Tag Archives: serving God

A “To God” List

Here’s a video version of this post.

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Yesterday in our Sunday school class we were talking about the true meaning of the Sabbath. Some people believe the Sabbath is obsolete because it was part of the law. But Jesus kept the Sabbath, and never said we shouldn’t. He often said, however, that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. He also said the Jewish leaders burdened people with wrong ideas about the Sabbath. They condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, but He quite rightly pointed out that they would not hesitate to water and feed their livestock or pull them out of pits on the Sabbath. To these Jewish leaders, their Sabbath rules were a means to control people.

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Sometimes we think God is trying to control us. Many people say that is why they reject Jesus Christ and salvation, because they see it as a loss of freedom. They will be burdened with a heavy list of rules to follow, a life filled with “don’ts” that will make them miserable.

I want to share the whole 58th chapter of Isaiah because it is so fantastic on the subject of real reasons to do real things for God. But I’ll just share verses 13 and 14 and stick with the Sabbath discussion. God had a very different view of the Sabbath from the Pharisees and Sadducees, I think.

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“If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (NASB)

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Yes, we have to turn away from our own pleasure. But look! We can call the Sabbath a delight. People are fond of “name it, claim it” theology and visualization. This is a place where it works. Call the Sabbath a delight and it will be. You will also get to take delight in the Lord. Imagine how it would feel to “ride on the heights!”

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What is the heritage of Jacob? Maybe he’s not our father, if we are not literal children of Israel, but God gave Jacob, who was a most imperfect man, as are we all, huge blessings. Salvation is by grace, and was even for Jacob, and salvation puts us into God’s family. In Christ we can claim God’s blessings. God wants to feed us, and send us soaring like that daddy who swings his little one up in the air and makes him scream with joy.

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So instead of grumbling about all God is going to make us do, why don’t we make a change in our thinking? That’s all God really wanted us to do, with all the laws and regulations and commandments. Love God, love your neighbor. Jesus said these fulfill the commandments. It’s not a burden. It’s a delight.

Some people make “To Do” lists. What if we made a “To God” list, committing our day to God and seeking just to delight in Him, to honor Him, and see if we can’t get that ride to the height, and that feeding from His bounty?

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What would your “To God” list look like? We’d love to have you share it with us.

All images Public Domain from Pixabay

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Thou Shalt Love the Lord Thy God With All Thy Heart, Soul, Mind, Might or Strength

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Solomon described this same amount of effort to acquire wisdom. Wisdom is of utmost importance, therefore get wisdom, and with all your effort work to acquire understanding. (Proverbs 4:7 ISV)

Everyone knows the rigorous training the military puts their recruits through. The training of professional athletes is on billboards, TV and radio ads is deeply ingrained in every culture, ancient and modern. Olympic athletes train their entire lives. And just putting forth the effort is not enough. It is the way they train, the techniques, the coaching, and the encouragement from others.

But we as Christians simply “add Jesus” to our already busy, overcrowded lives. The Messiah might even be the most important part or the most important person in our lives. But do we put all of our effort into pleasing Him?

One aspect is knowing His Word. If God makes His Word available to us, that comes with the obligation of studying it and becoming familiar with it. That includes setting aside regular time in it.

A second aspect is the regular assembling together with other believers. When Jesus said, “where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20 ISV), he was not being figurative or allegorical. He meant what He said.

Another aspect is regular prayer. The context of Matthew 18:20 is asking God. That is prayer. I tell you with certainty, whatever you prohibit on earth will have been prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will have been permitted in heaven. Furthermore, I tell you with certainty that if two of you agree on earth about anything you request, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven, because where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them. (Matthew 18:18-20 ISV)

Another aspect is by continued obedience to become skillful. In fact, though by now you should be teachers, you still need someone to teach you the basic truths of God’s word. You have become people who need milk instead of solid food. For everyone who lives on milk is still a baby and does not yet know the difference between right and wrong. But solid food is for mature people, whose minds are trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14 ISV)

Often being able to distinguish good from evil requires being filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Evil is clever, sophisticated, seductive, enticing, knowledgeable, desirable. Evil is everything you have always wanted and includes wonders we did not even know about. Lucifer (light bearer) was the anointed Cherub, clothed with dazzling jewels fixed in engraved gold settings. The light bearer in his shining clothes walked among the fiery stones.

The last and most important aspect of loving the Messiah is to guard our own hearts. Every king of Israel, without any exception, fell into sin. Our accuser, Satan was once perfect. Your heart grew arrogant because of your beauty; you annihilated your own wisdom because of your splendor. (Ezekiel 28:17 ISV)

I do all this for the sake of the gospel in order to have a share in its blessings. You know that in a race all the runners run but only one wins the prize, don’t you? You must run in such a way that you may be victorious. Everyone who enters an athletic contest practices self-control in everything. They do it to win a wreath that withers away, but we run to win a prize that never fades. That is the way I run, with a clear goal in mind. That is the way I fight, not like someone shadow boxing. No, I keep on disciplining my body, making it serve me so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:23-27 ISV)

We must be properly motivated and trained, but the most well-trained and properly-motivated athlete can disqualify himself. Life does not consist of recommendations and resumes, but accomplishments. But if we disqualify ourselves, sin will negate our accomplishments. So whether we are at home or away from home, our goal is to be pleasing to him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of the Messiah, so that each of us may receive what he deserves for what he has done in his body, whether good or worthless. (2 Corinthians 5:9, 10 ISV)

 

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