Works of God

We are thankful that God is always at work causing team members to look more like Jesus. We desire to testify of the grace of God in our lives, and that through the working of Christ in us, you will be encouraged in your relationship with Jesus.

Don't Flinch

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All the fitness He requireth 
Is to feel your need of Him. 
-Joseph Hart in "Come, Ye Sinners"

I get that I’m supposed to be dependent on God. He’s my all-powerful creator, and He paid the ransom for my captive soul. It makes sense that I need God. But I don’t usually feel a burning, aching need for God. I usually feel sleepy or hungry or busy or just plain normal.

King David, on the other hand, prayed, “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!” And the apostle Paul wrote, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” These guys weren’t trying to be emotional for the sake of being emotional. That wouldn’t have helped anyone. Instead, their feelings sprang from an honest awareness of their own weakness and God’s strength.

So how do I convince myself that I need radical, divine intervention? By looking at God’s law and not flinching.

The Bible is filled with God’s standards for my life. They’re everywhere. And they boil down to, “Love God, and love other people. Perfectly.” I can’t live up to that. So by instinct, I flinch. I shrink back from what God says. Without ever realizing what I’m doing, I turn “be perfect like God is perfect” into “be a relatively good person.” I turn “love your neighbor as yourself” into “do nice things when you feel like it.” I turn “be devoted to God” into “do spiritual activities.” Strangely enough, I almost always measure up to these substitute standards.

But when I look at God’s law without flinching, it crushes me. I see that I’m a spiritually dead man, a helpless slave to my own self-centered motivations. I really do need God to rescue me from myself. And I run to Christ—his perfect life, his death in my place, his glorious resurrection. Christ is all I truly need.

God’s law will never make me perfect. But it drives me to depend on the One who will.

- Daniel Mulder

 

Keep on, Keepin' On

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Keep on, Keepin' On

“Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:58

After being a part of many different ministries, there have been several instances were there has been no tangible outcome. When working at camp in past summers, sometimes none of my campers would make decisions, and I would wonder if I was even making a difference. I would wonder if my labor was in vain and question if it was accomplishing anything. So many times I would get “stuck” with a petty or insignificant jobs, that I thought weren’t important at all, and I would repeatedly ask myself “is my work even achieving anything?”

As I grew in maturity and in the Spirit, I came to realize that it was not my place to question the Lord’s work. It was not my place to search for results.  My place was to be faithful!

In Isaiah 55:10-11 , the Lord tells us that His Word “will not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please.” It isn’t our job to get results. Our job is to be faithful. If we are faithful in His work and in sharing the gospel, His Word will not return void. That is such an amazing promise! In those circumstances when I saw no fruit in my labor, I wanted to give up, simply because I wasn’t seeing any change. God is telling us here in Isaiah to not give up and leave the results up to Him.

Another reason to keep striving in the gospel is that our rewards are not here on Earth, but in heaven. I think many times, especially in my own life, I want to bring glory to myself, and I forget that I should be glorifying God. That is a tough thing for me to admit! I need to remember to not give up the eternal for the temporary. What really matters is eternity!

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” - 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do no break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” - Matthew 6:19-21

I love the words of Jim Elliot, martyred missionary to the Huaorani people of Ecuador, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

- Spencer Shelburne

   

Because He First Loved

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Because He First Loved Us

I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t trust that God loves me. Words like nervous, discouraged, lonely, frustrated, distracted, annoyed, and failing describe my countenance. It hurts. It hurts others. My self-consumed fears cause me to  use people to get what I really want. I believe lies and worry about what people think of me. I wonder why I am left in a swirl of unresolved relational tension, with the only way out seeming like an endless road of I-was-wrong’s and I’m-sorry-I-hurt-you’s. I am faced with the reality that I am a broken person living in a fallen world, and I have to fight for truth.

I’ve been searching for the truth. I’ve prayed for belief in His love for me and change in how I love others. God has been answering my prayers through journaling and meditation on His covenant love. I’ve been encouraged in the Gospel.

Comforted. Secure. Hope. Carried. Empowered. Relieved. Free.

This is what my heart sings when I know how much God loves me.

The cross has become so precious to me because it is where Jesus clothed me in His righteousness, justified me and redeemed me. The gospel is what makes loving other people make sense. Why? Because the Holy Lord over all creation, with all of His majestic authority, with all of his gracious compassion, claimed ME. He has faithfully and mercifully loved me through my weaknesses. Heaven’s treasure bore my sins, suffered for me, and continues to pursue me even when I still fail. Jesus has become how I define myself, my purpose and my strength.

I’ve realized more and more that when I KNOW that God loves me, then I am absolutely free to love others. The only way to truly love others is to meditate on how much I am loved by God. I’m thankful for God’s grace that allows the gospel to take hold of my heart and change my relationships with others.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. -1 John 4:10
We love because he first loved us. -1 John 4:19

- Jessica Garrison

 

What are you boasting in?

Roe_13As I come to the end of my traveling time with the Galkins, I have had many life questions that God has helped me answer, and He is still currently helping me answer.  Three of these questions are, “What cause me to be worldly?” “What has your heart?” and “What defines you?” In light of these questions and the question, “What am I living for?”  I have had one question that God has used to speak volumes into my life. What are you boasting in? This question has been the boiling point of my study in Romans this semester. Although, I am currently still studying it, God has already used much of this study in my life.

The theme of Romans is found in Romans 1:16-17 . These verses state, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” These verses are the theme because they show us that salvation and our righteousness comes from God alone. The religious people in this book were so offended by Paul’s message because it meant that none of their good works or “righteous” deeds actually saved them. They could not boast in anything but what Christ had done for them. All we have to offer God is our sin. We deserve death. Despite our efforts to cling onto our filthy rags, God wants to take them away and give us something more precious, a relationship with Him. Romans 6:9-11,14 states, “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord… For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” This grace far surpasses any sacrifice or effort I can bring to the throne, but should I continue in sin since there is sufficient grace? This is foolishness! I am a child of God and I died with Christ that day on the cross. Although, my “old man” died that day, I still have my flesh but God has given me the Holy Spirit as a witness in my soul that fights against the sin that wants to eagerly take action. Without Christ, I have no right to come to the throne, but with Christ, I can come boldly. I am a wretched sinner saved by grace through the blood of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Who else should I boast in, but the one who lived righteously, who died for me and who is interceding for me at the right hand of God?

As I think about my years of traveling, I cannot boast in things I have done right or in any accomplishments. I could most certainly share failures and hardships, joys and triumphs, but in the eyes of eternity, I can only boast in what God is doing in me day by day. I praise God that I am not the same person that started in August of 2010. God has changed me and I cling to the promise that He will continue to do so. I praise God for the people who constantly poured their lives, time, money, and tears into my own life. I pray that God will bless the team members that probably gave more than I will ever see, in order that I might become more like Christ. I am thankful for the fun times with each team member I had the privilege to travel alongside and especially the Galkin Kids. I will miss them all so much and wish that they would always be with me. I am thankful for Will and Christy, and for their constant forbearing and love towards me. I pray that God would give Will and Christy the strength to continue striving for the gospel, doing what God wills them to do, and that they would have wisdom and love for future team members. I am thankful for Gospel Grace and the work that God is doing there in Salt Lake City and for the people who are striving to live for the gospel. I am also thankful for my family who loves me and constantly prayed for me while I was on team and came to see me whenever they could. I pray that they would live and grow in the Word and continue to serve at Palmetto Baptist Church in Greenville, SC and in the state of Florida. God has been kind these last 4 years. God has chastened me, stretched me, and encouraged me through His Word. I look forward to seeing what God is going to do as I go on to the next chapter of life.

I am also thankful for a providing God. After much searching and prayer, God has guided me to move to Guam in August to serve with Harvest Baptist Church. I am amazed how He directs in ways that are indescribable and obvious. This move was not what I thought God wanted me to do, but now that He has shown me that Guam is where He wants me, I am excited to serve there and be wherever God wants me to be. God did it. I cannot boast in anything, but in the work that He has done. In closing I pray this prayer for my family, my friends, and my co-laborers in the Gospel:

Philippians 1:27 “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”

- Sarah Roe

   

Provoking & Envying

Moon_13 “Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.“ - Galatians 5:26

Lining Up:

I have always been the kind of person that enjoys the outdoors, however, sports have never really been my thing.  Not because I did not try, but because I was not very good. In fact, I remember trying out for the soccer team in high school.  There were about 20 available positions and maybe 23 who tried out (small school). I thought my odds were pretty good. Sure, I knew that I would not start but at least I could wear the cool uniform and get all of the money, fame, and respect that went with playing on a small team in a small town. I was wrong.  A few days after tryouts, the results were posted on the bulletin board for all to see. Twenty-three names, and one bold black line separating the successful from those doomed to the high school equivalent of exile. My name was number 21. Although I was under the temptation to despair, one fact consoled my heart during this whole debacle . . . I was better than 2 other people.

 

Fake Self-worth:

In Galatians 5 after urging the believers to keep in step with the Spirit of God, Paul communicates that walking in the Spirit changes our relationships. Therefore he says do not be “desirous of vain glory.” This phrase comes from the Greek word that means, “conceited” or “falsely proud.” A person who is conceited is characterized with a false or fake feeling of self-respect or self-worth.  A conceited person is coincidentally very insecure; therefore they feel the need to prove their worth, or seek validation. It could be described as a strong desire to be honored, which results in constantly comparing themselves to other people. When they are better than someone, they feel great. When they feel inferior, they are devastated. One commentator on Galatians said that this is a description of the natural state of our heart without the gospel.

The gospel says that I am loved and accepted by the only one whose opinion matters. When I sway into a desire to be honored, because I want proof of my worthiness, I reject the gospel of God’s acceptance toward me.

Superiority and Inferiority:

When we are conceited like Paul described in this verse, we will be “provoking” and “envying one another.”  These are two different ways to relate to the people in your life.  “Provoking” is the way a person who is confident in their superiority treats others. “Envying” is the response of the person who feels inferior.

To refer to the story I started with, I have seen this pattern over and over again in my life. I envy those whose names are written above mine on the list (a list that I have created in my own mind), and I provoke those who I view as below me.  Both stem from a desire to get glory for myself, both are from a heart that is not secure in the love of God.

Response:

Because the gospel creates a right self-image, our response is one of humility. One pastor said it this way, “Rather than comparing ourselves with those ‘above’ or ‘below,’ we look only at our own responsibility to take what we have and are, and offer it to God as a sacrifice of gratitude for what Christ has done.” It is not my role to prove myself to God or others! God loves me. Therefore what I am and what I have is a gift from God and therefore I can love and serve others instead of using them in my little validation game.

C. S. Lewis said “humility is not thinking less of yourself: it is thinking of yourself less.”  As the Spirit of God through the Word of God began to reveal my conceited heart, I was impressed to really pray for the ones that I was most prone to envy and provoke.

Our team took Philippians 1:9-11 as a model prayer to pray for others earlier this year.  I also used this as the model for my prayer in this season.

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."

Would you pray this for those you envy or provoke?

- John Moon

 

The Defining Line

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Since traveling, God has been kind to show me sins and faults that I have never seen before. In this past year, God has been pealing back some undesirable sins in my life.  As you may know, there is a difference in sins that are tolerable and sins that are undesirable. Maybe even describing them as the sins you are okay with having or sins you have grown comfortable in claiming, but then, there are sins you would rather not have anyone see, not even yourself.

God is kind to expose those kinds of sin. If I just kept living in my tolerable sin, I would not see the wickedness of my heart. Ironically, the sin that God has been exposing in me happens to be tolerable and undesirable in my mind. It just got exposed at different times and in deeper ways. Mine is fear.

For many years this sin has kept me “looking” spiritual. For example, I fear what others think, so I serve and try to live righteously in my own efforts. It has also been a sin that I have claimed as an excuse or label. This is where God wanted me. How does this happen? Well, once exposed to my fear of man, I broke. God started putting in me a desire for Him and a realness of my sin. I had a hunger for God. God used this raw form to make me see what my sin was, wicked. I actually experienced freedom in claiming I was a sinner! Through months of shedding my rotten self-righteousness, God used His Word and His people to show me that I was okay being a sinner. Christ died for sinners, not for perfect people. However, I got comfortable and let the sin become a weight in my spiritual race. I allowed fear to define me. Sarah is a fearful person. I was okay with that.

Should that be the end? Should I let sin define who I am?

Colossians 3:3 states, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” This verse tells me that if I am saved, I have died. My sin has died with Christ, and I am now hidden in Christ. Romans 7:4 states, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” I should not only claim my sin, because I ought to know that I am a sinner, but if I only claim to be a sinner then I am the publican who could not see he was hidden in Christ. I should neither claim that I am self-righteous, or I am the Pharisee who could only see what he had done for God in His own strength. He could not see that it is Christ who has done the work.

“Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:2

Jesus completed a perfect race. Why should I claim anything but Christ? Because of Christ, He defines who I am: a child of God, hidden in Christ. May my life dwindle in the light of Him!

 

   

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