Throughout the Old Testament (2 Kings specifically today) I see a trend in God’s people that continues to plague us. As we study, we see God ‘delivering’ those who don’t follow Him into the hands of His people. We see God ‘driving people out’ of lands He desires for His people. God’s provision in terms of land, both to live and farm, and dwell safely is clearly repeated many times. It’s only in the people’s disobedience and ‘turning away’ that His provisions are left unprotected to be taken by foreign kings. God must continually show His people that all they have is because of Him.
God physically set His people apart in the Old Testament. Today, as believers, we are set apart spiritually as we work toward Christ likeness. This Christ likeness is a process of becoming holy known as sanctification. The definition of holy is ‘set apart.’ As God’s chosen He sets us apart from the darkness of this world just as He set apart His people in their own lands long ago.
Just like then, we still seek the things that we are meant to be set apart from. At that time people continued to offer sacrifice to the gods of the previous inhabitants. They sought comfort in the ways that God had removed from them. These types of acts were evil in the sight of God. As we read these stories of God handing over armies and land, then His people building an altar to a god that had just been conquered, it seems absurd, and it is! Yet we do the exact same thing today. God delivers us from the sinful nature of the world, He gives us Jesus to reconcile us to Him and His Holy nature. Yet each of us returns to the comforts of this world in an attempt to sooth ourselves, whether it’s food, drugs, sex/pornography, wealth, status, control, etc. The list could go on. We all miss the facts shown the Old Testament that God is the source of all of our provision, a provision that is always better than the tainted versions found on earth. The fullness found in the holy provision of God is missed by those unwilling to let God have control of their life. We should take a moment to see the mistakes by those from long ago, learn from their mistake, and ask God to be our only provision. We should trust that His provision, in His timing, will bring us into His fullness and truly set us apart.
We can never be too late. It’s intimidating to walk into a congregation of life-long church goers when you are still new to the word. You meet people who went to church camps and bible school and feel that there is too much catching up to do.
Know that you were called when the Lord wanted you there. Relish in the fact that you have been called and that you were able to hear your calling!
The service in the Tabernacle in Numbers didn’t begin until the age of 30 (Numbers 4:22). Jesus did not begin His ministry until the age of 30. King David did not begin his reign until 30 years of age. (2 Samuel 5:4) Just because your children’s bible isn’t full of your crayon markings doesn’t exclude you from His purpose. Your purpose is unique. Sometimes, God’s plan requires a person who has been beat down by the world, and sometimes sin has hardened a heart that must first softened through pain inflicted by the world. It’s when we realize our best efforts to comfort our longing for God with the riches of the world are always short of what we need to be complete. Our wholeness is only found in God and His desire for our lives and this world.
Each person is given gifts from God, strengths designed to serve Him in His kingdom. While it is easy to be thankful to God for our gifts we must show caution as well. It is human nature to view the world through our strength. That means to hold people accountable in the light of our gifts. An important step in growing God’s kingdom is to embrace the gifts of those around us and to allow our gifts to bless them as we allow their gifts to bless and grow us. These steps together strengthen the body of Christ. We have to make sure to be open to the views and abilities of each individual, and be aware that we may not understand those views and gifts at first. We can be assured that God does understand and we can take it to Him in prayer and develop understanding through wisdom. God has a purpose for all of His creation. If we insist on understanding it all we are humanizing God. If you ever feel that you fully understand you should be afraid, you are guaranteed to be lost.
Make a point today to not hold people accountable to your expectations and abilities. They will almost always disappoint you. We must appreciate their gifts and contributions whatever they may be. It’s the diversity in the body of Christ that gives it its strength. Try not to focus on how people have fallen short, but what they have contributed, however slight it may be. God is at work in each of us and that person you might not understand is an important part of God’s plan.
(1 Corinthians 12:14-20) For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
2 Peter 1:7-9
The greatest command of all is love. It is no coincidence that love is the top step in the staircase of spiritual maturity. It is also the culmination of all of the Fruits of the Spirit. The ability to love God with all you are and to love your neighbor as yourself is the evidence of a mature spirit in Christ. God loves all of His creation and a person rotted in Jesus and the word of God should strive to do the same. Unconditional love is a quality that God eternally exemplifies. It is up to the believer to do the same on earth. Possessing an unconditional love not only pours out a Godly love to the world and draws them to Him, it also leaves that person with the joy and peace that comes from being full of Godly love and not the sinful emotions that creep in in the absence of love (anger, jealousy, lust, greed, fear, etc) Evidence of spiritual maturity is the ability to love the darkened world, becoming the light of God that overcomes that darkness.
2 Peter 1:7-9
All of the previous refinement culminates to allow a believer to see through the sinful nature of the world and have a mutual affection for all people. This quality is shown through the person’s ability to forgive and show kindness to people who have hurt them. It’s the way a believer is kind and caring in a way that draws people to them and their way of treating the world around them. God, in His infinite wisdom builds up His faithful with all of the previous qualities to prepare them to represent His on earth just as Jesus did. Each of the step must be taken and a firm stance on each achieved before the next can be ascended toward maturing in spirit. Not taking the time to thoughtfully take each step creates people who tend to fall backward in their walk. Showing God’s affection toward the people He puts in your life is the basic duty of each believer and an amazing way to show people God’s power.
2 Peter 1:7-9
The ability to persevere through the adversity and remain a light source in this dark world can now be added to the wisdom found in God’s viewpoint. You now find a place of godliness. Another way of seeing this is holiness. Taking this step is moving into the holiness God desires for each of us. You have become ‘set apart’ which is the definition of holy. This level of spiritual maturity not only sets you apart from the world but also makes you a source of godliness to those you are making their way up the same staircase. A firm stance on this step allows you to guide the brothers and sisters who might struggle to ascend these steps. You can be a conduit of God’s power to believers and non-believers. The next step is to put this godliness into action as an example of Jesus.
2 Peter 1:7-9
This step involves being able to maintain a foundation founded in the first four steps when adversity comes, as it inevitably will. Being able to fold fast to your faith, live out the goodness of God, continually seek knowledge of God’s will, and control sinfulness; while the world tries to bring you low is where we develop perseverance. People fall to the easiest path. In this case it’s the most comfortable path. It’s the path that soothes their human/sinful nature. When you live in a way that glorifies God you will make these people uncomfortable as their sinfulness becomes evident to them. They are unwilling to seek God for comfort but instead lean on the fading/ lesser comforts of this world. Instead of seeking God’s way they will attack your way. This is where you must resist the pull toward comfort and continue your walk with Christ and toward sanctification. You must persevere in this spiritual battle. (Ephesians 6:12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.