The Goodness of God

Wednesday, August 9, 2017, 5:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 27 (Select vv. NASB).

My Salvation (vv. 1-3)

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

We are all born into this world with sin natures. We all fall short of attaining God’s divine approval, by human effort. So, God the Father sent his Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) into the world to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross so that we might become the righteousness of God (1 Co. 5:21). So, when he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. But, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death, on our behalf. He died that we might die with him to sin. And, he lives that we might live with him to his righteousness. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:14; & 1 Pet. 2:24).

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, thus, 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 (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). The old has gone. The new has come. This is what it means to be “born again” of the Spirit of God. Our lives are changed, transformed of God’s Spirit away from living to sin and self and to living to Christ and his righteousness. Now we no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, not necessarily in sinless perfection (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but in a consistent and persistent walk of faith, daily, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are given the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. The Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell within us, and he lives within us to empower, strengthen, guide, teach, counsel, convict, rebuke and encourage us in our walks of faith with our Lord Jesus. Through our times of fellowship with our Lord each day in his Word, listening to him speak his truths to our hearts, and through prayer, talking with him and listening to him, we grow in our faith and knowledge of our Lord, and we are strengthened in our faith, and mature in our spiritual walks. We learn to know his sovereignty over our lives, and that we never have any reason to fear the enemy of our souls (Satan) or any of his servants and messengers, for our God and Lord will give us all we need to remain faithful to him.

He Will Not Leave (vv. 7-10)

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.

Coming to faith in Jesus Christ does not mean we won’t face difficulties in this life, or that we won’t know trouble, hardships, pain, suffering or heartaches. In fact, Jesus said that if we follow him, we will suffer like he suffered, and we will be treated like he was treated. But then he, although he was perfect, learned obedience through the things that he suffered. And, we, as well, learn obedience, including patience, perseverance, love, faithfulness, trust, and humility, etc. through our sufferings and hardships.

Our Lord will never abandon or forsake us, though. He will remain faithful even if we are faithless. He will always be there to comfort, encourage, give hope and healing, and to counsel us in the way that we should go. He will give us everything we need to live godly and holy lives for him in this present world and to not give way to fear. We just need to keep seeking his face and his counsel, and we must trust him with our lives, and rely upon his strength and power, and then rest in him, and believe that he will work out all things for good for those who love him, who obey him, and who have been called according to his purpose (Ro. 8:28).

Teach Me Your Way (vv. 11-14)

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless
I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.

The goal of our salvation is not merely that we should escape hell (eternal damnation) and have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth. God’s grace to us is also not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) 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 (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we lie and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:5-9). And, if we continue to make sin our practice, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

The goal of our salvation is that we forsake our sinful lifestyles, and that we walk righteously before God to please him in all that we do, and think, and are, and say. Jesus becomes our husband, and we, as his church, become his bride. So, we forsake our former “lovers,” and we commit ourselves to him to faithfulness, obedience, and to making him our only Lord and Master. We do this because we love him, and because we are now in relationship with him, and our desire is now for him. So, we want him to teach us his ways, because we want to walk in them, and no longer live to please our sinful flesh. This is not to say we will never sin again, but that our desire should now be for him, to walk in his ways, and that we will now walk (in lifestyle) according to his Spirit, and no longer according to our flesh.

When we make that decision to follow our Lord in obedience, though, we will face opposition from our enemy and from his followers (his servants and messengers), and from those whom he has deceived with his many lies. And, there will be those who will bear false witness against us, who will slander us, and because they hate us and our testimonies for Jesus Christ, and our relationship with our Lord. They are those who are still bound in their sins or are those whom the enemy is deceiving that they can still be addicted to sin and that God’s grace covers it all. And, so they will find the true gospel and its messengers an offense to the lifestyles they choose.

Yet, we are not to fear them or their slanderous tongues, or their mistreatment of our bodies, for our Lord is completely sovereign over all that he has made, and he will see us through it all to victory. He will carry us through it all, and he will give us everything we need to endure and to come out shining like gold. And, one day we will get to be with our Lord forever, and all sorrow, pain and crying will cease. Amen! So, we just need to wait on our Lord, believe what he says, trust in his promises, take courage, keep on loving others, and keep on loving and serving our Lord with our lives.

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.

Hunger and Thirst

Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 9:30 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of spiritual hunger and thirst.

For Righteousness (Matt. 5:6)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

To hunger or thirst after something is to long for, yearn for, strongly desire, or to crave it. There is a sense of urgency in this longing, too, as though without it you will not survive, or apart from it you will not be fully satisfied. Yet, we don’t do this just once and we have it, and it is done with. Literally this says that blessed are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, i.e. this involves actively pursuing righteousness, not just once, but continuously, and not because we are not satisfied, but because we are satisfied and we realize that we need to go after it daily, for Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It needs to be part of our everyday lives, in our conduct, speech, thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.

So, what is righteousness? It is “what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes” (1). It is morality, justice, decency, uprightness, honesty, purity and holiness. And, to be holy is to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into the image of Christ. So, we are to be continually pursuing purity, honesty, uprightness, holiness and godliness in our lives, and we should not be chasing after what is ungodly, impure, deceitful or wicked.

Yet, many Christians, or professing Christians, especially here in America, seem to be doing just the opposite of this. So many of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ are chasing after the pleasures of this world and those things which will satisfy the cravings of their human flesh, rather than hungering and thirsting after righteousness as part of who they are and how they live their lives day by day. And, their relationships with God (with Jesus Christ) are often given minor attention, affection and passion or desire for what God deems right and good, and for what is approved in his eyes. Not only that, but if Christians are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, in today’s culture, they are often tagged as out-of-touch with reality, or too serious, or hyper-religious. And, even others who claim faith in Christ will encourage them away from taking God and his Word so seriously, and will tell them they need to “lighten up,” sit back, relax and enjoy life.

For Jesus Christ (Jn. 6:35, 51, 53-56)

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’” “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.’”

But, Jesus Christ wants us to take him very seriously, and those who don’t have no real life of the Spirit in them. Hungering and thirsting after Jesus Christ is not “gospel lite.” It is not “happy hour,” i.e. this is not about having a party and just having a good time (fun). This is not saying we do not have joy, we do, but we don’t take God and his Word lightly or casually. To hunger or thirst after him is to deny ourselves and daily take up our cross and follow him. It is to be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and to be resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. It is sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, too.

When Jesus spoke about us eating his flesh and drinking his blood, he was not speaking literally of eating his physical body, but figuratively of partaking with him in death to sin and living to righteousness, which is what his body and blood symbolize. When he was crucified on a cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. So, when he died, our sin died with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose triumphant over sin, Satan, and death on our behalf. He put sin to death for us so that we would no longer be slaves to sin, but that we might be free to be slaves to righteousness.

So, if we want to have eternal life with God and the hope of heaven when we leave this earth, then we must be crucified with him in death to sin, and be resurrected with him to newness of life. We must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, for if we walk according to the flesh (in sinful practice), we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. So, if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle, practice) in darkness (sin), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

For Living Water (Jn. 4:13-14; Jn. 7:37-39; cf. Rev. 21:6-7; 22:17)

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.’”

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, by God’s grace, via death to sin and resurrection to new lives in Christ Jesus, we are indwelt, filled and empowered from on high with God’s Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God, thus, empowers, strengthens, encourages, and teaches us to live holy lives pleasing to God. We can die to sin and live to righteousness, not in our own flesh, but in the working of God’s Holy Spirit within us, as we yield to our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will, and as we cooperate with God’s work of grace in our lives.

The Spirit of God teaches us all things regarding Jesus Christ and his righteousness and holiness. When we read the Word of God each day, the Holy Spirit speaks God’s words to our hearts to encourage, counsel, and guide us, or to rebuke, correct and warn us. We don’t live the Christian life in our own strength, or according to our own will and desire, but the Spirit of God provides us with all we need to walk uprightly and in purity and holiness. He gives us spiritual gifts, as well, to be used within the body of Christ to encourage one another, and to strengthen one another in the faith, so that we do not grow weary and lose heart, but so we are built up in the faith, and we mature in our walks of faith.

Because we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, God lives within us, and we are his temple (his church, Christ’s body). We can talk with him at any time, day or night, and he speaks to us, as well. We don’t have a religion, per se, but we have a relationship with our God which is real, personal and intimate. He is our God, and we honor him as such, and we stand in awe of him, and give him our respect, and yet he is our best friend and companion, and our husband and Father, and the more we spend time with him, and follow him wherever he leads us, the sweeter our relationship with him grows. He helps us through all difficulties, and he wraps his loving arms around us when we are hurting and in need of comfort and encouragement, too. He completely satisfies all of our needs both now and forevermore!

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012

Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/1343.htm

Stand and Obey

Sunday, May 7, 2017, 8:08 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Be Strong and Take Courage.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 5:17-33 (Select vv. NIV).

Go, Stand! (vv. 17-20)

Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

In this world we are going to have trials, tribulation and persecutions. We will face opposition from the enemy, and from those who have fallen under his deception; under his spell. Some of these enemies have infiltrated the church, and some are even the pastors, elders, deacons or otherwise spiritual leaders within the church. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, or else they are the naïve who have been duped by a clever adversary.

Today’s modern church movement has brought worldliness into the church as a way to market the church to the world. So, they entertain the world rather than proclaim God’s plan of salvation from bondage to sin; rather than make calls for repentance – turning from sin to Christ and to his righteousness. In fact, many of them teach God requires no repentance, no submission to Christ and to his cross, and no obedience to God. They teach a grace, instead, which gives free license to lasciviousness (immorality/sin).

Because of this, many of these churches have embraced ecumenicalism or even syncretism, i.e. the blending or merging of different religions and beliefs. Their bible, in practice, rather than being the word of God, has often become marketing books on how to grow their churches (businesses). And, many of these leaders and their followers are followers of humans, rather than followers of God. Thus, the Holy Spirit has been pushed out of many of these churches, because he does not fit with their marketing plans.

Thus, many of these church leaders are being trained in how to choose their targeted audience, and in how to discourage participation from those with “strong convictions,” i.e. from those who still teach the gospel as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it. They don’t want to offend the world with the true gospel, so they create one which is less offensive and more acceptable to the world. And, for many of them, the gospel has been reduced to “good deed doing” rather than confronting sin, warning of judgment, calling for repentance, and promising the hope of eternal life with God for the repentant and the obedient (to Christ and to his commands).

Because of this, many Christians who are following Jesus Christ with their lives, who are living separated lives from the world, who still hold to the tenets of the Christian faith and practice, as taught in scripture, and who stand on the Word of God, and on his gospel message, are being persecuted, even within the worldly church. Some of them, I am sure, are being told to “go someplace else” where they will be a “better fit,” because many of these pastors are saying this, so this is their training. And, not only that, but Christ’s followers are being accused of teaching works-based salvation, even though they are teaching what Jesus and his NT apostles taught. And, beyond that, they are also being accused wrongfully of being hateful, bigoted, intolerant, judgmental, unkind, and even dangerous.

Yet, the Lord Jesus is saying to his persecuted saints to “Go, stand on the Word of Truth, and tell the people about this new life in Christ Jesus.” We are to tell them that Jesus didn’t die just so they could be rescued from hell and have the hope of heaven when they die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us; and that we might no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14; Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25).

Obey God! (vv. 25-33)

Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.

When we obey God, and we do what he tells us to do, according to (in agreement with) the teachings and biblical principles of scripture, there are going to be people who will not like us, who will object to what we are doing, and who may even kick us to the curb. Some of these may be pastors. Some may be elders in churches. Some may even be moderators or owners of Christian websites. As well, they may also be government enforcers whose job it is to stop the gospel of Jesus Christ from spreading further, so they may clamp down on what can be said on the internet or in person with people. They may even declare it to be a hate crime to confront sin in sinful humans, to tell them that faith in Jesus Christ is the only path to God and to heaven, and to warn of judgment and to call for repentance.

In the Western World, in particular, it is not the name of Jesus that is an offense, for many make Jesus out to be whatever fits with their lifestyles. What is an offense is the cross of Christ, but not just that he gave his life up for us on the cross, but that he requires that we die with him in death to sin and that we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, and in order for us to have eternal life with God (See: Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Lu. 9:23-25). For, this is what it means to be born again; to be born anew of the Spirit of God.

Yet, when we face opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and even if we are commanded to stop teaching the whole counsel of God, and if we are instructed to take it down a notch, i.e. to remove the offense of the cross, we must obey God rather than men. Always God’s Word trumps! Yes, we are told in scripture to obey our leaders, but NOT if they are commanding us to disobey God, to deny our Lord, and to stop preaching the truth. We need to be men and women of God who stand strong on the Word, who do not compromise with the world of sin, and who do not dilute the gospel message either to be liked by people or out of fear of what humans might do to us.

So, keep on keeping on. Don’t give up. Don’t let discouragement set in, either. God has a plan and a purpose for it all. He is still sovereign over all he has made, and he is still in control over all things. Trust him! Do what he says, and leave the results to him. His word will never return empty, but will accomplish what he desires and achieve the purpose for which he sent it.

Be Strong and Take Courage / Don Moen

Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way

Why don’t you give him all of your fears?
Why don’t you let him wipe all of your tears?
He knows, He’s been through pain before
And He knows all that you’ve been looking for.

What a Change!

Monday, April 24, 2017, 9:47 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 9:1-20 (NIV).

Murderous Threats (vv. 1-2)

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Saul, later called Paul, was a religious man. He was a Pharisee, so he knew the scriptures (the Old Testament). He was devout in following what he believed was right. But, he was misdirected. Sometimes people can be very sincere in what they believe, yet be sincerely wrong. He thought he was following God by persecuting and murdering Christians, because he thought that the teachings of Jesus were against God, and against his Word. But, again, he was wrong.

The Jews, by and large, did not accept Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah of Israel, and they rejected Jesus’ claims that he was God, their Lord. They didn’t like it that he healed people on the Sabbath, that he didn’t follow the traditions of the elders, and that he confronted them with their sins. So, they hung him on a cross to die, thinking they had put an end to him. But, then he was resurrected from the dead, appeared alive to his followers over a period of 40 days, and invigorated his disciples to follow him in ministry after he left this earth. So, they also rejected his followers, as well as they rejected the gospel of our salvation, for they believed it was wrong.

A Light from Heaven (vv. 3-6)

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

When Paul (Saul) gave his testimony of his conversion to King Agrippa, he told him how Jesus had spoken to him while he was on his way to Damascus, which is where he was headed to persecute more Christians. Jesus asked Saul why he was persecuting him (Jesus), for truly by persecuting Christ’s followers, Christ’s body, it was the same as though he was persecuting Jesus Christ himself. Saul’s response was to ask who was speaking to him, to which Jesus responded by telling him that it was him, and that it was him who Saul was persecuting. And, then the Lord said:

Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

So, even though Saul (Paul) was a persecutor of Christians, who hunted them down in order to bring charges against them, and even though he approved of their murders, and even though he thought he was serving God in all of this, and that he was doing what was right, Jesus Christ had other plans for him, to turn him around, and to use him for his glory. This is called “grace.” Jesus Christ turned a persecutor and a murderer of Christians into an apostle of Christ and a minister of the gospel of our salvation from sin. And, Paul penned the words of God in about half of our New Testament books, too.

And, this grace is the Good News of the gospel of Christ. In other words, believing in Jesus Christ is not just about escaping hell and going to heaven when we die. It is about being turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we can receive forgiveness of our sins. It is about leaving our old lives of sin behind us, being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and being born anew of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived to his righteousness. This grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt, but it teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

A Chosen Instrument (vv. 7-16)

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Not one person is beyond the saving grace of Jesus Christ. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. No matter what someone has done, or even for how long they have lived the way they have, there is always hope. We should never write another human being off, and, thus, consider the person doomed, for we never know what God has planned for people’s lives. He doesn’t choose like humans do. He chooses on the basis of his love and on the basis of his marvelous grace, not on the basis of human performance.

We should also not be afraid if God leads us to talk with someone we feel is against God, or is even a persecutor of Christians. If he wants us to speak to kings, we should be willing to go, and to say whatever he has given us to say. We should never shrink back from saying whatever our Lord wants us to say to any individual, either out of fear of what that person might do to us, or out of a personal belief that someone is beyond the grace of God, because, at one time, we all were separated from God and destined to perish in our sins, and if it had not been for God’s grace, we would not be where we are, either.

Yet, following our Lord in obedience, and in surrender to his will for our lives, in being his witnesses, may mean that we will also be hated and among the persecuted, and we may be called upon to die for our faith in Jesus Christ, too. Yet, we must be willing to go through whatever our Lord requires of us, knowing that he will be with us, and that he will see us through everything which he has planned for our lives. So, we need to trust him fully.

He Could See! (vv. 17-20)

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

Ananias walked by faith and not by sight. He believed God, even though everything in the natural had told him that this was not a good idea. And, he went to Saul (Paul) believing God to do a miracle in his life. And, that miracle did happen. We all should have such faith as this and believe God for miracles of his grace in people’s lives, and be obedient in sharing Christ with whomever the Lord puts in our paths.

The result was that Saul was translated from death to life. He was born anew of the Spirit of God, and not only were his physical eyes cured of his blindness, but his spiritual eyes were, too. His eyes were now open to hear and to receive whatever the Lord Jesus had for him to be and to do. And, at once he began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God. This is grace! This is love, i.e. it is God’s love for us in saving us from our sins and in giving us new lives to be lived for him and for his purposes and for his glory! And, it is our love for him, in return, in desiring to follow him in obedience, too.

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.

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.

Pure Minds

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 – I woke this morning around 2:00 a.m. The passage of scripture from 2 Peter 3:9 was in my mind, concerning God’s patience toward us, he being willing that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance. I believe the Lord put that scripture in my mind because he wanted me to read that chapter this morning. He also, once again, put in mind the song “Bless This House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Peter 3 (NASB).

Stirring Up (vv. 1-2)

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

Do you ever need to be reminded of things? I know I do. Especially the older I get, the more forgetful I get. I have to write things down or I know I will forget them. Sometimes spiritually we get forgetful, too, and thus we need to be reminded of the promises of God, and also of his provisions for us. It is essential, at times, to have our memories jogged, as well, with regard to his purposes for making us who we are, and the reasons for which he called us to his service, and for which he saved us by his grace.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. ~ 2 Pet. 1:3-4 (ESV)

God has given us everything we need to live godly and holy lives on this earth, to resist Satan, to flee sin (or the temptation to sin) and to draw near to God in full assurance of faith. When we believe in him to be Lord 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. The old has gone. The new has come. There is absolutely no reason why a born again Christian should still be trapped in sin and still living to please his sinful flesh. Jesus set us free! We just have to believe that, and we have to take the way of escape he has provided for us.

When we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live within us (Christ in us) to teach, counsel, convict, spur, remind, strengthen, encourage and to empower us to live godly lives. Yet, we are still in flesh bodies, and we still live in a sinful world, and sometimes we can get distracted by other things and forget the reason for which he cleansed and purified us from all unrighteousness. So, we need to have our pure (unadulterated) minds (thinking, discernment) stirred up (jarred) within us so we don’t lose sight of the reason we are here, and so we don’t fall into error, deceit, hypocrisy, wickedness, and impurity and the like.

He is Patient (vv. 3-9)

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

I am thankful to God that the day of total destruction of this earth has not yet come, because there are many people who need to be saved from their sins, and there are many Christians who need to have their unadulterated minds stirred up within them so that they remember that they were saved from bondage (addiction) to sin, not just saved so they can escape hell and go to heaven when they die. So, divine discipline is needed, at times, to jar (jog, shake) our memories, so we do remember why he saved us and why he called us, and so we follow him in his ways and in his truth, and so we are not distracted by all that the world is offering us in the way of pleasure.

There is a lot of discussion going on right now among people with regard to the possibility of nuclear war, supposedly because of threats coming from N. Korea, and because the U.S. president appears to be “stirring the pot,” i.e. it seems he is causing unrest and trouble for us, and for the world. Yet, God has allowed this for a purpose, and perhaps it is to “stir up” the purity of our minds, i.e. this may be for the purpose to get the attention of the people of this world, and of Christians, so we take God and his Word seriously, and so we don’t take lightly the prophecies of scripture with regard to these last days before the return of Christ. Just because the end has not yet come, and this earth has not yet been destroyed, does not mean it will not happen. It will, and we all need to be ready (spiritually) for when that day does come.

Holy Conduct (vv. 10-18)

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

With a view in mind of what God has in mind for this earth at the end of time, and that none of us knows exactly when that is going to happen, even though Christians should know when it is near, we should take special note of how we are living (conducting) our lives, for none of us knows if he has tomorrow. Why should we be living as though we think every day will remain as it is, and without regard for the warnings of scripture regarding the fact that those who walk according to the flesh do not have eternal life?

As Christians, God has called us to be holy, to walk in purity, and to be separate from (different, unlike) the world of sin, because we are being conformed to the image (likeness) of Christ. So, why are so many Christians in America living not much different from the world? Why are so many living for their own pleasure, rather than to please God? Why is it so many churches are watering down the gospel to make it more appealing to human flesh and to attract the world to its meetings? Why is the church trying to be like the world to win the world, and to what? Yet, we are to come out from under the influence of the world and to be separate, but not many are. We, as the church, are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, but I fear we have lost our saltiness, and we, as the church in America, are not much good for reaching this world for Jesus Christ and for his salvation.

Too many professing Christians in America believe that once they have secured their salvation, via a sinner’s prayer, that eternal life is guaranteed them, so they can sit back and relax, have a good time, enjoy life, live how they want, and then one day they will be raptured before things get too bad, or else they will die and go to heaven. But, if that were true, then why warn Christians in this way, as is written here in this book of the Bible and in others like it? If Jesus took our place on that cross merely so we would escape hell and go to heaven when we die, and if a sinner’s prayer is enough to secure our eternal destiny, then what difference does it make how we live our lives, or if one day the earth is going to be destroyed?

The danger here is that so many have lost the fear of the Lord, because it is rarely being taught these days. They assume that, even though they profess to believe in Jesus Christ, that their lives are pretty much theirs to do whatever they want, without regard for what God requires of them, because many believe he requires nothing of us at all. If they read their Bibles and pray at all, some of them act as though they are doing God a favor. Yet, Jesus said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living in sin), we will lose them for eternity. Paul said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity) (Ro. 8:1-14).

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. ~ 1 Co. 6:9-10 (ESV)

Bless This House
Helen Taylor / May H. Morgan

Bless the people here within,
Keep them pure and free from sin . . .

Bless us all that we may be,
Fit O Lord to dwell with thee . . .

The One We Have Pierced

Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 7:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Zechariah 12-13 (Select vv. NIV).

A Spirit of Grace (12:10)

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”

The context here is that of judgment. And, the judgment is on God’s people, yet not to destroy them, but to revive them. Yet, as with many of the Old Testament prophecies, they sometimes have more than one fulfillment, and they periodically blend together prophecies concerning their present age, and concerning the messianic age, as well. And, that is this case here, I believe.

The one who has been pierced is Jesus Christ, who is God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our sins are what pierced him. He who knew no sin became sin for us, though, in order that we might become the righteousness of God. By His stripes we are healed! He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, he died in order that we might no longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Holy Spirit of God.

So, when we, who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and who have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, which is to be lived to his righteousness, turn away from what we know is right, and we willfully do what we know is wrong, in a sense, we pierce him again. He grieves over us, for we have left the right way and we have gone off to follow after the gods of this world and our own flesh once again. And, so his goal is always to bring us back. If speaking tenderly to our hearts over a period of time does not get results, then he is not resistant to disciplining us in order to get us to look to him and to realize the folly (absurdity, senselessness) of our ways.

The goal of this divine discipline (judgment, correction), if we have wandered off from our pure devotion to Christ, is to get us to humbly and mournfully repent of our sins and to turn back to following Christ with our lives. And, he will pour out on us the blessings of his grace in reviving our hearts and empowering us once more with his Spirit to live godly lives.

Cleansing from Sin (13:1-2)

“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

“On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land.”

Although God will allow Satan and all his hordes to come against his saints – to attack, kill, hate, reject, persecute, abuse, falsely accuse and misuse – he will never leave us or forsake us. He will give us, who are still alive, all we need to remain strong in our faith, to put on the armor of God, and to set our faces like flint against all of Satan’s wiles and wickedness. Our enemies will not be able to destroy us, though. Although they may kill the body, they cannot kill the soul. The stronger Satan fights against us, the mightier in battle against him God makes us, if we are willing to obey him. The more that the church is persecuted, the further it increases in numbers and in faith, perseverance, forbearance, hope, trust, and courage to keep sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many as possible before Jesus returns.

On the day when God judges his people, and when he judges our enemies, too, and when God’s people, his saints, repent of their evil ways, and they return to him as their ONLY God and Lord, he will cleanse them of their sins. This is not the cleansing that takes place when we first believe in Jesus Christ, and our sins are put to death in our lives, and we are born anew of the Spirit of God. But, it is the cleansing of sin that takes place in the life of the believer who has fallen back into sin and then repents (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-10; Rev. 2-3; Lu. 9:23-25). It is when God renews us and restores us back into fellowship with him, because that fellowship had been broken by our willful sins against him (Heb. 12:1-13; Gal. 6:1; Col. 3:1-10; Ro. 8:12-14). Basically, we are daily needing to be renewed and restored (Jn. 13:1-17).

When God judges our enemies, he will remove from the land what has led his people into captivity, i.e. the false prophets and idols which have led his people astray. I can’t help but feel that the internet and TV will have to be cut off somehow, so maybe we will lose electricity. This judgment will also expose all those deceivers for what they are, which will then open the eyes of the saints who have been duped by these master manipulators. And, that, I believe, is the fountain that will be opened to cleanse the wayward saints from their idolatries, impurities and adulteries. When we no longer have available to us these idols, and when our eyes are opened to the truth, and the blinders removed, this will be a fountain to healing and cleansing.

Scattered Sheep (13:7-9)

“Awake, sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who is close to me!”
declares the Lord Almighty.
“Strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered,
and I will turn my hand against the little ones.
In the whole land,” declares the Lord,
“two-thirds will be struck down and perish;
yet one-third will be left in it.
This third I will put into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

This passage of scripture appears to move quickly from the time of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, and the desertion of his followers, to the scattering of the early church during a time of great persecution, and then on to the persecution of the saints and the judgments of God in these last days before Jesus’ return. This passage also speaks of God’s restoration and revival of his wandering saints, as well as it speaks of his purifying and refining of his faithful and persecuted saints (his servants) in these last days. And, included in this is the salvation of souls who have never before trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, who will now say, “The Lord is our God.”

I don’t know the timing of all of this. I don’t know for sure that the tribulation is a literal seven years. But, what I do know is that the prophecies of scripture in Revelation 13 are being realized in our day and time, and I believe some of them have been happening at least since WWII. For one, I believe that television meets the criteria of the “image of the beast” like nothing else on this earth, for truly it is its image (picture, representation, likeness, reflection). And, it is worshiped (idolized) in probably the majority of American households, for sure. It seems most American homes have at least one TV, and often large screen TVs in their living rooms, and the rooms are often focused all around the television set, as also often are the lives of the people who live in those houses.

The internet needs to be included in this, as well, including the use of smart phones, electronic tablets and laptop computers which give people unsupervised (re: children) or unaccountable (to anyone) private internet access. This has ruined entire households and destroyed many marriages.

Also, a global force of the Elite of this World (the New World Order) is presently consuming, plundering, confiscating, murdering, persecuting and otherwise taking over sovereign nations and peoples and lands and properties and churches all over the globe. And, the US government is, basically, leading the way as their “right hand man,” i.e. as the harlot who rides the beast. The US government has no real authority of its own, but it is under the authority of the rule of the Elite (New World Order ‘beast’), which serves as the de facto government (shadow government) of these United States of America. We who live in America cannot trust our leaders or our media or even a lot of our church leaders to tell us the truth. So, we must test everything we hear or read against the Word of God and in prayer.

But, the good news here is that, even though God allows evil to reign for a period of time, and even though he allows his saints to go through difficult times, in order to refine, purify and make us holy, and to conform us into the image of Christ, this will not last forever. One day Jesus is going to come back for us to take us to be with him. When he does, evil and sin will be no more. There will be no more sickness, sadness, pain, and suffering. No one will ever be able to hurt us again. We will be with our Lord forever! Amen!

Yet, while we wait for his return, what kind of people ought we to be? We “ought to live holy and godly lives” as we “look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Pet. 3:11-12; cf. Tit. 2:11-14).

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.

Showers of Rain

Monday, April 10, 2017, 6:59 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Zechariah 10 (Select vv. NASB).

Ask from the Lord (v. 1)

Ask rain from the Lord
in the season of the spring rain,
from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
and he will give them showers of rain,
to everyone the vegetation in the field.

What is a shower? It is a washing and a bath, among other things. It is water (rain) coming down from heaven. Water cleanses, and it refreshes. Water quenches our thirst, and it is necessary to plant life in order to give the plants the important nutrients they need to grow. We, as humans, need food and water in order to live. It is for our survival. When we are born into this world, we are born of water, from our mother’s wombs. In scripture, water is often used to symbolize the Holy Spirit and eternal life in Christ Jesus, given to us who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives. When we are baptized physically upon faith in Jesus Christ, by immersion, this symbolizes our death with Christ to sin and our resurrection with him to newness of life, i.e. our new birth of the Spirit of God.

So, in a spiritual sense, if we ask the Lord for spring rain, during a season which symbolizes everything coming back to life, it could be that we are seeking him for salvation, after we have heard the gospel message of salvation from sin, and upon the Spirit of God convicting our hearts and drawing us to Jesus. We are, thus, seeking him for spiritual cleansing and for eternal and abundant life in Him. Or, it may be that we are going through a spiritually dry period in our lives, so we call upon the Lord for spiritual refreshing and renewal in the Spirit. Or, we may be asking for the Spirit of God to empower, strengthen, equip and encourage us in our walks of faith.

As well, we may have fallen back into sin, and so we have been going through a wilderness time in our lives when we have allowed the devil to get a foothold in our lives again. Our times with the Lord have fallen off, or else we are just going through the motions, because we know we are not living right. We know we are not walking in the ways of the Lord, and that he is not pleased with us. In fact, we are not pleased with us, but yet we continue because we have gotten trapped again or because we have given up hope that we can walk in victory. Been there. Done that. Not a good place to be.

And, so we call on God to deliver us from ourselves, although he has already done that, and yet we know we need to be rescued if we are to live. And, so we repent of our sinful ways, and we call on God to give us what we need to get back on the right path, and we ask for him to revive, renew and restore us. We need to be brought back to God in the sense that he is our ONLY Lord. We need to be refreshed in our spirits and to be encouraged once again in our walks of faith. We need to be strengthened in our perseverance, too, so we don’t give up again. We need the season of spring in our lives, in other words, when everything comes back to life, when the Holy Spirit is leading, instructing, comforting, counseling and strengthening us in the Lord because we are now listening to our Lord, and we are doing what he says.

False Dreams (v. 2)

For the household gods utter nonsense,
and the diviners see lies;
they tell false dreams
and give empty consolation.
Therefore the people wander like sheep;
they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.

The problem today, especially here in America, is that not many people seem to be seeking God with all their hearts, and truly desirous of the pouring out of the Spirit on their lives in either genuine salvation, or for empowerment for our spiritual walks, or in revival. Too many people, including those who profess the name of Jesus, are living worldly lives, void of the power of the Spirit of God, still trapped in sin’s deceitfulness, without conscience, and with little to no desire or thought to change their sinful ways via faith in Jesus Christ. They think they don’t have to, in many cases, because their shepherds are telling them that God requires nothing of them.

Today’s modern gospel has nothing to do with death to sin, because that offends people, and it makes them uncomfortable. It does tell of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, and how he paid the penalty of sin for us so that we could go free from condemnation and have the hope of heaven when we die. But, they fail to tell people that faith in Jesus is not something we create out of our own imaginations. Saving faith is God-given, and it is divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives. When we are convinced of God’s will, we submit to that will, not resist it, or think it doesn’t apply to us.

Jesus didn’t die on that cross and shed his own blood for our sins just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that we might walk in the Spirit, in the ways of the Lord, and no longer according to our flesh and the ways of this sinful world. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

Because these false shepherds of the people are not telling them the truth, but are feeding their minds with lies, and with what their itching ears want to hear, there are many people who believe they are saved when they are not, because they think they just bought fire insurance, but that they have no responsibility to keep their lives from being set on fire by hell.

But, God’s word is perfectly clear on this subject. There is no gray area on this topic. If we walk in darkness, but we say we have fellowship with God, we are liars. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. If we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity. But, if we walk in the light as he is in the light, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. If we lose our lives for Christ, i.e. if we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, we will live with him for eternity. And, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ forever and ever, amen (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-10; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Gal. 2:20; Acts 26:16-18).

Bring Them Back (vv. 3, 6)

“My anger is hot against the shepherds,
and I will punish the leaders;
for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah,
and will make them like his majestic steed in battle…

“I will strengthen the house of Judah,
and I will save the house of Joseph.
I will bring them back because I have compassion on them,
and they shall be as though I had not rejected them,
for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.”

God is angry with the shepherds (pastors, spiritual leaders, elders, Bible teachers) who are telling people lies and who are not giving them the truth. Why? Because they are leading people astray from their pure devotion to Christ, and/or they are presenting to them a false gospel which requires no death to sin, no repentance, no submission to Christ and no obedience to his Word. What this means is that they are leading people straight to hell by telling them what makes them feel good about themselves in this life, but which does not deliver them from slavery to sin, but which keeps them bound in sin and without hope, while believing a lie. So, God will judge them for this. And, he will deliver the people out from under their influence.

God has a plan, which is spelled out for us all throughout the prophecies of scripture, and that is his plan to judge this world in tribulation, but also to revive his church, to rebuild (renew, restore) his temple, the body of Christ, and to bring many to true faith in Jesus Christ before he returns for his bride. He will have compassion on his fallen people and on those who have bought into the lies of these deceivers (the false shepherds), and he will refine them with the fires of tribulation in order to get them to call on their God and to seek him with all their hearts; and for them to find their satisfaction and fulfillment in him, and in him alone. And, they will be as though they had never strayed from the Lord or from his pure word.

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012

Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”