Does It Matter?

25 06 2013

DOES IT MATTER HOW WE LIVE?

It is unfortunate that sometimes the words we need to hear from the Lord are the ones that we are most familiar with and, so, we are quicker to dismiss them.  There is a deception circulating the body of Christ whose emphasis is Freedom in Christ, but whose end result is Freedom of the Flesh.

Are we free in Christ to do whatever we want?

In terms of losing our salvation?  Yes; yes, we are.

In terms of staying close to the Lord and maintaining the kind of anointing that furthers His kingdom, the answer is a solid “ABSOLUTELY NOT.”

(Titus 1:16)  They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

(1 John 3:1-3) See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

When the Apostle Paul exhorts us that “it was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery,” he is referring to slavery to the kind of legalism that says a person must add to what Christ did on the cross in order to be saved (5:4).  The key thought of the Book of Galatians is “Salvation by Faith.”

The people who perpetuate the notion that Freedom in Christ means that we can do whatever we want because we are saved, tend to not continue on past the first verses of the fifth chapter of Galatians, because it clearly shows that true salvation walks in the Spirit, where the Spirit walks, and how the Spirit walks, and therefore, bears the Fruit of the Spirit.

(Galatians 5:16-25) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 

There are clearly two options for the believer:  walk in the flesh or walk in the Spirit.  And that is where our freedom lies.  You the direction you want to go, but we must realize that the direction DOES matter.

(Galatians 6:7-9) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 

The seeds of the flesh sprout quickly and bear fruit that satisfies momentarily.  The fruit eaten, though, quickly turns to poison and begins to produce death.

The seeds of the Spirit sprout slower, because the roots are going deeper to produce a solid stalk on which to bear the kind of fruit that satisfies permanently; it satisfies the soul, and continues to bear more fruit, so that it becomes a source of life.

(James 1:14-15) But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 

According to James, it is our very own desire that gets us into trouble.  We falsely assume that lust refers only sexual desires so as long as we aren’t having actual physical sexual intercourse outside of marriage, these verses do not apply to us.  Not so, the word means “a deep longing for anything, especially for that which is forbidden.”  It is our desires that bait us, they seduce us.  We enjoy the flirty, never really intending to go any further with it; but by the nature of bait, it gets its hooks in and does not let go until we are lying in a pan as dinner for the enemy.

(Titus 2:11-14 ESV) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, training us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, looking for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.

The grace of God saves AND instructs us.  It teaches us to “just say ‘no'” to behavior that isn’t characteristic of the Lord (1 John 2:3-6).  It teaches us to “just say ‘no'” to the seemingly tasty morsels the world offers us (1 John 2:15-17).  The grace of God also trains us to live in such a way that we control SELF and choose to live the kind of lives that reflect our Savior (Galatians 2:20; 1 John 1:5-9).  The focus is not on what we do as much as on WHO we are doing it for.

(1 Corinthians 6:12, 20)  All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful to me, but I will not be mastered by anything… For you have been bought with a price:  therefore glorify God in your body.

Some would point out that there is no specific commandment from God regarding particular behaviors, and so they have freedom to exercise them if they choose.  That is when it is important to remember that sin is a direction, not a line that we cross.  Have you ever wondered how a solid believer can fall so hard and land so far from the things of the Lord without even seeming to care?  It is because they assumed they could dance so close to the line of sin and not fall victim to its lures.  This is foolishness and the enemy delights in it.

(Romans 13:11-14) Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Some will point out that they are very involved in church, that they love the Lord, and that they are still in their Word everyday, so a little smoking here, an inappropriate movie there, a tiny dip into the pool of fantasy through video games or daydreams… isn’t a big deal. What they don’t realize is that they have a tiny island of rock on which they have one foot standing, in the middle of acres of quicksand; and it won’t take but a little bit to blow them right off their foundation into the miry depths waiting for them (Matthew 7:24-27).

(Philippians 3:7-12) But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 

Any area of behavior that we feel the need to defend with a self-righteous argument of freedom in Christ should probably give us cause to wonder if the enemy has inadvertently found a place in which to put a hook.

(Philippians 2:14-16) Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…

What does your behavior say to the world around you?  Does it scream to the lost that you love the Lord enough to follow Him, even when it means not being able to do the things that you’d really like to do? 

(John 12:25-26) He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”

If you are truly saved by grace through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, you were rescued from the land of darkness and transferred to the Kingdom of God as His kid (John 1:12; Colossians 1:13-14); and you have the freedom to choose (Joshua 24:15).  Your choice in any given area reflects the whole of your choice.  Choose Life for your own sake and for the sake of those around you (Deuteronomy 30:15-17).

(Ephesians 4:1)  Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.

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Psalm 145 in Action

24 06 2013

Psalm 145

(1) I will exalt You, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. (2)  I will praise You every day; yes, I will praise You forever.  (3) Great is the LORD!  He is most worthy of praise!  No one can measure His greatness. (4) Let each generation tell its children of Your mighty acts; let them proclaim Your power.  (5) I will meditate on Your majestic, glorious splendor and Your wonderful miracles.  (6) Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim Your greatness.  (8)  The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  (9) The LORD is good to everyone.  He showers compassion on all His creation.  All of your works will thank You, LORD, and Your faithful followers will praise You.  (10) All of Your works will thank You, LORD, and Your faithful followers will praise You.  (11) They will speak of the glory of Your kingdom; they will give examples of Your power.  (12) They will tell about Your might deeds and about the majesty and glory of Your reign.  (13) For Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.  You rule throughout all generations.  The LORD always keeps His promises; He is gracious in all He does.  (14) The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.  (15) The eyes of all look to You in hope; You give them their food as they need it.  (16) When You open Your hand, You satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.  (17) The LORD is righteous in everything He does; He is filled with kindness.  (18) The LORD is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.  (19) He grants the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cries for help and rescues them.  (20) The LORD protects all those who love Him, but He destroys the wicked.  (21) I will praise the LORD, and may everyone on earth bless His holy name forever and ever.

Exalt [Him] I will lift Him up.

Praise [His name; Him] I will admire, honor and worship Him.

Tell [of His mighty acts] I tell others what He has done for me.

Proclaim [His power] I will tell others how His power benefited me.

Meditate [His majestic splendor and miracles] I will continually think of how wonderful and great He is, and of all the ways He has intervened on my behalf.

Thank [Him] I will be consciously grateful for all He has given me and done for me.

Speak [of the glory His Kingdom] I will tell others of the wonderful place He has provided for His people in eternity.

Give examples [of His glory] I will tell others specific stories of how He exalted Himself through circumstances in my life to His credit and for my good.

Call [on Him] I will call on Him and not on others when I am in need.

Fear [Him] I will honor and respect Him because He is God.

Cry [to Him for help] I will cry to Him alone when I need help, trusting Him to be there for me at all times.

Love [Him] I will love Him in a personal, devoted way that includes obedience and submission.

Bless [His Holy Name] I will walk in a manner that is pleasing to Him.

THEREFORE,

When I am feeling like my life is out of control, I will remember that my God:

Is King

Is great

Is powerful

Is near

Answers my prayers

I will exalt Him, meditate on His majestic splendor and call on Him.

THEREFORE,

When I am feeling sad, I will remember that my God:

Is compassionate

Exercises unfailing love

Is close at hand

I will praise Him, meditate on His miracles, thank Him, cry to Him for help and love Him.

THEREFORE,

When I have sinned, I will remember that my God:

Is merciful

Is compassionate

Is slow to anger

Exercises unfailing love

Is good

Keeps His promises

Is gracious

Is righteous

Saves

I will exalt Him, fear Him, love Him and bless Him.

THEREFORE,

When I am worried, I will remember that my God:

Is God

Is King

Is Great

Exercises unfailing love

Is powerful

Keeps His promises

Is willing to help

Satisfies the hunger and thirst of His people

Is Near

Answers prayers

Saves

Protects

Destroys the wicked

I will exalt Him, meditate on His majestic splendor and past miracles, will proclaim His power and will cry out to Him for help.

THEREFORE,

When I am feeling lonely, I will remember that my God:

Is compassionate

Exercises unfailing love

Is good

Keeps His promises

Gracious

Is close at hand

I will praise Him, thank Him, love Him, call to Him, and bless Him.

THEREFORE,

When I am afraid, I will remember that my God:

Is God

Is King

Is Great

Exercises unfailing love

Always Keeps His promises

Is near

Answers prayers

Saves

Protects

Destroys the wicked

I will exalt Him, praise Him, tell of His mighty acts, meditate on His splendor and miracles, fear Him, cry to Him for help, love Him and bless Him.

THEREFORE,

When I am sick, I will remember that my God:

Is compassionate

Exercises unfailing love

Is good

Keeps His promises

Is willing to help

Satisfies those who have need

Is near

Answers prayers

Saves

Protects

I will proclaim His power, meditate on His miracles, give examples of His glory, cry to Him for help, and love Him.