1. Understanding how God works is vital.
GOD WORKS IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME, NOT ON MY TIMETABLE.
I read the story of the Israelites’ struggles with the Philistines in the early chapters of I Samuel. At one point the Israelites try to go to battle against the Philistines, and they bring the ark with them, thinking that by doing so, they will ensure that God is with them. But they are routed, and the Philistines capture the ark. It isn’t until later, after the Philistines return the ark, that things come together and they are moved to return to the Lord and repent. Then God is truly with them, and they defeat the Philistines.
This story reminds me that God works through a natural progression. Just like a seed is planted, and must go through a process to grow and bear fruit, people must go through a process to be ready to repent. The people I am praying for, and studying the Bible with, will come to faith in the fullness of time.
This is also true for the things I am praying about. The prayers will be answered in the fulness of time. One thing we have prayed about for years is to have permanent leaders in Auburn. It looks like this prayer and dream is about to come to fruition. In many ways, I can see that this is the right time for this to come to pass. Our financial contributions have grown so we can support a leader better now. We have learned much in the years of struggle waiting for this to come to pass.
- Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. . . So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only.. . . On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” (From I Sam 7)
- You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
- but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
2. Maintaining a focal point is vital.
I read a chapter of “Finding Balance from the inside out,” by Sheila Jones. She mentioned that tightrope walkers are taught to focus on a point at the end of the rope they traverse. Keeping their eyes on that point will help them keep their balance through the walk.
In the same way, I must keep my eyes on God. If I allow myself to be distracted by emotion, ambition, people pleasing, worry, challenging situations, and so on, I lose sight of the one thing that will get me through. Focusing on God gives me the right perspective for every situation. Focusing on God gives me strength.
- We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chron 20:12
- My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Ps 25:15
- the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5:19
- I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. John 8:28
3. Being a good guide is vital.
In the first few chapters of I Samuel. Israel suffered greatly because of the sin of Hophni and Phinehas, who, as priests, were their spiritual leaders. They lost the ark to the Philistines, and thirty thousand of them were slaughtered in battle.
In the same way, my spiritual walk can affect others. How I live matters.
And I have a responsibility to help others, to warn them about the “small” poor choices they are making with their lives. Often these choices seem like they are no big deal. It is so easy to think I need to give people their space. It is easy to avoid conflict. It is easy to procrastinate.
But I have to remember that every negative thing my friends allow in their lives is DESTRUCTIVE. As a spiritual leader, it is my job to stand up for the purity of living that will lead to the best life for all of us.
- Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. I Tim 4:16
- You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Titus 2:1
- teach the older women to live in a way that honors God.. . . These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes,to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. Titus 2:3
4. Having partners in the mission is vital.
We moved to Auburn because we deeply desired to be involved in helping others to have a great relationship with God. But we would not have moved here on our own. We wanted to join a church of like minded people — partners in the gospel.
Jake said on Sunday that being actively involved in the mission builds close relationships, and this is so true. There is nothing like working together for someone’s salvation — studying the Bible, praying, fellowshipping, going through the ups and downs together.
I have felt at my lowest spiritually when I did not have partners in the gospel. There’s just something special about feeling that you are putting your hands to the oars, and knowing that others are alongside you, rowing with all their heart as well. As we pray for this ministry to grow, we pray for God to bring us workers!!! I do want everyone to know the sublime sweetness that come from having a relationship with God and being at peace with him. But I want, I need, to have those who will be with me heart and soul in the fight.
- Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. Phil 1:3-5
- Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Matt 9:38
- “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” I Samuel 14:7
5. Having the right motivation is vital.
I can do the right thing because I am supposed to do it. But it is much better if I do it from the heart. Love and grace must be my motivators.
It seems like there are a thousand challenges to build this motivation!! But it is a good fight. I am praying to learn to be more loving. I am fighting to rid myself of the wrong attitudes. God is guiding me, showing me great verses, speaking through others, helping me to grow.
So I say, if it isn’t going to be done in love, don’t do it!
- For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, ( Titus 2:11-12)
- And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, Phil 1:9-10
- Clearly, Christ’s love guides us. We are convinced of the fact that one man has died for all people. Therefore, all people have died. II Cor 5:14
- Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. I Tim 1:15-16