A Believer’s Prayer

Coming to faith in Jesus Christ means so much more than just Jesus forgiving us of our sins so that we can go to heaven one day. When we trust Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, we give our whole heart and devotion to him to obey him, to forsake our former lives of sin, and to follow him wherever he leads. He said his sheep hear his voice, they listen, and they follow (obey) him. When we invite Jesus to be our Lord (owner-master), it means he is now the boss of our lives, but not just the boss of our lives, for he is our very best friend.

When he is truly our Lord and our Savior, our desire is for him to please him in all that we are, and do and say. We want to be his forever. We yearn to know him better, and to understand what his Word teaches us, so that we can follow him in truth and in obedience to him and to His Word. The fellowship we have with him each day in prayer and in his Word is unmatched by any other. No one else will ever love us like he does. We can always depend on him to lead, guide, protect, nurture and comfort us daily. He will never abandon us. He is completely faithful. And, one day he will come again to receive us to himself.

A Believer’s Prayer / An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

Led to Repentance

Sunday, July 23, 2017, 3:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of repentance.

From Darkness to Light (Acts 26:15-20)

And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

Many preachers today are teaching that God does not require us to repent of our sins, or else they are just deleting (or omitting) repentance from the gospel message, or else they are teaching that repentance is simply having a change of mind in the sense of deciding to believe in Jesus Christ. Yet, is repentance required by God for salvation, and, if so, what all does repentance entail? What is this “change of mind” we are supposed to have? Is it merely to decide to believe in Jesus, or is there more to it?

Well, to repent certainly means to have a change of mind, but it is also a change of the inner man (of our inmost being, our hearts). This change is an indication of our acceptance of the will of God, too, after which we should think, believe and act differently than we did before. In the context of most biblical references to repentance, the indication is that one leaves his former life of sin behind him, casting aside his idols, and his rebellion against God, in order to turn to God/Jesus to follow (obey) him in all his ways.

And, this is made clear for us here in this passage in Acts 26 where Jesus called Paul to open spiritually blinded eyes, turning them from darkness (sin) to the light (Jesus Christ, truth, righteousness), and from the power Satan had over them to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ.

So, Paul obeyed what Jesus told him to do (vv. 16-18) by telling the people that they must repent of their sins and turn to God, and that their actions from that point forward should, thus, reflect (reveal) their repentance.

Obey the Truth (Rom. 2:3-11)

Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

God’s kindness is his grace to us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to the cross to die for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died on that cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. When he died he put our sins to death with him so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. In fact, he died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

So, the purpose of his grace to us is not just so we can escape hell and have forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven when we die. His grace to us is to lead us to repentance. In fact, 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. God’s grace is NOT carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and remorse. For, if we walk in sin, according to the flesh, we will die in our sins (1 Jn. 1:5-9; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

Thus, God’s grace should lead us to repentance, and that repentance should produce a change of heart and mind away from living for sin and self to faith in God/Jesus Christ, to follow him (obey him) in all our ways. Yet, if we continue living (practicing) sin, we should expect God’s wrath and fury, not his warm acceptance with open arms into his heaven. If we do not walk in obedience to Christ and his commands, but we go our own way, instead, we will die in our sins, not be saved in the end. Yet, if we follow our Lord in obedience, and we are, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity.

Flee and Pursue (2 Tim. 2:22-26)

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

So, repentance is a change of heart and mind away from sin and Satan and to (toward) God and his righteousness. And, it results in a change of thinking, believing and behaving so that we don’t do the things we did before. Now our desire is for God/Jesus, to obey him and to walk in his ways and in his truth. So, it is a lot like making a U-turn in a road. First we were going one direction, and then we changed course, we turned, and now we are going in the opposite direction as we had been traveling.

And, it entails fleeing worldly passions and desires and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace. If all we do is just try to stop doing what is wrong, but we don’t do what is right, then we are a lot like a thief in between jobs, because nothing has really changed. Our character hasn’t changed, nor have we truly had a change of heart and mind. True repentance means we leave the way we use to live behind us and we now live holy lives pleasing to God. This is not to say we will be instantaneously perfect, i.e. that we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that being born again is a new life, not the old life slightly cleaned up to be more presentable.

When we come to repentance, via God’s grace to us, we come to our senses, we realize we were heading the wrong direction, we are broken and contrite over our sins, and we follow our Lord in the right direction. We escape (break free from) the snare of the devil, who had taken us captive to do his will, and now we submit to our Lord, and we are desirous to do his will. And, we continue on this path until the day we die or until Jesus comes back to take us to be with him forever.

And, all this is made possible because of God’s grace to us and due to his sustaining power in our lives. All glory to God. Great things he has done in granting us repentance and forgiveness of sins so that we can now walk in freedom from slavery (addiction) to sin, and so we can walk in the Spirit, by faith in Christ, and according to his righteousness.

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012

Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

Slavery to Sin

Friday, July 21, 2017, 5:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Reached Down.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read varied scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of slavery to sin.

Practicing Sin (Jn. 8:34; Ro. 1:28-32; Gal. 5:19-21)

“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.’”

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

When Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), died on the cross for our sins, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died, in fact, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He was put to death on a cross so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, He gave his life up for us in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk (in lifestyle; in practice) not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. [See: 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 8:1-4.]

So, if we practice (continue in) sin, i.e. if sinning against God is part of our normal course of life as a matter of habit, routine, or the way we live, then we are not free, but we are still enslaved (in bondage) to sin. And, we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God. For, God’s grace to us is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt. God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. So, don’t be led astray! We should not even be entertained by the sins of others, for we are thus approving of others’ sins.

Slaves to What? (Ro. 6:6-7; Ro. 6:16-23)

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.”

“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When we truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives with God-given faith, and not with mere intellectual assent or acknowledgment, 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. The old nature is put to death that we might no longer be slaves to sin, but that we might live new lives in Christ Jesus to his righteousness.

This is not to say, nonetheless, that we will never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that sin should not be our practice (lifestyle). Daily, by the Spirit of God, we should be putting the deeds of our flesh to death, and daily we should be taking up our cross and following (obeying) our Lord Jesus (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). For, this is the reason for which Jesus was crucified on a cross. For, if we are still making sin the practice of our lives, we are enslaved to sin, and that leads to spiritual death, not life in the Spirit. But, if we walk in obedience to Christ and to his Word, that leads to righteousness, which then leads to sanctification (being made holy), and its end is eternal life with God.

Freedom to Captives (Lu. 4:18-19)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

So, if we want to share the gospel of our salvation with others so that they can come to know Christ, too, then we need to tell them the truth. So many preachers and teachers of the Word today are proclaiming a half-truth gospel, which is a lie, and which deceives naïve minds into believing that they can “believe” in Jesus, but that they don’t have to repent of (turn from) sin, and that they don’t have to obey Christ, and that God is pleased with them no matter what they do. Yet, scripture clearly teaches that if we proclaim we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars who don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

Freedom from sin is not merely forgiveness of sins or deliverance from hell. True liberty is freedom from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin. Freedom from sin is deliverance from the power and control Satan had over our lives so that we can now walk in freedom from sin addiction and its hold on our lives. No born again Christian should be addicted to (controlled by) any sin. Jesus set us free! We just have to live like we believe that, and all in his power and strength and working of his grace within us. This is the GOOD NEWS! It is not good news if we are still bound in our sins, and especially if we have been given a false hope of eternal life with God based on a lie.

When we are still in bondage to sin, we are free from the control of righteousness so that we cannot please God with our lives. We are blinded to the things of God and of his righteousness until he opens our eyes to the truth and he awakens our minds and hearts to see our sinful condition and our need of him as Savior (deliverer from sin) of our lives. So, know that there are many liars and deceivers out there who are disguising themselves as servants of righteousness and as ministers of the gospel, but whose messages are lies cleverly disguised as truth in order to deceive naïve minds. They are messengers of Satan sent to turn people away from the truth so that they will not be saved, while still promising them the hope of heaven when they die. So, know the truth, and the truth will set you free!

He Reached Down / An Original Work / February 3, 2014

Based off Psalm 18

How I love You, Lord, my Rock and my strength.
My God is my fortress; I hide in Him.
He is my shield and the horn of
My salvation, whom I praise.
I have found my refuge in Him.

He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
Drew me out of waters so deep, I’d sink.
He delivered me from Satan
And my slavery to sin;
Gave me hope of heaven with Him.

My God turned my darkness into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes; gave me sight.
As for God, his way is perfect.
He gives strength to stand secure.
I have found my vict’ry in Him.

My Lord lives! Praise be to my Savior God,
Jesus Christ, who died on a cruel cross.
He is my Rock and the source
Of my salvation, whom I trust.
I will give praise always to Him.

Our Walk

Thursday, July 20, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Zeal for Your House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (ESV) on the subject of our spiritual walk with Christ.

Walk in Daylight (Ro. 13:11-14)

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Those who are outside of faith in Jesus Christ are spiritually asleep, i.e. they have not yet been awakened to the gospel of our salvation and to eternal life with Christ Jesus, our Lord. This results in death spiritually. And, this also describes many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, but who do not truly know him. Yet, true believers in Jesus Christ have been awakened spiritually, and have received salvation from sin and new life in the Spirit, in which they now walk, or in which they should now be walking. Nonetheless, it is possible for those who have once been awakened to begin to drift off into a spiritual slumber and to fall back into some of their old ways of living (See: Rev. 2-3), and they need to be reawakened (revived), for the time of the Lord’s return is nearer, when our salvation will be completed.

So, the counsel here is that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we need to cast off any works of darkness in our lives, and we need to put on the light of truth, righteousness, and holiness. We are to live our lives in a manner which is consistent with our confession of faith in Jesus Christ, in all decency, honesty, integrity, uprightness, and morality. And, we are to rid our lives of all lies, deceit, impurity, immorality, indecency, rage, spite and malice.

Our walk is how we live day in and day out. It is how we conduct our lives. It is our lifestyle. This is not to say we will never sin (See 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that we should not conduct our lives after the flesh, but that our lifestyles should reflect Jesus Christ and his purity and righteousness. In fact, we should make no allowance at all for immorality, deceit or malice in our lives whatsoever. This means we should not even allow ourselves to be entertained (via TV, movies, games, etc.) by anything containing sensuality, immorality, and indecency, or promoting lies, cheating, mockery, or malice.

Walk Worthy (Ephesians 4:1-3; Col. 1:9-14)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to walk (conduct our lives) in a manner (way, behavior) worthy (commendable) of the Lord and of his calling on our lives. We are his representatives, his body, and as such, our lives should reflect him and his righteousness and holiness, and not our sinful flesh. For, when God calls us to be his servants, and his heirs of the promise of eternal life with God, it is not merely so we should escape hell and go to heaven when we die. 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 Christ’s likeness. In fact, we are predestined to be conformed into the image of Christ, and even before the creation of the world we were called to be holy. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not that we should have a free license to continue in sin without guilt.

So, daily we should be becoming more like Jesus in all that we do, think, are and say, and we should be daily putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, in order that we might live with Christ for eternity (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6). And, we should live lives pleasing to God, and not to please ourselves (2 Co. 5:15). We should be growing in our walks of faith every day, maturing in Christ, being transformed in mind and heart, and being strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit of God. We should live our lives, in other words, as though God has truly delivered us out of the domain (ownership) of darkness (sin, Satan), and as though we are now living in the light of his truth and his righteousness (what is deemed right in the eyes of the Lord).

Walk in Him (Col. 2:6-8; 1 Thess. 4:1-8)

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

If we are walking (conducting our lives) in Christ Jesus, we are not living to gratify the desires of our sinful flesh. We don’t love the world of sin, i.e. we don’t long for what is unholy, unrighteous, wicked, and evil, etc. Our passion (zeal) is for Christ and his truth, not for what tickles itching ears, or for what appeases our sinful flesh. We don’t follow after human beings and their philosophies and worldly ways, but we follow the path of righteousness and holy living. We are also not tossed back and forth by the winds of false doctrines, “by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (See: Eph. 4:11-16). We are not looking for feel-good messages which make us comfortable in our flesh, but we long for the deep truths of scripture which teach us the way of holiness, that we may walk in it.

So many people today are teaching that God requires nothing of us at all other than some non-descript faith in Jesus Christ, which does nothing more than acknowledge who Jesus is and/or what he did for us in dying for our sins, and which merely accepts his forgiveness of our sins, but which never dies with him to sin and which does not live with him to righteousness. They also teach that God is always pleased with us and that he delights in us even when we are engrossed in sinful rebellion against him. But, scripture does not teach that. Scripture teaches that we must repent (turn from) our sins, and we must walk in obedience to our Lord and live lives pleasing to him if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Way

Sunday, July 9, 2017, 8:18 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “God Will Make a Way.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of “the way.”

Jesus is The Way (Jn. 14:6)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to God, to heaven, to salvation from sin, and to eternal life with God. “And there is salvation in NO ONE else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). He is not only God, our Lord and our Savior (our Messiah), but he is our creator. We were made by him. He is the giver of life, both physical life and spiritual life. There is life in no other. And, in him no lie is found, for he is truth, and what he proclaimed is truth. He is the Living Word and the author of scripture (our Bible – Genesis to Revelation), and it is truth.

The Way of The Lord (Matt. 3:1-3)

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’”

The way of The Lord is a straight path, i.e. it is honest, upright, trustworthy, undiluted, pure, unmixed with the world of sin, and genuine (unpretentious). It is not hypocritical, and it does NOT immerse (engage) itself in the culture of a society. It does NOT lead people to believe that they don’t have to repent of (turn away from) their sins or that they don’t have to obey Jesus in order to be saved. It does NOT use God’s grace to us as a license for lasciviousness, but it leads people to leave their lives of sin behind them to follow Jesus Christ in obedience, and in surrender to his will for their lives.

And, the way is a journey, not just a one-time experience, after which you live life however you want, and then one day you go to heaven. It is the way of holiness, and it is living and walking in righteousness. It makes “no truck with the world” (1). For, if we walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, even if we proclaim faith in Jesus Christ (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:17-24; Eph. 5:3-6; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

In the Same Way (Matt. 5:14-16)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

As believers in Jesus Christ, and as his followers, we are his body, the church, the City of God (the Holy City). Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is not only The Way, The Truth, and The Life, but he is The Light. He is truth, righteousness, and holiness. He is our light, and his Word is light, and his righteousness and holiness are light. And, to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the likeness of Christ. So, it is this light that we are to let shine before the world. We are Christ’s representatives to the world, so we are to let Jesus shine through our lives, and we are to live holy and godly lives pleasing to him. And, we are to share his gospel of salvation, which is the way by which people can be saved from their sins, and have eternal life with God.

The Way is Narrow (Matt. 7:13-14)

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

So many people today are trying to make the path (way) to God and to heaven broad (all-encompassing), rather than teach the narrow way, which is “(figuratively) the closely-defined path God ordains to travel on to gain His approval” (2). The broad way teaches that we can merely believe in Jesus’ existence, and accept his forgiveness of our sins, and we are saved, secured, and bound for heaven, and that nothing can ever take that away from us, no matter how we live our lives from that time forward. It “does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect… The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public” (3). This way is easy, but it leads to destruction for all who choose this path.

But, the narrow way, which is the way of righteousness, truth, and holiness, and which leads to life, is hard (restricted), and that is why so many people are rejecting it and are making their own easy way to God, which is misleading, because the easy way is really a path to destruction, not to God. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. If we practice sinning against God, we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God. But, if by the Spirit, we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will be saved from our sins, and we will live with Christ for eternity (Ro. 8:1-14).

The Way of Truth (Matt. 22:15-17)

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

The way of God is the way of truth, not a way of lies which tickle itching ears with feel-good messages that pamper (indulge) human flesh. God’s way does not concern itself with pleasing humans, but his way is concerned with humans pleasing God. God’s way is not swayed by popular opinion, by the culture of our society, or by TV, movies, the internet, social media, or by the philosophies, values, morals and attitudes of what is considered the “norm” of a society. His way is holiness and righteousness no matter what anyone else does, or no matter what anyone else says. He is also not impressed by appearances, for he can see the heart of man. He knows those who are truly his and those who are just playing games. He knows who has an appearance of godliness, too, but who denies its power by his/her lifestyle (2 Tim. 3:5).

God has made the way for us to walk in his way. He sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). When we believe in him, with God-given faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin), we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). Genuine faith in Jesus Christ involves both repentance (turning away from sin) and obedience to Christ.

As was stated earlier, The Way is not just a one-time experience, but it is a journey, i.e. it is a daily walk. Our salvation is not complete until Jesus Christ returns. So, our Lord continues to make the way for us to follow him, to obey him, to know his will, and to walk in his truth, as he leads us each day in the way he would have us to go. He gives us the counsel, direction, strength and power to walk in his ways, and to go wherever he leads us. He opens doors that no one can shut, and he shuts doors that no one can open. So, where he leads us he will make the way for us to go there, too. So, we should not fear, but we should trust our Lord. He is completely faithful!

God Will Make a Way / Don Moen

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me

He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way…

(1) By A. W. Tozer: http://www.ldolphin.org/oldcross.html
(2) http://biblehub.com/greek/4728.htm
(3) Same as #1

Strength to Help

Sunday, June 25, 2017, 7:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “You are Loving and Forgiving.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 86 (Select vv. NIV).

Forgiving and Good (vv. 5-7)

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.

Our God is a loving and forgiving God to all who call on him in truth.

The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy. Ps. 145:18-20

If we are seeking God’s forgiveness of our sins, we must understand that calling to him means doing so in truth (faithfulness), with no deceit found in our mouths. It also means that we fear him, i.e. that we reverence, respect, and honor him in our request for forgiveness, and with our lives (conduct). And, it entails that we love him, and to love him is to obey him. So, to call on God is no light matter, or something we do casually just to relieve guilt from our minds. God’s forgiveness of our sins is conditional to our repentance, i.e. to us leaving our lives of sin behind us and us now following Christ with our lives. It means we have been turned from darkness (sin) to the light (truth, righteousness, Jesus Christ), and from the power Satan had over our lives to God, to walk with him in his ways, and in his truth (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Acts 26:16-18).

Teach Me Your Way (vv. 11-13)

Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.

The goal of God’s forgiveness of our sins and of our salvation is not just to deliver us from hell and to give us the hope of eternity with God in glory. God’s goal in saving us from our sins is to eradicate sin from our lives so that we no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, but that we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit, in the ways of God. 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 while claiming heaven as our eternal home. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).

So, when we come to genuine faith in Jesus Christ, and our sins are forgiven, our hearts should, thus, long to have our Lord teach us his ways so that we can walk in them. Our desire should be for God, his truth and his ways. We should not be numbered among those who look to God’s grace as merely an escape from hell and the hope of heaven, but who teach we don’t have to repent, obey or submit to our Lord, and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do. That is a slap in the face to Jesus Christ who died that horrible death, and who took all our sins upon himself in order to deliver us out of slavery to sin, not give us free rein to continue in it without guilt or remorse. In other words, we are not saved from our sins so we can straddle a fence between righteousness and wickedness, with one foot in the world while the other is in God’s kingdom.

If we are truly born again of the Spirit of God, and we have been turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, we should want our Lord to teach us His Ways so that we can walk in them (in how we live our lives), not try to worm our way out of them. We should also desire truly to have undivided hearts which are not trying to live in two opposing worlds at the same time, and we should willingly remove from our lives all that is worldly and is opposed to righteousness and holiness. We should pray in all sincerity, and ask the Lord to show us anything in our lives which is displeasing to him or which stands opposed to his righteousness, and then, in obedience, love, and in surrender to our Lord, we should get rid of all that stands in the way and which hinders our walking in the ways of God. Our lives, thus, should result in praise to God for his deliverance from sin.

Arrogant Foes Attacking (vv. 14-17)

Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

When we truly walk in the ways of the Lord, with undivided hearts, and we are committed to his righteousness and holiness, and we rid our lives from all which hinders our walks of faith, so that we can walk in his holiness, we will be opposed. People will not like us. Even others who profess faith in Jesus Christ will despise and reject us. They may call us self-righteous, holy rollers, goody-goodies, and religious extremists, and the like. And, it is because our lifestyles are an offense to theirs, and because we teach holiness and walking righteously before God. And, holiness means we live separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the image of Christ. This is not to say that we will be absolutely perfect, but that our lives are committed to obeying our Lord and to walking in his ways and in his truth, and that we do so as the practice of our lives.

So, when we are opposed, and we are treated unfairly and with disdain, and just because people don’t like what we believe or how we choose to live, we need to call on our Lord, lean on him, trust in his sovereignty and grace, rest in his love, and keep on living for him and doing what he says. We need to pray for our enemies, do good to them, and speak kindly to them, but also speak the truth in love, for that is the kindest speaking we can do. We need, too, to pray for wisdom in knowing how to respond to unfair and harmful treatment with grace, but also in truth. And, we need to trust in the strength of the Lord to get us through difficult times, and to show himself through our circumstances and through our lives as a testimony for him as to his grace.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:1-2, 7

You are Loving and Forgiving
An Original Work / February 19, 2012

Based off Psalm 86

You are loving and forgiving,
Jesus, Savior, King of kings.
You provided our redemption.
By Your blood You set us free.
You are gracious; full of mercy.
No deeds can compare with Yours.
Great are You; there is none like You.
Glory be to Your name.

Teach me Your way, and I’ll walk in it.
O Lord, I will walk in Your truth.
May I not have a heart divided,
That Your name I give honor to.
I will praise You, O Lord, my Savior,
For great is Your love toward me.
You have delivered me from my sins.
Your grace has pardoned me.

You, O Lord, are full of compassion,
Slow to anger, bounteous in love;
Faithful to fulfill all You promise;
Glory be to Your name above.
Hear, O Lord, and answer Your servant.
You are my God. I trust in You.
Turn to me and grant Your strength to me.
You are my comforter.