“Love God, and do as you please.”

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When my friend spoke of another person whose life demonstrates the beauty of Jesus, a person of noble character, she grew emotional with tears filling her eyes. Genuine holiness does that! It captivates us, lifts us, makes us want to be a better person.

When I am with someone filled with the Spirit of God, not that noisy “Praise Jesus! Hallelujah! Aren’t you impressed with me?” kind of ‘spiritual,’ but the “profound love and care” kind, I want to love Jesus more! So, how does one become that way? Is it just ‘something you’re born with?’   Is it a spontaneous change that happens at a revival? Or, is it …   well, let’s look at that this morning.

Paul writes to us with the inspiration of the Spirit to say, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1-2, NIV) The change begins with an inner work, a conversion that happens when we receive the invitation of the Spirit to trust Jesus for our salvation. He has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves, set us right with God, and made us, once dead in sinful disobedience, alive to God, our Father. But, that is just the beginning! We must make the choice for life, for holiness, for transformation – not once, not twice, but daily!

In the strongest terms, Paul teaches us that the old ways must die! “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Colossians 3:5-8, NIV) Death is ugly. As a rule, we don’t keep corpses around. We mourn the loss and then we bury them! Are you cuddling with old sins, hanging onto them, instead of regarding them as dead and being rid of them?

We tend to excuse our pet sins, “that’s just the way I’m wired,” we say. We cover over our complicity with disobedience by thanking God for His mercy and grace. I am truly grateful that He is patient with us, but I also know He desires an emerging Christlikeness in us. He allows us to walk through difficulties that are designed to tear away our love for sin and make us long for Him.

Knowing this, James teaches us to stick it out, to see the purpose of those problems. We need real faith to accept the wisdom here. “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4, The Message) Will we beg God to change our circumstances, or to change us?

Time and again the Word challenges a claim to belief without a corresponding change of practice. This is the sin of hypocrisy.   Paul wrote to us saying “I beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” (Ephesians 4:1, NLT)   Look at how the Word contrasts the nature, base life with the noble, spiritual one: “People’s desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful deeds. They worship idols, practice witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with. People become jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they are envious. They get drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well. I told you before, and I am telling you again: No one who does these things will share in the blessings of God’s kingdom.”

Augustine is quoted as saying, “Love God, and do as you please.” His words are much misunderstood, as some who claim to be disciples choose to see only the ‘do as you please’ part. Love God! That must come first- a love that reaches heart, soul, mind, and strength, Jesus said. And, as we love Him a beautiful, whole, noble character like that of Jesus emerges.

Disciple, do you love Him?
Does your devotion show in a life that is worthy of your high calling?

The word from the Word prays for change that comes from the partnership of the Spirit and our will. Pray it with me.

“We have not stopped praying for you and asking God
to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might
so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father,  
who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”    (Colossians 1:9-12, NIV)

_____________

As The Deer
(pray this song as you listen)

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after Thee
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship Thee 

You alone are my strength my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship Thee

 You’re my friend and You are my brother
Even though You are a King
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything

 I want You more than gold or silver
Only You can satisfy
You alone are the real joygiver
And the apple of my eye

 Martin Nystrom © 1984 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

Pastor Jerry Scott
FAITH DISCOVERY CHURCH  www.FaithDiscovery.com

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