Counting our blessings...
Thus says the LORD, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’ Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age.
And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.’ (Zechariah 8:3-5)
(Tim) When David and I speak privately, it's a rare conversation we don't speak of our gratitude to the Lord for the wonderful churches He has blessed us with. And this isn't the one-upmanship of two brothers who are both pastors. Trust us, we know about that. Rather, it's the true joy of men for whom the lines have fallen in pleasant places recognizing it's all of God.
My Scripture reading today reminds me of one of our principal joys--our congregations' great fruitfulness physically and spiritually. Physically?
Well, between Christ the Word in Toledo and Church of the Good Shephed here in Bloomington, Indiana, I'd estimate between thirty and forty children will be born or adopted by a Covenant family this year. And this happens year after year--fruit, fruit, and more fruit! Our aisles and nurseries and gym and hallways and cars and homes and fellowship halls are filled with boys and girls playing together...
But it's not just that our mothers and fathers are propagating a seed, but that they're propagating a godly seed. As our children grow into adulthood, we see again and again how through them God is fulfilling all His Covenant promises; that He will not only be our God, but also the God of our children and children's children. Twice in the past week, someone considering making Church of the Good Shepherd his church home has mentioned the prominence in his decision-making process of the godliness he has observed in our Covenant children.
Our grandparents, fathers, and mothers are not lazy, and therefore presumptuous, in this matter. Men and women exhort one another to diligence in teaching, discipline, and tender affection. But when it's all done, we stand amazed that God has once more covered our sin and unbelief with His mercy and grace, and that no one can deny His covenant mercies from generation to generation.
Is this not always God's way with Zion--that her fathers are faithful to love their wives, and that her mothers are faithful to bear children of the Covenant, and that those children of the Covenant grow to testify to the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, making a good confession themselves as their parents did before them?
How terribly sad when children of the Covenant become a lifestyle option or choice, rather than a blessing from the Lord bringing happiness to the man whose quiver is full of them. Yes, we also have plenty of first-generation believers who have been grafted into the tree of God's covenant family. But immediately, they too claim God's covenant promises and give hard evidence of that faith by bearing fruit--fruit that will last and that pleases God our Father Who commanded us to go and bear fruit, and then warned, "By their fruit ye shall know them."