Quick note: It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my site. 2020 and the first half of 2021 have been quite eventful, to say the least. When COVID shutdowns started, I went into hyperdrive cranking out videos and helping others with their tech needs. Then I transitioned into overseeing a major addition project on our church which is finally getting wrapped up now. I am cautiously optimistic that I will get back into a pattern of regularly posting new content on this site! Thank you for your patience and support!
The following is a short paraphrase of the message I shared at Cornerstone Church last Sunday. (Here is a link to the full video of that service.) This article will publish in our local paper on Friday – I’ll add the direct link when it is available.
There is a very unique paradox in the Christian faith regarding faith and action. Scripture teaches that God alone does the work of salvation and it is by grace and faith that we are saved. However, plenty of Scriptures also direct us to work hard as a result of our salvation and to work hard to demonstrate our salvation to the world. Sometimes we can fall into a laissez faire mindset in which we almost give up hope on making a difference in the world. Honestly, there are days I’m so overwhelmed by the local tragedies and global events that I want to just hide out in the hills and wait for Jesus’ return in isolation. However, that is quite contrary to the work of Christ and the mission that he imparted to each of us. Instead of withdrawing from a broken world, we are equipped and empowered by the Spirit of Christ to charge into the darkest places to be a light of hope where there is no hope.
When the Israelites were backed up to the Red Sea with the quickly approaching Egyptian army on their heels, God said “The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still” (Exodus 14:14 NIV). Many folks paraphrase that as “Let go and let God.” You have likely seen that phrase on a bumper sticker or t-shirt. But that simple translation ignores the very next instruction which is “move!” And I’m sure that they didn’t waste much time thinking about whether to trust God by walking on miraculously dry land to safety or to wait for certain imprisonment or death by an angry army. Likewise, trusting God today means moving forward and simultaneously praising Him for doing a work that only he could do.
A devotional by Jordan Raynor says, “We are called to trust God to produce fruit through our work, while simultaneously recognizing that more often than not, it is through our faithfulness and hustle that he chooses to deliver that fruit. Trusting God and working hard are not mutually exclusive. They are ideas meant to be held in a healthy tension.”
It is up to us to cultivate what God has given us. W.W. Weirsbe said, “It is encouraging to know that the God who calls us also equips us to do His work. We have nothing in ourselves that enables us to serve Him; the ministry must all come from God (1 Cor. 15:9–10; Phil. 4:13; 1 Tim. 1:12). However, we must not be passive; we must cultivate God’s gifts, use them, and develop them in the ministry of the local church and wherever God puts us.”
In the Apostle Paul’s final letter to the up and coming Timothy, he encouraged Timothy to fan in flames what God had given him. I find it fascinating that, as influential as Paul was, he couldn’t “fan into flames” on behalf of Timothy. Timothy had to do this work himself. But he was not on his own – God was with him. Paul followed that up by reminding Timothy that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:6-7 NLT).
You are not on your own. God is with you. He gave you a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. We would do well to rekindle that which God implanted in us. Uproot the weeds of false teaching, get back to proper nourishment in the Word, and then fan into flames that God-given passion that He gave you.
What is one ember that needs to be fanned into flames today?
Holy Father, Spirit of Christ, come. That ember, the light of Christ that you planted within us – don’t let that be extinguished. Rekindle the fire. Make us alive again. Speak to us, lead us, draw us near to you again. Take our lives and use them for your glory. Amen!