"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12 (ESV)
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 1:2-8 (ESV)
God calls us to things that we can do with his help, things that he equips us to do, and to things that he will help us do. As Jesus said in the the great commission, “And look, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.20). If our lives are committed to obeying him and participating in obeying his command do go and make disciples (followers) of all nations (Matthew 28.18-20), whatever our role may be in that (it could be primarily a prayer role, a giving role, a practical supporting role, or even a going role), then we can trust that he will be with us and help us to accomplish what he has called us to do.
Our job is to be faithful to follow that call, even though we may feel weak and undeserving or unequipped. We can trust God will provide us the help and the strength that we need. We cannot allow fear to dissuade us or paralyze us into inaction. We need to start moving forward in obedience, and trust that he is with us as we seek to obey him, even if we don’t have all the answers. And we can remember that God calls us to work in community, in the body of Christ, and we do need each other. So if God’s people are working together, and supporting each other in the pursuit of obedience to the great commission (Matthew 28.18-20), then we can believe that God will do his part as we all do our part to the best of our ability, and believe God will help us, and others will help us as they fulfill their parts.
Matthew 28:16-20 (ERV) The eleven followers went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. 17 On the mountain the followers saw Jesus. They worshiped him. But some of the followers did not believe that it was really Jesus. 18 So he came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me. 19 So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach them to obey everything that I have told you to do. You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of time."
Proverbs 14:28 (ESV) In a multitude of people is the glory of a king, but without people a prince is ruined.
Author: M Vetter
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts . . . Even the sparrow finds a home at your altar . . .” Psalm 84:1,3
I am grateful to several who have prayed for my little sparrow in Rwanda. Fraterine is a ten-year-old boy, who until the last year, has led a solitary life, away from school, and simply drifting during the days because so many children made fun of his discomfiting, facial skin condition. Since discovering God’s little sparrow last summer, we from the Dufatanye Organization have sought to assist him and his family by taking him to see multiple doctors for treatment, building a new house and a chicken coop, and providing more nutritious foods for his family.
Three weeks ago, a maxillofacial surgeon performed oral surgery to biopsy portions of Fraterine’s lips that had become ulcerated and looked suspicious. We were worried that he might have oral cancer in addition to his serious skin disease. Many of you have prayed for the results of this biopsy.
I am thrilled to share that Fraterine does NOT have oral cancer! Not only that, this past Saturday, he attended our “Bible and Breakfast Club” and was all smiles! Two hundred fifty-one children gathered and, in addition to hearing the Bible lesson and enjoying porridge and bread, the children received numerous gifts including a bag of maize flour, notebooks, pens, Vaseline, and a long bar of soap. Our team also met with the parents to emphasize good habits in nutrition, sanitary practices and safety.
A sparrow is a small, seemingly insignificant bird that spends much time alone. Despite its diminutive size, God values sparrows and not one falls to the earth apart from our Father’s care (Matthew 10:29). Often, a sparrow is associated with finding its home in the sanctuary or altars of the Lord. A “sanctuary” can denote a physical place where people worship God, even as we do today. But it can also figuratively imply a solitary, spiritual “place” where a Christian may worship the Lord and seek His face.
Our little sparrow in Rwanda, Fraterine, sensed he knew where to find help. At the time, he may not have known that it was our Lord directing his steps, but I believe he knows now. God had seen his humble heart as he sat one day in a hot, glaring solitary place and cried out within his soul for help.
What a beautiful metaphor for us. If a sparrow instinctively knows to draw close to its Creator near the Lord’s altar, how much more should we know to build our lives gazing upon that same altar in the sanctuary of the Lord. The gospel writer, Matthew, encourages, “ . . . do not be anxious about your life . . . Look at the birds [Greek word for “sparrow”] of the air: they neither sow nor reap or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them . . . “. Will He not also feed us?
Ask yourself, “Where is my sanctuary? Who provides spiritual nourishment for me? Do I seek to dwell at the altar of God, in the courts of the living Lord?”
Be like the sparrow. Set your heart on things above. Seek the Lord’s face. Draw near to God. He WILL draw near to you.
[Source: Dr. R. Mark Gaffney, in Where the Birds Make Their Nests]
Stan Key is one of the most effective Bible teachers I have ever heard. I recently was privileged to hear him give several messages on spiritual leadership and servanthood. He presented five characteristics of a call of God which I understood as follows. I hope you will go to his website and avail yourself of his rich presentation of God's truth.
By Stan Key, www.francisasburysociety.com
Five Characteristics of A Call of God
1. It's initiated by God. “You did not choose me, but I choose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…” John 15.16.
2. We are called to a relationship as much as to a task. “He appointed twelve, so that they might be with him…” Mark 3.14
3. We are called to a team. God calls us to work in a community, even if at times it seems we are standing alone. But when we are serving Him, obeying the great commission, God is with us.
4. God’s call is to announce liberty and salvation. It’s not about me, it’s about those who need to know there is salvation in God. If we get hurt in the process, so did Jesus.
5. It will cost you everything. No one can become all God wants him to be unless he denies himself, takes up his cross, and follows Jesus (Luke 9.23)