Friday, June 27, 2008

Jesus Calls Us

On the way to work yesterday I heard Steve Green singing “The Mission.” I’ve been thinking about the opening phrase in the chorus:

To love the Lord our God is the heartbeat of our mission

What does it mean to love the Lord our God? How do we show that we love Him? How do others know that we love Him?

Jesus tells us in His upper room discourse in the gospel of John. In John 14 He tells the disciples several times that love is shown through obedience.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15

There is great benefit in keeping His commandments and abiding by His word.

He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. John 14:21

Jesus teaches that those who love Him keep His commandments – and as a result, the Father will love us, Jesus will love us, and Jesus will disclose Himself to us!

But, wait! It gets even better.

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. John 14:23

The Father and Jesus will make their abode with us, when we keep His word. The Greek word for abode is monē and means staying, abiding, dwelling, a residence. So when we love Jesus by keeping His word, He and the Father will make their residence with us!

I think the most powerful indication of obedience as an indicator of love comes a few verses later in John.

But so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. John 14:31

Jesus says that He does as the Father commands Him, so that the world may know that He loves the Father. His obedience to the Father shows the world that He loves Him.

And how much did He love Him? His obedience took Him to the cross for our sins.

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8

As this hymn so eloquently says, Jesus calls us. He asks us to follow, and to love Him more than the world which we are prone to worship. He asks us to love Him more than other things around us, more than we love other people around us. We must give our hearts in full obedience to Him. By our obedience, we show that we love Him best of all.

Jesus Calls Us
Words by Cecil F. Alexander

Jesus calls us over the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless, sea;
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, “Christian, follow Me!”

Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store,
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, “Christian, love Me more!”

In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,
“Christian, love Me more than these!”

Jesus calls us! By Thy mercies,
Savior may we hear Thy call,
Give our hearts to Thine obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.

Monday, June 16, 2008

How Blest are They Who Hear God's Word

If you ever need a picture of how sin looks, and how we look when we are disobedient to God, just take a few moments, or days, and observe young children. It is so fascinating to me to watch them as they hear what their parents say, then defiantly do the opposite thing. Of course, they are surprised when they are punished! As I watched this happen over and over again, I was struck by how similar I am to them: not necessarily in disobedience to my earthly parents but in relation to my Heavenly Father.

How many times have I defiantly done the opposite thing when I know what God’s word says? Or like these children, obey partially or after some delay, which in my book, and God’s, is still disobedience. Just as our parents have rules for our protection, God has provided His word for our protection. He has called us to obedience of His commands. When we immerse ourselves in His word, we will be protected as His word takes root in our hearts and we are open to the Spirit guiding and directing us.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2

As this hymn reminds us, it’s not enough to just hear God’s word, we must keep and heed what it says.

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.
Deut. 4:39-40

Father, Your word is a treasure; guide me as I gather wisdom and meditate on your commands. I long to obey you: fully, the first time. Show me where I am not obedient that I might confess my sin and change my behavior. Amen.

How Blest are They who Hear God’s Word
Words by Johan N. Brun

How blest are they who hear God’s Word
And keep and heed what they have heard!
They wisdom daily gather;
Their light shines brighter day by day,
And while they tread life’s weary way,
They have the oil of gladness
To soothe their pain and sadness.

God’s Word a treasure is to me,
Through sorrow’s night my sun shall be,
The shield of faith in battle.
The Father’s hand hath written there
My title as His child and heir,
“The kingdom’s thine forever.”
That promise faileth never.

Today I was my Savior’s guest,
My soul was here so richly blest,
The Bread of Life receiving.
Oh, may thereby my faith prevail,
So that its fruits shall never fail
Till my account is given
Before the throne in Heaven!