A message presented Sunday, August 16, 2020 at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH:
Now that my wife and I are at home considerably more than we have ever been, we have looked for ways to remain active with both our minds and our bodies. We are walking every day and working out three times a week. We’re also taking the time to listen to relaxing lo-fi hip hop music (if you don’t know what this is, see me or my bride later).
I also wanted to work on an area of meditation to supplement my Bible reading, and I started using an iPhone app called “Abide.” The app refers to a Bible verse along with subject matter that promotes meditating on the teaching and allowing the Spirit to speak to you in prayer. It comes with soothing sounds and it helps me to relax.
The most recent content of the Abide app, which is updated daily, seems to reflect the mood of the times that we live in. Last week, the topic was about overcoming fearfulness. This week, in an effort for believers to help others through a tough time, the lessons are about being kind to others.
Today’s world of serious news and events have brought about a harshness of reality that has caused many people to get more and more angry and even depressed. Can you see this? It hasn’t been very good for a number of us. We have been living in a completely different world for about five months, which is a lot longer than many of us expected.
While it is important for all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to live daily in a Christ-like manner, it is times like today where we need to see the world as Jesus sees it, and take action.
The world is in need of a spiritual revival, for sure, but it especially needs the love and compassionate presence of Christ-like ministry.
This is a call for action.
We need to be ready, willing and able to look in on our fellow brothers and sisters and help them through these tough times with your words of encouragement and by moving in the Spirit to minister to those in need.
In order to do this effectively, we need to ensure that we have our own act together. We need to get sharp and stay sharp. We need to eat right, live right and do what I will refer to as periodic self-examinations in order to bolster our readiness to serve within the body of Christ.
As children of God, if we are paying close attention to our readings and daily studies, we are called to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and, as Joshua was reminded during a time of transition for the people of Israel, to be strong, be encouraged and be courageous because of God’s presence.
Joshua 1:7-9 NIV
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God wants each of us to be strong and courageous, and it’s not just for your state of mind. It has everything to do with being able to function at a high level as you serve Him before others. Joshua had a job to do. His job was to lead the people of Israel. The best leaders are those who remain strong and firm in their faith.
Here’s something to consider. It’s not just the best leaders.
The best believers are those who remain strong and firm in their faith.
How are we to remain strong in our faith? It is a simple answer, but for those who subject themselves to the distractions that come from the world and allow them to persist, it can be virtually impossible to do.
Matthew 7:24-27 ESV
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
This example in Scripture references a combination of faith, obedience to God’s Word and being strong and courageous all wrapped into this passage. There are times in everyone’s life as a believer where it is imperative to draw upon God’s strength and courage in standing for Jesus Christ and trusting in His promises.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, we are first asked to trust in Jesus Christ and believe that He is Lord. It is the continual building of our faith that increases our ability to be strong and courageous as we grow in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are better in Christ because of His enabling power and strength.
It is in His strength that we can face the challenges of the day. In His strength, we can get out and live our lives with confidence in our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Please note that your daily reading and time in meditation will give you the ability to experience the power of Jesus Christ as you get deeper into his Word…and trust Him more and more.
Remember what the Lord said to Joshua:
Joshua 1:8 NIV
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
In this practice, there is a call for obedience in order to experience the power of God in your life. Another passage that follows God’s teaching to Joshua is also reflected in Deuteronomy:
Deuteronomy 6:17-19 CSB
17 Carefully observe the commands of the Lord your God, the decrees and statutes he has commanded you. 18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that you may prosper and so that you may enter and possess the good land the Lord your God swore to give your ancestors, 19 by driving out all your enemies before you, as the Lord has said.
So we can see the relevance to your faith and obedience to Jesus Christ and how we will receive strength and courage to move forward in confidence.
Faith leads to trust in Jesus Christ.
Trust lends to the desire to obey the words of Jesus Christ.
Obedience to Jesus gives you the strength to carry on and be courageous in your ministry.
Please note that for those of us who are introverted and don’t like other people, this is the time to give a serious reckoning as to your role in ministry before others. If you are shy, introverted and scuffle within yourself as to how you are able to share the love of Christ with others, I’m just going to put it out there that you are merely wrestling with your flesh, or perhaps even the enemy as to this issue.
If you are exercising your faith, trusting in Jesus Christ and remaining obedient to His Word, He will give you strength to be able to carry out your ministry of love and compassion for others. There will be no excuses left to say that “I’m just an introvert” or “I don’t like people very much.” If God could use a stubborn Moses to be a leader in the faith, He can certainly use you.
Exodus 4:10-12 NIV
10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
As you step out on your faith (which we have often heard many times in the past), God will guarantee your success as He teaches you and speaks for you. Note that the measure of success is not in how good you will look (although that can still be the case), but ultimately in how God is glorified.
We have addressed how each of us are to deal with fear and uncertainty, and starts with your exercise of a measure of faith.
It absolutely matters, from the very beginning, as to what your faith is placed in.
Luke 17:3-6 ESV
3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
So how important is faith in effective ministry? Without it, you are sure to flounder and be tossed to and fro by the craziness of life. You will have difficulty withstanding troubles and get caught up in the worries of life.
Do you have the measure of faith—even that of a mustard seed—to move forward in your ministry?
Stop now and take time to reflect upon this. Is your faith, along with trust and obedience to Jesus keeping you on a path of remaining strong and courageous in your ministry?
It starts with just a little faith, and it grows to a faith, in your maturity in Jesus Christ, to much more than you can imagine.
As you grow in the confidence of the presence of Jesus Christ, you will mature in your walk as you continue to live, learn and grow in the image of Jesus Christ.
This is your faith in ministry in action.
© 2020 Melvin Gaines