The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

God's Call to Order - Part 1

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. . . . Let all things be done decently and in order. – 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40

Do you need a ladder and grappling hook to swing over to the other side of some of your rooms? Do you have to tunnel through to get to certain areas of your living space? Did you have to climb over or maneuver around a pile of stuff when you got out of bed today? Do you find old food in your bed? Do you have an insect or rodent problem not due to living conditions beyond your control but due to your personal chosen way of life? Tripped over and hurt yourself on some accumulated junk lately? Does your house regularly look like a hurricane hit it? Have neighborhood pranksters nailed a “Condemned” sign on your front door? Do you feel as though that is credibly something that could happen? Do you feel embarrassed when you run into your neighbors because of what they’ve heard, seen or witnessed in your home life? Or have you grown to accept your mess and are far beyond caring what your neighbors think?

How’s your work desk look? Piled high with outdated papers dating back a few years ago and beyond? Do you find yourself mumbling to yourself, now where did I put that paper? When people comment about the mess do you blush and find yourself saying, “It’s my own personal filing system and I like it just fine!” Then do you spend the better part of the day looking for misplaced things?

How’s your kitchen look? Every once in a while do you rejoice to find that cooking tool you hadn’t seen for years? How’s your kid’s bedrooms and play rooms, a total mess? Is your house or a room in your house so overrun with accumulated stuff that it acts like a black hole?

Are you constantly late for wherever you go? Are you constantly late with paying your bills? Do you frequently lose bills and other important documents? When you walk in public do you hear under the breath comments like, “Whoa, what a wreck!” Is your life a mess, disorganized, chaotic?

Do you constantly battle oversleeping? Do you stay up into the wee hours of the night and sleep into the mid-afternoon and do this not because of work hours, but simply because it’s your routine? Do you have a job? If not, are you actively looking for one? Are you an addict of Xbox and PlayStation gaming? Do you find adult responsibilities neglected because you prefer to play?

How about your personal spiritual life? When you do pray do you find yourself praying, “Lord, please bless this mess”? Is your devotional time optional for you? Do you set a devotional time but have little success or even desire to consistently stay true to it? Do you have a plan to read and study God’s word? Do you share your faith regularly or let opportunities pass in fear thinking I wish I would have listened when that teacher was explaining how to respond to the comment that person just made?

How about your church involvement? Do you regularly attend? Are you accountable to a local church and its leadership? Or do you church hop to avoid accountability? Do you pride yourself on not being accountable to anybody? Do you regularly contribute in some way? Do you regularly make excuses for not doing so? Are you beyond excuses and its simply understood you’ll go to church when you want to or when you feel like it and you seldom want to or feel like it? Is your church involvement just one other activity you and your family try to participate in but often find is squeezed out by sports activities, dance classes, or some other thing. When your church has an event does it base the starting time on the commonly understood “church” time which is normally fifteen to thirty minutes after the announced meeting time? Is there an epidemic of disorder in your church?

These are just some of the situations that are common place to many people who live their lives in various degrees of disorder. We often blame our mess and disorder on others like the kids or parents or our spouse or a co-worker. We have become expert excuse makers. Some of the consequences of disorder are anxiety, clouded thinking, uncertainty, loss, and a host of other unsettling conditions. Is it worth it? Is our disorder worth the cost of the loss of time in this short life? Is it worth the loss of missed blessings? Is it worth the anxiety, frustration, and disorientation? Disorder in its various forms is not the will of God for us. God is by nature orderly and He calls us to order. If we are to experience His best for us, we need to answer and follow in His call to order.

God is orderly. We see His orderliness throughout the Bible. We see His order in Creation (Gen. 1-2). We see His order in His Law (Exodus 20-24; Leviticus). He cares so much about the order of His Law that He gave it a second time to make sure His people would learn it by repetition (Deuteronomy). We see His order in the plans for His Tabernacle and His instructions for those serving Him there (Exodus 25-31). We see His order in the numbering and arrangement of His people leading up to their conquest of the Promised Land (Numbers). We see His order in the war strategy He gave to His people such as circling Jericho seven times (Joshua 6:4, 15). We see His order in the way He responded to the waywardness of His people (e.g. depart from the Lord; enemies prevail; repent; a judge to deliver the people – Judges). We see God’s order in the Temple construction (1 Kings).

In the New Testament we see God’s order in that He sent His only Son Jesus as just the right time (Gal. 4:4-5). We see His order in that there is only one way to come to Him, through Jesus (John 14:6). We see God’s order in that Jesus instructed the disciples to wait to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit before they launched out in ministry (Acts). We see God’s order in His plan of salvation and doctrine (Romans). The gospel and centrality of the resurrection to it is given in a clear orderly way (1 Cor. 15). There is an orderly plan of God with regard to His Law and grace (Galatians). We see God’s order as He uses the Old Testament sacrificial system to symbolically point us to Christ (Hebrews). We see His order in His prophetic timeline (Revelation). We see God’s order from Genesis to Revelation. I know of nowhere in scripture where God works through disorder. Sin brings disorder and God seeks to restore order by overcoming sin.

When His people are out of order we see God seek to correct them. The church in Corinth was a very gifted church. But they were apparently a very disorderly operating church. And so God inspired Paul to write a corrective word saying, “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. . . . Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). In light of the examples and evidence of God’s orderliness and His corrective word to those of His people who are disorderly, why is the church today and many Christians so disorderly? People pooh-pooh order and go so far as to equate disorderliness with the work of the Spirit and orderliness with the flesh. How can this be? Based on scripture the exact opposite is true!

God is not the author of confusion or disorder. In 1 Corinthians 14:33 the word “confusion” (ἀκαταστασία - akatastasia, ak-at-as-tah-see´-ah) means instability, commotion, confusion, tumult, disorder, disturbance, unrest, rebellion, or insurrection. God is not the author of such things. When you see such things understand God is not in it! Paul reveals by contrast that the things that God is in and does are characterized by “peace” (εἰρήνη - ĕirēnē, i-ray´-nay) which refers to peace, prosperity, quietness, rest, one, or set at one. Which of these words best describes your life or your church?

God’s orderliness is seen in priorities. Our godly order should be to love God supremely and love our neighbors sacrificially (Deut. 6:4-5; Mat 10:37; 22:37-40). God’s order is to follow and abide in His only Son Jesus Christ (Mat. 10:38-39; John 8:31-32; John 15). According to God husbands are to love their wives like Christ loved the church and wives are to support and respect their husbands (Eph. 5:21-33). God instructs that there are parental and child roles in a family (Deut. 6:6-15; Eph. 6:1-4). When children rule the roost and parents abdicate their position of authority they are out of order and chaos results. God calls His people to be involved in church fellowship (Heb. 10:24-25). God commands us to obey and live by His word (and that is for our own good! Psalm 119; John 14:21; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).

We may think our disorderliness is no big deal. We may even think it’s cute or just a quirky personality trait. We may dismissively think it’s just the way I am or it’s just the way they are. But disorder is a serious problem. It is not God’s will for us and anything we do or permit to continue that is not God’s will for us will prevent us from experiencing all God has for us. God loves us and wants the best for us. His best involves His order. I encourage you to seek God’s order and seek His help in bringing His order in your life. That’s what I intend to do in my life. I hope you’ll join me.

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