The Faithfulness of God – Micah 7:18-20

God ALWAYS Keeps His Word

18 Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
in days long ago.

Perfect Pardon

Unlike men, God is perfect in all His ways.  When God pardon’s our sin, He pardons it completely.  It is as if it had never happened:

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

God no longer holds our sin against us.  We who are in Christ, who have believed upon the name of the One and Only Son of God, have been cleared of all charges – past, present, and future.  God greatly desires that as former criminals we be reformed and act as He would desire, just as man wants former criminals to be reintegrated into society in a lawful and peaceful way.  Sanctification is the tool that allows that to occur.

Faithful Forgiveness

God is not a liar.  He is incapable of lying, for God IS truth:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

God is completely faithful to forgive anything that we have done, anything we bring before Him.  We must, however, turn from our sin and turn towards God.  When we ask for forgiveness and then immediately (and WILLFULLY) go back to what we were doing, we are basically like the child who says to dad and mom “I’m sorry (that I got caught, please spare me the consequences of my actions, I’ll be more careful to hide what I am doing from you going forward).”

God greatly desires to see us walk in His ways.  His faithfulness to forgive frees us from the fear of punishment that the un-Godly will encounter.  God is faithful in all things, for His very nature – His character – allows Him no other course of action when we approach Him in good faith, no matter how many times we stumble and fall.  Will a loving parent reject a child who falls down and skins their knee when trying diligently to walk carefully and cautiously?  If we would not, why would God?

Abated Anger

We are created in the image of God.  God has emotions.  He gets angry.  But God’s anger only lasts a little while.  God will not turn His face away from us forever in His anger.  God will not turn His face away from those who are faithful to Him.  He delights in His children.  God tells us to be angry and do not sin.  He also tells us that we should not let the sun go down on our anger.  God is NOT a hypocrite like men.  If God tells us to do something, will He then not model it for us?

Moved to Mercy

God’s heart is a heart of mercy.  Knowing that we are unable to do what He commands us to do, He took it upon Himself to pay our debt.  In His great mercy and compassion, He sacrificed His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to bear our iniquity and to receive our just and due punishment upon the cross.  He now has legal authority to show us mercy.  God greatly desires for all of us to come to Him.  But without His mercy, we are unable to do so.

God’s mercies renew every morning:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

We fail to remember the mercy and compassion of God because the enemy of our souls, when we transgress God’s law, tries to convince us that God will not forgive us.  It is that much more important that we seek out God and his mercy that we may be free from the bondage of sin – our guilt.

Fully Faithful

God is faithful in all that He does.  He cannot be unfaithful, for His very nature relies upon it.  Imagine that God’s faithfulness wavered.  Would not everything that He did be tainted by that?  Imagine if gravity only worked some of the time, and it was completely unreliable, working and not working randomly.  What would happen?

In the same way that we can trust that the Sun will rise every morning, that the Moon will rise every night, that the stars will cross the sky, that God is faithful in each and every thing He does, and in each and every promise that He makes.  God has made many promises to Jacob about his inheritance and descendants.  God will keep each and every one of these promises faithfully in just the right time and in just the right way so that God will be praised and glorified to the utmost degree.

Profound Pledge

God has pledged to Abraham millennia ago that He would love his offspring, care for them, and make them so numerous that they would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore and the stars in the sky:

17 “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

God does not lie, and He does not make promises that He cannot keep nor will not keep.  God keeps every pledge He makes, no matter how long He takes to fulfill it.  Since He has prophesied through His prophets about these things, He fulfills them at just the right time.  And the time has come when God is calling all men to Himself.  His angel has gone out into the world and proclaimed the Gospel to all nations. He is gathering His people as He promised to the land He gave to their ancestors, and He is bringing all things to a close.  Seek Him while you may find Him, for time as we know it is about to end.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I relying on the faithfulness of God through my trials?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are completely faithful and trustworthy.  Nothing and no one can cause Your plans to fail.  You have carefully engineered through millennia the circumstances that have brought about each and every prophesy that You have given to us.  Your word will stand now and forevermore.  Help me to trust You completely in my pain through my trials.  It is very hard to do so because of the lies of the enemy.  Stand strong for me and with me as I overcome all things in Your strength.  Give me everything I need to grow through my trials, and comfort me as I fend off the stinging rebukes of my enemies.  Holy Spirit, plead my case before the Father, and pray for me, for I don’t know how to pray through these things.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Standing with God – Psalm 112:6-10

The Righteous Will Never Be Shaken

6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
7 They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.

10 The wicked will see and be vexed,
they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

Standing Strong

The author of this Psalm shows that the righteous will not be shaken.  Regardless of their circumstances, they will stand in the midst of trials.  They can do this because they have laid their foundation with the cornerstone of Christ, who is truth, and cannot be moved.  He is immutable, our rock and our salvation.  No threat against Him or those who are declared righteous will be able to eternally affect them.

Fearlessly Faced

The apostle John said that there was no fear in perfect love, because fear has to do with punishment.  The righteous have been redeems from wickedness, and just as a person who is pardoned for their crimes finds themselves in the legal position of having never committed them in the first place, so the righteous can stand for they have been declared pardoned by God for their sin.  Because there is no punishment lying ahead of them for their actions, they can fearlessly face the trials in front of them with their full attention on victory.

Total Triumph

God pronounces that He will give victory to the righteous in the end.  There may be times when we will need to remember that it is in God’s perfect timing that all things occur.  God may allow someone to go through terrible difficulty in this life, but IN THE END, when Christ comes again in glory, the last trumpet of God is sounded, and time as a construct ends marking the final chapter our mortal story, God will certainly give us triumph over our foes.

Without the eternal perspective of God, it can appear to some that God is slow in keeping His promises, or that He does not keep them at all.  The total character of God must be taken into account lest we forget that a day is as a thousand years for God.  Yet still, as God pours out His love, grace, and mercy upon a world that doesn’t deserve it, and in many cases doesn’t even want it, He reserves His judgment and wrath for its appointed time.  We must be patient and allow God the time He needs and desires in order to work out all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, as well as secure the outcome of His holy, divine plan.  Impatience on our part impedes the display of the glory of God through His image-bearers.

Generous Giving

The righteous give generously to the poor, for the Lord God Almighty provides super-abundantly to His children.  Even in poverty themselves, God gives each of us time, talent, and treasure.  We can be assured that time and talent are just as important in advancing the kingdom of God as is having treasure.

Do you want to make great kingdom impact?  Invest yourself and the gifts that God has given you in the lives of others.  Mentor children and model love to those who feel as though they are cast off and rejected by society.  Invest your talents in helping others too poor to pay someone for your unique expertise.  Watch as the cries of the hearts of hurting people turn to praise of God as they experience Jesus through your hands and your words.

Villains Vexed

We are not to gloat over the punishment of the wicked because we can be assured that God may very well see and disapprove, and turn His wrath away from them.  We need to leave room for the wrath of God in the lives of the wicked.  God will vex the wicked and frustrate their plans.  They will seethe in anger when they see the righteous prosper.  Their emotional distress at their frustration will destroy them from within.

While we are not to rejoice over their suffering, we can be assured that God will be faithful in executing His judgment against the wicked for all they have done to us.  By allowing God the necessary time to bring this all about, we can allow our hearts to rest in the knowledge that a man reaps what he sows, and to get out of the way when God finally sends his judgment upon them.  Although it may not ease our pain in the moment, the reassurance that God is a just and holy God should help us to set aside our compromised emotions in our time of trial to the joy of knowing that God will not abide wickedness forever:

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.

Longings Languish

God gives us some additional hope.  He indicates that the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.  They will be frustrated because they are not seeing the fruit of their desire.  Although some of their longings will be fulfilled, they will seek endlessly and in vain to find what they so greatly long for.  It is good to know that God is not rewarding their wicked behavior and giving them what they desire as a reward for unrighteousness.  We can rest assured that God will indeed give us the fruit of what we have sown.  Those who sow thorns and thickets will not be rewarded with fruits, nuts and grains.  They will truly receive what they have sown.

Because of this, and since we ourselves have come out of this, we should make every effort to have compassion upon the wicked and do everything that we can to help them overcome evil, and embrace God.  We have been given a unique perspective life in the Spirit of God, and have been called by God to make disciples of all nations.  If we cannot get past our frustration at those who seek our ruination, we will be unable to minister the gospel message to the people who need it.  Since you yourself have experienced the joy of freedom from the burden of sin with a redeemed life in Jesus Christ, make every effort to help others to do the same.  And don’t worry if you need to shake the dust off your feet as a witness against them, for God may need to do a lot more plowing of the soil of their hearts before they are ready to embrace Him.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I leaving room for the wrath of God in my heart for those who (occasionally or continually) wrong me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have given me Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the rock of my salvation.  My heart cries out “Hallelujah!” and sings Your praises.  Father, help me when I am wronged, for You will surely reward the wicked with Your justice if they refuse to embrace Your grace.  Give me a heart of compassion towards the lost and wicked, to see them as You do.  Help me to be steadfast in all my convictions in the face of pain and trials.  Help me to stand upon the firm and solid rock of my foundation, my Lord Jesus Christ.  Give me strength to endure, and soften my heart when emotional pain causes me to forget Your love and faithfulness.  Provide me with eyes to see and ears to hear, so that I would be attuned to Your heart and Your ways.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Healing by God – Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus Healed Every Sickness And Disease

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Serve Soup

Catharine and William Booth started the Salvation Army.  They embraced the call of Christ to send workers into His harvest field.  As indicated in this passage, there are two parts to healing a person:

  1. Take care of their physical needs
  2. Take care of their spiritual needs

For the Salvation Army, the cry was “soup, soap, salvation.”

The first thing that we as Christians should do is look to the physical.  When someone is hungry, the message of salvation is hollow compared to the pain in their stomach.  When attempting to reach people, see if there are physical needs that first need to be met.  God may be using you as His messenger to prepare the way for the gospel through this simple act of charity.  It is hard to tell someone who God loves them and provides for them when they are homeless, in abject poverty, and are starving.  We must meet people where they are.  One they have eaten physical food, they are in a better position to consume spiritual food.

Supply Soap

After they are fed, they may feel uncomfortable.  Give them the opportunity for dignity.  Washing of their physical bodies is the next step in preparation.  After dealing with hunger, are they having problems with some other physical need?  Do they need a coat to keep them warm in the winter?  Are they walking around barefoot because they have no shoes?  The “soap” part deals with the non-food physical needs of the person.  Have you practiced hospitality?  In today’s world, it is dangerous to invite a stranger into your home.  Many people have been severely injured, even to the point of death by strangers who have ill-intent towards them.  Yet we are called to be ambassadors for Christ.

And while we need to consider our safety and the safety of our family, have we made every effort to help those who just don’t know where to go or what to do find the resources that they need to survive?  What does it cost to call a cab to take someone to a shelter?  Until our physical needs are met as well, we won’t be in a position to listen about our spiritual needs.

God sent His son out to heal people of their physical and spiritual issues.  Where two or more are gathered in the character of God, He is there also.  Why not ask people if you can pray over them for God’s physical healing in their life?  One of the efforts that prepared the way for the gospel was the miraculous healing of people.  God still want’s us to go out and give comfort and healing to people, just as we received it from Him.

Send Salvation

Once our physical needs have been met, we can finally listen with our ears.  Jesus Christ cared enough about every person that ever lived on this planet to come down from Heaven and die upon a cross for our sins.  We also should be willing to take the message of salvation, a far more valuable and important need of man than physical healing to those who may never hear it.

Some people may be deaf to the word of God because the trinkets of wealth call to them.  Some people may not hear because the emotional pain of the difficulties in their lives drown it out.  Some people cannot hear because the physical pain of their bodies screams like a boiling kettle of water.  And others just haven’t heard.

In business, there is a term that is used to keep people on-task: “go for the low-hanging fruit.”  Fruit that is too high in the tree takes too much time and effort to go after.  And while it is valuable, the low hanging fruit is more plentiful and profitable.  If we spend all of our time going after the fruit high in the tree, we will miss out on the opportunities that are most profitable in the time we have been provided during the harvest:

7 “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts- 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”

Note that Jesus does NOT say, “And when you enter a village or home, stay there until every last person has heard the message and accepted it.  Take as much time as is needed to make sure that you miss no one, and do not leave until every person has given their lives to God”.  On the contrary – Jesus tells them that if people won’t listen, move on.  That is the essence of harvesting “low-hanging fruit” – gathering as much as you can in the least amount of time that you can, because the harvest season is short, and is now near its conclusion.

So what is stopping us from bringing the message that will save people’s souls from eternity in Hell to those who need to hear it?  Are we terrified that our lives may end?  Are we afraid for loss of property?  What ARE we afraid of?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When around other people outside of work, what is primarily on my mind?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have seen fit to save me from my sin.  Help me now to have renewed effort in spreading the word of Your salvation message to those who may not have heard it.  Help me to remember that I am merely the messenger, and if people reject the message, they are not rejecting me, but the message that has been delivered.  Give me the strength and will to overcome any fear in talking with others about You so that You may be proclaimed everywhere.  And in places where it is too dangerous to speak Your name, give me the boldness of heart to do so anyway, for I would rather die proclaiming your Name than live hundreds of years hiding in fear for my life.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Christian Households and God – Colossians 3:18-21

The Family Is Attacked By The Enemy Because It Displays The Order And Submission Of The Trinity

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Orchestrated Order

There is order in the family just as there is order in the Trinity.  The order shows that the participants are co-equal but with different roles.  In this case, the order is that the husband has a role of authority over the wife and children.  The wife has the role of authority of advisor to the husband and authority over the children.  The children have the role of learning the roles of authority of the wives and husband.  The husband’s role is not one of tyrannical dictator, but rather the orchestrater of the plans and purpose of the family unit towards success in all things they set out to accomplish under the watchful and guiding efforts of the Spirit of God.

The key – the glue that holds this all together – is mutual submission.  Without submission, the family as a God-appointed organization will fall apart and fail.  The good news is that the Bible shows us how there is perfect submission in the Trinity of God, and to watch Jesus Christ’s example of this to learn the skills of submission and obedience to ensure the survival of the Family.

Wisdom for Wives

Paul starts out his instructions for Christian households with the hardest yet simplest command first – that wives submit to their husbands.  The enemy hates the concept of submission.  This can be seen in the first chapters of the first book of the Bible – Genesis – when the serpent plants seeds of doubt as to the character and nature of God in the ears of Eve, telling her that God is withholding something precious and valuable from her – the ability to be like God.  And the curse of sin reflects this, since women now desire the role of their husbands in family and life – to be in charge over everything.  And while it is certain that there are women who are more than capable of wielding authority (take the God-appointed judge of Israel Deborah for example…), the role assigned to women is as man’s helper.

The desire to serve self over others is key to sin.  When we desire to serve ourselves at the expense of others, we reject the love that God desires each of us to understand and obey:

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘”

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

God is love.  He desires that each of us display his love – agape love – towards others and Himself.  God has wired women to be able to display this type of love to others.  It was only fitting then that the enemy would try to corrupt what God instituted in the beginning.  Satan, hating God, unable to touch God, did the only thing he could – he tried to get women to stop loving, and in this particular case, convince Eve to stop submitting to God and her husband.  By eating the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, Eve chose self-glory and abandoned her God-given role as the beacon of love and submission that she was intended to be.

Jesus Christ, as part of His mission on Earth, was to set straight our understanding of the Father by displaying Him (His character) to the world.  And Jesus did so through submitting to the Holy Spirit of God and the Father.  He did this to show us that this was how it was to be in the beginning.  It is only through submitting to the assigned and ordained roles that God places each of us in that we properly reflect His order and completion.

When women submit to their husbands through the execution of their innate ability to display unconditional, volitional, and sacrificial love towards their husbands in a respectful, submissive manner, they radiate the message that God intended and bring Him greater glory, restoring that which is lost to selfishness through the three primary influences:

  1. The Flesh
  2. The World
  3. The Devil

and the three primary attack vectors:

  1. The Lust of the Eyes
  2. The Lust of the Flesh
  3. The Pride of Life

Help for Husbands

Paul goes on to give husbands the key through which they are able to enable their wives to reach their full potential in Christ – to love them.

This is a simple concept that is not innate within men.  Men are wired for respect, not love.  Ask men whether they would rather be respected yet hated, or loved and disrespected, and most men would choose the former over the latter.  God recognizes this, and gives husbands the key to their wives’ hearts – they must love (agape) them as Christ loves the church, laying down his life for hers.

When husbands love their wives, they are putting their wives’ best interests over their own.  They are looking to ensure that their wives are taken care of first, and that their needs are fully met.  When husbands love their wives in this manner, it is easy for their wives to submit to their husbands and respect them – the wives are being placed above the husbands in all things except for his duty to God.  What wife can complain that her doting, loving husband who seeks the best for her when he is acting in this manner?  Is this a cause to hate, despise, ridicule, nag, and otherwise disparage and disrespect him?  May it never be so!

Coaching for Children

God gives children a simple directive (the verb hupakouete is an imperative command) – obey your parents in everything.  This is a training that will yield a great harvest of righteousness in the lives of children.  Obedience to their parents sets a pattern that will translate to obedience to God.  Additionally, obedience teaches submission.

When children allow themselves to be taught through obedience and submission, they are more likely and able to transition these skills into their adult lives.  And as mentioned above, submission is the key to the hearts of both men and women.  Obedience is the hallmark of love towards God.  In all of this, these two skills prepare you to live life to its fullest.

When children refuse to be trained by submission and obedience, we see the fall its ignoble display.  Seeking to grasp the forbidden fruit, it is not until long after the taste of the fruit leaves the mouth that the consequences of those decisions begin to haunt the one hungry for self-fulfillment.   But thanks be to God in Jesus Christ, for His blood atones for all our sins, and gives us the second chance no one deserves.

Failings of Fathers

There is a final warning to fathers concerning their children.  In the pursuit of training up a child in the way they should go, Father are to be very careful that their desire for respect is kept in balance with the needs of the children to grow and learn.  Fathers don’t have the innate ability to gauge when they are being too strict.  In their minds, obedience should be complete and immediate – a show of respect.  But just as anyone learning a new skill will tell you, it takes time and practice get good at it.

And while fathers need to be on their guard so that they don’t exasperate their children in their attempts to guide and teach them, they should also be wary of the manipulative sinful nature of all children to appear outwardly compliant while inwardly harboring hate, bitterness, and dissent.  Relationship is the key to influencing your children.  A child is more likely to respond to a parent that has a solid relationship with them than one who thinks their father either doesn’t care about them or won’t make time for them.

There is a story about a man and his son that goes something like this: a man and his son went fishing for a day.  They cast their bait out on hooks, but the fish just weren’t biting.  They finally went home, and each wrote in their diaries.  The man wrote,”We didn’t catch a thing all day.  The day was a complete waste of time.”  The son wrote, “I spent an entire day with my dad.  It was the best day of my life!”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we submitting to each other in our families the same way that Christ submitted to the Father and the Holy Spirit?

A short prayer of presentation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown us Yourself through the life of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Grant me the ability to submit to You completely and without reservation, that I may serve You in the manner that You desire and be obedient to Your every command.  Help me to accept the role that You have assigned to me in my family.  Give me the strength, wisdom, and words so that I can fulfill Your will as You greatly desire.  Help me to overcome my innate, sinful tendencies that I may embrace Your goodness, compassion, mercy, and grace, and help my family to succeed so that it will be a beacon on a hill to all who see.  May others praise You because of the example of my family.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Compassion of God – 2 Chronicles 30:6-9

The Lord Is A Compassionate God

6 At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read:

“People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”

Reciprocating Return

Hezekiah pleaded for the Israelites to return to God.  He urged them to do this so that God would return to them as well.  The people had become stiff-necked, refusing to do what the Lord God Almighty had commanded them to do – to yield themselves to Him.  They had refused to repent, and continued in their sin, and God allowed their enemies to overcome them and remove them from the land that God had given to them.  Even in disciplining them, God anxiously awaited their return to Him, so that He could return to them.

Terror to Traitors

When they had refused to repent of their unfaithfulness, God made them an object of horror to all who seen them.  Through their continued unfaithfulness, they were acting in a way that men would call treason.  They no longer held God to be of the highest regard, and began to follow someone or something else.  Treason in many countries is punishable by immediate public execution.  The fact that God does not immediately do so shows His unfailing love and compassion towards us.

Submit in the Sanctuary

Hezekiah implored the people to submit to Almighty God, and to come to His holy sanctuary.  The sanctuary was the place where God dwelt.  We have the great benefit of being the sanctuary of God, our very bodies being the naos, the holy of holies, with the embodiment of God within us – the Holy Spirit has already taken residence.  Today, disciples cannot avoid God, for He is with us even when we may not want Him to be.  Because of this great honor, we should constantly remember His presence and power, His glory and honor, and submit in holy reverence to Him always.

Service avoids Soreness

Hezekiah goes on to say that we should serve the Lord so that His anger would be turned away.  We have been created to serve God.  We seem to flip things around, and desire that God serve us.  When we pray and ask God for help, but don’t bother to make ourselves available to serve God, is that not what we are doing?  God promises to give us strength and resources to do whatever He calls us to do.  And while it may not seem pleasant at the time (see Jonah), it is what God requires, and brings Him great glory.

God has planned before the foundation of the world the deeds that He wishes to accomplish through us.  We can submit in service to Him, and be part of His plan, or we can selfishly do what we want to do.  It is the terrible two-edged nature of free will.  But God believes that the rewards outweigh the risks, and knowing we would fail, provided His Son to die for our sins to get us back on track in our relationship with Him.  Or, do we tell our best friend, who just asked us to help Him, that He can go pound salt?

Compassion by Captors

When we return to the Lord, He returns and restores us.  He makes our enemies be at peace with us, and causes our captors to show us compassion.  Throughout the Bible, those who were captured and enslaved were shown mercy and compassion by their captors when they submitted themselves to God.

We are told that the Just shall Live by Faith.  We should do exactly that, and God will see us through all of the terrible difficulties He has allowed in our lives.  This is how we can be at peace with others.  When a people submit themselves to God, He is faithful.

Compassionate Creator

God takes compassion upon us when we return to Him.  It is part of His nature, a character feature that He cannot change or hide.  God will ALWAYS show compassion on those who humble themselves before Him, submit to Him, obey His commands, and show compassion to others.  God will not turn His face from those who do these things.  No matter what the devil tells you, God’s character is immutable – it will never change.  Heed the word of the Living God, and return in repentance to Him who loves You with an everlasting love.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I show compassion to others in the same way that God shows me compassion?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, blessed be Your name, for You are a compassionate and merciful God.  You seek and save the lost, and when I stray, You come after me to restore me to the flock.  Forgive me for my many sins.  Help me to overcome that which so easily trips me up.  Give me strength, guidance, and desire to follow You in every way.  Help me to show others the same compassion that You show to me each and every day.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Galatians 6:1-2

Carry Each Other’s Burdens

1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Seized by Sin

The sin nature within us never is satisfied.  Without constant vigilance, it is easy to slip up, and begin to justify sin.  Once sin has been embraced, it ensnares us and keeps us in bondage.  We need to remember this when we see other Christians who have been ensnared by sin.  It is with compassion and gentleness that they need to be confronted, and brought out of slavery and back to righteousness

Righteously Redeem

Paul instructs believers to gently restore those who have been caught in sin once more.  Sometimes, it is the unwrapping of grave-clothes of the newly released captives that needs to be addressed.  Other times, it is seasoned disciples that have gone astray.  Look at how far David had fallen.  God raised him from being a shepherd of sheep to the King of Israel, leading His people.  And while he was noted as being a man after God’s own heart, he raped Bathsheba and murdered her husband, never batting an eye.  Nathan the prophet was sent by God to restore him.  In the restoration of one who is entrapped, it is crucial that we do so gently.  Harsh or judgmental attitudes usually do not bring about the needed atmosphere for repentance.

Elude Entrapment

When we go to restore one who is in sin, we must be extra vigilant, for we ourselves may be tempted by the very same sin that we are trying to help another disciple overcome.  Oftentimes, it is something that we may have struggled with.  Sometimes, there is demonic activity involved, and the demons causing encouraging the behavior will try to do the same to the person who comes alongside the fallen.  They would like nothing better than to entice another disciple with their evil taunts, warping the thoughts of even the most pious people.

Bear the Burdens

Paul further encourages us to bear one another’s burdens.  This does not mean that we become enablers of lazy people by doing their work; rather, we help them with the things that weigh them down so that they can breathe again to complete that which they have been called to do.  Moses was confronted by Jethro regarding the way he was administering the law.  Jethro suggested that Moses find men who were capable men that feared God to help him with the task.  This greatly reduced the burden on Moses’ shoulders, and greatly reduced the time for justice to be enacted.  When you see someone who has an overwhelming burden, and you have the time and ability to help, offer what you can so that the person can be more effective.

Complete the Commandments

When we carry one another’s burdens, we fulfill the law of Christ – to love one another as Christ loved us.  Love fulfills the law, and helping each other is showing unconditional, sacrificial, and volitional love towards others.  And outsiders will know that we are the disciples of Christ when they see the love that we have for one another.  For if you love Jesus, you will obey His commands.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I loving others by helping them to bear their burdens?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have said through Your Son, Jesus Christ, that we should take His yoke upon us, for His burden is light.  Yet it is absolutely impossible without yielding our lives to You so that Your strength can flow through us to complete Your goals.  Help me to be yielded to You.  Show me how I can help others be more effective in their ministry, and help me to be more effective in mine.  Send others to help bear my burdens when they become too weighty, and help me to be there when You have enabled me to help them with theirs.  Father, help me when I engage others to help restore them from sin that I would not be tempted in the same manner that they were.  Guard my heart so that I would not because a casualty in the battles we face with spiritual enemies.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Love of God – Luke 6:32-36

God Is Love

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Love the Lost

Jesus has set the standard for love.  When we were still sinners, He allowed Himself to be impaled upon the cross for our sins.  It wasn’t the nails that kept Jesus on the cross – it was His love for us.  Nothing and no one could have kept Jesus on the cross if He didn’t want to be there.  He told us in His word that he could have called upon twelve legions of angels to come to His aid if need be.

The love of God is a recurring theme throughout all of scripture.  The Israelites have repeatedly ignored the laws that God has given them in His covenant to them, yet God has promised to redeem them.  Though they suffered much, God still protects them today from their enemies.  In the due course of time, and to the glory and praise of God, He has brought them together and gave them back their country after millennia of being dispersed.

God loved Adam when he sinned, and sacrificed an animal for his sins as well as to give him and Eve covering for their bodies.  God gave us the perfect covering for our sins in the blood of Jesus Christ, which acts as a robe of righteousness and washes away our sins.  God it the one who continually provides for us, even and especially when we act wickedly towards Him.  God seeks out the lost not because they came to Him first, but because He loves them.

God gives us His resources to use, knowing that at some time, we may abuse them, or use them in a way that does not honor Him.  God is gracious in this time and time again, generation after generation.  God’s continuous act of giving all of us access to His sunshine and rain shows that God loves all of us.

We have been provided much from God.  When we use our resources to just help one another, and don’t help the wicked and evil among us, we are not properly bearing the image of God.  It seems counter-intuitive to help the wicked, for we know that they greatly want us to fail.  They will use every means at their disposal to destroy our character through (false) accusations, take what isn’t theirs, and attempt to force us to do their bidding through governmental force when we no longer respond to accusations of hatred and bigotry.  They deny God (as we once did), and do the same things to Him (as they think they can).  Yet God still seeks them (and us) out.

We need to remember that God is calling all to repentance.  We need to reach out to our enemies to try to reconcile with them, within the limits of the laws of God.  God seeks to destroy His enemies by making them His friends.  And should they refuse His initial attempts, He shows them even more mercy.  But even God has limits.  And anyone who refuses to respond to the love of God will receive His judgment and punishment.

Magnificently Merciful

God is full of mercy and grace.  His mercies renew every morning.  God has compassion upon us because He loves us.  Jesus knows how difficult it can be walking with flesh on.  God has been so merciful, that He has tolerated the systematic slaughter of more than fifty million babies alone in the United States of America to the god of abortion.  Anyone of lesser character would be so angry that they might utterly destroy such a callous, unfeeling, murderous, ungrateful, and rebellious people.  Yet God continues to show all of us mercy.  We need to remember His mercy when our enemies need our help.  God also promises a great reward for this.  And while He doesn’t elaborate, I believe that the great reward is the ability to experience His character, and draw closer to Him.  For when we experience His character and draw close, we become more like Him.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I loving my enemies with compassion, mercy, and assistance?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You show us mercy, compassion, and love each and every day.  Help me, Father, to experience Your character in a more personal way every day.  Show me how to love my enemies.  Help me to see them the way that You see them, and to react in a way that correctly displays Your character to all that watch.  Show them Your love through my love, compassion, and mercy.  Grant them peace and prosperity.  Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Justice of God – Jonah 3:6-10

Justice Must Be Tempered With Compassion

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.
7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

Doctrinal Dilemma

Many people have said the following:

“I can’t believe in a God who would send people to hell.”

What many people fail to realize is that God doesn’t sent them to hell; they send themselves to hell.  God does not arbitrarily point His finger and say, “OK, I’m going to send him and her and her and him to hell.”  Rather, God says the following:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

It would appear that God desires everyone to be saved from their Adam-inherited sinful, rebellious nature.  God is patient and seeks people for a long time.  We are told that should we hear His call, we should respond while He is near.  God has made Himself known to us, so that no one is without an excuse:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

So it would appear that:

  • God is compassionate
  • God is a just judge

This brings up an interesting dilemma:  How can a perfect God, who is full of mercy and grace, be a God full of perfect justice as well?

Beautiful Balance

We often impose our own moral values on situations, rather than look at them through the lens of God’s perspective.  Love cannot be merciful, graceful, and compassionate without being just:

  • Compassion without justice is anarchy
    • Without application of punishment for wrongdoing, we are effectively endorsing the person’s wrongdoing, and enabling them to repeatedly inflict harm upon others.
    • Without punishment, there is no recourse for the protection of law-abiding people from the wickedness of the evil people who disregard the law
  • Justice without compassion is emotionally void and cruel
    • There are appropriate penalties for wrongdoing based on the severity of the wrongdoing.  Actions have consequences.  We wouldn’t take a person’s life for a misdemeanor.  Nor should we give a slap on the wrist to someone who purposefully extinguishes the lives of others.
    • In each case, the severity of the transgression should be met with appropriate consequences.

Let’s define our words so that we understand what we are talking about:

  • Justice is the situation where the penalty for breaking the law has an appropriate disciplinary action based on the severity and type of crime committed.
  • Mercy is not getting what you justly deserve
  • Grace is getting a favor or blessing that was not earned (not based on merit)
  • Compassion is a deep sympathy or sorrow for someone who is in pain or suffering, with a strong desire to alleviate the pain and/or suffering
  • Holiness is the act of being set apart from ANY wrongdoing and set apart to complete and total righteousness (the inability to do anything wrong, and do everything right).   With the absence of wrongdoing, holiness is considered PERFECTION.

In order for Justice to be perfect, it must be tempered with compassion, mercy, and grace.  Otherwise, we have the knee-jerk reaction of the emotionless dictator who yells, “Off with his head!” to even the most trivial perceived rebellion.

Perfect Position

Since God is holy (and thus perfect), any rebellion of any nature must be punished appropriately.  The level of the rebellion must be met with the correct level of punishment.  God is infinitely holy and perfect, so any rebellion, no matter how small, needs to be dealt with justly.  The only just way to deal with rebellion, when perfection is the standard, is to remove the person from the population (through incarceration) so that they won’t harm anyone else.  Every country in the world has laws to protect its people from the evil of others.

So, why should we hold God to a lower standard?  People want God to just accept them as they are (which He does) and to not expect them to change.  This is the equivalent of a murdering cannibal going before a judge and saying, “You are an intolerant, racist bigot.  Just because I kill and eat people, you would deny me my freedom to be with other people?  How dare you!  I shouldn’t have to change to conform to your perverted sense of reality, judge!  My view of life is the correct one!  You must conform to my views!  You have no right to ‘judge’ me!  I demand that you immediately drop all charges, and I will be suing you for wrongful arrest and harassment!  You will see me in court!”

(Hopefully) No one would ever agree with that position.  Yet, when we say, “I can’t believe that God would judge me because I (fill in the blank), are we not doing the same exact thing?  Are we not saying that our morality and ethics are of a higher, more pure, more righteous, and more perfect nature than that of God?

God, recognizing that we have a sinful nature, has shown us compassion in His infinite wisdom.  He gave us an opportunity to be reformed and rejoined back to Him in relationship from isolation by sin.  God sent His One and Only Son, who never sinned, to die upon the cross to be a perfect substitutionary sacrifice for us. In this, he has shown:

  • Compassion – God wants to alleviate our pain and suffering by giving us the opportunity to repent
  • Mercy – When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, we are no longer going to get the punishment that we rightly deserve
  • Grace – God didn’t have to provide a way – He is perfectly justified in sending the whole lot of humans to permanent incarceration within His holding cell – the Lake of Fire.  Instead, He gave us unmerited favor through the sinless shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, as an atonement (payment for wrongdoing) for our sinful rebellion against Him.

God has shown that He, and only He, has the perfect balance between Justice and Compassion.

Jesus paid our fine.  But who would consider a person “rehabilitated” if they refused to acknowledge that their actions were wrong by willfully continuing to do the same things over and over again without any regret or attempt to rectify the behavior? God loves us just as we are, but He loves us too much to allow us to stay where we are.

With reprieve comes the implicit understanding that the actions that led to the crime would not continue.  God calls this process sanctification.  We are being transformed from desiring evil and acting upon those desires into desiring righteousness and acting upon these new desires.  Even people who aren’t able to control themselves (the mentally ill) are placed away from the ability to do harm when they are unable to change.

Positional Preference

Our perception of God’s justice is marred by our sinful nature.  It is only when we see Him through the lens of Truth and Perfection that we can better understand and begin to grasp the wisdom, balance, and perfection that He displays when He operates in our lives.  We can no sooner fault God for injustice as we can exonerate ourselves from law by merely saying we don’t agree with the law.

While the laws of men may be (and often are) flawed, the laws of God are perfect.  They will withstand any criticism with one exception: those who are unable to critically think, and instead think with their emotions as it best serves them and their own desires – always at the price of others.  It is the self-serving that so piously and loudly denounce ethics and morality as unjust, antiquated, mean-spirited, racist, uncaring, and intolerant.  And the last is true:  Morality is intolerant of immorality (and, therefore, evil).  That is exactly why we have laws…

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we of the mindset that our morality is superior to that of God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You that You are holy and just.  Help me to see past my own faults to gaze at Your glorious face, and see how far short of Your glory I fall.  Help me to remember that You and You alone are able to see without impaired judgement, as You and You alone are holy.  Help me to shed any and all attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs that do not conform to Your holy revelation of truth in Your Word.  Guide me in all that I think, say and do, that I would see everything through Your perfect eyes and perspective.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Unity in Christ: Colossians 3:11

All Are ONE in Christ Jesus

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Prior Promises

Paul implies that since Christ is all, and is in all, we are all one in Christ.  The Jews were given the Law of God, and God chose them as His people.  They were very proud of that.  However, God was preparing them to spread His Good News to all people.  But the Jews mostly kept it to themselves.

It is interesting to note that in this passage, Paul lists the Gentile before the Jew.  He didn’t do this to give any special prominence to the Gentiles (for God does not show favoritism), but rather to remind the Jews that God wishes all people to come to a saving knowledge of Christ and to be in relationship with Himself.  In that, God shows that He wants ALL to be one in Christ.

Male Markings

The Jews were especially proud to be identified with God through circumcision.  This defining physical characteristic set them apart from everyone else.  But salvation through Christ is a better covenant that what God had provided to the Jews.  Being under grace is far more powerful than the law.  The law shows us our sin; grace removes our sin.  Regardless of whether a person is marked with circumcision or not, God looks for those hearts are circumcised.  In that, all are one in Christ

Familial Foibles

An interesting note on the words used here.  There are two additional classes of people mentioned:

  • Barbarians (in the Greek, barbaros – of uncertain [cultural] origin) – We also tend to think of barbarians as uncivilized, and unable to integrate into other cultures because of their wildness.
  • Scythians (in the Greek, skuthEs – [most likely] of unknown origin, and by implication, savages) – This again is referring as much towards their behavior as their lack of identifiable [cultural] origin.

Paul does not use the conjunction “or” between them, but rather includes them both.  The word translated Gentile in the Greek is hellEn.  It refers to an inhabitant of Hellas, and by implication, a  Greek speaking person that was a non-Jew.  Paul is being inclusive of all people of all ethnicity.  We are, after all, descendants first from Adam and Eve, and secondly from Noah and his wife.

Positional Predicaments

Regardless of a person’s position in life, they are to be seen as equal, as one in Christ.  Slaves were often mistreated and were often looked down upon.  But God indicates that we are to see them as equals in Christ.  They are, after all, created in the Image of God.  To look down upon someone because of their station in life is to denigrate the Image-Bearer of God, and by implication, God Himself.

We need to remember that it is God to raises up and tears down.  God is able to exalt and to humble.  And regardless of where a person is born, how much money/influence/power that family has, that person’s gifts and the ability to wield them to success (or failure), God is sovereign over all of us, and is able to place us into ANY position that He sees fit.

Do we look down upon Moses because he herded sheep for forty years?  How about Job after the loss of all of his children, crops, animals, and every other worldly, material blessing that was taken from him?  If we don’t look down on them for that, why would we look down on someone because they are a slave, or were born in a land where people have animus toward other people who were not born/raised where they came from (i.e., Northerner/Southerner, Nazarene, Ninevite, etc.)?

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question:  Do we look down upon others, or see them differently (with a negative aspect), if they aren’t like us in appearance, cultural values, land of birth, station in life, or any other reason whatsoever?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You show us that You are not a respecter of persons, but rather woo ALL of us to You through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus said that if he was raised up, He would draw all people to Him.  You have seen fit to draw me to You.  Please examine my heart to see if I have any prejudice towards anyone for any reason.  Help me to experience Your character in regards to seeing others.  Let me not be like Jonah, wishing the destruction of the Ninevites, but rather rejoice as the angels do when anyone is saved.  Remove any anger or hatred towards others in my heart, and replace it with love and compassion towards all people.  Help me to be wise when dealing with people who are evil, but to love them as You love them.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Unity in Christ – Philippians 2:1-2

Be One in the Spirit and of One Mind

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Edifying Encouragement

When we are united with Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells within us, and we are encouraged by Him as we seek to draw close to God.  He helps us by giving us strength that we do not have to do things that no one else under their own power would be able to do – to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us; to forgive others; to shun evil; to love God; to restrain ourselves; and to glorify God.  As we do all of these things, the Holy Spirit provides the encouragement to learn and grow in God’s character.

Spiritual Sharing

As we partake of the Holy Spirit’s strength, power, desires, we begin to share in His peace and we spiritually prosper.  We see the work of the Spirit in others, and share in His love, grace, and mercy.  He helps to unify us with the Body of Christ in mind and in spirit so that just as parts of the body function together as a whole to enable a person to perform tasks such as walking, lifting, writing, carrying, and other common tasks, the body of Christ is able to accomplish the tasks that have been assigned to us to do.

Touching Tenderness

The Spirit of God gently and tenderly guides us in God’s ways.  He does so with great tenderness. Isaiah says this very well:

A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

God desires that we all grow to become mature and complete.  His tenderness in this process shows His willingness to have this happen, as we are fragile.  We aren’t called sheep because we have the strength and certainty of a lion or a bear.  We are easily scared and discouraged, and great tenderness is needed by God to fan the flames of our spirit to continually desire to follow Him, especially as we are trampled by the world and the devil.

Comforting Compassion

And when we are trampled, God greets us with His great compassion, placing His arms around us and giving us comfort in His peace.  Without His great compassion towards us, we would stay broken, unable to do anything of value, and wallow in self-pity as the world and the devil rejoice at their victories – just as they did when they subdued Samson.

Unique Unity

It is very seldom that people can get together and be truly unified in mind and in purpose.  When that happens, a unique opportunity presents itself:

1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

There is great power in unity.  When we put aside our personal differences, and all work towards the same goal with unity of mind and spirit, there is very little that can stop us.  God confused the language of the people during the time of Babel to stop them.  But God greatly desires that the Body of Christ be united in mind and spirit so that we can do great things:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Jesus was able to do great things because He was united in mind and spirit with God the Father through submission to God the Holy Spirit.  And we are told to submit to God as well as to one another.  When we do this, we begin to experience the unique unity of spirit that God greatly desires for us.

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question: Am I experiencing unity with God and His people the way that God wants me to experience unity?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I greatly desire to be united in mind and spirit with You and Your people.  Show me where I am not submitting to You and to them, that I may humble myself and repent of my independence from both You and them.  Help me to be Your servant, that I may serve others as well.  Give me the heart of a servant, and deepen my dependence upon You for all things.  Father, I pray that You would work in Your people, that all of us would desire unity with You and within the body of Christ.  Forgive us for our petty infighting and ridiculous stubbornness to hold onto ideas that divide rather than unify.  Help us to agree to disagree on all points that are not doctrinal or salvation dependent.  Help us to grow in each other and You that we may put Christ firmly and uniformly on display for all the world to see.  This I ask in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?