Dead or Alive?

Thursday, June 22, 2017, 8:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Wake Up!” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 3:1-6 (ESV).

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Jesus is speaking here to the church in a specific location, at a particular time in history, but this could apply to the church today, too, and in any location. Yet, this can also apply, at least in part, to us individually, as well. So, as we read this passage of scripture, we should prayerfully consider how this might apply to you and to me, and to our local fellowships of believers in Jesus Christ, or to the church universally across America or the world.

By Reputation Only

The church has a reputation of being alive, but they are dead, or they are mostly dead, it would appear. So, what does alive or dead look like?

Well, if you were to ask a group of Christians in America if they believed their church was alive, and to describe what that looks like, what do you believe they would say? I believe the majority would describe “alive” as having to do with the music being lively and loud, the preacher being funny and entertaining or culturally relevant, church being fun rather than boring, and there being plenty of activities and fun and entertaining events. And, “dead” to them would be a church that was too serious, that was boring and not fun and entertaining, that didn’t blend in with the culture of the day, and that spoke too much on repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ.

Obviously that is not what this passage of scripture is talking about, or it may actually be the reverse of how the majority of Christians in America might describe “alive” and “dead,” with regard to their local fellowships.

In other words, “alive,” in this context, has to do with being spiritually alive, which has very much to do with repentance, obedience, and submission, and with taking God and his word very seriously. Yet, it also has to do with the joy of the Lord, the peace of Christ, and walking in fellowship with Him. As well, being “dead” (or mostly dead) has to do with being spiritually dead, which may mean that they focus too much attention on externals, and on meeting felt needs, and on entertaining the masses, to the exclusion of repentance, obedience and submission to Christ and to his cross. And, to the exclusion of taking God and his word seriously, and applying its truths to their daily lives. Yet, inclusive of worldly attitudes and behaviors, and even encouraging such behaviors by teaching a false grace gospel, which gives its adherents free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse.

Many people who call themselves Christians, or many Christian churches, have the presumption of spirituality (being of the Spirit of God) based on the name Christian or the name church, or because they might be “good deed doers,” but it may be only performance. In other words, they may honor God with their lips, but their hearts may be far from God. Their “spirituality” is in form only, but not in the practice of godly and holy living. They clean up nice on the outside, and they have the appearance of godliness, but they deny its power by their lifestyles. They have bought into a false grace gospel which teaches them that God does not require repentance, obedience or submission, and thus they think they have free rein to continue in willful sin against God and still have the promise of eternal life with God.

Wake Up!

So, the call here is to wake up from your spiritual slumber, and to revive what still has life in you, but which is about to die completely. So, how do we do this? Well, first off, we have to pray, seek God’s face, and ask him to show us what is mostly dead in our lives, and what needs to be brought back to life. We probably already know what that is, if we are paying any attention to our spiritual lives at all, but we may need the Lord to point these things out for us, if we have not been paying attention to how our lives may have slipped away from our pure devotion to Christ, and how we may have become entrapped by the world and by sinful attitudes and behaviors once again. It is possible to become desensitized to evil and to the Spirit’s voice speaking to our hearts, to where we can become complacent and apathetic or lazy about our spiritual walks with Christ, so that we need the Spirit of God to show us where we need to be brought back to life.

When the Spirit of God, thus, points these things out to us, and shows us how we have gotten off track, and where we need to get back on point, then we need to repent of our sins, turn away from them, and turn back to following our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. We must realize here that “Lord” is not just a title or a name given to Jesus to signify that he is God, but that it means “owner-master.” And, we are his bond-slaves (willing submission). He is the owner of our lives, and he is the one to direct our paths and to guide the course of our lives, not us. We are not on this earth for our own enjoyment and pleasure, but we are here to honor God with our lives, and to do what he has called us to do and to be.

If we choose to keep going our own way, though, doing what we want, and still addicted to sinful behaviors and attitudes, God will use divine discipline in order to judge, correct, rebuke, chastise and scourge us, and in order to get us to turn from our sinful ways, and to get us to come back to him in full submission. And, we don’t know when this will take place. And, we can’t even be certain that we would survive such a judgment. Yet, if we are conquerors through Jesus Christ, who loves us, and we give up our sinful practices, and we follow our Lord in obedience, then we will have our eternal rewards in heaven with God. But, if we refuse to repent, and if we continue to practice sinning, the Bible teaches that we don’t have the assurance of eternal life with God (Jn. 6:35-66; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 5:1-21).

Walk in White

Yet, not every individual, and not every church congregation which professes the name of Jesus is mostly dead and in need of repentance and revival. There are those who believe in Jesus throughout the world who are not soiling their garments, i.e. who are not in the practice of willfully sinning against God and giving in to the sinful desires of their flesh. They walk with Christ in purity (decency, integrity) of heart, mind, attitude and behavior.

They live in unadulterated fellowship with their Lord. They are spiritually alive, and they follow their Lord in obedience. They walk in a manner worthy of the calling they have received from the Lord, “to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (See: Col. 1:9-12; cf. Eph. 4:1-3; Phil. 1:27-28; 1 Thess. 2:11-12).

And, this is how we should all live, who profess the name of Jesus. But, if you are among the “mostly dead” spiritually, then you need to turn from your sins today, trust Jesus Christ with your life, and choose to walk from this moment forward in a manner worthy of your calling, in purity of heart, mind, attitude and behavior.

Wake Up! / An Original Work / November 25, 2011

Based off Ephesians 5:1-21; Revelation 3:1-6

Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead.
Your God awaits you to do what
He says to you.
Be not conformed to your selfish will.
Trust in the Lord. Do what He says.
He will give you victory.
Do not walk in darkness;
Come into the light of love.

Listen to your Savior calling
You to obey all His teachings.
Repent of your sin, and
Christ will shine His love on you.
He waits patiently for you to
Heed His whispers to your heart.
Will you hasten to obey Him;
Not from Him depart?

Live your life from this day forward,
Walking in His love and mercy.
Let Him cleanse you of all your sins.
Dwell with Him today.
Do not insult God’s grace to you.
Do not make light of your sin.
Let the light of His truth come
And free you from within.

Practicing Holiness

Sunday, June 18, 2017, 3:54 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “God Be with You till We Meet Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 4 (Select vv. NASB).

Don’t Be Anxious (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.

To rejoice means to be “glad for grace” or “to experience God’s grace (favor), be conscious (glad) for His grace” (source: biblehub.com). And, his grace to us is his favor, kindness, and goodness towards us in providing for us the way of salvation (deliverance) from bondage to sin, and for giving us new lives in Christ Jesus, free to now walk in his righteousness and holiness. And, if we are truly glad for his grace, I believe it would mean that we would walk in that grace and not live to gratify the desires of our sinful flesh.

A gentle spirit is forbearing, longsuffering, forgiving, and patient. It patiently endures lasting offense or hardship (M-W). It is also fair, equitable, and reasonable, and it follows the spirit of the law over the letter of the law. The spirit of the law is the true purpose or intent of the law (rule), i.e. what is really at stake (source: biblehub.com). For example, the letter of the law says to not commit adultery, but the spirit of the law says not to even lust after another in our minds and hearts. The letter of the law can be routine, ritual, ceremonial or habitual, and tends to be external only with no real change of heart, mind and attitude. So, if we are to let our gentle spirit be known to all people, it must engage our hearts, it must transform our minds and our actions, and it must be forbearing, forgiving, fair and reasonable.

We are not to be anxious (worried, fearful) about anything. If something is upsetting or disturbing us, we are to take the matter to God in prayer, seek his counsel, pray for wisdom, and rest in his love and in his sovereignty over our lives. And, we are to follow his leading, do what he says, and trust him with the results. Worry never changes anything, except to make matters worse. It is the opposite of faith. When we trust the Lord with our circumstances, and we lean on him in times of need, for him to supply all we need, then his peace will guard our hearts and minds against worry.

Practice These Things (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.

I think that one of Satan’s fiercest ploys against us is to get our minds distracted from God, and thinking about (dwelling on) what has no eternal value, what is against God and his Word, what is fleshly, and what is worrisome. He also wants us thinking thoughts that are evil, wicked, sensual, hypocritical, hateful, revengeful, bitter and unforgiving, etc. So, we have to rein in our minds by managing, first off, what we willfully allow into our minds. For instance, in 2008 my husband and I took all our movies we had purchased over the years and we compared the content in them to this passage in Philippians 4, no matter how innocent they may have seemed on the surface. And, we were surprised that the vast majority of them did not stand against this test, and thus we trashed them.

But, this isn’t just about the things we choose to watch, read, listen to, etc. This is also about Satan’s tactics against us in introducing thoughts into our minds to try to get us distracted, off track, worried, troubled over minor things, and to get us to be worldly in our thinking, i.e. focused on what has no eternal value, or on what is clearly sinful. So, we need to pray, and we need to guard our hearts and minds against these things by putting them off and by putting on the spiritual armor God has given us to fight off these evil attacks against us (See: Eph. 6:10-20). And, then we need to put on, in our minds, hearts and attitudes, what is pure, right, honest, honorable and worthy of praise. We need to train our minds to be godly – all in the power, wisdom and strength of God’s Spirit now living within us. Amen!

And, not only do we need to change the way we think and believe, and the attitudes of our hearts, but we need to change how we behave, i.e. we need to submit to our Lord, obey his Word, humble ourselves before him, and do what we know is right. Again, this is all in the power, strength and wisdom of the Lord that we are able to do this. Instead of making a practice of doing what is sinful, we need to practice what the Word of God teaches us we must do. And, practice involves repetition, training, habit, obedience, and regularly and consistently living what we believe and what we know is right. And, we have to be intentional about this, and work at it, by the Spirit of God, or we may easily slip back into some of our former ways.

Be Content (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.

God has all of us where we are for a reason, if we are walking in his ways and in his truth. He is completely sovereign over all our circumstances. None of what we are going through has escaped his notice or his concern. So, we need to pray and ask him to show us what he wants to teach us through our trials and difficulties, and then allow him to mature us through them. He is teaching me much through this lesson today. I needed this.

Being content in our circumstances, though, does not mean to be lazy, complacent or unconcerned over things which God would want us to learn, change, and put into practice in our lives, or remove from our lives. We should never be content with living sinful lifestyles or in spiritual mediocrity, in other words. That is not what this means! What this is speaking about is being content with having little materially or with having much. But, it can branch out into other areas, too, yet never to the point of being ok with living however we want, giving into sinful pleasure, and indulging in all kinds of lustful passions and desires, and then claiming God’s grace covers it all.

Being content in our circumstances also does not mean complacency or showing unconcern over those who are lost in their sins, or over professing Christians who are living not much different from the world. Gentleness, as well, does not necessarily equate silence and noninvolvement when we see injustices or abuse or when we see Christians practicing sin. We need to remember this: “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:19-20). And, to cover a multitude of sins does not mean to excuse them away or to ignore sinful practices. It means to forgive the sins once committed but now repented of (turned from), and to not punish the offender, but to show him (or her) God’s grace.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. I can, with the strength of the Lord, live righteously, walk in holiness, speak boldly, when needed, yet be gentle, too, and I can live with little or with much, by his grace.

God Be with You till We Meet Again
Jeremiah E. Rankin, William G. Tomer

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
neath his wings securely hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life’s perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
smite death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

Beside Quiet Waters

Sunday, May 28, 2017, 11:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 23 (NASB).

Not in Want (v. 1)

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.

Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. In his death on a cross, he laid down his life for his sheep. Through his death and resurrection, he provided the way for us, through God-given faith in him, to be delivered from slavery to sin and eternal death, and to be freed to walk now in Christ’s righteousness. He also became our merciful and compassionate high priest, who suffered like we suffer, and thus he is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses. Not only is he our Savior, but he is also our provider and sustainer. We are not lacking in any good thing he desires for us. He meets all of our needs.

He Leads Me (v. 2)

He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.

Sometimes, though, as humans, we become anxious about our lives, our needs, our circumstances, and our loved ones, etc. And, there are times when we need to be reminded that he is our shepherd, and that we are not lacking in anything we truly need, for even when we do lack, he provides, or he fulfills us where we are lacking. He reminds us, too, that we need to put our trust in him and not in humans, and not in the things of this world, for all these things are going to pass away. Our trust needs to be solely in the Lord, and so we must rest in him, believing that he will provide, not necessarily all that we think we need, but what he knows is what we need.

Restores My Soul (v. 3)

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

When we feel anxious, and we call upon him, and he fills us with his peace, because we are now resting and trusting in him, he restores our souls. And, he leads us in the right way, in the way we should go; in the way of faith and rest in him, and not in the way of the flesh or of the world. He shows us his truths in contrast to Satan’s lies, and he teaches us his ways, which is the way to true peace and contentment. We can rest in him and believe him in all things because he is God, he is all powerful, and he is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made, and over all powers, dominions and authorities on the earth and in the heavenly realms.

The world teaches us many ways to live, much of which is in contrast to God’s ways. So, if we spend much time immersing (engaging) ourselves and our minds in the beliefs, attitudes, thinking, philosophies and behaviors of this sinful world, it will be reflected in our own thinking, attitudes and behaviors. Yet, Jesus will guide us in the paths of his righteousness, but we have to be open, available and receptive to listen, and then to do what he says. God’s grace, for instance, is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt and remorse, using God’s grace as a cop-out for willful sin. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and desires, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

Death’s Dark Valley (v. 4)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

In our spiritual walks of faith in Jesus Christ, we will face hardships, persecutions, trials, tribulations and difficulties, as well as blessings. Sometimes our trials can be so troublesome that they are death-like, i.e. they hint to us a sense of hopelessness and despair, or an ending to something good, or a feeling of powerlessness over our circumstances. The reality of them may be, as well, that we are in danger of dying or of being killed, particularly for our faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, we are not to fear, for our Lord is completely sovereign (in control) over all things, and he will, in all things, work for the good of us who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Ro. 8:28), so we can rest in him.

I don’t ever have to be afraid of what humans may do to me, for my God is with me. He will lead me and guide me in the way I should go, and he will counsel me and watch over me. He, too, will console me and reassure me of his love, his grace, his mercy, his power and of his sovereignty. And, He will remind me that I can trust him, and that I can rest in him secure in all things. He has a plan and a purpose. And, his purposes will be accomplished. His plans cannot be thwarted! [Job 42:2; Is. 8:10; Is. 14:27]

Presence of Enemies (v. 5)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have one prime enemy, which is Satan. He is the enemy of God and of all who follow Jesus Christ with their lives. He is like a roaring lion roaming around the earth seeking whom he may devour. So, we are to resist him, flee temptation and sin, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith. He has followers, too, though, and they are our enemies, also, but we don’t fight him or them with physical weapons of warfare. We fight off our enemies with spiritual weapons of righteousness which God has given to us to put on daily, so that we don’t succumb to the enemy’s devices and strategies he uses against us (See: Eph. 6:10-20).

Again, we don’t have to fear Satan or his many hordes, but daily we must put on God’s armor, and when we do, we will be at peace and at rest. Our Lord will provide us with everything we need to remain strong in battle, to not give up, to persevere, to be at peace, to retain our joy, and to keep on serving our Lord despite all opposition forged against us. He will provide us with wisdom, insight, spiritual gifts, faith, words to say, and a song in our hearts, so that the enemy of our souls will not gain the victory over us. And, he will do this in the presence of our enemies so that they can see that God is with us, that God is all powerful, and that no weapon forged against us will prevail, not even death, for death to us only means life with God.

Goodness and Lovingkindness (v. 6)

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

We read in Romans 8:14 that it is those who are led by the Spirit of God who are the children of God. If we live according to the sinful nature, 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. So, it isn’t those who merely profess faith in Jesus Christ who are the sheep of his pasture, but it is those who walk according to the Spirit, who do not live by the ways of the flesh, and who, by the Spirit, are putting sin to death. Being led by the Spirit means we listen to what the Lord says in his Word, and we follow where he (his Word) leads us, in the path of his righteousness and holiness.

We are those of whom God’s goodness and lovingkindness (covenant loyalty) will follow us all the days of our lives. We have the promise of an eternal home with God. And, God is completely faithful to all he has promised those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. We can totally rely on him to do everything he said he would do.

Yet, his goodness is not necessarily as humans might define “good,” but it is according to what is best (in God’s estimation) for us. It is what is pure, holy, righteous, moral, decent, upright, truthful and just, and what is in accord with God’s perfect plan for our lives. Suffering, as we learn, is part of his design for our lives, so we should not feel he is not being good to us if he allows us to go through suffering. Even that has its place in our lives in growing us in our faith, maturing us, training us in perseverance, purifying us, and teaching us to rely on God and not on ourselves, as well as to conform us to the likeness of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arise and Shine

Sunday, April 2, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Be Strong and Take Courage.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 60 (Select vv. NASB).

Your Light has Come (vv. 1-3)

“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
“For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will rise upon you
And His glory will appear upon you.
“Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.

Do you ever get discouraged or disheartened by all the wickedness and evil in the world? Or, even by that which exists within the gatherings of the church, or within the individual lives of those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior? Do you grieve over such? Does your heart hunger for revival and for the church to be who God created her to be? Do you cry out to God to deliver his children from the grip of Satan and the wave of deception which is covering the earth? Are you heavy at heart when Christians see “fellowship” as merely a time to party, but not as a time to get intimate with God and to share the deep truths of God’s words with one another in order to encourage each other in our walks of faith?

Are you grieved over many Christians, who have returned to sinful ways, and who are largely ignoring God’s truths? Does your heart ache when you witness church gatherings which are not for the edification of the saints, but are for the entertainment of the world? Do you want to shout “NO!” at the top of your lungs when those who profess to be ministers of the gospel dilute the gospel to the point to where it loses its power to deliver people from slavery to sin? Does it concern you that so many who profess Christ as Savior spend hours upon hours a day watching TV, getting on social media, surfing the NET, playing video games and chatting with friends, but then claim they don’t have time to read their Bibles and pray? Or, that they don’t understand why they can’t hear God’s voice speaking to them?

If you experience any of what I have just described above, and perhaps more, you may find these things weighing in on you, and you may find yourselves focusing in on only or primarily the negative, and you may begin to drown in your sorrow, wondering if you will ever see the light of day.

If so, there is hope! While we should feel most of what I have described above, as that is how God largely feels about these things; and while having such deep concern as this should lead us to being passionate about getting out the truth of the gospel, we must guard our hearts against discouragement. We must not let these things get us down and depressed. We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ, and on the hope he has given us, not only of our own salvation, but that we will see fruit for our labors, if not now, in the days to come. His word will never return empty, but it will accomplish what his heart desires. Although sometimes now things can look pretty bleak, we must know that it will not always be this way. God has a plan to bring many people to Jesus Christ in these last days. So, we should never lose hope, but we must persevere and never give up!

Lift up Your Eyes (vv. 4-5a)

“Lift up your eyes round about and see;
They all gather together, they come to you.
Your sons will come from afar,
And your daughters will be carried in the arms.
“Then you will see and be radiant,
And your heart will thrill and rejoice.

When these kinds of things weigh in on us, we need to lift up our eyes and see what God has promised. Our labor in love for God’s people will not be for naught. God has a plan and a purpose for it all, and he will accomplish all that he has planned.

Have you been praying for years for an unsaved loved one? Are you struggling to raise a rebellious teenager? Is your marriage in trouble, but the healing has not yet come? Do you serve the Lord in ministry without much evidence of any fruit for your labor? When you teach the Word of God, does it seem to go in one ear and out the other of those whom you teach? Are you despised and rejected of men, a person of sorrows and acquainted with suffering? From all outward appearances, Jesus’ death on a cross looked as though he had failed, as nearly everyone had deserted him. Do you feel deserted and abandoned by those who should love and support you?

I believe with all my heart that there is hope. I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for everything we are going through, and that we must persevere, even when all looks hopeless, at times. We must keep trusting him, believing him, and keep doing what we know he has called us to do. And, we must believe that he is going to change hearts, like he changed ours and is continuing to change our hearts to make us more like Jesus. So, we must focus on the hope that we have of a harvest of righteousness in people’s lives, whether we ever see those results in this life or not.

Forsaken and Hated (v. 15)

“Whereas you have been forsaken and hated
With no one passing through,
I will make you an everlasting pride,
A joy from generation to generation.

There are many reasons why we might be forsaken and hated. It could be because of sin in our own lives, or evil things we have done to others now or in the past. Or, it could be for the same reasons Jesus was hated and persecuted, because he told people the truth, and they didn’t want to hear the truth, because they didn’t want to change their lifestyles.

Jesus said that if we are his followers, meaning we are walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and we are doing what he says, and going where he sends us, we will be hated as he was hated. It is a given, so we should not let this discourage us, but it should be cause for rejoicing that we are considered worthy to suffer for the sake of His name and for His gospel.

So, when we are feeling sad and tears are streaming down our cheeks because we have been abandoned, forgotten and rejected by others, because of our relationship with Jesus Christ and our stand on his Word, we must remember these words of encouragement. God is going to bless us for our faithfulness to him, and we will bear fruit for his eternal kingdom.

Maybe we don’t see it now, but it is coming. Now we may be met with much resistance to the truths of God’s Word, but one day, if not now, God is going to move in people’s hearts in a mighty way, and many are going to turn back to the Lord, and many, too, will put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives. Even if we don’t see the fulfillment of this while we are still on this earth, we will see the results in heaven in the people who will be there, whose lives we have touched with God’s love and grace. And, that is hope! And, it is something worth waiting for.

Sorrow Will End (vv. 18-20)

“Violence will not be heard again in your land,
Nor devastation or destruction within your borders;
But you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise.
“No longer will you have the sun for light by day,
Nor for brightness will the moon give you light;
But you will have the Lord for an everlasting light,
And your God for your glory.
“Your sun will no longer set,
Nor will your moon wane;
For you will have the Lord for an everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning will be over.

Now, this is definitely a future promise of the time when Jesus returns for us and he takes us to be with him, and of his millennial reign on the earth, at which time we will also reign with him. Although my finite mind has difficulty grasping this concept, at times, I know that God’s promises are true, and that they will be fulfilled. A day is coming when all evil, sin, sickness, hatred, violence, war, and sadness will be gone. We will no longer need to grieve, because all that we now grieve over will be no more. He will wipe away the tears from our eyes for good. And, we will be in perfect fellowship with him and with one another, too. Won’t that be grand? And, our Lord will be forever all we will ever need to live and breathe and serve him. Oh, that will be glorious! What a wonderful day that will be when my Jesus I will see!

Be Strong and Take Courage / Don Moen

Why don’t you give him all of your fears?
Why don’t you let him wipe all of your tears?
He knows, He’s been through pain before
And He knows all that you’ve been looking for

So, be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way…

The Contrite in Heart

Saturday, April 1, 2017, 10:42 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “By Your Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 57:14-19 (NASB).

Remove Obstacles (v. 14)

And it will be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.”

As the Lord’s servants and messengers, we are to encourage, inspire and urge the people of God to remove every obstacle out of the way of them walking the path or running the race God has marked out for them. We are to urge them to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” so they can “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1 NIV). Yet, we must take care that we, also, have done this.

When we trust in Jesus Christ 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: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23). The old has gone. The new has come. We are delivered out of slavery to sin, so that we can now become bond-servants of Christ and of his righteousness. The lives we now live we no longer live to please our sinful flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God in our lives (See: Ro. 8:1-14).

Yet, we still have the propensity to sin, and it is possible that, if we let our walks of faith slip, due to neglect, we may once again become entangled by sin. And, thus, we would need to be revived in heart and brought back to purity of relationship with Jesus Christ to where we are walking by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Thus, we need to remove from our lives all obstacles to our walks of faith and obedience to our Lord, and we must cast off any sins which have now clung to us once again, so that we may go in the direction the Lord would have us go, and to be the people of God he desires us to be.

So, in all practicality, this involves a spiritual examination of heart whereby we ask the Spirit of God to identify any areas of our lives where we are being entangled by sin once again, and that he would show us what hindrances to our walks of faith need to be removed. For example, if the sin is lust, and we are giving in to lust, if we do not first remove (cut out of our lives) what is leading us into sin, such as any pathway to that sin, like what we view on TV, movies we watch, etc., then we are likely to continue down that path of sin. So, we need to get radical about sin so we stop sinning.

Lowly of Spirit (vv. 15-16)

For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.
“For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would grow faint before Me,
And the breath of those whom I have made.

We serve a holy God. And, he calls us to be holy, too. For us to be holy it means that we are separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin because we are being conformed into the image of Christ. This is not saying that we leave civilization and that we go live on a deserted island to avoid all contact with the sinful world. But, it does mean that we don’t think, act, or believe like the world does. We are no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, because our Lord has transformed us in the renewing of our minds. So, we don’t feed our minds and hearts with the things, attitudes, values and behaviors of this sinful world, rather we feed our minds and hearts with the character, attitudes, actions and values of God and of his righteousness.

The forerunner of Jesus Christ was John the Baptist. He taught repentance (being contrite) for the forgiveness of sins. So did Jesus, and so did the apostles. Repentance, though meaning “a change of mind,” is almost exclusively used in scripture in the context of forsaking our lives of sin, and turning to God, putting our trust in Jesus Christ, and choosing to walk in his ways from this day forward (See: Acts 26:16-18; Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 12:1-2). Yet, we don’t do this in our own willpower or strength. Even the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God, as well as we are granted repentance unto salvation. Yet, this is not forced on us. We must choose to accept God’s gift of salvation through surrender to our Lord in obedience to his Word.

When we repent of (turn from) our sins in humility before God, acknowledging our sin and our need of him to be our Savior, and we trust him to be Lord of our lives, he forgives us of our sins. The penalty of sin is removed, we are freed from our bondage to sin, and we are given new lives in Christ to be lived to his righteousness. If we slip back into sin, we don’t need to be saved (in new birth) again, but we do need to be revived in heart, so we must humble ourselves before God, repent of our sins, and turn to follow our Lord in obedience once again, and to walk in his ways. And, he will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to Him.

God will Heal (vv. 17-19)

“Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him;
I hid My face and was angry,
And he went on turning away, in the way of his heart.
“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners,
Creating the praise of the lips.
Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,”
Says the Lord, “and I will heal him.”

Because Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, God put a curse on humans and on the earth. When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, and without hope. Yet, we can do nothing in our own flesh to earn or to deserve his grace; our salvation. We can never be good enough, because not one of us can keep his law perfectly. So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to the earth, to take on human form, and to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21).

When we trust in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, which is persuaded of God as to his will for our lives, we turn from our sins, and we turn to follow Jesus in obedience to his will and to his ways. This is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives in moving us away from sin and to God. Thus, God forgives us our sins, he restores us to a right relationship with himself, and he heals our hearts with his love and his grace. He fills our lives with his love to overflowing. Our desire now is for him and for his Word. We hunger after him and his righteousness. We want to please him in all that we do. And, we bask in the glow of our newfound relationship with him. We are now at peace with God, and in love with our Lord.

Yet, as mentioned earlier, it is possible for us to let this slip, if we are not diligent in remaining in him and in his Word daily, and in prayer, and in obedience to what he teaches us. We can fall back into sin and will need to come to repentance so that he can heal and revive our hearts. Yet, we may resist the Holy Spirit, and follow our own stubborn ways, instead, and so he may have to correct us with some divine discipline (Heb. 12:1-11) in order to get us to repent of our sin and to return to him, so he can heal us. Yet, his will is always to heal us, even though he has seen our sinful ways, and our rebellions against him. Isn’t God’s grace amazing? I am so thankful for his grace to me.

Yet his grace is never license to continue in sin, but it teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). So, if you have never repented of your sin, or if you have fallen back into sin, I pray you will be brought to repentance today so that God may heal you. Amen!

By Your Grace / An Original Work / June 27, 2011

Speak Your words to my heart,
Let Your grace and love impart.
Be to me all I need
To love and serve Christ my King;
To love and serve Christ my King.
Change my heart; be like You;
Let me love and serve in truth.
Guide my steps ev’ry day,
As I bow my knees and pray;
As I bow my knees and pray.

Love You, Lord. You love me.
You died so that I’d go free
From my sin; pure within;
By Your grace I’m saved from sin;
By Your grace I’m saved from sin.
Invite You in my heart;
Now I have a brand new start.
Repented of my sin,
So that I’d be cleansed within;
So that I’d be cleansed within.

Live for You ev’ry day,
List’ning to the words you say.
Make You Lord of my heart;
Be Your witness, grace impart;
Be Your witness, grace impart.
Obey Your ev’ry word;
Do the things I’ve seen and heard.
Your word, Lord, in me burns,
While I wait for Your return;
While I wait for Your return.

The Righteous Nation

Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 5:52 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 26:1-11 (ESV).

Keep the Faith (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 city initially being spoken of here is the City of God, the new Holy City, the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Church, the Temple of God, the Bride of Christ, the Redeemed of the Lord. This is a spiritual city; a spiritual nation, not a physical one. It does not have physical walls surrounding it and physical buildings inside it. Our salvation, found in Jesus Christ, our Lord, serves as our walls of protection from enemy forces which would come against us.

To enter into this city, we must be born from above (born again) of the Spirit of God. When we are born physically, as babies, we are born with sin natures, in the image of Adam (Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49). We are separate from God, and we come up short of attaining his divine approval (Ro. 3:23). So, God the Father sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (God the Son) to the earth, to take on human flesh, and to suffer and to be tempted in like manner as we suffer and are tempted, yet without sin. He sent him to die on a cross for our sins so that we, who believe in him, might die to sin and live to righteousness.

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) 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: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23). In other words, we are now born spiritually of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ, free from slavery to sin so that we can now become slaves of his righteousness. The righteous requirement of the law is now fulfilled in us who walk (in lifestyle) no longer according to the flesh, but who walk according to the Spirit. We are the righteous nation that keeps faith, and who enters this spiritual city.

Now that we have been born of the Spirit of God, and we are now members of the body of Christ, his temple, we can experience the blessings of God in our lives. If our minds are stayed (settled, fixed) on Christ, and not on the world around us, or on our circumstances, we don’t need to fear what may come our way, because our God is absolutely sovereign and in control over all things. Enemies may pursue us and may come against us, but they can do nothing to us without God’s permission. They may kill the body, but they can’t kill the soul. So, if we keep our minds focused on Christ, he will keep us in perfect peace, and we never have to fear what man might do to us.

When trials and troubles do come our way, we need to lean on and trust in our Rock, our Redeemer, who will give us all we need to endure, to be steadfast and to remain faithful to Him. He always has a plan and a purpose, and he will always work all things out for good for those of us who love him and who have been called according to his purpose. He often allows us to go through difficult times to prune and purify us, to humble and strengthen us, to mature us in our walks of faith, and to teach us to rely fully on Him. The enemies who now pursue, oppress and persecute us will one day be brought low and will be no more, and one day we will be with Jesus forever in glory.

Wait for Him (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.

God makes level (steady, unwavering) the way of the righteous. When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, it does not end there, and then one day we go to heaven. God-given faith in Jesus Christ is divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives, and it seeks to know and to obey God’s will. It no longer conducts life according to the sinful flesh, but it lives life to Christ and to his righteousness. When we believe in Jesus with God-given faith, we walk in the ways of the Lord and in his truth. Our desire is for him, to do his will. We continue in Christ day by day, reading his Word, praying, doing what the Word teaches us, and serving our Lord in ministry and in loving others with the love of Jesus.

Yet, “level” does not mean we won’t face hurdles or obstacles or opposition along the way. In fact, scripture teaches that we will be hated, persecuted, forsaken, rejected, ostracized, beaten, imprisoned and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ. So, the Christian walk involves, not only trusting in God, but waiting on him to do what he says he will do – to change human hearts, to bring people to Jesus, and to one day destroy our enemy Satan and his cohorts, i.e. the Beast and the False Prophet, etc., and then to take us to be with him forever where sin, sorrow and suffering will be no more.

Yet, in reality, when things are going well for us, and we are not wanting for anything this world has to offer us, it can be easy to forget God and to get caught up in the pleasures of this life. Yet, when we go through trials and tribulations, they have a way of humbling us, and of bringing us to the end of ourselves so that we will look to God and to his righteousness.

So, although I certainly don’t look forward to more suffering, my heart cries out to God to rescue his church from worldliness and the deception of false teachers who are leading people astray to a false “gospel,” which leaves them still dead in their sins, while promising them the hope of heaven. My heart cries out to God for all the children who are being abused, taken advantage of, and exposed to pornography and sexual sin, and/or who are being greatly influenced by the philosophies, values, attitudes and actions of this sinful world via television, the internet and public school education. Yet, I know that I must wait on God, for he is not slow in keeping his promises, for he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

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.

All Forgotten

Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 10:31 p.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 2:1-5 (NASB).

The Last Days (vv. 1-2)

The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.

What are “the last days”? Typically, they refer to the Messianic age, which began with Jesus’ birth, his life and ministry on the earth, his resurrection, his ascension back to heaven, his sending of his Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of his followers, and the birth of the church, the body of Christ. They include the church age and the judgments of God on the earth at the end of time, culminating in the return of our Lord for his bride, the wedding of the Lamb to his bride, and the millennial reign of Christ on the earth.

So, understanding that, we must interpret the next verses in that context. In other words, in these last days before the return of Christ, the house (temple) of the Lord (of God) is Jesus Christ and his church (Jn. 2:19-21; 2 Co. 6:16). It is no longer a physical temple in a physical city, i.e. Jerusalem. In fact, the physical city of Jerusalem is now of Hagar, because she is still in slavery with her children, i.e. the vast majority of the physical nation of Israel rejects Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Lord, and thus they are still in slavery to sin, i.e. they are just like the Gentiles of old. We who believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives are the heavenly Jerusalem, and we are now the children of promise (See: Gal. 4:21-31).

In the Old Testament and in the Gospels, the mountain on which sat the temple of God was Mount Zion. Zion is now a term used in reference to describe both Jesus Christ and his church. As the temple of God sat on Mount Zion, so Jesus Christ is the foundation on which his church (the temple of God) rests. Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone on which his church is built. So, when this passage of scripture speaks of nations and peoples streaming to the mountain of the house of the Lord, what (or who) they are streaming to is Jesus Christ. This means people from many nations are coming to faith in Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior.

He (Jesus Christ) will be (has been) established as superior to all other gods, and things that are worshiped, and also places of worship (Ref: mountains as high places of worship). He will be (has been) exalted above the heavens (See Heb. 7:26). In fact, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name…” (See Ph. 2:9). And, all nations will stream (run) to him – to his gospel of salvation – people from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues (cf. Rev. 7:9-10).

In His Paths (v. 3, 5)

And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Not only are many people from across the globe coming to faith in Jesus Christ, and will yet believe on him to be Savior and Lord of their lives, before he returns, but also many of them are telling others about Jesus Christ, and they are inviting them to believe in Jesus as the one who can deliver them out of slavery to sin and who can give them the hope of eternal life with God. Yet, they are not teaching that false grace gospel which reduces the gospel of Jesus Christ to a mere escape from hell and the hope of heaven when they die. They are teaching a gospel of salvation which changes people’s lives, i.e. which turns them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18).

How do I know that? Because these witnesses for the gospel of Jesus Christ are not merely introducing the people to Jesus as their Messiah, but they are leading the people to be taught from the Lord concerning His ways, not just so they will know them, but so they will walk IN them. For, Jesus died, not just so we can escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die, but he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He didn’t die merely to forgive us our sins, but to eradicate sin from our lives. Through faith in Jesus Christ we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23).

So, what are His Ways and His Paths we must walk (conduct our lives) in? We can read about them particularly in the New Testament, as taught by Jesus Christ and his NT apostles. Basically, Jesus said 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 if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them (die in our sins), but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25). Coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we leave our lives of sin behind us, we are born anew of the Spirit of God, and we put on our new lives in Christ to be lived to his righteousness. Our lives now belong to God. Jesus is Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and we are his bond-slaves to do his will.

No More War (v. 4)

And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.

Can you imagine a world without war, killing, murdering of innocents, lies, deceit, betrayal, hatred, violence, and the shedding of blood, etc.? Won’t that be wonderful when Jesus comes to take us to be with him forever and we no longer suffer? Pain is no more. Sin no longer exists. No one hurts anyone else. We live at peace. And, Jesus wipes all the tears from our eyes. That will be awesome! I cry just thinking about that time when I am truly rescued from this earthly body and this sin-sick world, and I don’t hurt anymore. There will then be no more sadness or pain, but only rejoicing.

Yet, while we still live on this earth, and our bodies are given over to suffering, we can still rejoice. We can still be at peace because joy and peace are not dependent on our external circumstances. I need to be regularly reminded of that one myself. True joy and peace can take place in our lives despite the difficulties which go on in our lives on a daily basis. Turmoil may exist all around us, and yet we can be at peace because we know that our God/Jesus Christ is absolutely in control over all things, and that he has a plan and a purpose for it all, and that he will bring good out of it in our lives. We can trust him, knowing that, even though we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, there is one, and that everything in this life is temporal. It won’t last forever. One day this will all be forgotten and we will be with our Lord forever, and no one will ever hurt another ever again. Amen!

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.