God Will Help

Sunday, October 15, 2017, 9:47 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Why So Downcast?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 46 (Select vv. ESV).

No Fear! (vv. 1-3)

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

Life on this earth has its ups and downs. Sometimes we experience relative peace and safety, and we are not seriously challenged with much in the way of adversity, trouble, or hardships. At other times, life’s circumstances hit us hard with difficulties, persecutions, heartache, pain and much sorrow. While some people seem to encounter more troubles than others, certain people appear to have life pretty easy, although appearances can be deceiving.

Yet we can be encouraged, for God Almighty – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, creator of the universe and all living things – is the refuge and strength of his people, i.e. of those of us who have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is our present (abiding) help in trouble. Although he does not necessarily remove us from our sufferings, though he may, and he sometimes does, he will carry us through them. For, he will give us all the wisdom, counsel, guidance, strength and endurance we need to endure, and he will also teach us what he wants us to learn through our troubles.

Not many of us like to be in pain, though, and so the tendency of many of us may be to immediately want to escape the suffering, yet we are called to suffer for the sake of Christ and his gospel, and we are destined to go through many trials and tribulations, because these are for our good. For, through our difficulties and troubles we learn perseverance, patience, and godliness; our faith is tested to see if it proves genuine; we mature in our walks of faith; and we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves.

As well, we learn humility, compassion, obedience and love; we share in God’s holiness; and for those of us who have been trained by God’s divine discipline, it produces in us a harvest of his righteousness. So, we should never fear, for God is doing good in us and through us for his glory.

Not Moved! (vv. 4-7)

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

When troubles come our way, which they most certainly will, how do we respond to them? With fear or with faith? With travail or with trust? With rancor or with rest? And, when we are facing such difficulties, to what or to whom do we turn first? To our own resources, to other people, or to God? As well, do we believe that God is absolutely sovereign over our lives, or do we rather see God as impotent, rather than as omnipotent? And, do we see Satan as more powerful and God as not able to do anything to help us?

I believe that many Christians respond to their troubles as though they believe that God can do nothing to help them, or as though he is not completely sovereign over their lives, and as though Satan still has power over them. And, that is why they are afraid, and it is also why many of them feel as though they have to resolve their own problems. It is because they don’t see that God is in their midst, that he is their fortress (strength), and that he will give them all the help they need to make it through whatever it is they are going through presently.

Some people find comfort in believing that God is impotent to do anything about their circumstances, because then they don’t have to deal with the knowledge that God could have rescued them, but he didn’t. They, too, don’t want to believe that a loving God would allow them to suffer in such a way, or even that it is his will that we should go through trials and tribulations. But, I find that belief to be unbiblical and disconcerting, because that says that I am on my own, that Satan has full power over me, and that my God, who is supposed to be my strength and help, is absolutely powerless against Satan’s schemes. Therefore, it is like going into a battle without my armor.

Where I find peace is in knowing that my God is absolutely in control over all that he has made, and that nothing can touch me but what God allows it (or causes it), and that he does so for his purposes, which God will work for my ultimate good and for the good of others. I find peace, too, in knowing that whatever he takes me through, he will give me everything I need to make it through, and he will never abandon me. So, even though I may face much opposition, trouble or heartache, I can stand strong in my faith, for my God is with me, and he is my strength and purpose, so I will not be moved.

Be Still! (vv. 10-11)

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

God/Jesus is often saying to us, “Don’t be afraid,” “Trust Me,” and “Be Still.” And, he can say that because he is in control over all that he has made, he has us in his hands, he is carrying us on his shoulders, and he is holding our hands, and he will see us through everything we are going through. Even though Satan is throwing his darts at us, and humans are mistreating us, and the opposition is fierce, at times, we can be at peace in the midst of the storm. We can rest in our Lord and in his sovereignty and in his grace, believing that good will come from it all.

Although things may look pretty bad at times, and it doesn’t seem right now that God is being exalted among the nations, but rather evil often seems to triumph over good, one day every knee will bow before God, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11).

God will triumph! And, Satan is already defeated, for Jesus conquered him via his death and resurrection, and his doom is sure. Satan can only still exist and be allowed to do the evil he does because God has allowed it to happen, and for his purposes, but one day that will all end, and we will be taken to be with our Lord. Every tear will be wiped from our eyes, and we will no longer be in pain or suffer or be sad, and in that we can rejoice!

Why So Downcast? / An Original Work
December 21, 2012 / Based off Psalm 42

Why so downcast, O my soul,
And why so disturbed now within me?
Put your hope in Jesus Christ,
For I will praise His name.
He’s my Savior and my God,
So therefore I’ll remember Him through
Storms and tempests sweeping o’er me.
Still I’ll praise His name.
Put your hope in God.

By day the Lord sends forth His love.
In the night His song is with me.
I pray to the God of my life.
I will praise His name. I say to God my Rock,
“Why must I be called to suffer this way?”
Foes attack me; Satan sneering.
Still I’ll praise my God.
Put your hope in Him.

As a deer pants for the waters,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God who’s living.
When can I meet Him?
My tears have been my food at night,
When men say, “So, where is your God?”
I pour out my soul to my God.
I’ll still praise His name.
Shout with joy to Him.

 

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For and Against

Wednesday, September 27, 2017, 4:22 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Before the Throne of God Above.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 8:26-39 (NASB).

To whom are these words addressed? They are addressed to those of us who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin and who have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life (born again), created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Sin is no longer our master, because Jesus Christ put sin to death on our behalf, and because he delivered us out of slavery (addiction) to sin. So, now we are free to become bond-servants of his righteousness. We are now those who walk (in lifestyle), no longer according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. We aren’t perfect people, but we don’t make sin our practice. For, if we live according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God (Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

Our Weaknesses (vv. 26-27)

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

So, we no longer live according to the flesh, but by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, for all who are being LED BY the Spirit of God are the children (sons and daughters) of God. If children, then heirs of God and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ, IF INDEED we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Yet, in our sufferings there is hope, first of all the hope we have of eternal life with God, which includes the promise that one day we will shed these earthly bodies, and we will have heavenly bodies free from even temptation to sin, sadness, pain and suffering. Then, we have the hope that, in our sufferings, when we have no strength to endure or to carry on, that the Holy Spirit will help us (See: Ro. 8:12-27).

So, what are some of these weaknesses he helps us with? Well, we don’t always know the right words to pray or even what to pray for, so the Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. Sometimes we don’t know the right things to do, because they are things not clearly defined in scripture. But, we want to make certain we are walking in the ways of the Lord and on the path he has marked out for us, and so we ask for help to know his will and to follow him in the direction he is leading us, and he gives us the guidance and direction we need, as well as he gives us the mental and physical strength and spiritual endurance necessary to complete the assignment (task) before us. Sometimes he just fills us with his peace, which is especially needed if Satan is attacking us with doubts and fears.

For Good (vv. 28-30)

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

This is another wonderful encouragement for us when we are going through times of great suffering for Christ, or when we are being harassed by Satan’s lies, which we are needing to put off so that we can put on the truth. And, that is that God causes ALL things to work together for GOOD to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.

So, what is this saying? Well, it is saying that our God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is absolutely sovereign over all that he has made. There is nothing which we go through on this earth which escapes his notice or what he did not allow in our lives for a purpose. And, he will work it all out, not only according to his will, but for good (for what is best, as it ought to be). But, for whom? For those who love him. And, how do we love him? We love him by surrendering our lives to him, by dying with him to sin, and by following (obeying) his instructions to us. If we say we love him, but we don’t practice obedience, godliness, holiness and righteousness, then we don’t really love him. Again, this is not to say we will never sin, but that sin no longer rules our lives. God does!

He also works together for good all things to those called according to his purpose. And, what it is his purpose for us? It is that we are being conformed to the image (likeness) of Jesus Christ.

For Us (vv. 31-36)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

So, when Satan throws his fiery darts at us, and he tries to plant in our minds doubts and fears, we can be encouraged by these words. We will have enemies, for certain, because the Bible tells us we will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake when we follow Jesus Christ with our lives. As well, Satan is definitely against us and he is working hard to try to trip us up, to get us to give up, or to try to persuade us to come to his way of thinking. Yet, Jesus Christ is on our side, he and the Holy Spirit are interceding for us, and God is not going to short-change us, but he will fulfill all his promises to us. We can take that to the bank (be assured of it).

So, if we are in Christ Jesus, by genuine faith in him, we died with Christ to sin, were resurrected with Christ to new life in him, and we are now walking according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, we can be at peace with God even when the enemy is coming strongly against us, in knowing we are in the center of God’s will. No fiery darts from our enemy and no false accusations or persecutions from other human beings will ever be able to separate us from the love of Christ. He is there watching over us, helping us, giving us strength and endurance, and working his will and purposes in our hearts and lives, even when we can’t see him working.

All Things (vv. 37-39)

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So, we never have to be afraid, because our Lord will never leave us or forsake us. And, we don’t have to get the point to where we are ready to give up because we lack the strength or endurance to keep pressing on, because God will give us all we need, if we will just rest in him and trust him fully with our lives, and with our circumstances, and if we will let him lead and we will follow his lead. We can be CONQUERORS through HIM who loves us, not in our own wisdom, scheming, power and strength, but in the wisdom, strength and power of God who is living within us. Amen!

Before the Throne of God Above
Charitie L. Bancroft

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea,
A great High Priest whose name is “Love,”
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart,
I know that while in heav’n He stands,
No tongue can bed me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free,
For God, the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there! The risen Lamb,
My perfect, spotless Righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace!

One with Himself I cannot die,
My soul is purchased with His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, My Savior and my God.

@Public Domain

 

Whatever Comes

Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 1:10 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 4:4-13 (NASB).

Always Rejoice (vv. 4-7)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

As I read this passage of scripture this morning, my heart goes out to all those in the USA who have these past few days suffered either death of a loved one or destruction to property as a result of high winds, rain and flooding in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia, in particular. My heart also goes out to all people of any country who were in the path of this destruction, and who have suffered loss of loved ones and/or personal property, and who are without electric power, water, shelter and life’s necessities. You are in my thoughts and in my prayers at this time.

For those, in particular, who are going through such times of suffering, these words in this passage of scripture may be a “hard pill to swallow,” and yet this must be our attitude if we are to survive the onslaughts of pain and suffering which this life on this earth will sometimes deliver to us. It will only make matters worse if all we do is gripe and complain about our lot in life. Plus, if we decide to grumble and/or to get angry over our circumstances, it reveals lack of faith in God and in his sovereignty over our lives now existing within our hearts. For, whatever comes our way, God is still in control. And, none of this has caught him by surprise. So, we must yield to his control.

When we choose to rejoice in our circumstances, no matter what comes our way, the peace of God sweeps over us like a flood. Yet, it isn’t as though we don’t cry, or that these trials are not difficult for us. They are! The Apostle Paul expressed that often in his letters to the churches. Yet, God allowed us to go through these trials for a reason, so we need him to let him teach us what we need to learn through our times of difficulty. Sometimes he allows us to go through hardships because we have wandered from the faith, and we need to be brought back to God in purity of heart, and other times it is for our spiritual maturity, to learn perseverance, to share in God’s holiness, and that our lives might yield the peaceful fruit of God’s righteousness.

Dwell on These (vv. 8-9)

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

At all times, we should think (dwell) on what is pure, righteous, honorable, worthy of praise and true. But, not all that is true is worthy to dwell on, for we should not dwell on what is unrighteous, dishonorable or impure, even though it may be true. We should fill our minds with truth, though, and not with lies, deceptions, and manipulations. In fact, how we think or what we think on has a lot to do with what we fill our minds with day in and day out. So, if we are going to think pure thoughts, for example, we need to not take into our minds what is impure, especially willfully, and so to be entertained.

I live in the USA, so this is what I know, so I can’t speak for other countries and what the people there do, because I am not familiar with other countries. I have never even been outside the USA, not even to Canada. But, in America, I know that the vast majority of homes have televisions, and perhaps more than one TV, and it seems most Americans also have home computers, smart phones and/or tablets (like an I Pad). So, we are inundated with technology and all that that technology has to offer us in the way of bringing the world into our lives and into our homes.

There have been good things that have come from all this technology, such as the gospel of Jesus Christ has been able to go throughout most of the world via TV and the internet. Yet, TV and the internet has also been the downfall of many people professing faith in Jesus Christ. Many Christians take in daily doses of immorality, sexual perversion, lies, deceptions, manipulations, cheating, murders, thefts, and the like, and all in the name of entertainment, and they have become desensitized to all the evil contained within, as they make compromise after compromise with the world of sin. This should not be! So, we need to test everything we take into our minds, and what we put before our eyes, against Philippians 4:8-9, and then cut out of our lives what is leading us to think and to do what is sinful.

Instead of practicing sin, or being entertained by others’ sins, we need to practice what is holy, righteous and pure. And, we ought to do what God’s Word says, and not just read it and then walk away and forget what we read. And, we need to be holy, separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made into the image of Christ. Amen!

Content in Whatever (vv. 10-13)

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 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.

Lately, in my devotions with my Lord, the Lord has been impressing on my heart to gladly forfeit all of earth’s treasures so that Jesus’ perfect likeness I would bear (“Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer”), and to rather have Jesus than silver or gold, etc. I believe he has been preparing my heart for a time when we will not have much in the way of material wealth on this earth, but we will be rich in faith. And, we may be getting much closer to that time here in America, as we experience more and more in the way of destruction of property and loss of fortune, but all for the glory of God, that he may be our ONLY GOD and LORD. So, I must hold lightly the things of this life, and be willing to walk away from them all, at any time, in order to follow Jesus with my life in service to him and to his will for my life.

The point of all this, I believe, is that we learn to be content in whatever circumstances God places us, not that we have to enjoy our trials and tribulations, but that we are to be resolved to rejoice in the Lord despite our circumstances, and to praise him in good times and in bad times, too. We need to be ok in good times and in bad, and with sufficient accommodations, and with less than to be desired shelter, food, and circumstances, too. And, we must rejoice in the Lord through it all, give him all the praise and glory, and submit our lives over to him for him to accomplish his will and his purposes in our lives through it all. And, he will give us all we need to survive and to thrive, by his grace, and in his strength and power.

Lord, Move Me / An Original Work / October 16, 2011

Be my desire, my heart set on fire,
Lord, move me to worship You only, I pray.
Fill with Your Spirit, my heart overflow.
Lord, may I long for You; Your word to know.
Teach me to walk with You, Lord, in Your power,
And may I serve You, Lord, right now in this hour.

Lord, how I want to obey You forever.
Help me to hear You, Lord, so I will not stray.
Teach me to love You; adore You always.
Envelope me, Lord, with Your grace today.
Meet me in my need, and show me Your mercy.
Forgive me for all things, as I humbly pray.

Counsel me, lead me, direct me, and guide me,
So I follow You, Lord, where’er You lead now.
I love to hear You speak Your words to me.
I am so grateful that You set me free.
Wash me, and cleanse me, and make me like You, Lord,
And I will live with You for eternity.

 

Keep the Faith

Monday, August 28, 2017, 4:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Timothy 4:1-18 (NIV).

Preach the Word (vv. 1-5)

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Although these words were directed to Timothy, we can all learn from them, and apply these truths where applicable to our individual lives. For example, we read in 1 Peter 2:9 that we who believe in Jesus Christ are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of spiritual darkness (sin) into His marvelous light (truth, righteousness). Each one of us, not just preachers and evangelists, thus, have an obligation to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world around us (See: Matt. 28:18-20; Act. 1:8; Matt. 5:13-16; Mark 8:38; Ro. 1:16).

Yet, we need to make certain that what we are proclaiming is the truth, and it is the gospel according to Jesus Christ, and not according to humans. For example, much of what is passing for the gospel these days is not the gospel as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles. It is a “chewing gum” gospel, i.e. it is sugar-coated, fake, and offers no real solution for sin, because it is based in a lie which is intended to tickle itching ears and to give them what they want to hear, not what they NEED to hear. It requires no repentance, no obedience to Christ and his Word, and it teaches that God is pleased with us no matter what we do. There is no death to sin in this gospel, thus there can be no resurrection to new life (eternal life) in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

The truth we must preach (proclaim) is that 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. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God without guilt or remorse. 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. For, Jesus Christ gave himself up for us “to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good deeds” (See: Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21). So, if we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

Finishing the Race (vv. 6-8)

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Nonetheless, when we do share the truth of the gospel, and we don’t compromise truth in order to tickle itching ears, or so that humans might like us and accept us, we will be hated and rejected as was Jesus and his NT apostles and God’s prophets of old. We may also be falsely accused of being bigoted, hateful, intolerant and self-righteous because we stand on the truth of God’s holy Word, we don’t compromise with the world of sin, and we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, not in absolute sinless perfection, but in a consistent and persistent walk of faith and obedience to Christ and to his Word. Yet, we should praise the Lord that he counts us worthy to suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation.

As Jesus had many opponents, and he faced much opposition to his message, so will we also if we are teaching what he taught. And, since his greatest opponents were those of his own race, his own religion, his own town, and even within his own family, we should not be surprised if some of our greatest opposition comes, not from the world, but from within the church and from those closest to us. And, that is where it hurts the most, too. Yet, daily we must put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, and we must run with perseverance the race (path) God has marked out for us, and we must never give way to discouragement or give up hope, but we should remain focused on Jesus and on his gospel, and on his mission for us.

One day, when we have finished our race on this earth, and we have completed the mission God had for each one of us, we will go to be with our Lord forever, either through death, or through his second coming. In the meanwhile, we should keep our eyes fixed on him, expectant of his soon return, trusting him in all things, and believing him to fulfill all that he has promised us he would do. We should rest in him and allow him to satisfy the deep longings of our hearts, for there will be much trouble and hardship in this life leading up to the time of his return. Yet, we should continue in the work to which he has called us while we wait for him to take us home.

Rejected and Deserted (vv. 9-18)

Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. Serving our Lord in sharing his gospel message with others, by the very nature of it, is a self-denying ministry. It is because we will be hated, rejected, persecuted and even abandoned by those who, perhaps, once professed love and devotion to us. The closer we walk with our Lord, in fact, the greater risk that people (friends, family, church people) will desert us, not understand us, and perhaps even falsely accuse us of motives, attitudes and behaviors which are not true of us at all.

I am certainly not saying that we are so holy and perfect that everyone who rejects us is doing so because of our walks of faith, for they may not like us for other reasons, such as our personalities or looks, etc. Yet, many will forsake us because they love the world and its pleasures, and thus we are an offense to them if we are truly walking in the way of holiness. Jesus said the world hated him because he told them that what they did was evil. If we confront sin in sinful humans, but they want to remain in their sin, they won’t like us, and they won’t want to be around us. I am not talking about going around finger-pointing, but I am talking about speaking the truth in love, and rescuing people out of darkness and bringing them into God’s wonderful light. Not everyone wants to be rescued.

Some of those who reject us will also mistreat us and will speak evil against us to others so that they will reject us, too, but we must know that this is part of the cost of following Jesus with our lives and sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings. Some people will slander us in order to try to destroy our reputations, because they hate us, or because they feel threatened by us because of what we teach.

And, we may have no other humans to stand up for us, either, but Jesus Christ is and always be our defense, and he will give us all the strength we need to endure whatever he allows to come our way. And, he will do so in order that he may get the glory through whatever he accomplishes in and through our lives, and for the spread of his gospel. He will deliver us through every evil attack against us, and he will bring us safely to his heavenly kingdom when he has finished with us on this earth.

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting
Jean Sophia Pigott

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ‘neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

Keep His Way

Saturday, August 26, 2017, 4:57 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 37 (Select vv. ESV).

Trust in Him (vv. 3-6)

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

What does it mean to trust in the Lord? It means we place our hope and confidence in him, and in what he did for us in saving us from our sins, and in what he promised us that he would do. It speaks also of assured reliance upon God and his divine character, sovereignty, holiness, righteousness, power, strength, kindness, grace and compassion towards us. It means, as well, that we are fully convinced that what God says is true, that it is just, and that it is righteous and merciful, and thus we commit our ways to the Lord, to do what he says, and to follow him in all of our ways.

If we truly put our trust in the Lord, we will delight (find pleasure) in him and in his ways. We will want to do what pleases him, not because we must, but because we love him, honor him and revere him. Thus, he will give us the desires of our hearts, because our desires will be in line (agreement) with his. He does not, nonetheless, promise that he will fulfill our every want, but he will fulfill all his promises, and he will provide all that we truly need. And, he does not necessarily work at the pace we might like, either. His thoughts and his ways are not the same as those of humans. His timing is always perfect, although we don’t always comprehend it.

While we live on the face of this earth we will have troubles and hardships. We will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake. There will be those who will not like us, and who will speak evil against us. Not everyone will understand us, or why we do what we do, and they may reject us and falsely accuse us. But, if our way is committed to the Lord, to follow him in obedience, and to do what he has called us to do, we can trust him with our reputations, believing that one day we will be honored for our obedience and that it will be evident that we loved God, and that we were his servants.

Be Still Before Him (vv. 7, 10-11, 14-15)

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

Because Satan, a fallen angel, decided he wanted to be God, and so he rebelled against God, and because he tempted humans to sin against God, from the very beginning, sin entered into the heart of man. And, thus wickedness of every kind imaginable now exists on this earth. But, God has allowed wickedness to continue, for a time, because he is very patient towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. If he cut off all wickedness, he would have to remove all of us from the earth, because we are all prone to sin at some time or another.

But, because of his great love for us, and due to his grace towards us, he has provided a way in which we can be saved from our sins, and be delivered out of bondage (addiction) to sin. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, died on a cross for our sins, and put sin to death on our behalf. And, then he was resurrected from the dead victorious over our sin. So, through faith in him, we can be crucified with Christ in death to sin and be resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Thus, we are set free from our slavery to sin so that we can become bondservants of Christ and of his righteousness.

Because we are now in Christ Jesus, through faith in him, and our trust is now in him, and not in ourselves or in other humans, we can be at peace in this world even when all hell is breaking loose all around us. Although evil is allowed to exist, our God is still absolutely sovereign over all that he has made, he has all things under his control, and he has a plan and a purpose for all that he allows, and he will fulfill everything he said he would do. So, we can be at rest in him, and not fear when the wicked seem to prevail.

Wait for Him (vv. 34, 39-40)

Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Sometimes it gets really hard, doesn’t it? Sometimes we just have to cry it all out to our Father in heaven, and then rest in him, and wait on his perfect timing. We don’t see the end from the beginning. We only see what is in front of our faces. And, at times, it can get very discouraging and disheartening, if we let it. So, we learn to wait on God, trust in his sovereignty, believe in his promises, and trust him each and every day to just show us what he has for us for that day. And, then we do what he says, and believe he will work all things out for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose.

While we are waiting, we keep his ways. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, nor is it merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. 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. Jesus Christ did not give his life up for us just to forgive us our sins, but he “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” (See: Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Eph. 2:8-10).

Although this Christian life is promised to have difficult times, and to know hardships, persecutions and rejection, our Lord also promises to always be with us, to protect us spiritually from evil, and to give us all the strength, wisdom and counsel we need to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to draw near to God in full assurance of faith. He has given us the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, too (See: Eph. 6:10-20). So, we have no need to fear humans or what they might do to us, for our Lord will carry us through every circumstance, and he will provide all that we need to endure, and he will bring us safely into his eternal kingdom.

So, we just need to trust him, rest in him, believe him, and do what he says, and know that what he says, he will do, all in his perfect timing.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas O. Chisholm / William M. Runyan

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Fullness of Joy

Friday, August 25, 2017, 9:15 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Just Want to Be Where You Are.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 16 (ESV).

Apart from You (vv. 1-4)

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, and he becomes our Lord, we yield to his will for our lives, and we rest in him to accomplish his purposes in our lives. We should no longer regard our lives as our own, to do with them what we desire, but we should consider that we now belong to Christ, for we were bought back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins. We ought to be grateful for his grace to us, and we should desire him above all else in this life. He should be the love of our lives, and we ought to want to be with him always, doing what he says, and following him wherever he leads us.

When we trust in Jesus Christ, his Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. As his followers, we now become the body of Christ, God’s temple, for God now lives within us in the person of his Holy Spirit. Collectively, we who believe in Jesus Christ are his church. And, the church is comprised of the saints of God (believers in Jesus). Thus, we should love them and want to enjoy sweet Christian fellowship with them, and to worship God with them and to minister to one another. And, the Holy Spirit will gift us with spiritual gifts which are to be used within the body of Christ to encourage, strengthen, counsel, nurture, urge, heal, and help one another to grow in our faith.

When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we should love what he loves and hate what he hates. We must leave our old lives of living for sin and self behind us, and we must follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his will for our lives. We should no longer run after the cravings of this sinful world, but now our desire should be for our Lord, to please him in every way.

My Chosen Portion (vv. 5-8)

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Faith in Jesus Christ is not just about escaping hell and having the promise of heaven when we die. It isn’t just about being forgiven our sins so that we are no longer under condemnation, either. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He saved us, not just to secure a place for us with him in eternity, but he saved us to deliver us from bondage to sin while we still live on this earth. He died, not just to forgive us, but to transform us. He has given us spiritual birth in himself, for when we believe in him, we die with him to our old lives, and we are resurrected with him to new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Faith in Jesus Christ is also not just a religion, but it is a relationship with our living God. Because of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, we love him, and we want to be in fellowship with him, and we want to serve him with our lives. So, we spend time with him each day in prayer and in his word because we want to hear from him, and to talk with him, and to have communion with him. And, he counsels us and instructs us in the way he would have us go. Sometimes he corrects or rebukes us, and other times he encourages and comforts us. He is always with us, and we can talk with him any time. Yet, the beauty of the relationship is not just in the talking and listening, but it is in the doing. We must do what he tells us, too.

The Path of Life (vv. 9-11)

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Spending time with our Lord in prayer, in his word, in listening to him speak his words to our hearts, and then in doing what he instructs us to do should not be just ritual or obligation or brief. We should consider the fact that God now lives within us, so he is always with us, no matter where we are or what we are doing, so he can talk with us and us with him 24/7. We ought to always be in an attitude of prayer and have receptive ears to hear him speaking to us anytime and anyplace, and then to quickly respond to what he says. It should be a lot like a young married (or engaged) couple who want to be with each other all the time and who can’t wait to see each other and to tell each other about their day or to share experiences together.

We should love our times together with our Lord, and to desire to know and to do his will, no matter where that sends us or what it requires that we do. And, he will make known to us the path of life chosen for us that we must follow. And, then he will go before us and prepare the way, and he will lead us in the way we should go, and he will direct our steps. We may not know exactly what lies ahead, or God’s exact timing for everything, but we step out in faith one day and one step at a time as he reveals his will to us each step of the way, and in his perfect timing. Sometimes we wait on him, and then when he opens the way for us to go, we then walk in it, but not in our own strength, but in the strength and power of God’s Spirit within us.

I Just Want to Be Where You Are
Don Moen

I want to be where you are
Dwelling in your presence
Feasting at your table
Surrounded by your glory
In your presence
That’s where I always want to be
I just want to be,
I just want to be with you…

Help in Trouble

Thursday, August 10, 2017, 2:32 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 46 (NASB).

God our Refuge (vv. 1-3)

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

Life is full of changes. There are no guarantees that life, as we now know it, will continue. Our jobs could go away. Our spouses could die, or they could leave us for someone else. The stock market could crash, and we could experience another “Great Depression.” Our present form of government, as we understand it to be, could suddenly disappear, and in its place the beast (one world government) could rule supreme. Our houses could burn down to the ground. A hurricane could sweep our houses (or apartments) away, or so could a major earthquake or a tsunami. We could suddenly be struck very ill, or we could be involved in a serious automobile accident. Or, our nation could suddenly be attacked, once more, by a foreign nation (or entity).

Yet, in all of these things, and so much more, God is our refuge and strength to help us in times of trouble, if our hope and our trust is in him, and in his salvation. He is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made. He is all powerful, too. Nothing catches him by surprise, and there is not anything which he cannot handle. He will see us through any and all changes in our lives or in our circumstances. He may or may not remove us from our difficult situations, but he will give us the strength and courage we need to endure, to persevere, and to remain faithful to him in all things despite the difficulties we are experiencing in this present world of ours. So, we need to rest in him, trust in his grace, believe his promises, and carry on in Him.

Our Stronghold (vv. 4-7)

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

When difficult times come our way, which they will, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not be frightened in any way by the waves of the sea crashing in all around us. God’s presence is with us. He will never leave us or forsake us if we are truly his by faith in Jesus Christ. His grace is sufficient to help us in times of need. And, not only that, but God allows difficulties to come into our lives to purify us, to prune us, to make us holy, to conform us into his likeness, to revive us, and to mature us in our walks of faith, as well as to correct and rebuke us, if we have gone astray, so that we will turn from our sinful rebellion to walking in his holiness and righteousness.

We don’t ever have to be afraid of anything. Nothing can happen to us in this life but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, and he will see us through it to victory. He will provide all that we need, but not necessarily all that we think we need, or all that we want. Especially here in America we have this idea that we need so much, but we don’t. We can survive on very little, in reality. We don’t need much food, either. Restaurants have been notorious for serving large portions of food, and to one person, which could probably feed an entire family in another country. But, we don’t need a lot of food, and, in fact, it is unhealthy to eat so much.

What comes to mind right now are the lyrics to the song “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” (by Henry F. Lyte):

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!

Cease Striving (vv. 8-11)

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Yet, it isn’t just that God allows troubles and hardships, but sometimes he is the one who brings them upon us. He is not only a God of mercy and grace, but he is a God of justice and righteousness. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, which is why he has delayed judgments, in many cases. Yet, he is a God who judges the people of the earth, too, and even his followers, and in order to bring those who have strayed from their pure devotion to him back to him as their Only Lord and Master. He warned of this in Revelation 2-3, among other passages of scripture. There he called his wandering saints (parts of his church) to repentance, and he warned of divine judgment if they did not repent.

God also judges nations and peoples who have come against his children, i.e. against those who have been born anew of the Spirit of God via death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ Jesus, their Lord. I believe much or all of the world is already under the judgment of God. I know that America is, and that what our nation (our government) has done to other nations, it will be done to us. And, what our nation has done to their own people, and to God’s laws, and to demoralize our nation, and to dilute the gospel message of salvation, God will judge, too. Yet, he will do this to stop all the evil, and so that the gospel message will go out to the ends of the earth before he returns for his bride, so that many more will be saved.

So, we are not to be anxious or worried or fearful when these things take place, but we are to put our trust in the Lord, and believe that he will work all things together for good for those who love him; for those who have been called according to his purpose. Instead of letting life’s difficulties get us down, we must recognize who God is, that he is God, and that he will be exalted (praised, revered) in the earth, and among the nations. He is still with us, he has not deserted us, and he is our stronghold. He will see us through to the end, and he will accomplish his purposes in all of our lives.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!