I want to share some amazing and liberating news. It comes from the many adventures Paul experienced as he traveled around and eventually decided to return to Jerusalem. Now, you have to realize that when Paul made the decision to go to Jerusalem, it wasn’t because a had heard about some great revival breaking out — like some traveled to Florida when they were having a great “outpouring.” Nor was he going as a discouraged preacher looking for someone to impart some kind of “spiritual refreshment” to him. No, no! As he quite clearly stated, “I went because it was specially and divinely revealed to me that I should go . . .” (Galatians 2:1-2). Paul went to Jerusalem to share a mystery that the Lord wanted to reveal to his people.
Paul had his own full, glorious revelation of Christ. He didn’t learn the doctrines he preached by shutting himself in a study with a pile of books and commentaries; He wasn’t some isolated philosopher who dreamed up some theological truths, thinking, “Ah, someday my works will be read and taught by future generations. Glory to God!” No, he wrote those amazing letters in a dark, damp prison cell. He wrote them while wiping the blood from his back after being scourged. He wrote them after crawling from the sea after surviving another shipwreck.
He was quite aware that all the truths and revelations he taught came from the battlefield of faith, and even rejoiced in his afflictions for the sake of the gospel. C.S. Lewis understood this and wrote, “Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.” As Paul explained it, “Now I can preach with all authority to every sailor who has been through a shipwreck, to every prisoner who has been locked up with no hope, to everybody who has ever looked death in the face. God’s Spirit is making me a tested veteran, so I can speak his truth to everyone who has ears to hear.”
Now, here you are in your struggles and frustrations. Dealing with difficult co-workers. Suffering the effects of a disease, yet still faithfully seeking to be healed by the Lord. The only thing I can assure you of is that our Father has not turned you over to the power of Satan. No, he is assisting you during your trial because the Holy Spirit is performing an unseen work in you. Christ’s glory is being formed within you for all eternity. So don’t shrink back and cry for Mercy! Rejoice in the midst of your adventure.
I know many of you are being taught by the Spirit of God. I know many of you, personally, and impressed and encouraged as you remain faithful despite the struggles. Oh, they may not be physical disabilities, but rather emotional struggles, or faced to endure persecution, facing difficult people and being forced to truly live by faith, and worshipping the Lord, even though you still carry many unanswered questions. I am thinking of Anthony, David, Serina, Katherine, Mary Sue, Patrice, Phil, John, Mike, Dave, Tonua, Jipu, and on and on the list could go. There are so many others that if I listed all of them, it would take up pages and pages. They are people I love and admire and have become such inspirations to me because they have seen the face of our Messiah, and nothing can draw them away. Despite the many concerns they face, they refuse to throw down their bat and run away. Nope. They remain faithful.
You may have heard it said, “If you faint in the day of adversity your faith was weak” (Proverbs 24:10). One translation says that your faith was shallow (or insincere). Another one says it even plainer when your read, “You are a poor specimen if you can’t stand the pressure of adversity. .” Oh, ouch! Those folks above apparently refuse to have that said of them! No, like Paul, their spirituality does not thrive on covering up your weaknesses. On the contrary, you seem to glory in them. Your faith is willing to stand up after having all your miserable frailty and human failure exposed and dragged out before the entire world. You understand that God’s power is made perfect in weakness.
Friends, we cannot possibly have a faith worth anything if we don’t put our beliefs into action. As James wrote, “Faith, if it does not have the evidence to back it up, is by itself dead, inoperative and ineffective” (James 2:17). You are only fooling yourself! That is what “living out your faith” looks like! It is showing your identity in Christ as you serve those in need. And, you will never get true spirituality from someone or something else. If you want to taste your Father’s glory, it will only come to you right where you are — in your present circumstances, pleasant or unpleasant.
I believe one of the great secrets of Paul’s life was his willingness to accept whatever condition he was in without complaining. He admitted this when he wrote, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
Interestingly, the Greek word for “content” means “to ward off.” What Paul is saying is that he isn’t trying to protect himself from any unpleasant circumstances. He didn’t beg his Lord to relieve him of them. On the contrary, he actually embraced them. I believe it is because he has learned from his experiences and history of walking in faith, that the Lord is doing something eternal in his life.
Why? Why did he stand strong despite his condition and circumstances? “. . . so that you can endure it . . .” (I Corinthians 10:13). He was implying that our condition didn’t have to change. Our responsibility is to bear up under the situation.
What I am trying to say is that our part in every trial is to simply trust our Lord for all the power and resources we need, and to find contentment in the midst of our suffering. Please don’t misunderstand me — being “content” in our trials doesn’t mean we enjoy them. It simply means we no longer try to protect ourselves from them. We are content to stay put and endure whatever is handed to us because we know our Lord is conforming us to the image of his Son. He knows our limitations. He is quite aware of our needs, and yes, He will provide the Grace we need at the time we need it.
Just know that our Father’s promise that we may enter his place of rest still stands. Be assured of that despite our situation or circumstances. We need to hold on to our declaration of faith! We have a superior chief priest who has gone through the heavens. That person is Yeshua, the Son of God. He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didn’t sin. So we can go confidently to the throne of our Father’s Grace to receive mercy and find more Grace, which will help us at the right time!
Continue to pray for those you meet, even those you work with! That is something I learned a long time ago. Wherever I worked, whether you feel “underemployed” or “overwhelmed” with your work, allow the Holy Spirit to minister through you. Be His tool, His vessel and allow His life to shine out.
As I bring this up, I know that someone is on your heart already who needs prayer. This is a motivation brought on by the Holy Spirit. Continually take the time to pray for them. I’m not encouraging you to find the time, but to take the time. I guarantee that if you are going to find or seek the time, you will never find it. No, take the time. Make the time to prayer for that coworker who you are struggling with. Pray that the Holy Spirit would begin to soften their hearts, so your words and actions will be received with sincerity. I assure you, there is always someone to pray for.
Sometimes, the power of prayer is absolutely unbelievable. Through your prayers and faith, the Spirit of God will always bring the truth of God’s Word. And always, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. You know who the Holy Spirit is. He is your “helper.” When you pray and really don’t know what to say, then the “Spirit, Himself, intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” This same Spirit that takes control in prayer also spurs us on to do works for Christ. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through our human spirit and through the scripture. When the Spirit of God makes an impression on you to act, then act! Don’t hesitate. Don’t be afraid what people will think. Simply obey what He is directing you to do. When the Holy Spirit impresses you to do something, follow that impression. If you are unsure if He has spoken or not, consider what you are thinking about. The Spirit will never ask you to do anything that is against the Word. So, follow when the Spirit speaks!
This is what it means to “walk in the Spirit.” Every day, moment-by-moment, allow the Spirit of God to use you, direct you, guide you as you minister life to those around you. Each one of us is called to live by the Word and obey the Word. If you are following His precepts that are written in His Word, we can know for certain that we are living out a genuine faith. Feel free to suggest any more ideas about living out your faith. I would love to hear them! May our Father alert you to become a blessing to others! As Mother Theresa said, “God does not require that we are successful only that we are faithful.”
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.