Vacation’s Over but the Journey Continues
Purity 474 07/19/2021 Purity 474 Podcast
Today’s photo of a quaint palm tree patio in San Antonio La Paz, Guatemala comes to us from a friend who just returned from a short-term mission trip there that ministered to a church in the town as well as another outreach location in the mountains near Zacapa, which my photos from two years ago identify as being “in” Jocotan,. A quick peak at Google maps reveals that, depending on the exact locations, the joint Rock Solid Hudson, - Lighthouse Church- Athens joint missionary expedition covered two areas in Guatemala that were 2 to 3 hours away from one another. When our churches go on a mission trip, they hit the ground running and often divide into separate teams to seek to do the most good to as many people as possible.
The team of roughly 30 volunteers spent their own money and vacation time to serve their brothers and sisters in Christ in Guatemala all for the glory of God and for the expansion of God’s Kingdom. While I wasn’t on this year’s trip I can testify to the fact that the work is physically and mentally exhausting at times but the purpose for which we do it, and the fellowship and sense of community that the mission team experiences with the indigenous people and one another, is spiritually and personally rewarding.
Today is Monday again, and like my friends who are back home from Guatemala, I too will have to readjust to going back to the reality of a regular work week as I spent last week on staycation.
While I didn’t spend my vacation serving the Lord in Guatemala, I am happy to report that my vacation wasn’t just spent watching TV or doing little projects around the house. While some would have been bothered by last week’s rainy weather it was the perfect weather for my purposes. I spent the week preparing lessons for a Freedom in Christ class that I plan on teaching in the fall. I am ecstatic to report that I finished transcribing all the lessons from the course material into notes from which I can teach last night! While some may lament that I spent all my vacation doing ministry work, I won’t because I was blessed by the material and the sense of accomplishment I felt at finishing the final lesson last evening.
I have been on the disciple’s path long enough that I experience more joy and happiness from pursing the things of God than I do from the interests and hobbies that I used to have before coming to Christ. There is just so much more value and enjoyment in pursuing things that will edify my spirit and deepen my relationship with God than there is in the entertainment that the world has to offer.
But trust me, you want to take your walk with God at your own pace. When you get called by the Lord to follow His lead, you need to learn to crawl before you learn to walk, and you need to walk before you run.
So have grace on yourself as you seek to turn to the ways of God. You won’t experience the fruit of the Spirit of peace and joy if you strive after God in your own strength. Our interactions and understanding with the Lord is a relationship and like all relationships we are going to have to get to know each other and understand how each of us works before we can live in harmony.
But hey, just because our relationship with God will require some stretching of our limits and require some real soul searching, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth pursuing. The Lord holds the answers to life and death, and He invites us to explore the mystery of meaning and purpose of who He is and how we are relate to Him. It’s a never-ending adventure where you can find your self experiencing the wonders of His love halfway around the world or right in the confines of your own home.
So keep walking and talking with God. He’ll get you through Monday and every other day of your life. So go at your own pace but set your direction to His way.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Acts 1:11 (NKJV)
11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
Today’s verse contains the angelic promise that speaks of the certainty of the return of Jesus Christ to earth.
As always context is king when we study scripture and today’s verse comes right after Jesus literally “lifted up” to heaven in the event that we call the Ascension. Can you imagine? Talk about “Beam me up Scotty.” I’m sure the History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens” has their own take on this event that involves extra terrestrial beings from distant planets but for those who study the Bible we can surmise the true narrative to be consistent with all of scripture.
Various passages in the Bible describe a heavenly throne room in a spiritual realm that is beyond earth. I believe I discussed this in Lesson Seven of my recent Bondage Breaker Class so check out the podcast. But anyway, I briefly discussed what Paul referred to as the “third Heaven” – the place of God’s celestial kingdom. That’s where Jesus went when He ascended and where He is seated at the right hand of the Father.
This fact is pretty great but what is even greater is that the angels that were present to witness Christ’s Ascension, told the Apostles that Christ would be back. Any doubts of the angel’s claims that may have developed over time were swept away with some passages in the Apostle’s epistles that confirmed it and when Christ Himself revealed to the Apostle John even more details of His return in the book of Revelation.
So in this case what went up, will most certainly come down. Christ will return. And although the imagery in Revelation may confuse if not frighten us as we contemplate “the end times”, we must remember, that for the Christian, the end times are only the beginning of an eternity that will be spent with Jesus in a realm that is described as having no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain (Rev 21:4).
So we should take great hope from today’s verse and not worry about Christ’s return. Instead we should rejoice, share the gospel, make disciples, and live a good life knowing that God has a plan, and that Christ could return at any moment.
The peace of the Lord comes through knowing Him and knowing that He works all things together for good for those who love Him. So stand in the joy of the contemplation of the culmination of His plan and rest in the love that He has poured out on you when He invited you to come into His kingdom forever.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 8.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:
Proper Guidelines Lead to a Proper Walk
2. Significance. Key Concept: Time
Significance is a time concept. What is forgotten in time is of little significance. What is remembered for eternity is of great significance. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "If any man's work . . . remains, he shall receive a reward" (1 Cor. 3:14). He instructed Timothy: "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness . . . since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Tim. 4:7, 8). If you want to increase your significance, focus your energies on significant activities: those that will remain for eternity.
Stu, the pastor of a small church, attended one of my classes at Talbot School of Theology. He was in his mid-30s and married when he found out he had cancer. The doctors gave him less than two years to live.
One day Stu came to talk to me. "Ten years ago somebody gave a prophecy about me in church," he began. "They said I was going to do a great work for God. I've led a few hundred people to Christ, but I haven't had a great work for God yet. Do you think God is going to heal me so the prophecy can be fulfilled?"
I registered shock by his statement and said, "You've led a few hundred people to Christ and don't think you have accomplished a great work for God? Stu, I know some significant pastors in large churches who can't make that claim. I know some great theologians who have led very few people to Christ. If a few hundred people are believers today because of you, and they have influenced who knows how many other people for Christ, I'd call that a great work for God." Stu is now with the Lord, having completed his significant ministry of reaching hundreds for Christ.
One of the few heroes of my life is Billy Graham. He has been verbally shot at from the right and from the left, but he has remained true to his calling to preach the gospel. One day, several years ago, I happened to see him walking through the lobby of the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. I had never met him before, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I caught up with him and said, "I wanted to meet you, Dr. Graham, even though I'm just a lowly pastor."
He warmly returned my greeting and then brought me up short by saying, "There's no such thing as a lowly pastor."
He was right. There is no such thing as a lowly pastor or a lowly child of God. We are in the significant business of collecting treasures for eternity. What we do and say for Christ in this world, no matter how insignificant it seems, will last forever.
Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.
God bless you all!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship