The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"The School of Christ"
"Learn to do well" (Isaiah 1:17).
Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ possess far more awareness of what it means to "do well" than did the Jews to whom God originally addressed the command.
"Walk even as He walked" (I John 2:6).
First, we know that "well" means the Lord Jesus, that is, He provides the standard for human doings. His way of thought, attitude, words, actions, and relating to God and people perfectly please God the Father, and serve as the prototype for what God made us to be. What is a human being? What are human beings to do? Look to the Lord Jesus. Learning to do well means that we "learn Christ" (Ephesians 4:20).
Learning to do well also means that we trust Christ. We possess no inherent ability whereby we can independently live as did our Savior. "Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). God not only made humanity to walk as did the Lord Jesus, but also to serve the living spiritual temple wherein He walks. "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16). We are as moons to the sun, existing to absorb and reflect the light of the Son's nature, character, and way. Thus, we "look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" whereby His doing well in us leads to our doing well through Him. "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (I John 4:9).
Finally, learning to do well by being conformed to the spiritual and moral image of Christ, and by trusting in His working within us, involves continuing education. "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). Wherever we may be in the school of Christ, we required ongoing discovery of what it means to "do well" in His holy light. His character and way bear infinite traits of loving goodness. Time and eternity will comprise ever varied and enhanced expressions of who the Lord Jesus is, and His working in our lives through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Today thus beckons us to class, and then to send us forth in the light of lessons learned of what it means to "do well" as Christ does well, and as He does so in us.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Weekly Memory Verse
I will love Thee, o Lord, my strength!"
Weekly Memory Verse
Does our proposal that we should not seek to love, trust, obey, and serve God by a sense of restitution or reimbursement leave us open to the accusation that we share a message that leads to licentiousness and irresponsibility. The answer is emphatically, Yes!
"We are slanderously reported, and… some affirm that we say, Let us do evil, that good may come" (Romans 3:8).
No less than the Apostle Paul, the primary herald of God's grace and truth in the Lord Jesus Christ, faced charges regarding His message of a "free gift" and "things… freely given" (Romans 5:18; I Corinthians 2:12). Enemies distorted Paul's message, of course, and even friends sometimes misunderstood the full content and intent of the salvation in Christ he communicated. This was inevitable because God's truth greatly challenges the human heart and mind. Strongly affirming grace must be accompanied by equally strong affirmation that God's free gift in Christ leads to faithful godliness. How this happens will require a lifetime of heeding the Apostle Peter's mandate: But grow in grace, and in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).
What is God's role of grace? What is our role of faith? How do the two paths unite to run parallel to one another, with Christ as the unifying and maintaining bond of truth? While we can and must find adequate answers to empower a life of faithfulness to God, we also never find complete explanations to this most vital inquiry in our present lifetime. Thus, we will be tempted to take advantage of grace - licentiousness - or we will be tempted to minimize the scope and power of grace - legalism. The former possibility concerns our present consideration. It seems that obligatory service to God - we owe Him - would be the best motivation whereby we might avoid falling into the pit of "Let us do evil that good may come." It doesn't work that way, however. Seeking to serve our Lord based on such sensibilities inevitably results in failure, frustration, and ultimately, a deep sense of futility regarding the possibility of genuinely walking with God in self sacrificial love. Paul's testimony in Romans 7 of seeking to live the Christian life by obligated legalism rather than grace confirms this well intentioned, but wayward path:
"For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me" (Romans 7:9-11).
"The letter killeth" (II Corinthians 3:6). Or, attempting to serve God by obligation rather than love slays our access to the power of the Holy Spirit made possible only by freely given gifts, received by humble trusting faith. "We have access by faith into the grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God… the Spirit giveth life" (Romans 5:2; II Corinthians 3:6). Let us then seal within our hearts and minds that which our Heavenly Father long ago sealed in His heart and mind. Salvation and ongoing relationship with Him comes to us the freest gift ever given. By any definition of "gift," we therefore owe Him nothing
Lord, I owe You everything.
No, My child, you owe Me nothing.
But Lord, every breath I've ever breathed,
Every good and perfect gift You've bequeathed, every…
No, My child, You owe Me nothing.
Still your heart just now, let it rest, and listen.
I am grace, I give no other way.
As Abraham and Issac journeyed into the mountain of sacrifice, no mention of praise, thanksgiving, or singing (the popular definition of worship) is mentioned in the text of Scripture. However, Abraham told his servants, "I and the lad go yonder to worship" (the first mention of worship in the Bible - Genesis 22: ). Of course, it may be that Moses simply does not record such expression in the Genesis account. Maybe Abraham and Isaac did praise, thank, and sing as they ventured unto the solemn place of sacrifice. We do not know this, however, and we cannot presume upon the Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures to suggest anything more than the narrative includes.
What then do we know about Abraham and Isaac's worship? Three things:
- Abraham trusted God.
- Abraham obeyed God.
- Abraham sacrificed his human inclinations to do the will of God.
- Abraham loved God in the action.
- Isaac loved God and his father Abraham by submitting to the sacrifice.
To love God self-sacrificially be trusting and obeying Him - this is worship. Indeed, one cannot fail to worship if he self-sacrificially loves God by trusting and obeying Him. Conversely, one can praise God without worshipping. One can thank God without worshipping. One can sing about God, and to God, without worshipping. All of these things can be done with insincerity and even by those who do not even know the Lord. Again, however, one cannot love God by trusting and obeying Him without genuinely worshipping. Little wonder then that the first mention of worship in the Bible omits anything other than the solemn journey into the mount of sacrifice, the journey of faith and obedience.
A believer walked down a city street one day. He looked ahead to see a man approaching him, a man he knew, but who the believer found unappealing and did not want to see. A nearby storefront offered him the possibility of quickly ducking inside before the distasteful fellow saw him coming. The believer began to do, but deep in his heart, something reminded him of Christ's love, grace, mercy, and truth. In the moment, the believer realized the encounter he sought to avoid was an encounter his Lord desired him to embrace.
"But Father, You know how hard it is to get away from Joe once he starts yakking, I mean, talking. And I have so much to do today!"
The sense of urgency regarding the encounter remained, however. The believer thus prayed another prayer, quickly because the other man drew near and the way of escape would not long linger.
"Father, I believe You want me to greet Joe, and I will. Lead me by Your grace to be a blessing of Christ to Him."
This is worship. Because in its holy essence, worship is love, the love of God known, received, and assimilated in our hearts so that it returns to Him and flows out to others. This makes worship possible in myriads of moments, in innumerable ways, and in untold opportunities whereby the Holy Spirit leads us into our own mountains of sacrifice, as led and enabled by His love. Can this involve praise, thanksgiving, and singing? Of course, and it often does. Limiting worship to these expressions, however, fails to meet the Biblical definition of this holy response to God, and means that we may fail to appreciate the fact of worship even as it takes place in our trusting, obedient hearts. This constitutes a tragedy of immense magnitude that must surely grieve our Heavenly Father, and should lead us to a place of repentance if we realize our error.