Thursday, September 24, 2015, 10:49 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 35 (selected NASB). Fear Not (vv. 3-4) Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.” I am writing this Friday at around noon. Last night I was physically and mentally exhausted, and today, too. I slept 11 hours last night, and I feel like I could keep sleeping. It could be the weather (rainy and dreary), or it could be I am coming down with something. I was around sick grandchildren much this week. And, my head is very congested. It is difficult for my eyes to focus or for me to concentrate for long before fading out, so today I feel what this passage is talking about. I feel drained, and I am in need of being strengthened. Sometimes we get emotionally exhausted, too, when we face difficult circumstances or troubled relationships, or when we go through times of sorrow and emotional pain. In these times when our bodies are weak, we are much more vulnerable to discouragement or to becoming anxious of heart over our circumstances. It is in these times, most especially, when our Lord Jesus/God comforts our hearts, and he encourages and strengthens us. The Lord Jesus had the old hymn, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” going through my mind today (by Adelaide A. Pollard): Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Wounded and weary, help me I pray! Power, all power, surely is Thine! Touch me and heal me, Savior divine! Our Lord watches over us, and he cares and is concerned about us. He won’t always rescue us from our difficult circumstances, though he may, but he will always deliver us through them, if we put our faith and trust in him to deliver us. If we keep our eyes focused on him, and we take them off the things of this world - not that we ignore what is going on in the world, but we don’t let it drag us down - he will give us the strength, wisdom and perseverance we need to endure, he will encourage and counsel us in the way we should go, and he will fill us with his love and peace. Even if the world is crashing all around us, we can experience his peace within in knowing that he has all things under his control. Yet, there are times in this life when the Lord will deliver us from certain circumstances, or he will prevent an enemy from coming against us, and he will rescue us out of difficult situations. I have experienced him doing that in my life. Yet, other times he has left me in such circumstances for his purposes in order to accomplish his will in my life and in the lives of others. For instance, he will allow the beast to conquer his saints, not that it could have the power to take away our salvation. It can’t. But, this beast will be, and is being allowed to persecute and kill followers of Jesus Christ. Yet, one day Jesus will come with vengeance, and he will save us from this beast, and he will take us from this earth to be with him forever, and then our salvation will be complete. Yet, I see another way in which he will and is doing this right now. The church, in particular here in America, which is what I know, has largely been under a cloud of deception for some time now. Many who profess to know Jesus have become followers of man over followers of God. They have forsaken the straight and narrow to go the broad way of a false gospel. They have allowed the world to be brought into the church, and have put up with false teaching which tickles itching ears. They have become worldly and have forsaken their first love. Jesus is not their Lord, not in practice. Yet, their eyes are blinded to the truth. So, the Lord will judge his adulterous church in order to open blinded eyes, and in that way he will deliver them from deception and will bring them into the light of his truth, so they can be saved and/or so the church can be revived and restored to proper fellowship with God. Blinded Eyes Open (vv. 5-6) Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah. So, in what way is the church being deceived? It has happened so gradually and over a long period of time, so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when this began. I became aware of it in the year 2000, I believe, though I certainly saw problems in the church many years prior to that in relation to following the teachings of humans over the scriptures, with watered-down gospel presentations, and with Christians behaving and thinking more like the world than like Christ, myself included for a period of time. In the year 2000, though, I saw how this was orchestrated on a national (and world, perhaps) level and across denominations. No matter the denomination, it seemed, so many church congregations were following the same teaching from the same source. They would each claim to have had a unique vision for their church fellowship, but the pattern for it all came from higher up, somewhere even higher than denominational leaders, for this had filtered down to these leaders who then taught it to their pastors who then taught it to their people. Somewhere between then and now I came to realize that this was a global effort to demoralize the gospel, or faith in the gospel, and to lead the church into becoming followers of humans over followers of God, and to bring the world into the church so that the church became just like the world, and it worked, though not for every congregation. Even denominations which use to talk about sin, repentance, judgment and damnation began to change their tone and their terminology. Sin was now “messed up.” And, repentance was now taboo, i.e. the church is being taught that God does not require repentance or obedience, but that all we need to do is “believe,” although that belief seems to be more of an intellectual assent or an emotional decision or even just a religion, but not a heart transformation of the Spirit of God in new birth where we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and where we are resurrected with Christ to new lives, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” They are not being taught that faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin and living to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24), but they are being instructed that once we “believe,” we can sin as much as we want and still have our ticket into heaven. So, through judgment, God will open the blinded eyes and deaf ears of those who not only have been deceived, and who have bought into this false gospel (false grace), but of those who have also closed their eyes and ears to the truth, and have refused to even listen to the truth and to consider it. The masks of deception will be off, and they will be able to see what they were not able or were not willing to see before, and they will be humbled before God, and will repent of their sins, and will discard their idols and will turn from their wicked ways. They will acknowledge God as their Only God and Savior, and will humbly submit to his will for their lives, and will walk now, no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (See: Ro. 8:1-14). Highway of Holiness (vv. 8-10) A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it. No lion will be there, Nor will any vicious beast go up on it; These will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there, And the ransomed of the Lord will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, With everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away. God has called his church to be holy. “Holy” means set apart (unlike; different) from the world, because we are becoming like Christ. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, but it is freedom from slavery to sin and freedom to become slaves (servants) of righteousness (See: Ro. 6). His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and desires, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). He died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk no longer according to the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to the Spirit (See: Ro. 8:1-14). Jesus said that his sheep (followers) know his voice, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him. True faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin and living to righteousness, all in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, as we yield to the Lordship of Christ in our lives. One day Jesus is coming back for his bride, his saints, to take us to be with him forever. At that time we will be filled with inexpressible joy that will rival any joy we have known while we have lived on this earth. Jesus will wipe every tear from our eyes, and we will no longer know pain, sorrow and sadness. Truly there will be no sin there, so we will no longer be attacked by Satan and his hordes, nor will we be tempted to sin, or be persecuted for our faith in Jesus Christ. All that will be gone. We will be in perfect relationship with our Lord without pain, suffering, grief, sadness or temptation to sin. Won’t that be wonderful? Yet, in the meanwhile we can know joy, peace, assurance, courage, strength and perseverance even in the face of tremendous suffering and persecution for our faith. We just need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and follow him wherever he leads us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will deliver us from fear and from the temptation to give up and to give in to the enemy. He will comfort and protect us spiritually from all evil which will threaten to undo us. And, he will show us the way we should go so that we can walk in his ways and in his truth, and can know the peace of being in the center of his perfect will. I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012 Based off Psalms 121-125 I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High. My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin. He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep. Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep. I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High. My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin. I give thanks to Him. I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n. I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n. Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ. Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life. I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n. I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n; My home, now in heav’n. Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side. Our help found in Him. He gives peace within. Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need. Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed! Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side. Our help found in Him. He gives peace within. I can count on Him.