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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Willing Service through love

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. You see, just at the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:5-7

God who is holy, pure and perfect and who created Adam holy, pure and perfect, sent His Son who was holy, pure and perfect to die for filthy, sinful man to atone for their sin and restore them to His Heavenly Father. Even though Adam and His Bride failed God by falling into sin, God never failed them! He killed an innocent animal and put its bloody skins on the bodies of Adam and the Woman to cover their sin. The grace of God began in Genesis 3:21.

After the depth of the love of God for humanity was illustrated by His Beloved, Holy Son's death on the cross, He poured out the Holy Spirit of God upon all who believed in His Son Jesus to help us remove the sin that binds us and to have the Father's heart of love in a world that is lost and dying because of sin. God wants His children to be free of the sin that besets us. Freedom comes at a cost.

What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? Absolutely not! Romans 6:1 Quite the contrary! We are to die to sin and live for Christ and His righteousness. There is no freedom in sin. Sin brings bondage, so God in His wonderful grace and love wants us to allow Him to remove sin that binds us from our lives so we can walk in greater freedom and life in Christ. The Apostle Paul goes on to say, "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or slaves to obedience, which leads to righteousness. Romans 6:16 When we were dead in sin, Christ died for us to give us spiritual life. We are to leave our "old" master the devil who controls our fleshly nature (earthly) for a "new" master who reigns in righteousness--Jesus.

Let's go back to the Older Testament to the laws God gave Moses regarding a Hebrew servant in Exodus 21:1-11. If a Hebrew could not pay a debt, he would become a slave/servant to his debtor in order to erase the debt. The Hebrew servant/slave would serve his debtor for six years and on the 7th year would be set free. However, some servants really loved their master and chose to go on working voluntarily for the master he loved.

There were two heart attitudes of the slave/servants in the Older Testament:
1. served out of compulsion (Law)
2. served voluntarily out of love and loyalty for his Master

Jesus was the Perfect Hebrew Servant. He fulfilled the Law of the Hebrew Servant perfectly. He did all that the Law commanded, and He did it voluntarily out of love and loyalty for His Father and Master. Jesus didn't come to destroy the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them perfectly so we would no longer be under the Law of rigid rules and commands, but under Grace and love given willingly. Jesus became the Law to set us free from it. Now we love and serve Jesus willingly not through demand.

Some believers today serve with a legalistic attitude and others serve willingly and voluntarily out of their love and faithfulness to Jesus. The first attitude is trying to earn love through rigid rules and works, but the second is out of willing love and loyalty to the Master . It is service and loyalty out of love that Jesus is seeking. Love earned or commanded is not love. It is not freely given. Jesus gave His love to us freely and willingly. We don't deserve it and we can't earn it. He gave it! He wants us to give that same love to Him and others. This is how a love relationship works.

The Apostle Paul called himself a "bondservant/slave" of Jesus Christ. Paul bound himself to Jesus, obeyed and served Him out of love and faithfulness. Paul even wrote that whoever you choose to obey is your master in Romans 6:18. We are to choose to leave one master for another master! We have been set free to become slaves of righteousness and slaves of God! Christ didn't come to allow us to sin. He came to set us free from the sin that binds us. The more we become an obedient slave to Christ through our love for Him freely and voluntarily, the more freedom we have because He is removing the very sin that binds us from the freedom He died for. When we were saved by believing in Christ, our past sins were forgiven and erased from the Father's sight. But we still live in a flesh body with a flesh nature. Once Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit are inside us, we must learn to walk in the ways of Jesus in holiness.

Grace and love reign in holiness. Jesus is our Example of this. Jesus wants us to become like Him so His grace and love reign in and through us. We must choose (willingly) to obey Jesus so we walk in His Holy Kingdom. Jesus willingly put Himself to death on the cross as a Living Sacrifice to God for us. He wants us to allow Him to put our fleshly nature to death so we become a living sacrifice for Him and others. There is no life in sin. Sin brings bondage and death. Because of Christ and the Father's love for us, they want to remove the things that bind us so we can live in the fullness of truth, grace, love and freedom. Christ is re-forming and reshaping His Bride into His image and likeness so she is ready to be wed to her Husband. Will you be His Bride or just a guest at the Heavenly wedding? Will you be standing at His right side in white (righteousness), glorious and prepared for this holy union, or will you be just one of the invited guests. Will you be in the outer court or in His presence on His right side? The choice is ours! We can choose just to be saved or we can choose to show our love for Him by allowing Him to shape and form us into a beautiful, glorious bride who reflects the beauty, love and grace of her Husband so we will be as one with Him.

Jacob in the Older Testament served Laban for seven years for Leah and another seven for his beloved Rachel. Jacob didn't have the dowry price for his bride so he became a slave to Laban in order to gain a bride. He was deceived by Laban into taking Leah as his bride, but he worked another seven years for the bride whom he loved -- Rachel. Jesus paid the price for His Bride at the cross of suffering. He became a servant of all to save all and gather a bride to Himself. The Song of Songs in the Older Testament is a picture of Jesus wooing His Bride--drawing her and shaping and forming her from a laborer in the field who is dark and swarthy to a beautiful, glorious Bride who would join Him in holy matrimony in His inner chamber. Jesus is wooing us in the inner chamber of our heart. He wants a close, intimate relationship with us.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:2, "I promised you to one Husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him." Paul knew that as Jesus' servant leader, it was his responsibility to bring these believers to maturity, purity and righteousness so they would be prepared for the day of their wedding to their Heavenly, Eternal Husband. He could not do this without each individual's willingness to cooperate, be taught and obey. Whoever they chose to obey would be their master. We can choose the path of compromise or the path of obedience. "As for me and my house, we will choose the Lord." Joshua 24:15

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