Tuesday, September 15, 2015, 4:37 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Hear My Voice.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 26:1-10 (ESV). A Strong City (vv. 1-4) In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. In context, God is going to judge the earth in these last days, yet this judgment will produce a revived church and many lives newly saved by the power of the cross of Christ. Many of those who did not previously give glory to God will now raise their voices, shout for joy, and will acclaim the Lord’s majesty. God will judge his enemies, the enemies of his people, the church; the body of Christ. He will destroy (swallow up) all the deception, lies, trickery, and shams which have captivated the people of the earth for such a long time. One of the biggest ways the people of the earth have been deceived in my lifetime has been via television. TV has a hypnotic force which blinds the eyes even of the elect because it so cleverly is able to convince the people to believe in lies, so that it is barely distinguishable between what lies are and what truth is now days. Yet, through judgment, God is going to remove those coverings of deceit. He will bring everything out into the open and he will expose the motives of people’s hearts and their secretive evil deeds (See: Is. 24-25). Since this is speaking of the final days before the Lord’s return, when God visits the earth in judgment for the last time, God’s people are the church, the body of Christ, not the nation of Israel; not unless they trust in Jesus as their Savior. True Israel is comprised of all people who worship Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, whether Jew or Gentile by birth. Through Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, Jew and Gentile were made one in Christ. Physical Jerusalem is no longer the holy city of God, but is of Hagar, the slave woman. Mount Zion is the church. Jerusalem is heavenly Jerusalem, which is also the church, the bride of Christ, the saints of the Almighty. The strong city is the City of God, the church, i.e. heavenly Jerusalem, which does not have physical walls to protect it, but has salvation from sin by the blood of Christ (the Lamb of God) as its spiritual protection from its enemy Satan. Only by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, are we made righteous in God’s sight and can we thus enter this city. When we come to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in Christ our Lord, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Christ’s righteousness is thus credited to our accounts so that we are free from accusation, free from the penalty of sin (eternal damnation), and free from slavery to sin so that we might become servants of righteousness. For, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). Jesus 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 our sinful flesh, but who walk according to the Spirit (Ro. 8:1-14). Therefore, we must walk righteously. Do you want to have peace in this life – perfect peace that lasts forever? Trust in God. Believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. Live like you truly believe what you profess, if you claim to know Christ. Keep your mind stayed (remained, continued) on Christ, and not on the things of this world and of our fleshly nature and ungodly desires. Do not let the things of this evil world unsettle you. Commit your ways to the Lord. Trust him in all circumstances. He will not leave those who are truly his. He will not abandon us, though humans may forsake us and not protect us or care for us. In order to keep our minds steadfast on our Lord and the things that are holy and righteous in his sight, we must separate ourselves from close fellowship and communion with this sinful world and with its worldly passions and desires which wage war against our souls. This means we must prayerfully evaluate before God all that we do and ask the Lord to show us what is contrary to keeping our minds stayed on him. Some of it we may already know, but it is in the doing and not just in the knowing where we will find true peace. So, obey God, and live in peace! Brought Low (vv. 5-6) For he has humbled the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city. He lays it low, lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust. The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy.” In contrast to the strong city, which has salvation as its walls and fortifications, is the lofty city, which could be speaking of the harlot, mystery Babylon, or of the world’s system, as a whole. This city is comprised of the proud who think they can exist without faith in Jesus Christ; without God as their salvation and fortification. They have rejected the Messiah, and have not submitted to the cross of Christ, nor have they honored God and given him the glory. Instead, they have opposed God and his righteousness and holiness, and have followed the ways of the sinful flesh, instead. They have opposed Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation, because it requires death to sin and living to righteousness, and because it requires submission to God, obedience to Christ’s commands, and walking in the ways of God instead of going our own way, and doing our own thing. And, so they have persecuted the Lord’s servants and have come against his messengers. But, by their steadfast faith and continuance in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, the faithful have been victorious over Satan and over their persecutors, who did not get the best of them. God has a day of judgment in mind for this lofty city, in which he will bring their pride down to the dust, will expose secret sins, and will open the eyes of many who were blind. Our Desire (vv. 7-9a) The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous. In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. So many people today are preaching a gospel absent of the cross of Christ in our lives. They preach that a mere confession of Christ as Savior promises them eternal life with God in glory, and that once saved they can never lose that salvation, no matter how badly they sin and rebel against God or reject Jesus Christ from that point on. Yet, scripture teaches the opposite. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) Jesus. Jesus said that 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 to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Eph. 4:17-24). In Romans 8 we read that if we persist in conducting our lives according to our sinful flesh, even after we profess to know him, we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (vv. 1-14). John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, and yet we persist in conducting our lives in darkness (sin), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (see 1 Jn. 1:6). Thus, faith in Jesus Christ that saves us is both repentant and obedient. Yet, we don’t obey our Lord to earn or to deserve salvation. And, we can’t possibly do this in our own flesh or by doing “good deeds.” Humans are incapable of keeping God’s laws perfectly, which is why Jesus Christ came to earth, took on human form, and died on the cross for our sins, so that through faith in him we might be made righteous with God. Yet, that faith is not absent of works, but they are the works God had prepared in advance that we should do, and for which he equips and empowers us. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are filled and empowered from on high of the Spirit of God who gives us what we need to live holy lives, pleasing to God. Again, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He did not die just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might walk (conduct our lives) in his righteousness, and that we might no longer live to fulfill the passions and desires of our flesh. He gave his life up for us so that we might be set apart from (different; unlike) the world, because we are becoming like him. Learning Righteousness (vv. 9b-10) For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly and does not see the majesty of the Lord. Through judgment the Lord will teach righteousness to those who will put their faith and trust in him. Yet, not everyone on the earth will respond to judgment in humility, repentance, faith and surrender to God/Jesus. Many will hold on to their wicked ways and will resist the voice of the Holy Spirit, and will continue to walk in corruption, and will not honor God for who he is. They will be bound to spend eternity in the pit of eternal torment without God and without hope. So, by God’s grace, through faith, we must live righteously before them in the power and working of God’s Spirit within us, and we must love the people of this sinful world, and share with them the gospel of their salvation, so that many will be saved before the great day of judgment when God judges the people of this world, including a time when he judges (disciplines) his adulterous and idolatrous church in order to bring her back to her One and Only God; when he restores her to fellowship with him. Hear my Voice / An Original Work / July 9, 2012 Based off Psalm 27 The Lord is my great salvation. He’s the stronghold of my life. When my enemies attack me, My heart will not fear at all. Though a war break out against me, Confident in Christ I’ll be. Of the Lord, I ask that I may Live with Him eternally. Hear my voice, Lord, when I call you. Merciful to me You’ll be. Though my relatives forsake me, My Lord God will receive me. Teach me Your way, O my Jesus. Lead me in Your righteousness. I will sacrifice to my Lord. I will sing with joyfulness. I am confident that I will See the goodness of the Lord. All the richness of His blessings, My Lord has for me in store. He asks me to be of courage; To be strong and to take heart, Patiently as I wait for Him, And from Him to ne’er depart.