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(Part 32)


June 23, 2010

Today’s readings
2 Kings 22:8-23:3
Psalm 119:33-40
Matthew 7:15-20

We as Christians are known by the fruits of our lives (Mt 7:20). In this we look to a basic principle: “every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.” (Mt 7:17). We are supposed to bear good fruit, because we are to be good trees deeply rooted in Christ (see TWFC Part 31). Otherwise, we are fit only to “be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Mt 7:19).

Now there are some who bear no fruit. They are not necessarily bad people, but they also do not manifest the life of Christ. In the parable of the barren fig tree, Jesus also said that it was to be cut down (Lk 13:7). Thus we cannot just coast along in our Christian life, we cannot be unmindful of God’s call to holiness and righteousness, we cannot live only for ourselves but not for Him.

We have only one way to go, and that is to bear good fruit. How do we come rooted in Christ such that we do bear good fruit?

Jesus taught about the vine and the branches. We are to remain in him and him in us so that we will bear much fruit (Jn 15:5). If we are to remain in him, his words must remain in us (Jn 15:7a). This means we need to keep his commandments. If we do so, we will remain in him and in his love (Jn 15:10).

Thus the psalmist speaks about the importance of God’s commandments. First he refers to them in different ways: laws, teaching, commands, decrees, edicts and precepts (Ps 119:33-40). Then he describes how we should regard these commandments: to observe them with care, to keep them with all our heart, to delight in them, to long for them. Finally he looks forward to what observing God’s commandments will bring to him: life and what is good.

What then is our part? We ask God to teach us the way of His laws, to give us insight to observe His teaching, to lead us in the path of His commands, to direct our hearts toward His decrees, to avert our eyes from what is worthless (Ps 119:33-37). We are to truly long for His precepts (Ps 119:40a).

The Israelites were God’s beloved chosen people. However, they turned away from Him. God gave them His commandments, but they not only no longer observed them, they were also no longer cognizant of them. Thus when the high priest Hilkiah found the book of the law in the temple, and the scribe Shaphan read it aloud to King Josiah, the king was immediately galvanized into action. First he tore his garments as a sign of repentance. Then he had his key people look deeper into the matter. Then he assembled all the people and had the contents of the book read out to them. Finally he renewed the people’s covenant with God. This was their covenant to “follow him and observe his ordinances, statutes and decrees with their whole hearts and souls” (2 Kgs 23:3).

Because of his actions, God told King Josiah that he would not see the evil to be brought upon Israel for their turning away and he would die in peace.

Because their fathers did not obey the stipulations of the book of the covenant, the anger of the Lord was set furiously against them (2 Kgs 22:13). The prophetess Huldah said that the Lord would bring upon them all the evil that was threatened in the book (2 Kgs 22:16). Not to bear good fruit and not to obey God’s commands will result in our being cut down and thrown into the fire!

We too are covenanted with God--generally as Christians, and particularly as CFC-FFL. A covenant is a serious matter. If we make promises to God, we should keep them. Otherwise God’s anger will be set ablaze against us.

In our covenant with God, He gives us commandments, and we make promises to Him. We are to observe both. If we promise to pray and read the Bible daily, we should do so. If we promise to attend our meetings and give generously of our finances, we should do so.

We should not see His commands and our promises as burdens, but rather as great blessings. Like the psalmist, we should delight in them and long to accomplish them. For we know that they are the way to true life and to all the good that God has already prepared for us.

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