Monday, June 17, 2013

Lessons in Faith

Sitting on my bed, the sharp breeze whips from my fan into the thick air all around. I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Wisconsin and I reflect on all that happened there, in that now-distant place, and the things that I contemplated while I was away and now that I am home. And these are some lessons that the Lord continually places upon my heart and has been teaching me as I think about going forward in the way that He is leading me:

  • “Do not despise the day of small things . . .” (Zechariah 4:10) It is easy to lose heart when the day is over, when the sun has gone away over the thin hills, and when there is no vision, no majesty left to soak the eyes in. Oswald Chambers says, it is after the vision has faded, when we descend into the abyss of the demon-possessed valley, that we begin to lose heart. And this is the place where our strength must actually begin, as we take His sure hand in the darkness and are led forward by faith. When there seems to be no way, when the vision is blurry, He is our Surety and makes our footsteps secure. (Psalm 37:23)

  • “God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.” (Hudson Taylor) If the Lord has truly called us to a work, then we may trust in Him for the means to do it. He will not leave us destitute. We may trust Him utterly in this. There is nothing more sure than God’s provision to do His will. We do not need to beg, to plead, to trust in anyone but Him. We may let our petitions be made known to Him, and He will direct our path. (Proverbs 3:5-6) He is enough and He will raise up means and channels through which His supplies will come, in the perfect way, at the perfect time, even when all seems hopeless. The Lord will fill the ditches with water if we will obediently dig the trenches of faith and prayer. (II Kings 3:16-17)

  • “Be strong, and do it . . .” (I Chronicles 28:10) If and when the Lord has placed something upon your heart, don’t hesitate to do it, by faith, in His strength, in keeping with His timing and being sensitive to His voice. Being crippled by fear and by distrust will only jade us to His ways. Caleb and Joshua are excellent examples of this principle. By faith in God’s promise, they confidently believed that the Lord would give them the land that He had promised, for the glory of His name. There is no presumption when we are acting upon a promise and when our consciences are clear in His sight. Faith does not weigh pros and cons after the Lord’s leading is made clear. Faith trusts in an infinite God and if God is for us, then who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
  • Don’t be surprised by opposition. Charles Spurgeon says, “When tribulation drives us to the Lord, it is an unspeakable blessing, and makes affliction prove to us one of our greatest mercies. It is a good wave that washes the mariner on the rock; it is a blessed trouble which blows the Christian nearer to his God. If you are led to set loose of the world through your losses and your crosses, be thankful for them; for, if you have lost silver, you have gained that which is better than gold. If, like the dove to the cleft of the rock, your soul flies to God, driven homeward by stress of weather, then be thankful for the tempest for it is safer and better for you than the calm.” Instead, be surprised if there is no opposition, if everyone is smiling placidly around you and there is no wind, no rain, no friction. A sail moves by the force of the wind, and often opposition is the gust that the Lord uses to spur on onward in the great ocean of His will.

  • I should not do this if a “safe,” comfortable life is what I desire. This holds true for missionaries, ministers, evangelists and any ordinary person like me who wants to walk in obedience to the Lord’s calling. This is evident in daily discipleship or in taking steps of faith into the unknown, whether it is actively sharing the Gospel or consciously crucifying sin in our own flesh moment by moment. It is easy to be a “good” person. It is difficult to live a holy, consecrated, Christ-saturated life. And there will be many obstacles, many difficulties, many “dangers, toils and snares.” Satan will not leave us alone if we are seeking to further the Lord’s kingdom and bring glory to Him. And God will not leave us without His protection through prayer and continual dependence upon Him daily though our trials.

These are just some of the lessons that the Lord is continually reinforcing in my heart, and that I continually need to “re-learn.” I pray that these things may be an encouragement to others as well as we seek to bring honor to the name of Jesus, and live wholly for Him and Him alone. I am learning more day by day that it is not easy way to walk by faith . . . but it is the blessed way. May we ever “rather have Jesus,” and want to do His will more than we desire all of the passing treasures of this world and all that it grandly boasts.

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