God is not in the business of proving Himself to me so that I will start trusting Him. Just the opposite is true. I must start trusting Him just as a child trusts his father…then God will speak to me. James 4:8 says “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” The action…that of trusting…must start with me.
Imagine 200,000 men gathered to worship, pray and learn from God’s Word. The picture you see is one that I took during one of the sessions under an open sky. You can only see about a third of the men there. The rest are on the other side of the hill out of sight.
When the 200,000 shouted “Amen” it echoed off the hills across the valley about 2 miles away.
Can you think of any time in recent American history where 200,000 men gathered under the banner of Jesus Christ…I can’t!
Wow! Praise God! Our car cost us less than R600 [$60] to fix. All it needed to fix its constantly dying was a new battery. Batteries do not last more than about two years here…even top of the line products. The original battery was just over two years old.
I told my co-workers last week during some prayer time that ever since I acquired the car I have wanted to blow it up because it has cost me too much. It is a true P&P missionary car…Pray & Push.
Recently I have had an interesting insight. This car is being used by Father as a “forming tool” not unlike those used in forming clay objects. He has been forming prayer habits in us. Now I am not so sure that I want to part with the car…not because it is a good car or my having any sentimental value toward it…but it keeps me aware that it is God who brings good things into my life and not my cleverness. God is faithful to continue what He has started, both in my life and my work here in South Africa. The KEY to experiencing this faithfulness is my implicit trusting Him. God has no reason to prove Himself to me nor is He obligated to do so. I must learn to come to Him as a child expecting Him to take care of me.
Did you ever notice how many casualties there are in prominent Christian leadership positions?
Paul knew this. “I fear that after having preached to others, I myself might be declared unfit and asked to stand aside” (1CO 9:27)
There are many who aspire to leadership. They think that obtaining this goal that there it will be an arrival to a safe haven. Think again. Leaders…especially Christian leaders…and more especially Christian leaders in the lime light are men that are marked by the Enemy. They are vulnerable to spiritual attack and failure. Prominence and visibility are hazards of leadership, not benefits. The price is high.
Preparation for leadership involves a lot of weeping and painful testing. Heb 5:7-8 “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” We experience this as part of the Holy Spirits curriculum to stand the fierce pressures that befall a leader.
Christian leadership is not glamorous; it is warfare. We as Christ ones are at war with Satan and the world. We can be misunderstood by family members. We can be misunderstood by friends. We can be misunderstood by fellow-Christians. As if this is not enough we are exposed to often times being criticized by people motivated by jealousy or fear.
Elijah – “I‘ve had enough, he told the Lord. Take my life. I’ve got to die sometime, and it might as well be know” (1 Kings 19:1)
No doubt about it. There is a price to pay to being a leader. If the preparation seems hard , just remember that the pressures that go with prominent leadership will be much harder than the training that got you there in the first place.
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
God could have raised His Son right off of the cross. But He chose instead to arrange a full-blown burial complete with a Roman seal on the tomb. Without the cross and resurrection, my faith would be useless. 1Co15:12-28
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<![endif]–>There is a story that comes out of India that tells about a donkey who was very proud of himself. He was a diligent donkey because he was easy to ride and did not have to be prodded. Many who rode him commented that they thought that he actually enjoyed his work. However, his pride turned to arrogance after he carried one particular man. His arrogant pride got so bad that he could no longer get along with other donkeys. He is a famous donkey who is recorded in history over 2000 years ago. You guessed it. It is the donkey who carried Jesus on his last trip to Jerusalem. So why was he so proud of himself? Did this pride come from the fact that he was privileged to carry Jesus? No. In his own words this is what he told the other donkeys:
“Here I am minding my own business standing on the street corner waiting for my master. Two strange men [they smelled like fishermen] came up and untied me and started to lead me away. My master came running out of the house shouting at these two men. One of the men turned and said ‘the Master has need of me’ at which my master just shook his head and walked back into the house. I was led to the outskirts of our village where a crowd was gathered. Someone threw a cloak over me and then this man climbed on my back and we started out toward Jerusalem. As we went the crowds got bigger. People were throwing their cloaks on the ground for me to walk on. That was really nice because sometime small stones can get wedged in my hoof. Then the crowds started singing Hosanna and throwing flowers toward me. It was a wonder trip into Jerusalem with all of the clapping and waving for me! I was so happy. Finally, I was getting the recognition I deserve for all of the hard work I do. No other donkey has ever had praise heaped on him like me.”
We can be just like that donkey. We too can get caught up in all of the clapping and waving and think that it is for us. I am thankful for all that God is doing in us, through us and around us. We work hard. However, if anything of eternal value is achieved it is the Lord who has accomplished it. When we think otherwise, we are in danger of being like the prideful donkey.
We have so very much to be thankful for to our heavenly Father. Exodus 34:6 says “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” Every once in a while I stop and look around. I marvel at the mercy and grace that God has showered on us. We did not deserve this. There is nothing in the world…no human energy, strategy or cleverness that can merit God’s unmerited favor on us. When I do take the time to pause and think about God’s blessing on our lives, it causes an overwhelming sense of gratitude. But here is the kicker…how does one thank God who blesses without reason? Maybe the more important question would be ‘How often do I stop and thank God for such a rich life?’
“When God speaks, neutrality is not an option…the condition of [my heart] is revealed in [my] Hearing God’s Voice; p.45 Italics added. response. Henry & Richard Blackaby:
I can respond positivity as Mary did to the angel of the Lord’s announcement [Luke 1: 19-20] or I can respond negatively as did Jonah and run away. We can run but we cannot hide. The Hound of Heaven stays on our trail. As I look back on my Christian walk, I have either given God a thumb’s up or down to His calling. What I have often failed to understand was obedience is never an option…especially if I try to claim to be a disciple of Christ. God only has Plan A. There is no room for Plan B. God’s plans are airtight and infallible. He has no need for an alternative or backup plan from me.
What makes my plan [Plan B] so attractive to me is a failure to place complete trust in the King of kings. God’s wisdom is unsearchable. That is what makes trusting God so difficult for me. Since I cannot plumb the depth of His reasoning and plan, I automatically feel that His plan may fail…lack of trust in what we cannot see is a lack of faith in Him. He has created me with a free will to choose as I desire. I can choose Plan B and He will not strike me dead. Nothing bad may happen. But there are consequences in the choices I make. Note…I did not say judgments but consequences. Judgments are what happen in eternity.