Saturday, January 25, 2014, 9:11 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 101 (ESV). An Upright Walk I will sing… I not only purpose in my regenerated heart, by the grace of God, to make the worship and praise of God in song a part of my everyday life, but I determine and am committed to resonate (echo) his unwavering and persistent love in word and in deed, in a heart response of love for my Lord, and in demonstrating his faithful love toward others. I will ponder… I declare my sincere determination, by God's help, and in his power and strength living within me, to behave myself in an upright, decent and honest manner. I will walk… I also proclaim my sincere resolution, out of a renewed heart given over to devotion to my Lord Jesus Christ, to live a lifestyle of integrity (honesty, decency, and uprightness) through the life of His Spirit living within and out through me by his grace. I will not… I vow, by the grace and mercy of my Lord Jesus Christ, via him delivering me from slavery to sin, to not set before my eyes what is rubbish, trash, wicked, ungodly and useless. This means I refuse to gaze upon or watch, read or even listen to what gives honor to or what gives entertainment value to what is sinful, wicked, and immoral, and for the purpose of my own enjoyment and pleasure. “Garbage in – garbage out!” goes the saying. I can’t expect to do these first three items of commitment to my Lord if what I am taking into my eyes, mind and ears is pure junk, and is that which dishonors my Lord and works in direct opposition to the first three statements of purpose, goal and intent for a life given over to God and to godly living. Our Associations I hate… Romans 12:9 says: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Notice the psalmist did not say that he hated those who fall away (who fall into sin), but he hated (detested and was repulsed by) their wicked deeds, saying he would not let those evil and sinful deeds cling to (have a grip on) his life. If we, as followers of Jesus Christ, want to walk in victory over sin, we must learn to hate what God hates. We can’t entertain evil in our minds or play with it through taking in even “a little bit” of evil. We have to remove it far from us, flee from it, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith so that it doesn’t get a hold on our lives (See 1 Co. 6:18; 10:14; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22; and Jas. 4:7-8). I Will Not… In James 4:4 we read: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” A friend is an associate, companion, and/or an ally. An associate is someone you spend time with; hang out with, or with whom you are involved together in an activity, thought, and/or belief, or with whom you are partnered in some way. An ally is one with whom you are joined together in a common purpose. And, a friend or companion can also be a mate (partner) or cohort (accomplice). We are not to be partakers with, in close association with, joined together in a common purpose with, or partnered with this sinful and ungodly world, including with the people of this world and with those who profess Christ but are living sinful lifestyles (See 1 Co. 5:9-11; 2 Thess. 3:14; & 2 Co. 6:14-17). This is not saying that we should remove ourselves from the world entirely or that we should go live in a monastery, but what it does mean is that we should not make the things or the people of this sinful and ungodly world our close associations; we should not be in agreement with their sinful practices; and we should not be one with them in heart, mind and purpose. We should not take pleasure or glory in what is evil, but in what is good. Bad company corrupts good character. Thus, we must be careful of our associations and choose our close companions wisely. We should, as much as is within our power to do so, surround ourselves with those who will influence and encourage us in the right ways, while still showing love and kindness and being a light for the gospel to those outside of Christ. The Cost When God tells us to not be partnered together with unbelievers and to “Come out from them and be separate,” we must realize that there will be cost involved. We live in a day and time when the church in America, for the most part, has embraced the world and its practices and has thus very much partnered with the ungodly world in order to attract the ungodly into their meetings. Today’s worldly church encourages participation in worldly and even sinful practices, in some cases, in order to make friends with the world as a way to “reach” them or to “connect” with them. Yet, we are not supposed to come down to the level of wickedness in order to reach the wicked with the gospel of salvation. That is counterproductive. We are supposed to come out from them, and not partner with them, but to hate wicked deeds and to have no part with what is evil and sinful. And, we are to be lights for Jesus Christ and his gospel to a world in need of the Savior; not blend in with it. So, what is the risk? And, what is the cost? We may be despised, forsaken, rebuked, falsely accused, rejected, persecuted, abandoned, betrayed, or even crucified for our stand for Jesus Christ and for the truth of the gospel of salvation. We may lose a job or a spouse, or our children may reject us, or our friends abandon us, or we may be made to be objects of mockery, scorn and/or abuse. Yet, although the world or even the worldly church may despise and reject us, and friends and companions may forsake us, we are rich because God will never leave us or forsake us! Amen! We can always count on his faithfulness and his steadfast love to see us through any and all trials that come across our way. Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken / Henry F. Lyte / Mozart/ Arr. Hubert P. Main Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee; Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shalt be. Perish every fond ambition, all I've sought, and hoped, and known; Yet how rich is my condition, God and Christ are still my own! Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too; Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like man, untrue; And, while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love, and might, Foes may hate, and friends disown me; show Thy face, and all is bright. Man may trouble and distress me – ‘Twill but drive me to Thy breast. Life with trials hard may press me; Heaven will bring me sweeter rest. Oh, ‘tis not in grief to harm me, while Thy love is left to me; Oh, ‘twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee. Go then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn, and pain! In Thy service pain is pleasure; with Thy favor loss is gain. I have called Thee, Abba, Father, I have stayed my heart on Thee; Storms may howl and clouds may gather; all must work for good to me.