Emmanuel Grace

Built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself being the Cornerstone

Love and Obedience (Part 2)

"Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who who built a house without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49
Since the day Adam and Eve first chose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil there has been a fight for life and truth. The battle will one day end when Jesus returns and reclaims all recreation- destroying death and darkness forever. As we draw closer to this day, the enemy is trying hard to keep the world in as much darkness as he can because he knows his time is short. He can’t stand that any would turn and live, turn and choose light. And so a battle is being fought every day.

We are part of this battle. There is a battle going on for our lives and the lives of every person, every one that we meet, and the Lord is calling those who follow him to stand up and help be the light in the darkness. A beacon for those who are searching for a way out of darkness. In this battle we must now choose which side we stand on. There is no middle ground. There are only two foundations to be built upon. The rock solid foundation or the one that goes with the currents. There is a flood coming that will test these foundations- how will our houses fare?
Our house will stand against the torrents that rush towards us if we hear and obey the one true God. Our house will crumble if we hear and disregard his commands.

The strong foundation is Jesus. immovable, Mighty. A rock. And we build on this foundation by walking in love and obedience to him. Having faith and endurance. The weak foundation is self. Shifting, unpredictable sands. We build on this foundation by listening to fear and pride and self, Choosing darkness instead of light. Temporary comfort instead of the cross.

One of the things God has been making very clear to me these last couple months is the importance of hearing and the importance of doing what we hear. So much of Jesus’ teachings begin and end with ‘hear’ and we’d be wise to pay attention. There is not time any more to pick and choose which words we’d like to obey. We are either all in or all out, there’s not room for lukewarm. This hearing that Jesus is asking us to do is more than just acknowledging words, that they sound good, comforting, beneficial to our happiness, inspiring etc…This hearing is something that goes past our ears and deep into our heart and life. It’s a hearing that transforms and stirs us to action out of faith and love for our saviour, our redeemer and King. We can hear words spoken on Sundays and they fill us with inspiration and motivation but we have only to leave the building and the truth of the words dissipate into the cobwebs of our mind, overshadowed by whatever else captivates our attention, our priorities, our love. There seems to be an inability to retain these words spoken by Jesus, especially the ones that aren’t so inspiring and beneficial to our current happiness and comfort. I wonder if we have not fully committed to the reality of what it is to call Jesus ‘Lord’. We love his promises for us but we aren’t quite on board with everything else that comes with those promises. There’s a lot of beautiful and comfortable things to enjoy on this earth. But Jesus is saying, there is so much more but it means walking a narrow, sometimes painful and difficult road for an eternal joy and reward that is indescribable. He walked this road in love for us and obedience to the Father and the outcome is more brilliant than we know. We can walk this road too if we are willing, we can walk there because he has walked it for us- praise God! There is so much more God has for us and he wants it for the entire world. Are we willing to seek Him to find it? Are we willing to give up our comfortable lives? To take the plow to the soil of our lives, the soil that for so long has been fallow, but contains so much richness ready to have seeds planted in it and fruit grown from it(Hosea 10:12)? God is not going to force us to the plow. We must take it, break up the fallow ground and use the faith that he has given us for what comes next.

I think the first hurdle(for myself anyways!) we will need to overcome in this plowing of the field, by abiding in his presence and truth of his word, is our fear of people. Our fear of ridicule, of being talked about badly. If we are to be lamps on a hill, we will be made vulnerable to attack and we need to be prepared.

John 15:18-19 Jesus says ‘If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before you. if you were of the world, the world would love you as it’s own, but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of this world, the world hates you.’

1 John 3:13 says that we should not be surprised that the world hates us.

Paul writes to Timothy, ‘Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12

In Luke 6:22-23, 26 Jesus says, ‘Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy for behold your reward is great in heaven, for so their fathers did to the prophets…Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for their fathers did to the false prophets.”

These verses prep us for the what the battle holds. If we take up God’s calling, to be lights in the darkness, if we obey this call-we will become targets for the enemy. And alternately, if we are living a life where all the people speak wonderfully about us…this might not be as great as we think. These words require a major shifting of our mindset. I don’t think I speak for only myself when I say that this goes against every 'people pleasing, ' fibre in my body.

Peter and John, and the apostles, were just ‘common men’ and everyday people like us, but they walked in the Spirit and trusted in him and had courage to ‘obey God rather than men’. (see Acts 4+5)* As fellow believers, we have that same Holy Spirit! And by this Spirit, I can pick up the plow and till into the ground and say, 'Lord, there is more to this life than getting by quietly, there is more to your promises, more to your joy and I can’t sit by this field any longer knowing that I could be pleasing you by standing and moving, helping you build! I value your opinions more than the opinion of any others. And Lord, forgive me for holding onto my life so tightly.”

'‘For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4

When we choose not to conform to the world and fold under the weight of people’s opinions, and instead be the light in the darkness that God is calling us to be, we will be hated and have enemies. But Jesus directs us in this as well(Read Luke 6:27-36) saying that we are to love those who hate us, just as we are to love everyone- from the outright hostile to the person who attacks your pride and ego, spreads lies about you, takes advantage of your kindness, etc.. all these…love them! The battle is for THEM as much as it is for us and it will only be won by the love of Christ, and his truth and light, not by hating them back and treating them in a likewise manner. The thing that will really set us apart from the world and draw people to Jesus, to the river of life, to the wonder of reconciliation and salvation he brings is the love that we show to those who are not deserving of it, as we walk in his presence. Isn’t that what Christ did for us? Even as we were nailing him on the cross, he loved us. It’s why we love him. He gave us Life when we only deserved death. He gives us grace, when we squander his gifts. He shows us mercy and repentance, when we forget his ways.

So we must be like Jesus and abide in his presence continually! Hear his words, build a foundation on him- not ourselves, or the preservation of our lives. Not anything else but Jesus. Love others no matter the cost to ourselves or our egos. Speak truth no matter the cost to ourselves. Give no matter the cost to our selves. This is God’s love.

When the flood comes, a tide of evil and hate, our obedience and love towards God will be what holds us above the waters on a solid foundation and keep our house from being washed away. It is critical.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing the same kinds of suffering are bring experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself, restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:6-11 This last part is the most wonderful- God himself will be there to envelope us and bring us into his warmth and comfort.. Oh, what a day! The God who calls us is faithful- he will see us through!

*Emphasis added by me

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