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What is it about knocking down a stack of blocks that little children find almost irresistible? If it were simply the crash itself, would they be so indignant when a playmate prematurely kicks the foundation out from under it? Adults don't have to be around children and blocks for very long before they establish some version of this basic rule: The one who builds something is the one who has the right to knock it down or to say when it will be toppled. Like it or not, most children will acknowledge that such a rule is just. Even children understand the right of a creator to rule over his creation.
Then why do we have such a hard time admitting that God, the creator of the universe, has the right to rule over His creation—including us? The Apostle Paul declared to the men of ancient Athens, "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else." (Acts 17:24-25)
He gives us life. And breath. And everything else, whether we believe it or not, Jesus Christ is Lord over all the earth. "For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him...so that in everything He might have the supremacy." (Col. 1:16, 18) Someday, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Phil. 2:10-11)
For those of us who have received Jesus as Savior and Lord, He is not only Lord over us by right of creation, but also by right of redemption. He paid for us with His own blood. After urging the Corinthian believers to live a chaste life, Paul reminded them that God has the right to make the rules for us to live by. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." (I Cor. 6:19-20)
"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" Jesus asked His disciples. (Luke 6:46) Calling Him 'Lord,' acknowledges His right to make the rules; but without humble obedience, such words as ‘Lord’ are empty.
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, "^ did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)
Those words disturbed me years ago as I lay in a hospital bed for three months, and they still disturb me today. Prophesying, driving out demons, and doing miracles are impressive "ministries"—and they were done in Jesus' name. But Jesus is not looking for flash or flesh; He is looking for humble obedience.
"Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock... But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish mean who built his house on sand." (Matt. 7:24, 26, emphasis added) You know the rest of the story. The storms beat against both houses. One stood firm; one collapsed. So how important is humble obedience? It is essential.
Children understand the right of the creator to rule over his creation. The right of an owner to exercise authority over his possessions is also clear. But humbling ourselves and submitting to Christ's Lordship on a daily basis by humbly obeying whatever He commands, is sometimes a big pill for most of us to swallow. And iIf we fail to learn and grow in our understanding about the Cross and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we will not see that all His commands, instructions, and statutes from His Holy Word are all about Love.
The scripture not only reveals God's Redemptive Plan, but it shows us the Grace and Mercy of the Fathers-heart. His commands are not intended to make our lives miserable. They are for our protection and for our good. But if we do not look at His commands from the lens of the Gospel and the Cross of Jesus Christ then we will not see clearly the love and goodness of His commands. Therefore, it is imperative that we daily center our lives in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and daily stay connected to truth about the mighty Cross.
A friend vividly remembers the day his mother used an ironing board to block him out of the kitchen while she cooked. Having warned him never to touch the top of the stove, she added a barrier between him and trouble. Determined to see what was going on in the kitchen, my friend threw himself at the ironing board so hard that it came crashing down and took a nearby lamp along with it. While the broken lamp distracted his mother, he ran into the kitchen, reached up over his head and touched the bright red burner.
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? …how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:9-11) Like a mother protecting her child, like a father giving good gifts, our heavenly Father always has our welfare at heart. We may not understand “how” God is protecting us, but our humble obedience to His commands based on the realization of what God and Jesus have done for us on the Cross…changes everything. Obeying without understanding the Cross is to miss the key that unlocks the door to knowing “why” we obey. And not understanding the Gospel is to miss out on the privilege of intimacy with Christ which comes as a result from humble, joy-filled obedience to His commands.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galations 2:20
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes.” Romans 1:16
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians.1:18
Fri, March 18, 2011
by Greg McPherson