Just Keep Singing, Just Keep Singing

Song: Never Gonna Stop Singing

Artist: Jesus Culture


from Amy Carmichael, Edges of His Ways

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:19

“The reason why singing is such a splendid shield against the fiery darts of the devil is that it greatly helps us to forget him, and he cannot endure being forgotten. He likes us to be occupied with him, with what he is doing (our temptations), with his victories (our falls), with anything but our glorious Lord. So sing. Never be afraid of singing too much. We are much more likely to sing too little.

There are times, however, when we cannot sing aloud. This verse covers that inward singing that so often lifts the heart heavenward. God make us a singing company.”

From Singing to Sunshine

Song: Joy of the Lord

Artist: Rend Collective


from Amy Carmichael, Edges of His Ways

Fix your thoughts on Jesus.

Hebrews 3:1

“Sometimes our thoughts will not stay ‘fixed;’ we cannot explain why. Before we know it, we find we have drifted back to thoughts of ourselves, or of others, or of places or things – of anything, indeed, but of Him who is deepest down our greatest longing: ‘Thou, O Lord God, art the thing that I long for’ (Ps 71:4).

I expect the wise could tell of many ways of help. I will tell of the simplest I know. You have tried reproaching yourselves: Why can I not do better than this? Try ‘singing to yourselves’ instead. Try what some beloved little hymn or song or psalm will do. Psalm 71:23 tells us just what happens then: ‘My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul which thou hast redeemed.’

For He has delivered us. He delivered us the moment we looked to Him, and when we sing to ourselves in this way, we are really singing to Him, our dear Deliverer, and before we know it the gloom has passed – we are out in the sunshine again.

Keep Recognizing Jesus by Oswald Chambers

Matthew 14:28-31

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.30 But when he saw the strong[d] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,”Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Keep Recognizing Jesus

The wind really was boisterous and the waves really were high, but Peter didn’t see them at first. He didn’t consider them at all; he simply recognized his Lord, stepped out in recognition of Him, and “walked on the water.” Then he began to take those things around him into account, and instantly, down he went. Why couldn’t our Lord have enabled him to walk at the bottom of the waves, as well as on top of them? He could have, yet neither could be done without Peter’s continuing recognition of the Lord Jesus.

We step right out with recognition of God in some things, then self-consideration enters our lives and down we go. If you are truly recognizing your Lord, you have no business being concerned about how and where He engineers your circumstances. The things surrounding you are real, but when you look at them you are immediately overwhelmed, and even unable to recognize Jesus. Then comes His rebuke, “…why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). Let your actual circumstances be what they may, but keep recognizing Jesus, maintaining complete reliance upon Him.

If you debate for even one second when God has spoken, it is all over for you. Never start to say, “Well, I wonder if He really did speak to me?” Be reckless immediately— totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything— by casting your all upon Him. You do not know when His voice will come to you, but whenever the realization of God comes, even in the faintest way imaginable, be determined to recklessly abandon yourself, surrendering everything to Him. It is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will recognize Him. You will only recognize His voice more clearly through recklessness— being willing to risk your all.

One of God’s Great “Don’ts” by Oswald Chambers

Psalm 37:8 (NASB)

Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.

One of God’s Great “Don’ts”

Fretting means getting ourselves “out of joint” mentally or spiritually. It is one thing to say, “Do not fret,” but something very different to have such a nature that you find yourself unable to fret. It’s easy to say, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7) until our own little world is turned upside down and we are forced to live in confusion and agony like so many other people. Is it possible to “rest in the Lord” then? If this “Do not” doesn’t work there, then it will not work anywhere. This “Do not” must work during our days of difficulty and uncertainty, as well as our peaceful days, or it will never work. And if it will not work in your particular case, it will not work for anyone else. Resting in the Lord is not dependent on your external circumstances at all, but on your relationship with God Himself.

Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God.

Have you been propping up that foolish soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God to handle? Set all your opinions and speculations aside and “abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about whatever concerns you. All our fretting and worrying is caused by planning without God.

The Good or The Best? by Oswald Chambers

Genesis 13:9 (NLT)

The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.”

The Good or The Best?

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and physically gratifying possibilities will open up before you. These things are yours by right, but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you. This is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice.

Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight. The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. In this passage, it would seem that the wisest thing in the world for Abram to do would be to choose. It was his right, and the people around him would consider him to be a fool for not choosing.

Many of us do not continue to grow spiritually because we prefer to choose on the basis of our rights, instead of relying on God to make the choice for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eyes focused on God. And God says to us, as He did to Abram, “…walk before Me…” (Genesis 17:1).

God’s Assurance by Oswald Chambers

Hebrews 13:5-6

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

God’s Assurance by Oswald Chambers

My assurance is to be built upon God’s assurance to me. God says, “I will never leave you,” so that then I “may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6). In other words, I will not be obsessed with apprehension. This does not mean that I will not be tempted to fear, but I will remember God’s words of assurance. I will be full of courage, like a child who strives to reach the standard his father has set for him. The faith of many people begins to falter when apprehensions enter their thinking, and they forget the meaning of God’s assurance— they forget to take a deep spiritual breath. The only way to remove the fear from our lives is to listen to God’s assurance to us.

What are you fearing? Whatever it may be, you are not a coward about it— you are determined to face it, yet you still have a feeling of fear. When it seems that there is nothing and no one to help you, say to yourself, “But ‘The Lord is my helper’ this very moment, even in my present circumstance.” Are you learning to listen to God before you speak, or are you saying things and then trying to make God’s Word fit what you have said? Take hold of the Father’s assurance, and then say with strong courage, “I will not fear.” It does not matter what evil or wrong may be in our way, because “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you….’ ”

Human frailty is another thing that gets between God’s words of assurance and our own words and thoughts. When we realize how feeble we are in facing difficulties, the difficulties become like giants, we become like grasshoppers, and God seems to be nonexistent. But remember God’s assurance to us— “I will neverforsake you.” Have we learned to sing after hearing God’s keynote? Are we continually filled with enough courage to say, “The Lord is my helper,” or are we yielding to fear?

From Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest

The Church of Thyatira

Song: This I Believe

Artist: Hillsong


18 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira…19 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things. 20 “But I have this complaint against you.You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray…”

from Revelation 2:18-29


In a world…

Trade guilds were a major feature of life in Thyatira, an economic hub. And every guild had a patron deity. Christians who were in this world of commerce would be expected to pay homage to these gods – festive occasions characterized by all sorts of immoral activities. To abstain could lead to economic persecution and hardship. To participate fully was to compromise Christian conviction and witness.

No surprise, then, that the teaching of ‘Jezebel’ was so appealing (v 20). This group of false teachers were preaching a Christianity that allowed for a bit of compromise with the idolatrous aspects of pagan society.

They claimed a kind of insider knowledge that allowed them to juggle their pagan practices with their Christian convictions. They called it “deeper truths;” Jesus called it the “depths of Satan” (v 24).

Compromise is slippery like that. In this case it masquerades as a bit of Christian liberty.

These letters – and the book of Revelation as a whole – are a vivid picture of our lives as Christians. We’re like whales in the ocean – there’s water all around us, but we breathe a different air.

Maybe we’ve forgotten. Maybe we’ve grown comfortable with the systems and priorities of the world around us. After all, it’s the water we live in. But these letters in Revelation invite us to reexamine our lives and our Christian community. Water may be the world we live in, but it’s not the air we breathe. We breathe Jesus (v 25-26).

The Church of Sardis

Look Can Be Deceiving

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars:

“I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.  Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.  Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.  “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

 

Sardis was a very loose-living and immoral society.

William Barclay calls Sardis  “…a city of the decadence”.

He also says this in describing the church at Sardis: “The church of Sardis was at peace – but it was the peace of the dead.”

What is interesting about Sardis is that it was built high on a hill and was very difficult to overtake by force.  The reason it was overtaken by attacking armies was not by overwhelming force but by overconfidence.  This “overconfidence” caused those in Sardis to stop being watchful.

I came across this devotional from Rick Renner, and here is a little of what he had to say:

“Unfortunately, the city of Sardis is like so many of us. We become so busy with life, so tossed about by everyday cares, or perhaps so confident of our own abilities, that we become unaware of our own spiritual need. We go on in life as though we have no need to deal with the foundations of our lives, not realizing that tiny cracks are starting to form.

This kind of negligent thinking is usually accompanied by prayerlessness and insensitivity to the Spirit of God. A Christian who is too busy to get into the Presence of God is a Christian who will soon find himself in trouble, just like the city of Sardis.”

Similar to what Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 10:12

Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation].

We need to be watchful and tend to our hearts.

Notice the phrase I highlighted from Revelation….Wake Up!!

This is what Jesus tells us to do:  Awaken from our slumber.  Quit putting our Christianity on cruise control.  Quit looking and judging ourselves by what we are doing, but make sure what we do is an overflow of a close relationship with Jesus.

Let’s not forget whose we are.  Let us not get too busy with our lives, even our church lives, that we don’t rest in the knowledge of who God is and what He has done for us.

Sometimes it does us well to get back to the basics:

God loves you.  The first truth we taught our kids about God.  And in the busyness of life, we sometimes forget the basics.

GOD…..LOVES…..YOU.

As we go today and this weekend, let’s wake up to the fact that God loves us.  That God yearns for a true, genuine relationship with YOU!!  What a comforting thought.

At VBS this week, the first night the kids were taught the simple fact that Jesus Knows Who I Really Am.

And guess what?  He loves you!!

So let’s wake up and not take our relationship with God for granted!

The Church at Pergamum

In studying this passage of Scripture, this church is often referred to as the “Compromising Church.”

The church had become lazy in allowing false doctrine to permeate the church.

The problem is the people were eating food sacrificed to idols, which was religious compromise.

They were also committing sexual immorality, which is moral compromise.

“One compromise here, another there and soon enough the so-called Christian and the man in the world look the same” AW Tozer

As followers of Christ, this is something we need to be aware of and fight against in our personal lives.

I came across this story when studying this:

Winter was coming on and a hunter went out into the forest to shoot a bear out of which he planned to make a warm coat. By and by he saw a bear coming toward him and raised his gun and took aim. “Wait,” said the bear, “Why do you want to shoot me?” “Because I am cold,” said the hunter. “But I am hungry,” the bear replied, “so maybe we can reach an agreement.” In the end, the hunter was well enveloped with the bear’s fur and the bear had eaten his dinner.

What an apt picture and description of compromise.

What I have noticed about compromise is how it has a tendency to creep slowly into our lives. It usually doesn’t work quickly, and if we are not careful, like this bear, compromise will consume us.  It will become a part of us.  Worse yet, we will fully give in to sin, and allow it to consume us.

There is one simple remedy given for the problem of compromise: REPENT!

Repent is a command that applies to Christians, not only to those who first come to Jesus.

What this brings about is change, a change of the inner man, particularly with reference to accepting the will of God.

This causes us to think differently afterwards.

I want to end with a quote from Keith Green:

“No Compromise is what the whole Gospel of Jesus is all about… ‘For I tell you…no man can serve two masters…’ (Matt. 6:24). In a day when believers seem to be trying to please both the world and the Lord (which is an impossible thing), when people are far more concerned about offending their friends than offending God, there is only one answer…Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him!”

Let’s examine our hearts, and allow God to show us any areas where we may be compromising in our lives, in our relationship with God.

And, like the beginning of this passage reads, “remain loyal” to Jesus–in all areas, at all times.

 Have It All // Brian Johnson      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WPbs7N-E0Q

The Church of Smyrna – by Pastor Matt Shirley

Song: When the Fight Calls

Artist: Young & Free


8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. 9 “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

Revelation 2:8-11


Jesus, the first and the last, the one who died and came to life. The One who knows the beginning from the end. The One who died – who absorbed all that sin and evil could hurl at a man. And the One who came to life – who overcame evil with good, death with life.

Jesus…knows.

He knows their context: Smyrna. It was a city that had been destroyed and rebuilt, a city once dead now come to life. It was a prestigious and wealthy city, chosen ‘first’ among cities to house a temple for Emperor Tiberius.

He knows their present struggle. Poor in the midst of wealth. Persecuted by religious and pagan enemies alike. He knows their future struggle, which for some means martyrdom. But, as the One who died and came to life, he also knows their future glory – the crown of life.

It’s meant to be an encouraging word to a group of believers facing incredibly challenging circumstances. We may not know exactly what He knows. But we know that He knows. And that knowledge calms fears, fosters courage, and builds enduring faith.

Take a moment to rest in His knowledge today. Know that He knows. The One who knows the end from the beginning, who who knows life after death – He knows your context, your present and future challenges, and the life that comes through your faith in Him.