Cry for Help

Sunday, August 6, 2017, 3:34 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “All Through the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 34 (Select vv. ESV).

All My Fears (vv. 4-7)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

This passage of scripture has a special place in my heart. I was abused as a child. My father was a big bully who picked on those weaker than him. He was mean and hateful, and physically and emotionally abusive. I was very much afraid of my dad, and I avoided him as much as was possible. And, in those days they did not have child protective services like they do today. And, no one counseled us in how to deal with the abuse or the pain we were feeling deep inside, and so all those emotions got stuffed. Yet, I prayed often to the Lord, and I did experience his comfort, yet I did not know that, by stuffing those emotions, I had built a wall of fear around myself.

Then, one day it all came to a head, but to make a long story short, I went to my best friend to ask for help. She didn’t know how to help me, either, but she did not give up, and I didn’t either, and then it was as though a light bulb turned on inside her head and she said she knew what my problem was. She said it was a spirit of fear. I asked if God could deliver me, and she said “Yes.” I asked if we could pray, and she said “Yes.” And, when we prayed I physically felt the weight leave my shoulders, and my countenance did change, and I had a smile on my face, and my face was radiant and no longer covered with fear (shame). Praise God!

I wish I could say that I never struggled with fear ever again, but that would be a lie. God had delivered me out of my troubles, but throughout much of my life Satan would try as best as he knew how to try to get me to be afraid again, and sometimes he was successful, when I caved to my circumstances rather than me trusting the Lord. But, God has been faithful, as he always is, and he has delivered me time and time again as I have faced many “giants” in my life, and he has safely brought me through to victory. Amen!

Fear the Lord (vv. 8-14)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

This word translated as “fear” in English can have at least two meanings. One is to be afraid, such as what I described in the section above, but the other is to show respect, honor, esteem, value, and reverence. We are not to fear people or our circumstances, in the sense of lacking faith in God and being afraid of what will happen. But, we are to fear God, yet in the sense of showing him honor, respect and reverence by following him and obeying him despite our circumstances or how other humans may treat us.

When we walk in the fear of the Lord, we honor him with our lives by submitting to his Lordship over our lives and by following him wherever he leads us, but not just physically, but with our whole being – with our attitudes, actions, words, thoughts and behaviors. We are committed to him and to his service, and we take him and his Word very seriously, and to heart, to follow him in obedience. He is truly our owner-master and we are his bondservants, and our lives belong to him, and are no longer our own to do with what we want. He is the one who now directs our steps, and our desire and passion are for him, and not for the things of this world.

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 (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). Yet, it doesn’t end there. We are delivered out of slavery to sin so that we can now become slaves of his righteousness. Now we no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, but now according to the Spirit of God. We are not only made righteous, but now we live righteously.

The Righteous Cry (vv. 15-18)

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, and we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we now live to his righteousness, and we walk in the fear of the Lord, other humans will hate us, reject us, and will persecute us for our faith and commitments to Christ. Yet, we are not to fear what other humans may do to us, or what difficult circumstances we may yet encounter. But, we are to trust the Lord in all things, believing that he is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made, and that he has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows into our lives. He will carry us through it all, and he will give us all we need to endure, to persevere, and to keep following him in obedience and in sharing his truth with all who will listen.

When we go through life’s difficulties, which we will, we are to cry out to God in our pain and suffering, and trust him to heal, to comfort, to encourage and to strengthen us. I believe we should also ask him to teach us what he would have us to learn through our suffering, and to use us for his glory in other people’s lives. He will hear our cries, and he will answer. He may not always answer in the way we would hope, or in our timing, but he will provide us with all that we need to remain faithful to him, and to be his representatives to others who are also in need of his love, comfort, mercy and grace.

When the Lord delivers us out of our troubles, it is not always physical deliverance, though sometimes it is. It isn’t that we always need to be taken out of troubling situations, but that we need to learn to lean on his grace through our difficulties. It is in these times that we grow in maturity in our walks of faith, that we draw closer to our Lord, and that our love for others grows, too. Sometimes what needs to be changed is our hearts, our minds, our attitudes and our actions, not our circumstances, and so God allows us to go through tough times to purify us, to prune us and to make us more like him. He knows what we really need, and he will always do what is truly best for us, and what will bring glory to his name. So, cry it out to him!

All Through the Night / An Original Work / December 7, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.

The Wicked Draw Near

Saturday, August 5, 2017, 4:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “It is Well with My Soul.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 119:129-152 (NASB).

Wonderful Testimonies (vv. 129-136)

Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul observes them.
The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
After Your manner with those who love Your name.
Establish my footsteps in Your word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.
Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.
Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of water,
Because they do not keep Your law.

The Word of the Lord is awesome! It is my bread and butter, i.e. it is my livelihood, my means of support, but not financially or materially, but spiritually. From the Word of God, I learn about God and his will for my life. I learn his statutes, and to know what pleases him, and what he desires of me, his servant. I learn of his righteousness and holiness and how to walk in his love and in his grace. I discover his goodness to me, and his boundless mercies which overflow into my life. And, I am taught with regard to his strength, comfort, correction, instruction, and guidance which he provides for me to walk in his footsteps and to know his will and his ways.

I want to walk in the ways of the Lord and to not have any other gods in my life to which I give my devotion and praise. I don’t want to do what displeases my Lord, so I pray for his guidance to show me the way he has for me to go. I love him, and thus I want to serve him and to obey him. Since he delivered me from slavery to sin, and thus sin no longer has dominion over me, I pray that he will keep me from falling, and that I will continue to obey him in all things.

Other human beings will try to lead us astray. They will try to convince us to not be so serious about our walks of faith, and to lighten up and just have fun, as though “fun” is to be our goal in life. They may try to trip us up, too, in order to bring us down with them, because it bothers them that we walk closely with the Lord. So, they will even tempt us to sin against God. And, they will even try to “guilt trip” us into having a lesser commitment to Christ and to be more “normal” like everyone else. Yet, we must not give in to them for a moment, but we must continue to follow our Lord in his ways.

Small and Despised (vv. 137-144)

Righteous are You, O Lord,
And upright are Your judgments.
You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness
And exceeding faithfulness.
My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.
Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.
I am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.
Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.
Your testimonies are righteous forever;
Give me understanding that I may live.

When we commit our lives to Jesus Christ (to God) to walk in his ways and to do what he says, other humans will mock us, reject us, despise us and will persecute us, too, even among those who also call themselves followers of Christ. And, that is because they have been taught and have been convinced that Christians are not to be too serious about God and that they are to immerse themselves in the culture of their societies in order to connect with the people of the world. Or, they have been taught, as well, that “love” does not tell people that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and to heaven, that it does not talk to people about their sin or about judgment, and it does not call people to repentance and obedience to Christ.

Yet, this should only serve to deepen our commitments to Christ and to increase our zeal for our Lord and for his gospel, when we see so many people being led astray from the truth to follow after lies, most especially within the gatherings of the church.

Revive Us, O Lord (vv. 145-152)

I cried with all my heart; answer me, O Lord!
I will observe Your statutes.
I cried to You; save me
And I shall keep Your testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.
My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your ordinances.
Those who follow after wickedness draw near;
They are far from Your law.
You are near, O Lord,
And all Your commandments are truth.
Of old I have known from Your testimonies
That You have founded them forever.

The church of today, at least here in America, is in great need of revival. And, I believe it is coming. So many preachers and so many professing Christians are living far from God, and it is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. Church congregations have been turned into big businesses and are marketed to the world just like any other business. Pastors are even being trained in who their target audience should be and who they should “get rid of” and should encourage to go someplace else where they will be a “better fit.” Many of them are being taught to lie and to deceive and to manipulate naïve minds to follow after humanistic teachings and philosophies, and many of them are, thus, paving the way for the one world religion of the antichrist beast, i.e. the wicked drawing near.

We, as followers of Christ, need to be crying out to the Lord for lost souls and for Christians gone astray and for the church which is turned upside down. We need to ask him to send revival, and to let it begin with us. We need to desire this spiritual cleansing of people’s hearts and lives above anything else we might desire on the face of this earth. And, we should all wake up to the reality of the times in which we now live, and see how the world is going down the toilet, and cry out to God to save us by his mercy and grace.

As well, we need to be willing to let go of the treasures of this world in order to lay up treasures in heaven, i.e. human souls turned from sin to God to follow him in his ways and in his truth.

It Is Well with My Soul / H. G. Spafford / P. P. Bliss

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well; it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well; it is well with my soul.

A Believer’s Prayer

Coming to faith in Jesus Christ means so much more than just Jesus forgiving us of our sins so that we can go to heaven one day. When we trust Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, we give our whole heart and devotion to him to obey him, to forsake our former lives of sin, and to follow him wherever he leads. He said his sheep hear his voice, they listen, and they follow (obey) him. When we invite Jesus to be our Lord (owner-master), it means he is now the boss of our lives, but not just the boss of our lives, for he is our very best friend.

When he is truly our Lord and our Savior, our desire is for him to please him in all that we are, and do and say. We want to be his forever. We yearn to know him better, and to understand what his Word teaches us, so that we can follow him in truth and in obedience to him and to His Word. The fellowship we have with him each day in prayer and in his Word is unmatched by any other. No one else will ever love us like he does. We can always depend on him to lead, guide, protect, nurture and comfort us daily. He will never abandon us. He is completely faithful. And, one day he will come again to receive us to himself.

A Believer’s Prayer / An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

A Forgetful Hearer?

Thursday, July 27, 2017, 8:29 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 1:21-25 (NASB).

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Put Them Aside

Whether you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, or you are a Christian by profession only, or you have never believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of your life, this message is for you. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) died on a cross for your sins so that you could be delivered out of slavery (addiction, bondage) to sin and be set free to walk in his holiness and his righteousness. He who knew no sin became sin for us, when he died on that cross, so that we might become the righteousness of God. And, righteousness is what is approved in God’s eyes, i.e. what he deems right.

So, faith in Jesus Christ means that we die with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ to righteousness, for he was resurrected, too. It also means we walk (in lifestyle) no longer according to what our sinful flesh desires, but we now walk by faith – and in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit, now living within us – according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars. And, if we walk according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

So, we need to repent of our sins by turning away from all moral filthiness and wickedness, forsaking them, casting them aside, and by turning to God/Jesus Christ to follow (obey) him in all his ways. If we continue to practice sinning against God after we have the knowledge of the truth, we don’t have the hope of heaven, but a fearful expectation of judgment.

In a Mirror

The Bible is filled with messages concerning what we are to put off, and what we are to put on. When we believe in Jesus, we put off our sinful lifestyles (our old self), and we put on our new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (See: Eph. 4:17-24). So, when we put off (or put aside) all moral filthiness and wickedness, then, in humility, we are to receive (accept, adopt) the Word of God ingrained into our lives, which is able to save our souls. Yet, it is only able to save our souls if we apply what we read to our lives.

God is not interested in how much head knowledge we have about the Bible, or if we can recite all the books of the Bible in order, or about how many scripture verses we have committed to mental memory. He is not impressed by Bible college or seminary degrees, or by how much Greek or Hebrew we know, or by ministry positions within the church as teachers of the Word. What God cares about is if we DO what we read, what we know, what we have studied, and what we teach others. We can be great expositors of the Word, but if we are not living what we teach, then it is fruitless.

Time spent with our Lord in His Word is to bring about change in our thinking, attitudes and behaviors. His Word should transform us and conform us into the likeness of Christ. If all we do is read it, and then we close the book, and we walk away, but we forget what we read, then our reading didn’t do us much good. We can say we had “devotions,” but if we go on living however we want, still gratifying the cravings of our sinful flesh, while we go through the motions of a relationship with Jesus Christ, it will not bear fruit in our lives in keeping with repentance, but it will be a meaningless and wasted effort, on our part.

An Effectual Doer

So, what pleases God is when we are DOERS of the Word and not hearers only who delude (deceive, fool) themselves. They fool themselves when they think God is pleased or that they have a relationship with him if they read the Bible every day, or if they are able to expound lots of scripture. It is not what we know that matters in this life, but it is what we do with what we know. And, yet, many people seem to think that knowledge or performance is enough to get a passing grade with God while they cheat on their relationship with God, or what could be a relationship with Him, if they would submit to his Lordship in their lives and would DO what He says.

So, we need to prove ourselves to be DOERS of the Word. In other words, there needs to be evidence from our lives (from our lifestyles) that we actually are putting into practice what we read in God’s Word. We can talk like we are doers, and we can put on an act in front of others, as though we truly are ones who are applying the truths we know, but if there is not enough evidence to corroborate our profession, then we are on pretty shaky ground. Words can be cheap if they are not followed up with action. Actions speak louder than words. If we say we love God, then we need to DO what he says consistently, persistently, and truthfully.

This is not a casual thing, though – this doing what the Word of God teaches. We need to look intently (earnestly and eagerly) into the gospel message of our salvation, and into the teachings of Christ and of his NT apostles, while not neglecting the Old Testament, too. And, we need to abide by (follow, obey) the law of liberty, i.e. the message of salvation from sin. And, that message is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, we are to forsake our sins and follow our Lord in surrender to his will for our lives. For his grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

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.”

Led to Repentance

Sunday, July 23, 2017, 3:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of repentance.

From Darkness to Light (Acts 26:15-20)

And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

Many preachers today are teaching that God does not require us to repent of our sins, or else they are just deleting (or omitting) repentance from the gospel message, or else they are teaching that repentance is simply having a change of mind in the sense of deciding to believe in Jesus Christ. Yet, is repentance required by God for salvation, and, if so, what all does repentance entail? What is this “change of mind” we are supposed to have? Is it merely to decide to believe in Jesus, or is there more to it?

Well, to repent certainly means to have a change of mind, but it is also a change of the inner man (of our inmost being, our hearts). This change is an indication of our acceptance of the will of God, too, after which we should think, believe and act differently than we did before. In the context of most biblical references to repentance, the indication is that one leaves his former life of sin behind him, casting aside his idols, and his rebellion against God, in order to turn to God/Jesus to follow (obey) him in all his ways.

And, this is made clear for us here in this passage in Acts 26 where Jesus called Paul to open spiritually blinded eyes, turning them from darkness (sin) to the light (Jesus Christ, truth, righteousness), and from the power Satan had over them to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ.

So, Paul obeyed what Jesus told him to do (vv. 16-18) by telling the people that they must repent of their sins and turn to God, and that their actions from that point forward should, thus, reflect (reveal) their repentance.

Obey the Truth (Rom. 2:3-11)

Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

God’s kindness is his grace to us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to the cross to 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 on that cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. When he died he put our sins to death with him so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. In fact, he died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

So, the purpose of his grace to us is not just so we can escape hell and have forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven when we die. His grace to us is to lead us to repentance. In fact, 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. God’s grace is NOT carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and remorse. For, if we walk in sin, according to the flesh, we will die in our sins (1 Jn. 1:5-9; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

Thus, God’s grace should lead us to repentance, and that repentance should produce a change of heart and mind away from living for sin and self to faith in God/Jesus Christ, to follow him (obey him) in all our ways. Yet, if we continue living (practicing) sin, we should expect God’s wrath and fury, not his warm acceptance with open arms into his heaven. If we do not walk in obedience to Christ and his commands, but we go our own way, instead, we will die in our sins, not be saved in the end. Yet, if we follow our Lord in obedience, and we are, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity.

Flee and Pursue (2 Tim. 2:22-26)

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

So, repentance is a change of heart and mind away from sin and Satan and to (toward) God and his righteousness. And, it results in a change of thinking, believing and behaving so that we don’t do the things we did before. Now our desire is for God/Jesus, to obey him and to walk in his ways and in his truth. So, it is a lot like making a U-turn in a road. First we were going one direction, and then we changed course, we turned, and now we are going in the opposite direction as we had been traveling.

And, it entails fleeing worldly passions and desires and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace. If all we do is just try to stop doing what is wrong, but we don’t do what is right, then we are a lot like a thief in between jobs, because nothing has really changed. Our character hasn’t changed, nor have we truly had a change of heart and mind. True repentance means we leave the way we use to live behind us and we now live holy lives pleasing to God. This is not to say we will be instantaneously perfect, i.e. that we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that being born again is a new life, not the old life slightly cleaned up to be more presentable.

When we come to repentance, via God’s grace to us, we come to our senses, we realize we were heading the wrong direction, we are broken and contrite over our sins, and we follow our Lord in the right direction. We escape (break free from) the snare of the devil, who had taken us captive to do his will, and now we submit to our Lord, and we are desirous to do his will. And, we continue on this path until the day we die or until Jesus comes back to take us to be with him forever.

And, all this is made possible because of God’s grace to us and due to his sustaining power in our lives. All glory to God. Great things he has done in granting us repentance and forgiveness of sins so that we can now walk in freedom from slavery (addiction) to sin, and so we can walk in the Spirit, by faith in Christ, and according to his righteousness.

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.”

Slavery to Sin

Friday, July 21, 2017, 5:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Reached Down.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read varied scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of slavery to sin.

Practicing Sin (Jn. 8:34; Ro. 1:28-32; Gal. 5:19-21)

“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.’”

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

When Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), died on the cross for our sins, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died, in fact, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He was put to death on a cross so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, He gave his life up for us in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk (in lifestyle; in practice) not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. [See: 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 8:1-4.]

So, if we practice (continue in) sin, i.e. if sinning against God is part of our normal course of life as a matter of habit, routine, or the way we live, then we are not free, but we are still enslaved (in bondage) to sin. And, we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God. For, God’s grace to us is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt. God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. So, don’t be led astray! We should not even be entertained by the sins of others, for we are thus approving of others’ sins.

Slaves to What? (Ro. 6:6-7; Ro. 6:16-23)

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.”

“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

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

When we truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives with God-given faith, and not with mere intellectual assent or acknowledgment, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old nature is put to death that we might no longer be slaves to sin, but that we might live new lives in Christ Jesus to his righteousness.

This is not to say, nonetheless, that we will never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that sin should not be our practice (lifestyle). Daily, by the Spirit of God, we should be putting the deeds of our flesh to death, and daily we should be taking up our cross and following (obeying) our Lord Jesus (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). For, this is the reason for which Jesus was crucified on a cross. For, if we are still making sin the practice of our lives, we are enslaved to sin, and that leads to spiritual death, not life in the Spirit. But, if we walk in obedience to Christ and to his Word, that leads to righteousness, which then leads to sanctification (being made holy), and its end is eternal life with God.

Freedom to Captives (Lu. 4:18-19)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

So, if we want to share the gospel of our salvation with others so that they can come to know Christ, too, then we need to tell them the truth. So many preachers and teachers of the Word today are proclaiming a half-truth gospel, which is a lie, and which deceives naïve minds into believing that they can “believe” in Jesus, but that they don’t have to repent of (turn from) sin, and that they don’t have to obey Christ, and that God is pleased with them no matter what they do. Yet, scripture clearly teaches that if we proclaim we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars who don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

Freedom from sin is not merely forgiveness of sins or deliverance from hell. True liberty is freedom from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin. Freedom from sin is deliverance from the power and control Satan had over our lives so that we can now walk in freedom from sin addiction and its hold on our lives. No born again Christian should be addicted to (controlled by) any sin. Jesus set us free! We just have to live like we believe that, and all in his power and strength and working of his grace within us. This is the GOOD NEWS! It is not good news if we are still bound in our sins, and especially if we have been given a false hope of eternal life with God based on a lie.

When we are still in bondage to sin, we are free from the control of righteousness so that we cannot please God with our lives. We are blinded to the things of God and of his righteousness until he opens our eyes to the truth and he awakens our minds and hearts to see our sinful condition and our need of him as Savior (deliverer from sin) of our lives. So, know that there are many liars and deceivers out there who are disguising themselves as servants of righteousness and as ministers of the gospel, but whose messages are lies cleverly disguised as truth in order to deceive naïve minds. They are messengers of Satan sent to turn people away from the truth so that they will not be saved, while still promising them the hope of heaven when they die. So, know the truth, and the truth will set you free!

He Reached Down / An Original Work / February 3, 2014

Based off Psalm 18

How I love You, Lord, my Rock and my strength.
My God is my fortress; I hide in Him.
He is my shield and the horn of
My salvation, whom I praise.
I have found my refuge in Him.

He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
Drew me out of waters so deep, I’d sink.
He delivered me from Satan
And my slavery to sin;
Gave me hope of heaven with Him.

My God turned my darkness into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes; gave me sight.
As for God, his way is perfect.
He gives strength to stand secure.
I have found my vict’ry in Him.

My Lord lives! Praise be to my Savior God,
Jesus Christ, who died on a cruel cross.
He is my Rock and the source
Of my salvation, whom I trust.
I will give praise always to Him.

Love for God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

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