I Thessalonians 5: 16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Beware of any work for God that causes or allows you to avoid concentrating on Him. A great number of Christian workers worship their work. The only concern of Christian workers should be their concentration on God. This will mean that all the other boundaries of life, whether they are mental, moral, or spiritual limits, are completely free with the freedom God gives His child; that is, a worshiping child, not a wayward one. A worker who lacks this serious controlling emphasis of concentration on God is apt to become overly burdened by his work. He is a slave to his own limits, having no freedom of his body, mind, or spirit. Consequently, he becomes burned out and defeated. There is no freedom and no delight in life at all. His nerves, mind, and heart are so overwhelmed that God’s blessing cannot rest on him.
But the opposite case is equally true– once our concentration is on God, all the limits of our life are free and under the control and mastery of God alone. There is no longer any responsibility on you for the work. The only responsibility you have is to stay in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with Him. The freedom that comes after sanctification is the freedom of a child, and the things that used to hold your life down are gone. But be careful to remember that you have been freed for only one thing– to be absolutely devoted to your co-Worker.
We have no right to decide where we should be placed, or to have preconceived ideas as to what God is preparing us to do. God engineers everything; and wherever He places us, our one supreme goal should be to pour out our lives in wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
|APRIL 23, 2015
Did I Hear God Wrong?
“For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)
Have you ever felt God calling you to step out in faith, only to find yourself wondering if you heard Him wrong?
I understand. Thoughts of doubt crossed my mind daily when I began to listen to the promptings on my heart to write.
The International Christian Retail Show is a big book convention where publishers, authors, agents, media and bookstore owners all gather to talk shop. Books are pitched. Books are sold. Books are talked about a lot!
I went to this conference years ago when I was a wannabe writer with a book proposal and a dream. Recently, as I signed pre-release copies of my new book, two thoughts went through my mind.
First … thank You Jesus, that people actually came to my book signing. Because there’s nothing quite like standing there with a big stack of free promotion books, a permanent marker and not a soul interested.
So when people actually came, I just wanted to hug every single one of them. Seriously. And if I had lots of money, I would’ve bought them all a steak dinner. I’m not kidding.
The second thought was … look for those desperate for your encouragement.
Many who came through my book signing line were interested in writing a book. I remember being there.
I know what it feels like to walk around with a tote bag full of book proposals and a heart full of nervous hope.
I know what it feels like to consciously choose to live every day “by faith, not by sight” like our key verse 2 Corinthians 5:7 instructs. Honestly, it’s hard to hold on to God’s promises when all that’s staring back at you is a pile of rejection letters from publishers.
That calling we once felt so strongly starts to feel more like a fairytale than a future reality.
So, I felt the weight of responsibility to give them the encouragement I so desperately needed when I was in their shoes.
Maybe you are there right now, looking to actively pursue your dreams or the things God has called you to. But whether it’s the hope of being an author or another dream you have bumping around in your heart, here’s what I’ve learned:
Rejection from people doesn’t mean rejection from God.
If God has gifted you to write, write! You don’t need a book deal to have an impact with your writing. The same is true with other dreams. If you’re called to sing, create, teach, paint, develop — use your gifts right where you are to bless others.
Most overnight success stories are years in the making.
Value the daily discipline of small steps of faith, hard work, honing your craft and putting in time learning and developing. Take classes. Be mentored. Push through those moments you want to slack off. And do it over and over, year after year.
Be a blessing to others.
Don’t keep your work to yourself. Find people who could be blessed with your work. I love to write. But what I love more than writing is seeing my writing help other people. That’s where I find the encouragement to push through the hard times.
The challenges and disappointments and setbacks are all part of it. And honestly, these hard times serve a great purpose. I’ve learned much more from my failures in writing than my successes. Use these lessons … don’t waste them by giving up too soon. And remember to glorify Him whether it’s a struggle or a success. God uses all things for good.
Look for the small open doors right in front of you.
I always scratch my head when I meet people who tell me they want to write and speak but aren’t willing to teach a small Bible study first. If God is calling you to do something, He’ll have a door open in front of you. But it might be a small door. Look for the small door and walk through it.
Actually … dance through that door with great joy because He will always do great things with people willing to be faithful in the small!
From: Streams in the Desert
Not of the Extraordinary
“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside, of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush” (Exod. 3:1,2).
The vision came in the midst of common toil, and that is where the Lord delights to give His revelations. He seeks a man who is on the ordinary road, and the Divine fire leaps out at his feet. The mystic ladder can rise from the market place to Heaven. It can connect the realm of drudgery with the realms of grace.
My Father God, help me to expect Thee on the ordinary road. I do not ask for sensational happenings. Commune with me through ordinary work and duty. Be my Companion when I take the common journey. Let the humble life be transfigured by Thy presence.
Some Christians think they must be always up to mounts of extraordinary joy and revelation; this is not after God’s method. Those spiritual visits to high places, and that wonderful intercourse with the unseen world, are not in the promises; the daily life of communion is. And it is enough. We shall have the exceptional revelation if it be right for us.
There were but three disciples allowed to see the transfiguration, and those three entered the gloom of Gethsemane. No one can stay on the mount of privilege. There are duties in the valley. Christ found His life-work, not in the glory, but in the valley and was there truly and fully the Messiah. The value of the vision and glory is but their gift of fitness for work and endurance.
A divine challenge
From: Charles Spurgeon
“Thus saith the Lord, let my people go, that they may serve me.” Exodus 8:1
Suggested Further Reading: James 3:3-6
Moses goes to Pharaoh yet again, and says, “Thus saith the Lord, let my people go, that they may serve me.” And at one time the haughty monarch says he will let some go; at another time he will let them all go, but they are to leave their cattle behind. He will hold on to something; if he cannot have the whole he will have a part. It is wonderful how content the devil is if he can but nibble at a man’s heart. It does not matter about swallowing it whole; only let him nibble and he will be content. Let him but bite at the fag ends and be satisfied, for he is wise enough to know that if a serpent has but an inch of bare flesh to sting, he will poison the whole. When Satan cannot get a great sin in he will let a little one in, like the thief who goes and finds shutters all coated with iron and bolted inside. At last he sees a little window in a chamber. He cannot get in, so he puts a little boy in, that he may go round and open the back door. So the devil has always his little sins to carry about with him to go and open back doors for him, and we let one in and say, “O, it is only a little one.” Yes, but how that little one becomes the ruin of the entire man! Let us take care that the devil does not get a foothold, for if he gets but a foothold, he will get his whole body in and we shall be overcome.
Sermon no. 322
23 April (Preached 22 April 1860)
If Jesus were to tell the parable of the lost sheep today, he might make it the parable of the lost dog. The idea is the same. If your dog runs off, you search for it until you find it. And when you bring it home, your family celebrates.
The next story is better understood with a bit of historical explanation. Palestinian women traditionally received a set of 10 coins as a wedding gift. These coins were carried around in a purse or on a chain and held a significance similar to a modern-day wedding ring. As such, these coins held sentimental value that went well beyond their monetary value. No wonder this woman would search so fervently to find the lost coin, and no wonder she would want to celebrate after finding it!
We might even be able relate to the third story. Imagine that you’re a parent and your son leaves home with as much money as he can pull together. He sets out for a big city like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco. He is on his own. But instead of working and being responsible, he blows every cent on drugs, sex and alcohol and ends up on the street, homeless and hungry.
As his parent, you worry about him. Every time the phone rings, you hope it’s him. One day you open the front door, and there he stands! Relief is immediate. You throw your arms around him. Words can’t express the joy you feel. Your son who was lost is home!
These three stories express how God feels about every spiritual explorer. And it’s how he feels about you. He’s looking for you because he loves you. God is eager to forgive you, and all of heaven is ready to celebrate your return. But, like the son in the third story, you must decide to come home to his waiting arms.
Taken from NIV The Journey Bible