Led to Repentance

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

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

And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012

Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

Forgiveness

Sunday, July 9, 2017, 4:15 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in The Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of forgiveness of sins.

Repentance for Forgiveness (Luke 24:44-47)

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

What is repentance? Literally it means to have “a change of mind, change in the inner man” (1). It is used almost exclusively in scripture to signify a turning away from sin and a turning to walk in obedience to God. It is a lot like making a U-turn, i.e. you were going left, and now you are going right. Only this is talking about a complete change of direction spiritually in one’s life. And, although this is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in transforming us from darkness to light, our faith in Jesus Christ involves us willingly cooperating with that work of grace in our lives.

This repentance, i.e. this forsaking of our former way of living for sin and self, and turning to God to follow him in his ways, and in his truth, is required by God for us to be forgiven of our sins, and to have eternal life with God in heaven (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24).

Turned from Darkness (Acts 26:16-18; Col. 1:13-14)

“But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Paul met Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus where he intended to persecute believers in Jesus Christ. Jesus, who transformed his heart and mind, appointed him to be a minister of the gospel of our salvation. Paul’s calling also summarizes for us the gospel message, the purpose of which is to open eyes which are spiritually blinded by sin, and to turn them from sin to Christ and to his righteousness, and from the dominion of Satan over their lives to now walk in obedience to their Lord. The result is that they receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified, cleansed) by faith in Jesus Christ. So, again we have here the prerequisite of repentance prior to the forgiveness of sins.

Holy and Blameless (Ephesians 1:3-10)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, who have been redeemed with his blood, and forgiven our sins, were chosen by God even before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless before him. To be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made to be like Jesus. Blameless means “unblemished from the marring effects of sin” (2). Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When we believe in him, his righteousness is credited to our account so that we are no longer charged as “guilty,” but we are set free from the condemnation of sin. Yet, we must also live righteously. We must walk in the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

We were also chosen according to the purpose of God’s will, to the praise of his grace. And, he made known to us his will, according to his plan and purpose for our lives. In fact, faith in Christ means to be persuaded of God as to his will for our lives. And, if persuaded (convinced), we will want to do his will. And, what is his will? It is that we should be sanctified and made holy, that we should forsake our sins and follow him in obedience, and that we should live holy and godly lives pleasing to him.

The reality of his grace to us is not just that we have escaped hell and that we have the promise of heaven when we die, but that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). So, if we are chosen according to the purpose of God’s will, to the praise of his grace, then our lives should reflect both his purpose for our lives, and his grace, which instructs us to say “No” to sin and “Yes” to his righteousness and holiness being lived out in our lives.

Circumcised in Heart (Col. 2:11-15; cf. Ro. 6:1-23)

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

While physical circumcision is a cutting away of physical flesh, the circumcision made without hands, which is also called “circumcision of the heart,” is a spiritual cutting away of our sinful flesh (sin nature, worldliness, wickedness). This is what takes place when we genuinely trust in Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord (owner-master) of our lives. We die with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. The old is gone. The new has come. We are given completely new lives in Christ Jesus which are created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness. We were once dead in our sins, but God made us alive in Christ Jesus! He cancelled the debt that stood against us, and he forgave our sins. Amen!

But, forgiveness alone is not the end result of our faith in Jesus Christ, for we were set free from slavery to sin, as well, so that we would no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, but so we would now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit. If we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh (if we keep on practicing sin), we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6). So, not only must we be forgiven our sins, but we must no longer continue in willful sin against God if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God.

Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/3341.htm

(2) http://biblehub.com/greek/299.htm

Gospel of Grace

Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 7:20 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures on the subject of the gospel of God’s grace (NASB).

The Gospel Message (Acts 26:16-18)

But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

Paul was called of God to be an apostle of Jesus Christ and a minister of the gospel of Christ (of our salvation from sin). This is the call he was given by Jesus Christ, which embodies the message of the gospel of our salvation.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures and we come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (his glory). We are bound in slavery to sin, without the hope of eternity with God. So, by God’s grace, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died on a cross, putting our sins to death, and he was resurrected from the dead, victorious over sin. He did this so that we could have our spiritually blinded eyes opened, be turned from darkness (sin) to light (his righteousness), be delivered from the power of Satan, and be turned to God, to follow (obey) him. When this takes place in our lives, we receive forgiveness of sins, and we are given an inheritance among others who have been sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ. Amen!

Instructing Us (Titus 2:11-14)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

While it is true that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, and that this is not of ourselves, not of works lest anyone of us should boast, but it is the gift of God, this does not mean we do nothing, or that nothing is required of us (See: Eph. 2:8-10). God’s grace is not a “do nothing” gospel. It instructs (commands) us to deny (reject, refuse) ungodliness and worldly desires. The main reason Jesus died on the cross was not just to give us the hope of heaven when we leave this earth, or to give us an escape from hell, but it was that we might die with him to sin and be resurrected with him to newness of life to be lived to him and to his righteousness (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).

In other words, this also fits with Paul’s calling to the gospel, to turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and so they might have an inheritance among the saints of God. God’s grace is not just that he took our place on a cross so that we would be free of the punishment of sin (eternal damnation). It is for the purpose that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, that sin would no longer be our master, but that we would now be bond-slaves of Christ’s righteousness. Therefore, faith in Jesus Christ means turning from our sins (repentance) and turning to our Lord to follow (obey) him. Instead of now living for sin and self, we now live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the power of God’s Spirit now living within us, and for God’s glory.

A False Grace (Jude 1:3-4)

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

There are many people today, including many who call themselves ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are turning God’s grace into a free license for immorality (for continuing in willful sin against God). Some of these people even used to preach the full gospel message, but have since wandered off from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ to become followers of men, and to market the church to the world, much like they would any other business. Since the world is their target customers, they now dilute the gospel of our salvation in order to make it more acceptable and appealing to the world, and to the worldly church. Thus, they have turned God’s grace into licentiousness and they deny our ONLY MASTER AND LORD, JESUS CHRIST, by the very messages they proclaim.

Basically, what they do is teach a half-truth (false) gospel. Most of them do teach that we are sinners at birth, and that we can’t earn or deserve our own salvation. They teach that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, and not by works, lest any of us should boast. And, they do preach that it is only by Jesus’ sacrifice for sins that any of us can be saved from our sins, escape the fires of hell (if they even mention that), and have the hope of eternal life with God.

All this is true, but it is only half the truth. They leave out the other half which is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. They strip the gospel message of the cross of Christ in the life of the believer, which is death to sin and living to God and to his righteousness and holiness. They fail to proclaim that if we walk (in lifestyle) in our flesh (in sin, in darkness), we will die in our sins, not live eternally (Ro. 8:1-14).

And, they tell their adherents that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ and to his cross. Not only that, but they tell them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, even when they are engrossed in willful sin against God. So, the way they teach the gospel is more like the broad road that leads to destruction, rather than as the narrow road, that few find, which leads to eternal life with God. They turn faith in Christ into nothing more than a mere acknowledgment of who Christ is or of what he did for us in dying for our sins, and as a mere acceptance of that fact. But, there is no death to sin or living to righteousness in their gospel message, thus there is no new birth of the Spirit of God, and no promise of eternal life with God, either.

Be Holy (1 Pet. 1:13-16)

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.”

Another factor that many of them fail to mention, as well, is that our salvation is not a one-time event, after which we live however we want, and that one day we get to go to heaven. That is hogwash! Scripture disputes that notion all throughout the New Testament! Our salvation is progressive, i.e. we are saved (past), we are being saved (present and continuous), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns and our salvation is complete. It is not just our initial faith which saves us, but it is us continuing and walking in that faith which secures our eternal salvation (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 8:31-32; Ro. 8:1-14; Ro. 11:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Jn. 6:35-66; etc.).

Here again is the message which says we must not only obey our Lord, but that we must forsake our former way of living for sin and self. This is what it means to be “born again.” And, this is what it means to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, for if we walk (conduct our lives), according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25). Instead of living for self and for sensual pleasure, we are to be holy. To be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the likeness of God/Christ. And, we are to do this in all our behavior. Amen!

Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!

Swords in Their Lips

Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 8:48 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Total Praise.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 59 (Select vv. ESV).

They Lie in Wait (vv. 1-4)

To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him.

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
protect me from those who rise up against me;
deliver me from those who work evil,
and save me from bloodthirsty men.

For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
fierce men stir up strife against me.
For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord,
for no fault of mine, they run and make ready.
Awake, come to meet me, and see!

Who are our enemies, if we are followers of Jesus Christ? Satan and his hordes, that is who. Our real battle is not against flesh and blood (human beings), but it is against the powers of darkness and spiritual forces of evil (See: Eph. 6:10-20).

This is not saying we don’t have physical enemies, i.e. humans who are working evil against us. We do. But, we don’t fight our enemies with physical weapons of warfare like they did of old. And, the real power behind these enemies is Satan. So, we fight these enemies with the armor of God, but not in a mean or hateful way, but in love we put on truth, righteousness, faith, prayer, the truth of the gospel, and the Word of God (of truth). We combat lies with truth, evil with righteousness, deceptions and false accusations with the Word of God, fear with faith, doubt with prayer, and false gospels with the true gospel. And, we stand on the Word of God and the true gospel. And, God delivers us from the control or the power of our enemy (or enemies) over us when we put on the armor of God, which he has supplied to us.

If we are truly following our Lord Jesus in obedience to him and to his Word, Satan is going to be coming against us, and he will use humans to do his dirty work for him. They will hate us, in this instance, not because of any evil we are doing, but because we love the Lord, because we stand on the Word of God, because we do put on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, and because we teach the truth and combat lies. And, Satan hates that! And, so he will use humans to try to stir up trouble for us, to make up lies about us, and to spread those lies to others so that they will hate us, too.

Like Howling Dogs (vv. 6-10)

Each evening they come back,
howling like dogs
and prowling about the city.
There they are, bellowing with their mouths
with swords in their lips—
for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”

But you, O Lord, laugh at them;
you hold all the nations in derision.
O my Strength, I will watch for you,
for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.

Those who come against us, may speak evil against us. They will heap abuse on us with their tongues. They may even be close friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow believers or even family members. They may pretend to be our friends, and may act nice to us to our face, though, but then betray us behind our backs by divulging whatever we have shared with them in confidence, and by twisting our words and actions to give an impression that is not true of us. They gossip about us in order to wound us and to cut us to the heart, and so others will not like us, too, or they may speak to us this way in person, as well. And, it is because they don’t like what we stand for, and what we do, and what we say. Yet, they think God does not see, and that he does not hear, and that he will do nothing.

This is not to say, though, that we are perfect, or that we are never deserving of censure, but this is speaking specifically of the undeserved mistreatment of God’s servants. This is speaking of willful and even premeditated abuse and persecution, and just because we are followers of Christ, who do what he says, and because we hold to the truths of scripture.

Yet, God is not intimidated by them. They have no power over him. He is completely in control over all he has made. And, there is nothing they can do to us, either, but what God allows it for his purposes, and for our maturing, holiness, purity, strengthening and perseverance. When we face such opposition from sinful humans, it should only draw us even closer to Jesus Christ, and it should instill within us an even greater dedication to the Lord and to his service, for God is our strength and our help in time of need.

But I Will Sing (vv. 16-17)

But I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love.

We can’t let people get to us and get us down. We can’t let gossip, slander, hatred, bitterness, mistreatment, abuse and persecution undo us, either. We have to keep loving even our enemies, and returning hatred with kindness. Yet, we should grow in wisdom and discernment through this, and we should take care to not make our close friends those who are unbelievers or who are gossipers, haters, and the like. Yet, we should minister God’s love and grace to even our enemies. And, we must rely upon the Lord for our strength and for wisdom to know how to respond to such mistreatment as this.

One of the ways we should respond to opposition is by singing and praising our Lord, thanking him for his steadfast love and for the strength he gives us each day in order for us to keep going, even in the face of great opposition. Singing is a great antidote to fear, oppression, discouragement, sadness, and broken hearts, etc. Singing songs to our Lord has a way of lifting our spirits and filling our hearts with love, but also with confidence and even greater determination to keep on keeping on in doing what we are called to do. Singing gets our focus off our circumstances, and off those who oppose us, and it gets our focus on to Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us and all that he has gifted us with and has equipped us to do. It gets us thinking about HIM and his love, mercy and strength, and of his absolute sovereignty over all things, and then we can rest in HIM and not give way to fear, doubt, discouragement or even anger. His joy will then fill our hearts.

Total Praise / Richard Smallwood

You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life
I lift my hands in total praise to You.

Acts of Immorality

Saturday, March 4, 2017, 10:13 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Should I Not Preach Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 2:12-17 (NASB).

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:

‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’

The Sharp Two-Edged Sword

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Heb. 4:12

Jesus Christ is the one who has the “sharp two-edged sword,” and he is the speaker. He speaks on the authority of God, and on the authority of the Word of God, because he is God, and because he is the Son of God, and because he is the Living Word of God who died on a cross for our sins.

His Word is living and active, meaning it is not merely a historical book with useful information contained inside. It is also not merely a training manual useful for teaching believers in Jesus Christ how to live the Christian life. It was God-breathed when it was written, and it is still alive and speaking to hearts today with the full power of God and the witness of the Spirit of God behind it. As believers in Jesus, when we read the Word of God, it isn’t like reading any other book. The words come alive to us, and they speak conviction, encouragement, hope, healing, restoration, judgment, warnings and blessings, too, to our hearts. It is like God is right there speaking to us.

God’s Word is not light reading. It is not for the faint-hearted. It is also not for the casual reader who thinks five minutes a day reading some Bible verses satisfies God or our Christian (religious) obligation for the day. The Word of God is part of our spiritual armor we are to put on every day with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us. In combination with our other armor, we are able to use the Word of God to refute Satan’s lies, false doctrines, idolatry, spiritual adultery, sinful addictions, deceptions and the like. As well, it contains the gospel of our salvation which gives us the hope of deliverance from slavery to sin for the ones believing in Jesus, who have repented of their sin, and who have turned to follow our Lord in obedience.

Where Satan’s Throne Is

Satan’s throne is on the earth where humans dwell. Yet, there are certain places in this world where his presence is certainly more felt, and his influence is definitely wider spread. His realm of influence appears to be extending further and further by the day, all over the earth, as this world of ours keeps growing more and more wicked by the hour. Not only is Satan yielding greater sway in people’s lives, but he is also exerting immense power, authority, rule and dominion over the earth and its people. This power and rule is authoritarian and is subversive and it is tyrannical. As a result, many Christians throughout the world are suffering great persecution and even death at the hands of Satan’s agents (his servants).

It seems, sometimes, that those who are truly standing on the Word of Truth, who are not denying Jesus by living sinful lifestyles, or who are not compromising with the world in order to be accepted by the world, are growing fewer and fewer in number, as more and more people are giving way to deception, to the lies of Satan, and to their own sinful desires. And, thus the faithful may be finding themselves having fewer and fewer friends, and may be suffering much in the way of rejection, mockery, persecution, false accusations, and the like, just because their desire is for Jesus and to please him in all that they do and say.

Acts of Immorality

One of the biggest weapons Satan is wielding against people today, and most especially against Christians (or professing Christians), is luring them into sexual sin and/or into romantically or sexually adulterous situations. If people watch TV or surf the NET indiscriminately, or are addicted to social media sites or chat sites where they can have private conversations without the knowledge of their spouses, and with someone of interest to them, they are ripe to being drawn into the world of sexual sin and romantic adultery.

Hey, even if you don’t have a TV and you are very careful as to which internet sites you frequent, they (the people who lure you) have pop-ups and ads to the side or to the bottom of “safe” sites in order to trap you, or to try to trap you. Everywhere you go, pretty much, has TVs blaring with sexually alluring exhibitions, or they have seductive store window displays, or seductive magazine covers in check-out lines in grocery stores. Sex is everywhere, because it sells, and because Satan is behind its presentation so that he can trap as many people as possible and to render Christians inoperable. And, even some of the strongest Christians can be brought down if they are not careful and prudent concerning what they allow their eyes to see and regarding what they permit their minds to take in on a daily basis.

Turn from Sin

There are many professing Christians who are trapped in sexual addiction who feel that they don’t know the way out or that they can’t get out. Yet, Jesus has already made the way out. He took upon himself the sins of the entire world when he died on that cross. He put sin to death so that we could die to sin and live to righteousness. Through God-given faith in him, in which we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, we have been delivered, not just from the punishment of sin, but from the bondage (addiction) to sin. Amen! We don’t have to keep sinning! Jesus gave us the way of escape. We just have to yield to him and let him work in our hearts, and surrender to his will for our lives, letting him be Lord (owner-master) of our lives. We have to put off sin, by the power of the Spirit, and put on Christ, his word and his purity.

It isn’t that most people who call themselves Christians don’t know what to do when they are sin addicted, but it is that they choose to remain sin addicted rather than to allow Jesus to give them the victory. And, I believe that is one of the main reasons so many professing Christians have adopted what I call a false grace gospel, because it doesn’t require that they change their lifestyles. They don’t have to repent of sin or obey Jesus. All they have do is say they believe in Jesus and they are told they have their salvation secured and heaven guaranteed. And, if they begin to feel any guilt for their sin, then they are told to repeat in their minds a list of statements, some false, regarding who they are in Christ. This is to alleviate all guilt so that they can keep on sinning, while claiming heaven as their eternal home.

Yet, that is not the GRACE of God which brings salvation, which teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. That is also not the gospel of our salvation which teaches that faith in Christ means forsaking our former way of living for sin and self and dying daily to sin and self by the power of the Spirit working within us. The gospel message taught by Jesus teaches that if we say we have fellowship with God but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars, and if we walk according to our flesh or if we fail to lose (die to) our old lives of living in sin, that we will die in our sin (See: Tit. 2:11-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24).

If we want to have eternal life with God and to be free from sin, then we need to yield control of our lives over to God and die with him to sin so we may live with him to righteousness. We need to obey him and stop sinning (by the Spirit) and we need to put on (live to) what is righteous, holy and pure. We can’t do this in our own flesh or according to our own plan for our lives. This will only come about through submission, surrender and yielding to our Lord and allowing him to change us from the inside out. We have to stop playing with fire and mean business with God, and be willing to cut out of our lives everything which hinders our walks of faith or which leads us down the path of sin. If we are not willing to go the distance with God, then we will miss out on the blessings of obedience and our eternal rewards.

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.