Monday, June 02, 2014, 7:47 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put this song in mind: Here comes the bride, All dressed in white, Sweetly, serenely in the soft glowing light. Lovely to see, marching to thee, Sweet love united for eternity. (Baker, 1946, Wagner, 1850) The picture here is that of a bride marching down the aisle of the sanctuary or worship center of a traditional church building, or of any other structure or setting which might be used for weddings. She is dressed in white, which is a symbol of being clothed in purity. She is marching down the aisle, i.e. she is moving in a direct and purposeful fashion, making continual progress, moving forward with great determination to reach her intended goal. She is marching down this aisle to be forever united with her true love. She has made all the necessary preparations for this day, and now she is on her way to be with him forever. She has eyes only for him. He is the focus of her attention. No one could distract her from her mission and her goal to be forever united with her love. No one could get her to go off the aisle to walk on a different path. She has singleness of mind, heart and devotion. All she wants is to be forever united with the one she loves – to be with him, sharing life together, pleasing him, sharing experiences, getting to know him, and wrapped in each other’s arms. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1 (NIV84). Chosen for Obedience Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. We are saved by God’s grace, through faith. This grace and faith to believe is not of our own doing, though. It is a gift from God, lest we should boast that we somehow were saved by our own effort (See Eph. 2:8-9). Yet, this does not mean we do nothing, for in v. 10 it states that we are God’s handiwork, “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” In fact, God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live upright and godly lives in this present age (See Tit. 2:11-14). As well, it should be noted that Jesus Christ died, not just to give us the hope of eternal life in heaven, but he died so that we who live should no longer live for ourselves but for him who died for us and was raised again (See 2 Co. 5:15; cf. Gal. 2:20). Thus, we are saved, not just from eternity in hell, but we are saved from slavery to sin so that we can walk daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness while we still walk the face of this earth (See Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1-5). Jesus said his sheep listen to his voice, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him (Jn. 10). So, we are called, not just so we have eternity with God in heaven, but we are called to walk daily in obedience and surrender to him and to his will for our lives. This daily walk is pictured in the illustration of the bride walking the aisle to be with the love of her life, her husband, forever and ever. We Love Him 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls… As the bride of Christ, our walks of faith are like that of the bride marching down the aisle (pathway) of the sanctuary (pure; sacred; safe and holy place) to meet her husband, i.e. this is symbolizing our union with Jesus Christ and our walks of faith in his righteousness and holiness, protected by his power (his sanctuary; place of safety). We are dressed in white, which is a symbol of being clothed (arrayed) in the purity of Christ; i.e. having his righteousness credited to our accounts, by his grace, through faith. We are marching down this pathway of holiness, i.e. by his grace we are moving in a direct and purposeful fashion, making continual progress, moving forward with great determination to reach our intended goal, which is a shared life with our husband, Jesus Christ, both here and forevermore. In other words, his grace gives us all we need to walk determinedly in a forward and purposeful manner, in the way of his holiness, making continual progress by faith in Him. We have made all the necessary preparations for this day, i.e. we have believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, by his grace through faith, and we have determined to make it the goal of our lives to walk in his holiness and in his righteousness as he empowers us to do so. So we are now on this pathway of walking in his holiness with the end in sight that we will be with him forever in glory. So, we rejoice! We have eyes only for him. He is the focus of our attention, affections, dreams, and desires. No one can distract us from our mission and our goal to be forever united with our first love. No one can get us to go off the path to walk on a different path, i.e. to wander away from the way of holiness. We have singleness of mind, heart and devotion. All we want is to be forever united with the one we love – to be with him, sharing life together, pleasing him, sharing experiences, getting to know him, and to be wrapped in each other’s arms (loving one another) both now and forevermore. This is what our walks of faith should look like. Do they? We Purify Yourselves 13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. As we walk (march) down this aisle, i.e. this pathway of holiness, clothed in the purity of Christ, Christ is preparing us for what lies ahead, so we are encouraged to cooperate with his work in our lives by preparing our own minds for action. We do this through yielding control of our lives over to the Spirit of God, submitting to God’s will and purposes for our lives, and through getting rid of all hindrances to our faith, and those willful sins that so easily entangle us, so that we can run this race (march down this aisle) with perseverance (See Heb. 12:1) and with determination, making continual progress by his grace. Imagine with me if the bride, during the march, went off to the side and ran off with another man, even temporarily, or if she decided she was tired of walking the isle and so she just decided to sit this one out for a while, while everyone stood watching and waiting for her to get back on the path (the aisle). Yet, this is what many of us do. We get distracted by the things of this world and we run off with “other loves” of our worldly desires and passions, or else we just get tired and so we get lazy and unconcerned about our walks of faith and our relationships with Jesus Christ, and so we just sit out for a while. Yet, we need to get back on the path of holiness, and walk the walk of faith, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, desiring him above all else. And, we need to shake off all those things that would distract us, and that would move us toward spiritual laziness, or that would lead us into spiritual adultery with the gods of this sinful world (worldly passions and desires). We need to set our hope fully on the grace to be given us when Jesus Christ is revealed. This picture of the bride walking the aisle serves as a great illustration for what that should look like in our walks of faith with Jesus Christ. It means our eyes are only for HIM, and we serve him with singleness of heart, mind and devotion, and all we want is to be with him, to please him, to walk this life with him, and to live with him forever. Amen! I am so thankful the Lord Jesus gave me this illustration this morning, because it really brings home to my heart what this passage in 1 Peter is talking about, and what setting my hope fully on the grace to be given me when Jesus Christ is revealed should look like. It should look like a bride walking the aisle with her eyes, heart and mind set on just one thing – her love, and being with him the rest of her life, forever and ever, amen! It means I choose to leave my life of singleness behind me, and I choose to be united with my husband as one. I no longer live as though I am single and I can date other men, or as though I can just go here or there whenever I please without regard for my husband. It means I don’t make most important decisions in this life without first consulting him, so that we are in agreement, and if I am not in agreement, apart from being asked to sin, I must yield to the judgment of my husband and I must submit to his decisions. It means that my desire is now for my husband, to please him, to walk with him, and to go where he goes, with the exception of not following him into sin (this applies to all of us). As obedient children, this is what it means for us to no longer conform our lives to the evil desires we had when we lived in ignorance (in singleness). We no longer “date” other lovers, but our eyes are for Jesus only. Just as he who called us is holy, so we should be holy in all that we do, i.e. we should live our lives set apart for God and for his service, and we should be separate from the world of sin (be different), by his grace, through faith. Is this where you are today? Does this illustration of a bride, clothed in purity, marching the aisle to meet her husband, with singleness of heart, mind and devotion, with her thoughts fixed only on her groom, with eyes only for him, describe your relationship with Jesus Christ and your walk of faith in his righteousness and holiness? If not, I pray you will turn from whatever direction you have been walking to get on (or back on) this aisle (pathway), and that you will move in a forward direction, with great determination, continually making progress, going toward the goal of being with your Lord forever and ever, in his power and strength within you, by his grace, through your faith in him as your only Lord and Savior.