We have been in Pennsylvania for the last few weeks. We spoke 5 times in two different churches here. This also gave us the opportunity visit and say goodbyes to many of Brian’s family and friends in PA. At Grace Baptist Church in Tyrone, we shared what we have learned through this journey. Our hearts goal was to encourage them with all the Lord has done, but we were restored during this difficult time of saying goodbye by the reminders of who God is and how He has carried us along. We thought you might be interested in hearing our reflections too:
1. We are not our own.
“You are not your won for you were bought with a price, so glorify God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20
We have realized that we are not here on earth for our own personal comfort, satisfaction or self promotion. We were purchased by the blood of Jesus, not to live the American dream, but to further His kingdom. You and I are both part of God’s plan to see people of every tribe and tongue worship around the throne. And that should be the driving force behind everything we do. Brian made this point, “As believers in Jesus Christ, we are not on vacation, we are on mission.”
2. The Lord is a great artist.
“The heart of man plans his ways but the Lord establishes/determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
God is a great artist! He is the composer, conductor, and even the rhythm section of a great masterpiece that He calls our lives. When Brian and I look back at our lives, what we saw as just a series of events has been revealed as a great plan that has been leading up to these moments. God has changed our hearts to match His desires and connected all the dots to prepare us for full time missions. Even things that we thought were detours or mishaps, He has redeemed and used. He is always working, even when we don’t see it.
3. God is bigger than we think.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we can think or ask according to the power at work in us.” Ephesians 3:20
We have seen God do some big things. We have seen him supply all our needs in times without income. We had 3 showings and 3 offers on our house in the first week. We saw Him provide for almost all of our funding in just 8 months, which we have heard can take years. We have seen God do BIG THINGS! But you know what, He can do even bigger things. He doesn’t fit in that little box we like to put Him in. Big prayers honor God, because it shows trust that we know He can do it. God loves for us to come to Him with our requests and with BIG FAITH, not because we are some spiritual giant, but because He is a BIG GOD!
The second part of this is also part of the equation though.
“Let us then boldly draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
With bold confident faith I want to come to the Lord. Because Jesus’s blood covers me and bought me the right to come before the throne, I must go and go boldly. It helps me to boldly approach God when I know I am praying in God’s will. Learning God’s Word helps me to pray with God’s perspective. When I pray God’s Word and promises back to Him, I know I am praying in God’s Will. When I pray for the tools needed to do what He has asked me to do, I know I am praying in God’s will. When I know I am praying God’s will, it’s easy to come boldly to God.
4. Do not be afraid.
“Be strong and courageous… It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:7-9
God’s Word is living and active. It comes to us at just the right time. Studying the Life of Moses through BSF as a family has been an incredible experience for us. It has been the thing that has kept us grounded this year. It never fails that God’s Word touches something that we are walking through in our life. In April, when there was an attack in Kenya, fear welled up within me. I sat down to write a post about it several times, but the words were inadequate. As I was working through this, we were finishing up Deuteronomy and God’s Message to Joshua as he prepared to move into the Promised Land was, “DO NOT FEAR. I AM WITH YOU.” And you and I both know what it means when something is repeated over and over….. It means listen! Get this! And this statement is repeated over and over in Deuteronomy and even in the book of Joshua. Do not fear. Be strong and courageous. Just because we are moving to a third world country doesn’t mean we aren’t aware of the dangers. It doesn’t mean we are never afraid. It means we have to take our thoughts of fear captive and make them obedient to Christ. He says not to fear, not to be discouraged, because He is with us. This is what we are choosing to place our thoughts on. This is a constant battle, but when fear wells up God is good to remind us that He is near.
5. Everyone does not understand.
Not everyone is going to be supportive. Well meaning people who love and care for us can say things that are hurtful. Often we recognize that it comes from a heart that wants to protect us or because they will miss us. When we have that perspective, it makes it easier to respond with grace. But sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it puts us in a tailspin of doubt and emotions. We have to take time to bounce our emotions and perspectives off of each other to make sure our thoughts are lined up with God’s thoughts. A facebook friend posted a sweet reminder from God’s Word that has been a source of comfort.
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Son of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 1 Peter 4:14-16
As Joshua led the people into the Promised Land, the Lord parted the waters of the Jordon river for the people to walk through. As a reminder of who God is and what He has done, the people of Israel collected stones from the center of the river to make a monument. These truths are my memorial stones. Reminders of who God is and what He has done.
We pray that they are encouraging to you as well!