Walk The Talk

Friday, July 26, 2013, 6:31 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Do You Love Me?” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Thess. 1:1-4:12 (ESV). There were several verses from each chapter that jumped out at me, so I will share those, and then what the Lord Jesus is teaching me through them today.

From Idols

“For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God…” (1:9).

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny (disallow) himself (his self-life), take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him (See Lu 9:23-25). Paul, in the Spirit, said that the way we come to know Christ is by forsaking (putting off) our old lives of sin, being transformed in heart and mind (of the Spirit of God), and by putting on our new self, “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (See Ep. 4:17-24; cf. Col. 3:1-17; Ro. 6). Jesus called us to repent of our sins. Jesus said if we do not repent, we will perish. Peter said to repent and to turn back, so that our sins may be wiped out (See Ac. 3:19). Paul said that God commands all people everywhere to repent (See Ac. 17:30). The word repent in scripture nearly always carries with it this idea of rejecting and forsaking our sins and of turning to follow Jesus Christ in faith, obedience, and in surrender to his will for our lives. So, God is calling to each one of us to forsake our lives of sin and our idols (anything that keeps us from following after Christ wholeheartedly), to turn to him in faith, and to serve and walk with him in obedience.

Not to Please Humans

“…but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ” (2:4-6).

It is so easy in our society here in America, and perhaps this is true throughout the world, to get caught up in wanting to please people, often to the exclusion of pleasing God. Today’s modern church movement only serves to promote and to encourage this idea of doing what is pleasing to humans, because so much of what they do today in building their businesses is to market the church in much the same way as businesses market their products to their customers, with the goal of pleasing the customer. The gospel is diluted in order to not offend anyone and to make the gospel more palatable and acceptable to humans. Many “worship” services center around the “stage production,” stage presence, and the big show, which is intended to draw in large crowds of people, i.e. to attract the fallen world to the “church.” We are encouraged to never confront sin, to never challenge false teaching, and to say only what makes people feel good about themselves.

Yet, this is not Christ building his church or the manner in which Christ builds his church, and this is not the way of the true gospel. The true gospel tells people the truth about their sin, about judgment, and calls people to turn from sin to walk in faithful obedience to their Lord who died so they could go free from slavery to sin. And, thus, we need to be ministers of the true gospel, and we need to live our lives to please God, not humans. We need to be kind and loving, but we should not lie to people or be afraid that they might reject us if we speak the truth in love to them, providing it is the truth.

Walk in a Manner

“For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (2:11-12).

This is a common theme throughout the New Testament – that we walk the talk, basically. If we say we are Christians, that we are saved from our sins, and that we have the hope of eternal life with God in glory, then we should live like we say we believe. If Jesus died to save us from slavery to sin, then we should no longer be under the control of sin. This does not mean we will never sin, but that sin should no longer have power and control over our lives. If we say Jesus is our Lord and King, then we should live like he truly is the one on the throne in our lives, like he is the one in charge (See Gal. 2:20). If we believe that our lives are now hidden in Christ, i.e. that our lives are now engulfed in his love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and grace, etc., then our lives should reflect this, i.e. Jesus Christ, his word, his character and his divine will for our lives should permeate our entire being – our thoughts, attitudes, plans, goals, our tongues, and our actions and behaviors.

Stand Fast

“For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord” (3:8).

What does it mean to stand fast in the Lord? To stand means to have a certain attitude, opinion, stance, outlook, point of view, and position on something, or it can mean to remain, endure, persist and continue in something. To stand fast means to be firm, steadfast, constant, unwavering and faithful. These are words that should describe our relationship with Jesus Christ, i.e. that we are firm, committed, unwavering and persistent in our walks of faith and obedience, in our beliefs and practice concerning all that he taught us, and in our love for him and our desire (and practice) to please him in all ways. “In the Lord” means according to his divine character and will. Our lives should be enveloped in Christ, in his teachings, in obedience to him and in our service to him. He should be first consideration in all that we do - in all our plans, and all our activities. He doesn’t want part-time servants. He wants us fully surrendered and committed to him 24/7.

Love One Another

“…and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (3:12-13).

One of the ways in which we show that we love God is in how we love one another. In fact, the first and greatest commandment is to love God wholeheartedly with our whole being, and the second is for us to love one another as we love ourselves. The sticky part of this is in understanding what it means to love. I think we can all agree that doing for others according to their needs is love, and that showing kindness, mercy and forgiveness are all aspects of loving others. There are so many ways in which we can love other people.

Yet, I think one of the most neglected and most critical ways we should love each other is to love like Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. In other words, he died on a cross so we can be free from slavery to sin and eternal damnation. So we, too, should give our lives to see others go free from slavery to sin and free from eternal damnation. We do this through the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which involves teaching the Lord’s disciples to obey all things that Christ has commanded us (See Mt. 28:18-20). If we truly love others the way in which we love ourselves, and we have turned to faith in Jesus Christ, so we now have the hope of eternal life with God, then we should tell others the good news of the gospel so that they, too, can be set free and have the hope of heaven.

Not Impurity, But Holiness

“Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another” (4:1-9).

The Bible teaches that we are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. In other words, salvation is a process called sanctification, which will not be complete until Christ returns for his bride. I think a lot of people get the idea that salvation is a one-time experience at an altar, and then one day we go to heaven. Oh, how empty that scenario is. If that is all there is to it, then, like someone said, they should save us then shoot us so we can go to heaven. Yet, it isn’t like that at all.

Jesus Christ died, not just to give us eternal life in heaven, but he saved us from slavery (bondage) to sin while we still live on this earth, and he saved us so we can walk in faithful obedience to him in his righteousness and holiness, and so we can live lives set apart for God and for his service here on the earth. He saved us to give us abundant lives (lives to the full) in Christ. That means that our salvation is so, so much more than just a ticket into heaven. Amen! We are saved to live for Jesus Christ, to obey him, to spend time with him, to enjoy his sweet fellowship, to talk with him about what is going on in our lives, to listen to his words speaking gently to our hearts, to serve him, and to minister his love and grace to the body of Christ and to those outside of Christ.

If we could just picture our relationship with Jesus Christ as an engagement to marry the love of our lives, and that all we are doing here on this earth is in preparation for the wedding day, I believe that would help us all to understand that faith in Christ is not a religion or just a belief in something, but it is a relationship with the one we love and adore above all else, and with whom we desire to please more than anything.

Do You Love Me? / An Original Work / July 24, 2013

Do you love Me now?
Will you seek My face?
I have given you
My love and My grace.
Will you walk with Me
Ev’rywhere I lead?
Will you find in Me
All of what you need?

Won’t you meet with Me
Down upon your knees?
Will you obey Me,
And do what I please?
Will you hear My voice
Speaking now to you?
I am couns’ling you
To abide in truth.

I have died for you;
Taken all your sins –
Crucified with Me,
You have been forgiv’n.
I have set you free
From your slavery,
So that you can now
Live in victory.