November 2, 2016

Truth linking to truth

Sunday’s sermon connected two truths in one passage. It was not one of those obvious links that says, ‘if you do this then this will happen.’ However, the pastor saw a connection between praying for leaders and the desire of God that all people are saved (1 Timothy 2:1-4). He said if we pray for those in authority over us, we will see people respond to the gospel.

I’d not heard that before, but something about it rang true. It also influenced me to look for connections that might be less obvious and see if they also ring true. For instance, today I read these verses . . .  

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:13–17)

If the truths are related, then asking in Jesus’ name is linked to obedience. That is, if I am disobeying God, then I cannot expect Him to answer my prayers. Praying in Jesus’ name will become a mere formula, an insincere chant that has no value. That rings true.

If the truths are related, then obedience is linked to the indwelling Holy Spirit. That is, I cannot keep the commandments of God without His power. If I rely on my own desires, strengths, and resources, then my obedience will be mere ritual that smacks of self-righteousness and does nothing to glorify God. That also rings true.

Two more truths could also be related; the obedience of Jesus in that He will ‘do it’ to glorify the Father, and my obedience based on ‘if you love me.’ Jesus obeys the Father because He loves Him. Obedience is the expression of love. That is why God does not turn His disciples into robots. I am living in total freedom. The difference is obedience without coercion, or a sense of duty or guilt, or a way of making a good impression. It is always an expression of love. That also rings true.

Chambers says that when my relationship with God is of love, then I will do what He says without any hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love someone else in competition with Him, very likely myself. Today’s devotional is encouraging because Chambers says that even the smallest obedience is a ‘pinhole’ through which I have seen God, and through that pinhole His redemptive light will shine through me to bless others. This happens only because of that mysterious yet wondrous link between the deeds done in obedience and the power of the Holy Spirit who makes obedience possible.

Love God and do what He says because I love Him, and in that, He will shine through my life to impact the lives of others. This is so simple and rings true. It is complicated only by the forces of sin and evil that do not want it to happen.

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