Deeply Despised

Thursday, October 12, 2017, 9:44 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “For Our Nation.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 49 (quoting vv. 5-10 ESV).

His Servant (vv. 5-6)

And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

The speaker is Isaiah, and yet this is a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, so, in essence, this is Jesus Christ speaking. And yet, to a certain extent, this also applied to Isaiah and it applies to us, too, as the Lord’s followers, for we are his servants, who were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him (Eph. 1:3-4).

Jesus Christ called us to be his servants and witnesses. Part of our calling is that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Pet. 2:9). Included in that calling is that we should encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have wandered from their pure devotion to Christ, to come back to the Lord in submission and obedience to him. It is also to proclaim the truth of the gospel to those who profess Jesus Christ as Savior, but who have never been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and thus have not truly been born again of the Spirit. And, it is to share with the world around us that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died to deliver us out of sin, in other words.

The Chosen (v. 7)

Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation,
the servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Our Lord Jesus, although he was God in the flesh when he walked this earth – i.e. he was fully God, yet fully man – and even though he did no wrong, but he taught truth, and he lived it, too, and he loved people and helped them, still he was hated, rejected, despised, persecuted, abandoned, mocked, spat upon, beaten and then hung on a cross to die. He came to save his own people, the Jews, but most of them turned away from him and would not believe in him as their promised Messiah. And, many of them called for him to be crucified, too.

Yet, it was God’s will that our Lord should suffer and die for our sins, and then be resurrected from the dead. For, when Jesus died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. Then he rose from the dead victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can be delivered out of slavery to sin, be set free from the ultimate punishment of sin, and be set free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. For, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to him.

It is also the Lord’s will that we should suffer in this life, and that we should be hated, persecuted, abandoned, betrayed and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because, through suffering we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, we are being made holy, and we are maturing in our walks of faith. We are being humbled, we are learning to rely on God and not on ourselves, and we are learning grace, compassion, forgiveness, patience, endurance and perseverance. God is developing his character within us, as he carries us through these trials, in order that we will be his faithful ministers in sharing the love, grace and mercy of Christ with others.

Come Out (vv. 8-10)

Thus says the Lord:
“In a time of favor I have answered you;
in a day of salvation I have helped you;
I will keep you and give you
as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land,
to apportion the desolate heritages,
saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’
to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’
They shall feed along the ways;
on all bare heights shall be their pasture;
they shall not hunger or thirst,
neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
and by springs of water will guide them.

When we, the body of Christ, serve the Lord faithfully in being his servants and witnesses, in taking the gospel of our salvation to the ends of the earth, we don’t have to do this in our own strength or by our own resources. When the Lord calls, he also equips and empowers. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are indwelt by God’s Spirit who comforts, encourages, strengthens, helps, empowers, counsels, teaches, and guides us in the way we should go. He will give us all we need to be able to share his gospel with many people.

So, what is this gospel that we are to take to the ends of the earth? It is not only that Jesus Christ died, and was resurrected, and that he did this to conquer sin in our lives, but that he did this that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So many people are teaching the gospel as though it is just a get-out-of-jail-free card and the promise of eternity in heaven with God when we die. But, Jesus didn’t die just to take our penalty for sin, but he died that we might be delivered out of addiction (slavery) to sin and so we might live in victory, and for him the rest of our days, for his glory.

So, our message to the people should not be merely that they should believe in Jesus Christ and accept what he did for us on the cross, but it should be that they should come out of darkness (sin) into the light of Christ’s holiness and righteousness. And, their lives should now be a light that shines forth to show to the world what it means to be truly “born again.” The Lord will now be their shepherd and helper, and he will guide them and lead them in the way that they should go. They just have to humble themselves before God, turn from their sin, and turn to follow Jesus Christ with their lives.

For Our Nation / An Original Work
September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

 

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Light to the Eyes

Monday, October 2, 2017, 9:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, I Need You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 29 (Select vv. NASB).

Stiff-Necked and Ensnared

1 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof
Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
3 A man who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
But he who keeps company with harlots wastes his wealth.
5 A man who flatters his neighbor
Is spreading a net for his steps.
6 By transgression an evil man is ensnared,
But the righteous sings and rejoices.

Both men and women are born into sin, with sin natures and a natural bent toward doing what is wrong (what is evil in God’s sight). Some of these men and women own up to their own sin, call on God for mercy, and accept our Lord’s plan of salvation for their lives. They rejoice in their salvation. Others don’t. Some of them, in fact, hear the gospel preached, and they know the way of salvation, but they are stiff-necked (obstinate, proud, and stubborn) and they refuse to humble themselves before God in repentance and in submission. So, they continue to go on in their sin despite the rebukes and the warnings against unbelief and/or disobedience and where it will lead them. And, some of these people even make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and believe heaven is their home. And, that is a sad reality, indeed!

Scorners and Haters

8 Scorners set a city aflame,
But wise men turn away anger.
9 When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man,
The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.
10 Men of bloodshed hate the blameless,
But the upright are concerned for his life.
11 A fool always loses his temper,
But a wise man holds it back.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, and we are transformed in heart and mind, of the Spirit of God, away from sin and to walks of obedience to our Lord, we will face rejection from others who won’t understand us or who will be offended by us. There will be those who will scorn (deride, mock) us for our commitments to Christ, who will think we are a bunch of “holy rollers.” And, many of these may take their hatred and disdain of Christians to the level of physical violence and persecution, even to the death of the saints of God who are holding on to the Word of Truth and to their faith in Jesus Christ as the only way to God and to heaven.

Yet, we must not let these scorners and haters get the best of us. We must keep pressing on, trusting the Lord, doing what he commands, and following him wherever he leads us, even in the face of much persecution and rejection. And, we must love our enemies and those who do evil against us, and be concerned for their lives and for their eternal destiny. And, thus we ought to pray for their salvation, and do good to them, and not return evil with evil. Even though they laugh or rage at us when we speak the truth in love to them, we must not lose our cool, but we must be those who are self-controlled and at peace, because of God’s Spirit living within us.

Reproof and Wisdom

13 The poor man and the oppressor have this in common:
The Lord gives light to the eyes of both.
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,
But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
16 When the wicked increase, transgression increases;
But the righteous will see their fall.
17 Correct your son, and he will give you comfort;
He will also delight your soul.

God is not a respecter of persons (See: Acts 10:34-35; Ro. 2:9-11; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-4). He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. It doesn’t matter if we are rich or poor or influential or unimportant in the eyes of humans, or if we treat others kindly or if we are big bullies and tyrants. Jesus didn’t die on a cross for our sins because of our righteousness, but because of his. He died on a cross for sinners, and the gospel of our salvation is available for all to listen and to obey. Not one of us can ever be good enough to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We must all come humbly before the throne of grace, repenting of our sin, and turn to faith in Jesus Christ to walk in his righteousness.

Pride and Anger

20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
22 An angry man stirs up strife,
And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.
23 A man’s pride will bring him low,
But a humble spirit will obtain honor.
25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.

We all need to be so careful to not be quick to speak, but to weigh our words carefully. We must not be quick-tempered, either, and we should not allow others to egg us on to anger and to emotional outbursts. But, we must pray, trust the Lord, be patient, and ask the Lord to give us the right words to say or to give us the wisdom to know when to remain silent. And, this will involve humbling ourselves, not letting pride get the best of us. As well, we must know that the devil is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and one of his tactics is to try to get us to lose our cool, so we have to be Holy Spirit controlled, which is also self-controlled, and then let the Spirit lead us.

It is a must that we also not give in to the fear of humans and what they might do to us, or what they might think about us or say about us to others. We have absolutely no control over what others do or say or think anyway, and fretting over it never solves anything. If we allow fear to take hold in our lives, it will only cause us trouble, for we have taken our eyes off Jesus and we are allowing the waves crashing around us to make us afraid. And, when we are afraid we may say and do things we ought not to do or say. So, we should pray, trust the Lord, believe in his sovereignty, and commit our way to the Lord, and let him work it all out for our good and for his glory.

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…

 

Spiritually Appraised

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

The Power of God (vv. 1-5)

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

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

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

The Wisdom of God (vv. 6-13)

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

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

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

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

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

The Mind of Christ (vv. 14-16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Three Ps

Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 4:47 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 5:1-12 (ESV).

Poor in Spirit (vv. 1-6)

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

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

Happy or fortunate are we from having received God’s spiritual benefits and provisions to us as a result of his grace to us, by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for our sins, and through our believing heart response to Christ’s love and mercy to us. He demonstrated his love to us by dying on the cross for our sins even while we were still dead in our sins, so that we could go free from slavery to sin and have eternal life with God. Amen!

So, what should be our believing heart response to Christ’s love and mercy to us? We should humble ourselves before God with contrite (remorseful) hearts, confessing and repenting (turning away from) our sins. And, we should bow before him in humble submission to his will for our lives, making him Lord (owner-master) of our lives and us his bond-servants (slaves). We should take this attitude that our lives are no longer our own, to be lived how we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross for our sins, so we are to honor God with our lives.

Then, we should no longer live to please ourselves and to gratify the sinful cravings of our flesh, but now our lives should be lived for God, to walk in his ways, his truth, his holiness and his righteousness. In fact, serving God and obeying his will should be top priority in our lives. We should desire our Lord more than anything else, and want to please him in all that we do and say, rather than live our lives to be accepted by others. This means we don’t give God a small portion of our lives or our time or our talents and the rest is ours to do with what we want, but we submit ALL to him to follow him.

Pure in Heart (vv. 7-9)

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Whereas the first section of this writing dealt primarily with our relationship to God, this section deals primarily with our relationships with other human beings. We are blessed of God when we show others his mercy, for mercy will then be shown to us, perhaps in similar circumstances, and in similar ways. To show mercy is to be compassionate, kindhearted, sympathetic, forgiving and benevolent towards others, particularly as they are suffering or are in need. Yet, mercy never entails compromise of faith, tolerance (acceptance) of evil, or placating of (appeasing, pacifying) sin. For instance, it is never kind to lie to people or to withhold from them the truth in order to make them feel good about themselves in their sins.

For, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be pure in heart, not only in relationship to God, but in all our attitudes, thinking, desires, affections and actions towards others. To be pure in heart means to be unadulterated (untainted, unmixed) with the world, and with regard to sin, and within our whole being – mind, body and soul. This means that, in all our sympathy, compassion and kindness towards others that we exemplify purity (integrity, honor, decency, goodness, morality, and uprightness) and that we don’t use sympathy as an excuse to engage in sinful acts or to tolerate sin in others.

As well, people often confuse the terms “peacemaking” and “peacekeeping.” They are not one and the same. A peacekeeper is one who tries to keep peace – absence of conflict – at all costs, including the compromise of principle, truth, integrity, personal health and well-being, sanity, true conflict resolution, and sincerity (genuineness) in order to avoid conflict of any kind. This helps no one, it saves no one, and only serves to internalize anger and resentment within the mind and heart of the peacekeeper, and brings nothing to resolution.

Jesus Christ was a peacemaker, not a peacekeeper. He never compromised his faith and integrity for the sake of absence of conflict. In fact, he frequently incited conflict in order to bring about conflict resolution. He took head on the Pharisees and religious leaders of his day. He did not sugar-coat anything with them. He told them the truth about their wickedness and their hypocrisy, and this only angered them more. Yet, he did so because he cared about their sinful condition, and because he was concerned about the people whom they were leading astray, and so he brought these things to the surface so they could be dealt with, so that true peace could come to the hearts of his listeners, which is peace with God, forgiveness of sins, restoration with God, and true fellowship with Jesus Christ. Amen!

Persecuted for Christ (vv. 10-12)

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

When we are poor (humble) in spirit and pure (upright) in heart, in relation to God and in our dealings with others, and when we are Christ-like in being peacemakers, instead of being peacekeepers, we can expect to also be persecuted by those who do compromise with the world, and who do so in order to make “peace” with the world and to be accepted by everyone. For purity of heart and humbleness of spirit before God, and refusal to compromise faith and convictions, is not popular, and is often scorned and derided as being self-righteous, hateful, bigoted, and intolerant of others who are different from us. Yet, although we should be tolerant (patient, sympathetic, gracious and considerate) towards all people, we should never be tolerant (accepting, indulgent or lenient) towards sinful lifestyles.

Yet, when we are being persecuted (mistreated, abused, slandered) for doing what is right, and for standing on the Truth of God’s Word, we should rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ and for his gospel of salvation. For many people will say whatever people want to hear because they want to be liked by them, and they call that being kind, but lies are never kind. Lies send people straight to hell. People may hate and persecute you in this life for telling them the truth of the gospel, but if later they respond positively to that truth, they will thank you in eternity for helping to save their souls and to lead them to eternal life with God.

So, don’t be ashamed of Christ or his gospel, or be afraid of what people might do to you, but keep on sharing the gospel, for many need to hear the truth, and, if not now, later they will thank you for it. So, be bold, be strong, be courageous, and be pure in heart and walk in love, and do not be afraid.

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

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

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

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

 

Likewise

Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 4:54 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 3 (Select vv. ESV).

Pure Conduct (vv. 1-6)

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

I am a woman, and I have been married to my husband for 45 years now, so these words speak to my heart. We wives are to be subject to our husbands. We are to yield to their authority, be secondary to them in rule and authority in the household, and we are to be their assistants (partners, helpers). We are not to be head over them. Yet, we are not to subject ourselves to or to be partners with what is sinful, i.e. we are to obey God above all else and to respectfully decline any invitations to sin against God. We should never let our husbands lead us into sin, in other words, and then use “submission to spouse” as an excuse to willfully sin against God.

Our behavior should always be pure and respectful, both to God and to our husbands. We should set an example before our husbands, and before all people, of what it means to live pure and holy lives, pleasing to God. Yet, does this mean that we are never to say anything to our husbands about their conduct? I believe the implication is that the husband, in this case, is not a believer in Jesus Christ, and it is also in the context of the woman being in subjection to her husband, and not lording it over her husband. It also appears that the husband did hear the Word (the gospel) preached, but that he rejected it, so the wife should not try to pound the gospel into her husband through words, but rather to live the gospel before him, which would have a greater effect on him than her preaching it to him.

But, this is not to say that wives must live in absolute silence with their husbands, or that a wife cannot lovingly approach her husband with concerns over inappropriate conduct, or that if her husband is a believer, but he is going astray, that she cannot lovingly speak to him in hopes that he might be deterred from error. There are many passages of scripture, with regard to the body of Christ, that teach us to speak the truth in love to one another so that we might be brought to maturity in Christ, and which speak of what to do if a fellow believer is being led into sin or is caught in a sin, and also regarding what it means to love someone with the love of Christ. It is not loving to see a believer being led into sin and to say nothing. Also, if the wife is the helper, there are times when she does need to speak out.

As far as our outward adornment (beautification) is concerned, it should not be what is gaudy (loud, flashy, tasteless) or sensual. It should not be what attracts people to our bodies, especially, but it should be simple, discerning and modest. We especially do not want to adorn ourselves outwardly in such a way that we might knowingly lead men to lust after us, so we should always dress ourselves in such a way that is appropriate for women who profess Christ as Savior and who want to live holy and godly lives. For, what we want to show to others is the righteousness of God in our hearts, which comes not merely through our words, but through our reverent, submissive and humble attitudes and behaviors.

Honor the Woman (v. 7)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Even though these instructions to husbands are few in words, they “pack a punch,” i.e. these few words are capable of having a powerful effect on the lives of the husbands who take these few words to heart.

Husbands are to live with their wives in an understanding way, via applied knowledge. So, what specific knowledge or understanding is implied here? I believe the “likewise” in both the instructions to the wives and to the husbands refers back to the words spoken at the end of chapter 2, which speak of suffering unjustly, responding in love, and following Christ’s example of humility and holy conduct, especially in the face of unjust suffering. We read there that Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24). Husbands and wives, who profess faith in Jesus Christ, should live as Christ lived, following his example, and should die to sin and live to righteousness, and then we will live with each other as God intended.

This brings to mind the instructions to husbands in Ephesians 5:25-33 where it says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” In this way a husband is living with his wife in an understanding way, with applied knowledge, by following the Biblical instructions on how he is to live with and love his wife. And, this is a “tall order,” yet God can give them all that they need to do and to live this.

Husbands are to honor their wives. If they love them as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her, they will honor their wives. So, how should they honor them? First and foremost, I believe, is by keeping their marriage vows to them, and by not going after “other lovers,” whether through viewing pornography, or via romantic or sexual relationships with other women or men, or by being “married” to their jobs, hobbies, sports or whatever else may have their hearts, passions and desires above God and above their spouses. Secondly, they honor their wives by treating them with decency, dignity, respect, and value, and by showing regard for their thoughts, beliefs and feelings, and by valuing their opinions or input in decision-making. Bottom line – love them like Jesus loves them, and you won’t go wrong. And, in this way, your prayers will also not be hindered.

Kindred Love (vv. 8-12)

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For

“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

All of us, whether wives or husbands or singles (unmarried) or children, if we are in Christ, through faith in him, should have unity of mind, but with what mind? Whose mind? We should have unity (harmony, agreement) with the mind of Christ, not with the mind of humans. Too many humans are pushing unity, but it is not unity with God, with his purposes, with his Word and with his will and his ways, but it is solidarity with the thinking of humans and with humanistic philosophy, and it is a blending in with the world. So, when we hear the word “unity,” even within the church, we must be cautious and discerning with regard to what we are essentially unifying with. Be aware! The beast wants unity, too, only with him. Know the difference!

If we, as followers of Christ, do have unity of the Spirit of God with one another, then we will also have sympathy, kindred love, tender hearts and humble minds, especially in regards to how we treat one another. We will not want to exact revenge on others who we believe have harmed us in some way, but we will love them, forgive them, and we will want to help them, if possible, to be right in their relationships with the Lord. We will not slander others, or speak hateful words against them, in order to cause them harm, but we will speak the truth in love to them, in hopes that we might turn a sinner from his or her sinful ways. Yet, seeking peace should never be at the cost of compromise of the truth, of the gospel message, or of our testimonies and lifestyles, which are to be given over to our Lord in submission to his will. Seek peace, but never compromise with evil!

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

 

Selfless Service

Tuesday, August 29, 2017, 6:36 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 12 (Select vv. NASB).

A Holy Sacrifice (vv. 1-2)

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Because of all that Jesus Christ did for us in dying on a cross for our sins, and being resurrected back to life, so that we could have new lives in him, we ought to give our lives to God, to live holy lives pleasing to him. In fact, this is what it means to believe in him, and to be in Christ by faith in him. It means we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. It means our lives are no longer our own, to do with what we want, because we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ, and we now belong to God, so we are to honor God with our lives. It also means that we now live lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the image of Christ.

I think a lot of people think of worship of God as a song service during a worship service in a formal setting where we sing praise and worship songs together. But, singing is only one part of our worship of God. The main way in which we worship our Lord is with our lives via surrender, obedience, and walking in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. If we ignore his commands, and we still live to please the flesh, then we are not worshiping him no matter how enthusiastic we are when we sing during “worship” time. Our Lord is not looking for what we are willing to sacrifice or to give to him of our own accord, in our own way, and according to our own thinking. What he wants is us on the altar, submitted to him, and surrendered to his will.

Part of this worship of God not only means we give our lives to him, to be lived for his purposes and his will, but it means we forsake our lives of living to please ourselves. We no longer conform our lives after the ways (attitudes, thinking, believing, philosophies, culture, and behaviors) of this sinful world. We should stand out from the world and be different. We should not immerse ourselves in our societies and blend in with the world so that the world will like us. So, we should not be giving our lives over to self-pleasure, entertainment, and to doing just what makes us feel good, either. But, we should be considering how to please God in all that we do, and we should be thoughtful of others and their true needs, especially of salvation.

Sound Judgment (vv. 3-8)

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

What is striking me about this passage of scripture today is this running theme of self-sacrifice, humility, and selflessness. We can become so self-focused in this life that we lose sight of God, and what he requires and desires of us, and we can lose sight of others and their needs, too. So, we need to refocus our attention and affections on our Lord, to hear from him, and to do what he says, and we need to keep our eyes and ears open to see the needs of others all around us, and to help meet those needs as God leads and directs us in what he would have us do. We can become so inward focused, in other words, to where we miss out on opportunities to share the love, grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus with others who need him.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we all form one body, which is the body of Christ, his church. We, the people of God, are his church, regardless of location or the distance between us. And, we are to use the gifts and ministries God has given to us, as he directs, within the body of Christ, for the mutual encouragement, strengthening, and maturing of one another in Christ. Yet, God has not gifted us all in the same way, nor has he given us all the same assignments within his body (see also 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). We are all different, uniquely designed and gifted by God to be used of God in ways which he had planned for us even before the creation of the world.

So, not one of us should be jealous of another or think we are better than others because of our gifts or assignments, for everything comes from God, not us. So, we should do all that we do for the glory of God and for the edification of the body of Christ, without regard to our own giftedness.

Without Hypocrisy (vv. 9-13)

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

In what ways can we be hypocritical in our expressions of love for God and for others? One way is by lip service only, i.e. by saying we love God or we love others, but then by our actions speaking just the opposite, i.e. by being hateful instead. Another way is to stay focused on ourselves and on our own needs while ignoring the needs of others, yet while vocalizing that we love them. How are they going to know that we love them if we don’t show it? Words can be cheap if they are not followed up with action. If all we do is talk about ourselves, or think about ourselves and our needs, but we don’t inquire as to what others are going through, and if we don’t show genuine interest in their lives, how will they know that we love them?

Yet, at the same time, we need to remain focused on our Lord, and on his Word, and never compromise our faith or join in with the sinful pleasures of this world in order to “make nice” with the world. It is not loving others with God’s love if we compromise our faith and convictions in order to have others like us or think we are being loving. Jesus was loving, but he spoke the truth in love, and he told people what they truly needed, even if they didn’t respond with belief. So, we should never feel that selfless needs to be godless so that humans will think we are being selfless and not selfish. In other words, we should continue to hate what God hates and to love what he loves, and to follow Jesus’ example for how to love others with God’s love.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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!