Sunday Sermon: ‘Following In Our Father’s Footsteps’

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A large group of European pastors came to one of D. L. Moody’s Northfield Bible Conferences in Massachusetts in the late 1800s. Following the European custom of the time, each guest put his shoes outside his room to be cleaned by the hall servants overnight. But of course this was America and there were no hall servants.

Walking the dormitory halls that night, Moody saw the shoes and determined not to embarrass his brothers. He mentioned the need to some ministerial students who were there, but met with only silence or pious excuses. Moody returned to the dorm, gathered up the shoes, and, alone in his room, the world’s only famous evangelist began to clean and polish the shoes. Only the unexpected arrival of a friend in the midst of the work revealed the secret.

When the foreign visitors opened their doors the next morning, their shoes were shined. They never knew by whom. Moody told no one, but his friend told a few people, and during the rest of the conference, different men volunteered to shine the shoes in secret. Perhaps the episode is a vital insight into why God used D. L. Moody as He did. He was a man with a servant’s heart and that was the basis of his true greatness. (Gary Inrig, A Call to Excellence, (Victor Books, a division of SP Publ., Wheaton, Ill; 1985), p. 98)

What do you think of what Moody did? Some would think that he was a fool. Some would be like those students who would consider themselves to be too good to polish another man’s shoes. But what do you think of Moody? Do you think that what he did was small and insignificant, or do you think that it was something great?

What Moody did revealed that he had the ‘mind of Christ.’ (see Php 2:1-8) It revealed that he was a child of God.

Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

The word Paul uses here for ‘followers’ literally means to mimic. ‘Mimic God’ is what Paul is saying. Strive to imitate Him in all you say and do. There are parts of God’s nature that we can’t mimic. We can’t mimic His majesty and glory. We can’t mimic His wisdom and power. But there are parts of God’s nature that we can seek to mimic. Through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, there are parts of God’s nature that is abides within us. One part is love.

Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love …

I. God is Love – Therefore Mimic Him in Love

A. God is Love

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

God is love. Love is a part of His nature. God has demonstrated His love towards us by sending His Son to die for our sins.

Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

B. God’s Children – Love

Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

1. ‘Dear Children’

The phrase ‘dear children’ actually means – children who are loved. It’s the same word God spoke when He said –

Matthew 3:17 – … This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

It’s an expression of God’s deepest love.

2. ‘As Dear Children’ – Walk in Love

Because you have been loved – you should love. How should we love? Note an obscure, yet important word in vs. 1 – ‘therefore.’ ‘Be ye therefore…’ Whenever you see a ‘therefore’, you should stop and ask yourself what the therefore is there for? Obviously it links us back to something that has already been said.

The ‘therefore’ at the beginning of chapter 5 links us back to chapter 4.

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Here’s a way to show the love of God to others. Be honest and truthful with them. ‘Speak the truth in love’ as Paul says.

26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.

Here’s another way; don’t let the devil get the best of your anger and cause you to act sinfully towards your brother.

Here’s another way:

28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour , working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth .

Here’s another way:

29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers . 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Instead of saying whatever you think; think about what you say. Ask yourself – ‘How will this affect those who are listening? Will it build them up in their relationship with the Lord, or will it tear it down?’

Friday I shared with you a devotional about Socrates. It seems that a man came to Socrates one day, ready to gossip about and slander one of Socrates’ friends. But before the man could begin, Socrates stopped him and asked –

1. “Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

2. “Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”

3. “Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”

Because it was gossip, the man had to say ‘No’ to all three of Socrates’ questions. “Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

Here’s another way to mimic the love of God:

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another , tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

II. God is Light – Therefore Mimic Him in Purity

Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith , Awake thou that sleepest , and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light .

A. God is Light

1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Light represents the holiness and purity of God. Darkness represents sin. Scripture teaches us that God is light, or that God is completely pure, therefore there is not darkness at all in Him.

That’s not all scripture teaches us.

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

Because God’s nature is what it is, God cannot and will not fellowship with what is darkness. God will not fellowship with sin. Neither should we as His children.

B. God’s Children – Light

Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Fornication refers to sexual sins. Uncleanness is anything that is not morally pure. Covetousness speaks of greediness. Here is a great truth that the church so desperately needs to hear –

3 … let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

4 Neither filthiness, (Obscenity / dishonoring speech) nor foolish talking, (speech that lacks godliness) nor jesting, (crude humor) which are not convenient: (fitting for a child of God) but rather giving of thanks.

Paul gives us three steps to follow as children of light:

1. Remove Ourselves From Darkness

Paul is not making a suggestion. He’s not saying that things shouldn’t be a part of us, but after all, we’re only human. He’s not giving us any excuses to keep living in sin. He’s saying that it is totally inappropriate for a true child of God.

5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers (participants) with them.

Don’t participate in the darkness of this world. We do so much damage whenever we compromise as Christians. Parents do so much spiritual damage to their children whenever they compromise in their values as a Christian family. They confuse their children and at best they produce only a lukewarm kind of Christianity.

Christians do so much damage to their lost friends whenever they compromise in their testimony. I worked for twenty years on public jobs before I became a pastor. Not once was I ever been criticized for being committed to Christ. But I was been criticized whenever I was a hypocrite. The world expects Christians to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness …

Paul’s not saying – turn your back on the lost. He’s not saying – isolate yourselves from the world. Paul told the Corinthians that the only way we can completely escape any contact with the sin of this world is to leave this world. Yet although we are in it – we are not to be of it. Jesus was a friend of publicans and sinners, yet He was not a friend of sin. Sin was the enemy that He defeated by dying on the cross.

2. Reprove What is Darkness

8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit (Light) is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

The word ‘reprove’ means to expose or reveal.

Illustration –

HA Ironside tells in his commentary on Ephesians, a story about a group of Christian men who along with their wives were attending a Bible conference. The ladies left the room and one man spoke up and said,

“Since the ladies have gone out, there is a story I got hold of today I would like to tell you.” Before anyone else had a chance to speak, another man spoke up and said, “Just a minute, brother; there are no ladies here, but the Holy Ghost is here and is more sensitive that the most fastidious lady. Is this story fit for Him?” The man was big enough to say, “Thank you brother, I accept the reproof. I will never tell such a story again.”

Reproving isn’t always easy nor popular. Yet consider what our Lord said –

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Scripture says – ‘All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.’ (2 Tim 3:12)

3. Reveal What is Light

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Conclusion

It’s interesting that the Bible often uses walking as an illustration of living the Christian life. ‘Walk by faith, not by sight.’ ‘Walk in the Spirit.’ ‘Walk in the newness of life.’

Why walking? Walking is one of the most basic things we do in life. We take our first steps as toddlers and then walk the rest of our life.

How far do we walk in a lifetime? Some estimate that the average person walks over 50,000 miles during their lifetime. That’s equivalent to almost three times around the earth. No wonder we’re tired.

How do we walk? Surprisingly enough, we walk those 50,000 miles – one step at a time. How do we walk as a Christian? One step at a time.

I want to encourage you as a believer in your walk this week. Take one step in light and the next step in love; then the next step in light and the next step in love. Here’s an amazing truth – if we do, we will find ourselves following in our Father’s footsteps.

 

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