Willing to Be Used by God

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
But sometimes I wonder what He can do through me

These words penned by Steven Curtis Chapman echo my sentiment most of the time. I can relate to Gideon who referred to himself as “the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15). I’m thankful that God does not limit Himself to using the good looking, the smart, or even the greatly talented. He simply looks for those who are willing to say, “Here am I. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

In God’s Kingdom, there are no competitions. God simply desires faithfulness, those who will run this race called life with endurance, never stopping until we cross the finish line.

It’s easy to compare ourselves with others but Scripture tells us that is unwise (2 Corinthians 10:12). If I had every gift and talent I would like to have, I would probably be pretty proud. If I look at it that way, my limitations are a blessing.

To me, the wonder is not in the fact that God can use me but that He does. I trust He is using you as well. You may not see it but rest in it. If you are shining with the light of Jesus, people can’t help but notice. Don’t beat yourself up with how imperfect you are but get up each morning, talk to the Father, read His Word, and tell Him you are willing to be used however He would like to use you each day. Then thank Him for the work He is doing in and through you. He is so faithful!

Be Faithful

Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!   ~Proverbs 20:6-7.

When I was a child, I was amazed at how many adults did not keep their word. They would promise, “One day, I’ll _________” but, alas, that day never came, and I would be disappointed.

When I was a teenager, my mom hired a man to tune our piano. I enjoyed watching him, and he talked to me as he worked. In the course of conversation, I mentioned that I like southern gospel music. He told me he would take me to a concert sometime. At that time, I’d lived long enough to know people often said things they didn’t mean so I didn’t figure I would ever see him again. A short time later, however, he called and asked if he could take my brother and me to a concert. This was over 25 years ago, and I still remember his kindness. He could have gone to the concert by himself, and I would never know, and I probably wouldn’t remember him but he took time to honor his word, which still blesses me today.

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It is sad to me how many young people walk away from the Lord or never embrace Christianity, even when they have grown up in church and in Godly homes. I’ve fought to understand why, in order to be able to stop this trend. I believe a big reason for this is due to the hypocrisy they see in their parents and others in the Church. I know this is not the only reason an adult child will rebel but I expect it is the case in many situations. Young people pick up on whether people are real or phony, honest or crafty.

Even as an adult, I want to surround myself with people I can trust. I get so tired of dishonesty, backbiting, double lives, etc. I pray often that God will help me to be faithful. I want to be dependable, loyal, and trustworthy. I want to be faithful to point others to the Lord, not only in word but also by example. I believe if the world saw more faithfulness in God’s people, they would desire to know this God as well.

The Purpose of Trials

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:2-4).

I am like everyone else. I have a hard time embracing the trials that come my way but I’ve known the Lord long enough to know that everything happens for a purpose. Most of the time, it seems like the trials in my life come to draw me closer to the Father. Even in ministry, it is easy to become so busy that one doesn’t have a lot of quality time to spend with the One they serve. Because of this, I am learning to embrace down times.

This does not mean I do not get discouraged. Boy, do I ever! But I continue to pray and to praise Him for the good things He has done. I know that He is doing a work in my life, and I find encouragement in that. I would much rather have some inconveniences now than to find myself so far from Him one day and not know what happened.

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We serve a faithful God. He is faithful in the good times and the bad times. He gives strength when I need it and, when He doesn’t, I have to trust that it is more important that I be still and rest in Him. Not always easy but vital.

Brothers and Sisters, I hope you are feeling encouraged today. No matter what you are going through, there is a purpose. God desires to draw you to Himself, to make you more like Him, to make you an even greater blessing to others. You simply have to trust and surrender to Him.

All trials are temporary. It will not rain always. Keep looking up, and I trust that you will see sunshine again. Your circumstances may not change but your outlook no doubt will.

Would That We Had Died in Egypt

“And the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger’” (Exodus 16:3).

“Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:3).

It’s interesting to me how much we tend to think we know better than God. “Oh, that we had died in Egypt instead of being brought into this wilderness to die?” (As if those were the only options.) “Back then we had food to eat and a roof over our heads.” (Forget that we were being controlled and beaten and treated cruelly and that God led us out in response to our cries for help.) I think the problem is that we try to figure God out when, in reality, God’s ways are not our ways. He is not obligated to tell us His plans. Our job is to trust Him.

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You may not realize it but grumbling is a sin. It is being ungrateful for what He has given you. It is easy to fall into this trap, but important that you do not.

I’ve walked with God long enough to know that His plans are good. He does not bring you through the wilderness to kill you. Everything that happens is for your good and His glory. If you keep moving forward and refrain from fainting, you will one day reach the Promised Land.

Don’t keep pining for the days when you had friends, “fun,” money, whatever. Those days weren’t as glorious as you may remember them to be. It’s walking with God that brings peace, joy, and contentment. If you are not experiencing that, there is something you still need to surrender. I implore you to do that today. Repent for your ingratitude and ask God to fill your heart with thanksgiving. He is truly faithful.

True Friendship

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Throughout most of my life, I have wondered how many true friends I really have. It’s easy for people to say, “I’m praying for you” or “I think of you even when I don’t write,” but I always wondered if that were really the case (although I am guilty of thinking of people more than I write as well).

Lately, I have realized that I do have a few close friends, and I sometimes wonder why since many seem to have none.

John 15:13 tells us: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

I used to interpret this in terms of dying, but that is not the only way to lay down a life. I have been blessed lately by friends who are willing to serve me, going far and above the call of duty, and I’ve decided nothing says friendship like that does. I am very blessed to have a family that loves me and does so much for me but I’m not sure how to handle it when others do those same things for me. At the same time, I’m very grateful when they do.

I am also thankful for friends who text and email me just to see how I’m doing. This takes a bit of time and thought on my friends’ part so speaks “care” to me as well.

And last but not least are the friends I know who pray for me frequently. I know this is often what gets me through life. Without this, I’m convinced my struggles would be greater so I do not take this for granted.

True friendship can be measured in different ways. What means a lot to me may not mean a lot to you but the point is that the world is in need of people who really care. Christians should radiate love to everyone around them.

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Christians should be trustworthy, not given to gossip or slander. Too often, people suffer in silence because they don’t know who to trust, and the fact is they may not have anyone to trust. This is so sad.

You are called to be a Light in a dark world. Part of being that Light is being different. The only one you should be comparing yourself to is Christ. He epitomized love and care and compassion, and He wanted His children to extend that same love, care, and compassion to others. Instead, we tend to focus on ourselves and our needs that we forget about those who could use a kind, comforting word.

If you have a true friend in your life, someone you can lean on in your times of trial, who will pray with you when you need it and never make you feel like a burden, take time to tell that friend how thankful you are to have them in your life, and be sure to pray for them in return.

If there are people that God has put in your life to be a friend to, be faithful to be that true friend that points them to Jesus and shows them His love. After all, you may be the only true friend they ever have.

He Does Too

He Does Too

When you’re feeling lonely, remember, he does too.

When you’re feeling depressed, remember, he does too.

When you’re feeling your inadequacies, remember, he does too.

When you get unjustly angry, remember, he has too.

When you get convicted for mistreating your wife, remember, he has too.

When you feel like you’ve failed your children, though doing your best, remember, he has too.

When you make a serious mistake, remember, he will too.

When you forget something important, remember, he will too.

When you fail to be graceful, remember, he will too.

And on Sunday, when you see him stepping up to the pulpit, thunderously teaching and preaching about sin, the gospel, and how he desperately needs God and His grace, just remember, you do too.

Pray for your pastor.

-Until we go home

A Note of Encouragement for Pastors

I don’t know how many pastors read my blog but, if you are a pastor who is discouraged, I hope this will help to lift your spirits. If your pastor is down right now, feel free to share this with him. Even if he’s not down, this may provide the extra lift he needs.

I have several friends who are pastors, and at least one is very discouraged with the state of the Church. Unfortunately, many attend church because it’s what they do on Sunday morning, but they are not there to hear a word from the Lord. In fact, if God really showed up, I expect some would get up and leave. Gone are the days of growing and repenting and crying out, “Search me, O God!” People simply want a peppy worship service, with a feel-good message afterward, so they can then go back home and live their comfortable life.

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Some pastors probably are fine with this, as they want the same thing, but I know there are some whose heart is toward the Lord, who desire His will above all else, who wonder if anyone hears a word they say week after week. It seems, many times, a congregation will not tell a pastor what a blessing his messages are (even if they think so), but he will definitely hear about it if he preaches too long, gets too excited, doesn’t get excited enough, etc. Let me just remind you that your job is to preach the Word. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to change hearts. It’s possible, though, that you can help that change come about through prayer and crying out to God for it. It is not the time to be discouraged. Faithful is He who called you, and HE will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24). If you know that you are where God put you, you must trust that He has a plan. Your job is simply to be faithful.

I know you already know this, but let me remind you that success in God’s eyes is not measured by numbers, wealth, or any such thing. God is looking for people who will speak the word He gives them to speak whether people want to hear it or not. He wants bold men and women who will say, “Here am I. Send me. It doesn’t matter if anyone makes fun of me, criticizes me, etc. As long as I know You are pleased with me, that’s all that matters.”

You may never see results this side of Heaven but, one day, when you finally get Home, you will hear your Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.” At that moment, all the struggles and frustrations you had while on earth won’t matter. It will finally be worth it all.