Do you ever have times in your life when you feel… well, maybe you don’t even know what you feel exactly, or you don’t know how to express it. But, you know you want to go deeper with God. You want more of him in your life, i.e. more of his life being lived out through you. You don’t want to sin against him or ignore his promptings or not reflect his love and grace to others. You want to be sensitive to his voice and to follow his lead always.
You know God has called you to be his servant in ministering his love and grace to others, and in taking his gospel to the people of the world. But you recognize that you are clay in the potter’s hands, and that he is still working on you to make you who he wants you to be. And, so you bow before him, and you pray that he would show you where you need to grow in your faith, and where you need to change, or to show you if you have wrong attitudes or thinking, or faulty ways of communicating, because you want your life to be pleasing to God, and because you want to love others like he loves us.
The Lord Jesus led me to read 1 Thessalonians 2 (Select vv. NASB).
For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”? Well, in this case, it is “Opposition makes the heart grow closer to God.” So, if we want to grow closer to God, and to live lives which are pleasing to him, then we should expect opposition. For, when we are opposed, it has a way of pushing or sending us into the arms of Jesus and to the throne of grace to find help in our time of need. And, that is when we are often more receptive to hearing God’s voice speaking his truths to our hearts, too.
Opposition not only sends us to the throne of grace to find help and answers, in our time of need, but it helps strengthen us in our resolve to follow our Lord and to share his gospel, and to be his servants in doing what he says. Through opposition we gain boldness to speak out about our faith, too, but we also gain compassion for the hurting, the lonely, the rejected and for the lost of this world who need the Savior. So, opposition is not always a bad thing, for God often does wondrous things in our hearts during these times when we are feeling hated, rejected or abandoned.
For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness— nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.
When we are opposed, or when we are mistreated, or when we go through hardships, or even when we personally fail, and we could kick ourselves for not listening to that gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit, it should drive us to our Father’s breast. And, it is during those times, too, when our Lord purifies our hearts, to make us more like Him, and he prunes us so we will be more fruitful, and when he disciplines us so that we will share in his holiness.
It is in those times when we know how much we need the Lord, and we are broken before him, and we are crying out to him, that he is able to get our attention, and he is able to impress on our hearts and minds the seriousness of our relationship with him and what he desires for our lives. It is in those times when he is able to show us the impurities of our lives or our compromises with the world, and what it means to be holy, which is to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, so he works it for good in us.
For, you see, we are not supposed to be like the world. We are not supposed to be feeding our minds daily with immorality, idolatry, lies, and deceit, etc. And, we are not supposed to be adopting the attitudes, values, philosophies and morals of our society, but we are supposed to be adopting the ways of the Lord into our lives.
We shouldn’t be people pleasers, but we should be God pleasers. We should be honest, not dishonest, and sincere, not manipulative. We should not do what we do for the approval of humans, either, but to be approved by God as workmen (and women) who correctly handle the Word of Truth. Then, we can serve God and others with clear consciences always.
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.
This is the kind of love we should have for others, like a nursing mother caring for her children. We should not be fighting with one another, calling one another names, or treating one another with disdain or meanness. We should serve others, instead, out of love, and not out of pride, greed or impure motives, which truly is self-serving.
But, this motherly kind of love, although it is kind, is not soft on sin, and although it is forgiving, it doesn’t tell people lies just to make them feel good. It tells them the truth, but in love, because it knows that only the truth will set people free. This kind of love considers what is truly best for people, not what their flesh desires or what they want to hear.
This kind of love is also self-sacrificial, giving of our lives, our reputations, our time, our talents, our resources, and the desire we have for love and acceptance, and it lays it all on the altar, willing to die or to have others hate us in order to see them be free from their chains.
For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all say this in absolute truthfulness? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all ministers of the gospel lived like this? Why is it that this is so foreign to us? Why is it that it seems sometimes as though the godly are no more, and that so many Christians and even ministers of the gospel today have made massive compromises with the world? And, why is it, if you try to live like this, by God’s grace, that you are considered odd?
This should not be odd or strange or peculiar to us, as followers of Christ, but this should be the norm for us to live like this, in the power of God’s Spirit living within us. We should all be walking in a manner worthy of the God who calls us into His own kingdom and glory. And, we shouldn’t think it strange when someone does live like this, and assume wrong motives from him or her, for we should all love our Lord and other people like this.
So, if we want to know more of God, and grow closer to our Lord, in our walks of faith and our fellowship with him, then we need to let him teach us his ways. We must get into his Word, listen to his voice, follow his lead, and do what he says – all in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us, as we yield to God and we cooperate with his work of grace in our lives. If we are receptive, and we will listen and obey, he will teach us everything we need to know for godly living, and to live to please God.
Teach Me, Lord
An Original Work / June 12, 2011
Teach me, Lord, to walk in Your ways,
And observe all You command.
May I ever hasten to You,
And desire to not offend.
Teach me how to follow Your steps,
Gently guiding me each day.
May I love and serve You always,
Loving others, this I pray.
Teach me, Lord, to listen to You
Speaking Your words to my heart.
May I never stray from Your truth,
And from Your law ne’er depart.
Teach me how to instruct others
In the way that we should go,
Leading them by my life witness,
So that Jesus they should know.
Teach me, Lord, to be a light in
This dark world of grief and sin.
May I always care for others;
Share their burdens; help to mend.
Teach me how to share with them that
Jesus came to set them free,
So that they could be forgiven;
Live with Christ eternally.
Tuesday, December 26, 2017, 10:34 p.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this instruction in your Word. Give us a desire to know you more and to follow you more completely.