Love is to walk in obedience

Introduction Michael Ngubane

We would like to thank the Lord that He has kept us, on this the day of the Lord. We are fully aware of the fact that we are unable to do anything unless the Lord allows it. May we experience God’s presence.

We plan to continue with the June Youth Conference despite the COVID-19 pandemic. It will take place from 19 – 25 June. Services will take place at 10h00, 15h00 and 19h00 every day. The first service is scheduled for 19 June at 19h00. The theme is taken from 1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith.

The youth are invited to access the conference through Radio Khwezi or the KSB website livestream on any digital device. It would be wonderful if the whole family could listen to the messages. Do remember that if you are tied up with duties or work, you can always watch the messages on the livestream channel later.

I see the house of faith in a new way. In my mind’s eye these benches are filled with all those in the house of faith who attend these services. Let’s fight the good fight of faith and by God’s grace we will overcome.

May the Lord bless His word that it will enrich your heart and life. I would like to read a text from 2 John:

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love. I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 2 John 1-6

As an introduction I would like to speak on a word from Isaiah 55:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8 – 9

These are challenging words where God the Almighty says, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. God shows us how high and exalted He is above everything. Man cannot reach out to God and find God. God is far exalted and His thoughts exceed and transcend all our imaginations. Do you serve this God who says, my thoughts are not your thoughts? Or is your God only as big as your thoughts? You have studied His word for years on end. You have heard sermons that you are tired of hearing. You say I know it all. You say I have heard it all before, why do I need to hear it again? But as God creates every day, every new morning so can He be new to you – rich in life, in thoughts and in existence. God is not limited to your own thinking. Do you limit God because of your faults? Do you create room for this God whose thoughts you do not know? He tells us blatantly that His thoughts are not our thoughts.

Consider your thoughts. Consider the sphere in which you live. Think of what you are able and not able to do. You may feel very constricted. You may be married into a family that is restrictive and as a wife you only see the confines and restrictive jail in which you live and you pity yourself because of the circumstances in which God has placed you. You ask whether that is all that God called me for? For days you make plans and cry agonisingly in your spirit, “Lord, what will the end of all this be?” Maybe as a pastor, a missionary, a lay preacher, in that world where you have sacrificed yourself and sweated, you know what you have experienced, this is your world, you have laboured as few have. You know the hardships you have endured. These are your thoughts but are they God’s thoughts?

These are your experiences, your world but have you ever bowed in acknowledgement and said, “Lord, my thoughts are not Your thoughts. Lord, I don’t know Your thoughts!”

At the beginning of this chapter God invites, He says, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Isaiah 55:1-3

 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6,7

Do you understand why God says that My thoughts are not Your thoughts? It is only through turning to the Lord, forsaking our evil thoughts, our way, that we will be able to receive some of His thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 55:11-13

Will you surrender to His thoughts even if they go against your own desires, feelings, hurts and pains? Many people have chosen and are choosing the Lord and His ways but they have not let go of their own thoughts, convictions and experiences. Here is the invitation: surrender to His thoughts. Allow the sun to rise and seek the thoughts that are from above. Seek God’s world not your world. You will only perish; your life will be full of thorns and hurts and you will be weak. You will be the victim instead the victor.

Let us go back to the portion in 2 John. In this text John introduces himself as the elder.

“…he is now the elder – possibly the oldest apostle now living, the chief elder in the church of God. An old disciple is honourable, and an old apostle and leader of disciples is more so. He was now old in holy service and experience, had seen and tasted much of heaven, and was much nearer than when at first he believed.” Matthew Henry

He was a disciple, he called himself ‘the one loved by the Lord’. Can we say I am one loved by the Lord? Why did the Lord love me? Only a true disciple can say I have been loved by the Lord; and if you once were a true disciple, you might remember how the Lord loved you. Have you forgotten it? Maybe the aches and pains have caused that remembrance to dwindle and it seems to you – and to those who look at you – as though you are one who has lost that appreciation you once had.

John writes to a chosen lady and her children. It is amazing that this letter should be addressed to this lady. And some letters are addressed to such as of her calibre. Perhaps a person of eminent quality of birth, education or estate. It is well that the gospel has gone among such. John says …to the chosen lady and her children whom I love in the truth. John says, he – who was the beloved disciple – had learnt the exercise of love; and he especially loved those who loved that Lord who loved him. “We should not be religious merely by fits and starts, in certain moods and moons; but should dwell within us, in our minds and hearts, in our faith and love.” It is amazing that John should say to this lady and her children, whom I love in the truth and not only I but also all who know the truth.

John had the assurance that if he loved this lady then those who knew the truth would also love her. It is because of the truth, no other reasons. It is because of the truth which lives in us. These are such convincing words. This truth and this love will be with us forever. What determination there is in these words! What a solid foundation there is in these words! No wonder that even when he was exiled to an island, for Christ’s sake, that even there heavenly mysteries were revealed to him. There was such a decisiveness in him, such a choice that he had made, and he said, this truth will be in me forever.

We Christians are so tossed about like papers in the wind. If somebody fails to greet me my faith is gone. Yesterday the person smiled at me, today he did not – it clean bowls you! It hits you in the centre of the wicket, you are out of the game, you walk away, with your head down and wish the ground would swallow you. Haven’t you made a decision for Christ or is it in fits and starts, only in certain moods and moons? Like people who read their horoscope according to the moon. This was not the case with John.

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.  He says, just as we have received the commandment. Christians do not love commandments. No, we want to live it up. No, we want to live in freedom, in liberty according to how the Lord guides me. This John was a man filled with the Holy Spirit and he said, I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. Do you want to love Jesus? Obey His commands. Many people say that they love Jesus but when you look at them you are confused because they love something else more than Jesus. “I love Jesus but I like my free time. I have idols in my life because rather than attend a service I look at this and that.” When we were young, this was also addressed in our lives. When you are young cars fill your mind. You know all the latest models and various features of each car. You know the cost of each one, although you do not own one. Your heart is there. Your dreams are there. This enlivens you. But when Jesus commands you to leave the racetrack and go on an outreach then it is a struggle within and you consider taking your car magazine along. Do you have an idol in your life which takes the place of Jesus?

The idol might be yourself – your likes and dislikes. You want your house to be neat and tidy and if somebody enters with dirty feet, it troubles you until bedtime. When you have to give away your last penny, you think of all you could have done with that penny but now because of your faith you had to give it away.

We lose the love so easily. We do not walk in obedience to what our Lord Jesus commands us. Love is to walk, not a feeling. You love those people but you do not walk to them. You keep your distance. You exercise your love but to eat with them, shower with them, sleep with them … Sorry, I hope you understand what I mean. To do to them what you wish they would do to you. “Yes Lord,” you say, “for my own children, my relatives I am willing to sacrifice but do they really need it? Maybe they do not really need it. They would not appreciate it as much as these would.”

The Lord says in Matthew 15:18, 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. In Psalms it says that God is not in the thoughts of the wicked.  …in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Psalms 10:4

The thoughts of the righteous are right and we need to walk in accordance with the thoughts of God, according to what is acceptable to Him.

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. This is the barometer of love. It is not necessarily that you will always feel like it because we live in the flesh and our nature often rebels against the Spirit and that which God wants from me. Sometimes you do not do what pleases people but if God sends you, you need to obey His command and then we are living in love. He says that if you want to live in love and anyone comes to you but does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. That is love. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. This is love; that we walk in obedience to His commands. Love is not sharing with someone in his wicked work. Love is not just a feeling.

It is only grace that God’s thoughts that are much higher than ours, can penetrate our own thoughts and hearts, change our hearts so that the outflow of our hearts is love and obedience to His commands. Subject your feelings to love. Subject your feelings to obedience to Christ’s commands. Christ loved us so much that He was willing to suffer, to be rejected and despised, a Man of sorrows so that He could die and shed His blood, so that we could be saved out of the misery of an unloving world. It was through the way of the cross and His suffering that Christ showed us His love. Is that love? It is difficult to understand.

John urges this dear lady: that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. This was Christ’s passion – that He came to save from sin. Still today He invites everyone to come and receive freely so that we walk in love. This means adhering to what is right, doing what is right and turning from evil. It means bringing the gospel so that people will turn from their sin and that you yourself can repent and turn from sin and then the love of God can be shed abroad amongst us. Jealousy, criticism, fault finding, anger, unfriendliness, unkindness and unforgiveness are the things that spoil the love. Envy, gossip, strife and disunity are the cancer that causes love to vanish very quickly. John could thank this lady and he was so gladdened that he found her children living in this love where sin had no room. The Lord bound them together with an eternal love and the truth of Christ which John said will remain with him (and he hoped with others) forever. What a high standard this truth and love is! I am sure that this is what Jesus intended for His church too, that we can be healthy ministers of the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

German translation



French translation