The Goodness of God

Wednesday, August 9, 2017, 5:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 27 (Select vv. NASB).

My Salvation (vv. 1-3)

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

We are all born into this world with sin natures. We all fall short of attaining God’s divine approval, by human effort. So, God the Father sent his Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) into the world to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross so that we might become the righteousness of God (1 Co. 5:21). So, 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, on our behalf. He died that we might die with him to sin. And, he lives that we might live with him to his righteousness. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:14; & 1 Pet. 2:24).

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, thus, 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 (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). The old has gone. The new has come. This is what it means to be “born again” of the Spirit of God. Our lives are changed, transformed of God’s Spirit away from living to sin and self and to living to Christ and his righteousness. Now we no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, not necessarily in sinless perfection (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but in a consistent and persistent walk of faith, daily, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are given the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. The Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell within us, and he lives within us to empower, strengthen, guide, teach, counsel, convict, rebuke and encourage us in our walks of faith with our Lord Jesus. Through our times of fellowship with our Lord each day in his Word, listening to him speak his truths to our hearts, and through prayer, talking with him and listening to him, we grow in our faith and knowledge of our Lord, and we are strengthened in our faith, and mature in our spiritual walks. We learn to know his sovereignty over our lives, and that we never have any reason to fear the enemy of our souls (Satan) or any of his servants and messengers, for our God and Lord will give us all we need to remain faithful to him.

He Will Not Leave (vv. 7-10)

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.

Coming to faith in Jesus Christ does not mean we won’t face difficulties in this life, or that we won’t know trouble, hardships, pain, suffering or heartaches. In fact, Jesus said that if we follow him, we will suffer like he suffered, and we will be treated like he was treated. But then he, although he was perfect, learned obedience through the things that he suffered. And, we, as well, learn obedience, including patience, perseverance, love, faithfulness, trust, and humility, etc. through our sufferings and hardships.

Our Lord will never abandon or forsake us, though. He will remain faithful even if we are faithless. He will always be there to comfort, encourage, give hope and healing, and to counsel us in the way that we should go. He will give us everything we need to live godly and holy lives for him in this present world and to not give way to fear. We just need to keep seeking his face and his counsel, and we must trust him with our lives, and rely upon his strength and power, and then rest in him, and believe that he will work out all things for good for those who love him, who obey him, and who have been called according to his purpose (Ro. 8:28).

Teach Me Your Way (vv. 11-14)

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless
I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.

The goal of our salvation is not merely that we should escape hell (eternal damnation) and have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth. God’s grace to us is also not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we lie and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:5-9). And, if we continue to make sin our practice, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

The goal of our salvation is that we forsake our sinful lifestyles, and that we walk righteously before God to please him in all that we do, and think, and are, and say. Jesus becomes our husband, and we, as his church, become his bride. So, we forsake our former “lovers,” and we commit ourselves to him to faithfulness, obedience, and to making him our only Lord and Master. We do this because we love him, and because we are now in relationship with him, and our desire is now for him. So, we want him to teach us his ways, because we want to walk in them, and no longer live to please our sinful flesh. This is not to say we will never sin again, but that our desire should now be for him, to walk in his ways, and that we will now walk (in lifestyle) according to his Spirit, and no longer according to our flesh.

When we make that decision to follow our Lord in obedience, though, we will face opposition from our enemy and from his followers (his servants and messengers), and from those whom he has deceived with his many lies. And, there will be those who will bear false witness against us, who will slander us, and because they hate us and our testimonies for Jesus Christ, and our relationship with our Lord. They are those who are still bound in their sins or are those whom the enemy is deceiving that they can still be addicted to sin and that God’s grace covers it all. And, so they will find the true gospel and its messengers an offense to the lifestyles they choose.

Yet, we are not to fear them or their slanderous tongues, or their mistreatment of our bodies, for our Lord is completely sovereign over all that he has made, and he will see us through it all to victory. He will carry us through it all, and he will give us everything we need to endure and to come out shining like gold. And, one day we will get to be with our Lord forever, and all sorrow, pain and crying will cease. Amen! So, we just need to wait on our Lord, believe what he says, trust in his promises, take courage, keep on loving others, and keep on loving and serving our Lord with our lives.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Flaming Darts

Saturday, July 22, 2017, 5:53 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Do Your Best.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV).

The Evil Day (vv. 10-13)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Before the creation of the world, as we know it, there was an angel in heaven named Lucifer (Is. 14:12) (3). He decided that he wanted to be God, and so he rebelled against God, along with about a third of the angels in heaven, so he was cast to the earth (1). Lucifer, now called Satan (the devil, the dragon), is now considered to be the “god of this world” (or “god of this age”) (2 Co. 4:4). He is also called “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) (2). When we are outside of faith in Jesus Christ, we are under the power and control of Satan (and sin). When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are delivered from Satan’s dominion over our lives. Amen!

Yet, Satan is not God Almighty. The God who created this world and all living creatures is still completely sovereign over all that he has made (See: Eph. 1:15-23; Col. 1:15-20; Rev. 3:14; Col. 2:9-10; & 1 Pet. 3:21-22). Satan can only do what he does because God allows it, within limits set by God, and only for a predetermined amount of time, after which God will judge Satan and all his hordes (Rev. 19:17-21; 20:1-15). Satan has no real power over those of us who have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Yet, he can tempt, oppress and afflict us, and attempt to influence, persuade, and manipulate us, if God allows it, and for God’s purposes in our lives. So, that is why we are given this spiritual armor with which to fight off the devil’s evil schemes against us.

So, why does God allow Satan to rule (within limits) over this world? My thinking on that subject is that God wanted a people who would choose to serve and love him, not because we have to, but because we want to. So, he did not make us puppets (marionettes) on strings, which he controlled. He gave us free will to choose evil or good, lies or truth, wickedness or righteousness, self (and Satan) or God. When we are tempted to do evil, but we choose, instead, to obey God, God is pleased with that. And, this wrestle against these spiritual forces of evil helps to strengthen and mature us in our faith and commitments to Christ, to follow him in obedience and surrender to his will. It pushes us towards God, as we learn to call on our Lord for help.

Stand Strong (vv. 14-17)

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, …

So, since we have these spiritual evil forces working against us, we must stand strong in the Lord and in his mighty strength, and we must daily put on this armor of God. So, how do we do this? Well, for one, we do this by daily resisting Satan, fleeing evil desires, pursuing righteousness, and by drawing near to God in full assurance of faith, being cleansed of our sins (Jas. 4:7-8; 2 Tim. 2:22).

Yet, so many Christians fail to take up their spiritual armor daily because they are not resisting Satan, fleeing evil, or pursuing righteousness. Instead, they are playing with evil and are allowing themselves to be entertained by it on a daily basis, while they are neglecting the Word of God in the putting on of what they have learned into practice in their daily lives.

Another thing we need to realize here is that God/Jesus already won this battle for us. It is not as though Satan has power over us. He doesn’t! Jesus delivered us from the dominion of Satan. So, in the power and might of God living within us we CAN STAND STRONG in our faith and against these forces of evil, and we CAN RESIST SATAN and flee evil desires, and we CAN pursue righteousness. We are not defeated. Satan is! We just have to believe this, and we need to act on it by doing the things we have talked about here, and by putting on this armor daily.

When Satan lies to us, we combat his lies with the truth. When he twists the truth and mingles it with lies, we use the Word of God against him, like Jesus did when Satan tempted him in the wilderness. When the devil casts doubts into our minds, we put on faith (and truth), which will extinguish Satan’s flaming darts. When he tempts us with immorality, we reject it, and we put on Christ’s righteousness and holiness. When he tries to get us to be afraid, we put on faith, truth, and the Word of God, etc. If we want to live victorious Christian lives, we have to put off (reject) evil, and we have to put on (live out) Christ’s righteousness and holiness.

Keep Praying (vv. 18-20)

…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Prayer is not merely “saying your prayers.” Prayer is not something we do simply for a predetermined period of time each day, during which we list off our prayer requests and then we are done. Prayer is continuous conversation with God and listening to him speak to our hearts throughout the day (1 Thess. 5:17). It is having the attitude in mind that Christ is with us 24/7, living within us, and speaking to us his words of guidance, counsel, encouragement or correction. He may put a name of someone in our minds at any moment, and so we should pray for that person. Or, he may have something he wants us to do for or with that person, and so we need to inquire of him as to why that person’s name is in our minds, and what he wants us to do.

Often he speaks to me through songs throughout the day, and sometimes in response to what I am thinking about even before I voice it to him in prayer. He can do this with any of us if we are in this continuous attitude of prayer, i.e. in unceasing communion with our Lord to where, at any moment, he may speak, we may hear, and we would be able to respond. This is how he guides us and directs us throughout the day in any and every situation, and how he shows us what we need to do in response to temptation or in regard to Satan’s evil attacks against us. Yet, for this to happen, we must have open channels between us and our Lord to where he can speak to us at any moment, and to where we will respond to what he is saying to our hearts.

And, we need to be in prayer for one another. This does not always have to be done through making lists, though, for we can pray that the Lord would put names into our minds as he wants us to pray for them, and even that he would give us the words he wants us to pray, so that we are praying in the Spirit and not in our human flesh. Sometimes he does this through circumstances, where he burdens our hearts with a need, so that we will pray for that need. We do, most certainly, need to be praying for one another that we would be strong in our faith and that we would be bold in our witness for our Lord and for his gospel, for the times are short, and there is much opposition to the gospel of our salvation and to those who are spreading the gospel message throughout the world.

Do Your Best / An Original Work / November 7, 2011
Based off of 2 Timothy 2

Love You, Father, love You, Lord.

Be strong in the grace of Christ.
Endure hardship for your Lord.
Your commander, live to please.
You’ll receive the victor’s crown.
By the rules, run in the race.
Your Lord, you’ll see face to face.
Jesus Christ, raised from the dead;
Of your life, He is the head.
Endure all for the elect.

Love You, Father, love You, Lord.

If we died, we live with Him.
If we last, with Him we’ll reign.
If we disown Him today,
He will have to look away.
Even if we faithless be,
Faithful He’ll remain always.
He cannot disown Himself.
He’s our Lord and Savior, King.
He will reign o’er ev’rything.

Love You, Father, love You, Lord.

Do your best; present yourself
As one who’s approved by God.
Work as one who’s not ashamed;
Rightly share the Word of Truth.
Wander not from what you know.
Destroy not the faith of some.
God’s foundation; it stands firm.
The Lord knows those who are His:
Those who turn from wickedness.

Love You, Father, love You, Lord.

In a house are wood and clay,
Gold and silver, all array.
Some are noble, some are bad –
Cleanse your life, and you’ll be glad;
Useful to the Master’s work.
A pure heart – in righteousness,
Pursue faith and love and peace.
Bad desires you want to flee.
Gentle servant you must be.

Resources:

*Disclaimer: Not an endorsement or pledge of full agreement with content.

(1) https://www.gotquestions.org/Satan-fall.html

(2) https://www.gotquestions.org/Satan-god-world.html

(3) https://www.gotquestions.org/Lucifer-Satan.html

Fellowship

Monday, June 26, 2017, 8:07 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “In Truth.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read selected scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of biblical spiritual fellowship.

What is Christian Fellowship?

From my own experience, I have found that this word “fellowship,” in many Christian circles here in America, is used often more in a secular sense rather than in a biblical sense. For instance, it is called “fellowship” when a group of people, who are connected via profession of faith in Jesus, or via participation with a local church organization, gather together for a social get-together which may or may not be affiliated with or sponsored by that local church organization. This social gathering may involve eating tons of food together, watching TV or movies together, playing games, shopping for non-necessities, or attending a sporting event, etc., and the name of Jesus may or may not even come up at all. Yet, they call it “Christian fellowship.”

So, to begin with I want to look at the definition of biblical (Christian and spiritual) “fellowship” (koinónia). It means “participation, communion, partnership, sharing in, communion; what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship (partnership, community)” (1). “Koinonia is being in agreement with one another, being united in purpose, and serving alongside each other. Our koinonia with each other is based on our common koinonia with Jesus Christ” (2). And, that last sentence here really is key to understanding true biblical (spiritual and Christian) fellowship.

Fellowship with Christ (1 Co. 1:9; Phil. 3:10)

“God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…”

So, if we are called into fellowship with Jesus Christ, and to share in the fellowship of his sufferings, what does that look like? It means we participate with Christ in death to sin and in being resurrected with him to newness of life in Christ Jesus, in the Spirit of God, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:24). It means we partner with Jesus Christ, that we are in agreement with him, that we are united with him in his purpose for our lives, and that we serve him faithfully. This means that we turn away from our sinful lifestyles, forsake our idols, and we turn to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives. We also accept the fact that following Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives means we will be hated, rejected, persecuted and abandoned, just like he was.

Fellowship of the Spirit (Phil. 2:1-4)

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

When we trust Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, and we become his servants, bond-slaves to him and to his righteousness, his Holy Spirit comes to live within us, to empower, strengthen, counsel, teach and guide us in the way that we should go, so that we can live holy lives, pleasing to God. His will is the will of the Father and that of the Son, and that is that we live holy lives, set apart (unlike, different) from the world of sin because we are being made into the image of Christ. So, to be in fellowship with the Spirit is to agree with God, and to be united with him in his purpose for our lives, which is that we die with Christ to sin and that we live with Christ to his righteousness.

So, when we are united with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – likeminded in heart, mind and purpose, which is to walk in obedience to our Lord and to do his will, and to no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, then we can also be likeminded, united in purpose, and having the same (agape) love as other believers in Jesus who are also united with God in heart, mind and purpose. And, this should result in us not living to please ourselves, but God, and in us serving one another unselfishly. We should put others’ true needs above our own, and we should look out for what is in the best interest of others, i.e. regarding what they truly need, not necessarily regarding what they want. And, this involves laying our lives down in order to see others go free from slavery to sin, and to walk in holiness, righteousness and godliness, even if it means we are hated, persecuted and rejected in return.

Fellowship with One Another (Acts 2:42-47)

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

These believers in Jesus Christ, when they got together, continually devoted themselves to the teaching of the Word of God, and to remembering what Jesus Christ did for them in dying for their sins, and in rising from the dead. They were devoted to sharing meals together, and to prayer (talking with and listening to their Lord). They witnessed many miracles of God in their midst, and they shared with one another as they had need. Day by day they met together, continuing with one mind, which was the mind of Christ, and giving thanks to God/Jesus and praising Him, and the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Their fellowship was based in Jesus Christ, not in the flesh of humans, and it was centered on God’s will for their lives, learning from him, and sharing his love and grace with others. And, the result was that many came to faith in Jesus Christ. It was not about being entertained, but it was about sharing in Jesus Christ and in his saving grace to us, loving him, and loving others.

Fellowship with Darkness (2 Co. 6:14)

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?

It is not Christian fellowship if we are united with, in agreement with, in partnership with or we participate with those who are walking in darkness (sin, wickedness) in their wicked (sinful) deeds. It is also not Christian fellowship if we unite (agree with) the world (worldliness) via ungodly activities we participate in, sinful attitudes and behaviors we adopt as part of our lives, or via unholy and wicked scenarios we regularly feed into our minds via TV, movies, the internet, books, magazines, and the like. In other words, don’t call it Christian fellowship if Christ has no part in it, if he is opposed to what we are doing, and if what we are doing stands in opposition to his will for our lives or his teachings (or those of the NT apostles).

For example, if when we gather together for what we call “Christian fellowship,” but Jesus Christ is not even included in what we do, nor would he want to be, then it isn’t “Christian fellowship,” but it is worldly, fleshly and/or it is darkness – unrighteousness and ungodliness. And, that has no communion (no fellowship or partnership) with what is light (truth, righteousness, holiness, godliness, etc.). So, we are not to participate in what is darkness, but we are to have fellowship with what is light. For, the two do not mix. And, we should not try to mix them, either. True fellowship begins with God, with being likeminded with him in following his will and his ways, and it is based in Jesus, and in the Word of God, and not in the will of humans or in the passions and desires of our sinful flesh.

Fellowship with God (1 Jn. 1:5-7)

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

And, here is the crux of the matter. If we say we have fellowship (agreement, like-mindedness, and unity of purpose) with God, but we conduct (live) our lives to please our sinful flesh, instead, we are liars. If we call what we do with others “Christian fellowship” but everything we do with them has nothing to do with Christ or his eternal kingdom, but everything to do with selfish pleasure and entertainment, we are liars, or we are fooling ourselves. True fellowship with Christ or true Christian fellowship with others is about walking in the light (truth, righteousness), pleasing God, serving others, and it is about following Christ and his Word, and sharing it with others so they can come to know Jesus Christ and his salvation, too.

So, if we want to have true fellowship with Christ and with others, we need to walk (conduct our lives) in the light (truth, righteousness). And, we need to no longer live to gratify our sinful cravings and passions. It is important that we realize that God’s grace to us is not solely for the purpose to deliver us from hell and to promise us heaven when we leave this earth. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we walk 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. God’s grace is not free license to continue in willful sin against God. But his grace instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

(See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Jn. 6:35-66; Acts 26:16-18; Gal. 5:19-21; & Tit. 2:11-14).

In Truth / An Original Work / January 10, 2012

Fellowshipping with my Lord, Savior, King.
He is Lord of all; Lord of ev’rything.
He is with me through ev’ry hour of day,
List’ning to me speak, as I humbly pray.
He cares for my needs,
and He intercedes for me,
‘cause He loves me in ev’ry way.

Obey His commands, and do all He says.
Sitting at His feet, daily in His word,
Let His word speak to me in ev’ry way,
Giving comfort and healing through each day.
Oh, how Jesus loves,
And He cares for you,
Which is why He died for our sins, in truth.

Love our Lord God, Savior, and King of kings.
Worship Him in truth, for He reigns supreme.
He created us with a plan in mind
For us to be His servants, and Him mind.
Follow Him in truth;
Go where’er He leads.
Share His love with others, and their needs meet.
Others: their needs meet.

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/2842.htm
(2) http://www.gotquestions.org/koinonia.html#ixzz387XFegim

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.

The Faith We Profess

Monday, June 5, 2017, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Blessed Assurance.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Colossians 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Our Faith (vv. 3-8)

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, what should that faith look like? Well, first of all, where does this faith come from? And, do we generate this faith ourselves?

In the Bible we read, first of all, that no one can even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws him (Jn. 6:44). Generally, this is done through the preaching of the gospel of our salvation (Ro. 10:14-15). Yet, God is certainly not limited to depending on humans to tell people about himself; about Jesus Christ (Ro. 1:18-20; Ps. 19:1-6; Lu. 19:40; Rev. 14:6). Then, once the Father draws us to Christ, then he also gives us the faith to believe in him (Eph. 2:8-10). This faith is not the kind we might muster up ourselves out of our own human flesh, though. This faith is divinely persuaded as to God’s perfect will for our lives. It submits to God’s will, because it comes from God, and it is of God (of his divine character).

So, what is this gospel of grace? Where do we learn about it? We learn about it in the “Word of Truth.” And, it is “the grace of God in truth.” We learn about it, not just in the New Testament books of the Bible, though, for there are many prophecies of scripture concerning this gospel of grace in the Old Testament, too. And, it is the Holy Spirit of God who reveals it to us, who convicts our hearts of sin, and who convinces us of our need of the Savior.

What is this gospel? It is first of all that humans are born into sin, and thus they come up short of attaining God’s divine approval. They are bound for eternity in hell, without God, and without hope (Ro. 3:23; Ro. 6:23). And, there is nothing we can do in our flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation. So, it is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – left his throne in heaven, came to earth, became flesh, and dwelt among us. He suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. And, he was hung on a cross to die, although he had done no wrong, but in his death he took upon himself our sins so that we could die to sin and live to righteousness (Jn. 1; Phil. 2; 2 Co. 5:21; Is. 53).

And, what should it look like when we believe in Jesus, and in his gospel? It should radically transform 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 (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). And, holiness means to be set apart (unlike, different) from the world of sin because we are being conformed to the image (likeness) of Christ Jesus, our Lord. We are turned from darkness (sin) to light (Jesus Christ, truth, righteousness), and from the power of Satan to God, so we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified (purified, made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18). The old has gone, the new has come.

God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. If you believe that you can have faith in Jesus Christ, and that God requires nothing of you – no repentance, no submission and no obedience to Christ, then you are sadly mistaken. That is human faith, not God-given faith. We have to remember here that James said that even the demons believe, and they shudder. Sadly, many who call themselves Christians don’t even shudder, i.e. they have no fear (honor, respect) of God. Yet, God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not just about freeing us from hell’s fires and promising us heaven when we die. His grace 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, what should this faith look like? It should be surrendered to God, in death to sin and living to his righteousness. And, it should be bearing fruit and increasing, and not be stagnant and complacent. In other words, we should be growing in our faith, and we should be maturing in our spiritual walks. We should be denying the flesh, and by the Spirit we ought to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh. We should be walking in the Spirit and no longer living to gratify the desires of the sinful flesh (Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Jn. 1:6). And, we must have love for others, especially for other followers of Christ, for if we hate and devour one another, how, then, can the love of God be in us? (1 Jn. 2:11; 1 Jn. 4:20).

Worthy of the Lord (vv. 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.

First, we must have the correct foundation. If our faith is based in human flesh, and it is not God-given faith, then what follows will not take place, because we have a faulty base. If a house is built on a faulty foundation, it won’t last. When the storms of life come crashing in, it will fall. If we believe that all we have to do is acknowledge Jesus’ existence, and accept his forgiveness of our sins, but that nothing is required of us, then that is the wrong foundation, and our house will fall. But, if we believe the words of Jesus and those of the NT apostles, that coming to Christ means we die with Christ to sin so that we don’t live in sin any longer, and that repentance and obedience are required as part of believing faith (God-given faith), then by God’s grace, we can walk (in lifestyle) in a manner worthy of our Lord.

Then, we can be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, because we don’t have an attitude that we don’t have to obey him. Why would he fill us with the knowledge of his will if we are predisposed to ignore that knowledge, and to go our own way? Why would he show us anything if we feel we now have our ticket into heaven, that nothing can take it away, so it doesn’t matter if we still play around with sin, or if we make it our practice to excuse away willful sin as all covered by God’s grace. What he will show us is that we have the wrong foundation, and he will show us the correct way to him and to salvation. And, when we have responded to him with God-given faith, then he will increase our knowledge and understanding so that we can bear fruit in every good work.

Again, coming to faith in Jesus Christ means he rescues us from the domain of darkness (sin, wickedness, the power of Satan), and he transfers us to his eternal kingdom, to live to his righteousness and to his holiness.

Beyond Reproach (vv. 21-23)

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

Here again we have the point of our salvation, which is to deliver us out of slavery to sin. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7). And, it is that we may live a new life – not like the old life. It is that he may present us before himself (God) holy and blameless and beyond reproach, not just positionally, but experientially. In other words, it is not just that Jesus’ righteousness is credited to our accounts, but it is that we live righteously in the power and working of his Spirit now living within us (Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Ro. 12:1-2; Lu. 9:23-25; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:24).

But, this is all conditional. We have to continue in the faith we have been given, firmly established and steadfast, not moved away from the hope of the gospel. And, this doesn’t mean we hold out hope that we will go to heaven when we die while we largely or even partially ignore God’s commands and do as we please in the meanwhile. This is not continuing in the faith of the gospel as was taught us by Jesus and by his NT apostles. This is continuing in human faith which promises a false hope of heaven, based in a lie, which is being preached to us by those who are false shepherds and wolves in sheep’s clothing, who are out to kill, to steal and to destroy the church. So, we have to continue in God-given faith, which produces love, obedience, submission, repentance and holy and godly living.

Blessed Assurance / Fanny Crosby

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Testing Your Faith

Sunday, June 4, 2017, 8:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When Pretty Things Get Broken.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 1 (select vv. ESV).

Various Trials (vv. 2-4)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

What is joy? Joy is “grace recognized,” i.e. “the awareness of God’s grace, his favor” (biblehub.com). Jesus, for the joy set before him, “endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). What was the joy set before him? His grace, which he was to extend to all the world via his death on a cross for our sins, and via his resurrection from the dead. It was the knowledge that his death and resurrection would mean life everlasting, and freedom from slavery to sin, to everyone who trusted in him as Lord, and as Savior of their lives.

So, can we be joyful and sad at the same time? Yes, I believe we can, because joy is not dependent on our circumstances. It is not conditional to our human emotions. Even in times of severe trial and great sadness, we can prayerfully and thankfully be appreciative of God’s grace to us, in its various forms, calling on him to help us in our time of need, even with tears streaming down our cheeks. And, that can be joy, because it focuses on Jesus, who is our compassionate and merciful high priest. So, we should “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:3). We need to just rest in him.

Yet, what does it mean to count it all joy when we go through trials? It means to recognize God’s grace in our lives, i.e. that he is doing things in and through us way beyond what we could even imagine. It means trusting in his sovereignty over our lives, believing that, “in all things, he works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Ro. 8:28). Yet, “good” is not necessarily what we want or desire, but it is what God knows is best for us, i.e. what we truly need for us to mature in our faith, and to have steadfastness (persistence) of spirit, and for us to be Christ-like in heart, mind, attitude, faith, word and in action. So, we need to believe him, submit to his Lordship over our lives, and trust him to work it all out according to his plans and purposes, and for his glory.

Need Wisdom? (vv. 5-8)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

When we go through difficulties and trials, we definitely need wisdom to know how to respond with grace, and to not let our circumstances or what others do or say to “ruffle our feathers,” i.e. “to cause confusion, agitation, irritation or annoyance” (yourdictionary.com). There are probably always going to be people in our lives who will try to “get our goat,” i.e. who will attempt to irritate us. But, we can’t let them. We need to rise above these situations, by the grace of God, and by exercising godly wisdom. We must put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20), as well, in order to fight off the temptation to give way to our circumstances and to not trust our Lord.

Yet, when we pray for wisdom to know how to respond with grace and godliness to difficult trials, and to people who want nothing more than to trip us up, and God shows us what to do, then we need to apply to our lives what he shows us, otherwise it was pointless to even ask him.

Remain Steadfast (vv. 12-15)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Some days are better than others. Some days we feel stronger, and other days we feel weak emotionally or physically, and it is more difficult during those times when the trials come. Yet, we don’t endure and persevere in our own strength or willpower. The steadfastness of spirit doesn’t come from within our own flesh. It is supernatural. And, it comes as we yield to our God, cry out to him in our suffering, and trust him to work in and through our lives for his purposes and for his glory. It comes when we learn to rest in him, and we don’t feel like we have to make things happen ourselves, and when we lean on him for understanding and trust in him for his strength.

When we are tempted to give in, give up, blow up, or clam up, that doesn’t come from God. Now, there will be times when God will tell us to be silent, but that will not be all the time, for he has given us mouths to sing his praises, to proclaim his excellencies, to share his gospel, and to call people to repentance and to faith in Jesus Christ. It is Satan who wants to silence us, and to get us to give up, and to yield to pressure to compromise our faith so that people will like us, and so we won’t face persecution. Yet, Jesus said if we are ashamed of him and his gospel, he will be ashamed of us (Mk. 8:38). The devil will also send people along in our lives to try to trip us up, and to try to get us to blow it. We can’t give in to them for a second!

Yet, the devil is not the only force in our lives which tempts us to sin against God. We can be lured and enticed by our own sinful desires. For example, we may be tempted to compromise our faith, or to not speak to people about Jesus, or to dilute the gospel, because we want to be liked by others, and not hated. And, when the Spirit within us prompts us that we need to speak, and not keep silent, or he impresses on our hearts that we need to say something to someone, and we know we will be hated and rejected, we may be tempted to rationalize our way out of it. This is because we know it will mean, not only that this particular person is going to now reject us, but that they are probably going to convince many others to hate us, too. Yet, we have to obey God, even if it costs us our reputations or our very lives.

When Pretty Things Get Broken
By Joni Eareckson Tada

I have a piece of China, a pretty porcelain vase –
It holds such lovely flowers; captures everybody’s gaze.
But fragile things do slip and fall, as everybody knows.
And when my vase came crashing down, those tears began to flow.

My life was just like China, a lovely thing to me;
Full of porcelain promises of all that I might be.
But fragile things do slip and fall, as everybody knows.
And when my life came crashing down, those tears began to flow.

Now Jesus is no porcelain Prince. His promises won’t break.
His holy word holds fast and sure. His love, no one can shake.
So, if your life is shattered by sorrow, pain, or sin –
His healing love will reach right down and make you whole again.

Now don’t we all cry when pretty things get broken?
Don’t we all sigh at such an awful loss?
But Jesus will dry your tears, as He has spoken;
‘Cause He was the one broken on the cross.

https://www.joniandfriends.org/media/uploads/downloads/when_pretty_things_get_broken.pdf