Buy and Eat

Thursday, October 5, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Our God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 55 (Select vv. ESV).

Listen Diligently (vv. 1-3a)

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live.

I use to eat just about anything. I have never been a big eater, though, at least not by American standards. But, I ate burgers, fries, chocolate candy, and cookies, and I drank sodas, milk shakes and sweet tea, etc. Unless something made me sick, or unless I just didn’t care for the taste of it, I was ok with eating it. Yet, I did eat vegetables, and I ate fruit occasionally, and I mostly avoided fried foods and preferred grilled, but I was not a gung-ho health conscience person. It wasn’t the way I was raised. I ate food in moderation, and I did try somewhat to eat healthy, but I ate a lot of stuff that was bad for me, too, but I just didn’t realize how bad it was for me.

Occasionally I would have a problem with acid reflux, and then I would change my eating habits for a while, until I got better, and then I would go back to eating normally, well normal for me, that is. And, then one day I finally came to the realization that I had to drastically change my physical health lifestyle and my eating habits. I believe the Lord brought me to that realization through pain. Pain is a great motivator. It gets us to do things we probably would not do otherwise, like exercise as much as we should. So, now I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, some meat, fish, bread, and cereal. But, I don’t count every calorie, and I don’t read every label, yet I am eating what I know is good for me, and I am mostly avoiding what is bad for me. And, I am getting in lots of exercise, too. And, overall I feel much healthier.

Well, this passage of scripture is not talking about physical thirst and hunger, but it is talking about spiritual thirst and hunger, but there are many parallels between the two, which is why I just shared what I did. We are born into this world with sin natures, with an insatiable hunger for what can never satisfy the deep longings of our souls, and so we try to fill that hunger with all kinds of stuff from this world, thinking if we just have this or that, that we will be happier, or if we can just accomplish this or that, that we will be fulfilled. And, we go a lot by our emotions, and by what makes us feel good. But, the happiness and the fulfillment are fleeting, and often, what we choose to fill that hunger with only makes matters worse, and only digs the cavity that is already in our hearts even deeper, and so we come up empty.

So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, he invites us to believe in Jesus Christ, to die with him to sin, and to live with him to righteousness, but not in our own power and strength, but in the strength of the Lord who called us and who will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. So, when we fill our minds, hearts and lives with what is of God and with what is pleasing to him – what is pure, righteous and holy – and we forsake the bad stuff, i.e. what will only do damage to us spiritually, then we will be healthy spiritually, too.

Seek the Lord (vv. 6-9)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Are you familiar with the word “repent”? Well, it literally means to have a change of mind, but in the context of scripture, it is most always used in the context of changing our minds about sin and about God by forsaking our lifestyles of living for sin and self and choosing, instead, to now live for Jesus Christ and to walk in obedience to him in his holiness, and in the power of the Spirit of God now living within us. Jesus said we must repent, as did his apostles, if we want to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God.

Jesus said, in fact, that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) that we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin and self), for his sake, that we will gain eternal life with him. And, the Apostle Paul reiterated this message when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh (sin), we will die in our sins, but if we walk according to the Spirit, and if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, that we will live with Christ for eternity (Lu. 9:23-26; Ro. 8:1-17).

Know His Word (vv. 10-11)

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s Word is found in the Bible (Genesis to Revelation), yet, as believers in Jesus Christ, we also have the Living Word abiding within us, and God’s Spirit teaching us all that Jesus ever taught his disciples, and instructing us in all things of God. So, this is where we learn what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ, and what God expects of his followers, and also how to live this newfound Christian life. We learn to know God and his character and his will for all of our lives when we read His Word and when we listen to His Spirit speaking God’s eternal truths to our hearts and minds, and then as we obey and we do what his Word teaches us.

As Christ’s followers, we are to spread the Word of God and his gospel of salvation to the people of this world, so that many more can come to faith in Jesus Christ, too. Plus, we are to instruct one another and encourage one another in the faith so that we are not led astray, and so we don’t fall into sin, but so we grow in maturity and holiness in our walks of faith in Christ. But, sometimes we may not see results for the seed that we sow into people’s lives, so this serves as an encouragement to us that God’s Word will not return empty, but it will accomplish what he purposed, and it will succeed in the thing for which he sent it. We just have to be patient. People’s hearts will be changed, we just have to give it time, and keep believing in the power of God to transform human minds and hearts.

Peace and Joy (vv. 12-13)

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

This is a wonderful stanza to end on. Although there are many right now who have not yet trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord, and as Savior of their lives, many still will, and when they do, they will go forth in peace and joy because Jesus set them free, not just from the punishment of sin, but from slavery (addiction) to sin! Amen! In fact, it so glorious when sinners turn from their wicked ways, and when they turn to walk with Jesus, in surrender to his will for their lives, that creation rejoices with them. And, we should rejoice, too! For, it is an awesome thing to be delivered out of slavery to sin and to be brought into God’s wonderful kingdom, and to now walk with Him in freedom from sin, and in freedom to now live in his holiness and righteousness.

Our God / Chris Tomlin / Jesse Reeves
Jonas Myrin / Matt Redman

Our God is greater; our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?

Advertisements

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.”

In the Potter’s Hand

Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 7:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 18 (ESV).

Spoiled Clay (vv. 1-11)

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’

God/Jesus is our potter. We who are Christians, by faith in Jesus Christ, are his clay. He designed us for a specific purpose, which is to give honor and glory to him through our lives. Yet, many people today who profess faith in Jesus Christ are not honoring him by their lives. In fact, many of their teachers are telling them that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ or to his cross. They make the gospel of salvation out to be an “entitlement gospel,” which is very “me-focused.” It is, thus, not focused on God/Jesus, and what he wants from the relationship, but solely on what they, the adherents, can get out of the relationship, and not on what we are required to give to God at all.

And, so, what these teachers are producing are “spoiled” children who think God is there to grant their every request and to meet all their needs, but that he is ok with them still floundering in their sins, for he should be so grateful that they decided to “believe” in him. They give this notion of God’s grace as though it is a free pass (carte blanche) to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, as though Jesus died just to cover our sins but not to eradicate sin from our lives. And so we have a large number of these spoiled (clay) children who think a mere acknowledgment of Christ is enough to get them into heaven, and thus they can continue to live for themselves and feel no obligation whatsoever to submit to Christ or his cross.

Since they are, because of their choice to follow this false gospel, not fit for the purpose the Potter first intended, God has in mind to do what needs to be done in their lives in order to remake (revive) them, and to mold them into his image, and to make them into the likeness of Christ. Since they have not turned from their evil ways, even though his Word teaches them that they must, and so they have ignored God’s Words, and have chosen to go their own way, instead, God has in mind to judge (discipline, chastise) them, but not to destroy them, but so that he can remold them. So, he is calling out to these “spoiled” children, and he is saying “Return, everyone from his evil way, and change your ways and your deeds.”

But They Say (vv. 12-17)

“But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’

“Therefore thus says the Lord:
Ask among the nations,
Who has heard the like of this?
The virgin Israel
has done a very horrible thing.
Does the snow of Lebanon leave
the crags of Sirion?
Do the mountain waters run dry,
the cold flowing streams?
But my people have forgotten me;
they make offerings to false gods;
they made them stumble in their ways,
in the ancient roads,
and to walk into side roads,
not the highway,
making their land a horror,
a thing to be hissed at forever.
Everyone who passes by it is horrified
and shakes his head.
Like the east wind I will scatter them
before the enemy.
I will show them my back, not my face,
in the day of their calamity.”

Even though God’s Word is abundantly clear on what it means to be “in Christ Jesus,” by faith in him, many, many professing Christians are continuing to follow their own plans and to act according to the stubbornness of their own human hearts, which are being given over to wickedness on a daily basis, in many cases. They willfully ignore the scriptures which convict their hearts of sin, and they cling to the ones which make them feel good about themselves, even in their sins, because they take the scriptures out of context to make them say what their itching ears want to hear.

Yet, God’s Word says that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin, and that we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. It says that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It teaches us that faith in Jesus Christ means we conduct our lives (lifestyles) no longer after the flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. It tells us that God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, but that it instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return.

And, yet, even though God’s Word teaches this clearly throughout the New Testament, many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ have willfully forgotten their Lord and his instructions to them in order to continue to live however they want. And, so, they follow after humans, the world, their culture, and the gods (idols) they have made for themselves, giving their hearts, minds, emotions, devotion and passions over to what is sinful in God’s eyes, instead of over to God and to his will for their lives. They are, thus, not traveling the highway of holiness, but they have wandered off to follow the ways of the flesh, which is why God plans to do what is necessary in order to bring them back to him to follow in his ways and in his truth.

Good Repaid with Evil (vv. 18-23)

Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words.”

Hear me, O Lord,
and listen to the voice of my adversaries.
Should good be repaid with evil?
Yet they have dug a pit for my life.
Remember how I stood before you
to speak good for them,
to turn away your wrath from them.
Therefore deliver up their children to famine;
give them over to the power of the sword;
let their wives become childless and widowed.
May their men meet death by pestilence,
their youths be struck down by the sword in battle.
May a cry be heard from their houses,
when you bring the plunderer suddenly upon them!
For they have dug a pit to take me
and laid snares for my feet.
Yet you, O Lord, know
all their plotting to kill me.
Forgive not their iniquity,
nor blot out their sin from your sight.
Let them be overthrown before you;
deal with them in the time of your anger.

If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, burdened in heart for God’s people, the church, who are wandering off the pathway of righteousness to follow after the gods of this world, and if you care enough about your wandering brothers and sisters in Christ to speak the truth in love to them, you may find yourself right where Jeremiah was. You may find that your words, spoken in love and concern and conviction of the Spirit of God, will not only fall on deaf ears, but that you will be rebuked, criticized, ridiculed, mocked and even falsely accused because you cared more about them than you did about your own life and reputation.

Even though you intended good by your words, they will return your good to them with evil by slandering you and intentionally causing you harm, and by speaking evil against you in order to make other people reject you, too. Yet, we must trust God with our lives, believe in his sovereignty, and know that he is working all things for good for us who love him and who are called according to his purpose. We must remember God’s Words to us warning us in advance that we will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and that we will be rejected even by those in our own households, and by those of our own towns and in our local church congregations, too. Yet, this is God’s will for us that we should suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of his gospel, so we should not fear what humans might do to us.

God has all things under his control. He has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, so trust him, rest in him, believe him, and keep pressing on in being who he has called you to be and in doing what he has called you to do, and trust him with the results. His Word will not return empty, but it will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it (See: Is. 55:11).

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!

Ears Stopped Up

Sunday, September 3, 2017, 4:13 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 Isaiah 48 (Select vv. NASB).

Not in Truth (vv. 1, 4, & 8)

“Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are named Israel
And who came forth from the loins of Judah,
Who swear by the name of the Lord
And invoke the God of Israel,
But not in truth nor in righteousness…

“Because I know that you are obstinate,
And your neck is an iron sinew
And your forehead bronze…

“You have not heard, you have not known.
Even from long ago your ear has not been open,
Because I knew that you would deal very treacherously;
And you have been called a rebel from birth.”

The nation of Israel, under the Old Covenant relationship with God, was in a unique position which will never again be equaled, so we can’t make exact parallels between them and any other group of people today, yet there is much we can learn from these verses which describe them at that time.

For instance, there are many people in the world today who proclaim to be Christians and followers of Jesus Christ. Many of them, perhaps, had parents who also claimed to be Christians, and/or they were brought up attending gatherings of the church or church meetings in localized institutional churches. They may even have been baptized, perhaps as infants, or as adults, possibly as a means of joining a local church fellowship, and they may even be active within these local church gatherings or institutional churches in positions of teacher, elder, deacon or pastor, etc. Yet, their relationships with God, with Jesus, are profession only. Their professions of faith in Jesus Christ, in other words, are not in truth or in righteousness.

So, what does it mean to believe in Jesus in truth and in righteousness? It means that when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we submit to his Lordship over our lives, we humble ourselves in confession of sin, and repentance, and we trust in our Lord, not only to forgive us our sins, but to cleanse our hearts of all unrighteousness.

It means we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We are not looking just for a get-out-of-jail-free card or merely a promise of heaven when we die, but we truly want to give our hearts to Jesus in full surrender to his will for our lives. So, by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh. We no longer conduct our lives according to the flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, but not in absolute sinless perfection, but in consistent and persistent walks of faith and commitment to our Lord and to his ways and to his will.

Yet, those who make a profession only of faith in Jesus Christ, in many cases, are those who are actually opposed to Christ and his truth and his ways, in many respects. For truly their hearts are obstinate (stubborn) and unrepentant, and they are just using God for what they think they can get out of him, while they have no real intentions of ever submitting to his will for their lives. They want the blessings of God in their lives, but they want to keep going their own stubborn way in living their lives however they want, for their own pleasure, and to thirst after their own sinful desires. So, they stop up their ears, and they refuse to listen (really hear and respond) to God’s Word, although many of them will pretend as though they do.

He Will Act (vv. 9-11)

“For the sake of My name I delay My wrath,
And for My praise I restrain it for you,
In order not to cut you off.
“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
“For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act;
For how can My name be profaned?
And My glory I will not give to another.”

We read in the New Testament that the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise concerning his return one day, but which also includes judgment. He is very patient and longsuffering, giving time for many to repent of their sins before he comes back, and before he judges the people of the earth, because he is not willing that any should perish in their sins, but that all should come to repentance, for this is why he died and rose again.

Yet, the Lord does discipline those of us who are truly his, and sometimes because those who are his are not living like they are his, but they are temporarily straying from their pure devotion to him, and they are going their own stubborn way. And, so he disciplines them in order to bring them back into fellowship with him. Yet he may also allow difficulties, trials and hardships in the lives of those who make a profession of him only, or in the lives of those who make no profession of faith in him, and who don’t know him, and in order to bring them into genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

But, one day he will come in judgment on the people of this earth, and for the sake of his name, which is being profaned by those who give him lip service only, but whose hearts are far from him. And, many will perish in their sins. So, we need to be spreading the truth of the gospel to as many as will listen so that many will be saved before the wrath of God is poured out.

The Way We Should Go (vv. 17-22)

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you in the way you should go.
“If only you had paid attention to My commandments!
Then your well-being would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
“Your descendants would have been like the sand,
And your offspring like its grains;
Their name would never be cut off or destroyed from My presence.”

Go forth from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans!
Declare with the sound of joyful shouting, proclaim this,
Send it out to the end of the earth;
Say, “The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob.”
They did not thirst when He led them through the deserts.
He made the water flow out of the rock for them;
He split the rock and the water gushed forth.
“There is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord.

We, as the people of God, and we, as the people of this earth, need to pay attention closely to what God is saying, for one day we will no longer have this opportunity to heed his words and to follow his ways. We need to listen to his counsel, and we must follow his leading, and surrender to his will for our lives, for he says that if we continue in our sinful ways, and we make sin our practice, we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God, but only a fearful expectation of judgment.

We must understand that God does visit nations and peoples and even his saints in judgment or divine discipline and correction when they go their own stubborn way and refuse his counsel. And, at least some of this could be avoided if we would just heed his Words to us, and obey his commands. Yet, he does not promise smooth sailing even for the righteous and godly, but he promises we will have difficulties, afflictions, and persecutions which are to test our faith, mature us in Christ, make us holy, and to train us in godliness and righteousness. Yet, we can know his inward peace and joy, and know his strength and power in our lives through these trials, and we can be overcomers, if we just put our trust in him, and follow him and his ways.

What our Lord is saying to the people of the world today, and to his saints who are caught up in the world and who have strayed from him, is that they must humble themselves before God, turn from their wicked ways, and follow him in surrender and obedience. They must flee from sinful practices, worldliness and following their own lustful desires, and they must submit themselves to the will of God for their lives. For, he died that they might die to sin and live to righteousness, not in their own strength and power, but in the strength and power of the Lord living within them. He has given us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him, so none of us have an excuse for living in stubborn and willful rebellion against God.

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.

Cry for Help

Sunday, August 6, 2017, 3:34 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “All Through the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 34 (Select vv. ESV).

All My Fears (vv. 4-7)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

This passage of scripture has a special place in my heart. I was abused as a child. My father was a big bully who picked on those weaker than him. He was mean and hateful, and physically and emotionally abusive. I was very much afraid of my dad, and I avoided him as much as was possible. And, in those days they did not have child protective services like they do today. And, no one counseled us in how to deal with the abuse or the pain we were feeling deep inside, and so all those emotions got stuffed. Yet, I prayed often to the Lord, and I did experience his comfort, yet I did not know that, by stuffing those emotions, I had built a wall of fear around myself.

Then, one day it all came to a head, but to make a long story short, I went to my best friend to ask for help. She didn’t know how to help me, either, but she did not give up, and I didn’t either, and then it was as though a light bulb turned on inside her head and she said she knew what my problem was. She said it was a spirit of fear. I asked if God could deliver me, and she said “Yes.” I asked if we could pray, and she said “Yes.” And, when we prayed I physically felt the weight leave my shoulders, and my countenance did change, and I had a smile on my face, and my face was radiant and no longer covered with fear (shame). Praise God!

I wish I could say that I never struggled with fear ever again, but that would be a lie. God had delivered me out of my troubles, but throughout much of my life Satan would try as best as he knew how to try to get me to be afraid again, and sometimes he was successful, when I caved to my circumstances rather than me trusting the Lord. But, God has been faithful, as he always is, and he has delivered me time and time again as I have faced many “giants” in my life, and he has safely brought me through to victory. Amen!

Fear the Lord (vv. 8-14)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

This word translated as “fear” in English can have at least two meanings. One is to be afraid, such as what I described in the section above, but the other is to show respect, honor, esteem, value, and reverence. We are not to fear people or our circumstances, in the sense of lacking faith in God and being afraid of what will happen. But, we are to fear God, yet in the sense of showing him honor, respect and reverence by following him and obeying him despite our circumstances or how other humans may treat us.

When we walk in the fear of the Lord, we honor him with our lives by submitting to his Lordship over our lives and by following him wherever he leads us, but not just physically, but with our whole being – with our attitudes, actions, words, thoughts and behaviors. We are committed to him and to his service, and we take him and his Word very seriously, and to heart, to follow him in obedience. He is truly our owner-master and we are his bondservants, and our lives belong to him, and are no longer our own to do with what we want. He is the one who now directs our steps, and our desire and passion are for him, and not for the things of this world.

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, 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. 4:17-24). Yet, it doesn’t end there. We are delivered out of slavery to sin so that we can now become slaves of his righteousness. Now we no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, but now according to the Spirit of God. We are not only made righteous, but now we live righteously.

The Righteous Cry (vv. 15-18)

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, and we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we now live to his righteousness, and we walk in the fear of the Lord, other humans will hate us, reject us, and will persecute us for our faith and commitments to Christ. Yet, we are not to fear what other humans may do to us, or what difficult circumstances we may yet encounter. But, we are to trust the Lord in all things, believing that he is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made, and that he has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows into our lives. He will carry us through it all, and he will give us all we need to endure, to persevere, and to keep following him in obedience and in sharing his truth with all who will listen.

When we go through life’s difficulties, which we will, we are to cry out to God in our pain and suffering, and trust him to heal, to comfort, to encourage and to strengthen us. I believe we should also ask him to teach us what he would have us to learn through our suffering, and to use us for his glory in other people’s lives. He will hear our cries, and he will answer. He may not always answer in the way we would hope, or in our timing, but he will provide us with all that we need to remain faithful to him, and to be his representatives to others who are also in need of his love, comfort, mercy and grace.

When the Lord delivers us out of our troubles, it is not always physical deliverance, though sometimes it is. It isn’t that we always need to be taken out of troubling situations, but that we need to learn to lean on his grace through our difficulties. It is in these times that we grow in maturity in our walks of faith, that we draw closer to our Lord, and that our love for others grows, too. Sometimes what needs to be changed is our hearts, our minds, our attitudes and our actions, not our circumstances, and so God allows us to go through tough times to purify us, to prune us and to make us more like him. He knows what we really need, and he will always do what is truly best for us, and what will bring glory to his name. So, cry it out to him!

All Through the Night / An Original Work / December 7, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.

Arise and Shine

This is a call to arise (get up; stand up), be steadfast and persistent, and to let our lights (Jesus Christ; our salvation; the gospel; purity; and truth) shine forth from us, so that those outside of faith in Jesus Christ may come to him, to know his saving grace.

We may need this call because we have recently failed in our relationships with God and/or with others. Although we have repented, we may feel unworthy to be his servants and witnesses again. Also, we may require this exhortation because we are complacent about the fact that so many are dying without Christ and are going to hell, and/or because we are unconcerned for the spiritual condition of God’s people. So, God is saying “Wake up!”

Or, this gentle encouragement may be necessary because we are disheartened over seeing so many lost without Christ, and upon witnessing the church in such a serious state of spiritual adultery and idolatry with no apparent end in sight. Or, it could be because we have suffered much persecution, rejection and abandonment for our testimonies for Jesus Christ. Thus, sometimes, it is just hard to stand when you feel as though you are often standing alone against the giants of doubt and fear, oppression and strong opposition.

Yet, this is to encourage our hearts that God has all things under his control, that he will not abandon us, and that he has a plan and a purpose for our lives. For all we are going through, he will work it all out for the salvation of human lives and for the revival of his church, and we should thus rest in his promises, in his love, and in his sovereignty.

Arise and Shine / An Original Work
March 6, 2014 / Based off Isaiah 60

Arise and shine; your Lord has come.
Allow His light to flow through you,
For many walk in wickedness.
Show them the way to life anew.
Arise and shine. Your Lord loves you.

Lift up your eyes, and look about.
Some do believe, while others doubt.
Believe in all God’s promises.
The many will, In Christ, find rest.
Lift up your eyes, and you’ll be blessed.

Arise and shine; salvation comes
To all who trust in Christ, God’s Son.
Forgiven of their sins, they’ll be,
When they repent on bended knee.
Arise and shine, so all will see.

Lift up your eyes, and see your Lord.
He will revive his church, forlorn.
Though humans have forsaken you,
They will find Christ, and walk in truth.
Lift up your eyes; God honors you.

Led to Repentance

Sunday, July 23, 2017, 3:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of repentance.

From Darkness to Light (Acts 26:15-20)

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.’

“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

Many preachers today are teaching that God does not require us to repent of our sins, or else they are just deleting (or omitting) repentance from the gospel message, or else they are teaching that repentance is simply having a change of mind in the sense of deciding to believe in Jesus Christ. Yet, is repentance required by God for salvation, and, if so, what all does repentance entail? What is this “change of mind” we are supposed to have? Is it merely to decide to believe in Jesus, or is there more to it?

Well, to repent certainly means to have a change of mind, but it is also a change of the inner man (of our inmost being, our hearts). This change is an indication of our acceptance of the will of God, too, after which we should think, believe and act differently than we did before. In the context of most biblical references to repentance, the indication is that one leaves his former life of sin behind him, casting aside his idols, and his rebellion against God, in order to turn to God/Jesus to follow (obey) him in all his ways.

And, this is made clear for us here in this passage in Acts 26 where Jesus called Paul to open spiritually blinded eyes, turning them from darkness (sin) to the light (Jesus Christ, truth, righteousness), and from the power Satan had over them to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ.

So, Paul obeyed what Jesus told him to do (vv. 16-18) by telling the people that they must repent of their sins and turn to God, and that their actions from that point forward should, thus, reflect (reveal) their repentance.

Obey the Truth (Rom. 2:3-11)

Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

God’s kindness is his grace to us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to the cross to die for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died on that cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. When he died he put our sins to death with him so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. In fact, he died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

So, the purpose of his grace to us is not just so we can escape hell and have forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven when we die. His grace to us is to lead us to repentance. In fact, his grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. God’s grace is NOT carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and remorse. For, if we walk in sin, according to the flesh, we will die in our sins (1 Jn. 1:5-9; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

Thus, God’s grace should lead us to repentance, and that repentance should produce a change of heart and mind away from living for sin and self to faith in God/Jesus Christ, to follow him (obey him) in all our ways. Yet, if we continue living (practicing) sin, we should expect God’s wrath and fury, not his warm acceptance with open arms into his heaven. If we do not walk in obedience to Christ and his commands, but we go our own way, instead, we will die in our sins, not be saved in the end. Yet, if we follow our Lord in obedience, and we are, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity.

Flee and Pursue (2 Tim. 2:22-26)

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

So, repentance is a change of heart and mind away from sin and Satan and to (toward) God and his righteousness. And, it results in a change of thinking, believing and behaving so that we don’t do the things we did before. Now our desire is for God/Jesus, to obey him and to walk in his ways and in his truth. So, it is a lot like making a U-turn in a road. First we were going one direction, and then we changed course, we turned, and now we are going in the opposite direction as we had been traveling.

And, it entails fleeing worldly passions and desires and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace. If all we do is just try to stop doing what is wrong, but we don’t do what is right, then we are a lot like a thief in between jobs, because nothing has really changed. Our character hasn’t changed, nor have we truly had a change of heart and mind. True repentance means we leave the way we use to live behind us and we now live holy lives pleasing to God. This is not to say we will be instantaneously perfect, i.e. that we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that being born again is a new life, not the old life slightly cleaned up to be more presentable.

When we come to repentance, via God’s grace to us, we come to our senses, we realize we were heading the wrong direction, we are broken and contrite over our sins, and we follow our Lord in the right direction. We escape (break free from) the snare of the devil, who had taken us captive to do his will, and now we submit to our Lord, and we are desirous to do his will. And, we continue on this path until the day we die or until Jesus comes back to take us to be with him forever.

And, all this is made possible because of God’s grace to us and due to his sustaining power in our lives. All glory to God. Great things he has done in granting us repentance and forgiveness of sins so that we can now walk in freedom from slavery (addiction) to sin, and so we can walk in the Spirit, by faith in Christ, and according to his righteousness.

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.”