Friday, January 02, 2015, 7:52 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “He Keeps Me Singing.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 89 (ESV). Our Foundation A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite. I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.” You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? ~ vv. 1-7 God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is our foundation for our Christian walks of faith. His love stands firm (steadfast; unwavering). His faithfulness has been established in heaven, and his righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. He and his Word are the foundation (basis; source; and heart) for all that we are and do and say as followers of Christ, with regard to our walks of faith in the power of the Spirit within us. Jesus Christ, God the Son, is the only way, truth and life by which we enter into God’s eternal kingdom and by which we become members of God’s household, his church – the body of Christ. Jesus Christ, God the Son, left his throne in heaven, came to the earth, and was born as a baby, with God as his father and Mary as his mother. Thus he was fully God and fully man. He grew to manhood. Though he lived in a flesh body, and he suffered and was tempted in like manner as we suffer and are tempted, he did not sin. He called 12 disciples to follow him in ministry. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He chastised the hypocritical religious leaders of his day, and he told the people the truth about their sin. The majority of the people hated him for it, too. He was also critical of man-made religion which was based on human rules and regulations, and he warned his followers against following hypocritical liars. As a result, they hung him on a cross to die, as though he was a criminal, although he had done nothing wrong. Yet, when he died, he took upon himself the sins of the entire world. Our sins were crucified and buried with him. When he was resurrected back to life, he rose triumphant over sin, death, hell and Satan. Amen! He took our punishment for sin upon himself so that we could go free from eternal damnation in hell, and so we could have the hope and assurance of eternity with God in heaven. Yet, he also died to save us from slavery to sin day-to-day, as well as to free us to walk daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Amen! We come to faith in Jesus Christ by God’s grace through faith in what Jesus Christ did in dying on the cross for our sins. This faith, though, is not just a one-time emotional experience or some words we pray at an altar to get our “get-out-of-jail-free” card. Involved in this faith is the act of turning from our sin (repenting) and turning to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. Faith is dying with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and being given new lives in Christ to be lived in the power of the Spirit within us in daily walking in the Spirit by faith, and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; & 1 Jn. 1-5). This is our basis or our foundation for our faith – the truth of what God’s word teaches us. He is Exalted! Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel… ~ vv. 15-18 To “exult” in someone means to rejoice – to be joyful and delighted and to jump for joy – over them. To “exalt” someone means: “to raise to a higher level; to praise highly; to raise in rank, power or character, or to elevate by praise or in estimation” (Merriam-Webster). We are to do both in regard to our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ. We are not only to find our delight and joy in God above all else, but we are to lift up God/Jesus and his Word by how we live our lives, by our words, and by our actions. With regard to how we live our lives, we are to walk in the light of God’s character, his truth, and his divine will and purpose. Not only are we to do this, but what the Lord Jesus was showing me this morning is that we are to exalt Jesus Christ and his word in the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ – in the sharing of the only way, truth and life by which we enter into God’s eternal kingdom and we become members of God’s household, his church – the body of Christ. What I believe this means is that we are to share the gospel of Jesus Christ according to the full gospel message, as taught by Jesus Christ and by his apostles, which is our foundation for our walks of faith. We are to teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. We should tell the people that Jesus Christ died, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die, but so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. We should tell them that God’s grace is not free license to continue in willful sin without guilt, but his grace teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for his return. And, we should tell them that true faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin and that we are given new lives by God, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See Eph. 4). You see in this passage where it says that the Lord is the glory of our strength and by his grace our horn is exalted, and that in his righteousness we are exalted. What I believe this means is that, because of God’s grace to us, and because of Jesus’ righteousness, which was credited to our account, so that we are forgiven of our sins and made right with God, we are raised to a higher level and our character is raised to a higher level. We are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness. We no longer walk according to the flesh, to fulfill its passions and desires, but we now walk according to the Spirit, to please God and to walk in obedience to his commands (teachings & instructions). This is what we are to teach, and in this way we are exalting God/Jesus and his word in the context of us sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, in presenting to people the only way to God and to heaven. If His Children If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules, if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah ~ vv. 30-37 The picture the Lord Jesus was giving me this morning was not only that God/Jesus and his Word is our only foundation for Christian living, and of the need for us to exalt (lift up) the name of Jesus and the truth of his Word, but of how government and church leaders have removed the Word of God, the Biblical foundations for salvation and our faith, and the authority of God from the entrance into the church (the body of Christ; God’s family). By removing God’s/Christ’s and his Word’s authority from the gospel of salvation, they have also opened the way for people to enter into institutional religion that is a business of human origin, marketed and run just like any other worldly business, and to bypass true faith in Jesus Christ altogether. In America, the church has become unequally yoked together with the US government so that the government is head over the church corporation, and Christ, as the true head of his church, has been removed in favor of man-made religion and a man-made gospel. And, this man-made religion, which Jesus Christ strongly opposed, appeals to the flesh of humans and honors humans over and above honoring, exalting, and respecting God/Jesus and his Word as the authority for their lives. In most of these man-made churches, though, I believe the truth of God’s word is being taught to a certain extent, but it is often mixed in with lies and manipulations of truth, so that the people in these churches are being tossed back and forth by various winds of doctrine, “by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14). For instance, most of them do tell half the gospel correctly, but they leave out the other half. They will teach you that Jesus died for our sins, but they don’t teach that we must die with Christ to our sin or that we must follow him in obedience to his teachings and instructions. Yet, the Word teaches us that if we say we have fellowship with him, but we continue living in sin, we are liars. It says that if we say we love God, but if we don’t do what he commands, we are liars, and he doesn’t know us (See: 1 John). This is speaking of lifestyle, I believe. I believe God will discipline his wayward, spiritually adulterous and idolatrous church here in America for failing to heed his warnings and to respond to his calls for repentance. Yet, I believe God will do so in love, mercy and compassion, because he will be rescuing his children from their idolatry and the powerful influence these human institutions have over them right now, so that he can be their Lord again, and so they will honor him as the holy God that he is. I believe God will use divine correction to revive his church so that he can renew and restore her back to himself. In this, he will show his steadfast love and faithfulness. He will purify his people so that his bride will be ready for her husband. He Keeps Me Singing / Luther B. Bridgers There’s within my heart a melody Jesus whispers sweet and low, “Fear not, I am with thee, peace be still,” In all of life’s ebb and flow. Though sometimes He leads through waters deep, Trials fall across the way, Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep See His foot-prints all the way. Soon He’s coming back to welcome me Far beyond the starry sky; I shall wing my flight to world’s unknown, I shall reign with Him on high. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus – Sweetest name I know, Fills my every longing, Keeps me singing as I go.