Fit for The Kingdom

Sunday, August 13, 2017, 11:57 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Bless This House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (NASB) regarding being fit for the kingdom of God.

Don’t Look Back (Luke 9:57-62)

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

When God calls us to go, we must go where he sends us, and not look back, i.e. and not second-guess God or his wisdom. If we want to follow Jesus Christ with our lives, we must deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. It is not ours to choose what that looks like, either. In other words, when Jesus Christ becomes our Savior, he also becomes our Lord (owner-master). When he died on that cross, he bought us back for God with his shed blood, so we are no longer our own, to live how or where we want. We are now to honor God with our lives in all that we do. And, we must be willing to accept the path he has marked out for us, being prepared to give up all the comforts of this world.

Following Jesus wherever he leads us often means sacrifice, and not only leaving the comforts of this life behind us, but leaving friends and family, too, in order to follow our Lord in obedience. Going with God is not always logical, humanly speaking, nor is it always practical, by human terms, and so we may face rejection or criticism, misunderstandings and even resentment from our friends and family because they won’t understand why we must follow Jesus over and above human attachments. They won’t get why it is so important to go where God sends us, and they may even question whether or not we are hearing from God, and they may take offense at our decisions, thinking our decisions are directed against them.

Yet, when we respond to the call of God on our lives with a “but,” then we are not really saying “Yes” to Jesus. What I mean by this is if we say to the Lord that we love him, and that we are his, and that we are the sheep of his pasture, and that he is our shepherd, but then we qualify that statement with a “but” or an “if,” then we are not really serious about being followers of Christ. It can’t be, “I’ll follow you, but first let me do this or that,” or “I’ll follow you, but only if it remains in my comfort zone and it fits with my standard of living.” To follow Jesus means to be fully abandoned (yielded, given over) to him, no matter the cost, or no matter where he sends us, or what he calls us to do, or the sacrifices we must make. If we make up our own rules for following him, and we set the standard we would agree to follow, then we are not really fit (ready for use) for the kingdom of God.

In a Manner Worthy (Phil. 1:27-30)

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

How we conduct ourselves is how we live our lives. It has to do with our attitudes, thinking, speaking and behaviors (actions). These must be in a manner (way, behavior) worthy (suitable, fitting) with the gospel of Christ. So, what is the gospel of Christ? In a nut shell, it is that Jesus died on a cross for our sins, and was resurrected from the dead, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 1 Pet. 2:24; Eph. 4:17-24). So, our attitudes, thoughts, speaking and behaviors should reflect that we are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. This is not to say that we will never sin or have a wrong thought or attitude, but that our manner of living, i.e. our lifestyle, should reflect that the gospel is being lived out in our lives.

If we are conducting ourselves in a manner worthy (fitting) with the gospel of Jesus Christ, then we should be standing firm in our faith, and on the Word of God, and we should not be vacillating back and forth between the world and the kingdom of God. We should be sold out to Christ and to his service, no matter where that leads us. And, if there are those who oppose us, and who criticize, reject, mock or mistreat us because of our faith and our obedience to our Lord, we should not let that undo us. We should not allow ourselves to become unsettled or hindered in our walks of obedience to our Lord just because we face opposition (hostility, resistance). Jesus faced much opposition, but he willingly laid his life down for us for our freedom.

Although having faith in Christ gives us a life filled with much joy and peace, this new life in Christ is not just one big party where having “fun” all the time is our ultimate goal, or where we always live in comfort and at ease. It is not only granted to us, by God’s grace, to believe in him, but also to suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. Thus, we will have conflicts, and opponents, and we will face undue criticism, rejection, hatred, misunderstandings, and even false accusations. Other people will make up their own minds about us, and concerning what they feel are our motivations, and they may gossip about us and slander us, too, but we have no control over that. So, we must submit our lives to Christ, trust in the sovereignty of God, and walk in obedience to his leading.

To Please Him (Col. 1:9-14)

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of 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. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

We are not only to walk (conduct ourselves) in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, but we are to walk in a manner (way) worthy (fitting) of our Lord, who gave his life up for us so that we could be freed from sin. He not only has transformed our lives (turned us) from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we could receive forgiveness of sins, but he is our example for us to follow in how we should conduct (live) our lives. “What would Jesus do?” is/was not just a popular cliché, but it is the model for us to follow in how we live our own lives, day in and day out. If we are not comfortable with the idea that Jesus is right there with us, as we go throughout our day’s activities, then we need to alter the way we live.

So, how do we know the manner of living that would be fitting the gospel of Christ or worthy of our Lord? We know it by the witness of God’s Holy Spirit living within us, and we know it by the Word of God. So, we need to be studying the Word of God (the Bible – Genesis to Revelation), listening to our Lord speak his words to our heart, and we need to be doing what it says. It is NOT true that God is pleased with us no matter what we do. So, we need to find out what pleases our Lord, and then we need to walk in that, all in the power and the working of God’s Holy Spirit living within us.

When we walk (conduct our lives) in a manner (way) worthy (fitting) of our Lord and of his gospel, and we live to please him fully, we will produce fruit (results, outgrowth) in our lives which will be in conformity or harmony with a life which has been crucified with Christ in death to sin and resurrected with Christ to newness of life. We will no longer live (in lifestyle) to please our sinful flesh and to do what will gain us popularity and acceptance in this world. But, our desire will be for our Lord, to walk in his ways and in his truth. Yet, we don’t have to conjure this up ourselves. This is the working of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, as we yield our hearts to God, and we follow our Lord in surrender and in obedience. He will give us all we need in this life to live godly and holy lives pleasing to him.

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 . . .

A Believer’s Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courage

Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 7:57 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of courage.

With Boldness (Acts 4:27-31)

“’For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”

When Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) walked the face of this earth, although he was loved and admired and followed by some, he was hated, rejected and opposed by many, but especially by the religious leaders in the Jewish temple. They hated him so much, in fact, that they plotted his death, which then they also carried out. Yet, this was God’s purpose that Jesus should suffer and die on a cross for our salvation from sin. So, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.

When Jesus lived on this earth, he told his followers that they, too, would be hated and persecuted, and for the sake of the name of Jesus, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. He told them that, as he was treated, so would they be treated. So, it should not surprise us when we are disliked, abandoned, rejected, strongly opposed and persecuted for our faith in Christ, and for our testimonies with regard to the gospel of Christ and of our salvation. Thus, we need to also pray that we might have courage and boldness to keep speaking in Jesus’ name and to keep sharing the full gospel message with all who will listen. For, we also have many who oppose us.

Yet, we can be encouraged, because God has a plan and a purpose for all that we are going through, as well. And, he will see us through to the end if we keep placing our trust in him, and we do not back down out of fear. He will give us all we need to be strong in our faith and to have the courage to keep pressing on in our walks of faith, and to keep proclaiming his name to the nations, for it will not be in our own power and strength that we are able to persevere, but it will be in the strength and power of God’s Spirit within us that we can remain strong and keep pressing on, despite all opposition.

Of Good Courage (2 Co. 5:6-9)

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.”

If we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives, and we are proclaiming his message of salvation to a lost world, and we are encouraging the body of Christ in the faith, and we are urging our brothers and sisters in Christ to live holy lives, pleasing to God, there are going to be people who just won’t like us, and who won’t like the messages we are sharing. And, we may even face strong opposition from those closest to us – from our friends, from family members, fellow Christians, and even from leaders within the church.

Yet, we must maintain an eternal perspective always. God did not place us on this earth for our own comfort and enjoyment, and so that we would be liked by everyone. He placed us here to love, worship, honor and serve him with our lives. His will for us is that we deny self, and daily take up our cross and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin and self), for his sake, we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25).

This world is not my home. I’m just passing through. My home is in heaven with God, and that is where I am going one day, to be with my Lord forever. This body and this world in which I now live is temporary. So, if they take my life, it just means I get to be with my Lord. So, I should never fear what man (or woman) might do to me, because God is on my side, and he will give me all I need to endure to the end and to keep on praising his name and sharing his truths with all those who need to hear. My goal is to please my Lord, even if it means even greater persecution and rejection, or death.

Courage to Speak (Phil. 1:12-14, 18b-20)

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Sometimes, when we are going through difficult circumstances, we may get bogged down in the whole “Woe is me” syndrome, and we may lose sight of the bigger picture. All we see is what is right in front of our faces, and we don’t see that God is working in ways we cannot see, behind the scenes. He has purposes for what we are going through far beyond our ability to even comprehend, at times. So, what may look to us like something bad, he may be working for good in other people’s lives, or even in our own lives.

Persecution is certainly not pleasant. It is painful, whether physically or emotionally, or both. No one I know enjoys being hated or mistreated or falsely accused or gossiped about. Yet, sometimes it is a blessing in disguise. For example, in America we have had little serious persecution of Christians on a large scale, though it is certainly present here. And, in America we also have many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ whose lifestyles speak just the opposite. So, sometimes opposition and rejection can be a good thing in that they produce repentance, revival, and the salvation of souls, and they help to strengthen us in our resolve to live committed lives to Christ, and to be bold in our witness.

And, God is able to see us through any and every situation, for his purposes, and for his glory and praise. He will give us all the encouragement we need to keep pressing on, as we learn to trust him with our lives and with our reputations, too. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. So, we live for Christ to serve him, and to do his will, and to please him in all ways, and we commit our lives into his capable hands. We trust in his sovereign power over our lives, that he knows what is best. And, we believe that God will work everything out for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose (Ro. 8:28).

Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.

Our Walk

Thursday, July 20, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (ESV) on the subject of our spiritual walk with Christ.

Walk in Daylight (Ro. 13:11-14)

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Those who are outside of faith in Jesus Christ are spiritually asleep, i.e. they have not yet been awakened to the gospel of our salvation and to eternal life with Christ Jesus, our Lord. This results in death spiritually. And, this also describes many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, but who do not truly know him. Yet, true believers in Jesus Christ have been awakened spiritually, and have received salvation from sin and new life in the Spirit, in which they now walk, or in which they should now be walking. Nonetheless, it is possible for those who have once been awakened to begin to drift off into a spiritual slumber and to fall back into some of their old ways of living (See: Rev. 2-3), and they need to be reawakened (revived), for the time of the Lord’s return is nearer, when our salvation will be completed.

So, the counsel here is that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we need to cast off any works of darkness in our lives, and we need to put on the light of truth, righteousness, and holiness. We are to live our lives in a manner which is consistent with our confession of faith in Jesus Christ, in all decency, honesty, integrity, uprightness, and morality. And, we are to rid our lives of all lies, deceit, impurity, immorality, indecency, rage, spite and malice.

Our walk is how we live day in and day out. It is how we conduct our lives. It is our lifestyle. This is not to say we will never sin (See 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that we should not conduct our lives after the flesh, but that our lifestyles should reflect Jesus Christ and his purity and righteousness. In fact, we should make no allowance at all for immorality, deceit or malice in our lives whatsoever. This means we should not even allow ourselves to be entertained (via TV, movies, games, etc.) by anything containing sensuality, immorality, and indecency, or promoting lies, cheating, mockery, or malice.

Walk Worthy (Ephesians 4:1-3; Col. 1:9-14)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to walk (conduct our lives) in a manner (way, behavior) worthy (commendable) of the Lord and of his calling on our lives. We are his representatives, his body, and as such, our lives should reflect him and his righteousness and holiness, and not our sinful flesh. For, when God calls us to be his servants, and his heirs of the promise of eternal life with God, it is not merely so we should escape hell and go to heaven when we die. We are called to be holy, and to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into Christ’s likeness. In fact, we are predestined to be conformed into the image of Christ, and even before the creation of the world we were called to be holy. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not that we should have a free license to continue in sin without guilt.

So, daily we should be becoming more like Jesus in all that we do, think, are and say, and we should be daily putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, in order that we might live with Christ for eternity (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6). And, we should live lives pleasing to God, and not to please ourselves (2 Co. 5:15). We should be growing in our walks of faith every day, maturing in Christ, being transformed in mind and heart, and being strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit of God. We should live our lives, in other words, as though God has truly delivered us out of the domain (ownership) of darkness (sin, Satan), and as though we are now living in the light of his truth and his righteousness (what is deemed right in the eyes of the Lord).

Walk in Him (Col. 2:6-8; 1 Thess. 4:1-8)

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

If we are walking (conducting our lives) in Christ Jesus, we are not living to gratify the desires of our sinful flesh. We don’t love the world of sin, i.e. we don’t long for what is unholy, unrighteous, wicked, and evil, etc. Our passion (zeal) is for Christ and his truth, not for what tickles itching ears, or for what appeases our sinful flesh. We don’t follow after human beings and their philosophies and worldly ways, but we follow the path of righteousness and holy living. We are also not tossed back and forth by the winds of false doctrines, “by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (See: Eph. 4:11-16). We are not looking for feel-good messages which make us comfortable in our flesh, but we long for the deep truths of scripture which teach us the way of holiness, that we may walk in it.

So many people today are teaching that God requires nothing of us at all other than some non-descript faith in Jesus Christ, which does nothing more than acknowledge who Jesus is and/or what he did for us in dying for our sins, and which merely accepts his forgiveness of our sins, but which never dies with him to sin and which does not live with him to righteousness. They also teach that God is always pleased with us and that he delights in us even when we are engrossed in sinful rebellion against him. But, scripture does not teach that. Scripture teaches that we must repent (turn from) our sins, and we must walk in obedience to our Lord and live lives pleasing to him if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God.

Zeal for Your House
An Original Work / August 1, 2016

Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
Lord, I love my times with You.
I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
List’ning to You speaking to me,
Gently guiding me in truth.

Lord, You are my life’s example,
Showing me how I should live.
I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
No greater joy have I when serving You.
Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
I’m yielding to Your will.

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
See the church turned upside down:
Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
Gospel message made appealing,
So the world will feel at home.

Lord, we need a great revival.
Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
Be restored to God again.

Take No Part

Friday, June 23, 2017, 3:16 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “More About Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV).

Be Imitators (vv. 1-2)

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

We, as followers of Jesus Christ, and as God’s children, are to imitate (emulate) God. In other words, we are to pattern our lives after Him, become like Him in all that we do, say and are, and we are to follow (obey) Him in doing what he says, and in being who he has called us to be and to do. So, first of all we need to get to know our Lord, first by his saving grace to us, through faith in him, and then in growing (maturing) in him and in our faith. We do this through time spent daily with him in his Word, listening to our Lord speak his words to our hearts, and then by obeying what he teaches us. We also do this through times spent with him in prayer, talking with him, listening to him, and resting (trusting) in him for all things.

As we better get to know Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, and we learn more about him and his will and plan for our lives, and we follow him in obedience, and in surrender to his will, we begin to walk in (live in) love. This love, though, is not human love, but it is God-like love, in which we are to live and to conduct our lives. Therefore, it focuses in what God approves. It prefers what God prefers. It centers in moral preference (1). It is self-sacrificial and considers others’ needs above our own. And, it looks out for what is in the best interest of others, rather than for what their flesh may desire. So, it is not going to lie to people to make them feel better about themselves, especially about their sinful behaviors. But, it will speak the truth in love, because that is loving and kind. Lies are never loving or kind.

Not Named (vv. 3-6)

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

It should not be heard of that there is sexual immorality, all impurity (corruption, adulteration), and covetousness (greed, jealousy, envy) among the saints of God. We, too, should also not be involved with others in conversations which are sexual, immoral or corrupt (dishonest, crooked, perverted or harmful) in nature. Wow! So, how is it that so many Christians today, including pastors, do not follow this, and, in fact, many are struggling with sin addiction? These things should not be! They should not be common place. Christians should also not be viewing movies or TV shows or internet sites which glorify sin, or which entertain with sinful attitudes and behaviors. We should not be taking these things into our minds at all! How can we be pure in heart if we regularly consume what is impure? And, then call it entertainment? Too many Christians today are obsessed with having to be entertained incessantly. This is not why Jesus saved us from our sins!

I believe one of the reasons why sexual immorality is rampant among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ is because of private internet access via smart phones, tablets, and laptop (portable) computers, the influence of TV, lack of accountability, and the notion that we are here to be entertained and to gratify our own fleshly desires, which is what the world promotes.

Another big reason for the vastness of sexual immorality within the church is due to the teaching of a false grace gospel which teaches its adherents that they can just acknowledge who Jesus is, accept his sacrifice for their sins, and that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross. And, then they tell them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that he smiles on them even when they are willfully engaged in immoral acts, including viewing pornography or watching sexually charged TV shows or movies. And, to top it off, they tell them that they now have heaven guaranteed them when they die, no matter what they do from this point forward, thus giving them free license (carte blanche) to continue in willful sin against God.

Yet, the Bible does not teach this false grace gospel. It says plainly that if we continue in sin, if we practice sinning, and if we walk (in lifestyle and conduct) in darkness (sin) or according to our sin nature (flesh), we will die in our sins, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9). If we regularly, consistently, and habitually are involved in immorality, impurity and in idolatry, and this is the practice of our lives, over the course of our lives, and it is always what we fall back on, and there are no obvious signs that we are actually moving away from these sins, then we have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Don’t let anyone deceive you by telling you that you have eternal life guaranteed, and that you don’t have to repent.

Not Partake with Them (vv. 7-14)

Therefore, do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

We are not to partner with or partake with those who are sexually immoral, impure, corrupt, or who are idolaters. And, this includes not allowing ourselves to be entertained by those who do these things, or who act (as in a play) as though they do, or who promote sinful acts. Those who practice such things must not be our close friends, and if they profess to be Christians, we are not to hang out with them at all. Bad company corrupts good character. If we take garbage in, garbage is what will come out. If we want to be pure in heart and mind, we need to take into our minds what is wholesome, pure, true, right, honorable, holy, and godly, etc. And, we need to choose our friends and companions wisely and prayerfully. Instead of pacifying or participating in what is unholy, unrighteous and ungodly, we should be those who expose the fruitless deeds of darkness. And, we should find out what pleases our Lord, and do that, instead.

How You Walk (vv. 15-21)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

As saints and as children of God, followers of Jesus Christ, and as those being led by the Spirit of God, we need to be careful about how we live our lives, examining our conduct before God in prayer, rejecting the impure and immoral, and clinging to what is good, wholesome, pure and righteous. We need to read our Bible, see what it says about how we are to live, and then walk in that truth, instead of following after the pattern of the world. We also need to examine before God in prayer, and in the reading of his Word, as to what purpose we were placed on this earth. Why are we here? What are we supposed to be doing? Are we here for our own pleasure, or to please God?

Instead of just existing, putting in time, entertaining ourselves, and gratifying our fleshly desires, we need to find out what the will of God is for our lives, and then do it! We don’t have tomorrow guaranteed. We need to live for God today while we still have today, and we need to not forget what the Bible teaches with regard to who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Instead of living our lives outside of the Spirit’s control, we need to be living and walking in the power of the Spirit of God, filled to overflowing, giving thanks to God, submitting to one another, and sharing with God’s people all the riches of God’s grace which he has bestowed upon us. And, we must be encouraging one another away from sinful practices, and toward godliness and holiness, so that none of us will be led astray by sin’s deceitfulness.

More About Jesus / Hewitt / Sweney

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.

More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

More about Jesus; on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/26.htm

Distortions of Truth

Monday, June 19, 2017, 3:38 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “A Believer’s Prayer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 1 (NASB).

To Rescue Us (vv. 1-5)

Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.

What is the gospel of our salvation? It is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. Then, he was crucified on a cross, although he had done no wrong, merely because people hated him, were jealous of him, were threatened by him, didn’t like what he taught, didn’t like some of the things he did, didn’t agree with what he stood for, and didn’t believe him for who he was (and is). Yet, this was all in God’s plans and purposes from the beginning of time, that he should be our sacrificial Lamb to take away the sins of the world.

For, you see, when we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, without hope of salvation, and without the promise of eternity with God. We have all sinned, and we have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit (Ro. 3:23). So, Jesus, although he knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. But, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. He did all this for us that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us.

When we believe 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. The old has gone. The new has come. For, you see, Jesus didn’t die that horrible death merely to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die. He died to radically transform our lives, to deliver us out of bondage to sin, and to free us to now become bond-slaves of his righteousness. He died that we might be rescued from the kingdom of darkness, and that we might be brought into God’s wonderful light (Jesus Christ, righteousness, and truth). Our salvation does not mean we are merely forgiven our sins so we can continue in sin without guilt. Jesus died to rescue us from this present evil age, that we might walk in his holiness and righteousness.

A Different Gospel (vv. 6-9)

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

There are many people who are distorting the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are twisting God’s Word to make it say what their itching ears want to hear. These distortions of truth come in many different forms, all of which I cannot cover in such a short period of time. One of the most grievous ones, though, is what I term a “false grace gospel.” These people distort God’s grace to make it a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, thus they dilute the true gospel, as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, to make it more acceptable to the world and more agreeable to the adulterous and idolatrous church. Thus, they teach that God requires nothing of us – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross.

The gospel message they end up with is no gospel at all, because it leaves its adherents still in slavery (addiction) to sin. Now, this is not to say that we will never sin, but that, as followers of Christ, sin should no longer be our master or us its slaves, for Jesus freed us from slavery to sin, if truly we have trusted in him to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives. We should no longer walk (in lifestyle; habitually) according to our flesh, but now according to the Spirit of God. For, if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, WE WILL DIE IN OUR SINS. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 2:1-2).

What many of these false teachers are telling people is that all they have to do is believe in the existence of Jesus Christ, and accept his forgiveness of their sins, and that now they have heaven guaranteed them, and it cannot be taken away from them, no matter how they live from this point forward. But, that is not salvation! That is just carte blanche to continue living in sin while believing that you will still go to heaven when you die. But, where is the freedom from slavery to sin in that? There isn’t any, because there is no death to sin, and no resurrection to new lives in Christ Jesus. There is no new birth (being born again) of the Spirit of God, because there has been no death to the old life of living in sin and for self (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

Pleasing God, Not Man (vv. 10-12)

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

I hear many of these false teachers also tell their listeners that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, and that he smiles on us and that he delights in us even when we are engrossed in sin and willful rebellion against him. This is not freedom from sin! This is giving excuses for continued sin against God, and giving God’s blessings upon it, too. Oh, how wrong!

If God is pleased with us with everything we do, even when we are ignoring his Word, and going our own stubborn way, then why does scripture teach us that we need to find out what pleases him and to do it? Why does scripture teach us what does please God? Why does it say that “those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God”? And, why does it say that “whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”? (See: Ro. 8:8; 2 Co. 5:9; Gal. 6:8; Eph. 5:10; Col. 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 11:6; Heb. 13:6; & 1 Jn. 3:22.)

Jesus died on that cross for our sins that we might die to sin and live to please him, and that we might become followers of God, and not of man (humans). What is the point of our salvation if all we do is try to look for loopholes in God’s Word to excuse away our sin, and to try to avoid obeying it? Isn’t that counterproductive? We can’t be servants of the Lord and slaves to sin and the flesh, too. If we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die to sin) for the sake of Jesus Christ, we will have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25).

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

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

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

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

Examples for Us

Friday, December 30, 2016, 6:19 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Draw Me Close to You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:13 (ESV).

Running the Race (9:24-27)

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Evidently the race Paul had in mind here was an athletic contest similar to the Olympics. The athletes went into the strictest of training for these games. The athletes had to be fully dedicated to the contest, doing what it took to win, for them even to be considered as contestants (or participants), I believe. And, they had to be very self-disciplined, exercising self-control in all things, always keeping before them the goal of winning the prize.

And, so we should be, not in our own strength and power, but in the strength and power of the Spirit of God living within us. We should have the same type of commitment to our Lord and to the race he has set before us, which is our walk of faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We should not be meandering around aimlessly, with no real direction, doing what pleases ourselves, with little thought to what we were saved from, and to what we were saved for (or to). For Jesus died, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).

“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5).

We can’t serve God and our flesh, too. We can’t walk in the Spirit and walk according to our sinful flesh, to fulfill our fleshly desires. This does not mean we will be perfect, or that we will never sin, but it means that when we believe in Jesus we die to sin so that we might live to righteousness. The Holy Spirit of God transforms our hearts and minds away from living in sin to living in victory over sin because of what Jesus did in dying for our sin. We now have the Holy Spirit living within us teaching, guiding, empowering, strengthening, encouraging, counseling, correcting and convicting us so that we know the direction not to go, and so we know the way we ought to go.

The Christian life is not free from rules. The New Testament is our rule book for Christian living, and it contains many, many rules by which we are supposed to live as followers of Christ. There are all kinds of dos and don’ts, and put ons and put offs, and warnings of the consequences should we decide to ignore the rules and to go our own way instead. Those who would tell you that God requires nothing of us at all are telling you lies. Jesus and his NT apostles taught repentance and obedience as required for salvation and for forgiveness of sins. So, we need to put off sin, and put on Christ and his righteousness, getting rid of even the things which might lead us into sin, so that we can run the race God has marked out for us to run.

God was Not Pleased (10:1-5)

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

There is a popular teaching today, even in evangelical churches, that says that once you believe in Jesus that God is pleased with you no matter what you do. That is blatantly false. It is not what the Bible teaches at all. And, some take it a step further by saying that God delights in us even when we are steeped in sin and rebellion against him, and we are ignoring his commands, and we are boldly and willfully choosing to sin against him, and right in his face, too. At least, that is what is implied.

Yet, consider these verses: “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Ro. 8:8). “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it” (2 Co. 5:9). “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8). “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer” (2 Tim. 2:4). “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:6). “…and find out what pleases The Lord” (Eph. 5:10).

Don’t Put Christ to Test (10:6-13)

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

So, because God was not pleased with the Israelites, whom he had delivered out of slavery in Egypt, but who continually rebelled against him in the desert, even turning to false gods in rejection of the One True God, he killed them all off so that they were not able to enter the Promised Land. Only those who remained faithful to God and believed him and did what he said were able to enter. And, this was written down for us (Christians) as an example to us so that we don’t do like they did, and end up not being able to enter our “promised land,” i.e. eternal life with God in glory.

For you see, Jesus said that if we would come after him we must deny self and take up our cross daily and follow him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives (are crucified with Christ in death to sin), we will gain eternal life. Paul reiterated this when he said that if we walk according to our sinful flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in the darkness, we are liars, and we don’t live by the truth (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).

So, don’t put Christ to the test, i.e. don’t test the limits of his grace. You know the rules. Live by them, and do not do what you know is contrary to his commands (his teachings/instructions to us). If you do, you are playing with fire, and the end result may not be what you are expecting at all. He died that you might no longer live for yourself, but for him who gave his life up for you, so choose to live to please him in all things from now on.

Draw Me Close to You / Donnie McClurkin

Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend

You are my desire
And no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else can take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace

Help me find a way
Bring me back to You
You’re all I want…