The Little Painter
Devotion, to me at least, seems difficult to discuss at greater depths without some personal references. It cannot be a topic that is discussed "at arm’s length". Therefore I would ask that you please excuse the personal references.
Although now over 57 yrs. old, to set the emotional stage requires going back to my childhood. I was the youngest of nine children, and to make ends meet, my father spent a good portion of his time at work. I therefore didn't have that much time with him. He worked hard, was focused on his work, and by his nature, although not without his moments, was not overly free with compliments.
Getting back to me, I would have been probably between 5 & 10 yrs. old at the time of this event. We lived in a small town in Ontario called Southamton, in a small house on the edge of town. The front veranda required painting, and I don't recall if it was my idea or my parents, but I was assisting in the project. Funny how an emotion can lodge so deep in the soul that even after many years, it can be brought to the surface with such clarity, and force. A perfect reproduction of the event, played out on our emotions again at will, or sometimes against our will! Only three people are in my memory as I look back on the event - my two parents, and myself. The conversation was casual and all but a few words have long since been forgotten. With our focus being on the job at hand, my father was speaking (mostly to my mother) of the skill of a local painter, and added at the close of his comment something like "and his son is becoming a really good painter too". I have no idea the quality of the job I was doing before that statement, but I remember being arrested by it, and hearing something from deep within begin to quietly ask, then louder, then louder, "How about me dad? Am I doing well dad? Am I a good painter dad? Any former carelessness slipped away. I became intent on doing the best job I could. My ears were tuned to my father’s voice ... and I waited ... I don't remember finishing the job, or even any farther conversation, but I remember the disappointment of not hearing my father’s "well done". The years have passed, and I have become a Christian. I now think back to that moment, that emotion, and opening my bible, I hear my Heavenly Father speak.
He speaks of Abraham in Genesis 18:19
19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he bath spoken of him.
...and again in James 2:23
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Could He say any of this about me? Does he have that confidence ... could he call me his friend? (John 15:14)
He speaks of Daniel in Daniel 9:23, 10:11, 10:19 as “greatly beloved”
He speaks of David in 1 Samuel 13:14
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD bath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD bath commanded him [to be] captain over his people, because thou hast not kept [that] which the LORD commanded thee.
...and again in Acts 13:22
22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the [son] of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.
Am I too late? Has He found His man? Or is there room in every generation for many who share in the bent of the divine heart?
God enters the "Faith Hall Of Fame" (Hebrews 11), and like a tour guide, brings before the mind, one after another ... Heroes of Faith, and then in summary
He says in Hebrews 1 1:33-38
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.
Imagine! to be counted among those of whom it could be said
"Of whom the world was not worthy"
Not maybe a full statue, or even a bust ... perhaps just a small engraved metal plate on the wall bearing my name! ... from my Heavenly Fathers hand.
But my father is not the only source from whence encouragement could come. How Timothy would enjoy reading, and re-reading, the words of his "father in the faith" (I Tim 1:2), Paul, regarding him:
20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. 22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he bath served with me in the gospel.
Or Demetrius ... wouldn't the day to day battle seem more bearable after he read John's words?
3 John 1:12
12. Demetrius bath good report of all [men], and of the truth itself: yea, and we [also] bear record; and ye know that our record is true.
Or Onesiphorus ... wouldn't the effort seem even more worth-while after hearing:
2 Timothy 1:16
16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
Or Barnabas ... of whom Dr. Luke could say:
Acts 1 1:24
24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
What excellent company I'll be in, if ever it could be said of me "he is a good man":
50. And, behold, [there was] a man named Joseph, a counsellor; [and he was] a good man, and a just:
12 And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.
Life, as described by many, reminds me of that first hill of a roller-coaster. It moves ever faster, and how soon we'll stand before our Lord that CANNOT LIE. Will he TRUTHFULLY be able to say of me ... of you?
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
But what of the females among us, what would you like to hear? I searched in vain to find a scripture referring to "a good woman", but wait ... while God Describes a GREAT woman.
2 Kings 4:8
8. And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where [was] a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And [so] it was, [that] as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. 9 And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this [is] an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. 10 Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.
11 And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there.
This woman perceived, persuaded, and prepared. - Perceived he was a man of God - persuaded him to eat once, and welcomed him thereafter, then persuaded her husband to help her provide for his needs. But let us look at the things she thought he would require: a chamber (protection & separation) a bed (rest) a table, stool, & candlestick (study)
How many "good men" owe much to a "great woman" (often behind the scenes?)
Or to have God record of you as in Acts 9:36
36. Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
And I'm sure you saw this one coming from Proverbs 31:29
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
As I serve, as a master or servant, could I be called "faithful and beloved"?
as in 1 Timothy 6:2
2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise [them], because they are brethren; but rather do [them] service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
Could "worthy" ever be associated with me as in Revelation 3:4
4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
It has been said "If you reach for the stars, you may not reach them, but you’re not likely to wind up with a mouthful of sand". And so for an ultimate goal consider Revelation 14:5
5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Devotion in the heart will cause goals to be set, and goals will cause behaviour to be altered. The result, seen in the actions will be a moving toward the goal. Though it be slow, though it be a great way to go, the movement will begin. Is not Paul's devotion seen here? " ... not ... already attained ... I press toward the mark for the prize":
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the Excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, 9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
What better prize than to be so devoted to His Majesty’s service that some of these things could be said of us and the glory might go to the one worthy of all praise! Bob Diebel 08/16/92