How hard it is to stand fast in faith when the circumstances swirling around you press hard to prove to you that there is no hope. It seems that no one understands your plight – and worse that those who understand don’t care enough to bear under the weight with you. Living in this world can move you to lose heart – were it not for The One in whom our hope lies.
When you or someone you love is sick, and there is no human cure for the disease. When sadness and hopeless overtakes your mind in depressive thoughts. When financial burdens seem insurmountable. When a besetting sin seems to gain more and more control over you day by day. When you have followed the voice of God, yet see only hardship. When those who say they love you disappoint you. All of us have faced one of these moments – or perhaps you are in one of these moments right now!
Know this – God really is a faithful God. It is hard for us to fathom sometimes that He is faithful – or even that He is good when things seem to go so very wrong. But remember that God is the God of all things – he brings both the wonderful and the dreadful.
Isaiah 45: 6, 7 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well- being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these
No matter what the great theologians say create and allow are two very different terms. (God certainly does not create moral evil – that comes through the willful rejection of His will by His created beings, namely us!) But, whatever you are going through – know that as a child of God (one that is obedient to His will and believes upon His son Jesus, who is the Christ) it is all for the glory of God! All of it!
Psalm 34:19 is our comfort: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
No matter what, my friend, you are not desolate because The Almighty One has not forsaken you.
As for me, God is my hope. He is my only hope! More than that, I am faithful to believe that He is faithful to complete what He has started and he is faithful to accomplish His word. So – don’t fret – pray! Stand Firm! See the Salvation of the Lord! Be faithful to Believe that He Will Deliver You!
We recently received a call from our director telling us that our 97% supported number was skewed by supporters who made commitments that were not kept. He was apologizing to us for making what was obviously a difficult call for him. What he didn’t know was that on this side of the world we could not even move our minds toward discouragement, fear or unbelief. Only one thing came to mind was the fact that God’s promises that His grace is sufficient. Sufficient!! The way that sufficient is used in 2 Corinthians tells us that His grace is all that we need and will provide the support we need to bear up under the weight of the issue! All Sufficient Grace from the God that is dependable and true! A grace that we will be awed by at just the moment when our lack seems overwhelming. REAL! TRUE! GRACE!
Anyway … I was thinking about our director telling us that we were not fully supported and all I could think about was that we had the fullest and most reliable support that we needed; the Word of our God and His calling upon our lives.
So as I sit back and watch God work miracle after miracle for the people of Ghana in ways that we cannot begin to understand, as I think about the lives that are being enriched and changed by the power of the gospel and God’s choice to use us as vessels of honor – what I know beyond all doubt is that His grace is sufficient – He is all that we need. Because His calling on our lives is sure – we have no doubt – I know with full assurance that this ministry is indeed fully supported! His Grace Is Sufficient – therefore, I will lean into His presence, in full and complete dependence, knowing that He finishes what He starts. That, as Pastor Rodney Frazier says, “where He guides He will provide”.
“But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving- kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
OH! For ten thousand tongues to say, I thank you Lord for your amazing grace! – Kathy Taylor
Lately it seems that many different people and ministries are touting themselves as the definition of discipleship – or missions – or evangelism – or whatever. Some of what is out there is very interesting and even very helpful. But much of it comes from a closed view of what the world is and who God is.
But I know a man who earned a college degree and had a promising career – but saw a place in God’s kingdom for his gifts and answered the call of his Lord to put personal desires on hold to introduce people to the abundant life in Christ. This fellow went on to earn a masters degree at a prestigious institution, which earned him the credentials to ask for the job of his choice in the gospel ministry – again he put his personal aspirations on the back burner and moved, with his family, to a remote place where they can only depend upon God and one another. Each quarter this man invites leaders that he hardly knows to come and live with his family and ‘do life’ with them – while he also takes his 4 years of seminary and condenses it for these leaders so that they will leave him, after two years of quarterly visits, with a seminary education – minus the expense.
All the while – his wife and his sons get to watch him live and lead – and they too are moved to live lives of sacrifice not for personal satisfaction, but so that people whose lives that they touch will be forever changed by the power of the gospel that not only brings salvation – but true life – abundant life – real life. His wife and sons look at his life and say This Is Discipleship!
What is Discipleship, you may ask?? As they have seen it in his life; it is living in community with those whom you are called to disciple wherever you are in the world and no matter the cost – for the cost of discipleship is STEEP! Discipleship is getting into people’s lives (and allowing them to get into yours) and doing life with them so that they can see it, touch it, feel it, hear it and become all that God intended them to be – and so that you too come away from the experience changed, renewed, strengthened and empowered for godly living. Discipleship is sacrificing YOU for the other guy in order that we all may reach maturity in Christ. Discipleship is living the same way behind closed doors that you do when the door is wide open so that others may come to know the living Lord as their King and Savior – this is discipleship – the way Jesus did it with the twelve – life on life.
I won’t mention this man’s name – there is no need. But when I look at his life, I see Christ – I see a disciple maker – I see a bond servant of Christ who has come to love the world so much that he not only gives them the gospel, but he gives the world his very life! If he ever reads this, I pray that he’ll know of whom I speak – and he’ll know that at least one person in the world looks at his life and says – This Is Discipleship!
I’m pictured here with the dearest friend I ever had – the late, Barbara Jean Brown-Lewis. it seemed that there were always words enough to express what we felt, tears enough to weep together and joy enough to share. But I find that this is not always the case.
Recently I tried to apologize to a friend after being made aware that they were hurt – not by something that I did, but because of things that failed to do that could have prevented their hurt. My friend responded to me that I was mean, selfish and not Christ-like and that I needed to love people better.
I could hear the voice of my mentor telling me to be mindful, don’t waver in my faith, be brave, don’t wither. I could hear her telling me to continue to minister out of that pure love that is born out of my devotion to Christ.
I Corinthians is the authority on all things “LOVE” — and in chapter 16 you’ll find these words: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, e strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
When we attempt to minister out of a heart of pure and sincere love, the world sees it and hates it! People will never believe that you do what you do because the love of Christ compels you — so they will accuse you of false motives or worse – they will accuse you of trying to ‘look’ spiritual! That is the ENEMY — it is one of his best tricks. We are so often deceived and discouraged by these reactions that we back peddle away from love and move to a stance of obligation. We must be aware of this device of the enemy, so that we will not begin to question our motives or believe the lies that people tell us about ourselves. Remember always your love for Christ and your devotion to Him which rises out of His passion for you.
I pray that the Father will help you to be filled afresh daily with His own Spirit so that you will not only operate in His power but in His love. I pray that He will strengthen your heart and steel your mind so that you will not be persuaded that your intentions are – or should be – anything other than reflections of His love in the world. I pray that He will become love in you!
God blesses. He blesses because He is a good God. Christians have fallen prey to the world’s message that He blesses us because we deserve some blessing just because – but that is not the case, necessarily. In fact that is a backwards statement as it relates to the Kingdom of God. We obey him because we love Him – because it is what we are supposed to do. He blesses us because He promised to do so when we love Him.
Romans 4:4 says “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.”
So — what is your just due?
Walking in the righteousness, blessing and favor of God requires our belief in an devotion to Him. If by being righteous we hope to earn something (blessing/favor) from Him — then it is not the right motive. If we are called to a particular task in the body of Christ we must do it out of devotion to and love for Him in order that He might grant us favor and blessing. For if we do it for a certain blessing – and then receive that thing – our wages have been paid. How much more will we receive when we stop ‘working’ for favor and start ‘serving’ out of devotion to Him?
My prayer is that we will ask the Lord to correct our motives. Help our hearts to discern rightly what we are to do for God and for the Kingdom of God. Teach us to serve out of our gratitude for Calvary and out of our gratefulness that He has dressed us in His righteousness – clothing of splendor and honor that we could NEVER purchase on our own.
Help us to understand that His very presence in our lives is our just due!