Great Day for UP

Great Day for Up!

Have you ever floated a check? Meaning: Have you ever written a check, knowing that you didn’t have the money in your bank account, but knowing it would be there by the time they cashed your check? Some of us have done that. And this is not a bad thing IF you know the money will be there.

BUT, have you ever written a bad check, knowing the money was not there and wasn’t going to be there?

That is evil and it is a crime; that’s not paying your debt.

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." (Pay UP)

This is referring to all kinds of debts, whether monetary (loans, bills, taxes, etc.) or non-monetary (civil service, honor, respect, etc.) This verse means that we are to fulfill or to pay our debts in accordance with what was agreed upon, is morally right, or is required by law.

Notice, we are to pay all our debts except one, the continuing debt to love one another.  We love others, and we especially love the Lord, so we pay our debts. God wants us to be honest people and pay our bills, because we love and we do no harm to anyone.

God never stops loving us, so we can never get to the point where we can say, "I have done enough; I have loved enough."

You and I will never get to the point that we have, in love, sacrificed enough for others, given enough of our time, energy, money, efforts, kindness, and even patience to others.

There is no end to our obligation to love.

No matter how loving we may have been in the past, we are still indebted and obligated to love others.

Sum UP

Love is Jesus’ command and it sums UP the law.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

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 regarding others. Loving God and others sums UP what God wants us to do.

Wake UP

Next, our text gives a wake UP call. 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 are living an imaginary kind of life in the sense that they are not living in the real spiritual world. They 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 bothered.

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 the day when Jesus returns. When He comes back, what will He find us doing?

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 just pretended obedience to societal laws! 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.
Suit UP

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 by praying, “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.”

We could also pray, “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.”

If we would pray like that, we would be putting aside the deeds of darkness and putting on the armor of light, which is Christ. Then 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.

The time remaining for change, hope, redemption, life, joy, and peace is quickly dwindling. The final judgment is closer than ever. Everyone’s 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!

When Jesus returns, what a great day for going UP that will be! But what will we be doing when He comes? How will He find us? Will we be a bride dressed and ready for her bridegroom, without spot, wrinkle, or blemish; telling others to get ready?

Clean UP

Since time is short, our text tells us that we need to clean UP! “Let us behave decently…” For instance, a soon-to-be bride will not spend her time watching the TV and eating bonbons. Rather, she will spend her limited time getting ready for her wedding day. Her thoughts are not on today but tomorrow. Therefore, she will probably spend her time dieting, looking for a wedding dress, and making sure that she is prepared for that very special day.

Likewise, an Olympic athlete will not spend his time sleeping in and eating burgers 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.

In a similar way, Christians need to understand the present time, so that we will not pursue the unrighteous things of this world, but rather righteousness. To make sure that we understand, our text lists some of the wicked deeds of darkness that we should put off or have nothing to do with. Of course, this is not a complete list, but rather it is an example of the kinds of things that Christians should have nothing to do with.

Dress UP.

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 live. We are to "clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”. In other words, by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, we are to dress UP and grow UP by pursuing Christ’s example, giving no thought or attention toward living an evil life.

Here we see both physical actions and mental attitudes: Both are important as we put on the armor of light, clothe ourselves with Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the flesh.

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.

Secondly, do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. The King James Version says “make no provision” for the flesh. The idea is of forethought and focusing on Christ instead of on temptations. 

James 1:13-15 
When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 

Sin, most of the time, doesn’t just pounce on us like a leopard in the jungle, but it happens gradually. 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, reject the thought immediately and 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.

Grow UP

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! Any sin or selfishness is a misuse of the time Jesus has bought for us by His own blood.

God’s purpose for the time He gives us is to grow UP and be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). That is, we take upon ourselves, His character, His priorities, His vision, His purpose, His focus, and His light.

Like God Himself, we are to be what some might call “reckless” lovers. Our displays of divine love should be impulsive, bold, and without consideration of what others might consider risky. We are to stop at nothing – no obstacle, no embarrassment or shame – no doubt or fear should keep us from reaching out with His love!

We love God absolutely when we value every moment the Lord provides us to love others sacrificially for His glory! What a blessed and joyous way to live!

If you want an UP-beat, positive message, that will bring happiness to your life, this is it!

Loving God and others makes every day a great day to be UP! This is the only way to be truly happy in this life!

I could come UP with more ideas. However, to sum UP: the basic principles of Christian living are to love others and to live righteously. 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, in need of a savior, I have good news: 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 Him publicly today as your Lord and Savior, and repent of your sin. Give your life to Him by dying to yourself in baptism. You will be born again of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be fully awake for the first time in your life. You will also be headed UP when Jesus returns for His redeemed!