1 Corinthians 13:11
As many of you know, we like to teach in a way that returns us to the
basics, before there were any doctrinal issues to separate us, and to find
those common spiritual guidelines that are in the heavenly will of God.
One of these spiritual guides is learning to walk with God.
When we were little children, our parents and others had to show us what to do; and in many cases, had to do these things for us until we learned to do them for ourselves. This all relates to our growth, our maturity, and usually we don’t think much about such things; we sort of just accept them.
As we grow older and become more sophisticated, we usually forget about the simplicity of our life as a child, and approach the situations we encounter with a much more complex, and all too often an ungodly attitude.
Our spiritual life, our walk with God, has a growth and learning process connected to it also, but with a different twist, without leading us astray.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:11:
11. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
But, in Matthew 18:2-4, Jesus says:
2. And He called a child to Himself and set him before them,
3. and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
4. "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Both Jesus and Paul are speaking of our spiritual growth. Are they saying
something counter to each other? May it never be; for all Scripture speaks
in harmony. It is we who don't interpret it harmoniously.
Then what are they saying? They are saying the same thing.
When we were little children, we were not really accountable for our actions; but as we grew older, we became more accountable. Children also have a kind of innocence and trust that allows them to trust and learn.
What these verses of Scripture are saying is that as we mature, we must also realize our accountability to God; and yet at the same time, approach Him with the innocent and trusting nature of a child with his loving father.
Daddy, I need you!
Daddy, why are things this way?
Daddy, forgive me! I won't do it again.
Even Jesus cried out on that soul-rending night before His crucifixion, Abba Father! Daddy God!
Yes, even Jesus, when He was here on earth, called out to His Father for help with the innocence of a child, but also with the maturity of a man, for He went on to say, "...yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt." (Mark 14:36)
I remember that day when I reached out to Him and said, "God, if you're really there, You have to let me know. I don't have any other answer." Everything was very sophisticated at the time, for I was flying our corporate aircraft; yet my prayer was said with the innocence of a child.
Did God answer me? He most certainly did; and He is always faithful to answer such prayers. My being here today is proof of that answer. Yet at the time, being behind a pulpit was probably the last place I would have expected Him to lead me.
The Old Testament lesson for today, from Genesis 5:18-24, has a very special place in my heart, and I pray that it will have that same meaning for you also.
18. Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and became the father of Enoch.
19. Then Jared lived eight hundred years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters.
20. So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, and he died.
21. Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah.
22. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.
23. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.
24. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
On the surface these genealogies seem sort of dry.
However, it wasn't too long after I called out to God, that I began to really read the Bible for the first time in my life.
When I read this chapter, something was very
different about the account of the life of Enoch. Everyone else lived and
died; that is, except Enoch. "And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for
God took him." (Genesis 5:22-24) As I realized this, I found myself saying,
"Lord, that's what I want. I want to walk with you."
That same invitation He offers to everyone. I'm nothing special. I'm just willing to totally submit myself to Him. Even when I don't, or forget, the intent of my heart is to submit to His will. I believe that is all that He is asking any of us to do.
Before the Flood, Noah was also willing, for in Genesis 6:9 it says:
9. ...Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.
Walking with God also implies that we should be righteous, yet none of us are; no, not one of us. Then how can we ever hope to walk with God? The answer is by faith. It's just as it says about Abram in Genesis 15:6:
6. Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
God also tells us that we should be willing and that we should also be blameless, as He told Abram in Genesis 17:1:
1. Walk before Me, and be blameless.
How can any of us truly be blameless, for we all have sinned and fallen
short of the glory of God?
A good example of this is the life of King David. David committed adultery and murder.
How can this be? Does God accept sin? No, not at all. God is a holy and righteous God. No sinful person can come into His presence, or he will die.
But God is also a merciful and loving God. He will reach out to us. Yes, to every one of us in a very personal way, if we are willing to accept it.
That’s exactly what He did with David. He sent the prophet Nathan to him to remind him of what he had done. And when David realized what he had done, he repented and God forgave him.
I pray that there isn’t one of us here today who doesn’t get a conviction in their heart when they do something against God’s will.
And what is God’s will for our lives?
It’s to bring God’s heavenly will to earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10), where there is no pain or mourning or death (Revelation 21:4).
This is something that David didn’t do, but when Nathan used the example of a man killing and eating his neighbor’s pet lamb, David was horrified, so Nathan reminded him that he was the man who he was talking about.
Only then did David repent.
God seems to be more interested in our heart attitude toward Him than in any sin we unintentionally committed.
He wants our repentance; a true repentance, not just an "I’m
sorry," and then go off and do the same thing again. That’s hypocrisy, not
God knows that none of us can redeem ourselves. We all need a Savior. And about 2000 years ago, God came in the flesh to redeem us. Yes, God loves the whole of His creation and each of us so much that he humbled Himself below that of the angels.
Jesus took upon Himself all of the sins and ills of the world, and He shed His blood and died for each of us personally.
God does not want blood sacrifices; He wants obedience and a heartfelt repentant attitude that feels the pain and suffering of the whole of creation and does everything in our power to be peacemaking children who desire to free creation from its present corruption.
Such people only sin through unintentional acts of omission, those things that they really didn’t want to do.
Jesus shed his blood and died for us.
He died as the perfect mediator between us and God, once for all time, who is always ready to intercede for any repentant sinner.
All we have to do is to be willing to accept Him and His free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
Jesus wants each of us to walk with Him.
If you've never experienced walking with God, then reach out to Him in truth, right now, right where you are; and when you do, you’ll find Him right beside you.
If you know what I am talking about, but have sort of drifted off into a wilderness of some kind, then turn around and head back to His road. He's right there where you left Him, waiting for you.
Trust Him and love Him, for He most certainly loves each of us very much; so much so that He died telling us and rose again to prove it.
In thanksgiving, let’s make it our heartfelt goal to walk with God now and forever.