Prepare for Action

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 9:34 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Born Again (vv. 3-5)

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

What does it mean to be born again? First, we are born physically of a mother, and then, because of God’s grace to us, and by faith in Jesus Christ, we are born of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord. One is a physical birth. The other is a spiritual birth. So, how are we born again?

Well, first of all Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) had to die on a cross. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). He put our sins to death on that cross. And, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, when we believe in him, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. We are born again of the Spirit of God, and Christ now lives in us.

Various Trials (vv. 6-9)

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

So, we rejoice in our salvation and in the hope of eternal life with God. Yet, our hope is not just that one day we will be with our Lord forever, but our hope is in the freedom he has given us to walk (conduct our lives) not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Our hope is that we have a Savior, who is our Lord, but who is also our friend, confidant, counselor, guide, helper, strength, healer, comforter, encourager, and teacher, etc. Our hope is that we are in a personal and intimate relationship with our God, which gives us not only future hope, but present and living hope day by day, which is what keeps us going when times get tough.

Our hope, too, is that God created us for a purpose, and he has given meaning to our lives, and purpose and direction, and that even our trials are part of his plan for our lives in order to purify us, to make us holy, and to prepare us for his service. Also, our trials are for the purpose to test our faith, to make it stronger and more resilient. When we suffer, it is for our good, to make us more like Jesus, and to teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves. We, too, learn patience and perseverance through difficult times. And, we grow closer to our Lord, mature in our faith, and increase in our seriousness of our walk of faith, when we respond to our trials with grace, with trust in our Lord, and with submission to his perfect will for our lives.

Prepare Minds (vv. 13-16)

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

In our minds we store memories, good and bad. In our minds we think, we believe, we discern, make decisions, and react to our circumstances. In our minds we entertain sinful thoughts or we dwell on heavenly things. Part of God’s saving grace to us is in the renewing of our minds, in the healing of past hurts, and in transforming how we believe and perceive things. Yet, we have a responsibility regarding our minds, in the renewing process, and that is in the putting off of the old, and the putting on of the new; in thinking about things which are pure, right, true, and beneficial, rather than thinking hateful thoughts or impure thoughts.

We also have a responsibility for what we take into our minds, to make sure that we are not feeding our minds with what is garbage, or what is immoral, wicked, and ungodly, etc. If we take garbage into our minds, that is what is going to come out in our words and actions and attitudes. If we entertain our minds with the sinful acts of others, this is what our minds will dwell on, and often our actions and words will follow suit. So, if we are going to prepare our minds for action, we need to keep our minds pure and focused on Jesus Christ and on the truths of his Word. And, we need to take God’s Word seriously and apply its truths to our daily lives.

Conduct Yourselves (vv. 17-19)

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

What does it mean to conduct ourselves in fear? I believe this is speaking here of the fear of the Lord, which is reverence, respect, honor, value, esteem, adoration, worship, obedience and submission to our Lord. Our conduct is the way in which we live, i.e. our daily practice. This is how we should live, day in and day out. Conducting ourselves in fear is also living on this earth as though we truly do not belong here, as though this world and all its stuff is really not our home, but with an eternal focus in mind. We are not here to build kingdoms on this earth, but to help, to work to advance God’s heavenly kingdom while we still live here. We are not here, in other words, to live to please and entertain ourselves, but we are here to give glory to God in all that we do and say and think and are.

It also means that we live holy lives, pleasing to God. Being holy means we are separate (set apart, unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made to be like Jesus. We should no longer be conformed to the ways (patterns, attitudes, values) of this world, but we are to be transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds. Our new lives should not look like our old lives, and only slightly cleaned up to be more presentable. Our new lives should be radically different from our old lives, because we died with Christ to sin, and we were resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to him and to his righteousness.

Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be
Norman J. Clayton

Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day,
Yielded completely to Jesus alone
Every step of this pilgrim way…

The Faith We Profess

Monday, June 5, 2017, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Blessed Assurance.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Colossians 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Our Faith (vv. 3-8)

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, what should that faith look like? Well, first of all, where does this faith come from? And, do we generate this faith ourselves?

In the Bible we read, first of all, that no one can even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws him (Jn. 6:44). Generally, this is done through the preaching of the gospel of our salvation (Ro. 10:14-15). Yet, God is certainly not limited to depending on humans to tell people about himself; about Jesus Christ (Ro. 1:18-20; Ps. 19:1-6; Lu. 19:40; Rev. 14:6). Then, once the Father draws us to Christ, then he also gives us the faith to believe in him (Eph. 2:8-10). This faith is not the kind we might muster up ourselves out of our own human flesh, though. This faith is divinely persuaded as to God’s perfect will for our lives. It submits to God’s will, because it comes from God, and it is of God (of his divine character).

So, what is this gospel of grace? Where do we learn about it? We learn about it in the “Word of Truth.” And, it is “the grace of God in truth.” We learn about it, not just in the New Testament books of the Bible, though, for there are many prophecies of scripture concerning this gospel of grace in the Old Testament, too. And, it is the Holy Spirit of God who reveals it to us, who convicts our hearts of sin, and who convinces us of our need of the Savior.

What is this gospel? It is first of all that humans are born into sin, and thus they come up short of attaining God’s divine approval. They are bound for eternity in hell, without God, and without hope (Ro. 3:23; Ro. 6:23). And, there is nothing we can do in our flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation. So, it is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – left his throne in heaven, came to earth, became flesh, and dwelt among us. He suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. And, he was hung on a cross to die, although he had done no wrong, but in his death he took upon himself our sins so that we could die to sin and live to righteousness (Jn. 1; Phil. 2; 2 Co. 5:21; Is. 53).

And, what should it look like when we believe in Jesus, and in his gospel? It should radically transform 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 (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). And, holiness means to be set apart (unlike, different) from the world of sin because we are being conformed to the image (likeness) of Christ Jesus, our Lord. We are turned from darkness (sin) to light (Jesus Christ, truth, righteousness), and from the power of Satan to God, so we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified (purified, made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18). The old has gone, the new has come.

God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. If you believe that you can have faith in Jesus Christ, and that God requires nothing of you – no repentance, no submission and no obedience to Christ, then you are sadly mistaken. That is human faith, not God-given faith. We have to remember here that James said that even the demons believe, and they shudder. Sadly, many who call themselves Christians don’t even shudder, i.e. they have no fear (honor, respect) of God. Yet, God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not just about freeing us from hell’s fires and promising us heaven when we die. His grace 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).

So, what should this faith look like? It should be surrendered to God, in death to sin and living to his righteousness. And, it should be bearing fruit and increasing, and not be stagnant and complacent. In other words, we should be growing in our faith, and we should be maturing in our spiritual walks. We should be denying the flesh, and by the Spirit we ought to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh. We should be walking in the Spirit and no longer living to gratify the desires of the sinful flesh (Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Jn. 1:6). And, we must have love for others, especially for other followers of Christ, for if we hate and devour one another, how, then, can the love of God be in us? (1 Jn. 2:11; 1 Jn. 4:20).

Worthy of the Lord (vv. 9-14)

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

First, we must have the correct foundation. If our faith is based in human flesh, and it is not God-given faith, then what follows will not take place, because we have a faulty base. If a house is built on a faulty foundation, it won’t last. When the storms of life come crashing in, it will fall. If we believe that all we have to do is acknowledge Jesus’ existence, and accept his forgiveness of our sins, but that nothing is required of us, then that is the wrong foundation, and our house will fall. But, if we believe the words of Jesus and those of the NT apostles, that coming to Christ means we die with Christ to sin so that we don’t live in sin any longer, and that repentance and obedience are required as part of believing faith (God-given faith), then by God’s grace, we can walk (in lifestyle) in a manner worthy of our Lord.

Then, we can be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, because we don’t have an attitude that we don’t have to obey him. Why would he fill us with the knowledge of his will if we are predisposed to ignore that knowledge, and to go our own way? Why would he show us anything if we feel we now have our ticket into heaven, that nothing can take it away, so it doesn’t matter if we still play around with sin, or if we make it our practice to excuse away willful sin as all covered by God’s grace. What he will show us is that we have the wrong foundation, and he will show us the correct way to him and to salvation. And, when we have responded to him with God-given faith, then he will increase our knowledge and understanding so that we can bear fruit in every good work.

Again, coming to faith in Jesus Christ means he rescues us from the domain of darkness (sin, wickedness, the power of Satan), and he transfers us to his eternal kingdom, to live to his righteousness and to his holiness.

Beyond Reproach (vv. 21-23)

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

Here again we have the point of our salvation, which is to deliver us out of slavery to sin. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7). And, it is that we may live a new life – not like the old life. It is that he may present us before himself (God) holy and blameless and beyond reproach, not just positionally, but experientially. In other words, it is not just that Jesus’ righteousness is credited to our accounts, but it is that we live righteously in the power and working of his Spirit now living within us (Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Ro. 12:1-2; Lu. 9:23-25; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:24).

But, this is all conditional. We have to continue in the faith we have been given, firmly established and steadfast, not moved away from the hope of the gospel. And, this doesn’t mean we hold out hope that we will go to heaven when we die while we largely or even partially ignore God’s commands and do as we please in the meanwhile. This is not continuing in the faith of the gospel as was taught us by Jesus and by his NT apostles. This is continuing in human faith which promises a false hope of heaven, based in a lie, which is being preached to us by those who are false shepherds and wolves in sheep’s clothing, who are out to kill, to steal and to destroy the church. So, we have to continue in God-given faith, which produces love, obedience, submission, repentance and holy and godly living.

Blessed Assurance / Fanny Crosby

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Under Your Shelter

Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 7:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Total Praise.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 61 (Select vv. ESV).

My Refuge (vv. 1-3)

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. Of David.

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.

Are you going through a trial, a difficult time in your life? Do you have unanswered questions? Have friends or family forsaken or betrayed you? Are friends or neighbors talking evil about you behind your back? Do you feel like you stick out like a sore thumb around the people you see every day? Are you being opposed for your stand for Christ and for his gospel? Are you being lied to or lied about? Or, are you going through financial struggles, relationship difficulties, the loss of a loved one, or health issues, etc.?

Whatever your trial or difficulty may be, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you can cry out your pain and suffering to him, he will listen, he cares, he feels your pain, and he is there to give you comfort, encouragement, hope, healing and strength to make it through each and every day, plus the wisdom to know how to respond to your troubles and heartaches. He loves you beyond measure, and he has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows you to go through. So, trust him, rest in him, believe in his promises, don’t faint, and find your strength under the shelter of the Most High.

When our hearts are breaking, and when we feel lonely, because we don’t fit in with the people around us, we need to be led to the Rock which is higher than us, namely Jesus Christ. He didn’t fit, either. He stood out like a sore thumb, too. He was distinctly different, strange to some people, and even thought of as crazy to others. Although he had crowds around him much of the time, largely they were there to see the miracles he performed or to have their bellies filled, but when Jesus told them the cost of following him, a large number of them deserted him. So, he understands, he empathizes, and he will wrap his loving arms around us and comfort us with his love.

Steadfast Love (vv. 4-5)

Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah
For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

When we trust Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, by God’s grace, through God-given faith in him, he indwells us with his Holy Spirit. In other words, God comes to live within our lives. He makes his home in our hearts. We walk (conduct our lives) now according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, for by faith we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. We now live in him, as well as he lives in us. Thus, we do dwell in his tent forever.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, and in what he did for us in dying on a cross in our place so that we could be delivered from the curse of sin and bondage to sin, we make a life-time commitment to him. We may not think of it in these terms, but God-given faith is a vow of fidelity to our Lord. It is a promise to be his forever, to follow him wherever he leads us, to walk in his ways, to love him, to serve him, and to give our lives over to his control. Jesus said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self and take up our cross daily and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, i.e. we will die in our sins. But if we lose our lives for his sake, i.e. if we die with him to sin, we will have eternal life in him (Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24).

Ever Sing Praise (v. 8)

So will I ever sing praises to your name,
as I perform my vows day after day.

Because of all that Jesus has done for us in saving us from bondage to sin, and the penalty of sin, and giving us new lives in him, to be lived to his righteousness, we should forever sing his praises! This should be a part of our everyday lives, whether we sing out loud, or whether we sing quietly in our hearts. I think I have songs going through my head most of the day, and since they are from the Lord, they encourage and help to strengthen my heart and give me courage to keep doing what God has called me to do.

Not only should we be singing praises to our Lord, and be singing songs, hymns and spiritual songs which lift up his name, we should be sharing these with others to encourage and to strengthen their hearts. The Bible does not say the songs need to be professional sounding, in the eyes of mankind, or that we have to have good sounding voices, as judged by the world. “Spiritual songs” are of the Spirit, not of the flesh, so they aren’t about entertaining people or about being “recording ready” for professional purposes. They are more like just putting scripture to music, and they give out the messages God wants for his children, to encourage, strengthen, spur us on to love and good deeds, and to give hope and healing to our hearts.

Not only this, but singing songs of praise to our Lord gets our focus off our troubles, and it gets us focused on our Lord, and on serving him, instead. It gets our focus off what other people are doing or not doing toward us, and it gets us focused on loving people with God’s love and care, even loving our enemies. For, it changes our perspective, and it lifts our spirits, and it gets us thinking from an eternal perspective rather than thinking about this life with all its miseries. This is not an escape from reality, nor is it removing ourselves from personal responsibility for the things of this life, or for the people of this world, but it keeps our eyes on Jesus where we find our hope, purpose, healing, direction, encouragement, empowerment and strength.

Total Praise / Richard Smallwood

You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life
I lift my hands in total praise to You.

Our Loved Ones

Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 5:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Be Strong and Take Courage.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 31:15-22a (NASB).

Bitter Weeping (v. 15)

Thus says the Lord,
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
She refuses to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”

Do you have loved ones who do not know the Lord Jesus as Savior of their lives? Do you have people you care about in your life who profess to believe in Jesus Christ, but their lifestyles speak just the opposite? And, or do you have friends, neighbors or family members who have believed in Jesus Christ, who once walked with him in sweet fellowship, but have since fallen back into some of their old sinful patterns of behavior? If you do, there is still hope they will turn around, and will come to their senses, and will repent of their sins and trust Jesus, so we should never give up praying for them.

Do you, as well, have a burden for the part of the church, the body of Christ, who is living in spiritual adultery against her Lord, who is fleshly, sensual, worldly, and idolatrous; who is following after human desire instead of after the Lord? She partnered with the US government in an unholy alliance, which God forbids, and she turned the Lord’s house into a marketplace, which Jesus spoke strongly against (That is why he cleansed the temple). She incorporated the body of Christ and turned the church into a business of men, and she is marketing it just like any other business, and thus bases a lot of what she does after human desire, rather than after what God desires.

She gives honor to the government via a pledge (vow) of allegiance (fidelity) to the republic of the USA, via the singing of patriotic songs, and via the honoring of our soldiers who are fighting in all these other countries, and by trusting in the news media and believing their stories, without even testing to see if they are true. And, she gives honor to the world by making the church and the gospel more attractive and appealing so that the world will want to come to the meetings of the church. So, she entertains the world, and makes the church fun, comfortable, and non-threatening, as well as she dilutes the gospel to where it is no longer a narrow road but a broad path that just about anyone can travel, regardless of lifestyle or other beliefs.

And, yet she pushes God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – into a corner, and she does not give him the honor, respect, value, submission, obedience and reverence he so deserves. This Sunday we honor our earthly mothers who birthed us, but so many who call themselves Christians do not truly honor the ONE who gave them the breath of life, as well as who gave them eternal life. They do not honor the ONE who died on the cross for our sins, and who gave his life up for us to free us from the punishment of sin, and from slavery to sin, and to free us to now walk in his righteousness and holiness. Instead, they teach a gospel absent of death to sin and walking in righteousness. They teach a gospel which requires no repentance, obedience or submission to Christ, and they think it is ok for them to live in sensuality and to indulge in the flesh, and yet still claim heaven as their eternal home.

Because this fleshly, sensual and worldly church has pushed God into a corner, and has pretty much all but pushed the Holy Spirit out the door, she also rejects the Lord’s servants who do still hold to the tenets of the faith as taught by Jesus, and by his NT apostles. Even her leaders are being trained in how to “sift out” certain people with “strong convictions,” and in how to encourage them to “go someplace else” where they will be a “better fit.” And, many of them are even coming against the Lord’s servants by accusing them of teaching “works-based salvation,” even though they teach what Jesus and his NT apostles taught. Some even go so far as to accuse the Lord’s servants and messengers of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance, and may even refer to them as “dangerous,” too, because they preach the gospel.

This worldly and sensual church may not realize it, but they are under the influence (spell) of Satan and his many false shepherds (wolves in sheep’s clothing), who have deceived naïve minds into believing lies, rather than truth. They are being held emotionally and spiritually captive by clever manipulators of truth who say what itching ears want to hear. These false shepherds have convinced much of the church to unify with them in their marketing goals and objectives for the church, thinking they are obeying God, since the Bible says much about unity, although it is unity with Christ first of all, which then is what unifies us together as the body of Christ. They are convincing many of them to be like-minded with these “dogs” in ridding themselves of all which divides us as a nation, so that we can join hands and hearts with all the people of the world in singing “Kumbaya.”

In some places of the world, our government is even literally taking Christians captive, and is rounding them up like cattle, and is placing them in camps with horrible conditions where many of them will die off, if they are not killed first by all the bombs our nation drops on them. I believe this is coming to America, too, because this is all part of this New World Order beast conquering nations, peoples and the saints of God (See: Rev. 13). And, this should bring us to tears – all of this! We should grieve over the spiritual condition of much of today’s church here in America, and over what our nation (the USA) is doing to innocent people throughout the world, in the name of democracy, and we should lament over all the Christians who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Work Rewarded (vv. 16-20)

Thus says the Lord,

“Restrain your voice from weeping
And your eyes from tears;
For your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord,
“And they will return from the land of the enemy.
“There is hope for your future,” declares the Lord,
“And your children will return to their own territory.
“I have surely heard Ephraim grieving,
‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained calf;
Bring me back that I may be restored,
For You are the Lord my God.
‘For after I turned back, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh;
I was ashamed and also humiliated
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
“Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a delightful child?
Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him,
I certainly still remember him;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the Lord.

The encouragement here, I believe, is not that we should show no concern. We should (1 Co. 5:1-2; Jas. 4:8-10; Lu. 6:21). But, the encouragement is rather that we should not feel without hope. We should not be so caught up in lamenting over our loved ones, or over the worldly church, or over the persecution much of the church worldwide is enduring, that we forget that God is absolutely sovereign, that he is in control over all things, and that he cares about his children, too. We need to believe that our labors of love in the Lord, and our service in ministry, and in sharing the truths of the gospel of our salvation, and our prayers for the church and for our loved ones will be rewarded. We need to believe God for the salvation of loved ones, for the revival of the church, and for the strengthening of his persecuted saints.

What may look bad, from a human perspective, may be a blessing in disguise. I believe God will chastise his wandering saints who have been duped by master deceivers and manipulators, and in order to open their eyes to the truth, and so they will repent of their sins and turn their hearts back to God and truly honor him with their lives. Yet, this, too, is God’s grace to us. It is called “tough love,” and its goal is to bring his wandering ones back into pure fellowship with him, and also to get us ready for his return and for the consummation of our marriage to Jesus Christ, our husband. It is to purify us in heart and mind, and to restore them to God. God’s heart yearns for his wandering ones to return to him, for he loves his children, and so he will have mercy on them, but the mercy will come in the form of divine discipline and correction, but the results will be for our good.

Direct Your Mind (vv. 21-22a)

“Set up for yourself roadmarks,
Place for yourself guideposts;
Direct your mind to the highway,
The way by which you went.
Return, O virgin of Israel,
Return to these your cities.
“How long will you go here and there,
O faithless daughter?”

So, the counsel here for us is to turn our thinking (our minds) toward the way of holiness and righteousness, i.e. the way of the cross of Christ. We, as the people of God, need to get our minds away from the things of this world and its values, philosophies, attitudes and behaviors, and we need to fix our thoughts firmly on Jesus Christ and on his Word (the whole counsel of God). I believe God is also calling the body of Christ to come out from underneath this unholy union with the US government (here in America), and to return to Jesus as her ONLY Lord (head). I believe he wants her to also forsake following the schemes of humans for how to conduct church meetings, and to put her focus back on Christ and on the purity of his Word (his truth).

As well, I believe that we, as the body of Christ, need to get away from this diluted gospel which so many are following, and we need to read scriptures in context so we can see what the gospel is that Jesus and his NT apostles taught, rather than putting our trust in humans to tell us the truth. We need to know that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that faith in Jesus Christ means we now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, and no longer according to our flesh, for if we live according to the flesh, it will result in eternal death, not life (1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 8:1-14).

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

Jealous for Zion

Monday, April 10, 2017, 3:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Redeemed.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Zechariah 8 (Select vv. NASB).

The City of Truth (vv. 1-3, 6-8)

Then the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I am exceedingly jealous for Zion, yes, with great wrath I am jealous for her.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’

Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?’ declares the Lord of hosts. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.’

Zion is another name for the church, the temple of God, the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. So, Jesus Christ is jealous for his saints, his church. So, why is he jealous? It is because he is our husband and we are his bride, and thus our vow of fidelity to him (our faith) should be to him alone. We should not have any other lovers, i.e. idols (gods of men) or teachers or teaching other than what comes from His Word. He is concerned that some of his people’s minds are being led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. He sees that they are entertaining false teaching, in particular a false grace (fleshly) gospel in their minds, which appeals to human flesh and produces self-gratification, i.e. it gives its adherents free license to keep on sinning against God (See: 2 Co. 11:2-4; Jas. 4:1-10).

Many preachers today are diluting the gospel of Christ by teaching a half-truth gospel. They will teach that Jesus died on the cross, that he who knew no sin became sin for us, and that he took our penalty for sin so that we could go free from condemnation, and be free to live with Christ eternally. Yet, the faith that they teach is not God-given but is fleshly, for it requires no repentance, no obedience to Christ and his Word, and no submission to Christ and surrender to his will for our lives. Yet, God-given faith convinces (persuades) us of God’s perfect will for our lives. And, faith in Jesus means death to sin and living to righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23).

God hates lies! I do, too! He is truth, and he wants us to be people of truth, as well. This does not mean we go around being bold and brash and heartless in just speaking our minds without concern for who gets hurt in the process, but it means that we will speak the truth in love, because that is loving, and it is kind, and it cares more about others than it does ourselves. And, it means we won’t lie to and deceive one another, or hide the truth from those who need to hear it, or to whom it is owed. Because so many people have this idea that God’s grace gives them liberty to keep on sinning without guilt or remorse, they also have no guilt about covering up their sin, either, and hiding it from those to whom they need to confess.

Yet, there is hope! God will discipline his wayward children who have adopted this false grace gospel, and who have clung to their previous chains, and who have taken liberty to continue in sin without true repentance. Although the adulterous church right now looks pretty bleak, i.e. with all its liberalities, self-indulgences, immoralities, sensuality, and the like, it is not too hard for God to revive his church, and to return her to her pure devotion to him. And, one day soon he is going to return for us, and we will be with him forever, and we, as his bride, will truly be holy and truthful in the purest sense, for sin will be no more.

Stand Strong! (vv. 9, 14-17)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Let your hands be strong, you who are listening in these days to these words from the mouth of the prophets, those who spoke in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, to the end that the temple might be built.

“For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Just as I purposed to do harm to you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and I have not relented, so I have again purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear! These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates. Also let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these are what I hate,’ declares the Lord.”

With all the false teachings and lies of Satan which are being spread throughout the earth, including inside our churches, we, as Christ’s followers, need to stand strong on the Word of Truth, even if it gets us rejected, hated and persecuted. We need to say “NO!” to false teaching and especially to this false grace gospel which allures people by appealing to their human flesh. And, we need to speak out against and expose what is false and proclaim what is truth so that all can hear and know not to put their hope and trust in lies, which will not save, but that they should follow what is truth, but not just half the truth, but the full counsel of God.

In this way, the temple of God, his church, can be built (or rebuilt). In other words, we don’t win people to Jesus Christ with lies, manipulations and gimmicks. We win people to Jesus Christ by telling them the truth, even if that truth offends some people or makes them feel uncomfortable, because it confronts sin and it calls for repentance and faith (or renewed faith) in Jesus Christ. The truth is that 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 himself up for us; and that we might no longer conduct our lives according to our flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:5-10).

Good News! (vv. 20-23)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.” So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”

Jerusalem, in these last days, is not the physical city of Jerusalem, which is now of Hagar, because she is still in slavery (to sin) with her children (See: Gal. 4). We, the people of God who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, are his holy city. We are Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. And, a Jew is not one who is one outwardly, but is one who is one inwardly, who has been circumcised of the heart, i.e. he or she is one who believes in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of his or her life.

In these last days before Jesus returns, via this time of divine judgment on the people of the earth, God is pouring out his Spirit, and people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ, for persecution has a way of building or rebuilding the church. I believe scripture teaches that God will revive his wayward church in these last days, and that when the church is revived, she will take the gospel to the people, and she will invite people to faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, the picture we have here, too, is that people will hear of God’s working in other people’s hearts, and by reputation only they will seek God out, and will call on Jesus to be Lord and Savior of their lives, and that is awesome!

Redeemed / Frances J. Crosby

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long:
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

I know I shall see in His beauty
The King in whose law I delight;
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
And giveth me songs in the night.

I know there’s a crown that is waiting
In yonder bright mansion for me,
And soon, with the spirits made perfect,
At home with the Lord I shall be.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child and forever I am.

Lift Up a Standard

Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 3:43 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Do Not Seal My Lips.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 62 (NASB).

For Zion’s Sake (vv. 1-5)

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet,
Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness,
And her salvation like a torch that is burning.
The nations will see your righteousness,
And all kings your glory;
And you will be called by a new name
Which the mouth of the Lord will designate.
You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
And a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”;
But you will be called, “My delight is in her,”
And your land, “Married”;
For the Lord delights in you,
And to Him your land will be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you.

Today Zion, or Jerusalem, in reference to representing God’s holy people, must be regarded as the church, the bride of Christ, his temple. The church is not in one physical location, but is spread throughout the earth. The church is also not a building, or an institution of human-making, but it is a living organism, the body of Christ, comprised of all who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives.

The church (Christ’s body) is presently under much oppression and persecution throughout much of the world, but it is also under much deception and captivity, of a different kind, in other parts of the world, particularly here in America. While in some nations Christians are being hunted down and killed for their faith in Jesus Christ, here in America the church, for the most part, is under a veil of deception, and both groups are suffering at the hands of the same enemy, which is Satan, but it is also the US government (and military or privatized forces) and their allies.

God has allowed, and he will allow evil to reign for a period of time, but there is a time coming when he will judge those evil doers. He will bring them to trial, and he will exact their punishment due them. Until then, we must be patient and wait on the Lord. We must not fear what evil men (or women) might do to us. And, we must pray for their salvation, in hopes that they will be turned from their evil ways to follow after our Lord Jesus Christ.

While evil is still allowed to reign on the earth, God is also working in human hearts to bring them to faith in Jesus Christ or to revive the hearts of his wandering saints. He is not slow in keeping his promises, but he is patient, not willing that any should perish (die in their sins), but that all should come to repentance. And, repentance involves forsaking sin and turning of heart and mind away from darkness, and coming into God’s wonderful light, i.e. to his truth and to his righteousness, via the working of the Holy Spirit.

When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, he becomes our husband and we become his bride, but it is more in the sense of the Old Testament Jewish marriages. When the agreement was made between the groom and the bride, with the bride’s parents, that they should be married, they were considered married, even though the marriage was not consummated until much later. First the groom had to go prepare a home for them, like Jesus has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us. When the groom had the house ready, then the wedding took place. When Jesus returns for us, his bride, one day, then the wedding banquet will take place.

Yet, there is another aspect to this, which has to do with what was mentioned earlier with regard to all the evil that is now allowed to exist, and all the persecution and deception of Christians that is allowed to presently exist, and that is that, when God exacts punishment on our perpetrators, while we might feel as though we are forsaken now, and we are by some human beings, we will no longer be forsaken. He will rescue us from our oppression and he will take us home to be with him forever. Yet, we can be rescued now, though not physically, but spiritually, as we trust in our Lord and we don’t allow what humans do to us to get the best of us.

Appointed Watchmen (vv. 6-9)

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen;
All day and all night they will never keep silent.
You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves;
And give Him no rest until He establishes
And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
The Lord has sworn by His right hand and by His strong arm,
“I will never again give your grain as food for your enemies;
Nor will foreigners drink your new wine for which you have labored.”
But those who garner it will eat it and praise the Lord;
And those who gather it will drink it in the courts of My sanctuary.

While evil still reigns on this earth, and until the Lord Jesus takes us home to be with him forever, the gospel must go forth, but the church must also be warned, encouraged, comforted and confronted with her sins. So, God has appointed certain men (and women) to be his watchmen (and women). Their responsibility is primarily to confront sin in sinful humans, in particular among his wandering saints, to warn of the dangers of sin, rebellion and deception, to caution against false teaching, to forewarn of divine discipline (correction) or judgment, to call for repentance, and to promise hope and healing for the repentant. The goal of all of this is the salvation of human lives and the revival of the spiritually adulterous and idolatrous church.

Right now, here in America, although this may take place in other countries, too, the church has mostly chosen to partner with the US government as 501c3 not-for-profit corporations. This brings the church under the headship of the US government, so the church is in an adulterous relationship with the government, and God is not pleased.

Since they have turned the church into businesses of human-making (institutional churches), they have also adopted many of the patterns of the world in trying to attract the world to the “church.” So, they market the “church” just like the world does any other business. So, “worship services” often turn into large stage productions to entertain the world, and pastors turn into actors and clowns to entertain, as well, and the “bible” becomes the teachings of mere humans, and the gospel is being diluted to where it no longer calls the sinner to repentance, but it entertains him, instead.

I believe God wants to revive his adulterous church, and that he is calling her to come out of “Babylon” so that she does not share in her sins or in her punishment. Basically, he is calling his church (the living organism) to come out from under the influence and headship of the institutional church, which is married to the US government. He is also calling her to come out from underneath worldly influences, marketing schemes, a diluted gospel, etc., and to return to HIM as her only love and husband. And, he will revive, renew and restore her to a right (correct) relationship with HIM.

Remove the Stones (vv. 10-12)

Go through, go through the gates,
Clear the way for the people;
Build up, build up the highway,
Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples.
Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth,
Say to the daughter of Zion, “Lo, your salvation comes;
Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.”
And they will call them, “The holy people,
The redeemed of the Lord”;
And you will be called, “Sought out, a city not forsaken.”

So, part of the responsibility of his watchmen (and women) is to clear the way for the people of God to return to the Lord or for the people of this world to come to faith in Jesus Christ. This involves pointing out to the people the many ways in which they are presently being deceived and the many ways they have fallen under the trap of the devil once more, so that their eyes might be opened, that they would see, that they would turn from their sins back to God, so God would then heal and restore them.

Yet, not only must the negative be pointed out, but the positive, as well. Not only must sins be addressed, and the people of God be told what must be put out of their lives, but they must be taught what must be put on in their lives in place of what was removed. Even though we are now under grace, God still has a standard that he requires we must follow. 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). Jesus died, not just so we could escape eternal punishment, and not just so we could go to heaven when we leave this earth, but so we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).

God’s grace, in other words, is not free license to continue sinning against God without guilt and without remorse. In fact, his Word teaches us that if we continue in sin (make a practice of sinning), there is no sacrifice for sins, we don’t know God, we don’t love God, and we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God. If we want to have eternal life with God, we must forsake our lives of sin and we must be born again of the Spirit of God and we must put on his righteousness – all in the power and working of the Spirit of God at work in our lives in turning us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18).

I Do Not Seal My Lips / An Original Work / January 13, 2014

Based off Psalms 37, 40

Do not fear when evil man
Has success in all their plans,
For like grass they’ll wither soon.
They’ll be cut off from the land.

Trust in the Lord and He’ll give you peace.
Find your delight in Him through all stress.
All of your ways commit unto Him.
All your desires from Him He’ll fulfill.

Wait for the Lord; keep His way.
Delight in His Word always.
He’ll be with you to the end;
Life eternal found in Him.

I waited patiently for my Lord.
He turned to me, and He heard my cry.
He set my feet on the Solid Rock.
He gave to me a firm place to stand.

Blessed are we, who trust the Lord,
Who do not turn to false gods.
Our desire’s to do God’s will.
His word is within our hearts.

I will proclaim salvation to man.
You put a new song now in my mouth.
I’ll not withhold your love and your grace.
I’ll speak forevermore of your truth.

Restored to God

Sunday, April 2, 2017, 4:36 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 61:1-4 (NASB).

Freedom for Prisoners (v. 1)

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;

Although this is a prophecy about Jesus Christ, we, as his body, also have the Spirit of God upon us, and we have been anointed of God (2 Co. 1:21-22), and chosen of God to be “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). We are to bring the Good News to people, too. We are to share with people how they can be turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that they can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18).

Jesus Christ, God incarnate (in the flesh), died on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). 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 (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). When he died, our sins died with him and were buried with him. When God the Father resurrected him from the dead, Jesus rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf. Yet, not everyone is saved from their sins. We must individually trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, be turned from our sin, and turn to God to walk in his light (truth, righteousness).

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, and without hope. We are enslaved to sin and bound to spend eternity in the fires of hell. There is nothing we can do, though, in our flesh, to be acceptable to God. We cannot earn or deserve his grace or our own salvation. We will always come up short of attaining his divine approval (Ro. 3:23). So, this is why Jesus gave his life for us on a cross so that, through faith in him, we might be set free of the punishment of sin (eternal damnation), be delivered out of bondage to sin and the control Satan had over our lives, and be given new (eternal) lives in Christ Jesus to be lived to his righteousness. He died, not just to forgive us our sins, but that we might no longer be slaves to sin, but rather be slaves to his righteousness (Ro. 6).

Grace and Justice (v. 2a)

To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;

God’s grace to us, though, is not free license to continue living 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). When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23). “Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7). Sin should no longer be our master.

Jesus said that, if we want to come after him, we must deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity (die in our sins). But, if we lose our lives for Christ (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life (with God). Paul reiterated the same 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 (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). As well, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in the darkness (in sin), we don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

Comfort for the Contrite (vv. 2b-3)

To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

When we are enslaved to sin, without hope, we are controlled by Satan and by our flesh. We are free from the control of righteousness. We hurt and we hurt others. We destroy relationships and we injure those who have done us no harm. We are on a path of self-destruction, too. We make a practice of sinning with our lives, i.e. we lie, cheat, steal, gossip, hate, commit adultery or fornication, slander, rage, curse, are immoral, and/or we are unforgiving of others who sin just like us, etc. So, this is why Jesus gave his life for us, so that we might be delivered out of slavery (addiction) to sin, not just to free us from sin’s punishment or to promise us heaven when we die.

Faith in Jesus Christ is not something we generate in our own flesh. The faith needed to believe in Jesus and to be saved from our sins is a gift from God to us. It is God’s divine persuasion to us of his perfect will for our lives. When persuaded, we yield control of our lives over to Christ, we trust him to deliver us out of slavery to sin, and we submit to his will and purposes for our lives. We, in other words, repent of (turn from) our sins in all humility and sorrow of heart, and we turn to God to walk in his holiness and in his righteousness, to be who he wants us to be, and to go where he wants us to go. We choose to no longer live under the control of sin, but we choose, by the convincing of the Holy Spirit, to walk in the ways of the Lord.

Then, the Lord comforts us with his love, his grace, his mercy and his forgiveness. Where once we carried around this weight of sin on our shoulders, now he has removed that, and we have the peace of Christ in its place, and the joy of the Holy Spirit, and the encouragement of the Father. Where we once denied Jesus by our lifestyles, now our lives are to his praise and glory. Once we felt in despair and without hope. Now we have the healing power of God in our lives, and we are filled to overflowing with inexpressible joy. Once we floundered around having no purpose and direction, but now we are filled with purpose, value and direction. Once we had just a religion. Now we have a relationship with Almighty God.

Repairers and Rebuilders (v. 4)

Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins,
They will raise up the former devastations;
And they will repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, it does not mean that we are instantly perfect, or that we never sin again. Scripture is very clear, though, that if we willfully keep on sinning (make it our practice), there is no more sacrifice for sins; we don’t have the promise of eternal life; we don’t know God; and we don’t love God, although we may say that we do. There has to be a spiritual transformation which takes place in our hearts, of the Spirit of God. We must be born again of the Spirit. If there is no change of heart and mind, and we just keep trucking the way we did before, we don’t really know God. It is just that plain and simple.

On the other hand, scripture is also clear in showing us that it is possible for true believers in Jesus Christ to fall back into sin, and to come back under a yoke of slavery. It is possible for Christians to become lazy and complacent about their relationships with Jesus and to neglect time with him in prayer, in his word, and in following him in obedience. It is also likely that some will forget that they have been cleansed from their sins, and that they will begin following the ways of the world once again (See: Rev. 2-3, for example). So, although they don’t need to be “born again” again, they may need to be revived, renewed and restored to a proper relationship with their Lord.

So, if you have never repented of your sins, and if you have never had that change of heart and mind away from a life of sin to a life of living to God and to his righteousness, then I pray you will turn your life over to Jesus today. As well, if you did believe in Jesus to be your Savior, but at some point in your life since then, you have fallen back into sin or if you have become complacent and lazy about your spiritual walk of faith, I pray you will return to your Lord and that you will allow him to restore you to himself. I pray you will forsake all which you know is displeasing to God, and that you will choose to follow him in obedience from this day forward – all in the power, strength and working of His Holy Spirit now living within you, for the glory of God. Amen!

Zeal for Your House
An Original Work / August 1, 2016

Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
Lord, I love my times with You.
I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
List’ning to You speaking to me,
Gently guiding me in truth.

Lord, You are my life’s example,
Showing me how I should live.
I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
No greater joy have I when serving You.
Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
I’m yielding to Your will.

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
See the church turned upside down:
Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
Gospel message made appealing,
So the world will feel at home.

Lord, we need a great revival.
Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
Be restored to God again.