Of Faith

Thursday, July 13, 2017, 4:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “His Tender Mercies.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of faith.

Be Not Anxious (Matthew 6:25-34)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I think it is human nature to want to know the end from the beginning of a situation before we will venture into that area. It can be, in the natural, a fearful thing to step out into the unknown, not knowing what lies ahead or how things are going to come together. Yet, when we walk by faith, we learn to trust the Lord in all things, and we believe him to work it all out according to his plans and his purposes.

In the natural, so many things could go wrong, and our plans could fall apart. But, when we are being led by the Lord, and he is the one directing our paths, he will go before us, and he will prepare the way for us. This is not saying we will never face obstacles, but that God is completely sovereign (in control), and that he will work all things out for the good of those who love him; who have been called according to his purposes.

So, we learn to trust him, and to rest in him, and to believe him to supply all that we need for what he has called us to do. And, so we inquire of him to know what we are to do, where we are to go, and what we are to say. We do what he says, and then we leave the results in his hands. We follow him and his lead in our lives, and we trust him, too, with the people in our lives.

Of Little Faith (Matthew 8:23-27)

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

When we follow the Lord in obedience, it does not mean it will always be “smooth sailing.” Sometimes we will face storms, i.e. difficult and troubling situations which shake us, and which may be life threatening, as well. And, it may seem to us that God is asleep on the job, and that he is not paying attention to what is going on in our lives. But, he is still sovereign (in control), and he has it handled. Nothing escapes his notice. He has a plan and a purpose for it all, and he will see us through any and every situation.

So, we should not let the storms of life unsettle us or to make us feel as though there is no recourse or that there is no hope. We must be steadfast in hope and in faith no matter our circumstances. Walking by faith often means that we don’t know what lies before us, and how things are all going to work out. But, when we know God is in it, we have to know that he will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Why Do You Doubt? (Matthew 14:22-33)

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Sometimes, when things get particularly bad, which they will sometimes, we lose sight of Jesus and we get lost in the details of what we are going through. And, that is when we begin to fear and to fret. And, that is because we are looking at the circumstances and we are focusing on them rather than focusing on the God who is sovereign (in control) over our circumstances. So, we may begin to listen to the lies of Satan, instead, and begin to think that God can do nothing about what we are going through.

And, even though Jesus is right there with us in our circumstances, we may not recognize him, and so our hearts may begin to sink. And, when we cry out to him, he reveals himself to us, and he shows us how he is there. Sometimes it isn’t just that he is there with us through our trials, though, but that he is the one initiating the trials in our lives, because he has a plan and a purpose for them to mature us, to get us to rely on him and not on ourselves, and to teach us patience and endurance.

We might, at times, step out in faith, and be walking with the Lord in obedience, and then along the way get sidetracked by troubles or hardships and forget that our Lord is in control. And, then we begin to drown in our difficult circumstances because we took our eyes off Jesus. So, we need to refocus our attention on Jesus, be renewed in our faith, and keep going forward, even when we don’t know what lies ahead. We must walk by faith and not by sight, believing God to do his work in our lives, and in the lives of those we love, even if we don’t see yet what has been promised.

His Tender Mercies / An Original Work / January 26, 2014

Fear not! I’m with you.
Be not dismayed!
God watches o’er you.
Trust Him today.
He’ll lead and guide you;
Give you His aid.
He’ll love and keep you
With Him always.

Walk in His footsteps.
He’ll lead the way.
Trust in His love;
Believe that He cares.
He will not leave you.
Faithful He’ll be.
His tender mercies
Now you will see.

Fellowship with Him
Throughout the day.
Tell Him your heartaches.
He’ll heal always.
Rest in His comfort.
He is your friend.
Your faith He’ll strengthen,
True to the end.

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Take No Part

Friday, June 23, 2017, 3:16 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “More About Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV).

Be Imitators (vv. 1-2)

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

We, as followers of Jesus Christ, and as God’s children, are to imitate (emulate) God. In other words, we are to pattern our lives after Him, become like Him in all that we do, say and are, and we are to follow (obey) Him in doing what he says, and in being who he has called us to be and to do. So, first of all we need to get to know our Lord, first by his saving grace to us, through faith in him, and then in growing (maturing) in him and in our faith. We do this through time spent daily with him in his Word, listening to our Lord speak his words to our hearts, and then by obeying what he teaches us. We also do this through times spent with him in prayer, talking with him, listening to him, and resting (trusting) in him for all things.

As we better get to know Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, and we learn more about him and his will and plan for our lives, and we follow him in obedience, and in surrender to his will, we begin to walk in (live in) love. This love, though, is not human love, but it is God-like love, in which we are to live and to conduct our lives. Therefore, it focuses in what God approves. It prefers what God prefers. It centers in moral preference (1). It is self-sacrificial and considers others’ needs above our own. And, it looks out for what is in the best interest of others, rather than for what their flesh may desire. So, it is not going to lie to people to make them feel better about themselves, especially about their sinful behaviors. But, it will speak the truth in love, because that is loving and kind. Lies are never loving or kind.

Not Named (vv. 3-6)

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

It should not be heard of that there is sexual immorality, all impurity (corruption, adulteration), and covetousness (greed, jealousy, envy) among the saints of God. We, too, should also not be involved with others in conversations which are sexual, immoral or corrupt (dishonest, crooked, perverted or harmful) in nature. Wow! So, how is it that so many Christians today, including pastors, do not follow this, and, in fact, many are struggling with sin addiction? These things should not be! They should not be common place. Christians should also not be viewing movies or TV shows or internet sites which glorify sin, or which entertain with sinful attitudes and behaviors. We should not be taking these things into our minds at all! How can we be pure in heart if we regularly consume what is impure? And, then call it entertainment? Too many Christians today are obsessed with having to be entertained incessantly. This is not why Jesus saved us from our sins!

I believe one of the reasons why sexual immorality is rampant among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ is because of private internet access via smart phones, tablets, and laptop (portable) computers, the influence of TV, lack of accountability, and the notion that we are here to be entertained and to gratify our own fleshly desires, which is what the world promotes.

Another big reason for the vastness of sexual immorality within the church is due to the teaching of a false grace gospel which teaches its adherents that they can just acknowledge who Jesus is, accept his sacrifice for their sins, and that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross. And, then they tell them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that he smiles on them even when they are willfully engaged in immoral acts, including viewing pornography or watching sexually charged TV shows or movies. And, to top it off, they tell them that they now have heaven guaranteed them when they die, no matter what they do from this point forward, thus giving them free license (carte blanche) to continue in willful sin against God.

Yet, the Bible does not teach this false grace gospel. It says plainly that if we continue in sin, if we practice sinning, and if we walk (in lifestyle and conduct) in darkness (sin) or according to our sin nature (flesh), we will die in our sins, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9). If we regularly, consistently, and habitually are involved in immorality, impurity and in idolatry, and this is the practice of our lives, over the course of our lives, and it is always what we fall back on, and there are no obvious signs that we are actually moving away from these sins, then we have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Don’t let anyone deceive you by telling you that you have eternal life guaranteed, and that you don’t have to repent.

Not Partake with Them (vv. 7-14)

Therefore, do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

We are not to partner with or partake with those who are sexually immoral, impure, corrupt, or who are idolaters. And, this includes not allowing ourselves to be entertained by those who do these things, or who act (as in a play) as though they do, or who promote sinful acts. Those who practice such things must not be our close friends, and if they profess to be Christians, we are not to hang out with them at all. Bad company corrupts good character. If we take garbage in, garbage is what will come out. If we want to be pure in heart and mind, we need to take into our minds what is wholesome, pure, true, right, honorable, holy, and godly, etc. And, we need to choose our friends and companions wisely and prayerfully. Instead of pacifying or participating in what is unholy, unrighteous and ungodly, we should be those who expose the fruitless deeds of darkness. And, we should find out what pleases our Lord, and do that, instead.

How You Walk (vv. 15-21)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

As saints and as children of God, followers of Jesus Christ, and as those being led by the Spirit of God, we need to be careful about how we live our lives, examining our conduct before God in prayer, rejecting the impure and immoral, and clinging to what is good, wholesome, pure and righteous. We need to read our Bible, see what it says about how we are to live, and then walk in that truth, instead of following after the pattern of the world. We also need to examine before God in prayer, and in the reading of his Word, as to what purpose we were placed on this earth. Why are we here? What are we supposed to be doing? Are we here for our own pleasure, or to please God?

Instead of just existing, putting in time, entertaining ourselves, and gratifying our fleshly desires, we need to find out what the will of God is for our lives, and then do it! We don’t have tomorrow guaranteed. We need to live for God today while we still have today, and we need to not forget what the Bible teaches with regard to who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Instead of living our lives outside of the Spirit’s control, we need to be living and walking in the power of the Spirit of God, filled to overflowing, giving thanks to God, submitting to one another, and sharing with God’s people all the riches of God’s grace which he has bestowed upon us. And, we must be encouraging one another away from sinful practices, and toward godliness and holiness, so that none of us will be led astray by sin’s deceitfulness.

More About Jesus / Hewitt / Sweney

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

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

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

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

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

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/26.htm

Heart Change

Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 6:01 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Change My Heart, Oh God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 43 (Select vv. NASB).

His Servant (vv. 10-13)

“You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe Me
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
And there will be none after Me.
“I, even I, am the Lord,
And there is no savior besides Me.
“It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed,
And there was no strange god among you;
So you are My witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“And I am God.
“Even from eternity I am He,
And there is none who can deliver out of My hand;
I act and who can reverse it?”

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are his servants and witnesses; “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,” so that we “may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called” us “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

As his servants, we do his bidding. We serve him according to his direction, not according to what we are willing to do “for” him, nor according to what we think is best. If he is our Lord, then he is our owner-master, and we are his bond-slaves. We don’t serve ourselves, and we are not in it for the fame or the fortune. And, we don’t serve for the glory of man or human approval, either, but for the glory of God. Thus, we give God all the honor and glory and praise for what he is doing through us, and we take no credit for ourselves, because we realize that every gift we have comes from him.

As servants and laborers for Christ and for his gospel, it is our responsibility to teach the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ, as he was presented in scripture, and the truth of the gospel according to Jesus and his NT apostles. Yet, in order to do that, we have to really know God through intimate relationship with him via God-given faith in Jesus Christ. We have to spend time with him in his Word, drinking it in, listening to the Lord speak his truths to our hearts, and then we need to obey what he shows us. We must walk in holiness and righteousness in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, too, so that we not only teach rightly, but that we live rightly.

As his servants and witnesses, i.e. as laborers for the gospel of Jesus Christ, we should serve the Lord in humility. We should care for the legitimate needs of others, and we ought to do and say what is in their best interest, according to their needs, not according to their wants. This means that we will speak the truth in love, we will confront sin within the church, and we will warn of divine discipline (judgment, correction), and of false teaching. We will expose lies, and we will counter them with what is truth. We will call for repentance and obedience, and we will encourage and urge fellow believers to live lives of purity, honesty, integrity, faithfulness, and holiness in the power and strength of God’s Spirit now living within them. And, we will do this wherever our Lord opens doors for us to proclaim his Word.

Declare His Praise (vv. 15-21)

“I am the Lord, your Holy One,
The Creator of Israel, your King.”
Thus says the Lord,
Who makes a way through the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
Who brings forth the chariot and the horse,
The army and the mighty man
(They will lie down together and not rise again;
They have been quenched and extinguished like a wick):
“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
“The beasts of the field will glorify Me,
The jackals and the ostriches,
Because I have given waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My chosen people.
“The people whom I formed for Myself
Will declare My praise.

When we are serving the Lord by sharing with people the truths of God’s Word, we will face opposition from sinful humans, much like the children of Israel faced from Pharaoh and his armies who pursued them after they had been delivered from slavery out of Egypt. Pharaoh was a type of Satan, for that is how Satan works, too, i.e. he is not willing to let us go, and then when God does deliver us from slavery to sin, Satan goes after us with his armies to try to get us back, i.e. to attempt to defeat us in battle.

One of his biggest weapons against us is his lies, and the fears which he tries to instill in our hearts in order to get us to doubt God and his many promises to us. He will try to get us to be afraid, to get discouraged, disheartened and to doubt God’s sovereignty over our lives. He will try to get us to fear opposition and roadblocks and circumstances, hoping that we will give up on our mission and turn back in dismay.

Yet, this is a reminder to us of God’s absolute power and sovereignty and control over all things, and of how nothing in this world and no enemy forged against us can prevail. They cannot thwart God’s purposes. What may appear like setbacks are really God’s delays, because it isn’t his timing yet for something to happen. Just because something promised hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen, though that is what Satan would like for us to believe. We just have to wait on God for his timing, and keep trusting him to do what he says he will do.

God is able to do what humans are incapable of doing. If he wants us to go a particular direction, he can remove all the obstacles, and he can make a way for us on dry ground while there are walls of water standing tall on either side of us. He has no limitations other than he can’t do what is evil. Even if things didn’t turn out the way we thought they would before, he can make them happen in the future or even in the present. We should not let our pasts define our present or our future, in other words. God can make all things new! He can change our hearts, and he can change the hearts of others to conform to his purposes, and he can do what he said he would do even if humanly it doesn’t seem possible.

Not Honored God (vv. 22-24)

“Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob;
But you have become weary of Me, O Israel.
“You have not brought to Me the sheep of your burnt offerings,
Nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
Nor wearied you with incense.
“You have bought Me not sweet cane with money,
Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices;
Rather you have burdened Me with your sins,
You have wearied Me with your iniquities.

Even though God promises all these wonderful things for his children, that they will take place, it doesn’t mean that, for everyone, it is a present reality in their lives. Although there are certainly some who are truly walking in righteousness and holiness, and who are serving the Lord faithfully in being his servants and witnesses, there are many today who are not living like Jesus truly set them free from sin. They are not honoring God with their lives, nor are they serving him as he requires and desires.

God is not first place in their lives. He may not even be on their radar much at all, for they are busying themselves with all the things which give them pleasure, and which satisfy the desires of their sinful flesh. Many of them are not even calling on God, or if they are, it is not in truth, or it is being faked for the purpose of deception, to make others think they are living righteously when they are not. So, they just use God and his grace as a cover-up for evil, but their hearts are far from him.

They may give token sacrifices to God, but their hearts are not surrendered to Him. Their service to him is minimal. They are not fully devoted followers of Christ and he is really not their Lord (owner-master), nor are they truly his bond-slaves (servants), although they are called as such, and they are intended to be. They should be filled with the fruit of his righteousness and they should be scattering the seeds of truth and love so that it can multiply in people’s lives, but instead they are self-consumed. And, it isn’t that they don’t have the time or the opportunities to do so, but it is that they don’t take advantage of the opportunities given to them.

So, God is calling out to his wayward children, and he is confronting them with their sins of idolatry and spiritual adultery. He is warning of divine correction (judgment, discipline), and is calling for repentance and walks of faithful obedience to him. As well, he promises hope, healing and restoration for the repentant. If they do not repent, he will make a way for them to repent, but it will be painful. So, turn from your sins today, ask God to change your heart and to make you like him in holiness and righteousness.

Change My Heart, Oh God
Eddie Espinosa

Change my heart, oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart, oh God
May I be like You …