We all learn by imitation. Look at a baby learning to feed himself or walk…he’s watching his parents and siblings and mimicking what they do. As Children of God we are to be imitators of Him (Ephesians 5:1) and examples for the world to follow. But how well are we doing? We are told to be children of Light (I Thessalonians 5:5) spreading spiritual illumination into the darkness. We are told we are dearly loved children of God (Ephesians 5:1) that we may lavish that same kind love on others. We are called God’s Peacemakers, (Matthew 5:9) that we may demonstrate a truly selfless life of seeking out the wellbeing of others. Finally, we are called to be merciful just as our Father is merciful… that we may show mercy. (Luke 6:36) By imitating Christ to the world, we can emulate all the things that drew us to Him in the first place…and when we do, we give others the chance to be brought into the glorious freedom of also being called Children of God.
When we have a problem against another Believer Jesus is very clear in these verses how it should be handled. Initially, it should be taken up “just between the two of you”. This does not mean blowing up Social Media with slanderous posts, or calling all your friends first to complain. It means going to that person in love and truth… exposing the wrong. It also means taking responsibly for your part and being accountable for any of your own sins. It’s when they refuse to listen or receive your concerns that you ask one or two other Believers to accompany you to speak with them again. Accepting the testimony only from two or three witnesses was first established way back in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 17:6 & Deuteronomy 19:15)…for one witness isn’t enough to convict a man accused of any crime. (Sounds like the old he said, she said problem) The reason for bringing other people into the mix is not to gang up on the person but to confirm information and shed light on all areas…hopefully moving towards resolution and reconciliation.
In this prayer of dedication for the Temple, King David readily acknowledges that without God giving first, they wouldn’t have been able to contribute anything on their own towards the building of the Temple. When we’re able to grasp this concept…that everything belongs to God and that He gives us everything we need…it will change our mindset about giving. That’s because it will change our attitude from selfishness to that of joyful, spontaneous willingness to give. And the wonderful thing to remember is that you will never be able to out-give God…or as Jesus reminds us in Luke 6:38, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over…”
Wherever Paul traveled and planted new Churches the people became like his spiritual children. He called the Churches in Galatia and Corinth, “my dear children.” (I Corinthians 4:14 & Galatians 4:19) Likewise, to the young pastor, Timothy, he called him, “my son in the faith.” (I Timothy 1:2) And like a good father, Paul took seriously his responsibilities to his “children.” He didn’t shun his duties nor allow shame or guilt of his unsavory past to deter him from affirming what the Lord had done in his life. He used his past to point his “children” to Christ…exhorting them to, “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1) Never allow the shame and guilt of your past to hinder you from sharing your story with others…for that is your calling.
There is nothing that equals the close emotional attachment parents have for their children. We want only the very best for them…not wanting them to experience all the pitfalls we had growing up. But when many look at disciplining their children, they see only the negative authoritarian aspect, with parents lording over and aggressively alienating their children by intimidation. But that’s not the true meaning nor application of Godly discipline, for just as our Heavenly Father disciplines His children in order to change behaviors, (Proverbs 3:12) we are to correct and instruct our children… “For in that there is hope.” (Proverbs 19:18)
King David had gone out to welcome the Ark of the Covenant as it was being carried into Jerusalem. He headed up the procession, leaping and dancing with all his might before the Lord with unbridled joy. His wife, Michal, watched him from a window with scorn and contempt…telling him later that he acted like nothing more than worthless riff-raff. But David knew where he had come from…from his humble beginnings as a shepherd…to now as king of Israel…David hadn’t lost sight of just how far God had brought him. And he didn’t care what others thought, for he would worship his God with thankfulness. gratitude, and joy.
Sometimes fulfilling the Ministry we’ve been called to is fraught with difficulties and affliction. But the Holy Spirit continues to drive us forward…bearing witness that although we may be suffering for a bit now, we are ultimately fulfilling the Plan and Purpose of God. For Paul, God spoke of this suffering just after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus when He told Ananias to go pray for him. Speaking into the future, God said, “I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name.” (Acts 9:16) Suffering for the Lord’s Name is the highest calling of any Ministry and anyone who does is counted worthy of the Gospel.
“Here am I. Send me!” are probably the five most scariest words you’ll ever utter to the Lord. It may come immediately after hearing that still small voice…your spirit bearing witness to the authenticity that it’s truly a Word from God. There’s no uncertainty or confusion on your part…for you know, that you know, that you know it’s from Him. But it also may come only after days, weeks, months, or years of a relentless voice that seems to grow louder and more persistent with each passing day, despite how much you try to ignore , or make excuses for why you can’t do what God is asking. When God asked, “Whom shall I send?” it was merely a rhetorical question…for He already knew the answer. But what God was really asking for was Isaiah’s obedience.
Imagine the bewilderment of Nathanael when this stranger named Jesus knew all about him. But it’s easy to believe…for in both the Psalms and Isaiah it tells us that the Lord not only determines the number of stars and brings them out one by one, but calls them each by name. So if God can name every star in the night sky, He knows your name and everything about you. Need more proof? John 10:3 tells us that the sheep listen to the Shepherd’s Voice and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, not only knows your name and every detail of your life, but wants you to return to Him…for He loves you very much.
There is nothing to compare with the unspeakable love and tender mercies of God in the covenant relationship He has with His people. This love God has for His people is lasting and forever and demonstrated by the Holy Spirit as He gently draws us to Jesus. We thank You today for Your unfailing mercy, faithfulness, and love, O Lord.