This Sanctuary Sunday Open Thread, with full respect to those who worship God on the Sabbath, is a place to reaffirm our worship of our Creator, our Father, our King Eternal.
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Be and Do Always . . .
Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides and by Rambam, was a 12th century esteemed Rabbi, Jewish sage and scholar who classified and recorded 613 commandments (mitzvot) in his writings on the Torah. We’re more familiar with the 10 Commandments written on stone tablets that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai.
1,050 commands have been cataloged from the New Testament, under 69 headings. We also believe the Old Testament as Jesus said, “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).
Jesus completely summarized all that is required with “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40)
Jesus’ summation comes from the Torah: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). And, love your neighbor: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:18). “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)
The point here is that it would be impossible (and very legalistic) to list all these requirements and then try to follow each in our lives. However, I’d like to present six actions (there are certainly more) that would be beneficial for us to fully embed in our lives.
What to Be Always and Do Continually
To come close to the standard the Bible gives for Christian living, or to attain it, requires a changed heart and an ongoing renewal of the mind. A person who does not know God cannot sustain these kinds of attitudes and practices in their life. When one is born again of the Spirit of God, the foundation is put in place to begin to live a life according to the following (and more) commands and exhortations from the Scripture.
1. In everything GIVE THANKS, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:19)
There is never a time when we are not supposed to be thankful. Do you want to know the will of God for your life? It is to be thankful! Always! THIS is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
A correct perspective will enable us to be grateful. We need to realize that whatever we have that is good, it is there because of God the Father. It is therefore right to be thankful. The Bible says:
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)
Your life and mine will be transformed if we truly put this into practice. There is never a time when we are not supposed to be thankful and to be giving thanks to God the Father.
2. Abound in Hope
In the Bible, hope is a positive unwavering expectation of GOOD. It is what happens when you believe that something good is going to happen.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Hope is something that God can fill you with. It is a wonderful gift from God. Faith, hope and love remain eternally, according to 1 Corinthians 13:13.
We can also tell ourselves to hope – and we can choose to hope continually.
The Psalmist said: “But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more.” (Psalm 71:14). He said earlier in the same psalm: “For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth.” (Psalm 71:5)
As long as God is with us, we have hope with us, and we ought therefore to hope continually.
3. Praise God with our Lips
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
Praise is sometimes a sacrifice, because there are times when things don’t seem to be going too well for us, or we don’t feel so upbeat. At those times we can MAKE OURSELVES praise God. Praising God is to speak out or sing out about the goodness of God. We can make ourselves do this. Its a choice. King David vowed to praise God seven times a day.
We may feel we have reason to be sad, but if we are in Christ, we have greater reasons to praise God, to rejoice and to be happy. God has done a lot for us, though we may not feel all these things to be true as yet, but they ARE true, and PRAISING GOD will greatly help us to start to believe the way we should, and also to feel the way that God would like us to!
4. Rejoice Always
“Rejoice always” instructs 1 Thessalonians 5:16. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
If these Scriptures mean anything, they mean that we cannot put pre-conditions on our rejoicing. God does not say: “If you don’t have something you want yet, I understand that you may not wish to rejoice, and I respect that”.
We are not instructed to rejoice in temporal things – a payrise, a new job, a good deal, a new friendship – though we are instructed to give THANKS for these things.
We are instructed to rejoice IN THE LORD. That is, our rejoicing is an act of faith that is rooted in something of eternal stability – GOD HIMSELF – not in the changing fortunes and circumstances of life.
We can choose to rejoice. It’s amazing how our emotions can change in line with our choices.
Smile, sing, dance, REJOICE in the LORD as an expression of faith in an eternal God whom we hold to be our good Father, and you’ll be amazed how much better you feel.
5. Pray Without Ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
We are to keep a divine connection going with heaven, no matter what it takes. It may not be easy. It is work, it is a fight, it is a struggle. It can only be done with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul said: “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18)
It is no accident that this verse comes at the end of a passage about spiritual warfare and putting on the whole armor of God. Prayer is the battle we are called to.
6. Be in Faith
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
This is a negative way of putting it, but this verse implies that FAITH is a standard of life. Everything we do must be done in faith. Our thoughts should be in line with FAITH IN GOD.
Our prayers should be prayers of faith. “Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24)
Our prayers ought to be prayers of faith. We are supposed to really believe that we receive what we ask for. That is God’s will and God’s standard. Jesus was always in faith, and He is our model. The just shall live by faith.
7. Walk in Love
Paul said, “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14). Without divine love, nothing will ultimately profit us. We are called to be like God, who gave Himself and gave His Son for us.
Love is giving. I don’t mean to say that all giving is love. But the nature of love is to give, to bless, to help, to make sacrifices for others.
All of our faith and hope, and spiritual warfare, is for the purpose of helping people and for giving the glory to God.
We are called to be this way as described above. It can only be done by entering into the death and resurrection of Christ by faith – by dying to old ways and by rising up again in new life indwelt by the Spirit of God.