Saturday, January 31, 2015


This week I wanted to share with you this beautiful writing from Grace Gems. It speaks so well of exactly what the Lord has shown and taught me in my own life over the years, of what it is to walk in this world in every circumstance trusting the path that He has chosen for me. So often Christians are bewildered and downtrodden over their lot in life or the circumstances that come their way and fail to see God's had in it all and trust in the good He wants to do in them and what He wants to teach them in it. This article says it so well, and I could not possibly put it better. I hope you will be blessed.

How to Live a Beautiful Christian Life

How to Live a Beautiful Christian Life

J. R. Miller, 1880

We have only successfully acquired the art of living a Christian life—when we have learned to apply the principles of true religion, and enjoy its help and comfort in our daily life. It is easy to join in devotional exercises, to quote Bible promises, to extol the beauty of the Scriptures; but there are many who do these things—whose religion utterly fails them in the very places and at the very times—when it ought to prove their staff and stay!

All of us must go out from the sweet services of the Sunday—into a week of very real and very commonplace life. We must mingle with people who are not angels. We must pass through experiences that will naturally worry and vex us. Those about us, either wittingly or unwittingly, annoy and try us. We must mingle with those who do not love Christ. We all meet many troubles and worries in ordinary week-day life. There are continual irritations and annoyances.

The problem is to live a beautiful Christian life—in the face of all these hindrances! How can we get through the tangled briers which grow along our path—without having our hands and feet torn by them? How can we live sweetly—amid the vexing and irritating things and the multitude of little worries and frets which infest our way, and which we cannot evade?

It is not enough merely to 'get along' in any sort of way, to drag to the close of each long, wearisome day, happy when night comes to end the strife. Life should be a joy—and not a burden. We should live victoriously, ever master of our experiences, and not tossed by them like a leaf on the dashing waves. Every earnest Christian wants to live a truly beautiful life, whatever the circumstances may be.

A little child, when asked 'what it was to be a Christian,' replied, "For me, to be a Christian is to live as Jesus would live—and behave as Jesus would behave—if he were a little girl and lived at our house." No better definition of practical religion could be given. Each one of us is to live just as Jesus would—if he were living out our little life in the midst of its actual environment, standing all day just where we stand, mingling with the same people with whom we must mingle, and exposed to the very annoyances, trials and provocations to which we are exposed. We want to live a life that will please God, and that will bear witness on its face to the genuineness of our piety.

How can we do this? We must first recognize the fact that our life must be lived just in its own circumstances. We cannot at present change our surroundings. Whatever we are to make of our lives—must be made in the midst of our actual experiences. Here we must either win our victories—or suffer our defeats. We may think our lot is especially hard—and may wish it were otherwise. We may wish that we had a life of ease and luxury, amid softer scenes, with no briers or thorns, no worries or provocations. Then we would be always gentle, patient, serene, trustful, happy. How delightful it would be—never to have a care, an irritation, a cross, a single vexing thing!

But meanwhile this fact remains—that our aspiration cannot be realized, and that whatever our life is to be made, beautiful or marred, we must make it just where we are. No restless discontent can change our lot. We cannot get into any 'paradise' merely by longing for it. Other people may have other circumstances, possibly more pleasant than ours—but here are ours. We may as well settle this point at once, and accept the battle of life on this field—or else, while we are vainly wishing for a better chance, the opportunity for victory shall have passed.

The next thought is that the place in which we find ourselves is the place in which the Master desires us to live our life.

There is no haphazard in this world. God leads every one of his children by the right way. He knows where and under what influences each particular life will ripen best. One tree grows best in the sheltered valley, another by the water's edge, another on the bleak mountain-top swept by storms. There is always adaptation in nature. Every tree or plant is found in the locality where the conditions of its growth exist, and does God give more thought to trees and plants than to his own children? He places us amid the circumstances and experiences in which our life will grow and ripen the best. The peculiar discipline to which we are each subjected—is the discipline we each need to bring out in us the beauties and graces of true spiritual character. We are in the right school. We may think that we would ripen more quickly—in a more easy and luxurious life—but God knows what is best; he makes no mistakes.

There is a little fable which says that a primrose growing by itself in a shady corner of the garden, became discontented as it saw the other flowers in their mirthful beds in the sunshine, and begged to be moved to a more conspicuous place. Its prayer was granted. The gardener transplanted it to a more showy and sunny spot. It was greatly pleased—but there came a change over it immediately. Its blossoms lost much of their beauty and became pale and sickly. The hot sun caused them to faint and wither. So it prayed again to be taken back to its old place in the shade. The wise gardener knows best where to plant each flower, and so God, the divine Gardener, knows where His people will best grow into what he would have them to be. Some require the fierce storms, some will only thrive spiritually in the shadow of worldly adversity, and some come to ripeness more sweetly under the soft and gentle influences of prosperity, whose beauty, rough experiences would mar. He knows what is best for each one.

The next thought, is that it is possible to live a beautiful life anywhere. There is no position in this world in the allotment of Providence, in which it is not possible to be a true Christian, exemplifying all the virtues of Christianity. The grace of Christ has in it, potency enough to enable us to live godly, wherever we are called to dwell. When God chooses a home for us—he fits us for its peculiar trials. There is a beautiful law of adaptation that runs through all God's providence. Animals made to dwell amid Arctic snows are covered with warm furs. The camel's home is the desert, and a wondrous provision is made by which it can endure long journeys across the hot sands without drink. Birds are fitted for their flights in the air. Animals made to live among the mountain-crags, have feet prepared for climbing over the steep rocks. In all nature this law of special equipment and preparation for allotted places prevails.

And the same is true in spiritual life. God adapts his grace to the peculiarities of each one's necessity. For rough, flinty paths—he provides shoes of iron. He never sends any one to climb sharp, rugged mountain-sides, wearing silken slippers. He always gives sufficient grace. As the burdens grow heavier—the strength increases. As the difficulties thicken—the angel draws closer. As the trials become sorer—the trusting heart grows calmer. Jesus always sees his disciples, when they are toiling in the waves—and at the right moment comes to deliver them. Thus it becomes possible to live a true and victorious life—in any circumstances. Christ can as easily enable Joseph to remain pure and true, in heathen Egypt—as Benjamin in the shelter of his father's love. The sharper the temptations, the more of divine grace is granted. There is, therefore, no environment of trial, or difficulty or hardship—in which we cannot live beautiful lives of Christian fidelity and holy conduct.

Instead, then, of yielding to discouragement when trials multiply and it becomes hard to live right, or of being satisfied with a broken peace and a very faulty life—it should be the settled purpose of each one to live, through the grace of God—a patient, gentle and unspotted life—in the place and amid the circumstances He allots to us. The true victory is not found in escaping or evading trials—but in rightly meeting and enduring them. The questions should not be, "How can I get out of these worries? How can I get into a place where there shall be no irritations, nothing to try my temper or put my patience to the test? How can I avoid the distractions that continually harass me?" There is nothing noble in such living. The soldier who flies to the rear when he smells the battle is no hero; he is a coward.

The questions should rather be, "How can I pass through these trying experiences, and not fail as a Christian? How can I endure these struggles, and not suffer defeat? How can I live amid these provocations, these reproaches and testings of my temper, and yet live sweetly, not speaking unadvisedly, bearing injuries meekly, returning gentle answers to insulting words?" This is the true problem of Christian living.

We are at school here. This life is disciplinary. Processes are not important: it is results we want. If a tree grow into majesty and strength, it matters not whether it is in the deep valley or on the cold peak, whether calm or storm nurtures it. If character develops into Christlike symmetry, what does it matter whether it be in ease and luxury—or through hardship? The important matter is not the process—but the result; not the means—but the end; and the end of all Christian nurture is spiritual loveliness. To be made truly noble and godlike—we should be willing to submit to any discipline.

Every obstacle to true living should, then, only nerve us with fresh determination to succeed. We should use each difficulty and hardship, as a leverage to gain some new advantage. We should compel our temptations to minister to us—instead of hindering us. We should regard all our provocations, annoyances and trials, of whatever sort—as practice-lessons in the application of the theories of Christian life. It will be seen in the end—that the hardships and difficulties are by no means the smallest blessings of our lives. Someone compares them to the weights of a clock, without which there could be no steady, orderly life.

The tree that grows where tempests toss its boughs and bend its trunk, often almost to breaking—is more firmly rooted than the tree which grows in the sequestered valley, where no storm ever brings stress or strain. The same is true in life. The grandest character is grown in hardship. Weakness of character, springs out of luxury. The best men the world ever reared—have been brought up in the school of adversity and hardship.

Besides, it is no heroism to live patiently—where there is no provocation, bravely where there is no danger, calmly where there is nothing to perturb. Not the hermit's cave—but the heart of busy life, tests, as well as makes character. If we can live patiently, lovingly and cheerfully, amid all our frets and irritations day after day, year after year, that is grander heroism than the farthest famed military exploits, for 'he who rules his own spirit—is better than he who captures a city.'

This is our allotted task. It is no easy one. It can be accomplished only by the most resolute decision, with unwavering purpose and incessant watchfulness.

Nor can it be accomplished without the continual help of Christ. Each one's battle must be a personal one. We may decline the struggle—but it will be declining also the joy of victory. No one can reach the summit—without climbing the steep mountain-path. We cannot be borne up on any strong shoulder. God does not put features of beauty into our lives—as the jeweler sets gems in clusters in a coronet. The unlovely elements are not magically removed and replaced by lovely ones. Each must win his way through struggles and efforts—to all noble attainments. The help of God is given only in cooperation with human aspiration and energy. While God works in us—we are to work out our own salvation. He who overcomes, shall be a pillar in the temple of God. We should accept the task with quiet joy. We shall fail many times.

Many a night we shall retire to weep at Christ's feet—over the day's defeat. In our efforts to follow the copy set for us by our Lord—we shall write many a crooked line, and leave many a blotted page blistered with tears of regret. Yet we must keep through all, a brave heart, an unfaltering purpose, and a calm, joyful confidence in God. Temporary defeat should only cause us to lean on Christ more fully. God is on the side of everyone who is loyally struggling to obey his divine will, and to grow into Christlikeness. And that means assured victory, to everyone whose heart fails not.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


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Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God: and whosoever loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. Hereby we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:1-3)

"But a danger exists on the other side. It may be, that we love the brethren because they are pleasant to us; they furnish us with agreeable society, in which our conscience is not wounded. A counter-proof is therefore given us. "Hereby we know that we love the children of God, if we love God and keep his commandments." It is not as children of God that I love the brethren, unless I love God of whom they are born. I may love them individually as companions, or I may love some among them, but not as the children of God, if I do not love God Himself. If God Himself has not His true place in my heart, that which bears the name of love to the brethren shuts out God; and that in so much the more complete and subtle manner, because our link with them bears the sacred name of brotherly love.

"Now there is a touchstone even for this love of God namely, obedience to His commands. If I walk with the brethren themselves in disobedience to their Father, it is certainly not because they are His children that I love them. If it were because I loved the Father and because they were His children, I should assuredly like them to obey Him. To walk then in disobedience with the children of God, under the pretext of brotherly love, is not to love them as the children of God. If I loved them as such, I should love their Father and my Father, and I could not walk in disobedience to Him and call it a proof that I loved them because they were His." ~J.N. Darby on 1 John 5

that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: and these things we write, that our joy may be made full. (1 John 1:3-4)

In Christ we can have blessed fellowship. Our fellowship with other believers is because of our fellowship with the Lord. When we come to Christ He brings us into fellowship with Himself and the Father, as we are cleansed from sin and made righteous with the righteousness of Christ alone. He gives us His Spirit and we have an inner "supping with Him" and He with us.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

That fellowship is based on a mutual love and obedience to the Lord and a mutual indwelling of God by His Spirit. It is never based on certain goals and motives we may have in common in this world or likes and dislikes, or political views, or anything of the flesh. True fellowship in God, is based on His fellowship with us, through the mutual salvation He alone gives through His grace by faith in His finished work on the cross. We may think we are loving with God's love and fellowshipping with those who are of other religions, trying to ignore God's Word and truth and compromising in order to agree on what we can agree on, but this is fleshly humanistic "fellowship" and not the love that God alone can put in the hearts of His true children. John, in his letter of 1 John, speaks of many things that prove the true love of God in a child of God and how it looks when acted on and lived by. There are marks of those who are His children and walk in His love. Such love produces the righteousness of Christ in a person's life. If they don't have that, they are still walking in darkness and blindness (1 John 2:9). There is no way our flesh can produce that kind of love. That kind of love is only a result of His Spirit living in us and our abiding in Him in obedience to His Word, by faith in Him and all He said. It is only a result of true fellowship with our Lord.

Today there is a counterfeit "love" and a counterfeit "fellowship" that a counterfeit church preaches, by accepting all the sin and worldliness and false religion in one another and find some common ground to agree on, so they can fight for a common good. This kind of "love" says to accept sin, do not judge it, do not discern what is of God and what is not or try to admonish, rebuke, or expose what is false, in love, or do not try to hold to God's Word because that will bring division, and do not do anything that will offend, least of all preach the Word of God in truth. It says, do not tell someone they are a sinner and in dire need of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for salvation, and that they are in need of repentance for deliverance of sin. But Jesus tells us there is no fellowship with darkness, and indeed these things keep a person in darkness, where they never are able to see His true light. They are never able to escape those very sins that keep them there and cause all the problems they have in the world, and which are the reason for the evil in this world and worst of all, which will separate them from God and His love for all eternity. Jesus tells us we cannot have fellowship with this kind of darkness if we walk in fellowship with Him. He came to destroy the works of darkness, and to set men free.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

We have a blessed and wonderful fellowship with God when we become born again, and as we learn to walk in that fellowship day by day continually, we have a blessed fellowship with one another in Christ that causes us to desire His will in ourselves as well as in those we love of the family of God. It grieves our hearts to see our brothers and sisters stumbling into sin, because we love them as God loves them. It grieves our hearts to see someone led astray into false teachings, because we love the truth of God's Word, and understand the importance of that true light in our lives and desire the same truth and love and obedience to the truth in their lives for them, for God's glory and for their own sake as well. Our joy together is made full. When we are together enjoying the fellowship of His truth, we delight in each other and in God. Others see that light as well, and His love is manifested through us to the world.

When there is true fellowship with one another in Christ, the whole body is able to grow up together and is protected from outside forces of evil that would come in and corrupt the church. If a root of bitterness is allowed in the church and love does not take care to stop it, it will grow and poison the whole body.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; (Hebrews 12:15)

Adam Clarke in his commentary states: "The root of bitterness is here used metaphorically for a bad man, or a man holding unsound doctrines, and endeavoring to spread them in the Church."

Jamieson, Faucett and Brown commentary states, "Root of bitterness comprehends every person (compare Hebrews 12:16) and every principle of doctrine or practice so radically corrupt as to spread corruption all around. The only safety is in rooting out such a root of bitterness."

If we love the Lord, Jesus says we will obey His commands to believe in Him...His whole Word and counsel, and walk in obedience to it, by loving our brethren. If we do so we will have fellowship with Him. We cannot have fellowship with Him if we are walking in sin, according to John's letter, which is inspired of the Holy Spirit, and if we say we do then we're a liar. If we are walking in true fellowship with Him in His light that light will also produce true fellowship and love with our brothers and sisters in Christ which will cause us to act as Christ would act when we see sin or departure from the truth with them. It will strive to keep that fellowship in tact with a love that will put the spiritual well-being of others, and the glory of God before our own well-being. It will be willing even to be rejected in order to try to keep another in the fellowship of the Lord. It will speak the truth in love for the sake of that fellowship.

A counterfeit "fellowship" seeks to not offend in order to maintain good feelings with another, rather than to bring one to the true fellowship that is with the Father and with the Son. This is a hard lesson for us. It is hard to learn to speak the truth in love to one another. It means a denying of ourselves. None of us wants to step on toes of another. None of us likes confrontation. And there is a place to wait for the Lord to show a person and to be patient, remembering the Lord's longsuffering patience with us as He dealt with us, but there are times when the Lord calls on us to speak up in love, sacrificing ourselves and risking rejection or confrontation. There is a time when we simply have to wait on the Lord to work in a person's heart to reveal truth that they have not the maturity yet to understand in the Lord, being an example, praying for them, speaking the Word of truth when He brings opportunity and in grace and humility, and there is a time when open rebuke needs to be done, also in grace and humility with love, seeking their restitution with the Lord. There is also a time when fellowship with another has to be broken because of sin unrepented of, or heresy or divisions they cling to and refuse correction for - also for their hopeful restitution to the Lord. How do we know which is the case?

We know because we are abiding in His Word, and in His fellowship, being obedient to it, allowing Him to correct and teach us, and fill us with His Spirit each day and motivate us by His love. If we walk in His light, His light will lead us and teach us by that "unction" or "anointing" He has given us...His Holy Spirit.

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. (1 John 2:24-28)

We learn to grow in our fellowship with Him and His love, and as we do we learn to grow in our fellowship and love with one another, and His Spirit in us teaches us and leads us into His love more and more. The more that love fills and motivates our lives, the more jealous and protective we are of that true fellowship with God and others. We can test our motives by the love of God shown us in His Word. If we are not walking in the light of His Word and His love, then we surely cannot help another to come into that light.

May the Lord work in each of us, that wonderful love and fellowship, bringing us to perfection! I will close with a wonderful prayer of Paul.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.

Friday, January 9, 2015


To listen to an audio version of this devotional, click here (to save it, right click and click "save as")

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." (John 10:4-5)

How the body of Christ settles for so much less than what our Lord has for us!! Oh how they fall for lies that promise them more and yet they are missing the MUCH MORE that God desires for them! There was a time in my life I sought the "more," yet I sought it in the wrong way, in the wrong places, and was deceived as to what that "more" was that God had for me. I wanted more of God. I wanted the utmost I could have of God. Yet, in my pursuit of that, I discovered I was settling for what I thought was "more" but actually was less. People seek the gifts but forget the giver. They seek experiences, but lose sight of the Head. They have an insatiable hunger for exciting experiences but miss God Himself. They seek His voice but not from the Word that He reveals His voice to them. They seek to know God through other's testimonies and experiences but fail to find the communion they can have with Jesus, Himself, through the communion and fellowship the Holy Spirit opens us up to in His Word. What a communion there is there! What a joy when that Word comes alive and speaks to you, intimately, to your heart of hearts, and it's as though it were written just for you as a love letter from your Savior, revealing Himself to you personally. How sad when a child of His feels they don't need it, and can substitute it with the teachings or unction of others, or subjective experiences, or inner thoughts and impressions without knowing His Word. How little they have if all they have is someone else's "knowledge" of God rather than learning daily to walk in intimate communion with Him and letting that Word speak to them personally. I at one time, let others be the "Holy Spirit" to me. Never again! He is my companion, counselor, comforter, revealer of God's truth, and He came into my heart through the Word of God, when I put my faith in that Word. I was born again through the Word, as I believed it and received the Holy Spirit. I was given life through the Word. I found more and more life the more I learned of Him through the Word and as the Word gripped my heart and took over my heart, His Spirit filled me more and more and empowered me more and more. I found the "fullness of the Spirit" as His Spirit, through His Word filled my mind and heart, rather than what others told me that fullness was.

There's a popular trend today among believers that we can just "listen to the Holy Spirit speak to us" and ignore the Word, or without having to read the Word. I believe this is one more ploy of the enemy again to discredit the Word, as though it were not the mind of the Spirit, or what the Spirit says to the church, as if we could separate the two. The Holy Spirit gave the Word, speaks to us through the Word, and never ever disagrees with the Word that is written. There is no true discernment without the written Word. As I sit at His feet and read that Word...that very Word of God Himself given to me to learn of Him, to know Him, and to commune with Him, He speaks to me. He opens up my understanding. He brings tremendous joy and assurance and hope and faith. Through it I am able to truly hear the Spirit's voice and commune with Him. He also chastises me in it, quickens me, cleanses me, and restores me when I am in any way veering off the path. His Spirit bears witness with my spirit as I read it in faith and reveals His truth and wisdom to my heart there. He communes with me there and lets me know His very heart. He gives discernment so that I know what is of Him and what His will and heart is, so that I am not led astray by those who teach something opposed to His Word. I am alert as soon as I hear a teaching contrary to it, because I've become familiar with it, and I won't listen to the voice of another. Sometimes the fellowship I have with Him there raises me up to such ecstasy and joy that I feel I could just walk into Heaven itself! Yet it brings me down to earth where I must walk for now and empowers me to do so.

How very, very sad when we settle for less from God, than the real thing, thinking we are getting more. The Corinthians were like that. They thought themselves spiritually superior yet they settled for a very debase carnality that was exposed when Paul brought them the true Word of God to discern. They had false apostles coming to them discrediting the Word God gave to Paul and giving their own word claiming an authority that was not given by God. But Paul, who was chosen of God, approved of God, brought them back to the Word that was approved of God, given by God Himself, and proven to be of God - that Word which agreed with all the prophets and Jesus, which was predicted to come.

Robert Hawker, Poor Man's Commentary, on Philippians 4:4-7:

"Reader! bear with me, while I remind you again and again, (for I need to be continually reminded myself,) that these blessed Scriptures are not Paul’s, but the words of God the Holy Ghost. Paul is but the penman of them. It is God the Spirit which endited them; for all scripture is given by inspiration of God. 2 Timothy 3:16. We are too apt to lose sight of this. And when, we do, we forget with it, that the promises in Christ Jesus, are not yea, and nay; but yea, and Amen. 2 Corinthians 1:19-20. The one before us, is on this account, sweet. The peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

That is the same Word we have today. It cuts, it divides, it proves what is good, and it discerns good from evil. And if we allow it to do that in our hearts, it sets us free to be in genuine fellowship with our Savior and have an intimacy with Him that we will never find otherwise. We won't find it through so-called spiritual experiences, but the faith in the Word and fellowship with Him there as we are washed and cleansed and strengthened in that Word will bring us precious experience that is genuine and will produce true fruit in our lives and through us to others. If we are listening to an "inner voice" alone, without the word, chances are that we are listening to our own heart and flesh, or worse yet, the voice of another. His Word is our protection and discernment. If we are truly "listening to the Spirit" we will also find that He directs us to His Word and we find agreement with the Word there where what He speaks to us is confirmed. We will find the Spirit and the written Word agree, and if we love one we love the other. It will glorify God and work in us a death of self and life unto Him. If we are not in the Word and learning to know God and listen to Him there, then we are in danger of another spirit deceiving us, masquerading as the Holy Spirit's voice, and that voice will draw us away from the Word and make us feel we don't need it, and will cause us to neglect the Word. It will glorify "self" and please the "self." God's Spirit NEVER tells us not to read the Word or that it is not important or that we don't need it or have to obey it. If you are "hearing" a voice tell you that, it is not God, I can assure you whole heartedly. This was the same problem Paul refuted in many of his epistles against the Gnostics of the day. Today we have Gnosticism again in the church: "The Gnostics thought that one must directly experience the spirit to learn the truth, this being apart from the word. Stepping over into the supernatural, experience becomes the teacher and gives them real knowledge. What was and is now being taught is spirit to spirit communication that is completely outside the Biblical revelation given by the apostles." The Gnostic Jesus, A Gnostic Christianity

Part 2, : "The recipients of the apostles letters had the Scriptures. Knowing God through a book was considered Head knowledge, it was inferior to the early Gnostics and it is today to the modern Gnostics! The teachings of the apostles was not sufficient, the spirit was the revelator for the new knowledge by experience. Those who hear God’s voice through the Scriptures are accused of worshipping a book called by some bibliolatry. But any voice that teaches outside the Scripture, and is not finding its source in Scripture-- will lead one away from the God of the Scripture. The book is to lead us and keep us in correct understanding and in the will of God. His word works with the Holy Spirit."

When I am truly hearing the Holy Spirit I am delighting in His Word and my heart is brought to a place where I am most able to do that. I am being made free of myself through the Word and cleansed from all in my heart that opposes it or fears it or repels me from it. If I am troubled by His Word and stay away from it, and think I am "hearing God" without facing that Word's examination of my heart and correction, just hearing niceties that make me feel good, I am deceiving myself and settling for so much less. When we face those difficulties in the Word, even agonize through them in prayer as we study the whole Word, we find that the Holy Spirit teaches us, uses that Word to cleanse us, to set us free in our hearts and minds, and fills us with the life that is meant to come to us through it. I've been so blessed when, at times, I have been confused over the Word and I simply asked the Holy Spirit to teach me and give me understanding, and He did! He opened up my understanding and made me see it clearly. And it brought life. Too often those who just think they "listen to the Spirit" listen to what they want to hear...and claim it is God telling them, even if it contradicts His Word. They are listening to their own spirit, their own flesh, and convincing themselves it's God. The enemy will oblige them and confirm that over and over through others as well, to assure them they don't have to obey the written Word of God, calling it "legalism" or "the letter that killeth." They take sides with the flesh rather than God by doing so. If our hearts want what we want, we'll find a way to even "hear God" tell us that's what we can have or do. I know! I've been there! Our hearts are deceptive. I've been deceived by my own heart and led to compromise. When I got into the Word, I was shown the truth and was convicted, cut to the heart, and finally as I submitted to Him, was set free so that I could truly hear Him, and not another voice. We must "die" before we can "live." It's the Word that unites us with Him in that death and raises us up to newness of life in Him, as we believe it, and yield to it.

If we want to hear God, we must have hearts that are cleansed of sin and self, and open to His will alone, and not our own. If we want to hear God we must come into His light where all is made plain. The Word does that. It is His light. I divides between soul and spirit. It reveals the holiness of God.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

That Word is Jesus, Himself, and He has revealed Himself in His written Word, which NEVER disagrees with Jesus "the living Word," but confirms, clarifies, reveals, and glorifies Him. If we want to know the heart of Jesus, we won't if we are not reading His Word.

There are those who say, "what about those who don't have the Word?" Wow! Those people would about give up anything to have it! They feel the lack without it and hunger for it! They know how much more they could know of God through His Word! Check out this video of Chinese Christians receiving Bibles for the first time. People in persecuted countries would give up all they have if someone would give them a Bible! Yet we who have the Word in abundance ignore it! I believe God gives supernatural grace and reveals Himself to those under such persecution, because their hearts are cleansed by the suffering they have endured as they surrender to Him and stand for Him regardless of what they must endure. If the Spirit speaks to them, it will always be His agreement with and the same as what the written Word is. That is no comparison to those in America who have a life of ease, and pleasure, thinking God is speaking to them telling them they don't need His Word, they can just "listen to His Spirit" and that He gives them everything they want, and who settle for less. He who has much, much will be required of him, on that day when we stand before Him. What will you say when you see that His Word was given to you and you ignored it, you didn't love it, you weren't hungry for it, and you neglected it thinking a "voice" in your heart was all you needed. What will you say when you see the treasure you could have had, and you settled for less? What will you say when you face the truth then, as you will, instead of facing His Word now and letting it work in you? What will you say when you see how much time you spent reading so many books ABOUT Him, and failed to seek out and understand His book and know Him through that? And why would a child of God not love and hunger for the very Word and will and heart of his Father? Only if he is not in fellowship with his Father.

Oh Lord, help us not to fall for something less than You! Less than Your Word! Less than everything You have provided for us and given to us and want to make us in Christ! Open eyes to see the deception of this teaching, and the lies of the enemy to rob them of all You have for them in Christ Jesus! Expose the lies that promise a "fullness of the Spirit" through experience, when they are actually being led to neglect the fullness of the Spirit that is true and which they can receive through Your powerful living Word! Open our eyes to the true Jesus of the Bible, and not the gnostic jesus of many today.

Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus,
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him.

Open our ears Lord
And help us to listen,
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, (Philippians 1:9)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.

Thursday, January 1, 2015



To listen to an audio version of this devotional, click here (to save it, right click and click "save as")

And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

(Genesis 28:17)
"this is none other but the house of God; wherefore he afterwards called it Bethel, which signifies the house of God; and so the church of God is often called, Psalm 23:6; which is of God's building, where he dwells, and his family is, of which he is the master and governor; which he beautifies and adorns, fills, repairs, and defends."
John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

There is one house of God, and there is one foundation that house is built upon. The house of God must be built upon the sure and solid foundation of Jesus Christ alone, and His true Gospel. There are many who try to enter into the house of God and teach and build upon it, but if they are not building on the true foundation, all is a loss, and there is destruction.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
(1 Corinthians 3:10-17)

What is the "house of God" or the "temple" but the place where God dwells? Under the old covenant the temple was the dwelling place of God. Now we, the church, are God's temple, or "dwelling place." He dwells in His church, His "called out ones" - those called out of this world to be indwelt by His Spirit, made new, and become His children, who HE gives the power to be children of God, not by the will of man but by that power of God (John 1:12-13, Romans 8:28-30). The foundation of that dwelling place is the righteousness of Christ alone. That dwelling place must be holy, clean, and pure. It is false concepts of His salvation, and His Gospel that corrupt or pollute the church. In the church of the Corinthians there had come in false apostles who were corrupting the house of God, trying to lay another foundation. Only that which is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ will stand in the end, Who is the foundation of every structure which shall stand firm in every test of fire. How very important it is, then, that we are careful not to add to, or take away from, the true understanding of that foundation, but that we understand the work of our Savior and what that salvation is. Without the understanding of that foundation, the house becomes polluted. There's no true "obedience" to Him, if not based on the true Gospel and the foundation of our relationship with Him, and faith in His righteousness alone.

Some work to build upon that foundation of grace. Some work to build another foundation of grace plus works. Where does God dwell? He dwells only in the house He builds.

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.
(1 Peter 2:4-8)

The Jews totally missed it because they stumbled over their own self-righteousness, that of "law keeping" and did not understand or accept the righteousness God provided - that is by grace through faith alone, in which by believing, His law is put into their hearts. To them He became a stumbling stone. They "disobeyed" the word... the word of salvation by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ. They were so sure and so ingrained in the law that they failed to see its purpose and fulfillment. The same can happen to us when we become so ingrained in a way of seeing things. It is those who simply believe "into" Him who become His dwelling place. How difficult it is for us humans to receive this word! Even those in the church, those who have been born again by faith, have difficulty receiving completely, that it is not by any works of their own, that they are made a dwelling place of God forever. They say they believe in His grace, yet, they fear they must keep themselves by their works. They contradict themselves. Yet they don't see it. It is so hard for our pride to fully accept and trust in the full grace of God and the power of His salvation. They fear a message of grace will mean "lawlessness" because they fail to understand the power of His salvation and what it is. But it is actually quite the opposite - it is failing to see this that leads to defeat in our Christian life.

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
(Galatians 3:1-3)

The house of God will only be perfected in the same way that it was begun. Anything we add to it will be wood, hay, and stubble. 

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Colossians 2:6-7)

There are those who feel they must warn against "lawlessness" to those who are born again, claiming to believe our salvation is all of grace through faith, yet contradicting themselves by saying we must live under a fear of condemnation if we do not have works that are good enough to keep us. On one hand they speak of grace, and on the other nullify it. They build straw man arguments against those who trust in Christ alone as the sole means of their salvation, so build wrongly upon that foundation. There is no victory in our lives over sin, other than that power which comes through faith in the true foundation of our salvation, which is forever. If not for faith in the security and hope of that salvation being in Him alone, we are weakened in our walk, and our faith becomes self-focused rather than a true leaning on that which is already accomplished in Christ. In Christ we are a new creature, with a new heart. We have a new nature that is His indwelling Spirit in us, which raises us up to newness of life. It is that power in us alone that continues in us and never leaves us, and Who conforms us to the image of Christ. When we understand that, we are set free from "lawlessness" and empowered to walk by that same rule of life, of faith in Him. The fear that if I trust in the security of my salvation in Christ, I will give in to lawlessness is a straw man argument, and shows a misunderstanding of His salvation, what it is, and the power of regeneration of the Holy Spirit. We are His house. He dwells in us. He keeps us. And true faith in that sets us free to live in true obedience...the obedience of faith.

A "straw man argument" according to Wikipedia:

A straw man is a common type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on the misrepresentation of an opponent's argument.[1] To be successful, a straw man argument requires that the audience be ignorant or uninformed of the original argument.

The so-called typical "attacking a straw man" argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent's proposition by covertly replacing it with a different proposition (i.e., "stand up a straw man") and then to refute or defeat that false argument ("knock down a straw man") instead of the original proposition.

"Lawlessness" or "license to sin" as being the consequence of believing we are secure in Christ is the straw man set up to defeat. When there is a misrepresentation of what salvation is, and what it entails, assuming that one who is born again is no different in nature than one who is not born again, other than "belief" in Jesus, then it's easy to argue that they must keep themselves and fear losing their salvation. It's as though one can be "in and out" of Jesus, based on strength of will or performance or "enough faith." But when one fully understands what the salvation that Jesus worked in us when we were born of His Spirit, put "into Christ," and given a new nature/heart/will, cleansed wholly and imputed with the righteousness of Christ, this is seen clearly to be a straw man argument. The right foundation is laid and built upon. We are "in Christ" forever, sharing His death and resurrection. We are transferred from death to life forever and have "eternal life." Every understanding of the Gospel and of Scripture has to come from the true foundation. And that foundation is sure, strong, and stable, and will not fail. Every false teaching comes out of a misrepresentation of that foundation.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life."
(John 5:24)

The Holy Spirit is given to us "forever" and never leaves us, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever"

(John 14:16)

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.
(1 John 3:9)

How are we to build upon the true foundation? The true foundation must be understood in order to build upon that alone. We build on it only by reinforcing the same as our foundation of every teaching, and every work we do in Christ and for His service, by faith in Him alone and our assurance in His finished work. That foundation is ALWAYS central in our entire work and walk. In assurance of His work we are strong. In faith in His indwelling us, we walk and we work, not so that we are kept, but because we are kept. Our life, our power, our hope, and our faith springs from His indwelling us. The house of God then, is being continually built up and nurtured in that strength, and in a true faith where He dwells. As John Gill said in the above quote, "which is of God's building, where he dwells, and his family is, of which he is the master and governor; which he beautifies and adorns, fills, repairs, and defends.

In my own experience, when others had misunderstood and mistaught that foundation to me, in my early Christian life, my struggle with sin was a defeated struggle. When I no longer was under fear of condemnation but relied on and had security and assurance of the full power of His finished work, sin was overcome, love took over, and my life and growth in Him sprung from the right foundation and was nurtured, built up, and strengthened. Though they thought their warnings would produce holiness in me, they only produced lack of faith and understanding in the power of His salvation from which the only real power and love to walk in victory comes. That misunderstanding caused nothing but "wood, hay, and stubble" in my own Christian life, as it will in the house of God.

F.B. Meyer, Through The Bible Day By Day, on Ephesians 2:1-10:

"Notice, also, the past tense which describes the finality of Christ’s work, Ephesians 2:5-6. In the purpose of God we have been raised from the grave of sin and are seated with the risen Lord in the place of acceptance and victory. We were one with Christ when He lay in the grave and arose. In God’s thought we have already taken our seat with the glorified Christ upon the throne; only the pity is that we do not believe this or act as if we had done so (emphasis mine). All this is the gift of God’s unmerited love. By grace have we been brought into this position, and by grace are we maintained in it. We are of God’s "making;" such is the Greek word for workmanship, Ephesians 2:10. We have been created for good works; they have been planned for us and we have only to walk in them."

May the Lord open our eyes of understanding to have a revelation of the true power and completeness of His salvation for the body of Christ to dwell in and through which He dwells in us, that same power that rose Christ from the dead, which raised us up also to be seated with Him in the Heavenlies. It is that power which works in us, conforms us to His image, and keeps us. We are not created by good works, but we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus...UNTO good works which He prepared for us (Ephesians 1:13-2:10). What wonderful joy in His salvation and power to walk in those works by true faith in Him we receive when we understand this! Then the house of God is truly blessed!