Today was my last day serving in the Children’s Ministry at church before I move back for school. It was bittersweet. As much as I anticipate seeing the body in less than a week, I honest-to-goodness appreciate and enjoy my time at my home church (and for today’s topic: children’s ministry) because:
1. I’m with kids who never run out of energy and are fun to be with and encourage!
2. Serving and getting to know other brothers and sisters in Christ. We’ll have an eternity together, and isn’t serving a wonderful way to get to know people you eventually will have forever to spend time with? Makes sense to me!
3. The Bible study lessons. I always learn a lot and am reminded of God’s wonderful plan of salvation and the truth of His Word!
Focusing on #3: Today’s Penetrating Truth:
“You may be the only Bible someone else has in their life.”
We learned about loving God and loving others. I love hearing and rehearing what the teachers say about these two greatest commandments, because the reminders are so necessary for me. I kind of fail at loving a lot. But I digress. When he said this, it stopped me in my tracks. I guess I had never thought of it in this manner before. True, especially in the United States, people certainly have access to the Word. No physical or legal hindrances keep them from obtaining one should they wish it. However, many people never bother to read the truth for themselves or get one. In that sense, the genuine, Bible-believing Christians around them are a (not the, a) significant way that God reveals Himself. In other countries, having access to Bibles is extremely difficult. In that sense, I suppose people make do with what they have and can reach, to the best of their ability. To share the wonderful news of salvation with others by presenting them with a Bible would not be easy, and so when it’s impossible (and when it is, too), people who live out what the Bible teaches may be the most common way someone sees God’s work of salvation and grace.
And it makes me wonder at the glorious purpose God gave us in creating us for His glory. In a fallen world, it’s easy for a person to be discouraged by comparing themselves to others. It’s easy to be discouraged by looking at the sorrow-laden and violent stories around the world. It’s easy to be discouraged by failing to measure up to your expectations of success, of others, of life. I mean, I could go on and on, but that is really besides the point of this post.
In light of all this, God’s creating everything with a single purpose is so amazing to me.
Let’s look at this a little more. With creation, everything “does its thing” a little bit differently. Plants grow from the ground; many yield fruit, others petals and thorns. Clouds gather and pour rain on the earth. Animals survive and reproduce, doing what God created them to do; cats meow, dogs bark, and dolphins swim. The planets in our solar system move around the sun, following the laws of gravity and all the intricacies that I cannot fathom (I am by no means a math or physics or astronomical sciences person. I just appreciate the heavens). The numerous galaxies move according to the will of Him who spoke them into existence.
The various created things work in different ways, but they in fulfilling their purpose glorify God. They do what He created them to do. I was reminded of this in a message this past Friday night. Most of creation glorifies God and obey according to however He designed them to be. When Jesus commanded the stormy winds to abate, they stopped immediately. No questions, no hesitation. All of creation knows who God is and their place. Demons, or fallen angels, obey and tremble when they come face to face with the Creator of all things. The only part of creation that refuses to obey God, and in their fallen nature choose to rebel against Him, are people. All of creation has the singular, powerfully awesome purpose of bringing God glory, and people fight it with all their might.
Living as a sinner, someone who truly most deservedly should suffer forever for the numerous offenses I committed against my Creator and Lord, breaks me. And it humbles me so that God faithfully exposed my sins for what they were and saved for me an eternity of joy spent with Him! To receive so great and priceless a gift calls for a much greater response than intellectual acceptance, rejection – anything less than a humble, absolute surrender.
I read a quote a day or two ago which so powerfully mentioned that a religion that costs nothing, is just that: nothing. Because God is so great, so worthy to be praised, He should be our everything. When we surrender our will because we acknowledge we are not the masters of our lives, when Christ takes over and transforms us continually – not ever giving up on or abandoning us – the end result is glorious. I look back at what God has done in my life and am truly in awe. God works all things for good to those who love Him, and those who love Him are enabled by the Holy Spirit’s work in them. It’s not of us! It makes me even more excited to see how God is working and will work in my life for as long as He has determined me to be here!
And when we recognize this with humility and pursue Him with our lives, when we trust in His Word and His authority, even when we struggle, God continues to perform His perfecting work in us (Phil 1:6). God’s grace helps us to listen to Him and obey with humility, delighting in His commandments, which we grow to love ever more dearly as time passes (Psalm 119:47). We learn good discernment and knowledge and wisdom that stands solidly because it comes from Him (Psalm 119:66). We have great peace and assurance, one that derives its source from Truth (Psalm 119:165). (If you can’t tell, I really really love Psalm 119).
And this all culminates into one thing: how God has transformed us on the inside becomes observable from others. Of course, as humans we are all sinners and cannot attain perfection in this lifetime, but we are continually sanctified as we grow in love with God and actively apply His commandments because they are a delight to us. Actions and words indicate much about the condition of the heart, and I pray that for those who have been saved by grace and their lives have been transformed by the saving faith that comes from God alone, they will be encouraged that we as weak vessels can be used powerfully because it is not we who work, but God who works in us.
Consequently, we can earnestly ask for grace and mercy in our lives, knowing He grants it to us and strive to live as a living sacrifice unto Him, for He deserves all glory, and honor, and praise, for all eternity.
What a wonderful privilege it is! And daunting at times when I think about it, but that’s usually when I think, “How can I (emphasis on the “I”) do this to please Him?” rather than asking Him, “Lord, I want to honor you with my life but I know I can’t do so on my own. Please, help me to glorify you and live for you and not myself!”
And the crazy wonderful almost-too-good-to-be-true-but-SO-true thing?
God listens and answers. 🙂