Courage

Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 7:57 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of courage.

With Boldness (Acts 4:27-31)

“’For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”

When Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) walked the face of this earth, although he was loved and admired and followed by some, he was hated, rejected and opposed by many, but especially by the religious leaders in the Jewish temple. They hated him so much, in fact, that they plotted his death, which then they also carried out. Yet, this was God’s purpose that Jesus should suffer and die on a cross for our salvation from sin. So, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.

When Jesus lived on this earth, he told his followers that they, too, would be hated and persecuted, and for the sake of the name of Jesus, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. He told them that, as he was treated, so would they be treated. So, it should not surprise us when we are disliked, abandoned, rejected, strongly opposed and persecuted for our faith in Christ, and for our testimonies with regard to the gospel of Christ and of our salvation. Thus, we need to also pray that we might have courage and boldness to keep speaking in Jesus’ name and to keep sharing the full gospel message with all who will listen. For, we also have many who oppose us.

Yet, we can be encouraged, because God has a plan and a purpose for all that we are going through, as well. And, he will see us through to the end if we keep placing our trust in him, and we do not back down out of fear. He will give us all we need to be strong in our faith and to have the courage to keep pressing on in our walks of faith, and to keep proclaiming his name to the nations, for it will not be in our own power and strength that we are able to persevere, but it will be in the strength and power of God’s Spirit within us that we can remain strong and keep pressing on, despite all opposition.

Of Good Courage (2 Co. 5:6-9)

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.”

If we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives, and we are proclaiming his message of salvation to a lost world, and we are encouraging the body of Christ in the faith, and we are urging our brothers and sisters in Christ to live holy lives, pleasing to God, there are going to be people who just won’t like us, and who won’t like the messages we are sharing. And, we may even face strong opposition from those closest to us – from our friends, from family members, fellow Christians, and even from leaders within the church.

Yet, we must maintain an eternal perspective always. God did not place us on this earth for our own comfort and enjoyment, and so that we would be liked by everyone. He placed us here to love, worship, honor and serve him with our lives. His will for us is that we deny self, and daily take up our cross and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin and self), for his sake, we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25).

This world is not my home. I’m just passing through. My home is in heaven with God, and that is where I am going one day, to be with my Lord forever. This body and this world in which I now live is temporary. So, if they take my life, it just means I get to be with my Lord. So, I should never fear what man (or woman) might do to me, because God is on my side, and he will give me all I need to endure to the end and to keep on praising his name and sharing his truths with all those who need to hear. My goal is to please my Lord, even if it means even greater persecution and rejection, or death.

Courage to Speak (Phil. 1:12-14, 18b-20)

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Sometimes, when we are going through difficult circumstances, we may get bogged down in the whole “Woe is me” syndrome, and we may lose sight of the bigger picture. All we see is what is right in front of our faces, and we don’t see that God is working in ways we cannot see, behind the scenes. He has purposes for what we are going through far beyond our ability to even comprehend, at times. So, what may look to us like something bad, he may be working for good in other people’s lives, or even in our own lives.

Persecution is certainly not pleasant. It is painful, whether physically or emotionally, or both. No one I know enjoys being hated or mistreated or falsely accused or gossiped about. Yet, sometimes it is a blessing in disguise. For example, in America we have had little serious persecution of Christians on a large scale, though it is certainly present here. And, in America we also have many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ whose lifestyles speak just the opposite. So, sometimes opposition and rejection can be a good thing in that they produce repentance, revival, and the salvation of souls, and they help to strengthen us in our resolve to live committed lives to Christ, and to be bold in our witness.

And, God is able to see us through any and every situation, for his purposes, and for his glory and praise. He will give us all the encouragement we need to keep pressing on, as we learn to trust him with our lives and with our reputations, too. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. So, we live for Christ to serve him, and to do his will, and to please him in all ways, and we commit our lives into his capable hands. We trust in his sovereign power over our lives, that he knows what is best. And, we believe that God will work everything out for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose (Ro. 8:28).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunger and Thirst

Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 9:30 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of spiritual hunger and thirst.

For Righteousness (Matt. 5:6)

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

To hunger or thirst after something is to long for, yearn for, strongly desire, or to crave it. There is a sense of urgency in this longing, too, as though without it you will not survive, or apart from it you will not be fully satisfied. Yet, we don’t do this just once and we have it, and it is done with. Literally this says that blessed are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, i.e. this involves actively pursuing righteousness, not just once, but continuously, and not because we are not satisfied, but because we are satisfied and we realize that we need to go after it daily, for Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It needs to be part of our everyday lives, in our conduct, speech, thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.

So, what is righteousness? It is “what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes” (1). It is morality, justice, decency, uprightness, honesty, purity and holiness. And, to be holy is to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into the image of Christ. So, we are to be continually pursuing purity, honesty, uprightness, holiness and godliness in our lives, and we should not be chasing after what is ungodly, impure, deceitful or wicked.

Yet, many Christians, or professing Christians, especially here in America, seem to be doing just the opposite of this. So many of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ are chasing after the pleasures of this world and those things which will satisfy the cravings of their human flesh, rather than hungering and thirsting after righteousness as part of who they are and how they live their lives day by day. And, their relationships with God (with Jesus Christ) are often given minor attention, affection and passion or desire for what God deems right and good, and for what is approved in his eyes. Not only that, but if Christians are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, in today’s culture, they are often tagged as out-of-touch with reality, or too serious, or hyper-religious. And, even others who claim faith in Christ will encourage them away from taking God and his Word so seriously, and will tell them they need to “lighten up,” sit back, relax and enjoy life.

For Jesus Christ (Jn. 6:35, 51, 53-56)

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’” “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.’”

But, Jesus Christ wants us to take him very seriously, and those who don’t have no real life of the Spirit in them. Hungering and thirsting after Jesus Christ is not “gospel lite.” It is not “happy hour,” i.e. this is not about having a party and just having a good time (fun). This is not saying we do not have joy, we do, but we don’t take God and his Word lightly or casually. To hunger or thirst after him is to deny ourselves and daily take up our cross and follow him. It is to be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and to be resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. It is sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, too.

When Jesus spoke about us eating his flesh and drinking his blood, he was not speaking literally of eating his physical body, but figuratively of partaking with him in death to sin and living to righteousness, which is what his body and blood symbolize. When he was crucified on a cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. So, when he died, our sin died with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose triumphant over sin, Satan, and death on our behalf. He put sin to death for us so that we would no longer be slaves to sin, but that we might be free to be slaves to righteousness.

So, if we want to have eternal life with God and the hope of heaven when we leave this earth, then we must be crucified with him in death to sin, and be resurrected with him to newness of life. We must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, for if we walk according to the flesh (in sinful practice), we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. So, if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle, practice) in darkness (sin), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

For Living Water (Jn. 4:13-14; Jn. 7:37-39; cf. Rev. 21:6-7; 22:17)

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.’”

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, by God’s grace, via death to sin and resurrection to new lives in Christ Jesus, we are indwelt, filled and empowered from on high with God’s Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God, thus, empowers, strengthens, encourages, and teaches us to live holy lives pleasing to God. We can die to sin and live to righteousness, not in our own flesh, but in the working of God’s Holy Spirit within us, as we yield to our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will, and as we cooperate with God’s work of grace in our lives.

The Spirit of God teaches us all things regarding Jesus Christ and his righteousness and holiness. When we read the Word of God each day, the Holy Spirit speaks God’s words to our hearts to encourage, counsel, and guide us, or to rebuke, correct and warn us. We don’t live the Christian life in our own strength, or according to our own will and desire, but the Spirit of God provides us with all we need to walk uprightly and in purity and holiness. He gives us spiritual gifts, as well, to be used within the body of Christ to encourage one another, and to strengthen one another in the faith, so that we do not grow weary and lose heart, but so we are built up in the faith, and we mature in our walks of faith.

Because we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, God lives within us, and we are his temple (his church, Christ’s body). We can talk with him at any time, day or night, and he speaks to us, as well. We don’t have a religion, per se, but we have a relationship with our God which is real, personal and intimate. He is our God, and we honor him as such, and we stand in awe of him, and give him our respect, and yet he is our best friend and companion, and our husband and Father, and the more we spend time with him, and follow him wherever he leads us, the sweeter our relationship with him grows. He helps us through all difficulties, and he wraps his loving arms around us when we are hurting and in need of comfort and encouragement, too. He completely satisfies all of our needs both now and forevermore!

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

Based off Isaiah 55

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

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

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

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/1343.htm

Led to Repentance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Based off Isaiah 55

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

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

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

Of Faith

Thursday, July 13, 2017, 4:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “His Tender Mercies.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of faith.

Be Not Anxious (Matthew 6:25-34)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I think it is human nature to want to know the end from the beginning of a situation before we will venture into that area. It can be, in the natural, a fearful thing to step out into the unknown, not knowing what lies ahead or how things are going to come together. Yet, when we walk by faith, we learn to trust the Lord in all things, and we believe him to work it all out according to his plans and his purposes.

In the natural, so many things could go wrong, and our plans could fall apart. But, when we are being led by the Lord, and he is the one directing our paths, he will go before us, and he will prepare the way for us. This is not saying we will never face obstacles, but that God is completely sovereign (in control), and that he will work all things out for the good of those who love him; who have been called according to his purposes.

So, we learn to trust him, and to rest in him, and to believe him to supply all that we need for what he has called us to do. And, so we inquire of him to know what we are to do, where we are to go, and what we are to say. We do what he says, and then we leave the results in his hands. We follow him and his lead in our lives, and we trust him, too, with the people in our lives.

Of Little Faith (Matthew 8:23-27)

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

When we follow the Lord in obedience, it does not mean it will always be “smooth sailing.” Sometimes we will face storms, i.e. difficult and troubling situations which shake us, and which may be life threatening, as well. And, it may seem to us that God is asleep on the job, and that he is not paying attention to what is going on in our lives. But, he is still sovereign (in control), and he has it handled. Nothing escapes his notice. He has a plan and a purpose for it all, and he will see us through any and every situation.

So, we should not let the storms of life unsettle us or to make us feel as though there is no recourse or that there is no hope. We must be steadfast in hope and in faith no matter our circumstances. Walking by faith often means that we don’t know what lies before us, and how things are all going to work out. But, when we know God is in it, we have to know that he will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Why Do You Doubt? (Matthew 14:22-33)

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Sometimes, when things get particularly bad, which they will sometimes, we lose sight of Jesus and we get lost in the details of what we are going through. And, that is when we begin to fear and to fret. And, that is because we are looking at the circumstances and we are focusing on them rather than focusing on the God who is sovereign (in control) over our circumstances. So, we may begin to listen to the lies of Satan, instead, and begin to think that God can do nothing about what we are going through.

And, even though Jesus is right there with us in our circumstances, we may not recognize him, and so our hearts may begin to sink. And, when we cry out to him, he reveals himself to us, and he shows us how he is there. Sometimes it isn’t just that he is there with us through our trials, though, but that he is the one initiating the trials in our lives, because he has a plan and a purpose for them to mature us, to get us to rely on him and not on ourselves, and to teach us patience and endurance.

We might, at times, step out in faith, and be walking with the Lord in obedience, and then along the way get sidetracked by troubles or hardships and forget that our Lord is in control. And, then we begin to drown in our difficult circumstances because we took our eyes off Jesus. So, we need to refocus our attention on Jesus, be renewed in our faith, and keep going forward, even when we don’t know what lies ahead. We must walk by faith and not by sight, believing God to do his work in our lives, and in the lives of those we love, even if we don’t see yet what has been promised.

His Tender Mercies / An Original Work / January 26, 2014

Fear not! I’m with you.
Be not dismayed!
God watches o’er you.
Trust Him today.
He’ll lead and guide you;
Give you His aid.
He’ll love and keep you
With Him always.

Walk in His footsteps.
He’ll lead the way.
Trust in His love;
Believe that He cares.
He will not leave you.
Faithful He’ll be.
His tender mercies
Now you will see.

Fellowship with Him
Throughout the day.
Tell Him your heartaches.
He’ll heal always.
Rest in His comfort.
He is your friend.
Your faith He’ll strengthen,
True to the end.

Forgiveness

Sunday, July 9, 2017, 4:15 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in The Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of forgiveness of sins.

Repentance for Forgiveness (Luke 24:44-47)

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

What is repentance? Literally it means to have “a change of mind, change in the inner man” (1). It is used almost exclusively in scripture to signify a turning away from sin and a turning to walk in obedience to God. It is a lot like making a U-turn, i.e. you were going left, and now you are going right. Only this is talking about a complete change of direction spiritually in one’s life. And, although this is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in transforming us from darkness to light, our faith in Jesus Christ involves us willingly cooperating with that work of grace in our lives.

This repentance, i.e. this forsaking of our former way of living for sin and self, and turning to God to follow him in his ways, and in his truth, is required by God for us to be forgiven of our sins, and to have eternal life with God in heaven (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24).

Turned from Darkness (Acts 26:16-18; Col. 1:13-14)

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

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Paul met Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus where he intended to persecute believers in Jesus Christ. Jesus, who transformed his heart and mind, appointed him to be a minister of the gospel of our salvation. Paul’s calling also summarizes for us the gospel message, the purpose of which is to open eyes which are spiritually blinded by sin, and to turn them from sin to Christ and to his righteousness, and from the dominion of Satan over their lives to now walk in obedience to their Lord. The result is that they receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified, cleansed) by faith in Jesus Christ. So, again we have here the prerequisite of repentance prior to the forgiveness of sins.

Holy and Blameless (Ephesians 1:3-10)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, who have been redeemed with his blood, and forgiven our sins, were chosen by God even before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless before him. To be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made to be like Jesus. Blameless means “unblemished from the marring effects of sin” (2). Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When we believe in him, his righteousness is credited to our account so that we are no longer charged as “guilty,” but we are set free from the condemnation of sin. Yet, we must also live righteously. We must walk in the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

We were also chosen according to the purpose of God’s will, to the praise of his grace. And, he made known to us his will, according to his plan and purpose for our lives. In fact, faith in Christ means to be persuaded of God as to his will for our lives. And, if persuaded (convinced), we will want to do his will. And, what is his will? It is that we should be sanctified and made holy, that we should forsake our sins and follow him in obedience, and that we should live holy and godly lives pleasing to him.

The reality of his grace to us is not just that we have escaped hell and that we have the promise of heaven when we die, but that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). So, if we are chosen according to the purpose of God’s will, to the praise of his grace, then our lives should reflect both his purpose for our lives, and his grace, which instructs us to say “No” to sin and “Yes” to his righteousness and holiness being lived out in our lives.

Circumcised in Heart (Col. 2:11-15; cf. Ro. 6:1-23)

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

While physical circumcision is a cutting away of physical flesh, the circumcision made without hands, which is also called “circumcision of the heart,” is a spiritual cutting away of our sinful flesh (sin nature, worldliness, wickedness). This is what takes place when we genuinely trust in Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord (owner-master) of our lives. We die with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. The old is gone. The new has come. We are given completely new lives in Christ Jesus which are created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness. We were once dead in our sins, but God made us alive in Christ Jesus! He cancelled the debt that stood against us, and he forgave our sins. Amen!

But, forgiveness alone is not the end result of our faith in Jesus Christ, for we were set free from slavery to sin, as well, so that we would no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, but so we would now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit. If we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh (if we keep on practicing sin), we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6). So, not only must we be forgiven our sins, but we must no longer continue in willful sin against God if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God.

Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/3341.htm

(2) http://biblehub.com/greek/299.htm

A Stranger’s Voice

Sunday, July 2, 2017, 3:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 10 (Select vv. ESV).

They Will Flee (vv. 1-6)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Jesus Christ is the door (The Way, The Truth and The Life) to God the Father in heaven, to salvation from sin, and to eternal life with God. He is the ONLY door to heaven. There is no other way. The sheepfold is the church, his body, the saints of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, God’s Holy City. Yet, there are many false shepherds of the people who have infiltrated the gatherings of the church (of the sheep). These false shepherds have entered by another way, i.e. by a door of deception, wickedness, lies, and the manipulation of naïve minds. For, they do not truly know Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, but they are “false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (See: 2 Co. 11:12-15).

Jesus Christ is also the True Shepherd who enters the sheepfold by the door, i.e. by way of his death and resurrection in putting our sins to death on a cross so that we might walk with him in righteousness. When we enter by the door, it is by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, in which 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: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). The true sheep hear the voice of the True Shepherd, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him. But, they will not follow a stranger, i.e. one who enters by way of deception. In fact, they will flee from him, because the voice (teaching) of a stranger they do not know (intimately), in the sense of hearing, believing, accepting and following the stranger. The Holy Spirit will give them discernment to reject the stranger’s voice, and to only follow the voice of the True Shepherd.

To Kill and Destroy (vv. 7-13)

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

It is essential that we understand the difference between truth and lies, so that we do not follow the lies and reject the truth. Many false shepherds, who have infiltrated the church, are telling the people lies, and they themselves are rejecting the truth, as well as they are leading others to reject the truth and to accept the lies (See: 2 Thess. 2:1-12). Thus, they are thieves and robbers, because they are stealing the truth from people’s hearts in order to fill their minds with the lies of Satan, whose goal it is to deceive them and to turn them away from God and genuine faith in Jesus Christ. These false shepherds, who have infiltrated our ranks, are not there to lead us to Christ, but they are there to destroy and to kill all that is holy and is of God, for they are Satan’s messengers, and his goal is to destroy the church, Jesus Christ, his messengers, and the gospel of our salvation.

Since these false shepherds disguise themselves as apostles of Christ and as servants of righteousness, their messages will be a mixed bag of truth and lies so that it will appear as though what they are teaching is truth. But, the lies will be subtle, and will be cleverly inserted into the truth, so that naïve minds will easily accept them and not discern the error. Since this is the goal, these clever enchanters have devised a plan to discredit the gospel and its messengers by calling it “works-based salvation,” and to discourage all who would listen to the true gospel message from accepting it as valid. And, they cloak these lies in fine-sounding arguments, intended to sound as though they are somehow delivering the people out of the clutches of what is false, and that they are somehow leading them to true freedom in Christ, but nothing could be further from the truth.

What these false shepherds are telling the people is that they can have eternal life with God, salvation from sin, and the hope of heaven when they leave this earth merely by acknowledging Jesus’ existence, or what he did for us in taking our place on a cross to free us from the punishment of sin, and by accepting his forgiveness for their sins. And, they call this the gospel of grace. Yet, they also tell them that God requires nothing of them at all, other than to “believe,” i.e. to acknowledge Jesus’ existence, and to accept his forgiveness of their sins. They tell them that they don’t have to repent of (turn away from) their sins, and they don’t have to obey Jesus Christ or his commandments (his instructions to us), or submit to his Lordship, and that God is pleased with them no matter what they do. So, they give free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse.

Yet, the truth of the gospel of our salvation is that Jesus Christ died on that cross, not merely to free us from eternal damnation and to promise us heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us on that cross. He died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. If we walk (in how we conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh (in darkness), we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin, but it instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

[See: Luke 9:23-25; John 6:35-66; Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Gal. 2:20; Gal. 5:19-21: Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24.]

My Sheep / An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV

My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.

So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.

Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…

They know my voice, so they follow me.

But When…

Friday, June 30, 2017, 5:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in The Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 3:1-11 (Select vv. ESV).

Every Good Work (vv. 1-2)

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

We are always to be in submission to rulers and authorities EXCEPT when they ask us to deny our Lord, disobey God’s Word, compromise scripture, stop speaking in Jesus’ name, or stop preaching the fullness of the gospel, or when they command us to bow to the beast or to false gods, or if they try to convince us to follow false teaching. And, we have to keep in mind here that all this may not be all that obvious. Satan is very subtle when he tries to convince us to deny our Lord, so if we don’t know the Word of God, and if we are easily persuaded, we might be convinced to compromise truth while being manipulated into believing we are doing good. So, be wise, be discerning, know the truth, and follow God’s Word, not men.

We are to be ready for every good work that is of God, or that is not in conflict with his perfect will for our lives. In other words, God used to chide his people because they gave sacrifices to him of their own choosing while they ignored his commands, and while they did what was wicked. In other words, God is not interested in our “good deeds” if they are apart from obedience to him, or while we are willfully continuing to sin against him by doing what is evil in his eyes. “Good” is what is right in God’s eyes, or what is in line with his will for our lives, so if we want to do “good deeds” we need to be walking in the Spirit, doing what pleases God, and seeking his will.

Regarding not speaking evil of anyone, it means “refusing to acknowledge good (worthy of respect, veneration); hence, to blaspheme which reverses moral values; to use abusive or scurrilous” (insulting) “language about” (1). This is not to say we cannot expose the fruitless deeds of darkness nor warn against those who are teaching what is false. Those who are false teachers, who are manipulating naïve minds, will use the Word of God in their favor and against those who are preaching the truth, by taking the Word out of context. They will do this to try to convince the naïve never to challenge what they teach, and this often results in people following cultish leaders. Yet, in all we do, we should be kind, considerate and not argumentative.

What We Were (v. 3)

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

We can become overly critical of others over things that don’t really matter, or excessively judgmental of others when they sin, when we forget God’s amazing grace in our own lives, and we overlook where we once were ourselves. Or, we may find ourselves judging others hypocritically over things we are guilty of doing ourselves, or we may be guilty of judging others harshly because of unforgiveness and bitterness of heart. Yet, there is a place and a time to judge sin in sinful humans, but it should be for the purpose to restore them to a right relationship with God, and to do so humbly, sincerely, lovingly, and gently (See: Jas. 5:20; Gal. 6:1).

According to His Mercy (vv. 4-7)

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Not only should we not lose sight of the reason why Jesus died on a cross, which was to save us out of our sins, because we were born into sin, but if we would keep his grace to us in mind, it should help us to be more loving, forgiving and kind toward others. The reason for this is that we did nothing to earn or deserve our own salvation. No works of our own flesh profited us anything towards gaining God’s grace. So, we have no reason to ever feel superior to anyone else, as though we did something to merit God’s grace. It was only because of God’s goodness to us that any of us can be delivered out of slavery to sin, and be set free to walk in holiness before our God.

Stirring up Dissension (vv. 9-11)

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Those who stir up division within the body of Christ are those who stir up conflict, disunity, opposition and/or rebellion in conflict with the Word of God, in opposition to God’s structure for the church (his body), or who are gossips, those who love to argue (for the sport of it), or those who revel in stirring up trouble in order to interrupt and distract from God’s holy work.

Now, the reality of this in today’s church, particularly here in America, is that those who are causing this division can be the pastors, elders, or other leaders within the church. They are dividing the church by leading their congregations to follow men over God, and by teaching what is in conflict with God’s Holy Word. And, those they accuse of being disunifiers are often those who are actually following and teaching the Word of God, the gospel of our salvation, in its fullness. Most often the calls for “unity” within the local church are calls for unity with man, and with man-made teaching and business (marketing) schemes, but that is in conflict with God’s Word.

So, we need to be very discerning about this, so that we don’t fall into error, because “unity” is a buzz word used both within the global government (New World Order), leading up to the rule of the beast, and within many localized church congregations being led by those who have bowed to this beast, or who are deceived and being led astray themselves. And, their goal is to lead people away from pure devotion to Jesus Christ, away from the pure Word of Truth, and to lead them to what is false – to a false gospel which gives a false hope of salvation to those who are still lost in their sins. So, beware!

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

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

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

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

Resources:

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/987.htm