Sunday, August 13, 2017, 11:57 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Bless This House.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (NASB) regarding being fit for the kingdom of God.
Don’t Look Back (Luke 9:57-62)
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
When God calls us to go, we must go where he sends us, and not look back, i.e. and not second-guess God or his wisdom. If we want to follow Jesus Christ with our lives, we must deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. It is not ours to choose what that looks like, either. In other words, when Jesus Christ becomes our Savior, he also becomes our Lord (owner-master). When he died on that cross, he bought us back for God with his shed blood, so we are no longer our own, to live how or where we want. We are now to honor God with our lives in all that we do. And, we must be willing to accept the path he has marked out for us, being prepared to give up all the comforts of this world.
Following Jesus wherever he leads us often means sacrifice, and not only leaving the comforts of this life behind us, but leaving friends and family, too, in order to follow our Lord in obedience. Going with God is not always logical, humanly speaking, nor is it always practical, by human terms, and so we may face rejection or criticism, misunderstandings and even resentment from our friends and family because they won’t understand why we must follow Jesus over and above human attachments. They won’t get why it is so important to go where God sends us, and they may even question whether or not we are hearing from God, and they may take offense at our decisions, thinking our decisions are directed against them.
Yet, when we respond to the call of God on our lives with a “but,” then we are not really saying “Yes” to Jesus. What I mean by this is if we say to the Lord that we love him, and that we are his, and that we are the sheep of his pasture, and that he is our shepherd, but then we qualify that statement with a “but” or an “if,” then we are not really serious about being followers of Christ. It can’t be, “I’ll follow you, but first let me do this or that,” or “I’ll follow you, but only if it remains in my comfort zone and it fits with my standard of living.” To follow Jesus means to be fully abandoned (yielded, given over) to him, no matter the cost, or no matter where he sends us, or what he calls us to do, or the sacrifices we must make. If we make up our own rules for following him, and we set the standard we would agree to follow, then we are not really fit (ready for use) for the kingdom of God.
In a Manner Worthy (Phil. 1:27-30)
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—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
How we conduct ourselves is how we live our lives. It has to do with our attitudes, thinking, speaking and behaviors (actions). These must be in a manner (way, behavior) worthy (suitable, fitting) with the gospel of Christ. So, what is the gospel of Christ? In a nut shell, it is that Jesus died on a cross for our sins, and was resurrected from the dead, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 1 Pet. 2:24; Eph. 4:17-24). So, our attitudes, thoughts, speaking and behaviors should reflect that we are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. This is not to say that we will never sin or have a wrong thought or attitude, but that our manner of living, i.e. our lifestyle, should reflect that the gospel is being lived out in our lives.
If we are conducting ourselves in a manner worthy (fitting) with the gospel of Jesus Christ, then we should be standing firm in our faith, and on the Word of God, and we should not be vacillating back and forth between the world and the kingdom of God. We should be sold out to Christ and to his service, no matter where that leads us. And, if there are those who oppose us, and who criticize, reject, mock or mistreat us because of our faith and our obedience to our Lord, we should not let that undo us. We should not allow ourselves to become unsettled or hindered in our walks of obedience to our Lord just because we face opposition (hostility, resistance). Jesus faced much opposition, but he willingly laid his life down for us for our freedom.
Although having faith in Christ gives us a life filled with much joy and peace, this new life in Christ is not just one big party where having “fun” all the time is our ultimate goal, or where we always live in comfort and at ease. It is not only granted to us, by God’s grace, to believe in him, but also to suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. Thus, we will have conflicts, and opponents, and we will face undue criticism, rejection, hatred, misunderstandings, and even false accusations. Other people will make up their own minds about us, and concerning what they feel are our motivations, and they may gossip about us and slander us, too, but we have no control over that. So, we must submit our lives to Christ, trust in the sovereignty of God, and walk in obedience to his leading.
To Please Him (Col. 1:9-14)
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
We are not only to walk (conduct ourselves) in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, but we are to walk in a manner (way) worthy (fitting) of our Lord, who gave his life up for us so that we could be freed from sin. He not only has transformed our lives (turned us) from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we could receive forgiveness of sins, but he is our example for us to follow in how we should conduct (live) our lives. “What would Jesus do?” is/was not just a popular cliché, but it is the model for us to follow in how we live our own lives, day in and day out. If we are not comfortable with the idea that Jesus is right there with us, as we go throughout our day’s activities, then we need to alter the way we live.
So, how do we know the manner of living that would be fitting the gospel of Christ or worthy of our Lord? We know it by the witness of God’s Holy Spirit living within us, and we know it by the Word of God. So, we need to be studying the Word of God (the Bible – Genesis to Revelation), listening to our Lord speak his words to our heart, and we need to be doing what it says. It is NOT true that God is pleased with us no matter what we do. So, we need to find out what pleases our Lord, and then we need to walk in that, all in the power and the working of God’s Holy Spirit living within us.
When we walk (conduct our lives) in a manner (way) worthy (fitting) of our Lord and of his gospel, and we live to please him fully, we will produce fruit (results, outgrowth) in our lives which will be in conformity or harmony with a life which has been crucified with Christ in death to sin and resurrected with Christ to newness of life. We will no longer live (in lifestyle) to please our sinful flesh and to do what will gain us popularity and acceptance in this world. But, our desire will be for our Lord, to walk in his ways and in his truth. Yet, we don’t have to conjure this up ourselves. This is the working of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, as we yield our hearts to God, and we follow our Lord in surrender and in obedience. He will give us all we need in this life to live godly and holy lives pleasing to him.
Bless This House
Helen Taylor / May H. Morgan
Bless the people here within,
Keep them pure and free from sin . . .
Bless us all that we may be,
Fit O Lord to dwell with Thee . . .