Monday, November 4, 2013

From Valley to the Vista: How Your Being Perplexed or Your Mess IS God's Opportunity to Shine

When it comes to God growing our faith he does so in steps.  When we need something and God puts our situation so that through faith we grow and mature, that is a process called growing in holiness.  It is also a concern for God's glory, or weighty namesake, in our life.  Paul says that we have the power of God to save us and change us from the God who said "let light shine out of darkness," 2 Corinthians 4:6.  So there is no lack on God's end of things.  That's the irony, in our life and world which are so often a broken mess, as Paul explains "afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies," he is getting at a purpose in that mess.

IN your mess, God's glory shines brighter.  Whether it is the struggle to see how to honor God in this cirucmstance or that, in home, in friendships, in work, God would have the life of Jesus be manifested not your glory.  This applies both individually and corporately as a church family.

Some of this is persecution, sure.  But a lot of it is just living in a fallen world (4:8 a,b)!  You cannot see the solution, but by faith you trust God for what is needed and to handle it in a godly way, so there is some being perplexed.  You are a victor, yet you are also in this world.  Afflicted in EVERY way has to include more than persecution!  Weaknesses you face actually make you a more glorious example of God's work, and in turn make you stronger in faith, and also mentally-emotionally, for His glory.  You can look back and see how God made something beautiful out of the perplexing or difficult situation.  It leaves you saying:  who could do this but God the Father who saved us by His Son Jesus!  Surely no one can plan to turn our ancestor's choice to sin and its consequence we are born with into an opportunity for amazing salvation, we are utterly unable to create/make at all, and then to grow us in pursuit of holiness as a next step not in salvation but in pointing to God's glory with all of your days.  What is God calling you to trust Him through today, and to find solutions that He can answer in prayer and that He can be glorified in?  Think on that.

Some examples individually:  Any believer in work or life, ministers at their job, their church, their home out of strong points for sure.  If you're gifted in an area, that is from God, and you make a living at it, or you can do so, or you study to do so, and practice.  Get peer advice.  But you are reminded too by the challenges of real work (aka real efforts) that you are a jar of clay.  You are humble, even if you are an expert in your area.  I'm reminded that though trained by the best church planters out there through several different networks, my ministry as any is also from a jar of clay. 

I'm a jar of clay.  Others are jars of clay.  We work and live and love out of this humility that God gives the power to show Himself glorious (2 Corinthians 4:7).  If you're a wise worker at home or business you are constantly learning.  A leader is always a learner.  I am humbled by going to certain trainings myself or peer trainings by the level of wisdom God gives some, but then I get to know those people and they are truly once you know them jars of clay too.  Imperfect and all, just like you and me.  We are perplexed at times.  Then God uses the power He has displayed through these other jars, not to replicate their exact situation, but to remind you to keep faith, and God grows you and does amazing things in you and me too.  This can be applied to any area of your life (parenting, finances, family devotions, etc.).  Some people do not get it.  They imagine in their job, their family, their church they are some kind of glorious vase, not a jar of clay.  Lol, I've learned to see through it, maybe you too.  True leaders see they are jars of clay and never bow a knee to someone who knows it all.  But you can learn from those who are wise.

Some examples corporately:  we have had wizards and witches ask us to not invite them to worship services in our area.  That would give someone without Christ, our powerful Savior, a lot of trepadation.  We of course do not mail someone who does not want to be mailed invites to worship God.  However, the threats that someone like that lays at you might cause concern.  However, the God who is in us (God in Christ, the Holy Spirit) is stronger than the god who is in the world.  So we keep up ministry.  That would be one form of persecution like is found in the Book of Acts, but a modern contemporary update. / We have also had First Baptist Wylie send staff members to one up us at Wylie Chamber events.  A Chamber of Commerce if you ever go, often has gatherings where you can explain what you do for 30 seconds or a minute, and you share what you can.  Well they would send someone to one up us later in the 30 second commercials with "well, Woodbridge can do that, but we can do this..." for weeks on end.  Eventually after more than once the pattern became obvious and this perplexes you as a church planter in an area with 194,000 persons, with only a handful of good solid Bible following churches.  But you press on because in spite of that, God is faithful.  Perplexed. / Struck down:  when we first launched we had about 100 people in attendance.  That is great, but of course, any church start keeps about 50% of those who come to a grand opening.  So we kept 50, of whom at least 10-15 were there to just help launch a new church (missions commitment, rather than membership).  But we grew about 50% that first year with people who love Jesus coming to be in a truly local church ministering to real life.  Then the next year we grew another approximate 50%, with more who had that passion to have a life that matters for Jesus, using their gifting where there is an opportunity rather than surplus.  God gets the glory for this continued growth (2 Cor 4:15 and thanks).  But in 2011 it felt like struck down the week after launch.  But keeping faith God blessed immensely to grow the church a tremendous amount!  So what you might see by comparison as an sos God sees as a way to show Himself glorious.

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