Saturday, October 3, 2015, 9:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “For Our Nation.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 43 (quoting vv. 1-4 NASB). The Redeemed (v. 1) But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! Those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives are the redeemed of the Lord. We have been bought with a price; bought back for God. Humankind (Adam and Eve) once lived in perfect fellowship with God, without sin or sickness or death. Then, they sinned against God. They ignored the command of God, listened to Satan, and gave into temptation to sin. So, God put a curse on them and on the earth. And, since that time all humankind has been born with sin natures, separate from God, without hope, and destined to spend eternity in the fires of hell; to suffer sickness, pain, sadness and death. Yet, God had a plan, which the prophets of old prophesied concerning, most especially Isaiah, and that was that God the Father would send his Son (God the Son) to the earth to take on human form, then to suffer as we suffer, and to be tempted in like manner as we also are tempted, yet without sin. He would heal the sick, raise the dead, comfort the sorrowful, cast out demons, confront sin in sinful humans, and preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God. He would be loved by some, but hated by most, because he told people that what they did was evil, and he told them that if they wanted to be in relationship with God that they had to die to sin and live to righteousness. They hated him, too, because he didn’t follow their religious norms, and he did not succumb to religious hypocrisy, as many of the spiritual leaders did. They saw him as a threat to their own positions of power and authority, and so they had him hung on a cross to die. Yet, when he died our sins died with him, and were buried with him. When he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over Satan, hell, sin and death. By God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and in what he did for us in dying for our sins, we can be forgiven of our sin, be born again of the Spirit of God in spiritual birth, be delivered from slavery to sin, and be set free to now become slaves (servants) of Christ’s righteousness. As well, we are delivered from having to spend eternity in hell, and we are given the hope of eternity with God in glory. Amen! Yet, this “faith” is not a mere acknowledgment of what Jesus did in dying for our sins, or even a mere recognition of our need of a Savior, or even just an admission that we are indeed sinners. James said that even the demons believe, and they shudder. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, die daily to sin and self, and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). This is the true meaning of faith in Jesus Christ. The apostles also taught death to sin and living to righteousness. Paul said that if we persist in conducting our lives according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (Ro. 8:1-14). John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we persist in living our lives in the darkness (in sin), then we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). Paul said that Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Coming to Christ is not just an escape from hell and the promise of heaven. Faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin so we can live with Christ to righteousness (See: John 6:35-66; Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24). If anyone teaches you that God does not require repentance or obedience to his Word, they are teaching you lies. Do Not Fear (v. 2) “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. The situation with God’s people at the time this was written was that they, for the most part, were not listening to God. They were not obeying his commandments. Even though God had shown them many things, they turned a deaf ear to his messages, and they didn’t pay any attention. They couldn’t see the truth even though it was right before their eyes. They were deceived. They were believing lies. Instead of trusting in the Lord, and turning to his word, and praying for wisdom and direction, they were relying on those who were only taking advantage of them, and that is the way it is today with the vast majority of the church here in the west. Many have turned away from following scripture to following after humanistic philosophy and even pagan beliefs and practices. They have allowed themselves to be tricked, deceived and manipulated into believing lies, instead of seeking out truth. “They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them (Is. 42:22). So, God told his people that he was going to visit them in judgment, but not to destroy them, but to deliver, revive and renew them. I believe he is giving that same message to his wayward church today. He is confronting them with their sins, and he is calling them to repentance and obedience to Christ. He has been warning of divine judgment for some time now, and now that judgment is upon us, I believe. He has handed us over to our enemies to be tested, and to suffer persecution, and to go through various trials and tribulations at the hand of this New World Order “beast.” Yet, he assures us that he will be with us, and that he will carry us through these difficult times. We are not promised that we will not suffer physical harm or that we won’t go through tremendous suffering, but he promises that if we put our faith in him that these trials will not overcome us, but we will be victorious, even in death. In Exchange (vv. 3-4) “For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. “Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. The Lord also told his people that they had not brought him (honored him with) proper sacrifices. They had not called on him. But, they had wearied him with their sins. A lot of people today get the idea that salvation, as a free gift from God, means we can live however we want and still have our ticket into heaven. There is no fear of God – no honor, respect, submission, surrender or obedience. They believe God demands nothing of them, and so they do not feel obliged to give him the honor he so deserves. They expect that they should go to heaven when they die merely because of what Christ did, as though genuine faith is not required. They make a mockery of what Christ did in dying for our sins by their blatant disregard for his sacrifice for sin, thinking God’s grace gives them free license to sin. So God, who is both merciful and just, told them that he was bringing judgment on their nation, because he is a jealous God, and he longs for his children to love him, to forsake their idols, and to follow him in obedience. For the sake of the church this judgment must come, and it must come to America. The spiritual condition of the church in America is in shambles. Too many people believing lies, thinking they can live how they want since they have heaven guaranteed; living just like the world; following men over God; replacing God’s word with humanistic teaching and with movies and even with mysticism and myths; making jokes out of everything; and entertaining and being entertained continuously. The gospel is diluted, and instead of the world being confronted with sin and called to repentance, the church is entertaining the world so that they will feel “at home” in the church. [If the world feels at home in the church, something is very, very wrong!] Because we are so precious and honored in God’s sight, he will bring this judgment as a way of exchange for our lives, i.e. for the church to be set free from slavery to their captors, i.e. to be set free from these false teachers and government leaders who feed them lies and who purpose to deceive them and to manipulate them into accepting the lies over the truth. Through judgment, eyes will be opened and ears will be unstopped. The blinders will come off, and the lies will be exposed for what they are. Then, the people of God will humble themselves before God in repentance and in obedience. They will forsake their idols, and they will return to their One and Only God, and they will sacrifice to him their very lives, as living sacrifices to God, holy and pleasing to him; no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God (See: Ro. 12:1-2). God is calling out to the wayward to repent and to return to their first love, Jesus Christ. If you identify with this wayward church, I pray you will repent and will return today. For Our Nation / An Original Work / September 11, 2012 Bombs are bursting. Night is falling. Jesus Christ is gently calling You to follow Him in all ways. Trust Him with your life today. Make Him your Lord and your Savior. Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus. He will forgive you of your sin; Cleanse your heart, made new within. Men betraying: Our trust fraying. On our knees to God we’re praying, Seeking God to give us answers That are only found in Him. God is sovereign over all things. Nothing from His mind escaping. He has all things under His command, And will work all for good. Jesus Christ is gently calling You to follow Him in all ways. Men deceiving: we’re believing In our Lord, and interceding For our nation and its people To obey their God today. He is our hope for our future. For our wounds He offers suture. He is all we need for this life. Trust Him with your life today.