“When we walk with the Lord in the light of His word, what a glory He sheds on the way; when we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. When in fellowship sweet, we will sit at His feet, or we walk by His side in the way, what He says we will do, where He sends we will go, never fear, only trust and obey.”
I can still hear that old hymn ringing out of my childhood. Seems I had my head on my mother’s lap in that little old church in Oklahoma, and we sang out of the blue paperbacked hymnals, sometimes out on the lawn for a summer revival. Why should it flash into my mind when I begin to write to you?
“Speak to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-20)
So this morning I am speaking a hymn to you and making music in my heart to the Lord and giving thanks to Him for everything in the name of Jesus. Ron is still in bed and the day is gloriously bright… I am looking out my window at 43rd and 9th Avenue and thinking about all that has happened to us since we first left our cozy home in Kansas City to be transplanted in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen.
There have been some days of tremendous excitement and exhilaration as we began to sing here. There have been days of separation and loneliness and trial. But through it all is that precious golden cord of the Lord’s love and His perfect plan for our lives.
Oh, how He loves us and cares for us and gently leads us to the next step in our growth so we can look like His Son, Jesus. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! …But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3)
Purifies himself. That’s a big statement. I’m supposed to purify myself. HELP! Well, if the Word of God says it, it’s true and there must be a way to purify myself. Let’s see… pure. Webster says that means: unstained, untainted, uncontaminated, clean, faultless, perfect, modest, virtuous, undefiled. Hardly sounds like something I can do. Maybe someone else who has some kind of “iron will”, but not me.
Yet the Word of God says it… “purifies himself”. Do I do this by praying “oh God, purify me, purify me”? But that would be God doing it, not me. What is the answer? I know the blood of Jesus washed away my sins and made me white as snow, but why do I keep going back and getting all dirty again? There must be some answer to this idea of purifying myself.
When Jesus died for me I know my salvation was made complete — finished! All my sins were made white as snow. Yet the Word says, “purifies himself”. Is there really something I need to do in response to what He did in order to purify myself? I know God loves me and I want to love Him, but don’t really know how.
“This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands… And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God has overcome the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:2-5)
So that’s it — to love God is to obey Him. Obedience has not been my great forte, but yet it says His commands are not burdensome. And I can have victory over the world (and the flesh and the devil) by my faith. Faith in what? And what is faith? I remember the Bible says it is the evidence of things not seen. So I’ve got to believe in something I can’t see yet.
“What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound? [rationalization — I’m only human] By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? [I’ve got to believe in something I can’t see yet] Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:1-4)
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7) (I’ve got to believe something I can’t see yet.)
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin [do it and believe it before I see it] but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 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 to obedience, which leads to righteousness?…
“…Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin [I’ve got to believe it before I see it] and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:11-23)
So I can purify myself by offering myself up to obey God and offer the parts of my body as instruments of righteousness. This must be what is meant by a “living sacrifice”. I can do this by faith — believing I am dead to sin before I see the evidence of it. The more I believe the truth that I am dead to sin, and the more I exercise my faith and obey God, the more I see myself overcoming the world! Hallelujah! Believing is seeing!
When I was that little girl on my mother’s lap in church singing “Trust and Obey”, how could I have known that five years down the road I would be ensnared in homosexuality. And how much that simple old hymn taught me about getting unsnared — set free in Jesus. Just do what He says …just go where He leads. It is so beautifully simple. Praise God! Just believe and see!
Believing Is Seeing!
by Joanne Highley