Tested by Fire

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

His Great Mercy (vv. 3-5)

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

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

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

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

Various Trials (vv. 6-9)

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

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

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

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

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

Prepare Your Minds (vv. 13-16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Children of Light

Friday, September 29, 2017, 5:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Peace of Christ.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 5:1-21 (NASB).

Imitators of God (v. 1-2)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Who is an imitator? He or she is a follower, sheep, look-alike; someone who emulates and models another, who is another’s representative, but not here in the sense of a fake copy, but in the sense of us genuinely patterning our lives after the life of another, which in this case is God/Jesus Christ. We are to be like him in all that we do and say and think and are. But, this is a lifetime process. We won’t be like him fully in character, attitudes and actions until we reach heaven. Yet, this should be what we strive toward, not in our own strength and wisdom, but in the power and might of God’s Holy Spirit now living within those of us who have been crucified with Christ to sin and born again of the Spirit of God in newness of life, to be lived to Christ.

So, Christ Jesus is our model for how we are to live our lives, and for how to walk (in lifestyle) in love (agape). This love is not like human love, though, for it prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, godly, moral and upright. It will do no harm to others, but good. This love is also not dependent on others loving us, or on their personalities, positions in life, social status, skin color, or material wealth, etc. For, we love like Jesus Christ loved and still loves us. It is unselfish, thinking of others above ourselves, and considers what is in the best interest of others. It is honest, though, and it doesn’t tell people lies just to make them feel better about themselves, especially in their sin. It will speak the truth in love, when necessary, because it cares more about others than it does about itself.

Not Partakers (vv. 3-14)

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says,

“Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

Because we have been born again of the Spirit of God, and we are imitators (followers) of Jesus Christ, and we are walking (in lifestyle) in love (agape), and we are considering others above ourselves, and we are doing them no harm, but good, then we won’t participate in adultery, perjury, immorality, coarse jesting and the like, because we love others as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. Idolatry and immorality should have no place at all in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ. We should have reputations which are above reproach. This is not to say we will never sin (1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that sin should not be our practice, for if we make sin our practice, we have no eternal life with God in heaven (1 Jn. 1:6; Gal. 5:19-21).

Let no one deceive you with empty words. Wow! That packs a punch these days, for many liars and deceivers have infiltrated the church and are teaching a do-nothing entitlement gospel which says God does everything and nothing is required of us – no obedience, submission or repentance. But, that is not what the Bible teaches. It teaches that faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God (in his likeness) in true righteousness and holiness. It teaches us that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. And, it says that God’s grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; Tit. 2:11-14).

How We Walk (vv. 15-21)

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Our salvation in Jesus Christ is not just so we can escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. There is a whole life in between that is to be lived for Christ and for his righteousness, and not for ourselves, or for our own entertainment. We are to grow in the grace of Jesus Christ, and put on the full armor of God daily with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and his schemes against us (Eph. 6:10-20). We are to walk according to the Spirit, and to no longer fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We are to spend time daily in His Word, drinking in His Spirit, listening to what God says to our hearts, and then doing what he teaches us. And, we are to go where he leads us, and walk in his ways, and be the light of the world and the salt of the earth so that others will come to know our Savior, too.

And, we are to encourage one another (fellow believers) in our faith and practice, warn against falling away, calling for repentance and renewed faith, where needed, and to help one another to grow and to mature in our Christian walks. We are NOT to be living to sin and self, for our own pleasure and entertainment, while ignoring the needs all around us and the sharing of the gospel of our salvation with others so they can come to know him, too. Our lives should be sold out to Jesus Christ, with him truly as our Lord (owner-master) in practice, and not just in title (in words only). And, then we should be sharing with the body of Christ what our Lord is doing in our lives as a way of encouraging them to live godly and holy lives, too.

The Peace of Christ / An Original Work / October 31, 2011

Based off of Col. 3:1-17; Eph. 5:19-20

Let the word of Christ dwell in you,
As you teach with all wisdom,
Teaching one another to not
Think on earthly things;
Think instead on things above,
Where Christ sits with God, in love,
Saving us from all of our sins,
Cleansing us; made new within.

Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts,
As you sing songs unto Him;
Speak to one another with psalms,
Hymns, and spir’tual songs;
Always giving thanks to God,
In the name of Christ, His Son,
Who gave His life up for us all,
And gave us eternal life.

Let the love of Christ within you
Rule in your hearts; grace within,
Purifying you from your sin,
Make you whole within.
Forgive as the Lord forgave.
Show His kindness ev’ry day.
In word or deed, whate’er you do,
Glory give to Jesus Christ.

 

Show Integrity

Saturday, September 9, 2017, 4:56 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 2:1-14 (ESV).

Sound in Doctrine (v. 1)

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Not all of us are teachers, in a formal sense of the word, but we all teach something each day by our lifestyles, words, attitudes and actions, for good or for bad. For, we ought to all have people whose lives we influence, because we should, if possible, have some human contact each day. Also, for us who are followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be the light of Christ to a dark world, the salt of the earth, and to proclaim the excellencies of HIM who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. As well, we are to go and make disciples of people of all nations, baptizing, and teaching them to obey all things Jesus commanded (Matt. 5:13-16; 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9).

Since we are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, to proclaim the excellencies of Christ, and to make disciples of people of all nations, we need to make certain that what we are proclaiming is sound in doctrine, i.e. that it is the truth, and not twisted truth or half-truths designed to make people feel good in their sin. So, what is doctrine? “Doctrine, then, is scriptural teaching on theological truths” (1), i.e. scriptural (biblical) truths. “According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God (2). I like that one!

Sound doctrine, essentially, is the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). It makes no compromise with the world in order to make nice with the world, but it presents the truths of scripture according to the context in which they were written, for the purpose for which they were written. In other words, it does not pull scriptures out of context to support a particular chosen belief while ignoring the bulk of teaching in the Bible on that same subject (or subjects).

Too many people stubbornly hold on to particular beliefs, even though the bulk of scripture speaks the opposite, or even if, in comparing scripture with scripture, we are able to see that a particular held belief is not fully supported in scripture, and thus we must form our beliefs based upon all teachings on that subject, and not just the ones that support our beliefs. It would behoove all of us to be good students of the Word of God, not to support preconceived beliefs, but to find truth, and then to live the truth.

Sound in Faith (vv. 2-6)

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.

What does it mean to be “sound” in faith? It means to be complete, thorough, unblemished, unadulterated (unmixed) and firm (secure), without wavering. It means we are no longer like children being tossed here and there by every wave of teaching, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (See: Eph. 4:11-24). It means we first know the truth, are certain that what we believe is truth, and then we stand on what we believe, but not just in theology or doctrine, but in practice, day in and day out, no matter the circumstances, and no matter who we are with at the time. We don’t blend in with the world to be accepted, and we don’t compromise our faith to not be rejected or persecuted. And, it means we walk (in lifestyle) no longer after the flesh, but according to the Holy Spirit.

Although this section of scripture deals with particular groups of people, for the most part what is instructed to these specific groups applies to all who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ. We should all be serious-minded about our walks of faith in Jesus Christ. Too many people take God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God’s Word all too lightly, and do not take them to heart, to make God and His Word a reality in their daily lives. This doesn’t mean we go around with frowns on our faces all day long or that we never laugh or smile. Serious-minded is not to be equated with grumpy and downcast. We can have the joy of the Lord in our hearts and smile and laugh (appropriately) and still be serious about God and His Word.

We are all to be steadfast (unwavering, constant) in our faith, reverent (respectful) in our behavior, not slanderers, and not addicted to strong drink, drugs, or anything else which might cause us to lose self-control. Self-control has as its basis Holy Spirit control, for self-control is one of the characteristic traits of the fruit of the Spirit, which is to be seen (exercised) in our lives, as followers of Christ. We, too, are all to teach what is good, i.e. what is spiritually healthy and what is God’s best for us, not the junk that is being passed off as the gospel today which is intended to appease the flesh and gain customers for big businesses called “church.” And, all of us are to be submissive to God and, in reverence for God, also to one another, which includes wives being in submission to their husbands. But, not one of us should ever submit ourselves to sinning against God.

Be a Model (vv. 7-10)

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Too many professing Christians today make excuses for willful and continuous sin against God, claiming “I’m not perfect,” but that is a lame excuse, and God doesn’t accept it. Certainly none of us lives in sinless perfection, though I know some people claim they do, but all of us should be walking (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and not according to our sinful flesh, if we are truly in Christ by faith in Him. So, in reality, if this is true, we should all be good examples of what it means to be a believer in Christ and to walk with integrity (truthfulness, honor, uprightness), which includes admitting wrong and repenting of sin when one does sin.

Grace of God (vv. 11-14)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our 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 lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Too many professing Christians and non-Christians, alike, are also confusing God’s grace with libertinism, i.e. the freedom to be “unrestrained by morality and indulging a variety of amorous impulses” (M-W). They see God’s grace as carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sinful practices, as though thinking that God’s grace just covers it all, and that God just looks down on them and smiles when they choose to keep sinning against him. But, that is not true.

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. His grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await his return. Jesus did not die just to forgive us our sins, but he died to transform us! When we come to faith in him, we die with him to sin so that we might live with him to his holiness and righteousness, for this is why he died! So, give your lives to him today, and let him have HIS way now in your lives.

Lord, Move Me / An Original Work / October 16, 2011

Be my desire, my heart set on fire,
Lord, move me to worship You only, I pray.
Fill with Your Spirit, my heart overflow.
Lord, may I long for You; Your word to know.
Teach me to walk with You, Lord, in Your power,
And may I serve You, Lord, right now in this hour.

Lord, how I want to obey You forever.
Help me to hear You, Lord, so I will not stray.
Teach me to love You; adore You always.
Envelope me, Lord, with Your grace today.
Meet me in my need, and show me Your mercy.
Forgive me for all things, as I humbly pray.

Counsel me, lead me, direct me, and guide me,
So I follow You, Lord, where’er You lead now.
I love to hear You speak Your words to me.
I am so grateful that You set me free.
Wash me, and cleanse me, and make me like You, Lord,
And I will live with You for eternity.

Resources: (Not an endorsement of these sites)

(1) http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/doctrine/
(2) http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-doctrine/

 

Help in Trouble

Thursday, August 10, 2017, 2:32 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 46 (NASB).

God our Refuge (vv. 1-3)

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

Life is full of changes. There are no guarantees that life, as we now know it, will continue. Our jobs could go away. Our spouses could die, or they could leave us for someone else. The stock market could crash, and we could experience another “Great Depression.” Our present form of government, as we understand it to be, could suddenly disappear, and in its place the beast (one world government) could rule supreme. Our houses could burn down to the ground. A hurricane could sweep our houses (or apartments) away, or so could a major earthquake or a tsunami. We could suddenly be struck very ill, or we could be involved in a serious automobile accident. Or, our nation could suddenly be attacked, once more, by a foreign nation (or entity).

Yet, in all of these things, and so much more, God is our refuge and strength to help us in times of trouble, if our hope and our trust is in him, and in his salvation. He is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made. He is all powerful, too. Nothing catches him by surprise, and there is not anything which he cannot handle. He will see us through any and all changes in our lives or in our circumstances. He may or may not remove us from our difficult situations, but he will give us the strength and courage we need to endure, to persevere, and to remain faithful to him in all things despite the difficulties we are experiencing in this present world of ours. So, we need to rest in him, trust in his grace, believe his promises, and carry on in Him.

Our Stronghold (vv. 4-7)

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

When difficult times come our way, which they will, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not be frightened in any way by the waves of the sea crashing in all around us. God’s presence is with us. He will never leave us or forsake us if we are truly his by faith in Jesus Christ. His grace is sufficient to help us in times of need. And, not only that, but God allows difficulties to come into our lives to purify us, to prune us, to make us holy, to conform us into his likeness, to revive us, and to mature us in our walks of faith, as well as to correct and rebuke us, if we have gone astray, so that we will turn from our sinful rebellion to walking in his holiness and righteousness.

We don’t ever have to be afraid of anything. Nothing can happen to us in this life but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, and he will see us through it to victory. He will provide all that we need, but not necessarily all that we think we need, or all that we want. Especially here in America we have this idea that we need so much, but we don’t. We can survive on very little, in reality. We don’t need much food, either. Restaurants have been notorious for serving large portions of food, and to one person, which could probably feed an entire family in another country. But, we don’t need a lot of food, and, in fact, it is unhealthy to eat so much.

What comes to mind right now are the lyrics to the song “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” (by Henry F. Lyte):

Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shalt be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought, and hoped, and known;
Yet how rich is my condition, God and Christ are still my own!

Cease Striving (vv. 8-11)

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Yet, it isn’t just that God allows troubles and hardships, but sometimes he is the one who brings them upon us. He is not only a God of mercy and grace, but he is a God of justice and righteousness. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, which is why he has delayed judgments, in many cases. Yet, he is a God who judges the people of the earth, too, and even his followers, and in order to bring those who have strayed from their pure devotion to him back to him as their Only Lord and Master. He warned of this in Revelation 2-3, among other passages of scripture. There he called his wandering saints (parts of his church) to repentance, and he warned of divine judgment if they did not repent.

God also judges nations and peoples who have come against his children, i.e. against those who have been born anew of the Spirit of God via death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ Jesus, their Lord. I believe much or all of the world is already under the judgment of God. I know that America is, and that what our nation (our government) has done to other nations, it will be done to us. And, what our nation has done to their own people, and to God’s laws, and to demoralize our nation, and to dilute the gospel message of salvation, God will judge, too. Yet, he will do this to stop all the evil, and so that the gospel message will go out to the ends of the earth before he returns for his bride, so that many more will be saved.

So, we are not to be anxious or worried or fearful when these things take place, but we are to put our trust in the Lord, and believe that he will work all things together for good for those who love him; for those who have been called according to his purpose. Instead of letting life’s difficulties get us down, we must recognize who God is, that he is God, and that he will be exalted (praised, revered) in the earth, and among the nations. He is still with us, he has not deserted us, and he is our stronghold. He will see us through to the end, and he will accomplish his purposes in all of our lives.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

Take up The Shield

Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 7:21 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 62 (select vv. NASB).

Jeremiah 17:9 says this:

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?”

When we come into this world, we are born with sin natures. We are fleshly. We are under the control (power) of Satan, slaves to sin. Our human hearts are easily deceived and are given over to deceiving, as well. We come up short of attaining God’s divine approval, because we can’t save ourselves. We can never be good enough. In and of ourselves, our hearts are incurable. So, that is why Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins so that we might be turned from darkness (sin, wickedness) to light (truth, righteousness), and from the power of Satan to God, that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who, by faith in Jesus Christ, are sanctified.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. But, this does not mean we are no longer capable of sin. We are. Yet, if we are in Christ, by faith in him, sin should no longer have dominion over our lives, because Satan has no power over us. Jesus Christ set us free! So, we should walk in freedom! Yet, if we continue in willful sin, i.e. if we make it our practice to sin against God, the Bible says we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. So, it is possible to think you are saved and going to heaven but still be dead in your sins.

Blessing and Cursing (vv. 3-4)

How long will you assail a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
They have counseled only to thrust him down
from his high position;
They delight in falsehood;
They bless with their mouth,
But inwardly they curse. Selah.

So, for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, but who have drifted away from their pure devotion to Christ, and have fallen back into sin, or for those who profess to know Christ, but who are living sinful lifestyles, or for those who have never claimed to believe in Jesus Christ at all, these questions are posed.

How long will you continue in sinful rebellion against God? How long will you continue to hate one another, and attack one another? How long will you accuse falsely and persecute those who are following Jesus Christ with their lives, or will you try to trip them up in order to bring them down with you? When will you stop being deceived and deceiving others with your lies? When will you cease speaking kindly to people only to their faces, but then stab them in the back when they are not in front of your face?

For God Only (vv. 5-8)

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Our only hope for overcoming sin is faith in Jesus Christ, but that faith must be accompanied by repentance and obedience to Christ and his commands. To merely acknowledge what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, but to never turn away from the sin, nor to turn to God to walk in his ways, will not result in eternal life with God, but only a fearful expectation of judgment.

Jesus/God needs to be our only hope. He needs to be the one we give our full allegiance to with all our hearts. Humans are going to disappoint us, reject us, persecute us, falsely accuse us, betray us and maybe even kill us, just because they don’t like us, because we are not like them. Humans will lie to us, too, so we need to be very discerning so that we don’t become deceived, too. We need to pray and ask the Lord for wisdom to recognize the lies so we can reject them, and to know the truth, so we can follow it.

When we are persecuted, because we trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, and because we follow him in obedience to his will, we need to rely on the strength of the Lord so that we are not shaken from our faith and give way to fear. People will attack us. They will hate us. They will try to bring us down, and they will lie to us and will try to deceive us. And, they will speak kindly to us to our faces all the while they are stabbing us in the back when we aren’t looking. Although they act like they are our friends, they may betray us. So, this is why our hope needs to be in the Lord, and we need to find our strength in him so we don’t cave in and lose heart.

So, we need to pour out our hearts to him. It isn’t as though he doesn’t know what we are going through, though, but he wants us to cry out to him in our distress, in our pain, in our sorrow and in our weakness, and he desires that we let him heal us, comfort us, encourage us and counsel us in the way we should go.

We need to keep trusting him, even if all hell breaks loose all around us. For, he is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made. And, he has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows into our lives. And, he will work all things together for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. So, take refuge in him, be of courage, be strong in the Lord, and persevere in your faith.

Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.

Led to Repentance

Sunday, July 23, 2017, 3:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of repentance.

From Darkness to Light (Acts 26:15-20)

And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

Many preachers today are teaching that God does not require us to repent of our sins, or else they are just deleting (or omitting) repentance from the gospel message, or else they are teaching that repentance is simply having a change of mind in the sense of deciding to believe in Jesus Christ. Yet, is repentance required by God for salvation, and, if so, what all does repentance entail? What is this “change of mind” we are supposed to have? Is it merely to decide to believe in Jesus, or is there more to it?

Well, to repent certainly means to have a change of mind, but it is also a change of the inner man (of our inmost being, our hearts). This change is an indication of our acceptance of the will of God, too, after which we should think, believe and act differently than we did before. In the context of most biblical references to repentance, the indication is that one leaves his former life of sin behind him, casting aside his idols, and his rebellion against God, in order to turn to God/Jesus to follow (obey) him in all his ways.

And, this is made clear for us here in this passage in Acts 26 where Jesus called Paul to open spiritually blinded eyes, turning them from darkness (sin) to the light (Jesus Christ, truth, righteousness), and from the power Satan had over them to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ.

So, Paul obeyed what Jesus told him to do (vv. 16-18) by telling the people that they must repent of their sins and turn to God, and that their actions from that point forward should, thus, reflect (reveal) their repentance.

Obey the Truth (Rom. 2:3-11)

Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

God’s kindness is his grace to us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to the cross to die for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died on that cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. When he died he put our sins to death with him so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. In fact, he died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

So, the purpose of his grace to us is not just so we can escape hell and have forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven when we die. His grace to us is to lead us to repentance. In fact, his grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. God’s grace is NOT carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and remorse. For, if we walk in sin, according to the flesh, we will die in our sins (1 Jn. 1:5-9; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

Thus, God’s grace should lead us to repentance, and that repentance should produce a change of heart and mind away from living for sin and self to faith in God/Jesus Christ, to follow him (obey him) in all our ways. Yet, if we continue living (practicing) sin, we should expect God’s wrath and fury, not his warm acceptance with open arms into his heaven. If we do not walk in obedience to Christ and his commands, but we go our own way, instead, we will die in our sins, not be saved in the end. Yet, if we follow our Lord in obedience, and we are, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity.

Flee and Pursue (2 Tim. 2:22-26)

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

So, repentance is a change of heart and mind away from sin and Satan and to (toward) God and his righteousness. And, it results in a change of thinking, believing and behaving so that we don’t do the things we did before. Now our desire is for God/Jesus, to obey him and to walk in his ways and in his truth. So, it is a lot like making a U-turn in a road. First we were going one direction, and then we changed course, we turned, and now we are going in the opposite direction as we had been traveling.

And, it entails fleeing worldly passions and desires and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace. If all we do is just try to stop doing what is wrong, but we don’t do what is right, then we are a lot like a thief in between jobs, because nothing has really changed. Our character hasn’t changed, nor have we truly had a change of heart and mind. True repentance means we leave the way we use to live behind us and we now live holy lives pleasing to God. This is not to say we will be instantaneously perfect, i.e. that we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that being born again is a new life, not the old life slightly cleaned up to be more presentable.

When we come to repentance, via God’s grace to us, we come to our senses, we realize we were heading the wrong direction, we are broken and contrite over our sins, and we follow our Lord in the right direction. We escape (break free from) the snare of the devil, who had taken us captive to do his will, and now we submit to our Lord, and we are desirous to do his will. And, we continue on this path until the day we die or until Jesus comes back to take us to be with him forever.

And, all this is made possible because of God’s grace to us and due to his sustaining power in our lives. All glory to God. Great things he has done in granting us repentance and forgiveness of sins so that we can now walk in freedom from slavery (addiction) to sin, and so we can walk in the Spirit, by faith in Christ, and according to his righteousness.

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

Based off Isaiah 55

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

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

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

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…