Love and Obedience

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exo. 34:6). “…God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Deu. 7:9). “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Psal. 36:7). God’s love is powerful, more powerful than anything that we could possibly imagine. It is life changing and is available to all which gives the Gospel so much power. Isn’t it amazing to know that the God that made the Universe, the God that created mankind loves us unconditionally!

It is absolutely true that “God is love,” but the message does not end there. The Bible tells of God’s glorious love for mankind, but it doesn’t just tell of His love. God’s love is available, but we can only access it through obedience and acceptance of His Son, Jesus Christ. Love is a powerful message, but it is not the whole message, because without obedience to and acceptance of Jesus Christ we do not have access to that love. Therefore, the message solely of God’s love is a false message. You do not get His love poured into your hearts unless the Holy Spirit has been given to you (Rom. 5:5). The Holy Spirit is given freely to those who love Jesus and keep His commandments (Joh. 14:15-16). Notice that Jesus didn’t just say that it is given freely to those who love Him; it was contingent on those who keep His commandments.

This image was originally posted to Flickr by jam343 http://flickr.com/photos/24841050@N00/2461973
This image was originally posted to Flickr by jam343 http://flickr.com/photos/24841050@N00/2461973
Love and obedience is the Gospel message and it is the only message that has any power, because without those two in combination there is no access to God. I know this might be contrary to what you have heard, because so many teach of God’s love and how much love He has for His people, but fail to mention that to be called His people we must be obedient to Him. This gives us a false sense of ownership as well as a false sense of inheritance. God is great and amazing and He is love. He has more to offer us than any of our praise could ever begin to relate to Him how thankful we are, but if we don’t truly understand our relationship in Him we are missing out and have been fed a message that is contrary to the Gospel and is not life giving. Sure it makes us feel good to know that God loves us and forgives us, but it requires our obedience and when we have failed to be obedient it requires our repentance.

Repentance is a sorrowful acknowledgment of our sins and it requires us to turn back to God and away from Satan. Psalm 7:11-16 says the following about God and repentance…

God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.

In this instance to repent literally means to turn back and to turn away from wickedness. Luke 13:2-5 says it differently it says, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” In this manner Jesus is telling the people that they must morally reconsider what they have done and to think differently than what they had before they sinned. This is a life changing decision; this is a decision to move from the wide gate to the narrow gate of Christ. “For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mat. 7:13-14).

Jesus said the following, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (Joh. 15:10). He also spoke of His obedience to the Father in John 14:31, “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” Even Jesus was obedient to the Father and because of that obedience the world knows that He loved the Father. Jesus was perfect and thus His love is perfect which is why He bids us to follow Him. We on the other hand are not perfect and we never will be. Our lives our sin stained and without the blood sacrifice that Jesus provided for us we are not worthy of approaching the throne of God and He will never know us. God’s love requires our obedience, at least our honest and best attempt at obedience. He knows that we will fail which is why He sent us Jesus so that all who call on Him and abide in Him can be saved.

God’s love is a powerful message, but without obedience it is a message that leads to death for without obedience we are not able to receive God’s love. But don’t worry because Jesus said “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mat. 11:27-30). Will you accept the yoke of Jesus and see that His burden is light?

Father I thank you for your love and for your Son Jesus whom you sent to die as payment for my sins. I am a sinner and I need you God. I love you and chose to turn from my evil ways and follow you. I know that I will mess up though and when I do I will acknowledge that I did not follow your ways and my heart will be grieved. I will turn back to you God and follow you all of my days. I choose to be obedient to you God because your love is worth everything that I have. Accept me Lord and may my life be a testimony about who you are and the love that you have for the world. I ask this all in Jesus’ name. Amen.

If this was helpful or encouraging to you please feel free to share it with others. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to make a comment. We all have a purpose and can be used to help others draw closer to God. God bless you in your journey to knowing Him deeper than before and accepting yourself with all of the qualities that God desires for you to have.

1 John 1 “God is Light”

1 John 1, New International Version (NIV)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

In the opening of 1 John, the prologue, verses 1-4, we are given the purpose for the writing of this letter which is to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ of which they experienced first hand. He explains that they have heard, seen, and more over that what they have observed through careful observation and found to be true is that Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. It is through the following proclamation and testimony that they desire to be joined in fellowship by those who read this letter and extend an invitation to join them in fellowship with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ in which they have received joy beyond measure. We have been invited into the same fellowship as all those who have read this letter. We have been invited to join into fellowship with God.

cross lightImmediately following the prologue we learn that the message to us as received through the Living Word, Jesus Christ, is that God is light and there is no darkness within him and that if we want to be a part of his body that we cannot walk in darkness. The darkness is referring to sin, specifically our sin in this passage. So those who are walking in darkness are those who know that they are sinning and yet are liars in saying that they are walking in the light or in righteousness. For many of us this can become an ensnarement for us in that Satan wants us to deny that we need help or that we have done anything wrong. Our flesh desires to preserve itself to keep from getting hurt or showing weakness, but God calls us to expose all darkness that is within us because in him their is no darkness.

Darkness is simply an absence of light but the amazing thing about darkness is that no matter how dark it is that when any amount of light is lit within the darkness immediately looses. Think about this for a moment…if you are sitting outside on a bright summer’s day in the sun and there is a speck of darkness near you will it be easily seen? Now think about the reverse for a second. Let’s say that you are sitting in complete darkness, let’s say in a cave, where there is absolutely no light what so ever. It is dark all around you, it is so dark that you literally cannot see your hand as you press it against your face. Now imagine a firefly approaching in the distance… You see the light of God is so powerful that even when we are completely surrounded by darkness and cannot see it only takes the smallest spark of light to be able to see the light, then when we see the light we are to follow it and be guided out from the darkness. Of course the problem is that when we are in the light the darkness becomes less visible, even though it is still there. But there is hope because God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins when we confess them so much so that he cleanses us from all unrighteousness, he makes us completely clean. That means that through the blood of Jesus Christ we are free from all that we have confessed and will be freed from all that we have yet to confess. All that we have to do is confess and be honest with ourselves, with others, and with God because if we say that we have not sinned we make God out to be a liar and therefore his word is not in us and we are not in Him.

light_of_god_by_umakumari-d2zl2ua

Father, you are so worthy of our praise. I lift your name on high oh Lord, I exalt you above all. Lord bring your light fully into my life. Forgive me Father for I have sinned. I have not given you the place in my life that you deserve, I have lied to myself and to others and I have tried to seem as I am not, but God you know all and you see all. Forgive me for my sins oh Lord. You are just and faithful Lord and I know that only you can forgive me for my sins. Cleanse me, make me right in your eyes my God. Remove all darkness from within me and shine through me as a light to guide others to you. Lord it is not enough that I should be made clean, but I long to see those around me come to an understanding of your love for them and the grace that is awaiting them when they submit to you. I know that I am not perfect, but I know that in my weakness others will see that you are strong and capable of anything. Thank you for loving me and for not giving up on me, even when I fall short. I pray this all in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

A Heart of Worship

Do you ever feel like you are simply going through the motions at church especially while singing praises to the Lord? Do you ever feel like you just don’t seem to have what other people around you have? If so I must ask, have you checked your heart lately? Worship is about the heart, not about the words. This day and age we tend to attribute worship with a certain type of music and certainly music can bring us closer to God, but worship is all about the heart. You can sing worship songs all day long and still not worship the Lord with your heart. Where is your heart at? It is from within your heart that everything you do comes from (Prov. 4:23). If your heart is not set on singing praises to God then the words that come from your mouth will not be either.

David Mathis says that “the heart of worship is our heart” it is from within that we worship. Imagine for a moment that the all that could be heard and seen from heaven was worship; worship in work, worship in helping others, worship in loving your neighbors, worship in song, etc… What would the world look like and sound like? Would you be seen or heard? Now let’s come back down to earth and apply this to life. The vision of yourself that you just had is the same way that non-Christians see you. They know when we are faking it, when our heart really isn’t in it, and they know whether or not we are being real.

Do you want to be seen as someone who is faking it, who doesn’t really have something that sets you apart from the world or do you want to be seen as having something that someone else wants… NO …needs? Growing up I remember singing a song called “This Little Light of Mine” and the joy that it placed in my heart. Below is a video of the good that we can do by simply expressing our love for God.

Love is contagious and love is expressed through the light of Christ. Are you sharing the light from within your heart or are you hiding it under a basket? When we live our lives on purpose for God it shows. It shows in how we respond to people, how we treat them, it shows in how we approach every situation. Your actions are contagious whether they are good or bad. The message that you spread through your words and actions is up to you. Do you want to bring darkness into the world or light? For me personally I know that I want to bring light and it isn’t always easy. I mess up and I hurt people, especially when I have been hurt, but we are called to repent when we mess up and to turn towards the Father. We are called to be worshipers, to praise God and be “grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:28-29). It is so easy to allow darkness to settle back in when we are not in worship, so fight! Do not be overcome by darkness, but let your light shine and spread like a fire to all of those around for our God is a consuming fire.

We worship you Father, you are mighty to save, wonderful creator! Hear our hearts cry out Lord as we share the flame that you have given us. Let us not be overcome by the things of this world, but let us be filled with joy and compassion, let us be filled with an all consuming fire and never forget how blessed we are to be loved by you. You are so righteous and loving Father. We want to learn from you, teach us your ways, help us to hear your voice and to follow you with our whole heart. Help us to be a light to all of those around us. We have so much to be thankful for and only you to thank for that. We love, love, love you Father. Thank you for seeing more in us than we can see ourselves. Thank you for redeeming us so that we can one day be in heaven with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.