Buy and Eat

Thursday, October 5, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Our God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 55 (Select vv. ESV).

Listen Diligently (vv. 1-3a)

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live.

I use to eat just about anything. I have never been a big eater, though, at least not by American standards. But, I ate burgers, fries, chocolate candy, and cookies, and I drank sodas, milk shakes and sweet tea, etc. Unless something made me sick, or unless I just didn’t care for the taste of it, I was ok with eating it. Yet, I did eat vegetables, and I ate fruit occasionally, and I mostly avoided fried foods and preferred grilled, but I was not a gung-ho health conscience person. It wasn’t the way I was raised. I ate food in moderation, and I did try somewhat to eat healthy, but I ate a lot of stuff that was bad for me, too, but I just didn’t realize how bad it was for me.

Occasionally I would have a problem with acid reflux, and then I would change my eating habits for a while, until I got better, and then I would go back to eating normally, well normal for me, that is. And, then one day I finally came to the realization that I had to drastically change my physical health lifestyle and my eating habits. I believe the Lord brought me to that realization through pain. Pain is a great motivator. It gets us to do things we probably would not do otherwise, like exercise as much as we should. So, now I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, some meat, fish, bread, and cereal. But, I don’t count every calorie, and I don’t read every label, yet I am eating what I know is good for me, and I am mostly avoiding what is bad for me. And, I am getting in lots of exercise, too. And, overall I feel much healthier.

Well, this passage of scripture is not talking about physical thirst and hunger, but it is talking about spiritual thirst and hunger, but there are many parallels between the two, which is why I just shared what I did. We are born into this world with sin natures, with an insatiable hunger for what can never satisfy the deep longings of our souls, and so we try to fill that hunger with all kinds of stuff from this world, thinking if we just have this or that, that we will be happier, or if we can just accomplish this or that, that we will be fulfilled. And, we go a lot by our emotions, and by what makes us feel good. But, the happiness and the fulfillment are fleeting, and often, what we choose to fill that hunger with only makes matters worse, and only digs the cavity that is already in our hearts even deeper, and so we come up empty.

So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) 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. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, he invites us to believe in Jesus Christ, to die with him to sin, and to live with him to righteousness, but not in our own power and strength, but in the strength of the Lord who called us and who will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. So, when we fill our minds, hearts and lives with what is of God and with what is pleasing to him – what is pure, righteous and holy – and we forsake the bad stuff, i.e. what will only do damage to us spiritually, then we will be healthy spiritually, too.

Seek the Lord (vv. 6-9)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Are you familiar with the word “repent”? Well, it literally means to have a change of mind, but in the context of scripture, it is most always used in the context of changing our minds about sin and about God by forsaking our lifestyles of living for sin and self and choosing, instead, to now live for Jesus Christ and to walk in obedience to him in his holiness, and in the power of the Spirit of God now living within us. Jesus said we must repent, as did his apostles, if we want to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God.

Jesus said, in fact, that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, and 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) that we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin and self), for his sake, that we will gain eternal life with him. And, the Apostle Paul reiterated this message when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh (sin), we will die in our sins, but if we walk according to the Spirit, and if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, that we will live with Christ for eternity (Lu. 9:23-26; Ro. 8:1-17).

Know His Word (vv. 10-11)

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s Word is found in the Bible (Genesis to Revelation), yet, as believers in Jesus Christ, we also have the Living Word abiding within us, and God’s Spirit teaching us all that Jesus ever taught his disciples, and instructing us in all things of God. So, this is where we learn what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ, and what God expects of his followers, and also how to live this newfound Christian life. We learn to know God and his character and his will for all of our lives when we read His Word and when we listen to His Spirit speaking God’s eternal truths to our hearts and minds, and then as we obey and we do what his Word teaches us.

As Christ’s followers, we are to spread the Word of God and his gospel of salvation to the people of this world, so that many more can come to faith in Jesus Christ, too. Plus, we are to instruct one another and encourage one another in the faith so that we are not led astray, and so we don’t fall into sin, but so we grow in maturity and holiness in our walks of faith in Christ. But, sometimes we may not see results for the seed that we sow into people’s lives, so this serves as an encouragement to us that God’s Word will not return empty, but it will accomplish what he purposed, and it will succeed in the thing for which he sent it. We just have to be patient. People’s hearts will be changed, we just have to give it time, and keep believing in the power of God to transform human minds and hearts.

Peace and Joy (vv. 12-13)

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

This is a wonderful stanza to end on. Although there are many right now who have not yet trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord, and as Savior of their lives, many still will, and when they do, they will go forth in peace and joy because Jesus set them free, not just from the punishment of sin, but from slavery (addiction) to sin! Amen! In fact, it so glorious when sinners turn from their wicked ways, and when they turn to walk with Jesus, in surrender to his will for their lives, that creation rejoices with them. And, we should rejoice, too! For, it is an awesome thing to be delivered out of slavery to sin and to be brought into God’s wonderful kingdom, and to now walk with Him in freedom from sin, and in freedom to now live in his holiness and righteousness.

Our God / Chris Tomlin / Jesse Reeves
Jonas Myrin / Matt Redman

Our God is greater; our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?

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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…

 

Holy and Beloved

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

Things Above (vv. 1-4)

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

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

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

Dead to Immorality (vv. 5-11)

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

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

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

Put on Love (vv. 12-17)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Instructions for Life

Monday, September 25, 2017, 4:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Near the Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 2 (Select vv. ESV).

To Know Him (vv. 1-6)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

It is God’s will that we not sin, which is why Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. So, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are set free from slavery (addiction) to sin so that we can now become bond-servants of his righteousness. Now we no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and in the power and strength of God’s Spirit now living within us (Ro. 8:1-17).

Yet, this is not to say that we will never sin again. We probably will, at one time or another. But, sin should no longer be our practice, for Satan no longer has a hold on our lives, for Jesus set us free from his control. But, if we do sin, this also does NOT mean that we are now back under condemnation, for Jesus provided the way for us to come out from under that condemnation via his blood shed on the cross for our sins. So, if we do sin, we repent of our sin, and we continue to walk in Christ’s holiness. God will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him.

Yet, if we continue walking in sin, and we make sin our practice, and we don’t practice obedience, holiness, godliness and righteousness, then we don’t know God, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, even if we prayed the sinner’s prayer and felt as though we received Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives. True faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin and living to God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

Love and Hate (vv. 7-11)

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Not only do we NOT have the hope of eternal life if we practice sinning and if we don’t walk in obedience to Christ’s commands, but we are still in darkness and without Christ if we profess to be in the light but we are actively hating our fellow humans or our fellow Christians. So, what is hate? Hate is the opposite of love. And, Christian love prefers what God prefers, it embraces God’s will, and it makes a practice of obeying God’s commands. Love, too, does no harm to its neighbors, but it is kind, thoughtful, forgiving, and giving of oneself to others’ needs. Hate is hostile, unforgiving, unkind, slanderous, harmful or wishing harm, backstabbing, and the like. It is especially egregious for a Christian to actively hate another Christian.

Don’t Love the World (vv. 15-17)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

The world we are NOT to love is NOT the people of the world, for God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Begotten Son to die on a cross for our sins, so that whoever is believing in him might have eternal life with God. The world we are NOT to love IS the world of sin, worldliness, wickedness, immorality, lust, hatred, violence, envy, and adultery, etc. We are not to love it, embrace it, agree with it, join in with it, become partakers of it, prefer it above all else, worship it, idolize it or be entertained by it. Our hearts, passion, desire, time, energies, thoughts and values should not be focused on what is worldly, fleshly and temporal, but they should be centered on God, His Word and his values, and on what has eternal value.

So, why do so many Christians (or professing Christians) spend so much of their waking hours, money, energies, passion and conversations on what is going to pass away, and on what has multiple elements of immorality, impurity and idolatry in the mix? Why is it that it appears so few professing Christians here in America make Christ, his Word, his morals, his thinking and his values the primary focus of their daily lives, 24/7? Why the discrepancy between their confession of faith in Christ and the reality of Christ being lived out in their daily lives? And, why is this considered the norm? And, if someone does truly follow Christ wholeheartedly, why are they are considered weird and abnormal? Something is wrong with this picture.

Do we not know that if we embrace the world of sin, make it our practice, idolize it, and give it our affections, passion, desire, minds and hearts, that we don’t have the love of the Father within us? And, do we not know that those who practice following God, and doing his will, are the ones who will abide with him forever? This world is not our home. We are just passing through. None of the things of this world should we idolize and make our gods, for they are not God, who is the ONLY one to whom we should give such adoration, value, esteem, respect, honor, praise, loyalty and devotion. We need to die to sin, self and to the world of sin and the things of this world, and we need to live for God, his gospel, his Word, his holiness and his righteousness, giving him our passion, desire, affections and obedience.

Near the Cross
Fanny J. Crosby / William H. Doane

Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

 

Choose Wisely

Friday, September 22, 2017, 2:52 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 3:14-22 (NASB).

Complacent (vv. 14-16)

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

Complacent – “marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies” (M-W).

The speaker is Jesus Christ. And, he is addressing his complacent church. They are neither totally indifferent to the Lord nor are they fully on fire (passionate, enthusiastic) for him. They are somewhere in between the two, fully content with mediocrity, self-absorption, and fundamentally unconcerned about their spiritual conditions or their relationships with the ONLY true God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are worldly, and are living not much different from those who make no profession to faith in Jesus Christ at all. And, they are followers of man more than they are followers of God; more caught up in forms of religion rather than having a passionate, faithful and vital relationship with their Lord, Savior and King.

The sad reality of it all, though, is that this type of Christianity is being encouraged and promoted in today’s modern churches. They are being taught that God does everything for us, and that nothing is required of us at all other than some non-descript “faith” in Jesus Christ, but not the kind of faith Jesus taught, or that his NT apostles taught. Some of their leaders even go so far as to discourage repentance and obedience to Christ, in order to appease human flesh, and to gain disciples after themselves. They want to make everyone feel good about themselves, even in their sins, and to not offend anyone with the truth, and so they lie to their congregations and they lead them to follow humans, and they encourage worldly living.

So, what we have are a whole lot of people who bear the name “Christian” but who don’t reflect Christ in their attitudes, actions or thinking, and who think God is ok with them being that way, because that is what is being modeled to them by many of their leaders. So, they may or may not spend any time in God’s Word or in prayer, throughout their day, and God may or may not get a bare acknowledgment from them, and their free time will often be spent doing what THEY want to do, and not what GOD has for them. And, many of them are convinced that their lives are their own to live how they want as long as they give God some of their time and offerings, and many of them, too, are engrossed in being entertained continuously.

Counsel (vv. 17-18)

Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

Counsel – recommend, advocate, encourage, guide, instruct, or warn; to give advice to (someone); to suggest or recommend (something) (M-W).

Jesus loves his church, even the church which is half-hearted in their devotion to him, or who have forsaken their first love, or who have a reputation of being alive but are mostly dead, etc. Yet, this does not mean he is ok with them remaining in those conditions, or that he doesn’t have something better and necessary for them, or that he won’t chastise them in order to move their hearts back to him in purity of love and devotion. He will! He said so, and he is true to his Word. So, he urges, counsels, encourages, teaches, and stimulates them towards what is good for them, and he warns them against what is bad for them, and in order to move them to repentance, to renewed faith in him, and to faithful and passionate obedience to him and to His Word.

The counsel here is basically for them to move from their self-sufficiency to finding their all-sufficiency in God alone. It is also to do a self-examination and to see their own spiritual condition through God’s eyes, and through the scope of God’s Word, rather than through the lens of human thinking and reasoning. They think they are ok just how they are, because their itching ears longed to hear smooth, pleasing messages which told them that they could continue in sin and still have the blessings of God in their lives. But, God is not ok with them continuing in a sinful course, and this kind of thinking isn’t reflective of what the Bible teaches, either. So, Jesus desires that they know what his Word teaches, and that they now obey it.

So, what is Jesus’ counsel to them, in reality? It is that they purify their hearts via repentance (turning from sin to God) and via obedience to him and to his commands, and that they walk (conduct their lives) in the Spirit and no longer according to (in agreement with) their flesh (sin natures). It is that they die daily to sin and self, and that they live to Christ and to his righteousness. And, it is that they make Jesus Christ truly Lord (owner-master) of their lives, and that they become his bond-servants. It is also that they now see life through God’s eyes and no longer through the eyes of humankind and the flesh, and that they follow what is truth and reject the lies and the deceptions of humans who would lead them astray.

Convince (vv. 19-22)

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Convince – to bring (as by argument) to belief, consent, or a course of action; to persuade (sway, convert, win over) (M-W).

This is a lot like a lawyer’s closing arguments where he must convince the jury to vote in favor of the verdict he proposed based upon the evidence he presented to them of the facts of the case. This is the turning point in the argument, where now a choice must be made, and a person’s future must be determined. Only, in this case, the ones being persuaded here to make a resolution are actually the ones on trial, and they must make the decision concerning their own destiny, whether or not they will choose to follow Jesus or shut the door in his face for eternity.

And, although Jesus is still being loving and gentle, he is warning them of the dangers of making the wrong choice. He is letting them know that he will chastise and reprove them, and so he urges them to turn from their sins of complacency, idolatry and spiritual adultery, and to return to him as their ONLY God and LORD. Although they have mostly rejected him and his Lordship over their lives, he has not rejected them. He is still calling out to them, still counseling, loving, urging and warning, and reminding them of what he did for them in dying on a cross so they could be free from sin. And, he is still inviting them into fellowship with him, if they will just open the doors of their hearts to him and let him be LORD of their lives.

And, so true to God, and to his nature, and to how he consistently has dealt with his rebellious children, down through the ages, he always offers the opportunity for restoration and renewal in relationship with him to the one who will turn from his sin and will turn to follow Jesus Christ with his or her life, and who will reject his or her idols to make Jesus his or her ONLY God. His message is most always to first confront us with our sins, then to warn of the consequences of our sin, then to call for repentance, and then to promise restoration and renewal for the penitent.

Yet, we must know here that if we choose to reject his voice, and to continue on our own course of living for sin and self, following after our own fleshly desires, while ignoring his counsel, that we won’t have the promise of heaven when we leave this earth, but a fearful expectation of eternal punishment in the fires of hell (Lu. 9:23-26; Ro. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:6). So, what will it be? Choose wisely, because your future depends on it.

Seek the Lord / An Original Work
July 20, 2012 / Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

The Three Ps

Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 4:47 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 5:1-12 (ESV).

Poor in Spirit (vv. 1-6)

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Happy or fortunate are we from having received God’s spiritual benefits and provisions to us as a result of his grace to us, by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for our sins, and through our believing heart response to Christ’s love and mercy to us. He demonstrated his love to us by dying on the cross for our sins even while we were still dead in our sins, so that we could go free from slavery to sin and have eternal life with God. Amen!

So, what should be our believing heart response to Christ’s love and mercy to us? We should humble ourselves before God with contrite (remorseful) hearts, confessing and repenting (turning away from) our sins. And, we should bow before him in humble submission to his will for our lives, making him Lord (owner-master) of our lives and us his bond-servants (slaves). We should take this attitude that our lives are no longer our own, to be lived how we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross for our sins, so we are to honor God with our lives.

Then, we should no longer live to please ourselves and to gratify the sinful cravings of our flesh, but now our lives should be lived for God, to walk in his ways, his truth, his holiness and his righteousness. In fact, serving God and obeying his will should be top priority in our lives. We should desire our Lord more than anything else, and want to please him in all that we do and say, rather than live our lives to be accepted by others. This means we don’t give God a small portion of our lives or our time or our talents and the rest is ours to do with what we want, but we submit ALL to him to follow him.

Pure in Heart (vv. 7-9)

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Whereas the first section of this writing dealt primarily with our relationship to God, this section deals primarily with our relationships with other human beings. We are blessed of God when we show others his mercy, for mercy will then be shown to us, perhaps in similar circumstances, and in similar ways. To show mercy is to be compassionate, kindhearted, sympathetic, forgiving and benevolent towards others, particularly as they are suffering or are in need. Yet, mercy never entails compromise of faith, tolerance (acceptance) of evil, or placating of (appeasing, pacifying) sin. For instance, it is never kind to lie to people or to withhold from them the truth in order to make them feel good about themselves in their sins.

For, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be pure in heart, not only in relationship to God, but in all our attitudes, thinking, desires, affections and actions towards others. To be pure in heart means to be unadulterated (untainted, unmixed) with the world, and with regard to sin, and within our whole being – mind, body and soul. This means that, in all our sympathy, compassion and kindness towards others that we exemplify purity (integrity, honor, decency, goodness, morality, and uprightness) and that we don’t use sympathy as an excuse to engage in sinful acts or to tolerate sin in others.

As well, people often confuse the terms “peacemaking” and “peacekeeping.” They are not one and the same. A peacekeeper is one who tries to keep peace – absence of conflict – at all costs, including the compromise of principle, truth, integrity, personal health and well-being, sanity, true conflict resolution, and sincerity (genuineness) in order to avoid conflict of any kind. This helps no one, it saves no one, and only serves to internalize anger and resentment within the mind and heart of the peacekeeper, and brings nothing to resolution.

Jesus Christ was a peacemaker, not a peacekeeper. He never compromised his faith and integrity for the sake of absence of conflict. In fact, he frequently incited conflict in order to bring about conflict resolution. He took head on the Pharisees and religious leaders of his day. He did not sugar-coat anything with them. He told them the truth about their wickedness and their hypocrisy, and this only angered them more. Yet, he did so because he cared about their sinful condition, and because he was concerned about the people whom they were leading astray, and so he brought these things to the surface so they could be dealt with, so that true peace could come to the hearts of his listeners, which is peace with God, forgiveness of sins, restoration with God, and true fellowship with Jesus Christ. Amen!

Persecuted for Christ (vv. 10-12)

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

When we are poor (humble) in spirit and pure (upright) in heart, in relation to God and in our dealings with others, and when we are Christ-like in being peacemakers, instead of being peacekeepers, we can expect to also be persecuted by those who do compromise with the world, and who do so in order to make “peace” with the world and to be accepted by everyone. For purity of heart and humbleness of spirit before God, and refusal to compromise faith and convictions, is not popular, and is often scorned and derided as being self-righteous, hateful, bigoted, and intolerant of others who are different from us. Yet, although we should be tolerant (patient, sympathetic, gracious and considerate) towards all people, we should never be tolerant (accepting, indulgent or lenient) towards sinful lifestyles.

Yet, when we are being persecuted (mistreated, abused, slandered) for doing what is right, and for standing on the Truth of God’s Word, we should rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ and for his gospel of salvation. For many people will say whatever people want to hear because they want to be liked by them, and they call that being kind, but lies are never kind. Lies send people straight to hell. People may hate and persecute you in this life for telling them the truth of the gospel, but if later they respond positively to that truth, they will thank you in eternity for helping to save their souls and to lead them to eternal life with God.

So, don’t be ashamed of Christ or his gospel, or be afraid of what people might do to you, but keep on sharing the gospel, for many need to hear the truth, and, if not now, later they will thank you for it. So, be bold, be strong, be courageous, and be pure in heart and walk in love, and do not be afraid.

Trust Him / An Original Work
August 15, 2012 / Based off Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.

God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.

Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.

 

United by Faith

Monday, September 11, 2017, 5:01 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Lord’s Anointed.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 4:1-13 (NASB).

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,

“As I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest,”

although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,

“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Entering His Rest

To whom are these words addressed? They are addressed to all those who make a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, who are regarded as being in the faith (See: Heb. 3:1, 12). We are being warned and cautioned against ignoring God’s Words, against hardening our hearts, and against having sinful unbelieving hearts that turn away from the living God. And, we are being strongly exhorted to keep our thoughts focused on Jesus, to encourage one another daily, and with the understanding that if we hold firmly to the end the faith we profess, then we share in Christ, and we are God’s house, the body of Christ, his church (See: Heb. 3:1-19).

So, what is God’s rest that we are to enter? It is our salvation, it is eternal life with God, and it is the promise of eternity with God in heaven. It is life in the Spirit, and fullness of life in Christ Jesus, our Lord. And, it is freedom from bondage to sin, deliverance from the punishment of sin, and freedom to walk (in lifestyle) in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. As well, it is victory over darkness, and walking in the Light of Christ and His Word. For, our eternal life with God begins when we first trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, as well as it is what we receive when our lives on this earth are done (Jn. 3:36; Jn. 5:24; Jn. 6:47-54; Ro. 6:22-23; Gal. 6:8).

Coming Up Short

So, if we believe in Jesus Christ, how is it that we can come up short of entering into God’s eternal rest? Well, for one, our belief in Jesus Christ may be superficial and not genuine faith, for it may be based in a lie, and not in the truth. For, we may have had “good news” preached to us, but it may not be the “Good News” according to Jesus and His Word, but rather a diluted version introduced by humans whose goal it is to appease human flesh.

So, we must understand here what the real “Good News” is. First off, it is not merely an escape from punishment in hell and the promise of heaven when we die. It is not merely forgiveness of our sins, either. It is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It is that we need to have our spiritually blinded eyes opened to the truth, that we may be turned from darkness (sin) to the light (truth, righteousness), and from the power (control) of Satan over our lives, to God to walk in his holiness. Then, we can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ, their Lord (1 Pet. 2:24; Acts 26:16-18).

In other words, coming to faith in Jesus Christ is not a mere acknowledgment of him and what he did in dying on a cross for our sins, or a mere acceptance of his grace and his forgiveness of our sins. When we genuinely believe in Jesus Christ, we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness. Our lives are no longer our own to be lived how we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Christ, so we are to honor God with our lives. We now no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our flesh, but we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit of God and his righteousness and holiness.

For, if we walk according to our flesh, or if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will die in our sins, and not have eternal life with God. If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars, in fact. And, if we continue and persist in sinful practices, we do not have the hope of eternal life with God, as we might have come to believe, but, instead, a fearful expectation of judgment (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

Failure to Enter

So, what is the determining factor as to whether we have eternal life with God or we don’t? It all comes down to obedience. So many people today are teaching a gospel message absent of obedience to Christ, and thus they are leading their adherents straight to hell. For, they tell them or they lead them to believe that God requires no repentance, no obedience and no submission to himself or to his cross, but that goes against what the Bible teaches us. If we do not die to sin, we do not live with Christ. And, if we don’t obey him, we don’t know him, we don’t love him, and we don’t have eternal life in him (See: Jn. 8:51; Jn. 14:23-24; Heb. 5:9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; 1 Jn. 3:24; 2 Jn. 1:6).

Many people try to get around this by claiming that this is works-based salvation, but that isn’t true, because Jesus taught it, and his NT apostles taught it, and they didn’t teach works-based salvation. We don’t obey God and his Word to earn or to deserve our salvation, but we obey, in the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us, as a result of our salvation. Yet, obedience is not optional! Again, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This is the essence of the gospel message, which is taught throughout the New Testament, and in the Old Testament, as well.

If we want to enter into God’s rest, i.e. if we want to have eternal life with God in heaven, then we need to walk in obedience to our Lord, not necessarily in sinless perfection (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but in consistent and persistent walks of faith in Christ and in his Word, and in His power and strength within us. If we choose to walk in disobedience, instead, and to gratify our sinful cravings by living sinful lifestyles and by practicing sin, then we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God.

These are not my words! These are the Words of God! The whole purpose of our salvation is to deliver us out of slavery (addiction) to sin, not to placate sin or to entertain it, or to endorse it, or to pacify it in any way, shape or form. So, if you are playing with sin, thinking you have the hope of heaven, and that God’s grace covers it all, think again. God has the final word!

The Lord’s Anointed

An Original Work / December 16, 2011

Based off Isaiah 61

The Spirit of the Sov’reign Lord on me;
Anointed to preach the Good News;
Sent me to bind up the brokenhearted;
Proclaim freedom for the captives.
He sent me to preach release for pris’ners
Who are walking in sin’s darkness;
Proclaim God’s grace to all men who’ll listen;
And tell them about God’s judgments;
Comfort all who mourn;
Give crowns of beauty;
Oil of gladness and thanksgiving.

They will be called oaks of God’s righteousness,
A planting of our Savior, God,
For the display of our Lord’s splendor, and
They will rebuild God’s holy church.
God will renew them, and will restore them,
And you’ll be called priests of the Lord.
You will be ministers of our God, and
You will rejoice in salvation.
The Lord loves justice;
He is faithful to
Reward those who are seeking Him.

I delight greatly in the Lord;
My soul rejoices in my Savior, God.
He has clothed me with His salvation,
And in a robe of His righteousness.
He has given me priestly garments to
Wear, as the bride of Jesus Christ.
As the garden of our Lord and Savior,
He causes us to grow in Him.
He makes righteousness,
Praise, and thanksgiving
Spring up before all the nations.