Scripture: – “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, my Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, Till He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands shall wait for His law.” – “Isaiah 42:1-4” NKJV
The Word of God, the Bible is within the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ to be the “final voice of authority” in all matters. I hope we can agree with that. If not, then some soul searching is required. In light of His Voice being the “Final Authority” and our subject matter today – Gods Man and His Work of Preparation – the opinion that God in His Word provides for us is of the utmost importance.
As is often the case the Father uses Jesus Christ His Son to be our example and what better example could we have.
God’s Word tells us in “2 Chronicles 16:9” we read “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.”
The word translated perfect there actually means “devoted, faithful, dedicated and consecrated.” So, this verse tells us that God is constantly searching for people whose hearts are devoted to Him so that He might demonstrate His kindness and power in their lives.
The scanning I believe is carried out for a purpose and that purpose is to locate those who He can take hold of and use in any function that He desires. However, there is the indicator that He is looking for those who are already declaring themselves in preparation by the attitudes of their hearts and the surrender of their wills.
The Apostle Paul was hinting at this preparation when he said “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” – “1 Corinthians 11:1” – KJV The word “followers” is actually a Greek word μιμηταί μου γίνεσθε which is actually “Imitators”. What was Paul saying here? Well! Going out of the context of the preceding and following verses he is trying to say that “Prepared Men and Women” are “Imitators of Christ” in all aspects of their humanity.
The Bible tells us – “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” – “I John 3:2” There is a key word in this verse of Scripture, and it is the word “now.” In the Greek it appears first in the sentence to emphasise its importance. What is John wanting us to confront? It is that we are the children of God right now, today, in this very moment.
But what is it saying to us? Well! Let me tell this illustration to us first. Shortly before his death, ex-Beatle George Harrison was asked about his spiritual journey. The question was apt since it was Harrison who introduced the Beatles to Eastern religion in the 60s and (which was after the group broke up) wrote the song “My Sweet Lord”. It was unfortunately (a hymn of praise to the Hindu deity Krishna). Right up to the end of his life, Harrison continued to explore and investigate spiritual matters. He summed up his priorities this way – “Everything else in life can wait, but the search for God cannot wait.”
Let me draw your attention to the Scripture in “1 John 3:2” which tells us three things which are particularly relevant to our topic in hand.
What We Are
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” – “I John 3:1”
It speaks to us of the “unearthly” nature of God’s love that has been bestowed upon us – It’s a statement of absolute surprise the “how great” translates from a Greek word that signifies “from what country.” It’s a portrayed as “What country did this kind of love come from?”
We are so prone to forget what we were before God saved us. I listen to the way people pray and worship and it’s obvious that they have either forgotten or thought they were probably not that bad anyway. As preachers we bear a significant judgement upon us that we have allowed through our preaching and teaching this state of affairs to have arisen.
Romans 5 says with four different words what we were like before we were saved. We were: –
- Powerless – When we were powerless to change our ways, Christ came for us.
- Ungodly – Although we were ungodly, Christ loved us.
- Sinners – While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- Enemies of God – Even though we were God’s enemies, Christ reconciled us to God.
What We Will Be
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” – “I John 3:2”
The key word in this verse is “now” Remember I said earlier that the Greek ”Now” – is “νῦν” (עַתָּה) it is translated to mean several things but in all of them it indicates and I take this from the NASB (actually (1), just now (1), now (130), present (11), present case (1), since (1), this time (1)it’s there first in the sentence to remind us of who we are and what we will be.
God through John wants us to know that we are the children of God right now, today, in this very moment.
Today we are forgiven. In this moment we are redeemed.
What a glorious truth this is. We do not look to some future date when we will be justified. Our justification is accomplished already, and we are the present possessors of eternal life. Having been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, we face life knowing that should we die today, our destiny is not in question because our home in heaven has been secured for us by Jesus Christ himself.
Do you wake up and wonder, “Am I a child of God today?” Why? Why wonder about that which is already settled in heaven? If we are “now” the children of God, then the only question left to us is whether or not we will believe what God has said. Even if we choose not to believe it, the truth cannot be changed. Our standing does not depend on us but on God who has declared that those who trust in his Son are his children now and forever.
If you have “Eternal Life” then that’s just what you have – it cannot be lost and you and I cannot become “Unborn” – If we have been given “Saving Faith” we are secure right into eternity
What We Should Be
“Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” – “I John 3:3”
If we believe that we will one day be like Jesus, and it is my sincerest hope that we do – then we should live like him right now. One day we will be perfected, and this it behoves us to let’s move in that direction now.
How do I purify myself? Surely it doesn’t refer purely to human effort of course not, holiness is not dependent on human energy. “I John 1:7” tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from every sin, and having thus been cleansed, we walk in the light of God and have intimate fellowship with God and with other believers.
It is because of Jesus’ blood that we are invited to confess our sins “I John 1:9”, knowing that God is faithful to forgive our sins and to cleanse us (same idea as purifying) from all unrighteousness.
We have our part to play off course and we are required to purify ourselves by using the God-appointed means of purification – these being – confession and repentance. Confession says, “I’ve been walking down the wrong road,” and repentance says, “By God’s grace, I’m going to go in a new direction.”
When we take sin seriously, that is, when we don’t make excuses and stop pretending and quit blaming others or our lousy circumstances, but when we cry out to God for mercy and grace, then we are both forgiven and “cleansed” from the things that have held us back.
So now with the foundation laid let’s examine further the attitude and mindset of Gods Man and Women.
1) Servitude is a Sign of a Man of God
The Scripture we have utilised starts with the word Behold and is inviting us to scrutinise and look further in this case to the “Servant of God” Jesus Christ. Jesus was “God (Almighty in His Power and Authority and Glory) manifest in the flesh. Yet even in the reality of that the Bible tells us “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage….” – “Philippians 2:6” NIV
The whole attitude of Jesus and it is shown graphically throughout His life and ministry was one who did not seek to cling to his rights, even though above all others He had every right to do so. He came the Bible says “….For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – “Mark 10:45” NIV its repeated in “Matthew 20:28”.
The attitude and mindset of Jesus was to be in servitude as a “Servant to Mankind”, and to fulfil His Fathers will and it was this that made Him great in so many ways.
Let me say here that it’s not wrong for any of us as the Children of God to desire to be “Great for God” and to be successful, but in order to do so it is imperative that we do it Gods way and the Scripture shows us the foundation aside of the example in Jesus by saying – Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognised as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. “But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all….” – “Mark 10:42-43” NIV this repeated again in a number of other areas in the Gospels.
This does not mean you have to be a slave to everyone’s “whims and fancies”, No! for often Jesus is seen to put people in their place and set them right. What the Scripture is trying to say here is that we should possess the “spirit of the servant”, ever anxious to hear the voice of the master and ready to gird ourselves with the towel to wash the feet of disciples. When we are like this in due season God will raise us up.
As individuals and this includes leaders it’s quite possible for us to want to maintain everything the way we want and like, it’s a “spirit of controlling” that so often finds its way into mindsets. However, it is counter-productive in its outcome. Why? Because it leads to loneliness and it’s a fruit of pride-fulness – pride-fulness because its demanding that everything is done in our own way.
However, what does Gods Word tell us: – “But He gives more grace. Therefore, He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” – “James 4:6” NKJV and in a similar vein “Likewise, you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” – “1 Peter 5:5” NKJV
2) Dependence is a Sign of the Man of God
Our foundation Scripture said “Behold! My Servant….” Yes! But it goes on to say, “whom I uphold”. We have all heard the expression of the Lord Jesus when He said – “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” in “John 5:30” NIV
These words were manifesting to all that Jesus was entirely dependent upon His Father. Yes! Jesus was God manifested in the flesh and was capable of Himself to bring all things to an end. Afterall, all things are upheld by the word of His power – “God’s Son shines out with God’s glory, and all that God’s Son is and does marks him as God. He regulates the universe by the mighty power of his command. He is the one who died to cleanse us and clear our record of all sin, and then sat down in highest honour beside the great God of heaven” – “Hebrews 1:13” JB Phillips
The truth is that no matter how great we think we have become as the Children of God, or how mature we believe we are; we need to remember and always remember that it is all of Gods doing. We can if we wish be proud and self-sufficient but we will be “small men and women” or we can be large because we recognise that we are like Jesus entirely dependent upon our Father in Heaven and the power of His Holy Spirit upon our lives and ministries.
The Bible tells us – “For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but so to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith” – “Romans 12:3” ASV – Even the faith we express in Salvation or our Daily Walk of Discipleship is all a provision and gift of God.
3) Election is a Sign of the Man of God
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God…” – “1 John 3:1-2a” NIV
We are such a privilege people and so often we forget how privileged we really are.
Sometimes we send out a different message: – We appear to be saying or projecting by the way we are living “How fortunate God is to have us in his family.” However, it’s not like that at all. God didn’t save us because He looked down from heaven and said, “My, she/he stands head and shoulders above all those other sinners. She would be a real asset to my Kingdom. I think I’ll save her.” The truth is that there was no merit in you and me that caused God to save us. It was simply, pure, sovereign love that reached out and took us in.
The great privilege of being God’s children is portrayed in that which John says – He says we are “called” indicating that it is an “Official Designation”. We are “called” the children of God because that’s what we truly are. Who are we called by? By God! And since God is God, if He calls us His children, that’s what we are.
It isn’t being presumptuous to say that we are the children of God. It would be if it were a designation we chose for ourselves, but that is not the case. It’s God who’s doing the designating. It’s a simple statement of fact. All those who trust Jesus as Saviour are called the children of God. This means however, that not everyone on earth is a child of God.
Look at what the some of the great preachers and theologians have said: –
The fact is that we were once alienated from God, we were strangers, enemies of God, we were dead in our trespasses and sin without God and without hope in this World and yet He chose to save us – Oh! Oh! Oh! What a Saviour.
The question that we need to ask ourselves is – “Are we excited about this?” We should be!
He God brought all of Heavens weight and set in motion all His plans so that you and I could declare that we are the “Children of God”.
With “Election” however, comes responsibility. As the “Called of God” we are told that He has given to us the “Ministry of Reconciliation”.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” – “2 Corinthians 5:17-19” NKJ
We are a Kingdom of Priests and our Priestly Work involves “Reconciling the World” by bring the message of Hop, Peace and Adoption.
The mission we have as the people of God is not to provide amusement to the world, but to move those we are in touch with by God Word. The Bible says “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free” we have experienced the reality of that, and our reconciling word is that word to the world.
The Gospel which is at the very centre of our reconciliation word is still the “Power of God” and even if we find that we feel like a “Reed” which is easily swayed by the slightest doubt or problem or difficulty, even if we feel bruised God tells us “He will not break the bruised reed or quench the smoking flax”.
4) Delight and Success is a Sign of the Man of God
Here’s an interesting question. Have we ever considered whether God is delighted in us? Jesus was one in whom, the Father delighted in day by day. A Father delights in a Son / Daughter that honours him. A Teacher delights in a Pupil who does well. A Mechanic delights in a mechanism that works well. In all of these the Honouring of the Father, The Learning from the Teacher of God’s Word and the Mechanics of it all being outworked by the Holy Spirit brings the delight of God upon His Servant and what’s more we have the assurance of success in the words “He shall not fail or be discouraged”
We have the ability to be successful, we have no need to be discouraged, we can truly be bold and be strong and as we are told in “Romans 8:31-39” – “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” – The Message
Servitude, Dependence, Election, Success are all the ingredient signs of the man or woman of God. Let it be the earnest desire of our hearts to emulate these characteristics and grow more and more like Jesus.