Saturday, January 17, 2015

Be encouraged, you are not needed!

Dear brethren, look at these two verses,

Psalm 50:12 
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.

1 Corinthians 3:6,7
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."

These scriptures declare that our God is the source of all things, He is the one in control, He is the supplier of all things, we are the needy ones! God is self-sufficient and God is the author of life (physical and ETERNAL). We may labor, we may strain, we may do this and do that, but it is God alone who causes fruit to be born and to grow. This reality takes a necessary burden off of our shoulders, for it removes from us the anxiety of attempting to produce something, to create something which we are unable to do. In fact this is a humbling reality, for we'd like to be able to do something great, something by which we could at least take partial credit, of course we'd never come out and bluntly say we want to steal glory from God, but in our flesh that is exactly what we want.
The pressure is everywhere, for us to do something 'great', to accomplish 'great things'...'for the Lord' of course, oh yes, of course, (hmm) for the "the Lord'. So why is there so much bragging going on? Why such an emphasis on how big my ministry is, how many books you sold, how many followers he has, how many classes they lead, how much they volunteer, how much she can multi-task and so on, eh?
Pride, pride, pride, will lead us to selfish ambition, to seek the praise of men and it will indeed rob God of His glory and it will rob us of our joy as we seek to find pleasure (be content) in fulfilling some 'purpose' that is noticeable to others, that pleasure, that peace, that contentment which ONLY comes from Him who gives it, not from some thing we do. This sort of competitive living among God's people, will lead to the 'body' trying to be parts (of the body) which God never called them to be, namely the NOTICEABLE parts, and then those who are not noticed are not only overwhelmed but envious, bitter, and wallowing in self-pity. 
Only when we realize who God is, who is running His church, who is the HEAD of the body, then and then only can we begin to be at peace with His wise, good, just, and gracious gifts, callings, and positions. 
Can this not explain the lack of praying in churches today? That we don't really believe that such things are in the hands of the Lord, that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, yes even us 'SOVEREIGNTY' people? Wouldn't a fuller understanding of His sovereignty in all things, His workings in and among men, lead us to call upon Him all the more, to plead with Him for help, for power, for grace in all our endeavors? As opposed to just doing more, busy, busy, busy, just adding and adding more programs, more activities, more responsibilities, and consequently a whole lot less time doing those necessary and unnoticed things. 
In such a culture, it should not come as a surprise that there exists a great number of people doing 'small' things that will feel (trained to feel, by implication) quite insignificant and useless. For instance, the young mother who serves a handful of little ones and her husband in such a culture will either learn to find contentment and joy in doing all those things as unto the Lord, OR she will have to 'accept' her meaningless role until she can tell others of how bright or gifted her little ones compared to others OR she will overwhelm herself taking on additional duties (noticeable duties) that will indeed produce those temporal flesh-pleasing praises while she pulls from the most important duties spelled out to her by her Lord and Master in the scriptures, which in the LONG run will lead to much regret.
Now look at this familiar passage,

Luke 10:38-42
"Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Is this passage teaching us that doing work is 'unnecessary'? Uh, duh, of course not! That should be obvious, it's obvious that there are many things that must be done, things which we all must do, work is a GOOD thing! Yes it is good to be 'spent' for the Lord, to serve Him with all our heart, to serve the Lord with all our...'strength'. However the problem for us isn't missing the point about doing those things which are necessary, the problem is that we lack a fuller and biblical understanding of 'necessary'. In this passage we see Jesus rebuke Martha for her anxiety and frustration in her service (anxious while serving, hmm, sound familiar, much?) and commends Mary for sitting at His feet and listening to Him. Wait, Jesus says that was 'NECESSARY'? "But Mary, there are things to do, Mary there are needs to be fulfilled, Mary you're not accomplishing anything, Mary, everyone else is working." 
The point is that Jesus WAS working, that Mary was receiving the blessings which produce fruit, she herself NEEDED to spend time with Christ, she NEEDED to hear from Him, we all do! Our time with the Lord is vital, it is important work, it is necessary! Furthermore, it'll be alright if you stop and rest, it'll be ok if you have to turn down some 'opportunities', it'll be just fine if you can't do, lead or be somewhere.....you know why right? Because YOU ARE NOT NEEDED, God is, you're not, be encouraged, He can handle it quite perfectly without you. 
Lastly let's look at this next passage,

Colossians 3:17-24
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

You see it right? Do you see how this passage is sandwiched? 'Do everything in the name of the Lord'............as for the Lord.......you are serving the Lord Christ." For Him, do it for Him, serve Him! Now consider the ordinary nature of these things, the unspectacular appearance of these things, they are certainly unglamorous, often unappreciated, acts of labor that we would consider anything but 'service' to the Lord. O yes we make mention of these verses and we talk about 'doing it for the glory of God' but do you get it, do you get how God is showing forth His divine sovereignty by placing us in such situations, in such roles, that others may despise, that the world may sneer at, but which God is ACTUALLY pleased by? If then we find ourselves in a limited capacity, or in a season of life where the 'need' is in the places where none see, then so be it, let our resolve be to do it for the one who 'sees in secret' and refuse to please that glory-seeking flesh with the appearance of 'being a servant'. Friend, you must then ask yourself, have you been neglecting the most necessary things in order to find fulfillment in something public? Of course it's always easier to maintain (for a while) the appearance of fruit in public, than it is to be fruitful in private. May none of us respond like Peter to our Lord, when Christ asked 'Do you love me' and proceeded to foretell how Peter would die and Peter responds  “Lord, what about this man?” then Christ tells him "...what is that to you? You follow me!”  Yes, that's it, He's the head of the church, He's gifted the church as He pleases, He plans our lives, He calls us to assume certain roles, He is in control and we the sheep need only to follow Him....not in some roles, not in the 'big' things, not in competition with our brethren, but day by day seeking to be faithful to Him according to His instructions!
Be free from burdens you were never meant to carry, be free from trying to keep up with everyone else, be free from competing, yes be free from worrying about everyone else, be free from trying to perform for the love which God freely offered and demonstrated in the giving of Jesus Christ, do this by repenting and setting your eyes once again on the prize, JESUS CHRIST. Be encouraged, He reigns supreme, the Lord gives, the Lord takes away, He does whatsoever He pleases, besides YOU ARE NOT NEEDED.......but you/we/I need HIM!

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