I’ll Be There - Showing Up – Accepting God’s Invitations
Purity 497 08/14/2021 Purity 497 Podcast
Today’s photo of a simple pine tree under the blue skies of June comes to us from a friend in Cairo NY who was looking for someone to cut down said tree a couple of months ago. I don’t know if this tree still stands or if it was taken out, but I remember thinking that it didn’t seem like a “bad tree” to me, and that this was a nice photo of early June.
I share it because I have trees on my mind as I inexplicably have offered my help a friend to cut up a damaged tree on their property as they look to make their land as presentable as possible as they want to sell their home to launch a new life. Unfortunately, the tree isn’t the only thing damaged in this situation and I can only explain my willingness to help to be a prompting of the Holy Spirit as I don’t like yard work, at all.
If you would like to question that statement, I would invite you to come view the Hudson River natural terrarium of wild growth that has sprung to life along the fence line of my property “Down by The River”. What the lawn mower couldn’t reach because of the previous owner’s penchant for building a border of buried bricks along the right side of my property has been allowed to grow wild , creating two and a half feet of “river forest” with 5 foot tall weeds and even a couple of trees that don’t realize that their protected habitat will most likely be destroyed in the cooler months of autumn when I finally dig up the jagged brick barrier and lay to waste most of what is thriving there today, or I won’t.
Any way we have made it to the weekend, and I hope that most of my friends will use it to rest and relax, but I am sure that there are others like me that will be using today and tomorrow to be “stewards of what God has given us” by performing yard work or by helping friends or neighbors with other projects. The Lord has commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves and one of the ways we show that love is by helping our neighbors or friends in need.
Before coming to Christ, I always had a steadfast belief that I was on my own. I couldn’t ask anyone for help. If I ever needed help, I might call my father for some advice but for the most part I would either “do it myself” or I would pay for someone to do it for me.
But then I met my pastor, Jaron Halsted. One of the things that I learned from Jaron was this. He once told me that all of us would be remembered as one of two things. We would be remembered as someone who “had problems” or as someone who “fixed problems”. And Jaron has proven that he is a sterling example of the second kind of person as He is a faithful friend and servant leader of His church, doing all types of things to solve the problems of his flock and the community at large.
When you see faith in action, like you see it in Jaron Halsted, you realize that we really are God’s hands and feet and that we are created for the good works that God has prepared for us to walk into.
As Christians, the basic good work that we all can easily perform regardless of our personal gifts is “showing up”. Regular attendance at weekly church services should be a “work” that we perform without question, as our simple presence at church both edifies ourselves and encourages the other believers there.
“I’ll be there.” is God’s first promise to us as we can stand in the assurance of His presence because He will never leave us or forsake us. So as Christ followers, we should “be there” for the people that God has put in our lives.
As we walk in faith, God will lead us into good works by putting people in need in our path. God never forces us to help others but if we are in a relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit will invariably give us “intuitions” to do good deeds that go against our selfish natures. I consider these “intuitions” or “impressions” to be God’s invitations.
While we can say “Thanks but no thanks” to these leadings, I have discovered that when we step out in faith to help or pray for others we receive more than we give because the Lord will use our service to mature us in our faith. Not only do we bless the people we choose to help, but the Lord also uses our willingness to bless us.
I will keep it real by saying that some of the Lord’s invitations to service have been a whole lot of hard work and may have caused a fair share of frustration and annoyance but no matter how tired or bent out of shape I may have been mentally or emotionally during those assignments, I never regretted them because the work was a good thing to do and the motivation behind it was pure. The work I have been “called” to do wasn’t to please some human agent it was to be faithful to do what God put before me.
We exercise our faith by “showing up”. While many may say they would like to help, will pray for you, or may even promise to “be there.”, our faith is shown by actually showing up and doing what we are called to do. Our doing the will of God is the test.
At various times in life, I have entered into periods of testing in groups where others have spoken out with much bravado of their intentions to stay the course and to accomplish the goal. While some will pound their chests and boldly proclaim that they will do it, I tend to remain silent and just make a mental determination to persevere.
The thing I have noticed over the years in these various periods of testing is that often the ones who boldly speak of how they “will do it” or how they “will definitely be there” are the ones who never show up, disappear before the job is done, or who end up quitting.
Not me, if I have any power it is tenacity and “suffering through”. I am just either too dumb, loyal, or stubborn to walk away but I am also very hesitant to make any promises that I might not be able to keep. I try not to make any claims that I will do a “great job” or “everything will be perfect”. When I am called by the Lord to do something, I just try to be faithful at “showing up” and doing what I can.
And that’s the great thing about God. He doesn’t expect you to do “everything right”. He’s got perfect knowledge so He already knows that you can’t. He is not asking us for perfection. He is just asking us to be faithful to hear His voice, answer when He calls, and to follow where He leads.
So as we walk through this weekend if you get one of God’s “invitations” don’t worry about the results. God will take care of those.
Just know that if you answer the call, God will delight over you for “showing up”, and that your efforts will not only bless the ones in need that you are called to assist, but they will also cause you to grow in your faith and in your relationship with the One who works all things together for your good.
As you put your faith into action, you will discover that some of those things that work together for your good, are the very invitations that the Lord allows you to freely choose to accept. You never know how the Lord will bless you, but you can be sure that we never benefit from the opportunities that we say no to.
You may faithfully serve 9 times out of ten with no benefits or revelations and you may wonder why you even have faith. But brother or sister, can I tell you, on that 10th time the floodgates of heaven just may open up and launch you into dimensions of faith and maturity that can carry you through the rest of your life.
But if you don’t go, if you don’t answer, if you aren’t faithful, you will never know what God has for you.
So say yes to God, and say yes again, and again. Let Him know that you appreciate how He is always there for you and that you are willing to humbly walk into the unknown future He has for you without fear. Let Him know that you will show up. Say to Him with confidence: “Father when you call me… I’ll be there.”
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Thessalonians 2:4 (NKJV)
4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.
Today’s verse speaks of the tremendous gift that we have been entrusted with and that if we are God’s children our words will glorify and be pleasing to Him.
Our faith is nothing to sneeze at. If you look at the brokenness of the world and how utterly sad and hopeless the people are that don’t have faith, you should realize how very valuable the gospel is and how we have been amazingly blessed to receive it.
The gospel of Jesus Christ answers all the questions of life and death. The gospel provides meaning and purpose. It explains the past and gives hope for the future. The gospel tells the story of a loving Creator who gave those He made in His image the choice to love Him or not and how He provides a way to make peace with Him through Jesus Christ.
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 in Chapter 11.
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:
Twelve Steps to Forgiveness
The victim may say, "I can't forgive these people. You don't know how bad they hurt me." The problem is, they are still hurting you. How do you stop the pain? Forgiveness is what sets us free from the past. What is to be gained in forgiving is freedom. You don't heal in order to forgive. You forgive in order to heal. Forgiveness is to set a captive free and then to realize you were the captive. You don't forgive others for their sake; you do it for your sake. Those you need to forgive may never be aware of your choice to let them off your hook. Forgiveness is the fragrance that is left on the heel that crushed the violet.
Following are 12 steps you can use to walk through the process of forgiving others from your heart. Following these steps will help you unchain yourself from the past and get on with your life:
1. Ask the Lord to reveal to your mind the people you need to forgive. Then write on a sheet of paper the names of those who offended you. Of the hundreds of people who have completed this list in my counseling office, 95 percent put father and mother as numbers one and two. Three out of the first four names on most lists are close relatives. When making a list, the two most overlooked people are God and yourself. Concerning your relationship with God, only He can forgive your sins, and He has never sinned. We haven't always appropriated that forgiveness, and sometimes we are bitter toward God because we hold false expectations of Him. We need to release God from those false expectations and appropriate God's forgiveness.
2. Acknowledge the hurt and the hate. As you work through the list of people you need to forgive, state specifically for what you are forgiving them (e.g., rejection; deprivation of love; injustice; unfairness; physical, verbal, sexual or emotional abuse; betrayal; neglect and so on). Also state how their offenses made you feel. Remember: It is not a sin to acknowledge the reality of your emotions. God knows exactly how you feel, whether you admit it or not. If you bury your feelings, you will bypass the possibility of forgiveness. You must forgive from your heart.
3. Understand the significance of the Cross. The cross of Christ makes forgiveness legally and morally right. Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of the world—including yours and those of the persons who have offended you—and He died "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). The heart cries, "It isn't fair! Where's the justice?" It is in the Cross.
4. Decide you will bear the burden of each person's sin (see Galatians 6:1, 2). This means you will not retaliate in the future by using the information about their sin against them (see Proverbs 17:9; Luke 6:27-34). All true forgiveness is substitutionary, as was Christ's forgiveness of us. That doesn't mean you tolerate sin or refuse to testify in a court of law. You may have to do that for justice to prevail. Just make sure you have forgiven that person from your heart first.
5. Decide to forgive. Forgiveness is a crisis of the will, a conscious choice to let the other person off the hook and to free yourself from the past. You may not feel like doing it, but it is necessary for your sake. If God tells you to forgive from your heart, be assured He will enable you to do it. The other person may truly be in the wrong and subject to church discipline or legal action. That is not your primary concern. Your first concern is to receive freedom from your past and stop the pain. Make that decision now; your feelings of forgiveness will follow in time.
6. Take your list to God and pray the following: "I forgive (name) for (list all the offenses and how they made you feel)." Stay with each person on the list until every remembered pain has been specifically addressed. That includes every sin of commission as well as omission. If you have felt bitter toward this person for some time, you may want to find a Christian counselor or trusted friend to assist you in the process. Don't say, "I want to forgive so and so," or "Lord, help me to forgive so and so." That is bypassing your responsibility and choice to forgive.
7. Destroy the list. You are now free. Do not tell the offenders what you have done. Your need to forgive others is between you and God only! The person you may need to forgive could be dead. Forgiveness may lead you to be reconciled to others, but whether or not that happens is not totally dependent upon you. Your freedom in Christ cannot be dependent upon others whom you have no right or ability to control.
8. Do not expect that your decision to forgive will result in major changes in the other persons. Instead, pray for them (see Matthew 5:44) so they, too, may find the freedom of forgiveness (see 2 Cor. 2:7).
9. Try to understand the people you have forgiven, but don't rationalize their behavior. It could lead to incomplete forgiveness. For instance, don't say, "I forgive my father because I know he really didn't mean it." That would be excusing him and bypassing your pain and the need to forgive from the heart.
10. Expect positive results of forgiveness in you. In time you will be able to think about the people without triggering primary emotions. That doesn't mean you will like those who are abusive. It means you are free from them. Old feelings may try to recycle themselves. When that happens, stop and thank God for His provision and don't pick up those old offenses again. You dealt with it; now let it go.
11. Thank God for the lessons you have learned and the maturity you have gained as a result of the offenses and your decision to forgive the offenders (see Romans 8:28, 29).
12. Be sure to accept your part of the blame for the offenses you suffered. Confess your failure to God (see 1 John 1:9) and to others (see James 5:16) and realize that if someone has something against you, you must go to that person and be reconciled (see Matthew 5:23-26).
Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.
God bless you all!
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