The following is some things that I feel the Lord is laying on my heart for general use/knowledge as well as for a "reunion gathering" in Milwaukee.
While reading and teaching the word of the LORD to my children the other night before bed, we came across this exhortation from Joshua to the tribe of Gad, the tribe of Ruben and the half-tribe of Manasseh which he spoke to them before sending them back to the land Moses gave them on the other side of the Jordan upon completion of the conquest of Canaan:
"But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents.
~ Joshua 22:5-6
This was moving to me; how simple, yet so profound (partly because of it's simplicity and clarity). How impossible (for man/works), but yet possible (for God/faith in Him). How burdensome in the flesh, yet not burdensome in the Spirit for the child of God. A heavy burden to the old man, but an easy yoke to the new - who lives in and through Christ.
What really jumped out at me was that The Great Commandment of the Law (Deut. 6:5, Matthew 22:37) is essentially echoed here by Joshua: "...to love the LORD your God...and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul."
And he briefly expounds on what it looks like to "love the LORD your God": "..to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him.."
[Oh thank God for the blood of Christ that makes all of this possible by the Spirit!]
What I (believe I) was specifically led to expound on in this portion was the "..to hold fast to Him.." part: why is this necessary and how does one do this?
I explained our need for grace, how it is by grace we are saved and without it we cannot help but be lost - so prayer is essential. And I also reminded them that the word of the LORD says that God "resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" - so (in praying) genuine humility is also needed.
I know that a biblical and historical way to maintain humility is to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16 and Didache 4:12-14, 14:1 - link below). This is humbling and clears the way for the grace of God to flow and no flesh will be able to glory.
Another way to maintain humility and sincerity is fasting, or "prayer and fasting." I will likely exhort the brothers to commit to this spiritual discipline in the love and fear of Christ as a means to be faithful and obedient to the Law of Christ and thus "hold fast to [the LORD]".
And the final way that I thought of and taught my kids to maintain humility and thereby "hold fast to [the LORD]" is one that is very seldom found in the assembly today: foot washing.
I have never personally been a part of this in the general assembly, though I have felt the Lord lead me to wash the feet of my family a couple times during times of significant tension, turmoil and strife.
But in John 13 we see Jesus (the Lord of Glory) do just this - in a very real and practical way - and He goes on to teach:
So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."
~ John 13:12-17
It seems to me that the Lord was instructing the apostles to very literally practice foot washing; "If I then, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet," [in a very real and literal way, not in a merely allegorical/symbolic way] "you also ought to wash one another’s feet."
It seems that there is little reason to interpret His instruction as purely symbolic/allegorical.
Right after instructing them to wash one another's feet, Jesus says:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him."
"If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."
While I do feel that there is much truth and benefit and revelation in the allegorical meaning of 'foot washing' and the spiritual practice of it is also imperative; I do not feel that to neglect the literal practice of it is wise or warranted.
I speak from experience (and as one who has only ever washed the feet of my wife and children/step-children): it was very humbling and heart-melting for all involved when I have done it in the past.
So the main takeaways from this study for the potential gathering are:
* A reading of and call to heed Joshua's exhortation.
* A reminder of the Great Commandment and Johns words concerning it and linking it to the Second Commandment (1 John 5:1).
* A reminder of the Law of Christ (John 13:34 and 15:12).
* An exhortation to all of these; to "walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments."
* An exhortation to "hold fast to Him" as the only means to do the above.
* A presentation of the above means to "hold fast to Him": Grace, prayer, humility, fasting, confession of sins and foot washing.
* And finally, I feel that it is also the mind of Christ to "be an example to the flock" by bringing the necessary implements and wash their feet (those that will humbly permit it) - as well as to confess my sins to them (by the grace of God) and encourage others to join in a time of confession and prayer and reconciliation (keeping in mind Matthew 5:24 and the spirit of Didache 14:2-3).
Link to Didache: https://carm.org/didache