For Our Transgressions

Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 3:34 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 53 (Select vv. ESV).

Who Has Believed? (vv. 1-3; cf. Rom. 10:16)

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah of Israel, our God and Lord, came to earth and took on human form, begotten of God the Father, and born as a baby to a human mother. He suffered as we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. There was nothing about his physical appearance that anyone should be attracted to him. He did have some true followers (disciples), though. And, crowds did follow him, for he healed many, he drove out evil spirits, he performed many miracles, and he fed the hungry. But, when he spoke of the cost of following him, many who had been following him deserted him, never to return.

Many of the religious leaders within the Jewish temple did not like Jesus, and they made it their mission to destroy him. They hated him because he dared to be different, because he did not follow their human rules and traditions, because he healed people on the Sabbath, and he claimed to be God; and because he confronted sinful humans with their sinful conditions, warned of divine judgment and called for repentance and faith in himself. They were jealous of him because of his temporary and short-lived popularity among the people, and because they felt their own positions of power were being threatened by him. So, they plotted his death, and he was crucified on a cross for our sins (See: Jn. 1:1-34; Jn. 6:35-66; Phil. 2:1-11; 1 Co. 5:21).

We Are Healed (vv. 4-6)

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

When Jesus died on that cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. In his death, he put sin to death, and when he was resurrected from the grave, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death for our sake. By God’s grace, through faith in him, via death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ, we can be forgiven our sins, released from the ultimate punishment of sin (eternal damnation), delivered out of slavery to sin, and released to walk in the Spirit and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and be given eternal life with God.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God and unable to attain God’s divine approval through human effort. So, that is why Jesus gave his life up for us, that we might be saved from our sins, walk in the Spirit, and have eternal life with God. Because he died, we are able to die to sin, and because he lives, we can live with him and for him for eternity. Yet, he did not come to earth, take on human flesh, and suffer for our sake just so we can escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died that we might live for him, and he suffered that he might be our compassionate and merciful high priest in taking our sorrows upon himself that he might also comfort us in our sorrows.

The Will of God (vv. 10-12)

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

It was God the Father’s will that his Son should suffer and die for our sins. This was planned for us even before the creation of the world, and that many of us would believe on him as our Savior and would become children of God, and followers of Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are not only made righteous in God’s sight, but we are able to live righteously for Him and for his will for our lives, for this is why he died. Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14).

So, we must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and no longer according to our sinful flesh. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, even if we have made a profession of faith in Christ Jesus. If we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), for His sake, we will gain eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we still walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin), we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). The true story of Jesus (the gospel) is not just that Jesus died to forgive us our sins, but he died to deliver us out of slavery to sin, and to give us new lives in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Gal. 2:20). Amen!

Tell Me the Story of Jesus
Fanny J. Crosby / John R. Sweney

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.

Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

A Believer’s Prayer

Coming to faith in Jesus Christ means so much more than just Jesus forgiving us of our sins so that we can go to heaven one day. When we trust Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, we give our whole heart and devotion to him to obey him, to forsake our former lives of sin, and to follow him wherever he leads. He said his sheep hear his voice, they listen, and they follow (obey) him. When we invite Jesus to be our Lord (owner-master), it means he is now the boss of our lives, but not just the boss of our lives, for he is our very best friend.

When he is truly our Lord and our Savior, our desire is for him to please him in all that we are, and do and say. We want to be his forever. We yearn to know him better, and to understand what his Word teaches us, so that we can follow him in truth and in obedience to him and to His Word. The fellowship we have with him each day in prayer and in his Word is unmatched by any other. No one else will ever love us like he does. We can always depend on him to lead, guide, protect, nurture and comfort us daily. He will never abandon us. He is completely faithful. And, one day he will come again to receive us to himself.

A Believer’s Prayer / An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

Are We Slaves?

Monday, June 26, 2017, 2:02 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Grace Divine.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 6 (ESV).

Died with Christ (vv. 1-11)

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

When we are baptized with water, subsequent to our faith in Jesus Christ, it symbolizes our death with Christ to sin and our resurrection with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Yet, this death with Christ to sin, and resurrection to newness of life, does not take place in the waters of baptism, but in the heart of man. When we are baptized into Christ and into his death, this is speaking, not of water baptism, but of the baptism with the Spirit of God, which is done by Jesus Christ (Matt. 3:11). It is a spiritual, not a physical baptism. And, it is an immersion (participation, engagement) with Christ into his death to sin and into new life in the Spirit. We die with Christ in death to sin, and we live with Christ to newness of life, to be lived to Christ and to his righteousness.

Because Jesus Christ put sin to death on the cross, and by faith in him, we, too, are able to die to sin. And, because he was resurrected from the dead back to life, we, by the Spirit, are able to live new lives in Christ Jesus to the glory and praise of God. This is God’s grace to us. This is his free gift to us, not just that he took our place on the cross, and thus he took our punishment for sin so that we could go free from eternal damnation and have the promise of eternal life with God.

God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not just forgiveness of sins, and freedom from punishment (hell for eternity), but it is death to sin; it is deliverance from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, and it is freedom to now walk in his holiness and righteousness in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us. His grace 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).

In this baptism (immersion, participation) into Christ and into his death to sin, our old self (flesh nature) was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. So, how is it that so many preachers are telling people that believing in Jesus is nothing more than an acknowledgment of him and of what he did in dying for our sins, and that it is a mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins, but they do not teach death to sin or living to righteousness, which was the very reason for which Jesus died? (See: 1 Pet. 2:24).

If Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, then why are they telling people that God requires nothing of us? – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ or to his cross? Their false grace gospel is giving its adherents free license to continue in willful sin against God, and that is wrong!

Slaves to Sin or Obedience (vv. 12-19)

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

So, if we have truly believed in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, and we have, thus, been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and resurrected with him to newness of life, sin should no longer reign (rule, govern) our lives. We should no longer obey the lusts of our flesh, but we should now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and in the power and strength of God’s Spirit, whom we were given when we trusted in Jesus Christ. Jesus delivered us out of slavery to sin, so we are no longer under its power.

If we are still living as though we are still enslaved to sin, we have to understand here that this leads to death, not to eternal life with God. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we still walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. If we still walk according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25). It is obedience which leads to righteousness. So, we are now to become slaves to righteousness which leads to sanctification (purification, holiness).

Set Free from Sin (vv. 20-23)

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If we are still living as though we are enslaved to (addicted to) sin, we are free from the control of righteousness. We can’t serve two masters. So, if Jesus set us free from all that, why continue in sin and sin addiction? Don’t you know that will lead to death? If we continue to practice sin, and if we continue walking (living) in sin and according to our flesh, we will die without Christ and without the hope of eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

So, don’t play around with sin. For, if we truly have been saved of our sins, by God’s grace, via Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we should now be slaves to God/Christ, and to his righteousness, and he should be our ONLY Lord (owner-master).

Your Grace Divine
An Original Work / November 6, 2011

All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.
Crucified for my sins;
You paid what I owe,
So I’d be forgiven;
My God come to know.
All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.

Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.
I have been forgiven
For all of my sins,
So I’d live with Jesus;
His grace flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.

Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.
Sitting at Your feet, Lord,
List’ning to You speak,
Leads me to love You, Lord,
More throughout the week.
Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.

For Our Healing

Thursday, May 25, 2017, 5:02 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Lord is With You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 58 (Select vv. ESV).

Lift Up Your Voice (vv. 1-5)

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?

God’s people are now the church, the body of Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God. We are the people of God who have repented of our sins, have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and who have turned to God to follow (obey) him in all our ways, at least initially. By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Christ Jesus, we were crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we were resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Jesus died, not just that we might escape hell and go to heaven when we die, but he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Nonetheless, faith in Jesus Christ does not mean we instantly reach divine perfection. We still live in flesh bodies, thus we still have a propensity to sin against God. Yet, by God’s grace to us, via Jesus’ death for us on a cross, we have been delivered from the power sin once had over us, so we are no longer under its grip. Jesus already won that battle for us against Satan and against sin, so there is no reason we should still be under its control. So, as followers of Jesus Christ, we should be walking in victory over sin, and we ought to be walking now according to the Spirit, not in sinless perfection, necessarily, but no longer under bondage (addiction) to sin’s deceitfulness.

Still, although Jesus paid the price for our sins so we could go free from sin, and live for him and to his righteousness, many have abandoned their initial faith in Christ and have wandered off to follow after the gods of men, their own sinful passions and desires, and have been engulfed once more in the ways of this sinful world. Much of the church here in America has adopted the ways of the world for how to grow their ministries, and they have partnered with an ungodly government, making it the head over the church. And, the Holy Spirit is grieved, and God is not pleased, so he is calling his church to come out of “Babylon,” for her sins are piled high to heaven.

So, when the church, or when individual Christians pray to God, and they pray to know God’s will, and they ask God for his blessings, and for answered prayers, thinking God will hear them, and that he will answer, they (we) need to first consider whether or not they (we) are walking in his ways and in his truth, or if we are just going through the motions, i.e. mere formalities of religious practice, but our hearts are truly not sold out to our Lord. Have we forsaken the ways of the Lord? Are we yielding to sin’s deceitfulness? Are we engrossed in the ways of this sinful world? Or, are we truly walking in God’s ways, in his truth, and in his righteousness?

Break Every Yoke (vv. 6-11)

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.

God is calling out to his wayward people, who have wandered away from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ, in order to immerse themselves in the culture of this sinful world. He is calling them to return to HIM as their ONLY GOD and LORD, and to once again make HIM the owner-master of their lives. He is calling them to return the ways he has marked out for them to follow, and to abandon their idols and their spiritual adultery against him.

He is letting his church know that the way of salvation from sin is a narrow road that few travel, not the broad road that many have made it, which only leads to destruction. He wants to remind us that he died to transform us, not just to forgive us our sins. We don’t come to Christ merely by acknowledging his existence and by accepting his forgiveness for our sins, although many would have you believe that is true. When we believe in Jesus, with God-given faith in him, we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life. The old life of living for sin and self is gone, and the new life of living to Christ and to his righteousness has now been birthed in us of the Holy Spirit of God. This is what it means to be “born again.”

Jesus Christ not only desires that we walk in his righteousness and holiness, and no longer according to the ways of our sinful flesh, but his desire is also that we proclaim to the world around us that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, so that others might be delivered from their slavery to sin and might walk in freedom, according to the ways of God. We need to be telling people the truth of the gospel, and the church needs to cease with soft-pedaling the gospel in order to make it more appealing and acceptable to the world. For truly, although they may like us in this life, for telling them what they want to hear, we are sending them straight to hell with our “feel-good” gospel messages, and this needs to STOP!!

Yet, one thing the modern church does seem to have right is that they do focus on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sorrowful, and ministering to the needs of the homeless and to those in prison, which is something many in the old-fashioned evangelical churches have often neglected, sad to say. Yet, the church which ministers to people’s physical needs often do this at the sacrifice of the truth to the gospel, for they don’t want to offend anyone in the process. And, that, as well, is sad indeed.

Yet, the other day I was in a Chick-fil-A restaurant, and nearly bumped into a man who was wearing a sweatshirt which had words about Jesus on its back, so I read them. It was a prayer to Jesus Christ for salvation from sin, and included in the prayer it said, “I repent and turn from my wicked ways.” I learned this was from a ministry which feeds the homeless. Amen! What this shows is that it is possible to hold on to the truths of scripture, and to not abandon the truth of the gospel, and still be able to minister to the poor, the needy, the helpless, and the homeless. Jesus never compromised truth to minister to people’s physical needs, and neither should we! It is never loving to tell people lies. We should be a people who make a practice always of speaking the truth in love, and be those who meet people’s real needs, too.

God is saying here, basically, that if we are people of integrity who live what we profess, not necessarily in absolute sinful perfection, but in life practice, and we are not those who are willfully yielding regularly to our sinful flesh and who are denying the truths of scripture, that he will hear us when we call to him, he will listen, and he will answer. This is not to say, though, that he will always answer in the way we desire, so we need to be willing to accept whatever he answers us, too. Yet, he is also promising us that we will then experience his healing power in our lives, and that our burdens will be lifted, and we will rejoice in what Christ has done for us. There is much healing that takes place in our lives through our obedience to His Word.

Your Lord is With You
An Original Work / August 14, 2016

Based off Various Scriptures

Fear not for your Lord is with you.
He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you.
When you walk through valleys of life’s rough ways,
You must fear no evil, for God is near.
Be of courage, then, and be not dismayed,
For your Lord is with you throughout your days.
Fear not for your Lord is with you.
He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you.

Trust Him with your life and witness.
He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way.
The Lord is our helper, so we’ll not fear.
He will strengthen us. He sees all our tears.
Do not be afraid, but to God do pray,
And the peace of God will be yours today.
Trust Him with your life and witness.
He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way.

My God, He is my Rock and my Shield
And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise.
He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
Drew me out of waters so deep I’d sink.
My God turned my darkness into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes, gave me sight.
My God, He is my Rock and my Shield
And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise.

Put to The Test

Monday, May 15, 2017, 7:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Total Praise.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 1 (Select vv. ESV).

Joy (vv. 2-4)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Depending upon the type of trial, and the severity of it, we may find it harder, at times, to count it all joy when we face life’s trials and tribulations. And, yet, joy is the antidote to the mental and emotional distress involved in suffering. It never fails to lift my spirits when I sing songs of praise to my Lord whenever I am going through a time of great difficulty, or even in the midst of the small tests of faith and of perseverance. Our praise to God gets our focus off our trials and on to the Lord; off the emotions of discouragement and on to hope, faith and love. Praising our Lord in difficult times also lets the enemy of our souls know he is not going to defeat us, but that greater is HE who is within us than he who is in the world. Allowing the joy of the Lord to fill our hearts, instead of being brought low by our circumstances, will always result in spiritual blessings from above.

In America, especially, it appears the vast majority are resistant to pain and suffering, and so Americans tend to medicate and escape suffering rather than face it head on and conquer fears, resist Satan, flee sinful passions, learn steadfastness, and grow in maturity through our difficult times. It seems there is a pill for just about everything these days, and they all have side effects, so many people take multiple pills just to counter the side effects of the other pills. And, yet medicating, in its various forms (not just with pills), rarely teaches us reliance upon the Holy Spirit, trust in God, perseverance in faith, or steadfastness in spirit. We sometimes get this idea that suffering is always a bad thing, but God uses suffering in our lives for our good and for his purposes, to train us to be godly, that we might share in his holiness, and that we might produce the fruit of his righteousness.

Wisdom (vv. 5-8)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

So, when we are faced with life’s difficulties, we should pray for wisdom from above rather than respond in our flesh. If we pray for wisdom, and we are given wisdom, then we should trust what God shows us and not doubt his counsel. But, we should make certain that the counsel we hear in our heads is indeed biblical, and of God, and not of our own thinking. And, if we pray for wisdom, and we are given counsel from our Lord, then we should follow what we have been shown and not take matters into our own hands.

If we make it our practice to pray for counsel from above, but it is also our practice to not heed the counsel given, but to still go our own way, what good is it then to pray? It is to no avail, because we didn’t do what we were instructed to do. If we do this consistently, we lack godly wisdom, we are driven by our flesh, and we are like on a see-saw going back and forth (or up and down) between opinion, and thus we are not steadfast in spirit, but are more like the waves of the sea tossed here and there by the wind. We are double-minded and unstable in all we do because we have no solid footing, because we just go where the wind blows us. And, thus, we should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Steadfastness (vv. 12-15)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

So, what does it look like when we remain steadfast under trial? It means we are unwavering, resolute, persistent and firm in our faith and in our commitments to Christ, that we stand on the Word of Truth, and that we are not easily swayed by opinions of humans, so that we go back and forth in belief and in practice depending upon who we are with at the time. If we change like shifting shadows, depending on the people we are with, or depending on our circumstances, our faith is not much good, is it? If we back down on what we say we believe just because we are going through difficult times, our faith will not stand up under the test, will it? We need to be the same (consistent, without wavering) no matter the company, or no matter the circumstances. This is what it means to be steadfast.

What does it mean to be tempted? It means that something is attracting, arousing or seducing us to sin against God in our minds, in our hearts and/or in our actions. And, what is sin? It is failure, missing the mark, sinful deed, not of God, not of faith (source: biblehub.com). It is wickedness, evil, immorality, and wrongdoing, etc. So, at what point does temptation turn to sin? It becomes sin when we act upon the temptation and we do, even in our minds, what we are being tempted to do. For instance, Jesus said that if a man looks at a woman lustfully he has committed adultery with her in his heart. This goes for women lusting after men, and same sex attractions, as well. If we are tempted to lie, and then we lie, we have sinned. If we are tempted to gossip, and then we gossip, even if we stop half-way and confess the wrongdoing, it is still sin, i.e. the part we did before we stopped.

It is good if we stop, but then we have to acknowledge the sin and turn from it to follow our Lord in obedience. If we make a practice of sinning against God, though, the Bible says we don’t really know God, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).

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.

Weak Knees

Friday, May 12, 2017, 1:29 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 12:1-13 (ESV).

Every Weight (vv. 1-2)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

There are many things which may hinder our walks of faith with Jesus Christ. One may be sin in our lives which we have been unwilling to let go of, and which has entangled us once more. Another could be a stubborn spirit, resistant to the Holy Spirit, and an unwillingness to yield complete control of our lives over to the Lord, because we want to determine our own steps, and we don’t want to give up control to anyone, including to God. As well, we could be facing discouragement due to mistreatment, persecution, and rejection, and/or because we see so much evil in the world, and worldliness in the church, and we long to see human hearts respond to God, and turn from their sins, and to follow him, and yet it has not yet come.

So, there is encouragement here to throw off every hindrance, whether it is some entanglement in sin, or stubbornness and unwillingness to yield total control of one’s life to God. Or, whether it is a broken heart due to rejection and persecution, or sadness of heart over so many being led astray, and over so much evil in the world, and because it seems not many people are surrendering and submitting their lives to the Lord. We need to let go of these things, and we need to surrender our hearts, lives, and circumstances over to our Lord, trusting him to work all things out in our lives for our good, and for the good of others, i.e. for what is in their (our) best interest. We need to get our eyes off self, and off our circumstances, and on to God. And, we need to believe him and follow him, and not grow weary of heart.

Divine Discipline (vv. 3-11)

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Pain is a great motivator. If we are not moved in the right direction via our relationships with Jesus Christ, and his instructions and words of comfort and encouragement in his word, then pain (suffering) may be necessary in order to move us in the right direction. But, divine discipline is not always for the purpose to correct wrong behavior and thinking. Sometimes it is to purify those who are walking in obedience to their Lord, that we might share in his holiness, and that it might yield in our lives the peaceful fruit of righteousness. In other words, divine discipline is used to mature us in Christ, to conform us to his image, to teach us total reliance on God, and to motivate us even more toward love and service to our Lord.

Yet, divine discipline is also to correct wrong thinking and behavior, and to move people to repentance and submission to Christ. So, God will reprove and chastise his children if they have fallen back into sin and/or if they have stubborn hearts, unwilling to give God/Jesus control and authority over their lives. And, this divine discipline will be to transform their lives into conformity with God’s Word and his will for our lives. And, it will be for their good, that they may share in his holiness and yield (bear) the fruit of his righteousness. To be holy means to be set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed to the image of Christ. And, righteousness is what is pleasing (or approved) or is right in the eyes of the Lord, i.e. what is pure, upright, honest, moral, just, and decent, etc.

Strengthen Weak Knees (vv. 12-13)

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

If we have weak knees, spiritually speaking, we lack courage and determination to follow our Lord in obedience, because we give way to our circumstances, instead of putting our faith and trust in the Lord. We grow weary of heart, and so we give up or back down, rather than persevere in the strength of the Lord. Or, since knees are often a symbol of humility and submission, i.e. of bowing the knee in surrender to the Lord, if we have weak (weak-willed or corruptible) knees, in this case, it shows an unwillingness to submit to the Lord, to obey him, and to allow him to be Lord of one’s life because of a stubborn resistance to the Holy Spirit and to the yielding control of one’s life over to God.

So, the encouragement here is to strengthen our weak knees, which would be through submission to Christ and his Word, and by surrendering to his Lordship (ownership) over our lives. It would be to allow the pain and suffering of divine discipline to do its work in our hearts and lives in changing us, in getting us to turn from our sins, from our stubborn rebellion, and/or from fear of people or circumstances, and to put our trust in the Lord. And, it would be to motivate us to now make straight (upright, holy, pure) paths (ways) for our feet (lives) to travel, so that we may be healed spiritually, emotionally, and, perhaps, physically, too.

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.

What’s Our Mindset?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 7:23 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 8:1-14; Galatians 5:16-24 (Select vv. NASB).

Flesh and Spirit (Rom. 8:1-8)

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

If we are in Christ Jesus, by God’s grace, through God-given faith in him, we are free from eternal condemnation, i.e. we are free from the punishment of sin which results in death (eternal damnation). We are free, because when Jesus died on that cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). So, when he died, our sins died with him. In his death, he took the punishment of our sin on him so that we might be set free from the punishment of sin, and be set free from slavery to sin, too. Yet, lest we might be tempted to take verses 1-3 out of context, and apply them across the board to anyone who professes to have believed in Jesus Christ, we must be careful to read and to interpret them in context, and to compare them with other similar scriptures, too.

Notice with me here that in verse 4 it says, “He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” The law demanded full obedience to God’s moral laws or death. Yet, not one of us could obey the law perfectly. So, we were condemned to die. So, Jesus paid the price for our sins that we might be made righteous in him. And, God even gives us the faith to believe in him, but this faith is not human faith, but spiritual, in that it is divinely persuaded as to God’s perfect will for our lives. Since God is the giver of such faith, it is in conformity with his righteousness and holiness. So, this results in us, his followers, walking not according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God.

This is not optional, though. It is not as though we can be in Christ, and still live according to our sinful desires. If our minds are still set on the flesh, it results in death, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God, it does not subject itself to the law of God, and it cannot please God. But, if we are truly in Christ Jesus, through God-given faith in him, our minds should be set on the Spirit, which results in life and peace with God.

Under Obligation (Rom. 8:12-14)

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

And, this here is the clincher. So many people today say that God requires nothing of us other than some generic “faith,” i.e. they say he demands no repentance (turning from sin to God), no obedience, and no submission to Christ and to his cross. Yet, the righteous requirement of the law is fully met in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. And, we ARE under obligation (duty, requirement) to not live according to the flesh, but to live according to (in agreement with) the Spirit. Why? Because, if we are still conducting our lives (in lifestyle) in the ways of our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, no matter if we prayed a prayer to receive Christ Jesus as Savior or not (See: 1 Jn. 1:6; cf. Lu. 9:23-25).

But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (Cf. Lu. 9:23-25). This is not saying we have to live in sinless perfection, though (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2). If that were even possible for us to never sin, Christ would not have had to die. But, it is saying that, not only must we walk (in lifestyle) in the ways of the Spirit of God, and according to God’s Word, but we must daily die to sin and self. We must actively, by the Spirit, be putting the deeds (acts) of the flesh to death in our lives (See: Eph. 4 for put offs and put ons). And, we must be being led by the Spirit of God in order to qualify as being children of God. We must be listening to our Lord Jesus, and doing what his Word teaches his followers they must do, and be going where he sends us (See: Jn. 10:27-30).

By the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-24)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we are walking (in lifestyle) by the Spirit, i.e. if by the Spirit we are conducting our lives in agreement with God and his Word, we will not carry out the desires of our sinful flesh. Amen! We can’t be casual about our relationships with God and defeat sin in our lives. Yes, Jesus put sin to death on the cross. Yes, he defeated sin not only in his death, but in his resurrection to life. But, we are still in flesh bodies. We still have the propensity to sin against God. Sin will still try to trap us, which is why daily we must put on the armor of God, resist Satan, flee sinful desires, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith.

We must understand here that if we make a practice of sinning against God, such as by committing adultery (includes lust and viewing pornography), or by making a practice of participating in impurity, sensuality, idolatry, strife, outbursts of anger, drunkenness, and other things like what are listed here, we will not inherit the kingdom of God, even if we profess faith in Jesus Christ. I am not making this up! This is what God’s word teaches here, and in other similar passages of scripture (1 Co. 6:9-10; Eph. 5:5). If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we lie and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

So, what is the solution? If we walk (conduct our lives) by the Spirit (in agreement with the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit), we WILL NOT carry out the desire of the flesh. Again, this does not mean we will never sin, but that sin will no longer have mastery over our lives, for Jesus delivered us from slavery to sin. When we trust in him as Lord and Savior of our lives, we die with him to sin so that we might live with him to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23; Gal. 2:20). This is the working of the Spirit in our lives in regeneration (new birth of the Spirit), but we must yield to the Lord in this. Jesus already conquered sin in our lives, if we are truly his, so there is absolutely no reason why a born again believer in Christ should still be under the control of sin. We just have to apply to our lives what he did for us in putting sin to death so that we might walk with him in holiness.

So, when we walk in the Spirit, and not according to our sinful flesh, instead of the works of the flesh being the fruit that we bear, the fruit of the Spirit will be primarily what is evident in our lives, i.e. it will be the wheel which drives us, moves us, and motivates us to do what we do and to live how we live. Instead of being those who practice sin, we will now be those who make a practice of righteousness (1 Jn. 2:29; 3:7, 10). Remember here that those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. So, don’t be misled. God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace 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).

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.