Believe and Obey

Romans 1.5 encourages believe and obey Him. images

What must we do to go to heaven?

Believe and obey the Lord Jesus Christ Who alone is God and came to men as a Man so that we could know God and be reconciled to God.

The work of God Jesus said was to believe in God and the Savior Whom He had sent. The command of God, said Jesus, is to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. This love is practically manifested by obedience Jesus taught, just as He lived in perfect obedience to everything God had commanded in the Scriptures.

We must both believe and obey in order to please God.

We believe first that God is and that God has come and then that God has made possible reconciliation with Him through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus. All people are born pre-disposed to disobeying God and so are in need of forgiveness from God. To believe this is to acknowledge God’s work in Jesus and our own failure to earn heaven by doing good. When we believe this we understand the desperate plight we are in as we move closer to eternity every day.

We need pardon from God; one must receive a pardon from God if we are to live with God forever.

The pardon from God comes when we believe Him that He has come to pardon us and we humbly ask for His pardon through Jesus.

Receiving God’s pardon now compels us to obedience to God.

Having received God’s forgiveness means no longer continuing to do those things for which we were forgiven. While obedience is a daily struggle, with God’s help, we become increasingly better at obeying Him because God has taken up residence in the forgiven in order to empower them to live lives pleasing to God.

Pardon is received by belief and proven by obedience.

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If God….then

Genesis 28.20-21 observes, ‘If God…then I will choose Jehovah.’ images

Jacob had just received a dream where he saw God and His angels. In the dream Jacob received a promise from God of great blessing. Jacob recognized that God was present where he was so erected a monument to commemorate his encounter with God. In spite of all this, Jacob was not fully committed to the God Who showed Himself, rather Jacob required one more thing from God before he would make God his God.

It seems comical that a man would demand so much from his Creator or that the Creator would lower Himself to such demands but this is exactly what this story records.

We do the same thing with God though most likely none of us have seen God as clearly as Jacob had seen God. We are continually requiring God to do for us in exchange, we promise, for our loyalty only to require from Him again in exchange for another promise.

While we are faithless God is faithful.

How humble the Almighty is to allow people to make so many demands of Him in exchange for promises rarely if ever fulfilled.

God is Father Whose love for His wayward children surpasses our understanding so He plays this game in hope that we will one day truly understand His love for us and believe in Him. What a truly wonderful God, the One True God is Who exhibits such kindness and patience with people.

When will we stop trying to manipulate God in order to have our own way in the world and instead surrender to His care and control of our lives?

God loves us and has only good intentions for us but in this life we will have trouble. If we would know peace in this life we must allow God full control over our lives.

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Are you wise and faithful?

Matthew 24.45 asks are you a wise and faithful servant of the Lord? images

What does it mean to be a wise and faithful servant of the Lord?

Wise, in the context of Jesus’ teaching in this chapter, means to understand the times and to be prepared for God’s return to earth in Jesus. This return signals the day of accountability for every person from all time when all will stand before God to be judged by their obedience to His commands.

The wise servant is the person who understands this day is coming and makes himself ready for that day by doing what God commands.

The faithful servant is the one doing what God requires when God returns in Jesus the Christ. Faithfulness is doing what is expected so that upon inspection one is found approved. Faithfulness is receiving God’s instruction and then obeying that instruction without further prodding or micro-managing. Faithfulness is doing today in obedience that which we expect to give account for in the future by faith. Faithfulness is doing today what we believe matters tomorrow.

Certainly Jesus has been a long time in returning – over 2000 years.

Many who claim to be Christians are unwise and unfaithful to the commands of God assuming they have another day, week, month and year to do the things that God requires of us.

God warns us all that we do not know the hour of His return so we should always be faithful and always assume His return is imminent.

Were all the Church to live this way it would no doubt be more fruitful in its work and more fervent in its mission.

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The meaning of Love

Matthew 22.40 observes that if we keep only those we will find that we are obeying all the others. God summarized His imagesrequirements for people to please Him: love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and love others as we love ourselves.

What does it mean to love God?

Jesus said those who love Him would obey His commands.

What commands are we to obey? The commands to love Him first and foremost and to love others as we love ourselves.

This circular reasoning is not helpful for practically knowing what to do to please God but perhaps can be illustrated through the marriage covenant.

What is a spouse to do toward their spouse? Love them.

How do we love our spouse? While there are not the ten things we must do to love our spouse we know that we must be faithful to them first and foremost. Love is loyal. In addition, we must be kind, respectful, helpful, gentle and generous to name just a few things that ensure a loving relationship. The doing of these things cannot be specifically defined but context determines how they are applied.

Loving God is similar to loving our spouse.

We must be faithful to God, not loving anything or anyone more than Him. This will be demonstrated by the time we spend with Him and the care we take to please Him.

If we are doing little to nothing to demonstrate our love for God can we say we truly love God?

God is best loved when His love is being demonstrated through us to others.

What is God love? It is love expressed as sacrifice and service toward others regardless of cost to ourselves.

God demonstrated this kind of love by sending His Son to give His life as a sacrifice for sins.

If we love God we will love others as He loves us.

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Esteemed by God

Matthew 20.27 commands you must serve like a slave.images

The greatest of all is the servant of all because God Who is the greatest of all, served all by sacrificing all in order to reconcile all to God.

Those who are highly esteemed by God live like God lived among us in Jesus: as a humble servant sacrificing Himself for the benefit of others.

How hard it is for us to live as a servant. How much we struggle with people who refuse to acknowledge our significance!

Yet God, when He lived among us in Jesus, was neither recognized nor acknowledged as the Creator and Sustainer of all life but was despised by men.

God did not retaliate against the insubordinate but instead loved them, humbling Himself before all people in order to win all people to Himself.

God invites those who desire to live like Him to live as He lived: a servant of people Who unconditionally loves people even unto death.

The greatness of God is despised by the world forcing those who would be Jesus’ disciple to choose between pleasing God or pleasing people.

It is the person who loses his life for Jesus and the message of reconciliation with God through Jesus whom God highly esteems. It is the rich, the successful, the handsome, and the strong that the world esteems.

The world and all that it adores will pass away one day only to face judgment before the Almighty God for how it aligned with His commands.

Better to live now despised by men in order to live forever esteemed by God.

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Getting what we REALLY want

Matthew 16.26 asks what can be compared with the value of eternal life. images

What do we all really want?

In the moment it might be acceptance from others. In the moment it might be more money to pay our bills and meet our needs. In the moment it might be the new house, new car, new job or other longed for pleasure.

When we hear we only have weeks to live or we lose someone we love dearly what we want most of all is eternal life.

None of us want to die or lose our spouses or children or parents to death. We try not to think about death yet repeatedly we are confronted with its impending reality either through friends who have passed before us or when the doctor informs us we have cancer.

Death is the worst thing that happens to us and it is guaranteed to happen to all of us.

In the beginning God did not intend for us to die, death is the consequence of our rebellion against obedience to His commands. God provided the means for eternal life on this earth in the garden He created for the first people but their rebellion is our curse and caused the removal of the tree of eternal life.

As much as we despise death God detests it even more. God is life so death is an affront to His very nature.

All people, like the first people, must choose death or life.

While we all really want life, eternal life is to be received on God’s terms and not ours.

As long as we continue to rebel against God death looms ahead and hopelessness increases.

God commands we seek His forgiveness through Jesus the Savior then submit ourselves wholly to His Lordship.

Those who surrender to God are promised eternal life with God which is what we really want most of all.

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Love must be the Motive

Matthew 15.8 observes these people say they honor Me but their hearts are far away. images

The One True God measures people by their heart and not by their deeds.

All religions measure people by their actions; do what is required and go to heaven, fail to do what is required and go to hell. The True God however is not fooled by our religious actions like attendance, prayers or donations as though these things made a person holy in His sight.

The One True God searches motives and intent, measuring deeds by the heart that produced them rather than by the deeds themselves. If there really is a God, this means of judging people really does seem the most accurate. God should know what is in the heart of a person which is the true nature of that person.

The things we do should be a reflection of who we really are and normally that is true. All of us have pretended to be someone we are not but God is not fooled by our duplicity.

The true worshiper of God, the person God truly accepts, loves God with their whole heart then does those things that please God. Love must be the motive of our actions if those actions done for God are to be accepted by God.

Deeds performed to impress people or even to impress God are not accepted by God because they are done for ourselves rather than for the love of God.

The first deed we should seek to regularly perform is the discipline of daily Bible reading. The Bible is God’s written record of Himself and by reading the book we come to see the true nature and character of the One True God.

When we understand Who God really is, it is easy to love Him and in loving Him, to serve Him properly.

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Pursuing God

Matthew 13.22 describes a man whose longing for money choked-out God’s Word and he does less and less for God. images

God, when He lived among us as the man Jesus the Savior, foretold that men cannot serve God and money.

In Jesus’ teaching about how people would respond to His message of reconciliation with God He described one group as rejoicing in His message but preferring the things of the world and their pursuit over the things of God and His kingdom.

This pursuit of money keeps people busy and unproductive in God for it takes great effort and concentration of talent to be successful in the world which eliminates time and talent for building God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

At best, these men give God their leftovers.

What is the consequence for living a life spent pursuing personal gain over gaining the world for God in Jesus Christ?

God doesn’t say other than He lists these people not among the good but as part of the majority who fail to produce for His glory. Apparently the King of the universe, Creator of all things that are, were and ever shall be is not interested in receiving a man’s leftovers.

God takes delight in those who work diligently for His glory. God has entrusted the building of His kingdom upon the earth to those who love Him as demonstrated by their obedience to His commands.

God calls His followers to deny themselves in order to follow Him. God commands He be loved more than family, self or wealth if we would love Him most as He requires.

God calls us to live as He lived in the world when He lived among us: aloof from the things men find impressive and dedicated even unto death toward the things that impress God the Father.

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Christian or Disciple

Matthew 8.34 records they begged Him to go away and leave them alone. images

When Jesus comes He messes with our lives, at least He is supposes to have that effect upon His people.

Jesus healed a couple of men possessed by many demons. The demons were sent from the men into a herd of pigs that subsequently stampeded over a cliff to their deaths. PETA would not have been a fan of God on that day.

The people too living in that area became very uncomfortable with both the power and the cost of God being in their midst and so they asked Him to leave their town.

The problem with God is we cannot control Him.

What we like about religion is that we can control it and if we do it right, we can control the people following it as well.

God however cannot and will not be controlled by people.

There are many religious people but there are not many who follow Jesus. There are many who claim to be in the Christian club but not many who have taken their cross and follow Jesus as fishers of men.

When God enters a person’s life He takes control for there is much work to be done. God works within a person to transform them from the inside out into the image of Jesus. God works through a person to bring His kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.

The Jesus person looks much different from the average person or even the average Christian just as Jesus looked much different from the average person or the average Jew of His day. Jesus was not caught-up in either the fads of the day or the religious hype of His time.

Jesus was fixated on loving God and loving those He created even to the point of sacrificing His own life.

The disciple of Jesus passionately and radically loves God and loves people at personal risk and sacrifice.

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Working to get to Heaven

Matthew 7.21 comments the decisive question is whether they obey My Father in heaven.images

Everyone wants to go to heaven but few are willing to work to get there.

Fortunately for Christians, the Lord Jesus did all the work necessary for obtaining eternal life for people.

He accomplished His work by obeying perfectly the will of His Father.

His obedience was so thorough and complete that it led to His own death on a cross at the hands of those whom He came to save.

The proof that Jesus’ work was sufficient for securing pardon for all people who humble themselves before God and seek peace with Him, is the resurrection of Jesus, Who now sits enthroned in heaven but will one day return to earth to judge all people determining their eternal destiny whether heaven or hell.

What will be the Lord’s criteria for judgment of people’s eternal future?

The same basis by which He was judged adequate to be the Savior of the world: obedience to the Father.

While the work of God for salvation is finished in Jesus, it remains for each person to submit themselves to that work in order to be justified by God. The work of God is to believe in Him and in the Savior He sent to pardon people – Jesus the Lord.

This belief is evidenced by obedience.

Unless people repent, which is the acknowledgement then departure from evil doings in the eyes of God, and submit to God, a person cannot be born again.

We must be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Spirit comes to all those who love Jesus and submit to Him as Savior of the world.

Everyone who loves Jesus must live as He did, in humble, obedient, sacrificial service doing the will of God before people for their benefit and God’s glory.

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