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Tough Times Call For Right Responses

 

The past twelve months since we've moved to Lexington has been a real whirlwind for the church.  Paul speaking to the early churches he planted, in Acts 14:22, states rightly that, "Through many tribulations, we must enter the kingdom of God." Paul's desire is to comfort these young churches. The hardship and trials they faced are part of their spiritual journey. This is equally true of every young church, including ours. The trials we have faced and will face are tailored fit for us. As we move forward in ministry together we need to remember that difficulties, discouragements, and trials will come our way. But what should we remember in order stay the course for the long haul of ministry? Here are three suggestions that I have always tried to remember. I hope they are helpful to you as well.  

 Remembering What God Has Done:

 The photos I see in my home remind me of yesterday when my kids were little and I was younger. But they remind me of God's kindness to me as well. In a similar fashion, God's past actions remind us, like photos, to see that God is a faithful God. What pictures of God's faithfulness do you have in mind at this moment? Moses in Deut. 8:11-14, seeks to remind the people of Israel what God's has done for them so they would not allow pride and arrogance to enter into their lives, " Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today: otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." The past actions of God inspire us forward.

 Seeing Ministry As Service To Others:

I know that ministry can be draining, but if we allow our hearts to be focused on our comfort and our efforts, rather than on the people we are called to serve there will be some major trials ahead of us. When we forget that ministry is people we will become bitter, angry, and resentful toward those we serve. Jesus is the perfect example of how to serve others. His ministry was others focused. He came to serve and not to be served (Mark 10:45). Paul in Philippians 2:7, states, Jesus was made in the likeness of a slave. Again, this accents His selfless service to others. Let’s not forget, also that our spiritual gifts were not given for you and me, but for the common good of the church. The gifts the Holy Spirit gave to you are for others and not your own edification.  If we need a "pat on the back"or a "that a boy"to stay faithful in ministry we need to examine our hearts.

Trust The Word To Do Its Work:

There is always a temptation to shift gears away from a biblical philosophy of ministry when we don't see results like more people in the church, more money in the offering, and more missions being done in the community and in the world. However, in our heart of hearts, we know the Bible is necessary. No, it is vital to ministry success. What else can save? What can sanctify the saint? How will Jesus rule in His church?  We need to be reminded that ministry success is not a worldly standard. So let’s trust the Word to do its work in us and in others.