Faithlife
Faithlife

Father Knows Best

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Did you ever wonder if your life might work better if someone else ran it?  I can hear a number spouses thinking that this is the essence of marriage.  And the answer is “no”!

I remember years ago having my first experience with booking a Christian musician to sing at an event.  I assumed that you would get to speak directly to the artist – but not so – you get to speak to their manager.  It seemed like the manager was the person who said “yes” or “no”.  My understanding back then was that some of those artists were heavily ministry minded and lightly business minded.  As much as it annoyed me not to have direct contact with the person, I also understood that these people could go bankrupt on love offerings.

I remember someone asking me one time, “Don’t you trust God?”  It was relative to some ministry situation.  I told the individual that I trusted God but I didn’t always trust His people.  Sad but true isn’t it.

I know you see because I’m one of God’s people.  I also have to tell you that there have been times when I have let people down.  I’ve let my wife down.  I’ve let my kids down.  I’ve let the church down.  I’ve let God down.  This has not been the pattern of my life but there are scars that others bear because I have not functioned perfectly.

John Eldredge, talking about the “father wound” in his book, “Wild At Heart”, says that he has yet to meet a man who does not carry a wound into his adult years and most of the time that comes at the hand of his father.  It’s not always a deliberate thing but it happens.  If this statement stirs something with any of you, please talk to me about it.  There might be some wonderful healing for you.

It seems that when it comes to my priorities, it might work better if I had someone else to make sure that I stayed true to them.  Maybe I need a “manager” as well.  They could be the one to yank me out of bed on the mornings that I felt like sleeping in.  They could come downstairs at night when I sit too long in front of the TV or computer and turn the thing off and put a Bible in my hands.  They could grab me by the scruff of the neck and stand me in front of the door plate that needs to be replaced on our bedroom door and give me my trusty butter knife and make me fix it.  You know what, . . . if I ever hired a manager, I think I’d shoot him in short order.

In the Christian walk, the process of discipleship, there comes a time when we have to face the music as well.  We don’t live very long in the life of faith before we begin to realize that there are parts of our being, certain desires that we have, plan that we have formulated over years that suddenly are in conflict with the Spirit of God now living inside of our hearts and minds.  At this crisis point we have a decision to make relative to the Lordship of Christ.  The question is really, “Who knows best what is best for me?”  Part of the reason that professing Christians have so little fruit in their lives is that they have made the wrong decision at this point.  They decide that they are the ones who know best and they live in conflict with what God’s Spirit is whispering to them.  They hold certain things in reserve from God, refusing to surrender to Him in one area or another.  It could be a “call” to the ministry such as I fought in the early years of my faith experience.  It could be something as simple as asking someone forgiveness for the attitude that you have and the behavior that this has produced toward them.  Whether the issue is grand or small, it still blocks our ability to “flow” with the Spirit of God.  We become caught counter current to God’s will and in that condition, it’s just a matter of time before we lose the vitality of our connection.  We grow weary and ultimately lose out spiritually.

That’s the problem that the “Come Thirsty” campaign has addressed and today’s message has to do with the Lordship of Christ the first “L” in the “W.E.L.L.” acrostic.

So let me ask you today if there are current unresolved Lordship issues in your life?  When you try to talk to Him do you hear the same words coming?  Do you sense when you come to church that the same issue or concern is always right there in front of your face?

Rather than the particular issue, the question is, “Who knows best?”  Who is going to call the shots in your life?  Ultimately it must be God.  The lyrics to the old chorus went, “If He’s not Lord of everything then He’s not Lord at all.”  Bill Hybels says, “95% commitment to God is 5% short!”

Lordship has to do with several things among those today:

1.  The Primacy of His Purpose

 

He has a purpose for everything that you encounter, even when we cannot understand what it might be.

Sanctification from an Old Testament perspective, was related to several things.  It is used frequently in reference to “holy” things, to various articles and instruments of worship in the Tent of Meeting.  These things were sanctified or “set apart” by:

·        Their purpose

"They shall not profane the holy offerings of the children of Israel, which they offer to the Lord, or allow them to bear the guilt of trespass when they eat their holy offerings; for I the Lord sanctify them.’ ”" (Leviticus 22:15-16, NKJV) [1]

·        Their anointing

"Set up the courtyard around it and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. “Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar, and it will be most holy. Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate them." (Exodus 40:8-11, NIV) [2]

·        The Presence

 "This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet you to speak with you. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory. So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests. I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the Lord their God." (Exodus 29:42-46, NKJV) [3]

In the New Testament we are admonished as followers of Christ to make ourselves an offering to God.

"Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." (Romans 6:13-14, NIV) [4]

So what does that mean.  In my opinion, the demonstration of the Lordship of Christ in the life of a Christ-follower is that they dedicate their lives to those things which advance the kingdom of Christ.  That would mean the manner in which they conduct themselves sin daily affairs.  They would recognize that the demonstration of God’s love is the most powerful sermon that they will ever preach.  They are determined to reach people with the message of God’s love and grace.  This is the gospel.

2.  The Peace of His Presence

 

He is with you always. We need never be lonely. We are not abandoned. He supports us through every difficulty. 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God.” –Isaiah 43:2–3 nasb

 

The most holy practice, the nearest to daily life, and the most essential for the spiritual life, is the practice of the presence of God, that is to find joy in his divine company and to make it a habit of life, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him at all times, every moment, without rule or restriction, above all at times of temptation, distress, dryness, and revulsion, and even of faithlessness and sin.

   -- Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God.  Christianity Today, Vol. 31,  no. 13.

I was looking around my home the other day.  Elaine was out of the house on business.  I noticed as I glanced here and there that the evidence of a wonderful homemaker was everywhere.  Not that everything was in it's place (most often my fault), or that there were no dust bunnies floating around (you'd have to look closely to find them) but it was obvious that someone was caring for things.  It was that much more obvious to me since I knew that I was not the one.  In a very real way my wife's presence was there with me even though physically, she was elsewhere.  It was the touch of love abundant that spoke to me in the way that the furnishings were arranged, the pictures that graced the walls and somehow said something about the person who put each one in place.  As I looked and thought, and thanked God for His goodness, I wondered then what it would look like if she were not at work in her home to make it a place that ministered to our family.  The thought made me shudder and I remembered those who have lost loved ones.  The widower whose home is sad and cold from the absence of a homemaker.

Then I began to think about the church and how we can feel the presence of the Divine homemaker even when He may not be there physically.  I sense that presence in the night time when everyone has gone home following an evening service.  I hear Him somehow when I come in the mornings at times before anyone else is in the building.  His presence makes the church house a wonderful home for the prodigals among us.  We're all prodigals, the Bible says . . . "all we like sheep have gone astray", in the words of Isaiah.

" Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”" (Exodus 33:7-16, NIV) [5]

"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11, NKJV) [6]

I would say that God’s people are still “marked” by His Presence.  The presence of God is what makes a difference between religion, dead formalism and vital spirituality and relationship with God that impacts our living 7 days a week rather than for an hour or two on Sundays.

Now this last point will be the least popular and the most controversial.

3.  The Pain of His Permissive Will

Can you live with that one.  Many people doubt God’s love and goodness in times of pain.  We feel that we don’t deserve the lot that we draw at times in this life.  It seems that we can  live with the absence of prosperity without questioning His love but when we have the presence of adversity, that is another issue totally.

Hebrews 12 is an unpopular chapter of the Bible for those who believe that pain is the evidence of God’s lack of concern.

" Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees." (Hebrews 12:1-12, NIV) [7]

Can you actually believe that in your own best interests, God steps back to allow you to face adversity and to experience pain?  Until you are willing to receive these parts of life from God you are still calling the shots.

Outward Bound is or was a Christian ministry based on lessons learned through teamwork in the wilderness.  One of the activities that participants were put through was to spend an entire day alone in the wilderness, separated from their party.  They were given a compass and just enough supply for the day and they had to re-join their group by following the directions that they were given.  This was a breaking point for many people who were part of Outward Bound.  They couldn’t stand the idea of being alone and had great difficulty trusting the compass when their instincts told them that they were going in the wrong direction or that they were lost.

The truth was, beyond their knowledge, lost or not, they were never alone.  Everyone who was separated from their group was assigned a personal leader who kept them always in sight.  He was always close enough to intervene in danger.  They were never spared the feelings of their solo experience but the truth remained constant beyond their feelings.

If you, my brother or sister are to experience God’s fullness you must have a manager.  You have to come to the place where sin speaks to you as clearly as the bottle speaks to the alcoholic.

The first three steps of A.A. are as follows:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Now you’ve come to Christ to seek Him as Savior – have you surrendered your life to proclaim Him Lord?


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[1] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[3] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[5] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[6] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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