Have you ever heard this song? Â I was thinking about it this morning for some reason. It’s been remade on a David Crowder Band CD, but Alison Krauss sang it before that… not sure where it came from honestly. As I was pondering that popping into my head, I realised how incredibly true that statement is, in light of what the Lord has been speaking to me about lately. On the surface you think, yeah clearly, nobody (for the most part) really wants to die, but, if there is a heaven, the average Joe on the street would say, “count me in on that one, big man.”
At a deeper level though, honestly, we are all called to die, on this side of heaven. I’m not speaking in the sense of just kicking the bucket and pushing up daisies, I mean, the Christian call is a call to die to yourself, day after day, and to live in Christ. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) Why is this so dang hard? Because I am selfish and I want to do what I want to do.
I’ve been reading a great book lately (finally) calledÂ The Bait of Satan, by John Bevere. It has absolutely challenged me to remember the essential elements of what Jesus was instructing His followers to do, and the type of life He was calling them to live if they wanted to be His disciples. Â Here are a few of the mind-blowing statements I’ve been reviewing in the Scriptures that are deeply challenging to me:
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. — Matthew 5:44 Sometimes I don’t even want to pray for brothers or sisters in the Lord who are getting on my nerves!!
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29 Wow.
When Paul is discussing the lawsuits among the believers in the Corinthian church:Â “…Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Cor. 6:7) In other words, instead of taking offense and fighting for ‘justice’ when you feel someone has wronged you — why not let it go, refuse to carry offense around with you, and trust God to be your defender?
It’s likely that many of you will read these, as I do myself, and say, yeah yeah yeah I know that. But do weÂ know it? The greatest challenge for me has come from considering 2 Timothy 3. Paul warns us about perilous times and perilous men. He says that men will become lovers of themselves, lovers of money…unthankful, unholy, unforgiving….having a form of godliness, but denying its power…always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Did you hear that? We can study the Word and listen to podcasts all day long. We can read Christian book after Christian book, pass through a Bible course or even a seminary with flying colours, we can sit under some of the greatest teaching pastors and speakers or our time, but if we are not applying the Word of God to our lives, obeying it and doing what it says, we don’t know Jesus, and don’t have a part in Him.
Paul goes on to encourage Timothy to keep walking in godliness: “you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Our works will never never justify us — it is through faith in Jesus that we find salvation. But if we have no works to demonstrate that we do believe, then do we really believe? James put this well: “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” He goes on to explain how faith works together with works, and (as an example), by works, Abraham’s faith was made perfect. When we obey God, we choose to die to our own selfish desires, and in this death, friends, there is life in abundance!
The Sermon in a Nutshell:Â The conclusion of the matter seems always to be the same for me, well summed-up in a cherished old hymn: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust AND obey.”