Our Spiritual Journey

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 5:16 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 15:11-32 (NASB).

Two Sons (vv. 11-16)

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.

Life is a journey, is it not? Every day, hopefully, we wake up, we get out of bed, if we have a bed to sleep on, that is, and we start a new day. Either we do so with purpose and direction, or else we wander aimlessly, going here and there trying to find satisfaction for life, but always coming up empty. Either we are on a straight (righteous, holy) path, because we are trusting God/Jesus Christ with our lives, or else we are on a winding path or life course with no particular destination in mind other than self-pleasure. Yet, it is possible to be somewhere in the middle between these two paths, I believe, for someone could be on the straight path, but they have gotten off course, at least in some respects, and so they need to get back on course.

I believe there are four types of people in this world (four types of soil). The first type is the one who has not ever made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The second is the one who makes a profession of faith, but it is surface level only (no root), probably because he was taught a false grace gospel which told him that God does not require repentance or obedience, so when things get rough, he yields to pressure, and he abandons the faith altogether. Neither of these have truly believed in Jesus as Savior. And, then there is the one who has believed in Jesus, who was crucified with Christ in death to sin, and risen with Christ to newness of life, but over time the temptations of this world entrapped him again, and so he got off course. And, he needs to return to God and forsake his idols. And, the fourth type is the individual who is walking by faith, is following his Lord in obedience, and who is bearing fruit for God’s kingdom, in keeping with repentance.

God is our creator, which means he gave life to all people, so God is the true father here. So, the two sons could represent the saved and the unsaved. As well, for believers in Jesus Christ, God is our Father and we are his children, so the two sons could also represent the faithful believer in Jesus, though certainly not perfect, and the believer who has gotten off course and has been entrapped by the sinful pleasures of the world once more. The bottom line, though, is that they represent one in fellowship with the Father, who is serving God with his life, who is walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands, and one who has abandoned God, is going his own way, and is living in sensual pleasure and self-indulgence. Yet, even the one in fellowship with the Father has some maturing to do in some areas.

He Came to His Senses (vv. 17-24)

But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Oftentimes, sadly enough, it takes some type of a tragedy or difficult situation in life to get people to come to their senses, and to escape the trap of the devil. When sin gets a grip on people, they can do senseless things, even dangerous things, and stuff which might even get them in trouble with the law, or which might ruin their marriages, etc. And, yet, they go headlong right into what they know is wrong, and what they know is destroying their lives and relationships, even their relationship with God, because their desire is greater for the sin than it is for anything else. They don’t want to let go of the sin, because the sin gives them a false sense of security, or because they are angry with God, and so they feel justified in continuing in the sin, or because they have a sense of entitlement, and so they believe God’s grace gives allowance for their sin, and that God requires nothing of them at all.

When things are going well for us, and we are healthy, and all our physical needs are being met, there may be a temptation to rely on ourselves more than we rely on God. We may become complacent regarding fellowship with our Lord and walking in his Spirit, and the trappings of the world may begin to consume us, our time, thoughts, energies, passion and desires. We may give God a back seat in our lives, and even our devotional lives may begin to ebb away. We don’t necessarily have to even get to the point of gross sin and rebellion to be a prodigal son, but we may just neglect our relationship with Jesus Christ, and what we want and desire may, thus, take first place.

So, God may bring into our lives, or may allow in our lives, some difficult trial, tragedy, sorrow, pain or sickness in order to get our attention, and for the purpose to bring us to our senses. This is not to say that those who are living righteously will not also face such troubled times. They will, and it will be for the purpose to mature them, and so they share in God’s holiness, and so they bear the fruit of God’s righteousness. But, he also disciplines his wandering saints in order to bring them back to himself in humility, repentance and obedience. Sometimes we can be so stupid, so strong-headed, and so bent on our own ways, even though we know better, and so it will take being hit over the head by a two-by-four (not literally) to bring us to our senses. And, even this is God’s grace to us, in order to free us, because he has compassion for us. And, when we do return, he revives and restores us to fellowship with him, and he welcomes us back home.

The Curse of Jealousy (vv. 25-32)

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

Like I said, even those who are walking righteously are not yet perfect (without fault). We are maturing in our walks of faith day-by-day. Daily we are putting to death sinful deeds, by the Spirit, and we are responding to the Spirit’s still small voice in convicting us when we falter, or we should be. And, sometimes our Lord will put a finger on an area of our lives where we need to yield control to our Lord and not do it ourselves. And, we need to respond to his voice by submitting to his will, and by walking in his way.

The one who stayed in communion with the Father ended up being jealous of the one who repented of his evil ways, and who returned, because the Father received him with open arms and he celebrated the son’s return. He felt that the father treated the wandering son, who then later repented, greater than he treated him who had remained with the father. And, that can happen to us, too, if we allow self-righteousness to settle in, and if we forget that our righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight, and it is only his righteousness granted to us, to be lived out through us in his power, that amounts to anything. We were once lost, too, and God found us and saved us by his grace, so we have nothing to boast about or to feel self-righteous about, because it is only by God’s grace that we are not still in the gutter.

Yet, I find another jealousy existing among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, which is equally as bad. Sometimes, when a wandering saint does return to the Lord, and is restored to fellowship with God, and is now walking in the Spirit, and is not gratifying the sinful flesh any longer, those who are still giving way to the flesh, who have not yet repented of their sins, will be jealous and resentful of the relationship the faithful believer has with the Lord. And, that may drive the unrepentant even further into sin and rebellion because of their anger with God and with the repentant. Yet, all of us need to have the perspective that it is only by God’s grace that any of us can be restored to God and have communion with him, and that all of us have the opportunity to walk in faithfulness, if we so choose to do so.

Amazing Grace / John Newton

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

A Benediction

Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “God Be with You till We Meet Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 30:23-31:11: (Select vv. ESV).

A Whirling Tempest (30:23-24)

Behold the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intentions of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand this.

We are living in those latter days now. And, there are many storms and tempests blowing all around us. Some of them are literal storms, while others are outbursts and eruptions of a different kind (nature). Some are impacting the atmosphere associated with the physical earth, while others are influencing our surroundings on a more social, economic, religious and/or political sphere. And, both kinds of tempests can result in violence and destruction of property, and can cause loss of life and health and well-being. Some are literally storms of the Lord, which he generates, even though he may use human beings to carry them out. Others are allowed by God, because he allows evil to exist in this world, but he sets limits on them.

In context, what we learn here is that God first judged his wayward and rebellious people. He used wicked people, who were bent on the destruction of Israel, as his divine instruments of judgment on his adulterous and idolatrous children. And, then, when he had accomplished his purposes in the hearts of his people, he turned on their enemies, and he did to his people’s enemies what they did to Israel.

And, so it is again in these last days. God is judging and will judge his adulterous and rebellious children, i.e. his wayward church (See: Rev. 2-3), and he is using and will use the US government, their allies, the beast and the false prophet, as his divine instruments of judgment, but then he will turn on them, and it will be payback, and they will receive back in spades what they did, are doing, and yet will do to others. And, this storm is not far off, I believe. Although God uses evil and wicked people to accomplish his purposes in the hearts and minds of his followers, yet he still judges them for their evil deeds.

They Found Grace (31:1-6)

“At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”
Thus says the Lord:
“The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O virgin Israel!
Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant
and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when watchmen will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”

Throughout history, the primary purpose for God judging his people, and for discipling them and scourging them, was to revive and to restore them, and to turn their hearts away from their idols back to God, to follow him in all their ways from that day forward. He also uses divine discipline as a means to holiness and sanctification, that we might bear much fruit for his eternal kingdom, and that we might yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness. And, this, too, is his grace to us, because he loves us so much, so he will do what is needed (necessary) in order to bring us back to him, because what we need is to be in fellowship with him and to be walking in his ways. God always wants what is best for us, and this is what is best for us.

When we put our faith and trust 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 in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Jesus died, not just to free us from the penalty of sin (spiritual death/eternal damnation), and not just to give us the hope of eternal life with God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace is NOT a free license to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars.

So, for those who have wandered off from the purpose for which we were saved, or for those who make a profession of faith in Jesus, but who never have truly believed in Jesus Christ, because they never did turn from their sins or follow the Lord in obedience, the call is to repent of your sins, leave your life of sin behind you, and turn to God to follow him in all his ways. He will revive and restore you, or he will save you from your sins for the first time. Concerning the adulterous, idolatrous and worldly church now, when he disciplines them in judgment, and he revives them, they will once again have the joy and peace of the Lord, and of their salvation, and they will walk in his holiness, and they will be his witnesses so that others can be saved.

A Straight Path (31:9-11)

With weeping they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.

When we sin against our Lord, and the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts, it should bring us to tears. Yet, we should not be sorrowful with a worldly sorrow, just because we got caught, or just because we got disciplined, but we should have a godly sorrow which leads to genuine repentance, i.e. to a change of heart and mind which results in change of words and actions. We should be humbled that God spared our lives, and that he cared enough about us to move us to repentance, and that he did not leave us floundering in our sins. We should be so grateful for his grace to us in bringing pain and suffering into our lives so as to motivate us toward his holiness and righteousness; and away from sin and rebellion, to walks of faith and obedience to our Lord.

Yet, when this time comes, and the church is scattered because of God’s judgments, and because of the severity of the persecution of the saints of God who are following the ways of the Lord, which may already be what is taking place in other parts of the world; and many are martyred for their faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ, many of us will be separated from each other, and we will not be rejoined until we are all with our Lord forever. So, for those who survive this storm, let this benediction be for you (for us).

God Be with You till We Meet Again
Jeremiah E. Rankin, William G. Tomer

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
neath his wings securely hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life’s perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
smite death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

We Serve Him

Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 8:26 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 103 (quoting select vv. NASB).

Bless the Lord (vv. 1-5)

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

On bended knee, in all humility of spirit, we are to adore, magnify, praise and thank our Lord for all that he has done for us. God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to the earth to take on human flesh, and to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). So, we must die with him to sin and self so that we can be resurrected with him to newness of life. Sometimes we, too, will have to accept being treated as though we have done wrong when we haven’t, and in order to see others come to salvation from sin.

We need to always remember all that Jesus Christ did for us. Not only did he become sin for us so that our sins would die and be buried with him, and not only was he resurrected from the dead, victorious over sin, Satan and death, but he took our punishment for sin on him so that we might live with him for eternity. Sometimes, we, too, will be punished for things we did not do, but if we bear up under unjust suffering, and keep loving and forgiving our persecutors, we might win their hearts to Jesus. We must always keep in perspective where we were before Jesus saved us from our sins so that we don’t lose patience with others who are still bound in sin’s deceitfulness.

By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven our sins, delivered from both the punishment of and the slavery to sin, and set free to now walk in the Spirit in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. We were once bound for hell, in the pit of despair, chained as prisoners to sin, but Jesus set us free! He turned us from darkness (sin, wickedness) to light (truth, righteousness) and from the power of Satan to God so that we could be forgiven our sins, and have a place among those who are sanctified (purified, made righteous, holy) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18).

Those Who Fear Him (vv. 11-14)

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.

Even though Jesus died for the sins of the world, not everyone is saved from their sins. We have to each individually believe in him with God-given faith which is divinely persuaded as to his perfect will for our lives. Since it is God-given faith, and not human faith which saves us, this faith is in agreement with God regarding our sin, and it conforms to Christ’s righteousness and holiness through the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit within our lives. When this takes place, and we have repented of our sins, in all humility, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Gal. 2:20).

God’s lovingkindness is, thus, extended towards those who fear him; as well as he has compassion on those who fear him. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Amen! Yet, this is not talking about being afraid of him, but it is speaking of treating him with honor, respect, value, obedience, reverence, submission, devotion, commitment, and loyalty, etc. And, this is about giving him our love, steadfastness, fidelity (faithfulness), and our worship. And, the way in which we worship him is by giving our lives to him, as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable service of worship to him – no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed in mind and heart of the Spirit of God.

We Who Serve Him (vv. 19-22)

The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.
Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Our God is absolutely sovereign and in control over all he has made. He also has full authority over all powers in heaven and on earth. It is important that we remember this, especially when things get pretty bad, at times, or when we are being persecuted and put to the test for our faith and for our testimonies for Jesus Christ. There is nothing that escapes his notice, or that he does not have the power to change according to his will. He created Lucifer knowing he would rebel, and he let him live, knowing he would tempt Eve to sin against God, and then that Eve would lead her husband Adam to sin with her. In fact, he created Adam and Eve knowing full well that they would sin, and that he would have to banish them from the Garden, and that he would then put a curse on them and on the earth. But, he had a plan, even from the beginning, that he would send his Son to die for our sins.

God created angels to be his servants and messengers, and to give him praise, honor and glory. Yet, his angels are not his only servants. We who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives are also his servants and messengers, whom he created for his glory to worship him, and to obey his voice to us, and to do what his Word teaches us. Jesus died, not just so we might die to sin and live to righteousness, but also that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). His grace to us is not just so we can escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). For, this is why he died, to transform us, not just to save us.

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.

A Wicked Land

Thursday, April 13, 2017, 6:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Malachi 1 (Select vv. NIV).

Jacob and Esau (vv. 1-5)

A prophecy: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.

“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”

But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

Jacob’s name became Israel, and today Israel, i.e. the children of promise, is the church, the body of Christ, comprised of all those who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, whether Jew or Gentile by birth. Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to God the Father. We, who are in Christ Jesus by faith in him, who have been born anew of the Spirit of God, who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, are the loved of God, i.e. we belong to him.

Esau’s descendants became the Edomites, who were enemies of God, and of his people, so they represent the ungodly and the unholy of this world. Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a single meal, and then later tried to get his inheritance, but he was not able to find repentance, although he sought it with tears (See: Heb. 12:15-17). This is a difficult passage to understand. I believe the Lord is saying to me that Esau did not forsake his evil ways, or he did not do so in truth (same thing), i.e. what he had was a false repentance with fake tears or with real tears, but with worldly sorrow, not godly sorrow which leads to genuine repentance.

Yet, Jacob and Esau had the same father and the same grandfather, i.e. they were both descendants of Abraham and Isaac. But being physical descendants of Abraham was not enough. They had to be his spiritual descendants, too.

And, I believe from this the Lord is giving me a picture of the church (or the institutional church) here in America. There are people here who are truly born again believers in Jesus Christ, who are walking in his ways and in his truth. There are also those who profess to know Jesus, some of whom are members of some of these ‘church’ organizations (institutions), but their profession of faith is shallow, and it lacks true repentance. But, I also see that there are those who were born again of the Spirit of God, but who have since wandered off and need to be brought back to repentance (Rev. 2-3). Yet, there seems to be a fine line between these last two groups.

If we study the New Testament from beginning to end, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse, we may soon find ourselves grappling with truth we had not seen before, because we were taught differently from our ancestors. We may find, too, that we can’t explain away many of these verses using the doctrines we were taught as children. Thus, we then have to face the reality that what may seem uncomfortable or foreign to us is actually what the Bible teaches. And, what I am speaking of is that scripture makes it real clear that our salvation is not a one-time deal, and then we live our lives, and then one day we go to heaven when we die.

What scripture teaches is that our salvation is progressive. It begins when we first believe in Jesus (we were saved), and then we are “being saved,” and then it is complete when Jesus returns for us, his bride (we will be saved). The Bible also teaches that if we want to have eternal life with God we must walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. We must not hold on to our old way of living in sin, but we must lose our lives (die to sin) for the sake of Jesus and his gospel. And, it teaches that if we continue in (keep on; practice) sin, we don’t have the hope of eternal life. As well, it teaches that we must continue in Christ and in his word, and that we must keep (obey) his word, if we want to have the hope of eternal life. So, eternal life with God is not guaranteed if we do not continue in Christ, in his Word, in obedience to his Word, and walk in the Spirit and not by the flesh.

The Honor Due Him (vv. 6-11)

“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.

“It is you priests who show contempt for my name.

“But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’

“By offering defiled food on my altar.

“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’

“By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.

“Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.

“Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.

What I believe the Lord is showing me here is that this describes much of the church (or institutional church) here in America, and its leaders. Many of them have the appearance of being on fire for the Lord, but it is surface only. They are wrapped up in their own lives and are busy entertaining themselves and the people of the world, and their hearts are far from God. Their lives are not committed to Christ but to this world. For some of them, their devotion to the Lord is half-hearted, and thus not fully committed. Many of them, too, are following a false grace gospel which requires no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ or death to sin at all. So, their worship of God is in vain.

Not only that, but many of them are on the attack of those who do share the full gospel message (the whole counsel of God). Or else they are supporting those who do, i.e. they have partnered with the U.S. government who is going throughout the world killing, pillaging, and raping people, and murdering Christians, as well as taking over sovereign nations and bringing the world under the rule of the New World Order “beast.” And, God is definitely not pleased! In fact, he is calling his church, the body of Christ, to come out from under these 501c3 corporations (the institutional church) which are under the headship of the US government so that she does not share in her sins and in her punishment, but not many are listening.

So, God is going to visit the USA in judgment, and at the hands of her own leaders, who have handed the people of this nation over to be destroyed. Our government, though, that we believe is our government, are not really the ones running the ship here. They answer to a shadow government of the Elite of this world (the wealthy and powerful) who are truly the de facto government of these United States. And, they are deserting our nation, and they are, or they will subject us to disaster because the One World Order (beast) must have the rule of all of the earth. Thus, we can’t believe what we read in the news because these Elite own the news. Most everything is lies or twisted truth (lies).

Our nation is known for their false flag operations where they create chaotic or disastrous situations so that they have an excuse to go into other nations in order to take them down, and to kill Christians, too. I believe our government (well, the shadow government) was behind this chemical weapons attack in Syria so that they would have an excuse to go into Syria and strike them. All of this is leading up to the rule of the beast. And, I also believe that they have something similar in mind for the USA, and that God will use this to bring people here to their knees so that they will honor HIM alone as their God and King. And, these will be troubled times, and yet God will be with those of us who put our faith and trust in him. And, he will give us all we need to endure, to persevere, and to be victorious to the end.

Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.

The Contrite in Heart

Saturday, April 1, 2017, 10:42 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “By Your Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 57:14-19 (NASB).

Remove Obstacles (v. 14)

And it will be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.”

As the Lord’s servants and messengers, we are to encourage, inspire and urge the people of God to remove every obstacle out of the way of them walking the path or running the race God has marked out for them. We are to urge them to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” so they can “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1 NIV). Yet, we must take care that we, also, have done this.

When we trust 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” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23). The old has gone. The new has come. We are delivered out of slavery to sin, so that we can now become bond-servants of Christ and of his righteousness. The lives we now live we no longer live to please our sinful flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God in our lives (See: Ro. 8:1-14).

Yet, we still have the propensity to sin, and it is possible that, if we let our walks of faith slip, due to neglect, we may once again become entangled by sin. And, thus, we would need to be revived in heart and brought back to purity of relationship with Jesus Christ to where we are walking by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Thus, we need to remove from our lives all obstacles to our walks of faith and obedience to our Lord, and we must cast off any sins which have now clung to us once again, so that we may go in the direction the Lord would have us go, and to be the people of God he desires us to be.

So, in all practicality, this involves a spiritual examination of heart whereby we ask the Spirit of God to identify any areas of our lives where we are being entangled by sin once again, and that he would show us what hindrances to our walks of faith need to be removed. For example, if the sin is lust, and we are giving in to lust, if we do not first remove (cut out of our lives) what is leading us into sin, such as any pathway to that sin, like what we view on TV, movies we watch, etc., then we are likely to continue down that path of sin. So, we need to get radical about sin so we stop sinning.

Lowly of Spirit (vv. 15-16)

For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.
“For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would grow faint before Me,
And the breath of those whom I have made.

We serve a holy God. And, he calls us to be holy, too. For us to be holy it means that we are separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin because we are being conformed into the image of Christ. This is not saying that we leave civilization and that we go live on a deserted island to avoid all contact with the sinful world. But, it does mean that we don’t think, act, or believe like the world does. We are no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, because our Lord has transformed us in the renewing of our minds. So, we don’t feed our minds and hearts with the things, attitudes, values and behaviors of this sinful world, rather we feed our minds and hearts with the character, attitudes, actions and values of God and of his righteousness.

The forerunner of Jesus Christ was John the Baptist. He taught repentance (being contrite) for the forgiveness of sins. So did Jesus, and so did the apostles. Repentance, though meaning “a change of mind,” is almost exclusively used in scripture in the context of forsaking our lives of sin, and turning to God, putting our trust in Jesus Christ, and choosing to walk in his ways from this day forward (See: Acts 26:16-18; Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 12:1-2). Yet, we don’t do this in our own willpower or strength. Even the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God, as well as we are granted repentance unto salvation. Yet, this is not forced on us. We must choose to accept God’s gift of salvation through surrender to our Lord in obedience to his Word.

When we repent of (turn from) our sins in humility before God, acknowledging our sin and our need of him to be our Savior, and we trust him to be Lord of our lives, he forgives us of our sins. The penalty of sin is removed, we are freed from our bondage to sin, and we are given new lives in Christ to be lived to his righteousness. If we slip back into sin, we don’t need to be saved (in new birth) again, but we do need to be revived in heart, so we must humble ourselves before God, repent of our sins, and turn to follow our Lord in obedience once again, and to walk in his ways. And, he will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to Him.

God will Heal (vv. 17-19)

“Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him;
I hid My face and was angry,
And he went on turning away, in the way of his heart.
“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners,
Creating the praise of the lips.
Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,”
Says the Lord, “and I will heal him.”

Because Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, God put a curse on humans and on the earth. When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, and without hope. Yet, we can do nothing in our own flesh to earn or to deserve his grace; our salvation. We can never be good enough, because not one of us can keep his law perfectly. So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to the earth, to take on human form, and to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21).

When we trust in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, which is persuaded of God as to his will for our lives, we turn from our sins, and we turn to follow Jesus in obedience to his will and to his ways. This is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives in moving us away from sin and to God. Thus, God forgives us our sins, he restores us to a right relationship with himself, and he heals our hearts with his love and his grace. He fills our lives with his love to overflowing. Our desire now is for him and for his Word. We hunger after him and his righteousness. We want to please him in all that we do. And, we bask in the glow of our newfound relationship with him. We are now at peace with God, and in love with our Lord.

Yet, as mentioned earlier, it is possible for us to let this slip, if we are not diligent in remaining in him and in his Word daily, and in prayer, and in obedience to what he teaches us. We can fall back into sin and will need to come to repentance so that he can heal and revive our hearts. Yet, we may resist the Holy Spirit, and follow our own stubborn ways, instead, and so he may have to correct us with some divine discipline (Heb. 12:1-11) in order to get us to repent of our sin and to return to him, so he can heal us. Yet, his will is always to heal us, even though he has seen our sinful ways, and our rebellions against him. Isn’t God’s grace amazing? I am so thankful for his grace to me.

Yet his grace is never license to continue in sin, but it teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). So, if you have never repented of your sin, or if you have fallen back into sin, I pray you will be brought to repentance today so that God may heal you. Amen!

By Your Grace / An Original Work / June 27, 2011

Speak Your words to my heart,
Let Your grace and love impart.
Be to me all I need
To love and serve Christ my King;
To love and serve Christ my King.
Change my heart; be like You;
Let me love and serve in truth.
Guide my steps ev’ry day,
As I bow my knees and pray;
As I bow my knees and pray.

Love You, Lord. You love me.
You died so that I’d go free
From my sin; pure within;
By Your grace I’m saved from sin;
By Your grace I’m saved from sin.
Invite You in my heart;
Now I have a brand new start.
Repented of my sin,
So that I’d be cleansed within;
So that I’d be cleansed within.

Live for You ev’ry day,
List’ning to the words you say.
Make You Lord of my heart;
Be Your witness, grace impart;
Be Your witness, grace impart.
Obey Your ev’ry word;
Do the things I’ve seen and heard.
Your word, Lord, in me burns,
While I wait for Your return;
While I wait for Your return.

Despised and Rejected

Friday, March 31, 2017, 2:53 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Near the Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 53 (ESV).

A Man of Sorrows (vv. 1-3)

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

A lot of people today picture Jesus as someone everybody loved, so if we are like Jesus, people should love us, too. They focus on the fact that he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, fed the hungry, and encouraged the timid. Yet, they often neglect to mention that he confronted people with their sins, and that he warned of divine judgment, and of sins’ consequences. He called, too, for repentance, obedience, self-denial and death to sin, as well as he promised hope and healing for the penitent. So, if we are like Jesus, shouldn’t we be doing these things, too? Yet, if we are, we, as well, will be despised and rejected of men. And, people will hide their faces from us, too, and will have nothing to do with us.

Our Griefs and Sorrows (vv. 4-6)

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, in the image (likeness) of Adam, separate from God, and without hope (Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49). Because of our sin, we cannot attain, by human effort, God’s divine approval. We will always come up short (Ro. 3:23). So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ (God, the Son) to the earth to take on human form, to suffer as we suffer, and to be tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He sent him, too, to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When Jesus died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. When the Father resurrected him from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, Satan, hell and death, on our behalf.

Jesus’ purpose in dying on a cross for our sins was 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. He died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk (in lifestyle) no longer according to the flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. When we put our trust in Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord (owner-master) of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14; 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

Both in his life and in his death Jesus bore our griefs and our sorrows. Because he took on human flesh, he experienced what we experience, so he is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses. He had to do this in order that he might become “a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17; 4:15). So, when we go through difficult times on this earth, and when we are hated and rejected of humans, and when we experience much sorrow and pain, we have a Lord who has been through that, so he feels what we feel. Not only does he feel our pain, but he is also our comforter, our strength and our healer. He will give us all we need to endure and to remain faithful to him.

Oppressed and Afflicted (vv. 7-9)

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Now, Jesus was not always silent in the face of much opposition. Even at his arrest and trial he was not completely silent. He was still bold in some of the things which he said (See: Jn. 18:1-19:11). Yet, in some instances he was silent, and he did not say anything (See: Matt. 26:63; 27:12-14). He certainly had the wisdom to know when to speak and when to keep silent, and we would all do well to learn from him such wisdom and discernment.

Yet, I take his silence to mean much more than merely lack of words or refusal to speak, but rather as an attitude of submission to the Father, and to the cross, and to the task which was before him, which was to die for our sins. He did not resist this, or fight against it, although, in the flesh, he definitely struggled with it (See: Matt. 26:36-46).

And, we should respond in like manner when we are also mistreated, judged unfairly, and falsely accused. It is ok to cry out to God in our pain, and even to pray for deliverance. It is ok to hurt. And, there are times when it is appropriate to defend ourselves against what is false and what is abusive, i.e. to speak the truth in love. Yet, daily we must surrender ourselves to the cross of Christ, and be willing to suffer injustice, if need be, for the sake of Christ and for his gospel message, and for the salvation of human lives.

Numbered with Transgressors (vv. 10-12)

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Is it God’s will that we should suffer? Sometimes, yes, but he also gives relief from suffering. Is it even God’s will that we should be persecuted, hated and rejected because of our faith, and because of our testimonies for Jesus Christ and for this gospel? Yes! [See: Ro. 5:3-5; Phil. 3:7-11; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 4:12-17; Jas. 1:2-4; Matt. 5:10-12; 2 Co. 1:3-11; Heb. 12:3-12.]

Just as Jesus had to go through all of that suffering, pain and anguish, so that you and I could be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we could be given new lives in Christ Jesus, to be lived to his righteousness, we, as well, must go through difficult times. Sometimes it is for our own purification, maturity, and humility, that we might learn patience and perseverance, and to teach us to rely on God, and not on ourselves. Other times, or even at the same time, it is for the benefit of others that we must suffer, because then God is able to mold us into the people he wants us to be, to be used of him as his servants and witnesses in taking the love of Christ and the truth of his gospel to those to whom he would have us minister his love and his grace.

One of the most difficult of sufferings we will be called upon to bear is to be falsely accused of things we did not do, and to be considered as evil when we have done nothing to wrong anyone. Imagine, then, a holy God being treated as though he is a common criminal when he was sinless, instead. We are not sinless, although our sins are forgiven, if we have trusted in Jesus to be our Savior and Lord. Yet, part of persecution is to be falsely accused, and to have people think evil of us when we are not guilty of evil acts against others. So, we should not be too quick to judge others on the testimony of someone other than the person himself (or herself), because many people’s reputations are ruined by the gossip of hateful and spiteful people.

Yet, if in our suffering, it produces a harvest of righteousness both in our own lives and in the lives of others, we are blessed. Jesus had to die, but his death resulted in our salvation from sin. Sometimes we will be called upon to suffer injustice for the sake of Christ and his gospel, yet it may well produce not only holiness in our own lives, but also in the lives of others, so that is a good thing. If, through our suffering, we are able to impart to others the love, grace, mercy, kindness, righteousness and justice of our God, and others are then able to turn their hearts to the Lord, to follow him in his ways, is it not worth it to suffer for righteousness’ sake? I think it is.

Near the Cross / Fanny J. Crosby / William H. Doane

Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Ever Trusting, Resting

Friday, February 17, 2017, 11:46 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 1 (ESV).

Various Trials (vv. 1-4, 12)

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:

Greetings.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Life has its ups and downs. Both the godly and the ungodly go through difficult times. We have hardships, troubles, persecutions, setbacks, and life’s complications and its changes, which we all face to some degree or another, and from time to time. We may go through financial hardships, or the loss of a loved one, or marital (spousal) unfaithfulness, or abuse, or we may go through the pain of a physical malady or of a natural disaster or war. As long as we live in these flesh bodies, and on this earth, we will know pain and sorrow, as well as we can know joy and peace.

For the Christian, there is the additional trial of suffering persecution for the sake of our faith in Jesus Christ, for our testimonies for him and for his gospel of salvation from sin, as well as for our stand on the Word of Truth. We will experience suffering, too, for holding fast to such values as holiness, truth and righteousness. Especially if we are ones who are speaking the truth of the Word and who are calling people to repentance, faith, obedience and holiness, we will face much opposition. We will be hated and treated with disdain because there will be people who won’t want to hear the truth, because they want to continue in their sinful lifestyles, and they don’t want to change, and they don’t want anyone telling them that they need to change, either.

Our natural inclination when we go through pain and suffering is to want the pain and suffering removed. Yet, we are to be joyful when we suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus, for the testing of our faith is for a purpose. It is to produce steadfastness (persistence and determination) in us. So, we need to yield to our Lord and rest in his love, and trust in his grace and in his sovereignty over our lives, and believe him to work it all out for our good and for the good of all who love him and who have been called according to his purpose. We don’t know what all God is doing through these trials, not only in our lives, but in the lives of others whose lives we touch. In other words, we should not fear trials or what humans may do to us, but we just need to keep trusting Jesus and following him wherever he leads us and do what he says. And, we need to believe that he will carry us through it all.

A Double-Minded Man (vv. 5-8)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

A double-minded person is one whose mind about things keeps continually changing as he or she goes back and forth on what they believe and on what they know is right to do or to not do. They may ask God for wisdom to know what to do and when the Lord does give counsel and guidance, they may immediately (or not) appear to be in agreement, but then will soon after shift directions, i.e. they will make a U-turn and leave God behind in the dust. They are likely to be driven by emotions, instinct, and human nature rather than by God and by the Word of Truth. They are easily swayed by various opinions, especially if the opinions give them the liberty to continue in their sin. These types of people may also end up being persecutors of those who do stand on the truth. They may appear to be going the right (or the same) direction, and then shift gears, and they may, thus, betray and/or abuse the Christian who is trying to help them to go straight.

No Variation (vv. 9-11, 16-18)

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

In context, I believe the “lowly brother” is symbolic of believers in Jesus who are being humbled and persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. God will exalt them in due time, yet they should display the joy of the Lord in these difficult times, and they should be at peace in God, trusting in his sovereignty over their lives, not letting the persecution wear them down or to make them afraid. On the other hand, the ones who see themselves as having attained their own success, even at the expense of others, will be humbled by God. They should accept God’s humbling of them, so that they may be counted among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, if they don’t repent of their sins, and submit to God’s will for their lives, they will die in their sins, and all their worldly plans will come to nothing.

One of the beautiful characteristic traits of God is that he is not like us. He does not change like humans do. What he says he sticks to it. He doesn’t waver back and forth like humans. We can count on him. If we are his, we can be assured that he will never leave us or forsake us. He will never abandon us. He doesn’t play games like people do. He is completely honest with us. He told us we would have days like this, and they have come, and he told us that they were for our good, and that good would come out of them. And, he told us we need to trust him, believe him, and rest in him.

He has singled us out, and called us to be his own people. He has called us to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, i.e. to be his holy people. Through our trials he is purifying us and he is sanctifying us, and from our lives he will bring forth fruit – a harvest of his righteousness.

Hearers and Doers (vv. 19-25)

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

God has given us his Word, both the written word, and his Son, Jesus Christ. He has given us his Holy Spirit to indwell us and to teach us his Word and to remind us of all that Christ taught his disciples. His Word is written in our hearts. And, through the Lord and his Spirit, and through the written word God speaks to our hearts. He teaches us concerning the way in which we should go, and he warns us against evil, wickedness and continuing in sin. He gave us many instructions on how to forsake sin and how to follow him in obedience – all in the power and working of the Spirit within us, as we cooperate fully with the Spirit’s work, i.e. as we yield our lives over to God.

Especially for those of us who have the written word, and have had it all our lives, and who have known the Lord many years, and have had his Word living in our hearts, we are without excuse if we do not do what it says. Yet, many people who know the Word, who have read the Word, and who have been taught the Word since infancy, still do not do what it says. They are still walking according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit. They are still following after the lusts of the flesh and are living to please self instead of God. It isn’t that they don’t know the truth. They are just not willing to do what it says, and so they claim ignorance. God convicts their hearts, and they know what to do, and yet they willfully forget. They are self-deceived.

But, God wants us not to be hearers only, but to be doers of the Word. And, this is not optional. It is not just a suggestion, and we can take it or leave it. If we don’t do what the Word says, i.e. if we refuse to put it into practice in our daily lives, then we don’t really know God nor do we love him. It is what the Bible says. We are just spinning our wheels going nowhere, like someone driving round and round in a cul-de-sac. We are heading nowhere, and so we go nowhere. If that describes your life, then God is calling you to let him change you.

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting / Jean Sophia Pigott

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ‘neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.