A Missionary Call

Thursday, July 13, 2017, 11:11 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “It All Depends.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of the call of God on our lives.

Send Me (Isaiah 6:8-9a)

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people…”

A Christian missionary is called of God, a disciple (follower) of Christ, and a messenger of God in sharing the gospel of our salvation and in teaching the Word of Truth (the Word of God) to the people of the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all called to be missionaries in that we have all been called to be Christ’s witnesses and to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, and we are all to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. Also we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we are to let our light – the light of Christ and of his gospel – shine before all people. The light is not to be hidden or kept only to ourselves (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9; Matt. 5:13-16).

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and his Holy Spirit comes to live within us, we are gifted of the Spirit of God with spiritual gifts and we are given assignments by God within the body of Christ, his church, which we are to fulfill (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). We have all been called to belong to Christ, to be holy, to be his saints, according to God’s purpose, by the will of God, into fellowship with Christ, by his grace, to freedom in Christ, to eternal life, and to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and for the sake of the gospel (various scriptures). Yet, we are each given specific assignments, as well, which God will reveal to us if we are listening to him (See: Psalm 139:16). So, when God speaks, we should listen, and we should respond, “Here I am, send me.”

God Appointed (Jeremiah 1:4-9a)

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth.

Before the creation of the world, we were chosen by God to be conformed to the image of Christ. We were called to a holy calling in Christ Jesus. And, we were chosen in Christ to be holy and blameless before him. All the days ordained for us by God were written in his book before one of them came into being (Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4; Ps. 139). God placed us in the wombs of our mothers, which means he placed us in the homes we were brought up in, even knowing the good and the bad that would happen to us. God is completely sovereign over all that he has made. He had a plan and a purpose for our lives even before he created the world. He knew us and he chose us and he called us to something very uniquely designed by God for us to do and to be.

God did not place us here on this earth so we could live life however we want, and so we can entertain ourselves and be entertained continuously by others. He has a mission for each one of us to fulfill. He has a specific assignment for us. He has somewhere he wants us to live and to go, and messages he wants us to give and people to whom he would have us minister the love, grace, and mercy of Christ, and with whom he would have us share the full gospel message of salvation. And, we don’t have to worry about whether or not we can do this, because if God is in it, and if he has called us, he will equip us, and he will give us all we need to do what he has called us to do. He will supply all we need, and he will go before us and prepare the way and guide our steps, and give us the words to speak.

A Servant and Witness (Acts 26:15-18)

“And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”

Perhaps you have been resisting his call on your life, because you want to live your life how you want, make all your own decisions, live where you want, and go about your day according to your own plans and purposes. Or, perhaps you only serve God on your own terms, and will only follow him if he doesn’t ask you to do anything that would involve much personal sacrifice. Yet, he may ask you to leave friends and loved ones behind to go to the regions beyond. Still, you may be among those who fear that if they listen to the Lord, and if they seek his will for their lives, that God may ask them to do something they don’t want to do, something that would take them into the unknown, or something that may get them majorly rejected, persecuted or even killed for their testimony for Christ and for his gospel.

So, he is calling us to take a stand for him, to not waver back and forth in our commitments, but to be faithful to him in service in being who he has called us to be, going where he wants us to go, and doing what he says. He is calling us to accept his call on our lives and to say “Here I am. Send me.” And, he promises to provide all we need to do the work of the ministry to which he has called us.

Yet, God has not called us to just be nice people and to make people feel good about themselves while they are still dead in their sins. He has called us to open blinded eyes, to turn them from darkness (sin, wickedness) to light (truth, Christ, righteousness) and from the power Satan has over their lives to God to walk in his ways. Then they will receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ. So, we need to tell them the truth, for their eternity depends on it. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. True faith in Jesus Christ results in being crucified with Christ in death to sin that we might live with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

It All Depends
Jerry Nelson / Don Marsh

Would I leave the place
Where I have lived and settled down?
It all depends.
Break with my attachments,
Sentimental though they be?
It all depends.
Would I find myself uprooting
All the stakes I’ve driven down,
Leaving friends and loved ones far behind,
Captive to the call of some far off distant land?
I can only answer, that depends.

It all depends on where He needs me,
For where he leads me my feet must go.
It may be down an unfamiliar pathway
Or cross the mountains so bleak with snow.
His faithful hand will always guide me.
He’ll walk beside me, let come what may.
Why should I dread the night?
My faith has found its sight.
I’ll do his will through the rest of my life.

Days Formed for Me

Thursday, July 6, 2017, 6:06 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Search Me, O God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 139 (Select vv. ESV).

He Knows Me (vv. 1-7)

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?

Our God and Lord knows us, the end from the beginning, inside and out, thoroughly and completely, because he is the one who made us. He knows everything we do. We cannot hide from God. Nothing we do is hidden from his sight. Even if we go into a dark place, he still sees and knows everything we are doing. Nothing escapes his notice! He is acquainted with all of our ways. We may be able to fool people, but we can’t fool God. He knows. He sees. So, if we are doing wrong, and we are trying to look good on the outside, while inside, when we are alone in the darkness, we are doing what is wicked, although humans may not see and may not know, God knows. And, what he says he will do will be fulfilled. We can count on it!

Yet, if we are doing what is right, this should serve to be a comfort and an encouragement to us that God knows us completely. Because he does, even if others misjudge us or reject us based on a misconception or on their own prejudice, God knows the truth. He knows our hearts, who we are, and what we do, and the reasons we do it, even if no one else does. And, he will comfort us with that knowledge, fill us with his peace, and assure us of his grace, strength, and the knowledge of his will for our lives. Even before we utter a word in prayer to him, he knows what we are going to say, and he may even begin to answer us or counsel us in our minds before we even vocalize our requests to him, or even before we even know what to ask.

In My Mother’s Womb (vv. 13-16)

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

None of us are here on this earth by chance or by mistake. God formed us in the wombs of our mothers. What this means is that he placed us in the families we were born into, even knowing what would happen to us – good or bad. He didn’t cause evil, but he allows evil to exist for his purposes. He doesn’t always protect us from harm, but he protects us emotionally and spiritually through the storms of life, if we trust him. He didn’t promise us we would never face adversity. In fact, he said the opposite. He said that, as his followers, we would be treated like he was treated. He uses our life experiences to mold us and to shape us into the people he created us to be. And, he is quite capable of seeing us through any and all circumstances, no matter how difficult, and to give us the wisdom and strength we need to endure, to persevere, and to “come out shining like gold” (1).

For those of us who know God, and who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we must know that even before God created the world, he chose us, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He predestined us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. And, he called us to a holy calling in Christ Jesus, our Lord (See: Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4). He has something for each of us to do. He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. He didn’t save us so we could live however we want, and so we could plan out our own lives. He has given us spiritual gifts and he has given us each assignments within the body of Christ which we are to fulfill for his purposes and for his glory (See: Jer. 1). This is my assignment, to write out what he teaches me each day, and to post it on the internet.

Lead Me, I Pray (vv. 17-18, 23-24)

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

God doesn’t think like we do, as humans. His ways are higher than our ways. What might not make sense to us makes perfect sense to God, because he knows the end from the beginning. He knows what lies ahead for us. Sometimes he allows delays and roadblocks because he has a plan that is greater than our understanding. So, what might seem like a failure to us may not be that at all. We need to learn to trust God and not lean on our own understanding, for our understanding is flawed (imperfect), whereas his is absolutely perfect. We also need to understand that God’s timing is not the same as ours. I think that in today’s culture, particularly here in America, we want everything fast, and we have lost the art of patience. But, God is very patient, and he is willing that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance. So, we need to wait on God’s timing.

God knows our hearts and our minds. We sometimes think we know like God knows, but we don’t always, although we do have the mind of Christ (See: 1 Co. 2:16). Sometimes we even misjudge ourselves or we are self-deceived into thinking thoughts about ourselves which are not true. So, it is good for us to have God search our minds and hearts and to show us what we are not able to see about ourselves, so that we can be changed in heart and mind in conformity to Christ and to his will for our lives. We might think we are serving the Lord, and that he is pleased with us, but we might be missing the mark. So, it is good to have those soul-searching times alone with God where we pray and we ask him to reveal to us any sins or if we are going the wrong direction, and for him to guide us and to lead us in the way he would have us to go, because, again, he has a very specific assignment for each one of us which he wants us to fulfill, and so we need to fulfill it.

Search Me, O God / An Original Work / July 12, 2012

Based off Psalm 139

O Lord, You search and know me.
You know all that I do.
O Lord, You discern my ways.
I put my trust in You.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
Where’er I am, You are with me,
Guiding me in love.
O Lord, You search and know me.
You know all that I do.
O Lord, You discern my ways.
I put my trust in You.

O Lord, You made and formed me
In my own mother’s womb.
Your hands beautif’ly made me.
I give my praise to You.
My frame was not hidden from You
When I was made in the dark place.
All the days ordained for me
Were written in Your book.
O Lord, You made and formed me
In my own mother’s womb.
Your hands beautif’ly made me.
I give my praise to You.

O Lord, how precious to me
Are Your thoughts, O my God.
When I wake in the morning,
You are still here with me.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offense.
Lead me in Your truth.
O Lord, how precious to me
Are Your thoughts, O my God.
When I wake in the morning,
You are still here with me.

References:

(1) https://www.scribd.com/doc/101911488/Lyrics-I-Am-Willing-Lord-Joni-Eareckson-Tada

The Same Purpose

Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 11:03 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 4:1-11 (NASB).

Arm Yourselves (vv. 1-2)

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he died to put sin to death. In fact, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). He didn’t die just to forgive us our sins, and to free us from condemnation, and to promise us heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we put our (God-given) faith in him, 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” (Eph. 4:24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23). “Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7).

So, we are to arm (equip and ready) ourselves with the same purpose (objective) as Christ, which is that we should cease from living in sin, i.e. that we should no longer live our lives for our human and fleshly lusts, but that we should live our lives for the will of God, holy and pleasing to God. This is why he died, that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). When we believe in Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, he doesn’t just forgive us our sins, but he eradicates sin from our lives. In other words, he delivers us out of slavery to sin so that we might become bondservants of his righteousness. No longer should we live like we did before we came to Christ, but now we should live to God. Sin should no longer have mastery over our lives, because Jesus set us free!

So, how do we arm (equip and ready) ourselves with the same purpose as Christ? Well, we have to begin with the right foundation. The commission Jesus gave to Paul to preach the gospel describes for us the essence of the gospel message. He told him that he was to open blinded eyes, and to turn them from darkness (sin) to light (righteousness), and from the power of Satan to God so they could receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ (Ac. 26:16-18).

And, then we need to die daily to sin and self, and by the Spirit be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, putting off what we know is wrong and putting on what we know is right. And, we have to conduct our lives according to the Spirit (in the power of the Spirit) and no longer according to our sinful flesh (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4). In other words, we have to get serious and radical about sin and about obedience to our Lord. We can’t toy with sin, or test fate, or take sin too casually, or excuse it away, or use God’s grace as free license to keep sinning. We have to cut out of our lives whatever hinders our walks of faith and whatever leads us into sin, and we have lay aside (renounce) the sins which so easily entangle us so we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us by God (Heb. 12:1).

They Malign You (vv. 3-6)

For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

When we get serious about God, and about sin, and about obedience, and we no longer do the fleshly things we did before, but now our goal is to live for our Lord, to please him in all ways, we are bound to face both rejection and ridicule for our step of faith. Some of our friends, acquaintances, family members, co-workers and fellow Christians might even try to shame us or pressure us into doing some of the things we did before. They might, as well, try to convince us that making Christ truly Lord (owner-master) of our lives is not normal and that we need to join in with them in some of their revelry so we don’t stand out, and so we don’t seem odd or peculiar. To them, a life controlled by the Spirit of God, and not by the flesh, is just too weird. They think we need to be more fleshly and worldly in order to be considered sane. They think we need to be more fun and less serious, as though life is to be about self-pleasure, games and parties. It isn’t!

Keep Fervent (vv. 7-11)

The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

We need to remember why we were put on this earth, and why God called us, and to what he has called us, too. We aren’t here to make people like us, and to do what other humans do so no one will think we are strange. We are here to give honor, glory and praise to God, and to give him our worship, our submission, and our obedience. We were called to holiness and righteousness, not to self-pleasure and a life given over to entertaining ourselves. We are to live in the fear (respect, reverence, honor) of God, i.e. to take him and his Word seriously by doing what he/it says. And, we are to remember that he redeemed us (bought us back for God) with his blood, and our lives are no longer our own, so we are to honor God with our lives.

We are to love one another and forgive one another, for Christ forgave us. We are to love as Jesus loved us and gave his life up for us. This is God-like (agape) love which prefers what God prefers, and that thinks about what is in other people’s best interest. It does not placate or excuse away sin, though. It confronts willful and unrepentant sin in hopes that the wanderer will come to his (or her) senses and will turn from his sin and follow our Lord in obedience. And, its goal is to restore such a one to fellowship with God and to see him be renewed in his faith and in his commitment to Christ. Then, we are to use our spiritual gifts to encourage, strengthen, urge, inspire, teach, and counsel one another in the Lord so that we can all be built up in our faith and in our walks with Christ, and come to maturity. And, all this is for the praise, honor and glory of God, who saved us from our sins.

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!

His Will and Purpose

Friday, January 20, 2017, 4:04 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 1:1-14 (NASB).

To the Faithful (vv. 1-2)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul wrote here to the saints of God, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus. They are the loyal, true, trustworthy, dedicated, committed, persistent and continuous followers of Jesus Christ, who are full of and steadfast in faith and in allegiance to God, yet not yet perfect (fully mature). Yet, all the glory goes to God, for only in Him, by his grace, and in the power and working of His Holy Spirit within us, can any of us be found faithful in Christ Jesus.

Holy and Blameless (vv. 3-8a)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.

We who are in Christ Jesus, by faith in him, have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. So, what are some of those spiritual blessings we have been given? We have been granted faith and repentance unto forgiveness of sins and salvation. We have been delivered out of slavery to sin so that we can now become bond-servants (or bond-slaves) of God and of his righteousness. Also, we have been provided with new lives in Christ Jesus, free from bondage to sin, and free to now walk in the Spirit in God’s holiness, as well as the promise and hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

We, too, have been furnished with the Holy Spirit of God to indwell us, and to empower, strengthen and keep us in his love, as well as to teach, counsel, admonish, encourage, comfort and help us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing unto God. We have been given spiritual gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the body of Christ, and we have been assigned, by God, roles and responsibilities (body parts) within the church for the mutual edification of one another and for the furtherance of the gospel of Christ. And, we have been granted all we need, in the Spirit, to exercise these gifts and to fulfill these assigned roles, in love, and for the benefit of others.

We were chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before God/Christ. What this means is that, even before God/Jesus created the world, he chose us to be one of his, and to be holy (set apart from the world because we are becoming like Christ) and blameless (because of what Jesus did in dying on the cross for our sins). He is the one who knit us together in our mother’s wombs, and who called us into his service even before we were born. What this is saying is that our God is absolutely sovereign over all that he has made, and that God even placed us with the parents he gave us, and he allowed us to go through the things we have gone through in our lives in order to make us into the people he wants us to be for his purposes and for his glory. And, he didn’t make us to be self-serving but to be God-honoring and obedient in all that we do.

According to His Purpose (vv. 8b-14)

In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Our God is eternal, i.e. he is without beginning and without end. I, who am human, and finite, have difficulty with this concept, and yet I accept it by faith. My human mind thinks in terms of beginning and end, so eternity is something that is just difficult for my mind to grasp, and yet I believe it because God said it. Yet, because our God is eternal, and all knowing and all powerful, etc., he sees the whole big picture, and he planned the whole big picture, too. Even before he created the world he had us in mind, and who we should be, and what we should do, and what our ultimate end would be. And, yet, I believe he has also given us the will to choose him or to reject him, i.e. he didn’t make us puppets on a string and him the puppet master, as though we have no choice in what we do or how we behave. We do!

Anyway, the whole point of this is that we were not placed on this planet earth by chance or by accident. God made us for a purpose, and with eternity in mind. We are not here for our own will and good pleasure, but for the glory of God, and to serve his purposes for our lives. We are here on planet earth, in other words, to serve our Lord and to love our fellow humans with god-like (agape) love. We are also here to love God, and we love God by obeying Christ’s commandments (his Word).

When Jesus Christ died on a cross, he became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. 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. We are for the praise of his glory! Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his 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 (for eternity), but if we lose our lives (are crucified with Christ in death to sin), we will gain eternal life (See: 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Ro. 8:1-14).

A lot of people are giving the impression these days that God’s grace is a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, but this is far from the truth. God’s 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. In fact, Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:11-14). Through Jesus’ death on a cross he redeemed us (bought us back for God) with his blood, not so we could live however we want, but so we would be his very own possession and he would be our Lord (owner-master).

When Jesus is truly our Lord, and we are following him in obedience, and in surrender to his will for our lives, which he had planned for us all along, not everyone will like us. Many will hate and reject us, just as they hated and rejected Jesus Christ, and for many of the same reasons. And, yet we are not to fear what humans may do to us, because God has a plan for it all, to bring many to faith in Jesus Christ, and for the growth and maturity of his followers. We often grow the deepest in our faith with our Lord when our faith is being put to the test, i.e. when it is challenged by opposition. So, don’t be afraid of persecution, because it must come before times will have reached their fulfillment, and our Lord will return for us, his bride. Be strong in the Lord and in his love, and keep sharing Christ and love God fully.

Trust Him / An Original Work / August 15, 2012

Based off Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.

God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.

Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.

If God is for Us

Friday, December 16, 2016, 9:55 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in the Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 8:26-39 (Select vv. ESV).

He Intercedes for Us (vv. 26-27)

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Who is the “us” spoken of in this passage of scripture? First of all, we are those who are in Christ Jesus by faith in him. We are those who do not live according to the sinful nature (in lifestyle), but according to the Spirit. We have our minds set (fixed) on what the Spirit desires, not on what our sinful nature desires. We walk in obedience to our Lord, and live to please him – not in absolute sinless perfection, but as those whose lives are surrendered to their Lord. We are no longer controlled by the sinful nature, but we are now slaves of righteousness. We have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with him to newness of life (new birth). By the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of our sinful flesh, so that we might live with Christ for eternity. And, we are those who are being led (guided) by the Spirit of God. [Summary of Romans 8:1-17.]

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. When we are going through difficult times, and we don’t know what to pray, he intercedes for us. I know that there have been times in my life when all I could pray was “help,” and he helped. But, he intercedes for us according to the will of God. In other words, he is not going to help us to disobey God or to give us something we want to use for our sinful pleasures. So, he is not going to help us if we are not committed to the will of God for our lives. If we pray for help, but we resist God and quench his Spirit, and we continue to do what we know displeases our Lord, then we can’t expect help from God. He knows our prayer is not sincere, in that case. God won’t help us if we slam the door in his face, in other words. We have to be open to the will of God for our lives.

He Works for Our Good (vv. 28-30)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

So, who are those who love God? Jesus said that if we love him, we will keep his word (Jn. 14:23-24; cf. 1 Jn. 2:3-6). The Apostle John said that to love God means to obey his Word (1 Jn. 5:3; cf. 1 Jn. 3:24). This is not to say that we will never disobey (never sin), but it is to say that walking in obedience to our Lord and to his Word should be the normal course of our Christian walks of faith. This should be our daily practice.

If we love God, he works all things together for our good. So, what is for our good? It is whatever pleases God and brings glory to his name, and that which grows us in our faith, matures us in Christ, makes us holy, conforms us to the image of Christ, and what leads us to love God with all our hearts, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. What is for our good is what we need, i.e. what is necessary in our lives to make us more like Jesus. What we may want may not be what is best for us, so God will work all things for what is in our best interest, i.e. for what will draw us closer to him.

So, what does it mean to be called according to his purpose? What is his purpose? Well, his purpose for us, and for which he died, is 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 purpose is to make us holy, set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we being conformed to Christ’s likeness. His purpose is that we listen to him, and that we follow (obey) him, and that we do his will. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin. Instead, it teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. This, too, is his purpose to which he has called us (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Jn. 10:27-30; Tit. 2:11-14).

Who Can Be Against Us? (vv. 31-38)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Just because we love God and we are called according to his purpose, it does not mean people won’t be against us. They will, because Jesus said so. So, it isn’t that we won’t have people opposing us, but that God is going to supply us with everything we need to endure, to persevere, to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to draw near to God. He will give us the courage, the determination, the stamina and the power of the Holy Spirit to keep on obeying him, and doing his will, even in the face of the fiercest of persecution and rejection, and even in the face of death for the sake of his name. No enemy can thwart the perfect will of God. God will prevail!

For those of us who love God, even though our enemies may do all kinds of evil against us, they cannot separate us from God’s love. Amen! Our God will never leave us or forsake us. He will always be there giving us courage, comfort, encouragement, counsel, direction, and instructions in the way we should go. He is absolutely sovereign over every aspect of our lives, and he is in control over all things. Nothing will touch us but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, so we need to surrender our lives to him, and allow him to do his work in our lives and through our lives for his glory.

We are More Than Conquerors (vv. 37-39)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The ”us” and the “we” in all of this is the “us” we talked about here at the beginning of this writing. We are the ones who can’t be separated from the love of God that he has for those who are his; for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, by faith in him. While it is true that God so loved the world that he gave his Only Begotten Son for the whole world, there is a special love that God has for those who are his, in that he provides for us his Holy Spirit for our comfort, care, nurturing, counsel, empowering and strength, etc.

We are the ones who are conquerors over Satan and sin and spiritual forces of evil. We are the ones who victorious over all of Satan’s evil schemes that he devises against us, when we choose to put on the armor of God to fight off his evil schemes. We don’t have to go this alone. God is always with us.

When in The Stillness / An Original Work / September 26, 2011

When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.

While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.

Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.

Who Am I?

Friday, November 18, 2016, 6:11 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 6:1-7 (ESV).

His Purpose and Grace

We read in Psalm 139 that God created our inmost being. He knit us together in the wombs of our mothers. All the days ordained for us were written in God’s book before one of them came to be. We read in Jeremiah 1 that God knew Jeremiah before he formed him in the womb of his mother. Before he was born, God set him apart to be a prophet to the nations.

We read in 2 Timothy 1:8-9: “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

And, in Ephesians 1:3-4 we read: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

In Romans 12:4-8 we read: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

And, in 1 Corinthians 12:11, 18: “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”

As well, we read in Ephesians 4:15-16: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

It’s Not Right (Ac. 6:1-4)

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

You have probably heard the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” This figure of speech is “used in reference to a person that is competent with many skills, but no particular one” (Wikipedia). This can be good if you are a handyman, i.e. if your job is to do maintenance work in a building, and therefore you need to have multiple and/or overlapping skills. As Christ’s ministers, though, it is possible that this could be a detriment if we stretch ourselves over too many ministry areas and thus we neglect the one prominent area of ministry to which God called us even before the creation of the world, and before we were even formed in the wombs of our mothers.

Many pastors, for instance, are expected to do all the preaching of the Word, all the hospital and shut-in visitations, all the counseling, and all the planning and implementation of “church” programs, etc. In addition to this, in today’s modern institutional church, they are expected to be business men with marketing skills, and entertainers and actors who must keep the “customers” coming back for more. Thus, they feel they have to focus more on doing what appeals to human flesh, rather than on spending the necessary time and heart with God in prayer and in his Word so that they are able to lead their flocks to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience.

Yet, this passage of scripture should not be taken as only applying to those who are professional ministers with congregations under their authority. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all his ministers. God has called each and every one of us to something that we alone are to do. It doesn’t mean other people don’t have the same gifts or similar functions, but that God has a unique assignment for each of us. In other words, not one of the apostles was exactly the same as the other, although they were all apostles.

So, we need to focus our attention on who God created us to be, on why we are here, and on what he has called us to do. We need to spend time with God in prayer, and in his Word, and we need to seek his face concerning what part of the body he wants us to be, and then we need to dedicate ourselves to being that part, and to not trying to spread ourselves thin. Then, the body can grow, because every part is doing its assigned work.

Full of Faith (Ac. 6:5-7)

And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

If we don’t have faith in Jesus Christ, God does not have an assignment for us, at least not Holy Spirit empowered for the building up of the body of Christ. So, first of all, we need to examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith. Belief in Jesus Christ is not mere words we recite after someone else, or a one-time emotional or intellectual experience we go through. When we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives, we die with Christ to sin so we can live with him to righteousness. We are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). If we say we have fellowship with God, but we conduct our lives according to a sinful lifestyle, then we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6).

Once we are sure we have true faith in Jesus Christ, then we need to spend quality and quantity time with him each day in prayer (talking to God), in the study of His Word, listening to him speak his truths to our hearts, and then in obedience to what his Word teaches us we must do. God will guide our hearts into his truth, and he will show us the way we should go. As we follow him where he leads us, and we get to know him and his heart, we begin to see what gifts he has given to us and how he wants us to use them in the body, and for his glory. And, then we need to say “Yes” to his leading, and do what he asks us to do. We should then care more about pleasing him than we care about the acceptance of humans. He is likely to call us to do something which will get us rejected by other humans, and so we need to be willing to be hated, persecuted and even killed for obeying our Lord.

We may not always see immediate fruit for our labors, though. Some people are called to plant, while others will reap, so even if you can’t see all the produce now for the sowing you are doing in other people’s hearts, trust God, follow his lead, do what he says, and leave the results to him.

Let him have his way in your heart and life, and let him use you in the way in which he called you even before you were born. We won’t always know all the impact we have on other people’s lives. But, God will use our obedience for good, for the salvation of human lives, for the encouragement of the saints, and for the building up of his body if we surrender to him and let him mold us into the people of God he designed us to be. I surrender all!

Have Thine Own Way, Lord / Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!