After our visit yesterday I've been praying and remembering. When I was a very little girl my parents were in a group for young people at church called C.A.'s, Christ's Ambassadors. If I go back in time through my memories, and listen closely enough, I can still hear the theme song being sung. That song is still ringing strongly through the air waves. God is the creator of Life not of fear. Fear is not from Him, nor is it in Him. Therefore, it need not be in us. If it attempts to creep in, it can be put out; it does not originate from God. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Everything is good in God. He isn't the least bit afraid, and we are to be as He is. When we are exposed to too much of the world's point of view, fear attempts to strangle us, make us ineffective. The thing is, we don't have to watch, read, or listen to the view point of the world; it isn't telling the truth anyway. God will make sure we know what we need to know to do what He has called us to when we need to know. Truly. He will. We can trust Him. We can. We are the ones He uses to heal the hurting. We are the ones who extend His provision to people in need. We are the ones who stand strong and lovingly hold up the weak and fainting. Us. His children. His ambassadors. We are the vessels He uses. You and I. If His vessels don't trust Him, who will?
Makes me think of a new song I've heard on the radio. The song asks if not you, then who? If not now, then when? The book of Romans talks about faith and works. Some use this to support their own personal opinion of the ever-popular faith vs. works dispute heard among Christians. That's not where this is going today.Today I want to talk about how Paul teaches us that we can't have one without the other. True faith is accompanied by works. If no works are present, then it isn't really faith because works stemming from faith prove it's presence. Yet works can be performed all by themselves without one stitch of actual faith being present. When works don't stem from faith, when they are stirred up by nothing more than human ambition and motive, then those works are useless. They don't produce Godly fruit because they aren't Godly seed produced by a Godly source. First Corinthians 13 talks about these sort of works. There God tells us that works not done in Him, Love, are absolutely worthless, no matter how sacrificial and generous they may be.
I know a lot of people who need me to live what I profess to believe. Neighbors, friends, people in my community, the communities around me, they all need me to be the Christian I say I am. They need me to love God the way I claim. They need me to be walking in fullness of Him just as He wants me to. They need Jesus in me. They need held, healed, loved. They need to be heard, seen, respected. They need to know this isn't some religious social club; it's truth. It needs to be real, and I really need to let my light so shine before men that they see my good deeds and praise the Father in Heaven.
This is the period of time for which centuries of believers have been waiting.Generations of faithful Christ followers have longed to see the season we are currently in. Millions of prayers have been lifted throughout the generations spilling forth from the lips of faithful servants of the Most High God. Men and women have been laying down their lives to spread the gospel, the Good News, of Jesus Christ and His return for centuries. For thousands of years Christians have been waiting for the season we are living in right now. Christian after Christian since the time of Christ has wondered when the events in the book of Revelation would take place.
Countless men, women, and children have spent hours on their knees praying to God that He would prepare them and keep them spotless until His return. Cries of "Dear God! Keep me true to You, Lord! Don't let me falter. May my eyes be fixed on You and You alone, Dear Jesus! Be my strength! My Portion! My Deliverer! I hold not my life dear but willingly lay it down for You! I love you Lord Jesus!" have poured forth from many fellow believers in Christ as they prepared to die for the One True God. Flames have devoured more than one faithful follower as he or she screamed out loving words of devotion to God.
Christians losing their lives because they follow Jesus isn't anything new. It's not new; it's just more. Never have Christ followers been persecuted and murdered for the name of Jesus as much as they are now. That shooting in Oregon recently? You heard of it, I'm sure. A report was quietly spoken to me that hasn't been shared much. I have been told that those shot were asked about their religious choice. Those saying they were Christian were killed while those who said they were not Christian lived. Yes, my attention was secured when I heard those words, shut me right up and made me stare hard at the one who told me. He was quietly returning my intense gaze. I don't know where he heard this report; I didn't ask. It was enough for me to know that he isn't the sort of fella to shares things that aren't validated and true, especially such words as serious as these.
Fear pushed at the door pretty hard right then, especially when my ears heard the sounds of my three youngest children playing in the background. Mama fears threatened to spin wildly out of control. Can't tell you how thankful I am for the Word of Truth that spoke out loud to my heart calming the storm. Whew, did I ever need that still, small reminder of how God's perfect love drives fear out of doors and how God hasn't given me a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. I needed to remember that trials come, evil exists, but no matter what, God is in control, and He is faithful. He will keep my children. I can trust Him. No matter what, I can trust Him. Grabbing a little one, hugging them close, and kissing them soundly didn't hurt anything either.
God hasn't hidden the fact that we may be required to lay down our lives for Him. The Bible tells it plain. If we've read the Bible we know it gets rough, way rough, for a season. We also know Jesus has overcome the world and deprived it of its power to harm us. God told us everything in His Word. He has provided the information we need to prepare in advance. If we haven't learned of Him and prepared our hearts to be stout and enduring in the midst of hardships it isn't God's fault. Our spiritual slackness and/or lack of preparation doesn't make God unfaithful. Unfortunately, however, it does contain the ability to make us ignorant of and vulnerable to attacks of fear and doubt.
Yes, those wondrously strong words of hope and promise BUT GOD!!! I'm putting in a vote for a weekend spent hunkered down into the never-ending goodness of God. I pray that every one of us creates the time, and the space, to soak in His presence. We need Him more, more than yesterday. We need Him more, more than words can say. We need Him more than ever before. We need Him more. We need Him more. That is the song that began playing in my mind as soon as the first "We need Him more" had been typed. My apologies if it wasn't a song you knew. It's words are worth reading whether or not we can hear the music.
If you haven't ever been strengthened in the Lord and the power of His might, if you don't have the words of mighty men and women loudly proclaiming the Goodness and Greatness of God rising up from the memories of your childhood, may I please have the honor and the privilege of taking you by the hand, turning so we're standing face to face, looking you in the eye, and lovingly declaring to you that yes, many things are very very hard, horrible, and terrifying in the world right now. It seems as if people are dying for a multitude of reasons everywhere. BUT GOD...God is NOT the one responsible for all of these awful acts and circumstances. God did NOT send these horrific disasters. BUT GOD...will take this sorrow, this grief, the pain. Not only will He take it, He will bring about good, in some way, out of it all. There isn't any evil, darkness, or sorrow so great that God can't, and won't, turn it for good. He is good and His mercy endures forever. His loving kindnesses are new every morning. You can trust Him.
The question that remains is: Will you? Will you trust Him? Will you go against what is popular and believe in the One, True Living God? Will you? I pray you will. I pray you do. I'm praying for you.
Before I leave, there are words to another song flowing through my mind. Words I'll leave with today.
You want to
Now will you?
You want to
Now will you?
The force that burns within you
Like a bed of fiery coals
Contains the power to liberate
A thousand captive souls
But if the truth will ever set you free
Depends on you
You want to
Now will you?
You want to
Now will you?