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Your Place Among the Church

In a men’s gathering this past Saturday, one of our elders taught from the Scriptures on God’s provision for His people. The truth of God’s provision and its certainty is irrespective of the people’s obedience, heart, or faith. God provided for Adam and Eve in their wickedness and provided for Cain in his murderous exile. God provided for the Israelites even when they grumbled and provided for the Apostles, even in death. Today, God provides for us all that we need for life, most certainly on the Earth, but most gloriously, He provides eternal life in Jesus Christ. The truth taught opened the floor for the brethren to discuss and share their thoughts and quickly the ‘provision’ of God went to the matter of need vs. want. After about 30 minutes there had been great dialog ranging from those in history who had nothing but were able to be used by God to those who had everything and provided for many through the resources God provided. The discussion also sparked an interesting array of other “provisions” given by the Lord when a young brother read out of the book of James on how those who teach are the Lord’s provision for the sake of the church and how the Lord provides an understanding of the Word by the Spirit. All in all the time was a rich blessing.

While the conversation was broad and the testimonies were plenty, the matter of financial gain and the love of money had deep and dogmatic thoughts associated with it. We were all reminded of the lures of such things and were exhorted and admonished to know how quickly idols come into our lives. We remembered the men of history such as George Mueller who had such a grace from the Lord, he was able to trust that the Lord would send financial assistance through the mail as it was needed. As a result, he operated his orphanage in extreme peace. By the end of a couple of hours, we all departed, and some of us talked further in the foyer and later through lunch. I was amazed at all the different takeaways from the meeting. Some brothers felt conviction for having a weak faith, others were encouraged by the Word of God, while others seemed to be concerned they weren’t doing enough for the sake of Christ. Afterward, I prayed and contemplated the morning and thought about the greatness of God’s plan for His church, and marvel how He is in growing and providing for us in all ways. Here are a few thoughts.

God is Mighty in Provision

There is no doubt about it that I was encouraged to remember that God is the ONE who makes all things work. He is the giver of life, the giver of faith, the creator and lover of my soul. God is always working for my good, my sanctification and has sealed my redemption. Therefore I am pleased, at ease and my soul rests. There is nothing in my life that God has not sovereignly decreed. This is a place of rest.  NO matter how difficult things may be. No matter the worry or doubt, God is the provider. He provides when it seems as if there is no hope for tomorrow. He is always ready and always prepared and for that, we are always thankful. God provides for the birds of the air and the grass of the fields, He will surely give us our daily bread. God is most glorious in the provision of Jesus Christ, His Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Amen.

God is Marvelous in Production

It amazes me just how God produces all things in this world. He causes all things to hold together. He makes the seasons change, the crops grown, the livestock to flourish and the wind to blow for the sake of the rain and harvest. God is a producing God who produces much for His purpose and glory through all He has created. Think about the reality of having no milk. There would be many good and pleasant things that would not exist. What about if there were no eggs or wheat or fruit? How many necessary pieces of this world exist dependent of each other without us ever even considering that reality? Not only is everything good a gift from God, but all that exists is from His hand. Even the local church. He made her, he bought her, he created her through the blood of His Son. This is a marvelous production of God’s Mighty Provision.

God is Manifold in Purpose

Sometimes people seem to esteem their position and calling more than others. This is a mark of immaturity. At the same time, immaturity reveals itself through others feeling less important than others. Think about this for a minute. God has completely and divinely orchestrated the local body of believers and each person is absolutely necessary for the benefit of the whole church. I’m going to spend a few more minutes on this thought in relation to our men’s gathering. Some people in the local church often have these mixed feelings of grandeur and grand-dooo. It is rare that everyone at all times sees the amazing and manifold purpose of God at work in each person. Sadly, though, when we talk about provisions, and then money, the church could even be divided on the purposes of God related to the haves and the have-nots.

God’s purpose in the church is glorious and there are weak and strong people in many facets. For instance, at all times there will be people with great faith and weak faith. Great understanding and no understanding. Visible gifts and invisible gifts. In the end, the body works to function together. If we were all fingernails, that would just be gross and useless. If we were all heads, then we’d be going nowhere, doing nothing and quite honestly, it would be annoying. God has put the church together and inside the church God’s manifold purposes in each individual are seen to fulfill His overarching purpose of the church: It’s perpeturity and praise! (among other things)

Think about how God provides for the church. Now I am not talking about what most congregants would consider “for the church” in that I am not talking about tons of money and professionals who support and engage with great skill magnificent programs and productions that awe the world. We don’t have need of such things and that is not even on my radar with this article. God provides for the church through His power and for His purposes to the praise of His glory. He provides all the necessary parts in order that all parts may be unified, fulfilled, provided for and producing all that He has decreed.

1 Corinthians 12:18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. (ESV)

Look at this! God has placed everyone together as He wills. He has done so in order that the body would function properly, take care of itself and display His wisdom before each other, the world, and the Heavens. So, back to the matter of provision. As a pastor, God has called me to lay aside my life, body, mind and talents and in turn, I am to take the life that would have been spent on those things and give it to serve His redeemed. So, for the last 20 years I have not been able to be gainfully paid for anything. (We’ll talk about the idea of “paying” vs. “supporting” a pastor in a later writing). There has been very little opportunity and now, very little usefulness for a man like me in the work force, business world, or anything else. My skill set and education is now permanently limited to the work of the church, the work of the word, the work of depending upon others.

With this in mind, why would it be wrong or worse, less Godly for another man to work hard and earn a living? Not all men are called to be pastors. Not all men are called to forsake the work of their hands for wages. If they were, then who would support those who cannot support themselves? Who would God use to provide for those in need? It’s often easy to see our value when we’re always teaching and working with others, but sometimes we and others look at the teaching/preaching role in the church as the greatest role. In the context of 1 Corinthians 12, Paul is rebuking the Corinthians for their continued egotistical and prideful desires. In conversations with the brethren all the time I get two sides of this coin: “I wish I could get a better job so I could give more to help the body.”  Others then say, “I wish I could just quit my job so I could serve more in the body.”

The problem here is not station, it’s persepective. If everyone was a teacher and had no job, then there would be no church. If everyone worked full time and had no time for teaching, praying and shepherding, then there would be no church. It takes all places and stations and God has purposed all of them. Whatever gift we have been given, whether it be money, talent, skill, etc. we are to use it for the benefit of the church. We are to utilized the grace of God in our lives for the sake of others. And while the crux of this conversation is on provision, let’s think about how God’s provision for the church to function is given. It’s not all about finances. It’s not all about service. It’s not all about missionaries or preaching/teaching, prayer or function. It’s about the glory of God. God in His power purposes, provides and produces the work of His plans in and through us! Be at rest in the place God has you, server well and rejoice!

God is Magnificent in Power

This powerful display of God’s wisdom in the local church is a grand gesture of divine glory. Only God could produce such a spectacle! To see people from all walks of life, all maturity levels, all stations, all abilities, all passions etc.; to see them live together in unity, love each other, forgive and forbear, provide and protect each other is completely a work of God. This is a powerful display for sure and one of the greatest displays God’s power is how He utilizes small and weak things to do great things. There are some poeple who exist in the local church who have no money to help support the work of the church. They have no strength to build and carry heavy items. They have no expertise to lend a helping hand on many matters. They have no real call or aptitude for teaching the congregation. They may be too young, or in their mind they may be too old to feel useful. They may not see any good at all in their connection with the family of God. I suggest that in all the church, these may be the most powerful people in the world. Let me bullet a few thoughts relating to this:

  • Those who are weak reveal the grace of God as their strength and encourage others to walk in faith.
  • Those who have nothing can patiently and joyfully resolve to be content and call others to a place of worship as an example of God’s provision.
  • Those who are too old have an obligation to prepare the younger generations and teach them from the wisdom that God has granted.
  • Those who cannot do, or be with the body, are most certainly the pinnacle of the glue that holds all things together, as they are able to pray and intercede more than all of us.
  • Those that are broken and unable to see any good are objects of ministry and service and prayer; enabling God to be glorified in the acts of kindness and love given.
  • Those who can’t give money like they want can give of their time and help those in need as God allows.
  • Those who are not teachers still have great opportunity to teach at every turn, encouraging each other in the faith and instructing each other with the word.

1 Corinthians 12:22-26

[22] On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, [23] and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, [24] which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, [25] that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. [26] If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (ESV)

Look at the wonderful POWER of God!

God is Motherly in Practice

WE learn and He is patient with us. We fall and He is there to carry us. We sin and He reminds us of Christ, our propitiation. When we fail to see the glorious place God has provided for us in HIs church, He is patient. In the same manner, we are to be patient with others. We are to be willing to correct and recive correction. It is a glorious and blessed reality when we learn to live together in true unity. Scripture teaches that God is like a mother who cares for her children. We too should be caring in all our ways. When some of us stuble, when we fail to rejoice, when we think too much or too little of our gifts, we have to remember that we are all in place, providing what God has purposed for us to provide. And let us all remember that ALL that we are and ALL that we do are HIS works in us in the first place.

Rest well beloved.

Pastor James

 

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