Obedience

Our Motivation for Freedom

Americans are, if nothing else, individualists. It’s difficult for us to understand the concept of “corporate” or “group” because our country was founded on the idea of the individual going forth and conquering to achieve his goals. Other cultures are not so individualistically minded, but work together over long periods for the corporate good. But ultimately every sinner (meaning every human being) struggles with the idea of stepping back and allowing someone else to achieve, to have, to succeed.

Father God deals with us both corporately and individually; Christ died for us both corporately (the elect) and individually (the sinner). And the Spirit is concerned with how we interact, individuals, with each other, the group.

Fulfilling God's Purpose Rather than Our Own

"Prepare to meet your God…" Amos 4:12

The recent movie "Bucket List" was a smash hit at theaters, and not surprisingly so. The storyline was about two men who discover they have little time left to live, so they draw up lists of what they want to accomplish before they "kick the bucket." The theme is appealing because nearly everyone has such a bucket list, though most despair of ever checking off anything on the list, let alone covering the entire thing.

Faith in Question

Establishing a Diagnosis

Many people will spend more time examining the vegetables in the supermarket than they will spend evaluating their faith.

Generally speaking, faith is relying on what God has done rather than on one's own efforts.

In the Old Testament, faith is rarely mentioned. In its place the word "trust" is frequently used, and verbs like "believe" and "rely on" are used to express the right attitude one should display to God.

The classic example is Abraham, whose faith was reckoned as righteousness (Gen. 15:6), and at the heart of the Christian message is the story of the cross: Christ's dying to bring salvation for all.

Time for a Heart Check

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. Hebrews 9:27-28

Years ago I had my then preschool-age granddaughter with me when I made a stop at the cemetery to deliver some flowers. My granddaughter was naturally curious about what sort of place a "sembletery" was, so I did my best to explain. As we read a few markers and headstones, I told her what the dates meant, and we figured the ages of a few of the deceased.

Run the Race to Win!

It's important that, as wise scholars, we not apply every analogy in the Bible literally (as would be unwise), but that we do ferret out the truth that we might apply it to our lives.

Our Daily Conduct

In Ephesians 4:25-32, the apostle Paul begins to clarify our Christian responsibilities regarding works. He appeals to us in verse 1 to make every effort to live a manner of life that measures up to the magnificence of our high calling. He then makes sure we understand that we must carry out our responsibilities in humility, (the quality of being modest or respectful), kindness, and forbearance, (patience, tolerance, or self-control, especially in not responding to provocation), as we strive to maintain a state of purity, (the absence, or degree of absence, of anything harmful, inferior, unwanted, or of a different type).

Called to a Higher Law

1 Corinthians 6:12-13a NKJV
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them.

The Corinthians had become obsessed with the idea that they were "free from the law." Wrongly, they applied this concept to the idea that, if they were free from the law, then they were free to do anything they liked. That freedom from the law was akin to license.

Submission to Others

Romans 15:1-2, 5-7
We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. . . . Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.

Are You Self-Serving or God-Serving?

Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in,
to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers.
Deuteronomy 6:23

It's amazing how many of us believers are satisfied to be "brought out" and forget that God also wants to "bring us in." We are content with the proverbial "fire insurance" that spares us an eternity in hell yet care little about fulfilling our God-ordained purpose during our brief sojourn here on earth.

Are You Doing the Right Thing?

Proverbs 20:10 NRSV
Even children make themselves known by their acts,
by whether what they do is pure and right.

Known by their acts. We are not who we say we are; we are who we show we are. The Lord Jesus taught that "either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit." Matthew 12:33 NRSV

The idea of fruit is used in scripture to depict behavior that comes from the spirit. (Did you know that all behavior comes from a spirit?) And what's interesting is that Galatians 5 begins the discussion about behavior with this verse:

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