Do You Not Know?

Saturday, August 12, 2017, 7:18 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 6 (Select vv. NASB).

Lawsuits Among Believers (vv. 1-8)

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.

In the USA, lawsuits are big business. It seems, at times, that when anyone even feels that he or she has been injured by another that they are far too ready to sue the ones they believe are the offending party. I have even found this to be a common practice among those who call themselves Christians. And, so much of this appears to have more to do with seeking revenge than in seeking reasonable damages (an award) for serious loss or injuries. At least, this has been my observation. Yet, some statistics seem to support the idea that lawsuits in the USA are outrageous in the numbers of them, in the context of them, or in the ease with which they are obtained.

It is bad enough when a Christian goes to court against a non-Christian and seeks unreasonable damages, just out of revenge or greed, and thus destroys any testimony for Jesus he or she might have otherwise had. But, when a Christian takes another believer to court, instead of taking the matter before the church, then that is even a more grievous matter. Where is the justice in all of this? Where is love, mercy, kindness and forgiveness? Where is the thought or belief that God is absolutely sovereign over our lives? What happens to our Christian witness and testimony? And, what about loving our enemies (or those we feel are our enemies), praying for them, doing good to them, and blessing them? Have we forgotten?

When we go to court against other people, especially against other believers, in order to sue them, and we ask for more than we need in damages, especially out of revenge (to get payback), or out of greed, to spend the reward on our own pleasures, we wrong and defraud (swindle, cheat, and take advantage of) others. And, it destroys the work of God in our lives and through our lives in showing his love, grace and mercy to others. Do we truly believe we must do this, and that God was absent during our injury, or that he can’t provide for all that we need? It is far better that we suffer this wrong than for us to seek revenge, for it is God’s job to take revenge, not ours! We are to show love, kindness and forgiveness, instead.

The Kingdom of God (vv. 9-11)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

This is a warning, not to the unsaved, though it certainly applies to them, too, but to Christians or to professing Christians who are practicing sinning against God. If we wrong (ill-treat, abuse) and defraud (swindle, cheat or take advantage of) others, as our practice, we should not think we have any inheritance coming to us from God. We should not bank on having eternal rewards, but we should consider what scriptures teach on this subject, and know that those who practice sinning, who continue in sin, and who walk (in lifestyle; who conduct their lives) according to the flesh, will die in their sins (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-25; & Eph. 5:3-6).

Flee Immorality (vv. 15-20)

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

As you can tell from the long lists of sinful practices in 1 Co. 6:9-11, Gal. 5:19-25, & Eph. 5:3-6, they cover a wide span of sinful practices. One of the ones which is predominant, though, and is repeated over and over again in scripture is immorality, or most especially sexual immorality. Immorality can be anything which is wicked, depraved, corrupt, dishonest or adulterated, including idolatry. Sexual immorality is confined to such areas as adultery, lust, fornication (sex outside of marriage), homosexuality, same-sex marriage, oral sex, incest, and viewing of pornography or sexually charged (or insinuated) movies or videos, or sexting, or having sexual conversations with someone with whom you are not married, et al.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives we are united with him in spirit, and we become members of his body, the church (not the institutional church). We become the bride of Christ, and he is our husband, and in faith we vow faithfulness, love, and commitment to our Lord and master, Jesus Christ. Our desire is to please him in all that we do, say, think and are. When we are married to our spouse, we also vow love, faithfulness, commitment and fidelity. And, our desire should be for our spouse, to please him or her, and to do to or for the other according to love and faithfulness, and according to the teachings of Christ and his Word. So, it is absolutely sinful and wrong (harmful, injurious) to do what is contrary to these vows of fidelity and love, either to God or to our spouses.

So, we are to flee all immorality, idolatry, wickedness, lies, deceit and sexual immorality, and we are to commit ourselves to faithfulness and love toward both our Lord and toward our spouses. When we marry, we become one flesh with our spouse through sexual union, so we are to regard our spouses as though they are one with us, and to treat them accordingly, in love, purity, and in all kindness, respect and honor. As well, when we believe in Jesus, and his Spirit comes to dwell within us, our bodies become his temple, and we are no longer our own, to live however we want, for Jesus bought us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins. So, we are to honor and glorify God in our bodies, and in our minds, hearts, attitudes, words and actions, too. For, Jesus set us free from slavery to sin in order that we might become bondservants (slaves) of his righteousness.

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

Take No Part

Friday, June 23, 2017, 3:16 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “More About Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV).

Be Imitators (vv. 1-2)

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

We, as followers of Jesus Christ, and as God’s children, are to imitate (emulate) God. In other words, we are to pattern our lives after Him, become like Him in all that we do, say and are, and we are to follow (obey) Him in doing what he says, and in being who he has called us to be and to do. So, first of all we need to get to know our Lord, first by his saving grace to us, through faith in him, and then in growing (maturing) in him and in our faith. We do this through time spent daily with him in his Word, listening to our Lord speak his words to our hearts, and then by obeying what he teaches us. We also do this through times spent with him in prayer, talking with him, listening to him, and resting (trusting) in him for all things.

As we better get to know Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, and we learn more about him and his will and plan for our lives, and we follow him in obedience, and in surrender to his will, we begin to walk in (live in) love. This love, though, is not human love, but it is God-like love, in which we are to live and to conduct our lives. Therefore, it focuses in what God approves. It prefers what God prefers. It centers in moral preference (1). It is self-sacrificial and considers others’ needs above our own. And, it looks out for what is in the best interest of others, rather than for what their flesh may desire. So, it is not going to lie to people to make them feel better about themselves, especially about their sinful behaviors. But, it will speak the truth in love, because that is loving and kind. Lies are never loving or kind.

Not Named (vv. 3-6)

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

It should not be heard of that there is sexual immorality, all impurity (corruption, adulteration), and covetousness (greed, jealousy, envy) among the saints of God. We, too, should also not be involved with others in conversations which are sexual, immoral or corrupt (dishonest, crooked, perverted or harmful) in nature. Wow! So, how is it that so many Christians today, including pastors, do not follow this, and, in fact, many are struggling with sin addiction? These things should not be! They should not be common place. Christians should also not be viewing movies or TV shows or internet sites which glorify sin, or which entertain with sinful attitudes and behaviors. We should not be taking these things into our minds at all! How can we be pure in heart if we regularly consume what is impure? And, then call it entertainment? Too many Christians today are obsessed with having to be entertained incessantly. This is not why Jesus saved us from our sins!

I believe one of the reasons why sexual immorality is rampant among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ is because of private internet access via smart phones, tablets, and laptop (portable) computers, the influence of TV, lack of accountability, and the notion that we are here to be entertained and to gratify our own fleshly desires, which is what the world promotes.

Another big reason for the vastness of sexual immorality within the church is due to the teaching of a false grace gospel which teaches its adherents that they can just acknowledge who Jesus is, accept his sacrifice for their sins, and that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross. And, then they tell them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that he smiles on them even when they are willfully engaged in immoral acts, including viewing pornography or watching sexually charged TV shows or movies. And, to top it off, they tell them that they now have heaven guaranteed them when they die, no matter what they do from this point forward, thus giving them free license (carte blanche) to continue in willful sin against God.

Yet, the Bible does not teach this false grace gospel. It says plainly that if we continue in sin, if we practice sinning, and if we walk (in lifestyle and conduct) in darkness (sin) or according to our sin nature (flesh), we will die in our sins, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9). If we regularly, consistently, and habitually are involved in immorality, impurity and in idolatry, and this is the practice of our lives, over the course of our lives, and it is always what we fall back on, and there are no obvious signs that we are actually moving away from these sins, then we have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Don’t let anyone deceive you by telling you that you have eternal life guaranteed, and that you don’t have to repent.

Not Partake with Them (vv. 7-14)

Therefore, do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

We are not to partner with or partake with those who are sexually immoral, impure, corrupt, or who are idolaters. And, this includes not allowing ourselves to be entertained by those who do these things, or who act (as in a play) as though they do, or who promote sinful acts. Those who practice such things must not be our close friends, and if they profess to be Christians, we are not to hang out with them at all. Bad company corrupts good character. If we take garbage in, garbage is what will come out. If we want to be pure in heart and mind, we need to take into our minds what is wholesome, pure, true, right, honorable, holy, and godly, etc. And, we need to choose our friends and companions wisely and prayerfully. Instead of pacifying or participating in what is unholy, unrighteous and ungodly, we should be those who expose the fruitless deeds of darkness. And, we should find out what pleases our Lord, and do that, instead.

How You Walk (vv. 15-21)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

As saints and as children of God, followers of Jesus Christ, and as those being led by the Spirit of God, we need to be careful about how we live our lives, examining our conduct before God in prayer, rejecting the impure and immoral, and clinging to what is good, wholesome, pure and righteous. We need to read our Bible, see what it says about how we are to live, and then walk in that truth, instead of following after the pattern of the world. We also need to examine before God in prayer, and in the reading of his Word, as to what purpose we were placed on this earth. Why are we here? What are we supposed to be doing? Are we here for our own pleasure, or to please God?

Instead of just existing, putting in time, entertaining ourselves, and gratifying our fleshly desires, we need to find out what the will of God is for our lives, and then do it! We don’t have tomorrow guaranteed. We need to live for God today while we still have today, and we need to not forget what the Bible teaches with regard to who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Instead of living our lives outside of the Spirit’s control, we need to be living and walking in the power of the Spirit of God, filled to overflowing, giving thanks to God, submitting to one another, and sharing with God’s people all the riches of God’s grace which he has bestowed upon us. And, we must be encouraging one another away from sinful practices, and toward godliness and holiness, so that none of us will be led astray by sin’s deceitfulness.

More About Jesus / Hewitt / Sweney

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.

More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

More about Jesus; on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/26.htm

Our Spiritual Journey

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 5:16 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 15:11-32 (NASB).

Two Sons (vv. 11-16)

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.

Life is a journey, is it not? Every day, hopefully, we wake up, we get out of bed, if we have a bed to sleep on, that is, and we start a new day. Either we do so with purpose and direction, or else we wander aimlessly, going here and there trying to find satisfaction for life, but always coming up empty. Either we are on a straight (righteous, holy) path, because we are trusting God/Jesus Christ with our lives, or else we are on a winding path or life course with no particular destination in mind other than self-pleasure. Yet, it is possible to be somewhere in the middle between these two paths, I believe, for someone could be on the straight path, but they have gotten off course, at least in some respects, and so they need to get back on course.

I believe there are four types of people in this world (four types of soil). The first type is the one who has not ever made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The second is the one who makes a profession of faith, but it is surface level only (no root), probably because he was taught a false grace gospel which told him that God does not require repentance or obedience, so when things get rough, he yields to pressure, and he abandons the faith altogether. Neither of these have truly believed in Jesus as Savior. And, then there is the one who has believed in Jesus, who was crucified with Christ in death to sin, and risen with Christ to newness of life, but over time the temptations of this world entrapped him again, and so he got off course. And, he needs to return to God and forsake his idols. And, the fourth type is the individual who is walking by faith, is following his Lord in obedience, and who is bearing fruit for God’s kingdom, in keeping with repentance.

God is our creator, which means he gave life to all people, so God is the true father here. So, the two sons could represent the saved and the unsaved. As well, for believers in Jesus Christ, God is our Father and we are his children, so the two sons could also represent the faithful believer in Jesus, though certainly not perfect, and the believer who has gotten off course and has been entrapped by the sinful pleasures of the world once more. The bottom line, though, is that they represent one in fellowship with the Father, who is serving God with his life, who is walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands, and one who has abandoned God, is going his own way, and is living in sensual pleasure and self-indulgence. Yet, even the one in fellowship with the Father has some maturing to do in some areas.

He Came to His Senses (vv. 17-24)

But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Oftentimes, sadly enough, it takes some type of a tragedy or difficult situation in life to get people to come to their senses, and to escape the trap of the devil. When sin gets a grip on people, they can do senseless things, even dangerous things, and stuff which might even get them in trouble with the law, or which might ruin their marriages, etc. And, yet, they go headlong right into what they know is wrong, and what they know is destroying their lives and relationships, even their relationship with God, because their desire is greater for the sin than it is for anything else. They don’t want to let go of the sin, because the sin gives them a false sense of security, or because they are angry with God, and so they feel justified in continuing in the sin, or because they have a sense of entitlement, and so they believe God’s grace gives allowance for their sin, and that God requires nothing of them at all.

When things are going well for us, and we are healthy, and all our physical needs are being met, there may be a temptation to rely on ourselves more than we rely on God. We may become complacent regarding fellowship with our Lord and walking in his Spirit, and the trappings of the world may begin to consume us, our time, thoughts, energies, passion and desires. We may give God a back seat in our lives, and even our devotional lives may begin to ebb away. We don’t necessarily have to even get to the point of gross sin and rebellion to be a prodigal son, but we may just neglect our relationship with Jesus Christ, and what we want and desire may, thus, take first place.

So, God may bring into our lives, or may allow in our lives, some difficult trial, tragedy, sorrow, pain or sickness in order to get our attention, and for the purpose to bring us to our senses. This is not to say that those who are living righteously will not also face such troubled times. They will, and it will be for the purpose to mature them, and so they share in God’s holiness, and so they bear the fruit of God’s righteousness. But, he also disciplines his wandering saints in order to bring them back to himself in humility, repentance and obedience. Sometimes we can be so stupid, so strong-headed, and so bent on our own ways, even though we know better, and so it will take being hit over the head by a two-by-four (not literally) to bring us to our senses. And, even this is God’s grace to us, in order to free us, because he has compassion for us. And, when we do return, he revives and restores us to fellowship with him, and he welcomes us back home.

The Curse of Jealousy (vv. 25-32)

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

Like I said, even those who are walking righteously are not yet perfect (without fault). We are maturing in our walks of faith day-by-day. Daily we are putting to death sinful deeds, by the Spirit, and we are responding to the Spirit’s still small voice in convicting us when we falter, or we should be. And, sometimes our Lord will put a finger on an area of our lives where we need to yield control to our Lord and not do it ourselves. And, we need to respond to his voice by submitting to his will, and by walking in his way.

The one who stayed in communion with the Father ended up being jealous of the one who repented of his evil ways, and who returned, because the Father received him with open arms and he celebrated the son’s return. He felt that the father treated the wandering son, who then later repented, greater than he treated him who had remained with the father. And, that can happen to us, too, if we allow self-righteousness to settle in, and if we forget that our righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight, and it is only his righteousness granted to us, to be lived out through us in his power, that amounts to anything. We were once lost, too, and God found us and saved us by his grace, so we have nothing to boast about or to feel self-righteous about, because it is only by God’s grace that we are not still in the gutter.

Yet, I find another jealousy existing among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, which is equally as bad. Sometimes, when a wandering saint does return to the Lord, and is restored to fellowship with God, and is now walking in the Spirit, and is not gratifying the sinful flesh any longer, those who are still giving way to the flesh, who have not yet repented of their sins, will be jealous and resentful of the relationship the faithful believer has with the Lord. And, that may drive the unrepentant even further into sin and rebellion because of their anger with God and with the repentant. Yet, all of us need to have the perspective that it is only by God’s grace that any of us can be restored to God and have communion with him, and that all of us have the opportunity to walk in faithfulness, if we so choose to do so.

Amazing Grace / John Newton

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Selfless

Saturday, May 13, 2017, 8:08 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” I read Hebrews 13:1-6 (ESV).

Think of Others (vv. 1-3)

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

What are some ways in which we can show brotherly love to others? If we see someone in need, we can reach out to help him or her with the needs. Part of this may involve ascertaining what the real needs are first, so we know how best to meet the needs. We can pay attention when people talk with us, remembering their names, and remembering specific things about them, to show that we care about them. We can do special things for people to let them know we appreciate them, especially during times when it is not expected (no special occasion). And, we can have neighbors over for a meal, or lend a helping hand, or take someone to the store, etc.

We should not be ingrown to where we only show hospitality to friends, co-workers, other Christians, neighbors and family members. But, we should open our hearts and homes to those we don’t know, too. We should show the love of Jesus to whomever he places in our lives or across our paths, and in whatever manner in which he chooses for us to show them his love and his grace. We should always exercise godly wisdom in whatever we do, but we should not be afraid to minister to strangers. And, included in this may be visiting inmates in prisons and sharing with them the love and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In addition, we should be concerned for all people who are being mistreated, abused, and taken advantage of. If there is any way we can minister to them, we should, as the Lord leads, and we should pray for the downtrodden, too. As well, we should remember the saints of God (believers in Jesus) throughout the world who are suffering persecution, hardship, and abuse in various forms because of their stand on the Word of Truth, because of their love and service to Jesus Christ, and because they share the gospel so that others might be saved. Many are being hunted down like they are animals, and bombs are being dropped on them, or they are being forced out of their homes into camps where they are ill-treated, so we should pray for their strengthening and courage.

Love Does No Harm (v. 4)

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

What does it look like to hold marriage in honor? It means to show your marriage and your spouse absolute respect, value, and high regard, especially in public, or in front of others, as well as privately, and to treat the marriage relationship with decency, morality, uprightness, and dignity. As well, it entails keeping (holding to) the marriage vows with all integrity, truthfulness and faithfulness. Nothing destroys a marriage more than unfaithfulness and lies (deception, cover-ups, or justifications).

And, this is not just about not having sexual relations with another individual, but it also includes not looking at another lustfully, especially in front of your spouse, not thinking lustful thoughts about others, not flirting with another, and not viewing pornography, or magazines, movies, or TV shows with partially clad people of interest, or with sexual situations or sexual humor. It also involves no sexting, and no intimate conversations with another to whom you are not married, i.e. no private texting or chatting without your spouse’s knowledge, and with someone of the opposite sex or same sex attraction. I would include in this also not watching romantic movies or reading romantic novels where you find yourself longing for such a relationship with someone other than your spouse, and which makes you dissatisfied with your own marriage.

You don’t have to have physical sexual relations with another in order for your marriage bed to be defiled. It is defiled whenever you dishonor your marriage and your spouse by all or by most all of what I just mentioned. And, it continues to be defiled as long as you lie to your spouse and/or withhold from your spouse what is his or her right to know, i.e. if you are cheating on him or her either physically, emotionally or mentally. And, I have to include masturbation in this list, too, because that is a selfish act which involves choosing self-gratification over the marriage bed.

Yet, if our spouse does commit adultery against us in any one of these ways, we need to be willing to forgive, and to lovingly encourage faithfulness, and to work toward the healing of the relationship, as much as it is within our power to do so. We need to pray for our spouse and always hold out hope for better days to come.

Be Contented (vv. 5-6)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

You know, this fits with adultery, too, because when someone turns to lust, pornography, masturbation, sexting or romantic or sexual affairs, etc., in place of faithfulness to marriage and spouse, it is because the person is not content with his or her spouse, and so is looking to have their needs met outside the marriage, and outside the marriage bed. So, similar counsel needs to be given here, too, in that we should learn to be content with the one to whom we are married, and we should pursue that relationship rather than looking elsewhere for satisfaction and pleasure.

Yet, with regard to the love of money, this actually entails much more than just money, but it has to do with extreme greed for money or for material things, never satisfied with what we have, but always wanting more and more. In America I know this is a huge problem because we are an affluent nation with so much stuff, food, entertainment, possessions, hobbies, etc., but the more people buy the more they think they need until we have houses and closets full of stuff no one really needs, i.e. we have houses, garages, attics and closets full of excess.

So, the counsel here is to be content with what we have, and to not seek after or worship, idolize, lust for, prefer, or long for what we don’t have, or what is not ours to have, or what we can’t really afford, or what would just be filling our barns with excess while others go without the basic necessities of life.

We should trust the Lord to meet all our needs, and we need to be generous in giving to others as they have need, too. Instead of being selfish, we need to be those who make a practice of being selfless. And, we need to not fear that our needs will not be met if we don’t take matters into our own hands. God knows what we need, and he will supply, not what we want, necessarily, or what we might decide that we need, but he will take care of us, so we should never be afraid. He will work all things out for good for those who love him, so we rest in him.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

Of Such a Kind

Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 5:24 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Grace is Enough.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 5 (ESV).

Sexual Immorality (vv. 1-2)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

This would be a gross understatement for much of today’s church, especially here in America. With the onset of the availability of private internet access for adults and children alike in the home, and on their person, at all times, the numbers are staggering as to how many adults and children, including a large percentage of pastors (over 50%, according to statistics), regularly view pornographic images and videos, and not just what might be considered “normal” sexual behavior, but sadistic, degrading, and depraved sexual behavior, too, including child pornography and beastiality.

And, it goes far beyond this, too, as many children, teenagers, and even adults are involved in sexting, and some of this between adults and children, too, which opens the door wide for child predators to prey on young minds. And yet, so many parents blindly hand their children these devices without any thought to what their children might discover. And, that just kills me.

And, then, of course, there is a TV in just about every American home, and many of them now large screen TVs which take up a large space in their living rooms, and which most of the living room seems to be focused around. And, the stuff that is available, and which is promoted on TV and on Netflix today, includes pornography, sexual immorality, nudity, crude and degrading humor, homosexuality, and the like. And, Christians are regularly viewing this stuff for the sake of being entertained. Pastors, as well, share movie clips from some of these sexually immoral movies as sermon illustrations, while the movies themselves speak against God’s Word and his morals.

America has become like Sodom and Gomorrah, and inside the church, too, and the church is proud. And, if you speak out on these issues, many will think you are a fuddy-duddy or a prude, and they won’t pay you any attention, even pastors won’t, because they are steeped in it themselves, in many cases. But, as followers of Christ, these things ought to make us weep! If the sexually immoral persons had to be removed from today’s church, how many do you think would be left to carry on the ministry?

So He May Be Saved (vv. 3-5)

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

So many people today are preaching a “grace” which just gives the sinner free license to continue in his or her sin without guilt or remorse. They teach God’s gift of salvation as though it is merely an escape from hell and a promise of heaven when we die, with nothing much in between, because, they say, nothing is required of us by God. And, this is one of the main reasons, I believe, why the church in America is in the spiritually deprived and morally depraved condition in which she finds herself. In fact, they teach that we don’t have to repent (turn from our sins to God), that we don’t have to obey Christ and his commandments, that we don’t have to submit to Christ and surrender to his will for our lives, and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, because his grace covers it all.

But, they forget that the Bible teaches the church that if we walk in the flesh, we will die in our sins. If we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity, i.e. we don’t have the promise of heaven when we die. If we don’t make it our practice to obey Christ’s commandments, i.e. his instructions to us, we don’t really know him, and we don’t have eternal life with him. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we don’t live by the truth, i.e. we are liars, i.e. we are self-deceived. But, if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, his blood cleanses us from all sin. If by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. And, if we lose our lives for the sake of Christ and his gospel, i.e. if we are crucified with him in death to sin, we will live with him for eternity.

They also forget that God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). As well, they don’t realize that God’s grace to us is not merely to forgive us our sins, but it is to deliver us out of bondage (addiction) to sin, and to free us to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not merely so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He cares when we sin against him, and he will discipline (scourge) us in order to make us holy (Heb. 12).

A New Unleavened Batch (vv. 6-8 NIV)

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I don’t think, back when this was written, that the people were actually proud of the person’s immorality, but rather that they ignored it and were proud (arrogant) concerning how good or how righteous they thought they were. And, this is true of much of today’s church in America. They are shoving this problem with sexual sin addiction within the church under the rug, in most cases, because even the pastors are given over to sexual immorality. And, so they dilute the gospel, instead, in order to ease their own consciences and in order to attract the world to their gatherings.

And, yet, isn’t it arrogant to think that you can continue in willful sin against God and think he will do nothing, but that he will still reward you with his heaven? And, don’t Christians brag about the TV shows and the movies that they watch, even if they include sexual immorality and sexually seductive material? And, they will use the excuse that it was “only a little bit bad,” like having just a little bit of poop in your brownies. How gross is that?

When we allow just a little bit of “poop in our brownies,” though, it tends to grow, does it not? We desensitize ourselves to what is evil by what we allow in our lives, and then we allow more and more and more until it snow balls (“to increase, accumulate, expand, or multiply at a rapidly accelerating rate” M-W). And, this is what it means about the yeast in the bread multiplying (growing). Evil works its way into our lives and throughout the church in this way when nothing is done to stop it from growing and expanding. So, the counsel here is that we need to get rid of this old yeast (sin, evil) from our lives and from our church fellowships, so that it doesn’t continue to develop and to ruin all the lives which it touches. And, instead, we are to walk in holiness and righteousness in the power of God’s Spirit living within us.

Do Not Associate (vv. 9-13)

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Now, here is the really hard part, even harder than the previous, I believe, and that is that, not only are we to rid our lives and the church of unrepentant sexual immorality (the yeast that works its way through the whole batch of dough), but we are to not even associate with anyone who calls himself a follower of Christ but who we know is living in sexual immorality. And, this means anyone who is regularly and consistently involved in pornography, extra-marital affairs (romantic or sexual), engaging in sex with people with whom they are not married, sexting, and the regular viewing of and being entertained by sexually explicit TV shows or movies, for the Bible speaks not only of doing the acts, but of approving of those who do them, which is what we do when we are entertained by these sinful acts.

So much of today’s church is big on not judging anyone, not even by biblical standards and according to the teachings of scripture. They don’t want to offend anyone, and so they tell us to “stay in your own lane.” And, this is partly because they know they are involved in sinful behaviors and because they want to attract the world to their gatherings. But, the Bible teaches that we are to judge those inside the church, but for the purposes to bring the sinners to repentance, and for the spiritual health of the church as a whole. So, we are to purge all this evil from among us, meaning first from our own lives, and then, as a church body, from the church as a whole.

If we do not do this, God will do it for us, but it won’t be pleasant. And, yet, this will be his grace, too, for his grace frees us from slavery to sin, and it frees us to walk with Christ in his holiness and righteousness. So, if the American church is not repentant, and she does not change her sinful course, she can expect God’s divine discipline (correction, judgment) in order to bring her to a place of repentance so that God can heal, revive and restore her to a correct and pure (unadulterated) relationship with her Lord.

Your Grace Is Enough / Chris Tomlin

Great is Your faithfulness, oh God
You wrestle with the sinner’s heart
You lead us by still waters and to mercy
And nothing can keep us apart

So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise, oh God
Your grace is enough for me

Godly Wisdom

Thursday, February 9, 2017, 8:55 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Teach Them.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Timothy 3:1-4:5 (NASB).

Difficult Times (3:1-9)

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

There are generally three types of people in this world – the ones who truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, the ones who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ at all, and those who make a profession of faith in Christ, but don’t really know him at all, because they have not truly been born from above of the Spirit of God.

The latter claims to know Christ, and they may even be preachers or teachers of the Word, but by their lives, character and conversations they deny him. Their faith is human faith and it is in outward form only, but the Holy Spirit is not living within them, and there has been no transformation of heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from living in sin to living to God and to his righteousness. Much of their behavior, in fact, fits more with the description in the passage above than with any biblical description of what a Christian or a godly leader should look like in character, words and in action.

The Bible says that we, as the body of Christ, should avoid having fellowship with those who profess Christ but who knowingly and willfully live in direct opposition to him and to his teachings, and who are unwilling to repent of their sins. I believe one of the reasons for this is so that they do not bring us down with them, i.e. so they don’t infect the whole body with their poison.

Training in Righteousness (3:10-17)

Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

So, we need to exercise godly wisdom in choosing the people we mostly spend our time with. We should not make as close friends those who are hot tempered, who are liars, who are gossipers, who are porn addicts, who tell off-color jokes, who are pleasure-driven and who are worldly, etc., even if they claim to be, or especially if they claim to be fellow believers in Jesus Christ. Yet, this does not mean we write these people off as hopeless, because we don’t know what God yet intends to do in their hearts and lives.

The Bible teaches us to love one another, and even to love our enemies, and to pray for them, and to do good to them, and to want what is best for them. So, we should pray for these people, and we should show Christ-like love to them, but we need to not make these the people we regularly fellowship with or spend time with, because evil is a very strong influence, and we might be overtaken by them and fall back into sin.

Instead, we should have close fellowship with other believers who are walking the talk instead of just talking the walk. We need to be around people who are godly influences on our lives, who encourage us in our walks of faith in Christ, who share with us regularly about their own spiritual walks, and who work toward building us up in our faith and in leading us in the right direction, instead of leading us astray from our purity to Christ.

For, we live in a time where the saints of God (his church) are under attack for living what they believe and what the Bible teaches, so we need one another to help strengthen us in our faith so that we can persevere, and continue, and have the courage to stand strong even in the face of great opposition. But, if we are in a situation where we don’t have much in the way of this kind of fellowship, we should not let that discourage us, for we always have our Lord. He will never leave us or forsake us, and he will give us all the strength and courage we need to keep on keeping on in his name.

Wanting Ears Tickled (4:1-5)

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

One of the reasons that the saints of God are under such severe attack is because so much of the church has gone the way of the world and is teaching what people want to hear, not what they need to hear. They have turned the church into big business, and so they are marketing it to the world just like they would any other human-based business (corporation). “Worship” services are oftentimes nothing more than just cleaned up versions of entertainment for the world, i.e. cleverly orchestrated stage productions intended to attract the world to the “church.” Bible studies are being replaced by books written by modern-day authors who may or may not be handling the Word of God accurately, and the gospel message is diluted to make it more acceptable and appealing to the world of sin.

So, serious followers of Christ are being ostracized, rejected, pushed aside, persecuted, abandoned, and falsely accused, because the modern church movement has no place for them in their marketing schemes. They don’t want anyone who might offend the people of the world with the truth. And, so they find ways to make serious Christians look bad, or they invite them to “go someplace else” where they will be a “better fit.” Then, the leaders are free to give the people what their itching ears want to hear, unhindered.

Yet, we need to not let this unsettle us or to get us to compromise our faith and convictions in order to be accepted. If we have to stand alone, then we have to stand alone, but we are never alone. God is on our side, if we are on his side, and he will never abandon us, but will give us all we need to endure persecution and to keep holding on to the truths of scripture, even if we lose friends, or even if our family members reject or abandon us, or even if the modern worldly church wants nothing to do with us. We need to remain faithful to God and to his Word and to the ministry to which we have been called and for which God has prepared us and equipped us. Amen!

Teach Them / An Original Work / May 24, 2012

Based off various scriptures

Open up the blinded eyes of
Those who walk in sin’s darkness.
Turn them to the light of Christ
And to His righteousness.
Turn them from the pow’r of Satan.
Turn them to the peace of Christ,
So they may receive forgiveness
And eternal life.

Teach them to put off their old selves
And their former way of life,
And to put on their new self,
Reborn to be like Christ;
To not copy worldly customs;
Be transformed in life and mind;
Obey freely His word in them,
Pleasing unto God.

Teach them how to love their neighbors
Truly as they love themselves;
Be a witness; share the gospel;
Satan’s lies dispel;
Comfort all who mourn in sadness;
Share Christ’s love and joy today.
Do this through your life and witness
For your Lord always.

Submitting to the Cross

Saturday, January 14, 2017, 6:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 12 (Select vv. NASB).

A Thorn in the Flesh (vv. 7-10)

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

When God gifts us in ministry, he may also afflict us in some way in order to keep us humble, and also that we might learn to rely on him and not on ourselves. This affliction, i.e. this “thorn in the flesh” may come in many different forms. No one is certain what exactly was Paul’s “thorn,” although many will speculate. Clearly it was given him by God, for it was for the purpose to keep him humble. Satan does not want us to be humble, but to be proud. Satan does not want us to trust in God but in ourselves. So, this is one of those instances where Satan meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. For example, God may use other people in our lives to keep us humble and seeking his face, or he may use our circumstances or a physical ailment or whatever he chooses to humble us and to mold us into his likeness. The Bible calls this pruning, in order that we might be more fruitful (Jn. 15).

So, when God brings (causes) or permits difficulties in our lives, and we pray for relief, sometimes he may give us the same response as he gave Paul, and that is that his grace is sufficient for us, in order that Christ’s power might be perfected in our weaknesses (not in our sins). And, this is for the purpose that Christ’s power might dwell in us and be evident in our lives instead of us operating in our own flesh and willpower. “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body” (2 Co. 4:11). Our flesh must daily be put at the cross of Christ in order that his life might shine through us. So, instead of fighting against what God is doing in our lives, because we hate pain and suffering, we need to yield to the Lord, and submit to the cross.

I Gladly Spend (vv. 14-18)

Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? But be that as it may, I did not burden you myself; nevertheless, crafty fellow that I am, I took you in by deceit. Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I? I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps?

When God calls us to ministry it must be self-sacrificial. We must not seek our own glory, but the good of others. It will mean giving of our time and our talents, gifts, energies, heart, emotion, and reputations, etc. in order to follow our Lord in obedience, and for the benefit of those to whom we minister his love and grace. And, in return, we may get our hearts stomped on, i.e. we may be falsely accused, despised, hated, rejected, abandoned, gossiped about, slandered, mocked and otherwise treated unfairly, unjustly and unkindly. And, yet, if we love God and we love others as we love ourselves, we will willingly suffer in order that others might come to faith in Jesus Christ, in order that they might grow to maturity in Christ, that they might be comforted and encouraged in their walks of faith, and so that they will not be led astray to false gods or to false gospels. In other words, ministry is not to be about us, but about loving God and loving others.

For Your Upbuilding (vv. 19-21)

All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved. For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.

Certainly there are those who call themselves ministers of the gospel who are in it for themselves, either to gain financially, or for power and prestige, or to build for themselves earthly kingdoms, or in order to build up their own reputations and fame. As well, they may be in the ministry as false apostles, masquerading themselves as servants of righteousness, in order to deceive the masses with false gospels for the purpose of leading people astray from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ. These are Satan’s workers of iniquity to serve his purposes, because he doesn’t want anyone to follow Christ, but he wants people to follow him, instead. And, so he disguises himself as an angel of light in order to deceive many. And, many are deceived, indeed.

Yet, as true servants of the Lord, who follow him in obedience, and who love our fellow humans, we do ministry out of love for God and for the benefit of others. We expend ourselves in many different ways so that our brothers and sisters in Christ might be strengthened in their faith, that their faith in God may increase, and that they be encouraged and be filled with hope.

As ministers of Christ, we, as well, feel what God feels. We are filled with his passion and concern over those who are being led back into sin or over those who are being led astray, and so we caution them and warn them, and we urge them to be faithful to their Lord and to walk in obedience to Christ. And, it isn’t because we feel superior or that we are just being negative that we do what we do, either. Those who would fill your minds only with happy-happy feel-good messages do not love you, but they love only themselves, and they want you to like them, rather than caring about you and your soul and your spiritual walks. But, God’s grace does not ignore sin. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.