Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Recently, I had a brilliant DIY epiphany that I could caulk our bathroom shower. I was convinced that it really must be quite simple. We hired a young man to do the other two bathtubs and he was done in minutes. I mean seriously I can frost a cake and use a glue gun so why couldn’t I do this? My dad didn’t raise his girls to be helpless. He showed us our way under the hood of a car and even indulged us in roofing our sunroom one year. We could weed flowerbeds and other outdoor tasks because of his leadership. He had a philosophy that if something was broken – try to fix it yourself and then call the repairmen or professional. After all, it’s broken anyway. He would read the instructions – now that’s a concept. If he didn’t have the manual, he would order one. I am my father’s daughter in too many ways to recount. It was a natural response to do it myself. Can I just say that every time our daughter has managed to break her elbow, wrist and hand on her right arm (which is her dominant appendage) it is usually preceded by the words, “I’ll do it myself.” You would think that I would learn.
The first thing that I had to do was scrape off all the old sealant from before and give the shower a good scrub. Lots of scraping, peeling and digging for about two hours rendered a clean canvas. My husband would call to me from time to time, do you need my help? “No!” I emphatically replied. I grabbed a tube of caulk and the “gun”. My first attempt at loading the gun and getting a steady flow of material resulted in a ruined tube as it exploded out the other end. Okay, maybe I did need his help. The second time, I was given a brief lesson. Easy enough. No, it was not easy. It was hard. It was messy. It was sticky. It got on everything. Luckily in some cases where I wanted it to go, but mostly on me, my clothes, my hair, the shower floor, the walls, the bathroom sink, the kitchen sink and more. The caulk comes to life the moment it is released and has a mind of its own. By the end of the night, I took my list of talents and trades and struck caulking off the list with a permanent marker which my raw hand from an hour of trying to clean me.
Follow God’s Example. Many times, I set off with the best of intentions only to fall short due to a lack of knowledge or even experience when I try new things. I am prone to overcomplicate matters rather than keeping it simple. To be like God, we must only do what He says. He really is not a Complicated Creator but we are His Conflicted Creation. I tried to caulk the shower because I didn’t want to pay someone to do it. The cost of our handyman is not that much but I thought I could do it and underestimated the task at hand. Could it be that we do not follow God because the cost is self? You don’t have to raise your hand because I just waved mine. The thought that I am powerless is tough. I am a survivor. I have endured many things which makes our flesh grab and tug for control. Today, I want to keep it simple. I want to follow God’s Example like a dearly loved child. When I tried new things with my dad, he showed me exactly what to do. He gave me his wisdom and experience to grow, develop and mature me to be a confident and competent adult. How much more our Father in Heaven desires to train and teach us today!
We follow God’s Example by engaging with His Word. Applying it to our life and doing what it says produces wisdom. But wait like any other amazing offer, there is more. We are to walk in the way of love following Jesus Christ. He loved us and gave Himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Wait I thought He died for me? He did. It was because God asked Him to and Jesus obeyed God. Jesus did not have the perfect life, but He lived it perfectly. I know you can relate. Faults, failures, disappointments and unrealized expectation wear us down and make it hard to live by faith in something we cannot see or touch. So we try to make this life about something more than just following God’s Example and living in His Love because we cannot fathom giving our life away even to God.
Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV)
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Grace does not relieve us of responsibility. We are still to follow God’s Example even though we clearly cannot do everything God did to perfection. Our sin is immediate imperfection that we cannot overcome outside of true repentance. Repentance is turning our life over to God. If you have no intention of giving up sin, then you are not saved. Whoa! Did I just write that… it’s true. Salvation does not mean you will not sin again, it means you don’t want to and try intelligently and wholeheartedly not to. I am tired of the discount doctrine and mixed up message feed to the unsuspecting that God will tolerate our willful disobedience. Find it in His Word and show it to me. This is not a message of condemnation but desperation.
Jesus told the story of the farmer who planted a crop but his enemy sowed weeds in it. When the workers discovered his betrayal, they asked the farmer if they should remove the weeds. He instructed them to leave the weeds to be sorted out and burned at the harvest as not to disrupt the crop. In another passage, Jesus talks about the goat among His Sheep who are separated in the end. The goats don’t make it by the way. This is my point. I want to know who I am in Jesus Christ. I want my faith to be genuine. I cannot live a life of disobedience and rebellion and still make it into Eternity. I don’t want to be a weed or goat when I stand before the Lord. It is important how you live. There will just be me and Jesus one day. I want Him to know me. I want His Approval and Acceptance as He affirms me as His Own. This is why we must make the most of EVERY opportunity.
Do not be unwise. Be wise. Wisdom is born of knowledge. We must consider our source. What are we feeding our mind? How do we nourish our thoughts? The Word of God empowers and strengthens us. Knowledge is the source of wisdom. We cannot use or apply that which we do not know. We must not be unwise but seek out godly knowledge so His Spirit can mold, shape and produce His Fruit in us. We are known by our fruit.
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s Purpose that prevails. No matter how I choose to live – God’s Plan is active and alive in my life. It doesn’t matter what I purpose to do or where I go – the Lord continues to pursue us with His Unfailing Love and Goodness. Knowledge turned to wisdom will lead to obedience. Obedience opens the door to His Presence. I want to live right there.
Ephesians 5:21 (NIV) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
To follow God’s Example requires submission. Our ways are not His Ways. To partner our life with Jesus Christ is to live in love with Jesus and be like Him means to obey our Father. Finally, to live our life as an example of our God and Savior – is to submit. An example demonstrates the character of the whole. It is to imitate something or be an illustration. We are to set a precedent and live parallel to God. This requires submission. We must submit our life to God through Jesus Christ and surrender to His Spirit inside of us. To give over and yield our way to honor His Way of Living and Doing things. We must present our life for consideration and approval to the Lord and allow Him to make the necessary changes in us. There will always be a price to pay when coming to Jesus. Our willingness to count the cost, take up our cross and follow Jesus must begin with submission.
I Corinthians 10:11-13 (NIV)
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Pride is the doorway to failure. It says so right here. Where is the power in our churches? Where is revival? Why aren’t we experiencing miracles, signs and wonders? The Word of God tells us that we would do greater things because Jesus went to be with the Father. Why aren’t we? We stopped thinking God’s Grace was enough. We use it as an excuse to sin and return to bondage rather than believing it is a gateway to freedom from sin. People don’t try anymore. They live in the darkness of this world five days a week and bring their sin into the sanctuary one or two days a week unchecked. No one says not to sin but rather just slap some grace on it like gravy covering lumpy mashed potatoes. Sin will never be an acceptable lifestyle for those who are saved. The church must choose to talk about the Cross, the Blood and Remission of Sin or it remain rampant in our congregations.
The Promises of God are not obtained by personal strength or a better life. They belong to us by the Grace of God given in salvation and discovered by surrendering our way to His Way and submitting our life as an example of God’s Love and Fulfillment. We can do nothing apart from Christ but we cannot partake of Christ when sin is our master. Religion tells us we can do something for God. The reality of our relationship is that we can do nothing for Him and we are powerless without Jesus.
The example of Jesus is total submission to God’s Word, Will and Way. We are no different. We cannot live a life of retaliation under His Dispensation of Grace. (I Peter 2:21-25) We have no right. We must separate ourselves from the godless things in this world to be filled with His Spirit and follow Jesus. (I Timothy 4:7-12) We must know what we believe and be confident enough in it to live it out in our natural life. Do you believe? It is time for the Titus men and women of the church to come out of hiding and speak the Truth of our ancestors. To tell these young Timothys that it is time to know the God they serve and live what they believe in open honesty and full transparency. (Titus 2:7-8) If we do not become living sacrifices who are willing to step over pride and put ourselves out there, maybe it means we do not really believe the hype we are living. A sacrifice gives their all.
Galatians 5:15-18 (NIV)
Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
Every time I read the Word of God, I find something new. It doesn’t change but I do. As I continue to dig and tug every single Truth that I can find to apply to my life, I find there is more and more to know and apply. God spoke His Promise to Abraham and to his seed. Now I have read this a hundred times, but never found it significant until now. God did not make His Promise to Abraham’s seeds, plural, but to his seed singular. To be the father of many would require more than one seed, right. There would need to be more children. Right? God was speaking to Abraham and his one seed, Jesus. Jesus is in the lineage of Abraham. Abraham was under the Law so how could he experience the benefits of faith outside of Jesus. Jesus was in Abraham. Jesus lives in me and you. Every promise that we are given in God’s Word is affirmed by the Jesus who lives in us. We have to live in obedience to produce our promise. We must connect with the Jesus in us and become living examples of His Love to achieve the destiny for which we were created. We have everything we need to do it, but are we willing to give it all back to do so. When Abraham decided that he would obediently head up the mountain to sacrifice his son, he did so by faith. His faith connected him to the power inside him. God responded to his obedience by giving him a sacrifice and saving his son. Are we willing to give up our life for the Jesus in us to produce that perfection God promises us? Abraham was willing to surrender all. Are you? Am I? This is why he is called a friend of God and the father of faith.
Micah 6:8 (NIV)
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
This life of living sacrifice is messy. Like the over-productive caulk tube and the inexperienced worker, we must figure out how to imitate a perfect God, follow His Selfless Son and walk humbly through life with our Lord. It seems so simple. I thought caulking no more than a glue gun project. I was wrong about that and often I am wrong in my pursuit of Him. I can do nothing apart from Jesus. The one who lives in me overcame the world. I am more than a conqueror though the battle is already won. I must win the war of self that does not want to surrender or submit. I must carry my prideful self to the altar of sacrifice binding it there with cords of faith, trust and obedience to God. I have nothing that is of worth so why the struggle to give it up? Sometimes I am disillusioned that it is all I have. I forget that Eternity was placed in my heart. Jesus joined it when I invited Him in. Now I can live and prosper in the Promises of God just because I believe enough to seek Him out and walk with Him daily. Nothing more or less. I must be live as an example of the Love that is within me. I must serve selflessly because He first served me. (John 13:14-16) What does God require of us today? Act justly which is to imitate our Father. To love mercy which is reminiscent of His Son. To walk humbly with our God is to follow the example given by both and be one.
Philippians 3:14-16 (NIV)
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.