Wednesday, April 1, 2015

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Follow The Lord Thy God

          What does it mean to follow God?  To tell you the truth, I don’t have a simple answer to that question.  I’m seventy two years old, and I’m still learning.  I don’t believe it can be answered by one finite explanation, for we serve not a finite God, but an infinite God.  In addition, we are not meant to follow after Him for just the here and now, but rather for an infinite eternity.  Furthermore, if I were able to develop even a partial answer, it could only be the answer that would apply to my life, for we are each different and God’s plan for my life is going to necessarily differ, in some ways, from His plan for the life of others.  I could give a simple pat answer like, “it means to love the Lord Thy God with all thy heart, mind, and strength that you may glorify God in all your ways.”  That’s probably a pretty good statement of the essence, but the totality is something far more.  Just when we think we have a pretty good understanding of what it means to follow God, He comes along and blows us away as He reveals another aspect of His nature that we had never seen before.  It is not He that is changing, but rather our understanding of Him that grows and changes.  He and His Word are the same yesterday, today, and forever.  That’s why we can trust in Him from one generation and time period to the next.  He doesn’t change with every breath of wind that comes along as mankind does. 

          Part of the purpose of this present discourse, is to attempt to open the eyes of our understanding to the deception of the lies being spread through the ever growing apostate church of these perilous times.  I have written on this subject before.  However, it seems that the Lord keeps leading me back to it to write more.  Perhaps this is for the heart of someone new to our website.  So I endeavor to be obedient to Him in the hope that somehow I may be used as an instrument to warn His people, and be a watchman on the wall, that we will not be caught unaware, and led astray by deception. 

          One of the great deceptions of the times is a new and different gospel, having been changed from the true and biblical gospel.  Unfortunately, there are preachers who are more interested in increasing the numbers of bodies within their churches, instead of increasing the number of truly born again souls.  They tend to preach a feel good gospel that centers on making the ‘seeker’ focus on how good man is, instead of how good God is.  This new age gospel seeks to make you think that God’s purpose is to make you healthy, wealthy, and tolerant of all things, good or bad.  The ultimate goal is to create a within these seekers an all inclusive mind that is so open to all things to the point that it will fall for anything and stand for nothing, even if it is contrary to the word of God.  I wonder how many lives have been ruined because they were presented with a false image of God, depicting Him as some genie whose purpose it is to make all things go smoothly for you, removing all trials, tribulations, and hindrances to your personal desires of what you perceive to be happiness in this life, as if this life was more important than your eternal life.

          On the surface, this “all inclusiveness” appears so ‘right’ and ‘fair’ to the minds of many.  But they have forgotten that the God of the Bible is necessarily exclusive, not inclusive.  Remember what He said?  “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”  Remember what Jesus has done that no other man has done or could do?  He willingly shed His blood on the cross giving His life, that whosoever will believe on Him may have eternal life.  There is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood, and only the blood of Jesus was sufficient to wash away the sin of man.  He is the only sinless man, uncontaminated, or polluted, by the presence of original sin that came into existence due to rebellion against God by the first man, Adam.  Remember the virgin birth of Jesus?  He was conceived in Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by the seed of man? He is all God come down in the form of man that we might know Him, and be redeemed through faith in Him.  Saved by the grace of God: what Jesus did on the cross and not by our own works.  “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) 

          This I do know, following God is well worth the journey, no matter what the cost may be in this world.  I say that knowing full well that there are many thousands of believers who are presently being slaughtered merely for the fact that they will not deny their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.   Jesus warned us that as He was persecuted in this world, so too all who believe in Him will be.  Jesus, God the Son, knew what His purpose was to be from the very beginning of time. Yet, He willingly left the riches of heaven, to come to earth in the form of a man, to give His life to save sinful man.  It boggles my mind whenever I hear someone say, including myself, how can a loving God let bad things happen to those who believe in Him?  How quickly we forget the bad things that happened to Him, the one who never sinned and never deserved anything that befell Him in His earthly life.  If He was not spared suffering and sorrow in His earthly life, why should we think that we should be spared of suffering in our lives?

He was ridiculed, spat upon, reviled, shunned, rejected, beaten, and to top it all off, suffered the agony, not just of physical death on the cross, but the horror of being defiled by our sins, and thus the experience of what it meant to be separated, for the one and only time, from God the Father.  No wonder He cried out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!”  He had never done anything to deserve to suffer such a fate.  We, you and me, are the ones that deserved every bit of that separation and unforgiveness from God.  But Jesus loved you and me first, even before we turned from our sin; he took our punishment, He paid our debt that we might be saved by the grace of God through faith in Him, God the Son.  “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;[the willful practice of it] That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” (I Peter 4: 1, 2)

          My own words can never express what Jesus has done for us better than the inspired word of God has so eloquently done.  Let us read the explanation of what it meant for God the Son to follow God the Father:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became

obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philp. 2: 5-11)

          Even Jesus, God the Son, being all God, but in the form of man, was to live his life to follow God the Father, for the purpose of glorifying God the Father.  “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5: 19)  Yet, we murmur and complain when life brings trials and tribulations and sufferings into our lives.  Stop and think for one moment of the greatest sin that you believe you have committed.  Then reflect and remember what hurt, pain, and loss it brought into your life because you had to suffer the consequences of your own choices and actions. Remember the sadness, despair, and maybe even physical pain or loss that you suffered, and you know you can’t blame anyone but yourself.  Now double that by an infinite number of times and more; maybe now you can begin to understand just a fragment of what Jesus suffered on the cross when the sins of the world were cast upon Him, through no fault or sins of his own, but by choice because of his great love towards mankind. 

          What does he want in return – only our acknowledgment that He alone has made this great sacrifice, and that we would invite Him into our heart to be our personal Lord and Savior!  We are to confess our sins, repent [turn from our willful and wicked ways], and by the grace of God, not by our works, we are granted salvation.  Then he instructs us further, through His inspired word, how we are to follow in obedience to the Lord our God:   

“…., work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure:

Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke,

In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Holding forth the word of life; ….” (Philip. 2: 12 – 15)

In other words, we are to live out each day of our lives with the purpose of doing that which is pleasing in the sight of God.  “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Colossians 3: 23)

          As followers of the Lord our God, we must be diligent to study His word that it may become a living part of us.  If we spend no time in the word, to learn of Him and His ways, how can we obey him?  How can we become doers of the word, and not just hearers as He has commanded us?  “And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.  But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” (I John 2: 3-5)

          We can not love the world and follow God at the same time.  We will be double minded, and a house divided can not stand.  “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (I John 2: 15 – 17)  “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.” (I John 4: 13 – 16)  The bottom line according to God’s word, not according to any man’s opinion, is the following: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (I John 5: 12)

          God does not wish for any to perish, but that all would come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Every follower of the one true God of the Bible is commanded to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  According to Ezekiel chapter 3, if we speak the truth of the word of God, and the people will not listen, because they are a rebellious people, then their blood is on their own head.  But if we know the truth, but fail to tell and warn the people, then their blood is on our heads.  It is the responsibility of every Christian to speak the truth of the word of God in love, whether people will listen or not.  Success in the eyes of God is based upon our willingness to be obedient unto Him, not upon whether the people choose to listen, believe, or obey, when once they have been informed and warned.  “But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ Whoever will listen let them listen, and whoever will refuse let them refuse; for they are a rebellious people. (Ezekiel 3: 27)

          Knowing the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and receiving him as personal Lord and Savior is the greatest gift that man can ever receive.  However, we can only tell others about Him that they may choose to receive and believe.  No one can be argued into believing, or forced into receiving Him.  It has to be a personal decision, to want to know God, to hear his voice, and follow after Him and Him alone.  The gift of God is eternal life, beginning in the here and now, and continuing into eternity when we see Him face to face.  This precious gift, worth far more than silver or gold, is wrapped up in one beautiful package, the person of Jesus Christ.  He is offered to all.  He waits just outside the door of your heart.  All you have to do to receive Him is open the door of your heart and invite Him in.  Following God thereafter is a day by day decision to fear (respect), love, obey, trust, and learn from Him.  He will perform the transformation within us, as we yield ourselves to do his will and not our own, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The miracles of God are not seen only in the times that He miraculously delivers us from trials, tribulations, and sufferings, but many times in the way He is right there with us to carry us through them, using the refiner’s fire to melt and mold us more and more into his image.

          Be not deceived by the new feel good gospel of the preachers that are all too willing to tell you what you want to hear for their own profit and aggrandizement, but will not tell you what you need to hear concerning your need of repentance and forgiveness of sin.  They are focused on their own worldly profits in the here and now, instead of your need to confess your sin, repent, and seek forgiveness that you may not suffer the judgment of God.  They won’t mention sin lest they offend you; thereby reducing their numbers, and thus negatively affecting the lining of their money hungry pockets.  Their focus and yours too, will become the love of the things of this temporary world, rather than the peace of the Lord in the here and now, and the greater riches to come in eternal life in Heaven.  The Lord already forewarned us not to be deceived by the preaching of another gospel other than the Biblical gospel.  “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1: 9)  

          Yes, God is love, and a sign of His great love for us is that He will judge and discipline us when we are rebellious, in an effort to get us to turn from our wicked ways, which can only bring us harm.  He wants us to turn our hearts back to Him that we may abide under his protective covering once again.  Every earthly father will discipline his child out of love for him.  So God, our Father, will chastise His children, or else God will make Himself a liar, and God can not lie. God will not wink at sin, or treat his children as fatherless children who go undisciplined, unloved, and become increasingly more rebellious children who refuse to learn to behave, not even for their own good.

          Oh Father God, we praise and thank you that you never give up on us.  Help us Lord to wait patiently upon you, that we may see your hand at work in our lives and in the lives of others.  Help us not give up on each other, but continue to pray without ceasing, interceding for one another as you continually intercede for us.  We do believe Lord, help thou our unbelief.  Teach us Lord, for thy ways are higher than ours.  Let us not trust in our own opinions, intellect, or reasoning abilities, but trust in the word of God, which is more powerful than a two-edged sword, and goes out to accomplish that which it was sent to do, and does not return void.  When things seem hard, help us Lord not to blame you, or murmur and complain.  Instead, with each new trouble and trial, help us to turn our hearts to you and ask, “Lord what do you want me to learn through this?” Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

          “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (I Corinth. 1: 18)  Teach us Lord, that we be not deceived. 


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