Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
We are living in a ‘microwave’ society where so much in life is instant. This has permeated Christian life also. Some people want ‘instant’ answers from God. One of these often involves discovering what God wants them to ‘do’.
Many times in life, people have told me that others have ‘prophesied’ over them indicating that God is going to use them mightily. The focus is always on the greatness of the person and, sadly, not on the greatness of God. It is always about ‘doing ’ and never about ‘being’.
On one occasion, a young man asked me for advice. He was, and had been for years, living in gross immorality however, someone had ‘prophesied’ about a particular area of work that he would be involved in that would be a great work for God. He would be a great success! It was just what he wanted to hear. I had to tell the young man that I had no faith in the prophet nor the prophecy because it mentioned nothing about repentance and turning away once a for all, from sin.
It is sad, but true to say that some Christians, even leaders, wrongly place a higher emphasis on ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’ in our walk with God. Let’s look at what the Bible tells us about what God truly wants for us. What is really important in life?
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
Notice that it doesn’t say ‘seek to be greatly used’ or ‘seek to be famous’. Let’s get things in perspective. The most important thing we will ever ‘do’ in life is ‘seek God first’.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last. (John 15:16)
Bearing fruit takes time. It’s often painful and it takes deep commitment. No one has ever told me that someone prophesied this verse over them!
He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
This verse simply tells us what God requires of us after we have received His great salvation. Instead, some Christians want to be ‘the big shot’. They want to be in the limelight’. How many people seek humility and walk that way daily?
Hugh Black, one of the two founder members of the Struthers group of churches, often put us firmly in our place by quoting Jeremiah 45:5: “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.” He had a wonderful way of keeping us grounded in God, and not on false future fantasies of personal prowess.
Leaders should point young Christians Godward from the start of their walk with Him, encouraging them to seek Him for themselves to become more like Him. This does not mean that they shouldn’t get advice, encouragement or correction from other Christians, but it would generally be from a person who they know and someone who has spiritual oversight of them….not a random stranger whose focus is on being great rather than being godly.
That way, not only will the young Christian truly discover what God wants them to ‘be’, but they will also discover what He wants them to ‘do’. ‘Doing’ should always be born out of ‘being’.
“I think one of the biggest challenges facing Christian leaders today is an identity crisis….
Our identity is not in what we do but in who we are as sons and daughters in Christ.
To pursue God’s ways is to be people of being over people of doing.”
Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken your might; come and save us.
Have you ever been struck by the number of Psalms where the Psalmist is lamenting his adverse circumstances and calling upon God for help? Here are just a few examples.
Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy. Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers.(Psalm 64:1,2)
Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. (Psalm 69:1-4)
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. (Psalm 77:1-6)
Have you ever noticed how raw these Psalms, and others like them are? They are born out of times of trouble, trial and turmoil. You can almost hear the plea for help wrung from a heart heavy with anguish. The psalmists are very open about their needs. I don’t know if I would be writing down my pleas and petitions and making them available to all the world to read! However, one thing that becomes clear is that us that they expected God to hear them and they expected God to answer them.
Quoting from Psalm 12:1, “Help, Lord”, Spurgeon says:
Students, in doctrinal difficulties, may often obtain aid by lifting up this cry of "Help, Lord," to the Holy Spirit… Spiritual warriors in inward conflicts may send to the throne for reinforcements, and this will be a model for their request. Workers in heavenly labour may thus obtain grace in time of need. Seeking sinners, in doubts and alarms, may offer up the same weighty supplication. In fact, in all these cases, times, and places, this will serve the turn of needy souls. "Help, Lord,”.
God wants us to cry out to him, to share with Him out trials and tragedies. And there is something else we should notice about these Psalms of lamentation. Most of them either end with, or incorporate a note of thanksgiving and praise.
Let’s take a look at what the Psalmists in the Psalms we looked at above wrote:
All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done. The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him! (Psalm 64:9-10)
I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs. The poor will see and be glad - you who seek God, may your hearts live!” (Psalm 69:30-32)
Your ways, God, are holy.What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. (Psalm 77:13-14)
God wants you to call out to him in our time of need… whatever that need. But He doesn’t want this to be the end of the story - He wants you to trust Him with your lamentations and turn your eyes outward and upward to Christ because, as Richard Wurmbrand said, “The living Jesus will give you joy amid tribulation.”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full on His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
In the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, we see a man going out of his way to help another man who has been beaten, robbed and left for dead. His compassion and care are exemplary, considering the one he helped was a natural ‘enemy’.
Now, imagine the Samaritan going on his way the next day and discovering another person in the same plight. He does exactly the same thing for him as he did for the first. We like this Samaritan. He’s a good man.
Imagine him going back on the road the next day again, and the same thing happens. What do you think he would do? Would it be reasonable for him to say, “I’ve already done this twice. I need to draw a line somewhere?”
This causes us to reflect on the kind of life, as Christians, God calls us to live. The Bible, as so often, is our guide as to how to do this.
Let’s start with forgiveness. This is something that we all face as Christians, sometimes on a daily basis. We experience situations where we feel wronged by others, sometimes in very small ways, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Peter’s suggestion surely seemed to him very generous. How shocked he and the others must have been with Jesus’s reply! It hovered on the borders of insanity! This just wasn’t the way people lived. But Jesus was letting them know that they had to mirror the scope of God’s forgiveness. If we call ourselves children of God, should there not be a desire to walk, act, speak and treat others in the same way as Jesus?
Another challenging verse is:
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. (Proverbs 3:27)
It might be in our power to do good but we don’t always always find it convenient or desirable. Hmmm! What should we do?
I know someone who once received great blessing by doing a very small act of kindness at a time that, in their option, was undesirable. They simply didn’t want to do it but, being convicted of selfishness, they did it. The spiritual blessing they received was inordinately greater in proportion to the deed that had been done. They thank God, to this day, that they did not “withhold good”. They also learned the secret that:
Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:35)
Most people alive today have a distorted image of God, if indeed they have any image of God at all. It has been twisted and contorted by the devil until He is unrecognisable. Every day in life we have opportunities to showcase God’s nature to the world. We can do this by forgiving, by not withholding good, by refreshing others… and much more.
Shall we commit ourselves again totally with all our might, to showcase our wonderful, forgiving, patient, kind and loving God to the world around us? Let’s get going...
“We are each of us like a small mirror in which God searches for his reflection.” John Vianney
They were the potters who lived at Netaim and Gederah; they stayed there and worked for the king. (1 Chronicles 4:23)
In ancient times pottery played an important role in eveyday life. People used pottery for cooking, eating food and storing food. There was no ‘Tupperware’, glass jars or cast iron pots and pans, only clay. We read that these potters ‘worked for the king’. In today’s terms, that would probably amount to what we call a “Royal Warrant”.
To receive a Royal Warrant, accompanied by the prestigious appendage of “Appointment to His Majesty the King”, an institution has to have supplied either the reigning monarch, their spouse or the Prince of Wales for at least five of the last seven years to be considered. The products they supply to the Royal household are of the finest quality.
Some better known Royal Warrant holders are Twinings, The Ritz Hotel Piccadilly, Fortnum and Mason Piccadilly, and Burberry. They ‘work for the king’. It’s an extremely prestigious position to be awarded. Your business suddenly becomes very important when you are chosen to ‘work for the king’.
As Christians we too have been awarded a Royal Warrant. We are called to work for The King. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour, He issues that prestigious warrant to us, “Appointment to His Majesty King Jesus”. We are appointed to:
“Work heartily for the Lord.” (Colossians 3:23)
I wonder what each one of us is doing today with our Royal Warrant. As John Wesley said:
"Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can."
As Paul’s Royal Warrant drew to a close, he was able to honestly say:
“I have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
Paul took his ‘Appointment” seriously. He spent his life in the knowledge that all that he said, all that he did was for his King. He loved his King and regarded it a privilege to be called to serve one whose very life’s blood had been shed for him.
Let’s thank God for our Royal Warrants and work with our whole hearts today.
“Work for God… the retirement benefits are great”
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Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.