Good Conduct

Saturday, September 16, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 3 (ESV).

We Who Teach (vv. 1-5a)

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

Not many Christians should become teachers of the Word of God. This is not something we should do lightly, or just because someone asked us to do it, or because we just like to hear ourselves talk. We should also not become teachers just because we have biblical knowledge, or because we might be gifted with words, in the natural, or because we think the position will gain us some kind of prominence or popularity. We should only become teachers of the Word because we are called of God to teach, and because we are trusting in him to give us the words he wants us to say. In other words, teaching the Word of God should be a calling of God, and led of the Spirit, and it should be practiced in complete submission to the Spirit of God.

Even at that, i.e. even when we are called of God and submitted to his purposes, we are still humans living in flesh bodies, and we will stumble, at times, for we are not yet perfect, although we are being perfected (made holy), and we are being conformed into the image of Christ (See: Phil. 3:12-16). Yet, this should never be used as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. Many professing Christians continue to live as though they have never been delivered from slavery (addiction) to sin, and then they excuse it away with “I am not perfect.” May that never be! May we always strive toward maturity in Christ Jesus, holiness, and godliness, in the power of God’s Spirit now at work in our hearts and lives, and for the glory of God!

If we do stumble (sin), particularly in our speech, we should humble ourselves before God and others, admit our wrong, and then seek God’s guidance in turning away from that wrong, and doing what is right.

Tongue a Fire (vv. 5b-12)

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

I think all of us can attest to the truths presented to us in this passage of scripture, with regard to our tongues (our speech). Yet, the tongue, itself, is not the real culprit, for the Bible teaches us that it is out of our hearts that our mouths speak (See: Matt. 15:18-19). In other words, if we want to tame our tongues, we must first deal with what is in our hearts. If in our hearts we are storing up hatred, envy, strife, murder, jealousy, unforgiveness, malice and bitterness of spirit, these are what will come out of our mouths, particularly when we are put under pressure. So, we must willingly yield these things over to God, let go of all wrong attitudes, and replace them with godly thinking and attitudes, and with love for our fellow humans.

Yet, I believe it goes back even one more step further, and this has to do with what we are willfully and knowingly allowing or are taking into our hearts and minds on a daily basis. You have heard the saying, “Garbage in; garbage out,” most probably. It is true. If what we are consuming on a daily basis is rage, pornography, nudity, disrespect towards others, devaluing of people, murder, envy, strife, mocking of others, humor at others’ expense, immorality, sexual perversion, adultery, cheating, and lying, etc., this is what our minds will think on, and this is what will influence our heart attitudes, and this is what will spew forth from our mouths, too.

So, we need to make certain that daily we are taking into our minds and hearts what is godly, holy, righteous, and pure, etc., and that we are applying these right thoughts and attitudes and behaviors to our daily lives. And, we need to put off (or out of our lives) all that is ungodly, unholy, impure and unrighteous, including what we take into our minds via outside influences, as well as any wrong attitudes which we willingly dwell upon. And, we need to let go of all that is evil, and allow God to fill our minds and lives with his peace, holiness and righteousness. Then, our tongues should follow suit.

Who is Wise? (vv. 13-18)

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Do we think we are wise and understanding, and that we have much knowledge, especially with regards to Biblical knowledge and understanding? Then, we need to show it by our good conduct in all meekness and gentleness of spirit. Words can be cheap if they are not followed up with or supported by our actions. If we say we love God, or that we have fellowship with him, but we continue in willful sin against him, we are liars, not truth tellers. If we claim to love God, and to worship him, but we don’t do what he says, in daily practice, we don’t really love him or know him, the Bible says. So, true knowledge and wisdom is not in what we know, in our heads, but it is in what we do with what we know, because it is now applied to our hearts.

We also need to be people who live by the truth, and who are not hypocritical. We should never pretend to be more than we are, or act as though we are living beyond where we are living. We should not make an appearance (act) of godliness while we deny its power in our lives via willful sins against God. We should always be truth tellers, but to speak the truth in love, not in brashness and rudeness and in order to willfully bring hurt to others unnecessarily. In other words, I recognize that sometimes the truth hurts, and we can’t avoid all that, for it is often necessary for true healing to take place. The gospel is truth, but it offends many people, because they do not want to conform their lives to Christ or to his gospel. Yet, we must share the truth of the gospel, because it means salvation for many lost souls.

Thus, wisdom can be godly and it can be earthly. It can be of God, or it can be of the devil. Truth can be for our good, or it be to cause harm. If we preach one thing, but practice another, we do more harm than good. So, we must test our hearts, our attitudes, and our behaviors against the truth of God’s Word, get rid of all which defiles us, and cling to what is good. Make sure, in our teaching, that our motives are pure and godly, and that we are not being hypocritical in our teaching because we profess one thing while we secretly are engaged in willful and continued (addictive) sins against God. If God puts his finger on areas of our lives where we need to repent of sin and follow him in obedience, then we need to obey, and not resist him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Wicked Draw Near

Saturday, August 5, 2017, 4:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “It is Well with My Soul.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 119:129-152 (NASB).

Wonderful Testimonies (vv. 129-136)

Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul observes them.
The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
After Your manner with those who love Your name.
Establish my footsteps in Your word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.
Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.
Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of water,
Because they do not keep Your law.

The Word of the Lord is awesome! It is my bread and butter, i.e. it is my livelihood, my means of support, but not financially or materially, but spiritually. From the Word of God, I learn about God and his will for my life. I learn his statutes, and to know what pleases him, and what he desires of me, his servant. I learn of his righteousness and holiness and how to walk in his love and in his grace. I discover his goodness to me, and his boundless mercies which overflow into my life. And, I am taught with regard to his strength, comfort, correction, instruction, and guidance which he provides for me to walk in his footsteps and to know his will and his ways.

I want to walk in the ways of the Lord and to not have any other gods in my life to which I give my devotion and praise. I don’t want to do what displeases my Lord, so I pray for his guidance to show me the way he has for me to go. I love him, and thus I want to serve him and to obey him. Since he delivered me from slavery to sin, and thus sin no longer has dominion over me, I pray that he will keep me from falling, and that I will continue to obey him in all things.

Other human beings will try to lead us astray. They will try to convince us to not be so serious about our walks of faith, and to lighten up and just have fun, as though “fun” is to be our goal in life. They may try to trip us up, too, in order to bring us down with them, because it bothers them that we walk closely with the Lord. So, they will even tempt us to sin against God. And, they will even try to “guilt trip” us into having a lesser commitment to Christ and to be more “normal” like everyone else. Yet, we must not give in to them for a moment, but we must continue to follow our Lord in his ways.

Small and Despised (vv. 137-144)

Righteous are You, O Lord,
And upright are Your judgments.
You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness
And exceeding faithfulness.
My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.
Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.
I am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.
Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.
Your testimonies are righteous forever;
Give me understanding that I may live.

When we commit our lives to Jesus Christ (to God) to walk in his ways and to do what he says, other humans will mock us, reject us, despise us and will persecute us, too, even among those who also call themselves followers of Christ. And, that is because they have been taught and have been convinced that Christians are not to be too serious about God and that they are to immerse themselves in the culture of their societies in order to connect with the people of the world. Or, they have been taught, as well, that “love” does not tell people that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and to heaven, that it does not talk to people about their sin or about judgment, and it does not call people to repentance and obedience to Christ.

Yet, this should only serve to deepen our commitments to Christ and to increase our zeal for our Lord and for his gospel, when we see so many people being led astray from the truth to follow after lies, most especially within the gatherings of the church.

Revive Us, O Lord (vv. 145-152)

I cried with all my heart; answer me, O Lord!
I will observe Your statutes.
I cried to You; save me
And I shall keep Your testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.
My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your ordinances.
Those who follow after wickedness draw near;
They are far from Your law.
You are near, O Lord,
And all Your commandments are truth.
Of old I have known from Your testimonies
That You have founded them forever.

The church of today, at least here in America, is in great need of revival. And, I believe it is coming. So many preachers and so many professing Christians are living far from God, and it is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. Church congregations have been turned into big businesses and are marketed to the world just like any other business. Pastors are even being trained in who their target audience should be and who they should “get rid of” and should encourage to go someplace else where they will be a “better fit.” Many of them are being taught to lie and to deceive and to manipulate naïve minds to follow after humanistic teachings and philosophies, and many of them are, thus, paving the way for the one world religion of the antichrist beast, i.e. the wicked drawing near.

We, as followers of Christ, need to be crying out to the Lord for lost souls and for Christians gone astray and for the church which is turned upside down. We need to ask him to send revival, and to let it begin with us. We need to desire this spiritual cleansing of people’s hearts and lives above anything else we might desire on the face of this earth. And, we should all wake up to the reality of the times in which we now live, and see how the world is going down the toilet, and cry out to God to save us by his mercy and grace.

As well, we need to be willing to let go of the treasures of this world in order to lay up treasures in heaven, i.e. human souls turned from sin to God to follow him in his ways and in his truth.

It Is Well with My Soul / H. G. Spafford / P. P. Bliss

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well; it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well; it is well with my soul.

His Loving Kindness

Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 3:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (NASB) on the subject of God’s lovingkindness towards us.

Rich in Mercy (Eph. 2:1-10)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

When God created man and woman, they were sinless, but then they sinned against God by doing what he commanded them not to do. Ever since then, all of us have been born into sin, with sin natures, and we have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49; Ro. 3:23). Yet, God had planned, even before he created the world, and us, how he was going to save us from our sins (See: Gen. 3:15; Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4). He sent his Son Jesus Christ, God the Son, to the earth to take on human form, and then to die on cross. Although he knew no sin, he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.

Because we are born sinners, we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We can never be good enough in our own merit. None of us are deserving of God’s grace to us. No amount of good works will ever earn us a place in heaven. Our own righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. Only by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, can any of us be saved from our sins and have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Yet, we must have a biblical understanding of God’s grace lest we be led astray by those who would tickle itching ears with feel-good messages which give its adherents a false hope of eternity with God based on a lie, which leaves its followers still dead in their sins, yet thinking they are going to heaven.

So, what is God’s grace to us? Notice with me how this passage begins where it states how we formerly walked (in lifestyle) according to the course of this world, in disobedience, when we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging in sinful passions and desires, and thus we were children of wrath. Yet, because of God’s loving kindness towards us, he made us alive in Christ. Not only did he forgive us of our sins, but he delivered us out of bondage (slavery) to sin. So, now we don’t walk according to the course (path, pattern) of this ungodly world, but we walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14).

The Kindness of God (Titus 3:1-8)

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.

God’s grace to us in saving us from our sins is not merely to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die (or when he comes to take us home). His grace to us is for the purpose to deliver us out of slavery to sin (darkness) and to bring us into his wonderful light (truth, righteousness). It is to turn us from the power Satan had over our lives to God, to follow our Lord in his truth and in his ways, so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus (Acts 26:16-18).

Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace to us is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross so we could continue in sin without guilt. He gave himself up for us to release (liberate) us “from every lawless deed, and to purify for himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:11-14).

Notice again with me that it says here that we were ONCE (meaning past) disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts, envious and hating one another. God’s grace to us, again, is not just to forgive us our sins, but it is to free us from our addiction to sin. It is so that we no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to the ways of this sinful world, but so we now walk according to the Spirit and in Christ’s righteousness. We are not merely forgiven of our sins and given a free pass, but we are washed, we are cleansed of our sins, and we are transformed, and given new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And, being holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into the likeness of Christ Jesus, our Lord (owner-master).

Long for the Pure Milk (1 Pet. 2:1-5)

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The primary purpose of God’s lovingkindness to us in saving us from our sins is that we might no longer walk (live) in sin, but that we might walk (conduct our lives) according to his righteousness. When we truly believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin that we might live with Christ to his righteousness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). For, if we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, even if we believe we are saved. But if we, by the Spirit, are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

So, as followers of Jesus Christ, daily we should be putting sin to death in our lives, and we should be walking in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). And, we should be longing for (thirsting after) the pure milk of the Word of God. This is not to say we should remain content with the milk only, though, and that we should not move on to the meat of the Word, for if we do, we will remain spiritual infants, and not move on to maturity in Christ. And, the whole purpose here is that we might grow (mature) in respect to salvation, i.e. that we should be mature in Christ and walking in his righteousness and holiness.

The house of God under the Old Covenant was a physical building. Yet, when Jesus Christ died for our sins, and he rose from the dead, and his Spirit came to live within those who have believed him to be Lord and Savior of their lives, we became his house, his body. We are not a physical building, but a spiritual one, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. He is our foundation, our Rock on which we stand. And, we are being built up (developed; formed; encouraged) as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In other words, we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, and so we are to give our lives to our Lord as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind (Ro. 12:1-2) for the glory of God.

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.

Love for God

Friday, July 14, 2017, 7:47 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of Love for God.

Keep His Commandments (Jn. 14:15, 21, 23-24; 1 Jn. 5:2-3)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

Love for God is not some emotional feeling, or a religious belief or practice. It is not, in and of itself, singing praise and worship songs in a worship service with hands lifted, although if done sincerely, and in truth, this truly is part of how we express our love for God. It is also not merely confessing him as Lord and as Savior of our lives, or going to gatherings of the church, or serving in some ministry capacity within the local fellowship of believers. For, it is possible to do all of these and still not have love for God.

Love for God is to do what he says. If we do not make it our practice to do what our Lord says, i.e. to obey his Word, then we don’t really love him. Yet, we are not speaking here merely of keeping the 10 commandments, although not one of us could keep them perfectly, otherwise Christ would not have had to die for our sins. Obeying God is not just keeping a list of rules, but it is listening to him day by day, following his lead, doing what he tells us through his Spirit, and obeying his instructions to us, which are written down for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, in his Holy Word.

More Than These (Jn. 21:15; 1 Jn. 2:15; 1 Jn. 3:10)

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

Love for God is to make him first priority in our lives, but not just that, but to make him truly Lord (owner-master) of our lives. We should love him above all else, which means we should follow him wherever he leads us, even if it means leaving all else behind, including our friends and family. Nothing should be more important to us than obeying our Lord, going where he sends us, and doing what he has called us to do. We should obey him, even if everyone else rejects us, hates us, and abandons us, too.

This also translates to not loving the world (sin, worldliness) with the kind of love we should have for God. In other words, we should not take pleasure in, long for, or esteem the values, morals, philosophies, attitudes or behaviors of the ungodly world. We should not prefer what the world prefers, either. We should not pattern our lives after the ways or the will of the world, as well. We ought not to submit to the culture of our society or to immerse (engross) ourselves in it. Included in this is that we should not be entertained by the world of sin and its values, morals and wickedness, too.

Obeying God results in practicing righteousness. And, righteousness is what God approves, what is deemed right by the Lord, and what is approved in his sight (1). If we do not practice (follow, live out) divine righteousness, then we are not of God. Basically, if we walk (in practice) according to our fleshly desires, we don’t know God, we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, and we will perish in our sins. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

Love In Truth (1 Jn. 3:18; 1 Jn. 4:19-20; 1 Jn. 1:5-7)

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.’”

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Some people say they love God, but it is lip service only, for their hearts are far from God, they do not do what he says, nor do they submit to him and to his will for their lives. They can get all emotional in a church service, especially as the music gets louder and more intense, and is repeated over and over again, but then they leave, go home, and live just like the world (the ungodly). We can mouth the words “I love you,” but if we are going our own way, living in spiritual adultery and idolatry, and we are not submitting ourselves to our Lord and to his cross, then we don’t really love him. True love, whether between two people or between people and God is not words only, but it is action and it is honest and sincere (not superficial).

If we say we love God, but we don’t love other humans, then we don’t really love God, for God is love, and he lives within those of us who are truly his. And, again, this love is not emotional feelings, but it is action and it is truth. For instance, if a man or a woman cheats on his or her spouse, then lies about it, but then proclaims that he or she loves the other, he or she is a liar. The same applies to our love for God. If we say we love God, but we go after “other lovers,” i.e. worldliness, wickedness, and selfishness, and then we lie to God and to ourselves, and we convince ourselves that God is ok with us living in adultery against him, because of his grace, then that is not love, either, for God or for our fellow human beings.

If we keep on (practicing) sinning, we don’t know God, and we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God (Jn. 8:34; 1 Jn. 3:6-9; 1 Jn. 5:18). But, if we walk (in lifestyle, in conduct) in the light (truth, righteousness), and according to the Spirit of God, not only do we have true spiritual fellowship with other believers in Jesus, but the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross for our sins, cleanses us from all sin. So, if truly we want to love God and know God, then we need to walk in his love, do what he says, follow him where he leads, and surrender to his will for our lives.

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

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

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

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

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

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/1343.htm

Who is He?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017, 8:30 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “More About Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 1:1-18 (Select vv. NASB).

The Word (vv. 1-5)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

As we read through this first chapter of John’s gospel, we soon realize that “The Word” is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He was in the beginning (of creation) with God, he is God, and he is our creator. He made us.

Jesus is the author of life (Acts 3:15). In Jesus is eternal life (1 Jn. 5:11). And, He is the eternal life (1 Jn. 1:2). This Life is the Light of mankind. He is truth and righteousness, and he reveals truth and righteousness to us. This truth (the light) shines (sheds light) in the darkness (sin, wickedness). He makes clear what is darkness (sin, lies, wickedness) and what is light (righteousness, truth, holiness). He exposes sin and lies for what they are, and he reveals truth and righteousness for what they are. Yet, many who are still in the darkness do not understand, because they do not receive or accept the truth, nor do they reject or deny the lies and the sin.

The Light (vv. 9-13)

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Jesus Christ, the true Light, instructs and educates us in what is of God, in what is holy and righteous, and in what is true. And, he reveals to us what is false, what is not of God, and what is contrary to his Word. He exposes all that is called “light,” but which is false. But, we have to be listening to him, believing him, and applying what he teaches us to our lives, or else we may continue in the darkness, or we may find ourselves accepting false light as true light, and even rejecting the true light, as though it is false.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, left his throne in heaven, came to earth, became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. He suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. During his years of ministry on the earth, he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, encouraged the timid, and delivered people from demons. He also preached repentance for salvation and for forgiveness of sin, death to sin for eternal life, and living to righteousness. And, he said that if we love him, we will obey him (we will keep his word). John said that the way we know we have come to know him, is if we keep (obey) his commandments (his Word, his instructions to us).

Yet, even though Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Lord and Messiah, and even though he created the world, and he came into the world, those who were of the world did not recognize (know) him. Even those of his own household, his hometown, and of his own faith did not receive him. They did not acknowledge that he was their Lord and Messiah, nor did they accept (welcome) him into their lives as their Savior and Lord (owner-master). Even many today, even among those who call themselves Christians, truly do not welcome him as Lord (owner-master) of their lives nor as the one who died that they might die to sin and live to righteousness. They are ok with him forgiving their sins and promising them heaven when they die as long as he doesn’t require anything of them – no commitment, no vows of allegiance, no submission or surrender, and no repentance or obedience.

Yet, for those who truly do receive (welcome) him into their lives as their owner-master, recognizing that they are now his servants, who have repented of their sins, and who are reborn (spiritually) of the Spirit of God, they are now children of God. We are not God’s children merely because he created us, or because we pray a prayer to receive him, or because we acknowledge his existence or accept his forgiveness for our sins. We are his children when we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23). We are his children, too, when we are being led by the Spirit, and when we practice doing what he says (1 Jn. 2:3-4; Ro. 8:14).

Jesus Christ (vv. 14-18)

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

Jesus Christ is God, as well as he is the only begotten Son of God, so his glory (renown, honor, worth) is that of the Father. Jesus is full of both grace and truth. And, as his followers, we also should be full of grace and truth. Grace has to do with God’s favor (his kindness to us). And, the way in which he favored us is that Jesus gave himself up for us on a cross so that we could be delivered out of slavery to sin and have eternal life with God forevermore. And, we give up ourselves for others when we follow our Lord in obedience in being his servants and witnesses in telling others the gospel of Jesus, so that they can be saved from their sins, because we know that this could cost us our lives, our reputations, and people rejecting us.

Jesus was also full of truth, and so should we be. Truth is the opposite of lies. And, it is defined by God; by his standards, not by the world’s standards or values. The Word of God – Jesus, and his written Word – is truth. We should live the truth, believe the truth, promote the truth, and tell the truth, and we should not be liars and deceivers. So, in order to do this, we need to know the truth and be able to distinguish (discern) truth from lies. We can do this in the power of the Holy Spirit within us, but we have to be listening, and we must be willing to have him show us what is truth and what are lies. Many people, even those who call themselves Christians, hold on to the lies, because they like the lies better than the truth.

But, as followers of Jesus, we should be those who love the truth, who drink it in, search it out, follow it, and who share it with others.

More About Jesus / Hewitt / Sweney

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.

More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

More about Jesus; on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

Forever, To the End

Saturday, November 5, 2016, 12:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 119:105-112 (ESV).

A Lamp to my feet (vv. 105-106)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.

I am reminded here of the words John spoke in his gospel, regarding the Word. He said the Word was with God in the beginning, and the Word was God. All things were made through Him, i.e. He is our creator. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (Jn. 1:4-5). He went on to say that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (v. 14). John later identified the Word as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who had come into the world to take away the sins of the world.

So, not only is the Bible (Genesis to Revelation) God’s Word to us, but Jesus Christ is the living Word, who now dwells within those of us who are his followers, via the person of the Holy Spirit. We have the Word living within us, giving us light and truth, and directing our paths. Awesome! Even when we are not engaged in reading the written, yet living Word of God – the Bible – the Word is within us counseling, guiding, encouraging, comforting, and teaching us what Jesus taught his disciples when he walked the face of this earth. The Word is always with us, in other words. It never leaves us. We just have to listen to the Spirit speak God’s Word into our hearts, and then we have to follow our Lord in obedience to his will and to his ways.

Give me life, O Lord (vv. 107-108)

I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.

Before we believed in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, though, we were weighed down with sin. We did not have the light of life living within us, because we had not yet been given this new life in Christ. Yet, somewhere we heard the gospel preached (or shared), our hearts were convicted of sin, we humbled ourselves before God, repented of our sins, and we trusted in Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior. Through the Spirit of God, we were, thus, crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we were resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). The old was now gone, and the new had come. We were now delivered out of slavery to sin, and we were given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived to his righteousness. Amen!

But I do not stray (vv. 109-110)

I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.

A transformation of the Spirit of God had now just taken place in our hearts. Where we once lived to please our sinful flesh, now our desire was for God, to do his will. We no longer walked (conducted our lives) after the ways of our sinful flesh, but we now walked according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. We didn’t reach instant perfection, but we had changed directions, and now we were on the path of righteousness, with the living Word as our guide. So, we began the journey of the Christian life in following our Lord in obedience, and by the Spirit, we began the process of daily dying to sin and putting to death the deeds of the flesh, so that we might have eternal life with God in heaven (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25).

Remember here what John said. He said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (in sin), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). Jesus said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). A saved life is a changed a life; a life transformed of the Spirit of God out of darkness and into God’s wonderful light. Jesus died, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but who walk according to the Spirit. If we are still walking in sin, we don’t know Christ.

Forever, to the end (vv. 111-112)

Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.

Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). Paul said, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain” (I Co 15:2). And he said, “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel” (Col. 1:22-23). The writer of Hebrews said, “… And we are his house, IF we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast… We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first” (Heb. 3:6, 14; cf. Romans 11:17-24; II Tim 2:10-13; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; & I John 2:24-25).

A saved life is not only a life transformed of the Spirit of God away from sin and the power of Satan, and to God – and out of darkness, and into his wonderful light – but it is continuous to the end. In John 3:16 we read that God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. That word “believes” is present tense. In other words, our belief must be ongoing. We are not saved on the basis of past belief. If we want to have eternal life with God, we must be believing on him at the time we go to be with him. And, that belief in Jesus is revealed to be genuine by our forsaking of our lifestyles of sin to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in obedience to his will and to his ways – on his path of righteousness.

Some people will try to write this off by calling it “works-based salvation,” but it can’t be, because it is what God’s word teaches us we must do. Yes, we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, which is a gift of God and not of works lest any of us should boast that we somehow earned our own salvation (See: Eph. 2:8-9). Yet, our salvation is not absent of works of the Spirit in our lives (See: Eph. 2:10). “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” James said, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder… faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (Jas. 2:17-19).

The evidence that true faith in Jesus Christ exists in our lives is that we no longer conduct our lives after the flesh, but we live our lives (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, not in sinless perfection, but daily, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and daily putting on Christ and his Word and his righteousness, and to do so to the very end of time.

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!