God Is Love

Monday, November 18, 2013, 5:13 a.m. – My Lord Jesus awoke me with this song:

Children of the Heavenly Father
Karolina W. Sandell-Berg / Ernst W. Olson / Oskar Ahnfelt

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foeman must surrender.

Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Thessalonians 4 (NIV).

Please God

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

There is a popular teaching in American culture among evangelical churches that says that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, which means he is pleased with us even when we sin. The point of this teaching, I believe, is to alleviate the conscience from feeling any remorse over willful sin. This teaching is often coupled with a belief that we don’t have to turn from our sins, and we don’t have to obey Christ in order to be saved, yet the Bible teaches just the opposite (See Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6; 1 John; Gal. 2:20). The Bible says that we should make it our aim to please the Lord. In 1 John 3:22 it says, “And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” Gal. 6:8 says, “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” And, Eph. 5:8-10 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” So, as believers in Christ, we should live to please God.

Live Holy

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

To sanctify means to set apart; consecrate; declare holy; purify; cleanse (free) from sin. Jesus Christ gave his life up for us by dying on a cross for our sins. When he died, he took the sins of the entire world upon him, crucifying our sins with him. When he rose from the dead, he conquered sin, the flesh, Satan, death and hell so we could go free from eternal damnation, free from slavery (bondage) to and the control of sin over our lives, and so we could be free to walk and live in his righteousness and holiness in his power within us. When we believe in him as Lord and Savior of our lives, his righteousness is credited to our account so that we are pardoned from our sin and we are declared holy in his sight. Yet, the Christian life is a process of sanctification until the day he returns and our salvation is complete. So, daily we put off the sins of the flesh, we die to sin and self, and we put on Christ and his life within us and his armor in order to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us. We find out what pleases the Lord, and we walk in his truth and in his righteousness.

Some people think that sexual immorality is just having physical sex with someone with whom you are not married, but it is so much more. Most all sin begins in the mind before it is ever carried out in our bodies. Jesus said if someone looks at another lustfully that he or she has already committed adultery in his or her heart. The Bible says we should also avoid even the hint (suggestion) of sexual immorality. This “suggestion” of sexual immorality is often tolerated by Christians via TV, movies, video games, Internet sites, magazines, books, friendships outside of marriage, light flirtations, jokes, lustful glances, suggestive conversations, romantic thoughts, romance novels, etc. So many Christians tolerate a “little dirt” for what they believe is the benefit of the whole, but if we play with fire we can get burned. We should not allow even the smallest amount of dirt to come into our minds and lives, but we should be set apart for God, for his will for our lives, and to live holy lives pleasing to him. And, we should no longer live like we did when we were outside of Christ.

“The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.” This is written to Christians, not to the unsaved. Jesus said that those he loves he rebukes (corrects) and disciplines (chastens; punishes) (See Rev. 3:19), so we should “be earnest and repent.” To chasten means to “correct by punishment or suffering; to purify; to prune of excess, pretense or falsity; refine; to cause to be more humble or restrained” (Webster). Yet, today’s modern-Christianity tends to give people a carte blanche (complete freedom) to do whatever they want, and promises them, not only that God is pleased with them, and that they have the assurance of heaven, but that God will never punish them. And, so people today have lost the fear (honor; respect) of God, because they have been given an “entitlement” concept of their relationship with God, i.e. that he is just there to dole out blessings, to grant their every request, and to protect them from all suffering, but he requires nothing in return other than just to “believe” in his Son. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Gal. 6:7). Jesus said that if we want to come after him we must disallow our self-life, die to sin and self daily, and follow him in obedience and surrender to his will (See Lu. 9:23-25). He will discipline us in order to purify us and to make us holy, yet he will do this because he loves us.

Love Others

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

When you think of loving one another, what comes to mind? I think we often have this concept of love that it involves only making other people feel good at all times. And, so we get this misguided concept that love is only expressed in terms of affection, feel-good words, and hand-outs. And, this carries over into our concept of God, too. Many people picture Jesus as this person who just went around “loving on everyone,” to use today’s vernacular, and who made everyone feel good about themselves, exactly where they were.

God is love. He is kind, thoughtful, generous, giving, forgiving, merciful, full of grace and compassion, etc. Yet he loved us so much that he gave his life up for us so we could go free from slavery to sin, not so we could continue to wallow in our sin. And, he loves us so much that he will rebuke, correct and discipline us, just like a loving parent. And he will speak the truth in love to us in order to get us back on the right path. And, we need to love others with this same balanced love. Love should be kind, but it should also be truthful. If we tell people they are saved and going to heaven, when they might not be, and that God is pleased with them no matter what, so he will never punish them, then that is lying to them, and it is unkind. We need to learn how God loves us, and that is how we should love one another. He does not indulge us, but he satisfies us with all good things. He does not always do what is pleasing to our flesh, but he fills us with his peace and joy. He is good, but he is God! True love considers what is truly best for the other person.

He is Coming!

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken / Henry F. Lyte / Mozart/ Arr. Hubert P. Main

Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shalt be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I've sought, and hoped, and known;
Yet how rich is my condition, God and Christ are still my own!

Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like man, untrue;
And, while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate, and friends disown me; show Thy face, and all is bright.

Man may trouble and distress me – ‘Twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me; Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ‘tis not in grief to harm me, while Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ‘twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Go then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn, and pain!
In Thy service pain is pleasure; with Thy favor loss is gain.
I have called Thee, Abba, Father, I have stayed my heart on Thee;
Storms may howl and clouds may gather; all must work for good to me.

Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith and winged by prayer;
God's eternal day's before thee, God's own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.