VIDEO Christ’s Commands

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 1 John 2:3

Democracy is rule by many; oligarchy is rule by a few; autocracy is rule by one; anarchy is rule by none. Anarchy usually arises as a temporary, chaotic result of the collapse of some form of government—and is usually replaced by order and authority of some kind.

Christianity could never be described as anarchy because of its emphasis on laws (commands) and authority (the Lordship of Christ). The apostle John had a clear sense of the necessity for obeying Christ’s commands. For him, obedience to Christ was the manifestation of true faith in Christ. John’s writings emphasize this over and over (John 14:15; 15:7-14; 1 John 2:4-5; 3:6, 22, 24; 5:2-3; Revelation 12:17; 14:12). John also emphasizes that we never outgrow this requirement—just as citizens never outgrow their responsibility to obey society’s laws. John addresses children, young men, and fathers—emblematic of various stages of spiritual development with his references to obeying Christ (1 John 2:12-14).

It may be easy to grow careless about obeying civil laws, and that carelessness can show up in our spiritual obedience as well. Keeping His commands reminds us of who is Lord—and who isn’t.

By obeying Christ’s commands you will gain more than you can give. Thomas Brooks


1 John 2:3

Stay Together

Keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3

Dewberry Baptist Church split in the 1800s over a chicken leg. Various versions of the story exist, but the account told by a current member was that two men fought over the last drumstick at a church potluck. One man said God wanted him to have it. The other replied God didn’t care, and he really wanted it. The men became so furious that one moved a couple kilometers down the road and started Dewberry Baptist Church #2. Thankfully, the churches have settled their differences, and everyone concedes the reason for their split was ridiculous.

Jesus agrees. The night before His death Jesus prayed for His followers. May they “be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” May they “be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me” (John 17:21–23).

Paul agrees. He urges us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3–4), and these cannot be divided.

We who weep for Christ’s body broken for our sin must not tear apart His body, the church, with our anger, gossip, and cliques. Better to let ourselves be wronged than be guilty of the scandal of church division. Give the other guy the chicken leg—and some pie too!

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What have you done to contribute to the unity of your church? What else might you do?

Heavenly Father, help me do the best I can to be at peace with others. May I never separate what You’ve joined

The Spirit Within Us

The Spirit works constantly to conform believers to the image of Christ so that we can impact unbelievers

Romans 8:1-17

If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, God’s Spirit is at work in you whether you feel His presence or not. He’s conforming Christians to the image of the Savior, and the evidence of this transformation is known as the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). These godly character traits are not something we can generate on our own but are divinely produced in us as we yield to the Spirit and walk obediently with Him. 

We should never underestimate the impact of spiritual fruit when unbelievers observe how we respond to pressure, temptation, suffering, or an avalanche of problems. By demonstrating peace rather than anxiety or practicing patience instead of speaking a sharp word, we bear witness to the beauty of the gospel. 

One way God uses Spirit-filled lives is to create curiosity in the unbeliever—and an openness to the message of salvation. Wherever you are or whatever you do, you can be powerful witness for Jesus Christ when you walk obediently with the Holy Spirit each day.

The Christian’s Permission

“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)

The high priest of Israel wore the inscription “holiness to the LORD” to illustrate to all who obeyed God that they were “accepted before the LORD” (Exodus 28:36-38). Joshua, as a type of all believers, was granted “places to walk” in the courts of God (Zechariah 3:7). Christ’s disciples were commanded to “ask” the Father for “whatsoever,” since they were chosen and ordained to “bring forth fruit” (John 15:16). We have permission to “ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).

But there is more! Not only are we accepted, we are “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13), an “earnest [down payment, deposit] of our inheritance” (v. 14). We are “stablishe[d]…anointed…sealed&q
uot; (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

We are “confirmed” in everything (1 Corinthians 1:4-8), consecrated and sanctified to serve (Exodus 28:41; 1 John 2:27), and given the “earnest of the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 5:5) to empower our ministry.

The Holy Spirit does His work through a threefold ministry in our lives. He will work on Christ’s behalf, through our witness, to bring conviction to those not yet in Christ (John 16:7-11). He will also minister to us as the teacher of our spirits to guide us into all truth (John 16:13; 14:17, 26; 15:26).

Furthermore, the wisdom, prudence, and knowledge of God are revealed to us through His work in us (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). All that is necessary for our “effectual working” (Ephesians 3:7) is “graced” to us so that we can “work out [our] salvation” (Philippians 2:12). We are “complete in him” (Colossians 2:10). HMM III

First Movement: My Spirit Grows Faint Within Me

Lord, hear my prayer. In Your faithfulness listen to my plea, and in Your righteousness answer me. Do not bring Your servant into judgment, for no one alive is righteous in Your sight. For the enemy has pursued me, crushing me to the ground, making me live in darkness like those long dead. My spirit is weak within me; my heart is overcome with dismay ( Psalm 143 vv. 1-4).

In this age of focus on physical fitness, I wonder if we give nearly as much thought to the condition of our spirits. The body can look pretty good on the outside while spiritual rigor mortis is in the process of setting in! Too many of us are “weak,” Were spiritual wimps!

I’m impressed all over again with David’s brutal honesty about himself. He doesn’t attempt to project positive images or to numb himself into relief through positive mental attitudes. He’s forthright and objective. His lament is real and rich in intensity. Emotionally, he has pulled the blanket of dark despair over his head. Because he’s spiritually impoverished, he’s ready for a mighty work of God in his life.

And he desperately needs one. In verses 3-4, he tells us that his enemies are still pursuing him relentlessly and that he is being forced to live in darkness like those that are dead.

In this psalm, I don’t hear the mighty warrior king of Israel. Instead, I hear the pathetic plea of one who recognizes that power comes not from physical strength or military strategy but in trusting the faithfulness and righteousness of God.

Personal Prayer

O God, hear my prayer today. The macho image is not for me. I confess my inability to work out the details of my life or even to protect myself! Be merciful to me.

The Language of Music

Pathétique

A French word meaning “emotional” and “full of pathos” (not necessarily sad).

Beethoven’s Sonata op, 13 in C minor is called “Sonate Pathetique,” The Bible is full of emotional sensitivity, personal sympathy, and compassion.

(See John 11 or Matt. 26:36-39.)

Do It Yourself

You have not glorified the God who holds your life-breath in His hand and who controls the whole course of your life.—Daniel 5:23

Most Christians do not pant after God in the way the psalmist described in Psalm 42:1. Now I must attempt to make clear what I mean.

First, let me pull into focus the major problem with which we all struggle as soon as we are born. When God created us in the beginning, He designed us to have a relationship with Him. This means that deep within our being is a thirst for God which will not go away. It can be ignored, disguised, misunderstood, wrongly labeled, or submerged underneath a wealth of activity, but it will not disappear. And for good reason. We were designed to enjoy something better than this world can give us, particularly in the sphere of relationships. No human relationship can satisfy in the way that a relationship with God does.

This deep thirst for God that resides within us makes us dependent on God for satisfaction, and that is something our sinful human nature deeply resents. You see, due to Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden of Eden, we have all been left a legacy called “Do It Yourself.” There is something within every single one of us that wants to take charge and have a hand in bringing about our own salvation. So here is the problem: facing the fact realistically that we inwardly thirst after God puts us in touch with a level of helplessness from which our sinful human nature shrinks. It reinforces the conviction that we are dependent on someone outside of ourselves for satisfaction. And that is something we don’t care to acknowledge.

Prayer

O Father, I recognize this elemental drive in my nature which causes me to resist standing in utter helplessness before You. But I sense that there can be no breakthrough in my life until I face this issue and deal with it. Help me, Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 42:2; 63:1; 143:1-6

What did the psalmist recognize?

What does it mean to “thirst”?

Mount Purity

Isaiah 35:8

Let me illustrate the doctrine of holiness by comparing its attainment to the ascent of a lofty mountain. Come with me. Yonder is the sacred mount, towering far above the clouds and fogs of sin and selfishness. In the center of this unlovable and undesirable country the mountain of which I want to speak lifts its lofty head. Call it “Mount Pisgah” or “Mount Beulah” or, if you will, call it, “Mount Purity”—I like that term the best.

Those living on its lofty summit have glorious glimpses of the Celestial City. The atmosphere is eminently promotive of vigorous health and lively spirits.

But the question arises: “How can I get there?” There is evidently no mountain railway nor elevator on which you can be rapidly and smoothly lifted up to the blessed summit. Those who reach that heavenly height must climb what the Bible calls the “Highway of Holiness.” And they will find it a rugged, difficult journey, often having to fight every inch of the way. But once on the celestial summit, the travelers will feel amply repaid for every atom of trouble and toil involved in the ascent.

The road to this glorious height passes through various plateaus or stages, each higher than the one that preceded it.

To begin with, there is the awakening stage, where the climbers obtain their first fair view of this holy hill. It is here that the desire to make the ascent first breaks out. A little higher up, and you reach the starting stage. Here those who fully resolve upon seeking holiness of heart first enter their names in the “Travelers Book.”

But still ascending, we come to the wrestling stage. Here the travelers are met by numerous enemies who are in dead opposition to their ever reaching the summit. So, persevering with our journey, higher up, we come to the sin-mastering stage. Here men and women walk with heads erect in holy confidence, and hearts glad with living faith, for God has made them conquerors over their inward foes.

But there is one plateau higher still which, like a tableland, covers the entire summit of the mountain, and that is the maturity stage. Here the graces of the Spirit have been perfected by experience, faith and obedience.

What do you say to my holy mountain? Are you living up there? It is the will of God that you should not only reach the very summit, but that you should abide there.

William Booth, The Seven Spirits