Holy and Beloved

Thursday, September 28, 2017, 10:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Peace of Christ.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Colossians 3:1-17 (NASB).

Things Above (vv. 1-4)

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

IF you have been raised with Christ, not assuming you have been, but as a prerequisite to what follows next, then do what this teaches. So, how are we raised with Christ? Well, just as Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins and was resurrected back to life, victorious over sin and death, we must, if we have truly put our faith in him, die with him to sin so that we can live with him to righteousness. This is also called the “new birth,” or being “born again.” And, it is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives in turning us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we can receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-18; Acts 26:16-18).

Therefore, IF this has taken place in our lives, then we are to continue seeking what is from God and of Christ and of his Spirit. We are to keep on walking in the ways of the Lord, in his righteousness and holiness. We are to persist in fellowship with our Lord, in hearing his voice speak his words to our hearts, and in following him wherever he leads us. And, we are to fill our minds and hearts with what is godly, holy, righteous, true, just, upright, honest, trustworthy, pure, and moral, and not willfully and consistently be filling our minds with what is earthly, wicked, immoral, impure and unholy.

Dead to Immorality (vv. 5-11)

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

Since we have died with Christ, we should consider ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we should not let sin reign in our mortal bodies, so that we obey its lusts, but we should present our members as instruments of righteousness to God, for this is why Jesus died (See: Ro. 6:1-23). He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24), not to free us to continue in willful sin against God. We should not even be entertaining ourselves with the sins of others, for when we do, we are giving hearty approval of their sin by applauding their sin (Ro. 1:32).

Yet, so many preachers these days are not teaching this at all. In fact, they are teaching an entitlement gospel which says God does everything and nothing is required of us – no obedience, submission or repentance. They are giving their adherents, thus, carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt. And, this is a big fat lie! They distort God’s grace to appeal to human flesh, and to their own advantage. But, God’s grace is not merely for the purpose to deliver us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die. His grace is to free us from addiction to sin and to free us to walk in his holiness and righteousness. For, if we walk (live) in sin, we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God.

Put on Love (vv. 12-17)

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

We who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and who have been raised with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, are called to be holy, not given permission to be promiscuous now that we are under grace. And, holiness is being separated from the world of sin because we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. So, we are to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, instead of embracing them and thinking we are ok, because we are under grace. And, then we are to put on (put into practice) love, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, kindness, etc. And, love is preferring what God prefers, which is holiness, righteousness, truth, integrity and morality, etc.

When we are living righteously before God, not in absolute perfection, but walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and we are daily dying to sin and self, and we are, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are practicing love for God and for one another, then we should also be teaching and admonishing one another to do likewise. And, we should be strengthening and encouraging one another in the faith, so that we don’t grow weary and lose heart, and so that we don’t fall into sin’s deceitfulness. But, to do so in love, also means to do so in truth, for lies only hurt. So, tell the truth, but do so in love, and care more about others than you do yourself, and be willing to have others hate and speak badly about you in order to tell them the truth of the gospel, which can save their souls.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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His Grace to Us

Sunday, August 13, 2017, 2:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB).

Dead in Sins (vv. 1-3)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

The Bible teaches us that ALL have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). Not one of us is righteous before God in our own merit. We can never be good enough to gain eternal life with God. In fact, we cannot even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to His Son (Jn. 6:44). Without Christ we are spiritually dead, without hope, and without God. Our destiny is eternal damnation in the fires of hell, no matter how many good deeds we might do in this life, or how seemingly kindhearted we may be towards other people.

In our sin natures, we are drawn towards sin, and towards doing even what we know is wrong. We are under the control of Satan, not of God. We are of this sinful world, not of the kingdom of heaven. And, we are under the influence of the world, not conformed to the image of God. We are bound towards disobedience rather than obedience. We live and walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, and not according to the Spirit of God. And, we indulge ourselves in the desires of our flesh, rather than resist Satan, flee temptation and sinful desires, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith.

This is what an UNSAVED life looks like. So, if you profess to be a Christian, but this is what your life looks like, then something is terribly wrong.

By God’s Grace (vv. 4-9)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

But, thanks be to God, he did not leave us bound in our sins, without hope. He provided the way for us to be saved from our sins, to be delivered out of slavery to sin, and to become bondservants of his righteousness. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered like we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering (Is. 53). And, those who hated him saw to it that he was crucified on a cross, thinking that would be the end of him.

Yet, it was God’s will that he should suffer and 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 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. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:14; 1 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24). Yet, Jesus did not remain dead. God the Father resurrected him from the dead. And, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf.

So, by God’s grace to us in sending his Son to die on a cross for our sins, and to be resurrected back to life, we can also die to our sins and be given new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we repent of (turn from) our sins, and we turn to God to follow him in his ways. We are forgiven our sins, and we are given eternal life with God in heaven (See: Acts 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). All this is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives, and nothing we do in our own flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation.

For Good Works (v. 10)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Many people who quote this passage of scripture in Ephesians 2 stop at verse 9, and they assume that good works are not required at all of us. Yet, although it is true that we are not saved by our own fleshly works, and that we cannot earn our way into heaven, our salvation is not absent of good works. We are saved not just FROM something, but we are saved TO something. In other words, we are saved from sin, but we are saved to righteousness.

When we become children of God, it is not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. When Jesus died on that cross for our sins, and he put sin to death, on our behalf, he bought us back for God with his blood, so that when we trust in him to be our Savior and Lord, we are no longer our own, to do with our lives what we want. He is now our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bondservants (his workmanship). And, he has good works which he created us to do, and which he prepared beforehand that we should walk (in lifestyle) in them.

Some of these good works are specific to all of us who believe in Jesus, whereas some of them are specific to each of us as individuals. What I mean by this is Jesus not only has a purpose for all of our lives, which applies to all his followers, but he also has individual callings, giftings, and assignments he has for us to do (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). And, we would do well to seek his face concerning what purpose and calling he has for our individual lives, and then to be about doing what he had prepared in advance for us to do, and to live the lives he had marked out for us, all in the power and working of his Spirit now living within us, and to his glory!

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

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

Strength to Help

Sunday, June 25, 2017, 7:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “You are Loving and Forgiving.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 86 (Select vv. NIV).

Forgiving and Good (vv. 5-7)

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.

Our God is a loving and forgiving God to all who call on him in truth.

The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy. Ps. 145:18-20

If we are seeking God’s forgiveness of our sins, we must understand that calling to him means doing so in truth (faithfulness), with no deceit found in our mouths. It also means that we fear him, i.e. that we reverence, respect, and honor him in our request for forgiveness, and with our lives (conduct). And, it entails that we love him, and to love him is to obey him. So, to call on God is no light matter, or something we do casually just to relieve guilt from our minds. God’s forgiveness of our sins is conditional to our repentance, i.e. to us leaving our lives of sin behind us and us now following Christ with our lives. It means we have been turned from darkness (sin) to the light (truth, righteousness, Jesus Christ), and from the power Satan had over our lives to God, to walk with him in his ways, and in his truth (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Acts 26:16-18).

Teach Me Your Way (vv. 11-13)

Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.

The goal of God’s forgiveness of our sins and of our salvation is not just to deliver us from hell and to give us the hope of eternity with God in glory. God’s goal in saving us from our sins is to eradicate sin from our lives so that we no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, but that we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit, in the ways of God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace to us is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God while claiming heaven as our eternal home. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).

So, when we come to genuine faith in Jesus Christ, and our sins are forgiven, our hearts should, thus, long to have our Lord teach us his ways so that we can walk in them. Our desire should be for God, his truth and his ways. We should not be numbered among those who look to God’s grace as merely an escape from hell and the hope of heaven, but who teach we don’t have to repent, obey or submit to our Lord, and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do. That is a slap in the face to Jesus Christ who died that horrible death, and who took all our sins upon himself in order to deliver us out of slavery to sin, not give us free rein to continue in it without guilt or remorse. In other words, we are not saved from our sins so we can straddle a fence between righteousness and wickedness, with one foot in the world while the other is in God’s kingdom.

If we are truly born again of the Spirit of God, and we have been turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, we should want our Lord to teach us His Ways so that we can walk in them (in how we live our lives), not try to worm our way out of them. We should also desire truly to have undivided hearts which are not trying to live in two opposing worlds at the same time, and we should willingly remove from our lives all that is worldly and is opposed to righteousness and holiness. We should pray in all sincerity, and ask the Lord to show us anything in our lives which is displeasing to him or which stands opposed to his righteousness, and then, in obedience, love, and in surrender to our Lord, we should get rid of all that stands in the way and which hinders our walking in the ways of God. Our lives, thus, should result in praise to God for his deliverance from sin.

Arrogant Foes Attacking (vv. 14-17)

Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

When we truly walk in the ways of the Lord, with undivided hearts, and we are committed to his righteousness and holiness, and we rid our lives from all which hinders our walks of faith, so that we can walk in his holiness, we will be opposed. People will not like us. Even others who profess faith in Jesus Christ will despise and reject us. They may call us self-righteous, holy rollers, goody-goodies, and religious extremists, and the like. And, it is because our lifestyles are an offense to theirs, and because we teach holiness and walking righteously before God. And, holiness means we live separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the image of Christ. This is not to say that we will be absolutely perfect, but that our lives are committed to obeying our Lord and to walking in his ways and in his truth, and that we do so as the practice of our lives.

So, when we are opposed, and we are treated unfairly and with disdain, and just because people don’t like what we believe or how we choose to live, we need to call on our Lord, lean on him, trust in his sovereignty and grace, rest in his love, and keep on living for him and doing what he says. We need to pray for our enemies, do good to them, and speak kindly to them, but also speak the truth in love, for that is the kindest speaking we can do. We need, too, to pray for wisdom in knowing how to respond to unfair and harmful treatment with grace, but also in truth. And, we need to trust in the strength of the Lord to get us through difficult times, and to show himself through our circumstances and through our lives as a testimony for him as to his grace.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:1-2, 7

You are Loving and Forgiving
An Original Work / February 19, 2012

Based off Psalm 86

You are loving and forgiving,
Jesus, Savior, King of kings.
You provided our redemption.
By Your blood You set us free.
You are gracious; full of mercy.
No deeds can compare with Yours.
Great are You; there is none like You.
Glory be to Your name.

Teach me Your way, and I’ll walk in it.
O Lord, I will walk in Your truth.
May I not have a heart divided,
That Your name I give honor to.
I will praise You, O Lord, my Savior,
For great is Your love toward me.
You have delivered me from my sins.
Your grace has pardoned me.

You, O Lord, are full of compassion,
Slow to anger, bounteous in love;
Faithful to fulfill all You promise;
Glory be to Your name above.
Hear, O Lord, and answer Your servant.
You are my God. I trust in You.
Turn to me and grant Your strength to me.
You are my comforter.

A Steadfast Heart

Saturday, June 24, 2017, 9:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Hear my Voice.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 57 (Select vv. NIV).

I Take Refuge (v. 1)

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.

Everyone has troubles, from time to time. Even those who seem to have everything going well for them have difficulties, at least occasionally. We have good days and bad days physically or emotionally. Tragedy strikes. People die. Children get sick. People lose jobs. A husband or a wife is unfaithful to his or her spouse. Someone gets injured on the job or in a car wreck. Vacations get cancelled. Someone gets robbed. A house catches fire and is totally destroyed. People are homeless. Christians are persecuted and killed for their faith in Jesus Christ. They may also be betrayed by family members or close friends who reject and abandon them, etc.

So, what do we do when these types of things happen in our lives? We should call on God, and we should take refuge in him, but not just in the bad times, but at all times. He should be our sanctuary, our shelter at all times, but especially when things go awry, which they will. And, we should rest in him, and trust him to work all things out for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purposes. As well, we should pray for godly wisdom to know how best to handle and to respond to our difficult circumstances or relationships. And, we should allow his peace to permeate our minds and hearts so that we don’t get fearful or stressed out by what we are going through.

Sharp Tongues (v. 4)

I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

Not one of us has much control at all over what other people think about us, do to us, or say about us. Jesus said that, as his followers, we would be treated as he was treated, and hated like he was hated. We may be gossiped about, backbitten (have mean or spiteful things said about us behind our backs), betrayed, sold out, abandoned, falsely accused, slandered, verbally attacked, and called all kinds of names, etc. We may be called bigoted, hateful, intolerant, and/or a religious extremist, too, because we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, and we hold fast to the teachings of Christ and those of his NT apostles. There will also be people who are jealous of us or who despise us and what we stand for, and whose goal it is to destroy us in any way possible. And, getting bitten by sharp teeth hurts!

I Will Sing (vv. 7-11)

My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

So, what do we do when these things happen to us? We are to remain steadfast in heart and mind via submission to God’s Holy Spirit and via resting in the Lord. And, we are to sing praises to God. When all we want to do is cry, we should sing through our tears. And, lift up our souls to God, and trust him for his healing mercies. There is much healing that takes place in our hearts and minds when we rest in Jesus, and when we sing praises to God despite how we feel, i.e. despite the pain we have suffered from being backbitten, hated and abandoned.

We must remind ourselves, too, that God is absolutely sovereign over all that he has made. There is not anything that can touch us but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose. Sometimes we need to be disciplined, corrected, rebuked or chastised because we have not been listening to our Lord, and we have chosen to go our own way. Other times, we need divine discipline to strengthen us and mature us in our walks of faith, to prune us and to purify us, and to teach us not to rely on ourselves, but on God. Trials and tribulations are for our good, that we may share in God’s holiness, and that we may bear the fruit of his righteousness.

Satan’s goal is to get us down, to get us discouraged, to get us to give up, to be afraid, and to retreat. We must not give in to him for a moment! He wants us to doubt God, to blame God, and to not rest in the Lord and in his strength. So, we must put on our spiritual armor with which to fight off his evil attacks against us. Instead of worrying, we should praise the Lord for all his goodness to us. And, we should proclaim his excellencies far and wide. We must tell of his love, grace and mercy to us, but also of his justice and righteousness. And, we must proclaim his faithfulness to his people. He will not leave nor will he abandon us. He will be with us always, even to the end of time and beyond that into eternity. We can count on all his promises, his faithfulness, his goodness, and his love forever and always. Amen!

Hear my Voice / An Original Work / July 9, 2012

Based off Psalm 27

The Lord is my great salvation.
He’s the stronghold of my life.
When my enemies attack me,
My heart will not fear at all.
Though a war break out against me,
Confident in Christ I’ll be.
Of the Lord, I ask that I may
Live with Him eternally.

Hear my voice, Lord, when I call you.
Merciful to me You’ll be.
Though my relatives forsake me,
My Lord God will receive me.
Teach me Your way, O my Jesus.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
I will sacrifice to my Lord.
I will sing with joyfulness.

I am confident that I will
See the goodness of the Lord.
All the richness of His blessings,
My Lord has for me in store.
He asks me to be of courage;
To be strong and to take heart,
Patiently as I wait for Him,
And from Him to ne’er depart.

For Our Healing

Thursday, May 25, 2017, 5:02 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Lord is With You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 58 (Select vv. ESV).

Lift Up Your Voice (vv. 1-5)

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?

God’s people are now the church, the body of Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God. We are the people of God who have repented of our sins, have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and who have turned to God to follow (obey) him in all our ways, at least initially. By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Christ Jesus, we were crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we were resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Jesus died, not just that we might escape hell and go to heaven when we die, but he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Nonetheless, faith in Jesus Christ does not mean we instantly reach divine perfection. We still live in flesh bodies, thus we still have a propensity to sin against God. Yet, by God’s grace to us, via Jesus’ death for us on a cross, we have been delivered from the power sin once had over us, so we are no longer under its grip. Jesus already won that battle for us against Satan and against sin, so there is no reason we should still be under its control. So, as followers of Jesus Christ, we should be walking in victory over sin, and we ought to be walking now according to the Spirit, not in sinless perfection, necessarily, but no longer under bondage (addiction) to sin’s deceitfulness.

Still, although Jesus paid the price for our sins so we could go free from sin, and live for him and to his righteousness, many have abandoned their initial faith in Christ and have wandered off to follow after the gods of men, their own sinful passions and desires, and have been engulfed once more in the ways of this sinful world. Much of the church here in America has adopted the ways of the world for how to grow their ministries, and they have partnered with an ungodly government, making it the head over the church. And, the Holy Spirit is grieved, and God is not pleased, so he is calling his church to come out of “Babylon,” for her sins are piled high to heaven.

So, when the church, or when individual Christians pray to God, and they pray to know God’s will, and they ask God for his blessings, and for answered prayers, thinking God will hear them, and that he will answer, they (we) need to first consider whether or not they (we) are walking in his ways and in his truth, or if we are just going through the motions, i.e. mere formalities of religious practice, but our hearts are truly not sold out to our Lord. Have we forsaken the ways of the Lord? Are we yielding to sin’s deceitfulness? Are we engrossed in the ways of this sinful world? Or, are we truly walking in God’s ways, in his truth, and in his righteousness?

Break Every Yoke (vv. 6-11)

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.

God is calling out to his wayward people, who have wandered away from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ, in order to immerse themselves in the culture of this sinful world. He is calling them to return to HIM as their ONLY GOD and LORD, and to once again make HIM the owner-master of their lives. He is calling them to return the ways he has marked out for them to follow, and to abandon their idols and their spiritual adultery against him.

He is letting his church know that the way of salvation from sin is a narrow road that few travel, not the broad road that many have made it, which only leads to destruction. He wants to remind us that he died to transform us, not just to forgive us our sins. We don’t come to Christ merely by acknowledging his existence and by accepting his forgiveness for our sins, although many would have you believe that is true. When we believe in Jesus, with God-given faith in him, we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life. The old life of living for sin and self is gone, and the new life of living to Christ and to his righteousness has now been birthed in us of the Holy Spirit of God. This is what it means to be “born again.”

Jesus Christ not only desires that we walk in his righteousness and holiness, and no longer according to the ways of our sinful flesh, but his desire is also that we proclaim to the world around us that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, so that others might be delivered from their slavery to sin and might walk in freedom, according to the ways of God. We need to be telling people the truth of the gospel, and the church needs to cease with soft-pedaling the gospel in order to make it more appealing and acceptable to the world. For truly, although they may like us in this life, for telling them what they want to hear, we are sending them straight to hell with our “feel-good” gospel messages, and this needs to STOP!!

Yet, one thing the modern church does seem to have right is that they do focus on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sorrowful, and ministering to the needs of the homeless and to those in prison, which is something many in the old-fashioned evangelical churches have often neglected, sad to say. Yet, the church which ministers to people’s physical needs often do this at the sacrifice of the truth to the gospel, for they don’t want to offend anyone in the process. And, that, as well, is sad indeed.

Yet, the other day I was in a Chick-fil-A restaurant, and nearly bumped into a man who was wearing a sweatshirt which had words about Jesus on its back, so I read them. It was a prayer to Jesus Christ for salvation from sin, and included in the prayer it said, “I repent and turn from my wicked ways.” I learned this was from a ministry which feeds the homeless. Amen! What this shows is that it is possible to hold on to the truths of scripture, and to not abandon the truth of the gospel, and still be able to minister to the poor, the needy, the helpless, and the homeless. Jesus never compromised truth to minister to people’s physical needs, and neither should we! It is never loving to tell people lies. We should be a people who make a practice always of speaking the truth in love, and be those who meet people’s real needs, too.

God is saying here, basically, that if we are people of integrity who live what we profess, not necessarily in absolute sinful perfection, but in life practice, and we are not those who are willfully yielding regularly to our sinful flesh and who are denying the truths of scripture, that he will hear us when we call to him, he will listen, and he will answer. This is not to say, though, that he will always answer in the way we desire, so we need to be willing to accept whatever he answers us, too. Yet, he is also promising us that we will then experience his healing power in our lives, and that our burdens will be lifted, and we will rejoice in what Christ has done for us. There is much healing that takes place in our lives through our obedience to His Word.

Your Lord is With You
An Original Work / August 14, 2016

Based off Various Scriptures

Fear not for your Lord is with you.
He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you.
When you walk through valleys of life’s rough ways,
You must fear no evil, for God is near.
Be of courage, then, and be not dismayed,
For your Lord is with you throughout your days.
Fear not for your Lord is with you.
He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you.

Trust Him with your life and witness.
He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way.
The Lord is our helper, so we’ll not fear.
He will strengthen us. He sees all our tears.
Do not be afraid, but to God do pray,
And the peace of God will be yours today.
Trust Him with your life and witness.
He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way.

My God, He is my Rock and my Shield
And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise.
He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
Drew me out of waters so deep I’d sink.
My God turned my darkness into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes, gave me sight.
My God, He is my Rock and my Shield
And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise.

We Love Him

Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 9:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 63:7-19 (Select vv. NASB).

His Great Goodness (vv. 7-9)

I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has granted them according to His compassion
And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses.
For He said, “Surely, they are My people,
Sons who will not deal falsely.”
So He became their Savior.
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the angel of His presence saved them;
In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,
And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.

Our God is an awesome God! He created us and he designed us for a purpose, that we might give him glory, and honor, and praise. Yet, man sinned against God, and since then all have become sinners. We all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit (Ro. 3:23). Not one of us can ever be good enough to be approved by God. Not one of us can earn or deserve our own salvation, i.e. we don’t deserve God’s grace to us.

But, God knew this when he created man (and woman). He knew they would sin against him, and so he already had a plan for how he was going to save them from their (humanity’s) sins. His plan from the very beginning was that, in God’s perfect timing, he would send his Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) to the earth, to take on human flesh, and to die on a cross for our sins. Although Jesus knew no sin, he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). In other words, He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).

Yet, to receive this salvation, we must believe in Jesus and in what he did for us with God-given faith. This faith is divinely persuaded of God as to God’s perfect will for our lives, so it submits to God’s will and purposes, and it yields to his control over our lives. When we believe in Jesus with this kind of faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are made new in Christ (reborn) of the Spirit of God, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). The old has gone. The new has come. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7).

Yet, Jesus didn’t save us just so that we could escape hell (eternal damnation) or just so we could have the promise of eternal life with God. He saved us to purify us, to make us holy, and so that we would follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. He died that we might have completely new lives, not just so we might behave a little bit better. Jesus died, in fact, that we would no longer live for ourselves, but that we might live for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). When we call him “Lord,” that is not just a title we give him. “Lord” means “owner-master.” When he saves us he delivers us out of slavery to sin, and he changes our hearts so that we now become bond-slaves of his righteousness.

God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue living in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which bring 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). In fact, if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ/God for eternity (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25). John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6). So, a saved life is a changed life; a life transformed of the Spirit of God away from living for sin and self, and to God, to walk in his ways and in his holiness.

He Disciplines Us (vv. 10-11a)

But they rebelled
And grieved His Holy Spirit;
Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy,
He fought against them.
Then His people remembered the days of old…

Still, when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, although he has freed us from bondage (addiction) to sin, we still have the propensity to sin against him. Yet, if we do sin, we are still saved, and his blood still covers our sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1). But if we continue living a sinful lifestyle, i.e. if we continue in the practice of sin, the Bible says we don’t really know him, we don’t love him, and our sins are not covered. Yet, only God knows who are really his and who aren’t. There seems to be a fine line between those who don’t know him and those who do but who are not living like they do, and only God knows who is who.

The Bible teaches us that those whom the Lord loves he also disciplines (scourges, rebukes). He does this that we might share in his holiness. Some discipline is meant more for the purpose to prune, purify and mature us in our walks of faith, and to make us more fruitful, while other discipline appears to be more aimed at correcting and reproving sinful behavior, with the goal in mind of getting us back on track in our walks of faith with God. All discipline, though, is painful. “Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (See: Heb. 12:1-13).

When we have wandered away from our pure devotion to our Lord, and we have neglected our walks of faith, and if we have ignored his warnings, and if we have not listened to his calls to repent of our sins, he may send divine discipline (judgment, correction) in order to get us to humble ourselves before him in repentance so that he might restore us to himself and heal us. So, if this is where you are, know that he is calling to you to turn from your sins, to trust him again with your life, and to turn back to following him in obedience and in surrender to his will. There is no better place to be ever than right there in the center of his will for your life, and in perfect peace.

Prayer for Mercy (vv. 17b-19)

Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage.
Your holy people possessed Your sanctuary for a little while,
Our adversaries have trodden it down.
We have become like those over whom You have never ruled,
Like those who were not called by Your name.

When God takes his church through a time of trials and difficulties, in order to purify her, to make her holy, to mature her in Christ, or to correct sinful behavior, and in order to get her to return to him as her ONLY Lord, she may call out to him for mercy, and for relief from her suffering. Yet, the suffering is for her good, that it might produce a harvest of righteousness in her life. So, she needs to surrender her all to the Lord, and submit to his will and purposes, and trust in his sovereignty, even if the relief does not immediately come, or even if it does not come in this life, at all. God knows what we need. We can pray for relief, most certainly, but if it does not come, we must rest in him and wait on him and still believe that he knows best.

One of the reasons, though, that God will discipline (judge) his church is for the very reasons these verses describe. His people have become like those whom he never ruled over, i.e. they are not living at all like they have been cleansed from their sins, and as though Jesus truly set them free from slavery to sin. Instead, they have become trapped by sin’s deceitfulness once more, and they are following again after the ways of this sinful world. They are living not much different from those who don’t know Christ at all, so it is barely distinguishable between the world and the church. They have neglected their personal times of worship with our Lord, and prayer and Bible study have been set aside in favor of TV, sports, the internet, social media, video games, movies, and/or whatever else is distracting them and is drawing them away from their pure devotion to Christ.

The gatherings of the church have also adopted the ways of this sinful world in order to attract the world to come to its meetings. Most churches these days, especially here in America, no longer preach on sin, judgment, repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ and his cross. They do teach on grace and forgiveness, though. It is like they want the resurrection minus the cross, but without death to sin we can have no life in Christ. As well, the Lord’s adversaries are trampling down the church, but that has been, at least here in America, because they have invited the government and the world and its influences into the church and its gatherings.

So, again, God is calling to his church to repent of her idolatry and her spiritual adultery, and to return to HIM as her ONLY Lord and Savior.

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.