In the 1700's, a large percentage of Europeans feared the tomato because they thought it to be very poisonous. It was even nicknamed the "Poison Apple." Many years later it was discovered that tomatoes were not actually the culprit, but the fact that they were often being served on pewter plates of the more well-off in society. And the high acid content of the tomatoes would leach the lead content from the pewter and become deadly. So, it was not the fruit which was troublesome all along, but the way in which it was being served and consumed.
I'll jump straight to the meat of our discussion today for the sake of time: One of the biggest issues in all of the church today—causing us to live ungodly, selfish lives, causing us to miss intimacy with God altogether, causing the world not even to want what we have, and causing major trouble and division in the Body of Christ—stems from a foundational truth of worship which we have almost completely forsaken in our thoughts and ways as Christians. Something that is at the very core for knowing and truly accepting Jesus as Lord. The heart with which we serve our God is the plate which makes all of our fruit good or poison. The "Pewter" Plate which well-off Europeans used to serve tomatoes was the very thing which was full of poison, but it was the socially accepted—even prestigious method—of serving and eating. No one even guessed that the very plate they served with was leaching poison into their bodies. In our Christian culture and attitude this very day, we are so infatuated with securing God’s blessing our lives with how we look, with what others think, with our successes and plans, with having acceptance of what we want, think, feel and do, and at our core, serving God—how we want, when we feel like it, to the extent we feel is reasonable—often without true regards to the needs of those around us, and in the process entirely missing Who Christ truly is to us; missing who we truly are to Him, missing what He has taught and modeled as the very center of real love and devotion—that our plate, our foundation—is leaching poison. 2 Peter 1:1: bondservant. Jud, the very half-brother of Jesus raised with Jesus, side-by-side; a non-believer until after Jesus' Resurrection introduces himself in the same manner: Jude 1:1. Paul later goes on to explain that in love and closeness to God through His Blood and Spirit within us, we receive a "new title" and standing with the Father: Galatians 4:6-7. Jesus reiterates this fact Himself when talking to the disciples: Matthew 18:2-4. A child has the same reliance and obedience as a slave, but with much greater benefits. This new standing with our Father, bought with the blood of our Savior, does not remove the mentality and devotion which we should have concerning our love and surrender to Him—which is stressed hundreds of times in the Old and New Testaments.
Although it has been translated into "softer", less "unappealing" terms, 90% of the time in modern writings, it is a declaration of well understood, Scriptural fact—a declaration of knowing who we are in Christ: Revelation 1:1-2; Revelation 19:2, 5; Matthew 24:44-46. Why A Slave? A son, an heir, a spouse—all according to Scriptures have the same mentality of this bond-servant—this slave. The only difference being they are intimate, loving positions of the same devotion and reliance. Why would a Loving God ask for such a sacrifice and giving up of personal rights? Because a slave in the context in which God represents it here is a voluntary and total giving of your will, plans, belongings, health, wealth, desires, future, comfort and actions to the rights, and pleasure, of the one you love. It is a complete surrender and giving of yourself, unconditionally. It is the ultimate expression of trust, unity, and selfless servitude. Why does Christ have a right to even ask such a thing? Because He in His greatness, justice, power and authority has already given up everything He has and is to be the same for us. And because in their love and unity, this is what God the Father and God the Son have shared before time began. This is the absolute selfless and complete giving of One’s total being that Jesus Christ lived out for the Father and us every day He walked among us—and every day since: Zechariah 3:8; Isaiah 53:11; Philippians 2:5-8; John 6:38; John 4:34.
So then, here is the truth, here is the dilemma, here is the challenge: in our lying, selfish, independent, dying world, we have been taught that complete devotion and complete giving of ourselves to another is weak and that it leads to unhappiness. [How's that working out for us? Misery, depression, hate, suicide, homicide, anarchy, dysfunctional relationships, marriages, families, and churches.] The core of our very heart—the foundation of our relationship with God, our ability to love and serve others—will never be what it should be, will never be Spirit filled and led until our hearts and lives are truly surrendered as slaves; not just followers, not just believers—but slaves just like Jesus gave Himself to be. Because only then have we truly given everything in love for Him and others. Until you accept this as truth—as your way of life—stop calling Him, Lord: Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21. In order to really do what Christ is saying—in order to really do what Christ did—we have to clearly and literally understand and accept what Scriptures are telling us. A slave (think of Jesus on earth) doesn't have plans of their own; doesn't chase their own desires, reputation or success; doesn't worry what anyone else thinks of them; doesn't own anything; doesn't choose when to listen to their Master and when not to; doesn't focus on their own comfort and desires first, and be upset when the Master doesn't cater to their want. A slave (think of Jesus on earth) does know exactly what their Master desires; does live to please their Master alone; does build their entire life around meeting the needs of their Master; does serve their Master where and when that Master deems necessary, not when it is convenient or agreeable. And when a slave has a loving and devoted Master (Jesus Again), they are completely taken care of. They are given everything they need to do their work.; no one else can touch or harm them in any way. Jesus says we receive all of this and we receive it as sons, as a beloved bride if we surrender ourselves completely just as He has done already. Listen with all of your heart and forget everything you think you know about being a Christian. How do you even become a slave and serve the Master you claim unless your true desire is to know all that will please Him? [read scriptures with passion]; unless you talk with Him and find His will; unless you have given up claim to any other master? How do you physically serve a Master you cannot even see or touch? Philippians 2:5-8; Matthew 25:34-36; Mark 10:42-45; John 13:14-17; Galatians 5:13-15; Philippians 2:3-4; Ephesians 4:1-6. If you have died to self—if you have given yourself as His bond-slave—why do you even consider it your decision as to whether you attend church and serve others? Why do you consider it your decision whether you stay in a difficult marriage or not? Why do you seek your own way and recognition in everything you do—even in ministry? Why do you seek to be right or better over preserving unity and understanding? Why are you so slow to offer forgiveness and love? Why do you choose when—and even if—you will serve God daily? Why do you consider your money, things and time as yours, and feel offended if the Master asks you to give of them? Why are you so put out when your plans do not go according to your own will? Why are you not seeking to reach people In their lost condition and minister, or bring them to a body of believers? 1 Timothy 2:3-4. Why do you spend the majority of your free time seeking your own pleasure and entertainment—wrapped up in your own desires, frustrations and trials—with no thoughts to the Master's calling? Why do you so easily act passive, compliant and even agreeable to things which are so hurtful to your Master? Why—when the Master has literally died for you—do you feel no compulsion to live sacrificially for Him? We must get it into our heads and souls that we are not just adding Christ to our lives, we are giving everything we have—everything we are in ownership and service to Him. God did not mean this as symbolism; it is not just "good preaching" or "for the radicals." We must start living as His slaves just as He lived for us, or we never meant it. This is the absolute, only way to love God as He loves us. Unlearn all that the world has taught us and influenced us to do, and live for His will. Live to serve others, live humbly, placing Him, and others above self as a slave. Or—by His Own Words, don't call Him Lord anymore. Because, He Deserves it; we are not truly changed until we do it, and the world needs to see His reality and greatness. We are slaves to the One Who became a slave for us. We don't have a life of our own anymore. If we are to make a difference in this insane and evil time—we must live this truth with all our hearts: Romans 14:7-9; 1 Corinthians 7:23.
Jonathan Edwards [American Revivalist Preacher (1703-1758); big part in the "First Great Awakening" (1730's-1740's)], at 19yrs old wrote in his personal diary “A Declaration of Personal resolve” Saturday, January 12, 1723: “In the morning. I have this day, solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication... I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have, to God; so that I am not, in any respect, my own. I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, these affections, which are in me. Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members: no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained anything, as my own. I gave myself to God, in my baptism, and I have been this morning to him, and told him, that I gave myself wholly to him. I have given every power to him, so that for the future, I’ll challenge no right in myself, in no respect whatever. I have expressly promised him, and I do now promise Almighty God, that by his grace, I will not.”
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