Do What Is Right

Tuesday, March 04, 2014, 7:05 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “What the Lord Says.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 56-57 (NIV).

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9

Keep the Faith

“Maintain justice
and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
and my righteousness will soon be revealed.” ~ Is. 56:1

We are encouraged here to uphold, preserve, keep (follow; obey) and continue in doing what is honest, truthful, upright, lawful, and in that which shows integrity. We are to be in the daily practice of doing what is right (correct; true; proper; and moral) – all in the Spirit of God within us. The reason we should do this is because this is right, it is loving toward God and our fellow humans, and because God’s word says we should do it - because, if we are saved from our sins, we have the Spirit of God within us, who has transformed our hearts away from lives given over to sinful desires, and we have been given new lives, by God’s grace, to be lived in the power, strength and working of the Holy Spirit within us. If Christ truly set us free from sin, then how can we live in sin any longer (See Romans 6)?

We should also continue in walking in the Spirit of God and in his ways because of the nearness of the Lord’s return, at which time our salvation will be complete, and we shall be with him in glory forever (See Ro. 13:11-14; Jas. 5:8; 1 Pet. 4:7; & 2 Pet. 3:10-18).

The Outcasts

The Sovereign Lord declares—
he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
“I will gather still others to them
besides those already gathered.” ~ Is. 56:8

An exile is an outcast, someone who has been banished; sent away and/or dismissed. Jesus Christ was an outcast. He was despised and rejected of men (humans), a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. People hid their faces from him. They mocked him, spat upon him, ridiculed him, and accused him falsely, even of being of Satan. They also arrested him falsely, beat him severely, and then crucified him unjustly.

Many who “keep the faith” end up becoming outcasts, just like Jesus - unwanted, rejected, despised and thrown away, discarded, and ostracized because they hold to the truths of scripture, they do not deny Jesus Christ, and they continue to share the true gospel of salvation despite all opposition against them. Even their church and church leaders, their friends, family members, and/or even those closest to them might consider them as outcasts to be put away. Jesus’ family felt the same way about him. Ultimately, even his 12 disciples - who had been with him for three years - betrayed, abandoned, deserted and/or denied him when he was arrested and brought to trial.

I find a great encouragement in this 8th verse to those who are “outcasts.” Others will be gathered to us, i.e. the Lord Jesus will bring others along to comfort and encourage us, and/or he will bring many more to faith in Jesus Christ who will then join us as outcasts.

Their Own Way

Israel’s watchmen are blind,
they all lack knowledge;
they are all mute dogs,
they cannot bark;
they lie around and dream,
they love to sleep.
They are dogs with mighty appetites;
they never have enough.
They are shepherds who lack understanding;
they all turn to their own way,
they seek their own gain.
“Come,” each one cries, “let me get wine!
Let us drink our fill of beer!
And tomorrow will be like today,
or even far better.” ~ Is. 56:10-12

In direct contrast to the “outcasts” – those who “keep the faith,” who choose what pleases God, who obey the word of the Lord (in the power and strength and working of the Spirit within them), and who join themselves to the Lord to minister to him, as his servants, and as those who love him and his name; whom the Lord gathers to himself (See Is. 56:1-8) - are the “blind and mute” spiritual (and political) leaders of the people. They are spiritually blinded because they choose not to hear, see or accept the truth of the word of God, or else they choose to believe in and accept only the parts that make them and their followers “feel good.” They usually avoid such words as “sin,” “repentance,” “hell,” “judgment,” and “obedience,” because these words make them and their adherents uncomfortable. Yet, the message of the gospel is supposed to be an offense to those who are perishing.

These blind watchmen (and women) of the people focus mainly on what they consider to be the goodness of God and on what they interpret as the meaning of the word “love.” Yet, they ignore the bulk of Christ’s and the apostles’ teachings on righteousness, holiness, godly living, purity, integrity, honesty, faithfulness, and obedience (keeping Christ’s commands). They ignore, as well, the teachings in the NT on the subject of what constitutes genuine believing faith, which gives a true promise and hope of eternal life with God in heaven, and which surely delivers Christ’s followers from slavery and bondage to (and the control of) sin in the here-and-now (See Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20; Ro. 6; Tit. 2:11-14; & 1 Jn. 1-5). They tend to say what tickles the itching ears of the masses, as well, saying what makes people feel good (See 2 Tim. 4:1-4; Rom. 16:17-19; 2 Pet. 2:17-22; and Jude 1).

A Brood of Rebels

“But you—come here, you children of a sorceress,you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
Who are you mocking?At whom do you sneerand stick out your tongue?
Are you not a brood of rebels,the offspring of liars?” ~ Is. 57:3-4

If we become followers of humankind, of “blind watchmen,” of idolatrous ways, and/or of humanistic, paganistic and/or syncretistic philosophies and value systems being taught by these “mute dogs” of the people, then we are in grave danger of becoming their “spiritual” offspring, i.e. we may begin to think, believe and act just like them.

We may end up going the way of the world, following after the lusts and desires of our own flesh, living in idolatry and spiritual adultery, and given over to sexual promiscuity, greed, envy, rage, dishonesty and/or whatever vice (sin) may catch our fancy (See Is. 57:5-13); forsaking our one and only true God and Lord, Jesus Christ, who saved us from our sins and who set us free from all that we may now engage ourselves in while making claim to God’s grace, thinking his grace gives us that freedom. It does not (See Tit. 2:11-14). So, there are many warnings in scripture concerning these false teachers and their teachings, and many cautions for us to test everything that we hear against the word of truth – God’s Word, the Holy Bible.

One of the most striking of these warnings, I believe, is the one where the Apostle Paul expressed concern for the believers in Corinth (See 2 Co. 11). He was jealous for them with a godly jealousy. He had promised them to one husband, namely Christ Jesus, so that he might present them as a pure virgin to him. Yet, he was deeply concerned that they were being led astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Jesus Christ. There were those who had come in among them who were teaching a Jesus other than the one taught by the apostles. It was not as though they were speaking about a different person, but that they had created a persona for Jesus Christ other than who he truly was, and they were teaching a gospel other than the one he and the apostles had taught the believers. And, this is happening today in vast and numerous ways within the evangelical church, particularly here in America. The indictment here is that the people are putting up with it easily enough.

Many of these who are teaching “another Jesus” are giving people false messages of hope - feel-good messages that lie to them – and the people are loving it that way. So the people join these false teachers in their hypocrisy, often adopting their same attitudes about those who “keep the faith,” i.e. concerning those who are deemed as “outcasts” because they continue to teach the true gospel of salvation. And, so they join them in their mocking, sneering and the sticking out of their tongues at the “outcasts.” Not only that, but many of them are culpable for the deaths of numerous of these true servants of the Lord, either directly or indirectly (via their worship and support of those who are guilty of murdering the righteous servants of the Lord). Yet, God has offered us encouraging words for those who die in Christ. They are taken away to be spared from evil, and those who walk uprightly enter into peace when they die (Is. 57:1-2). Amen!

Build up, Build up!

“Build up, build up, prepare the road!
Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”
For this is what the high and exalted One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite. ~ Is. 57:14-15

The encouragement here, though, is that we serve a merciful, loving, compassionate and forgiving God. Amen! He may discipline us severely if we continue in our rebellious ways, and if we refuse to repent and to follow him and his ways, but he is always there to revive our hearts if we humble ourselves in repentance, turning from our sin, and we turn to walk in his righteousness and holiness in the power, strength and wisdom of the Spirit within us (See Rev. 2-3). He will bring peace to our hearts and he will heal us. Amen! I can attest to my Lord’s saving and reviving and healing power in the life of one who wandered away but was brought back. So, if you are among the rebellious, I pray you will repent today.

What the Lord Says / An Original Work

February 24, 2014 / Based off Isaiah 43:1-44:5

This is what the Lord says to you:
Fear not, for I have chosen you.
I have summoned you by your name.
You are mine. I died, you to save.

When you go through your trials, so deep,
I will be with you; you will not sink.
You are so precious always to me.
Trust in your Lord, Savior and King.

This is what the Lord says to you:
He who gave salvation to you;
Who delivered you from your sin;
Takes your burdens now upon Him:

Forget the former things of your life.
Give of your heart not now up to strife.
See all the new things I have for you.
Walk in vict’ry. Trust in what’s true.

This is what the Lord says to you:
He who made you; who will help you:
Do not fear what humans may do.
Walk in freedom. Follow what’s true.

Drink of my Spirit given for you.
Trust in my mercy, for I love you.
I have a plan for all of your life.
Follow my ways. Do what is right.