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.

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Reaching Forward

Friday, July 28, 2017, 7:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 3 (NASB).

Beware of Dogs (vv. 1-6)

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

So, what is meant here by “dogs”? The term “dog” is used of humans who are contemptible and spiritually unclean, and/or who are false teachers and persecutors of Jesus’ followers. It is used as a term of reproach. These are those who may profess faith in Jesus Christ, but it is profession only. They do not have the promise of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of hell’s fires. Yet, since they often disguise themselves as apostles of Christ, and as servants of righteousness, we must be very discerning so as not to get trapped in their snare, for they can be very charming and convincing.

Some of these dogs will add human rules on to the gospel message, and others will remove critical components from the gospel message. Whether adding or subtracting, still what they teach is based in human philosophy and not in the Word of Truth. They will include much of the truth, though, but will twist it to their advantage. But, truth mixed with lies is still lies. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. No amount of external works of the flesh can add anything to our salvation. Yet, our salvation is not absent of works, but they are the works of God’s Spirit in our lives, which he prepared in advance for us to do (See: Eph. 2:8-10).

So, if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (sin), we are liars who do not live by the truth. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt or remorse. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await his return (1 Jn. 1:6; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:11-14).

Counted as Loss (vv. 7-11)

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

It doesn’t matter how smart we are, or how gifted and talented, or how much Bible knowledge we have, or our social or financial status in life. What matters to God is that we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin so we might live with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). For, this is why Jesus gave his life up for us on the cross. He did not die merely to give us the hope of heaven when we die or to deliver us out of the pit of hell. His purpose in saving us from our sins was that we would no longer be slaves to sin, so that we could now become bond-slaves of his righteousness.

Press On (vv. 12-16)

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives we do not become instantly perfect so that we never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2). Yet, lack of perfection should never be used as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God, for if we walk according to our sinful flesh, we will not have the hope of eternal life, but 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 (Ro. 8:1-14).

Our salvation is not a one-time experience where we live however we want, and then one day we go to heaven when we die. We are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns to take us to be with him forever. We are being sanctified and made holy. We are being conformed into the likeness of Christ. Daily we die to sin and self and we follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives. By the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh. And, we walk, not according to our sinful flesh, but we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit. It is a process, yet if we keep practicing sin, we are not part of that process, for we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

How we Walk (vv. 17-21)

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

It is a sad reality here in America that we don’t have many preachers of the Word we can emulate today. So many professing Christians, or those who are in positions of spiritual authority within the church, have fallen prey to deceiving spirits and are themselves teaching what is false, i.e. a diluted gospel and a false grace which gives free license to continued sin against God. So many of the “greats” of the faith here in America have died off, and there has been such a rise in the number of “dogs” now serving in positions as pastors (shepherds) of church congregations. So, we must be careful that we don’t follow the wrong examples, thinking we are doing what is right.

Those we want to follow are those who are walking (living) according to the teachings of Christ and of his NT apostles. I am certainly not saying that they must be absolutely perfect, but that their lifestyles should be evidence of a walk of holiness and righteousness, i.e. that they should be above reproach. They should not be those who are caught up in the world or who are, themselves, captives (addicted) to sinful practices. And, they should not be those who are teaching people they don’t have to repent of their sins or that they don’t have to obey God, and that God is pleased with them no matter what they do.

Yet, more importantly than finding human beings we can follow, and who will most likely let us down at some time or another, is that we need to be those who emulate Christ, who desire to be like him, to walk in his ways.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live for Him

Sunday, July 16, 2017, 5:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Grace Divine.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of living for Jesus.

Dead to Sin; Alive to God (Ro. 8:12-14; cf. 1 Pet. 2:24; Gal. 2:20)

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.

If we are to live for Jesus, we must first of all die with him to sin and self (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24). If the old man has not been crucified with Christ, the new man (person) cannot exist. It is when we die with Christ to sin that we are reborn of the Spirit of God, and thus we can now live and walk in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful passions and desires. Yet, this death to sin and living to Jesus is not a onetime salvation experience, but it is our daily walk with Christ Jesus, as well. For, it is not those who claim to have had a salvation experience who are the children of God, but it is those who are being led by the Spirit, who are following the Lord Jesus with their lives, who are his sons and daughters.

For the Lord (2 Co. 5:14-15; cf. Ro. 14:7-9; Phil. 1:19-21)

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Jesus Christ did not die on the cross for our sins merely that we might escape hell and have the hope of 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. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, our lives are no longer our own, to live however we want, for we were bought back for God with the price of Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross for our sins. So, we are to honor God with our lives. He is to be our Lord (owner-master), not just our Savior. And, we are to be his bond-servants, slaves now to righteousness (Ro. 6:1-23). And, each day we should inquire of him as to what he wants, and then follow his lead in doing, being, and saying what and going where he desires.

In Contentment (Phil. 4:11-13)

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I know, too, what it is like to be poor, and to not have much at all, and I know what it is like to have more than what we need so that we have enough to share with others, and so we could enjoy some of the conveniences and comforts of having more physical space and provisions. Yet, we have always had a roof over our heads, clothing on our bodies, and food in our stomachs, so we don’t really know yet what it is like to go hungry or to be in want of shelter or of clothing. But, that time is most likely to come, too, if we live long enough. Yet, some of the poorest of times taught us to live by faith and to trust the Lord for everything. And, some of the more affluent times provided us the opportunity to use what we had been given to minister God’s grace and mercy to and to be a blessing to others. I can live in any of these ways through the strength God gives me.

To Deny Ungodliness (Tit. 2:11-14)

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

Some people have the notion that faith in Jesus Christ means merely to acknowledge who he was/is and what he did for us in dying for our sins, and to accept his forgiveness for our sins. Yet, there is no death to sin or living to righteousness in that (Ro. 6:1-23). Thus, there is no new birth or heart transformation of the Spirit of God. As well, there is no true salvation from sin, but only a false hope of heaven when one dies, only to face the reality of one-day hearing God say “Depart from me, I never knew you!”

Truly God’s grace, which brings salvation from sin, is not just to forgive people of their sin, but it is to turn them from darkness (sin) to the light (truth, righteousness, Christ), and away from the control (power) Satan had over their lives to God, to walk daily in his righteousness and holiness. Then, they can receive forgiveness of sins and have a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18). God’s grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God, but it directs us to leave our lives of sin behind us and to follow our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives.

On Every Word (Matt. 4:4)

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

In order for us to live for Jesus, we need to know him and we need to know his Word, so that we can obey him and his Word. For our physical bodies to live, we need food and water, but for us to live spiritually we need to feed on the Word of God. And, remember that Jesus is the Word (See: John 1). So, every day we are to be in God’s Word, listening to what God – the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit – has to say to us, and doing what the Word says. His Word is our guide, counsel, teacher, instruction, encouragement, and urging for us to live holy lives pleasing to God, as well as it is our warning against idolatry, spiritual adultery, lusts of the flesh, and worldly living, etc. In keeping (obeying) God’s Word, there is great reward (Ps. 19:11).

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.

A Voice Cries

Thursday, June 1, 2017, 8:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 40:3-8 (ESV).

Prepare the Way (v. 3)

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Wilderness – “an empty or pathless area; wild, natural or uncultivated state” (M-W). Spiritually speaking, this is talking about our lives outside of faith in Jesus Christ – in our sin nature, void of God in our lives, and going nowhere.

As ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are to prepare or make ready the way of the Lord for the people. The way of the Lord is the way of holiness, not just the way to forgiveness of sin and the promise of heaven when we die. John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord for the people by preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus preached the same message, as did his NT apostles.

So, we tell people the truth. We tell them that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not just so we can be forgiven our sins. We share with them that coming to Christ means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are risen with Christ to new lives in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We inform them that if we make a practice of sinning, i.e. if we walk (in lifestyle) according to our sin nature, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we have the hope of eternal life with God (Ro. 8:1-14).

We are to also make straight in the desert a highway for our God. This highway is the road we are to travel, the path we are to follow, and it needs to be straight, not crooked. Straight – honest, above-board, upright, pure, and unadulterated (unmixed, undiluted) by the world of sin.

It is the way of holiness, and to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made into the image of Christ. We are not to immerse ourselves in the culture of our societies or to blend in with the world in order to be accepted by them, for God called us out of the world. If we love the world like we are supposed to love God, then the love of the Father is not in us. God’s grace to us is not carte blanche (free rein) to do what we want. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return (Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 2:15).

Shall Become Level (vv. 4-5)

“Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

My husband and I moved into a high-rise apartment complex a year ago, right after he retired. Right after we moved in, a major renovation of the property, inside and out, was under way, and it is still not completed. For the past year we have watched all kinds of earth moving equipment dig up the old and replace it with the new, as well as we have witnessed multiple trucks hauling stuff in and out as the old has been taken away and has been replaced with what is new – new paint or wallpaper on walls, new ceiling tiles, new lights, new carpeting, new doors, new security system, new landscaping, upgraded parking lots, and remodeled party rooms and lobbies.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, via death to sin and resurrection to new lives in Christ Jesus, born anew of the Spirit of God, our Lord puts to death our old lives of living for sin and self, and he gives us completely new lives in him, which are to be lived to him and to his righteousness. The old is taken away, and the new has come, just like in our building and on the building’s property, only spiritually and perfectly done by God, and not physically removed and replaced by human flesh. Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, in his death on a cross became sin for us so 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” (2 Co. 5:21; Tit. 2:14).

Yet, it is not as though God just zaps us and we instantly become perfect, and that we have nothing to do with it at all. We must exercise the faith he provides, and we must cooperate and participate with the Spirit of God in the removal of the old and in the replacing of the old with the new (See: Eph. 4 – the whole chapter, Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14 & Lu. 9:23-25). We must humble ourselves before God, acknowledge and repent of (turn from) our sin, and turn to God/Christ to follow him in his ways and in his truth, so we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18).

Flesh is Grass (vv. 6-8)

A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

A lot of people these days, though, who are sharing what they believe is the message of the gospel, are not preparing a way of holiness, i.e. the way of the Lord, which is straight (unmixed with the world). They are not making the uneven (potholed, irregular) ground (terrain) level (straight, upright).

Instead, they are preaching a message which is adulterated with the world of sin, and which gives its adherents the impression that they can merely acknowledge Jesus’ existence, accept his forgiveness for their sins, and that they now have salvation from sin, escape from eternal damnation, and the promise of heaven when they die, which can never be taken away from them. Many of these “preachers” of the “Word” tell them that they don’t have to repent of their sins, and they don’t have to obey Jesus, because, they say, God requires nothing of us other than to “believe,” which is made out like a mere intellectual or emotional acknowledgement of what Christ did for us, but absent any teaching on death to sin and living to righteousness.

What this also does is give the impression that one who “believes” in Jesus is now set for life no matter what he or she does from this moment forward. This false (adulterated, diluted) gospel gives its followers the notion, too, that they can continue living in sin, that they can continue sinful practices, and that God’s grace just covers it all, so no worries.

But, that is not what scripture teaches, and we need to know what the Word teaches, because these men or women are flesh, and they will die, but it is the Word of God which stands true to the very end. And, it is the ONLY WORD we can really depend on. It says if we say we have fellowship with God, and we walk in darkness (sin), we are liars. It also teaches us that if we practice, if we walk in sin, we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God (See: 1 Jn. 1:6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; & Gal. 5:19-21).

Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be
Norman J. Clayton

Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day,
Yielded completely to Jesus alone
Every step of this pilgrim way…

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.

The Same Things

Sunday, January 29, 2017, 1:36 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 3:1-4:1 (Select vv. NASB).

A Safeguard (3:1-4a)

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

If one thing the scriptures are, they are repetitive. The same message is preached throughout the Old and the New Testaments. And, the reason they keep preaching the same message over and over again is that we need to be reminded periodically of why we are here, and what faith in God (in Jesus Christ) is really all about. And, this is for our protection and as a preventative measure to keep us from losing sight of God’s purpose for our lives, so that we don’t fall away from grace and begin to slip back into giving lordship to our flesh once more.

So, if I had to pick just one Bible verse to sum up that same central message that keeps being repeated, I would choose 1 Peter 2:24 (ESV):

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Beware Evil Workers (3:2-4a)

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh.

Following the flesh is directly opposed to (opposite of) following the Spirit, so we can’t do both at the same time. Either we are slaves to sin and the flesh or we are slaves to righteousness (See: Ro. 6:1-23). This is not saying we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but it is saying that, once we believe in Jesus Christ, that our flesh and sin should no longer have mastery over our lives. And, as far as our flesh is concerned, that includes all things opposed to God and to his express will for our lives, which includes human-based religion, fleshly works, and doing what is harmful to our neighbors, i.e. such as gossip, slander, murder, hatred, adultery, lying and cheating, et al.

At the time this was written, Paul was concerned with evil workers who were trying to convince believers in Jesus Christ that they had to follow Jewish customs, ceremonies, celebrations and and/or traditions, and/or that they had to follow some of which was required under the Old Covenant God had with his people. So, they were adding to God’s grace that which God did not require or intend. And, today this is called legalism, which is basically focused on what is external, and on man-made rules being added on to God’s grace, and as required for right standing with God. Yet, God rejects all such human effort to try to gain his divine approval.

Yet, today, I think the biggest concern is not over legalism, although I do believe it still exists, but rather it is about a different type of man-made religion, which is a false grace gospel. Rather than adding to God’s grace, it takes away from his grace, and gives people the sense that they can continue living sinful lifestyles and yet have the hope of heaven because they prayed some prayer after someone else to “receive Christ.”

This false grace gospel teaches that God does not require repentance, obedience or submission to the cross of Christ as part of genuine believing faith, yet the New Testament scriptures teach over and over again that believing in Jesus Christ means, with regard to our former way of life, to put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23). It teaches that if we walk 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 have eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).

Counted as Loss (3:7-11)

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

We may do lots of “good things” in the flesh, which we may be able to credit to ourselves, but they are not what God requires or desires of us. He sees our self-righteous acts as filthy rags in his sight. What he requires is that we give our lives to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable or acceptable worship of him. We are to no longer be conformed to the pattern of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed in the renewing of our minds, so that by our lives we prove what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God (See: Ro. 12:1-2). When we say Jesus is our Lord, it should mean that he is owner-master of our lives, and that we are his bond-servants. All that we might have gained for ourselves in our own flesh should be as nothing to us now that we belong to Christ.

I Press On (3:12-16)

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, although we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, to be lived to his righteousness, we don’t become instantly perfect. The Christian life is a process of dying daily to sin and self and putting on Christ and his righteousness. It is a process of sanctification, whereby our God is maturing us in Christ, making us holy, and conforming us into the likeness of Christ. This does not mean, however, that we can use “I’m not perfect” as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. The Bible says that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars, and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

Enemies of the Cross (3:17-4:1)

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.

Who are these enemies of the cross of Christ? They are all those who oppose the gospel as taught by Jesus, and by his NT apostles. They are the ones who dilute the gospel message in order to make it more appealing and acceptable to the people of this sinful world. They do so because they know the true gospel offends, and they don’t want to offend their customer base, so they do all kinds of worldly things in order to draw in large crowds of people into their “churches,” i.e. into their places of business. Their “worship” services are often not more than large stage productions intended to entertain the people of the world so they will want to come back. And, their “Bible” studies are often studies of books written by contemporary authors who may or may not be teaching accurately the Word of Truth.

They are those, basically, who follow a flesh-driven human-based form of Christianity which does not teach death to sin and living to righteousness, but which comforts and consoles people in their sins by getting them to just claim who they are in Christ, while teaching them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do. So, they remove both consciousness of sin and divine discipline and correction from their teaching and leave their adherents believing they can live however they want and still go to heaven when they die. They lie to them, and they give them a false hope of salvation, but truly they are sending people straight to hell.

Jesus didn’t die just so we could be forgiven of our sin, escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died to radically transform our lives away from sin to living to him and to his righteousness. And, this is the standard of living that we are to keep living, that we no longer walk according to the flesh, but that we walk according to (in the power of and in agreement with) the Spirit.

Zeal for Your House
An Original Work / August 1, 2016

Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
Lord, I love my times with You.
I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
List’ning to You speaking to me,
Gently guiding me in truth.

Lord, You are my life’s example,
Showing me how I should live.
I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
No greater joy have I when serving You.
Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
I’m yielding to Your will.

Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
See the church turned upside down:
Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
Gospel message made appealing,
So the world will feel at home.

Lord, we need a great revival.
Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
Be restored to God again.

Eternal vs. Temporal

Sunday, January 8, 2017, 2:27 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 4 (NASB).

We Have This Ministry (vv. 1-6)

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

The ministry we all have, as followers of Christ, is to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, to be witnesses for Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation, and to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, baptizing and teaching them to obey all that Christ has commanded us.

We, as believers in Jesus Christ, were all given salvation from sin and the hope of eternal life with God, not so we could keep it to ourselves, but so we could share the hope we have been given with others who need it. Yet, so many Christians think this is not their responsibility or their gift and so they don’t share Christ and his gospel with those who are unsaved or with those who claim to be saved but who are not. Yet, they seem to have no trouble telling people when their favorite sports team wins a game, or when they get a new car, boat, house, TV, video game and the like. Why is it we can share the things of this life with no trouble, and with great enthusiasm, and yet shy away from telling people about Jesus, who is their only hope?

Still, there are those who will go part way in sharing the gospel, but will hold back critical elements of the gospel message so as not to offend people. Yet, it isn’t because they care about those people, for if they did, they would tell them the truth. People don’t share Christ with others, or only tell part of the story, when given the opportunity, usually for selfish purposes, i.e. they want people to like them and not reject them. I get that. Our human response is to want to be liked and to not be beat up on. So, it takes courage to overcome our flesh and to follow the Spirit in obedience, and out of love for others, to share with them what we know will most likely get us hated and rejected, and possibly falsely accused and persecuted, too.

Yet, by our lifestyles and by our words we should be proclaiming Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation on a daily basis, and we should not be turning to adulterating the word of God in order to be liked by other humans. We should never compromise the Word of Truth, either, in order to make it more acceptable to human flesh, for if we do this, we are lying to people, and we are giving them a false hope. Their blood, thus, will be on our hands, because we chose to spare ourselves for this life rather than spare their lives for eternity. That is a sober thought, and yet so convicting and true.

The gospel should not be hidden from the people who in our lives, because of us, and due to our unwillingness to tell them the truth, but only because Satan has blinded their eyes to the truth, and they chose to believe the lie. And, yet, we should pray that their eyes would be open to the truth, and that they would be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so they can receive forgiveness of sins and be counted among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18).

Delivered to Death (vv. 7-15)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.

But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.

Amen! Although we have life in the Spirit because of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins and in being resurrected back to life, we still live in flesh bodies, i.e. we are clay (earthen) vessels. This means that we still have a propensity to respond to our circumstances with our flesh rather than in the Spirit. That is why we are given the spiritual armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us. And, that is one of the reasons we are given the Spirit of God to live within us, that he might strengthen and empower us to walk in the Spirit and no longer yield to the flesh. And, that is why Jesus and Paul both said that we must die daily to sin and self, by the Spirit, and daily take up our cross and follow Jesus in obedience.

Yet, there is a reason God chose humans to be his servants and ministers, and that is so the spiritual power given us for ministry will be shown to be of God and not of ourselves. And, I can attest to that! I can’t tell you how many times I sit down to write and have no idea even where to begin. So, I ask the Spirit of God to give me the words to say, and then they come. There are so many times, too, when what the Spirit gives me to say are not pleasing words to the flesh, but are words which will possibly get me even more rejected, and so I must rest in the strength of the Lord to speak, believing he will give me the courage to say what he has given me to say, knowing full well that the words may not be well received by many. Yet, I was not put here on this earth to draw people to myself or to have people like me, but it was to lead people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Don’t Lose Heart (vv. 16-18)

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

There are times, I admit, when I begin to lose heart. It is never easy, but sometimes it gets really hard. I feel sad, and in these times the joy of the Lord begins to leak out of me because I get focused on what is seen rather than on what is eternal. And, then God puts things back into perspective for me, and he once again fills me with his power, his strength, his courage and his joy so that I can keep going despite all opposition against me.

I am reminded here that following Jesus Christ with my life means dying to self, and being willing to accept whatever God has for me in this life, in order that I might continue sharing with others the truth of his Word, and of his gospel of salvation, so that they may be saved from their sins and have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. And, that may mean being despised, forsaken, betrayed, falsely accused, and lied to. Yet, all of this is to drive me to my Lord’s breast, that I might find my joy and peace in him alone, and that he may impassion me even more so in being his servant and witness.

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
Henry F. Lyte / Mozart/ Arr. Hubert P. Main

Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shalt be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought, and hoped, and known;
Yet how rich is my condition, God and Christ are still my own!

Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like man, untrue;
And, while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate, and friends disown me; show Thy face, and all is bright.

Man may trouble and distress me – ‘Twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me; Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ‘tis not in grief to harm me, while Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ‘twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Go then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn, and pain!
In Thy service pain is pleasure; with Thy favor loss is gain.
I have called Thee, Abba, Father, I have stayed my heart on Thee;
Storms may howl and clouds may gather; all must work for good to me.

Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith and winged by prayer;
God’s eternal days before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.