Know Your Bible

VOL. 5                           September 24, 2006                           NO. 36

"But I Have Not Left The Lord"

    The president of the company calls an employee into the office to inform him that his employment has been terminated. Upon receiving the news of his dismissal, the employee questions the reason for his being released. Pulling out time sheets for the employee, the president shows that he has missed weeks of work with no accountability. "But I have not left the company, sir," the employee replies. "I have been busy with ballgames, school, working in the yard, and other things that have kept me from coming into work. Besides, I still believe in the company and I believe in what you are doing for the company. I am still a company man. In addition, could you please make certain that my paycheck is mailed and my retirement plan is filled? It does not look like I will be able to come into work so keep those things coming, please. When I get things worked out in my life, I will be back at my desk."

    The preceding example is an illustration of how some people feel about their service to the Lord. No company of worth would continue to keep a person who had the kind of attitude expressed by the above story. It would be nice to work for a company that would allow one to come to work when it was convenient for them and still receive all the benefits and privileges of the company. Yet, men feel they can abandon the work of the Lord and still be in a covenant relationship with God. They expect the Lord to bless them without any obligation on their part.

    Jehovah has always required devotion from his followers. He expects man to obey His will. The cause of sin in the world is when Adam and Eve disregarded the will of God in the garden (Genesis 3). Noah could not shirk his responsibility in building the ark (Genesis 6). Nadab and Abihu decided to be cavalier about their duties to the Lord in Leviticus 10 and were killed by God with fire. Uzzah lost his life because he disobeyed the will of God (2 Samuel 6). Jesus declared that only those who do the "will of the Father" will be saved (Matthew 7:21-23).

    If someone neglects the commands of God, does he still love God? If a person physically absents himself from the duties of the Lord, is he still in a loving relationship with the Lord? If a man leaves his wife for six weeks returning with no explanation is there love in this relationship?

    Often people delude themselves into believing they still love the Lord and yet fail to do His will. Jesus said: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me" (John 14:23,24).

    Our service to God is not on our terms. Bearing a cross is not something that we can put down and take up whenever we choose. Too many people serve God as long as it is convenient to them. The cross Jesus bore was not convenient nor was it something He could put down because it interfered with His life. HE BORE HIS CROSS ALL THE WAY TO GOLGOTHA. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:10).

    How dare we mock the cross of Jesus by pretending we can serve Him on our feeble excuses and say we love God? REPENT!

---Kent Heaton

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Walking Worthy Of The Gospel

    Recently, I ran across an interesting story about Matthew Henry, the famous Bible scholar and commentator. He was once accosted by thieves and robbed. Later in his diary he wrote, "Let me be thankful first, because I was I was never robbed before; second, because they took my purse and not my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed." For Matthew Henry, it was far more important to concentrate on his respect for God's will than to dwell on what happened to him. Few would think to be thankful that they were the "robbee" rather that the robber!

    But this is exactly the attitude every child of God should have. Getting into and staying in God's will should be foremost for every Christian. Paul wrote to the Philipians, "Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents..." (Phil 1:27,28).

    Notice Paul said that conducting oneself in a worthy manner includes standing firm and striving. To strive means to exert effort, to struggle or work hard, or to keep on keeping on in the face of adversity. This was not something new to Paul. As he was on his way to Jerusalem, the prophet Agabus warned him that certain imprisonment awaited him there. Paul was undeterred. He said, "I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (See Acts 21:10-14). He was more concerned with seeing that God's will be accomplished than even for his own life! What determination! When this determined apostle wrote to the Christians in Ephesus, he said, "I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called..." (Eph 4:21). The calling for these early Christians was the same as it has been for all Christians of every era: To live holy lives, free from the destruction of sin and its influence. The Ephesians had an opportunity almost immediately to put to the test their determination to seek God's will.

    When Paul came to Ephesus during his third evangelizing journey, he converted many during his two years there. The new Christians realized that there were lifestyles incompatible with God's will and so "Many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver" (Acts 19:19). They were fixed on following the Lord no matter what it might cost them!

    The result of their public display of resistance to sinful influences was that "the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing" (Acts 19:20). Can there be any doubt that the friends and neighbors of these early Christians saw the effects of sheer resolve in them? It is one thing to tell someone, "I'm a Christian." It is quite another to show one's desire to do God's will by shucking everything in their lives that is opposed to God's revealed will, but that is exactly what the Ephesians did. They showed, in a very graphic way, their willingness to walk in a manner worthy of the one to which they had been called.

    What many Christians today fail to realize is that this can be true in each of our lives as well. The simple secret to it is determination to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." This must include "throwing out" all the practices in our lives that stand against God and His plan for us. "Wait a minute!" you might say, "I'm a member of the church of Christ and I believe in sound doctrine." That's great, but is there a six-pack of beer in your refrigerator? Or a lottery ticket in your purse or wallet? Or a CD with profane lyrics in your CD player? Or a sexually racy movie in your VCR? Or maybe you're keeping the "Swimsuit issue" of your favorite sports magazine "for the articles"!

    Walking in a manner worthy of the gospel must be more than paying lip service to God. We must "put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Rom 13:14). No, it's not always an easy thing to do, especially once the "ways of the world" have become so entrenched in our routines that it seems impossible to leave them behind, but once you do, your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers will notice and then the message of the life-changing gospel can spread more freely.

---Zeke Flores

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