At Issue – Self-Reliance
God brings us to the end of ourselves to show us how much, how desperately, we need him. We need the power of his Spirit to help us walk in obedience, no matter the cost. We need his help to forgive as we’ve been forgiven, to love as we’ve been loved, to be patient with others as he’s been patient with us. Only through the Spirit can we break the power of sin in our lives—whether it’s addiction or bitterness or gossip. So remember, it’s not by your might or power, but by God’s. Admit your dependence on him.
1 Corinthians 12:27 ERV: All of you together are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of that body.
Individual Christians are members of the church of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul likens the church to a body – the body of Christ. Jesus is the head of the body and the rest of us comprise the many parts of the body. Thus, there is one body, one head of the body, and many parts or members of the body.
As parts of the body, each one of us has a role to play. Although individual Christians may struggle at times discerning what that is, there is no one in the body without a role. Indeed, you wouldn’t be a part of the body if you didn’t have a necessary role. Each part has been gifted by the one Spirit with an individual role to play that will benefit the rest of the body. Our roles may change as we mature in the faith, but we always have at least one role. Most may have a number of roles.
Given that there are many different parts of the body and that each part has its own unique role to play, it follows that one person’s role is not another person’s role. We should not make any futile attempts to be like another person. The Spirit has given each person the necessary gifts for their own role and if a person moves outside of that calling they will be functioning outside the leading and empowerment of the Spirit. To be envious of, jealous, or covetous of another person’s role has no place in the body of Christ.
If a person is having trouble identifying their role, then one good way to resolve the issue is to determine what is actually ministering to other members. If what we are doing is a struggle for us and is not ministering to others, then there is a good chance we have moved outside the call and gifting of the Holy Spirit. Or, if what we are doing is easy for us and ministers to others, then there is a good chance we are moving within the call and gifting of the Holy Spirit – despite whatever doubts we may have about it.
Today, be at peace about your place in the body, for you have a unique role to play that is necessary for the good of the whole.
By “the sons of Jacob” are meant persons who enjoy peculiar rights and titles. Jacob had no rights by birth; but he soon acquired them. He changed a mess of pottage with his brother Esau, and thus gained the birthright. I do not justify the means; but he did also obtain the blessing, and so acquired peculiar rights. By the “sons of Jacob” are meant persons who have peculiar rights and titles. Unto them that believe, He hath given the right and power to become sons of God. They have an interest in the blood of Christ; they have a right to “enter in through the gates Into the city”; they have a title to eternal honours; they have a promise to everlasting glory; they have a right to call themselves sons of God. Oh! there are peculiar rights and privileges belonging to the “sons of Jacob.”
But these “sons of Jacob” were men of peculiar manifestations. Jacob had had peculiar manifestations from his God, and thus he was highly honoured. Once, at night-time, he lay down and slept; he had the hedges for his curtains, the sky for his canopy, a stone for his pillow, and the earth for his bed. Oh! then he had a peculiar manifestation. There was a ladder, and he saw the angels of God ascending and descending. He thus had a manifestation of Christ Jesus, as the ladder which reaches from earth to heaven, up and down which angels came to bring us mercies. Then what a manifestation there was at Mahanaim, when the angels of God met him; and again at Peniel, when he wrestled with God, and saw Him face to face. Those were peculiar manifestations; and this passage refers to those who, like Jacob, have had peculiar manifestations.
The sons of Jacob have had peculiar manifestations. They have talked with God as a man talketh with his friend; they have whispered in the ear of Jehovah; Christ hath been with them to sup with them, and they with Christ; and the Holy Spirit hath shone into their souls with such a mighty radiance, that they could not doubt about special manifestations. The “sons of Jacob” are the men who enjoy these manifestations.
Then, they are men of peculiar trials. Ah! poor Jacob! I should not choose Jacob’s lot if I had not the prospect of Jacob’s blessing; for a hard lot his was. He had to run away from his father’s house to Laban’s; and then that surly old Laban cheated him all the years he was there—cheated him of his wife, cheated him in his wages, cheated him in his flocks, and cheated him all through the story. By-and-bye he had to run away from Laban, who pursued him and overtook him. Next came Esau with four hundred men to cut him up root and branch. Then there was a season of prayer, and afterwards he wrestled, and had to go all his life with his thigh out of joint. But a little further on, Rachel, his dear beloved, died. Then his daughter Dinah is led astray, and the sons murder the Shechemites. Anon there is dear Joseph sold into Egypt, and a famine comes. Then Reuben goes up to his couch and pollutes it; Judah commits incest with his own daughter-in-law; and all his sons become a plague to him. At last Benjamin is taken away; and the old man, almost broken-hearted, cries, “Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away.” Never was man more tried than Jacob, all through the one sin of cheating his brother. All through his life God chastised him. But I believe there are many who can sympathize with dear old Jacob. They have had to pass through trials very much like his. Well, cross-bearers! God says, “I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Poor tried souls! ye are not consumed because of the unchanging nature of your God. Now do not get fretting, and say, with the self-conceit of misery, “I am the man who hath seen affliction.” Why, “the Man of Sorrows” was afflicted more than you; Jesus was indeed a mourner. You only see the skirts of the garments of affliction. You never have trials like His. You do not understand what troubles mean; you have hardly sipped the cup of trouble; you have only had a drop or two, but Jesus drank the dregs. “Fear not,” saith God, “I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob,” men of peculiar trials, “are not consumed.”
Then, “sons of Jacob” are men of peculiar character; for though there were some things about Jacob’s character which we cannot commend, there are one or two things which God commends. There was Jacob’s faith, by which Jacob had his name written amongst the mighty worthies who obtained not the promises on earth, but shall obtain them in heaven. Are you men of faith, beloved? Do you know what it is to walk by faith, to live by faith, to get your temporary food by faith, to live on spiritual manna—all by faith? Is faith the rule of your life? if so, you are the “sons of Jacob.”
Then Jacob was a man of prayer—a man who wrestled, and groaned, and prayed. “Ah! you poor heathen, don’t you pray?” “No!” you say, “I never thought of such a thing; for years I have not prayed.” Well, I hope you may before you die. Live and die without prayer, and you will pray long enough when you get to hell. There is a woman: she was so busy sending her children to the Sunday-school, she had no time to pray. No time to pray? Had you time to dress? There is a time for every purpose under heaven, and if you had purposed to pray, you would have prayed. Sons of God cannot live without prayer. They are wrestling Jacobs. They are men in whom the Holy Ghost so works, that they can no more live without prayer than I can live without breathing. They must pray. Mark you, if you are living without prayer, you are living without Christ; and dying like that, your portion will be in the lake which burneth with fire. God redeem you, God rescue you from such a lot! But you who are “the sons of Jacob” take comfort, for God is immutable.
“The Good Steward”
Topic: Living for God
Brothers and sisters, “who is wise and understanding among you?” (James 3:13). Let him show the wisdom from above, by walking fitting to his character. If he calls himself a steward of the many gifts of God, let him see that all his thoughts, words, and works fulfill the duty God has assigned him. It is no small thing to lay out for God all which you have received from God. It requires all your wisdom, all your determination, all your patience and faithfulness; far more than ever you had by nature but not more than you may have by grace. His grace is sufficient for you. “All things,” you know, “are possible to him that believes” (Mark 9:23). By faith, then, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14), “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11), and you will be able to glorify Him in all your words and works. Yes, to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ!
– Edinburgh, May 14, 1768
Adapted from “The Good Steward” in The Collected Sermons of John Wesley
Passage for the Day: GENESIS 1
Verse for the Day: GENESIS 1:31
“Daddy, watch this.”
“Honey, are you listening to me?”
Almost every dad on earth has heard these words. They come from the members of his family who can see him but who suspect he’s really somewhere else—as the saying goes, “All the lights are on, but no one’s home.”
The first chapter of Genesis contains the story of creation. It’s the written account of an Almighty God who literally took nothingness and made something of it with the sound of his voice. God spoke, and everything appeared. From the Grand Tetons all the way down to mouse whiskers—a really incredible thing when you think about it.
As you read this account, you’ll notice that after each day of creation, God stepped back and took a look at what He had done. And when He had taken it all in, He declared it “good.”
You’re a dad. And of all the things you’re about, what follows is one of the most important.
It may be a stretch to say that you “created” this family, but it’s for sure that you had a lot to do with putting it together. None of this would have happened without you. That’s why these are your kids. And if you have step kids you’re a big part of their story as well.
But the way life is, new things happen every day—new challenges at work, new technology to deal with, new aches and pains as your body gets older. It’s only natural to get distracted and forget to keep noticing this thing you’ve had a part in building—your family.
The story of God’s creation is really the story of God paying close attention to what He had done. He did what He did, He took a good look, and He was pleased. And interestingly enough, the rest of the Bible confirms that God kept watching, day after day. He paid attention. He still does.
Most of us readily admit that, as dads, we have a lot to learn. This is a whole new experience for us—something our formal education didn’t include. So we learn as we go. Through some trial and error, we discover what works and what doesn’t. But given God’s example, we should rarely catch ourselves saying, “You know, I never saw it coming,” “When did she start doing that?” or “I guess I just wasn’t paying attention.”
Our challenge is not just to live with our families, but to really be there. To understand that our job as the dad is to really see what’s going on—to not succumb to the temptation of having our families, then getting on to the next thing without continuing to watch.
God’s pattern was to create, to pay close attention and to celebrate every day. A pretty good model to follow, don’t you think?