Love is the Soul of the Christian

Love is the soul of the Christian religion,
and it is that which constitutes a real Christian.

Thomas Watson

Christian love is the greatest and yet seems to be the hardest and most elusive concept to understand many times. Have you ever felt that way to? Well, I believe the Bible gives us the greatest reason as to why that is, but sadly, many do not take the time to read or study the Bible.

Our open quote (to me anyway) is a simple, yet bold proclamation on what true Christian love should be, and the Bible agrees as well. First God has told the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 6:5, and then Jesus Himself repeats it in the Gospel of Matthew 22:37-38 as well as Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27.

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.”

My opinion is this. Since Many have Bibles and yet do not take the time to read, to study, to pray, to grow, many love God little if at all. Going to church x amount of days per week, listening to sermons, listening to Christian music, is great and all, but in those times are you hearing God speak to you, is He leading and guiding your life for His glory, or is this just our self-stamping approval that we are “in”?

This is God, and this is His commandment. You shall love the Lord your God! Not others first, not self first, not anything in this world, love the Lord your God! If we cannot get this right, then that means love for anything else with be out of alignment with our faith, and that is where many are today. So first and foremost that needs to be corrected, and that starts by giving up the things of this world to spend more time with Him. After all, if the end of the Christians life with be eternity in heaven worshiping Him, praising Him, having a relationship with Him, don’t you think it is a good idea to start now?

Now the next part gets to be a little controversial in the Christian circles,and again a reason why we need to be in God’s Word. Many people think that the 10 Commandments are not important to the Christians life, that they need to be modified, changed, antiquated, but this is God’s Word, and not only does He make the rules, but said what He meant and meant what He said, so much so in Matthew 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

You see, just like in Jesus’ time, people did not like to be under the law, it was a burdensome yoke, and it still is today. Many wonder why it still matters that we know and see the 10 Commandments so clearly and have them on our minds daily, and the answer is very simple, because we are; vile wretched sinful creatures who sin much each day, and the 10 Commandments (God’s laws) remind us of that all the time. Don’t believe me, let’s do a little test then, we’ll start with an easy one. Remember, this is between you and God.

  1. Have you ever told a lie?

Duh! We all have!

 2. Have you ever stole anything? (And just to clarify, stealing means ANYTHING that does not belong to you)

Ummmm. yeah, we all have!

 3. Have you EVER looked at anyone with lustful intentions? (I don’t really have to explain this one I hope!)

Of course, we are human after all!

Okay, so by my own admission (I cannot and will not speak for you, but I will give you a hint, the Bible already has) I am a lying, thief, who is an adulterous person at heart! And these are only THREE of the 10 Commandments. If your flesh and pride are saying that you do not agree as of yet, and God has not convicted you guilty, then maybe refresh yourself with the other 7. If it has been awhile since you have read your Bible, they can be found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.

We have become so self-centered, so worried about ourselves and little if at all about others, we want all the attention and love, and many have gone so far as to make themselves (a false) god. Many of the things I have said are proof positive that we DO NOT do as God command. He is not center of their life (if at all), they spend little time with Him (again if at all), and they do not truly love Him (if they did, the first to points would not exist). I think the great Puritan writer and Pastor Matthew Henry said it best in his commentary on Genesis (the fall of man that got us all into sin in the first place.)

“If sinners will but consider where they are, they will not rest till they return to God.”

Many of us give little to no thought where we are with God, and that my friends is a VERY dangerous place to be! Not only that, like Adam and Eve, that is EXACTLY where Satan wants you to be, separated from God! For if you do not belong to God, you belong to Satan, and He does NOT give up people from their bondage to sin that they may be God’s easily. That is why we need God all the more daily!

Many people might now be saying “yeah, well I…” and that proves right away where their focus and attention lies at, their focus is on what they have done, what they can do, and they want the credit (glory) for doing it, and guess what, that too is a sin! And all of these things and so much more is why Christ came to seek the lost, those who are (and still are) sick with sin, and those who have realized apart from God, there is no hope for them but eternal damnation in hell. This is why we need God’s grace and mercy!

Because we ARE so sinful! And until He gives us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26 – And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.), You must be born again by the Holy Spirit (John 3), and the transforming of our minds and knowing God’s will (Romans 12:2) so that we are able to see with our eyes, hear with our ears and understand with our hearts, how sinful we are before a Holy (God’s first and highest attribute, without it there would be no pure law and justice), Righteous, Judging God, whose love is wrapped up in all who He is, and that He would grant us the ability to turn from our sins (repent) and put our faith in trust in Him and that we would be healed (spiritually); Mathew 13:14, Acts 28:26 both quoted from Isaiah 6:9-10. This is a brief nutshell is the Gospel.

There is so much more to say that is upon my heart, but I will leave you with this quote again from Matthew Henry

“Those who by sin have gone astray from God should seriously consider where they are; they are afar off from all good, in the midst of their enemies, in bondage to Satan, and in the high road to utter ruin.”

My prayer is that these words have not fallen upon deaf ears, have broken strongholds of Satans grips of sin on your soul, that it would give you much to think and pray about, so as the Bible commands in 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 “
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.” And trust God and His Word, this is NOT one test that you want to fail! For the consequences are eternal!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

CHRISTIAN MEDITATION – THE GREAT DUTY

Although the Christian is thus free from all works, he ought in this liberty to empty himself, take upon himself the form of a servant, be made in the likeness of men, be found in human form, and to serve, help and in every way deal with his neighbor as he sees that God through Christ has dealt and still deals with him.

Martin Luther

Yesterday I wrote about the upcoming theme for the next couple of weeks, and that is the important of one of the greatest and most helpful duties to the Christian, and that is the various purposes on meditating on God’s Word. I also believe it is very important to do so in today’s day and age of the overly busy, instantaneous lifestyles many live today. There are very few that study deeply, and hopefully meditating on God’s Word will draw the church back to studying God’s Word and being about the Father’s business.

When we think of the word duty, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For some it might mean work, to others a form a service, still to someone else it may seem like something forced or demanded. When it comes to Christian duty, it is a good work, yes, and it is a form of service or of worship of God as the end goal. However, God does not want anything done out of force or reluctance.

No, He wants it done out of love, appreciation for what He has done in the sinners life, and growing them to be more like Christ Himself, to be merciful, gracious, kind, loving, giving, selfless, sacrificial, the very same attributes He showed towards us.

Now there are many duties in the Bible, and it is good for us to know these things. Some are very obvious, like in chapter 3 of Colossians where we have two main duties that are very obvious; put on our new (saved) self, and rules (duties) for Christian household living. Now these things are not going to come natural at first, and that is why we need to be about our good works (duties) daily, and not just act Christian (which is actually being a hypocrite) when we are around other Christians, the church, or some event. This is the main reason to meditate on the scriptures, that it becomes natural and we walk by the Spirit not by the flesh.

We also need to keep in mind as we are doing our Christian duties, we are NOT to show that we are better, more perfected, self-exalting ourselves at our tasks, thinking we are better or more special than others. We are not doing this for our glory, but for His. We are doing these things for we are to be obedient, yet humble, for He says “Be holy as I am holy”, and holiness is what we grow in and is the end goal as well. However, the only way we can get there is submitting our lives to the trusting care and guidance of God through His Word daily and the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells inside every believer.

As I said in yesterdays devotional. much of this on Christian meditation is going to come from Thomas Watson’s book titled The Saints Spiritual Delight. When the author open the introduction to meditation he says thus:

A Christian enters into meditation, as a man enters into the bath: so that he may be healed. Meditation heals the soul of its deadness and earthliness; but more of this afterwards.

That is why I chose one of my favorite scriptures in Isaiah 53:5, for there is no greater bath, no greater healing, than in the laver of blood at the cross of Calvary!

Pastor Watson then gives the two positions of meditation; it is either imposed or opposed.

  1. Meditation is a duty imposed – “Meditation is not arbitrary. The same God who bid us to believe, has bid us to meditate.” Joshua 1:8-9 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  These words, though spoken to the person of Joshua, concern everyone; just as the promise made to Joshua concerned all believers (Jos. 1.5 compared with Heb. 13.5).2 So this precept made to the person of Joshua, you shall meditate in this book of the law, takes in all Christians. It is the part of a hypocrite to enlarge the promise, and to narrow the precept; you shall meditate in this book of the law; the word you is indefinite, and reaches every Christian; as God’s word directs, so his will must enforce obedience to it.
  2. Meditation is a duty opposed – “We may conclude it is a good duty, because it is against the stream of corrupt nature. We shall find, naturally, a strange averseness to meditation. We are swift to hear, but slow to meditate.” Galatians 5:16-17 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

    Ephesians 6:11-13 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

To think about the world, if it were all day long, is delightful; but as for holy meditation, how the heart wrangles and quarrels with this duty! Now truly, no other reason is needed to prove a duty is good, than the reluctance of a carnal heart to do it. For instance, in the duty of self-denial: “Let a man deny himself,” Mat. 16.24. Self-denial is as necessary as heaven; but what disputes are raised in the heart against it! What! To deny my reason, and become a fool that I may be wise? No, not only deny my reason, but my righteousness! What! To cast it overboard, and swim to heaven upon the plank of Christ’s merits? This is such a duty that the heart naturally opposes and enters its dissent against it. Yet this is an argument to prove that the duty of self-denial is good. It is just so with this duty of meditation: the secret antipathy the heart has against it, shows it to be good; and this is reason enough to enforce meditation.

Like myself, I hope this excites you to go deeper into the Word of God, to meditate on all things that He has given us to know Him, to worship Him, to praise and glorify Him. In doing so, may it also help us to crucify the flesh, to repent of our many sins, to seek His grace and growth in holiness that only the Holy Spirit can work in us! Yes, we have duties to do, but it is God who does ALL of the sanctifying work in us!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

DEBT AND INDEBTED

“A man in debt is so far a slave.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

To many people (myself included) live in debt because we are not happy with what we have or the way things are. We think by having the next greatest thing will make us happier. So we do whatever we can to obtain it, and are happy for a brief moment, then begin to feel the guilt and burden when that first bill comes due.

Even now or nation is going further and further in debt at an alarming rate trying to keep the economy afloat by borrowing money they cannot afford to borrow, and more than likely, create a debt so great, that it cannot be paid back and much, if not all will have to be forgiven. That scares me on how many generations these poor decisions all over debt our future generations will be heavily burdened by.

But even more importantly as we focus on our day to day world around us, I often wonder how often I and others think about the greatest debt of all, the debt of sin, and this debt is so bad, that it’s wages are death.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death.

This morning it reminds me of that Christian song “He paid a debt He did not owe” and look at the first few verses.

He paid the debt he did not own, I own the debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song, “Amazing grace”
Christ Jesus paid the debt I could never pay.

But let us look at this great debt that we owed in the form of the parable from the Bible in Matthew 18:23-27 –
Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

Now this parable speaks of a large volume of debt owed to a king, a debt so ridiculously large to drive home the point. But I also want to expand on it to modern day age, as like all debts, interests accrue. So back in the time when Jesus walked the earth he spoke of a man who owed 10,000 talents to the king, and back then it was a lot of money, but even more so today! That 10,000 talents today is an estimated $4,567,000,000! Yes, 4.5 BILLION dollars! And the debt in the parable is representing our sin, both individually, and collectively, and yet very few think of this, the greatest debt of all time and for all eternity!

This debt is so great that the second half of Romans 6:23 says this “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Now let us not be like the second half of the parable where after this person was forgiven much debt and was released, found one who owed him little in comparison and has harsh with that person. When we become saved, we become indebted servants, and older version of the Bible use the term slave, unto Christ. Many hate those words and terms, but that is what it was like living in those days, and they are still words we can relate to. But being in service to Christ is not to repay a debt for a gift, for then it would not be a gift, and not only that, remember how heavy the debt was and the burdens it had upon us. No, we are to do good works, and part of those good works is telling others about the debt of their sins against a Holy and Righteous God, which is evangelism.

God does not save us so we can just sit around and wait to die! No God saves us that we might live! Live for His glory, live for the sake of our call, live for loving our neighbors as ourselves, and so much more! I pray that those reading today would take some time to seriously think about how much we sin daily, then compound that by the weeks, the months, the years, and then how old you are, and see how close you come to that 4.5 Billion sin debt, how much you contributed to it, and then think, are you truly thankful of being forgiven for so much Then think about, how do you reflect that forgiveness towards others. Remember I said in one of my others posts recently, forgiveness is hard! And yet, God willingly gave His only begotten not made Son, the glory of heaven, to come to earth to redeem sinful man! He paid a debt He did not owe, I owe the debt I could not pay.

There is a day of judgment coming, where all the debts owed to God will be called to reconciliation, one way, or another, and that debt is paid in full. That debt is either paid by you apart from Christ and your works and efforts will be judged and not good enough, and will be told “depart from me you workers of inequity”, or by Christs’ work on the cross of Calvary and God sees His Son’s precious blood covering us and we hear “Well done good and faithful servant”, because of Christ. Apart from God, apart from Christ, apart from the Holy Spirit, we have nothing good to offer God, yet, because of God, because of Christ, because of the Holy Spirit, we have ALL things good!

That is the reason we should be living like we are worth the price HE paid! For He is worthy to be praised, honored, and glorified in all things! The good times, and the bad! For he is worthy!

#ToGodBeTheGlory