We are all suddenly finding ourselves living in a different world this week. For the last couple of weeks, our Family at Word of Light has been studying what it is like to really, practically set ourselves apart from the world in order to grow close to and serve God as Scriptures tell us. And one of the biggest excuses we always have in this subject is that we just don't have the time to do some of the things we know we need to do. And although this is simply just not the case anyway, because you make the time for what is important, always—we all now find ourselves with some extra time, don't we? No sports schedules, dance schedules, movie nights, school functions, eating out…
So, let me ask you: "Were you serious about getting close to Him?” Because this new schedule we are all keeping will quickly fill with the things that are most important to you. Let the most important thing be God. Psalm 46 is a wonderful Psalm to read in your upcoming quiet time with God during this unusual time. It was written in the reign of Jehoshaphat, when multiple nations came against Israel in force, and it seemed bleak and hopeless. The psalmist turned his eyes to the Only Real Hope for us all.
I urge you all to take this appeal to stay at home very seriously right now. Much of our congregation is young and vibrant, and you may not be impacted severely, even if you contract the virus, so you may not be that worried about it. Others feel that we should trust God and go on to church or other places with boldness. Well, please understand God's crystal-clear Word in this situation: 1) Like it or not, agree or disagree, unless the Government tells you to directly disobey our Lord and Savior, we are obligated by God Himself to be obedient to the desires of our Government: Romans 13:1-2. 2) Everything in God's Word says that our actions as His Disciples should always be driven by love for Him and others above self. So, even if you remain completely healthy, but in carelessness, your actions risk the life of one other person, you are not loving others as yourself—as Scriptures Command. I believe, as most all would agree it is proper to take any action, no matter the severity, to protect others. So, I am compelled by God's very Nature to expose one massive hypocritical Truth in all that we are doing right now. We have justifiably endured discomforts, interrupted lives, burdens, major changes, loss of income, business shutdowns, economic disaster, ruined 401K's and investment losses to protect against human losses that have thus far mounted to almost 12,000—and will quickly grow much higher. But, do you also realize that in 2018 alone, only counting the U.S., we willfully took the lives of 876,000 innocent children! And the worldwide trend for the past several years has been estimated at 56 million lives a year, lost to abortion. We are seeing the passion our world can show to save innocent lives, happening right now. We must understand that these 56 million babies a year are God's innocent lives as well, and have the same resolve to save them. Some may question, "Why God would allow such a senseless loss of life in this Pandemic?" I can assure you that God has to be questioning in response, "Why we have allowed such a senseless loss of life in our genocide against His innocent people?" Keep doing all you can in obedience to our government, as Scriptures Command, and because you place the lives of others above your current discomfort. But please keep the same heart and mentality for all life. Because there is another innocent group of people who rely completely on you and I, to keep them safe as well.
Our focus on God's Word today can so closely relate to what is going on around us with the current situation because, for someone to truly set themselves apart for God; to truly accept and want His righteousness in their lives; it requires devotion and change in our lives. But there is this massive shift in mentality among many towards God today—almost a stance of the culture—that basically says to God: "This is who I am. This is what I do. This is how I live. And if You can't love me as I am, I don't need you." And before you think this is about someone else, every time you choose to do your own thing, knowing it is not in God's will, knowing it does nothing to honor Him or draw close, you are saying the same thing to Him. Well first, please consider this: I hope you can see clearer than ever before that you and I are not in control. And in a single day, everything you think you know, and depend upon can be completely changed. And quite frankly this whole bold threat of, “I don't need you" quickly loses its weight. If you come to a point that you finally realize God is real, you must also quickly realize that means this is not our Universe. This is not our life. It is a gift given to us by Him. Realize Jesus is not some timid, weak pushover that can be told how we have decided things will be in this world. He is All-Powerful, and will not be controlled, put in a box or denied. Fear is the beginning of Wisdom—but it is only the beginning. If you could go beyond wanting your way, even go beyond just having fear of His Judgment, and finally, deeply understand Who He truly is at Heart; if you could really know there is no one in your life who thinks more of you, Who places more value on your life, your feelings, your happiness; no One who treasures the thought of knowing you intimately more than Him; You would never again, for a moment think about your demands of what He should accept or overlook. You would passionately do anything it took to know His Sweet Love more; to learn and trust His Ways more. After all, stop and think this through with intelligent focus. Look around at all He created in His Wisdom and Intelligence; if He designed and created the very heart in your chest, the very lungs you are breathing with right now, shouldn't you trust that His ways are slightly more informed and full of Wisdom than yours or mine? But now, let me tell you something about this God Who is in control and will not be denied. With all the Greatness of His Strength, His love is even greater. He has never told one person they had better change or He will never love them. He loves you with more love than you can imagine right now—no matter your choices, no matter your condition, even, no matter your hatred for Him. What He does say is that He wants you to change because He does love you, and in His True Wisdom He knows what will make you happy; He knows what it takes to make our hearts and lives awesome. And above all of this, He is not asking us to do anything He hasn't already done for us in His Passion for us. He has changed everything about Himself; given up everything of worth and value in His Life; destroyed His own life; turned His Creation upside down for the chance to have your love.
When we are determined to live life our way, instead of for Him, we absolutely miss everything He desires, everything He died for, everything He is trying to do for us. He does not want, nor has He ever wanted a bunch of followers. Regardless of the impression many ministries give, He couldn’t care less about how many people accept His Name: John 6:56-57, 66-67. Jesus doesn't push people away because He doesn't love or want them—just the opposite. He already loves you so deeply and intimately—like a devoted spouse—that He only wants those true, select few who desire Him the same way He desires them. He wants real, devoted sacrificial love, not a mass of, half-hearted acceptance. He wants someone who will do, be and go anywhere for His love the same way He has done for ours. He wants someone who will die to self the way He died for them. This is why we set ourselves apart for Him; why we do anything we must, so we can see and know Him more. In His prayer to the Father just hours before a horrible death—this is what He longed for most: John 17:17-26: Jesus asks the Father to help us set ourselves apart in His Ways. This is His first desire to the Father on His deathbed because it is the only way to His next request: v18: Jesus declares that He set Himself apart for this special task on earth; a task that made Him change everything about His existence. He removed Himself from perfect comfort, and Ultimate Power; He even removed Himself from the acceptance and love of the Father Himself for a brief time, to be hated, abused, and left in total abandonment and misery—completely alone at death. Jesus asks for nothing that He was not willing to do for our love first. V20: Jesus does not want an obedient slave, subject under His feet. His desire is to be so close, so loved, that we become like one together. He wants to be as close to us, as He is to the Father. Can you even comprehend how much He loves you? To share every experience with you; show His desires to you; love others together; face tough times, heartbreak, persecution together. It is what He desires to have with us now, here. Do we dare to believe it? Strive for it? v22:-23: Jesus' desire is for you and I to be as accepted, cherished and included as He is to the Father. He changed everything in His existence, with the single desire to give His own Honor and Glory to us so that we might draw near to Him completely. V24: Jesus set Himself apart because He so wants US to be where He is forever. At the Last Meal He shared with His disciples about how much He intimately loved them and how they could live in, and feel that love now: John 15:9-11. Jesus said just as He sanctified Himself, set Himself apart, gave up all in abandonment in His love for the Father and us, we must do in our love for Him because the true worth of anything is ultimately proven by what you are willing to do to attain it. Jesus does not want or need to be popular with the masses. He has come with this purpose: to find that small, treasured handful of people who see the Worth in Him that He first saw in them. That small, treasured handful of people who are willing to give all, do all, and change all for the chance to be His just as He did to be ours. Not to cater to those so selfish in their own lives that they demand He accept them, or they don't need Him. He has come with the purpose of making you fall in love with Him, not serve Him in necessity or need. Just as it was in His early days of ministry, there are many pretenders and freeloaders, but only a few that truly want to love Him and please Him. Are you one of those few? We have recently learned two powerful lessons from the unusual events that currently grip our nation, and our world. 1) If it is important enough, if there is enough at stake, we will find a way to make changes in our lives and hearts. Obeying, loving and serving the King of Kings is of a much higher importance than our current situation. Your willingness to truly die to your old self—leave the ways of this world and really, truly live for Him is a direct, undeniable representation of how important He is to you. 2) We truly are not in control, as many of us have felt we were our whole lives. Everything that gives us security, comfort and even pride, is extremely fragile and temporary, and can be gone in a day. The smug life of self-reliance, independence, and “no need for God in our lives” can be shown for the lie that it is in a moment. And the reality that a Day is coming, just around the corner which will take the whole world by surprise when our Savior appears and changes everything in the twinkling of an eye, is quite a bit more comprehensible in light of all we are seeing today. But for now, for a short span of time, He still waits: 2 Peter 3:9-11” Are you one that He still waits for, to call His own? Look for ways to love. Show trust in fear. Use this time to draw near.
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