Wednesday, February 11, 2015, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 6:43-49 (NASB). Each Tree is Known For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. There are certain passages of scripture, which on the surface, may seem to be so black and white, until understood in their proper context. The point of this scripture, I believe, is not to say that, if you are a Christian, that you will never have anything bad in your heart and that your speech will always be pure and good. Then we would be perfect, but we are not yet perfect, as Paul so wisely expressed, as is recorded for us in Phil. 3:12. That is why we are BEING transformed into Christ’s likeness (See: 2 Co. 3:18), because we are a work in progress. We have not yet arrived, but we press on in our walks of faith in Christ so that the purpose for which Jesus Christ died for us on the cross might take hold (have its effect) in our lives, which is that we would forsake our former lives of living for sin and self and that we would now live for Christ in his righteousness, in the power of the Spirit within us. Yet, we should never allow lack of perfection to be an excuse for continued willful sin! For instance, in 1 John we read that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we lie and we do not live by the truth. It says, as well, that if we say we love God, but we do not do what he says, we are liars, and we don’t really know God, and he doesn’t know us - in an intimate (personal) relationship. Yet, it also acknowledges the fact that, even though we have been saved by grace, that we are still able to sin and that we will still sin at times, though the goal is ultimately that we would not sin, which is why Jesus died for us, to free us from the control of sin over our lives and to free us to walk daily in his holiness. So, in the context of the whole of 1 John we must reach the conclusion that these verses are talking about lifestyle. If our lifestyle is one where we continue in willful sin, thinking we have the freedom to do so, then we are not in true fellowship with God. If our lifestyle is such that we do not believe we have to do what God’s word teaches us, and so we live how we want, then we don’t really know God and he doesn’t really know us. I believe the same is true with regard to this passage of scripture in Luke 6. If we are true followers of Jesus Christ, and his Spirit lives within us, this should be evidenced by how we live our lives (by our lifestyles). We should desire to know our Lord Jesus and to walk in his ways and to do what is right and just and pure, and we should back up that heart desire with our actions, i.e. we should live like this is true in our lives. Spending time with our Lord each day in prayer and in his word should not be a drudgery for us, but we should long to be with Jesus and to listen to him and then we should willingly obey him and do what he says. It should be evident by our lifestyles that we love Jesus, that we love his word, and that we live to serve and to please him, as well as it should be evident that we love his children and the people of this world, and that we care deeply about what God cares deeply about it. If this is not true at all about us, i.e. if this doesn’t represent how we live our lives, then we are most likely not true servants of the Lord. So, this calls for a heart examination. His Mouth Speaks The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. The Biblical principle here, I believe, is that our mouths speak from that which is filled up in our hearts. Christians can sometimes have bad things in their hearts, perhaps due to abuse they suffered as a child or even as an adult, or due to unforgiveness towards others, or because of sin they have given way to, or perhaps because of bad things they have allowed to enter into their thoughts, eyes and ears due to being slack in their commitments to Christ and in their walks of faith. When we are put under pressure or when our guard is not up, out can come from our mouths what is buried down deep in our hearts, some of which we may not have even been aware was there until it surfaced. When this happens, though, our immediate response should be to call upon our Lord in sorrow and in repentance, and to pray for God to deliver us from what has gotten buried in our hearts, which requires our full cooperation with the work of the Spirit in purifying our hearts and in making us holy. Yet, it is also true that the lifestyle of one who is committed to Christ should have stored up in his or her heart what is of God, and this is what should mostly be what comes out of that person’s mouth, as well as it should normally produce in deed and in action what is godly and loving toward God and toward others. Yet, again, not one of us has yet reached absolute perfection. We are all works in progress, yet again this is never to be used to excuse away willful sin against God. The flip side is true, as well. Sometimes the ungodly of this world can actually say and do more in the way of good than many who profess to know Jesus Christ, at least by what many might call “good.” Yet, by lifestyle, it should be evident that the ungodly do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, that they do not honor him as the holy God he is, and that they are not committed to obeying his word, and to following him in his ways and in his truth. Thus their words and actions will not be godly and holy. Actions Louder Than Words “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” There are many people in this life who make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but they do not do what God says (in lifestyle). They are still in control of their own lives, i.e. their flesh and Satan still have full reign over their lives. They live how they want without concern for God’s plans and purposes for their lives, or else they live with little regard for what God wants and requires of his followers. Some of them have been taught this, and they have bought into the lies, because the lies promise them heaven when they die, yet requires nothing of them at all other than to “believe,” but a belief absent of true Biblical faith. This false grace and false belief and false hope have permeated much of evangelical Christianity here in America, because they tickle itching ears and tell people what their flesh wants to hear. Those who teach this false grace have so twisted the scriptures to say what will make people feel good, and which makes the “gospel” much more palatable and acceptable to the people of this sinful world. They so manipulate God’s word so as to give people the impression that repentance and obedience are to be equated with works-based salvation and thus should be discarded as untruth, even though much of the New Testament teaches repentance and obedience as necessary requirements for salvation, i.e. for true relationship and fellowship with God/Christ. The point of these words of Jesus is to reinforce for us that he cannot be “Lord” of our lives if we do not do what he says. As Lord, he is our master (owner) and we are his bond-servants. He purchased us with a price, his blood shed for us on the cross, so that we are no longer our own to do with our lives what we want. Jesus died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See: 2 Co. 5:15). He died to free us from slavery to sin and to make us slaves of righteousness (See: Ro. 6-8); so that we might no longer walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit. His grace is not a free license to live however we want, thinking his grace covers it all. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for his soon return. He died to “redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (See: Tit. 2:11-14). Coming to faith in Jesus Christ is not just words we say or an emotional experience we go through once in our lives. It means death to sin and being alive to Christ, to walk in his ways. We not only must hear his words, but we must do them. Jesus said his sheep listen to him and they follow (obey) him. When we understand this, and when we put into practice into our daily lives what the Word of Christ teaches us we must do as his followers, then when the storms of life come at us, and they will, our faith will remain strong and steadfast as will our commitments to our Lord to live holy lives pleasing to him. Yet if we listen, but we do not do what his word teaches us, then when trials and difficulties come our way, our faith will come crashing down and we will not be able to withstand them but will give way to our flesh and will do what our sin nature desires instead, and it will be to our ruin. So, don’t be hearers of the word only, but be doers of the word. Love Jesus with all your heart, and do what he tells you. Follow him wherever he leads you, and walk in his ways. My Jesus, I Love Thee William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine; For thee all the follies of sin I resign. My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou; If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. I love thee because thou hast first loved me, And purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree; I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow; If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow, If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now. In mansions of glory and endless delight; I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright; I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow; If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.