Friday, September 2, 2016, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 2:8-11 (ESV). “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’” The Words of Him These are the words of Jesus Christ – God, the Son of God, and the third person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He was with God in the beginning, he is God, and all things, which were created, were made by him, i.e. he is also our creator. Although he was and is God, he left his throne in heaven and humbled himself by coming to the earth and by taking on human form. He was born as a baby to a woman, but his Father was God, for he was conceived of the Holy Spirit. He grew to manhood, and at around the age of 30 he began his earthly ministry. He called 12 disciples (followers) to himself to travel with him in ministry, although he had many other disciples (followers), too. Yet, mostly the people rejected him, or they only followed him just to see his miracles and to have their bellies filled with food. But, when Jesus told them that they would have to die with him (eat his flesh and drink his blood), many who had been following him deserted him, never to follow him again. He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. The purpose for which he came to earth, though, was to suffer and to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that when he died our sins were crucified with him, and were buried with him, never to rise again. When he was resurrected from the grave, he rose victorious over our sin so that, through faith in him, we might be delivered from the penalty of sin, and from slavery to sin, and so we might have eternal life with God and become slaves of his righteousness. Tribulation Jesus told his disciples that, as his followers, they would be hated and persecuted just like he was, because they are followers of Christ, and because they believe in the gospel of salvation. The same is true of us today who believe in him, and who believe in and who share his full gospel message of salvation from sin. Why was he hated? Because Satan despises him, and is jealous of him, and wants to take his place in our hearts. Thus, Satan hates all of Jesus’ followers, too, and so he comes after us with vengeful fury in order to destroy our lives and our witness. And, he will use other human beings to do his dirty work, too. Jesus’ strongest critics and fiercest opponents, though, were not the people out in the world, but they were the leaders in the temple of God. Thus, we should not be surprised if not just the world hates us, but that those within the worldly church hate us even more. I know that most of the persecution that has come against me over my lifetime has come, not from without the church, but from within the church, and through people who say they are followers of Christ, and even from those who are the leaders within the church. And, it wasn’t because I was committing sin, either, but because I was following Christ with my life, because they were judging me by human standards and not by the Word of God. The same may be true with you. Be Faithful Yet, we should not be afraid of them, or afraid of what suffering may come our way because of our testimonies for Jesus Christ, and because we share with others the full gospel message of salvation from sin. What is that full gospel message? It is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It is that he died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, it is that He died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh, but who walk (conduct our lives/lifestyles) according the Spirit of God living within us, who is living Christ’s life out through us. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self and take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) that we will lose our lives for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die to sin) for his sake, we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul reiterated this message when he said that if we walk according to the flesh we will die (in our sins without God), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (eternally with God) – See Romans 8:1-14. God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. God is not pleased with you when you sin against him. He doesn’t look the other way when you sin, and he doesn’t look down from heaven and smile on you when you are living in sinful rebellion against him. He died to free you from sin, and to free you to walk in his righteousness and holiness. He didn’t die just so you would escape hell and go to heaven when you die. He died to radically transform your life away from sin and to living for him. God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and desires, and to live upright, self-controlled and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return, so be faithful unto death. Walk in his love and grace. Do not fulfill the passions of your sinful flesh any longer. Endure persecution for righteousness’ sake and you will receive a crown of life. Believe in and walk in the truths of the gospel message as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles. Don’t follow the ways of this sinful world or be caught up by the lies and deceptions of those who call themselves ministers of the gospel but who are preaching a false grace message which will lead you straight to hell. Walk in victory over sin. Enjoy your fellowship with your Lord. Obey his teachings. Believe in his promises. Rest in his mercy and forgiveness. Be diligent in your walks of faith and in your witness for him, and never ever give up, but keep on keeping on. Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012 Walking daily with my Savior brings me joy. Loving Father; precious Jesus; He’s my Savior and my Lord. Gently leads me; follow Him. I’ve invited Him within. Now abiding in His presence, oh, what peace. From my self-life He has brought me, By His mercy, full release. Hope and comfort, peace and safety Jesus brings When I daily bow before Him; Obey freely; do His will. Follow Him where’er He leads. Listen to Him; His words heed. Now obeying his words fully, oh, what love That He gives me through salvation, By His Spirit, from above. Loving Father; precious Jesus, He’s my friend. With my Savior, by His Spirit, I will endure to the end. Share the gospel, tell what’s true. Witness daily; His will do. Tell the world of how their Savior bled and died. On a cruel cross He suffered So that we might be alive.