should love them and want to enjoy sweet Christian fellowship with them, and to worship God with them and to minister to one another. And, the Holy Spirit will gift us with spiritual gifts which are to be used within the body of Christ to encourage, strengthen, counsel, nurture, urge, heal, and help one another to grow in our faith.

When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we should love what he loves and hate what he hates. We must leave our old lives of living for sin and self behind us, and we must follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his will for our lives. We should no longer run after the cravings of this sinful world, but now our desire should be for our Lord, to please him in every way.

My Chosen Portion (vv. 5-8)

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Faith in Jesus Christ is not just about escaping hell and having the promise of heaven when we die. It isn’t just about being forgiven our sins so that we are no longer under condemnation, either. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He saved us, not just to secure a place for us with him in eternity, but he saved us to deliver us from bondage to sin while we still live on this earth. He died, not just to forgive us, but to transform us. He has given us spiritual birth in himself, for when we believe in him, we die with him to our old lives, and we are resurrected with him to new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Faith in Jesus Christ is also not just a religion, but it is a relationship with our living God. Because of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, we love him, and we want to be in fellowship with him, and we want to serve him with our lives. So, we spend time with him each day in prayer and in his word because we want to hear from him, and to talk with him, and to have communion with him. And, he counsels us and instructs us in the way he would have us go. Sometimes he corrects or rebukes us, and other times he encourages and comforts us. He is always with us, and we can talk with him any time. Yet, the beauty of the relationship is not just in the talking and listening, but it is in the doing. We must do what he tells us, too.

The Path of Life (vv. 9-11)

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Spending time with our Lord in prayer, in his word, in listening to him speak his words to our hearts, and then in doing what he instructs us to do should not be just ritual or obligation or brief. We should consider the fact that God now lives within us, so he is always with us, no matter where we are or what we are doing, so he can talk with us and us with him 24/7. We ought to always be in an attitude of prayer and have receptive ears to hear him speaking to us anytime and anyplace, and then to quickly respond to what he says. It should be a lot like a young married (or engaged) couple who want to be with each other all the time and who can’t wait to see each other and to tell each other about their day or to share experiences together.

We should love our times together with our Lord, and to desire to know and to do his will, no matter where that sends us or what it requires that we do. And, he will make known to us the path of life chosen for us that we must follow. And, then he will go before us and prepare the way, and he will lead us in the way we should go, and he will direct our steps. We may not know exactly what lies ahead, or God’s exact timing for everything, but we step out in faith one day and one step at a time as he reveals his will to us each step of the way, and in his perfect timing. Sometimes we wait on him, and then when he opens the way for us to go, we then walk in it, but not in our own strength, but in the strength and power of God’s Spirit within us.

I Just Want to Be Where You Are
Don Moen

I want to be where you are
Dwelling in your presence
Feasting at your table
Surrounded by your glory
In your presence
That’s where I always want to be
I just want to be,
I just want to be with you…