Joy comes from seeing the complete fulfillment of the specific purpose for which I was created and born again, not from successfully doing something of my own choosing. The joy our Lord experienced came from doing what the Father sent Him to do. And He says to us, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). Have you received a ministry from the Lord? If so, you must be faithful to it— to consider your life valuable only for the purpose of fulfilling that ministry. Knowing that you have done what Jesus sent you to do, think how satisfying it will be to hear Him say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). We each have to find a niche in life, and spiritually we find it when we receive a ministry from the Lord. To do this we must have close fellowship with Jesus and must know Him as more than our personal Savior. And we must be willing to experience the full impact of Acts 9:16 — “I will show him how many things he must sufferfor My name’s sake.”
“Do you love Me?” Then, “Feed My sheep” (John 21:17). He is not offering us a choice of how we can serve Him; He is asking for absolute loyalty to His commission, a faithfulness to what we discern when we are in the closest possible fellowship with God. If you have received a ministry from the Lord Jesus, you will know that the need is not the same as the call— the need is the opportunity to exercise the call. The call is to be faithful to the ministry you received when you were in true fellowship with Him. This does not imply that there is a whole series of differing ministries marked out for you. It does mean that you must be sensitive to what God has called you to do, and this may sometimes require ignoring demands for service in other areas.
“ Yes, I am coming soon.’” Revelation 22:20
My aging Chevy Tahoe has a nifty little feature—the OnStar button. Some time back, General Motors started installing this blue button on many of their vehicles. If you need help, all you do is press it. If you’re out of gas, if you’re lost, or if you get a flat tire, just touch the blue button and a real live operator is there to talk to you about your problem. In fact, if you get in an accident and the airbags go off, it will automatically connect you to one of their operators to make sure that you get help. Amazing!
Perhaps you’ve heard the OnStar radio commercials. The ads are usually an audio clip from an actual call. It’s usually something like, “Hello? I’ve just been in an accident and I’m in the middle of nowhere. It’s dark out and I can’t see anything . . . And I think there’s a guy with an axe coming out of the woods.” (Okay, I made up the axe part.) In response, the calm, comforting voice of the OnStar operator, says, “Don’t worry, we have your location and help is on the way!” Then as an added measure of comfort, the operator asks, “Are you going to be alright?” and inevitably the frightened motorist will say, “Yes, I’ll be fine.”
The point is, in the midst of a scary, difficult experience, the promise of “help is on the way” goes a long way in bringing hope and reassurance. It’s a great boost to know that someone is coming to your rescue.
Jesus often comforted His disciples with this exact promise. He knew that the temptation to give up in the midst of tough times would be strong, so He reminded them often, “I am coming back—help is on its way” (see John 14:3,18,28).
But His promise is not just for the first-century disciples. Jesus’ promise extends to us as well. In fact, it is featured in the concluding words of Scripture, as John penned the book of Revelation. Exiled to the island of Patmos, near the end of his life with the promise of Jesus’ coming yet unfulfilled, John is nonetheless strengthened and reassured by these words: “Yes, I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20). John’s response, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is simple and profound: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
John knew what it was to experience sorrow. He felt firsthand the pain of persecution. No doubt receiving the incredible vision of a new heaven and a new earth highlighted how barren and difficult life on this planet could be by contrast. But the recorded words of Jesus throughout the book reinforce the truth: You’re not alone! I know right where you are, and I’m coming back for you!
Life for us is fragile as well. Inevitably, we find ourselves emotionally and spiritually in the ditch, broken-down, frightened, and wondering if we’re going to make it. It happens so fast. One phone call. One visit to the doctor. One broken relationship. But we are not without hope. Jesus promised, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Wherever you are and whatever you’re facing today, your trust in the promise of Christ’s return will bring you a deep sense of peace that defies understanding.
So, chin up—help is on the way and heaven is next!
|MARCH 5, 2015
The Scribbled Truth that Changed My Life
“Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.’” Acts 3:6a (NIV)
There was a season of my life that was very dark. When my baby sister died tragically and unexpectedly, my entire world flipped upside down.
What I once knew to be true suddenly became questionable.
Is God good? If so, why this? And if I never know why, how can I ever trust God again?
Hard questions. Honest questions. Questions that haunted me.
Until one day I got a note from a friend. A girl I not-so-affectionately called my “Bible friend.” She honestly got on my nerves with all her Bible verse quoting. I wasn’t on good terms with God at that point in my life. I didn’t want to believe God even existed. And I certainly wasn’t reading the Bible.
I made all of this very known to my Bible friend. But in her gentle, sweet, kind way … she kept slipping me notes of truth with gently woven verses tucked within.
And one day, one verse cracked the dam of my soul. Truth slipped in and split my hardhearted views of life open just enough for God to make Himself known to me.
I held that simple note with one Bible verse scribbled on the front as the tears of honest need streamed down my cheeks. My stiff knees bent. And a whispered “Yes, God” changed the course of my life.
My Bible friend had reached me. And because of her, I’m determined to use my words as a gift to others who may be in hard places … like a friend of mine who recently told me she is struggling with feeling she has no real purpose.
Life rushes at her each day with overwhelming demands. Everything feels hard, with very little reprieve.
If ever there were a drowning with no water involved, this is where my friend is.
Maybe you have a hurting friend, too.
So I sat down to write my friend a card and send her a little gift. I desperately wanted to love her through my words. My heart was full of care, compassion and a strong desire to encourage but I struggled to translate all I felt on paper.
As I prayed about it, the word “loved” kept coming to mind.
Remind her she is loved. Remind her how much you respect her. Remind her she is a woman who has so much to offer. Remind her she is valuable and she is enough.
In Acts 3, Peter and John encountered a crippled man at the temple gate called Beautiful. They stopped. They noticed. They decided to touch. Riches weren’t available to them but the ability to value was.
As our key verse of Acts 3:6-7a says, “‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up …”
Peter and John didn’t have silver, but they had a hand to offer and value to give. The man in need was worth touching. The hurting one in need was a man who needed someone to see him as a man. The man in need had so much to offer. After he got up, he went into the temple courts praising God and stirring up wonder and amazement about God.
I want my friend to remember she, too, has praise left inside her for our God. She too can get up. She too can stir up amazement and wonder about our God.
Yes, she is loved and God has a good plan for her. It’s my job to help her see that, just like my Bible friend did for me all those years ago.
I will never doubt the power of one woman reaching into the life of another woman with some written whisper of love.
From: Streams in the Desert
Followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12).
They (heroes of faith) are calling to us from the heights that they have won, and telling us that what man once did man can do again. Not only do they remind us of the necessity of faith, but also of that patience by which faith has its perfect work. Let us fear to take ourselves out of the hands of our heavenly Guide or to miss a single lesson of His loving discipline by discouragement or doubt.
“There is only one thing,” said a village blacksmith, “that I fear, and that is to be thrown on the scrap heap. “When I am tempering a piece of steel, I first beat it, hammer it, and then suddenly plunge it into this bucket of cold water. I very soon find whether it will take temper or go to pieces in the process. When I discover after one or two tests that it is not going to allow itself to be tempered, I throw it on the scrap heap and sell it for a cent a pound when the junk man comes around.
“So I find the Lord tests me, too, by fire and water and heavy blows of His heavy hammer, and if I am not willing to stand the test, or am not going to prove a fit subject for His tempering process, I am afraid He may throw me on the scrap heap.”
When the fire is hottest, hold still, for there will be a blessed “afterward”; and with Job we may be able to say, “When he hath tried me I shall come forth as gold.”
Sainthood springs out of suffering. It takes eleven tons of pressure on a piano to tune it. God will tune you to harmonize with Heaven’s key-note if you can stand the strain.
Things that hurt and things that mar
Shape the man for perfect praise;
Shock and strain and ruin are
Friendlier than the smiling days.
“Let us not sleep, as do others.”
1 Thessalonians 5:6
There are many ways of promoting Christian wakefulness. Among the rest, let me strongly advise Christians to converse together concerning the ways of the Lord. Christian and Hopeful, as they journeyed towards the Celestial City, said to themselves, “To prevent drowsiness in this place, let us fall into good discourse.” Christian enquired, “Brother, where shall we begin?” And Hopeful answered, “Where God began with us.” Then Christian sang this song–
“When saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither,
And hear how these two pilgrims talk together;
Yea, let them learn of them, in any wise,
Thus to keep open their drowsy slumb’ring eyes.
Saints’ fellowship, if it be managed well,
Keeps them awake, and that in spite of hell.”
Christians who isolate themselves and walk alone, are very liable to grow drowsy. Hold Christian company, and you will be kept wakeful by it, and refreshed and encouraged to make quicker progress in the road to heaven. But as you thus take “sweet counsel” with others in the ways of God, take care that the theme of your converse is the Lord Jesus. Let the eye of faith be constantly looking unto him; let your heart be full of him; let your lips speak of his worth. Friend, live near to the cross, and thou wilt not sleep. Labour to impress thyself with a deep sense of the value of the place to which thou art going. If thou rememberest that thou art going to heaven, thou wilt not sleep on the road. If thou thinkest that hell is behind thee, and the devil pursuing thee, thou wilt not loiter. Would the manslayer sleep with the avenger of blood behind him, and the city of refuge before him? Christian, wilt thou sleep whilst the pearly gates are open–the songs of angels waiting for thee to join them–a crown of gold ready for thy brow? Ah! no; in holy fellowship continue to watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.
“Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.”
What does this sweet prayer teach me? It shall be my evening’s petition; but first let it yield me an instructive meditation. The text informs me first of all that David had his doubts; for why should he pray, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,” if he were not sometimes exercised with doubts and fears? Let me, then, be of good cheer, for I am not the only saint who has to complain of weakness of faith. If David doubted, I need not conclude that I am no Christian because I have doubts. The text reminds me that David was not content while he had doubts and fears, but he repaired at once to the mercy-seat to pray for assurance; for he valued it as much fine gold. I too must labour after an abiding sense of my acceptance in the Beloved, and must have no joy when his love is not shed abroad in my soul. When my Bridegroom is gone from me, my soul must and will fast. I learn also that David knew where to obtain full assurance. He went to his God in prayer, crying, “Say unto my soul I am thy salvation.” I must be much alone with God if I would have a clear sense of Jesus’ love. Let my prayers cease, and my eye of faith will grow dim. Much in prayer, much in heaven; slow in prayer, slow in progress. I notice that David would not be satisfied unless his assurance had a divine source. “Say unto my soul.” Lord, do thou say it! Nothing short of a divine testimony in the soul will ever content the true Christian. Moreover, David could not rest unless his assurance had a vivid personality about it. “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Lord, if thou shouldst say this to all the saints, it were nothing, unless thou shouldst say it to me. Lord, I have sinned; I deserve not thy smile; I scarcely dare to ask it; but oh! say to my soul, even to my soul, “I am thy salvation.” Let me have a present, personal, infallible, indisputable sense that I am thine, and that thou art mine.