Our Spiritual Journey

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

Two Sons (vv. 11-16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Curse of Jealousy (vv. 25-32)

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

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

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

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

Amazing Grace / John Newton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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His Ways, His Truth

Monday, May 29, 2017, 8:08 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Draw Me Close.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 25 (Select vv. ESV).

His Ways (vv. 4-5)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

We who profess faith in Jesus Christ need to know His ways, His truth and His paths. The primary way in which we know these is through the study of God’s Word, the Bible, in particular in the New Testament, although all scripture (Genesis-Revelation) is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Yet, we must be diligent to present ourselves to God as those approved, workers who have no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Thus, we must be careful to read scriptures in context, and to compare scripture with scripture, if we want to rightly handle the Word. And, we must interpret what we read in light of the gospel of Christ.

Also, as believers in Jesus Christ – we who have died with Christ to sin, and who have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life – we have the Holy Spirit of God living within us, teaching us the ways of our Lord, and guiding us into all truth. So, when we study God’s Word, we must do so under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who will give us spiritual understanding into its truths. He is the one, as well, who makes practical application of God’s Word to our lives. So, when we study God’s Word, we should pray for the Spirit of God to open God’s Words to our hearts and to teach us what we need to learn, and for him to apply its truths to our hearts and lives. And, then we must listen to the Holy Spirit, and obey our Lord, and do what he says.

His Instructions (vv. 8-10)

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

Our God is holy, righteous, good, merciful, gracious, compassionate and just. His goal in saving us from our sins is not just to give us an escape from hell or to promise us heaven as our eternal destiny. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (1 Pet. 2:24; Tit. 2:11-14). His grace is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God. When God saves us from our sins, he gives us the faith to believe in Jesus Christ, thus the faith to believe in Jesus is in accord with God’s holiness and righteousness, so it submits to Christ and His Word.

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we humbly come to God in godly sorrow over our sin, we repent of our sins, we turn away from them, and we turn to God to follow Him in his ways. And, he leads us in what is right. He is not going to lead someone who won’t be led, who thinks faith in Jesus merely means Jesus forgives us our sins, but who rejects the teachings of scripture with regard to repentance and obedience to Christ. So, if we desire to know and to follow his ways, we must humble ourselves before him, we must turn from our sins, and we must walk in obedience to him, according to the Holy Spirit of God (Ro. 8:1-14). For, the ways of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness. Amen!

Fear Him (vv. 11-15)

For your name’s sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

I think sometimes we get the idea that God’s forgiveness of our sins is solely for us, the sinners. Yet, it is for the honor of His Name that he pardons us, as well. Like for instance, a man was born blind, and the reason was that, when Jesus healed him, “the works of God might be displayed in him” (Jn. 9:3). When God saves us, his glory is revealed in us. His divine character is, thus, shown, so that all may see that he is loving, gracious, merciful and all powerful, in that he can transform human lives. By his grace and his power, we can be translated from death to live, and be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ.

If we want to be instructed in the ways of the Lord, and in his truth, we must fear the Lord. We must revere, honor, value, esteem, respect, obey and worship him. We do this, not just with our lips, though, but with our lives (by our lifestyles). We live holy lives, pleasing to him, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of him – no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds, so that we might prove what is the perfect, good and acceptable will of God. We no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God.

His Grace (vv. 16-18)

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

If we want God to turn to us, and to be gracious to us, when we are in trouble, in distress, in loneliness or in affliction, we must honor him with our lives. For, it is not the one who merely professes Christ as Savior who is saved from his sins, but it is the one who is walking in the Spirit, who is being led by the Spirit, and whose mind and lifestyle is no longer controlled by the sinful nature. He is a child of God, and an heir of the promise (See: Rom. 8, the whole chapter, in context). For those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose, all things work together for good. And, how do we know if we love God? Our obedience bears testimony.

Draw Me Close To You / Donnie McClurkin

Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend

You are my desire
And no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else can take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace…

Is it Really for Him?

Sunday, April 9, 2017, 9:20 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Zechariah 7 (NASB).

Or, For Ourselves? (vv. 1-7)

In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev. Now the town of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regemmelech and their men to seek the favor of the Lord, speaking to the priests who belong to the house of the Lord of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, “Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years?” Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, “Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years, was it actually for Me that you fasted? When you eat and drink, do you not eat for yourselves and do you not drink for yourselves? Are not these the words which the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous along with its cities around it, and the Negev and the foothills were inhabited?’”

So, when you think of sacrifice for or service to the Lord, what comes to mind? Do you think of sacrifice as giving up something that you really like, for a period of time, perhaps as part of a religious practice or tradition? Do you think of sacrifice as you choosing what you will forgo, as a means of earning favor with God? – Hoping that he will be pleased by your sacrifice? When you contemplate service for God, do you consider only what you think you would be good at? Or, what would fit in with your lifestyle? Or, what would make you happy, or what would gain you attention and popularity? Do you pick and choose your sacrifice and service on the basis of what works best for you and your personality and your schedule? Many people do.

So, what is God’s view of our sacrifices and our service to him, if it is like what I mentioned above? And, what does he require of us, instead?

Jesus Christ, when he walked the face of this earth, had numerous conversations with or about the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. They were really good at following all the religious practices passed down to them from their elders. They were good at following all the externals of the law, and ceremonial washings, etc., but they were very short on love, mercy and compassion for those they called “sinners,” and for the hurting and afflicted.

They were good at following religious practices, but short on obedience to God, too. Jesus said they cleaned the cup on the outside but inside they were full of wickedness. They had the appearance of being religious, but their hearts were far from God. What they did was not really for God but for themselves. And, what God required of them, they refused to do, mainly which was to believe in Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah and Lord.

When God speaks of sacrifice, he gives us Jesus as our example. Jesus gave his life up for us so that we could go free from slavery to sin, and so we could be free to walk in his righteousness. Jesus willingly laid down his life for you and for me so that we could have new lives in Christ Jesus and walk in victory over sin. He redeemed us – bought us back for God with his blood – so that we could be in fellowship with God and live holy lives pleasing to him. He knew what is best for us, i.e. what we really need, and so he gave up the possibility of popularity, his reputation, and his life for us, to meet our needs. And, he told us the truth, because that is kind and loving.

So, what kind of sacrifice does Jesus require of us? His idea of sacrifice is that we offer our bodies (our lives) as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is our spiritual worship of him (See: Ro. 12:1-2). This is what it means to believe in Jesus, to be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and to be resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Jesus said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die to sin and self), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Ro. 8:1-14). Jesus doesn’t want or need what we will give up for him of our own decision making. What he wants is us fully surrendered to him, with him as our Lord (owner-master), and with us as his bond-servants (slaves).

The same goes for our service to him, too. He is not interested in us deciding what we will do or not do for him. He has a plan for each one of our lives, which is to follow him wherever HE leads us, not where we want to go. He has gifted each one of his followers with spiritual gifts, which the Spirit of God chooses for us, and he has given each one of us assignments (parts) within the body of Christ which we are to fulfill, which he also determined (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4).

And, these may not be at all what we would choose for ourselves, and, in fact, many times they are ministries we would never have dreamed of in our wildest imaginations. Yet, many people like to pick and choose their own so as to avoid getting asked to do what is uncomfortable for them, or what might get them rejected by others. I have even heard Christians say that they would not do certain ministries or they would not want certain gifts, and it is because they know they would be hated and rejected.

Are We Listening? (vv. 8-14)

Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah saying, “Thus has the Lord of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.’ But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. And just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen,” says the Lord of hosts; “but I scattered them with a storm wind among all the nations whom they have not known. Thus the land is desolated behind them so that no one went back and forth, for they made the pleasant land desolate.”

Instead of adhering to religious practice and rituals, and following traditions handed down to us by the generations before us, we need to learn what Jesus requires of his followers, and then we need to do what he says. We also need to pray and ask the Lord to direct us to the ministries he has for us, and to make us sensitive to people’s needs, and then to show us how he would have us meet those needs. We need to not have our minds so fixed on what we think would please God, just because our parents or pastors or elders told us this was the way we should “do church” or worship God. But, we need to have ears and minds that are open to hear God’s voice speaking to us through his Word and through the witness of the Spirit, and then we need to do what his Word teaches us and go where our Lord leads us.

As I alluded to earlier, telling people the truth, if done in love, is kind, it is compassionate, and it is caring for people’s true needs. Too many people today are lying to people in order to make them feel good about themselves, even while they may be steeped in sin’s deceitfulness. No one wants to be the “bad guy.” And, many people don’t want to offend anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings, so they lie to them, or they just don’t say anything.

They often ignore sin in people’s lives because they don’t want to get involved; because they don’t want people to not like them. And, this is true of church leaders, too. Yet, Jesus always told the truth, even if it made people uncomfortable, and even if it did offend them, and even if they hated, rejected and killed him in return. So, speaking the truth in love is one of the ways in which we dispense justice, and practice kindness and compassion to others. It is necessary! And, it is loving and kind!

Other ways we can dispense justice, and practice kindness and compassion for others is through ministering to their physical or emotional needs. Sometimes just a kind word or a hug (proper and pure) is all someone needs at a particular moment. We can bring meals into people, or spend time with them listening to them, though never entertaining what is sinful. We can help with financial needs, or help someone move, or take someone to the hospital, or babysit for married couples so they can have a date every now and then. We can send a card or an email to encourage downtrodden hearts. And, we can keep from doing what is harmful or evil to others, always forgiving, and never trading insult for insult, but returning hate with love.

So, the question here is, “Are we listening?” Not just to what God said in this last section, but in the first part of this passage, too, and to what Jesus taught and his NT apostles taught? Or, are we stopping up our ears and refusing to hear the parts we don’t like, because they make us uncomfortable, or because they confront us with our sins and call for us to repent? If God called us to a ministry which we knew would get us hated and rejected, would we tell him no? Are we looking out for our own comfort, or are we looking to serve our Lord fully in whatever he has called us to do?

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.

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.

Acts of Immorality

Saturday, March 4, 2017, 10:13 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Should I Not Preach Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 2:12-17 (NASB).

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:

‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’

The Sharp Two-Edged Sword

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Heb. 4:12

Jesus Christ is the one who has the “sharp two-edged sword,” and he is the speaker. He speaks on the authority of God, and on the authority of the Word of God, because he is God, and because he is the Son of God, and because he is the Living Word of God who died on a cross for our sins.

His Word is living and active, meaning it is not merely a historical book with useful information contained inside. It is also not merely a training manual useful for teaching believers in Jesus Christ how to live the Christian life. It was God-breathed when it was written, and it is still alive and speaking to hearts today with the full power of God and the witness of the Spirit of God behind it. As believers in Jesus, when we read the Word of God, it isn’t like reading any other book. The words come alive to us, and they speak conviction, encouragement, hope, healing, restoration, judgment, warnings and blessings, too, to our hearts. It is like God is right there speaking to us.

God’s Word is not light reading. It is not for the faint-hearted. It is also not for the casual reader who thinks five minutes a day reading some Bible verses satisfies God or our Christian (religious) obligation for the day. The Word of God is part of our spiritual armor we are to put on every day with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us. In combination with our other armor, we are able to use the Word of God to refute Satan’s lies, false doctrines, idolatry, spiritual adultery, sinful addictions, deceptions and the like. As well, it contains the gospel of our salvation which gives us the hope of deliverance from slavery to sin for the ones believing in Jesus, who have repented of their sin, and who have turned to follow our Lord in obedience.

Where Satan’s Throne Is

Satan’s throne is on the earth where humans dwell. Yet, there are certain places in this world where his presence is certainly more felt, and his influence is definitely wider spread. His realm of influence appears to be extending further and further by the day, all over the earth, as this world of ours keeps growing more and more wicked by the hour. Not only is Satan yielding greater sway in people’s lives, but he is also exerting immense power, authority, rule and dominion over the earth and its people. This power and rule is authoritarian and is subversive and it is tyrannical. As a result, many Christians throughout the world are suffering great persecution and even death at the hands of Satan’s agents (his servants).

It seems, sometimes, that those who are truly standing on the Word of Truth, who are not denying Jesus by living sinful lifestyles, or who are not compromising with the world in order to be accepted by the world, are growing fewer and fewer in number, as more and more people are giving way to deception, to the lies of Satan, and to their own sinful desires. And, thus the faithful may be finding themselves having fewer and fewer friends, and may be suffering much in the way of rejection, mockery, persecution, false accusations, and the like, just because their desire is for Jesus and to please him in all that they do and say.

Acts of Immorality

One of the biggest weapons Satan is wielding against people today, and most especially against Christians (or professing Christians), is luring them into sexual sin and/or into romantically or sexually adulterous situations. If people watch TV or surf the NET indiscriminately, or are addicted to social media sites or chat sites where they can have private conversations without the knowledge of their spouses, and with someone of interest to them, they are ripe to being drawn into the world of sexual sin and romantic adultery.

Hey, even if you don’t have a TV and you are very careful as to which internet sites you frequent, they (the people who lure you) have pop-ups and ads to the side or to the bottom of “safe” sites in order to trap you, or to try to trap you. Everywhere you go, pretty much, has TVs blaring with sexually alluring exhibitions, or they have seductive store window displays, or seductive magazine covers in check-out lines in grocery stores. Sex is everywhere, because it sells, and because Satan is behind its presentation so that he can trap as many people as possible and to render Christians inoperable. And, even some of the strongest Christians can be brought down if they are not careful and prudent concerning what they allow their eyes to see and regarding what they permit their minds to take in on a daily basis.

Turn from Sin

There are many professing Christians who are trapped in sexual addiction who feel that they don’t know the way out or that they can’t get out. Yet, Jesus has already made the way out. He took upon himself the sins of the entire world when he died on that cross. He put sin to death so that we could die to sin and live to righteousness. Through God-given faith in him, in which we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, we have been delivered, not just from the punishment of sin, but from the bondage (addiction) to sin. Amen! We don’t have to keep sinning! Jesus gave us the way of escape. We just have to yield to him and let him work in our hearts, and surrender to his will for our lives, letting him be Lord (owner-master) of our lives. We have to put off sin, by the power of the Spirit, and put on Christ, his word and his purity.

It isn’t that most people who call themselves Christians don’t know what to do when they are sin addicted, but it is that they choose to remain sin addicted rather than to allow Jesus to give them the victory. And, I believe that is one of the main reasons so many professing Christians have adopted what I call a false grace gospel, because it doesn’t require that they change their lifestyles. They don’t have to repent of sin or obey Jesus. All they have do is say they believe in Jesus and they are told they have their salvation secured and heaven guaranteed. And, if they begin to feel any guilt for their sin, then they are told to repeat in their minds a list of statements, some false, regarding who they are in Christ. This is to alleviate all guilt so that they can keep on sinning, while claiming heaven as their eternal home.

Yet, that is not the GRACE of God which brings salvation, which 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. That is also not the gospel of our salvation which teaches that faith in Christ means forsaking our former way of living for sin and self and dying daily to sin and self by the power of the Spirit working within us. The gospel message taught by Jesus teaches that if we say we have fellowship with God but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars, and if we walk according to our flesh or if we fail to lose (die to) our old lives of living in sin, that we will die in our sin (See: Tit. 2:11-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24).

If we want to have eternal life with God and to be free from sin, then we need to yield control of our lives over to God and die with him to sin so we may live with him to righteousness. We need to obey him and stop sinning (by the Spirit) and we need to put on (live to) what is righteous, holy and pure. We can’t do this in our own flesh or according to our own plan for our lives. This will only come about through submission, surrender and yielding to our Lord and allowing him to change us from the inside out. We have to stop playing with fire and mean business with God, and be willing to cut out of our lives everything which hinders our walks of faith or which leads us down the path of sin. If we are not willing to go the distance with God, then we will miss out on the blessings of obedience and our eternal rewards.

Should I Not Preach Jesus
An Original Work / July 4, 2013

Based off 1 Corinthians 9:16-10:13

Woe to me should I not preach Jesus.
I’m compelled to preach the full gospel.
I make myself a slave to ev’ryone
To win their hearts to Christ.
All this I do for my Lord Jesus,
And for the sake of His Name;
Do it for the sake of His gospel,
So that I, its blessings gain.

Scripture notates the sins of others;
Written down for us as examples
To keep us from setting our hearts
On evil as did those of old.
Do not worship other gods of man;
Do not give your hearts to them;
Not partake in immorality.
Do not test your Lord and King.

So, be careful if you think you are
Standing firm in your faith in Jesus.
God has given his word to warn us,
So through faith we will not fall.
No temptation has o’ertaken you
Except what is commonplace.
God is faithful to not let you be
Tempted past what you can bear.
He gives the way of escape.

Our Stay on Earth

Monday, February 20, 2017, 4:46 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “In Holiness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1:13-25 (NASB).

Prepare Your Minds (vv. 13-16)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

We who are in Christ Jesus, by faith, were chosen by God even before the creation of the world to be holy in his sight. We were chosen by God to be cleansed of our sins and to obey Christ, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit (1 Pet. 1:1-2). To be sanctified means to be purified and made holy. Jesus died on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He gave himself for us that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, he died “to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:14; Eph. 2:10).

Therefore, because of all that Jesus did for us, and on account of his will and his purpose for our lives, according to which we were created and chosen by God, and for which he called us and he saved us, we are to do all that Peter stated here that we should do. This is why we are here on this earth, for a time. We are not here to live for ourselves, to entertain and be entertained, and to live selfish lives, engrossed in the world of sin, satisfying our every sinful desire. We are not here to please ourselves, but to please God; not here to do what we want, but to do what he requires and what he desires.

So, we are to prepare our minds for action. What action? And, how do we do this? The action is pretty obvious. It is whatever God’s word teaches and commands us we must do. The way we prepare for it, as believers in Jesus, is to surrender our lives to God, first of all. Then, we need to rid our lives of anything hindering our walks of faith, such as anything which might lead us into sin, and we need to throw off any sin still remaining in our lives which easily entangles us so we can run the race God has set out for us (Heb. 12:1). We must resist Satan, flee sinful desires, and draw near to God. Daily we must put on the armor of God so we might fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us. And, then we have to walk in holiness, in truth, in integrity, and according to and in the Spirit, and no longer according to our sinful flesh.

This will not happen, though, if we don’t take God and his word seriously. Too many professing Christians today are making light of God’s grace, i.e. they are taking God and his grace for granted, and/or they are far too casual about their Christian walks. They live so much like the world that it is barely distinguishable between those who profess Christ and those who make no profession of faith in Christ at all. They are still conforming their lives to the sinful lusts they walked in before they made a profession of Christ as Savior of their lives, so they are not walking in holiness. But we are called to be holy, and to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into the image of Christ. In all our behavior we are to be pure, righteous, honest, holy, honorable and to show integrity.

The Fear of God (vv. 17-21)

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

While we live on this earth, we are to live here in the fear of the Lord. This does not mean we are to be afraid of God, but that we are to treat him with honor, value, respect, reverence, and awe, and we are to take him and his Word seriously. Thus, we are to walk in obedience to his instructions for our lives – all in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us. And, we are to live to please him in all that we do.

Yet, many people today are preaching that we don’t have to turn from our sins, and we don’t have to obey Christ, and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, if we have prayed a prayer to receive Christ. They teach that God does everything and nothing is required of us. While it is true that we can do nothing to deserve or to earn our own salvation, and we are not saved by our own works, we are saved to do good works, and we are saved to be delivered out of slavery to sin so that we can live to righteousness. To have the attitude that nothing is required of us and that we can live however we want and still go to heaven when we die is a slap in the face to God, and it is not living in the fear of the Lord. We need to learn to live in godly fear.

Love One Another (vv. 22-25)

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For,

“All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word which was preached to you.

A lot of people today have an aversion to the word “obedience.” They equate it with legalism. Yet, they are wrong! Why? Because if we are truly walking in obedience to our Lord we can’t be doing what is opposed to him and his word. If God disapproves of legalism, then it can’t be obedience. God often chided his people in the OT because they followed all the ceremonial laws and did all the required sacrifices, but they didn’t obey him. He said they honored him with their lips, but their hearts were far from him. Jesus, as well, often chided the Pharisees because they were so strict about following all the traditions of the elders and the ceremonial laws, but they also did not obey the Lord, and they surely didn’t love their neighbors. Jesus told them they cleaned up the outside, but inside they were full of wickedness.

So, obedience is a good thing, and not something to be shunned. We don’t obey to be saved, but obedience is part of God-given faith. When we believe in Jesus Christ, by the Spirit, we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23).

Because we obeyed the truth, by the Spirit, our souls were purified of the Spirit of God, so that we have sincere love for our fellow Christians, and for all people, in reality. We should even love our enemies. So, we are to fervently (passionately and zealously) love one another from our hearts. This kind of love is God-like, and it prefers what God prefers, and it is not dependent (conditional) on the one being loved but on the one doing the loving. As well, this kind of love is action, it is giving, and it is self-sacrificial. Yet, this kind of love never compromises our faith and convictions in order to make peace with the world, but it holds fast to the enduring word of God.

In Holiness / An Original Work
February 1, 2016

Praise the Lord all you saints!
Worship God in holiness.
Trust in Him! Do not faint!
Believe in His righteousness.

God is faithful in all things.
He delivered you from sin.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Witness daily. His words heed.

Trust in Him! He is truth!
He has not forsaken you.
Rest in Him! Let Him lead!
He will meet all of your needs.

When you go through trials deep,
He’ll be with you. He’ll not sleep.
Walk with Him throughout your day.
Read your Bible. Kneel and pray.

Give to God all your heart!
From His mercy ne’er depart.
Jesus died for your sin!
Walk in vict’ry. Live in Him.

Jesus paid the debt we owe.
From our lives His love should flow,
Living for Him ev’ry day,
Loving others, His words say.

Ignorant of Righteousness

Saturday, December 17, 2016, 7:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 10:1-17 (ESV).

Zeal for God (vv. 1-4)

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

If people have zeal for God, is it always good? Not according to scripture. So, maybe it isn’t really passion for God, but they think it is. In their own minds they believe it is. Perhaps they think they are serving God, when they are really serving themselves or their own idols of human making. So, what’s wrong with their zeal? Is it misdirected? I think that is the point.

All throughout scripture God chided his people for going through the motions of zeal (passion) for God, but it was just going through the motions, because their hearts were far from God. And, that is really the difference between the right kind of zeal and the wrong kind. These people thought God would be pleased with them if they performed all kinds of religious rituals and if they followed the traditions passed down to them from their forefathers. But, God told them that isn’t what he wanted. What he wanted was their hearts fully surrendered to him in obedience to his will for their lives, and that is what many of them were not willing to give.

And, this could be true of many people today who claim to be Christians. They are good at following all the traditions passed down to them from their forefathers, and they are good at religious performance, and going through the motions of worshiping God, but Jesus is not truly Lord (owner-master) of their lives. From all outward appearance they are good people who seem to be religious, but they have not submitted to the righteousness of God. Instead, they establish their own where they are the ones deciding what they will do or not do for God, according to their own timetable, and according to their own priorities and purposes.

So, they need to have a crisis experience with Jesus Christ where they trust in him truly as LORD and Savior of their lives, and they submit to his will.

Everyone Who Believes (vv. 5-13)

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

We have to be so careful here that we do not take scriptures out of context and build entire theologies around them. That is what many people today have done with this section of scripture. Yet, this passage of scripture must be read in the context of the whole of Romans, especially chapters 6 and 8.

So, what do I mean by that? Well, many people take vv. 9-10 and make that their whole salvation message, as though this expresses the entirety of the gospel of our salvation. But, it doesn’t. They also Americanize it, too. What I mean by that is what this meant to people of that time and culture and what it means to us in America can be vastly different. For instance, if someone of that day and time and culture was to confess aloud that Jesus is Lord of his or her life, and if they were to acknowledge that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah of the Jews, it could mean certain death, torture, imprisonment, rejection, persecution, and abandonment, etc. They could be kicked out of their families or lose their jobs. Yet, in America, at least up to this point, we can verbally say Jesus is Lord of our lives, and it does not have nearly the impact that it did then, or that it does now in other cultures.

So, what can we learn from this passage of scripture? Well, first of all we can learn that true faith in Jesus Christ involves both confession with our mouth of Jesus as Lord of our lives, as well as it involves belief in him in our hearts. In other words, true faith in Jesus is not something we keep hidden from other people. We want to share our testimonies of faith in Jesus Christ, and we want to tell others how they can come to know him, too. We should not be ashamed of Jesus or of his gospel of salvation. But, we should be verbal in our faith as well as having genuine trust in Jesus as our Savior.

As well, this says we must confess him as Lord of our lives. This confession, though with our mouths, and out loud where others can hear, must be accompanied by true heart belief in what we are confessing. In other words, we can’t just profess to have Jesus as Lord (owner-master) of our lives, but he must BE Lord of our lives in practice, i.e. in reality. Also, this belief that God raised him from the dead is not a mere intellectual acknowledgment of that fact. Remember that James said that even the demons believe and they shudder.

Believing in Jesus’ resurrection also means believing in who he is, and in what he did when he died on the cross for our sins. And, if we truly believe that he died that we might be delivered from our sin, then that belief must involve yielding to our Lord in death to sin and in living to righteousness, which is the work of the Spirit in our lives in regeneration (being born again), as we cooperate fully with that work (See: Romans 6-8).

Beautiful Feet (vv. 14-17)

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

There are many people today talking about Jesus Christ. The pope talks about him, and so does Obama, and Rick Warren and many others, but are they all telling us the truth? NO! They are not! The “good news” is not merely that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins so that we could be forgiven of our sins and have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. It is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). If we are not truly set free from slavery to sin, then we are not free, and we are still in our sins and bound for hell. The only “good news” is that we can be delivered from the control of Satan and sin over our lives, and that we, in the power and working of God’s Spirit within us, can walk in the Spirit and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. This is GOOD NEWS!

So, what’s the difference between following a set of religious directives and living a life of obedience to God? One is self-driven and controlled, while the other is self-sacrificed in surrender and submission to our Lord (owner-master) Jesus Christ, who is the one in control over our lives.

What’s the difference, as well, between works-based salvation and walking in obedience to Jesus Christ? One is self-driven and controlled, while the other is self-sacrificed in surrender and submission to our Lord Jesus. In other words, although it is true that we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation, and that we are not saved by works, but by God’s grace, through faith in Christ, our salvation is not absent of works. We must yield to our Lord, in surrender to his will, and we must submit to death to sin and living to righteousness, for which he died. We must obey the gospel which teaches death to sin and living to righteousness. All this, though, is done not in our own strength and power, but in the strength and power of God’s Spirit now living within us, as we cooperate with his work of grace in our lives. This is not about striving, in other words, but it is about resting in our Lord in submission and in surrender to his will. And, it is about following him in obedience to that will for our lives.

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.

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.

Who Am I?

Friday, November 18, 2016, 6:11 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 6:1-7 (ESV).

His Purpose and Grace

We read in Psalm 139 that God created our inmost being. He knit us together in the wombs of our mothers. All the days ordained for us were written in God’s book before one of them came to be. We read in Jeremiah 1 that God knew Jeremiah before he formed him in the womb of his mother. Before he was born, God set him apart to be a prophet to the nations.

We read in 2 Timothy 1:8-9: “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

And, in Ephesians 1:3-4 we read: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

In Romans 12:4-8 we read: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

And, in 1 Corinthians 12:11, 18: “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”

As well, we read in Ephesians 4:15-16: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

It’s Not Right (Ac. 6:1-4)

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

You have probably heard the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” This figure of speech is “used in reference to a person that is competent with many skills, but no particular one” (Wikipedia). This can be good if you are a handyman, i.e. if your job is to do maintenance work in a building, and therefore you need to have multiple and/or overlapping skills. As Christ’s ministers, though, it is possible that this could be a detriment if we stretch ourselves over too many ministry areas and thus we neglect the one prominent area of ministry to which God called us even before the creation of the world, and before we were even formed in the wombs of our mothers.

Many pastors, for instance, are expected to do all the preaching of the Word, all the hospital and shut-in visitations, all the counseling, and all the planning and implementation of “church” programs, etc. In addition to this, in today’s modern institutional church, they are expected to be business men with marketing skills, and entertainers and actors who must keep the “customers” coming back for more. Thus, they feel they have to focus more on doing what appeals to human flesh, rather than on spending the necessary time and heart with God in prayer and in his Word so that they are able to lead their flocks to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience.

Yet, this passage of scripture should not be taken as only applying to those who are professional ministers with congregations under their authority. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all his ministers. God has called each and every one of us to something that we alone are to do. It doesn’t mean other people don’t have the same gifts or similar functions, but that God has a unique assignment for each of us. In other words, not one of the apostles was exactly the same as the other, although they were all apostles.

So, we need to focus our attention on who God created us to be, on why we are here, and on what he has called us to do. We need to spend time with God in prayer, and in his Word, and we need to seek his face concerning what part of the body he wants us to be, and then we need to dedicate ourselves to being that part, and to not trying to spread ourselves thin. Then, the body can grow, because every part is doing its assigned work.

Full of Faith (Ac. 6:5-7)

And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

If we don’t have faith in Jesus Christ, God does not have an assignment for us, at least not Holy Spirit empowered for the building up of the body of Christ. So, first of all, we need to examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith. Belief in Jesus Christ is not mere words we recite after someone else, or a one-time emotional or intellectual experience we go through. When we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives, we die with Christ to sin so we can live with him to righteousness. We are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). If we say we have fellowship with God, but we conduct our lives according to a sinful lifestyle, then we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6).

Once we are sure we have true faith in Jesus Christ, then we need to spend quality and quantity time with him each day in prayer (talking to God), in the study of His Word, listening to him speak his truths to our hearts, and then in obedience to what his Word teaches us we must do. God will guide our hearts into his truth, and he will show us the way we should go. As we follow him where he leads us, and we get to know him and his heart, we begin to see what gifts he has given to us and how he wants us to use them in the body, and for his glory. And, then we need to say “Yes” to his leading, and do what he asks us to do. We should then care more about pleasing him than we care about the acceptance of humans. He is likely to call us to do something which will get us rejected by other humans, and so we need to be willing to be hated, persecuted and even killed for obeying our Lord.

We may not always see immediate fruit for our labors, though. Some people are called to plant, while others will reap, so even if you can’t see all the produce now for the sowing you are doing in other people’s hearts, trust God, follow his lead, do what he says, and leave the results to him.

Let him have his way in your heart and life, and let him use you in the way in which he called you even before you were born. We won’t always know all the impact we have on other people’s lives. But, God will use our obedience for good, for the salvation of human lives, for the encouragement of the saints, and for the building up of his body if we surrender to him and let him mold us into the people of God he designed us to be. I surrender all!

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!