Deuteronomy 10:12-13, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”
Deuteronomy 30:6, “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
As we started to get touch on in Part One, we saw the keyword in the Scripture verses that were spoken of by Jesus, as being the word and concept of ALL! As you look at the two verses that I have supplied today you can again see that one of the main keywords is again, ALL! And look at how the writer finished both sentences; “For your good,” and “that you may live.”
Now, as speaking to Christians today, echoing the words of Jesus and as to the Hebrews of today, echoing the words of Moses, we know that the word ALL means the same thing in both references. In fact, when you consider that we as Christians have been “grafted” into the lineage of Abraham as God’s promise to Abraham’s faith, the Deuteronomy verses apply to all of us, Christians AND Jews, as well. We need to remember that with the Hebrew children of today, the Jews, we are brothers and sisters in faith and we should be very much more aware of it today in the light of all going on in the world!
These aren’t just frivolous concepts, on the contrary they are given that the person who abides and LIVES by them might have an abundant life and also a life based in eternity! To just follow a part of these commands or commandments is exactly the same concept as what a lot of people live by today. People feel that if they can at least give a partial to the TRUTH, or live a part of that TRUTH, that they are okay. HOW NOBLE!!!
Yet this is where the subtlety and deception comes in; and coming from the “father of all lies,” it stands to reason, but remember, Jesus called him a murderer and liar from the beginning! Why? Because even a little or partial truth is not the WHOLE truth so it IS a WHOLE LIE!! There is no such a thing as a partial truth! As a TRUE, spirit-renewed disciple of Christ, you should know that a partial truth is still a whole lie! There is no such thing as a truth by omission! Yet in the climate of the day and age we live in today, it is common practice to omit the negative and just embellish the little “nugget” of truth. If you want proof, then just re-read about Jesus’ temptation by the devil in the wilderness. The devil knows how to quote the Bible, the very Word of God, but like so many today, he only quotes the parts that makes his point, out of context, and withholding the WHOLE Spirit of the Word!!!
Walking in PART, or “attempting” to walk in part, in the Spirit of God, is still NOT giving God, our Father and Creator your ALL, and the only one you are kidding is yourself if you believe you can do it. You can’t divide your life up into parts, even giving God what you consider the biggest part is still a fraction. What does it mean and what difference does it make as long as we are giving God something of ourselves? The difference is disobedience! When the commandment is to give all, a part is a whole lot of sin! And sin separates man from God Totally, not partially! If Jesus would have only given a PART of His sacrifice to redeem the sinfulness of man, how could His blood then cover ALL our sin?
The world and those in it and those that you consider your brothers and sisters can see right through it, for it isn’t real, it isn’t genuine, it becomes a juggling act with your time and life! But the question still begs itself, how to accomplish all that is on your plate in this day and age we live in when everything and everyone is demanding a piece of us. The answer is lifestyle. It is the difference between dividing your life into “organized” pieces and living your life totally surrendered to the will of God.
Now I’m going to give you an example that probably everyone can relate too and show you the difference between what the enemy and the world says is okay, giving God the “bigger or better part” of your life and giving Him your ALL!
The realm of dieting (yes dieting as relating to how we eat!) is probably known to all and with all sorts of new fads and diets coming out all the time, there is probably no one who hasn’t tried or been affected by some form of dieting or another.
The scientific truth though is still being shouted out to all those who frequent going on diets, and it’s that diets don’t work for the long term. Diets are great for short term goals but for losing and maintaining a person’s weight takes more than dieting and actually requires a lifestyle change in eating habits. Did you see how I placed that word “lifestyle” in there?
As I stated, diets are great for short term. If you have a little you need to lose for this occasion or that, a certain kind of diet might be in order. But, if you have ridden that roller-coaster ride of being on-again, off-again on diets to try and maintain a healthy weight you know that dieting is just that, a roller-coaster ride! And it has been put forth that this very kind of eating, necessary to be on a diet over and over again, is not physically healthy in the long run but neither is it mentally or emotionally healthy either. So, what is?
The answer to that question has been proven time and time again by those that have accomplished what it was they wanted in their lives, it’s been a lifestyle change, a major overhaul in the way they think about eating and the reasons why they eat like they have. The difference I am speaking about, is recognizing the hurtful way in which a person is initially eating, and then recognizing the need to completely change their eating habits to those that are conducive to good physical, mental AND emotional health. In other words changing their lifestyle, the way they live, as it is concerned with their eating habits. It is recognizing the hurt on the one hand and the wisdom of good habits or good lifetime practices on the other hand. Did you catch that? The wisdom of good lifetime practices and not just the act of eating itself. When you change your whole lifestyle, everything else falls into line.
Do you see the difference now? One is quick, easy, get it done and over with so I can go back to living the way I want and the other is time-tested, life-changing and based on what is good for the person’s long-term well-being. One demands giving up their will once in a while but being able to go back to what a person wants to do and the other is surrendering their will to what has been recognized as wisdom for the long run and determining that a person’s “selfish” or self-will isn’t sufficient.
Okay, enough with the dieting comparison. The same principle holds true in your religious/spiritual life; and the difference is just as great. I have a saying that is posted above my computer work-desk to remind me of that difference in my life on a daily basis. Why? Because it is too easy, it’s the easy way, to revert to the one over the other. The saying is thus:
Christianity says: “God does the work, I accept it and God gets the credit!”
You can replace the term, Christianity with the term Spirituality and it means the same, but the difference between the two is so obviously clear. The sad truth is that today, we have many churches and religious organizations promoting Religion and NOT Spirituality. The difference between the two is like the difference between dieting and a lifestyle change in eating habits. The one is easy and generally very short-term and only demands I relinquish my will for a bit, the other is more demanding in the sense that I relinquish my will eternally, but ultimately for my own good as the writer of Deuteronomy states in the verses I gave at the beginning!
A lifestyle change means that I MUST change the way my life has been lived within my own “wisdom” and reason, which hasn’t been working for my good in the long-run. I MUST surrender my reasoning, my “WILL” to that which is better for me and in the case of the spiritual change, I must surrender to the Lord’s will, totally, completely and WHOLLY! I must give my ALL!
When we can successfully surrender our all into the “hands” of a Living, Loving, Compassionate and Merciful Creator, it is no longer ME that others see, for the me is buried deep, deep inside and for all intents and purposes is and has actually been put to death so that the me CAN’T be seen. This sometimes takes a daily action of “nailing” the me to the Cross that Christ initially died on when He walked this earth. I might have to actively place my will there every day, for the human will is a mighty powerful thing, in fact it has to be if the action of doing the daily surrendering has any value to it at all.
But it is truly in this instance when that old saying that, “practice makes perfect” comes into play, for the more that we DO practice, dying daily to our will, the easier it actually becomes to kill it off in surrender to Christ’s all-perfect will!
And that brings up one other point; why God doesn’t just CAUSE our wills to be subdued and place His over ours. It wouldn’t be surrender if our Heavenly Father forced His on us and it wouldn’t be a demonstration of our love towards Him if we couldn’t do it ourselves. Because it is such a hard thing to do, especially at the very first, it is a real act of loving our Father that we are able to subdue our wills and allow His will to reign over us! It is that kind of LOVE that the Father is searching for; a love that is freely given, just as He gave His freely by sacrificing His Son on the Calvary Cross! That is why we have to sacrifice our will on the daily cross. It is a token of the same love, freely given, not easily, but willfully on our parts! That is the lifestyle change. That is the way that will ensure the long-term goal of changing our spiritual habits from those of our religious habits that were “self-centered” and only catered to what we could get out of it. The lifestyle change is based on what God, our Heavenly Father, our Best Friend can get out of our changed lives and ultimately it is for our own good and better life.
This brings us right back to what Pastor Audrey started teaching us about concerning those watching us. Do they see the quick easy change that only reverts back to the same old way we have always lived, a life no different than those around us? Do others still see ME as I really am without my “religious” disguise on?
Do they see Christ when they look my way? If not at first, at least do they see the change taking place as time goes on? When they look for the person who I used to be, do they instead have to file a “missing person’s report” because the person I used to be is nowhere to be seen? When you “practice” changing your life—-and the style you once lived, are you even going to be recognized or are you going to be someone that others want to emulate, to copy?
This type of life takes time, it takes the commitment that requires totality on our part or in other words, our ALL! This takes following and obeying the command to give our ALL! It may seem that I have spent so much time and effort in getting the point across for the concept of “ALL,” yet it is that very concept that is the basis for the spiritual, lifestyle change that we need to make.
Okay, what then about all the other things that are begging for our attention? With the “Wisdom of the Ages” in control, don’t you think that the most wise outcome will be accomplished; in our marriages, in our work, in our ministries and even in our friendships? If we surrender our wills voluntarily to the daily Cross of Christ and we allow the Spirit of the Father to reign over our lives, don’t you think that the Creator of the Universe in all HIS vast wisdom, won’t make it a life so abundantly full as to be totally unrecognizable from what it might have been? Think about it, WHO would YOU rather have in control of your life? The Creator of ALL things, or the person that has problems balancing your checkbook?
Now THAT is an easy answer!!!
So, my Brothers and Sisters, don’t fall for the “half-truth” that the enemy has foisted on the unsuspecting religious in our community; recognize that for what it is and determine in your lives that you aren’t going to give our Loving Father a part of our lives no matter how large or noble it may seem, but rather determine in your heart AND your spirit, to surrender ALL to Him. Make the lifestyle choice to change. Determine now in your heart and spirit that a “religious diet” isn’t the answer for you, but the long-term “spiritual lifestyle” of being nourished daily on the Word of God, communing with the Word Himself and allowing Him to change you from glory to glory as He sees fit!
2 Corinthians 3:17-18, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”