The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
Long into his Christian life and and ministry, the Apostle Paul expressed concern about becoming useless in regard to walking with his Lord and subsequent ministry to others.
"I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (unfit for use or service)" (I Corinthians 9:27).
By no means did Paul question the permanency of His saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
"I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (II Timothy 2:12).
Paul did realize, however, that as long as we live in this present world, believers are subject to temptation and sin. Of course, no one ever more believed, affirmed, and communicated the heart-changing and empowering miracle of grace that occurs when one trusts the Lord Jesus.
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).
"Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).
"Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).
"God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8).
Such power and newness of life notwithstanding, a "law of sin" remains in the earthly components we inherited from Adam (Romans 7:25). Left to itself, this downward disposition of our flesh constitutes believers as susceptible to unbelief and disobedience. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17). Thus, we can still sin, to the extent that no less than Paul realized that while he could not be set aside from the Lord's salvation, he could from the Lord's service.
We must seek to join Paul in strongly communicating the presence and enabling of the Holy Spirit, our newness of life in Christ, and the expectation of a life lived in increasing faith and faithfulness. We must establish this as the norm of Christian experience in our beliefs and convictions. However, we also realize our response is not an inevitability. Believers make real choices in our hearts to love, trust, and obey God in the power of the Holy Spirit. He does not program robots, but rather works in the hearts of spiritual sons and daughters to reveal His love, making possible the freely determined devotion affirmed by the Psalmist: "I will love Thee, o Lord my strength!" (Psalm 18:1). Certainly, much mystery characterizes God's role and our role in the relationship. Of this, however, there can be no question: a programmed love would be no love at all, as defined by Scripture and as known in both the Lord's heart and our own.
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and "to will and do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13).
Paul's assurance of God's working within believers "to will and to do" may be the most neglected and under-believed promise in the Bible. Note also, however, the "fear and trembling" that must acccompany our response. The Lord perfectly executes His office of keeping our salvation and powerfully works in us to bear the fruits thereof. Such Divine grace notwithstanding, our human response is far from perfect in this lifetime. Like Paul, we take the matter seriously because if we do not, unfortunate consequences will ensue. Yes, we embrace great confidence and assurance in God's working, and also, fear and trembling in the recognition of how solemnly and seriously we must respond for His working in us "to will and to do" to become our "I will love Thee."
This is written as an encouragement. The Lord Jesus eternally secures our relationship with God. We are new creatures in Him, His Spirit dwelling within a new man, created in righteousness and true holiness. He works in us to motivate and empower faithfulness. What a salvation! What a Savior! And, what a privileged responsibility we bear to honor our Lord by affirming His mighty working to empower faithfulness, and the necessity of our freely chosen response of love in sober awareness and serious determination.
"His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue."
(II Peter 1:3)
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, whom resist stedfast in the faith."
(I Peter 5:8-9)
Weekly Memory Verse
"Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."