Love for God

Friday, July 14, 2017, 7:47 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of Love for God.

Keep His Commandments (Jn. 14:15, 21, 23-24; 1 Jn. 5:2-3)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

Love for God is not some emotional feeling, or a religious belief or practice. It is not, in and of itself, singing praise and worship songs in a worship service with hands lifted, although if done sincerely, and in truth, this truly is part of how we express our love for God. It is also not merely confessing him as Lord and as Savior of our lives, or going to gatherings of the church, or serving in some ministry capacity within the local fellowship of believers. For, it is possible to do all of these and still not have love for God.

Love for God is to do what he says. If we do not make it our practice to do what our Lord says, i.e. to obey his Word, then we don’t really love him. Yet, we are not speaking here merely of keeping the 10 commandments, although not one of us could keep them perfectly, otherwise Christ would not have had to die for our sins. Obeying God is not just keeping a list of rules, but it is listening to him day by day, following his lead, doing what he tells us through his Spirit, and obeying his instructions to us, which are written down for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, in his Holy Word.

More Than These (Jn. 21:15; 1 Jn. 2:15; 1 Jn. 3:10)

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

Love for God is to make him first priority in our lives, but not just that, but to make him truly Lord (owner-master) of our lives. We should love him above all else, which means we should follow him wherever he leads us, even if it means leaving all else behind, including our friends and family. Nothing should be more important to us than obeying our Lord, going where he sends us, and doing what he has called us to do. We should obey him, even if everyone else rejects us, hates us, and abandons us, too.

This also translates to not loving the world (sin, worldliness) with the kind of love we should have for God. In other words, we should not take pleasure in, long for, or esteem the values, morals, philosophies, attitudes or behaviors of the ungodly world. We should not prefer what the world prefers, either. We should not pattern our lives after the ways or the will of the world, as well. We ought not to submit to the culture of our society or to immerse (engross) ourselves in it. Included in this is that we should not be entertained by the world of sin and its values, morals and wickedness, too.

Obeying God results in practicing righteousness. And, righteousness is what God approves, what is deemed right by the Lord, and what is approved in his sight (1). If we do not practice (follow, live out) divine righteousness, then we are not of God. Basically, if we walk (in practice) according to our fleshly desires, we don’t know God, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, and we will perish in our sins. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

Love In Truth (1 Jn. 3:18; 1 Jn. 4:19-20; 1 Jn. 1:5-7)

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.’”

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Some people say they love God, but it is lip service only, for their hearts are far from God, they do not do what he says, nor do they submit to him and to his will for their lives. They can get all emotional in a church service, especially as the music gets louder and more intense, and is repeated over and over again, but then they leave, go home, and live just like the world (the ungodly). We can mouth the words “I love you,” but if we are going our own way, living in spiritual adultery and idolatry, and we are not submitting ourselves to our Lord and to his cross, then we don’t really love him. True love, whether between two people or between people and God is not words only, but it is action and it is honest and sincere (not superficial).

If we say we love God, but we don’t love other humans, then we don’t really love God, for God is love, and he lives within those of us who are truly his. And, again, this love is not emotional feelings, but it is action and it is truth. For instance, if a man or a woman cheats on his or her spouse, then lies about it, but then proclaims that he or she loves the other, he or she is a liar. The same applies to our love for God. If we say we love God, but we go after “other lovers,” i.e. worldliness, wickedness, and selfishness, and then we lie to God and to ourselves, and we convince ourselves that God is ok with us living in adultery against him, because of his grace, then that is not love, either, for God or for our fellow human beings.

If we keep on (practicing) sinning, we don’t know God, and we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God (Jn. 8:34; 1 Jn. 3:6-9; 1 Jn. 5:18). But, if we walk (in lifestyle, in conduct) in the light (truth, righteousness), and according to the Spirit of God, not only do we have true spiritual fellowship with other believers in Jesus, but the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross for our sins, cleanses us from all sin. So, if truly we want to love God and know God, then we need to walk in his love, do what he says, follow him where he leads, and surrender to his will for our lives.

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.

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

Time Not Our Friend

Saturday, April 15, 2017, 7:17 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Here I Go Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Malachi 3 (ESV).

Prepare the Way (vv. 1-4)

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

John the Baptist was the messenger of God who prepared the way for Jesus Christ’s first coming. He preached a message of repentance (turning from sin to God) for the forgiveness of sins, and so did Jesus. Jesus is the Lord who came to the physical temple in physical Jerusalem to preach to them the gospel message of salvation from sin. Outside of faith in Jesus Christ, not one of us can stand before God at the day of his second coming.

All have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval, i.e. the glory of God. Only through Jesus Christ’s shed blood on the cross for our sins can any of us approach the throne of grace and find mercy. And, it is only God-given faith which can save us, i.e. a faith which is divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives, and thus it submits itself to Christ and to his cross. And, the cross is death to sin. And, Jesus’ resurrection is living in the power of the Spirit of God to Christ and to his righteousness.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God (God the Son), who gave his life up for us, so we could be delivered from slavery to sin and eternal damnation, and so we could have new life in him, is coming again one day to judge the world and to take his bride to be with him. And, again, a messenger has been sent before him in the spirit of Elijah (See: Mal. 4:5-6) to prepare the way for his second coming, i.e. to prepare the hearts of the people to be ready for him for when he comes again.

And, I see that messenger in two different forms. One form is those of us whom God has called to give out messages such as this one which confronts sin in the church, in particular, warns of divine judgment (discipline, correction), calls for repentance, and promises the hope of deliverance and internal peace for the one who repents of his or her sin, and who turns his or her heart to Jesus Christ, making him their Lord (owner-master) and Savior.

The other messenger, I believe, is that of the judgments of God which will take place during the time of tribulation, which we may have already entered into, or upon which we may be on the precipice. So, this messenger, just like the one mentioned above, is a divine instrument of God’s judgments, first on his temple, the body of Christ, and then on the world. One messenger speaks words of judgment, but also of mercy, while the other carries out the judgments of God, which is also God’s mercy to bring hearts to (or back to) himself. And, the purpose for this judgment on the people of God is to refine us and to purify us so that we bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.

For Judgment (v. 5)

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Since November of 2004 the Lord Jesus has been showing me these judgments of God which are taking place and will yet take place on nations, peoples, and on Christians throughout the world, including inside America, as is prophesied in the scriptures (the Bible). He has also opened up my eyes to see America and its government in an entirely different light than I had ever seen before. I believe we, the USA, or at least our government and military and financial sector, are Babylon, the harlot which rides the beast. Our government is like the right-hand man of this beast (New World Order), doing the bidding of the de facto government of these United States, i.e. a shadow government of the Elite (wealthy and powerful) of this world.

So, the government we feel we have elected as our leaders are not really the ones running this country. This shadow government is, and behind the scenes. Our “elected” officials work for them, and they can only do what the Elite tell them to do. So, when President Trump orders a strike on Syria, or when a US military general in Afghanistan orders a huge bomb to be dropped on some people in Afghanistan, the orders come from this shadow government of the Elite (the New World Order and/or the All-Seeing Eye). And, their purpose for all the evil crimes they commit against humanity is to bring the world together as one – under a one world totalitarian government and into a one world religion, which embraces all religions and lifestyles.

In a nutshell, judgment is at the door for America, but not just for us, but for the world as a whole, and yet I believe what has been happening and what will yet happen is for the purposes described in this passage of scripture, and that is to refine and to purify the church, and to revive the part of the church which has become complacent, idolatrous, and spiritually adulterous in her relationship with the Lord.

Also, the US government is not who they claim to be, and most of what we read or hear in the media is a pack of lies, because the media is mostly owned by the Elite (this shadow government). I believe the US is behind the chemical weapons attack in Syria and that it was used as a false flag operation in order to aggressively go after the people of Syria. Also, ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, etc. are mostly all supported, trained, and equipped by the US, so we are not going after terrorists, but we ARE the terrorists who are killing innocents across the globe, and in particular Christians – we are the persecutors, under orders from this shadow government. Our own government will also come against us, too, to take down our nation.

I believe nuclear war is coming to the world. I don’t know when. I believe it could be very soon. I believe the weapons, at the hands of the US government are ready to go for whenever they get the order, i.e. the authority to use this type of force. The Lord has shown me nuclear weapons in bodies of water more so than he has shown me them in the air, though certainly they could be transported by air into the bodies of water. This shadow government (New World Order ‘beast’) is using the threat of nuclear attacks as a means presently to get the nations of this world and the people of this world to bow to the beast. Not everyone is complying. Many are resisting. If they do not comply, though, they will face the wrath of this global government. Where we are headed, I believe, is to a divided world, i.e. there will be those who will follow the beast and those who will follow Jesus Christ. There will be no more middle ground – one side or the other.

God Does Not Change (application of vv. 6-18 to today)

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. (v. 6)

I am not familiar with the church across the world, but I am familiar with the church here in America. God is going to come in judgment against America because the vast majority of his church first of all partnered with an evil government (via the 501c3). Thus, they brought the government into the church as head and turned the body of Christ into a human business, and they have marketed it just like a business to the world. They entertain the world instead of preaching repentance to them for forgiveness of sins. And, so they dilute the gospel to make it more attractive to the world, and to give people carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt.

Although this does not apply to all Christians in America, or to all local fellowships of believers, many Christians in America have gone the way of the world and have adopted its ways, values, attitudes, thinking and behaviors. It is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. So many Christians spend hours upon hours watching TV, surfing the NET, chatting on social media sites, texting their friends, exchanging pictures and videos, especially selfies, watching ballgames, playing sports, or taking care of their prized possessions, and often to the exclusion of time spent alone with our Lord. But, it isn’t just the time, but that they give their hearts, devotion, loyalties, commitments, passion, etc. to these things which have no eternal value whatsoever, while they neglect the family of God and the kingdom of heaven and their Lord, who is to be their owner-master.

But, even beyond that, many Christians in America have returned to sinful lifestyles and are involved in pornography or in watching sexual or sensual material on TV or on the internet. A large percentage of our pastors have dabbled in or are addicted to pornography, too. Many Christians have gotten involved in extra-marital affairs at the work place or on the internet, via social media sites and private chats. Since so many Christians have adopted or are influenced by the ways and values of the world, many of them also have no conscience about lying, deceiving, cheating, stealing, gossiping, or overeating, etc. And, even when God convicts their hearts, they don’t listen, and they don’t obey him, but they continue on in their sinful ways. Yet, through judgment, God intends to revive his church and to bring her back to him as her ONLY Lord and Savior.

Yet, this doesn’t describe every Christian, not that we are all perfect who are not walking in sin, but there are Christians in America who fear the Lord with awe, honor and respect, who are praying for revival in our nation and for the salvation of their loved ones before the Lord returns. And, many more will be there, too, when revival does come, and then we will see that division, i.e. that distinction between those who serve God and those who serve the flesh and the devil (and the beast). Yet, until then, we have to realize that time is not on our side. These things prophesied in scripture will take place. God’s Word will be fulfilled. So, take this to heart.

Here I Go Again / Casting Crowns

…So maybe this time
I’ll speak the words of life
With Your fire in my eyes
But that old familiar fear
is tearin’ at my words
What am I so afraid of?
‘Cause here I go again
Talkin’ ’bout the rain
And mullin’ over things
that won’t live past today
And as I dance around the truth
Time is not his friend
This might be my last chance
to tell him that You love Him…

Self-Made Religion

Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 11:16 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Colossians 2 (Select vv. NASB).

Walk in Him (vv. 6-7)

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

So, how do we walk in Him? Well, first of all, to walk has to do simply with how we live our lives each day, day in and day out. It has to do with lifestyle and with how we conduct our lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But, this isn’t just about behavior, but it is about heart, attitude, words, faith, mind, emotion and body, i.e. our whole being. What or who guides (directs) what our minds are given over to, or what words we speak, or our attitudes about life and about God? You know that what we truly believe about God, about life, and about ourselves will be reflected in how we behave and in the words we speak. And, this isn’t something we put on or take off depending on who is around us or what day of the week it is, either. This is about how we live our lives consistently no matter where we are or who we are with.

So, what does it mean to walk in Him? “In Him” means in Christ, so if we walk in Christ, it means we live (conduct) our lives according to Christ and his divine character, and according to his teachings (his instructions for us). If he is Lord of our lives, then he is master-owner of our lives and we are his bond-servants. This means he is boss, not us, and we are here to do what he says, not what we want. So, is that the reality of the situation in our lives? Do our lifestyles reflect that Jesus is truly Lord (owner-boss) of our lives? Do we live to do what pleases him, or do we live to do what pleases us? I think it might be easy to forget, if we are in Christ, that it means he is living within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, so he is always with us. But, what if you could see him in the flesh right next to you every day, would you do anything differently? I think most of us would have to say “Yes.”

Deceptive Philosophy (v. 8)

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

So, if we are going to walk (in lifestyle) in Christ, in accord with what we know of him and his divine character and his Word to us, then daily we need to be drinking in his Word, not the World. The vast majority of American (professing) Christians seem to spend much more time consuming the World than they do the Word of Christ, thus their attitudes, behaviors, thinking, reasoning and values often reflect the world more so than they reflect Christ. And, it seems most of them really have no concept or have little idea of what it means to truly walk in Christ day-by-day, because their minds are continually being inundated with the world via TV, video games, secular music, movies, the internet, social media and the like. And, smart phones in the hands of even children is making this so much more accessible.

But, you know, it isn’t just via the world that Christians are being influenced to follow the ways of the world, but this is happening in the churches, too. So many of today’s church congregations here in America have adopted the ways of the world in order to win the world, but not to Christ, but to their “churches,” i.e. to their human-made religious institutions and businesses. Yet, if we are truly going to win people to Christ, then we need to do it God’s way, not man’s way. When men (and women) determine how to attract the world to the church, this isn’t about building God’s heavenly kingdom, but it is about kingdom building here on earth, and it is about making followers of men, not of God. And, all too often the gospel of Christ is, thus, diluted in order to appeal to and be acceptable to the people of the world. And, this should not be.

For in Christ (vv. 9-15)

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

If our faith is truly in Jesus Christ, then our lives should be about HIM, not about the world and not about us, nor about entertaining ourselves. Americans are way too pleasure driven, and even the church is teaching people that they need to have “fun,” and if the church isn’t “fun” that we should, then, go someplace where it is. Of course, this is under the assumption that the “church” is a place and a business and an institution rather than it being the body of Christ, i.e. the people of God. But, the real church isn’t a place or a building or an organization or a business, but it is people who believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) of their lives.

And, if Jesus truly is our Lord, then we should be about him and his business rather than about living our lives the way we choose to live them. And, we also need to see that faith in Jesus Christ is not about joining a particular religion or becoming members of or being baptized into a particular church denomination. When we believe in our Lord, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). I believe this is the true meaning of baptism of the Spirit, when by the Spirit we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to new lives in Him, to be lived to his holiness and righteousness, and that our water baptism is an outward symbol of what has already taken place in our hearts, which is why immersion, if it can be done, does the best job of symbolizing this.

If You Have Died (vv. 20-23)

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

In context, this passage of scripture is referring to legalistic practices, i.e. to that which is man-made and is external, not of the heart, such as was practiced by the Pharisees. This is NOT referring to the scriptures which teach us to not lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, and gossip, etc., although there are those teachers who would like to convince you that you no longer have to obey Christ’s commands (his instructions to us), but that is not what the Bible teaches us. This is talking about Christians who were being led to believe that they had to follow Old Covenant laws with regard to such externals as food, drink, religious celebrations, circumcision, the Sabbath, etc. or that they had to obey man-made rules regarding ceremonial washings, etc. Yet, most or all of “these are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (v. 17).

Yet, we can go through all kinds of religious practices, ceremonies, rites and rituals and it have absolutely no effect whatsoever on our spiritual lives and moral purity. And, this includes attending services at an institutional church once a week, or doing a church ministry, or volunteering in a homeless shelter, etc. Externals don’t change the internal. Only Jesus Christ, via his blood shed on our cross for our sins, can change our hearts and make us new creatures in Christ, and can empower us of his Spirit to walk in Christ in holiness, righteousness and moral purity. Yet, we have to be willing recipients of his grace to us by submitting ourselves to his lordship over our lives, and in allowing him to transform our hearts away from living to sin and self and toward following after Jesus Christ and his righteousness.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily 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 with God. Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that 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). As well, we read in scripture that God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and remorse, but his grace 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. And, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24).

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

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

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

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

They know my voice, so they follow me.

If You Hear Him

Saturday, October 29, 2016, 3:41 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 95 (ESV).

He is the Rock of our Salvation (vv. 1-2)

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Yes, let us sing to the Lord, and praise his holy name, for by his grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). We have been set free from slavery to sin, and we have been born of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus, to be lived in/to his holiness and righteousness. Sin is no longer our master, because Jesus Christ bought us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins. He not only saved us from our sins, but he has given us new purpose for living, which is to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him, and all for his praise and glory.

He is above all gods (vv. 3-5)

For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Jesus Christ is God, the Son, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He was with God in the beginning, he is God, and all things which were made, were made by him. Our God and Lord Jesus Christ is far above all rule and authority, power and dominion. God the Father has placed all things under Jesus’ feet. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. In everything he has the supremacy. Amen! He is the ruler of God’s creation; the head over every power and authority; and all angels, authorities and powers are in submission to him. Praise God! In that we can rest secure, knowing that God rules supreme over all. [See: Eph. 1:15-23; Col. 1:15-20; Rev. 3:14; Col. 2:9-10; & 1 Pet. 3:21-22.]

He is our God; our Shepherd (vv. 6-7a)

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

Jesus Christ is our shepherd, and we are his sheep, if we have trusted in him to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:27-28). Many people quote this passage, but they ignore the bulk of verse 27, and focus on verse 28. Yet, not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” is the Lord’s sheep. Just because you say you believe in Jesus does not mean you truly do. Jesus’ sheep, i.e. true Christians, are those who listen to Jesus and who obey him. In other words, they are those who no longer walk (conduct their lives) according to the sinful flesh, but they are those who are walking according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God (Re: Ro. 8:1-14).

Since Jesus Christ, God the Son, delivered us out of bondage to sin, and gave us new lives in Christ, to be lived in/to his righteousness; since he is our God, and he is above all other gods; since he is our creator and the Rock of our salvation; and since he is our shepherd, and we are his sheep, we should live like this is true. Our lifestyles should reflect this reality.

We should live like we have been set free from slavery to sin, not using his grace as an excuse to continue in sin. We should be conducting our lives according to his holiness and righteousness, and not according to the ways of this sinful world. We should not be giving the bulk of our time, praise, adoration, loyalty, passion, fervor and devotion to things, or to other people, or to work, entertainment, sports, and hobbies, etc. But, as his sheep, we should be following him in obedience to his plan and purposes for our lives. We should be walking in his ways and in his truth, abiding in his presence, faithful in prayer, and continuous in faith, and in the study of his Word.

No Hardened Hearts (vv. 7b-11)

Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”

The writer of Hebrews quoted this passage from Psalm 95, as recorded in Hebrews 3:7-11. It was in the context of writing to Hebrew Christians. He told them that “Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (Heb. 3:6). He said, as well, that “We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (v. 14).

Jesus said something similar to this when he said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). Paul said, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain” (I Co 15:2). And, John said, “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life” (I Jn. 2:24-25; cf. Ro. 11:17-24; Col 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; 2 Pet. 1:5-11).

Since our continuing to be God’s house is on the condition of our persistence and faithfulness in our faith and obedience, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, if today we hear his voice speaking to us, we should take care that we do not harden our hearts by shutting out his voice, and by going our own way, instead. The Word of God does not teach that we are saved (past), that we live our lives, and then we go to heaven when we die (future), with the “in-between” optional as to whether or not we obey and honor Jesus Christ. Obedience is not optional. Repentance (turning from sin to God) is not optional. What happens in-between new birth and death is also not optional.

In John 3:16 it says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but should have everlasting life. This word “believe” is actually “is believing.” It is present tense. We are not saved on the basis of past belief. We have to continue believing, and we have to be believing in him when he returns. As well, belief in Jesus is not just an emotional experience, or a mental acknowledgement of what he did for us in dying for our sins, or even a mere admission that we are sinners in need of a Savior. It is also not merely accepting his forgiveness for our sins, and believing in the hope of heaven when we die. When we believe in Jesus we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to new life in Christ, to be lived to his righteousness.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self and take up his 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 (die in our sins). But, if we lose our lives, i.e. if we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul reiterated the same thing when he said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, we will die (without Christ), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity) (See: Ro. 8:1-14). John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6).

Jesus did not die just so we could escape hell and have the promise 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. He died, as well, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the sinful nature, but who walk (live our lives) according to the Spirit of God. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait for Christ’s return. [See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14 & Tit. 2:11-14].

So, don’t count on some prayer you prayed at an altar one day to get you into heaven. If you don’t continue in Christ, and in his Word, and if you walk according to your sinful flesh, and not according to the Spirit, the Bible says you will not have the hope of heaven when you die, but a fearful expectation of God’s wrath. So, don’t mess around. Don’t play games. None of us knows if he (or she) has tomorrow. You may die in your sleep tonight, and you may spend eternity in everlasting punishment, without God, and without hope. Take God’s word seriously. Take this warning from his word seriously. Repent of your sins today, and turn to walk with Christ in his holiness and righteousness – all in the power, working and strength of his Spirit living within you, and all for the praise, honor, and glory of God, our Lord. Amen!

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!