Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 4:48 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Give Ear to Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 2 (Select vv. ESV). Pure Spiritual Milk (vv. 1-3) So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. The purpose of why Jesus died for our sins was to free us from slavery to sin, and to free us to walk in his righteousness. As followers of Christ, therefore, we are to no longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God now living within us. We are to put behind us those sinful things we did before we believed in Jesus, because we have now been washed in his blood and have been forgiven our sins. So, such things as cruelty to others, lying to one another, willfully misleading others, pretending to be something we are not, being jealous of what others have, and saying what is untrue about others in order to sully their reputations should be far from us. These types of things should no longer be part of our lives. Instead, our desire should be for our Lord, to please him in all that we are and think and say and do. And, we should long for (thirst for) his Word (his teachings) that we might know his commands and that we might do what he says. If our desire is not for our Lord, to follow him in all of his ways, then maybe we don’t really know Jesus. A Spiritual House (vv. 4-8) As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. Under the Old Covenant relationship God had with his people, the temple was a physical building built with real stones. Yet, it was a “copy and shadow of what is in heaven” (Heb. 8:5). But Jesus, through his death on the cross, did away with the need for a physical temple, because he is the temple, and we, as his body, are the temple of God. So, the stones in this temple are not physical stones, but spiritual ones. Jesus is the cornerstone of this spiritual building, i.e. he is the foundation, and he is what holds it all together. And, we are also living stones in this building, which is not physical but spiritual. As the body of Christ, his church, we are being built up in Christ to spiritual maturity. We, too, are kingdom priests in this temple where we are to offer to God spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. What this means is that we don’t determine for ourselves what we will do for God or how we will serve him, but we do what he requires of us and what he has called us to be and to do. In other words, attending meetings of the church on a weekly basis, or singing in the praise team, or serving in the nursery do not make us spiritual, in and of themselves, and they may or may not fall under the category of “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.” What is acceptable to God is first of all that we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives. When we truly believe, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” We no longer live for sin and self, but we now conduct our lives according to the Spirit of God. We want to please our Lord. So, we find out what pleases him by spending time with him each day in his Word, in prayer, and in obedience. During these times he will reveal himself to us, and we will come to know him and his will more clearly. He will speak to our hearts, and he will direct us in the way we should go. And, then we follow him in the way in which he leads us, and this is acceptable to him. Proclaim the Excellencies (vv. 9-10) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Jesus did not save us from our sins so that we could continue to live life as we lived it before. We are now his possession and he is our Lord (owner-master). So, we are to do what pleases him, i.e. we are to obey his Word to us and serve him all our days. He called us out of darkness (wickedness; sin) into his wonderful light (righteousness; truth), and that is awesome! So, we should want to tell others about him, and about what he did for us in delivering us out of slavery to sin, and about the new lives he has given us in Christ. We should be excited and passionate about our relationships with Jesus, and about what he is doing in our lives, and it should be natural (the new natural) for us to want to tell others. Godly Living (vv. 11-12, 16, 24-25) Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God… He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. We should live our lives here on this earth as though we are foreigners, i.e. outsiders. Our home now is in heaven. This world is no longer our home. It is just a temporary dwelling while we wait Christ’s return. So, we should live like we believe that. We should not follow after the patterns of this sinful world, nor should we adopt their attitudes and behaviors. We should live to honor our Lord in all that we do and say and think and are. We should not give way to the passions of our sinful flesh, but our passion should be for God, to do his will. We should live lives which are above reproach. This means that we should no longer engage in things such as sexual sin, which includes having sex outside of marriage, having adulterous relationships, whether physical and/or emotional, viewing pornography, lusting after those with whom we are not married, and being entertained by such things on TV or in movies, etc. It means we no longer, if we did before, allow ourselves to get caught up in lying, cheating, stealing, dishonesty, gossip, gluttony and the like. Daily we die to sin and self and we choose to walk in the Spirit in holiness and in Christ’s righteousness in the power and working of God’s Spirit within us, as we cooperate fully with that work. Jesus did not set us free from sin just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, we shouldn’t use our salvation as free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. We should also not make excuses for our sin, proclaiming that we are not perfect. While it is true that we won’t reach sinless perfection until we go to be with our Lord, we should never use “I’m not perfect” as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. Remember what the scriptures teach. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars, and the truth is not in us (See: 1 Jn. 1:6). So, if you think you believe in Jesus, but you have not been crucified with Christ in death to sin, nor have you been resurrected with him in newness of life, through which God created you to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, then chances are that you don’t really believe, and you don’t really know Jesus. So, repent of your sins today, and trust Christ with your life. If you have truly believed in Jesus, and you have been born of the Spirit from above, and you have been transformed away from sin and to God, to follow him in his ways, but since then you have wandered away from the purity of that relationship, then you need to repent of your sins, and you need to return to following your Lord in obedience. Give Ear to Jesus / An Original Work Based off Isaiah 55 / February 16, 2016 Call on your Savior. Seek the Lord while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way; Turn to the Lord. God will have mercy. He’ll forgive you of your sin. He will freely pardon you And give peace within. Turn from your sin, follow Jesus, Be cleansed from sin. Give ear to Jesus. Come to Him. Your soul will live. Listen to Him speaking to you: “Eat what is good.” If you are thirsty, Come to Jesus, drink from Him. Drink His Spirit given to you. Be born again. Listen to Him. Do what He says. Rejoice in Him. God’s Word, eternal, Will achieve what He desires. He is willing none should perish, Saved by His blood. Share now the gospel. Jesus died so we’d go free. Walk in vict’ry, Free from your sin, eternally. Die to sin, and live to Jesus. In Him believe.