As we review the past year, we can see growth and change in our people, our ministry and our mission. Each one of us, not just the pastors, have a “commission to a mission”. That mission is to love, worship and serve God alone; to know and obey God and His word; to advance His directives to our church and our community; and to teach these precepts to others.
Commit to searching the Bible each day, pray daily and pray with and for your spouses and children. Be actively involved in a godly church that reaches out beyond its borders and ask God for a servant heart.
There is much to do in God’s harvest. I’m not talking about filling the benches at your churches…I’m talking about filling the bellies of the poor, providing help and homes to the homeless…not handouts…hand ups! Ask God what you can do, and do it with all your might. Be an effective doer of the Word, not just a hearer. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
God did say to help those in need but He also said that a man that doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an infidel and that if you don’t work, you don’t eat! Somehow that part never is mentioned, only the take from rich and give to the poor part. Let’s keep this whole “working in the fields of God” in proper and full perspective! Go get ‘em tiger! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
Hey, Soldiers of the Lord—don’t forget…the battle is not yours, but the Lord’s. Any success in your spiritual growth is by His grace and grace alone! That doesn’t mean you don’t have work to do; you still must strive daily to suppress and put down your flesh (opinions, judgments, desires, thoughts, feelings and the like). They are the lower level of living and based in the sin nature, which always leads us far off course.
Instead of building ourselves up, we must decrease…not in a low self-esteem way…no, no, no! We must decrease that He might increase in us. With the entrance of Jesus inside, through the miracle of salvation, we inherit the nature of God. So when we “decrease”, that leaves the flow of the Spirit of God to come forth. And it comes forth less and less hindered from us, because we have purposely “decreased”. We can then live in faith, hope, and love…for that is the nature of God. What a success that is!
Not all of our growth and change is us training ourselves to a better way of living…but practicing dying to self and letting God come out unhindered. That is why He gets all the glory…the good stuff is really Him, because we’re gone! In our death to ourselves, real life comes forth. Thank you, Lord, there is hope for us all. Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
Those who know the Lord and have His salvation should have and demonstrate the joy of that relationship. Yet far too many remain bitter, cold, confused and have unfulfilled lives. How can this be?
This happens when you live by what you “feel”, instead of by what you “know”. You can “feel” like eating certain things, yet “know” they are not good for you. You can “feel” like doing something, but “know” it is wrong. You can “feel” like buying something but “know” you are short on cash, and on and on. Very often, we mock God and disobey His commands because we don’t “feel” like doing it, but “know” we should.
You “feel” abandoned by God, but “know” that He will never leave you nor forsake you. You “feel” too tired, but “know” He will give you rest. You “feel” you can’t do it, but “know” God says we can do all things in Christ Jesus. We “feel” we can’t go on, but “know” His grace is sufficient.
We all need to work harder to keep our hearts and minds full of what we “know” and not what we “feel”. The joy of the Lord is our strength. It is worth it beyond measure; in His grace, we will succeed! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
We are not forgiven by God just because we say we are sorry. We are forgiven because Jesus died for our sins. Any repentance we experience is merely the outcome of our entrance into the Atonement Jesus achieved for us! Oswald Chambers states, “Christ Jesus…is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. When we realize that Christ is made all this to us, the boundless joy of God begins; wherever the joy of God is not present, the death sentence is at work."
Remain joyful. This will take a choice on your part first and then stamina and prayer to maintain the choice. You can choose joy in the midst of the storm. Fight the feelings that come up – fight the anger or disappointment or despair. Fight the jealousy or dissension. Fight the good fight. If you don’t fight sadness and negativity…you will be sad and negative. This isn’t rocket science, folks! Think on the things above and not on the things of the earth. Cry out for God to change how you think so you can choose joy and stay in it. I don’t mean the Cheshire cat grin type of joy, but that secure, inner peace and sense of “it’s going to be all right” that only God can give you. It can be done in Jesus, so just do it! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
Don’t be frightened – all of our lives are full of change! We are not static but ever moving, with a vibrant, wonderful life – if seen in the right viewpoint, that is. The Lord tells us to set our affections on things above and not on the things of the earth.
This is not some dark, demented plot by an evil god, but rather the ultimate, sustaining wisdom of a kind and superior God, Who loves us beyond our wildest imagination. If we continue to dwell only on the needs and circumstances of the earth, we will strengthen and build the carnal nature…this we do not need! It brings death, not life. But if we heed God’s wisdom and think, meditate and act on these things, we will have a transforming difference in all we say and do.
Continue to seek God to remain in His plan and continue fervently in prayer. But pray, remembering that prayer is getting hold of God…not just the answer. You tend to be what you hang around…so hang around the Lord! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
James 1:2-3 states that, “…the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect result that you may be…lacking in nothing.” What a message. Affliction and problems can actually be to our benefit. Don’t hang up now…keep listening.
We need to realize that God often uses problems to:
Ouch, it hurts to obey and submit, but God is pure and accurate when He says to consider it all joy when you encounter various trials. They do have good results when you look to Him. Let’s all try to be more aware of each other in our struggles. Let’s try to be encouragers and not discouragers. When we are a bit “testy” with each other, remember that we are all hurting with some of the harder aspects of trying to hear from God and obey Him. This life is hard because of the flesh, not the spirit, so call upon Jesus to have His strength to perform that which you are called to do. Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
In reflecting on the wonders of our Lord, I see that we face many difficulties because of the struggle of the flesh and spirit. May we be reminded that there will be pain in this life. This is not heaven if you haven’t noticed….but we will be there someday!
In knowing there will be some pain, quite a bit oftentimes, do you know that you can choose your type of pain? Yes, think about it. We can obey God and reap His rich reward, or disobey and suffer the wages of sin. Either way, there will be some pain. In order to obey the directions of God, we have to fight the flesh (our mind, will and emotions). It takes discipline, and that hurts. If we do not obey, as most of us have learned the hard way, the pain is even greater…heartache, heartbreak, financial calamity, health problems etc.
So, make your choice—suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret. I, for one, intend to work harder at suffering the pain of discipline, so as to avoid the pain of regret. This is very difficult, but by God’s grace, we can do it. Discipline yourself in your finances by paying off your debts, staying out of debt, saving, tithing, wise spending, etc. Discipline yourself in your spiritual life by bible reading, prayer, and church participation. Just do it! So easy to say, but it really boils down to that…just do it! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!
The statement of laying down our lives rolls so easily off the tongue but is so difficult to do! We are to be a “refreshment” to others, a fresh, cool breeze. Unfortunately, we often are just a bunch of hot air instead.
Our great and wise God knows how to train us to be just such a refreshment, though. He uses our sufferings! But how can this be? Oswald Chambers addresses this when he states, “My attitude as a saint to sorrow and difficulty is not to ask that they may be prevented, but to ask that I may preserve the self that God created me to be through every fire of sorrow. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life; it is no use saying sorrow ought not to be. Sin and sorrow and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them. Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness, but it does not always make a man better. Suffering either gives me myself or it destroys myself. The way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow…if a man has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous; he has no time for you. If you receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people.”
That is a tall order folks, but by the grace of God, not our own abilities, we are able to do all things in Christ Jesus. Don’t fight that suffering and sorrow, but rather fly to the arms of the Lord that He would clarify all that is going on in the suffering and sorrow. We NEED to have the sick, putrid, no-good, junky parts of us burned out and that is done in the fiery trials. In all things, praise God. Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!