Arise and Speak

Saturday, June 17, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “God Be with You till We Meet Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Appointed by God (vv. 4-8)

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 have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.

We read in Psalm 139:

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

And, we read in 2 Tim. 1:8-9 & Eph. 1:3-4 (respectively):

“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.”

“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.”

And, we read in 1 Pet. 2:9 & Matt. 28:18-20 (respectively):

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all called (chosen, appointed) by God to a holy calling, which includes proclaiming and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples of Christ of people throughout the world. And, we, too, were called of God to this even before the creation of the world; even before we were formed in our mother’s wombs. So, we should not neglect our calling out of fear of what others may think of us, or what they might do to us, or out of complacency and apathy, thinking this is only for those God calls to be preachers or teachers. But, we should be purposeful and intentional in sharing the gospel so that others might hear, and so they may be saved before our Lord Jesus returns to judge and to take us home.

Pluck Up and Build (vv. 9-12)

Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,

“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
“See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant.”
The word of the Lord came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”

The truth of the gospel of our salvation involves this plucking up, breaking down, destroying, and overthrowing, yet also building and planting. How so, you say? Well, the truth of the gospel is that we are all born sinners (Ro. 3:23), and we all, thus, come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit. Not one of us can earn or deserve our own salvation. So, Jesus died on a cross for our sins so that, through faith in him, we might be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we might have new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

So, how does this take place? Well, first of all God draws us to Jesus, and then he gives us the faith to believe in him, but we have to take ownership of that faith and apply it to our lives. We have to receive Jesus by faith. And, this faith involves turning from our sins, and turning to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience to his will for our lives. When we believe in Jesus, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with him to newness of life, to be lived to him and to his righteousness. The old has gone, the new has come. We no longer live our lives to gratify our sinful desires, but by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are conducting our lives in accordance with the Spirit of God.

But, this does not mean we will never sin again, or that we won’t ever wander off the path and get off track, and need to be reminded of our calling and prompted to throw off those sins which so easily entangle, and the weight of all that is hindering our walks of faith, so that we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us that we should follow (run). So, sometimes God calls certain people to speak his words of correction and instruction to us, in order to get us back on track with God, and this involves, too, this breaking down of stubborn hearts, and the plucking up of what is causing closed ears, and the overthrowing of sinful behaviors and attitudes so that God may revive us, restore (build) us, and use us again.

A Fortified City (vv. 13-19)

The word of the Lord came to me a second time saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” Then the Lord said to me, “Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For, behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,” declares the Lord; “and they will come and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls round about and against all the cities of Judah. I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.

Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them. Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.

One of the ways in which God accomplishes this plucking up, breaking down, destroying and overthrowing of sinful behaviors and attitudes, stubborn hearts and wills, and blocked (stopped up) ears, which are unwilling to obey him, is via divine discipline and correction (judgment; reproving; scourging). He does this for our good, that we may share in his holiness, and that we might be trained (taught) by the discipline, in order that it might produce in our lives the peaceful fruit of righteousness (holiness, godliness, decency). And, this is a painful process (See: Heb. 12:1-11; cf. Rev. 2-3).

Sometimes God will use trials, tribulations and difficulties in our lives as his instruments of divine discipline and correction. Other times, if this is widespread, i.e. if a large percentage of his children are living in stubborn rebellion and/or complacency and apathy, he will use foreign powers or even our own nations’ leaders to come against us, and to war against us – God’s people, his saints – in order to revive and restore (build and plant) us. And, this is where much of the church, at least here in America, is today. So many have gone the way of the world and have gotten off the “straight and narrow” path of righteousness and holiness, and they have wandered off to follow after the flesh and the gods of this world. So, God is going to discipline them in order to bring them back to him.

These “kingdoms of the north,” in our world today, is an alliance of nations, CEOs of corporations, big banks, the Elite (wealthy and powerful) of the world, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, et al. They are called “The New World Order,” and they are definitely coming against the saints of God BIG TIME! They want to break down all which divides us as the people of the world so that we can all come together in unity – with one voice and one heart. They want us all to accept all religions as viable, and to tolerate (be lenient toward) sinful lifestyles. So, they are going after “religious extremism,” which, by definition, includes all those who are preaching the full gospel message. So, they are declaring the gospel, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, to be intolerant, bigoted and hateful speech, although they have not yet, to my knowledge, said that directly, but it is implied over and over again.

Yet, we are not to fear their threats, but we are to rely on the strength of the Lord, and we are to keep on speaking, and not be silent, for our God is in control. They will fight against us, but God will help us through it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Benediction

Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “God Be with You till We Meet Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 30:23-31:11: (Select vv. ESV).

A Whirling Tempest (30:23-24)

Behold the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intentions of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand this.

We are living in those latter days now. And, there are many storms and tempests blowing all around us. Some of them are literal storms, while others are outbursts and eruptions of a different kind (nature). Some are impacting the atmosphere associated with the physical earth, while others are influencing our surroundings on a more social, economic, religious and/or political sphere. And, both kinds of tempests can result in violence and destruction of property, and can cause loss of life and health and well-being. Some are literally storms of the Lord, which he generates, even though he may use human beings to carry them out. Others are allowed by God, because he allows evil to exist in this world, but he sets limits on them.

In context, what we learn here is that God first judged his wayward and rebellious people. He used wicked people, who were bent on the destruction of Israel, as his divine instruments of judgment on his adulterous and idolatrous children. And, then, when he had accomplished his purposes in the hearts of his people, he turned on their enemies, and he did to his people’s enemies what they did to Israel.

And, so it is again in these last days. God is judging and will judge his adulterous and rebellious children, i.e. his wayward church (See: Rev. 2-3), and he is using and will use the US government, their allies, the beast and the false prophet, as his divine instruments of judgment, but then he will turn on them, and it will be payback, and they will receive back in spades what they did, are doing, and yet will do to others. And, this storm is not far off, I believe. Although God uses evil and wicked people to accomplish his purposes in the hearts and minds of his followers, yet he still judges them for their evil deeds.

They Found Grace (31:1-6)

“At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”
Thus says the Lord:
“The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O virgin Israel!
Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant
and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when watchmen will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”

Throughout history, the primary purpose for God judging his people, and for discipling them and scourging them, was to revive and to restore them, and to turn their hearts away from their idols back to God, to follow him in all their ways from that day forward. He also uses divine discipline as a means to holiness and sanctification, that we might bear much fruit for his eternal kingdom, and that we might yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness. And, this, too, is his grace to us, because he loves us so much, so he will do what is needed (necessary) in order to bring us back to him, because what we need is to be in fellowship with him and to be walking in his ways. God always wants what is best for us, and this is what is best for us.

When we put our faith and trust 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 in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Jesus died, not just to free us from the penalty of sin (spiritual death/eternal damnation), and not just to give us the hope of eternal life with God. 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. His grace is NOT a free license to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars.

So, for those who have wandered off from the purpose for which we were saved, or for those who make a profession of faith in Jesus, but who never have truly believed in Jesus Christ, because they never did turn from their sins or follow the Lord in obedience, the call is to repent of your sins, leave your life of sin behind you, and turn to God to follow him in all his ways. He will revive and restore you, or he will save you from your sins for the first time. Concerning the adulterous, idolatrous and worldly church now, when he disciplines them in judgment, and he revives them, they will once again have the joy and peace of the Lord, and of their salvation, and they will walk in his holiness, and they will be his witnesses so that others can be saved.

A Straight Path (31:9-11)

With weeping they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.

When we sin against our Lord, and the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts, it should bring us to tears. Yet, we should not be sorrowful with a worldly sorrow, just because we got caught, or just because we got disciplined, but we should have a godly sorrow which leads to genuine repentance, i.e. to a change of heart and mind which results in change of words and actions. We should be humbled that God spared our lives, and that he cared enough about us to move us to repentance, and that he did not leave us floundering in our sins. We should be so grateful for his grace to us in bringing pain and suffering into our lives so as to motivate us toward his holiness and righteousness; and away from sin and rebellion, to walks of faith and obedience to our Lord.

Yet, when this time comes, and the church is scattered because of God’s judgments, and because of the severity of the persecution of the saints of God who are following the ways of the Lord, which may already be what is taking place in other parts of the world; and many are martyred for their faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ, many of us will be separated from each other, and we will not be rejoined until we are all with our Lord forever. So, for those who survive this storm, let this benediction be for you (for us).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beside Quiet Waters

Sunday, May 28, 2017, 11:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 23 (NASB).

Not in Want (v. 1)

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.

Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. In his death on a cross, he laid down his life for his sheep. Through his death and resurrection, he provided the way for us, through God-given faith in him, to be delivered from slavery to sin and eternal death, and to be freed to walk now in Christ’s righteousness. He also became our merciful and compassionate high priest, who suffered like we suffer, and thus he is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses. Not only is he our Savior, but he is also our provider and sustainer. We are not lacking in any good thing he desires for us. He meets all of our needs.

He Leads Me (v. 2)

He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.

Sometimes, though, as humans, we become anxious about our lives, our needs, our circumstances, and our loved ones, etc. And, there are times when we need to be reminded that he is our shepherd, and that we are not lacking in anything we truly need, for even when we do lack, he provides, or he fulfills us where we are lacking. He reminds us, too, that we need to put our trust in him and not in humans, and not in the things of this world, for all these things are going to pass away. Our trust needs to be solely in the Lord, and so we must rest in him, believing that he will provide, not necessarily all that we think we need, but what he knows is what we need.

Restores My Soul (v. 3)

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

When we feel anxious, and we call upon him, and he fills us with his peace, because we are now resting and trusting in him, he restores our souls. And, he leads us in the right way, in the way we should go; in the way of faith and rest in him, and not in the way of the flesh or of the world. He shows us his truths in contrast to Satan’s lies, and he teaches us his ways, which is the way to true peace and contentment. We can rest in him and believe him in all things because he is God, he is all powerful, and he is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made, and over all powers, dominions and authorities on the earth and in the heavenly realms.

The world teaches us many ways to live, much of which is in contrast to God’s ways. So, if we spend much time immersing (engaging) ourselves and our minds in the beliefs, attitudes, thinking, philosophies and behaviors of this sinful world, it will be reflected in our own thinking, attitudes and behaviors. Yet, Jesus will guide us in the paths of his righteousness, but we have to be open, available and receptive to listen, and then to do what he says. God’s grace, for instance, is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt and remorse, using God’s grace as a cop-out for willful sin. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and desires, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

Death’s Dark Valley (v. 4)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

In our spiritual walks of faith in Jesus Christ, we will face hardships, persecutions, trials, tribulations and difficulties, as well as blessings. Sometimes our trials can be so troublesome that they are death-like, i.e. they hint to us a sense of hopelessness and despair, or an ending to something good, or a feeling of powerlessness over our circumstances. The reality of them may be, as well, that we are in danger of dying or of being killed, particularly for our faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, we are not to fear, for our Lord is completely sovereign (in control) over all things, and he will, in all things, work for the good of us who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Ro. 8:28), so we can rest in him.

I don’t ever have to be afraid of what humans may do to me, for my God is with me. He will lead me and guide me in the way I should go, and he will counsel me and watch over me. He, too, will console me and reassure me of his love, his grace, his mercy, his power and of his sovereignty. And, He will remind me that I can trust him, and that I can rest in him secure in all things. He has a plan and a purpose. And, his purposes will be accomplished. His plans cannot be thwarted! [Job 42:2; Is. 8:10; Is. 14:27]

Presence of Enemies (v. 5)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have one prime enemy, which is Satan. He is the enemy of God and of all who follow Jesus Christ with their lives. He is like a roaring lion roaming around the earth seeking whom he may devour. So, we are to resist him, flee temptation and sin, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith. He has followers, too, though, and they are our enemies, also, but we don’t fight him or them with physical weapons of warfare. We fight off our enemies with spiritual weapons of righteousness which God has given to us to put on daily, so that we don’t succumb to the enemy’s devices and strategies he uses against us (See: Eph. 6:10-20).

Again, we don’t have to fear Satan or his many hordes, but daily we must put on God’s armor, and when we do, we will be at peace and at rest. Our Lord will provide us with everything we need to remain strong in battle, to not give up, to persevere, to be at peace, to retain our joy, and to keep on serving our Lord despite all opposition forged against us. He will provide us with wisdom, insight, spiritual gifts, faith, words to say, and a song in our hearts, so that the enemy of our souls will not gain the victory over us. And, he will do this in the presence of our enemies so that they can see that God is with us, that God is all powerful, and that no weapon forged against us will prevail, not even death, for death to us only means life with God.

Goodness and Lovingkindness (v. 6)

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

We read in Romans 8:14 that it is those who are led by the Spirit of God who are the children of God. If we live according to the sinful nature, 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. So, it isn’t those who merely profess faith in Jesus Christ who are the sheep of his pasture, but it is those who walk according to the Spirit, who do not live by the ways of the flesh, and who, by the Spirit, are putting sin to death. Being led by the Spirit means we listen to what the Lord says in his Word, and we follow where he (his Word) leads us, in the path of his righteousness and holiness.

We are those of whom God’s goodness and lovingkindness (covenant loyalty) will follow us all the days of our lives. We have the promise of an eternal home with God. And, God is completely faithful to all he has promised those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. We can totally rely on him to do everything he said he would do.

Yet, his goodness is not necessarily as humans might define “good,” but it is according to what is best (in God’s estimation) for us. It is what is pure, holy, righteous, moral, decent, upright, truthful and just, and what is in accord with God’s perfect plan for our lives. Suffering, as we learn, is part of his design for our lives, so we should not feel he is not being good to us if he allows us to go through suffering. Even that has its place in our lives in growing us in our faith, maturing us, training us in perseverance, purifying us, and teaching us to rely on God and not on ourselves, as well as to conform us to the likeness of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

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.

The One We Have Pierced

Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 7:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Zechariah 12-13 (Select vv. NIV).

A Spirit of Grace (12:10)

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”

The context here is that of judgment. And, the judgment is on God’s people, yet not to destroy them, but to revive them. Yet, as with many of the Old Testament prophecies, they sometimes have more than one fulfillment, and they periodically blend together prophecies concerning their present age, and concerning the messianic age, as well. And, that is this case here, I believe.

The one who has been pierced is Jesus Christ, who is God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our sins are what pierced him. He who knew no sin became sin for us, though, in order that we might become the righteousness of God. By His stripes we are healed! He 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. And, he died in order that we might no longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Holy Spirit of God.

So, when we, who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and who have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, which is to be lived to his righteousness, turn away from what we know is right, and we willfully do what we know is wrong, in a sense, we pierce him again. He grieves over us, for we have left the right way and we have gone off to follow after the gods of this world and our own flesh once again. And, so his goal is always to bring us back. If speaking tenderly to our hearts over a period of time does not get results, then he is not resistant to disciplining us in order to get us to look to him and to realize the folly (absurdity, senselessness) of our ways.

The goal of this divine discipline (judgment, correction), if we have wandered off from our pure devotion to Christ, is to get us to humbly and mournfully repent of our sins and to turn back to following Christ with our lives. And, he will pour out on us the blessings of his grace in reviving our hearts and empowering us once more with his Spirit to live godly lives.

Cleansing from Sin (13:1-2)

“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

“On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land.”

Although God will allow Satan and all his hordes to come against his saints – to attack, kill, hate, reject, persecute, abuse, falsely accuse and misuse – he will never leave us or forsake us. He will give us, who are still alive, all we need to remain strong in our faith, to put on the armor of God, and to set our faces like flint against all of Satan’s wiles and wickedness. Our enemies will not be able to destroy us, though. Although they may kill the body, they cannot kill the soul. The stronger Satan fights against us, the mightier in battle against him God makes us, if we are willing to obey him. The more that the church is persecuted, the further it increases in numbers and in faith, perseverance, forbearance, hope, trust, and courage to keep sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many as possible before Jesus returns.

On the day when God judges his people, and when he judges our enemies, too, and when God’s people, his saints, repent of their evil ways, and they return to him as their ONLY God and Lord, he will cleanse them of their sins. This is not the cleansing that takes place when we first believe in Jesus Christ, and our sins are put to death in our lives, and we are born anew of the Spirit of God. But, it is the cleansing of sin that takes place in the life of the believer who has fallen back into sin and then repents (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-10; Rev. 2-3; Lu. 9:23-25). It is when God renews us and restores us back into fellowship with him, because that fellowship had been broken by our willful sins against him (Heb. 12:1-13; Gal. 6:1; Col. 3:1-10; Ro. 8:12-14). Basically, we are daily needing to be renewed and restored (Jn. 13:1-17).

When God judges our enemies, he will remove from the land what has led his people into captivity, i.e. the false prophets and idols which have led his people astray. I can’t help but feel that the internet and TV will have to be cut off somehow, so maybe we will lose electricity. This judgment will also expose all those deceivers for what they are, which will then open the eyes of the saints who have been duped by these master manipulators. And, that, I believe, is the fountain that will be opened to cleanse the wayward saints from their idolatries, impurities and adulteries. When we no longer have available to us these idols, and when our eyes are opened to the truth, and the blinders removed, this will be a fountain to healing and cleansing.

Scattered Sheep (13:7-9)

“Awake, sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who is close to me!”
declares the Lord Almighty.
“Strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered,
and I will turn my hand against the little ones.
In the whole land,” declares the Lord,
“two-thirds will be struck down and perish;
yet one-third will be left in it.
This third I will put into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

This passage of scripture appears to move quickly from the time of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, and the desertion of his followers, to the scattering of the early church during a time of great persecution, and then on to the persecution of the saints and the judgments of God in these last days before Jesus’ return. This passage also speaks of God’s restoration and revival of his wandering saints, as well as it speaks of his purifying and refining of his faithful and persecuted saints (his servants) in these last days. And, included in this is the salvation of souls who have never before trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, who will now say, “The Lord is our God.”

I don’t know the timing of all of this. I don’t know for sure that the tribulation is a literal seven years. But, what I do know is that the prophecies of scripture in Revelation 13 are being realized in our day and time, and I believe some of them have been happening at least since WWII. For one, I believe that television meets the criteria of the “image of the beast” like nothing else on this earth, for truly it is its image (picture, representation, likeness, reflection). And, it is worshiped (idolized) in probably the majority of American households, for sure. It seems most American homes have at least one TV, and often large screen TVs in their living rooms, and the rooms are often focused all around the television set, as also often are the lives of the people who live in those houses.

The internet needs to be included in this, as well, including the use of smart phones, electronic tablets and laptop computers which give people unsupervised (re: children) or unaccountable (to anyone) private internet access. This has ruined entire households and destroyed many marriages.

Also, a global force of the Elite of this World (the New World Order) is presently consuming, plundering, confiscating, murdering, persecuting and otherwise taking over sovereign nations and peoples and lands and properties and churches all over the globe. And, the US government is, basically, leading the way as their “right hand man,” i.e. as the harlot who rides the beast. The US government has no real authority of its own, but it is under the authority of the rule of the Elite (New World Order ‘beast’), which serves as the de facto government (shadow government) of these United States of America. We who live in America cannot trust our leaders or our media or even a lot of our church leaders to tell us the truth. So, we must test everything we hear or read against the Word of God and in prayer.

But, the good news here is that, even though God allows evil to reign for a period of time, and even though he allows his saints to go through difficult times, in order to refine, purify and make us holy, and to conform us into the image of Christ, this will not last forever. One day Jesus is going to come back for us to take us to be with him. When he does, evil and sin will be no more. There will be no more sickness, sadness, pain, and suffering. No one will ever be able to hurt us again. We will be with our Lord forever! Amen!

Yet, while we wait for his return, what kind of people ought we to be? We “ought to live holy and godly lives” as we “look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Pet. 3:11-12; cf. Tit. 2:11-14).

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.

Showers of Rain

Monday, April 10, 2017, 6:59 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Zechariah 10 (Select vv. NASB).

Ask from the Lord (v. 1)

Ask rain from the Lord
in the season of the spring rain,
from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
and he will give them showers of rain,
to everyone the vegetation in the field.

What is a shower? It is a washing and a bath, among other things. It is water (rain) coming down from heaven. Water cleanses, and it refreshes. Water quenches our thirst, and it is necessary to plant life in order to give the plants the important nutrients they need to grow. We, as humans, need food and water in order to live. It is for our survival. When we are born into this world, we are born of water, from our mother’s wombs. In scripture, water is often used to symbolize the Holy Spirit and eternal life in Christ Jesus, given to us who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives. When we are baptized physically upon faith in Jesus Christ, by immersion, this symbolizes our death with Christ to sin and our resurrection with him to newness of life, i.e. our new birth of the Spirit of God.

So, in a spiritual sense, if we ask the Lord for spring rain, during a season which symbolizes everything coming back to life, it could be that we are seeking him for salvation, after we have heard the gospel message of salvation from sin, and upon the Spirit of God convicting our hearts and drawing us to Jesus. We are, thus, seeking him for spiritual cleansing and for eternal and abundant life in Him. Or, it may be that we are going through a spiritually dry period in our lives, so we call upon the Lord for spiritual refreshing and renewal in the Spirit. Or, we may be asking for the Spirit of God to empower, strengthen, equip and encourage us in our walks of faith.

As well, we may have fallen back into sin, and so we have been going through a wilderness time in our lives when we have allowed the devil to get a foothold in our lives again. Our times with the Lord have fallen off, or else we are just going through the motions, because we know we are not living right. We know we are not walking in the ways of the Lord, and that he is not pleased with us. In fact, we are not pleased with us, but yet we continue because we have gotten trapped again or because we have given up hope that we can walk in victory. Been there. Done that. Not a good place to be.

And, so we call on God to deliver us from ourselves, although he has already done that, and yet we know we need to be rescued if we are to live. And, so we repent of our sinful ways, and we call on God to give us what we need to get back on the right path, and we ask for him to revive, renew and restore us. We need to be brought back to God in the sense that he is our ONLY Lord. We need to be refreshed in our spirits and to be encouraged once again in our walks of faith. We need to be strengthened in our perseverance, too, so we don’t give up again. We need the season of spring in our lives, in other words, when everything comes back to life, when the Holy Spirit is leading, instructing, comforting, counseling and strengthening us in the Lord because we are now listening to our Lord, and we are doing what he says.

False Dreams (v. 2)

For the household gods utter nonsense,
and the diviners see lies;
they tell false dreams
and give empty consolation.
Therefore the people wander like sheep;
they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.

The problem today, especially here in America, is that not many people seem to be seeking God with all their hearts, and truly desirous of the pouring out of the Spirit on their lives in either genuine salvation, or for empowerment for our spiritual walks, or in revival. Too many people, including those who profess the name of Jesus, are living worldly lives, void of the power of the Spirit of God, still trapped in sin’s deceitfulness, without conscience, and with little to no desire or thought to change their sinful ways via faith in Jesus Christ. They think they don’t have to, in many cases, because their shepherds are telling them that God requires nothing of them.

Today’s modern gospel has nothing to do with death to sin, because that offends people, and it makes them uncomfortable. It does tell of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, and how he paid the penalty of sin for us so that we could go free from condemnation and have the hope of heaven when we die. But, they fail to tell people that faith in Jesus is not something we create out of our own imaginations. Saving faith is God-given, and it is divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives. When we are convinced of God’s will, we submit to that will, not resist it, or think it doesn’t apply to us.

Jesus didn’t die on that cross and shed his own blood for our sins just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that we might walk in the Spirit, in the ways of the Lord, and no longer according to our flesh and the ways of this sinful world. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

Because these false shepherds of the people are not telling them the truth, but are feeding their minds with lies, and with what their itching ears want to hear, there are many people who believe they are saved when they are not, because they think they just bought fire insurance, but that they have no responsibility to keep their lives from being set on fire by hell.

But, God’s word is perfectly clear on this subject. There is no gray area on this topic. If we walk in darkness, but we say we have fellowship with God, we are liars. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. If we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity. But, if we walk in the light as he is in the light, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. If we lose our lives for Christ, i.e. if we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, we will live with him for eternity. And, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ forever and ever, amen (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-10; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Gal. 2:20; Acts 26:16-18).

Bring Them Back (vv. 3, 6)

“My anger is hot against the shepherds,
and I will punish the leaders;
for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah,
and will make them like his majestic steed in battle…

“I will strengthen the house of Judah,
and I will save the house of Joseph.
I will bring them back because I have compassion on them,
and they shall be as though I had not rejected them,
for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.”

God is angry with the shepherds (pastors, spiritual leaders, elders, Bible teachers) who are telling people lies and who are not giving them the truth. Why? Because they are leading people astray from their pure devotion to Christ, and/or they are presenting to them a false gospel which requires no death to sin, no repentance, no submission to Christ and no obedience to his Word. What this means is that they are leading people straight to hell by telling them what makes them feel good about themselves in this life, but which does not deliver them from slavery to sin, but which keeps them bound in sin and without hope, while believing a lie. So, God will judge them for this. And, he will deliver the people out from under their influence.

God has a plan, which is spelled out for us all throughout the prophecies of scripture, and that is his plan to judge this world in tribulation, but also to revive his church, to rebuild (renew, restore) his temple, the body of Christ, and to bring many to true faith in Jesus Christ before he returns for his bride. He will have compassion on his fallen people and on those who have bought into the lies of these deceivers (the false shepherds), and he will refine them with the fires of tribulation in order to get them to call on their God and to seek him with all their hearts; and for them to find their satisfaction and fulfillment in him, and in him alone. And, they will be as though they had never strayed from the Lord or from his pure word.

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.”

Jealous for Zion

Monday, April 10, 2017, 3:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Redeemed.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Zechariah 8 (Select vv. NASB).

The City of Truth (vv. 1-3, 6-8)

Then the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I am exceedingly jealous for Zion, yes, with great wrath I am jealous for her.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’

Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?’ declares the Lord of hosts. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.’

Zion is another name for the church, the temple of God, the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. So, Jesus Christ is jealous for his saints, his church. So, why is he jealous? It is because he is our husband and we are his bride, and thus our vow of fidelity to him (our faith) should be to him alone. We should not have any other lovers, i.e. idols (gods of men) or teachers or teaching other than what comes from His Word. He is concerned that some of his people’s minds are being led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. He sees that they are entertaining false teaching, in particular a false grace (fleshly) gospel in their minds, which appeals to human flesh and produces self-gratification, i.e. it gives its adherents free license to keep on sinning against God (See: 2 Co. 11:2-4; Jas. 4:1-10).

Many preachers today are diluting the gospel of Christ by teaching a half-truth gospel. They will teach that Jesus died on the cross, that he who knew no sin became sin for us, and that he took our penalty for sin so that we could go free from condemnation, and be free to live with Christ eternally. Yet, the faith that they teach is not God-given but is fleshly, for it requires no repentance, no obedience to Christ and his Word, and no submission to Christ and surrender to his will for our lives. Yet, God-given faith convinces (persuades) us of God’s perfect will for our lives. And, faith in Jesus means death to sin and living to righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23).

God hates lies! I do, too! He is truth, and he wants us to be people of truth, as well. This does not mean we go around being bold and brash and heartless in just speaking our minds without concern for who gets hurt in the process, but it means that we will speak the truth in love, because that is loving, and it is kind, and it cares more about others than it does ourselves. And, it means we won’t lie to and deceive one another, or hide the truth from those who need to hear it, or to whom it is owed. Because so many people have this idea that God’s grace gives them liberty to keep on sinning without guilt or remorse, they also have no guilt about covering up their sin, either, and hiding it from those to whom they need to confess.

Yet, there is hope! God will discipline his wayward children who have adopted this false grace gospel, and who have clung to their previous chains, and who have taken liberty to continue in sin without true repentance. Although the adulterous church right now looks pretty bleak, i.e. with all its liberalities, self-indulgences, immoralities, sensuality, and the like, it is not too hard for God to revive his church, and to return her to her pure devotion to him. And, one day soon he is going to return for us, and we will be with him forever, and we, as his bride, will truly be holy and truthful in the purest sense, for sin will be no more.

Stand Strong! (vv. 9, 14-17)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Let your hands be strong, you who are listening in these days to these words from the mouth of the prophets, those who spoke in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, to the end that the temple might be built.

“For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Just as I purposed to do harm to you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and I have not relented, so I have again purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear! These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates. Also let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these are what I hate,’ declares the Lord.”

With all the false teachings and lies of Satan which are being spread throughout the earth, including inside our churches, we, as Christ’s followers, need to stand strong on the Word of Truth, even if it gets us rejected, hated and persecuted. We need to say “NO!” to false teaching and especially to this false grace gospel which allures people by appealing to their human flesh. And, we need to speak out against and expose what is false and proclaim what is truth so that all can hear and know not to put their hope and trust in lies, which will not save, but that they should follow what is truth, but not just half the truth, but the full counsel of God.

In this way, the temple of God, his church, can be built (or rebuilt). In other words, we don’t win people to Jesus Christ with lies, manipulations and gimmicks. We win people to Jesus Christ by telling them the truth, even if that truth offends some people or makes them feel uncomfortable, because it confronts sin and it calls for repentance and faith (or renewed faith) in Jesus Christ. The truth is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us; and that we might no longer conduct our lives according to our flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:5-10).

Good News! (vv. 20-23)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.” So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”

Jerusalem, in these last days, is not the physical city of Jerusalem, which is now of Hagar, because she is still in slavery (to sin) with her children (See: Gal. 4). We, the people of God who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, are his holy city. We are Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. And, a Jew is not one who is one outwardly, but is one who is one inwardly, who has been circumcised of the heart, i.e. he or she is one who believes in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of his or her life.

In these last days before Jesus returns, via this time of divine judgment on the people of the earth, God is pouring out his Spirit, and people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ, for persecution has a way of building or rebuilding the church. I believe scripture teaches that God will revive his wayward church in these last days, and that when the church is revived, she will take the gospel to the people, and she will invite people to faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, the picture we have here, too, is that people will hear of God’s working in other people’s hearts, and by reputation only they will seek God out, and will call on Jesus to be Lord and Savior of their lives, and that is awesome!

Redeemed / Frances J. Crosby

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long:
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

I know I shall see in His beauty
The King in whose law I delight;
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
And giveth me songs in the night.

I know there’s a crown that is waiting
In yonder bright mansion for me,
And soon, with the spirits made perfect,
At home with the Lord I shall be.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child and forever I am.

We Love Him

Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 9:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 63:7-19 (Select vv. NASB).

His Great Goodness (vv. 7-9)

I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has granted them according to His compassion
And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses.
For He said, “Surely, they are My people,
Sons who will not deal falsely.”
So He became their Savior.
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the angel of His presence saved them;
In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,
And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.

Our God is an awesome God! He created us and he designed us for a purpose, that we might give him glory, and honor, and praise. Yet, man sinned against God, and since then all have become sinners. We all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit (Ro. 3:23). Not one of us can ever be good enough to be approved by God. Not one of us can earn or deserve our own salvation, i.e. we don’t deserve God’s grace to us.

But, God knew this when he created man (and woman). He knew they would sin against him, and so he already had a plan for how he was going to save them from their (humanity’s) sins. His plan from the very beginning was that, in God’s perfect timing, he would send his Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) to the earth, to take on human flesh, and to die on a cross for our sins. Although Jesus knew no sin, he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). In other words, He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).

Yet, to receive this salvation, we must believe in Jesus and in what he did for us with God-given faith. This faith is divinely persuaded of God as to God’s perfect will for our lives, so it submits to God’s will and purposes, and it yields to his control over our lives. When we believe in Jesus with this kind of faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are made new in Christ (reborn) of the Spirit of God, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). The old has gone. The new has come. “For we know that 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).

Yet, Jesus didn’t save us just so that we could escape hell (eternal damnation) or just so we could have the promise of eternal life with God. He saved us to purify us, to make us holy, and so that we would follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. He died that we might have completely new lives, not just so we might behave a little bit better. Jesus died, in fact, that we would no longer live for ourselves, but that we might live for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). When we call him “Lord,” that is not just a title we give him. “Lord” means “owner-master.” When he saves us he delivers us out of slavery to sin, and he changes our hearts so that we now become bond-slaves of his righteousness.

God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue living in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which bring salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). In fact, if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful 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/God for eternity (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25). John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6). So, a saved life is a changed life; a life transformed of the Spirit of God away from living for sin and self, and to God, to walk in his ways and in his holiness.

He Disciplines Us (vv. 10-11a)

But they rebelled
And grieved His Holy Spirit;
Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy,
He fought against them.
Then His people remembered the days of old…

Still, when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, although he has freed us from bondage (addiction) to sin, we still have the propensity to sin against him. Yet, if we do sin, we are still saved, and his blood still covers our sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1). But if we continue living a sinful lifestyle, i.e. if we continue in the practice of sin, the Bible says we don’t really know him, we don’t love him, and our sins are not covered. Yet, only God knows who are really his and who aren’t. There seems to be a fine line between those who don’t know him and those who do but who are not living like they do, and only God knows who is who.

The Bible teaches us that those whom the Lord loves he also disciplines (scourges, rebukes). He does this that we might share in his holiness. Some discipline is meant more for the purpose to prune, purify and mature us in our walks of faith, and to make us more fruitful, while other discipline appears to be more aimed at correcting and reproving sinful behavior, with the goal in mind of getting us back on track in our walks of faith with God. All discipline, though, is painful. “Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (See: Heb. 12:1-13).

When we have wandered away from our pure devotion to our Lord, and we have neglected our walks of faith, and if we have ignored his warnings, and if we have not listened to his calls to repent of our sins, he may send divine discipline (judgment, correction) in order to get us to humble ourselves before him in repentance so that he might restore us to himself and heal us. So, if this is where you are, know that he is calling to you to turn from your sins, to trust him again with your life, and to turn back to following him in obedience and in surrender to his will. There is no better place to be ever than right there in the center of his will for your life, and in perfect peace.

Prayer for Mercy (vv. 17b-19)

Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage.
Your holy people possessed Your sanctuary for a little while,
Our adversaries have trodden it down.
We have become like those over whom You have never ruled,
Like those who were not called by Your name.

When God takes his church through a time of trials and difficulties, in order to purify her, to make her holy, to mature her in Christ, or to correct sinful behavior, and in order to get her to return to him as her ONLY Lord, she may call out to him for mercy, and for relief from her suffering. Yet, the suffering is for her good, that it might produce a harvest of righteousness in her life. So, she needs to surrender her all to the Lord, and submit to his will and purposes, and trust in his sovereignty, even if the relief does not immediately come, or even if it does not come in this life, at all. God knows what we need. We can pray for relief, most certainly, but if it does not come, we must rest in him and wait on him and still believe that he knows best.

One of the reasons, though, that God will discipline (judge) his church is for the very reasons these verses describe. His people have become like those whom he never ruled over, i.e. they are not living at all like they have been cleansed from their sins, and as though Jesus truly set them free from slavery to sin. Instead, they have become trapped by sin’s deceitfulness once more, and they are following again after the ways of this sinful world. They are living not much different from those who don’t know Christ at all, so it is barely distinguishable between the world and the church. They have neglected their personal times of worship with our Lord, and prayer and Bible study have been set aside in favor of TV, sports, the internet, social media, video games, movies, and/or whatever else is distracting them and is drawing them away from their pure devotion to Christ.

The gatherings of the church have also adopted the ways of this sinful world in order to attract the world to come to its meetings. Most churches these days, especially here in America, no longer preach on sin, judgment, repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ and his cross. They do teach on grace and forgiveness, though. It is like they want the resurrection minus the cross, but without death to sin we can have no life in Christ. As well, the Lord’s adversaries are trampling down the church, but that has been, at least here in America, because they have invited the government and the world and its influences into the church and its gatherings.

So, again, God is calling to his church to repent of her idolatry and her spiritual adultery, and to return to HIM as her ONLY Lord and Savior.

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.