Whatever Comes

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

Always Rejoice (vv. 4-7)

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

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

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

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

Dwell on These (vv. 8-9)

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

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

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

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

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

Content in Whatever (vv. 10-13)

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Take His Hand

Monday, September 4, 2017, 9:16 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 4 (NASB).

Things Hidden (vv. 1-2)

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

When we share with people the gospel of our salvation from sin, in Jesus Christ, our Lord, we should do so in truth and in complete integrity. So, if we want to be certain that what we are sharing with people is the truth, then we must study the Word of God, in particular the New Testament, and we need to learn what the gospel message teaches. For, many people today are adulterating (polluting, infecting) the Word of Truth by twisting scripture to their advantage or by picking and choosing only a few select scriptures which, taken out of context, say what they want to hear, while they ignore the rest. They, thus, fit the scriptures to their lifestyles rather than fit their lifestyles to the teachings of scripture.

Also, when we share with people the gospel of our salvation from sin, we need to not do so hypocritically. We should make certain we are walking the talk and not just talking the walk. We ought to be people of God, born of the Spirit of God, who are walking in holiness and righteousness, and who are not given over to sinful addictions. We must be godly people who have renounced secretive and shameful ways, instead of being people who make a profession of faith only, or who are not living what we are teaching others. It is imperative, too, that we make no pretense, and that we participate in no hidden sins, as well as that our walk matches our talk.

Blinded Minds (vv. 3-6)

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

The truth of the gospel should not be hidden from people on our account because we failed to learn the truth, and because we trusted in the lies (half-truths) being taught by others. If the truth is hidden from them, it should be because Satan has blinded their eyes, and because others, not ourselves, are the ones polluting the gospel to make it more acceptable and appealing to human flesh. We should be ones who are committed to knowing and sharing the truth of God’s Word, because the truth is what will change human hearts, and set them free, not clever lies disguised as truth which leave people still in bondage (slavery, addiction) to sin.

So, we must be bearers of Light, not of a mixture of light and darkness, disguised as light. What we proclaim must also be focused in Jesus Christ and not in giving glory to ourselves. We should be promoting Jesus, not humans. And, we ought to present ourselves as servants of Christ and give him all the glory for all that he does in us and through us. For what we have, and what we are, and what we do should be all because of what Jesus did for us in dying on the cross for our sins, and because he delivered us out of slavery to sin so that we might walk in his righteousness, in his power and strength. And, all the praise, honor and glory ought to go to him alone.

Earthen Vessels (vv. 7-12)

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

It was God’s design and plan that he would use human beings, his followers, to spread his gospel message throughout the earth. Yet, we live in flesh bodies, and we get sick, tired, and weak, and we have our enemy Satan fighting continually against us, even through other humans, so we must rely on the strength, power and wisdom of God to continue in the work of the ministry to which he has called us. But, that is a good thing, because then we know that when God uses us that it wasn’t us who did it, but it was God. So, it keeps us humble and trusting and resting in our Lord, even for the strength to keep going, at times, and then for the empowerment of his Spirit in our lives in knowing what to do and say. Then, he gets the glory, not us.

Sometimes life can get pretty tough. Sometimes the opposition against us can get pretty severe, too. We may feel, at times, as though the weight of the world has come crashing down upon us. We may lose sight of God’s sovereignty over our lives, and feel like we are drowning in our circumstances, but we should never give up hope. We may go through some serious trials on this earth, because we are being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our lives. But, our Lord is always with us, he is in control over all that he has made, and he will never abandon us. He has a plan and a purpose for what he allows us to go through on this earth, and it is to make us holy, to purify our hearts, and to make us more like Jesus, so that his life shines through ours to the world.

Don’t Lose Heart (vv. 13-18)

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

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

Even though we may be going through some hard stuff in this life, on this earth, we do not lose heart, or we should not lose heart, because we have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Not only that, but Jesus Christ is doing some awesome things in our lives while we still live on this earth, if we will let him by submitting to his will for our lives, and by walking in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh. He uses these trials in our lives to mature us in him, and to grow us in our faith, and to teach us to rely on him and not on ourselves. So, even though we may be going through a difficult period of time, he is busy changing our hearts by inwardly renewing us day by day. So, he is working it all out for our good (what is best for us).

So, we need to keep our focus on Jesus and not on our circumstances or on ourselves or what we are going through. We must trust him with our lives and with our life situations and let him lead us in the way he would have us to go. We can’t see what lies ahead for us, so we don’t always know why things are happening to us the way they are, but God knows. So, we must trust him. And, we must follow his lead. He won’t lead us down the wrong path. We just need to take his hand, and follow him. We should always keep an eternal perspective and not let what is temporary cause us to lose sight of what is eternal. God will make a way where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see. So, rest in him. Believe him. And, follow him.

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

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

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

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

Ears Stopped Up

Sunday, September 3, 2017, 4:13 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 Isaiah 48 (Select vv. NASB).

Not in Truth (vv. 1, 4, & 8)

“Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are named Israel
And who came forth from the loins of Judah,
Who swear by the name of the Lord
And invoke the God of Israel,
But not in truth nor in righteousness…

“Because I know that you are obstinate,
And your neck is an iron sinew
And your forehead bronze…

“You have not heard, you have not known.
Even from long ago your ear has not been open,
Because I knew that you would deal very treacherously;
And you have been called a rebel from birth.”

The nation of Israel, under the Old Covenant relationship with God, was in a unique position which will never again be equaled, so we can’t make exact parallels between them and any other group of people today, yet there is much we can learn from these verses which describe them at that time.

For instance, there are many people in the world today who proclaim to be Christians and followers of Jesus Christ. Many of them, perhaps, had parents who also claimed to be Christians, and/or they were brought up attending gatherings of the church or church meetings in localized institutional churches. They may even have been baptized, perhaps as infants, or as adults, possibly as a means of joining a local church fellowship, and they may even be active within these local church gatherings or institutional churches in positions of teacher, elder, deacon or pastor, etc. Yet, their relationships with God, with Jesus, are profession only. Their professions of faith in Jesus Christ, in other words, are not in truth or in righteousness.

So, what does it mean to believe in Jesus in truth and in righteousness? It means that when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we submit to his Lordship over our lives, we humble ourselves in confession of sin, and repentance, and we trust in our Lord, not only to forgive us our sins, but to cleanse our hearts of all unrighteousness.

It means we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We are not looking just for a get-out-of-jail-free card or merely a promise of heaven when we die, but we truly want to give our hearts to Jesus in full surrender to his will for our lives. So, by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh. We no longer conduct our lives according to the flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, but not in absolute sinless perfection, but in consistent and persistent walks of faith and commitment to our Lord and to his ways and to his will.

Yet, those who make a profession only of faith in Jesus Christ, in many cases, are those who are actually opposed to Christ and his truth and his ways, in many respects. For truly their hearts are obstinate (stubborn) and unrepentant, and they are just using God for what they think they can get out of him, while they have no real intentions of ever submitting to his will for their lives. They want the blessings of God in their lives, but they want to keep going their own stubborn way in living their lives however they want, for their own pleasure, and to thirst after their own sinful desires. So, they stop up their ears, and they refuse to listen (really hear and respond) to God’s Word, although many of them will pretend as though they do.

He Will Act (vv. 9-11)

“For the sake of My name I delay My wrath,
And for My praise I restrain it for you,
In order not to cut you off.
“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
“For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act;
For how can My name be profaned?
And My glory I will not give to another.”

We read in the New Testament that the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise concerning his return one day, but which also includes judgment. He is very patient and longsuffering, giving time for many to repent of their sins before he comes back, and before he judges the people of the earth, because he is not willing that any should perish in their sins, but that all should come to repentance, for this is why he died and rose again.

Yet, the Lord does discipline those of us who are truly his, and sometimes because those who are his are not living like they are his, but they are temporarily straying from their pure devotion to him, and they are going their own stubborn way. And, so he disciplines them in order to bring them back into fellowship with him. Yet he may also allow difficulties, trials and hardships in the lives of those who make a profession of him only, or in the lives of those who make no profession of faith in him, and who don’t know him, and in order to bring them into genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

But, one day he will come in judgment on the people of this earth, and for the sake of his name, which is being profaned by those who give him lip service only, but whose hearts are far from him. And, many will perish in their sins. So, we need to be spreading the truth of the gospel to as many as will listen so that many will be saved before the wrath of God is poured out.

The Way We Should Go (vv. 17-22)

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you in the way you should go.
“If only you had paid attention to My commandments!
Then your well-being would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
“Your descendants would have been like the sand,
And your offspring like its grains;
Their name would never be cut off or destroyed from My presence.”

Go forth from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans!
Declare with the sound of joyful shouting, proclaim this,
Send it out to the end of the earth;
Say, “The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob.”
They did not thirst when He led them through the deserts.
He made the water flow out of the rock for them;
He split the rock and the water gushed forth.
“There is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord.

We, as the people of God, and we, as the people of this earth, need to pay attention closely to what God is saying, for one day we will no longer have this opportunity to heed his words and to follow his ways. We need to listen to his counsel, and we must follow his leading, and surrender to his will for our lives, for he says that if we continue in our sinful ways, and we make sin our practice, we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God, but only a fearful expectation of judgment.

We must understand that God does visit nations and peoples and even his saints in judgment or divine discipline and correction when they go their own stubborn way and refuse his counsel. And, at least some of this could be avoided if we would just heed his Words to us, and obey his commands. Yet, he does not promise smooth sailing even for the righteous and godly, but he promises we will have difficulties, afflictions, and persecutions which are to test our faith, mature us in Christ, make us holy, and to train us in godliness and righteousness. Yet, we can know his inward peace and joy, and know his strength and power in our lives through these trials, and we can be overcomers, if we just put our trust in him, and follow him and his ways.

What our Lord is saying to the people of the world today, and to his saints who are caught up in the world and who have strayed from him, is that they must humble themselves before God, turn from their wicked ways, and follow him in surrender and obedience. They must flee from sinful practices, worldliness and following their own lustful desires, and they must submit themselves to the will of God for their lives. For, he died that they might die to sin and live to righteousness, not in their own strength and power, but in the strength and power of the Lord living within them. He has given us all we need to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him, so none of us have an excuse for living in stubborn and willful rebellion against God.

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.

My Portion

Saturday, September 2, 2017, 5:27 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 Psalm 119:57-80 (NASB).

Heth (vv. 57-64)

The Lord is my portion;
I have promised to keep Your words.
I sought Your favor with all my heart;
Be gracious to me according to Your word.
I considered my ways
And turned my feet to Your testimonies.
I hastened and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.
The cords of the wicked have encircled me,
But I have not forgotten Your law.
At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You
Because of Your righteous ordinances.
I am a companion of all those who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.
The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O Lord;
Teach me Your statutes.

The Lord Jesus is my God, my treasure, my fortune, my future, my destiny, my purpose, and my sustenance for life, for all that I need and am and will be. Whether he provides me with much or with little of worldly goods, yet will I praise him and worship him. I will enjoy what he provides, and I will be a good steward of all that he gives me, but I will not make things my god. My life is not dependent on worldly possessions, but it is dependent on the Lord. He gives and he takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Because the Lord is my portion, and I find my life in him, and not in the pleasures of this world, I desire to keep his Words, for they are my delight! I love to sit with him each day and to listen to him speak tenderly his Words to my heart, and then to follow him wherever he leads me, and to do what he says. Because I love my Lord, I have turned my heart away from sinning against him, and I have turned my feet to walk in his ways and in his truth. Yet, this commitment is not without opposition, for we have an enemy of our souls whose goal it is to destroy us, so we find our strength in the Lord, and in his strength we press on, we persevere, and we don’t give up!

When we love our Lord, and our desire is for him, to serve him in all ways, we should love him more than our sleep. And, we should be willing to rise even at midnight to give him praise, or to pray for others, or to do whatever it is he would have us do, like writing out what he teaches us to share with others, for instance. And, he can make 4 hours of sleep feel like 8 hours of sleep when we are walking in obedience to him. He will give us all we need to follow him in surrender to his will for our lives. We just need to put our trust in him and not in our flesh, and let him teach us his ways, that we may walk in them. Lord, give me an undivided heart with which to praise you!

Teth (vv. 65-72)

You have dealt well with Your servant,
O Lord, according to Your word.
Teach me good discernment and knowledge,
For I believe in Your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
You are good and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.
The arrogant have forged a lie against me;
With all my heart I will observe Your precepts.
Their heart is covered with fat,
But I delight in Your law.
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.
The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Those whom the Lord loves he disciplines (trains, corrects, rebukes, scourges), and the discipline is often painful. He allows us to go through difficult times, and to face opposition, for our good (for what is best for us) so that we may share His holiness. For those of us who are being trained by it, it produces a harvest of righteousness in our lives (See: Heb. 12:1-13). It is good for us to be afflicted, at times, in order that we might learn obedience through what we suffer, as did Jesus, and he was sinless.

When we go through these trials, thus, we should not resent them or become bitter of spirit, for God is allowing them in our lives to mature us and to strengthen us in our faith, to humble us, and to make us more like Him; to prune and to purify us, and to teach us to rely on him and not on ourselves. When things are going too smoothly for us we may become lazy in our walks of faith or arrogant, or we may stray from our pure devotion to Jesus Christ to follow after the flesh, instead of to submit to the Spirit of God. So, his divine discipline is for our good, that we might grow in Him and become like him, that we might forsake sin and follow him in obedience.

Yet, when we walk in obedience to our Lord, we will face opposition from those who have chosen a more fleshly path to follow. Some of them will try to shame us into compromising our faith and convictions in order that we might appear more “normal,” and they will try to pressure us into blending in better with society. Or, they will try to convince us that we are too serious, and that we need to lighten up and take life more easy. Often when people are walking in ways they know are not right for them, they may have a tendency to want to bring others down with them, for the godly make them uncomfortable. So, this should not surprise us when this happens.

Yodh (vv. 73-80)

Your hands made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
May those who fear You see me and be glad,
Because I wait for Your word.
I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
O may Your lovingkindness comfort me,
According to Your word to Your servant.
May Your compassion come to me that I may live,
For Your law is my delight.
May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie;
But I shall meditate on Your precepts.
May those who fear You turn to me,
Even those who know Your testimonies.
May my heart be blameless in Your statutes,
So that I will not be ashamed.

God created each one of us, and he created us for a purpose. His purpose for our lives, as believers in him, is that we should walk in his ways, and no longer to please our sinful flesh. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He gave his life up for us that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him. He didn’t save us just to give us an escape from hell and the hope of heaven when we die. His blood not only paid the price for our sins, but his blood bought us back for God, so we are to honor God with our lives, and not live to please ourselves.

My hope is that all who call themselves Christians would grasp these truths, for many are they who are lying to them, and who are convincing them that God requires nothing of them, and so they believe they don’t have to repent of their sins, and that they don’t have to obey Christ, but they are totally missing the point of why Jesus died, which was that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. His grace to us is not just to forgive us our sins, but it is to deliver us out of slavery (addiction) to sin. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

So, we need to reject the lies and believe and follow the truth. So, how do we do this? Well, first we need to know the truth, so we need to be in God’s Word and listening to what he says, and not buy into every message which sounds good in order to tickle itching ears. We must test what we hear against the Word of God to make certain that what we are hearing and believing is truth and that it is not based in lies and deception. Satan is very clever, and he uses clever enchanters to twist scripture to his advantage, so we have to be students of God’s Word so that we can discern errors and be certain of what is truth, so that we follow truth and not lies.

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.

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.