Fame and Treasure

Monday, September 18, 2017, 8:08 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read varied scriptures on the topic of taking up our cross.

Treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

The Lord Jesus has been impressing on my heart for a while now the thought of a time that is coming in America, in particular, when we are going to have a financial crash of some kind, but at the hand of thieves who come to steal, kill and destroy, but from within our own nation, not from without. Yet, economics is not my strong suit, so I don’t comprehend it all. But, I do know that the “beast” is going to bring the world to the point where we can’t buy or sell unless we have its mark, so just from what the Word alone teaches, we know this is inevitable. We already know that our dollar is not worth anything, i.e. it an I.O.U., so America could go bankrupt, and at the hands of our own government, in agreement with their political allies in the world of banking and industry, i.e. the wealthy and powerful of the world.

So, our focus needs to be on our Lord God and on his kingdom and not on the things (possessions, wealth) of this world, because it could all go away in a flash. Yet, even if it didn’t, still we are not to focus our time, attention, value, passion and devotion on things that are bound to go away. But, we are to store up treasures in heaven. Our time, resources, talents, passion and affection should go to ministering to people’s needs and to sharing with them the gospel of our salvation instead of living for self-pleasure, fun, entertainment, and storing up “stuff” that is just going to rot one day anyway. We need to hold lightly the things of this world, and not make them our gods, and be ready to respond with grace when the time comes when our human resources all disappear. And, we must be about living for God and using what resources he has given us for his kingdom and for his glory.

A Person’s Enemies (Matthew 10:34-39)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

There is much talk these days both about “unity” and “peace.” But, what kind of unity, and what kind of peace is the question, even within the gatherings of the church. Much of it is unity with humankind and humanistic philosophy, values, morals, marketing schemes, attitudes and behaviors, and NOT unity with God/Christ and His Word. Much of it is also peace with other humans, but at the cost of compromise of truth, faith and conviction. So, we need to know the difference so that we don’t fall for a lie thinking we are actually following the truth. For many liars and deceivers exist even within the gatherings of the church who are leading God’s people astray.

Many of these liars and deceivers also mischaracterize Jesus, his mission, and his ministry on the earth, and in order to support their manipulations of truth. They do this to gain disciples after themselves, not after Jesus Christ. So, they paint Jesus as this “do-gooder” who went around making everyone feel good about themselves and who never made waves or made anyone uncomfortable or who never offended anyone with his words or actions. And, thus they promote that, to be like Christ, that is how we should also act.

But, Jesus didn’t come here to make everyone feel good or to be accepting of all religions and sinful addictions or immoral lifestyles. He came here to deliver us out of addiction (slavery) to sin and to free us to now come under the control of his righteousness, for this is why he died. What he taught stepped on a lot of toes, and made people very uncomfortable and even angry, and that is what got him killed. So, if we follow the Jesus of the Bible, and not the man-made version, we can expect to be hated and persecuted, not have everyone like us. Even people of our own faith, in our own cities, and in our own families are likely to turn against us and to reject us when we stand on what is truth and we reject the lies of Satan, so be prepared that if you truly follow Christ with your life, that it could cost you your life.

Losing and Saving (Luke 9:23-26)

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

So many people today are teaching a false grace do-nothing “entitlement” gospel message which has Jesus doing everything for us but with us being required nothing in return. But, that is just not biblical. Jesus said we have to deny self and die daily to sin if we want to be his disciples. Paul said the same when he said that if we walk (conduct our lives) after the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, we will live with Christ for eternity. The Bible does not teach that nothing is required of us. It teaches the opposite, for if we profess faith in Christ, but we continue living sinful lifestyles, in addictive sinful behavior, we do not have the hope of heaven when we die, but a fearful expectation of judgment. If we want to be Jesus’ disciples, we have to walk in obedience to him and to his Word.

For Our Good (Hebrews 12:7-11)

“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. Yet, we still live in these flesh bodies, and we still have the propensity to sin against God, so God disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness, and that it might yield a harvest of righteousness in the lives of those of us who have been trained by it.

What this discipline looks like, though, could vary depending upon the individual or depending on what God needs to do in an individual’s life to mature him or her in his or her faith and to conform them to his likeness. Yet, what we do know is that God’s Word says we will go through hardships, trials, persecutions and troubles, and that through these we will learn perseverance, patience, compassion and to rely on God and not on ourselves, among other things. So, such trials are for our good, and we should not fear them when they do come, but we should trust in God’s sovereignty over our lives, submit to his perfect will, and go with him wherever he sends us, for he has a plan and a purpose for it all.

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
Henry F. Lyte / Mozart/ Arr. Hubert P. Main

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

Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, show Thy face and all is bright.

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service pain is pleasure; with Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, “Abba, Father”; I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, all must work for good to me.

Man may trouble and distress me, ’twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me; heav’n will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me, while Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heav’n’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

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His Own Purpose

Monday, September 4, 2017, 3:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, Name I Love.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Timothy 1:8-14 (NASB).

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

Not Ashamed

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mk. 8:34-38

If we truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, and we sincerely love him, worship him, and revere him, we should never be ashamed of him and his Words to us. It should not even enter our minds to shy away from speaking of him. So, why do so many Christians (or professing Christians) feel uncomfortable talking about Jesus and his Words, even among themselves? And, yet, they have no problems at all talking about major sports figures, sports teams, movies and movie stars, TV shows, or political heroes? I believe a lot of it comes down to rejection or acceptance by others, and our culture, including church culture, but some of it has to do with lack of true, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Yet, if we look at these words here in Mark 8 (cf. Lu. 9:23-25), we see that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means denial of self, death to sin, and following our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will. Our lives are no longer our own to live how we want, and to please ourselves, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Christ shed on a cross for our sins, therefore we are to honor God with our lives, not try to save our lives for our own selves. For, if we hold on to living our lives to please ourselves, and to preserve them for this world, so that we will be liked and accepted by other humans, then we will lose our lives for eternity. But, if we die with Christ to sin and self, we will gain eternal life in him.

It saddens me to get together with other Christians, and to find they are not comfortable talking about Jesus or their relationships with him, or his Word, but they are perfectly fine talking about everything this world has to offer. They may even call their gatherings “Christian fellowship,” and they may even pray to God to “bless” their times of “fellowship” together, but other than that, Jesus’ name is not even mentioned, and if you try to begin a conversation about Jesus, it is real obvious that is not a subject many Christians (or professing Christians) want to talk about. Yet, Jesus said that if we are ashamed of him and his Words, he will be ashamed of us when he returns for us. And, not only that, but many people are dying in their sins, and they need someone to tell them about Jesus and his salvation, but if we don’t tell them, who will? We need not be ashamed of Christ and his Words!

Suffering for the Gospel

Instead of shying away from talking about Jesus and his Words with other humans out of fear of being hated, rejected or mistreated for our faith and testimonies, we need to be bold in our witness, and not fear what other humans might do to us or think or say about us to others. We are to share with Christ in the fellowship of his sufferings, first in his death to sin, and in his resurrection to new life in Christ, and then in suffering persecution for our testimonies for him and his gospel of salvation. For, we are not here on this earth to please ourselves, or to have people like us, but we are here to reflect Christ in all that we do, say and are, and to be lights for him and his gospel to a world lost in sin, so that they, too, can believe in Jesus and have eternal life with God.

A Holy Calling

For, our Lord did not die on a cross for our sins just so we could be forgiven our sins, escape hell, and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He saved us and called us to himself with a holy calling. And, to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from this sinful world, because we are being conformed into the likeness of Christ. He called us according to His own purpose for us, which is that we might live holy lives pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways (patterns, behaviors) of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds to make us more like Jesus. His grace to us is not free license to continue in sin, but it instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for Christ’s return.

Retain the Standard

God has given us a standard by which we are to live. We have it recorded for us in his written Word, but his Word is also living within those of us who are his by faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son (and God). We are to hang on to or to keep a hold of that standard, and preserve it, not just intellectually, but by how we live our lives day in and day out. It is not enough to just know the Word of God, but we need to DO what it says. We need to live it! And, we need to do it, not just because God commands that we do, but because we love him, and we want to please him in all that we do, think, say and are.

So, if we are doing this, and we are living holy lives, pleasing to God, and we are not ashamed of Christ and his gospel, and we are suffering for the sake of his name and for our testimonies for him, what should that look like? Well, for one, we should not be one (united) with the world in their thinking, culture, philosophies, attitudes, values and beliefs. We should not adopt their ways and thinking and make them our own, so that it is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. So, that means that we should also not be choosing each day to saturate our minds with all that the world is offering us, nor should we be engaging ourselves in being entertained daily by their sinful attitudes and behaviors. But, we should come out from them and be separate (unlike, different) from them.

This also means that we are now living for our Lord, living holy lives pleasing to him, and that we are walking in his ways, and in his truth, with undivided hearts, in order to bring honor, glory and praise to his holy name. We are not ashamed of him and his Words, and in the power of the Spirit within us, we are bold in our witness for him, in saying what he wants us to say, despite how other humans may respond to us. And, we are being hated, rejected and persecuted because people, including many of those who call themselves Christians, will be offended by us and our stand on God’s Word, because it won’t mix with their sinful, ungodly, lackadaisical lifestyles. And, although we may not live in absolute sinless perfection, we are conducting our lives (in lifestyle) according to God’s Holy Spirit, and no longer according to our sinful flesh, to do what our flesh desires, but our desire is for our Lord, to please him in every way.

Jesus, Name I Love
Or, Like the Strain of Sweetest Music
William M. Runyan

Jesus, Jesus, name I love,
Sinful needy hearts to move.
Name, all other names above,
Jesus, name I love.

If in Fact

Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 8:1-17 (ESV).

Flesh and Spirit (vv. 1-8)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, cast out demons, fed the hungry, comforted the sorrowful, and preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He confronted sin in sinful humans, called for repentance and faith in himself, warned of judgment and the consequences of sin, and promised hope, healing and eternal life for all who would follow (obey) him.

Yet, although some people did follow him, many hated him, especially the religious leaders within the Jewish temple. They hated him because he confronted them with their sins, he exposed their hypocrisies, he didn’t follow their rules (traditions and ceremonies), and because he claimed to be God, which is who he is. So, they plotted his death, and they had him hung on a cross to die. But, it was God’s will even before the creation of the world that Jesus would be our sacrificial Lamb to take away the sins of the world in his death, and in his resurrection. For, when he died our sins died with him, and were buried with him, and then he rose from the dead triumphant over sin, hell, Satan and death – all on our behalf so that we might be saved.

Jesus’ purpose in dying and in being resurrected back to life, though, was not just so we would not be condemned to hell, and just so we could go to heaven when we leave this earth. He died in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk (in lifestyle) not after the flesh (in sin) but according to the Spirit. The law demands death for sin, but Jesus came to give us new life in him. So, for us to be “in Christ Jesus” and to not be condemned, we must walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit and not according to our sinful flesh. Yet, this is not something we do to earn our salvation, but this is the result of our salvation, that we should now walk in Christ’s righteousness and no longer to please our sinful desires. All this is done in the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us.

For, if we continue to set our minds on what our flesh desires, and to live (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, the end result is eternal separation from God in the fires of hell, not eternal life in heaven with God. In other words, we are not free from condemnation just because we said some magic words, or just because we made some public declaration of faith in Christ. True faith is evidenced in our lives by how we live. If our minds and our actions are set on what our flesh desires, then our minds are hostile toward God, not in union with him, because we do not submit to his law, nor can we do so. For, if we live according to the flesh, we cannot please God.

If the Spirit (vv. 9-11)

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

In this passage of scripture, the word “if” is mentioned at least 3 times… if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you… if Christ is in you… if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you. It is not assumed, in other words, that everyone who professes Christ as Savior or who gathers together with the body of Christ is, in fact, truly in Christ Jesus by faith in him. So, this passage of scripture is intended, at least partially, to show us what it means to be “in Christ Jesus” so that we don’t end up thinking we are saved from our sins when we are not, but in order that we might truly know that we are saved and bound for heaven. If we want assurance that we are saved from our sins, then we need to know what it means to be in Christ Jesus, and then to live it in the power of the Spirit within us.

So, IF in fact the Spirit of God does dwell in us through faith in Jesus Christ, it should result in us no longer being, living, walking or thinking according to the flesh (in lifestyle). This does not mean we will not ever battle the flesh in our minds, for we will still face temptation to sin, and we are still in flesh bodies, but what this means is that we will no longer be controlled by the flesh. It will not define who we are or how we live, but we will live and think and be what the Spirit of God desires for our lives. If we are in Christ Jesus by faith in him, our bodies should be dead to sin, and alive to righteousness, not the other way around.

We are Debtors (vv. 12-17)

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

I hear so many people these days say that God requires nothing of us at all other than some nondescript “faith” in him, but which does not surrender to him, does not submit to his law, and which does not repent of sin. This is just not scriptural! We are debtors, but not to the flesh, to live according to it, but we are debtors to God, for Jesus bought us back for God with his shed blood. We are no longer our own, because we were bought with the price of his blood, but we are now the Lord’s, and he is our owner-master, and we are his bondservants, to do his bidding. God demands obedience, surrender, submission and repentance (turning away from sin to follow Him). For, if we live according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. Yet, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity.

Now, it is true that when we believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives, and the Spirit of God comes to live within us, that we become children of God and fellow heirs with Christ, yet PROVIDED we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Jesus said that if any of us would come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) 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), we will gain eternal life. He also said that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood, i.e. unless we are crucified with him in death to sin so that we might live with him to righteousness, we have no hope of eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 6:35-66).

And, while it is true that, through genuine faith in Christ Jesus, we become children of God, and he becomes our Daddy, this does not negate that Jesus is our Lord (owner-master), and that we are his bondservants. When we were children, and we lived with our human fathers, we did what they said or we paid the consequences. We were subject to our fathers, in submission to their will for our lives, and we were under their authority and obligated to obey them. If we had loving fathers, who nurtured, protected, trained, and disciplined us, for our good, then we should be able to relate to the father-child relationship we now have with God. If we did not, though, it is more difficult to relate, but not impossible. We can see God in terms of the father we never had, but not as a permissive father who lets us do whatever we want, but as a gracious dad, and compassionate, who will discipline us for our good, but who also holds us close in his arms and comforts us with his love. And, because of this, we ought to walk in his love.

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.

For Our Transgressions

Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 3:34 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 53 (Select vv. ESV).

Who Has Believed? (vv. 1-3; cf. Rom. 10:16)

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

Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah of Israel, our God and Lord, came to earth and took on human form, begotten of God the Father, and born as a baby to a human mother. He suffered as we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. There was nothing about his physical appearance that anyone should be attracted to him. He did have some true followers (disciples), though. And, crowds did follow him, for he healed many, he drove out evil spirits, he performed many miracles, and he fed the hungry. But, when he spoke of the cost of following him, many who had been following him deserted him, never to return.

Many of the religious leaders within the Jewish temple did not like Jesus, and they made it their mission to destroy him. They hated him because he dared to be different, because he did not follow their human rules and traditions, because he healed people on the Sabbath, and he claimed to be God; and because he confronted sinful humans with their sinful conditions, warned of divine judgment and called for repentance and faith in himself. They were jealous of him because of his temporary and short-lived popularity among the people, and because they felt their own positions of power were being threatened by him. So, they plotted his death, and he was crucified on a cross for our sins (See: Jn. 1:1-34; Jn. 6:35-66; Phil. 2:1-11; 1 Co. 5:21).

We Are Healed (vv. 4-6)

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

When Jesus died on that cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He 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. In his death, he put sin to death, and when he was resurrected from the grave, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death for our sake. By God’s grace, through faith in him, via death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ, we can be forgiven our sins, released from the ultimate punishment of sin (eternal damnation), delivered out of slavery to sin, and released to walk in the Spirit and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and be given eternal life with God.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God and unable to attain God’s divine approval through human effort. So, that is why Jesus gave his life up for us, that we might be saved from our sins, walk in the Spirit, and have eternal life with God. Because he died, we are able to die to sin, and because he lives, we can live with him and for him for eternity. Yet, he did not come to earth, take on human flesh, and suffer for our sake just so we can escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died that we might live for him, and he suffered that he might be our compassionate and merciful high priest in taking our sorrows upon himself that he might also comfort us in our sorrows.

The Will of God (vv. 10-12)

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

It was God the Father’s will that his Son should suffer and die for our sins. This was planned for us even before the creation of the world, and that many of us would believe on him as our Savior and would become children of God, and followers of Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are not only made righteous in God’s sight, but we are able to live righteously for Him and for his will for our lives, for this is why he died. Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14).

So, we must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and no longer according to our sinful flesh. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, even if we have made a profession of faith in Christ Jesus. 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), for His sake, we will gain eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we still walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin), we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). The true story of Jesus (the gospel) is not just that Jesus died to forgive us our sins, but he died to deliver us out of slavery to sin, and to give us new lives in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Gal. 2:20). Amen!

Tell Me the Story of Jesus
Fanny J. Crosby / John R. Sweney

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.

Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

His Righteousness

Tuesday, August 1, 2017, 3:17 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Praise Be Told!” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of God’s righteousness.

Righteousness – divine approval; God’s judicial approval; “refers to what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes” (1). It is also morality, justice, decency, uprightness and honesty.

By God’s Doing (1 Co. 1:30-31; 2 Co. 5:21)

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures. We all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (See: Ro. 3:23). We are destined for hell without hope of heaven or God. And, we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We can never be good enough. No amount of good works will ever earn us our own salvation from sin or eternal life with God in heaven. Our own righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. Only by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, can any of us be made righteous in God’s sight, and only in the power of God’s Spirit now living within us can we live righteously, too.

So, God sent his only begotten Son Jesus Christ to the earth to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus Christ took the punishment of our sin on himself so that, through faith in him, we might be delivered both from the penalty of sin (death) and from slavery to sin. Not only that, but he died for us so that we might live new lives in him to his righteousness. For, his purpose in dying for us was not just to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die, but he died in order that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15).

Death to Sin; Alive to God (1 Pet. 2:24; Ephesians 4:17-24)

And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

When Jesus Christ gave his life up for us on a cross, it wasn’t just so we could become the righteousness of God positionally. What I mean by that is that it wasn’t just to forgive us our sins and to remove the punishment of sin from us. It was that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we keep on sinning (making a practice of sin) after we have received the knowledge of the truth, it is not heaven we have as our destination, but the fires of hell, even if we make a confession of Christ as Savior of our lives (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, the Holy Spirit of God transforms our hearts away from living for sin and self to walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. We should no longer live to gratify the evil desires of our flesh, but we should now live to please God in everything we do and say. Our new lives in Christ Jesus should not look just like our old lives, only just slightly cleaned up for all appearances. For us to be born again (or born from above) of the Spirit of God, we must have first of all put our old lives (our former manner of life) to death by the Spirit of God. And, the new self that we should put on is the one created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, not the slightly cleaned up old self.

Flee and Pursue (1 Tim. 6:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:22)

But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Not only are we made righteous in God’s sight, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, but we must live righteously if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. We must flee from false doctrines which give free license to continue in sin, and which do not conform to godliness. And, we must flee all sinful acts, attitudes and practices such as immorality, adultery, envy, impurity, lust, idolatry, outbursts of anger, drunkenness, and the like. And, instead, we need to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, peace and gentleness. And, we must walk (in lifestyle) in integrity, honesty, purity, decency, uprightness and morality.

Daily we die to sin and self, and we put off (put to death) the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit of God (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). We put on the armor of God with which to fight off all of Satan’s evil attacks and schemes against us (Eph. 6:10-20). And, we throw off every weight which hinders our walks of faith, and every sin which entangles, so that we can run the race God has marked out for us with perseverance (See: Heb. 12:1-2). And, then we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit, and no longer according to our sinful flesh. For, if we walk according to our 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 for eternity, and all because of God’s grace to us in saving us.

Praise Be Told! / An Original Work
Based off Various Scriptures / December 28, 2013

He was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for all our sin.
Our chastisement was upon Him.
By His stripes, we now are healed.

He has witnessed all our trials,
And the sins we choose to wear.
Yet, while we were dead in our sin,
Jesus died, our sins to bear.

He himself bore all of our sins
In His body on a cross,
So that we might die to our sin,
And live for His righteousness.

By faith in the pow’r of Jesus
And His blood shed for our sins,
We can be forgiven our sin,
And have life with God in heav’n.

He will lead us and He’ll guide us
In the way that we should go.
He will comfort and protect us,
Because Jesus, we do know.

Though He disciplines for our good,
He will heal us – Praise be told!
Do not fear, your Lord is with you.
Just have faith in Christ your Lord.

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

Life and Death

Monday, July 24, 2017, 7:23 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Unless You Are Born Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 6 (ESV).

Newness of Life (vv. 1-11)

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

I believe there is a huge misunderstanding today of God’s grace. So many people are teaching grace as though it is merely Jesus taking our place on the cross so we will be free from the punishment of sin, and so we will have eternal life with God in heaven one day when we die. But, his grace, as taught by many teachers today, does not translate into a changed heart and life, of the Spirit of God. There is no new birth of the Spirit, because there is no death of the “old man,” i.e. of the old self.

The “grace” they often teach is a free license to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and without true remorse. In fact, many are teaching that God does not even require repentance or obedience, and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, even while we are rebelling against him via willful and continued sin.

Yet, God’s grace to us is not just to deliver us out of hell and to assure us of heaven when we die. His grace to us is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. His grace is for the purpose that we, who have died with him to sin, might walk (conduct our lives) with Christ in newness of life; with changed lives, transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God. God’s purpose in saving us from our sins was to put sin to death in our lives so that we would no longer be enslaved (addicted) to sin. Jesus died to sin and he lives to God, so we must also consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Death to Life (vv. 12-14)

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

So, sin should no longer have mastery over our lives. It should no longer have power or control over us or hold us in bondage. A truly born again believer in Jesus Christ should not be still living in addiction to sin, for Jesus set us free! He or she, by the Spirit, should be putting sin to death, so that he or she might have eternal life with God (See: Ro. 8:1-14). We should no longer be obeying our sinful passions or giving our bodies over to the lusts of our sinful flesh. If we have been brought from death to life, this should be evident in how we conduct our lives day in and day out.

So, what does this look like? Well, for one, we should no longer be feeling as though we just can’t help it when we sin. We can help it! Jesus paid the price for our sins, and he delivered us out of slavery to sin. If we choose to willfully sin against God, we choose to disobey what we know is right and to do what is wrong despite Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. And, we choose to not tap into the strength and power of God within us to resist Satan, to flee temptation and to draw near to God. Sometimes it is because we are not willing to go the distance with God in ridding our lives of those things which lead us down the path of sin, too. So, we end up playing with temptation and toying with sin, and of course, we will eventually sin.

So, we need to cut out of our lives those things which lead us to sin, and then we have to resist Satan and flee temptation and we have to pursue righteousness. For example, if your sin issue is pornography or sexually charged movies, and you keep going back to these time and time again, then it is time to cut the cord. Get rid of your TV, movies, cable, internet, etc. so that you don’t have the opportunity to sin in these ways. Ask for accountability, especially from your spouse. Don’t have private internet access. Do everything out in the open where anyone can see. So many, many people are bound in sin addiction because they have so many avenues to do so in the privacy of their own homes right from their own pockets or purses without anyone seeing what they are doing.

Leads to Righteousness (vv. 15-23)

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We have to stop giving our lives over to what is sinful, and we have to give our lives over to what is godly and righteous and holy. We have to stop following the crowd or blending in with the world or immersing ourselves in our culture. The church and other Christians have helped encourage us toward worldliness for many, many years, but that is not acceptable to God. It is not the way he wants us to live. Our lives are no longer our own to live how we want, for we were bought back for God with the price of Jesus’ blood shed on a cross for our sins. He is now our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bond-slaves, slaves to his righteousness. So, we need to live in the power of God’s Spirit like we believe this is true, instead of compromising with the world.

We need to realize here that a mere prayer to receive Jesus Christ as Savior or a mere acknowledgment of Christ’s existence or a mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins does not guarantee us eternal life with God. If we remain slaves to sin, addicted to sinful practices, and we continue to live sinful lifestyles, we are not bound for heaven, but for hell. Slavery to sin leads to death, not life, but if we walk in obedience to our Lord, it leads to righteousness, which leads to sanctification (purity, cleanliness), which then results in eternal life with God. If we walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, regardless of what we believe about salvation and eternal life with God (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

What benefit, then, do we gain if we remain in slavery (addiction) to sin? Nothing! We may get some temporary pleasure for our flesh, but at what cost? Sin not only hurts us, but it hurts those closest to us, too, and it hurts those with whom we come in contact, because when we walk in sin, it is what comes out in our thinking, speaking, attitudes and behaviors. And, this does impact the people around us, as well as it kills the good that was planted in our hearts when we heard the gospel message of salvation from sin. And, it results not in the hope of heaven when we die, but in hearing God say to us, “Depart from me. I never knew you.”

Unless You Are Born Again
An Original Work / November 3, 2013

Based off John 3:1-21

Nicodemus came to Jesus.
He acknowledged God was with Him.
Jesus said, “You can’t see heaven
Unless you are born again.”

“How can a man be born when he’s old?
Can he enter into his mother’s womb?”
Jesus answered, “Flesh is flesh,
So of the Spirit, you must be.”

Jesus said to Nicodemus,
“You’re a teacher, and yet you don’t
Understand of what I tell you,
Because you will not believe.

“For God so loved the world that He gave
His one and His only Son for your sin.
So, whoever believes in Him
Has eternal life in heav’n.

“Light has come into the world,
But human beings love the darkness,
Because their deeds are so evil,
So in truth, they stand condemned.

“Everyone who practices evil
Fears that the Light will expose his sin.
Yet, whoever lives his life by the Light
Does so through his God.”

Live for Him

Sunday, July 16, 2017, 5:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Grace Divine.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of living for Jesus.

Dead to Sin; Alive to God (Ro. 8:12-14; cf. 1 Pet. 2:24; Gal. 2:20)

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

If we are to live for Jesus, we must first of all die with him to sin and self (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24). If the old man has not been crucified with Christ, the new man (person) cannot exist. It is when we die with Christ to sin that we are reborn of the Spirit of God, and thus we can now live and walk in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful passions and desires. Yet, this death to sin and living to Jesus is not a onetime salvation experience, but it is our daily walk with Christ Jesus, as well. For, it is not those who claim to have had a salvation experience who are the children of God, but it is those who are being led by the Spirit, who are following the Lord Jesus with their lives, who are his sons and daughters.

For the Lord (2 Co. 5:14-15; cf. Ro. 14:7-9; Phil. 1:19-21)

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Jesus Christ did not die on the cross for our sins merely that we might escape hell and have the hope of heaven when we die. He 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. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, our lives are no longer our own, to live however we want, for we were bought back for God with the price of Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross for our sins. So, we are to honor God with our lives. He is to be our Lord (owner-master), not just our Savior. And, we are to be his bond-servants, slaves now to righteousness (Ro. 6:1-23). And, each day we should inquire of him as to what he wants, and then follow his lead in doing, being, and saying what and going where he desires.

In Contentment (Phil. 4:11-13)

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I know, too, what it is like to be poor, and to not have much at all, and I know what it is like to have more than what we need so that we have enough to share with others, and so we could enjoy some of the conveniences and comforts of having more physical space and provisions. Yet, we have always had a roof over our heads, clothing on our bodies, and food in our stomachs, so we don’t really know yet what it is like to go hungry or to be in want of shelter or of clothing. But, that time is most likely to come, too, if we live long enough. Yet, some of the poorest of times taught us to live by faith and to trust the Lord for everything. And, some of the more affluent times provided us the opportunity to use what we had been given to minister God’s grace and mercy to and to be a blessing to others. I can live in any of these ways through the strength God gives me.

To Deny Ungodliness (Tit. 2:11-14)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who 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.

Some people have the notion that faith in Jesus Christ means merely to acknowledge who he was/is and what he did for us in dying for our sins, and to accept his forgiveness for our sins. Yet, there is no death to sin or living to righteousness in that (Ro. 6:1-23). Thus, there is no new birth or heart transformation of the Spirit of God. As well, there is no true salvation from sin, but only a false hope of heaven when one dies, only to face the reality of one-day hearing God say “Depart from me, I never knew you!”

Truly God’s grace, which brings salvation from sin, is not just to forgive people of their sin, but it is to turn them from darkness (sin) to the light (truth, righteousness, Christ), and away from the control (power) Satan had over their lives to God, to walk daily in his righteousness and holiness. Then, they can receive forgiveness of sins and have a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18). God’s grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God, but it directs us to leave our lives of sin behind us and to follow our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives.

On Every Word (Matt. 4:4)

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

In order for us to live for Jesus, we need to know him and we need to know his Word, so that we can obey him and his Word. For our physical bodies to live, we need food and water, but for us to live spiritually we need to feed on the Word of God. And, remember that Jesus is the Word (See: John 1). So, every day we are to be in God’s Word, listening to what God – the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit – has to say to us, and doing what the Word says. His Word is our guide, counsel, teacher, instruction, encouragement, and urging for us to live holy lives pleasing to God, as well as it is our warning against idolatry, spiritual adultery, lusts of the flesh, and worldly living, etc. In keeping (obeying) God’s Word, there is great reward (Ps. 19:11).

Your Grace Divine
An Original Work / November 6, 2011

All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.
Crucified for my sins;
You paid what I owe,
So I’d be forgiven;
My God come to know.
All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.

Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.
I have been forgiven
For all of my sins,
So I’d live with Jesus;
His grace flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.

Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.
Sitting at Your feet, Lord,
List’ning to You speak,
Leads me to love You, Lord,
More throughout the week.
Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.