As you read this (if you read this on Friday, January 6th, 2012) I will in-rout on a short trip to Japan. Pastor Takeshi and I are heading over to visit the disaster area and build relationships with the Sendai Evangelical Free Church. The people of this church and the church property itself have been greatly affected by the earthquake and tsunami. I will have the opportunity to preach at their three Sunday services. The purpose of our trip is to foster this relationship so we as Cypress Church can learn and grow for our Japanese brothers as well as them learn and grow from us…and of course bring aid and help as they seek to fulfill God’s unique call on their church.
Now, I am telling you all this because, though I am looking forward to this trip and all that it will bring to the growth of our church and the cause of Christ, I have not been feeling well at all and very concerned my ill health will get in the way. Yes, I would love your prayers, but the reason I am writing about this is that God challenged me with something that could be helpful to you as well.
As I was dealing with the coughing, feeling achy, not being able to sleep, mentally in a fog due to different cold medications, and concerned over sermon prep and getting ready for our spiritual growth campaign More Like Jesus (January 15-Febrary 25), God brought me to a great verse.
The verse is a challenge, a challenge that regardless of the circumstances God will accomplish His will, His way, and His purposes. This verse put me at ease. Sure, I needed to still extend effort to be ready; study hard, go to the doctor (and with a box of pills and 3 shots I should be protected from further illness), pack, etc., but this verse put my mind back into perspective that God is the one who will accomplish what He will. He will use my efforts to fulfill His purposes regardless of how I feel.
Now, I know going into a new year we have mixed feelings because for many, maybe even you, 2011 was not that great of a year. Sure, there were some highlights, but we are all too aware of what has gone on in our world; wars, natural disasters, evil dictators doing heinous things to people, the economic melt down, people losing their homes, job loss, sickness, cancer, death, and the dismal list goes on. So when we look forward to 2012 we are just not sure. We can even get a bit worried if the trend of difficult things will continue, like I was worried about my being sick would negatively affect this ministry trip.
2012 can be a great year of living out God’s unique call on our lives; accomplishing His purposes, and bringing Him great glory regardless of life’s circumstances. Jesus told us there will be difficulties – John 16:33 (yes look it up). Sometimes that means we will have to just live with our tough issues like the Apostle Paul did with his ‘thorn’ in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (go ahead turn to it and read it…I will wait). Paul pushed on with this issue knowing that God’s grace was sufficient and so he lived with it. Paul was able to do so because he too hung on to the promise of the verse God gave me.
Ok are you ready for this valuable promise from God? Here it is:
Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
Ok, not an earth shattering truth, but a powerful truth that can bring peace, joy, and contentment. I know it has for me. This verse does not mean God will bless whatever we do. We must read it in context of the whole letter to the Philippians where it deals with us living in obedience to God, serving God’s purposes…being more like Jesus and loving like Jesus…living out God’s unique call on your life.
So as you look forward to the rest of 2012, seek to live out God’s purposes, seek to be more like Jesus, strive to love like Jesus. Yes, you can because God will give you the power and strength to do it despite sickness, the economy, and any other difficulty this year may have for us. I know I am hanging on to that promise as I go on this ministry trip even though I still feel a bit woozy.
Hanging on God’s Promises with you,