His Grace to Us

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

Dead in Sins (vv. 1-3)

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

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

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

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

By God’s Grace (vv. 4-9)

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

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

Yet, it was God’s will that he should suffer and die for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:14; 1 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24). Yet, Jesus did not remain dead. God the Father resurrected him from the dead. And, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf.

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

For Good Works (v. 10)

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

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

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

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

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

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

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

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

His Loving Kindness

Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 3:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (NASB) on the subject of God’s lovingkindness towards us.

Rich in Mercy (Eph. 2:1-10)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

When God created man and woman, they were sinless, but then they sinned against God by doing what he commanded them not to do. Ever since then, all of us have been born into sin, with sin natures, and we have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49; Ro. 3:23). Yet, God had planned, even before he created the world, and us, how he was going to save us from our sins (See: Gen. 3:15; Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4). He sent his Son Jesus Christ, God the Son, to the earth to take on human form, and then to die on cross. Although he knew no sin, he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.

Because we are born sinners, we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We can never be good enough in our own merit. None of us are deserving of God’s grace to us. No amount of good works will ever earn us a place 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 saved from our sins and have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Yet, we must have a biblical understanding of God’s grace lest we be led astray by those who would tickle itching ears with feel-good messages which give its adherents a false hope of eternity with God based on a lie, which leaves its followers still dead in their sins, yet thinking they are going to heaven.

So, what is God’s grace to us? Notice with me how this passage begins where it states how we formerly walked (in lifestyle) according to the course of this world, in disobedience, when we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging in sinful passions and desires, and thus we were children of wrath. Yet, because of God’s loving kindness towards us, he made us alive in Christ. Not only did he forgive us of our sins, but he delivered us out of bondage (slavery) to sin. So, now we don’t walk according to the course (path, pattern) of this ungodly world, but we walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14).

The Kindness of God (Titus 3:1-8)

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.

God’s grace to us in saving us from our sins is not merely to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die (or when he comes to take us home). His grace to us is for the purpose to deliver us out of slavery to sin (darkness) and to bring us into his wonderful light (truth, righteousness). It is to turn us from the power Satan had over our lives to God, to follow our Lord in his truth and in his ways, so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus (Acts 26:16-18).

Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace to us is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross so we could continue in sin without guilt. He gave himself up for us to release (liberate) us “from every lawless deed, and to purify for himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:11-14).

Notice again with me that it says here that we were ONCE (meaning past) disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts, envious and hating one another. God’s grace to us, again, is not just to forgive us our sins, but it is to free us from our addiction to sin. It is so that we no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to the ways of this sinful world, but so we now walk according to the Spirit and in Christ’s righteousness. We are not merely forgiven of our sins and given a free pass, but we are washed, we are cleansed of our sins, and we are transformed, and given new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And, being holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into the likeness of Christ Jesus, our Lord (owner-master).

Long for the Pure Milk (1 Pet. 2:1-5)

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The primary purpose of God’s lovingkindness to us in saving us from our sins is that we might no longer walk (live) in sin, but that we might walk (conduct our lives) according to his righteousness. When we truly believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin that we might live with Christ to his righteousness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). For, if we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, even if we believe we are saved. But if we, by the Spirit, are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

So, as followers of Jesus Christ, daily we should be putting sin to death in our lives, and we should be walking in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). And, we should be longing for (thirsting after) the pure milk of the Word of God. This is not to say we should remain content with the milk only, though, and that we should not move on to the meat of the Word, for if we do, we will remain spiritual infants, and not move on to maturity in Christ. And, the whole purpose here is that we might grow (mature) in respect to salvation, i.e. that we should be mature in Christ and walking in his righteousness and holiness.

The house of God under the Old Covenant was a physical building. Yet, when Jesus Christ died for our sins, and he rose from the dead, and his Spirit came to live within those who have believed him to be Lord and Savior of their lives, we became his house, his body. We are not a physical building, but a spiritual one, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. He is our foundation, our Rock on which we stand. And, we are being built up (developed; formed; encouraged) as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In other words, we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, and so we are to give our lives to our Lord as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind (Ro. 12:1-2) for the glory of God.

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting
Jean Sophia Pigott

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

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

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

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

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

But When…

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

Every Good Work (vv. 1-2)

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

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

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

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

What We Were (v. 3)

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

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

According to His Mercy (vv. 4-7)

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

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

Stirring up Dissension (vv. 9-11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources:

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

Strength to Help

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

Forgiving and Good (vv. 5-7)

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

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

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

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

Teach Me Your Way (vv. 11-13)

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

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

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

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

Arrogant Foes Attacking (vv. 14-17)

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

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

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

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

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

Based off Psalm 86

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

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

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

A Steadfast Heart

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

I Take Refuge (v. 1)

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

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

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

Sharp Tongues (v. 4)

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

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

I Will Sing (vv. 7-11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Based off Psalm 27

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

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

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

The Safe Place

Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 6:31 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 57 (NASB).

Refuge in Him (vv. 1-3)

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge
Until destruction passes by.
I will cry to God Most High,
To God who accomplishes all things for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches him who tramples upon me. Selah.
God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.

When we trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, we become God’s children, and followers of Jesus Christ. We also become the Lord’s servants and his witnesses. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. So, we are to let our light shine before all people, and not hide it. Also, we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). We are his witnesses not only in word, as we share with others the truth of the gospel, but we are his witnesses by how we live our lives, day in and day out.

Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ has many spiritual benefits. Our sins were paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, when he took our place on a cross, and he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Christ Jesus, we are delivered from slavery to sin, and we are set free to now walk with Christ in his righteousness and holiness. We now have eternal life with God and the hope of heaven when we die. Yet, this is promised on the basis of that faith being continuous, and on the basis of us forsaking our former way of living for sin and self, no longer conducting our lives according to our sinful flesh, but now walking (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God.

Thus, when we walk in Christ’s holiness, and we are separate (unlike, different, distinct) from this sinful world, and we share the truths of God’s Word with the world around us, and with others who profess the name of Jesus, too, there will be those who won’t like us. They won’t approve of our lifestyles. They also won’t approve of the message. Some will think we are weird, crazy, radical, disconnected, strange, extreme, and just not normal. And, some of them may even make it their job to try to “normalize” us, i.e. to try to get us to be more like them, less solemn about our faith, and to not take life so seriously. Some will try, as well, to get us to compromise our faith in order to not offend people with the gospel, and they will attempt to convince us to “stay in our lane” and to not be concerned about others.

And, so, we will call out to God in prayer, seeking him for guidance, counsel, wisdom, strength, courage, and determination to stand on the Word of Truth, and to not give way to pressure from the enemy to cave in. We will pray for God’s spiritual protection over our lives, and we will trust him to watch over us, and to carry us through every difficult situation we face. We will trust in his sovereignty, and surrender to his will, and believe that He has a plan and a purpose for it all, and that he will supply all we need to endure and to persevere. As well, we will look forward to our future hope in eternity with God, when we know that all this evil will be done away with, and we will live in perfect peace with our Lord, free from all threats.

Soul Among Lions (vv. 4-6)

My soul is among lions;
I must lie among those who breathe forth fire,
Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows
And their tongue a sharp sword.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
They have prepared a net for my steps;
My soul is bowed down;
They dug a pit before me;
They themselves have fallen into the midst of it. Selah.

Yet, while we still walk the face of this earth, we will have trouble and hardship. When Jesus sent out his disciples to minister to people’s needs and to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, he told them he was sending them out like sheep among wolves. He warned them that they would be handed over to the courts and scourged in their synagogues. He said that brother would betray brother to death, and that they would be hated because of the name of Jesus. Yet, they were not to fear their persecutors. What Jesus told them in the darkness, they were to speak in the light, and what he whispered in their ears, they were to proclaim upon the housetops. Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” [See: Matthew 10.]

Yes, we will be persecuted for our faith and for the sake of the name of Jesus and his gospel. Some of us may be severely beaten, tortured, imprisoned, starved, and killed for our faith. Others of us may face ridicule, betrayal, hatred, false accusations, gossip, mistreatment, mockery, rejection, being ostracized and otherwise cast aside or ignored. Yet, the message to us is still the same. We should not fear what man might do to us, but we must put our faith and trust in the sovereignty of God. These persecutions should only serve to drive us to call on God in our suffering, to make us even more determined in our walks of faith, and to inspire us to keep sharing Jesus Christ with the world so that many will be saved.

Heart is Steadfast (vv. 7-11)

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your truth to the clouds.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.

In all our sufferings and persecutions, thus, we must have steadfastness of heart, and not give way to fear. We must be unwavering, persistent, and committed to our Lord, to his service, and to his gospel, despite what others do to us, for God is in control. He will see us through, and one day he will take us safely home to be with him forever if we continue in Him to the end.

One of the ways in which the Lord helps me when my heart is troubled is that he puts songs in my mind which counsel me, encourage me, and which strengthen me in my faith, but which also give praise and thanks to God for his many blessings to me. We get down sometimes because we lose focus on Jesus Christ and we get our eyes on our circumstances, instead. So, singing songs of praise, worship and of spiritual encouragement help to lift our spirits and to get us refocused on Jesus and what is eternal, rather than on what is temporal. God has a reason for all that he allows into our lives, so we need to trust him, rest in him, and believe him to accomplish his purposes in and through our lives and through our times of trouble, too. When we do, his peace and calm assurance floods our souls. All is well!

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting
Jean Sophia Pigott

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

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

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

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

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

We Serve Him

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

Bless the Lord (vv. 1-5)

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

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

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

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

Those Who Fear Him (vv. 11-14)

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

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

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

We Who Serve Him (vv. 19-22)

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

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

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

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.