Rescued from Trials

Saturday, July 8, 2017, 3:37 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Reached Down.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Peter 2 (Select vv. ESV).

False Teachers (vv. 1-3)

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Wow! What an accurate description of the situation we are faced with in the church in America today. So many purported preachers and teachers of the Word are teaching a mixed bag of truth and lies, and they have absolutely brought destructive heresies into the church, and many are following their deceptions and their sensuality. And, the way of truth is definitely being blasphemed, for they twist it and they corrupt it to their advantage to gain disciples after themselves, not after Jesus Christ.

There are many variances in what they actually teach, but the result is still the same. Basically, what they do is they dilute the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it something it is not, that is a free license to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and without remorse. They either entirely delete repentance, submission and obedience from the gospel message, or else they teach directly that we don’t have to repent or obey Jesus Christ or submit to the cross of Christ in order to be saved from our sins. Their idea of “belief” seems to be nothing more than an intellectual assent to who Jesus Christ is and was, and to what he did for us in dying for our sins so that we might be forgiven our sins and have eternal life with God in heaven.

So, not only do they leave their adherents still lost in their sins without true hope of eternal life with God, yet falsely believing they do, but they campaign against the true gospel of our salvation and against its messengers by convincing their listeners that they are to reject anyone or any message which teaches repentance and obedience as necessary components of believing faith. In fact, they convince them that if anyone teaches such that they are teaching works-based salvation, which is a lie, because the Bible teaches that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to our flesh (in sin), we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 2:24; Eph. 4:17-24).

Greatly Distressed (vv. 4-10a)

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

How many people today, who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ, are being greatly distressed over the predominant sensuality and immorality existing within the church, and within the lives of those who say they believe in Jesus Christ? I have found they are few and far between. To the contrary, the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians in America, overall, appear to be very worldly and fleshly, so that there is not much of a distinction between the church and the world anymore. Although they claim to know God, they deny him by their lifestyles. They indulge in so much of the same wickedness that the world does, which makes no claims to faith in Christ at all. If they are not directly participating in sinful acts, they are being entertained by them via TV, movies, video games and the internet.

The thing of it is, that most of them seem to lack conscience that what they are doing is actually wrong, too. Or else they write it off as something with which they struggle, but which falls under grace, so they feel they are in no danger if they continue to engross themselves in such sinful behaviors. They have this sense of entitlement that they can live their lives however they want, with some modifications, choose their own paths, mark out their own life courses, and that God is somehow pleased with them no matter what they do. This should greatly distress all of us who proclaim Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (owner-master) of our lives! We should cry out our voices and say “NO!!” to these lies and deceptions, for they are leading many people straight on a course toward hell, not toward heaven.

One day, God is going to judge the people of this earth in a mighty way, and those who are walking (conducting their lives) in darkness (sin), will not escape the wrath of God, but they will die in their sins. Yet, those who are putting to death, by the Spirit, the deeds of the flesh, will live with Christ for eternity. God is able to keep us from the corruption that is going on in this world of ours, and within the worldly church, and to lead us in his ways and in his righteousness until the day when he takes us home to be with him. When we are being tried by the wicked acts of wicked humans in their deceitful scheming, the Lord will sustain us. He will help us, strengthen us, and he will carry us through to the end. So, we need to just rest in him.

He Reached Down / An Original Work / February 3, 2014

Based off Psalm 18

How I love You, Lord, my Rock and my strength.
My God is my fortress; I hide in Him.
He is my shield and the horn of
My salvation, whom I praise.
I have found my refuge in Him.

He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
Drew me out of waters so deep, I’d sink.
He delivered me from Satan
And my slavery to sin;
Gave me hope of heaven with Him.

My God turned my darkness into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes; gave me sight.
As for God, his way is perfect.
He gives strength to stand secure.
I have found my vict’ry in Him.

My Lord lives! Praise be to my Savior God,
Jesus Christ, who died on a cruel cross.
He is my Rock and the source
Of my salvation, whom I trust.
I will give praise always to Him.

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Distortions of Truth

Monday, June 19, 2017, 3:38 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “A Believer’s Prayer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 1 (NASB).

To Rescue Us (vv. 1-5)

Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.

What is the gospel of our salvation? It is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. Then, he was crucified on a cross, although he had done no wrong, merely because people hated him, were jealous of him, were threatened by him, didn’t like what he taught, didn’t like some of the things he did, didn’t agree with what he stood for, and didn’t believe him for who he was (and is). Yet, this was all in God’s plans and purposes from the beginning of time, that he should be our sacrificial Lamb to take away the sins of the world.

For, you see, when we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, without hope of salvation, and without the promise of eternity with God. We have all sinned, and we have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit (Ro. 3:23). So, Jesus, although he knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. But, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. He did all this for us that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us.

When we believe in Jesus Christ 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. The old has gone. The new has come. For, you see, Jesus didn’t die that horrible death merely to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die. He died to radically transform our lives, to deliver us out of bondage to sin, and to free us to now become bond-slaves of his righteousness. He died that we might be rescued from the kingdom of darkness, and that we might be brought into God’s wonderful light (Jesus Christ, righteousness, and truth). Our salvation does not mean we are merely forgiven our sins so we can continue in sin without guilt. Jesus died to rescue us from this present evil age, that we might walk in his holiness and righteousness.

A Different Gospel (vv. 6-9)

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

There are many people who are distorting the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are twisting God’s Word to make it say what their itching ears want to hear. These distortions of truth come in many different forms, all of which I cannot cover in such a short period of time. One of the most grievous ones, though, is what I term a “false grace gospel.” These people distort God’s grace to make it a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, thus they dilute the true gospel, as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, to make it more acceptable to the world and more agreeable to the adulterous and idolatrous church. Thus, they teach that God requires nothing of us – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross.

The gospel message they end up with is no gospel at all, because it leaves its adherents still in slavery (addiction) to sin. Now, this is not to say that we will never sin, but that, as followers of Christ, sin should no longer be our master or us its slaves, for Jesus freed us from slavery to sin, if truly we have trusted in him to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives. We should no longer walk (in lifestyle; habitually) according to our flesh, but now according to the Spirit of God. For, if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, WE WILL DIE IN OUR SINS. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 2:1-2).

What many of these false teachers are telling people is that all they have to do is believe in the existence of Jesus Christ, and accept his forgiveness of their sins, and that now they have heaven guaranteed them, and it cannot be taken away from them, no matter how they live from this point forward. But, that is not salvation! That is just carte blanche to continue living in sin while believing that you will still go to heaven when you die. But, where is the freedom from slavery to sin in that? There isn’t any, because there is no death to sin, and no resurrection to new lives in Christ Jesus. There is no new birth (being born again) of the Spirit of God, because there has been no death to the old life of living in sin and for self (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

Pleasing God, Not Man (vv. 10-12)

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

I hear many of these false teachers also tell their listeners that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, and that he smiles on us and that he delights in us even when we are engrossed in sin and willful rebellion against him. This is not freedom from sin! This is giving excuses for continued sin against God, and giving God’s blessings upon it, too. Oh, how wrong!

If God is pleased with us with everything we do, even when we are ignoring his Word, and going our own stubborn way, then why does scripture teach us that we need to find out what pleases him and to do it? Why does scripture teach us what does please God? Why does it say that “those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God”? And, why does it say that “whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”? (See: Ro. 8:8; 2 Co. 5:9; Gal. 6:8; Eph. 5:10; Col. 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 11:6; Heb. 13:6; & 1 Jn. 3:22.)

Jesus died on that cross for our sins that we might die to sin and live to please him, and that we might become followers of God, and not of man (humans). What is the point of our salvation if all we do is try to look for loopholes in God’s Word to excuse away our sin, and to try to avoid obeying it? Isn’t that counterproductive? We can’t be servants of the Lord and slaves to sin and the flesh, too. If we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die to sin) for the sake of Jesus Christ, we will have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25).

A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

The Lord Is

Wednesday, November 9, 2016, 2:52 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 145 (Select vv. ESV).

He is Merciful (vv. 8-9)

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.

When God shows us his mercy, oftentimes he comes to our rescue to deliver us out of something, or he is patient towards us and he does not discipline us immediately as our sins deserve. The Bible says that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, and so he waits for us to accept his invitation to his great salvation, yet he will not wait forever, so don’t delay in putting your faith in him. Tomorrow may not come.

His mercy to us is based in his lovingkindness and in his compassion towards us. God demonstrates his mercy to us just by the mere fact that he desires a relationship with us, when we are so undeserving of his love and grace. He loved us and he died for us while we were yet dead in our sins, not because we were so righteous, which we weren’t, but because he is love and he is merciful. He provided deliverance to us out of slavery to sin so that we could become servants of his righteousness. He, as well, shows his mercy and grace to us by his faithfulness to us, even when we are not faithful to him.

Yet, God’s mercy can also be shown to us in his divine discipline and correction in our lives, for he says that those he loves he disciplines for our good (for our benefit) that we may share in his holiness. Those who have been trained by his discipline should, thus, yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness (See: Heb. 12:1-11). In other words, sometimes his mercy to us is to allow us to go through hardships, pain and suffering, because it is for our good, to draw us closer to God, that we may learn to rely on God, and not on ourselves, and that we may be purified, made holy, and conformed to the image of Christ, God’s Son.

He is Compassionate (vv. 14-16)

The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He did this in order that he might be our compassionate and merciful high priest in giving himself as the sacrificial Lamb for our sins so that we might be reunited with God in pure fellowship, and have our sins forgiven (See: Heb. 2:14-18; 4:14-16). But, also that he might feel what we feel, i.e. that he might sympathize with us, and so he might help us when we are going through tough stuff, or when we are being tempted to sin.

It is certainly enough that Jesus Christ loved us so much that he was willing to leave his home in heaven, to come to earth, to become flesh, to make his dwelling among us, and to take upon himself the sins of the entire world when he died on the cross so we could be delivered from slavery to sin. Yet, it brings much comfort to me that he knows what I go through because he went through something similar himself, and that he cares when I hurt. He feels what I feel, and he is there to give comfort, healing, direction, compassion, hugs (emotional) and counsel. He will never leave me nor forsake me. And, he will provide all that I need to endure, to persevere, and to keep doing what he has called me to do, even against great odds.

He is Righteous (v. 17)

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.

Our Lord is pure, moral, honest, honorable, upright, and blameless in all that he does. He is absolutely perfect. He is also just, i.e. he is fair, correct, and good. We may not feel like he is sometimes, because we don’t understand what is truly in our best interest, i.e. what is for our benefit; or because we don’t truly comprehend that he is God, and not some doting grandfather in the sky there to grant our every request, and to do what pleases us.

So many people today have an entitlement mindset to where they think God owes them whatever, and so they get angry with God when he doesn’t do things the way they would like, or the way they think he ought to, but God isn’t like us. He doesn’t operate like we do. He does not exist just to make us happy all the time. Yes, he is a God of love, but he is also a God of justice, and mercy, which means he will do what is best for us, but not necessarily what will make us feel good all the time.

He is Near (vv. 18-20)

The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

Along with God’s promises to us are his stipulations or conditions. A lot of people like to preach that God does it all and that nothing is required of us at all, but that is not what scripture teaches. It isn’t that God does part and we do part, as though we are equal partners in our salvation, though. It is by his grace, through faith, which is the gift of God, and not of works lest any of us should boast, that we are saved from our sins (See: Eph. 2:8-10). Yet, we do have a part. We have to believe on him, but even the ability or desire to have faith in Jesus Christ comes from God, yet we must willingly appropriate this faith to our lives through our submission to Christ and via our cooperation with God’s work of grace in our lives.

If we want to experience the nearness of the Lord with us and in us, we must call on him, but we must call on him in truth. If we want him to fulfill our desires, we must walk in the fear (honor, respect, & reverence) of the Lord. Then, our desires will be his desires. If we want to have his salvation, we must fear (honor, respect & reverence) him via turning from sin and turning to walk in obedience to him and to his commands (See: Rom. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24), and by not taking his grace for granted (See: Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Jn. 1:6). If we want to be preserved for eternal life, or to have his watch and care over us, we have to be in relationship with him. To know him is to love him, and to love him is to obey him (See: Jn. 14:23-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).

We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We can never be good enough to gain God’s divine approval of us. Only by God’s grace to us, through faith, can we be saved from our sins. Yet, belief in Jesus Christ is not just an emotional experience, or an intellectual assent to what Jesus did for us in dying for us our sins. We must understand here that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. Coming to Christ means 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. True faith in Jesus Christ means we cooperate with God’s work of grace in our lives, not that we do nothing. So, call on him in truth (sincerity), fear (honor) him, and love (obey) him.

Praise Him (v. 21)

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Last of all, or perhaps first of all, praise him. Praise him for what he has done, and for what he is yet going to do. Praise him for who he is. Praise him in good times and in bad times. Praise him in the storms of life, and when things are going well. And, praise him by sharing with others the message of salvation from sin so that they, too, can be saved. Amen!

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012

Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
(Repeat 1st 2 lines)
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
(Repeat 1st 2 lines)
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
(Repeat 1st 2 lines)
I can count on Him.