VIDEO The Divine Commandment of Life – A Nation Under God?

Our Lord’s exhortation to us in Matthew 5:38-48 is to be generous in our behavior toward everyone. Beware of living according to your natural affections in your spiritual life. Everyone has natural affections— some people we like and others we don’t like. Yet we must never let those likes and dislikes rule our Christian life. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7), even those toward whom we have no affection.

The example our Lord gave us here is not that of a good person, or even of a good Christian, but of God Himself. “…be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” In other words, simply show to the other person what God has shown to you. And God will give you plenty of real life opportunities to prove whether or not you are “perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Being a disciple means deliberately identifying yourself with God’s interests in other people. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

The true expression of Christian character is not in good-doing, but in God-likeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit divine characteristics in your life, not just good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian’s life is that the supernatural becomes natural in him as a result of the grace of God, and the experience of this becomes evident in the practical, everyday details of life, not in times of intimate fellowship with God. And when we come in contact with things that create confusion and a flurry of activity, we find to our own amazement that we have the power to stay wonderfully poised even in the center of it all.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

We are not to preach the doing of good things; good deeds are not to be preached, they are to be performed. So Send I You, 1330 L


A Nation Under God?

 

Stopping Rumors

Do not spread false reports. Exodus 23:1

After Charles Simeon (1759–1836) was named the minister of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, England, he faced years of opposition. As most in the congregation had wanted the associate minister to be appointed rather than Simeon, they spread rumors about him and rejected his ministry—even at times locking him out of the church. But Simeon, who desired to be filled by God’s Spirit, sought to cope with the gossip by creating some principles to live by. One was never to believe rumors unless they were absolutely true and another was “always to believe, that if the other side were heard, a very different account would be given of the matter.”

In this practice, Simeon followed God’s instructions to His people to cease the gossip and malicious talk He knew would erode their love for each other. One of God’s Ten Commandments reflects His desire for them to live truthfully: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). Another instruction in Exodus reinforces this commandment: “Do not spread false reports” (23:1).

Think of how different the world would be if each of us never spread rumors and false reports and if we stopped them the moment we heard them. May we rely on the Holy Spirit to help us speak the truth in love as we use our words to bring glory to God.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

 

Reflect & Pray

What has helped you when you’ve faced opposition? How do you react when you hear gossip?

Jesus, help me to speak Your truth in love. Give me words that bring peace, grace, and encouragement.

Union With Christ

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

Sharing in Christ’s life means that we experience not only the close relationship He had with His Father but also His suffering. As Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25 ESV).

We need to remember that as we seek to embody His righteousness, we may find our pursuit doesn’t make sense to the world. Writing to the Philippians, Paul explained how he had to lose everything in order to gain Christ (Phil. 3:8-11). The Greek word for “loss” in this letter is the same word used in Acts about the effects of the storm Paul encountered en route to Rome (Acts 27:10; Acts 27:21). This language helps us realize we will feel our commitment to Jesus—in both joyful and painful ways—as we pursue knowing Him more.

Think about it

  • What would it mean in your own life to “lose everything in order to gain Christ”?
  • Reread Philippians 3:8 (ESV). What would it look like to live for “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus”?

Leave the Comfortable Church

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)

This is the heart of Christ’s rebuke of the church at Laodicea, the “lukewarm” church (v. 16) of the last days. This is an evangelical church for its candlestick is still in place (note Revelation 1:20; 2:5), but it has become a neutral church, “neither cold nor hot” (3:15). The reason for its tepid witness is because it has become “rich, and increased with goods,” comfortable in a culture that tends to equate material prosperity with success and God’s favor. It may have acquired large and beautiful facilities, developed special programs of many kinds, featured a variety of musicians and other artists, and even gained a measure of political power. Yet, Christ calls it poor and blind and naked!

Not all large churches become like this, of course, but it is always a real danger. The desire for large congregations can easily lead to compromising biblical standards of doctrine and practice. “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion,” the prophet warned (Amos 6:1).

Note that the Lord began His letter to the Laodicean church by identifying Himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14). This strongly suggests that a major reason for the development of such complacency in a large church (or a small church, for that matter) is neglect of these three doctrines—the sufficiency of Christ, the inerrant authority of God’s Word, and the special creation of all things by God.

The letter to this church ends with the sad picture of Christ standing at its door, seeking admission (v. 20). “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (v. 22). HMM

Focus on the Urgency of God’s Will

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

—Revelation 7:13-14

 

If we are serious about our Christian witness, the day may be near when we may be persecuted—even killed—for our faith. We should be stirred, as John was stirred, as we witness this vast company of God’s saints in heaven who have come through earth’s great tribulation.

I am not saying we are not Christians. I am only trying to find out why we are so far from revival and refreshing and renewal. I am only trying to determine why we are so far from recognizing the urgency of God’s will laid upon us by the Holy Spirit.

If we belong to Jesus Christ, we should never compromise our spiritual decisions on the basis of “What is this going to cost me?” We ought only to ask, “What is my spiritual duty and my spiritual privilege before God?”   JIV115

Please, Lord, give me this kind of commitment. Amen.

 

Beware the File-card Mentality

Pure religion and undefiled…is this, To visit the fatherless and widows…and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

—James 1:27

 

The essence of true religion is spontaneity, the sovereign movings of the Holy Spirit upon and in the free spirit of redeemed men. This has through the years of human history been the hallmark of spiritual excellency, the evidence of reality in a world of unreality.

When religion loses its sovereign character and becomes mere form, this spontaneity is lost also, and in its place come precedent, propriety, system—and the file-card mentality.

Back of the file-card mentality is the belief that spirituality can be organized. Then is introduced into religion those ideas which never belong there—numbers, statistics, the law of averages, and other such natural human things.

And creeping death always follows. OGM079

[T]here are churches so completely out of the hands of God that if the Holy Spirit withdrew from them, they wouldn’t find it out for many months. COU052

 

A Mother’s Religion

Ruth 1:16

Naomi is the mother’s name and her story is told in the book of Ruth. Naomi, with her husband and sons, had been driven from her country by famine. Her husband and two sons died, leaving her bereft of kin and means of livelihood. She decided to return to Israel and advised her two Moabite daughters-in-law to remain where they were.

One took the advice. The other, Ruth, clung to Naomi and spoke the beautiful and memorable words: “Don’t urge me to leave… where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

Think of the life and faith of the woman who called forth those words. Ruth’s life-altering decision was made because Naomi’s religion had impressed her with its truth and hope.

This mother’s religion was strong. It is quite easy to be religious in a favorable climate, surrounded by like-minded people. But Naomi kept her faith in a strange land and among alien people. She lived in Moab, but she didn’t do as the Moabites did. For Naomi there was one God and she remained true to Him.

This mother’s religion was attractive. We don’t know how much Naomi talked about Israel’s God, but there is little doubt that the way she lived for Him was impressive. It was a life so attractive in its faith and works that Ruth was willing to reject previous claims of country and religion and accompany Naomi to Bethlehem. We could all do with a religion that attracts.

This mother’s religion was shared. It was strong enough and attractive enough to be conveyed from one person to another. Naomi’s faith won the devotion of a daughter-in-law from another family to herself and from another religion to her God. How deeply and broadly it was shared is expressed in eloquent words and practical deeds. It included going and staying, new relationships with people and a whole-souled commitment to God. Naomi’s faith was communicated and it became life-changing.

George Eliot is credited with saying that, “There are those whose celestial intimacies seem not to improve their domestic manners.” Naomi was different. Her life with God had a healing, helpful influence on those about her and Ruth’s words and actions are a continual witness to this mother’s religion.

Bramwell Tripp, The War Cry

 

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