Tested by Fire

Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, I Need You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1 (Select vv. NASB).

His Great Mercy (vv. 3-5)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

When we are all born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, having come up short of attaining his divine approval (Ro. 3:23; Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49). So, God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, to take on human flesh, and to die on a cross for our sins. Thus, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (2 Co. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). And, when the Father resurrected his Son from the dead, Jesus rose victorious over sin, hell and death in order that we might live with him and to his holiness and goodness.

So, when we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to new life (born again) in Him, in which we were created to be like God (Christ-like) in true righteousness and holiness. Righteousness is what is deemed right in God’s eyes. It is what is pure, holy, godly, upright, moral, honest and honorable. It is the opposite of sin, which includes such things as hatred, idolatry, spiritual or physical adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, murder, lust, and immorality, etc. And, holiness is being separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being transformed in Christ’s likeness, of the Spirit of God.

But, our salvation has only begun when we believe in Jesus Christ, for it is a lifetime process of being saved (sanctified) and then, when Jesus Christ returns for his bride, our salvation will be complete. While we live in these flesh bodies, we will still be tempted to sin, but Jesus made the way of escape for us out from underneath the temptation so that we don’t have to give in to sin. For, we are no longer under its control once we give our lives to Jesus, because Jesus set us free. Amen! And, one day Jesus will return, and he will take us to be with him forever, and then we will no longer be tempted to sin or be sick or have pain or sorrow, for he will wipe away all the tears from our eyes.

Various Trials (vv. 6-9)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

We all go through trials, at times. Some of them are small and some are very big. Some are extended, while others are short lived. I have been going through a series of them, of late. They are not huge, but are trying just the same. It began with a recent development of a skin allergic reaction to cold. Then, when we had our new patient visits with our new doctor after moving here over a month ago, and I told him about it, he just wanted me to take an antihistamine for it, even though I told him I have been pharmaceutical drug dependent free for about 10 years now. So, he mocked me. But, I stood my ground against his insistence that drugs were my “savior.”

And, then he said I looked anemic, so he took blood, and the blood test showed I had low vitamin B-12, but I don’t take vitamins, either, because of bad reactions to them. But then I thought maybe if I could find something all natural that it would work. And I did, so I thought, but when I sprayed the first spray in my mouth my tongue swelled and my throat began to close up, which is a serious reaction (side effect), plus I got a headache and nerve pains, which is often my body’s reaction to drugs. The Lord, after I had taken this, warned me, I believe, of the dangers of this, so I stopped.

During all of this I was also constipated, and no foods or drinks I was taking in to help with that were working, so I was miserable. On top of this I had some kind of skin rash or something on my thigh, so I started putting Vaseline on that, and it is much improved. But, then we went away for the weekend, and we stayed in a hotel, and there were bad issues with the first 2 rooms they gave us, but the third one finally worked for us. Then, I got 3 bug bites in a cluster on my chest, over my heart, which were reminiscent of when we got bed bugs nearly a year ago to date (we had those for about a month then). Now, 3 days later, the recent bites (source unknown) are still there, but they are disappearing. And, then yesterday, when I was getting out of my car to get the mail, my foot caught in my purse and I took a fall down on the pavement. But, by the grace of God I was not seriously injured.

By the grace of God, as well, I have been able to bear up under these trials and not let them undo me. I have been daily committing myself and these situations to the Lord, praying for help and healing, and for much needed wisdom, and the Lord has been seeing me through them all, and other trials, too. He has been giving me grace to make it, to keep trusting him, and to keep smiling and singing despite the pain and misery associated with any of them. I believe God is absolutely sovereign over my life, and that he has allowed these trials to come into my life as a way both to test me, and also to mature and to strengthen me in my faith and in my resolve to make him my only Lord and Savior. When we go through such trials, they teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves. We learn that our dependency must be in Christ alone, and not in humans or in drugs, or in anything else but God.

Prepare Your Minds (vv. 13-16)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

So, because of all that Jesus Christ has done for us, in dying for our sins, in freeing us from slavery (addiction) to sin, and in giving us new lives in him, and because he is our helper, strength, counselor and guide, we should commit our all to him. We must lay aside all which hinders our walks of faith and that which leads us into sin, so that we can run the spiritual race he has marked out for each of us to run. And, then we must put on our spiritual armor daily with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and schemes against us (Eph. 6:10-20).

What this means for us, in all practicality, is that we have to stop entertaining ourselves with the sins and trappings of this world, and we have to bathe our minds and hearts with the things of God – His Word, His Spirit, His Truth, and with His righteousness, goodness and holiness. And, then we have to obey what His Word teaches us, not merely being hearers of the Word only, but doers (See: Jas. 1). And, we should not live for the pleasures of this sinful world, but for the glory and praise of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Again, we are to be separate (unlike, different) from the world (holy) because we are being made to be like Jesus.

We need to take this to heart and not take God’s grace to us for granted, for if we continue in sin (in practice, in lifestyle) we don’t have that hope of heaven, but a fearful expectation of judgment. So, don’t be led astray.

Lord, I Need You
Songwriters: Christy Nockels / Daniel Carson /
Jesse Reeves / Kristian Stanfill / Matt Maher

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness…

 

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Good Conduct

Saturday, September 16, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 3 (ESV).

We Who Teach (vv. 1-5a)

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

Not many Christians should become teachers of the Word of God. This is not something we should do lightly, or just because someone asked us to do it, or because we just like to hear ourselves talk. We should also not become teachers just because we have biblical knowledge, or because we might be gifted with words, in the natural, or because we think the position will gain us some kind of prominence or popularity. We should only become teachers of the Word because we are called of God to teach, and because we are trusting in him to give us the words he wants us to say. In other words, teaching the Word of God should be a calling of God, and led of the Spirit, and it should be practiced in complete submission to the Spirit of God.

Even at that, i.e. even when we are called of God and submitted to his purposes, we are still humans living in flesh bodies, and we will stumble, at times, for we are not yet perfect, although we are being perfected (made holy), and we are being conformed into the image of Christ (See: Phil. 3:12-16). Yet, this should never be used as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. Many professing Christians continue to live as though they have never been delivered from slavery (addiction) to sin, and then they excuse it away with “I am not perfect.” May that never be! May we always strive toward maturity in Christ Jesus, holiness, and godliness, in the power of God’s Spirit now at work in our hearts and lives, and for the glory of God!

If we do stumble (sin), particularly in our speech, we should humble ourselves before God and others, admit our wrong, and then seek God’s guidance in turning away from that wrong, and doing what is right.

Tongue a Fire (vv. 5b-12)

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

I think all of us can attest to the truths presented to us in this passage of scripture, with regard to our tongues (our speech). Yet, the tongue, itself, is not the real culprit, for the Bible teaches us that it is out of our hearts that our mouths speak (See: Matt. 15:18-19). In other words, if we want to tame our tongues, we must first deal with what is in our hearts. If in our hearts we are storing up hatred, envy, strife, murder, jealousy, unforgiveness, malice and bitterness of spirit, these are what will come out of our mouths, particularly when we are put under pressure. So, we must willingly yield these things over to God, let go of all wrong attitudes, and replace them with godly thinking and attitudes, and with love for our fellow humans.

Yet, I believe it goes back even one more step further, and this has to do with what we are willfully and knowingly allowing or are taking into our hearts and minds on a daily basis. You have heard the saying, “Garbage in; garbage out,” most probably. It is true. If what we are consuming on a daily basis is rage, pornography, nudity, disrespect towards others, devaluing of people, murder, envy, strife, mocking of others, humor at others’ expense, immorality, sexual perversion, adultery, cheating, and lying, etc., this is what our minds will think on, and this is what will influence our heart attitudes, and this is what will spew forth from our mouths, too.

So, we need to make certain that daily we are taking into our minds and hearts what is godly, holy, righteous, and pure, etc., and that we are applying these right thoughts and attitudes and behaviors to our daily lives. And, we need to put off (or out of our lives) all that is ungodly, unholy, impure and unrighteous, including what we take into our minds via outside influences, as well as any wrong attitudes which we willingly dwell upon. And, we need to let go of all that is evil, and allow God to fill our minds and lives with his peace, holiness and righteousness. Then, our tongues should follow suit.

Who is Wise? (vv. 13-18)

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Do we think we are wise and understanding, and that we have much knowledge, especially with regards to Biblical knowledge and understanding? Then, we need to show it by our good conduct in all meekness and gentleness of spirit. Words can be cheap if they are not followed up with or supported by our actions. If we say we love God, or that we have fellowship with him, but we continue in willful sin against him, we are liars, not truth tellers. If we claim to love God, and to worship him, but we don’t do what he says, in daily practice, we don’t really love him or know him, the Bible says. So, true knowledge and wisdom is not in what we know, in our heads, but it is in what we do with what we know, because it is now applied to our hearts.

We also need to be people who live by the truth, and who are not hypocritical. We should never pretend to be more than we are, or act as though we are living beyond where we are living. We should not make an appearance (act) of godliness while we deny its power in our lives via willful sins against God. We should always be truth tellers, but to speak the truth in love, not in brashness and rudeness and in order to willfully bring hurt to others unnecessarily. In other words, I recognize that sometimes the truth hurts, and we can’t avoid all that, for it is often necessary for true healing to take place. The gospel is truth, but it offends many people, because they do not want to conform their lives to Christ or to his gospel. Yet, we must share the truth of the gospel, because it means salvation for many lost souls.

Thus, wisdom can be godly and it can be earthly. It can be of God, or it can be of the devil. Truth can be for our good, or it be to cause harm. If we preach one thing, but practice another, we do more harm than good. So, we must test our hearts, our attitudes, and our behaviors against the truth of God’s Word, get rid of all which defiles us, and cling to what is good. Make sure, in our teaching, that our motives are pure and godly, and that we are not being hypocritical in our teaching because we profess one thing while we secretly are engaged in willful and continued (addictive) sins against God. If God puts his finger on areas of our lives where we need to repent of sin and follow him in obedience, then we need to obey, and not resist him.

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.

 

Run to God

Friday, September 8, 2017, 6:37 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Cry for Mercy.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 143 (ESV).

Our Prayers (vv. 1-4)

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a shared enemy, who is Satan. His goal is to destroy us or to reform us to his ways, which also destroys us. The closer we walk with the Lord, and the greater impact we have for Jesus Christ in the lives of others, the stronger the opposition is against us. But, Satan does not act alone. He has a myriad of demons and humans who serve him, and who do his bidding, and they, too, will come against us to try to kill us, one way or another.

They will try to discourage and dishearten us, in hopes we will give up, or they will try to sully our reputations so that people will not listen to us. Or, they will attempt to trick, deceive, shame and persuade us into abandoning our commitments to Christ Jesus, and to forsaking the sharing of his gospel of salvation with others. Or, they will lock us up, drug us up, or do whatever they know how to do to hinder us from sharing the gospel, for that is their ultimate goal, to keep the gospel of Jesus Christ from spreading further, in hopes people will not turn their hearts over to our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, when the enemy is coming strong against us, we need to look up. We need to not let him get the best of us, but we must keep our eyes firmly focused on Jesus Christ and the hope we have in him. Just because things look bad, in the light of this world, it does not mean God or his plans have changed or that he has abandoned us. He will never leave or forsake those who are truly his, and he will work all things for good for us who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose.

Thirst for Him (vv. 5-8)

5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

7 Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

I think that, sometimes, when things get bad in the present, we have a tendency to forget all the times previously when God brought us through difficult circumstances. That is one of the reasons it is good to journal, or to make notes in our Bibles or somewhere that we can refer back to, so when things get tough, and our hearts begin to fail, we can look back and see how God moved in our lives before, and then it encourages and strengthens our hearts in the present. Many times I have read through previous journals and have just wept when I read how God ministered to my heart at another time when I was going through a time of trouble, and it just blessed my heart.

When we go through tough times, though, it has a way of drawing us to our Father’s bosom. When things are going well for us, we may have a tendency to get lazy or apathetic about our relationship with God, and to, perhaps, drift from our pure devotion to him. So, he allows us to go through difficulties, trials and tribulations so that we will call on him, and so we will draw closer to him, and so we mature in our walks of faith with him, and we learn greater dependency on him. It is for our good that he disciplines us, in other words, in order that we may share in his holiness, and so that it might produce a harvest of his righteousness in our lives (See: Heb. 12:1-11).

On Level Ground (vv. 9-12)

9 Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
I have fled to you for refuge.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.

It is good for us to be afflicted that we might learn his commands (Ps. 119:71). We often learn more through suffering, concerning following our Lord in obedience, than we ever learn when life is going forward without even a bump in the road. Jesus, who was/is God, and who was perfect (sinless), learned obedience through the things he suffered. So, how much more should we, mere humans, learn through the times of testing we go through how to follow our Lord in surrender to his will for our lives.

So, when we go through suffering, we should call on God, and we should ask him to teach us what we need to learn through our time of testing, instead of always wanting to be rescued out of it. If we are rescued too soon, we may not learn what we need for walking closer to our Lord, and for knowing his will for our lives. I think, as Americans, that we often miss out on all God has for us because we are prone more towards trying to relieve our suffering rather than learning what God has to teach us through it. I am all for relief, don’t get me wrong, but we should not so easily look for quick fixes that we miss the blessings God has for us in the process.

We should want (desire) to know and to do the will of God more than we want instantaneous relief from pain and difficulties. Too many people run to drugs for relief and never run to God. Or, they try to escape their pain in other ways, rather than trusting the Lord to see them through and to bring healing to their bodies, minds and hearts. So, if you are going through a tough time right now, seek God with all your heart. Ask him to teach you his way, that you may walk in it. Ask him to give you an undivided heart with which to serve him. Trust him to walk you through your circumstances, and believe him to accomplish his good for you through what you are experiencing. And, then believe him to fill you with his peace and joy.

My Cry for Mercy
An Original Work / October 31, 2013

Based off Psalm 86

Hear my prayer, Lord, I am needy.
Guard my life, for I’m devoted to You.
Save me! I’m Your servant.
You are my God. I trust in You.

O, Lord, have mercy on me,
For I call to You.
Bring joy to me, for to You
I will lift up my soul.

You are giving and forgiving.
You abound in love to all who
Call upon You. Hear my prayer, Lord.
Listen to my cry for mercy.

In days of trouble I call to You,
Knowing that You will
Do marvelous things,
Because You are my God.

Teach me Your way; I’ll walk in it.
In Your truth, Lord, You will guide me.
A pure heart, Lord, You will give me,
So that I may glorify You.

Turn to me, Lord, and grant
Strength to Your servant.
O, Lord, You are my help,
For You love and You comfort me.

Teach me Your way; I’ll walk in it.
In Your truth, Lord, You will guide me.
A pure heart, Lord, You will give me,
So that I may glorify You.

Our Merciful God

Thursday, August 24, 2017, 4:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 116 (Select vv. ESV).

Deliver My Soul! (vv. 1-4)

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

We are able to love God only because God first loved us. We did nothing to earn or to deserve his love, for even while we were dead in our sins, Jesus Christ died on a cross to deliver us out of slavery to sin. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to him.

Thus, we love the Lord because of his great love for us and for all that he did for us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to the earth to die for our sins, and to be resurrected from the dead victorious (triumphant) over our sins. We love him, too, because he heard our cries for mercy when we were dead in our sins, and he saved us out of bondage to sin. And, he continues to deliver us from all that would hold us captive, or that would bring us down (low), when we call on him in truth, and when we accept his help and his guidance.

The Lord is Gracious (vv. 5-9)

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.

While we are still in these flesh bodies, and we live on this earth, we will have trials, tribulations, heartaches, disappointments, pain, and sorrow, etc. We will have friends and loved ones who will abandon us, either physically or emotionally, or who will get ill and die, or we will face much persecution and rejection, even from those within the gatherings of the church. Or, we will experience financial troubles, loss of jobs, sickness, and death of children, etc. We will also be tempted of Satan to sin against God, and so we will have to resist him, flee the temptation, and draw near to God.

When we go through difficult times, we may be like Peter, and we may get our eyes off of Jesus and on to the waves (difficult circumstances) splashing all around us, and we may begin to sink. But, when we cry out to God in our distress, he will lift us up, if we will let him. And, I say “if” because many people will call on God for help, but then they will not accept his help, but will continue to go their own way. They may say “help,” but then they are not willing to let go of their problems and to put their complete faith and trust in God for him to work it all out according to his will, and for their good. So, we have to not only desire his help, but we have to cooperate with the help he gives us, and follow his lead, and his will, and in his way.

Your Servant (vv. 15-19)

Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.
O Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, 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. The old has gone. The new has come. We are born again of the Spirit of God, and our lives are transformed away from living for sin and self to living for God and for his righteousness and holiness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Jn. 3:1-21; Acts 26:16-18).

When Jesus walked the face of this earth, he talked much about the cost of following him. He said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose our lives for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life with God. Paul reiterated these words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, that we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (sin), that we are liars (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

Basically, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we (our flesh) dies with Christ so that he might live his life now out through us (Gal. 2:20). Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ. So, we are to honor God with our lives (with our bodies). Now Jesus is our Lord (owner-master), and we are his bondservants. Now we are under obligation, but not to live according to the flesh, but to walk according to the Spirit in the power of the Spirit now living within us. We are to live lives worthy of Jesus Christ and of his gospel, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship of him. And, we are to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed in the renewing of our minds of the Spirit.

And, we are to follow the Lord Jesus wherever he leads us, and to do whatever he has called us to do, no matter where that takes us or the cost involved. For, we were not put on this earth for our own pleasure, but to live holy lives pleasing unto God, and to do his will, and for his purposes, and for his glory and honor and praise.

Lord, Move Me / An Original Work / October 16, 2011

Be my desire, my heart set on fire,
Lord, move me to worship You only, I pray.
Fill with Your Spirit, my heart overflow.
Lord, may I long for You; Your word to know.
Teach me to walk with You, Lord, in Your power,
And may I serve You, Lord, right now in this hour.

Lord, how I want to obey You forever.
Help me to hear You, Lord, so I will not stray.
Teach me to love You; adore You always.
Envelope me, Lord, with Your grace today.
Meet me in my need, and show me Your mercy.
Forgive me for all things, as I humbly pray.

Counsel me, lead me, direct me, and guide me,
So I follow You, Lord, where’er You lead now.
I love to hear You speak Your words to me.
I am so grateful that You set me free.
Wash me, and cleanse me, and make me like You, Lord,
And I will live with You for eternity.

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