Friday, July 24, 2015, 1:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Touched My Mouth.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1:3-9 (NASB). A Living Hope (vv. 3-5) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to the earth, to take on human flesh, to suffer as we suffer and to be tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man when he walked this earth, learned obedience through what he suffered, “and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). He healed the sick, raised the dead, delivered people from demons, comforted the sorrowful, and preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins and holy living. He confronted sin in sinful human beings and called for people to turn from their sin and to follow him in obedience, which is one of the reasons why so many of the Jews hated him. In addition to that, the religious leaders hated him because he threatened their own positions of power and control, because so many people believed in Jesus and were following him, and because he claimed to be who he was - God. They hated him so much, in fact, that they had him crucified on a cross, although he had done no wrong. Yet, when he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, death and Satan. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). He 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 not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Ro. 8:1-14). Thus, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to a new and living way which God provided for us through Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for our sins. This new and living way is different from the old way, for we leave our old way of conducting our lives according to the flesh behind us, and we now walk (live) in the new way of the Spirit. So, what is our inheritance? It is something we receive due to our relationship to the benefactor, i.e. to the one giving us this inheritance. When we believe in Jesus Christ, we become children of God, so we are his heirs. Thus, our inheritance is our eternal salvation (deliverance) from both bondage to sin and the penalty of sin (eternal damnation). It is our new birth into a living hope, which results from death with Christ to sin, a transformation of heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and resurrection with Christ to a new life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14). It is the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God within us, teaching, guiding, counseling, encouraging, strengthening and empowering us in our walks of faith and ministry of the Spirit. It is the encouragement we receive from being part of God’s family, the body of Christ, and the privilege of being called of God into Christian ministry. It is the power of the Spirit within us to walk in his holiness, and no longer after the flesh. And, it is the hope of life after death with God for eternity, free from these flesh bodies. Amen! Our inheritance is guaranteed on the basis of our faith (present tense) in Jesus Christ, not on the basis of past belief, and our faith is revealed through repentance and obedience. Refined by Fire (vv. 6-7) In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. In the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:1-23), Jesus described for us four different responses to the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The first response is that of one who does not understand what he hears, and so Satan snatches away from him the truth which was sown in his heart. This person never made any profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The second response is of one who initially receives the gospel message with joy and excitement, so there is at least a profession of faith, but he has not the root (the source of his salvation) within him, i.e. this person was not truly born from above, for his faith was surface only, and was temporary, so when trouble and hardship come because of the word, he quickly falls away. The third response appears to be of one who was born of the Spirit of God, but who, over time, allowed the things of this world to choke (spiritually suffocate) his spiritual life, so that he then became unfruitful (inoperative) for God’s kingdom work. The fourth response is of one who is genuinely saved, who is repentant and who practices obedience to Christ and to his Word, and who produces spiritual fruit in keeping with repentance. God allows us to go through difficulties in this life, thus, to test our faith to see if it is genuine, but also to strengthen us in faith, to mature us, to teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves, to develop within us godly character and divine disciplines, to produce within us perseverance and steadfastness of faith, and so that we can comfort others with the comfort (encouragement, counsel) we received from God when we went through similar trials as to what others are now experiencing. So, it is good for us to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, for one, because they will test our faith to see if it is genuine, and if it doesn’t pass the test, then we have the opportunity to make sure we have truly been born from above, via death to sin and living to righteousness, empowered by the Spirit within us. These trials will also help test the maturity of our faith and our walks of obedience, so that we then have the opportunity to repent of any sinful rebellion against God, and to be renewed in faith. For those whose faith is genuine, and who are walking in obedience to their Lord, these trials will help strengthen and encourage them in their faith, and will help them to be more compassionate and tender-hearted towards others who are suffering. The goal of our faith is that it may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Many people today, though, are making it all about us, i.e. about what we get out of it, but not about what is required of us in the way of death to sin and living to righteousness. They act as though God is a genie in the sky there to grant our every wish and desire, and that his goal is just to make us happy and comfortable. Some have suggested that God is happy when we are just being us, and when we are doing things we are good at and love doing. Many teach that all we have to do is pray a prayer to receive Christ, and we have our ticket into heaven, which can never be taken away from us, yet they don’t teach death to sin or living to righteousness. Many go so far as to say that once we are saved we can sin as much as we want and still go to heaven when we die. And, they call this “love,” but what it is is pure selfishness, because it is all about “me” but not about God or his holiness or his righteousness. So, I can tell you right now that what they are describing is not genuine faith, and it will not result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ returns, because selfishness and sin are opposed to righteousness and holiness. Filled with Joy (vv. 8-9) Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. The way we love God is to keep his word (his commands, his instructions), to walk in his love, and to love others as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. To believe in Jesus Christ means death to sin and living to righteousness, no longer living to please ourselves, but living our lives to please our Lord, no longer conducting our lives according to (in agreement with) our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit. And, this is how we can be filled with such inexpressible and glorious joy, because we are walking in the will of the Lord, in his ways, doing what he says to do, and we are living in spiritual victory, free from slavery to sin. If we are still walking in the flesh, living to please ourselves, conforming our lives according to our sinful ways, then don’t call it love, because it is not love, but pure selfishness, and God is not pleased, and it will not be for his praise. He Touched My Mouth / An Original Work / June 13, 2012 Based off Isaiah 6:1-8; Jeremiah 1:4-9 Oh, I saw the Lord Seated on His throne, High and lifted up; Holy is the Lord! The earth is full of His glory. “Woe to me,” I cried, “I’m of unclean lips.” My Lord touched my mouth With His cleansing pow’r; Removed all my guilt, Paid for by His blood. He asked, “Whom shall I send; Who will go for us?” I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Before I was born, God set me apart; He appointed me To His servant be. I said, “I don’t know How to speak. I am but a child.” Then, the Lord replied: “Do not say to me, ‘I am but a child.’ You must go to all, And do what I say. Do not fear them, For I’m with you.” My Lord touched my mouth; Gave me words to say.