Great Day for UP

Great Day for Up!

The “woke” cancel culture crowd continues to find objectionable material. You would expect it to be the gory video games, or the X-rated songs and movies, but no; they have targeted children’s cartoons and books. These neo-Nazis are not burning books in the streets yet, but they are taking them out of the libraries, schools, market places, and off TV. Recently, the most surprising target is the universally loved Dr. Seuss books.

Ultimately, their target is the Christian Bible. First, they will declare the Bible offensive to the culture, hateful towards homosexuals, and judgmental about people’s behaviors. It is already banned from public schools. Some publishers will rewrite the Bible to appease those who are offended by it. Preachers will be arrested for preaching the “offensive” verses.

While it is still possible to resist these people, we should do so. Therefore, I will continue to preach from the Bible and share my sermons on social media. And for an additional counter culture treat this week, I have reworked a past sermon that was inspired by Dr. Seuss’s book, “A Great Day for UP!”

Last week, we heard Jesus declare that the greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. The second greatest commandment, Jesus said, was to love your neighbor as yourself. We learned love is an action word, not a feeling. Here are some more ways to love God and our neighbor (counter culturists will find this offensive, because any convicting truth is offensive to them):

Romans 13:8-14 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. For commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissention and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

"Let no debt remain outstanding." This is referring to all kinds of debts, whether monetary (loans, bills, taxes, etc.) or non-monetary (civil service, honor, respect, etc.) This means we are to fulfill or to pay our debts in accordance with what is agreed upon, is morally right, or is required by law. Because we love God and we love others, we are to be honest and harm no one by paying what we owe.

Notice, we are to pay all our debts except one, the continuing debt to love one another.

God never stops loving us, so we can never say, "I have loved enough." You and I will never get to the point where we have given enough of our time, energy, money, efforts, kindness, and patience to others. There is no end to our obligation to love one another. No matter how loving we may have been in the past, we are still indebted and obligated to love others, because loving others is Jesus’ command.

John 15:12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Love motivates us to do the right thing. If we love people like we are supposed to, we will not commit adultery or lust after someone. We will not murder anyone or fight with them. We will not steal from them or try to cheat them.

As we just read, “And whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” This is the essence of all God’s commands. Loving God and others sums UP what God wants us to do.

Next, our text tells us to wake UP. The hour has come for you to wake from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

Most people today don’t recognize what’s going on and what is going to happen in this world or in their own lives. They need a wake UP call of some kind, but they don’t want to be awakened. They are like the character in Dr. Seuss’ book, who thought it was a great day for UP except he didn’t want to be disturbed.

UP! UP! UP!
Great day for UP!
Wake every person, pig and pup,
till EVERYONE on earth is up!
Except for me.
Please go away.
No up.
I'm sleeping in today.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-9 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ

Understand the present time – each day that passes brings us closer to total persecution and the day when Jesus returns. When He comes back, what will He find us doing? Will we be hiding in silence or busy making disciples of Jesus Christ?

Sometimes we Christians act like we are in some kind of game or are in a play – we are simply playing the part of a Christian. Scripture is telling us to wake UP! This is serious business – lives are at stake – and we need to rise to a higher standard than obedience to societal rules!

We need to embrace the higher calling of love, and the higher responsibility of turning our lives over to Jesus for His use! We need to let people experience the love of Christ in us.

Then our text says, “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” How do we do that?

How about if we started each day getting filled UP by praying, “Father, fill me with your Holy Spirit today, make me strong and able to withstand temptation. Fill me with wisdom to know what You want me to say and do today. Lord, place angels in my path and Your Word in my mouth to do battle against the enemy and persuade others to make You their Lord.”

We could also pray at the end of the day, “Lord, forgive me for what I have done that is out of bounds with Your character. Cleanse me from all that I saw, or heard, or experienced, that drew me towards the world instead of towards You.”

If we would pray and live like that, we would be putting aside the deeds of darkness and putting on the armor of light, which is Christ. Filled with the Holy Spirit, we would be equipped to defeat anything we face in these last days.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”

Persecution and Judgment Day are closer than ever. Opportunities to be saved are dwindling by the hour. “Tomorrow” or even “in a few minutes” may already be too late. Yes, this is a time of great urgency, but the nature of the urgency is not political. The urgency of our time is to share the Gospel and love of Christ that impacts lives for eternity while we still can!

Since time is short, our text tells us that we need to clean UP! “Let us behave decently…”

For example, a soon-to-be bride will spend her time getting ready for her wedding day. Her thoughts are not only on today but also on tomorrow. Therefore, she will spend her time making sure that she is prepared for that very special day. Likewise, we are the Bride of Christ. We should be cleaning UP and getting ready for our wedding day!

In a similar fashion, an Olympic athlete will not waste time as he sees the Olympics approaching. Rather, he will be up at dawn for training and watching his diet. Why? Because he understands the present time.

Christians need to understand the present time, so that we will not pursue the unrighteous things of this world, but rather the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. To help us clean UP, our text lists some of the wicked deeds of darkness that we should put off or have nothing to do with. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissention and jealousy. Of course, this is not a complete list, but rather it is an example of the kinds of things that Christians should not be doing.

Our text also gives us an example of righteous living. Rather than a list of righteous acts, it points us to a person—Jesus Christ. He is the model for how we are to dress UP. We are to "clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ."

Ephesians 4:21-24 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

As you put on your fresh physical clothes in the morning, also pray that the Holy Spirit will clothe you with the Lord Jesus Christ, meaning you will take on Christ’s character, the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

If we will do that every day, by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, we will grow UP by gradually becoming more like Jesus.

Ephesians 4:15-16 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Lastly, our text says do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Here we see that both physical actions and mental attitudes are important as we clothe ourselves with Christ. We are to pursue Christ and not think about how to gratify our sinful desires.

The battle for righteousness and loving others takes place in our mind. To win the battle, we must focus on Christ instead of temptations of the flesh.

Sin, most of the time, doesn’t pounce on us like a leopard in the jungle, but it creeps UP on us gradually, like a serpent. It begins with a thought. We see an image, we feel an emotion, we hear a familiar set of words, and we start thinking in certain ways. That thought grows into a temptation and begins to act on us. It entices us to sin. We feed it, little by little, until we decide to act in a way we know we shouldn’t.

We can defeat this common scenario of temptation by using the initial thought as a warning sign. Instead of thinking about the temptation, consider the triggering thought as a loud warning to reject the temptation immediately and to focus on Christ.

We can destroy temptation in its early stages with prayer, worship, repeating God’s Word, getting help from a brother or sister, and cutting ourselves off from the supply. That means we avoid certain places, people, or activities to prevent the temptation and the opportunity to sin.

Ephesians 5:6-16 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

The first step to making the best use of the time God has given us, is to refuse to waste, squander, or misuse any of it! God’s purpose for the time He gives us is for us to grow UP and be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). That is, we take upon ourselves, Christ’s character, His priorities, His vision, His purpose, His focus, and His light. Then we lovingly proclaim Jesus and make disciples of Christ.

Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Like God Himself, we are to be what some might call “reckless” lovers. Our displays of divine love should be spontaneous, bold, and without consideration of what others might consider risky. We are to stop at nothing – no obstacle, no embarrassment nor shame – no doubt nor fear should keep us from reaching out to people with Christ’s love!

If you want an UP-beat, positive life, this is it! Loving God and others makes every day a great day to be UP! It is the only way to be truly happy in this world!

I could come UP with more Scriptures. However, to sum UP: the basic principles of Christian living are to love God by obeying His commandments and to love others. It’s time to stop pushing the snooze button in our Christian lives. It is time to wake UP, get cleaned UP, get dressed UP, get filled UP, and grow UP! There is a lot to do before Jesus comes, and you will be happy if you are living for Him instead of living for yourself.

If the Holy Spirit is stirring you UP with the revelation that you are a sinner on your way to Hell and in need of a savior, I have good news for you: Look UP! Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who has taken your punishment and redeemed you. Will you believe this and accept Him as your Savior?

If so, confess your faith in Jesus publicly today, and repent of your sin. Give your life to Jesus by dying to yourself in baptism. You will be born again of the Holy Spirit. You won’t be “woke”, but you will be fully awake for the first time in your life. You will also be headed UP when Jesus returns for His redeemed Bride!