Holy and Beloved

Thursday, September 28, 2017, 10:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Peace of Christ.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Colossians 3:1-17 (NASB).

Things Above (vv. 1-4)

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

IF you have been raised with Christ, not assuming you have been, but as a prerequisite to what follows next, then do what this teaches. So, how are we raised with Christ? Well, just as Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins and was resurrected back to life, victorious over sin and death, we must, if we have truly put our faith in him, die with him to sin so that we can live with him to righteousness. This is also called the “new birth,” or being “born again.” And, it is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives in turning us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we can receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-18; Acts 26:16-18).

Therefore, IF this has taken place in our lives, then we are to continue seeking what is from God and of Christ and of his Spirit. We are to keep on walking in the ways of the Lord, in his righteousness and holiness. We are to persist in fellowship with our Lord, in hearing his voice speak his words to our hearts, and in following him wherever he leads us. And, we are to fill our minds and hearts with what is godly, holy, righteous, true, just, upright, honest, trustworthy, pure, and moral, and not willfully and consistently be filling our minds with what is earthly, wicked, immoral, impure and unholy.

Dead to Immorality (vv. 5-11)

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

Since we have died with Christ, we should consider ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we should not let sin reign in our mortal bodies, so that we obey its lusts, but we should present our members as instruments of righteousness to God, for this is why Jesus died (See: Ro. 6:1-23). He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24), not to free us to continue in willful sin against God. We should not even be entertaining ourselves with the sins of others, for when we do, we are giving hearty approval of their sin by applauding their sin (Ro. 1:32).

Yet, so many preachers these days are not teaching this at all. In fact, they are teaching an entitlement gospel which says God does everything and nothing is required of us – no obedience, submission or repentance. They are giving their adherents, thus, carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt. And, this is a big fat lie! They distort God’s grace to appeal to human flesh, and to their own advantage. But, God’s grace is not merely for the purpose to deliver us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die. His grace is to free us from addiction to sin and to free us to walk in his holiness and righteousness. For, if we walk (live) in sin, we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God.

Put on Love (vv. 12-17)

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

We who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and who have been raised with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, are called to be holy, not given permission to be promiscuous now that we are under grace. And, holiness is being separated from the world of sin because we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. So, we are to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, instead of embracing them and thinking we are ok, because we are under grace. And, then we are to put on (put into practice) love, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, kindness, etc. And, love is preferring what God prefers, which is holiness, righteousness, truth, integrity and morality, etc.

When we are living righteously before God, not in absolute perfection, but walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and we are daily dying to sin and self, and we are, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are practicing love for God and for one another, then we should also be teaching and admonishing one another to do likewise. And, we should be strengthening and encouraging one another in the faith, so that we don’t grow weary and lose heart, and so that we don’t fall into sin’s deceitfulness. But, to do so in love, also means to do so in truth, for lies only hurt. So, tell the truth, but do so in love, and care more about others than you do yourself, and be willing to have others hate and speak badly about you in order to tell them the truth of the gospel, which can save their souls.

The Peace of Christ / An Original Work / October 31, 2011

Based off of Col. 3:1-17; Eph. 5:19-20

Let the word of Christ dwell in you,
As you teach with all wisdom,
Teaching one another to not
Think on earthly things;
Think instead on things above,
Where Christ sits with God, in love,
Saving us from all of our sins,
Cleansing us; made new within.

Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts,
As you sing songs unto Him;
Speak to one another with psalms,
Hymns, and spir’tual songs;
Always giving thanks to God,
In the name of Christ, His Son,
Who gave His life up for us all,
And gave us eternal life.

Let the love of Christ within you
Rule in your hearts; grace within,
Purifying you from your sin,
Make you whole within.
Forgive as the Lord forgave.
Show His kindness ev’ry day.
In word or deed, whate’er you do,
Glory give to Jesus Christ.

 

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Choose Wisely

Friday, September 22, 2017, 2:52 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 3:14-22 (NASB).

Complacent (vv. 14-16)

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

Complacent – “marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies” (M-W).

The speaker is Jesus Christ. And, he is addressing his complacent church. They are neither totally indifferent to the Lord nor are they fully on fire (passionate, enthusiastic) for him. They are somewhere in between the two, fully content with mediocrity, self-absorption, and fundamentally unconcerned about their spiritual conditions or their relationships with the ONLY true God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are worldly, and are living not much different from those who make no profession to faith in Jesus Christ at all. And, they are followers of man more than they are followers of God; more caught up in forms of religion rather than having a passionate, faithful and vital relationship with their Lord, Savior and King.

The sad reality of it all, though, is that this type of Christianity is being encouraged and promoted in today’s modern churches. They are being taught that God does everything for us, and that nothing is required of us at all other than some non-descript “faith” in Jesus Christ, but not the kind of faith Jesus taught, or that his NT apostles taught. Some of their leaders even go so far as to discourage repentance and obedience to Christ, in order to appease human flesh, and to gain disciples after themselves. They want to make everyone feel good about themselves, even in their sins, and to not offend anyone with the truth, and so they lie to their congregations and they lead them to follow humans, and they encourage worldly living.

So, what we have are a whole lot of people who bear the name “Christian” but who don’t reflect Christ in their attitudes, actions or thinking, and who think God is ok with them being that way, because that is what is being modeled to them by many of their leaders. So, they may or may not spend any time in God’s Word or in prayer, throughout their day, and God may or may not get a bare acknowledgment from them, and their free time will often be spent doing what THEY want to do, and not what GOD has for them. And, many of them are convinced that their lives are their own to live how they want as long as they give God some of their time and offerings, and many of them, too, are engrossed in being entertained continuously.

Counsel (vv. 17-18)

Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

Counsel – recommend, advocate, encourage, guide, instruct, or warn; to give advice to (someone); to suggest or recommend (something) (M-W).

Jesus loves his church, even the church which is half-hearted in their devotion to him, or who have forsaken their first love, or who have a reputation of being alive but are mostly dead, etc. Yet, this does not mean he is ok with them remaining in those conditions, or that he doesn’t have something better and necessary for them, or that he won’t chastise them in order to move their hearts back to him in purity of love and devotion. He will! He said so, and he is true to his Word. So, he urges, counsels, encourages, teaches, and stimulates them towards what is good for them, and he warns them against what is bad for them, and in order to move them to repentance, to renewed faith in him, and to faithful and passionate obedience to him and to His Word.

The counsel here is basically for them to move from their self-sufficiency to finding their all-sufficiency in God alone. It is also to do a self-examination and to see their own spiritual condition through God’s eyes, and through the scope of God’s Word, rather than through the lens of human thinking and reasoning. They think they are ok just how they are, because their itching ears longed to hear smooth, pleasing messages which told them that they could continue in sin and still have the blessings of God in their lives. But, God is not ok with them continuing in a sinful course, and this kind of thinking isn’t reflective of what the Bible teaches, either. So, Jesus desires that they know what his Word teaches, and that they now obey it.

So, what is Jesus’ counsel to them, in reality? It is that they purify their hearts via repentance (turning from sin to God) and via obedience to him and to his commands, and that they walk (conduct their lives) in the Spirit and no longer according to (in agreement with) their flesh (sin natures). It is that they die daily to sin and self, and that they live to Christ and to his righteousness. And, it is that they make Jesus Christ truly Lord (owner-master) of their lives, and that they become his bond-servants. It is also that they now see life through God’s eyes and no longer through the eyes of humankind and the flesh, and that they follow what is truth and reject the lies and the deceptions of humans who would lead them astray.

Convince (vv. 19-22)

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Convince – to bring (as by argument) to belief, consent, or a course of action; to persuade (sway, convert, win over) (M-W).

This is a lot like a lawyer’s closing arguments where he must convince the jury to vote in favor of the verdict he proposed based upon the evidence he presented to them of the facts of the case. This is the turning point in the argument, where now a choice must be made, and a person’s future must be determined. Only, in this case, the ones being persuaded here to make a resolution are actually the ones on trial, and they must make the decision concerning their own destiny, whether or not they will choose to follow Jesus or shut the door in his face for eternity.

And, although Jesus is still being loving and gentle, he is warning them of the dangers of making the wrong choice. He is letting them know that he will chastise and reprove them, and so he urges them to turn from their sins of complacency, idolatry and spiritual adultery, and to return to him as their ONLY God and LORD. Although they have mostly rejected him and his Lordship over their lives, he has not rejected them. He is still calling out to them, still counseling, loving, urging and warning, and reminding them of what he did for them in dying on a cross so they could be free from sin. And, he is still inviting them into fellowship with him, if they will just open the doors of their hearts to him and let him be LORD of their lives.

And, so true to God, and to his nature, and to how he consistently has dealt with his rebellious children, down through the ages, he always offers the opportunity for restoration and renewal in relationship with him to the one who will turn from his sin and will turn to follow Jesus Christ with his or her life, and who will reject his or her idols to make Jesus his or her ONLY God. His message is most always to first confront us with our sins, then to warn of the consequences of our sin, then to call for repentance, and then to promise restoration and renewal for the penitent.

Yet, we must know here that if we choose to reject his voice, and to continue on our own course of living for sin and self, following after our own fleshly desires, while ignoring his counsel, that we won’t have the promise of heaven when we leave this earth, but a fearful expectation of eternal punishment in the fires of hell (Lu. 9:23-26; Ro. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:6). So, what will it be? Choose wisely, because your future depends on it.

Seek the Lord / An Original Work
July 20, 2012 / Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

Good Conduct

Saturday, September 16, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 3 (ESV).

We Who Teach (vv. 1-5a)

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

Not many Christians should become teachers of the Word of God. This is not something we should do lightly, or just because someone asked us to do it, or because we just like to hear ourselves talk. We should also not become teachers just because we have biblical knowledge, or because we might be gifted with words, in the natural, or because we think the position will gain us some kind of prominence or popularity. We should only become teachers of the Word because we are called of God to teach, and because we are trusting in him to give us the words he wants us to say. In other words, teaching the Word of God should be a calling of God, and led of the Spirit, and it should be practiced in complete submission to the Spirit of God.

Even at that, i.e. even when we are called of God and submitted to his purposes, we are still humans living in flesh bodies, and we will stumble, at times, for we are not yet perfect, although we are being perfected (made holy), and we are being conformed into the image of Christ (See: Phil. 3:12-16). Yet, this should never be used as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. Many professing Christians continue to live as though they have never been delivered from slavery (addiction) to sin, and then they excuse it away with “I am not perfect.” May that never be! May we always strive toward maturity in Christ Jesus, holiness, and godliness, in the power of God’s Spirit now at work in our hearts and lives, and for the glory of God!

If we do stumble (sin), particularly in our speech, we should humble ourselves before God and others, admit our wrong, and then seek God’s guidance in turning away from that wrong, and doing what is right.

Tongue a Fire (vv. 5b-12)

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

I think all of us can attest to the truths presented to us in this passage of scripture, with regard to our tongues (our speech). Yet, the tongue, itself, is not the real culprit, for the Bible teaches us that it is out of our hearts that our mouths speak (See: Matt. 15:18-19). In other words, if we want to tame our tongues, we must first deal with what is in our hearts. If in our hearts we are storing up hatred, envy, strife, murder, jealousy, unforgiveness, malice and bitterness of spirit, these are what will come out of our mouths, particularly when we are put under pressure. So, we must willingly yield these things over to God, let go of all wrong attitudes, and replace them with godly thinking and attitudes, and with love for our fellow humans.

Yet, I believe it goes back even one more step further, and this has to do with what we are willfully and knowingly allowing or are taking into our hearts and minds on a daily basis. You have heard the saying, “Garbage in; garbage out,” most probably. It is true. If what we are consuming on a daily basis is rage, pornography, nudity, disrespect towards others, devaluing of people, murder, envy, strife, mocking of others, humor at others’ expense, immorality, sexual perversion, adultery, cheating, and lying, etc., this is what our minds will think on, and this is what will influence our heart attitudes, and this is what will spew forth from our mouths, too.

So, we need to make certain that daily we are taking into our minds and hearts what is godly, holy, righteous, and pure, etc., and that we are applying these right thoughts and attitudes and behaviors to our daily lives. And, we need to put off (or out of our lives) all that is ungodly, unholy, impure and unrighteous, including what we take into our minds via outside influences, as well as any wrong attitudes which we willingly dwell upon. And, we need to let go of all that is evil, and allow God to fill our minds and lives with his peace, holiness and righteousness. Then, our tongues should follow suit.

Who is Wise? (vv. 13-18)

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Do we think we are wise and understanding, and that we have much knowledge, especially with regards to Biblical knowledge and understanding? Then, we need to show it by our good conduct in all meekness and gentleness of spirit. Words can be cheap if they are not followed up with or supported by our actions. If we say we love God, or that we have fellowship with him, but we continue in willful sin against him, we are liars, not truth tellers. If we claim to love God, and to worship him, but we don’t do what he says, in daily practice, we don’t really love him or know him, the Bible says. So, true knowledge and wisdom is not in what we know, in our heads, but it is in what we do with what we know, because it is now applied to our hearts.

We also need to be people who live by the truth, and who are not hypocritical. We should never pretend to be more than we are, or act as though we are living beyond where we are living. We should not make an appearance (act) of godliness while we deny its power in our lives via willful sins against God. We should always be truth tellers, but to speak the truth in love, not in brashness and rudeness and in order to willfully bring hurt to others unnecessarily. In other words, I recognize that sometimes the truth hurts, and we can’t avoid all that, for it is often necessary for true healing to take place. The gospel is truth, but it offends many people, because they do not want to conform their lives to Christ or to his gospel. Yet, we must share the truth of the gospel, because it means salvation for many lost souls.

Thus, wisdom can be godly and it can be earthly. It can be of God, or it can be of the devil. Truth can be for our good, or it be to cause harm. If we preach one thing, but practice another, we do more harm than good. So, we must test our hearts, our attitudes, and our behaviors against the truth of God’s Word, get rid of all which defiles us, and cling to what is good. Make sure, in our teaching, that our motives are pure and godly, and that we are not being hypocritical in our teaching because we profess one thing while we secretly are engaged in willful and continued (addictive) sins against God. If God puts his finger on areas of our lives where we need to repent of sin and follow him in obedience, then we need to obey, and not resist him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Whatever Comes

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

Always Rejoice (vv. 4-7)

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

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

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

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

Dwell on These (vv. 8-9)

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

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

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

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

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

Content in Whatever (vv. 10-13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Show Integrity

Saturday, September 9, 2017, 4:56 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 2:1-14 (ESV).

Sound in Doctrine (v. 1)

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Not all of us are teachers, in a formal sense of the word, but we all teach something each day by our lifestyles, words, attitudes and actions, for good or for bad. For, we ought to all have people whose lives we influence, because we should, if possible, have some human contact each day. Also, for us who are followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be the light of Christ to a dark world, the salt of the earth, and to proclaim the excellencies of HIM who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. As well, we are to go and make disciples of people of all nations, baptizing, and teaching them to obey all things Jesus commanded (Matt. 5:13-16; 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9).

Since we are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, to proclaim the excellencies of Christ, and to make disciples of people of all nations, we need to make certain that what we are proclaiming is sound in doctrine, i.e. that it is the truth, and not twisted truth or half-truths designed to make people feel good in their sin. So, what is doctrine? “Doctrine, then, is scriptural teaching on theological truths” (1), i.e. scriptural (biblical) truths. “According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God (2). I like that one!

Sound doctrine, essentially, is the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). It makes no compromise with the world in order to make nice with the world, but it presents the truths of scripture according to the context in which they were written, for the purpose for which they were written. In other words, it does not pull scriptures out of context to support a particular chosen belief while ignoring the bulk of teaching in the Bible on that same subject (or subjects).

Too many people stubbornly hold on to particular beliefs, even though the bulk of scripture speaks the opposite, or even if, in comparing scripture with scripture, we are able to see that a particular held belief is not fully supported in scripture, and thus we must form our beliefs based upon all teachings on that subject, and not just the ones that support our beliefs. It would behoove all of us to be good students of the Word of God, not to support preconceived beliefs, but to find truth, and then to live the truth.

Sound in Faith (vv. 2-6)

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.

What does it mean to be “sound” in faith? It means to be complete, thorough, unblemished, unadulterated (unmixed) and firm (secure), without wavering. It means we are no longer like children being tossed here and there by every wave of teaching, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (See: Eph. 4:11-24). It means we first know the truth, are certain that what we believe is truth, and then we stand on what we believe, but not just in theology or doctrine, but in practice, day in and day out, no matter the circumstances, and no matter who we are with at the time. We don’t blend in with the world to be accepted, and we don’t compromise our faith to not be rejected or persecuted. And, it means we walk (in lifestyle) no longer after the flesh, but according to the Holy Spirit.

Although this section of scripture deals with particular groups of people, for the most part what is instructed to these specific groups applies to all who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ. We should all be serious-minded about our walks of faith in Jesus Christ. Too many people take God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God’s Word all too lightly, and do not take them to heart, to make God and His Word a reality in their daily lives. This doesn’t mean we go around with frowns on our faces all day long or that we never laugh or smile. Serious-minded is not to be equated with grumpy and downcast. We can have the joy of the Lord in our hearts and smile and laugh (appropriately) and still be serious about God and His Word.

We are all to be steadfast (unwavering, constant) in our faith, reverent (respectful) in our behavior, not slanderers, and not addicted to strong drink, drugs, or anything else which might cause us to lose self-control. Self-control has as its basis Holy Spirit control, for self-control is one of the characteristic traits of the fruit of the Spirit, which is to be seen (exercised) in our lives, as followers of Christ. We, too, are all to teach what is good, i.e. what is spiritually healthy and what is God’s best for us, not the junk that is being passed off as the gospel today which is intended to appease the flesh and gain customers for big businesses called “church.” And, all of us are to be submissive to God and, in reverence for God, also to one another, which includes wives being in submission to their husbands. But, not one of us should ever submit ourselves to sinning against God.

Be a Model (vv. 7-10)

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Too many professing Christians today make excuses for willful and continuous sin against God, claiming “I’m not perfect,” but that is a lame excuse, and God doesn’t accept it. Certainly none of us lives in sinless perfection, though I know some people claim they do, but all of us should be walking (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and not according to our sinful flesh, if we are truly in Christ by faith in Him. So, in reality, if this is true, we should all be good examples of what it means to be a believer in Christ and to walk with integrity (truthfulness, honor, uprightness), which includes admitting wrong and repenting of sin when one does sin.

Grace of God (vv. 11-14)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Too many professing Christians and non-Christians, alike, are also confusing God’s grace with libertinism, i.e. the freedom to be “unrestrained by morality and indulging a variety of amorous impulses” (M-W). They see God’s grace as carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sinful practices, as though thinking that God’s grace just covers it all, and that God just looks down on them and smiles when they choose to keep sinning against him. But, that is not true.

Jesus 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. His grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await his return. Jesus did not die just to forgive us our sins, but he died to transform us! When we come to faith in him, we die with him to sin so that we might live with him to his holiness and righteousness, for this is why he died! So, give your lives to him today, and let him have HIS way now in your lives.

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

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

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

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

Resources: (Not an endorsement of these sites)

(1) http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/doctrine/
(2) http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-doctrine/

 

Favor or Curse?

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

In Perfect Peace (vv. 1-6)

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

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

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

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

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

Path of the Righteous (vv. 7-11)

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

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he did so in order that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we believe in Jesus to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-18). This is what it means to be born again of the Spirit of God. The old has gone. The new has come. We were walking (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but now we are walking by faith in the opposite direction, according to the Spirit of God. For, the Lord, through his death and resurrection, made the way for us to now walk in his righteousness and holiness, in all uprightness, honesty, integrity, and in undiluted (unmixed) faith and devotion to him.

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

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

Other Lords (vv. 12-15)

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

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

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

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

Bless This House
Helen Taylor / May H. Morgan

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

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

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.