Partiality to Wicked

Sunday, October 15, 2017, 7:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Near the Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 82 (Select vv. ESV).

Showing Partiality (vv. 1-2)

God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah

God is addressing the judges (rulers) of the earth, and yet all of us make judgments of some kind every day, so all of us can learn from this passage of scripture. As well, we read in the New Testament that God does not show partiality in his judgments (Ro. 2:11; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25), but he judges us all the same, by the same divine standard. So, we are not to show partiality or favoritism by human standards (Jas. 2:1-13), but we are to judge justly and righteously, as God does. So, how might we be judging unjustly today?

To show partiality is to give preferential treatment to one group of people over another, i.e. it is to treat some people better or worse than we treat others because of their social status, race, religion, culture, color of their skin, personality, and sex (male or female), etc. Yet, we have to consider how this better or worse treatment is to be defined, not by man, but by God, and what it means to judge justly and righteously, as God does, not as man.

For example, we don’t support or encourage sin in sinful humans and call that “being nice” and not showing partiality, nor do we participate in sin in order to not show preference to one group over another. Yet, we should not be guilty of placating (pacifying) some sins in people while we rail against other sins, especially to do so hypocritically. So, with regard to sin, we should treat all who are walking in sin the same, with the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, but also with his divine justice and righteousness.

The problem here for today’s modern church is that many do show partiality to the wicked by placating sin, by diluting the gospel in order to not offend, and by patterning their meetings after the ways of this sinful world in order to draw in the world (their customer base), so that the ungodly will keep coming back to their meetings. In order to do this, not only do they show preference to the ungodly, but they will sometimes treat the godly with disdain, and will even rail against them in public and will encourage them to leave if they cannot unify with the church’s worldly marketing strategy.

Rescue the Weak (vv. 3-4)

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

So, instead of showing preferential treatment to the wicked (ungodly), so that they will like us, or so that they will come to our gatherings, and to do so by compromising our faith and the gospel message, we are rather to give justice to the weak, the needy, the fatherless, the afflicted and the destitute, etc.

So, what is justice? It is righteousness. It is what is moral, ethical, good, reasonable, honest, honorable, proper, fair and evenhanded. So, this means that to treat people honorably and fairly, we must also treat them righteously, which again says that treating people with kindness cannot mean that we compromise truth, the gospel, or our faith, because that is not kind at all, because then we, in essence, send them straight to hell. So, fair treatment must also be coupled with righteousness rather than being devoid of what is godly, holy and good (in the eyes of God).

So, as the body of Christ, we need to cease to show preference to the ungodly, which we do by participating with them in their ungodly ways, by being entertained by their wickedness, or by placating their sins in order to not offend them so that they will like us. And, we need to show honor, respect and value to those who are walking righteously, rather than treating them as though they are misfits who must be reformed or discarded. And, we need to be rescuing the powerless and the needy from the hand of the wicked, both physically and spiritually.

Basically, rather than showing partiality to the wicked, by pacifying them and entertaining them, we need to be rescuing people from the control of Satan and sin, and we need to be bringing them into the light of truth and righteousness. And, we do this, not only by treating all people equitably, but by telling them the truth, and by not telling them lies which leave them still enslaved to their sins.

We need to tell them that Jesus died that they might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin and that we are resurrected with him to new lives, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And, we need to tell them that if they continue in sinful practices, they have no hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment and fire.

Arise, O God (v. 8)

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!

God is presently judging (chastening, reproving, censuring) the people of the earth, including his wayward saints, and yet more judgment (chastisement) will be coming. So, what is the purpose of this judgment? It is to punish, yes, but not just to punish, but to save. How so? When people are allowed to continue in their wicked ways, via favor being shown them, and without reproof, the Bible says they don’t learn righteousness. But, when God’s judgments are in the earth, the people learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:7-10).

But, it is not just the wicked or the wayward who need divine discipline, reproof, and chastisement. Even the godly need this in order that we may share in God’s holiness, and in order that it may yield “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (See: Heb. 12:1-13). Thus, when we go through trials and hardships, they test our faith, and they prove it to be genuine, if it is genuine, and they teach us to rely on God, and not on ourselves. As well, we grow in the grace of God, we mature in Christ, we learn perseverance, patience and endurance, and we develop godly character traits such as kindness, goodness, faithfulness and compassion.

So, we need to learn righteousness and justice and how to treat others with the love, grace, kindness, goodness, mercy, justice and righteousness of God. Yet, whether we will learn from what we suffer, or not, depends largely on us, not because we learn by obeying God out of our own flesh, but by yielding our lives to our Lord for him to live his life out through us. Amen!

Near the Cross
Fanny J. Crosby / William H. Doane

Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Advertisements

Light to the Eyes

Monday, October 2, 2017, 9:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, I Need You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 29 (Select vv. NASB).

Stiff-Necked and Ensnared

1 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof
Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
3 A man who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
But he who keeps company with harlots wastes his wealth.
5 A man who flatters his neighbor
Is spreading a net for his steps.
6 By transgression an evil man is ensnared,
But the righteous sings and rejoices.

Both men and women are born into sin, with sin natures and a natural bent toward doing what is wrong (what is evil in God’s sight). Some of these men and women own up to their own sin, call on God for mercy, and accept our Lord’s plan of salvation for their lives. They rejoice in their salvation. Others don’t. Some of them, in fact, hear the gospel preached, and they know the way of salvation, but they are stiff-necked (obstinate, proud, and stubborn) and they refuse to humble themselves before God in repentance and in submission. So, they continue to go on in their sin despite the rebukes and the warnings against unbelief and/or disobedience and where it will lead them. And, some of these people even make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and believe heaven is their home. And, that is a sad reality, indeed!

Scorners and Haters

8 Scorners set a city aflame,
But wise men turn away anger.
9 When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man,
The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.
10 Men of bloodshed hate the blameless,
But the upright are concerned for his life.
11 A fool always loses his temper,
But a wise man holds it back.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, and we are transformed in heart and mind, of the Spirit of God, away from sin and to walks of obedience to our Lord, we will face rejection from others who won’t understand us or who will be offended by us. There will be those who will scorn (deride, mock) us for our commitments to Christ, who will think we are a bunch of “holy rollers.” And, many of these may take their hatred and disdain of Christians to the level of physical violence and persecution, even to the death of the saints of God who are holding on to the Word of Truth and to their faith in Jesus Christ as the only way to God and to heaven.

Yet, we must not let these scorners and haters get the best of us. We must keep pressing on, trusting the Lord, doing what he commands, and following him wherever he leads us, even in the face of much persecution and rejection. And, we must love our enemies and those who do evil against us, and be concerned for their lives and for their eternal destiny. And, thus we ought to pray for their salvation, and do good to them, and not return evil with evil. Even though they laugh or rage at us when we speak the truth in love to them, we must not lose our cool, but we must be those who are self-controlled and at peace, because of God’s Spirit living within us.

Reproof and Wisdom

13 The poor man and the oppressor have this in common:
The Lord gives light to the eyes of both.
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,
But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
16 When the wicked increase, transgression increases;
But the righteous will see their fall.
17 Correct your son, and he will give you comfort;
He will also delight your soul.

God is not a respecter of persons (See: Acts 10:34-35; Ro. 2:9-11; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-4). He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. It doesn’t matter if we are rich or poor or influential or unimportant in the eyes of humans, or if we treat others kindly or if we are big bullies and tyrants. Jesus didn’t die on a cross for our sins because of our righteousness, but because of his. He died on a cross for sinners, and the gospel of our salvation is available for all to listen and to obey. Not one of us can ever be good enough to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We must all come humbly before the throne of grace, repenting of our sin, and turn to faith in Jesus Christ to walk in his righteousness.

Pride and Anger

20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
22 An angry man stirs up strife,
And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.
23 A man’s pride will bring him low,
But a humble spirit will obtain honor.
25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.

We all need to be so careful to not be quick to speak, but to weigh our words carefully. We must not be quick-tempered, either, and we should not allow others to egg us on to anger and to emotional outbursts. But, we must pray, trust the Lord, be patient, and ask the Lord to give us the right words to say or to give us the wisdom to know when to remain silent. And, this will involve humbling ourselves, not letting pride get the best of us. As well, we must know that the devil is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and one of his tactics is to try to get us to lose our cool, so we have to be Holy Spirit controlled, which is also self-controlled, and then let the Spirit lead us.

It is a must that we also not give in to the fear of humans and what they might do to us, or what they might think about us or say about us to others. We have absolutely no control over what others do or say or think anyway, and fretting over it never solves anything. If we allow fear to take hold in our lives, it will only cause us trouble, for we have taken our eyes off Jesus and we are allowing the waves crashing around us to make us afraid. And, when we are afraid we may say and do things we ought not to do or say. So, we should pray, trust the Lord, believe in his sovereignty, and commit our way to the Lord, and let him work it all out for our good and for his glory.

Lord, I Need You
Songwriters: Christy Nockels / Daniel Carson /
Jesse Reeves / Kristian Stanfill / Matt Maher

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness…

 

Whatever Comes

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

Always Rejoice (vv. 4-7)

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

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

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

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

Dwell on These (vv. 8-9)

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

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

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

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

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

Content in Whatever (vv. 10-13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Our Merciful God

Thursday, August 24, 2017, 4:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 116 (Select vv. ESV).

Deliver My Soul! (vv. 1-4)

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

We are able to love God only because God first loved us. We did nothing to earn or to deserve his love, for even while we were dead in our sins, Jesus Christ died on a cross to deliver us out of slavery to sin. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to him.

Thus, we love the Lord because of his great love for us and for all that he did for us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to the earth to die for our sins, and to be resurrected from the dead victorious (triumphant) over our sins. We love him, too, because he heard our cries for mercy when we were dead in our sins, and he saved us out of bondage to sin. And, he continues to deliver us from all that would hold us captive, or that would bring us down (low), when we call on him in truth, and when we accept his help and his guidance.

The Lord is Gracious (vv. 5-9)

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.

While we are still in these flesh bodies, and we live on this earth, we will have trials, tribulations, heartaches, disappointments, pain, and sorrow, etc. We will have friends and loved ones who will abandon us, either physically or emotionally, or who will get ill and die, or we will face much persecution and rejection, even from those within the gatherings of the church. Or, we will experience financial troubles, loss of jobs, sickness, and death of children, etc. We will also be tempted of Satan to sin against God, and so we will have to resist him, flee the temptation, and draw near to God.

When we go through difficult times, we may be like Peter, and we may get our eyes off of Jesus and on to the waves (difficult circumstances) splashing all around us, and we may begin to sink. But, when we cry out to God in our distress, he will lift us up, if we will let him. And, I say “if” because many people will call on God for help, but then they will not accept his help, but will continue to go their own way. They may say “help,” but then they are not willing to let go of their problems and to put their complete faith and trust in God for him to work it all out according to his will, and for their good. So, we have to not only desire his help, but we have to cooperate with the help he gives us, and follow his lead, and his will, and in his way.

Your Servant (vv. 15-19)

Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.
O Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. 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. The old has gone. The new has come. We are born again of the Spirit of God, and our lives are transformed away from living for sin and self to living for God and for his righteousness and holiness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Jn. 3:1-21; Acts 26:16-18).

When Jesus walked the face of this earth, he talked much about the cost of following him. He said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, 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) we will lose our lives for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life with God. Paul reiterated these words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, that 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). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (sin), that we are liars (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

Basically, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we (our flesh) dies with Christ so that he might live his life now out through us (Gal. 2:20). Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ. So, we are to honor God with our lives (with our bodies). Now Jesus is our Lord (owner-master), and we are his bondservants. Now we are under obligation, but not to live according to the flesh, but to walk according to the Spirit in the power of the Spirit now living within us. We are to live lives worthy of Jesus Christ and of his gospel, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship of him. And, we are to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed in the renewing of our minds of the Spirit.

And, we are to follow the Lord Jesus wherever he leads us, and to do whatever he has called us to do, no matter where that takes us or the cost involved. For, we were not put on this earth for our own pleasure, but to live holy lives pleasing unto God, and to do his will, and for his purposes, and for his glory and honor and praise.

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

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

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

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

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.

Wait Patiently

Sunday, July 30, 2017, 9:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Letters.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 37:1-11 (ESV).

Fret Not! (vv. 1-2, 7)

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

Who is an evildoer? He or she is one who is wicked, immoral, sinful. Evildoers make a practice of doing what they know is wrong, and they often resist doing what they know is right. Evil is opposed to (against) God’s Word, his holiness, his righteousness, his divine character and his justice. Therefore, evildoers are also opposed to the Lord’s servants and witnesses, and they will try to drag them down with them. They love the darkness, rather than the light, because their deeds are evil.

So, how are we impacted by these evildoers? Well, for one, not all evildoers are blatantly (obviously) evil in the eyes of all people. Many of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing who masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness and who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ Jesus. They are actors, performers, and frauds who give off a public image of being good Christians while they secretly (in the dark) carry out their evil plans. Evildoers may be adulterers, thieves, liars, cheats, murderers, gossips, greedy, abusers, persecutors of Christ’s followers and/or betrayers, etc. So, we may be the recipients of their cheating, lying, thieving or persecuting.

Yet, we are not to fear their mistreatment of us or of those we love, but we are to pray for them, do good to them, and speak kindly to them, which includes speaking the truth in love to them. And, we are to be still (peaceful) before the Lord, trusting him that he has a purpose for everything we face in our lives, and that he is working all things together for good for those who love him and who have been called according to his purposes. He allows us to face adversity and opposition because it helps to mature us in our faith and to strengthen us in our resolve to follow our Lord in obedience to his will. And, he will accomplish his purposes both in our lives and in the lives of all those who will come to him in faith, repenting of their sins.

Trust the Lord (vv. 3-6)

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

So, instead of letting evildoers get to us, upset us, or get us to worry about our lives or our circumstances, we need to place our absolute trust in our Lord in all things, knowing that he is completely sovereign over all which he created. And, we need to continue to do good to all people, even to those who hate us and who persecute us. We must remain faithful to our Lord in all things, and not let trouble or hardship get us to doubt God and his promises, or to push us toward shrinking back in our faith and testimonies for Christ and for his gospel. For this is Satan’s goal, to undo us, and to get us to give up, back down, shrink back and retreat back into sinful behaviors.

So, when evildoers threaten to undo us, we need, instead, to delight in our Lord and in his ways, and continue to serve our Lord in faithfulness and in devotion to him. Although there may be those now who are trying to bring us down, who may be falsely accusing us or gossiping about us to others, or who may be attacking us verbally or trying to discourage us in our walks of faith, we must remain strong in the Lord and keep holding on to the truth we know. For, there will be fruit for our labors of love to our God and to our fellow humans. If we are being rejected and despised now, one day we will be exonerated (vindicated) for our love and faithful service to our Lord.

The Wicked and The Meek (vv. 8-11)

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

The people of this world are divided into two groups of people, i.e. the wicked and the righteous. Those who choose to practice evil, even if they have professed Christ as Savior of their lives, will not have the hope of eternal life with God but the fearful expectation of judgment and eternal damnation. Those who have genuine faith in Jesus Christ, who have died with Christ to sin, who make righteousness their practice, and who are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, will have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

The problem here, for many, is that so many shepherds of the people within the organized church are teaching the people that salvation is nothing more than an acknowledgment of who Jesus is and/or of what he did for us in taking our punishment for sin, and that it is a mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins. And, then they teach them that their salvation and their eternal life with God are secured forever, and that nothing they can do can take it away from them, no matter how badly they sin against God from this moment forward. So, what they are doing is giving them carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt or remorse.

Yet, the Bible teaches that if anyone would come after Christ, they must deny self, take up their cross daily (daily die to sin and self) and follow (obey) Jesus. If they hold on to their old lives of living for sin and self, they will lose them for eternity, but if they lose their lives (die with Christ to sin) for the sake of Jesus Christ and his gospel, they will gain eternal life with God. For, Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk (in lifestyle) not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit of God. If we walk 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 (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). So, know the truth, and the truth will set you free!

The Letters / An Original Work / December 17, 2013

Based off Revelation 2-3

To the angels of all the churches write:
These are the words of your Lord and your God.
I know all your deeds, and your witness, too,
And who holds to My words and tells what’s true.
I know all your hard work and your perseverance,
Yet I hold against you: you’ve forsaken Me.
Listen to what I say to you.

You have people there who deny My name,
And who put the cross of Christ up to shame.
They entice the people to Me, profane,
And their worship of Me is all in vain.
They are so adult’rous as they chase their idols,
And you put up with them easily enough.
Listen to what I say to you.

You give off an image of godliness,
But what you present is so fraudulent,
Or else you lack passion for Jesus Christ,
So you look to others to tell what’s right.
I say turn from your sin, or you will face judgment.
He who overcomes will have eternal life.
Listen to what I say to you.

I know your afflictions and poverty;
How you suffer for your Lord patiently.
Do not fear the devil and company.
You be faithful to your Lord endlessly.
I know all your weakness and your dedication.
You have kept My Word and not denied your Lord.
I will write on you My new name.

Like Christ

Saturday, July 15, 2017, 8:41 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 several scriptures (ESV) on the subject of Christ-likeness.

Image of Christ (Ro. 8:29; 2 Co. 3:18 NASB)

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

The goal of our faith in Jesus Christ is not merely to be free from the penalty of sin (eternal damnation), and to have the promise of eternal life with God in heaven. God’s purpose in saving us is that we might be conformed to (to be consistent with) the image (likeness, pattern, character) of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. In fact, His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

So, what does this look like? What was/is Jesus Christ like? Well, he is God, and he is perfect (sinless), and he is holy and righteous and just. He is also kind, compassionate, loving and forgiving. He is also unselfish, and giving of himself to us to meet our legitimate needs. He doesn’t always give us what we want, but he provides for our needs. Yet, his kindness and compassion is based in his justice, in his righteousness, and in his love for us. In other words, if we are Christ-like, we won’t placate (appease) sin in ourselves or in others, and we won’t lie to others just to make them feel good about themselves while they are engrossed in their sinful practices. But, we will be honest with ourselves and we will speak the truth in love to others, too.

Also, we will walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and not walk after the flesh, to please our sinful passions. God, who saved us and who called us to a holy calling, is in the process of transforming us, who have died with Christ to sin, into the image of Christ. Some people refer to this as the process of sanctification. Yet, our salvation is also a process, for we are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved when Christ returns (future), and our salvation is complete.

Like Him in Death (Phil. 2:5-8; Phil. 3:10)

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

When Jesus walked the earth, he told those who would come after him that they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if they held on to their old lives (of living for sin and self), they would lose their lives. But, if they would lose their lives (die with Christ to sin), they would gain eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25). And, the Apostle Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) 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 would live (with Christ for eternity) (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, becoming Christ-like means that we are becoming humble, unselfish, obedient to Christ and his Word, and that by the Spirit we are putting the deeds of our flesh to death, so that sin does no longer reign in our bodies. It means that “I” am crucified (put to death) with Christ so that “I” no longer live, but that Christ lives in me to his glory and for his purposes. And, now I live by faith in Jesus Christ, meaning I now allow Christ to rule and reign supreme in my life, instead of me still having control over what I do or don’t do. I listen to his Word, I do what it says, and I follow Christ with my life. Yet, this is not saying we will never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that we should no longer walk in darkness (sin), but we should walk (conduct our lives) in the light (righteousness, truth, the gospel, Jesus Christ).

Imitators of Christ (1 Thess. 1:6-7; 1 Pet. 4:1-3)

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.”

We are to be imitators of Christ, not in the sense of a performance or a mockery of someone, but in the sense of following him, being his disciples, doing the things he did, saying the things he said, and taking on his character, morals, values and attitudes and actions, making them our own. When we do this, people will think us strange, out of touch with reality, crazy, or hyper-religious, because this is not the norm, not even among those who also claim to be followers of Christ, at least not in America.

Some of them will say we are too serious, and we need to lighten up, or we need to chill (relax) and enjoy life the way they do. They may think it odd that we do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they may heap abuse on us (1 Pet. 4:4). Yet, we are not to fear what others think of us.

As imitators of Christ, we should arm ourselves with the same attitude Christ had about sin. He gave his life up for us so that we could go free from slavery to sin, and so we would be free to walk in his righteousness. And, we should lay down our lives by dying with him to sin so that we might live with Christ to his righteousness and holiness. We should no longer live to fulfill the desires of our flesh, but we should live to please God with our lives, and to do his will. Sensuality, adultery, fornication, lust, gossip, gluttony, lying, cheating, stealing, idolatry, perjury, and deceit, etc., should have no place in our lives. We should not think and act like the world. And, we should be set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming like Jesus.

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.