Above All Else

Friday, August 11, 2017, 5:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “As the Deer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 101:1-5 (NASB).

I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
To You, O Lord, I will sing praises.
I will give heed to the blameless way.
When will You come to me?
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will know no evil.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.

His Lovingkindness

God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Begotten Son to come into the world to die on a cross for our sins, so that anyone believing in him will not perish, but have eternal life. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Light that came into the world in order to show the way to God, and to provide the way for us to be saved from our sins. But, many people love the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds are evil. So, they will not come to the Light lest their evil deeds will be exposed (See: John 3:16-20).

Yet, if we want to come to the Light, Jesus said that we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life. Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) 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, i.e. we will have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

For, Jesus did not die on that cross merely to give us an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross so that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus gave his life up for us that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for Him. When we trust in him as Lord and as 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. So, if we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in the darkness (sin), we are liars who don’t live by the truth (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 5:15, 21; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-25).

The Blameless Way

The purpose in Jesus dying on that cross for our sins was not to just forgive us our sins, but to deliver us out of slavery to sin, and so that we might walk in (live to) his righteousness. And, his righteousness is what is approved in His eyes, i.e. what is deemed right by him, such as morality, purity, justice, decency, truth, integrity, uprightness, and holiness, etc. His grace to us is 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. So, if we continue in sin, i.e. if we make it our practice, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-25; Eph. 5:3-6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we die to sin. So, how can we continue in it? Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. So, we should consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Sin, thus, should no longer reign in our bodies so that we obey its lusts. Instead, we should present ourselves to God as instruments of his righteousness. Sin should no longer have mastery over us, because Jesus set us free from sin addiction. When we were enslaved to sin, though, we were free from the control of righteousness, but now that we have been set free from sin, we should have become slaves (bondservants) to righteousness, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life (See: Ro. 6:1-23).

So, our salvation from sin is something that is to be lived out in our lives day by day. God’s grace to us turns us from darkness (sin) to light (righteousness) and from the power of Satan to God, so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Acts 26:16-18). And, “Lord” means “master-owner,” for we were bought back for God with the price of Jesus’ blood shed on a cross for our sins. Thus, our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, but we are to honor God by all that we do, say, are and think. We are to walk in obedience to his commands. And, this is how we know that we love him, and that we are his very own.

Integrity of Heart

So, what does this all look like? It means we walk no longer according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. We conduct our lives in truthfulness, sincerity of heart, purity, faithfulness, lovingkindness, morality, and obedience and loyalty to God. We don’t seek after, long after, or look to (or at) what is evil and contrary to God and to his Word. This means we don’t let our eyes watch TV shows, movies, magazines, books, videos or still pictures or images which reveal even partial nudity, appealing to sensual lusts, or which glorify or present physically before us what is immoral, wicked and evil. We should never allow ourselves to be entertained by what is evil and by what is in conflict with God’s Word and his Spirit now living within us.

We should hate evil, in fact, and we should grieve over those who are caught in sin’s deceitfulness, praying for their deliverance. We should have no part with what is evil so that it does not get a grip on our lives once again. So, we must be careful concerning our close associations and with regard to those with whom we partner so that we do not surround ourselves with those who will only bring us down spiritually and morally. There is no fellowship between light and darkness. So, we can’t have true fellowship with those who are walking in darkness and who are conducting their lives according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit. Bad company corrupts good character, so choose your friends wisely.

Instead of longing after and running after and seeking after what is worldly, immoral, ungodly and contrary to the teachings of scripture, we should be those who seek after our Lord, and who run after him to follow him in his ways, and in his truth. We should hunger and thirst after righteousness, not after the things of this world. We should desire God with such passion that it would be like longing for water when one is parched and is thirsty. He alone should be our hearts’ desire. We should long to worship him in spirit and in truth by yielding our hearts, minds and souls over to him, to live holy lives, pleasing to him.

We should find our full satisfaction in this life in Him, and he should be the one to whom we go with our problems, our concerns and our requests. He is the one we should lean on, rely upon, and learn from. We should not trust in ourselves and in our own resources, thinking or reasoning. And, we should not follow other humans above God. Our full allegiance (commitment, loyalty, faithfulness) should be to him alone, and to no other gods should we give our worship, praise, adoration and devotion. Our Lord should be everything to us, and we should love and desire him above all else.

As the Deer / Martin J. Nystrom
Based off Psalm 42:1

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after You
You alone are my heart’s desire…

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield…

False Witnesses

Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 6:03 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Draw Me Close.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 27 (Select vv. ESV).

The Lord Is (vv. 1-3)

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

Who are our enemies? If we are followers of Jesus Christ, crucified with him in death to sin, and risen with him to newness of life, our enemies are Satan and his many hordes. Satan has followers, too, and they do his bidding in coming against Jesus Christ, his Word, his gospel, and his servants. And, many of them have infiltrated the church, too. They are the wolves in sheep’s clothing, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ, and as servants of righteousness, but truly they are among us to steal, to kill and to destroy. So, they might be pastors, teachers, elders, other professors of Christ, politicians, parents, children, neighbors, and/or website monitors.

They are there to spy on our freedom in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves again to depravity. So, they dilute the gospel message of salvation to appeal to human flesh and to appease the world. They preach (teach, share) feel-good messages which tickle itching ears, which say what people want to hear, not what they NEED to hear, for the truth offends. Many of them are part of the New World Order and are working together to bring the people of the world into unity with them in thought, word and deed. Their goal is to get us to forsake all which divides us as the people of the world, and to get us to compromise our faith and convictions in order to unite as ONE voice, ONE heart and ONE mind, across the globe, with this one world religion.

On a global political (or religious) level, they utilize the media to spread their lies and deceptions in order to deceive and to convince naïve minds. Because so many people regularly watch TV, and especially believe what they see on TV news (or on the internet), they are able to deceive people by the thousands or by the millions, or even greater. TV, especially, can be very hypnotic, and thus is one of Satan’s avenues for tricking people into accepting lies as truth, and truth as lies. So, we need to be very discerning. As followers of Jesus, we need to be wise, and not so trusting of humans, but we should take everything to the Lord in prayer, because not everything that appears to be real is real. So many things can be faked now days.

Basically, these enemies are out to destroy us either through trickery, deception, manipulation, setting traps for us to fall into, or via outright persecution, abuse, false accusations, imprisonment or through death. Their goal is to stop the spreading of the gospel as was taught by Jesus and by his NT apostles. If they can’t stop us one way, they will try another until something works, or until they kill us.

Yet, we have no reason to fear any of them, because we know that our Lord is completely sovereign (in control) over all he has made, and over every power known to man. They may try to take advantage of us, but we don’t let them, and, instead, we turn to our Lord for help, for counsel, for wisdom and for discernment to know truth from error, and to know how to respond to the enemy’s attempts to take us down. We must rely on the Lord for our strength, and, if need be, we must stand alone against the mass of voices which may try to convince us to retreat. We have to stand on truth even if all forsake us and betray us, for the Lord is our light and salvation, not man.

Seek His Face (vv. 7-10)

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.

When our enemies come against us, which they will, instead of responding with our flesh, we need to seek God’s face. We need to cry out to God in our suffering, trusting him to give us all we need to endure and to keep pressing on. Yet, there will be times when we may not get an immediate reply to our cries for help, and we may even feel as though God is absent from us, but those are lies of the enemy to try to make us afraid. We must know that our God will never abandon us. He will never leave us or forsake us, so we should not fear those times when it feels like he is not near us, but we must persevere in what we know, and keep seeking his face. Then, we must trust him, rest in him, believe him, hold on to HIM, and not give up. Although others will forsake us and betray us, our Lord will take us under his wings.

A Level Path (vv. 11-14)

Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

So, how to respond to the enemy’s attacks against us? Instead of being afraid, we turn to the Lord, and we ask him to teach us his ways and to lead us on a level path. A level path is upright, honest, pure, and unadulterated by the world. Instead of yielding to these voices, which try to talk us into compromising our faith, we set our faces like flint, and we determine to keep on walking in the Spirit in following our Lord in his service, despite all opposition waged against us. We cannot let false accusations, tricks, traps or persecutions break us, but instead we must commit our lives to our Lord, pray to him for help, and trust him to work in and through our lives.

And, we must continue to hold on to the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus, keeping our eyes focused on Jesus and on the goal that is set before us, which is to live holy lives, pleasing to God, and which is to be the Lord’s servants and witnesses in ministering his grace and his love to all people. And, when things get tough, which they will, we must wait for God to move on our behalf, be strong in the Lord, take courage, and wait on the Lord.

Draw Me Close To You / Donnie McClurkin

Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again…

You’re all I want
You’re all I’ve ever needed…
Help me know You are near

Purity in Faith

Saturday, February 11, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Search Me, O God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 2 (NASB).

Older Men (vv. 1-2)

But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.

Although all of these instructions are designated for specific people groups, in this particular case for older men, specifically concerning the spiritual qualities or characteristic traits they should possess, many of these instructions in this chapter of Titus can be applied to anyone of us.

To be temperate means to be self-controlled and even-tempered. This means we are not easily angered, we don’t live by our emotions, we are not moody, and we resist the devil, run away from sin when tempted, and we rely on God to be our strength and to counsel us in the way we should go. To be dignified means to be honorable, respectable and serious-minded. To be sensible means to be realistic, to make good judgments, and to exercise caution, care, discernment and wisdom in varied circumstances. To be sound in anything means to be healthy, unblemished and firm, so to be sound in faith means we don’t waver in opinion, we don’t go with the flow, and we stand on the Word of Truth even in the face of great opposition. To be sound in love means to be faithful, committed, loyal, trustworthy and steadfast.

Older and Younger Women (vv. 3-5)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

To be reverent means “suitable to a sacred character” (biblehub.com). Sacred means “holy,” which means to be set apart (unlike, different) from this world because we are being conformed into the image of Christ. Our character is our personality, temperament, or disposition. So, to be reverent is to behave appropriately in accordance with a holy disposition, such as in demonstrating honor, respect, love, devotion and fidelity to God/Jesus.

It is also shown in what we don’t do, such as we are not to be people who make a practice of gossiping about others, especially not in a malicious way intended to do them harm. We should not be addicted to alcohol or any substances that might cause us to lose self-control, as well as we should not be addicted to any kind of sin, for Jesus Christ set us free! And, we should be teachers (in words and in lifestyle) of what is good (wholesome, beneficial, pure, righteous, holy, godly, and in the best interest of others).

The things that we, as older women, are to teach the younger women should also be what we have practiced and/or are practicing, depending on what is applicable, i.e. many older women may no longer have husbands or young children at home, although we should love our adult children and our grandchildren, too. This kind of love is a friendship and affectionate love of a wife toward her husband, or of a mother toward her children. She should be dedicated to meeting their needs and to showing them affection, nurturing and kindness. And, the wife is to be in subjection to her husband, i.e. under him in rank and in authority, yielding to his God-given position over her, especially with regards to where there are differences of opinion, but never yielding to anything sinful, i.e. to anything against God’s will.

The counsel here is that married women should be workers at home. For some people, like single moms, this is not possible, for they provide the sole financial support for their families. Yet, many married women do enter the workforce when financially they could stay at home if they set their priorities in the right order. So, what’s the big deal? Why was this counsel given in the first place? I find the order of these instructions particularly interesting in that the instruction to be workers at home follows directly after the instruction to be pure. I believe purity, thus, plays a huge part in the need for more married women to be workers at home, and to make this a priority.

Why? Because, according to many studies and their statistics, the workplace is or was the number one place for married people to engage in infidelity, although I think social media plays a close second, and is climbing. In the workplace men and women work closely together 40+ hours per week in settings where they share common interests, team work, projects, and even travel together. So, the danger is real, and thus there is much wisdom in this instruction for women to be workers at home, if it is financially feasible.

Young Men (vv. 6-8)

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

Again, these characteristic traits could apply to any of us. We should all be sensible. And, we should show ourselves to be examples of good deeds. In other words, by our words and by our actions we should set an example for others to follow with regard to doing good deeds to others. We should be sensitive to others’ needs and to the voice of the Holy Spirit prompting us to speak a word of encouragement to someone, or to take someone some food, or to help pay for someone to get false teeth, or to pay for a broken appliance to be repaired or replaced, or to offer words of counsel, hope and healing to the despondent, depressed, and those troubled in spirit, etc.

We should all be pure in heart and in doctrine. What we believe, live, and what we teach others should not be mixed with humanistic philosophy, with the values of this sinful world, with idolatry, and with other religions. And, we should all be people who practice the principles of purity in everything we do, think, speak and are. There should be no room in our lives for impure thoughts and behaviors or for being entertained by the self-serving, self-gratifying and/or greedy, sensual, and sexual indulgences of others. And, we should all live lives above reproach, i.e. our “interactions with others, are to be of such moral quality that they do not bring shame or in any way disgrace the body of Christ or the name of Jesus” (gotquestions.org).

Bondslaves (vv. 9-10)

Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

If we are in the servitude of another, whether voluntarily or under compulsion, or whether paid or volunteer, we should behave honorably toward the person or the people we serve, as though we are serving our Lord Jesus. We should never pay back evil with evil, but always with good. We should never take the law into our own hands thinking they “owe” us something and so we just take (steal) it. If we put on our time sheet that we worked 8 hours, we should give our employer 8 hours of work, i.e. we should not cheat our employer or lie on our paperwork. If we cheat, steal and lie we will be disobeying our Lord and we will be giving a bad name to Christianity and to the gospel of our salvation. So, we should always behave truthfully, honorably and with full integrity in all that we do and say. This way we will honor our Lord and will bring respect to our faith in God.

The Grace of God (vv. 11-15)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who 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.

These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Everything we have talked about in this writing thus far really all boils down to our understanding of God’s grace. Many people today are teaching a false grace gospel which leads people to believe that God’s grace merely forgives sin, gives us an escape from hell, and promises us heaven when we die. They teach people that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross. There is no death to sin and thus no resurrection to new life in Christ Jesus, because to live we must first die with Christ to sin so we can live with Christ to righteousness.

Jesus didn’t die just to give us heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. His grace, as well, is not a get-out-of-jail-free card or a free-ride into heaven while we still live life how we want. Many people today are cheapening God’s grace, and are leaving their adherents with the understanding that they don’t have to turn from their sins and they don’t have to obey Christ and his commandments. But, they are missing the whole point of the grace of God which is to deliver us from SLAVERY to sin so that we can become bondservants of Christ.

It is not true grace if it leaves you still floundering in your sins, feeling hopeless to ever be free from your addictions. Jesus died to set us free, so I pray you will search your hearts today, and you will allow Jesus to search you, too, which is what I am doing, and you will let him show you any wicked way in you, as I am doing, so that we might turn from what is against God, and so we might turn to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience in all respects.

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

Based off Psalm 139

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

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

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

Genuine Love

Sunday, December 18, 2016, 2:48 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in the Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 12:3-21 (ESV).

Practice Humility (vv. 3-8)

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

So, what does it mean to think with sober judgment about oneself? It means to be clearheaded, serious, and thoughtful in the assessment of oneself. It is the opposite of prideful, puffed up, and telling oneself lies, and believing those lies. It is honest, as opposed to dishonest. It is open and transparent, as opposed to covering up sin and wearing a mask or faking genuineness. So, to think more highly than we ought to think about ourselves would be to think unrealistically, and to give ourselves more credit than we deserve, or to fabricate our own persona in order to fool others into thinking we are better than we really are. Also, it can be to take credit for things God has done in our lives, as though we have accomplished those in our own merit.

It, too, can be to raise ourselves up above others based on intellect, race, looks, social status, income, education, talent and even spiritual gifts. Yet, it is God who created us. We had nothing to do with that. He gave us our looks, our skin color, our intellect and our natural abilities, even the ability to make money or to live in more humble circumstances. And, he provides opportunities for us and places us in the families in which we were raised. And, for those of us who are Christians, we are only saved because of God’s grace to us. As well, he gives us the faith to believe in him. Yes, we have to appropriate that faith to our lives, and we have to take the steps he tells us we must take, but it all comes from him, and it is all accomplished in his power and strength. So, we can’t even take credit for our spiritual walks or the spiritual gifts he gives each one of us. It is all because of God’s grace!

Love One Another (vv. 9-13)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

So, what is genuine love? To be genuine means to be honest, sincere, unpretentious and not hypocritical. And, what is love? In the original Greek language, the word was agape, which means: “properly, love which centers in moral preference… In the NT, 26 (agápē) typically refers to divine love (= what God prefers)” – http://biblehub.com/greek/26.htm. So, genuine love is honest and not hypocritical, and it is moral, as opposed to immoral, and it prefers what God prefers. As well, it abhors (hates, detests) evil, and it clings (or holds fast) to what is good (moral, righteous, and decent).

The problem with this kind of love today is that if you love others like this, then you are likely to be accused of bigotry, hatred, division, and judgmentalism. What the world, including many who call themselves Christians, often refer to as “love” is really utter selfishness. They won’t love others like Christ loves us, because it will mean that people won’t like them, and will reject them. So, they lie to people, and give false compliments, and they refuse to tell people the truth about sin and what God prefers, because it isn’t what sinful humans prefer, and it will offend people. And, they don’t want to offend anyone, because, again, they want people to like them more than they want people to love Jesus and to truly love their fellow humans.

As well, many people will not love like this, well, because they don’t know the ONE who IS LOVE. So, it is not in their nature to love like this. But, the sad reality is that there are so many people who claim to be Christians, and followers of Christ, who do not love others with this kind of love, but they “love” as the world does, which is the opposite of agape love. And, they do so because they are selfish, and they are thinking of themselves and what they want rather than about what is in the best interest of others. Genuine love does no harm to its neighbor, but fleshly “love” is not so concerned about whether or not someone gets hurt, but it is rather focused on self: self-pleasure, self-protection and self-gratification, even at the cost of all other relationships, including spouses, children, and church family, etc.

So, if you love others with genuine (agape) love, and you get mistreated and falsely accused in return, take courage. Keep serving the Lord Jesus with all spiritual fervor, and never, ever give up! Be patient in affliction, and keep praying and believing God for changed hearts and lives. And, keep loving!

Love Your Enemies (vv. 14-21)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

When we love others like Christ Jesus loved (loves) us, we will be hated and persecuted just like he was. Why did they hate him? They hated him because he told them the truth about their sin, and because he didn’t join in with them in following their man-made religion, and because people’s hearts and lives were being transformed of the Spirit of God, through his ministry, and they (the religious leaders) saw this as a threat to their own positions of power and rule over the people. Yet, they also hated him because he claimed to be who he was – God, their Savior, their Lord, and their Messiah, whom God the Father had promised them. And, so they killed him.

Yet, we are to love those who hate us, and who mistreat us, and we are to hope the best for them, which is faith in Jesus Christ and freedom from sin. And, we are to speak the truth in love to them, and not tell them lies to make them feel good about themselves in their sin. As well, we should work to show them the love of Christ by helping to meet their legitimate needs. And, we should hurt with them when they hurt, and we should rejoice with them in their joys, as long as those things don’t conflict with God and with his Word (his teachings). Also, we should not make them our closest associations, lest we should be dragged down with them into the dirt. Instead, we are to be overcomers of evil, by faith in Jesus Christ.

Yet, we are not to try to get even or to make them pay for their sin, but our goal should be to bring them to a place where they are turned from darkness (sin) to light (righteousness) and from the power of Satan (he has had over their lives) to God, to live and to walk in his holiness, according to his Spirit, so they can be forgiven their sins, and be sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Ac. 26:16-18). And, we should work towards peace and harmony, as long as those don’t mean compromise of our Christian faith.

When in The Stillness / An Original Work / September 26, 2011

When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.

While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.

Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.

Walk with Integrity

Sunday, October 30, 2016, 3:04 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 101 (ESV).

Within my House (vv. 1-2)

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;

We read in Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

Jesus 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 (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). When we truly 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 in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We put away our old lives of living for sin and self, and we put on our new lives in Christ Jesus, which are to be lived to his righteousness (See: Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23).

We don’t any longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, but now our desire is for our God, to walk in his ways. And, so we now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. This does not mean we will never sin again, but it means sin is no longer our master. It is not what defines us. We are now defined by what Jesus Christ did for us in saving us from slavery to sin so that we can walk in his righteousness. We are now identified by our faith in Jesus Christ, and his work of grace in our lives in transforming us into the image of Christ.

Now, instead of living to do what pleases our sinful flesh, we should desire to walk with integrity, i.e. to have lifestyles committed to honesty, honor, uprightness, decency, and morality. We should live to righteousness, and not look for loopholes to excuse away sinful behavior. We should not view God’s grace as free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, or think that being saved means God requires nothing of us. He does require repentance and obedience. That is why he died, to set us free from the control sin had over our lives, and so we could walk righteously before him, not just be righteous because of his righteousness imputed to us. “He redeemed us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Tit. 2:14).

Far From Me (vv. 3-4)

I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.

So, how can we put what we have talked about so far into practice in our daily lives? Well, first of all we can only live righteously in the power and working of God’s Spirit in our lives, yet as we cooperate fully with that work of grace and heart transformation, and as we submit to Christ’s direction and leading in our lives. We are not puppets on a string. We have instructions to follow, too. We have to willingly turn away from lifestyles of sin, and we have to turn to follow Jesus Christ in obedience, to walk in his ways and in his truth. We have to be in daily fellowship with our Lord, reading his Word, listening to him speak his truths to our hearts, and then we have to do what his word teaches us to do.

We also have to remove from our lives those things which are displeasing to our Lord, and which hinder our walks of faith and obedience to our Lord. We have to choose to not take into our minds what we know is contrary to God’s Word, and that which gives glory to human flesh, or which encourages sinful behavior of any kind. But, it goes beyond just not looking at (viewing) what is sinful, but also what is a waste of our time – of the time God has for us on this earth to be productive for him and for his kingdom work. So, what about TV, movies, the internet or video games, or other forms of entertainment?

A lot of Americans spend a great deal of time recreating themselves with these on a daily basis while the world around them goes to hell. I did, so I know, but God pulled me away from that. I wasted a lot of money and time on what was absolutely worthless, and much of it was sinful, too, i.e. I was allowing myself to be entertained by the sins of others just to fill up time, when I could have been spending that time doing what is honoring to God, and that which ministers to the needs of others. These worthless and sinful things need to be far from us, and we should not be knowledgeable in them.

Walk in The Way (vv. 5-8)

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not endure.

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless
shall minister to me.

No one who practices deceit
shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue before my eyes.

Morning by morning I will destroy
all the wicked in the land,
cutting off all the evildoers
from the city of the Lord.

God/Jesus, who is our King, hates sin because sin destroys our relationship with him, it does serious damage to ourselves, and it ruins our relationships with other people. Sin is a killer! Jesus is not ok with us continuing in sin while we make a profession of him as our Lord and Savior. If we continue living sinful lifestyles, and yet say we have fellowship with God, we are liars, the Bible says (1 Jn. 1:6). If we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, we will die without Christ (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25). We are saved that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, don’t believe the lie that says you can pray a prayer, live how you want, and still go to heaven when you die. It isn’t so! If you do not die with Christ to sin, and you are not resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” then you are not born again.

If we continue to live sinful lifestyles, we will die without Christ, and we will spend eternity in the fires of hell, no matter what you have been told to the contrary. Those who practice sin will not enter into heaven, even if they profess to believe in Jesus Christ. Many will say to God on the day of judgment, “Lord, Lord,” but he is going to tell them to depart from him, because he never knew them. Jesus said his sheep (those who know him) listen to him and they follow (obey) him, not perfectly, but consistently and persistently, and by the Spirit they are putting to death the deeds of the flesh. And, they shall be the ones who minister to (serve) God.

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!