Monday, July 21, 2014, 7:44 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 11 (NIV). Obey Him This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Listen to the terms of this covenant and tell them to the people of Judah and to those who live in Jerusalem. Tell them that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Cursed is the one who does not obey the terms of this covenant— the terms I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.’ I said, ‘Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey’—the land you possess today.” I answered, “Amen, Lord.” The Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey me.” But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’” Many evangelical Christians today shy away from this word “obey.” They associate the word with the old covenant and the law, and so somehow they have come to the belief that the requirement to obey the Lord as part of believing faith is obsolete or that it is a product of works-based salvation. But, is it? The New Testament, from Romans forward, has much to say on the subject of OBEDIENCE. Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation were made known through the prophetic writings so that “all nations might believe and OBEY him” (Ro. 16:26). “You are slaves to the one whom you OBEY - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to OBEDIENCE, which leads to righteousness” (Ro. 6:16). God “will punish those who do not know God and do not OBEY the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 1:8) Jesus Christ, “once made perfect,” “became the source of eternal salvation for all who OBEY him” (Heb. 5:9). “We know that we have come to know” God “if we OBEY his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person” (1 Jn. 2:3-4). “Those who OBEY his commands live in him, and he in them” (1 Jn. 3:24). “This is love for God: to OBEY his commands” (1 Jn. 5:3). “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; OBEY it, and repent” (Rev. 3:3). “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who OBEY God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:17). As well, many evangelical Christians today believe that the new covenant God has made with his people, by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for our sins, has no terms; no commitment on our part other than to “believe,” although “believe” is not really explained very well, in most cases. But, are there terms? I believe there are, yet not for the purpose to earn our salvation, but as a heart response to God in believing faith because of what he did for us in dying on the cross for our sins so that we could go free, not only from the penalty of sin, but so we could be free from slavery to sin, and be free to walk in his righteousness and holiness – all in the power and working of the Spirit within us. Repentance Another word that many evangelical Christians shy away from today is the word “repent.” They also couple this with the concept that this is old covenant, associated with the law, and is thus a product of works-based salvation. But, is it? The New Testament, from Acts forward, has much to say on the subject of REPENTANCE, too. Although the word literally means to have a change of mind, it is most always used in scripture in reference to turning away from sin, and to turning to God in faith and obedience. “REPENT, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Ac. 3:19). “But now he commands all people everywhere to REPENT” (Ac. 17:30). “They must turn to God in REPENTANCE and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Ac. 20:21). “I preached that they should REPENT and turn to God and prove their REPENTANCE by their deeds” (Ac. 26:20). “Godly sorrow brings REPENTANCE that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Co. 7:10). “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to REPENTANCE” (2 Pet. 3:9). “Remember the height from which you have fallen! REPENT and do the things you did at first. If you do not REPENT, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Rev. 2:5). Jesus Christ died for our sins to free us from slavery to sin and to free us to walk and to live in his righteousness and holiness (See Ro. 6-8). He died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). He died so that we would die with him to the sins that once enslaved us, so that we would be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and so that he could give us new lives in him, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See Eph. 4:17-24). His grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin. His grace teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present age while we wait for his return (See Tit. 2:11-14). We are crucified with Christ so that WE no longer live, but Christ lives in us, and the life we now live we live by faith in him (See Gal. 2:20). If we say we are in fellowship with God but we continue to walk in sin (in lifestyle), we are liars, and we do not live by the truth (See 1 Jn. 1). These are the terms of the covenant. Refusal to Listen Then the Lord said to me, “There is a conspiracy among the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem. They have returned to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them… The word “listen” is used quite often in scripture. It means not merely to hear with physical ears, but to pay attention, to heed (follow) what is said, to take note of what you hear, and to take it into account. “For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you’” (See Ac. 3:22). This is speaking of Jesus. Yet, listening to Jesus and to his words is not enough. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (Jas. 1:22). To do means to obey. Jesus said, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (Jn. 8:47). Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish…” (Jn. 10:27-28). To follow Christ is to listen to him and to obey him. Yet, not all who profess Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives listen to or obey him. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Tim. 4:3). Committing My Way Because the Lord revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying, “Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.” But you, Lord Almighty, who judge righteously and test the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause… When we listen to our Lord Jesus, and we follow him in obedience and surrender to his will for our lives, we are at peace. There is no greater joy than to experience his great salvation, to be free from bondage to sin, and to walk in his righteousness and holiness in the power and working of his Spirit within us! Oh, how awesome is God’s amazing grace! Yet, to walk with Jesus means death to sin and to self, but to be alive with Christ. Amen! It also means to share in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. He said that we would be hated as he was hated, and that we would be treated much the same way he was treated. He was despised and rejected of humankind, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Men hid their faces from him. They mocked him and spat upon him. They falsely accused him and hounded him in order to try to find a way to discredit him. They said he was crazy and they accused him of being of Satan. They falsely arrested him, beat him, gave him a mock trial, and hung him on a cross to die, as though he was a common criminal, and although he had done no wrong. They hated him because he told them the truth about their sins. And, they hated him, too, because his teachings posed a threat to their own positions of power and influence over the people. So, we should not be surprised when the world or the worldly church treats us in the same manner. Yet, in all this, we are to commit our ways to him, believe in his sovereignty over our lives, follow him wherever he leads us, trust in his many promises, and rest in his love and mercy. Have Thine Own Way, Lord / Adelaide A. Pollard, 1862-1934 George C. Stebbins, 1846-1945 / Tune: ADELAIDE, Meter: 54.54 D Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou art the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will, While I am waiting, yielded and still. Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Search me and try me, Master, today! Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now, As in Thy presence humbly I bow. Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Wounded and weary, help me I pray! Power, all power, surely is Thine! Touch me and heal me, Savior divine! Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Hold o'er my being absolute sway. Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see Christ only, always, living in me!