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.

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Keep the Faith

Monday, August 28, 2017, 4:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Timothy 4:1-18 (NIV).

Preach the Word (vv. 1-5)

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Although these words were directed to Timothy, we can all learn from them, and apply these truths where applicable to our individual lives. For example, we read in 1 Peter 2:9 that we who believe in Jesus Christ are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of spiritual darkness (sin) into His marvelous light (truth, righteousness). Each one of us, not just preachers and evangelists, thus, have an obligation to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world around us (See: Matt. 28:18-20; Act. 1:8; Matt. 5:13-16; Mark 8:38; Ro. 1:16).

Yet, we need to make certain that what we are proclaiming is the truth, and it is the gospel according to Jesus Christ, and not according to humans. For example, much of what is passing for the gospel these days is not the gospel as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles. It is a “chewing gum” gospel, i.e. it is sugar-coated, fake, and offers no real solution for sin, because it is based in a lie which is intended to tickle itching ears and to give them what they want to hear, not what they NEED to hear. It requires no repentance, no obedience to Christ and his Word, and it teaches that God is pleased with us no matter what we do. There is no death to sin in this gospel, thus there can be no resurrection to new life (eternal life) in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

The truth we must preach (proclaim) is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God without guilt or remorse. 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. For, Jesus Christ gave himself up for us “to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good deeds” (See: Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21). So, if we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

Finishing the Race (vv. 6-8)

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Nonetheless, when we do share the truth of the gospel, and we don’t compromise truth in order to tickle itching ears, or so that humans might like us and accept us, we will be hated and rejected as was Jesus and his NT apostles and God’s prophets of old. We may also be falsely accused of being bigoted, hateful, intolerant and self-righteous because we stand on the truth of God’s holy Word, we don’t compromise with the world of sin, and we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, not in absolute sinless perfection, but in a consistent and persistent walk of faith and obedience to Christ and to his Word. Yet, we should praise the Lord that he counts us worthy to suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation.

As Jesus had many opponents, and he faced much opposition to his message, so will we also if we are teaching what he taught. And, since his greatest opponents were those of his own race, his own religion, his own town, and even within his own family, we should not be surprised if some of our greatest opposition comes, not from the world, but from within the church and from those closest to us. And, that is where it hurts the most, too. Yet, daily we must put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, and we must run with perseverance the race (path) God has marked out for us, and we must never give way to discouragement or give up hope, but we should remain focused on Jesus and on his gospel, and on his mission for us.

One day, when we have finished our race on this earth, and we have completed the mission God had for each one of us, we will go to be with our Lord forever, either through death, or through his second coming. In the meanwhile, we should keep our eyes fixed on him, expectant of his soon return, trusting him in all things, and believing him to fulfill all that he has promised us he would do. We should rest in him and allow him to satisfy the deep longings of our hearts, for there will be much trouble and hardship in this life leading up to the time of his return. Yet, we should continue in the work to which he has called us while we wait for him to take us home.

Rejected and Deserted (vv. 9-18)

Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. Serving our Lord in sharing his gospel message with others, by the very nature of it, is a self-denying ministry. It is because we will be hated, rejected, persecuted and even abandoned by those who, perhaps, once professed love and devotion to us. The closer we walk with our Lord, in fact, the greater risk that people (friends, family, church people) will desert us, not understand us, and perhaps even falsely accuse us of motives, attitudes and behaviors which are not true of us at all.

I am certainly not saying that we are so holy and perfect that everyone who rejects us is doing so because of our walks of faith, for they may not like us for other reasons, such as our personalities or looks, etc. Yet, many will forsake us because they love the world and its pleasures, and thus we are an offense to them if we are truly walking in the way of holiness. Jesus said the world hated him because he told them that what they did was evil. If we confront sin in sinful humans, but they want to remain in their sin, they won’t like us, and they won’t want to be around us. I am not talking about going around finger-pointing, but I am talking about speaking the truth in love, and rescuing people out of darkness and bringing them into God’s wonderful light. Not everyone wants to be rescued.

Some of those who reject us will also mistreat us and will speak evil against us to others so that they will reject us, too, but we must know that this is part of the cost of following Jesus with our lives and sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings. Some people will slander us in order to try to destroy our reputations, because they hate us, or because they feel threatened by us because of what we teach.

And, we may have no other humans to stand up for us, either, but Jesus Christ is and always be our defense, and he will give us all the strength we need to endure whatever he allows to come our way. And, he will do so in order that he may get the glory through whatever he accomplishes in and through our lives, and for the spread of his gospel. He will deliver us through every evil attack against us, and he will bring us safely to his heavenly kingdom when he has finished with us on this earth.

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting
Jean Sophia Pigott

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ‘neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

Fit for The Kingdom

Sunday, August 13, 2017, 11:57 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Bless This House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (NASB) regarding being fit for the kingdom of God.

Don’t Look Back (Luke 9:57-62)

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

When God calls us to go, we must go where he sends us, and not look back, i.e. and not second-guess God or his wisdom. If we want to follow Jesus Christ with our lives, we must deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. It is not ours to choose what that looks like, either. In other words, when Jesus Christ becomes our Savior, he also becomes our Lord (owner-master). When he died on that cross, he bought us back for God with his shed blood, so we are no longer our own, to live how or where we want. We are now to honor God with our lives in all that we do. And, we must be willing to accept the path he has marked out for us, being prepared to give up all the comforts of this world.

Following Jesus wherever he leads us often means sacrifice, and not only leaving the comforts of this life behind us, but leaving friends and family, too, in order to follow our Lord in obedience. Going with God is not always logical, humanly speaking, nor is it always practical, by human terms, and so we may face rejection or criticism, misunderstandings and even resentment from our friends and family because they won’t understand why we must follow Jesus over and above human attachments. They won’t get why it is so important to go where God sends us, and they may even question whether or not we are hearing from God, and they may take offense at our decisions, thinking our decisions are directed against them.

Yet, when we respond to the call of God on our lives with a “but,” then we are not really saying “Yes” to Jesus. What I mean by this is if we say to the Lord that we love him, and that we are his, and that we are the sheep of his pasture, and that he is our shepherd, but then we qualify that statement with a “but” or an “if,” then we are not really serious about being followers of Christ. It can’t be, “I’ll follow you, but first let me do this or that,” or “I’ll follow you, but only if it remains in my comfort zone and it fits with my standard of living.” To follow Jesus means to be fully abandoned (yielded, given over) to him, no matter the cost, or no matter where he sends us, or what he calls us to do, or the sacrifices we must make. If we make up our own rules for following him, and we set the standard we would agree to follow, then we are not really fit (ready for use) for the kingdom of God.

In a Manner Worthy (Phil. 1:27-30)

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

How we conduct ourselves is how we live our lives. It has to do with our attitudes, thinking, speaking and behaviors (actions). These must be in a manner (way, behavior) worthy (suitable, fitting) with the gospel of Christ. So, what is the gospel of Christ? In a nut shell, it is that Jesus died on a cross for our sins, and was resurrected from the dead, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 1 Pet. 2:24; Eph. 4:17-24). So, our attitudes, thoughts, speaking and behaviors should reflect that we are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. This is not to say that we will never sin or have a wrong thought or attitude, but that our manner of living, i.e. our lifestyle, should reflect that the gospel is being lived out in our lives.

If we are conducting ourselves in a manner worthy (fitting) with the gospel of Jesus Christ, then we should be standing firm in our faith, and on the Word of God, and we should not be vacillating back and forth between the world and the kingdom of God. We should be sold out to Christ and to his service, no matter where that leads us. And, if there are those who oppose us, and who criticize, reject, mock or mistreat us because of our faith and our obedience to our Lord, we should not let that undo us. We should not allow ourselves to become unsettled or hindered in our walks of obedience to our Lord just because we face opposition (hostility, resistance). Jesus faced much opposition, but he willingly laid his life down for us for our freedom.

Although having faith in Christ gives us a life filled with much joy and peace, this new life in Christ is not just one big party where having “fun” all the time is our ultimate goal, or where we always live in comfort and at ease. It is not only granted to us, by God’s grace, to believe in him, but also to suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. Thus, we will have conflicts, and opponents, and we will face undue criticism, rejection, hatred, misunderstandings, and even false accusations. Other people will make up their own minds about us, and concerning what they feel are our motivations, and they may gossip about us and slander us, too, but we have no control over that. So, we must submit our lives to Christ, trust in the sovereignty of God, and walk in obedience to his leading.

To Please Him (Col. 1:9-14)

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued 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.

We are not only to walk (conduct ourselves) in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, but we are to walk in a manner (way) worthy (fitting) of our Lord, who gave his life up for us so that we could be freed from sin. He not only has transformed our lives (turned us) from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we could receive forgiveness of sins, but he is our example for us to follow in how we should conduct (live) our lives. “What would Jesus do?” is/was not just a popular cliché, but it is the model for us to follow in how we live our own lives, day in and day out. If we are not comfortable with the idea that Jesus is right there with us, as we go throughout our day’s activities, then we need to alter the way we live.

So, how do we know the manner of living that would be fitting the gospel of Christ or worthy of our Lord? We know it by the witness of God’s Holy Spirit living within us, and we know it by the Word of God. So, we need to be studying the Word of God (the Bible – Genesis to Revelation), listening to our Lord speak his words to our heart, and we need to be doing what it says. It is NOT true that God is pleased with us no matter what we do. So, we need to find out what pleases our Lord, and then we need to walk in that, all in the power and the working of God’s Holy Spirit living within us.

When we walk (conduct our lives) in a manner (way) worthy (fitting) of our Lord and of his gospel, and we live to please him fully, we will produce fruit (results, outgrowth) in our lives which will be in conformity or harmony with a life which has been crucified with Christ in death to sin and resurrected with Christ to newness of life. We will no longer live (in lifestyle) to please our sinful flesh and to do what will gain us popularity and acceptance in this world. But, our desire will be for our Lord, to walk in his ways and in his truth. Yet, we don’t have to conjure this up ourselves. This is the working of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, as we yield our hearts to God, and we follow our Lord in surrender and in obedience. He will give us all we need in this life to live godly and holy lives pleasing to him.

Bless This House
Helen Taylor / May H. Morgan

Bless the people here within,
Keep them pure and free from sin . . .

Bless us all that we may be,
Fit O Lord to dwell with Thee . . .

Rejoicing the Heart

Monday, July 24, 2017, 6:23 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Touched My Mouth.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 19:7-14 (ESV).

We read in the Bible that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). What this is saying, I believe, is that even those scriptures that were written to or about specific people at a particular time in history, that may not literally apply to us individually, and as believers in Christ, are still profitable to us in order that we might learn from them in principle, if nothing else, as to God’s perfect will for our lives. So, we should not ignore the Old Testament, because there are many rich truths to be gained from the study of these OT books.

The Word of God (vv. 7-11)

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

When we read the Word of God each day during our personal times of worship and fellowship with our Lord, it should be more than just a religious ritual or something we do because we were told we should do it. Because God’s Word is alive, it still speaks to our hearts. The Holy Spirit of God quickens our minds and hearts to hear from God as we read, and he gives counsel in how to apply the truths of scripture to our individual lives. There will be general truths, instructions, warnings, etc. which will apply to all of us, but also the Spirit of God will speak to us individually concerning our life’s situations, God’s calling on our lives, and his direction for where he wants us to go and what he wants us to do and to say each day.

The written Word of God is the main way in which God, via his Spirit, speaks to our hearts, though he can speak to us through other people, through life’s circumstances, and via nature (Ps. 19:1-6), etc. Yet, what we believe he is saying to us must always be consistent with the teachings of scripture and not be in opposition to the Word of God. When God speaks to our hearts, he will speak words for our comfort, encouragement, strengthening, joy, refreshing, and wisdom, etc., yet he will also speak words of correction, rebuke, and warning, too. All this is for our good, so we should receive it all as from God, and not want to hear only what is pleasing to our ears.

Presumptuous Sins (vv. 12-13)

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

The Bible is real clear about what is sin and what is not sin, yet humans sometimes add to or take away from what the Word of God teaches on that subject. So, we must know what the Bible teaches regarding sin, so that we can avoid or stop sinning against God. Some people like to try to find loop-holes, though, in order to excuse away what they know is wrong.

Some sins have a broader meaning than what some people might understand, at first glance, and so we need to understand the extent to which some sins might be interpreted, and be careful to not take any interpretation beyond the teachings of scripture, as a whole. For instance, Jesus said that it is said that a man should not commit adultery, but he said that for someone to even lust after another, it is committing adultery with him or her in his heart. So, some people, in trying to excuse away sin, may loosely interpret “lust” to not include pornography, for example, so that they could say when they are viewing pornography that they are not guilty of adultery, but for the married person, it definitely is adultery.

Then, there is something called “hidden faults,” which I believe also fits with this matter of correctly interpreting the full extent of any particular sin. For example, the Bible says that gluttony is a sin. Gluttony is excess in eating. But, what is the measure of the excess? By some standards, in other countries, all Americans might be considered gluttonous, for example. Truly we don’t need nearly as much food as most people think we need in order to survive. We can survive on very little, actually; a lot less than you might actually imagine, in fact. If we are willing to ask the Lord about our eating, and we listen, many of us would start losing weight. I know I have. And, I feel a whole lot better than I did before. But, just saying here that there might be some sins we don’t realize we are committing, because we don’t understand the full extent of what they entail, until the Lord opens our eyes to see what he considers sin, to its full extent.

Then, there are presumptuous sins, i.e. these are willful sins against God where we choose to sin, knowing full well that what we are doing is sinning against God, and yet we do it anyway, right in God’s face. When people commit such sins, they will make a path for them so that they will be able to do the sin, and they won’t make the necessary cuts in their lives to avoid the sin, because they want to sin. And, then some of them will try to claim that they didn’t know, or that they were caught off guard, or that they were blind-sighted, but they weren’t blind-sighted, because they knew when they went into the situation that they were vulnerable, and they knew there was a good chance they would give in to the temptation, but they made no plan to not go there, and so they planned to fail. This is arrogance!

So, if we want to be able to discern our errors, we need to be listening to God, and then we need to obey him and do what he says, and not resist his voice, or in pride and arrogance think we can handle a situation we know we can’t handle. Pride comes before a fall. And, if we don’t want to be guilty of hidden faults, then we need to pray that the Lord will show us when we are sinning against him, and to what extent he does call something sin, such as in the case of the measure of the excess of our eating, i.e. what truly defines gluttony, for example. And, if we want to be kept from presumptuous sins, then we need to stop making excuses for sin, stop rationalizing away sin or justifying what we know is wrong, and we need to call sin what it is, and make a plan and follow that plan for how to not be led into temptation. Jesus gives us the way of escape, in other words, but we need to take it!

Words of My Mouth (v. 14)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

All in all, we, as believers in Jesus Christ, should want to do what is pleasing to our Lord, and we should no longer crave the sinful desires of our flesh. Our desire should be for our Lord, and we ought to want to do what is right in his eyes, and to stop doing or not do what we know is wrong, or what he says is wrong. Our thoughts, our words and our actions and attitudes should all be brought into conformity to his will for our lives, and we should not excuse away what we know is sin, but we should surrender our all to HIM.

Then, he can use us in the lives of others to help them to be free from slavery to sin, i.e. to show them the way to freedom in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Then, he can put his words in our mouths that we may share with others to encourage them in their faith in Jesus Christ or to show them the way to salvation and to eternal life with God. And the freedom from slavery to sin that we have found in Christ Jesus, our Lord, we can then proclaim to others so that they might be free, too, and no longer walk in the ways of the world and of the flesh, but that they may walk according to the Spirit of God and in truth and righteousness, to the glory and praise of God. Amen!

He Touched My Mouth / An Original Work / June 13, 2012

Based off Isaiah 6:1-8; Jeremiah 1:4-9

Oh, I saw the Lord seated on His throne,
High and lifted up; Holy is the Lord!
The earth is full of His glory.
“Woe to me,” I cried,
“I’m of unclean lips.”

My Lord touched my mouth
With His cleansing pow’r;
Removed all my guilt, paid for by His blood.
He asked, “Whom shall I send;
Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Before I was born, God set me apart;
He appointed me to His servant be.
I said, “I don’t know how to speak.
I am but a child.” Then, the Lord replied:

“Do not say to me, ‘I am but a child.’
You must go to all, and do what I say.
Do not fear them, for I’m with you.”
My Lord touched my mouth;
Gave me words to say.

Flaming Darts

Saturday, July 22, 2017, 5:53 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Do Your Best.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV).

The Evil Day (vv. 10-13)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Before the creation of the world, as we know it, there was an angel in heaven named Lucifer (Is. 14:12) (3). He decided that he wanted to be God, and so he rebelled against God, along with about a third of the angels in heaven, so he was cast to the earth (1). Lucifer, now called Satan (the devil, the dragon), is now considered to be the “god of this world” (or “god of this age”) (2 Co. 4:4). He is also called “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) (2). When we are outside of faith in Jesus Christ, we are under the power and control of Satan (and sin). When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are delivered from Satan’s dominion over our lives. Amen!

Yet, Satan is not God Almighty. The God who created this world and all living creatures is still completely sovereign over all that he has made (See: Eph. 1:15-23; Col. 1:15-20; Rev. 3:14; Col. 2:9-10; & 1 Pet. 3:21-22). Satan can only do what he does because God allows it, within limits set by God, and only for a predetermined amount of time, after which God will judge Satan and all his hordes (Rev. 19:17-21; 20:1-15). Satan has no real power over those of us who have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Yet, he can tempt, oppress and afflict us, and attempt to influence, persuade, and manipulate us, if God allows it, and for God’s purposes in our lives. So, that is why we are given this spiritual armor with which to fight off the devil’s evil schemes against us.

So, why does God allow Satan to rule (within limits) over this world? My thinking on that subject is that God wanted a people who would choose to serve and love him, not because we have to, but because we want to. So, he did not make us puppets (marionettes) on strings, which he controlled. He gave us free will to choose evil or good, lies or truth, wickedness or righteousness, self (and Satan) or God. When we are tempted to do evil, but we choose, instead, to obey God, God is pleased with that. And, this wrestle against these spiritual forces of evil helps to strengthen and mature us in our faith and commitments to Christ, to follow him in obedience and surrender to his will. It pushes us towards God, as we learn to call on our Lord for help.

Stand Strong (vv. 14-17)

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, …

So, since we have these spiritual evil forces working against us, we must stand strong in the Lord and in his mighty strength, and we must daily put on this armor of God. So, how do we do this? Well, for one, we do this by daily resisting Satan, fleeing evil desires, pursuing righteousness, and by drawing near to God in full assurance of faith, being cleansed of our sins (Jas. 4:7-8; 2 Tim. 2:22).

Yet, so many Christians fail to take up their spiritual armor daily because they are not resisting Satan, fleeing evil, or pursuing righteousness. Instead, they are playing with evil and are allowing themselves to be entertained by it on a daily basis, while they are neglecting the Word of God in the putting on of what they have learned into practice in their daily lives.

Another thing we need to realize here is that God/Jesus already won this battle for us. It is not as though Satan has power over us. He doesn’t! Jesus delivered us from the dominion of Satan. So, in the power and might of God living within us we CAN STAND STRONG in our faith and against these forces of evil, and we CAN RESIST SATAN and flee evil desires, and we CAN pursue righteousness. We are not defeated. Satan is! We just have to believe this, and we need to act on it by doing the things we have talked about here, and by putting on this armor daily.

When Satan lies to us, we combat his lies with the truth. When he twists the truth and mingles it with lies, we use the Word of God against him, like Jesus did when Satan tempted him in the wilderness. When the devil casts doubts into our minds, we put on faith (and truth), which will extinguish Satan’s flaming darts. When he tempts us with immorality, we reject it, and we put on Christ’s righteousness and holiness. When he tries to get us to be afraid, we put on faith, truth, and the Word of God, etc. If we want to live victorious Christian lives, we have to put off (reject) evil, and we have to put on (live out) Christ’s righteousness and holiness.

Keep Praying (vv. 18-20)

…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Prayer is not merely “saying your prayers.” Prayer is not something we do simply for a predetermined period of time each day, during which we list off our prayer requests and then we are done. Prayer is continuous conversation with God and listening to him speak to our hearts throughout the day (1 Thess. 5:17). It is having the attitude in mind that Christ is with us 24/7, living within us, and speaking to us his words of guidance, counsel, encouragement or correction. He may put a name of someone in our minds at any moment, and so we should pray for that person. Or, he may have something he wants us to do for or with that person, and so we need to inquire of him as to why that person’s name is in our minds, and what he wants us to do.

Often he speaks to me through songs throughout the day, and sometimes in response to what I am thinking about even before I voice it to him in prayer. He can do this with any of us if we are in this continuous attitude of prayer, i.e. in unceasing communion with our Lord to where, at any moment, he may speak, we may hear, and we would be able to respond. This is how he guides us and directs us throughout the day in any and every situation, and how he shows us what we need to do in response to temptation or in regard to Satan’s evil attacks against us. Yet, for this to happen, we must have open channels between us and our Lord to where he can speak to us at any moment, and to where we will respond to what he is saying to our hearts.

And, we need to be in prayer for one another. This does not always have to be done through making lists, though, for we can pray that the Lord would put names into our minds as he wants us to pray for them, and even that he would give us the words he wants us to pray, so that we are praying in the Spirit and not in our human flesh. Sometimes he does this through circumstances, where he burdens our hearts with a need, so that we will pray for that need. We do, most certainly, need to be praying for one another that we would be strong in our faith and that we would be bold in our witness for our Lord and for his gospel, for the times are short, and there is much opposition to the gospel of our salvation and to those who are spreading the gospel message throughout the world.

Do Your Best / An Original Work / November 7, 2011
Based off of 2 Timothy 2

Love You, Father, love You, Lord.

Be strong in the grace of Christ.
Endure hardship for your Lord.
Your commander, live to please.
You’ll receive the victor’s crown.
By the rules, run in the race.
Your Lord, you’ll see face to face.
Jesus Christ, raised from the dead;
Of your life, He is the head.
Endure all for the elect.

Love You, Father, love You, Lord.

If we died, we live with Him.
If we last, with Him we’ll reign.
If we disown Him today,
He will have to look away.
Even if we faithless be,
Faithful He’ll remain always.
He cannot disown Himself.
He’s our Lord and Savior, King.
He will reign o’er ev’rything.

Love You, Father, love You, Lord.

Do your best; present yourself
As one who’s approved by God.
Work as one who’s not ashamed;
Rightly share the Word of Truth.
Wander not from what you know.
Destroy not the faith of some.
God’s foundation; it stands firm.
The Lord knows those who are His:
Those who turn from wickedness.

Love You, Father, love You, Lord.

In a house are wood and clay,
Gold and silver, all array.
Some are noble, some are bad –
Cleanse your life, and you’ll be glad;
Useful to the Master’s work.
A pure heart – in righteousness,
Pursue faith and love and peace.
Bad desires you want to flee.
Gentle servant you must be.

Resources:

*Disclaimer: Not an endorsement or pledge of full agreement with content.

(1) https://www.gotquestions.org/Satan-fall.html

(2) https://www.gotquestions.org/Satan-god-world.html

(3) https://www.gotquestions.org/Lucifer-Satan.html

Fellowship

Monday, June 26, 2017, 8:07 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “In Truth.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read selected scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of biblical spiritual fellowship.

What is Christian Fellowship?

From my own experience, I have found that this word “fellowship,” in many Christian circles here in America, is used often more in a secular sense rather than in a biblical sense. For instance, it is called “fellowship” when a group of people, who are connected via profession of faith in Jesus, or via participation with a local church organization, gather together for a social get-together which may or may not be affiliated with or sponsored by that local church organization. This social gathering may involve eating tons of food together, watching TV or movies together, playing games, shopping for non-necessities, or attending a sporting event, etc., and the name of Jesus may or may not even come up at all. Yet, they call it “Christian fellowship.”

So, to begin with I want to look at the definition of biblical (Christian and spiritual) “fellowship” (koinónia). It means “participation, communion, partnership, sharing in, communion; what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship (partnership, community)” (1). “Koinonia is being in agreement with one another, being united in purpose, and serving alongside each other. Our koinonia with each other is based on our common koinonia with Jesus Christ” (2). And, that last sentence here really is key to understanding true biblical (spiritual and Christian) fellowship.

Fellowship with Christ (1 Co. 1:9; Phil. 3:10)

“God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…”

So, if we are called into fellowship with Jesus Christ, and to share in the fellowship of his sufferings, what does that look like? It means we participate with Christ in death to sin and in being resurrected with him to newness of life in Christ Jesus, in the Spirit of God, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:24). It means we partner with Jesus Christ, that we are in agreement with him, that we are united with him in his purpose for our lives, and that we serve him faithfully. This means that we turn away from our sinful lifestyles, forsake our idols, and we turn to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives. We also accept the fact that following Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives means we will be hated, rejected, persecuted and abandoned, just like he was.

Fellowship of the Spirit (Phil. 2:1-4)

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

When we trust Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, and we become his servants, bond-slaves to him and to his righteousness, his Holy Spirit comes to live within us, to empower, strengthen, counsel, teach and guide us in the way that we should go, so that we can live holy lives, pleasing to God. His will is the will of the Father and that of the Son, and that is that we live holy lives, set apart (unlike, different) from the world of sin because we are being made into the image of Christ. So, to be in fellowship with the Spirit is to agree with God, and to be united with him in his purpose for our lives, which is that we die with Christ to sin and that we live with Christ to his righteousness.

So, when we are united with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – likeminded in heart, mind and purpose, which is to walk in obedience to our Lord and to do his will, and to no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, then we can also be likeminded, united in purpose, and having the same (agape) love as other believers in Jesus who are also united with God in heart, mind and purpose. And, this should result in us not living to please ourselves, but God, and in us serving one another unselfishly. We should put others’ true needs above our own, and we should look out for what is in the best interest of others, i.e. regarding what they truly need, not necessarily regarding what they want. And, this involves laying our lives down in order to see others go free from slavery to sin, and to walk in holiness, righteousness and godliness, even if it means we are hated, persecuted and rejected in return.

Fellowship with One Another (Acts 2:42-47)

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

These believers in Jesus Christ, when they got together, continually devoted themselves to the teaching of the Word of God, and to remembering what Jesus Christ did for them in dying for their sins, and in rising from the dead. They were devoted to sharing meals together, and to prayer (talking with and listening to their Lord). They witnessed many miracles of God in their midst, and they shared with one another as they had need. Day by day they met together, continuing with one mind, which was the mind of Christ, and giving thanks to God/Jesus and praising Him, and the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Their fellowship was based in Jesus Christ, not in the flesh of humans, and it was centered on God’s will for their lives, learning from him, and sharing his love and grace with others. And, the result was that many came to faith in Jesus Christ. It was not about being entertained, but it was about sharing in Jesus Christ and in his saving grace to us, loving him, and loving others.

Fellowship with Darkness (2 Co. 6:14)

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?

It is not Christian fellowship if we are united with, in agreement with, in partnership with or we participate with those who are walking in darkness (sin, wickedness) in their wicked (sinful) deeds. It is also not Christian fellowship if we unite (agree with) the world (worldliness) via ungodly activities we participate in, sinful attitudes and behaviors we adopt as part of our lives, or via unholy and wicked scenarios we regularly feed into our minds via TV, movies, the internet, books, magazines, and the like. In other words, don’t call it Christian fellowship if Christ has no part in it, if he is opposed to what we are doing, and if what we are doing stands in opposition to his will for our lives or his teachings (or those of the NT apostles).

For example, if when we gather together for what we call “Christian fellowship,” but Jesus Christ is not even included in what we do, nor would he want to be, then it isn’t “Christian fellowship,” but it is worldly, fleshly and/or it is darkness – unrighteousness and ungodliness. And, that has no communion (no fellowship or partnership) with what is light (truth, righteousness, holiness, godliness, etc.). So, we are not to participate in what is darkness, but we are to have fellowship with what is light. For, the two do not mix. And, we should not try to mix them, either. True fellowship begins with God, with being likeminded with him in following his will and his ways, and it is based in Jesus, and in the Word of God, and not in the will of humans or in the passions and desires of our sinful flesh.

Fellowship with God (1 Jn. 1:5-7)

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

And, here is the crux of the matter. If we say we have fellowship (agreement, like-mindedness, and unity of purpose) with God, but we conduct (live) our lives to please our sinful flesh, instead, we are liars. If we call what we do with others “Christian fellowship” but everything we do with them has nothing to do with Christ or his eternal kingdom, but everything to do with selfish pleasure and entertainment, we are liars, or we are fooling ourselves. True fellowship with Christ or true Christian fellowship with others is about walking in the light (truth, righteousness), pleasing God, serving others, and it is about following Christ and his Word, and sharing it with others so they can come to know Jesus Christ and his salvation, too.

So, if we want to have true fellowship with Christ and with others, we need to walk (conduct our lives) in the light (truth, righteousness). And, we need to no longer live to gratify our sinful cravings and passions. It is important that we realize that God’s grace to us is not solely for the purpose to deliver us from hell and to promise us heaven when we leave this earth. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die 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. God’s grace is not free license to continue in willful sin against God. But his grace 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: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Jn. 6:35-66; Acts 26:16-18; Gal. 5:19-21; & Tit. 2:11-14).

In Truth / An Original Work / January 10, 2012

Fellowshipping with my Lord, Savior, King.
He is Lord of all; Lord of ev’rything.
He is with me through ev’ry hour of day,
List’ning to me speak, as I humbly pray.
He cares for my needs,
and He intercedes for me,
‘cause He loves me in ev’ry way.

Obey His commands, and do all He says.
Sitting at His feet, daily in His word,
Let His word speak to me in ev’ry way,
Giving comfort and healing through each day.
Oh, how Jesus loves,
And He cares for you,
Which is why He died for our sins, in truth.

Love our Lord God, Savior, and King of kings.
Worship Him in truth, for He reigns supreme.
He created us with a plan in mind
For us to be His servants, and Him mind.
Follow Him in truth;
Go where’er He leads.
Share His love with others, and their needs meet.
Others: their needs meet.

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/2842.htm
(2) http://www.gotquestions.org/koinonia.html#ixzz387XFegim

Prepare for Action

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 9:34 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Born Again (vv. 3-5)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

What does it mean to be born again? First, we are born physically of a mother, and then, because of God’s grace to us, and by faith in Jesus Christ, we are born of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord. One is a physical birth. The other is a spiritual birth. So, how are we born again?

Well, first of all Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) had to die on a cross. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). He put our sins to death on that cross. And, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, when we believe in him, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. We are born again of the Spirit of God, and Christ now lives in us.

Various Trials (vv. 6-9)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

So, we rejoice in our salvation and in the hope of eternal life with God. Yet, our hope is not just that one day we will be with our Lord forever, but our hope is in the freedom he has given us to walk (conduct our lives) not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Our hope is that we have a Savior, who is our Lord, but who is also our friend, confidant, counselor, guide, helper, strength, healer, comforter, encourager, and teacher, etc. Our hope is that we are in a personal and intimate relationship with our God, which gives us not only future hope, but present and living hope day by day, which is what keeps us going when times get tough.

Our hope, too, is that God created us for a purpose, and he has given meaning to our lives, and purpose and direction, and that even our trials are part of his plan for our lives in order to purify us, to make us holy, and to prepare us for his service. Also, our trials are for the purpose to test our faith, to make it stronger and more resilient. When we suffer, it is for our good, to make us more like Jesus, and to teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves. We, too, learn patience and perseverance through difficult times. And, we grow closer to our Lord, mature in our faith, and increase in our seriousness of our walk of faith, when we respond to our trials with grace, with trust in our Lord, and with submission to his perfect will for our lives.

Prepare Minds (vv. 13-16)

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

In our minds we store memories, good and bad. In our minds we think, we believe, we discern, make decisions, and react to our circumstances. In our minds we entertain sinful thoughts or we dwell on heavenly things. Part of God’s saving grace to us is in the renewing of our minds, in the healing of past hurts, and in transforming how we believe and perceive things. Yet, we have a responsibility regarding our minds, in the renewing process, and that is in the putting off of the old, and the putting on of the new; in thinking about things which are pure, right, true, and beneficial, rather than thinking hateful thoughts or impure thoughts.

We also have a responsibility for what we take into our minds, to make sure that we are not feeding our minds with what is garbage, or what is immoral, wicked, and ungodly, etc. If we take garbage into our minds, that is what is going to come out in our words and actions and attitudes. If we entertain our minds with the sinful acts of others, this is what our minds will dwell on, and often our actions and words will follow suit. So, if we are going to prepare our minds for action, we need to keep our minds pure and focused on Jesus Christ and on the truths of his Word. And, we need to take God’s Word seriously and apply its truths to our daily lives.

Conduct Yourselves (vv. 17-19)

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

What does it mean to conduct ourselves in fear? I believe this is speaking here of the fear of the Lord, which is reverence, respect, honor, value, esteem, adoration, worship, obedience and submission to our Lord. Our conduct is the way in which we live, i.e. our daily practice. This is how we should live, day in and day out. Conducting ourselves in fear is also living on this earth as though we truly do not belong here, as though this world and all its stuff is really not our home, but with an eternal focus in mind. We are not here to build kingdoms on this earth, but to help, to work to advance God’s heavenly kingdom while we still live here. We are not here, in other words, to live to please and entertain ourselves, but we are here to give glory to God in all that we do and say and think and are.

It also means that we live holy lives, pleasing to God. Being holy means we are separate (set apart, unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made to be like Jesus. We should no longer be conformed to the ways (patterns, attitudes, values) of this world, but we are to be transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds. Our new lives should not look like our old lives, and only slightly cleaned up to be more presentable. Our new lives should be radically different from our old lives, because we died with Christ to sin, and we were resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to him and to his righteousness.

Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be
Norman J. Clayton

Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day,
Yielded completely to Jesus alone
Every step of this pilgrim way…