Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My Song

I would like to emphasize that none of us are going to be perfect until the moment Jesus has finished His perfect work in us. (Philipp. 1:6) He told us not to worry. (Matt. 6:34) We can only live one day at a time. If we try to relive the past or handle tomorrow in advance, it will only result in frustration and stress, which is not helpful at all, but detrimental. We need to deal with one moment at a time, always keeping the goal in mind. (Philipp. 3:12-15) So I hope that when I am trying to encourage people (including myself) to live for Christ, whole-heartedly devoted to Him, that the message being received is just that--encouragement. If anyone is convicted by the Holy Spirit of changes they need to make, I hope they will feel relieved to have "woken up" from that slumber in time to make changes--but not scared. He knows us better than we know ourselves. His timing is perfect, and He loves us. My point is that we should love Him back, not that we should be afraid.

All we really need to do is abide in Him (John 15) and He will do the rest. ❦ The reason for this blog is that the distractions of the world are so overwhelming that most people don't stop and think about whether or not they ARE abiding. (Matt. 13:18-23) Ruth is one of our best examples of the bride of Christ. Her mother-in-law Naomi during parts of the story appears to represent the Holy Spirit. Ruth pledges her faithfulness and devotion to her and her God. (Ruth 1:16-17) Ruth didn't say this and then turn back to Moab. She continued on with Naomi to Bethlehem, lived with her there and ended up working faithfully in Boaz' field. (Ruth 2:23) She followed the advice of Naomi. (Ruth 3:5) As we know, she ended up marrying Boaz, who was a type of Christ. (Ruth 4:10, 13) Notice Ruth was “purchased” by Boaz, as Jesus bought us with His precious blood. (1 Cor. 6:19-20, 1Pet. 1:17-19)

Boaz "went into" Ruth (often referred to as "knowing" in the Bible - Gen. 4:1, 25), which is what the Holy Spirit does with us (spiritually, of course–this is why our bodies are temples of the Lord–our spirits are contained in our bodies -  Eph. 2:19-22). (John 14:15-16, 20-21, John 15:1-8, Rom. 8:9-11) Remember, Jesus doesn't know the five foolish virgins who were not ready to go in to the wedding and realized it too late (Matt. 25:10-13, Rom. 8:16-17). The foolish virgins thought they were ready. They thought the bridegroom knew them, but he didn't. Their lamps went out due to neglect–they thought one "filling with oil" (a one-time profession of faith, not backed up by works which are the fruit of the Spirit and evidence of saving faith) was all they needed. Faith comes from hearing the word. (Rom. 10:17) It’s also how we come to KNOW our Lord and how to please Him. (Matt. 25:3-4, 8, 1Thess. 5:14-24, Col. 1:9-12, Heb. 2:1) They were justified (declared innocent) when they believed, but they didn’t pursue holiness (sanctification) without which no one will see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14-28, Eph. 5:1-12)

We were told to hold fast our confidence and persevere in our faith. (Luke 8:15, Rom. 5:3-5, 1Cor. 13:6-7, 1Cor. 15:1-2, 2Thess. 1:3-5, 1Tim. 6:11-12, 2Tim. 3:10-17, Heb. 3:5-6, 14, Heb. 10:35-39, Heb. 12, James 1, 2Pet. 1:5-12, Rev. 2:2-3, 3:2-3, 2:19, 3:10, 14:12-13) Our relationship with our Lord is like a marriage, which was intended to last forever, in faithfulness. (Eph. 5:22-32, 1Cor. 6:12-20, 2Cor. 11:2-4, Rev. 19:7-8, Mal. 2:13-16, Matt. 19:8) In our earthly physical examples, does it bode well for the marriage if a couple has no relationship after the ceremony, or is unfaithful to one another? God does surely sanctify us and is the only one who can, but our part is to love and serve Him until the end, which includes obeying. (Luke 6:46-49, John 14:15-18, Rev. 2:4) When He tells us to love one another with our deeds not only our words, would He expect anything less from us toward Him? Let's repent of being lukewarm and return to our first love! (1John 3:16-18, James 2:14-17, Rev. 2:4-5, 3:15-17)

Ruth bore a son who was King David's grandfather (Obed, father of Jesse, who was the father of David). We bear fruit of the Spirit. (Matt. 13:23, John 15:16) We later hear Jesus say similar words as Ruth said to Naomi, in a reversal of roles, to Mary of Magdalene--the first to see Him after He rose from the dead. (John 20:17-18) In case you're interested, there are other similar "mirrors" in the Bible as well. The bride in Psalm 45 is wearing a colorful robe, bringing to mind Joseph's coat. (Psa. 45:13-15, Gen. 37:3) I'll do an article on Joseph being a type of Jesus in a future devotional. In Revelation 22:17, both the Spirit and the bride invite people to come and drink of the free water of life, as Jesus does more than once. (John 4:13-14, John 7:37-39, Rev. 21:6)

We have another example in Rebekah, who was invited by Abraham's servant to come follow Him to go and be Isaac's wife (sight unseen--sound familiar? John 20:29, Luke 10:23-24) Another picture of the Holy Spirit doing the work of the Father to obtain a bride for His Son. (Genesis 24) Please read it all--it's so beautiful! Remember, we already know that Isaac is a type of Jesus from when Abraham's faith was tested. (Genesis 22) Please read it to refresh your memory of this amazing event. I would like to point out that Rebekah is even mentioned in Genesis 22:23. Abraham told the servant NOT to bring Isaac to where Rebekah lived, but to go and get her (and he didn't force her, which we also have a choice). (Gen. 24:8, Josh. 24:15, Matt. 6:24, John 12:26) Her family had wanted her to stay another ten days, but she had agreed to go right away. She didn't just SAY she would go--she left her family and went. She followed the servant representing the Holy Spirit. (Gen. 24:55-58, 67) That's what we're supposed to do–follow and heed the Holy Spirit's guiding as we serve and obey our Lord and Savior, which is what He became when we drank of the cup of the new covenant. (Matt. 10:37-39, Matt. 26:26-28, Rom. 10:8-10, 1Cor. 11:23-32) Many people say that you don’t have to serve Jesus to believe in Him, but I think that anyone who calls Him Lord but does not obey Him is a liar–in other words, do they really believe? (1John 2:4-6) Is He the Son of God, deserving of all of our allegiance, devotion and love, the One who died to save us, or not?

We are not all called to physically leave our families as Rebekah was, but we are not to put ANYONE or ANYTHING before God. (Matt. 22:36-38) It's not popular to say today, but that DOES include our families if they would come between us and God. The bride in Psalm 45:10-11 is told to forget her family. You will love Psalm 45, which is about Jesus and his bride, if you haven't read it before. We have verification that it IS about Jesus in Hebrews 1:8-9. (Ps. 45:6-7) Nevertheless, the point is not that we should neglect our families (1Tim. 5:8), but to be careful just as in everything else that they don't take God's place in our lives or hearts. Jesus said His family is the one who does the will of His Father. (Matt. 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35, Luke 11:27-28, John 15:14)

Saying we will go with someone or "have their back" but not actually doing so shows a lack of integrity doesn't it? Regardless, it's not the kind of loyalty God deserves from us. (Luke 9:62, John 6:66-69) Saying we love someone but not showing it is pretty useless, isn't it? Some people grow up without hearing the words "I love you," but their parents or other caretakers do things for them that show it. We would all like to hear those precious words often, but the truth is that if we hear them constantly and yet our basic needs are not taken care of, or we are physically mistreated, then what good are those words? Could they even be TRUE in that case? So with Christ, professions of faith and adoration are nice, but if they're not backed up with our actions and attitudes, then what good are they? (John 14:21) We are the salt of the earth, which is a preservative. (Mark 9:49-50, Ex. 30:34-37, Lev. 2:13) Sugar can be used as a preservative as well (anyone who makes jams and jellies out of fruit knows this), but Jesus didn't use that example. Probably because He didn't want us sugar-coating the truth to the point that it rots people's teeth (or souls).  Let's encourage each other even if it seems as though most people don't care. (Matt. 24:12-13, 2Cor. 13:11, 1Thess. 5:11, Heb. 3:13, Ezek. 3:21)

I also would like to share my post from January 1 on Layout for Today, entitled My Song with anyone who hasn't already read it. You can download a pdf version of it, as well as many other devotionals, here.