His Banner Over Me Is Love

It is probably safe to say we have all learned something about ourselves during this quarantine. One friend posted a funny meme that said, “I never had time to clean my house.” “Now I know that wasn’t the problem.” The joke is on us. Now we have the time to do things we “didn’t have time for” before and we still aren’t doing them.

Do you have something you blamed on not having enough time for? More specifically, did you blame not reading your Bible, spending time with the Lord and praying on time? That is not meant to be a rebuke but simply a real question of introspection. Are we really where we think we are in our walk with the Lord? Titus 2 teaches us to live soberly in this present world while we look for the blessed hope of Christ’s return.

Just a month ago my son and daughter-in-law had their first child. Jane is a healthy, happy and beautiful little girl. For now, we love how small she is, but she is growing every day.  Growth is healthy. As much as we love babies and puppies, something would be very wrong if they remained small and did not grow. We would take them to the doctor to find out why their growth is stunted. According to google, “the most direct causes are inadequate nutrition (not eating enough or eating foods that lack growth-promoting nutrients) and recurrent infections or chronic diseases which cause poor nutrient intake, absorption or utilization.”

Now if you had a child whose growth was stunted, would you still love them? Of course you would. You would love that child no matter what condition they were in. But what would your desire for that child be? To be healthy. You would want them to grow and to flourish into a strong adult. You would want them to live to their fullest potential.

This is us.

Our heavenly Father has many children who are called by his name. But this incubation time has shown many to be stunted in their growth. If you have a baby who can only live on milk because they have no means to chew food, you are happy to give them milk. If, however you have a child who doesn’t want to eat, you have to intervene. If you don’t you will stunt their growth and harm them. It would not be love to let them do as they pleased. They may want to eat only junk or not eat at all. Out of love you would not allow this. You would prepare healthy options that would help supply what they need. Our Father has done this for us. We are a people, a nation in need.

I’m not saying that God brought this virus. I’m also not saying that He isn’t in it. We as a church have entered into a new era. We can’t have church as usual. We are now forced to feed ourselves and see what we are really made of. Every excuse has been taken away for those who are at home. I think I can safely say everyone has a phone or computer which means everyone has access to the Bible and great teaching. To top it off you now have an abundance of the costliest commodity. Time. It can’t be bought and it always run out.

Song of Solomon 2:4 says, “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me is love.” Will we eat? Will you sit with him and take the time to dine with him to feed your soul and nourish your relationship? He shows you He loves you by feeding you and meeting that need. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” He doesn’t want to force feed you but instead he has desired to come to you and spend some time with you. 3 John 1:2 says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” We can affect our health in this present chaos by feeding our souls. Romans 10:17 tells us “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” He won’t force feed you but He does invite you. He wants you well and nourished, growing and flourishing even if you’ve not eaten this way before.

After Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples put themselves into a quarantine of sorts. They hid in fear in an upper room with the door locked. Once Jesus had made himself known to them on several occasions Jesus had a conversation with Peter in John 21:15, “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

Jesus will question our love. And I can assume we would quickly say Yes Lord, we love you, just like Peter did. But Jesus asked again and again cutting Peter to the quick. Here in lies the teaching moment. We know Jesus was not trying to wound Peter. He was wanting to enlarge Peter.

To help us understand, I’d like to highlight two phrases. The first is “More than these.” When left to ourselves we must ask, do we love him more than these? “These” are all the things we put before him. In the aftermath of Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter said he was going fishing. His “these” could have been the boat, the nets, the fish or the act of fishing. It could have been “the guys.” He was surrounded by fellow fishermen and friends. Whether “these” are distractions or idols, they take our time and our love.

Who do you love? I challenge you right now to stop and think about what you have said is the one thing you wish you could hurry up and do as soon as the quarantine is over. What is the true love of you your life that you would give your time too? What have you complained about not getting to do the most? What have you neglected to do right now that you easily could do? You will know because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speak. 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves because it is possible to deceive ourselves.

Do we really love Him?

I know this is a simple example but it is true none the less. When you love someone, you are eager to spend time with them. You will ditch your other friends to be with them. Even your closest friends. If you can’t physically be together you are on the phone. You know how we do. We won’t be the first one to hang up. You hang up. No, you hang up. Then we fall asleep holding the phone. And if you don’t have a phone you write a beautiful gushing love letter. What ever it takes we make a way. Do you ever get creative to be with Jesus?

The second phrase is “Feed my lambs.” When Jesus questioned Peter’s love, He followed it with a “than do.” We are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. If you really love Him, you will do something about it. It will affect your decisions and choices. Jesus asked him to “feed” the others. He knew they would look to Peter.  This was a pivotal point. They would either rise to their call and purpose or they would shrink back and become stunted. They needed to grow. Peter had been chosen to lead this band of men once Jesus ascended. It was time to mature. It was going to take someone feeding them and giving them nourishment. They could not remain lambs. These men were to become the fathers of the faith. It was time for Peter to live what he had learned.

Now it’s our turn.

Let’s use this gift of time, this Selah moment in history, to make sure we are ready for what comes next. We may never have this opportunity again. The commodity of time will run out. We need to be feeding ourselves and helping to feed others.

I can’t help but think of the underground church who never have a building to go to. They never have freedom to worship yet they are close to the Father’s heart. They put at risk life and limb to read his word and worship. We are still the most blessed nation. We can still serve the Lord in freedom and gladness.

Earlier I quoted from John 21:15. Let’s back up now to vs.1-14 and see this beautiful truth displayed.

21 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and [a]immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”

They answered Him, “No.”

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”

11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

You may feel you fished all night and caught nothing. You can’t go to church to get your fish. Jesus is saying throw your net on the other side. Do it at home. You will catch a huge catch. Or if you have found that you have left your first love without realizing it, or you gave up and said, “I’m going fishing,” don’t fret. Simply confess it. Like Peter you can plunge into the water. Rejoice and come to the table. Can you smell it? Jesus has a meal He’s cooking especially for you.

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

 

Photo:  iStock by Getty

 

 

 

 

 

Raising A Child King

A boy becoming a king is the stuff great stories are made of. It isn’t just a fairytale. World history and Scripture record this many times over. Fulin, the Shunzhi Emperor was 5-years old. Elagabalus, the Roman emperor was 15-years old. Tutankhamen, better known as King Tut, was 10-years old. Josiah, King of Judah, was 8-years old and 2 Kings 11 tells the story of the child king Jehoash. After reading this account I couldn’t help but think of the weight of raising our children with kingship in mind.

Revelation 1:5-6 says, “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” We find no discrimination of age put on these appointments. 

We are living in a world where adult life is hurled through the screens at our children at a pace we can’t seem to keep up with. It is shields up 24/7/365 if you are a parent. It is alarming to realize at the same time, so many are not grounded in a church home. I grew up in the church and I can’t imagine where I would be had that not been the case. We attended church Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday nights. These were just the regular services. Then there were all the children’s and youth activities or special services and events. My best friends were those from my youth group. Life revolved around the house of God.

The Federalist posted and article entitled “Is It Baby Boomers’ Fault Millennials Are Leaving Religion And Less Likely To Go Back?” by Joy Pullmann. Near its end she gave a statistic that said, “Americas with very high levels of religious involvement during their childhood are about 10 times more likely to pray or read with their children (87 percent), attend worship services with them (84 percent), or send them to Sunday school (80 percent).” I could not help but see the validity and power of raising our children in the house of God faithfully as it correlates to this topic.

The age of technology has encroached on all boundaries of our lives changing how we do everything. It has even resulted in changing how church is attended. Many never darken the doors of a church building. Instead we have EChurch. Bibles were books we opened to read. Now its Bible apps on our phone or tablet that never look at us beaconing us to pick it up and read it or show us the proverbial dust indicating we haven’t read it.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m glad we have them. It gives us the ability to watch online when we are unable to attend for travel or illness and have a bible no matter where we go. We can watch services from all over the globe that we could never attend. It is truly a blessed time with no shortage of bread for the hungry but it doesn’t come without a trade off. It begs the question.

How does this affect our children?

To my knowledge there aren’t any online kids services. Even if there were, kids need the interaction and participation you can’t get through a TV screen. You don’t learn what a pastor is and how he cares for his people. You don’t learn what it is to serve the Lord by serving his people. You miss out on the scripture contests and games that made learning about the Lord so fun. Let’s face it. We all need that personal touch after a week of living counter culture. There is a palpable difference in worshiping and praying in agreement with others of like faith for both adults and children.

2 Kings 11 gives us a great pattern. To paraphrase, the mother of the reigning king of Judah had been killed. His mother decided to kill all other heirs and take over herself. The half-sister of the former king took the youngest heir Jehoash and hid him with his nurse in the house of the Lord for six years. This entire time he was being taught by the priest Jehoiada who put a plan in action to protect the heir and crown him king. His plan was successful and Jehoash was crowned king at the tender age of seven.

Three things jumped off the pages to me.

One, if you want your children to rule and reign then raise them in the house of the Lord!

Our identity is found in Christ so if we want our children to know who they are and what their purpose is, then by all means get them into church where they can meet the one who formed them, called them and purposed them.

Second, do not discount or look down on the children just because they are children.

They are valuable and the enemy knows it. Why do we fail so many times to see it? Children have the capacity to be kings. Jeremiah 1:7 says, “But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.'” Then in Psalm 8:2 it says, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, that you may silence the enemy and the avenger.” Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

If we don’t go to be trained how do will we train our children?

Thirdly, in 2 Kings 12:2 it said this. “Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.”

This child turned man reigned, pleasing God all the days he was instructed and taught by the man of God. I want my children and grandchildren to do well all their days as I am sure you do. Our children are kings in training. Some of them will rule at delicate ages with difficult life circumstances to navigate through. They will need what the church has deposited into them. If they don’t have it they will look to the culture that shifts with the wind for guidance.

Instead of ruling they will be ruled.

The sad commentary is that after the priest died king Jehoash was turned away from following the Lord. It does not matter how old we get. We still need to find ourselves in the house of the Lord learning and leaning on what we are taught. We don’t outgrow our need for the church and His Word. It isn’t just an institution. It’s the family of God. It’s a stronghold of safety.

No house is perfect and no family is without flaws. But the good news is Jesus is the sinless one. He is without blemish or error. He is the rock we build our lives on. Don’t be fooled by the propaganda. Church is not old fashioned, outdated or irrelevant. We need it more than ever. Our child kings need it more than ever.

Make no mistake. There is an enemy who wants to kill the king in them.

Hide them away in the house of the Lord.

 

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

 

Photo by Pixabay