Set Apart– Living a life led by God and fueled by His Spirit will make a person stand out. Being a reflection of God’s light in this dark world will cause people to notice the light. That may be in the form of either imitation of rejection, but that none of your concern. You are called to be set apart (holy) through sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Being different than this world insures you are working toward God. (Philippians 2:14-15) Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world
Without Fault (Guiltless before God and man) – The thought of being faultless add undo pressure. It is impossible to be perfect. I fell what this speaks to is the quality of taking care of the wrongs with both God and man. With God we are asked to repent, with man we are called to reconciliation. We need to take credit for any shortcoming and admit where we need to improve. Seeking to improve is the first required step to succeeding in it. (2 Timothy 2:15) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (Proverbs 28:13) Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy
Trustworthy– It is difficult but necessary to speak the truth in love and to be honest when we may need forgiveness because we expose our own error. People follow leaders that they can trust. They accept guidance when they know they are cared for. People will come to you when they know that they can trust you. Your loving truth becomes a safe place for broken people. (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit makes us examples to a world that is lost in the chaos caused by sin. This in turn makes us leaders as our example guides people to reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. As leaders by example and not just words, we should strive to meet the standard God has for those who believe in salvation through Jesus. This extends into our home, workplace, and anywhere we have the opportunity to glorify God. (1 Peter 5:2-4) Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. We must be: (2)Trustworthy, (3)Guiltless, (4)Set Apart, (5)Discerning, (6)Humble, (7)Consistent, (8)Prosperous.
We find the 10 Commandments given to Moses (Exodus 20) fulfilled and overshadowed by the 2 Commandments of Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:37-40). God says that those who fear and love God will obey His commands. Obeying the law was impossible in the flesh, through fear. The entire Old Testament proves that. Obeying the commands of God is only possible with the Holy Spirit, through love. The OT gives us the law of sin and death, Jesus gives us the law of spirit and life. (Romans 8:2) For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. The OT tells us what is right while Jesus and the Holy Spirit equip us to do it. The OT law gives us condemnation, Jesus gives us grace and mercy. (John 1:17) For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. OT law isolates people from one another in sin, love brings us together. The law is made weak by flesh, love is made strong by the spirit. (Romans 8:3-4) For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
“Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” -Josh McDowell
We have a God that never changes. The same God that created the universe gave you the breath of life. The same God that raised Christ from the dead allowed you to open your eyes this morning. He has no reason to change in His perfect wisdom and perfect righteousness. He knows the beginning from the end and sees the bigger picture as His will is played out on earth.
I’ve been guilty of thinking that my actions in some way change the way God sees me, or the way He can use me. I forget that God knew every mistake I would ever make, every sinful thought or action, before the beginning of time. He knew when He called me into adoption as His child, all that I had done and would ever do. His heart for me has no reason to change. His love for me is incomprehensible and would be overwhelming if I could receive it fully in this human heart. We have to look at our greatest examples of love here on earth and just imagine how infinitely better His must be.
I wanted to imagine an analogy to make this as real as possible to the people who I get to profess His love to. Imagine with me that you are at the park with your kids, or children you care deeply for. You see them working through their pre-school problems with the other kids. (Who gets the yellow shovel? Who touched me? Who moved my rock?) You smile at how funny they are dwelling on the trivial things in life. You laugh at how much bigger the world is than their tiny playground. You wonder what amazing things they will accomplish as they grow and mature. That is how the Father sees us as His children. We struggle, lost in emotions that interfere with our reason and truth. We think that moments spell the end for us and panic. We forget that He is in control and will guide us as we do our children. I imagine God’s smile as He waits for me to come to Him when I think my newest struggle is more than just my newest yellow shovel struggle.
He has no need to feed our panic or deliver us from struggles that don’t hinder His bigger view of life. His love had no reason to waiver over our hyper focus on relatively small things. He’s driving the car and we keep panicking about the dumps in the road. Fall into the freedom of letting God drive the car. Let Him maneuver the way as He guides you through His journey for you. Know always that He sees your struggles, but He sees them through the eyes of His plan and through the eyes of eternity. Your mountain is a grain of sand to the Creator. Let Him blow your mountains away, after you grow in the climbing of those mountains. Share the yellow shovel, the green one works too. That touch didn’t hurt you, but your forgiveness will touch them in greater ways. Let them have your rock, God has a better one waiting for you when you look to Him. We are sojourners on this earth, like a giant playground. Grow in its lesson and return to the Father that watches you the entire time, with a smile that never waivers.
Let’s consider some of the promises given to us through Jesus Christ: newness of life (Romans 6:4), salvation (Romans 6:23), become a child of God (John 1:12), righteousness of God (Romans 3:22), eternal life and escape from judgement (John 5:24), justification through grace (Romans 3:24). These are the things freely given to us as gifts from the Creator and Sustainer of the universe when we decide to accept reconciliation to Him through His son which He offered to any who choose to receive.
There are also things offered to believers which require us to allow God to work in us through His spirit. (Philippians 2:12b-13) work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. These are things that we cannot do on our own. We need God to act in us in order to overcome the sinfulness given to us in original sin. We need the Holy Spirit to renew our minds, to break out of our personal strongholds, to overcome temptation, to drive away the deceiver, to understand God’s word, to guide us in God’s will for our life, to discern God’s will, to be our joy and light in this dark world, and to be God in us! The problem with some is that they expect God to pour these things on us. It doesn’t work that way. These things are grown in the hearts of believers as fruit when the believer matures in their walk with the Lord. God is too wise to hand such powerful things to us in our spiritual youth. As we grow in relationship with the Father He makes these things available to us. Human wisdom has parents who set up trusts for their children so they don’t squander the gifts they receive. How much wiser is our Heavenly Father? God makes all of these things available to His children, but His wisdom is in His timing and our maturity.
Don’t lose hope when God doesn’t hand you understanding or doesn’t deliver you from situations you have walked into. Know that you may not be ready to fully understand that moment yet or that you still need to grow in your painful situation. (Romans 8:28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Know that God wishes to bless you more than you desire to be blessed. He knows that those blessing deserve to be used for His greater purpose in you. Come close to God, get to know His heart for you, and never doubt that the same spirit that flowed through and raised Christ is in you; and available to glorify God in ways that surpass your imagination.