First Things @ First
We’ve all become very familiar with the word ‘crisis’ during the last couple of months. And yet, in the two months or more of social distancing, another ‘crisis’ has largely been overlooked. I referenced it briefly last Friday. It is the crisis of belief. Will we, the redeemed of God, saved from sin and safe in His mighty arms trust the Lord for His purpose?
Henry Blackaby, in his writings on Experiencing God reinforces this thought with the fifth of seven realities in living in relationship with God. Blackaby writes, “The word ‘crisis’ come from a Greek word that means ‘decision.’ The same word is often translated ‘judgment.’ We aren’t talking about calamity in your life such as an accident or death. This crisis is not a disaster or a bad thing. It is a turning point or a fork in the road that calls for a decision. You must decide what you believe about God. How you respond when you reach this turning point will determine whether or not you proceed with God in something only He can do or whether you continue on your own way and miss what God has purposed for your life. This is not a one-time experience. How you live your life daily is a testimony of what you believe.
The crisis of belief involves these characteristics—
· An encounter with God requires faith.
· Encounters with God are God-sized.
· What you do in response to God’s invitation reveals what you believe about God.
· True faith requires action.” ‘Experiencing God’ pg. 209
How does any of this apply to our present circumstance?
There are multiple opportunities each day to apply faith in God and make a positive difference in the life of others. One of our members recently shared with me that while checking out at Wal-Mart during the wait, through a short conversation, an opportunity to bless someone was presented. It came in the form of a need for prayer and encouragement from someone this person had never met and may never meet again. The opportunity of helping others in time of need was met with faith. A decision, a judgment, a crisis of belief was embraced by a child of God. And there are others who have made similar judgments at work or while in the way or during a walk.
As one older man of God (now retired) once reinforced in me many years ago--
'what you and I do is really what we believe, everything else is just religious talk.'
It’s time to change the narrative. From what is essential and non-essential to one of being respectful and safe. Time to get on offense instead of defense because the Church cannot storm the gates of hell from a defensive position. So long as the Church remain in a defensive posture, the enemy is given advantage!
This is our ‘crisis of belief’ and it is our response to a God-sized task of first believing God and then behaving like it that God will use for good. True faith is not only declared, it’s demonstrated. Our response of trust in God and leaning not on our own understanding will better help this world than anything coming out of the world system's playbook.
I'm not asking the members of the Lord's Church to be more committed. I am reminding the Church that we are to be more surrendered to God and when we arrive there, we’ll experience the abundant provision of His promise. That is a guarantee from God Himself! And one we need to continue standing on when the world stands against us.
I believe the Lord is sifting His church in 2020 in similar ways that Satan was permitted to sift Peter. (Luke 22) And the Head of the church is praying for each member of the body in the same way Jesus prayed for Peter. I also believe the Lord of glory is sorting out those among the nations who have too long settled for the superficial practices of religion. Those who look like sheep on Sunday morning and live like goats every other day ending in 'Y.' Matthew 25:31-46
The benefit of sifting is that is makes what is fine even more refined with respect to the ingredients necessary for the best purpose in life. And the thing with sorting is that it removes 'the good' from 'the best.' Our good works from His best work!
Yet many in our nation still just want their life back. Some just want to go back to the old patterns that were so familiar for so long. Doesn't that sound familiar? I recall something like that being said from another group of God’s people in another period in His Story. It's found in Numbers 11:4-6. The Message translation reads— “the riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, ‘why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free! — to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.”
And amid our complaint, God still offers the manna of His word, the staple of abundant life daily to all who are willing to gather it in. Like Israel of old, God desires to move us forward through a wilderness of our own design to help us realize His promise! The Church of the Lord Jesus will be leaner when this latest challenge on the journey subsides somewhat. And as difficult as that may be for some to think on, the message long penned and preserved by God Himself will be better received by those who deeply desire it most. The world will better see faith demonstrated in His Church and more willing to embrace it!
"For we (who believe) know that God continues to work all things together for good to them that love Him and for those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
What can be done this week? Much can be done that will endure.
For those in the body who are older and are encouraged to be safe at home, this is the time to pray like you've never prayed before. Call a brother or sister in Christ this week and pray for them over the phone. Encourage them to pray with you specifically about a soul that needs deliverance from spiritual death. Because a thousand years from now everyone you know will be somewhere. The question is where?
Pray for God to push back the darkness of distress and shine His light into the souls of human beings in this community.
Pray for wisdom for those in leadership positions often every day.
Pray also that God would strategically place people in the 'field' that is white unto harvest. Pray without ceasing! 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Redeem the time given because the days are evil!
(Ephesians 5:16) Seize this moment!
For those who are younger in the body of Christ, be on offense wherever the path of life takes you daily. And for many, life is still taking you out into the world every day. Don't quit living for Jesus while on the way thru life! Be prepared concerning our Lord's mission and be ready to speak a word of hope when the opportunity to do so is presented. Be more intentional than you've ever been in your witness through His presence and power! (Acts 1:8) The church remains 'On Mission 365.'
All who know the Lord, regardless of age or circumstance are to be bold in their approach to God through Christ in prayer daily (Hebrews 4:16). When there, permit the Holy Spirit of God to remind you that the consequence of fearing God means fearing nothing else.
God is always faithful!
Be faithful in your walk with God and fearless in your witness of Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith! Hebrews 12:2