Friday, December 15, 2017

Unable and Unworthy

2Sa 9:3  And the king said, "Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?" Ziba said to the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet."

Tucked away in the OT is an account of the kindness David showed to Mephibosheth, one of Jonathan’s sons.  Every time I go through this passage I see something of the grace that God shows sinners that I can identify with and reminds me why I must love the Lord with all of my heart.

This time I noticed that there were two things about Mephibosheth that removed any chance of him doing anything for David to earn his favor.  He was from a cursed family and he was crippled in both feet.  Without doubt these two things are mentioned in this passage to point to the fact that I also was from the wrong family and enslaved to sin and unable to do anything that pleased God.

Mephibosheth’s grandfather was Saul who had been rejected by the Lord and eventually killed in battle.  It was typical for a new king who had disposed the previous one to kill his relatives lest they lead a rebellion to take back the kingdom.  Mephibosheth realized this as is seen in the humble, fearful way he approached the king, 2Sa 9:6  And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, "Mephibosheth!" And he answered, "Behold, I am your servant."

We are all born into a cursed family line as well.  Our “grandfather” dared rebel against the King and brought condemnation upon us all.  The Bible says that the sentence of death hangs over everyone born from the first Adam.  But like Mephibosheth, we are also born of one who has a special relationship to the king, 2Sa 9:1  And David said, "Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?"  Jonathan was also born of Saul but he had entered into a previous covenant with David which promised life to all his descendants.  So while condemned by the first Adam, Saul, he gained pardon by being from the second Adam, Jonathan.  What a marvelous picture of Jesus born in the line of Adam but also being God pleased the Father in a way that no sinner ever could.

That took care of Mephibosheth’s first problem, wrong family, but what about his inability to please the king; his lameness meant he had nothing to offer King David.  We read that he was given a powerful servant that was commissioned to take all of Mephibosheth’s possessions and bear fruit for David, 2Sa 9:9  Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, "All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson. 2Sa 9:10  And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master's grandson may have bread to eat.

So God gives us his Spirit to work in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  He takes what we were born with and empowers us to use it for the Lord and no longer for sinful purposes.

In fact Ziba played a big part in bringing Mephibosheth to David to begin with, 2Sa 9:4  The king said to him, "Where is he?" And Ziba said to the king, "He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar." 2Sa 9:5  Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.  Ziba was sent and brought Mephibosheth to David.  As with our salvation this story is all about what David did for Mephibosheth, not what Mephibosheth did for David.  

I praise and thank the Lord that when I was both helpless and cursed, unable and unworthy, he sent his Son to bring peace and his Spirit bring me back so I can now eat at the King’s table and serve him with a new heart.  All glory to God!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Love and the Local Church

Joh 13:1  Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
Rom 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …Rom 8:38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, Rom 8:39  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is something about biblical love seen in the way that the Lord loves us that helps us understand how we are to love one another.  In turn this should help us realize when someone does not love us when perhaps they say they do. 

We see in the above verses that God has set his love on us and has determined to do us good and he will never stop seeking our good.  So true love comes with commitment.  It is not merely a feeling but a decision to seek the good of its object no matter what the personal cost.  Anything less does not reflect God’s love; any love that is only good as long as the object maintains some level of performance or attraction is a defective love.

So girls, if that boy won’t put a ring on your finger and soon afterward say “I do”, they do not love you.  They might be strongly attracted to you but attraction comes and goes.  They might like you and want to spend time with you but only if the conditions are right.  If they are unwilling to commit to you for life, to live with you, to support you, to care for you, to commit to the children they have with you, then they are in essence saying that they love themselves more than you and will keep you around only as long as they can get what they want out of you.  True, godly love commits and then sees it through until death as Jesus demonstrates in John 13 above. 

There are a lot of Christians who would fully agree with my application of true love in marriage but then balk when we start to try and be consistent and love the church in the same manner.  Just like the man who holds his girlfriend at arm’s length and won’t join her in marriage so that he can keep his options open, so many saints treat other Christians in the local church with the same cavalier attitude.

We don’t want to be held accountable for the way we live; we don’t want to get involved in what is often messy relationships with God’s people.  We just want to walk in on Sunday morning, hear an “inspiring” message that meets my needs and then not see anyone until the next week.  So there is no way we are going to join the local church and be under the leadership and accountability of others.  It isn’t surprising that a lot of guys have the same attitude towards the “ole ball and chain”.  Commitment is a four-letter word today because we think we are losing our freedom when in fact we are losing things far worse such as a deep, satisfying relationship that only comes in life-long commitment and that is only the beginning.

It is funny that we are happy to have Jesus commit to us and enjoy all the benefits we get from him, but we don’t want to commit to his body, the church.  The problem is that the Bible doesn’t let us off the hook, 1Jn 4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  1Jn 4:20  If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1Jn 4:21  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother

We might think that we can love the saints but not commit to them; we think we can love them from afar as in Sundays only, etc.  But again, the Bible says we have to sacrifice for them, 1Jn 3:16  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  Can I really say I love someone when I refuse to even join the church and commit myself to them; especially when God defines love as being willing to lay down my life for the object?  If I won’t even lay down my life to the extent of joining the church because I am afraid of commitment and accountability there is no way I am going to lay down my life in death for you.

Jesus Christ demonstrated his love and committment for us by going through the worse experience it is possible to be in, the cross and the separation from the Father, and if our love and commitments don’t look the same by at least committing ourselves to the care of other Christians in the local church then there is a problem.  If I love you, I will commit myself to you and sacrifice myself for you.

Notice this commitment in the early church,

Act 2:42  And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Act 2:43  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. Act 2:44  And all who believed were together and had all things in common. Act 2:45  And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Act 2:46  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, Act 2:47  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. 

It was this type of joining together that brought about the salvation of souls, vs. 47.  May God take away our fierce love for self that must remain independent, in control, and uncommitted and work in us a spirit that gives of oneself to each other.