A Hat With A Message
By S.J. Black
More often than not on the weekends you are likely to find me wearing a ball cap. I really don’t know why but that is just the way I am. I am not going bald and trying to hide thinning hair or trying to avoid sunburn on my head. Maybe I am the consummate ‘T-shirt and jeans’ type of guy? To tell the truth it is more often than not because I am too lazy to comb my hair so I just throw on a hat instead.
Though, a bit embarrassing to write about I have had one hat that I have been wearing for some time now. It is just a plain tan hat with a navy colored bill with no logos or anything. The only problem is that it is getting a bit dirty and I really need to find a new one so that I can retire the old one.
I hate the prospect of breaking in a new hat. Honestly, I really like my old one that is all broken in just right. So for a while now I have been able to hide behind the excuse of not being able to find a new one that I like.
It seems that every hat I have been able to find is either promoting something sports related or some sort of alcohol type of product such as a particular brand of beer. Those just aren’t for me.
However, I stopped at a little store today. As I stood in line waiting to pay for my purchases I looked up at a rack of hats sort of scanning them and there it was, “the one” for me. The hat that caught my eye said, “Jesus is Lord.” I purchased the hat and have worn it all day today.
But I began pondering the message on the hat, “Jesus is Lord”. The more I thought about it this is a very important and needed message in this day and age.
First, it made me wonder what does the word “Lord” really mean? Merriam-Webster On-line has several definitions for the word “Lord”:
1 : one having power and authority over others: a : a ruler by hereditary right or preeminence to whom service and obedience are due.
So lets see what we get when we connect a few dots here. The Word of God as recorded in the Bible says; “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 NIV)
As noted, we can define Lord as a ruler to whom service and obedience are due.
If all of this is true that we are to confess Jesus as Lord and a Lord is someone to whom we owe service and obedience, then it makes me wonder about a lot of the church in this day and age.
How many “consumer Christian” types that make up the majority of the church today even consider the implications behind making Jesus the Lord of their life? We know that having a Lord does not mean that you go to church and act “religious” for two hours every Sunday and then chase after anything and everything except the Lord with the rest of your week.
We all fall into the trap these days of putting so many things before the Lord. Be it work, a favorite T.V. show, school or a hobby. Any and all of these things can become an idol if we are not careful.
The question is whether God is getting your best and you are earnestly seeking Him or is He getting the left over time at the end of your day as you are falling asleep in prayer on a good day?
Are we seeking God’s guidance about where to go in life or just doing what we want to do and assuming God will be “ok” with whatever we decide? Many just rush off after new things and never even think about asking the Lord about His guidance on the issue then they wonder why it turns out a disaster that makes them miserable?
Have you ever wondered why the church can’t or won’t make a difference in today’s world? The church for the most part has lost a “fear of the Lord”. Not a shaking in fear sort of fear of the Lord wondering when the lightening bolt is coming down for us, but a desire truly deep down inside that compels someone to really take up their cross daily even when we don’t really want to or feel like taking up that cross. Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10 as well as Psalm 111:10 all state: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” This is a fear of living in disobedience to the word of God and a desire to live in line with what the Word says. The fear of the Lord is to hate what God hates and to love what He loves. The fear of the Lord means to respect and obey His Word above all else. This is the way the early church operated and they grew in numbers as they walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit as we see written in Acts 9:31:
‘Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.”
It seems like sometimes that the only fear we have is a fear of doing what God commands us to do. So how do we reconcile the command Paul gave us in Philippians 2:12 to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” with our own lack of faith when we fear doing what God commands.
The answer honestly is we can’t reconcile it. We either serve the Lord or we serve this fallen world and our flesh. Just a few verses that come to mind are:
“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” (1 Corinthians 10:21-22)
That being said, yes I am well aware that Grace and Grace only is what saves us. But being saved by Grace is the Lord’s mercy on us because no matter how hard we try we will never ever please a perfect, righteous and Holy God. What saved by Grace does not give us is a license to sin and live any way we want while constantly chasing after the things of the world. You won’t hear this message in today’s “seeker sensitive” church but I am not trying to finance a mansion and fancy cars so personally I don’t plan to water down what God’s word has to say for fear of running off a donor.
Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
It isn’t about doing “works” to “earn” our salvation. It is more of a question of whether or not we have a desire in our hearts to truly seek what the Lord wants from us on a continual basis.
Jesus actually draws a pretty clear line of distinction in the book of John chapter 14. First in verses fifteen, twenty-one and twenty-three He states loosely paraphrased that if you love Him you will keep His commandments. But then in contrast Jesus also states in verse twenty-four; “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”
So what were Jesus’ commandments? There were many but one particular section of Scripture comes to mind for me that sums up the rest of His commandments:
“Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the 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)
But isn’t that what the Lord really wants, your heart? He wants us to love Him with all our heart, not to split time with our “stuff” whatever that might be. If Jesus really has become our Lord and we really had a change of heart after accepting the Gospel then wouldn’t a change of heart of that nature result in a change in the way we live?
Not a change that we make because we have to do so to receive salvation but rather a change that takes place naturally because we love our Lord and want to live in a way that is pleasing to Him? It would be a change that is a direct result of being in a relationship with Jesus and wanting to please Him out of love for Him.
As the old Baptist hymn goes, “and the things of this world will grow strangely dim” or something along those lines.
If there hasn’t been a change in the way we live and the things we seek after then perhaps we need to be challenged to seek the answer of why there has been no change. I have known some in the past that were “saved” and Baptized where it never made a moments difference in their lives. When seeking an answer to the question from the Lord some have found that they were not saved at all but only had an emotional “religious” experience and perhaps they knew some stories or other things “about Jesus” but they didn’t really “know Jesus.” I myself could have been included in this group at one time after being “saved” and baptized at a church camp when I was younger.
Many today are always chasing after the things of this world, trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” if you will.
However, Jesus said clearly a number of things on this topic:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:33 – 34)
So if Jesus made the truth clear on this matter that we are to be seeking God and not the things of this world, why is it that often Jesus takes a back seat to whatever career path people have chosen?
Others are into their hobby whatever that might be…golf game, going to the gym, fishing, computer games or whatever else. It is very easy for something like this to become sin because we make it an idol in our lives. If Jesus is taking a back seat to whatever it might be then sorry to tell you but it is a sin.
The Lord wants to be first in our lives and He is a jealous God who does not want to compete for priority in our lives. So why is it that in so many cases the Lord not only has to compete for priority but often, He looses the competition?
What about others out there who have something “more serious” they need to deal with in their walk?
For example, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
I find it interesting that I have run into people who are caught up in adulterous affairs, people who are alcoholics or even practicing homosexuals who claim they are saved by Grace so their lifestyle doesn’t matter. They don’t seem to have any desire to confess their sin and repent at all. If you lovingly care enough about them to speak up and point out what the Bible says then of course you are ‘judging’ them. Many hide behind this because they don’t like to feel uncomfortable when hearing the word of God. Feeling uncomfortable means change is needed and they like their lifestyle and don’t want to give it up. The ultimate in being uncomfortable is the nagging thought that there might be a literal hell awaiting them if they don’t change their ways.
If they are saved then certainly I agree that sin is sin in the eyes of the Lord. But I think if one continues to have no repentance or remorse about living in some of these sins as a lifestyle they really need to question if they are saved at all. It has been my observation in both my own experience and others’ that if you are truly walking with Jesus then He will lead you out of this type of lifestyle of sin.
There certainly does not seem to be any love of the truth in some of these people and they certainly would have a hard time in trying to argue that Jesus is really the Lord of their life. When Jesus comes into a person’s life it should result in a change of heart. If not right away then certainly over time as we read the Word daily and seek to take up our cross daily. Saved by Grace is certainly true but Paul sure seemed to make a statement here of “shall not inherit the Kingdom” in the verse that did not really leave any room for debate, his statement was pretty black and white. If I were living in a lifestyle of these fashions I would really have to be honest with myself and ask if the Spirit of the Living God really lived in my heart or if I was simply “religious.”
Jesus said no one could serve two masters. So I guess the real question we need to challenge ourselves with often is the question of whom or what is the master or Lord of our lives.
My thought has always been that if you truly believe something then it will change the way you act. Actions speak louder than words might be a good way to put it.
We all struggle with our faith at times, we all fail daily and sometimes we fail in a major way. Do struggles in our faith and our failures condemn us to hell? No, works do not save us. Our failures will make us reap the consequences of what we have sown, our failures will cost us eternal rewards but they will not condemn us to hell if we really truly belong to Jesus.
Our failures will likely make us miserable and honestly if someone is a believer and living in a life style of sin I sincerely hope in a loving concern type of way that they are miserable. I sincerely hope that the Lord would allow chastisement in their lives to get them back on the right path instead of allowing them to sear their conscience so much that they no longer have any guilt or remorse for the things they are doing. Perhaps God can use that to motivate them to repent and turn back to the Lord. I truly hope that any drunkard or drug addict out there would “hit bottom” and go seek the Lord for deliverance or that the adulterer would become so eaten alive with guilt that it would motivate them to put a stop to what they are doing and confess first to the Lord and then their spouse.
I can tell you that a very scary place to be is one of knowing what God’s word says about something and not changing our ways due to willful disobedience. It means you have hardened your heart and seared your conscience. At some point the Lord will give you over to sin and that is indeed a very scary place to be. As Scripture says in Hebrews 10:31 “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
If we truly believe something we act on it. If we truly love Jesus and have a relationship with Him it will affect the way we live and the things we do. Not because we have to change but because we are motivated by a love for Jesus that it will become our hearts desire to change as we draw close to Jesus.
The question that we need to challenge ourselves with frequently is who is our Lord.