Waiting

Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 5:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 27 (Select vv. ESV).

No Fear (vv. 1-3)

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

How is it that we can have enemies fiercely attacking and opposing us, and yet we are not afraid? Is it because we are superhuman, and thus we are incapable of being injured? Or, does this mean that we will never suffer physical harm or that we will not ever be cut to the heart, i.e. that we will not ever be injured emotionally? As well, does this indicate that we should never even feel fear nor have legitimate cause to ever be afraid?

With a careful read of the New Testament, concerning the lives of Jesus Christ and his apostles, I believe we can find the answers to those questions. They certainly faced much opposition to the work of the ministry of Christ, and to the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were attacked verbally on a regular basis, accused falsely of things they did not do, and opposed strongly by those of their own nationality, race and religious heritage. As well, many of them were beaten, falsely arrested and/or imprisoned, and many were put to death for their faith and for their testimonies about Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation.

Jesus Christ, when he knew his time had come, and he was about to be crucified on a cross for the sins of the world, and to become sin for us, cried out to the Father, and asked if it was possible for this cup of suffering to pass from him. Yet, he submitted to the Father’s will. Paul said he came to the Corinthians “in weakness with great fear and trembling” (1 Co. 2:3). Later he mentioned that, when they had come to Macedonia, “We had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.” Thus, they did feel fear and apprehension, as well. So, what made the difference for them? How were they able to overcome their fears and to walk in faith and to do what they knew God had called them to do?

They trusted their lives into God’s capable hands, they rested in him, relied on his wisdom and grace, and knew that what they were suffering or were about to suffer was for the greater good, i.e. for the salvation of human lives. They had faith that God is who he says he is, that he is completely sovereign over all that he has made, and that their suffering did not lack purpose. They also knew that good (righteousness) would ultimately triumph over evil, and that one day all their suffering would be over, and that they would be home with their God, and that their tears would be wiped from their eyes. They also knew that our earthly lives are temporary, that this world is not our home, and that we have a better home awaiting us.

In Troubles (vv. 4-6)

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

The greatest antidote to fear is faith. It is confidence in what we believe and in what we hope for. It is reliance upon God, our creator, sustainer, Savior, healer and coming King. It is the knowledge that, through continued faith in Jesus Christ, we have salvation from sin, an intimate relationship and fellowship with Almighty God, and the promise of eternal rest. And, it is the assurance of his continued comfort, help, counsel, guidance, encouragement and spiritual protection from the evil one.

It isn’t as though we are protected from harm and that we won’t suffer, though, for we know that Jesus said we would share in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. But, he has provided us spiritual armor to put on with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and schemes against us. Satan is a defeated foe. We just have to live like we believe that. He and his servants can kill the body, but they can’t kill the soul. From all outward appearances, it may seem as though Satan has the upper hand, at times, when all hell seems to be breaking loose all around us. Yet, when we resist him, flee from sin, stand strong in our faith, and don’t give in to his tricks, we are conquerors over Satan and sin, through Christ who loves us.

Teach Me (vv. 11-14)

Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

But, this means that we must walk in the faith we profess, listen to what our Lord is saying to us, and then follow in his footsteps and in the ways of his righteousness. If we want him to teach us his ways, we must be willing to walk in those ways. We can’t cry “Help! Save me!” and then do what we want, our way, whenever we feel like it. It doesn’t work like that. If we want victory over darkness, and to be rescued in times of trouble and distress, and to know God’s peace and joy, especially in times of trouble, we need to walk the narrow (straight, not crooked) path he has provided for us.

And, when faced with much adversity because we are following the way of righteousness, and we are walking that narrow road, we can be at peace. And, when things in this life and in this world seem to only go from bad to worse, and we wonder when God is going to turn things around, we must learn to wait on him to accomplish his purposes and to fulfill all his promises to us. We must take courage in knowing, again, that all our suffering is not without purpose, and that God will work all things for good, for those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose. We just need to be patient, and wait on the Lord.

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.

 

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Flimsy Excuses

Thursday, October 12, 2017, 12:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Living Sacrifices.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Beginning of Knowledge

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

If we want to have a relationship with Jesus Christ to where we hear him speaking his words to our hearts, and to where we understand what he is saying to us, so that we can apply what he is teaching us to our daily lives, and so we can walk daily in intimate fellowship with him, then we need to begin with the fear of the Lord. So, we must understand what this means.

The fear of the Lord is us giving respect, honor, value, esteem, reverence, obedience, submission, worship, devotion, faithfulness and love to God the Father, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit. When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, our thoughts should not be solely focused on what he is going to do FOR us, but they should also be on what he will do THROUGH us as we submit our lives to him to follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will. For, belief in Jesus is not just about him saving us from our sins so we can go to heaven one day. It is about him saving us so that we can honor and glorify HIM with our lives day by day.

If Sinners Entice

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait for blood,
Let us ambush the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
13 We will find all kinds of precious wealth,
We will fill our houses with spoil;
14 Throw in your lot with us,
We shall all have one purse,”
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
16 For their feet run to evil
And they hasten to shed blood.

Believing in Jesus Christ means we are delivered out of slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, but it does not mean that we cannot or that we will never sin again, or that we won’t be tempted to sin. We most likely will be tempted, because Satan wants nothing more than to captivate us once again, and because we still live in flesh bodies, which still have the propensity to sin. So, it is likely that, at some point, we may sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2). But, sin should no longer be our practice. It should not be the normal course of our daily lives, for we died with Christ to sin, so how can we live in it any longer? (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, what do we do when we are tempted to sin? The Bible says that no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, and he will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, so that we will be able to endure it (or to bear up under it) (1 Co. 10:13). So, what escape has he provided? For one, he put sin to death on the cross and he rose victorious over sin from the grave, so that we can also die to sin and live to righteousness. He, too, has given us the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) to put on daily, so that we might fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us. And, he has given us much instruction in the NT on how to overcome sin. He also gives us much wisdom, if we will heed the wisdom and counsel he provides.

So, what are some of those instructions and wisdom’s gems? For one, the scriptures tell us we must resist Satan and flee temptation and sin, and draw near to God. And, it teaches us that we are to throw off the sin that so easily entangles and the weight that hinders so we can run the race God has set for us to run (our spiritual journey). And, it instructs us that, if something is leading us into sin, we should cut it out of our lives. As well, we are to put off what we know is sin (or sinful practices) and replace them with what is holy and righteous, such as we must put off lying and tell the truth, put off stealing, and work, and give to others, etc. So many people are still practicing sin because they are not utilizing the armor of God, the wisdom of God, and the instructions in God’s word in how to defeat sin in our lives.

Wisdom Shouts

20 Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you…
33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

So many people claim ignorance when they are not ignorant. It isn’t that they don’t know what to do, but it is that they don’t do what they know, or that they ignore what they know and/or avoid learning what they need. Or, because they want to continue in sin, they willfully remain naïve, always claiming that they didn’t know or that they are just learning, when they have been learning a very long time – always learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. They willfully choose ignorance over knowledge in hopes that they can excuse away willful and continued sin against God, but their excuses don’t hold water. Their excuses are useless!

I hear so many Christians say that they are “struggling” with sin, but what does that really mean? Is that just another excuse for willful and continued sinful practices? We shouldn’t be “struggling” with sin, at least not in the sense of regularly and consistently yielding to the same sins over and over again, for Jesus set us free!

The bible teaches us that if we make sin our practice, that we will die in our sins, not live with Christ for eternity, and this includes anyone who claims to believe in Jesus Christ, too. It isn’t that we will never repeat a sin, but it is that we should no longer be addicted to sin. It should no longer have dominion over us. But, for many who call themselves Christians, they are very much addicted to sin, but they will just say they are “struggling” as a way to gloss over it and make it not sound so bad.

So, wisdom is shouting out to God’s people, and it is asking them how long they will love being simple-minded. How long will they take pleasure in remaining naïve, in hopes that they will not have to take responsibility for their lives? How long will they continue to claim they are “struggling” with sin, while they don’t take the necessary steps to not give in to the sin? You see, we have to flee sin, and we have to resist Satan, and we have to cut out of our lives those things which trip us up and cause us to fall.

You can’t keep claiming ignorance. You must turn to God’s reproof, turn away from your sins, put them off, and put on Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and then you will experience the fullness of the Spirit of God in your lives, and you will be at peace in knowing that you are following the Lord with your lives.

Living Sacrifices / An Original Work
September 14, 2012

Based off Romans 12:1-2; 6:11-14 NIV

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you,
In view of God’s mercy,
To give yourselves to God in love
As living offerings,
Pleasing to God, holy in love.
This is your true worship.
Do not conform to worldly lives.
Let God transform you today.
Then you’ll be able to
Test and approve of what
God’s will is – His pleasing
And perfect will. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Offer yourselves unto God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Do not be conceited.
Humble yourselves before your God.
Do not be self-righteous.
The strength you have to live in love
Comes from your Lord God, so
Live your new lives in pow’r of God.
Be changed in heart, mind and will.
Do this because of what
Christ did for you when
He died on the cross to save
The world from sin. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Humble yourselves before God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Count yourselves dead to sin,
But be alive to God in Christ.
Do not let sin reign in
Your earthly lives so you
Obey its evil desires.
Offer yourselves unto your God
As those who’ve been born again.
For sin shall no longer be
Your lord and master.
Give of yourselves to God
For righteousness. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Be alive to God in Christ.

 

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?

Whatever Comes

Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 1:10 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 4:4-13 (NASB).

Always Rejoice (vv. 4-7)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

As I read this passage of scripture this morning, my heart goes out to all those in the USA who have these past few days suffered either death of a loved one or destruction to property as a result of high winds, rain and flooding in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia, in particular. My heart also goes out to all people of any country who were in the path of this destruction, and who have suffered loss of loved ones and/or personal property, and who are without electric power, water, shelter and life’s necessities. You are in my thoughts and in my prayers at this time.

For those, in particular, who are going through such times of suffering, these words in this passage of scripture may be a “hard pill to swallow,” and yet this must be our attitude if we are to survive the onslaughts of pain and suffering which this life on this earth will sometimes deliver to us. It will only make matters worse if all we do is gripe and complain about our lot in life. Plus, if we decide to grumble and/or to get angry over our circumstances, it reveals lack of faith in God and in his sovereignty over our lives now existing within our hearts. For, whatever comes our way, God is still in control. And, none of this has caught him by surprise. So, we must yield to his control.

When we choose to rejoice in our circumstances, no matter what comes our way, the peace of God sweeps over us like a flood. Yet, it isn’t as though we don’t cry, or that these trials are not difficult for us. They are! The Apostle Paul expressed that often in his letters to the churches. Yet, God allowed us to go through these trials for a reason, so we need him to let him teach us what we need to learn through our times of difficulty. Sometimes he allows us to go through hardships because we have wandered from the faith, and we need to be brought back to God in purity of heart, and other times it is for our spiritual maturity, to learn perseverance, to share in God’s holiness, and that our lives might yield the peaceful fruit of God’s righteousness.

Dwell on These (vv. 8-9)

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

At all times, we should think (dwell) on what is pure, righteous, honorable, worthy of praise and true. But, not all that is true is worthy to dwell on, for we should not dwell on what is unrighteous, dishonorable or impure, even though it may be true. We should fill our minds with truth, though, and not with lies, deceptions, and manipulations. In fact, how we think or what we think on has a lot to do with what we fill our minds with day in and day out. So, if we are going to think pure thoughts, for example, we need to not take into our minds what is impure, especially willfully, and so to be entertained.

I live in the USA, so this is what I know, so I can’t speak for other countries and what the people there do, because I am not familiar with other countries. I have never even been outside the USA, not even to Canada. But, in America, I know that the vast majority of homes have televisions, and perhaps more than one TV, and it seems most Americans also have home computers, smart phones and/or tablets (like an I Pad). So, we are inundated with technology and all that that technology has to offer us in the way of bringing the world into our lives and into our homes.

There have been good things that have come from all this technology, such as the gospel of Jesus Christ has been able to go throughout most of the world via TV and the internet. Yet, TV and the internet has also been the downfall of many people professing faith in Jesus Christ. Many Christians take in daily doses of immorality, sexual perversion, lies, deceptions, manipulations, cheating, murders, thefts, and the like, and all in the name of entertainment, and they have become desensitized to all the evil contained within, as they make compromise after compromise with the world of sin. This should not be! So, we need to test everything we take into our minds, and what we put before our eyes, against Philippians 4:8-9, and then cut out of our lives what is leading us to think and to do what is sinful.

Instead of practicing sin, or being entertained by others’ sins, we need to practice what is holy, righteous and pure. And, we ought to do what God’s Word says, and not just read it and then walk away and forget what we read. And, we need to be holy, separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made into the image of Christ. Amen!

Content in Whatever (vv. 10-13)

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Lately, in my devotions with my Lord, the Lord has been impressing on my heart to gladly forfeit all of earth’s treasures so that Jesus’ perfect likeness I would bear (“Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer”), and to rather have Jesus than silver or gold, etc. I believe he has been preparing my heart for a time when we will not have much in the way of material wealth on this earth, but we will be rich in faith. And, we may be getting much closer to that time here in America, as we experience more and more in the way of destruction of property and loss of fortune, but all for the glory of God, that he may be our ONLY GOD and LORD. So, I must hold lightly the things of this life, and be willing to walk away from them all, at any time, in order to follow Jesus with my life in service to him and to his will for my life.

The point of all this, I believe, is that we learn to be content in whatever circumstances God places us, not that we have to enjoy our trials and tribulations, but that we are to be resolved to rejoice in the Lord despite our circumstances, and to praise him in good times and in bad times, too. We need to be ok in good times and in bad, and with sufficient accommodations, and with less than to be desired shelter, food, and circumstances, too. And, we must rejoice in the Lord through it all, give him all the praise and glory, and submit our lives over to him for him to accomplish his will and his purposes in our lives through it all. And, he will give us all we need to survive and to thrive, by his grace, and in his strength and power.

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

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

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

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

 

Favor or Curse?

Sunday, August 27, 2017, 4:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Bless This House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 26 (Select vv. ESV).

In Perfect Peace (vv. 1-6)

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height,
the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust.
The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.”

The day being spoken of here is a day of judgment on the inhabitants of the earth for their wickedness, including the wickedness of those who proclaim God Almighty as their Father and Jesus Christ as their Savior. It is a judgment of God against all sinful rebellion, immorality, arrogance, abuse, wickedness, idolatry, spiritual adultery and unbelief. Yet, the purpose of this judgment in these last days is not just to punish wickedness, but it is to revive God’s adulterous church and to bring many people to salvation in Jesus Christ before the day when our Lord returns for his bride.

In that day a song will be sung among the saints of God. It will be sung by those who survived the judgment and who honored the Lord by their lives and by their faith, endurance, steadfastness and faithfulness. They will sing a song of praise to God for all that he has done for them, and in them, and through them. They will thank him for his great salvation, and for bringing them into his eternal kingdom, the city of God, which is a spiritual city, not a physical one. They will acknowledge the Lord as their Savior, their helper, their Lord, and their strength. He alone is the one who saved them, who delivered them out of Satan’s grip, and who brought them from death to life, and out of slavery to sin to now live to Christ and to his righteousness.

Although the world is in utter chaos, and wickedness is spread far and wide, and there is much danger, sword, and strife all around us, we can live in perfect peace inwardly if we keep our minds focused on Jesus Christ, and we do not let the cares of this world or the wickedness of other humans undo us. We must always keep in mind that our God is absolutely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made, and he has a plan and a purpose for all that he allows, and through it all he will gain the glory and the praise. So, we need to rest in him, believe in his promises, trust his Word, and follow him wherever he leads us, and do whatever he instructs us to do.

Path of the Righteous (vv. 7-11)

The path of the righteous is level;
you make level the way of the righteous.
In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
If favor is shown to the wicked,
he does not learn righteousness;
in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly
and does not see the majesty of the Lord.
O Lord, your hand is lifted up,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.
Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he did so in order that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we believe in Jesus to be Lord and Savior of our lives, 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. 4:17-18). This is what it means to be born again of the Spirit of God. The old has gone. The new has come. We were walking (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but now we are walking by faith in the opposite direction, according to the Spirit of God. For, the Lord, through his death and resurrection, made the way for us to now walk in his righteousness and holiness, in all uprightness, honesty, integrity, and in undiluted (unmixed) faith and devotion to him.

Where we once craved the desires of our flesh and the pleasures of this sinful world, now our desire is for our Lord to please him in everything. Instead of yearning after what our flesh desires, we now yearn (long for) God and his holiness. I’m not saying we do this perfectly, though lack of perfection should never be used as an excuse for willful defiance against our Lord or for willful and continued sin against God. But, we should be growing in the grace of God, maturing in our walks of faith, and our desire for God should be daily increasing, while the cravings of this sinful world should be dissipating from our lives.

What we often consider to be the good things of this life are not always a blessing if having them means we are far from God, so sometimes favor can be a curse, and judgment a blessing. Sometimes having many possessions or affluences can be a curse and not a blessing. So, just because we have money and possessions, it is not necessarily a sign that we are being blessed by God. What good is it if we have much in the way of the things of this world but they keep us from following the Lord with our lives, or they don’t lead us to follow him in obedience? And, instead, we become lazy and wicked and rebellious because we have too much, and thus we don’t know what it means to really have to rely on the Lord and not on ourselves?

Other Lords (vv. 12-15)

O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works.
O Lord our God,
other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but your name alone we bring to remembrance.
They are dead, they will not live;
they are shades, they will not arise;
to that end you have visited them with destruction
and wiped out all remembrance of them.
But you have increased the nation, O Lord,
you have increased the nation; you are glorified;
you have enlarged all the borders of the land.

The peace that we need is not world peace where everyone joins hands with one another and sings “Kumbaya.” True peace is not tolerance and acceptance of all religions and all walks of life. It is also not lack of judgment of what God calls sin. True peace never compromises with the world of sin nor does it compromise the Word of Truth in order to not make waves. The peace that we need, as the people of this world, is peace with God, which only comes through faith in Jesus Christ, which results in obedience to Christ and to his commandments, not a watering down (diluting) of the gospel in order to “make nice” with the world.

When we try to “make nice” with the world in order to be accepted by them or to join in with them, thinking that is the way we will win them over, or because we desire sin more than obedience, and thus we compromise our faith, we allow “other lords” to rule over us in place of Jesus Christ. These “other lords” can be other people, Satan, the things of this world, sin, fear, or whatever we have made to be our idols, such as entertainment, pride, position, influence, and/or reputation, etc. The Bible says that we are slaves to whatever or to whomever we obey, either to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness (Ro. 6:16).

But, it is the Lord’s will that we should live holy lives, pleasing to him, so if we will not do that of our own choosing, and if we continue to give ourselves over to idolatry and to spiritual adultery, because God loves us, he will discipline us in judgment in order to prune and purify us, and to revive us, and to put to death those idols in our lives so that we can walk in purity of devotion to him alone. Then, we will be able to say that those “other lords” are now dead and that they will no longer arise because God has put them to death in our lives in order that we might walk in his holiness and righteousness, and so that we might follow him in obedience to his will for our lives. And, then God will restore, revive and purify us and make us holy and fit for his service, so that we can be a light for him in a dark world.

Bless This House
Helen Taylor / May H. Morgan

Bless the people here within,
Keep them pure and free from sin . . .

Bless us all that we may be,
Fit O Lord to dwell with thee . . .

Keep His Way

Saturday, August 26, 2017, 4:57 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 37 (Select vv. ESV).

Trust in Him (vv. 3-6)

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

What does it mean to trust in the Lord? It means we place our hope and confidence in him, and in what he did for us in saving us from our sins, and in what he promised us that he would do. It speaks also of assured reliance upon God and his divine character, sovereignty, holiness, righteousness, power, strength, kindness, grace and compassion towards us. It means, as well, that we are fully convinced that what God says is true, that it is just, and that it is righteous and merciful, and thus we commit our ways to the Lord, to do what he says, and to follow him in all of our ways.

If we truly put our trust in the Lord, we will delight (find pleasure) in him and in his ways. We will want to do what pleases him, not because we must, but because we love him, honor him and revere him. Thus, he will give us the desires of our hearts, because our desires will be in line (agreement) with his. He does not, nonetheless, promise that he will fulfill our every want, but he will fulfill all his promises, and he will provide all that we truly need. And, he does not necessarily work at the pace we might like, either. His thoughts and his ways are not the same as those of humans. His timing is always perfect, although we don’t always comprehend it.

While we live on the face of this earth we will have troubles and hardships. We will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake. There will be those who will not like us, and who will speak evil against us. Not everyone will understand us, or why we do what we do, and they may reject us and falsely accuse us. But, if our way is committed to the Lord, to follow him in obedience, and to do what he has called us to do, we can trust him with our reputations, believing that one day we will be honored for our obedience and that it will be evident that we loved God, and that we were his servants.

Be Still Before Him (vv. 7, 10-11, 14-15)

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

Because Satan, a fallen angel, decided he wanted to be God, and so he rebelled against God, and because he tempted humans to sin against God, from the very beginning, sin entered into the heart of man. And, thus wickedness of every kind imaginable now exists on this earth. But, God has allowed wickedness to continue, for a time, because he is very patient towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. If he cut off all wickedness, he would have to remove all of us from the earth, because we are all prone to sin at some time or another.

But, because of his great love for us, and due to his grace towards us, he has provided a way in which we can be saved from our sins, and be delivered out of bondage (addiction) to sin. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, died on a cross for our sins, and put sin to death on our behalf. And, then he was resurrected from the dead victorious over our sin. So, through faith in him, we can be crucified with Christ in death to sin and be resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Thus, we are set free from our slavery to sin so that we can become bondservants of Christ and of his righteousness.

Because we are now in Christ Jesus, through faith in him, and our trust is now in him, and not in ourselves or in other humans, we can be at peace in this world even when all hell is breaking loose all around us. Although evil is allowed to exist, our God is still absolutely sovereign over all that he has made, he has all things under his control, and he has a plan and a purpose for all that he allows, and he will fulfill everything he said he would do. So, we can be at rest in him, and not fear when the wicked seem to prevail.

Wait for Him (vv. 34, 39-40)

Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Sometimes it gets really hard, doesn’t it? Sometimes we just have to cry it all out to our Father in heaven, and then rest in him, and wait on his perfect timing. We don’t see the end from the beginning. We only see what is in front of our faces. And, at times, it can get very discouraging and disheartening, if we let it. So, we learn to wait on God, trust in his sovereignty, believe in his promises, and trust him each and every day to just show us what he has for us for that day. And, then we do what he says, and believe he will work all things out for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose.

While we are waiting, we keep his ways. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, nor is it merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. Jesus Christ did not give his life up for us just to forgive us our sins, but he “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (See: Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Eph. 2:8-10).

Although this Christian life is promised to have difficult times, and to know hardships, persecutions and rejection, our Lord also promises to always be with us, to protect us spiritually from evil, and to give us all the strength, wisdom and counsel we need to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to draw near to God in full assurance of faith. He has given us the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, too (See: Eph. 6:10-20). So, we have no need to fear humans or what they might do to us, for our Lord will carry us through every circumstance, and he will provide all that we need to endure, and he will bring us safely into his eternal kingdom.

So, we just need to trust him, rest in him, believe him, and do what he says, and know that what he says, he will do, all in his perfect timing.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas O. Chisholm / William M. Runyan

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

The Lord Knows

Wednesday, August 23, 2017, 2:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 94 (ESV).

Their Arrogant Words (vv. 1-7)

O Lord, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, under the control of Satan. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, God delivers us from Satan’s control and he brings us under God’s headship (Lordship). That enrages Satan, and so he declares war against us. His goal is to either destroy us or to try to persuade us to desert our Lord and to return to following him, instead. Thus, Satan uses other humans to accomplish his purposes by turning them against us in hopes that they might crush us and that we might give up serving our Lord.

God has a day in mind when he will repay the wicked for their evil deeds and for the unjust suffering with which they have afflicted God’s people. Yet, he is very patient towards us, because he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (See: 2 Peter 3). Yet, for those who are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and who are suffering greatly at the hand of these evildoers, they will cry out to God in their trouble, and they will pray for relief. God will then comfort them with the understanding that he knows what is going on, and that he has it all under his control. So, we are to trust him, rest in him, and pray for the salvation of the wicked.

The Thoughts of Man (vv. 8-11)

Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
the Lord—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.

When the wicked are allowed to freely strut about doing their evil deeds, they can become arrogant, thinking that God does not see, and that he does not know, or that he is somehow impotent, and that he will do nothing. So, they may gain a false sense of security in all of that, thinking that they can continue in their evil ways and that nothing bad will ever happen to them. But, that is a false reality, for God does see, and he does know, and he is omnipotent (all-powerful), and one day he will repay them for their evil.

He Will Not Forsake (vv. 12-15)

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,
and whom you teach out of your law,
to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are not signing up for an easy life, nor does God promise us smooth sailing. In fact, he promises us that we will share in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and that we will be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted. So, it should not surprise us if the world hates us and if the wicked strongly opposes us. God has allowed this in our lives for his purposes and for his glory. Through our difficulties God is pruning us, purifying us, making us holy, and conforming us to the likeness of Christ, as well as he is teaching us patience, endurance, and compassion, and that we need to rely on him and not on ourselves.

The rest that our Lord gives us isn’t always rest from suffering or from persecution, though he may do that, too, at times, but the rest he gives us is internal, in our hearts, minds and souls. It is an internal peace that he gives us even when all hell is breaking loose all around us. It is the belief that God is absolutely in control (sovereign) over all that he has made, and that nothing can happen to us but God has allowed it in our lives for a purpose, and that he will accomplish his will through it all. It is also the knowledge that our Lord loves us, that he cares about what is happening to us, and that he will never leave us or abandon us, but that he will carry us through every hardship until the day when he takes us to be with him.

The Lord, My Help (vv. 16-23)

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out.

When the wicked are assailing us, we may sometimes feel deserted and all alone in this world, but we can rest in the knowledge that the Lord is with us, that he has a purpose in it all, and that he will help us through it. His steadfast love will sustain us. He will comfort us in all our troubles, and he will teach us his will so that we may walk in his ways, and in his truth. And, he will use us, if we are willing, in other people’s lives to encourage them in their walks of faith. Even when our troubles are many, we can sing with the hymn writer that “It is Well with My Soul.”

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012

Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.