I am a foreigner and stranger among you… (Genesis 23:4).
Abraham and Peter remind us that God-fearing people are foreigners; they are not citizens of Earth. Christians are respectful of the people, laws, and customs of the land in which they sojourn, but they know that this land is not their home.
Abraham wanted his son to have a wife who was of the same mindset—not attached to the place of sojourning but looking forward to Heaven. Abraham knew how an earthly–focused wife (like Lot’s wife) could distract her husband, so he sent his servant on a mission to find a heavenly-minded, godly woman for his son Isaac.
This servant was a godly leader in his own right. He was loyal and loving to Abraham’s family. Abraham gave him two simple boundaries: don’t take a wife from Canaan, and don’t take Isaac back to Mesopotamia (the land from which God had called Abraham).
When God calls us to live in a certain way, it is fitting that He will answer our prayers that align with that way of living. This is exactly what Jesus meant when He told us to “ask for anything in My name.”
This is part 42 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.
This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.
“Got To” To “Get To”
What a glorious covenant the second covenant is! Well might it be called “a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). …
It is better, for it is founded upon a better principle. The old covenant was founded on the principle of merit. It was “Serve God and you will be rewarded for it. If you walk perfectly in the fear of the Lord, God will walk well toward you and all the blessings of Mount Gerizim will come upon you and you will be exceedingly blessed in this world and the world that is to come.” But that covenant fell to the ground, because, although it was just that man should be rewarded for his good works, or punished for his evil ones, yet man being sure to sin and since the fall infallibly tending toward iniquity, the covenant was not suitable for his happiness, nor could it promote his eternal welfare.
But the new covenant is not founded on works at all. It is a covenant of pure unmingled grace. You may read it from its first word to its last, and there is not a solitary syllable as to anything to be done by us. The whole covenant is a covenant, not so much between man and his Maker, as between Jehovah and man’s representative, the Lord Jesus Christ. The human side of the covenant has been already fulfilled by Jesus, and there remains nothing now but for the covenant of giving, not the covenant of requirements.
From God In The Covenant
The old covenant was—you’ve got to do this. The new covenant is—you get to do this!
The old covenant made requirements. The new covenant invites joyful participation.
The old covenant needed men to do rituals of sacrifice. The new covenant was done once for all when Jesus said, “It is finished!”
Under the new covenant, we are free to worship God and enjoy His blessings without having to complete a checklist of religious duties. Have you traded GOT TO for GET TO?
J. Oswald Sanders has given us a short but powerfully effective book for developing more Christlikeness in each and every Christian. Check out my full book review by clicking here.
“In a word, spiritual maturity is Christlikeness.”
“Christ set the standard in everything. He was never petulant, always calm; never rebellious, always obedient; never fearful, always courageous; never vacillating, always resolute; never pessimistic, always cheerful; never subtle, always sincere; never grasping, always generous; never acting from expediency, always from principle. He is the pattern of spiritual maturity.”
“So then our spiritual maturity or immaturity is seen in the manner in which we react to the changing circumstances of life. … It has to be learned. Is it not striking that it is recorded of Christ that ‘though He were a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation’ (Hebrews 5:8-9)? He alone was fully mature. The rest of us are ‘going on to maturity.’ In all of us there are some expressions of our personality in which we react immaturely instead of as mature men of God.”
“The highest manifestation of spiritual maturity is love. We are only as mature as we are mature in love.”
“God forbid that we should ever cease to love the gospel in its simplicity, but we must not be content to stay there. We must go on to appreciate increasingly the gospel in its profundity.”
“There is a place for a constructive contending for the faith. The church has degenerated sadly since Pentecostal days and the servant of the Lord has an important part to play in its revival.”
“It is possible to get to heaven without living a consecrated life, but the journey there will be barren and disappointing, since consecration is the doorway to undreamed-of joy. Neglect it, fail to seek it, and life will be greatly impoverished. Welcome it, and life becomes inexpressibly enriched.”
“When we dedicate our lives to God, He consecrate us to His service. We dedicate our lives to Him that He may work His will in us. He consecrates us to Himself that He might make us holy.”
“It has been suggested that in consecration we bring our lives to God as a blank sheet of paper with our names signed at the bottom. Confident of His love, we invite Him to fill in the details as He will.”
“It is a life separated to the glory of God. Inherent in the word ‘consecration’ is the idea of separateness. There must of necessity be separation from sin if there is to be separation to God. … The consecrated Christian hates evil, but he has a passion for the right and for the glory of God and Christ. He tests all his actions by the one standard, ‘Is this for the glory of God?’ He will do anything, suffer anything, if only God is glorified. Nothing is too costly to give to the Master.”
They came first to Israel’s capital city—Jerusalem—and went to the man who currently bore the title King of the Jews—Herod—with an odd question, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? We’ve come to worship Him.”
The call to come to worship the Christ has always stirred different responses in people’s hearts. But I have noticed that the responses today aren’t any different than they were over 2000 years ago at Christ’s first Advent.
Notice these four responses in the Gospel of Matthew:
The word disturbed means an inward commotion, someone robbed of any calmness; someone who has become restless and agitated.
King Herod wasn’t all that different from a lot of people today who have their personal lives organized according to their own plans. They have everything figured out. They are masters of their own fate. They know how everything is supposed to work. They are god of their own world.
But inside it’s a different story. They may not acknowledge it to anyone else, but they are uneasy. King Herod was political, not religious. He knew how to play the games with the right Jewish leaders and Roman politicians to get and keep his throne. So when he hears, “Where is He who is born KING OF THE JEWS?” you can understand why he instantly becomes so agitated! He feels like his well-ordered world and best-laid plans are about to crash in on him!
The people of Jerusalem had a love-hate relationship with King Herod. If you were on his side, he could be quite generous with his gifts and favorable with his influence. But if you were against him, he could be incredibly cruel (just take a look at verse 16!).
So when Herod got upset, you can imagine why the citizens of Jerusalem were as well. They all longed for the Messiah—the Christ—to come and set them free, but in the meantime they were trying to keep their options open. They wanted the Messiah, if they could have Him, but they didn’t want to abandon Herod yet, just in case the Messiah couldn’t follow through.
Of all the people looking for the Christ, you would think the chief priests and teachers of the law would be the most excited! When Herod asked them for the birthplace of the Messiah, they immediately knew the answer, but after they delivered this information to King Herod they aren’t mentioned again in this narrative. Bethlehem was only 6 miles away, but they didn’t do a single thing! The Messiah being born in such a lowly manner didn’t fit the image they had concocted in their minds. Later on, Jesus would challenge them on this (see John 5:38-40).
Whereas the Jewish religious leaders were only 6 miles away, the Magi that came from the east might have been anywhere from 400-800 miles away. They left the comforts of their home to travel perhaps as long as 4 months. But, Oh! the journey was so worth the effort! They got to see the Christ with their very own eyes! We read that they were overjoyed, and that they bowed down and worshiped Him and opened their treasures.
What’s your idea about Jesus?
What about you? What’s your idea about Jesus? He isn’t just a Baby in a manger; He’s also King and Judge and Ruler and Lord. When you hear the call to come worship Him, what will your response be?