Labor of Love

Thursday, February 2, 2017, 7:21 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Thessalonians 1 (NASB).

Paul and Silvanus and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

Work of Faith

Love is action. Faith is action. Hope is action. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. We show we love God by obeying Christ’s commandments. God chided the Israelites because they honored him with their lips, but their hearts were far from him. This was evident in how they treated the Lord. They had forms of religion, but they had wicked hearts that did what they wanted, and they did not walk in obedience to the Lord. If we love God, we obey him. If we believe Jesus died on the cross to deliver us from sin, we turn from our sin and we turn to God to walk in obedience to him – all in the power and working of the Spirit of God in our hearts, as we surrender our hearts to the Lord Jesus to follow Him in His ways. If we are genuinely concerned that others know Christ, we will actively be sharing our faith with them, too. Love, faith and hope are not things we just feel, they are what we do. Words can be cheap, but actions speak louder than words.

Our Gospel

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not just a story we tell our kids. It is not just a religion we adhere to, either. It has the only power on earth to transform human lives away from living in sin to walking in obedience to the Lord. It has power, as well, to remove us from death and to bring us into life, to save us from our sins, and to give us completely new lives in Christ Jesus.

As humans, we are all born sinners. We are all separate from God, without hope of eternal life with God. We all fall short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own human effort. Our good will never outweigh our bad. We cannot earn or deserve or work our way into heaven and into God’s graces. So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) to the earth, to take on human form, and to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us.

But, Jesus did not stay dead. The Father resurrected him from the dead. So, when we believe on Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we also die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). The old has gone. The new has come. Now we no longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, but now we walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with and in the power of) the Spirit of God in our lives. This is what it means to be “born again.”

In the power of the Spirit of God at work within us, we turn to God/Jesus, we leave the life of sin we had been living behind us, and we now walk in the opposite direction, i.e. we now walk in the Spirit and in the ways of the Lord, not perfectly, but persistently and continuously relying on our Lord to lead us in his ways and to empower us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to Him. This is the “Good News!” Yet, if we believe we are saved from the penalty of sin, and we have the hope of eternal life when we die one day, but we are not delivered out of slavery to sin now, nor are we empowered to live in Christ while we live on this earth, then that is not good news, for we are still dead in our sins, and the hope of eternal life with God is a lie.

The reason the gospel of Jesus Christ has power to transform us away from sin to God is because Jesus Christ died on a cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk (in lifestyle) not according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God.

Godly Examples

If there is one thing we are shy (or short) on these days, it is godly examples for us to follow, at least here in America, anyway. So much of today’s church has gone the way of the world, and so many of our pastors are trapped in sinful practices, in particular sexual addictions. Pornography addiction is very high in numbers among our pastors, many of whom lack severely in real accountability for their actions, and most of whom probably have complete private internet access around the clock with little to no accountability for what they are viewing. So, is it any wonder that so many of them have turned to teaching a false grace gospel which requires no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ and to his cross?

“Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases to be, For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak falsehood to one another; With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak” (Ps. 12:1-2).

Where are the holy men of God in our pulpits who are committed to living godly, pure and holy lives, pleasing to God, as well as to preaching holiness and purity? They seem to be all but gone. So many of today’s preachers have turned into business men trying to sell (market) the “church” to the world, living to please their customer base, instead of living to please their Lord. Many of them are leading their congregations in the ways of men instead of in the ways of God. These men spend much more time reading marketing books than they do reading the Word of God and committing their lives to prayer. And, the people are following them by the thousands and the millions. It is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. It seems that many church gatherings are nothing more than cleaned up entertainment for the world and for worldly Christians.

We need to get back to holiness, godliness and purity. We need to be people of God who set godly examples for others to follow. We should have reputations as people who honor God with our lives, who have turned to God from our idols (our gods of human making) to serve the living and true God. We should have faith, hope and love which is not just in our minds or in our emotions, but is revealed as genuine by our actions. People should be won to Christ by our lives as well as by our words. We should also live as though we truly believe that God’s grace is not just a get-out-of-jail-free card, but that his grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s soon return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). We need to be men and women of God who love our Lord and who honor him by our lives.

Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!

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