Lesson 6 -- fourth quarter 2002
October 6, 2002
© Copyright 2002, Christian Light Publications
Throughout human history, God has kept track of everyone, especially His chosen people. When Adam and Eve strayed, God called them to turn around and return to Him. And He made a way by which they could return. When the Israelites repeatedly wandered away, God pled with them to change course and come back to Him. And each time He made clear the path on which they were to return. When the church has backslidden time and again, God has always sent His messengers to call her back to Himself. And, again, He has always provided a well-marked Highway of Return. Praise God!
Churches today need to contemplate the likelihood that God is calling them to turn from their wrong ways, pointing out both the errors and the path by which to return to full fellowship with Him. As individuals we each must also consider the possibility that God sees straying in our hearts. We must listen for His voice calling us back, directing us to the paths of righteousness. So I call for a return to godliness in two specific areas.
Service. The nature of the human heart is to seek its own good. The natural man wishes to be served, humored, and pampered. The way of love opposes the natural way: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Sure, in that verse Jesus is most clearly talking about dying for someone. Less obvious (and more uncomfortable) to us is the reality that Jesus more frequently calls us to a living sacrifice that lays down our lives in selfless service to others. In 1 Corinthians 16:15, a certain family was commended for having "addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints." My friend, God's work needs servants to function! When God's people are too busy with themselves, they cannot serve . . . and they leave God's work undone. It's past time to reevaluate our priorities, to cast off the works of darkness, to quit laying up treasures on earth, and to cease being busy about our myriad selfish interests. The time is far spent and we must be about our Father's business. What explanation shall we give for allowing our schools to go teacherless, for the mission fields to lack missionaries, for voluntary service opportunities to be unmet? How shall we justify not helping the needy in our own communities? Dare we look around ourselves to see what God wants done? We must prepare for service by asking God to make us servants right now, right where we are. Let's yield ourselves utterly to His service!
Purity. You needn't look far to see the evidences and effects of impurity creeping into the church. Impurity has tarnished speech, reading, thoughts, music, values, and relationships. Impurity has also touched doctrine and practice. God's people must turn to Him, individually and corporately, crying out with David: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10). We must reject all contaminants, no matter how pleasant or harmless or insignificant they may seem. God forbid we should settle for less than the best. That means we must be better people of the Word. We must reestablish and reinforce our personal communion with God. May God grant us to live daily in His presence!
Sure, those two paragraphs are full of generalities, but God will gladly make them practical and specific for you. "And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart" (Jeremiah 24:7).
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