Loyalty to God
God will accomplish His plans whether people concur or believe in Him. People can get in His way and not receive His blessing, but otherwise God will do what He will do. We can be a part of God's plan, or we can go our own way and suffer the consequences.
Faith Comes by Hearing
A meaning for the Hebrew for God (besides the meaning of Eternal One), Yahweh, is God who declares or who speaks. Clearly one of the first things the Bible says is, "And God said, let there be light." When God speaks, He commands even the universe to His will. He also commands our behavior: "Thou shalt not. . ." Whether we accede to God's commands redounds to our blessings or if not to our grave misfortunes.
Language, which God also created, is first spoken. What we listen to becomes part of our mind. What we agree to, is part of our faith. William James wrote a book called the Will to Believe. In it he demonstrated that everyone has a will, a predilection, to believing in something. From our hearings, we
will believe. We can choose to believe what God or Jesus says, or we can believe what men say. The more we hear about God, the more likely we will believe what He says.
The test, of course, is not if we believe in God, but rather if we believe God, His laws and promises.
God gave us His Word for several purposes. His Word will bring us knowledge of God and His plan for our salvation. When we believe Jesus, we receive forgiveness of our sins as we forgive others. As we continue to follow His Word, we grow in prosperity, health, protection, and, eventually, gain eternal life.
(See: Exo 15:26, Mat 7:24, John 5:24, 12:47, 20:31, Acts 10:43,15:9, 2Ti 3:15, Luke 8:50, Rev 22:17.)
Light of the Word
James says that God is light. We receive that light into our lives through God's Word. So in the Bible sound and light become one unlike science. God's Word lights up our life, lights up our way, and leads us to God. Jesus says that he is the light of the world. Surely, what he did and what he said as reflecting God's light, brings us into God's light.
As Jesus was the son of the light, God expects us in living up to the character of Jesus also to be sons of the light. But we once lived in darkness of the world's system of religion and manner of living. God's light of His Word has led us out of these worlds of dank darkness into the pure light of His Word.
Every time we open the Bible, the glorious light of Truth emanates from the Book and keeps our eyes opened from the darkness of Satan to the light of goodness. God's light releases us from the power of darkness, the evil Satan, and rescues us to Himself.
(See: John 1:9-13, 12:36, :46, Acts 26:18.)
Believe in True Authority
God never lies. His name is synonymous with truth: His Word is Truth. He can always be trusted to keep His Word. There is nothing hidden about what God says; the Bible is there for all to read and study. God wrote in such a way that even the simplest of minds could understand Him. And those who are very bright will probe the depths of God's mind. God's religion is not mysterious or hidden. We can always trust God.
The Greek for faith or trust is pistis, which means, according to Strong's Concordance, "the conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God) . . .especially reliance upon Christ for salvation."
God then tells us that all authority comes from Him. All leaders of countries serve upon God's pleasure and will. No presidents, prime ministers, kings or dictator derives his (or her) power and authority from the consent of the people, the power of armies, or primogeniture. While these may allow a particular person to be in the seat of power, the power to rule comes only from God. His is the true authority. We obey the head of a country, not because that person is intrinsically good or right, but because God says serving him serves Him. No power on Earth has the power to harm us against God's will. These rulers can only help us or punish us, as we deserve.
When the centurion came to Jesus to ask healing for his servant, he explained to Jesus that he understood authority. What has the centurion's understanding of authority have to do with the healing of his servant? And what does the centurion's understanding of authority have to do with faith?
Besides God's political power, He has power over every aspect of nature (small 'n'). One particular aspect of nature is health and disease. He says He is our Healer. He gave this authority over disease to Jesus. The centurion believed, knew, that Jesus had this authority from God.
The centurion acted on his faith and belief by going to Jesus, the one with the power of authority over disease. Faith standing by itself with no action is no faith, just words or thoughts.
God warns the world that all that do not believe in the name of Jesus, His one and only son, stands condemned. What is the name that we must believe in? Strong's says that the Greek for name means, you guessed it, authority and character. So people must believe that God gave Jesus power over governments and nature (small 'n').
God created us in His image, in the image of God He created us. Few live up to the nature God gave us. Jesus did. He so lived up to the image that God created in him that those who saw him saw the God who begot him. Jesus's goodness gave glory to God in a way no one ever has or will.
Yet, God gives us the opportunity to grow into His image and into His son's image who is sitting at His right hand. When we learn to have the same maturity as Jesus we grow into the character of God. This takes much Bible study and the practice of God's Word.
Jesus declared that any who believe in him believe also in the One who sent him. Later, Paul reminds us of the kind of faith Abraham had: he believed God, believed in His promises, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. We must also have, Paul of Tarsus said, Abraham's faith. We ought to believe the promises God gives us through Jesus. That is the faith of Abraham we ought to have.
When we acquire the faith of Abraham, when we have God's precepts fully ensconced in our minds, when we attain the maturity of God, then no person, religion, or philosophy can dissuade us from the true faith found in the pages of God's Word.
We are then encouraged to go into the presence of God in prayer fully trusting him. God has cleaned our evil consciences with the blood of His son and our bodies have been cleansed with pure water.
Thus, God commands us to believe in His son and love each other according to His command.
(See: Mat 8:8-13, John 3:15-18, 6::29, 12:44-48, Gal 3:6, :11, :14, Eph 3:12-14, Heb 10:22, 1Jo 3:23.)
Before we can seek Jesus we must seek God. We seek God with prayer. We seek God when everything has gone wrong and we repent of our sins and return to our Father. We seek God when we fast in sackcloth and ashes to do good and help the poor. We seek God by walking in His ways. We seek God when we yearn for Him with all our hearts, minds and being. We seek God when we hate evil. We seek God when we stand before Him in awe and trembling. We seek God when we have nothing before Him.
How do we seek Jesus? The woman with the flow of blood sought out Jesus in the crowd when she touched his coat. The paralytic sought Jesus when his four friends lowered him through roof into Jesus's presence. Blind Barthemus sought Jesus by yelling to him in a crowd. Today, however, Jesus is not in Jerusalem or Israel. He is in heaven at the right hand of God. We cannot climb the heavens to find him. We must seek him another way.
Where Jesus Is Found
Our search begins with trust, faith, pistis. It begins with knowing who Jesus is and what his name is: savior, lord, and high priest. We know we can trust Jesus because we know from faithful witnesses that Jesus gave up his life in our place to save us from death. We begin our search for Jesus in the Gospel and the rest of the New Testament. Since we cannot go to heaven, we must go where Jesus maybe found on Earth, in the pages of God's Word.
Decision to Follow Jesus
After we learn who Jesus is, how he loved us so much that he died for our sins, then we must make a decision - the most important decision of our lives. We must decide whether we are going to follow Jesus or someone else. We must decide if we can give up everything and everyone in our lives for him. We must decide whether we can die for him as he died for us. Not that we must all be martyrs, but we must have that attitude. No matter what formidable situations arise, we must choose Jesus above all else. Jesus says count the cost. Can we give up all that we hold dear, sins, the world, and loved ones? If we can, Jesus says he will give us everything in return, yes everything including our loved ones and the bounty of the earth.
We have help in making our decision and living up to it. Jesus says, whatever we ask for, we will get. If we ask for the wisdom and courage to make the right decision in choosing Jesus, he will help us. If we ask him to help us and seek him in God's Word, he will inspire us. If we knock at the door of Truth and Knowledge, he opens the door of our hearts to him.
We will be so inspired by God's answers to our prayers that we will hunger for righteousness, which is thankful faith for salvation.
Attitude of Change
Jesus tells us to carry our cross that is the symbol for our sins. We do not wish away our sins and be clean forever. Like the recovering alcoholic our sins are always lurking around the corner or up the street. So every day we must fight the battle of our weaknesses, we must take up our cross.
Take the Road Rarely Traveled
God then sets before us a fork in the road. We can take the high, wide, comfortable road with all the rest of mankind, or we can take the narrow road, lonely and rocky. Along this road the savage beasts, the demons, lurk in the rank growth at the side of the road. The high road leads to destruction; so no demons bother these travelers.
So we hold our lamp on high, the Word of God, which lights our way so that we do not stumble over the rocks and stones of life. The Light of Life keeps the demonic beasts at bay. This is not the easy way, but definitely the satisfying way because its challenges hone our swords of righteousness, the Spirit of God.
The highway leads to the narrow door that few find into the Kingdom of God. Hidden amidst the vines and thorn bushes, it is encrusted with age from lack of use. We who find it find a treasure beyond our deepest dreams.
As we travel on the road to salvation, we meet many people who have a different destination and route. It is easy for us to condemn these as wayward and damned. But we learn we must never judge people, that is God's job. We may condemn people's actions, but never the person themselves because only God knows their hearts, not us. When we judge people, we make ourselves like God, who is the True Judge. That attitude of judging others is the same attitude of Satan, the serpent of evil.
Imitation of Jesus
When we learn of God's mercy toward us through Jesus's sacrifice, we will want to have mercy on those around us.
Through Jesus's sacrifice and God's mercy, we find ourselves at peace with God and mankind. We find that we wish to extend to others the peace we find in God through Jesus.
God's Word purifies our hearts like a torch burning the dross from a piece of metal. God pours His love into our hearts. So, if any persecutions come our way, we can respond with kindness rather than in kind.
We seek Jesus by our actions. We take on his yoke, which is light and perfectly fitting because he is humble. We cannot seek Jesus by going to heaven, but we can act in the ways set out above, which lead us to him.
Appeal Our Case to Jesus
In prayer and actions, we must appeal insistently and intelligently to God through Jesus. What we ask in prayer must be according to God's will for us, not to be used to increase our egos or hurt our character growing in likeness of Jesus.
This Gentile woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus said he did not come to save the Gentiles but to the children of Israel. He said helping her would be like throwing bread to the dogs. She insisted. She said that even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table. Jesus raised an eyebrow and told the woman that her faith was great and her daughter was healed.
(See: Mat 11:29-30, 7:7-12, 5:6-11, 15:24-28, Mark 5:25-34, Psa 9:10, 14:2, 24:3-5, 33:9, :20, 41:3, 4, 147:3, Luke 14:26, 27, 13:24, Pro 2:3-5, Isa 26:8-9, 55:8-9, Jer 29:13-14, Dan 9:3, Hos 5:15, 10:12, Joel 2:12, Zep 2:3, James 4:8-12, Deu 32:39, John 14:12.)
A graphic way of explaining loyalty is first to contrast it with disloyalty. The Greek word for disloyalty connects it to disbelieving, untrustworthiness, incredibility, and, interestingly, disobedience.
Ways of Disloyalty
A disloyal person will steal when no one is looking or when he thinks he can get away with it. This person definitely puts mammon, the love of money, before God. These are the ones who say that the Sabbath is not for New Testament believers because they would rather work or shop on the Sabbath.
A disloyal person cannot be trusted to keep a confidence. They talk all the time and give away secrets. When they are not blabbering about things they ought not to be talking about, they are condemning or criticizing those not present to defend themselves. The Bible calls them malicious talkers or gossips. They mishandle others with unkindness and discouraging words. They are intemperate.
A disloyal person does not take care of others' property. They discount the small things. They may take some index cards, an eraser, a pencil from their employer. They do the minimum amount of work usually with constant griping.
They are untrustworthy messengers; they get it wrong or forget it all together.
The disloyal person brings about so much grief into others' lives that they cause illnesses instead of healing. And, they do not care because they are only interesting in themselves and the ones in their group or clique.
Whereas, the loyal person is trustworthy. The roots of the words of the English words for faith, love and loyalty all come from liege and have a common root. In the Middle Ages the knights and serfs attested to their liege-loyalty by oaths and actions. The more noble the Lord the greater the loyalty he inspired in those in and around his castle. Clearly, Jesus is the noblest of them all. Thus, those of us pledged to him can show loyalty beyond those of the Knights of the Round Table.
Those loyal to Jesus hate dishonest gain and would not take a penny even if there were no chance of being discovered. They would have no corruption in their lives. They always choose God instead of mammon, in spite of some loss of income.
Those loyal to Jesus speak only kind things to those around them and especially about those not present. They are temperate in all their dealings. Their pleasure is in encouraging others. They are trustworthy messengers. Their speech, attitude and actions bring healing to others. They may judge a person's actions or speech but never the person himself.
Those loyal to Jesus have a unique characteristic: they bring healing to others, healing of mind, psyche, attitude and, if given the gift of healing from God, of the body. There is something special about a loyal person that exudes a quality, which brings out the best in others.
Those loyal to Jesus handle worldly things well; they take good care of their property and persons. They care for others' property as if it were theirs, as if it were God's. No matter is too small for the loyal person to give his best effort and attention to.
Those loyal to Jesus hold a trustworthy and true message, the gospel. They never forget it and bring it to the attention of others accurately and compellingly.
The key trait of a person loyal to Jesus is his humble attitude, and attitude of repentance, changing for the better. The whole revelation of Christianity is that, as sinners, we need Jesus to heal us of our sinful nature and bring us to the maturity of being made in the image of God.
We are enjoined to have faith. Even a modicum of faith is enough to accomplish big things, to move mountains. Liege-loyalty, faithfulness, means more than doing the least, keeping the commandments. It means doing above and beyond.
(See: Exo 18:21, Pro 11:13, 17, Dan 6:4, Luke 16:11-17, 1Ti 3:11, Tit 1:9, Acts 20:21, Mar 9:19, 16:16, Luke 17:6-10, John 3:36.)
Jesus is the end of the law. The Greek for end is telos: "The point aimed at as a limit, i.e. (by implication) the conclusion of an act or state (termination [literally, figuratively, or indefinitely], result [immediately, ultimately or prophetically], purpose); specifically an impost or levy (as paid)."
The Books of the Law (Genesis through Deuteronomy), though not done away with, are concluded in the life of Jesus. Since the Word of God put on flesh and became Jesus, he is the point aimed at by and the result of the Old Testament. Simply, God created everything, wrote history, and especially gave His Word, all, for Jesus. There is nothing God will not do for His only begotten son. Yet God's love for us is so great that He sacrificed His beloved for sinners. Then He raised him up for our salvation.
Since Jesus is our special advocate with Our Father, his pleadings for us falls on receptive ears.
Naturally, we ought to come to Jesus who will beseech Our Father in our behalf. When we truly come to him, we will never suffer hunger or thirst, physically or spiritually. We, thus, keep our eyes on the Bible where we become imbued with the character of Jesus. We have the Truth; we need never be ashamed or cowed by sinners who have only their worldly and selfish opinions.
Knowing Jesus's love for us, we are assured of his infinite mercy and patience that leads to our repentance and growth, and do we need that! His life sets an example to believers who can trust him to lead us all the way to eternal life.
Ancients believed that there was magic in saying certain words, like Merlin and his ilk, fictional or otherwise. While we know that saying certain words bring no magic, God did command the universe into existence. And to those, whom God gives that kind of faith, they can command nature and call healing. For the rest God shows us that when we speak the Truth in love, we grow up to be like Jesus. Further, when we confess our belief that God raised Jesus from the dead, we get salvation. Words mean things. Speaking God's Word empowers us to grow up to Him. We must never forget that words without deeds are empty, hollow sounds echoing without purpose.
God gives us everything for our salvation. He even gives us the discipline and correction we need, when we need it. If He did not love us, He would not bother bothering us. Nonbelievers can go through life with only the natural course of nature invading their lives. God does not bother to discipline those who do not demonstrate faith in Him and His son. The only time He will interfere in their lives is when they "mess" with His People. Then they incur "the wrath of God." But not for the purpose of discipline does God inflict punishment on them.
God gives us a secret weapon to fight the onslaught of Satan and the ways of the world. He gives us faith, complete trust in Him. He develops our faith in His son so that we can act in righteousness.
With all that God does for us, we must offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and not neglect to pray for and care for the beloved faithful.
(See: John 6:35, Acts 26:17, Rom 10:9-11, Eph 4:15-16, 1Ti 1:16, Heb 12:2-11, 1John 5:4-5, 13-15.)
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." - Rev 3:20