The Shepherd’s Staff: The Lamp Of The Body

The Shepherd’s Staff: The Lamp Of The Body

I recently went for my annual eye examination at the Salem VA Medical Center. It was an extensive examination, first by an optometry intern and then an attending ophthalmologist. They had all kinds of diagnostic apparatus to allow them to not just look at the exterior of my eyes, but also to look deep into those magnificent orbs created by God. I mentioned to the young intern that it must be amazing to observe the extremely complicated design of this gelatinous part of the human body. She told me that she is always amazed at what she sees. I encouraged her to never take for granted that God has designed these intricate and essential parts. How often do I take for granted that when I wake up in the morning I can look at my clock and see what time it is, I can read my Bible, I can see my lovely wife, my daughter, and son-in-love, my five grandchildren, the sunshine and so on, all day long. There are so many things I can focus on during the day that are good and produce thankfulness to my God.  

But along with those positive and good things, there are negative and bad things that come before these marvelous eyes. I’m reminded of the children’s song, “Be Careful Little Eyes What You See!” I have control of what I allow my eyes to focus on all day long. What I choose to look at, gaze at, lust upon, will result in consequences. Jesus had some words to say about the use of our eyes when He delivered His sermon on the mount in Matthew 6:22-23, “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” The context of these verses concerns how we deal with material possessions. The two verses (vs. 19-21) prior to these two verses, warn us to check our hearts. Where our heart is, will determine where we store up our treasures. What do we do with our earthly possessions? Do I make it my goal to be materially rewarded at the expense of being spiritually impoverished? Is my heart in making money or is it in bringing glory to God? Then in verse 24, following the verses about the eye, are verses where Jesus pointedly says that we have to make a choice. We cannot serve God and serve money at the same time. It is an impossibility. There can only be one master, otherwise, it is not a master. Either our master is Jesus or it is money. No joint ownership.

Now, Jesus is not saying that money is evil. All blessings come from the Father, even material wealth (James 1:17). It is “the love of money that is a root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). In verses 19,-24, Jesus is telling us that we need to be careful about what we see. What we allow our eyes to see will affect our actions. The advertising world knows that principle very well. Why do corporations spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl commercials? It is because they know that the way to your heart (and pocketbook) is through your eyes. If they can make their product attractive to your eyes, your heart will desire their product. The Apostle John wrote these words in his first epistle when he was in his later years, “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world” (1 John 2:16 NLT) When we focus our eyes on those attractive material treasures, we are deceived into believing that they will bring lasting joy. While it may be sweet initially, the end result is bitterness. 

The human eye provides light to the brain so that it can instruct the body to walk in the light. If something hinders our eyes from seeing what is in front of us, we will stumble and fall. It is like walking into a dark room where you think you know that there is sufficient light to navigate your way. That light you think you have is really darkness which will hide the obstacles in front of you. “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4, NLT). Instead of focusing on those attractive material things which can lead us into darkness, we need to focus our eyes on Jesus, Who is the Light (John 8:12).

Ask yourself these questions. 

1) When I focus on getting more material things, am I ever completely satisfied? 

2) When I fix my eyes on Jesus and His kingdom, am I content? “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” (Philippians 4:11 NLT)

3) “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33, NLT)

4) Where do I focus my eyes? Jesus or something else?

 

Bill Olsen, Elder

Read More Devotionals Below

The Shepherd’s Staff: The Lamp Of The Body

I recently went for my annual eye examination at the Salem VA Medical Center. It was an extensive examination, first by an optometry intern and then an attending ophthalmologist. They had all kinds of diagnostic apparatus to allow them to not just look at the exterior...

King Of My Heart

Over the following 30 days, the nation will be focused on who will fill the highest office in the land.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Members of One Another

When a baby is born, parents marvel at God’s creative masterpiece. They wonder what this little baby will be like as he or she grows up. They have all kinds of aspirations for this remarkable gift that God has given them.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Warn One Another

While on vacation with three of my children and their families (there were 20 of us), we were staying at a rental house on the beach in Frisco, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Because of the effects of hurricane Teddy, the surf was extremely treacherous....

The Shepherd’s Staff: Giver

Are you a child of God? According to the Apostle John, anyone who has received Jesus as his or her Saviour, by believing in His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of their sin, is a child of God. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to...
The Shepherd’s Staff: Members of One Another

The Shepherd’s Staff: Members of One Another

When a baby is born, parents marvel at God’s creative masterpiece. They wonder what this little baby will be like as he or she grows up. They have all kinds of aspirations for this remarkable gift that God has given them. As the baby grows, he/she inherently begins to open and close its eyelids, sucks with its tongue, cries with its vocal cords, moves its arms and legs, holds onto Mommy’s or Daddy’s fingers, digests milk, eliminates waste, and so on. As the baby grows it develops the use of its internal and external parts because this baby was designed by God in the mother’s womb from the moment of conception. The Bible speaks of that in Psalm 139:13-15, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.” (NLT). All the parts were designed by the Creator God to work according to His design. As the baby grows, the parts inherently learn to carry out their function and each part grows in its ability to fully work together with the rest of the parts of the body they belong to. As the child grows even more, he or she observes other children and adults using their body parts. The child further enhances their abilities as they observe and practice the use of their body parts as they mature.

The Apostle Paul uses the analogy of the physical body to describe the spiritual body of Christ, the Church. In Romans 12:4-5 Paul writes, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other” (NLT). Just as a baby has many body parts, so does the Church of Jesus Christ. You and I become a part of the Body of Christ when we are born from above by the Spirit of God. God has given each of us a function in that Body, which is called a spiritual gift. At the moment of our new birth by the Holy Spirit, He imparts at least one spiritual gift to each of us.  These gifts are intended to build up the Body of Christ as we exercise them. They are called gifts because we did not choose them or create them ourselves. Just as a child is gifted with physical body parts, so is the Church.

Paul addresses several churches in the New Testament concerning the faithful use of these gifts. His most extensive description is of the church at Corinth. This church was gifted generously but they were misusing their gifts for their own selfishness and not for the good of the Body of Christ in Corinth. He said that they were still immature in their spiritual growth. In 1 Corinthians 12:7-12, Paul explains this gifting, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have. The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ” (NLT). Paul instructs the Romans how to use those gifts in chapter 12, verses 6-8. “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly” (NLT).

Our spiritual gifts are to be used for the good of the Body of Christ and they are to be used well. Just as a baby grows and inherently uses its body parts in the way God designed them to be used, that baby also uses the parts of the body better as it practices and learns from others. So it is with the church. We as gifted members of the Body inherently use our gifts unaware of them until we begin to know by experience that we have them. I believe the Holy Spirit gives us that insight either by His inward prompting and through the encouragement of others who notice our gifts, just as a parent points out how to use legs and hands and fingers and other body parts to their child. We also derive enjoyment and outward encouragement when we notice that our gifts are effective with other members of the Body who may have different gifts. We learn how to work together as one body with many parts. So, the key is to grow in Jesus Christ and cooperate with God, Who is conforming you into the image of His Son. Use your gifts for His glory and enjoy your part in the Body of Christ in building it up.

Bill Olsen, Elder

The Shepherd’s Staff: Members of One Another

When a baby is born, parents marvel at God’s creative masterpiece. They wonder what this little baby will be like as he or she grows up. They have all kinds of aspirations for this remarkable gift that God has given them.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Warn One Another

While on vacation with three of my children and their families (there were 20 of us), we were staying at a rental house on the beach in Frisco, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Because of the effects of hurricane Teddy, the surf was extremely treacherous....

The Shepherd’s Staff: Giver

Are you a child of God? According to the Apostle John, anyone who has received Jesus as his or her Saviour, by believing in His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of their sin, is a child of God. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to...

The Shepherd’s Staff: Just Like That!

On Saturday afternoon I was gently floating on a lounger in our blow-up pool. As I lay soaking in the sunshine, gazing at the magnificent white clouds and expansive blue sky, I was giving thanks to my Creator God for what He has given me. I had no...

The Shepherd’s Staff: Warn One Another

The Shepherd’s Staff: Warn One Another

While on vacation with three of my children and their families (there were 20 of us), we were staying at a rental house on the beach in Frisco, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Because of the effects of hurricane Teddy, the surf was extremely treacherous. Warnings about riptides were posted on the Weather Channel and it was obvious when you walked into the water, that the postings were legitimate. We arrived at the house on Saturday afternoon and the wind was incredibly forceful and relentless. It was in the 60’s and not conducive to a visit to the beach. Then Wednesday arrived and having been watching the forecast on the Weather Channel app, we were looking forward to spending a good deal of time sitting in the sand and watching the surf but not going in it. The adults were standing near the surf line as the children mimicked the sandpipers by running away from the surf as it came up and then following the surf as it receded back into the ocean.

I was sitting in my beach chair enjoying the children playing in the sand and playing with the foam that each wave left on the sand. As the sun grew hotter, I decided that I would get wet by walking into the shallow surf and splash myself with cool saltwater. So, I got up and gradually walked past my son and son-in-law, who were diligently overseeing the children. I slowly walked into the water and as I carefully took a step or two deeper into the inches of water flowing up the bank, I would stop and check my balance. I felt that I was being quite sensible in the way I was facing the treacherous waves in front of me. I had no thoughts whatsoever of venturing into danger. I was confident that my cautious actions were going to keep me safe.

Then, I heard my son yell, “Dad! What are you doing? Dad, come back!!” All of a sudden a bigger wave broke a good distance from me, but the water generated from the wave rushed toward me and knocked me off my feet and washed me toward the shore. Mark got to me and grabbed my arm and helped me get up. I was not hurt, embarrassed a little, because the whole family watched the dramatic scene, but I slowly walked back to my chair. Mark and J said that they were asking each other “What is he doing?” as I ventured deeper into the surf. They saw the danger before I did because they had been observing the surf for quite a while as they watched the children. Their call was a warning of impending danger, but I was confident that I was in control of my actions. Their motivation was a loving concern for my well being as well as the incredulous thought that I was doing something foolish. They knew something I didn’t realize until it was too late. Fortunately, all turned out well. I learned a lesson and so did the rest of the family as they watched the adventure. That will probably be a memory that will be repeated many times in the future.

You know, that incident reminded me of the fact that we are members of a family which is much larger than our physical families, the family of God, the Church. Each of us become members of God’s family when we are born again spiritually, having believed in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life. As members of that family we are to be watchful for one another as we experience life together. Some of us will be in the position of observing the others who may be a little too adventurous and willing to take risks because we have false confidence in our own strength and abilities.

Some of us may be foolishly testing the waters of pleasures which appear harmless or controllable. Some of us may have observed that same or similar water and have seen or experienced the consequences of false confidence. When we see a brother or sister blindly moving in the direction of a foolish action, we are obliged to warn them out of our love for them. Then we should be there to rescue them and minister to them. 

Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:31, ”Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” The term “admonish” means “to warn”. As Paul was ministering to the believers in Ephesus, he was warning them about the dangers facing them.  He also told the Corinthians that he was admonishing them, too. “I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children” (1 Corinthians 4:14). It is the responsibility of those who lead and teach others to warn their disciples of the dangers facing them. It is also the responsibility of fellow family members to admonish one another as Paul wrote in Romans 15:14, “And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.” 

Out of love for one another, let’s watch out for each other. If we see a brother or sister getting too close to a dangerous situation, let’s lovingly admonish them. Let’s warn them with a gentle word that they are approaching danger. If they don’t heed our warning, let’s be ready to help them recover and restore them.

 

Bill Olsen, Elder

The Shepherd’s Staff: Giver

The Shepherd’s Staff: Giver

Are you a child of God? According to the Apostle John, anyone who has received Jesus as his or her Saviour, by believing in His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of their sin, is a child of God. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, [even] to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Have you ever heard the saying, “the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree?” How about, “Like parent, like child?” We interpret those sayings as referring to a child’s behavioral resemblance of the parent. In most cases it is a positive assessment. There are exceptions to the rule, but when we observe the personality of a child we can see traits in the child that resemble the mother or father.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to become just like His Son. As a matter of fact, Romans 8:29 says an extremely out of this world promise concerning God’s plan for His children, “He (has) predestined (us) to become conformed to the image of His Son”. In Philippians 1:6, Paul adds these words concerning God’s work in us, “[For I am] confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” In other words, it is going to happen! One day, and for eternity, we will be like Jesus, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

So what does it mean to be conformed into the image of God’s Son, to be like Him? It doesn’t mean that we are all supposed to look like a Jewish man in his thirties with scars on our hands and in our side. It means that the Father is doing a work in our hearts to make us look like Jesus in our character, in our actions, in our speech and in our thoughts. After all, “the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree.” We were born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3),  “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Having been born again, Christ is in us, ”I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the [life] which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

To totally be like Christ is an impossibility this side of Heaven. When we reach our final destination we will be like Christ, but meanwhile, there is a work going on in our lives by the  Triune God. Amazing! He is working on all aspects of our lives and He wants us to be cooperative in the process. That’s what it means to walk in the Spirit, to be obedient to His Word, to be a living sacrifice, to take up our cross by dying to self.

There are many attributes of God that are communicable, that is, able to be transmitted to us through His working in us. One of them is the attribute of being a “giver”. God is the greatest giver in the entire universe and throughout all eternity. How do I know that? The Bible tells me so. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”. God is love, and He demonstrated His love through action, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). There can be no greater gift than to offer His only Son to die in our place.

So, as children of God, one attribute God is working on in each of us is that of being a giver. Ask yourself, do I look like my Father in that aspect of my life? Am I growing in that aspect? Do I really want to? How can I be more like my Father in being a giver?

Let me tell you that there is inexpressible joy in being a giver. When Evelyn and I were planning on getting married, we were 19 and 20 years old, and one of Evelyn’s aunts asked us if we were going to tithe as a couple. Our answer was simple, I was going to go to college full time and Evelyn was going to provide the income to live, so “we would not be able to afford to tithe”. The wise aunt replied, “You cannot afford not to tithe!” We took that advice and since then, 52 years later, we have never ceased to give at least 10% to our church and additional money to missionaries and individuals in need. Even when I was unemployed, several times, we continued to give the same amount we had been giving when I was unemployed and even when there was no income at all. We took it out of savings. God has never, ever left us in a position of need, though we did not always have what we wanted. Sometimes we wondered if and when and how He would provide, and He always did provide. We did not ever feel deprived. We received many anonymous unsolicited gifts just when we needed them. God is a giver and He is making us more like Him. Won’t you consider letting Him freely work in you in becoming a giver if you are not already?

Bill Olsen, Elder 

Read Past Devotionals In The “Shepherd’s Staff” Series

The Shepherd’s Staff

He created angels and humanity because everything that He does brings glory to Himself, for He alone is worthy of all glory. God enjoys fellowship.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Soil

To be a disciple of Christ involves digging deeper into the riches of God’s Word.

The Shepherd’s Staff – Reedemed!

Did you know that before you placed your trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christfor the forgiveness of your sins, and the gift of eternal life, you were a slave of sin? You were underthe power of the evil one, Satan, and you had no choice but to yield to...

The Shepherd’s Staff: Thoughts

I love family gatherings like Thanksgiving or Christmas.  These gatherings are even more special when all four of our children and their families are with us.  However, even when we don’t have the joy of having all of them here, I love to be an observer.  I am not...

The Shepherd’s Staff: Just Like That!

The Shepherd’s Staff: Just Like That!

On Saturday afternoon I was gently floating on a lounger in our blow-up pool. As I lay soaking in the sunshine, gazing at the magnificent white clouds and expansive blue sky, I was giving thanks to my Creator God for what He has given me. I had no troubles diverting my thoughts or any anxieties to disturb my relaxation. I was so comfortable! When, just like that, I heard the gurgling of air escaping from the inflated lounger. The lounger began to deflate and I began to sink in the water. I got off the floater and tried to find the leak. The leak was in the seam and I knew the lounger was no longer usable with a leak of that kind.

That set me to reflect on many experiences of life that I have encountered over the years and of the experiences of others. Life was going on very smoothly and there was joy and satisfaction and peace. Life was so comfortable! Then, just like that, something out of the blue happened and life changed in the blink of an eye. 

Some years ago, my brother-in-law was inside his house believing that my sister was outside watering the garden. He went out to see her and she was lying unconscious on the walkway. He called 911, but it was to no avail. Up until that time, it had been a typical day for them. Then, just like that, life changed. As was his practice, my son was jogging with his best friend, who was in excellent physical shape, then, just like that, his friend collapsed and died of a heart attack. In a flash, life changed for my son, his friend’s wife and their two teen-aged children.

I’m sure that most of you who are reading this would be able to give an example of how life was comfortable for you, or someone else, when, just like that, something happened and life changed drastically. Perhaps you went to the doctor for a routine checkup and something did not look right during the exam. The doctor ordered some tests and you were asked to come back to the doctor’s office. Then, just like that, you were given a diagnosis that changed your life in a split second. Maybe you were a soldier on patrol, when a sniper found his target and it was your buddy right next to you. Then, just like that, life changed for you and your buddy’s family. One fraction of a second before, you were discussing what it would be like when your deployment ended and you would be with your loved ones. The next second, you are holding the lifeless body of a brave soldier who always had your back.

Why am I writing these heart wrenching experiences? I am writing because we should never take life for granted. The Word of God says that, “it is appointed unto men to die once, and after this comes judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27). The Bible speaks about two final judgments. One is called the Great White Throne judgment, where everyone who has ever lived without believing Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins, will be judged for their deeds and then banished to the Lake of Fire with Satan and his demons (Revelation 20:11-15). The other judgment is called the Judgment Seat of Christ, which is when every believer in Jesus Christ will appear before the Lord and He will reward each believer according to the works they accomplished during their walk as a child of God. Some will receive many rewards and some will not receive any rewards. But, all those who appear at that judgment will enter into the eternal kingdom which is being prepared by Jesus right now (2 Corinthians 5:6-10; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

You see, we all have a choice to make right now. If you have not asked Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to forgive you for all of your sins, based on His death and resurrection from the dead, you will face the Great White Throne judgement. You will be eternally separated from God, eternally suffering unspeakable torment, eternally in total darkness, eternally in solitary confinement and without any hope, whatsoever.  All because, just like that, you stopped breathing and you were transported immediately into hell. All your life you did not want God in your life, and now your desire will be satisfied. Just like that, in one breath, He will eternally be out of your life.

On the other hand, some of us have asked Jesus to forgive us of our sins, and just like that, we became children of God. Now we have choices every moment of the day to live as a child of God or not.  We have the choice of following Him as our Lord or to follow our fleshly desires. What our Lord Jesus Christ wants from us, is all of us. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your logical service of worship (Romans 12:1). Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:9, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” That is the abundant life!      

Remember, just like that we can die and just like that Jesus could come. I hope I will see you at the Judgement Seat of Christ and rejoice with you as you receive rewards from our Lord. In adoration and praise we will cast them at His feet as we worship Him face to face.

Bill Olsen, Elder

Read Past Devotionals In The “Shepherd’s Staff” Series

The Shepherd’s Staff

He created angels and humanity because everything that He does brings glory to Himself, for He alone is worthy of all glory. God enjoys fellowship.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Soil

To be a disciple of Christ involves digging deeper into the riches of God’s Word.

The Shepherd’s Staff – Reedemed!

Did you know that before you placed your trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christfor the forgiveness of your sins, and the gift of eternal life, you were a slave of sin? You were underthe power of the evil one, Satan, and you had no choice but to yield to...

The Shepherd’s Staff: Thoughts

I love family gatherings like Thanksgiving or Christmas.  These gatherings are even more special when all four of our children and their families are with us.  However, even when we don’t have the joy of having all of them here, I love to be an observer.  I am not...
The Shepherd’s Staff: Thoughts

The Shepherd’s Staff: Thoughts

I love family gatherings like Thanksgiving or Christmas.  These gatherings are even more special when all four of our children and their families are with us.  However, even when we don’t have the joy of having all of them here, I love to be an observer.  I am not much of a conversationalist, but I love to watch and listen to my children and their spouses conversing about all kinds of things.  I don’t recall any gathering which was ruined by interpersonal discord (this could be selective memory, but I’ll call it a blessing!).  Sure, there were disagreements and hurt feelings on occasion, but there was reconciliation in the end.

By far, my favorite observations are watching my grandchildren play with each other, or even by themselves.  From the mesmerizing observation of a sleeping baby to the action-filled competition of a Rubik’s Cube race… from the leadership and follower-ship of a multi-age swimming pool game to something as simple as a hike in the woods… it is so satisfying and absolutely enjoyable to watch my grandchildren relate to each other, smile and laugh and talk together, solve problems together, design new games together, and just encounter – and tackle – the things that life has thrown in front of them while they are hanging out together!  I just sit there in the background and watch.  Depending on the activity, I participate, but always, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude as I observe even one of them for a while.  I pray for them as I realize that they are a gift of God to their parents and a crown for me.  Initially, my prayers are for their salvation; following a decision to personally trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for their salvation and eternal life, I pray that they grow into faithful followers of their Lord in utilizing their gifts and being an effective witness for Him.

Did you know that your Heavenly Father looks down on you with similar thoughts?  King David recorded these words in Psalm 139:17-18, “How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with You.” Doesn’t that blow your mind?  I mean, if I, a human being, have joyful thoughts of my children and grandchildren, how much more significant is it that the infinite, transcendent, all powerful, all knowing, ever present, holy, righteous, just, gracious, wrathful, good, faithful, solitary, eternal Creator would have thoughts for me?  David describes them as ‘precious’.  These thoughts are so numerous that they are beyond our ability to count.  Even when we are sleeping, He is thinking precious thoughts about us.  I can understand that from my own observation of a sleeping baby.  Don’t you just love holding a sleeping baby?  They are so innocent and the little sounds they make bring tears to your eyes.  They are so dependent on the one who is holding them and so vulnerable.  A loving parent or grandparent is watching over them and that is what our Heavenly Father relates to us.

But what about the times when children are not so compliant and demonstrate their relation to Adam and Eve (i.e., original sin)?  Do we still have precious thoughts about them?  Deep down inside we do, even though they may bring disappointment or evoke anger in our response because of their disobedience.  After dealing with the wrong, we can look at them with eyes of love. So, when you and I sin against our Heavenly Father, there is a barrier which we place between Him and us.  He is displeased with us because we are not acting like someone who is born of God.  Instead we are acting out of our old character.  Our Father still has precious thoughts for us yet He will not leave us and will never cast us out of His presence.  We can be confident in saying, “I am still with You”, as David says in verse 18.  Because He is a loving Heavenly Father, He disciplines us but He never leaves us.  He has precious thoughts toward us, because we are His adopted children and we were purchased with the infinite price of Jesus’ life.

So, meditate on how precious God’s thoughts are for you; not only when you are pleasing Him in obedience, but also when He is disciplining you.  “How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How vast the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with You.”  The writer of Hebrews recorded these words, “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom [his] father does not discipline?  But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He [disciplines us] for [our] good, so that we may share His holiness.  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 ” (Heb. 12:7-11).  Our Father’s thoughts are all encompassing and they bring Him delight, just as we delight in observing our children and grandchildren.  Just think about this.  Even as God is keeping all the universe in perfect harmony, He has time to think about you.  That’s how precious His thoughts are for you!

Bill Olsen, Elder

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial
Facebook
Instagram
YouTube