“I believe that many professing Christians are cold and uncomfortable because they are doing nothing for their Lord; but if they actively served him, their blood would begin to circulate spiritually, and it would be well with them.”
or a Foolish approach to a (nevertheless) Genuine desire to serve Christ?
I have learned of a family (2 parents, 4 children all under age of 10) “raising support” for a so-called 6-week missions trip to Africa to the tune of $30,000…a trip during which they MIGHT be helping this ministry to do some construction, and they MIGHT be teaching vacation Bible school to some local children, that is IF they are allowed in, and if not, well – this ministry would just enjoy the family’s company as they visit, so would you please make your checks payable to Family-Dad/Husband by such and such date….
WHAT?? I do not see anything of the Spirit of God in this! – NO calling, NO clear direction, NO confidence that the Lord has prepared the way for the declaration of his word, NO “transparency” as far as the ethics of raising that kind of sum, NOT EVEN a way to have spiritual oversight for the trip? such as would be required to raise money through AT LEAST a sending church?, and an up-front resignation to the fact this may just be a 6-week vacation, basically, for their family of six, and so, would y’all be so kind as to fund it for them?? I will be so bold as to cry: Fraud and veritable Embezzlement in the name of Christ!! (My boldness comes, too, in part for knowing some of the family dynamic, here….)
I find this intolerable!! (and an OFFENSE to my heart, for Christ’s sake!)
So, I hope I have advised my friend wisely – I have directed him to follow the pattern set forth in Matthew 18:15-20 – Approach your “brother” whom you believe to be in sin, openly (humbly) asking questions so you are able to DISCERN if this is just foolishness or willful selfishness; offer either confrontation of sin, or wisdom to correct the folly, and if your “brother” remains unteachable and unsubmissive to the Spirit of Christ, involve a mediator – In this case, I suggested my friend seek the input, then, of your family’s elder in your church, perhaps ask some more questions to gain additional discernment, and approach your “brother” again with the elder present. If your “brother” still remains unteachable and unsubmissive to the Spirit of Christ, be prepared, because this may need to be brought publicly before the whole church – especially if your “brother” has sent this “support” letter to other members w/o the Leadership’s knowledge/approval/support, and is therefore potentially sinning against (stealing from!) the whole Body.
Oh, God help us, we are ALL of us foolish at times. Sure enough! And I hope, by GRACE, that if I were so publicly zealous in my folly (before God, I am sure I have been, at times!) that I would be approached lovingly and carefully by a brother/sister in Christ to at least seek out my motivation, discern my heart, and offer counsel if not correction. And if I were so “foolish” to SIN blatantly in this way, I would hope for Christ’s sake! that someone would intervene that I might not bring such shame to the cause of Christ.
But still? And failing all other intervention? I pray that God, by his GRACE, would nevertheless cover ALL of our own foolishness and sinfulness with the blood of Christ and STILL bring about some good for his Glory, that we might nevertheless say with the Apostle Paul – imprisoned and bad-mouthed by other “preachers” of the Gospel, and exactly in a situation when we might expect him to “defend” himself and rebuke the nay-sayers/abusers – in Philippians 1:12-21 ~
They Can’t Imprison the Message
12-14 I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.
15-17 It’s true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I’m out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.
18-21 So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!
And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.
Glory to God! and Help us all, in JESUS’ name….
Had this thought, while pondering President’s Day – And the “legacy” of Lincoln – and the “controversy” of some of his pre-civil-war (and pre-conversion to Christ, to my knowledge) quotes about the inequality of blacks and whites, but nevertheless the fullness of his “legacy” in laying perhaps the GREATEST foundation for that very equality (politically)….
Every man is flawed and broken. We are not made “great” because we are perfect. Even the best of us are not remembered by a legacy because it is untainted by past mistakes and sometimes wrong convictions. Rather, we are made “great” to the degree we have been touched by the DIVINE. We are made “great” to the degree we are accomplishing the GOOD that God has designed and is bringing about, his work of REDEEMING a lost and fallen world and people, HIS WILL ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN! …
We are made “great” to the degree we are made PARTAKERS of His Spirit, because of the BLOOD of Jesus!
Thank you, Lord, for your unspeakable, immeasurable GRACE!!
Life has been very abusive of late. The last several weeks, perhaps made worse in part because of the holidays, I have been “magnifying” fear instead of “magnifying the Lord” by faith.
Still, God was gracious to intervene – in this case with the patient and persevering counsel of a couple godly friends who kept pointing me back to truth. Here are some of their encouragements:
- Sometimes surrounding yourself with endless preaching and reading of “Christian” books and even devouring Scripture ~ this can be so much self-righteous beating your head against a brick wall! [Not to diminish the Word! This was said for my sake, because I tend to go overboard on all that “doing” ~ Yes, the Word is the SWORD, but I am more apt to wield it as a battering ram – perhaps especially on myself – rather than letting the LORD wield it as a scalpel, applied with grace-filled anesthetic ;).]
- You really need to be singing Praise and Worship! ~ like when Israel would call on the Musicians before going into battle, and the LORD wins the victory. It invites the presence of God into your experience and necessarily puts you in a place to “fix your eyes on Christ.”
- If there are no physical explanations, as yet, have you considered the possibility that you’re under “attack” spiritually? and/or making yourself sick because you’re not fighting the fight of FAITH?
- If you’re so full of self-preservation and frustration/anger, how can you expect to lovingly pray as you ought? Selfishness and selflessness cannot live together in the same space!
- You need to REST. You need to KEEP the Sabbath ~ that means rest IN it. It takes *humility* to stop and even just sleep ~ it means you’re not always in control, and God likes to remind you of that so you trust HIM completely.
- Stop trying to “figure everything out!” You aren’t meant to; that’s why we are to be LED by the Spirit! And how can you HEAR him if every quiet space in your life is filled up with DOING?
- You are MORE than a conqueror in Christ! Like Ali, when he would win a major fight, and he’d go home with the prize money, and Mrs. Ali would say Thank you! and put the money in the bank? SHE was MORE than a conqueror! ~ Ali fought the fight, but SHE got the spoils of his victory!
These are all still percolating. 🙂
A recent Devotional Post at WONDERSWORD:
We can be a frenzied, anxious bunch – even in the Church though Jesus clearly commands us not to be anxious for anything, but instead to trust our heavenly Father to provide for our needs. (see Matthew 6:25-34) It’s so “normal” to get worked up over things, we can be tempted to think it isn’t possible to live this life genuinely worry-free. In fact, it probably wasn’t so much a command as…maybe a suggestion. After all, Jesus knows we’re weak, frail people. Surely he knows it’s not possible for us to live completely without anxiety. Right?
Well, God doesn’t pretend we won’t be anxious, but he does give us both insight into the true root of anxiety as well as instruction regarding what to do with it when it surfaces in our lives. Pay particular attention to the context in these perhaps very familiar verses, and see if any “big ideas” jump out at you:
“…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:5b-11)
The Apostle Peter is writing to a group of Christian believers in the early church who have been scattered because of murderous persecution. If anyone was understandably anxious, it was these people, forced to leave their homes, separated from each other and loved ones, and fearing for their lives.
Throughout this letter, Peter is giving the people of God a much needed reminder of God’s love, the undying hope they have in Christ Jesus, a clear declaration of their identity because of the grace of God, and many practical instructions about how to live – both with each other, and as they find themselves surrounded by unbelievers.
Here, in chapter 5, after instructing them to follow Christ’s example in suffering, Peter tells them to clothe themselves in humility, to humble themselves, trusting God’s power and authority, AND his timing. And he tells them to cast all their anxieties on him. Why? Because God cares for them. The basis of their confidence, the motivation for them to surrender all their anxieties to God is his LOVE for his people!
If we are in Christ, WE are his people, and we have been loved by God with an everlasting love! This same exhoration is for us – our Father wants us to be free from worry, and to trust his faithful care.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials….” (1 Pet. 1:3-6)
Peter goes on to command them and us to be sober-minded, to be watchful, to resist our spiritual enemy! How? By being firm in our faith. That’s all well and good – but there are a lot of so-called “faiths,” and besides, faith in and of itself isn’t some kind of magic wand you can wave and *poof* all our anxieties disappear! Ah, but “faith” isn’t an end in and of itself – faith is the means by which we lay hold of something else. It is the OBJECT of our faith that is either trustworthy or not.
When we are anxious, or filled with worry, at the root we are placing our faith in ourselves. This is a subtle form of pride, a clinging to self-sufficiency, a feeling like there is no one else I can trust more than I can trust me. But in truth, we know we fail ourselves, perhaps moreso than we even consciously acknowledge! This is why anxiety is such a snare! And our good Father wants us to be set free from our self-sufficiency.
The ultimate remedy for anxiety is faith in the God of all grace, who will, himself, restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us!
“…You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot….manifest in the last times for the sake of you, who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Pet. 1:18-21)
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Pet. 1:8-9)
The remedy for anxiety is faith in God’s good grace, believing and confident in his unfailing LOVE, a fruitful faith that takes God at his word, fixes its hope on his promises which are all yes and amen in Jesus, and walks humbly and obediently according to his good instruction. The faith-filled heart both yields to and is guarded by our heavenly Father, and we can truly “throw off” all our cares and anxieties to him, because he cares for us!
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to all men; the Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer, and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)