The Lord Knows

Wednesday, August 23, 2017, 2:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 94 (ESV).

Their Arrogant Words (vv. 1-7)

O Lord, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, under the control of Satan. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, God delivers us from Satan’s control and he brings us under God’s headship (Lordship). That enrages Satan, and so he declares war against us. His goal is to either destroy us or to try to persuade us to desert our Lord and to return to following him, instead. Thus, Satan uses other humans to accomplish his purposes by turning them against us in hopes that they might crush us and that we might give up serving our Lord.

God has a day in mind when he will repay the wicked for their evil deeds and for the unjust suffering with which they have afflicted God’s people. Yet, he is very patient towards us, because he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (See: 2 Peter 3). Yet, for those who are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and who are suffering greatly at the hand of these evildoers, they will cry out to God in their trouble, and they will pray for relief. God will then comfort them with the understanding that he knows what is going on, and that he has it all under his control. So, we are to trust him, rest in him, and pray for the salvation of the wicked.

The Thoughts of Man (vv. 8-11)

Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
the Lord—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.

When the wicked are allowed to freely strut about doing their evil deeds, they can become arrogant, thinking that God does not see, and that he does not know, or that he is somehow impotent, and that he will do nothing. So, they may gain a false sense of security in all of that, thinking that they can continue in their evil ways and that nothing bad will ever happen to them. But, that is a false reality, for God does see, and he does know, and he is omnipotent (all-powerful), and one day he will repay them for their evil.

He Will Not Forsake (vv. 12-15)

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,
and whom you teach out of your law,
to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are not signing up for an easy life, nor does God promise us smooth sailing. In fact, he promises us that we will share in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and that we will be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted. So, it should not surprise us if the world hates us and if the wicked strongly opposes us. God has allowed this in our lives for his purposes and for his glory. Through our difficulties God is pruning us, purifying us, making us holy, and conforming us to the likeness of Christ, as well as he is teaching us patience, endurance, and compassion, and that we need to rely on him and not on ourselves.

The rest that our Lord gives us isn’t always rest from suffering or from persecution, though he may do that, too, at times, but the rest he gives us is internal, in our hearts, minds and souls. It is an internal peace that he gives us even when all hell is breaking loose all around us. It is the belief that God is absolutely in control (sovereign) over all that he has made, and that nothing can happen to us but God has allowed it in our lives for a purpose, and that he will accomplish his will through it all. It is also the knowledge that our Lord loves us, that he cares about what is happening to us, and that he will never leave us or abandon us, but that he will carry us through every hardship until the day when he takes us to be with him.

The Lord, My Help (vv. 16-23)

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out.

When the wicked are assailing us, we may sometimes feel deserted and all alone in this world, but we can rest in the knowledge that the Lord is with us, that he has a purpose in it all, and that he will help us through it. His steadfast love will sustain us. He will comfort us in all our troubles, and he will teach us his will so that we may walk in his ways, and in his truth. And, he will use us, if we are willing, in other people’s lives to encourage them in their walks of faith. Even when our troubles are many, we can sing with the hymn writer that “It is Well with My Soul.”

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012

Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.

If in Fact

Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 8:1-17 (ESV).

Flesh and Spirit (vv. 1-8)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, cast out demons, fed the hungry, comforted the sorrowful, and preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He confronted sin in sinful humans, called for repentance and faith in himself, warned of judgment and the consequences of sin, and promised hope, healing and eternal life for all who would follow (obey) him.

Yet, although some people did follow him, many hated him, especially the religious leaders within the Jewish temple. They hated him because he confronted them with their sins, he exposed their hypocrisies, he didn’t follow their rules (traditions and ceremonies), and because he claimed to be God, which is who he is. So, they plotted his death, and they had him hung on a cross to die. But, it was God’s will even before the creation of the world that Jesus would be our sacrificial Lamb to take away the sins of the world in his death, and in his resurrection. For, when he died our sins died with him, and were buried with him, and then he rose from the dead triumphant over sin, hell, Satan and death – all on our behalf so that we might be saved.

Jesus’ purpose in dying and in being resurrected back to life, though, was not just so we would not be condemned to hell, and just so we could go to heaven when we leave this earth. He died in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk (in lifestyle) not after the flesh (in sin) but according to the Spirit. The law demands death for sin, but Jesus came to give us new life in him. So, for us to be “in Christ Jesus” and to not be condemned, we must walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit and not according to our sinful flesh. Yet, this is not something we do to earn our salvation, but this is the result of our salvation, that we should now walk in Christ’s righteousness and no longer to please our sinful desires. All this is done in the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us.

For, if we continue to set our minds on what our flesh desires, and to live (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, the end result is eternal separation from God in the fires of hell, not eternal life in heaven with God. In other words, we are not free from condemnation just because we said some magic words, or just because we made some public declaration of faith in Christ. True faith is evidenced in our lives by how we live. If our minds and our actions are set on what our flesh desires, then our minds are hostile toward God, not in union with him, because we do not submit to his law, nor can we do so. For, if we live according to the flesh, we cannot please God.

If the Spirit (vv. 9-11)

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

In this passage of scripture, the word “if” is mentioned at least 3 times… if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you… if Christ is in you… if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you. It is not assumed, in other words, that everyone who professes Christ as Savior or who gathers together with the body of Christ is, in fact, truly in Christ Jesus by faith in him. So, this passage of scripture is intended, at least partially, to show us what it means to be “in Christ Jesus” so that we don’t end up thinking we are saved from our sins when we are not, but in order that we might truly know that we are saved and bound for heaven. If we want assurance that we are saved from our sins, then we need to know what it means to be in Christ Jesus, and then to live it in the power of the Spirit within us.

So, IF in fact the Spirit of God does dwell in us through faith in Jesus Christ, it should result in us no longer being, living, walking or thinking according to the flesh (in lifestyle). This does not mean we will not ever battle the flesh in our minds, for we will still face temptation to sin, and we are still in flesh bodies, but what this means is that we will no longer be controlled by the flesh. It will not define who we are or how we live, but we will live and think and be what the Spirit of God desires for our lives. If we are in Christ Jesus by faith in him, our bodies should be dead to sin, and alive to righteousness, not the other way around.

We are Debtors (vv. 12-17)

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

I hear so many people these days say that God requires nothing of us at all other than some nondescript “faith” in him, but which does not surrender to him, does not submit to his law, and which does not repent of sin. This is just not scriptural! We are debtors, but not to the flesh, to live according to it, but we are debtors to God, for Jesus bought us back for God with his shed blood. We are no longer our own, because we were bought with the price of his blood, but we are now the Lord’s, and he is our owner-master, and we are his bondservants, to do his bidding. God demands obedience, surrender, submission and repentance (turning away from sin to follow Him). For, if we live according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. Yet, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity.

Now, it is true that when we believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives, and the Spirit of God comes to live within us, that we become children of God and fellow heirs with Christ, yet PROVIDED we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Jesus said that if any of us would come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said 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), we will gain eternal life. He also said that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood, i.e. unless we are crucified with him in death to sin so that we might live with him to righteousness, we have no hope of eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 6:35-66).

And, while it is true that, through genuine faith in Christ Jesus, we become children of God, and he becomes our Daddy, this does not negate that Jesus is our Lord (owner-master), and that we are his bondservants. When we were children, and we lived with our human fathers, we did what they said or we paid the consequences. We were subject to our fathers, in submission to their will for our lives, and we were under their authority and obligated to obey them. If we had loving fathers, who nurtured, protected, trained, and disciplined us, for our good, then we should be able to relate to the father-child relationship we now have with God. If we did not, though, it is more difficult to relate, but not impossible. We can see God in terms of the father we never had, but not as a permissive father who lets us do whatever we want, but as a gracious dad, and compassionate, who will discipline us for our good, but who also holds us close in his arms and comforts us with his love. And, because of this, we ought to walk in his love.

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Go Out

Wednesday, August 16, 2017, 5:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 (ESV).

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

What Fellowship?

What does it mean to be “unequally yoked together” with someone? It means we are yoked (intimate, united, mixed, partnered) together with someone who is very different from us in beliefs, values, morals and practices, which are contrary to our faith in Jesus Christ and to His Word. This could be a marital partner, a business partner, a family member, or a close friend or companion. And, this can include those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, but who are living just like the world, too (Eph. 5:1-14; 1 Co. 5:9-13). We are not to be mixed together with them in intimate, close or binding relationships. Nonetheless, if any of us are already married to an unbeliever, we are not to divorce that person (1 Co. 7:12-13; 1 Pet. 3:1-2), but a believer in Jesus Christ should not knowingly marry an unbeliever.

We are to show God’s love to all people by being kind, generous, and helpful, ministering God’s grace to them in various forms, and sharing with them the love and grace of Jesus Christ. But, we are not to mix with them in the sense of joining with them in any activities which would be sinful, or to have such close associations with them to where we are greatly influenced by them, and where we end up joining in with their sinful practices. For bad company corrupts good character, so we should not be partners (supporters, accomplices, companions) with them. We should also not show agreement with them in their sinful behaviors by laughing with them, applauding them, being entertained by them or by our silence. And, this includes, I believe, the viewing of TV, movies, videos or still pictures, etc., which glorify sin and/or which are intended to entertain us with others’ sinful practices.

There is not (or should not be) any true fellowship between believers and unbelievers or between the godly and the ungodly (which includes all who practice sin). We may call it “fellowship” when we get together with others for social activities, including within organized religion, but the kind of fellowship God is referring to is the kind where Christians come together in love, faith, and mutual encouragement in the Spirit of God and in the Word of Truth. It has to do with being like-minded, having the same love, and being one (united) in spirit and purpose. This fellowship is based on our common fellowship (communion) with Jesus Christ (See: Phil. 2:1-2; 1 Jn. 1:6-7). And, it should be for the purpose to build one another up in the faith, not to lead one another into sinful, worldly and immoral practices.

His People

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, he becomes our owner-master and we become his bondservants, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ, so we are no longer our own, but we are the Lord’s. We are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

Our desire should now be for him, to please him in everything we do and say and are. For, God now becomes our Father, and we become his children. Jesus becomes our husband, and we become his bride. We are now in intimate union with our Lord, Savior and God, who is also our best friend. We can go to him at any time and talk with him about whatever is going on in our lives, cast our burdens at his feet, and share with him our requests.

When we believe in Jesus, too, the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within us. He teaches us all things related to God and righteousness, and he reminds us of the teachings of Christ, and counsels, leads, convicts, nurtures, encourages, rebukes, corrects and instructs us in the way in which we should go, which is the way of holiness. He is the one who quickens our minds and hearts to hear God speak to us through his Word. He also empowers and strengthens us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God.

Be Separate

God has called us to holiness. Jesus didn’t die on that cross for our sins just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. 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. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus Christ “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.” His grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt or remorse, as many are teaching (or implying) these days. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).

And, holiness is being separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being made into the image (likeness) of God/Christ. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin), we are liars who do not live by the truth. 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), we will gain eternal life. So, we are to present our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of him. We are to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from living in sin, to walking in his righteousness and holiness (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Ro. 12:1-2).

So, other than marriage, if we are in a partnership, union, fellowship, or close friendship with an unbeliever or with a professing Christian who is living like an unbeliever, we are to come out of those binding relationships. This is not to say we are to isolate ourselves from the people of this world, otherwise how could we show them God’s love or witness to them about Jesus Christ? This is saying, I believe, that we are not to unite with them in agreement in any way with their sinful practices, or participate with them in such a way to where we are being influenced by them towards sin and away from God. We are not to become one with the world, in other words, but we are to become one with God/Christ in mind, heart, spirit and in actions, attitudes, thinking and behaving. And, God will welcome us as his very own.

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Fit for The Kingdom

Sunday, August 13, 2017, 11:57 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Bless This House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (NASB) regarding being fit for the kingdom of God.

Don’t Look Back (Luke 9:57-62)

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

When God calls us to go, we must go where he sends us, and not look back, i.e. and not second-guess God or his wisdom. If we want to follow Jesus Christ with our lives, we must deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. It is not ours to choose what that looks like, either. In other words, when Jesus Christ becomes our Savior, he also becomes our Lord (owner-master). When he died on that cross, he bought us back for God with his shed blood, so we are no longer our own, to live how or where we want. We are now to honor God with our lives in all that we do. And, we must be willing to accept the path he has marked out for us, being prepared to give up all the comforts of this world.

Following Jesus wherever he leads us often means sacrifice, and not only leaving the comforts of this life behind us, but leaving friends and family, too, in order to follow our Lord in obedience. Going with God is not always logical, humanly speaking, nor is it always practical, by human terms, and so we may face rejection or criticism, misunderstandings and even resentment from our friends and family because they won’t understand why we must follow Jesus over and above human attachments. They won’t get why it is so important to go where God sends us, and they may even question whether or not we are hearing from God, and they may take offense at our decisions, thinking our decisions are directed against them.

Yet, when we respond to the call of God on our lives with a “but,” then we are not really saying “Yes” to Jesus. What I mean by this is if we say to the Lord that we love him, and that we are his, and that we are the sheep of his pasture, and that he is our shepherd, but then we qualify that statement with a “but” or an “if,” then we are not really serious about being followers of Christ. It can’t be, “I’ll follow you, but first let me do this or that,” or “I’ll follow you, but only if it remains in my comfort zone and it fits with my standard of living.” To follow Jesus means to be fully abandoned (yielded, given over) to him, no matter the cost, or no matter where he sends us, or what he calls us to do, or the sacrifices we must make. If we make up our own rules for following him, and we set the standard we would agree to follow, then we are not really fit (ready for use) for the kingdom of God.

In a Manner Worthy (Phil. 1:27-30)

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

How we conduct ourselves is how we live our lives. It has to do with our attitudes, thinking, speaking and behaviors (actions). These must be in a manner (way, behavior) worthy (suitable, fitting) with the gospel of Christ. So, what is the gospel of Christ? In a nut shell, it is that Jesus died on a cross for our sins, and was resurrected from the dead, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 1 Pet. 2:24; Eph. 4:17-24). So, our attitudes, thoughts, speaking and behaviors should reflect that we are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. This is not to say that we will never sin or have a wrong thought or attitude, but that our manner of living, i.e. our lifestyle, should reflect that the gospel is being lived out in our lives.

If we are conducting ourselves in a manner worthy (fitting) with the gospel of Jesus Christ, then we should be standing firm in our faith, and on the Word of God, and we should not be vacillating back and forth between the world and the kingdom of God. We should be sold out to Christ and to his service, no matter where that leads us. And, if there are those who oppose us, and who criticize, reject, mock or mistreat us because of our faith and our obedience to our Lord, we should not let that undo us. We should not allow ourselves to become unsettled or hindered in our walks of obedience to our Lord just because we face opposition (hostility, resistance). Jesus faced much opposition, but he willingly laid his life down for us for our freedom.

Although having faith in Christ gives us a life filled with much joy and peace, this new life in Christ is not just one big party where having “fun” all the time is our ultimate goal, or where we always live in comfort and at ease. It is not only granted to us, by God’s grace, to believe in him, but also to suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. Thus, we will have conflicts, and opponents, and we will face undue criticism, rejection, hatred, misunderstandings, and even false accusations. Other people will make up their own minds about us, and concerning what they feel are our motivations, and they may gossip about us and slander us, too, but we have no control over that. So, we must submit our lives to Christ, trust in the sovereignty of God, and walk in obedience to his leading.

To Please Him (Col. 1:9-14)

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

We are not only to walk (conduct ourselves) in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, but we are to walk in a manner (way) worthy (fitting) of our Lord, who gave his life up for us so that we could be freed from sin. He not only has transformed our lives (turned us) from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we could receive forgiveness of sins, but he is our example for us to follow in how we should conduct (live) our lives. “What would Jesus do?” is/was not just a popular cliché, but it is the model for us to follow in how we live our own lives, day in and day out. If we are not comfortable with the idea that Jesus is right there with us, as we go throughout our day’s activities, then we need to alter the way we live.

So, how do we know the manner of living that would be fitting the gospel of Christ or worthy of our Lord? We know it by the witness of God’s Holy Spirit living within us, and we know it by the Word of God. So, we need to be studying the Word of God (the Bible – Genesis to Revelation), listening to our Lord speak his words to our heart, and we need to be doing what it says. It is NOT true that God is pleased with us no matter what we do. So, we need to find out what pleases our Lord, and then we need to walk in that, all in the power and the working of God’s Holy Spirit living within us.

When we walk (conduct our lives) in a manner (way) worthy (fitting) of our Lord and of his gospel, and we live to please him fully, we will produce fruit (results, outgrowth) in our lives which will be in conformity or harmony with a life which has been crucified with Christ in death to sin and resurrected with Christ to newness of life. We will no longer live (in lifestyle) to please our sinful flesh and to do what will gain us popularity and acceptance in this world. But, our desire will be for our Lord, to walk in his ways and in his truth. Yet, we don’t have to conjure this up ourselves. This is the working of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, as we yield our hearts to God, and we follow our Lord in surrender and in obedience. He will give us all we need in this life to live godly and holy lives pleasing to him.

Bless This House
Helen Taylor / May H. Morgan

Bless the people here within,
Keep them pure and free from sin . . .

Bless us all that we may be,
Fit O Lord to dwell with Thee . . .

His Grace to Us

Sunday, August 13, 2017, 2:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB).

Dead in Sins (vv. 1-3)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

The Bible teaches us that ALL have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). Not one of us is righteous before God in our own merit. We can never be good enough to gain eternal life with God. In fact, we cannot even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to His Son (Jn. 6:44). Without Christ we are spiritually dead, without hope, and without God. Our destiny is eternal damnation in the fires of hell, no matter how many good deeds we might do in this life, or how seemingly kindhearted we may be towards other people.

In our sin natures, we are drawn towards sin, and towards doing even what we know is wrong. We are under the control of Satan, not of God. We are of this sinful world, not of the kingdom of heaven. And, we are under the influence of the world, not conformed to the image of God. We are bound towards disobedience rather than obedience. We live and walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, and not according to the Spirit of God. And, we indulge ourselves in the desires of our flesh, rather than resist Satan, flee temptation and sinful desires, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith.

This is what an UNSAVED life looks like. So, if you profess to be a Christian, but this is what your life looks like, then something is terribly wrong.

By God’s Grace (vv. 4-9)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

But, thanks be to God, he did not leave us bound in our sins, without hope. He provided the way for us to be saved from our sins, to be delivered out of slavery to sin, and to become bondservants of his righteousness. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered like we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering (Is. 53). And, those who hated him saw to it that he was crucified on a cross, thinking that would be the end of him.

Yet, it was God’s will that he should suffer and die for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died 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. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:14; 1 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24). Yet, Jesus did not remain dead. God the Father resurrected him from the dead. And, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf.

So, by God’s grace to us in sending his Son to die on a cross for our sins, and to be resurrected back to life, we can also die to our sins and be given new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we repent of (turn from) our sins, and we turn to God to follow him in his ways. We are forgiven our sins, and we are given eternal life with God in heaven (See: Acts 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). All this is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives, and nothing we do in our own flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation.

For Good Works (v. 10)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Many people who quote this passage of scripture in Ephesians 2 stop at verse 9, and they assume that good works are not required at all of us. Yet, although it is true that we are not saved by our own fleshly works, and that we cannot earn our way into heaven, our salvation is not absent of good works. We are saved not just FROM something, but we are saved TO something. In other words, we are saved from sin, but we are saved to righteousness.

When we become children of God, it is not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. When Jesus died on that cross for our sins, and he put sin to death, on our behalf, he bought us back for God with his blood, so that when we trust in him to be our Savior and Lord, we are no longer our own, to do with our lives what we want. He is now our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bondservants (his workmanship). And, he has good works which he created us to do, and which he prepared beforehand that we should walk (in lifestyle) in them.

Some of these good works are specific to all of us who believe in Jesus, whereas some of them are specific to each of us as individuals. What I mean by this is Jesus not only has a purpose for all of our lives, which applies to all his followers, but he also has individual callings, giftings, and assignments he has for us to do (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). And, we would do well to seek his face concerning what purpose and calling he has for our individual lives, and then to be about doing what he had prepared in advance for us to do, and to live the lives he had marked out for us, all in the power and working of his Spirit now living within us, and to his glory!

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.

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.

Above All Else

Friday, August 11, 2017, 5:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “As the Deer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 101:1-5 (NASB).

I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
To You, O Lord, I will sing praises.
I will give heed to the blameless way.
When will You come to me?
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will know no evil.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.

His Lovingkindness

God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Begotten Son to come into the world to die on a cross for our sins, so that anyone believing in him will not perish, but have eternal life. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Light that came into the world in order to show the way to God, and to provide the way for us to be saved from our sins. But, many people love the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds are evil. So, they will not come to the Light lest their evil deeds will be exposed (See: John 3:16-20).

Yet, if we want to come to the Light, Jesus said that we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life. Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity, i.e. we will have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

For, Jesus did not die on that cross merely to give us an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross so that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus gave his life up for us that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for Him. When we trust in him as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. So, if we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in the darkness (sin), we are liars who don’t live by the truth (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 5:15, 21; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-25).

The Blameless Way

The purpose in Jesus dying on that cross for our sins was not to just forgive us our sins, but to deliver us out of slavery to sin, and so that we might walk in (live to) his righteousness. And, his righteousness is what is approved in His eyes, i.e. what is deemed right by him, such as morality, purity, justice, decency, truth, integrity, uprightness, and holiness, etc. His grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. So, if we continue in sin, i.e. if we make it our practice, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-25; Eph. 5:3-6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we die to sin. So, how can we continue in it? Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. So, we should consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Sin, thus, should no longer reign in our bodies so that we obey its lusts. Instead, we should present ourselves to God as instruments of his righteousness. Sin should no longer have mastery over us, because Jesus set us free from sin addiction. When we were enslaved to sin, though, we were free from the control of righteousness, but now that we have been set free from sin, we should have become slaves (bondservants) to righteousness, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life (See: Ro. 6:1-23).

So, our salvation from sin is something that is to be lived out in our lives day by day. God’s grace to us turns us from darkness (sin) to light (righteousness) and from the power of Satan to God, so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Acts 26:16-18). And, “Lord” means “master-owner,” for we were bought back for God with the price of Jesus’ blood shed on a cross for our sins. Thus, our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, but we are to honor God by all that we do, say, are and think. We are to walk in obedience to his commands. And, this is how we know that we love him, and that we are his very own.

Integrity of Heart

So, what does this all look like? It means we walk no longer according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. We conduct our lives in truthfulness, sincerity of heart, purity, faithfulness, lovingkindness, morality, and obedience and loyalty to God. We don’t seek after, long after, or look to (or at) what is evil and contrary to God and to his Word. This means we don’t let our eyes watch TV shows, movies, magazines, books, videos or still pictures or images which reveal even partial nudity, appealing to sensual lusts, or which glorify or present physically before us what is immoral, wicked and evil. We should never allow ourselves to be entertained by what is evil and by what is in conflict with God’s Word and his Spirit now living within us.

We should hate evil, in fact, and we should grieve over those who are caught in sin’s deceitfulness, praying for their deliverance. We should have no part with what is evil so that it does not get a grip on our lives once again. So, we must be careful concerning our close associations and with regard to those with whom we partner so that we do not surround ourselves with those who will only bring us down spiritually and morally. There is no fellowship between light and darkness. So, we can’t have true fellowship with those who are walking in darkness and who are conducting their lives according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit. Bad company corrupts good character, so choose your friends wisely.

Instead of longing after and running after and seeking after what is worldly, immoral, ungodly and contrary to the teachings of scripture, we should be those who seek after our Lord, and who run after him to follow him in his ways, and in his truth. We should hunger and thirst after righteousness, not after the things of this world. We should desire God with such passion that it would be like longing for water when one is parched and is thirsty. He alone should be our hearts’ desire. We should long to worship him in spirit and in truth by yielding our hearts, minds and souls over to him, to live holy lives, pleasing to him.

We should find our full satisfaction in this life in Him, and he should be the one to whom we go with our problems, our concerns and our requests. He is the one we should lean on, rely upon, and learn from. We should not trust in ourselves and in our own resources, thinking or reasoning. And, we should not follow other humans above God. Our full allegiance (commitment, loyalty, faithfulness) should be to him alone, and to no other gods should we give our worship, praise, adoration and devotion. Our Lord should be everything to us, and we should love and desire him above all else.

As the Deer / Martin J. Nystrom
Based off Psalm 42:1

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after You
You alone are my heart’s desire…

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield…