Swift To Shed Blood

Sunday, August 4, 2013, 2:24 a.m. – My husband was out of bed shining a flashlight on something in the room. The light from his flashlight (smart phone) woke me. Then, the song “My Heart’s Desire” began playing in my mind. As well, the Lord put a scripture in my mind about someone being swift to shed innocent blood, so I got up to hear from the Lord. I found three references to the “swift to shed blood” – Proverbs 1:16; Isaiah 59:7; and Romans 3:15. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read James 1 (NIV): http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James%201&version=NIV

The Swift

I read and researched the three scripture passages having to do with “the swift to shed blood,” and what I learned was that this is speaking of those who are driven by lust, greed, envy and all sorts of evil desires. Their feet rush into evil; sin. They pursue evil schemes. Acts of violence mark their ways. They entice others to join them in their sin. They go after ill-gotten gain. They exploit others to their own advantage. They are drawn into illicit sexual pleasure. They fail to honor their marriage vows. They are marked by immorality and the destructive paths of the adulterous person. Their iniquities have separated them from God. Their tongues speak lies, wicked things, and empty arguments. Their thoughts are evil. And, though they are swift (and rush to) shed innocent blood, also a reference to taking advantage of and bringing harm and injury (emotional or physical) to the innocent, via their wicked schemes, they bring destruction and judgment on themselves (their own blood).

What I also learned was that this is not just speaking of those who make no claims to faith in Christ, either, but this is true of those who profess Christ Jesus as Lord and as Savior of their lives, and who may even go through the motions of religious activity. They may even pray to God, seeking God for answers in their lives. Yet, their lifestyles reveal, not a consistency with walks of faith in Christ, but with works of the flesh and with evil desires. They are rebels against Christ and his teachings, maybe not in the eyes of others who are unaware of their secret lifestyles, but in the eyes of God who knows their hearts and the things they do in the dark when no one else is looking. One day their evil deeds will be revealed for what they are when God brings them to light.

Joy in Trials

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~ Jas 1:2-4

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. ~ Jas 1:12

I believe the Lord Jesus reminded me of these passages about the swift to shed innocent blood because he wanted me to see James 1 in that context. In other words, for example, our faith is tested by those whose works are in direct contrast to that faith, especially by those who are swift to come against us, to attack us, to try to tempt us away from our pure devotion to our Lord; by those who would reject us, say all manner of evil against us, and who would persecute, hate and snub us; and/or by those who would mistreat, take advantage, exploit, lie to or against, cheat, harm or injure us in any way. Yet, we are to consider it joy, for these trials only serve to mature and to strengthen us in our faith.

Yet, blessed are we if we persevere in our faith despite these trials. Having stood the test, we will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised and reserved for those who love him. Those who love him obey him, they obey his teachings, and they hold fast to the word of truth. They abide in Christ, they remain in him and in his word, and they do what he says. They are not perfect people, nor are they completely sinless. Yet, the Bible says that we have to turn from our lifestyles of sin and living for self, and we have to follow Christ in obedience - not in absolute perfection - if we want to have eternal life. This is not works-based salvation. This is faith in action. It is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives in regeneration and in sanctification as we yield to and submit to the Lordship of Christ in our lives and we surrender our wills to his will for our lives – not I but Christ living in me.

Double-Minded and Unstable

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. ~ Jas 1:5-8

Again, I believe the Lord Jesus wants me to see this passage through the insight given in these verses about the swift to shed innocent blood. True wisdom from above teaches us to say “No” to wickedness and sinful pleasure (folly). Wisdom from above gives us the ability to avoid the wrong paths and to follow the way of righteousness. Yet, if we are double-minded, i.e. if our minds are going in two opposing directions, and thus we reject the wisdom from above, perhaps even before we ask for it, then we can’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had people tell me how they can’t resist the temptation to sin, but upon careful examination of their lifestyles we soon learn that they are not exercising good judgment, they have no controls in place, they are living for self and pleasure, their lives are marked by just getting by or by following their own feelings, and they have no plan in motion for avoiding temptation. And, then they are surprised when they fall. Such a person is unstable and thus his life is like on a see-saw.

Their Own Evil Desire

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

…My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. ~ Jas 1:13-21

This passage states that each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Based upon the fact that Jesus was tempted to do things for which he had no evil desire, and we are sometimes tempted of Satan to do things for which we also have no known evil desire, I would suggest here that not all temptation is rooted in our own evil desires, but obviously much is. Yet, sometimes, the fact that we are tempted, could reveal evil desires within us that we may not even realize are there. Certainly within our flesh bodies exists fleshly and evil desires, though dormant, so perhaps the reference here is to temptation coming against our flesh which has that propensity to give in to evil.

Needless to say, we are all faced with temptation and probably most, if not all, is made possible because we live in these flesh bodies which are vulnerable to sin. Yet, I believe much temptation, as well, comes into our lives because of our own conscience decisions we have made or are presently making in which we give way to evil desires, either just in our thoughts or perhaps in our actions, too. What I do know about evil desire is that it begins in the mind, and if we allow it to work its way through our minds into our hearts, then we are more likely to give way to it in our actions and behaviors, too. That is why it is so critical that we guard our hearts and minds against all that is evil and that we don’t play with sin and temptation by entertaining our minds and hearts with what is evil, even with the slightest amount of evil. In other words, if we do not have controls in place, and we are just living by the seat of our pants, chances are pretty good that desire will give birth to sin.

Therefore, we must rid our lives of all moral filth, anger, resentment, bitterness, lust, greed, adultery, gossip and the like. And, we can’t do this if we are double-minded, i.e. if we have one foot in the world and another in heaven. If we are taking into our minds and into our hearts what is contrary to God’s laws, his truth and his will for our lives, either through our relationships with others, our partnerships, what we view on TV or in movies or on the internet; and/or by what we listen to in music, by what video games we play, or in general through whatever we allow into our lives, then we need to cut those things out of our lives because they are working in opposition to God in our lives. You can’t play with the fire and not expect to get burned. We need to do a thorough house-cleaning of our lives so that we can then humbly accept the word planted in us.

Forgets What He Looks Like

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. ~ Jas 1:22-25

What benefit is it to us if we spend time each day in the word of God, feeling as though this is our obligation to God, and yet then close the book and forget what we read? If all we do is take in the word for intellectual knowledge and stimulation or for performance, yet we go away and forget what the Lord Jesus taught us in all practicality in application to our lives, then what good is it? Though I believe the word of God is never wasted in the sense that it will never return empty, I think we do an injustice to God and to ourselves if all we do is read the words but never, or hardly ever, or only half-way do what they say. And, what good is it if we spend 15 minutes a day in the word and yet gorge our minds with all kinds of garbage for hours on end during our “free time”? Again, we can’t have one foot in the world and one in heaven and be able to flee temptation, to put into practice what we have read, and/or to live free from slavery to sin and self. We need to practice what we say we believe. We need to act upon the truth of God’s word. And, we need to obey what God says.

My Heart’s Desire / An Original Work / June 29, 2013

Based off Rm. 10; Lu. 9:23-26; Ep. 4:20-24

Loved Ones, Oh, my heart’s desire
Is that you might come to Jesus.
Many appear zealous for God,
But they do not trust in Him.
They have not submitted to the One
Who saved them from their sins;
Not forsaken their sins,
Nor have they obeyed their King.

The word of the Lord is near you:
The word of faith we’re proclaiming:
That you must confess your faith
In Jesus as your Lord and King:
Believe in Him as your Lord,
And follow Him where’er He leads.
Share the gospel; be a witness,
And meet others’ needs.

Beautiful are the feet of those
Who bring the good news of Jesus:
Anyone who would come to Him
Must deny himself today;
Die to sin and self, and
Let the Spirit transform you in heart;
Put on your new self in Jesus,
Yielding to the cross.