To Love the Lord is to Keep His Word
“To Love the Lord is to Keep His Word”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 1, 2016
Readings: Acts 14:8-18, Psalm 67
This is a day of “testing” and experimenting. In the gym (in Mandaluyong), we could do anything and nobody would notice (because it was a big place). Here (in our new home) movements and sounds are magnified that even a whisper from the back can be heard. I thank God for what He’s doing. It’s not us who are causing things to happen; it’s God. When I came to see this place the first time, I didn’t think that this was it. But through the Scriptures, God is telling me that this will be our new place of worship for now.
When we use what God has given us, we’ll be amazed at what we can do. God created us complete. Out of our innermost being shall flow rivers of living water – not trickles, but rivers! God created us with a tremendous amount of ability, hope and wisdom. We lack in no good thing. But we’ve been bombarded with thoughts and images of impossibilities, lack and fear; as result, we get sick, we’re in poverty and many of us live unhappy lives. God tells us that all things are possible IF we believe. With the right understanding and wisdom in living our lives, we will realize that everything that God created is good. We just have to believe. The Wright brothers were mocked when they set out to build a device that could transport men to places by flying; but they didn’t listen to the discouraging words and insults. Instead, they persisted because they believed that they were on to something. Today we can fly to practically any point in the world, thanks to the persistence and faith of the Wright brothers. Edison failed a thousand times before he successfully invented the light bulb. God has given man the wisdom and ability to make life on earth better. It doesn’t matter where we were born, or what our economic status is. We only need faith in God and in what He has given us to be able to realize our dreams.
In the reading on Revelation 21 and 22, many of us think that it talks about heaven. Maybe it’s not a physical heaven but kingdom life or kingdom living that it describes. The Lord said that the Kingdom is here; therefore, the things of the Kingdom belong to us and we should stop depending on the things of the world. We have become slaves of the world system that we believe, for example, that we can’t be successful unless we have a college degree. This is not true. Not having a college won’t stop us from realizing our dreams. We fail because we are not using what God gave us, and in the process, we are limiting ourselves. Jesus removed sin, sickness and disease from our lives, and these things should not control us. We’ve been healed by God. People think that when you reach a certain age, you should be under medication because this is the norm. Another lie. God gave us healing from the cross.
In the account in Revelation, there is no temple because “the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple”. There is also no need of the sun or the moon because the glory of God has illumined the New Jerusalem. The river described in Revelation 22, “a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street” is not actual water but life flowing out of our innermost being and this life is for the healing of the nations. Sin can no longer control us because we’ve been made holy and righteous. Sickness and pain can’t stay in our lives because we’ve been healed. Death can’t defeat us because we have eternal life in Christ. This means we can’t stay in grief when a loved one dies; instead, we can rejoice because we know that they will live forever with God. The streets of gold in the New Jerusalem is really the way of life of God which, like gold, is shining, beautiful and precious. This is the life that God gave us and desires for us to live. This is what the book of Revelation is telling us – the life that God gave us; the life that we now have in Christ. Jesus also refers to this life in the Gospel in John 14 with the peace that He gives us – the kind that the world cannot give, but the peace that dispels the fear from our lives. This peace from God gives us strength and stability which nothing and no one in the world can give. Even if we’re going through a tough time, we know it will pass and won’t overcome us because God who is in us is greater than anyone or anything in the world. We allow the world to dictate to us how we ought to live our lives and we’ve become its slave, allowing ourselves to be used by the system. Only Christ can solve the problems of this nation, not anyone who promises to make our lives better. When we put our trust in Him, He will set events to change our circumstances.
In Acts, the crippled man had never walked all his life. People gave him alms and just left him as he was. Paul saw the frustration and hardship of the man, as if he was saying, “I don’t like to beg all my life; I want healing!” Paul saw what was in the lame man’s heart and so told the man, “Stand upright on your feet. And he leaped up and began to walk” (Acts 14:10).
What are the desires of your heart? Are you satisfied with being crippled, begging and helpless? Or do you want to be healed and made whole? God wants us to be whole in every area of our lives. Pharmaceutical companies don’t want us to be healed of our ailments. They just want to sustain us so we’ll keep buying their medicines and they can keep making money out of us. We should wake up and realize that God gave us everything we need to live healthy and victorious lives.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word….” (John 14:23). We say we love Christ but we don’t follow His words. We are His ambassadors, the witnesses of His strength, peace and love. We should keep His word. As parents, we get angry when our children don’t listen to us. This is what we
do to God when we don’t keep His Word. “He who does not love Me does not keep My words….” (verse 24). Most of us don’t even know His word, so how can we keep it? This is why we get into trouble. “My people perish for lack of knowledge”. We should take the time to study the Word of God so we will know what He has already given us. The Lord gives us His peace, the peace in the heart that assures us that even if we’ve done wrong, God forgives us and will always love us. This is peace. The only time we see Jesus upset was when He destroyed the merchants’ tables on the temple. But He knew no sin, so He had peace even when the people came against Him, persecuted Him and threatened to kill Him. In our lives, whenever we are persecuted, we should know that God is our defender and ally. God gives us peace in the midst of all the confusion in the world, because He has forgiven us. He is the Judge; no one else. He is telling us today, “You’ve been forgiven; you have nothing to fear. But just to make sure that you remember all this, I have sent to you the Holy Spirit. He is My strength and now He will be the strength of your life.”
The fruit of the trees in Revelation is the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts that we need to guide us in life so that we can live like Christ. God is telling us today that we should not go back to being slaves of the old life. Psalm 67 is a praise to God for all the great things He has done. He sent His Son to bring us deliverance from sin, pain and sickness. God loves us! He has forgiven us. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. This is the hope that Easter gives us.