Deeply Despised

Thursday, October 12, 2017, 9:44 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “For Our Nation.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 49 (quoting vv. 5-10 ESV).

His Servant (vv. 5-6)

And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

The speaker is Isaiah, and yet this is a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, so, in essence, this is Jesus Christ speaking. And yet, to a certain extent, this also applied to Isaiah and it applies to us, too, as the Lord’s followers, for we are his servants, who were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him (Eph. 1:3-4).

Jesus Christ called us to be his servants and witnesses. Part of our calling is that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Pet. 2:9). Included in that calling is that we should encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have wandered from their pure devotion to Christ, to come back to the Lord in submission and obedience to him. It is also to proclaim the truth of the gospel to those who profess Jesus Christ as Savior, but who have never been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and thus have not truly been born again of the Spirit. And, it is to share with the world around us that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died to deliver us out of sin, in other words.

The Chosen (v. 7)

Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation,
the servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Our Lord Jesus, although he was God in the flesh when he walked this earth – i.e. he was fully God, yet fully man – and even though he did no wrong, but he taught truth, and he lived it, too, and he loved people and helped them, still he was hated, rejected, despised, persecuted, abandoned, mocked, spat upon, beaten and then hung on a cross to die. He came to save his own people, the Jews, but most of them turned away from him and would not believe in him as their promised Messiah. And, many of them called for him to be crucified, too.

Yet, it was God’s will that our Lord should suffer and die for our sins, and then be resurrected from the dead. For, when Jesus died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. Then he rose from the dead victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can be delivered out of slavery to sin, be set free from the ultimate punishment of sin, and be set free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. For, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to him.

It is also the Lord’s will that we should suffer in this life, and that we should be hated, persecuted, abandoned, betrayed and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because, through suffering we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, we are being made holy, and we are maturing in our walks of faith. We are being humbled, we are learning to rely on God and not on ourselves, and we are learning grace, compassion, forgiveness, patience, endurance and perseverance. God is developing his character within us, as he carries us through these trials, in order that we will be his faithful ministers in sharing the love, grace and mercy of Christ with others.

Come Out (vv. 8-10)

Thus says the Lord:
“In a time of favor I have answered you;
in a day of salvation I have helped you;
I will keep you and give you
as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land,
to apportion the desolate heritages,
saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’
to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’
They shall feed along the ways;
on all bare heights shall be their pasture;
they shall not hunger or thirst,
neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
and by springs of water will guide them.

When we, the body of Christ, serve the Lord faithfully in being his servants and witnesses, in taking the gospel of our salvation to the ends of the earth, we don’t have to do this in our own strength or by our own resources. When the Lord calls, he also equips and empowers. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are indwelt by God’s Spirit who comforts, encourages, strengthens, helps, empowers, counsels, teaches, and guides us in the way we should go. He will give us all we need to be able to share his gospel with many people.

So, what is this gospel that we are to take to the ends of the earth? It is not only that Jesus Christ died, and was resurrected, and that he did this to conquer sin in our lives, but that he did this that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So many people are teaching the gospel as though it is just a get-out-of-jail-free card and the promise of eternity in heaven with God when we die. But, Jesus didn’t die just to take our penalty for sin, but he died that we might be delivered out of addiction (slavery) to sin and so we might live in victory, and for him the rest of our days, for his glory.

So, our message to the people should not be merely that they should believe in Jesus Christ and accept what he did for us on the cross, but it should be that they should come out of darkness (sin) into the light of Christ’s holiness and righteousness. And, their lives should now be a light that shines forth to show to the world what it means to be truly “born again.” The Lord will now be their shepherd and helper, and he will guide them and lead them in the way that they should go. They just have to humble themselves before God, turn from their sin, and turn to follow Jesus Christ with their lives.

For Our Nation / An Original Work
September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

 

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Flimsy Excuses

Thursday, October 12, 2017, 12:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Living Sacrifices.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Beginning of Knowledge

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

If we want to have a relationship with Jesus Christ to where we hear him speaking his words to our hearts, and to where we understand what he is saying to us, so that we can apply what he is teaching us to our daily lives, and so we can walk daily in intimate fellowship with him, then we need to begin with the fear of the Lord. So, we must understand what this means.

The fear of the Lord is us giving respect, honor, value, esteem, reverence, obedience, submission, worship, devotion, faithfulness and love to God the Father, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit. When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, our thoughts should not be solely focused on what he is going to do FOR us, but they should also be on what he will do THROUGH us as we submit our lives to him to follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will. For, belief in Jesus is not just about him saving us from our sins so we can go to heaven one day. It is about him saving us so that we can honor and glorify HIM with our lives day by day.

If Sinners Entice

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait for blood,
Let us ambush the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
13 We will find all kinds of precious wealth,
We will fill our houses with spoil;
14 Throw in your lot with us,
We shall all have one purse,”
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
16 For their feet run to evil
And they hasten to shed blood.

Believing in Jesus Christ means we are delivered out of slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, but it does not mean that we cannot or that we will never sin again, or that we won’t be tempted to sin. We most likely will be tempted, because Satan wants nothing more than to captivate us once again, and because we still live in flesh bodies, which still have the propensity to sin. So, it is likely that, at some point, we may sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2). But, sin should no longer be our practice. It should not be the normal course of our daily lives, for we died with Christ to sin, so how can we live in it any longer? (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, what do we do when we are tempted to sin? The Bible says that no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, and he will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, so that we will be able to endure it (or to bear up under it) (1 Co. 10:13). So, what escape has he provided? For one, he put sin to death on the cross and he rose victorious over sin from the grave, so that we can also die to sin and live to righteousness. He, too, has given us the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) to put on daily, so that we might fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us. And, he has given us much instruction in the NT on how to overcome sin. He also gives us much wisdom, if we will heed the wisdom and counsel he provides.

So, what are some of those instructions and wisdom’s gems? For one, the scriptures tell us we must resist Satan and flee temptation and sin, and draw near to God. And, it teaches us that we are to throw off the sin that so easily entangles and the weight that hinders so we can run the race God has set for us to run (our spiritual journey). And, it instructs us that, if something is leading us into sin, we should cut it out of our lives. As well, we are to put off what we know is sin (or sinful practices) and replace them with what is holy and righteous, such as we must put off lying and tell the truth, put off stealing, and work, and give to others, etc. So many people are still practicing sin because they are not utilizing the armor of God, the wisdom of God, and the instructions in God’s word in how to defeat sin in our lives.

Wisdom Shouts

20 Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you…
33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

So many people claim ignorance when they are not ignorant. It isn’t that they don’t know what to do, but it is that they don’t do what they know, or that they ignore what they know and/or avoid learning what they need. Or, because they want to continue in sin, they willfully remain naïve, always claiming that they didn’t know or that they are just learning, when they have been learning a very long time – always learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. They willfully choose ignorance over knowledge in hopes that they can excuse away willful and continued sin against God, but their excuses don’t hold water. Their excuses are useless!

I hear so many Christians say that they are “struggling” with sin, but what does that really mean? Is that just another excuse for willful and continued sinful practices? We shouldn’t be “struggling” with sin, at least not in the sense of regularly and consistently yielding to the same sins over and over again, for Jesus set us free!

The bible teaches us that if we make sin our practice, that we will die in our sins, not live with Christ for eternity, and this includes anyone who claims to believe in Jesus Christ, too. It isn’t that we will never repeat a sin, but it is that we should no longer be addicted to sin. It should no longer have dominion over us. But, for many who call themselves Christians, they are very much addicted to sin, but they will just say they are “struggling” as a way to gloss over it and make it not sound so bad.

So, wisdom is shouting out to God’s people, and it is asking them how long they will love being simple-minded. How long will they take pleasure in remaining naïve, in hopes that they will not have to take responsibility for their lives? How long will they continue to claim they are “struggling” with sin, while they don’t take the necessary steps to not give in to the sin? You see, we have to flee sin, and we have to resist Satan, and we have to cut out of our lives those things which trip us up and cause us to fall.

You can’t keep claiming ignorance. You must turn to God’s reproof, turn away from your sins, put them off, and put on Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and then you will experience the fullness of the Spirit of God in your lives, and you will be at peace in knowing that you are following the Lord with your lives.

Living Sacrifices / An Original Work
September 14, 2012

Based off Romans 12:1-2; 6:11-14 NIV

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you,
In view of God’s mercy,
To give yourselves to God in love
As living offerings,
Pleasing to God, holy in love.
This is your true worship.
Do not conform to worldly lives.
Let God transform you today.
Then you’ll be able to
Test and approve of what
God’s will is – His pleasing
And perfect will. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Offer yourselves unto God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Do not be conceited.
Humble yourselves before your God.
Do not be self-righteous.
The strength you have to live in love
Comes from your Lord God, so
Live your new lives in pow’r of God.
Be changed in heart, mind and will.
Do this because of what
Christ did for you when
He died on the cross to save
The world from sin. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Humble yourselves before God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Count yourselves dead to sin,
But be alive to God in Christ.
Do not let sin reign in
Your earthly lives so you
Obey its evil desires.
Offer yourselves unto your God
As those who’ve been born again.
For sin shall no longer be
Your lord and master.
Give of yourselves to God
For righteousness. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Be alive to God in Christ.

 

Sharing the Gospel

Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 6:48 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Should I Not Preach Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 19 (Select vv. NASB).

Servants and Witnesses

As followers of Jesus Christ, and as his servants and witnesses, we need to be about sharing with other people the truths of God’s Word and the gospel of our salvation. So many Christians do not share their faith much at all, so they need to begin telling others about Jesus Christ, and of how he died and rose again in order to save them from their sins and to give them new lives in Christ, free from the control of Satan. We also need to be about exposing lies and deceptions and bringing people to the knowledge of the truth, including we must share the truth with many who profess Christ as Savior, but who are believing Satan’s lies.

Yet, we need to do this in the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us, and in the wisdom of God, and with the kindness of our Savior towards all people. There is a right way and a wrong way to share what we believe. Here we are given some insights into what we ought to do, and into what we should avoid doing when talking with others about our faith in Jesus Christ.

Foolish

1 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.
3 The foolishness of man ruins his way,
And his heart rages against the Lord.
20 Listen to counsel and accept discipline,
That you may be wise the rest of your days.
29 Judgments are prepared for scoffers,
And blows for the back of fools.

Many preachers of the gospel are notorious for inserting humor (jokes, sarcasm) into their sermons as a way of connecting with the people and making their points. God has given us the gift of humor, so not all humor is bad, and it can be effective, if used properly. Sometimes, though, they do this to entertain the people, and their messages come across more like a comedy show rather than as God-inspired and Holy Spirit-led, convicting hearts of sin, and leading people to repentance. Sometimes their humor, too, is borderline or all the way mocking (making light) of God, the scriptures, serious spiritual matters, or it is even making light of sin.

The Bible speaks much of our need to be serious (sober) minded. It isn’t that we go around with a frown on our faces or that we are grumpy and negative all the time. But, we need to be so careful that we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot and our messages end up backfiring on us because we thought more of ourselves, or of how people might receive us, than we thought about human souls going to hell, and of how they need to be rescued from hell and to be brought into God’s eternal kingdom. In other words, we can’t take lightly God’s grace, or his gospel, or the seriousness of the task before us in spreading the message of salvation to a world lost in their sins. We may gain followers after ourselves if we entertain people by our jokes and jesting, but we aren’t going to lead people to God’s saving grace.

Quick Tempered

2 Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge,
And he who hurries his footsteps errs.
16 He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
But he who is careless of conduct will die.
19 A man of great anger will bear the penalty,
For if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again.
11 A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger,
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

We should weigh carefully, in prayer, our words before we speak, and not be quick to speak, and quick to anger when someone disagrees with us, or opposes us strongly, or even mocks us. For one, they may be right and we may be wrong, perhaps because we are lacking in complete knowledge on the subject due to false information we had taken in, which we have not yet searched out against the Word of God to see if it is true. So, we need to be patient, and we should sincerely listen to others, but not just long enough so we can get in our own thoughts, and not just so we can get in a jab in order to make our point, but which will wound the other person’s heart. Instead, it should be to gain understanding and to treat others with honor and respect.

We should also not fight and argue with people. This does not mean we cannot kindly debate a subject or that we can’t have a discussion with someone with a difference of belief or opinion from us in order to try to persuade that individual to what we believe is the right way of thinking and believing, or that we might grow in our understanding and learn from him. But, we must not be insulting, nasty, and hateful, attacking the person personally, etc. We must also not say things that we know are going to incite him to anger, i.e. we should not knowingly and willfully push people’s hot buttons just to get a rise out of them, which is not the kind of response we should desire. And, if they say “No,” we should walk away and not force the issue. Our job is to share the gospel. The Holy Spirit will convince them.

Lazy

15 Laziness casts into a deep sleep,
And an idle man will suffer hunger.
24 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish,
But will not even bring it back to his mouth.
27 Cease listening, my son, to discipline,
And you will stray from the words of knowledge.
21 Many plans are in a man’s heart,
But the counsel of the Lord will stand.

We also should not be lazy or unconcerned about lost souls and their need to be saved from their sins. Not only should we be deliberately sharing Christ with people, but in our approach to sharing the gospel we should not be sluggish, thus coming across as though we don’t really care, or appearing as though we are doing this because we feel like we have to or that we are just going through the motions. We also should not short-circuit (impede) the gospel message in any way because we are too lazy and unconcerned about getting out the truth (the whole counsel of God) to the people. Sure it is easy to use a gospel tract, but do we really know what it says inside? Is it teaching the whole gospel, or a watered-down version intended to appeal to human flesh?

We must know the truth through studying the Word of God so that when we share the gospel, we know we are telling people the truth. We must also be living the truth so that when we share the gospel with others that we are not being hypocritical in teaching them what we do not put into practice ourselves. This is not to say that we must first be absolutely perfect, but we should not knowingly be practicing sin against God and then telling others they need to repent of their sins when we have not done so. And, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to empower us and to guide us into what we should say or not say instead of relying on our own intellect, reasoning or feelings.

Liars

9 A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will perish.
22 What is desirable in a man is his kindness,
And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.
28 A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice,
And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity.
23 The fear of the Lord leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

There are many, many false shepherds of the people; many wolves in sheep’s clothing among us, whose goal is not to save, but to steal, kill and destroy us and the gospel of our salvation. So, they lie, manipulate, twist the truth, and cleverly and very subtly insert their lies into the truth so that the naïve will not know that what they are accepting as truth are actually lies. Many of these shepherds are great entertainers and clowns, gifted speakers, and charmers who easily convince people to follow after their lies. And, if we are not wise and discerning, we may easily get caught in their traps. Their main goal is to remove from the gospel all necessity of repentance, obedience and submission to Jesus Christ and his cross.

So, we need to first of all make sure we know the truth, as much as is possible for us, depending on how long we have known the Lord, and depending on the availability of Bibles to us. And, then we need to make certain, to the best of our understanding, that what we are telling others is actually the truth. We don’t have to be Bible scholars to share the gospel, though, or to have memorized a whole lot of scriptures, for our testimony of what Jesus did for us is very powerful. But, for those of us who have known the Lord for many years, and who have the scriptures in our homes, we should know what the scriptures teach. Yet, if I was a recent convert, and I had to pick just one scripture verse that describes the essence of the gospel message, I would probably choose 1 Peter 2:24, which says:

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. ‘By His stripes you are healed.’”

Should I Not Preach Jesus
An Original Work / July 4, 2013

Based off 1 Corinthians 9:16-10:13

Woe to me should I not preach Jesus.
I’m compelled to preach the full gospel.
I make myself a slave to ev’ryone
To win their hearts to Christ.
All this I do for my Lord Jesus,
And for the sake of His Name;
Do it for the sake of His gospel,
So that I, its blessings gain.

Scripture notates the sins of others;
Written down for us as examples
To keep us from setting our hearts
On evil as did those of old.
Do not worship other gods of man;
Do not give your hearts to them;
Not partake in immorality.
Do not test your Lord and King.

So, be careful if you think you are
Standing firm in your faith in Jesus.
God has given his word to warn us,
So through faith we will not fall.
No temptation has o’ertaken you
Except what is commonplace.
God is faithful to not let you be
Tempted past what you can bear.
He gives the way of escape.

His Steadfast Love

Saturday, October 7, 2017, 4:09 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Praise Be Told.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 63 (ESV).

His Power and Glory (vv. 1-4)

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

Our God, the One and Only True God, creator of the universe and all mankind – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is the only God whom we are to worship and to whom we are to give our praise. He is the one who made us, who knows all about us, and who created us for a purpose, which is to give glory to HIM by our lives. We are to seek after him earnestly, with all our hearts, and desire him above all else, and want to know and to do his will.

As most all of us should realize, we were not born saints, but sinners. By nature, we have a propensity to sin against God and to do what displeases him. And, we have all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval. Also, we can’t save ourselves. There is nothing we can do to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We will never be good enough, in our own merit, to be rewarded with God’s heaven. So, what hope do we have?

Well, that is why God the Father sent his Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. God the Son took on human flesh, was born as a baby to a human mother, with God as his Father, and grew up to be a man. He suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, cast out demons, comforted the sorrowful, fed the hungry, confronted sin in sinful human beings, and preached repentance for forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. And, because of this he was hated by many.

So, his enemies plotted and carried out his death on a cross. But, it was the will of God that Jesus should suffer and die for our sins, for when he died our sins died with him and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death, on our behalf. So, through faith in Him we might be forgiven our sins, have the hope of eternal life with God, be delivered out of slavery to sin, and be free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. For, when we were under the control of sin, we were free from the control of righteousness (Ro. 6).

God, My Help (vv. 5-8)

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, is not only our Savior, but he is our helper, healer, friend, comforter, counselor, teacher and guide. After he died and rose again, and he ascended back to heaven, he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of those who believed on him to be Lord and Savior of their lives. So, when we believe in Jesus, and we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life in him, his Holy Spirit comes to live within us – God within us – to teach, counsel, help, and comfort, etc. He guides us into all truth, speaks to us through God’s written word (the Bible), and shows us the way we are to live to give honor, glory and praise to God.

So, what should this look like, in all practicality? I mean, if we truly have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to his righteousness, and he is our helper, guide, healer, comforter, teacher and friend, what difference should that make in our lives? How should we be changed from how we were before we met Christ as Savior? How should we live differently than we did before?

Well, we should desire our Lord above all else, he should be first place in our lives, we should want to do what pleases him, and we should not be looking for a way to excuse away willful and addictive sinful practices. When we do sin, we should humble ourselves before him in repentance, and we should seek his counsel and help in fleeing sin and in hungering and thirsting after God and his holiness and righteousness. And, then we need to do what he shows us. We, too, must cut out of our lives what leads us into sin, and we should not tempt fate by continually going where we ought not to go, and then be surprised when it continues to end up the same way.

In other words, we can’t put on Christ in our lives if we are putting on the junk of this world every day. If we spend hours upon hours playing video or computer games, reading novels, watching TV shows, viewing movies, getting on Facebook, surfing the net, watching sports, or otherwise wasting precious time with what is mostly junk, and with what is often in direct contrast to God, to his Word, and to his divine character and will, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. And, then we act surprised when we fall into sin time and time again, and we can’t seem to get victory. So, we have to get rid of the junk in our lives and we have to seek after God with all our hearts if we want to experience his power and victory in our lives.

Enemies of Christ (vv. 9-11)

But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

There are many people in this world who are enemies of the cross of Christ and who want to live life however they want, and who will not submit to God or to his purposes for their lives. Many of these are strongly opposed to the gospel of our salvation, and willfully work against Christ and his followers. They may even be among those who are persecuting the Lord’s saints – his servants and witnesses. And, some of these, sadly enough, even profess to believe in Jesus Christ and to be his followers, but they believe in a man-made Jesus and a false gospel which gives permission for its followers to continue in sin against God, yet still promises them heaven when they die.

What we must know about this is that the true gospel teaches death to sin, living to righteousness, repentance, and obedience to Christ as crucial to saving faith in Jesus Christ and to eternal life with God in heaven. We must also know that the Bible teaches that if we continue in (practice) sin, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment and of the fires of hell. And, this is in the New Testament. So, if you bought into the lie that says that you have the hope of heaven when you die, but that you can still play with sin and not get burned, then think again. It isn’t that we must be sinless, but that we should no longer walk in sin, and that now, by the grace of God, we should walk in his holiness.

Praise Be Told! / An Original Work
Based off Various Scriptures / December 28, 2013

He was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for all our sin.
Our chastisement was upon Him.
By His stripes, we now are healed.

He has witnessed all our trials,
And the sins we choose to wear.
Yet, while we were dead in our sin,
Jesus died, our sins to bear.

He himself bore all of our sins
In His body on a cross,
So that we might die to our sin,
And live for His righteousness.

By faith in the pow’r of Jesus
And His blood shed for our sins,
We can be forgiven our sin,
And have life with God in heav’n.

He will lead us and He’ll guide us
In the way that we should go.
He will comfort and protect us,
Because Jesus, we do know.

Though He disciplines for our good,
He will heal us – Praise be told!
Do not fear, your Lord is with you.
Just have faith in Christ your Lord.

 

Buy and Eat

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

Listen Diligently (vv. 1-3a)

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

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

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

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

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

Seek the Lord (vv. 6-9)

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

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

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

Know His Word (vv. 10-11)

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

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

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

Peace and Joy (vv. 12-13)

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

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

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

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

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

Tested by Fire

Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, I Need You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1 (Select vv. NASB).

His Great Mercy (vv. 3-5)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

When we are all born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, having come up short of attaining his divine approval (Ro. 3:23; Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49). So, God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, to take on human flesh, and to die on a cross for our sins. Thus, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (2 Co. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). And, when the Father resurrected his Son from the dead, Jesus rose victorious over sin, hell and death in order that we might live with him and to his holiness and goodness.

So, when we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to new life (born again) in Him, in which we were created to be like God (Christ-like) in true righteousness and holiness. Righteousness is what is deemed right in God’s eyes. It is what is pure, holy, godly, upright, moral, honest and honorable. It is the opposite of sin, which includes such things as hatred, idolatry, spiritual or physical adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, murder, lust, and immorality, etc. And, holiness is being separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being transformed in Christ’s likeness, of the Spirit of God.

But, our salvation has only begun when we believe in Jesus Christ, for it is a lifetime process of being saved (sanctified) and then, when Jesus Christ returns for his bride, our salvation will be complete. While we live in these flesh bodies, we will still be tempted to sin, but Jesus made the way of escape for us out from underneath the temptation so that we don’t have to give in to sin. For, we are no longer under its control once we give our lives to Jesus, because Jesus set us free. Amen! And, one day Jesus will return, and he will take us to be with him forever, and then we will no longer be tempted to sin or be sick or have pain or sorrow, for he will wipe away all the tears from our eyes.

Various Trials (vv. 6-9)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

We all go through trials, at times. Some of them are small and some are very big. Some are extended, while others are short lived. I have been going through a series of them, of late. They are not huge, but are trying just the same. It began with a recent development of a skin allergic reaction to cold. Then, when we had our new patient visits with our new doctor after moving here over a month ago, and I told him about it, he just wanted me to take an antihistamine for it, even though I told him I have been pharmaceutical drug dependent free for about 10 years now. So, he mocked me. But, I stood my ground against his insistence that drugs were my “savior.”

And, then he said I looked anemic, so he took blood, and the blood test showed I had low vitamin B-12, but I don’t take vitamins, either, because of bad reactions to them. But then I thought maybe if I could find something all natural that it would work. And I did, so I thought, but when I sprayed the first spray in my mouth my tongue swelled and my throat began to close up, which is a serious reaction (side effect), plus I got a headache and nerve pains, which is often my body’s reaction to drugs. The Lord, after I had taken this, warned me, I believe, of the dangers of this, so I stopped.

During all of this I was also constipated, and no foods or drinks I was taking in to help with that were working, so I was miserable. On top of this I had some kind of skin rash or something on my thigh, so I started putting Vaseline on that, and it is much improved. But, then we went away for the weekend, and we stayed in a hotel, and there were bad issues with the first 2 rooms they gave us, but the third one finally worked for us. Then, I got 3 bug bites in a cluster on my chest, over my heart, which were reminiscent of when we got bed bugs nearly a year ago to date (we had those for about a month then). Now, 3 days later, the recent bites (source unknown) are still there, but they are disappearing. And, then yesterday, when I was getting out of my car to get the mail, my foot caught in my purse and I took a fall down on the pavement. But, by the grace of God I was not seriously injured.

By the grace of God, as well, I have been able to bear up under these trials and not let them undo me. I have been daily committing myself and these situations to the Lord, praying for help and healing, and for much needed wisdom, and the Lord has been seeing me through them all, and other trials, too. He has been giving me grace to make it, to keep trusting him, and to keep smiling and singing despite the pain and misery associated with any of them. I believe God is absolutely sovereign over my life, and that he has allowed these trials to come into my life as a way both to test me, and also to mature and to strengthen me in my faith and in my resolve to make him my only Lord and Savior. When we go through such trials, they teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves. We learn that our dependency must be in Christ alone, and not in humans or in drugs, or in anything else but God.

Prepare Your Minds (vv. 13-16)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

So, because of all that Jesus Christ has done for us, in dying for our sins, in freeing us from slavery (addiction) to sin, and in giving us new lives in him, and because he is our helper, strength, counselor and guide, we should commit our all to him. We must lay aside all which hinders our walks of faith and that which leads us into sin, so that we can run the spiritual race he has marked out for each of us to run. And, then we must put on our spiritual armor daily with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and schemes against us (Eph. 6:10-20).

What this means for us, in all practicality, is that we have to stop entertaining ourselves with the sins and trappings of this world, and we have to bathe our minds and hearts with the things of God – His Word, His Spirit, His Truth, and with His righteousness, goodness and holiness. And, then we have to obey what His Word teaches us, not merely being hearers of the Word only, but doers (See: Jas. 1). And, we should not live for the pleasures of this sinful world, but for the glory and praise of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Again, we are to be separate (unlike, different) from the world (holy) because we are being made to be like Jesus.

We need to take this to heart and not take God’s grace to us for granted, for if we continue in sin (in practice, in lifestyle) we don’t have that hope of heaven, but a fearful expectation of judgment. So, don’t be led astray.

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…

 

When Problems Arise

Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 4:36 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, I Need You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 27 (Select vv. ESV).

Be Confident (vv. 1-3)

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

We all go through struggles, from time to time, whether they involve solely temptations to sin against God, or they involve hardships, persecutions, financial difficulties, physical enemies pursuing us, marital problems, troubles with our children, disasters, loneliness, or having to make difficult decisions, or plans not working out the way we had hoped. And, we may be tempted to respond in fear, doubt, worry, anger, frustration, disappointment or in retreating back to sinful habits as a way of numbing the pain.

Yet, whatever difficulty, trouble, hardship or temptation we might be facing, our God is all-sufficient to meet our every need, and to give us all we need to remain faithful to him, to rest in him, to trust him with our life situations, and to believe him for the strength and power to endure, to resist Satan, and to flee the temptation to sin against God. In fact, through Jesus’ death on a cross for our sins, he made the way of escape for us out of temptation to sin, for he conquered sin and death for us via his death and resurrection.

As well, we read in Ephesians 6:12 that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. It isn’t to say that we don’t have physical enemies or that we won’t be hated and persecuted by other humans, for we will, if we follow Jesus. But, it is to say that the real forces against us are of Satan and his demons and that this is a spiritual battle that must be won with spiritual weapons of warfare, not with physical weapons or with human scheming. So, this is why God has given us spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-20) to apply to our lives every day so that we can fight off temptation to sin against him, that is the temptation to sin by telling lies, cheating, immorality, fear, and doubt, etc. So, daily we must put this armor on, if we are to be victorious in this battle.

So, how do we do this? How do we make the Lord the stronghold of our lives so that we don’t fear, and so we don’t give into temptation, and so we are confident in Christ in our battles? When we are afraid, we put off fear, and we put on faith. When Satan lies to us, we counter him with the truth, more specifically with the truth of God’s Word. Then, we choose to believe the truth and not the lies. And, when tempted toward immorality, we resist Satan, and FLEE the temptation. Too many people give into temptation to sin because they play with sin and they don’t FLEE. And, involved in fleeing is also being proactive by cutting out of our lives those things which lead us to sin against God. For, if we play with the fire, we are going to get burned!

Sing Praises (vv. 4-6)

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

When difficulties arise or when we are faced with temptation toward fear or toward immorality, etc., we need to immediately seek the Lord. We must call on him for help. But, it is pointless to call on him if we have no intention of listening to or obeying him, or if we are not willing to cut out of our lives what is leading us into sin. In other words, we cannot resist the temptation to have immoral thoughts or actions or to give in to fear if every day we are willingly taking into our minds and eyes what is immoral or which feeds fear and doubt, and for the purpose of entertaining ourselves. We have to decide if we are going to be serious about God and holiness or not. If we are serious, our Lord Jesus, via His Spirit, will help us every step of the way.

One of the best antidotes to fear, doubt and worry is to sing praises to God. Satan loves to whisper lies in our ears, or to get us to stay focused on the waves crashing in all around us, i.e. he likes to get us to think about all the negatives of a situation, and even to create non-existent ones in our own minds (paranoia). So, when we realize we are down in the dumps, and that our minds are dwelling on all the “what ifs” of a situation, we need to stop, pray, and sing songs of praise to our Lord, and songs which will strengthen us in our faith and which will combat Satan’s lies with God’s truth.

Follow Jesus (vv. 11-14)

Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

If we truly desire God’s help, these words here have to be more than just words coming from our lips. Again, there is no point in asking for his guidance and direction if we are not going to listen to him and follow him. If we truly want to be taught his way, then we need to be willing to walk in the way that he shows us. So, don’t say it if you don’t mean it. God knows the difference. We can fool other humans, but we can’t fool God. He knows our hearts, and he knows who are serious about following him, and who are just playing games or are going through a religious exercise.

So, if you or I truly want to be taught the ways of the Lord, then we need to be willing to go the distance with God. We can’t pick and choose what we will obey and what we won’t, or to what extent we will be willing to obey. We need to have undivided hearts that don’t vacillate back and forth between what we want and what God desires for our lives. A level path is not a roller coaster ride. It is steady, even, sincere, committed and determined. And, we have to stay the course, but not in our own strength or willpower, but in the strength of the Lord and in his power and might.

I cannot stress enough that a godly life is a committed and determined life given over to God and to his service, and it takes sin and God and his Word seriously, and it does not take lightly his grace to us. His grace, after all, is not freedom to continue in sin without guilt or remorse. It is not carte blanche (free rein) to live however we want now that we are under grace. No! 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 his return. So, don’t give way to the enemy! Be strong in the Lord, and in his strength. Take courage and put your trust in God alone!

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…
My one defense, my righteousness…