The Wicked Draw Near

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

Wonderful Testimonies (vv. 129-136)

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

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

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

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

Small and Despised (vv. 137-144)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead or Alive?

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

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

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

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

By Reputation Only

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

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

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

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

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

Wake Up!

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

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

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

Walk in White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practicing Holiness

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

Don’t Be Anxious (vv. 4-7)

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

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

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

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

Practice These Things (vv. 8-9)

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

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

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

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

Be Content (vv. 10-13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prepare for Action

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 9:34 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Born Again (vv. 3-5)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

What does it mean to be born again? First, we are born physically of a mother, and then, because of God’s grace to us, and by faith in Jesus Christ, we are born of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord. One is a physical birth. The other is a spiritual birth. So, how are we born again?

Well, first of all Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) had to die on a cross. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). He put our sins to death on that cross. And, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, when we believe in him, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. We are born again of the Spirit of God, and Christ now lives in us.

Various Trials (vv. 6-9)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

So, we rejoice in our salvation and in the hope of eternal life with God. Yet, our hope is not just that one day we will be with our Lord forever, but our hope is in the freedom he has given us to walk (conduct our lives) not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Our hope is that we have a Savior, who is our Lord, but who is also our friend, confidant, counselor, guide, helper, strength, healer, comforter, encourager, and teacher, etc. Our hope is that we are in a personal and intimate relationship with our God, which gives us not only future hope, but present and living hope day by day, which is what keeps us going when times get tough.

Our hope, too, is that God created us for a purpose, and he has given meaning to our lives, and purpose and direction, and that even our trials are part of his plan for our lives in order to purify us, to make us holy, and to prepare us for his service. Also, our trials are for the purpose to test our faith, to make it stronger and more resilient. When we suffer, it is for our good, to make us more like Jesus, and to teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves. We, too, learn patience and perseverance through difficult times. And, we grow closer to our Lord, mature in our faith, and increase in our seriousness of our walk of faith, when we respond to our trials with grace, with trust in our Lord, and with submission to his perfect will for our lives.

Prepare Minds (vv. 13-16)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

In our minds we store memories, good and bad. In our minds we think, we believe, we discern, make decisions, and react to our circumstances. In our minds we entertain sinful thoughts or we dwell on heavenly things. Part of God’s saving grace to us is in the renewing of our minds, in the healing of past hurts, and in transforming how we believe and perceive things. Yet, we have a responsibility regarding our minds, in the renewing process, and that is in the putting off of the old, and the putting on of the new; in thinking about things which are pure, right, true, and beneficial, rather than thinking hateful thoughts or impure thoughts.

We also have a responsibility for what we take into our minds, to make sure that we are not feeding our minds with what is garbage, or what is immoral, wicked, and ungodly, etc. If we take garbage into our minds, that is what is going to come out in our words and actions and attitudes. If we entertain our minds with the sinful acts of others, this is what our minds will dwell on, and often our actions and words will follow suit. So, if we are going to prepare our minds for action, we need to keep our minds pure and focused on Jesus Christ and on the truths of his Word. And, we need to take God’s Word seriously and apply its truths to our daily lives.

Conduct Yourselves (vv. 17-19)

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

What does it mean to conduct ourselves in fear? I believe this is speaking here of the fear of the Lord, which is reverence, respect, honor, value, esteem, adoration, worship, obedience and submission to our Lord. Our conduct is the way in which we live, i.e. our daily practice. This is how we should live, day in and day out. Conducting ourselves in fear is also living on this earth as though we truly do not belong here, as though this world and all its stuff is really not our home, but with an eternal focus in mind. We are not here to build kingdoms on this earth, but to help, to work to advance God’s heavenly kingdom while we still live here. We are not here, in other words, to live to please and entertain ourselves, but we are here to give glory to God in all that we do and say and think and are.

It also means that we live holy lives, pleasing to God. Being holy means we are separate (set apart, unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made to be like Jesus. We should no longer be conformed to the ways (patterns, attitudes, values) of this world, but we are to be transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds. Our new lives should not look like our old lives, and only slightly cleaned up to be more presentable. Our new lives should be radically different from our old lives, because we died with Christ to sin, and we were resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to him and to his righteousness.

Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be
Norman J. Clayton

Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day,
Yielded completely to Jesus alone
Every step of this pilgrim way…

Seek Him

Friday, June 9, 2017, 4:24 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, Lead Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 24 (ESV).

We are The Lord’s (vv. 1-2)

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

Our God is absolutely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made. There is nothing which escapes his notice. What he allows, he allows for a purpose. He knows the beginning from the end. Much of what is going on in the world right now was prophesied about over (or nearly) 2,000 years ago. And, there is a reason for it all. It is by God’s design that many of these things should be happening, that they should be taking place, for they serve the ultimate end which God desires, which is the salvation of human souls.

Who Has Clean Hands (vv. 3-6)

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Who can come into God’s holy presence? And, be in relationship with God Almighty? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. So, how do we get such clean hands and a pure heart? Through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and in what he did for us in dying on a cross for our sins so that we could be delivered from slavery to sin and become servants of his righteousness. So, what does this faith look like? It is divinely persuaded as to God’s perfect will for our lives, and it submits to those purposes. The one who has such faith dies with Christ to sin that he might live to Christ and to his righteousness. He no longer lives (in lifestyle) to gratify the sinful cravings of his flesh, but he now walks (conducts his life) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God (Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24).

Part of walking according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, has to do with honesty and integrity of heart. This person does not make a practice of lying, tricking, deceiving, using or manipulating others to his advantage, nor does he worship what is false. He does not give his heart, mind and soul, his devotion and passion, or his respect and honor to what is not of God, or to what is clearly antichrist and against the teachings of scripture. Nor does he allow his heart to be given in such a way as this, to the degree that it should be given to God, to anything or anyone other than God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for this would be idolatry or spiritual adultery. God is to be first and foremost in all that we do, think or are.

If we want to be blessed of the Lord and have his righteousness credited to our accounts, then we need to understand that faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin and living to righteousness. Jesus said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (die in our sins). But, if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). For, Jesus did not die merely that we might escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).

God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God without guilt, and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, 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). Yet, many people today are rejecting this teaching, and are preaching feel-good messages intended to tickle itching ears and to give their adherents an “escape clause” from living righteously, by telling them that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience, no submission, and no surrender to the Lordship of Christ required, they say. So, they have diluted the gospel to a mere acknowledgment of Jesus Christ and a mere acceptance of his forgiveness of their sins, but this is not faith!

If we want to know God, and to be in relationship with him, to have our sins forgiven, and to have the hope of eternal life, then we need to no longer live according to the flesh, but now according to the Spirit, reborn of the Spirit of God, and empowered to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God. This is what God’s word teaches us: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 6:35-66; Jn. 10:27-30; Acts 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Gal. 2:20; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; & 1 Jn. 2:3-6.

Mighty in Battle (vv. 7-10)

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah

Maybe you have never believed in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of your life, although you have been thinking about it. Or, perhaps, you have a false faith in Jesus, which is no faith at all, because it is based on a lie which has told you that God requires nothing of you for you to have eternal life with God. Or, you may be a true believer in Jesus Christ, but at some point in your Christian walk you drifted away from your pure devotion to Christ, and you allowed the world of sin to creep back into your life. Yet, whatever your situation may be, Jesus is standing at the door, he is knocking, and he is asking to be let into your heart and life, or to be let back into your life.

Yet, know this: Jesus already won the battle over sin for you at the cross. You can do nothing to earn or to deserve your own salvation. We are not saved by our works, but we are saved to good works, which God planned in advance for us to do, that we should walk (in lifestyle) in them (Eph. 2:8-10). Yet, we are his workmanship, so He gives us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. He strengthens and empowers us. We just have to live in his power and strength and no longer give way to the flesh.

He gives us the way out from under temptation, so we can stand up under it. He teaches, counsels, guides and directs us in the way we should go. A walk according to the Spirit is just that – according to and empowered by the Spirit of God, and not of our own flesh or of our own making. He conquered our sin via his death and resurrection. He delivered us out of slavery to sin that we might live righteously before him. We just have to surrender to him and let him work his grace and his righteousness in and through our lives. We just have to say “Yes” to him, and do what he says, all in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us. His yoke is easy and his burden is light, because he carries us through to the end.

Jesus, Lead Me / An Original Work / July 22, 2011

Jesus, lead me all the way.
Be my hope and be my stay.
Gently lead me where I should go,
So Your Spirit, I want to know.
Open up my heart to You.
Fill me with Your love and truth.
Make my heart want to obey.
Be my Lord today. Gently lead always.

Jesus, lover of my soul,
Cleanse my heart, and make me whole;
Be transformed in my heart today,
As I turn from my sin and pray.
Make Your will known to my heart.
May I not from You depart.
How I long to hear You now,
As I humbly bow. Jesus, hear me now.

Who are The Faithful?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 6:22 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 101 (Select vv. ESV).

Far from Me (vv. 1-4)

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we should walk with integrity. What this means is that we should conduct our daily lives with honesty, uprightness, honor, decency, and morality. We should not even look (gaze) at anything which might cause us to stumble or to lead us into sin. We should keep our minds pure and free from all thoughts and attitudes which are contrary to God and to his Word. So, how do we do this? In the power of God’s Spirit, we have to train ourselves, our minds, our ears and our eyes to not entertain what is unholy, impure, immoral, unrighteous, unjust, untrue, dishonorable, unkind and/or hateful, etc. And, we have to fill our minds and hearts with all that is godly, upright, holy, righteous and pure, etc. And, this takes self-discipline.

We also have to hate sinful practices, i.e. the practices of those who fall away from God and from what is right and honest and just. We have to avoid getting involved in gossip, for instance, by walking away from it, and/or by saying good things about people, instead. This is not to say we should never confront sin in sinful humans, but that we need to go to the people, if possible, and not complain about them behind their backs to other people, especially while putting on a front (a false face) to the people in question. This is also not to say that we can never address sinful practices in the church, in general, in the appropriate manner, and call for repentance, but that we should not go around spreading rumors about people, while lacking the courage to speak the truth in love to them. Sinful rebellious practices and lifestyles should have no place in our lives whatsoever!

Practitioners of Deceit (vv. 5, 7)

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not endure.

No one who practices deceit
shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue before my eyes.

We are not to be participants with those who practice what is evil. We are not supposed to even associate with those who call themselves Christians and yet are involved in evil (sinful) practices, as a way of life. We should never console those who practice sinning, in their sin, or be accepting of or entertain (accommodate or invite) their sinful lifestyles, either.

Some of these sinful practices the Lord is pointing out to me this morning, that others are involved in, and which all of us should guard against, are what follows here. For one, there are those who habitually gossip about and slander others. It is what occupies their minds, their thinking. They practice insulting and contemptuous speech and conduct, and they revel in revealing secrets to others, and disclosing private information that can injure others’ reputations, their jobs, their relationships, and their emotional well-being. They will utilize whatever means possible, at their disposal, too, including social media sites, texting, tweeting, chatting, etc., and sometimes to exact revenge on those they think have wronged them in some way or another. And, they have no qualms about making it up as they go along, either.

Then, there are those who bottle up hatred, contempt, unforgiveness and bitterness in their hearts, while on the outside they act as if everything is normal, and there are no issues. They hide their true thoughts and feelings, not out of fear of being hurt, though, but in order to deceive; to give a false impression. But, they are storing up anger to use later against those for whom they feel contempt and hatred. And, they will use what they have stored up inside in order to manipulate, exploit and take advantage of others. They act calm and cool on the outside, but inside they are a raging inferno just waiting to explode. This is part of the game they play, which includes hiding secret sins and acting as though all is good. They believe Satan’s lies, they lie to themselves, and they accept the lies as truth. And, this is often cyclical, repeating the same patterns over and over again.

These types of individuals usually lack self-discipline, they are arrogant, and they will not listen to sound counsel and godly wisdom and instruction. They seem bent on continuing their cyclical patterns of behavior despite everything to the contrary. If these people want to continue in their sinful ways (patterns) of life, no one will be able to convince them otherwise. If they don’t want to hear the advice, although they may pretend they are listening, their addictive patterns of behavior will soon reveal the truth. They didn’t really listen, because they didn’t really want to hear the counsel, and they don’t really want to change, because they don’t think they need to change. These types of people are self-focused and self-absorbed, and they think about themselves above all else. But, God can change them! Amen?

Favor on the Faithful (v. 6)

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless
shall minister to me.

The faithful are those who are walking in the Spirit and no longer are they practicing sinful lifestyles. They are listening to the Lord, seeking his face, and doing what he says, not with absolute sinless perfection, but with persistence, submission, humility, and consistency. They love their Lord, and their desire is for him, to please him in all they do. They walk with integrity of heart, and, by the Spirit, they have trained (or are training) their eyes, ears, mouths and minds to focus on what has eternal value, and to not allow the things of this sinful world to take hold in their lives. They shall minister to God and to his servants, because they walk humbly before their God and they honor his name.

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.

What Do You Think?

Monday, May 8, 2017, 8:02 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Refresh My Spirit, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 1 (ESV).

Ways of the Wicked (v. 1)

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

We are joyous, peaceful and contented in Christ, and in his favor (grace, benefits, and provisions), which he bestows upon us, when we walk (in lifestyle) in the ways of the Lord and not in the ways (counsel, thinking, values and behaviors) of the wicked, who practice sinning against God.

So, in what ways might we be guilty of walking in the counsel of the wicked, of standing in the way of sinners, and of sitting in the seat of scoffers? The answer to this may be as individual as we are, but I can think of some ways which may be common, at least here in America, to the majority. For one, I believe television has played a HUGE role in American households in shaping our thinking, values, morals and behaviors. TV can be very hypnotic, persuasive, addictive and influential in our lives, and it can break down biblical morals and values, and desensitize us to many evils, ever so subtly.

About ten years ago, my husband and I took all of our movies, of which we had plenty, and we compared them to this passage of scripture:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. ~ Phil. 4:8

We literally threw in the trash all movies which did not fit with this passage of scripture. I think that only left about 2 or 3, and later we realized they did not conform, either. What I learned through this process, though, is how easily we are deceived, influenced and manipulated into accepting evil into our minds, hearts and lives, because it is disguised as something else. A lot of it is made out to be fun, innocent, and charming, and if we are brought up on this, and it is introduced so slowly and gradually, pretty soon we are accepting more and more, and don’t even realize it. But, that is exactly how Satan works. So, we got rid of our TV, too, and I have not missed it one bit!

Yet, TV is not the only culprit. Obviously the internet can be very seductive, as well, and so can be our close associations, which is why the Bible warns us about that, too, that we should not have close associations with the ungodly, i.e. with those who are living sinful lifestyles, lest we should be led into sin with them. And, it takes it one step further when it says that we should not even associate with a professing Christian who is living a sinful (immoral, wicked) lifestyle, and who has not repented of his or her sin.

Yet, the worst of all, I believe, is the modernized (remodeled) church of today. Why? Because the gatherings of the church should be where we are instructed in the ways of the Lord, where we experience biblical fellowship with other believers in Christ, and where God’s morals, values and thinking are upheld with the highest of honor. When we gather with the church, we anticipate that we should be influenced in what is godly, not in what is worldly. Nonetheless, the world has been brought into much of the church, along with its thinking, values, morals and behaviors, and thus we are even being influenced in the wrong ways within many of our church get-togethers.

Our Delight (v. 2)

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

So, how do we combat all these worldly and wicked influences in our lives, so that we do not walk in their ways? Well, I have suggested one way, and that is to compare the influences in our lives against Philippians 4:8 to see how they compare, and then to rid our lives of those (scripturally speaking) negative and wicked influences, as much as it is in our power to do so.

You have probably heard the phrase, “garbage in, garbage out.” If we take garbage into our minds and hearts, that is what we will reproduce. It is a simple fact. We have to remember here the teachings in the New Testament with regard to cutting out of our lives what leads us to sin (Matt. 18:7-9; Heb. 12:1-2). We have to cut them off (get rid of them) and throw them off so that we can run with perseverance the race God has marked out for us to run. This also fits with the scriptures teaching on fleeing wrong influences, false doctrines, sexual immorality, idolatry, slander, greed, and youthful passions (Jn. 10:5; 1 Co. 6:12-18; 10:14; 1 Tim. 6:3-11; 2 Tim. 2:22).

So, we have to put those wrong influences off, but then we have to put the right ones on. This is a scriptural principle taught throughout the Word of God. Not only do we learn what we need to cut out of our lives, but we learn what we need to pursue, develop and cultivate into our lives, in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us, as we cooperate fully with God’s work of grace in our lives.

And, the way in which we learn these things is by reading, studying and meditating on God’s Word, not just five minutes of the day, but throughout the day and night. And, we can’t do this if we are filling our minds with the junk of the world the majority of the time while we spend little time in God’s Word. And, we also can’t do this if we do not put God’s Word into practice in our lives, and if we walk away after we read it and forget what we learned, and thus we don’t apply it to our lives.

God’s Word has to be our delight! We have to love his Word, and desire it above all other influences in our lives. We have to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and want to walk in the ways of the Lord, or it won’t happen.

We Prosper (v. 3)

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Yet, if God’s Word is our delight, and we meditate on it day and night, and we do what it says, then we will be at rest, secure and firmly planted in our faith in Jesus Christ, and in the truths of his Word, and nothing will be able to move us. We will not be easily persuaded and influenced by the world, nor will we sway with the wind in our beliefs. “We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14). Instead, we will become mature in our walks of faith with Christ, and we will speak the truth in love to our brothers and sisters in Christ, so that they, too, can be built up in Christ and reach maturity.

We may not always see all (or much of) the fruit for our labors in the Lord immediately, but God sees them, and they will be evident when the season is right. Some of us plant the seed, and others water it, but it is God who makes it to grow, and all in his perfect timing. We may never know in this life in how many people’s lives God has used us, and I don’t think we have to know. But, if we are walking in obedience to our Lord, and if we are faithful in service to him, in doing what he asks us to do, then that is fruit in and of itself, is it not? For, by this we grow in him and in our walks of faith, and we learn obedience, submission, and love for our Lord and for others. And, this is how we prosper, in Christ, and in his holiness and righteousness.

Wicked Not So (vv. 4-6)

The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

When it speaks of the wicked here, it is speaking of those who walk (in lifestyle) in sin, who make sinning the practice of their daily lives. We all sin, most likely, at some time or another, but we don’t all willfully keep on sinning as the pattern of our lives. We don’t all hold on to specific sins and refuse to give them up, i.e. we don’t all refuse to repent.

Jesus said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (for eternity). But, if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life (we will save our lives). Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that if we walk (conduct our lives) in 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). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).

The point of all this is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might no longer walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. And, he gave himself up for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. His grace is not a free license – carte blanche (free rein) – to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, 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 (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Ro. 8:1-14; Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Jn. 6:35-66; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20).

So, what this means is that the wicked and righteous are not only divided by those who believe in Jesus Christ and those who don’t, but they are distinguished by those who walk in the way of the righteous, and those who walk in the way of the wicked. So, make sure you are walking in God’s ways.

Refresh My Spirit, Lord / An Original Work / August 8, 2011

Based off of Psalm 51 & Matthew 11:28-30

Refresh my spirit, Lord.
Revive my heart today.
Move me to serve You,
Lord in all I do and say.
Be my heart’s one desire;
my spirit set on fire
In pure devotion, Lord,
to love you and obey.

Create within me, Lord,
a pure heart, this I pray,
So I can worship You
and yield to You always.
May all Your love and pow’r
be lived in me, I pray,
So I might love as You;
be Your witness today.

Jesus says, “Come to me
all you with heavy hearts,
And find in me your peace,
and give to me your all.
My yoke is light to bear,
‘cause I paid for your sin,
So you might be set free,
and purified within.”