Romans 15:7 – Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
While we accept each other as we are, we do not remain as we are. As each one comes to Christ, forgiveness and acceptance are given by the Father. We then become part of one another on the very common ground of His power of love to forgive and accept each one as we are. For each believer, this is the starting point in Christ Jesus.
From this starting point, we grow together in an atmosphere of love, hope, and encouragement, no matter what difficulty or devastation we face. Of course, people enter the kingdom of God and are baptized into the body having come from many backgrounds. Our life together in the body begins a process of healing and growth which can take a very long time. An atmosphere of love, forgiveness, and acceptance is necessary to help in assisting people to receive, what in many cases has never before been communicated or experienced.
In the body of Christ, we esteem the covenant of marriage, we honor singleness, and we support the single parent. Marriage is under attack as perhaps it has never been before. The marriage covenant is the sure foundation we must build upon. If the marriage foundation is destroyed, the whole culture will collapse. We must first learn how to love, forgive, and accept in our homes before we will be successful in our relationships within the church.
We must reach out to singles, who many times feel displaced from family. The single person can more fully give themselves to the cause of Christ because of less time constraints. Many singles would love to be used within the family of God, both in church activities and within families belonging to a congregation.
It is important for the church body to give support to those who have found themselves single again through divorce or death. Many times, we form groups of people with similar life experiences, but their deeper need is family. They need to know the love of fathers and mothers within the body of Christ.
We must treasure and affirm children, including them in our worship, in our ministry moments, and social events. They are our future! The Lord has always been focused on the generations. Our children will carry the torch in the future. Now is the time of their training.
In the body of Christ we will always find diversity of personality and lifestyles, each adding something valuable to the whole. I suggest including each group I have mentioned in your prayers.
Father, I pray for the families of my congregation, fathers and mothers and their children, that Your kingdom rest on their lives. I pray for the singles as they seek to know how they fit into the family of God. I pray for those who have found themselves single again. I pray for healing in their lives and for the development of healthy relationships.
Hebrews 12:11 – All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
In our devotion yesterday, we concluded with the biblical statement of Hebrews 12:11. What the writer of Hebrews is stating is so important that it requires we look deeper into the truth it contains.
The Almighty God, who spun off worlds with His Word, is our heavenly Father if we have trusted His Only begotten Son for our salvation. His Holy Spirit resides in us and bears witness to this fact. “You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:15-17).
The child of God is not a slave, but an adopted son. The child of God can cry out Daddy and Father. My oldest son Paul is adopted. He has known this fact from his earliest childhood. Immediately, his mother and I thanked God for him and declared his adoption to legally settle his son-ship in our family. I declared he had a father and a mother who loved him and would never abandon him. Paul received the same blessings, but also the same discipline as our natural children. I can truly say we did not treat any of our children differently.
Paul the apostle said, “Indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:17). The suffering is our identity with His cross. Because of the cross, God raised Christ up and glorified Him. Our access to the family of God is through the cross of Christ. We have been raised up in newness of life and as joint heirs of God’s grace.
The Father’s training comes through discipline. Discipline is not the wrath of the Father, but His love to produce the fruit of peace and righteousness. God’s wrath concerning sin was settled at the cross of Christ. Father God is not angry at mankind and especially those who have been adopted into His family through the redemptive work of Christ. He trains His children through various types of disciplines. We should pay special attention to how Jesus trained His disciples in order to know how God wants us to be trained.
Jesus modeled the Father’s love. He first showed the Father’s nature “full of grace and truth.” He taught through words with love and authority. He reached out to the weak and needy. He demonstrated the Father’s love through direct action. He told His disciples to go do as he was doing, and gave them the authority to accomplish the assignment. He corrected their misunderstandings, bickering, and wrong heart motivations. He promised them another Helper just like Him so they would not have to go it alone.
Father, I want to be corrected and rebuked by You when necessary. I know it won’t be pleasant, but I also know it will mature me and produce the peace of righteousness in my life.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32 – If we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
This is a very powerful and important portion of Scripture. Paul helps the church at Corinth to examine their approach to the “Lord’s table.” Every congregation should read and study carefully what Paul writes. Verse 30 answers the question why many are sick in the body of Christ and why some have died prematurely. Paul says it comes from three things:
Eating the bread and drinking the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner
Failure to examine oneself, causing judgment on oneself
Not judging the body of Christ rightly
Close examination of these passages and, in fact, the entire book of Corinthians reveals how they addressed relationships within the body of Christ. When there is broken relationship among believers, it opens the door for the kingdom of darkness, reproach from an unbelieving world, and hinders the Lord’s purposes.
Jesus said, “If you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering (Matthew 5:23-24). The Lord puts a very high premium on relationship within His body. We must examine ourselves regularly to make sure our hearts are right toward our fellow believers. Paul informs us that not “judging the body rightly” causes sickness and even premature death. Our scripture today says that “if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” The Father wants His children to learn how to examine their own hearts. The Holy Spirit enables us to do this if we will ask for His help.
“When we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32). We know that we are sons and daughters because the Lord disciplines His children (see Hebrews 12:5).
A true father disciplines his children. Today, many children have not known the loving discipline of a father. Many are self-centered because of not experiencing a father’s love through discipline. Some have known only anger from their father. The loving discipline of a father helps to produce respect for authority and a respect for others. Father God disciplines His children for their good. The writer of Hebrews says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).
Father, cause me to be discerning about how I treat my spouse, my children, other believers, and those outside Your kingdom. Make me aware when I have offended another and grant me humility to ask forgiveness of the offended one. When You must discipline me, cause me to be open and willing to receive Your discipline, for I know it will produce in me the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Ephesians 2:19 – You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.
Within the body of Christ, our basic relationships can be expressed in terms of family. We are part of God’s extended family. God is our Father and we are brothers and sisters through Christ. There was a time in each of our lives that we were strangers and aliens to God’s household. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we were born again. He made us “fellow citizens with the saints.” The Spirit is the one who is charged with the work of connecting us in Christ’s body. If you have been born again, you are in the household of God.
As families join to families, a kinship is developed. People from many walks of life are joined together in covenant love. Covenant love is God’s kind of love and happens within committed relationships; Love which is rooted in relationship, established under pressure, and developed through servanthood.
This is God’s plan for maturing His sons and daughters. It all begins as “little children” (Matthew 18:3). Life in Christ grows inward to bring forth a “godly seed.” At the same time, new lives are added from without. While we grow in numbers and organizational complexity, we must also grow in our call to be family. If either of these is ever lost, we have missed God’s purpose.
Jesus said, “Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” As each one comes to Jesus, we receive forgiveness and acceptance from the Father. We in turn are to give the same to others.
The chorus of an old gospel song (Words and Music by William J. Gaither Copyright 1970) goes like this:
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood.
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.
The family begins in God the Father. God the Son has made it possible for you and me to be joined into this eternal family. The Holy Spirit uses the seed of God’s word to join us to the Father and the Son, but also to each other in this incredible eternal plan.
Father, I thank You for joining me to the family of God. I celebrate You as my heavenly Father. I thank You for Jesus, my Redeemer King and my Elder Brother. I thank You for giving to each believer the Holy Spirit, who applies the blood of Jesus to cleanse me, who then nurtures me and reveals that my identity now comes from You.
John 14:16 – I will ask the Father, and He will give another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth.
The Father sent Jesus to redeem mankind from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13). When Jesus fulfilled the Father’s plan, He then asked the Father for the Holy Spirit to be given to all those who believed on Him. Jesus refers to the Spirit as the “Helper.” Jesus and the Father have not left us alone to fend for ourselves. It is marvelous how the Holy Spirit has been given to indwell each believer. It is incredible to know that the Father and the Son are in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit who was given to be with us forever.
The Holy Spirit is our life source in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the one who continues to reveal the Father to us. It is worth our time to read through the gospels, paying special attention to what the Scriptures teach us about the Father. The more I have learned about the Father, the more I have grown in security, confidence, and faith. The Holy Spirit wants to help us be able to say from our heart, Abba Father or “Daddy, dear Daddy.”
When we learn about the “fruit of the Spirit,” we are learning about the very nature of God. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control all proceed from the Father. Each of these aspects of God is seen in the Lord Jesus. They can now be seen in our life as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s work. We know the Father is living through us by the evidence of the fruit. When Scriptures speak about maturing in Christ, they are referring to the development of the fruit of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit’s role is to draw us to Christ, and then reveal to us the nature of Christ which always points to the Father. Paul says it beautifully. “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4).
We will be in the presence of the Father and the Son in glory. The Holy Spirit will still be in us. We won’t see the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, just the Father and the Son. “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22). Yes, the Holy Spirit is leading us to that day in eternity when we will be consumed by the glory of God. We don’t have to wait for that day. Even now, we can move from glory to glory as we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the Almighty and the Lamb in an ever-increasing way.
Father, I pray for the Holy Spirit to take me deeper into Your love. As the old hymn declares, “Deeper, deeper in the love of Jesus, deeper let me go – Higher, higher in the school of wisdom, more of Christ to know – Deeper yet I pray, higher every day, wiser, blessed Lord in Your precious holy Word.”
John 14:9 – He who has seen Me has seen the Father
The four Gospels give us wonderful understandings about the Father. Today, we will devote our selves to the Gospel of John and examine what he reveals about the Father through the Son who is the expressed image of the Father.
Jesus is the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Jesus is full of grace and truth because the Father is full of the same. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand (John 3:35). The Father loves His sons and daughters in the same way He loves Jesus. The Father seeks those to be His worshipers (John 4:23). The Father knows that it is through worship we enter into His presence, His liberty, and His peace.
“My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17). The Father has always been a worker. He worked the six days of creation and then He rested from His work. He created Adam as a worker in the Garden. Jesus relates the Father’s work with His work. He calls each believer to enter into the work of the Father and the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel” (John 5:20). It is marvelous how the Father loves the Son and gave Him all things. Here, Jesus tells us that the Father shows Him all things. He also tells us that the Father will show greater things to the Son. The greater things are:
The ability to give life to whomever He wills.
The ability for the Son to have life in Himself.
The Father gave all judgment into the hands of the Son.
We can see by these few verses that the Father delights in His Son and loves to give to Him. Our heavenly Father loves us as well. As we live in the center of His love, He will choose to give us those things from His riches in glory. “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:19-20).
Many have been disappointed with earthly fathers because of their sin and neglect. Our heavenly Father wants to heal any brokenness we might carry from past relationship with a father. Father God will help us enter into His abundant love through His only begotten Son. The Holy Spirit has come to reveal the love of the Father through the kindness given to Christ and now available to all who will believe.
Father, I thank You for Your goodness that was revealed through Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to give me the experience of Your love. Your love that forgives me, Your love that grants me eternal life, and Your love that gives me the security of Your grace. You are a good Father!