If you’ve ever been in any type of relationship, you know by now that all relationships require work. I am not just talking about a marriage, but rather any type of relationship. We all know people and it takes work and great effort to maintain these connections.
Our relationship with God is no exception, and it is actually the most important relationship that we can have with anyone. All of our other connections with others can actually sometimes reveal things about how we relate to God and our own relationship that we have with Him.
Today, we will talk about how important it is to maintain our relationship with God and how this can help us keep the faith.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
This is where we must begin. We need to develop a relationship with God where we pray often. This involves talking to God, and also listening to God. God can speak to us in different ways and we need to be sensitive to hear what He is saying. Prayer is a great way to build our relationship with God and grow in our faith.
Like other relationships that we have, if there is no communication the relationship will suffer and this can unfortunately have some significant impacts in our life and the lives of others. Maintaining relationships is key and asking God for wisdom where needed is also extremely beneficial.
Be in the Word
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
One of the greatest ways we can grow in our relationship with God is by being in the Word. Sounds simple, but this requires discipline and taking the time to actually read and meditate on God’s Word. Faith comes by hearing the Word, so we need to hear it, read it, know it, live it, and share it with others.
I remember when I first heard about Jesus. All I wanted to do was learn and I had such a desire to serve God in whatever way I could. I very much still desire that today, but I have also learned the importance of reading God’s Word for myself and making this a priority. This is so important for us, so that we understand what God is specifically saying to us as individuals.
Hope in the Lord
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
When times get challenging, we need to have hope. Our faith is sometimes tested and sometimes God is allowing us to go through certain things so that we can grow and be more mature in our faith.
When we have hope, we allow God to do the impossible in our lives. He is a miracle working God, and all things are possible with Him. Hoping in the Lord also allows us to keep going, to keep the faith. I think about people like Noah and Job, who had very obvious challenges, but they continued. No matter the circumstance and no matter what people said, they trusted in God. This is the kind of hope I desire. The kind that does not waver. What about you?
Fight the Good fight
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
When Paul wrote these words, he must have been so full of emotion. What a feeling to fight the good fight, to finish the race, and to keep the faith. This is something we should all be encouraged about and make a priority in our own lives. Paul also encouraged others to do the same. It’s also important that we are encouraging others daily. The reality is we all need encouragement at times, so we need to do the same for others.
In all of our relationships with others, we take the time to maintain these friendships and relationships. Today, we talked a little about how we can maintain our own relationship with God. There are many other ways, but by being in prayer, in the Word, hoping in the Lord, and fighting the good fight, we have some very practical ways that we can use to get closer to God.
Are you keeping the faith? Are you sharing this with others?
At OMS Canada, we are always looking for others to pray with us. Prayer is essential and we are always in need of more prayer warriors to pray for our OMS missionaries, projects, and ministry. Will you consider starting this new year with taking the time to faithfully pray together with us? We would love to see you on zoom!
May God continue to equip us for every good work and may we use all of the resources and tools that we have to keep the faith and spread the gospel to others. There are way too many who have not yet heard and our hearts are for those people. May God be glorified in all that we do for His glory.
Hello, and welcome back to our series on Spiritual Warfare and Missions (SWAM). If you missed the previous posts in this series, you really should click here to read them first. And be reminded that this series is based on the book by Jerry Rankin and Ed Stetzer called Spiritual Warfare and Missions.
Last time we learned that part of Satan’s Strategy is to erode the faith of God’s people. In the same way that the children of Israel believed the negative report of the 10 spies rather than the faith-filled report of Joshua and Caleb, the enemy has eroded the faith of God’s people in our day. Collectively, we have become fearful of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Tribalists and the unreligious, believing that the message of the Gospel is not powerful enough to save or not worth the risk to ourselves and others. May God forgive us for our lack of faith.
This week we will see Satan’s strategy to destroy the spiritual vitality or energy of the church.
If Satan cannot get us to neglect our mission to the nations due to lack of faith, he successfully debilitates our witness by eroding the distinct witness of a dynamic, spiritually transformed people of God. Even in Canada, churches seem to have little energy for engaging their culture in an attractive, positive witness that would draw people to Jesus. Unbelievers may even attend our worship services and see a shallow, meaningless ritual that does not speak to their life needs and even discourages them in their search for God. The lost see Christian neighbours loading the family into their SUV for the Sunday morning pilgrimage to church but observe their squabbles, conflicts, and indulgence in a self-serving lifestyle that hides any reality of a vigorous faith.
Unfortunately, many Christians compromise their walk with the Lord by adopting the carnal values of the world. They give in to the temptation for fleshly gratification that comes from a materialistic and hedonistic lifestyle. The Holy Spirit is grieved and God is deprived of His glory when people become in bondage to internet porn, allowing infidelity to destroy a sacred marriage covenant, or engage in fraudulent business practices. Sexual innuendoes and vulgar language become such a normal part of television entertainment and the workplace environment that we dismiss it as meaningless and even participate lest we be perceived as prudish.
What we are failing to see is how the enemy of our souls is devastating the spiritual vitality of a life that has been redeemed to reflect the glory of our Lord.
Satan knows that most Christians are repulsed by the blatant disregard for God’s Word and the unrighteous values expressed by society, or at least they should be. So he subtly leads us astray in other devious ways to destroy or nullify our witness. Most churches faithfully proclaim the Word of Truth and try to nurture members in the faith, but they are unwittingly distracted from recognizing its calling to a global mission and diverted from its task of exalting God among the nations.
Israel continually fell into sin along the way to fulfilling God’s mission. Their half hearted devotion to the task, while longing for the comforts of Egypt, is reflective of the attitude of many today. Their complaints about the sacrifice required to be the people of God discouraged even Moses. Even after they got possession of the promised land, their continual attraction to the high places of pagan altars and inclination to worship the Baals compromised any hope of being the people that would exalt God among the nations and proclaim His glory to the ends of the earth. They even engaged in carnal revelry and turned from God to worship the golden calf along the way.
Here’s how the apostle Paul reflected on this incident:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea… and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now, these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” (1 Corinthians10:1,4-7)
What an indictment and powerful warning for us. The people of God were anointed for a special mission that came from none other than the pre-incarnate Christ. They were led under a covering of God’s Spirit, benefactors of the miracle-working power of Almighty God. But they were rejected and struck down because they were more interested in enjoying life, feasting, and playing, than pressing forward in obedience to fulfilling God’s mission.
Think about it; in God’s providence, what that was all about was an example and a warning to the New Testament church and God’s people today. You do not mess around with a sovereign God who has called you to a mission of glorifying Him among the nations. Our time-consuming church fellowships and expensive activity centers, built for our own enjoyment, reflect something of the values that brought judgement on Israel in the wilderness.
So Satan opposes the mission of God by opposing local churches. He has a vested interest in what is going on at your church. Satan would love to keep churches self-absorbed, blind, and inward-focused. If he can only stop us in the parking lot, then the lost in our communities will never see or hear the gospel. He would love to stop us before we get started. So he will attack the health of the local church and its members. He will attack relationships; he will draw people into sexual immorality and create a false sense of wellness, all to keep the mission of God stalled.
Healthy churches are populated by healthy believers. How can you tell when believers are healthy? You can tell they are healthy through their relationship with Jesus Christ. Healthy believers are passionate about what Jesus is passionate about. Healthy churches, in turn, are always involved in the mission of God, everywhere. They are doers of the Word, not simply hearers. They are obedient disciples of Jesus.
So, how are you doing? Are you comfortable with your little routine of going to church, hearing the Word preached and believing that’s all that’s required? Do you have the feeling that there is more to this Christian life? Or are you one of those obedient disciples who is impacting your community and your world with the gospel of Jesus Christ? Let us know in the comments below.
And if you want to know more about how you can become that kind of follower and that kind of church, we have some practical steps you can take to move toward that kind of obedience. Get in touch to learn more.
I was on a website this morning about legacy giving. Don’t know what legacy giving is?
A legacy gift is a planned future gift that designates some part of an individual's estate as a donation to a registered charity.... In some cases, legacy giving can be a source of funding from supporters who haven't had the ability to make a major gift during their lifetimes.
However, like most Canadian Christians, you’ve probably spent a lifetime contributing to a cause that’s close to your heart. Now imagine making a bigger contribution than you ever thought possible, without using any of the money you need during your lifetime, or significantly taking away from your loved ones. You can do both with a charitable gift in your Will. This is Will Power.
Consider an average estate of $845k. You probably want to leave the majority of your estate to your loved ones. But what if you left a small portion of your estate – 5% of it – to your charity of choice? That small percentage translates to a $42,000 donation, a bigger impact than most of us would ever be able to make during our lifetime. Imagine what could be accomplished with a donation that size!
It’s also important to consider that a charitable gift in your Will can go a long way towards reducing the amount of taxes to be levied against your estate after you pass.
The truth is, you could be using your Will to do a lot more. You can take care of your family while making a big difference for the causes you care about.
We all want to help those around us and leave the world a better place. Leaving a charitable gift in a Will is another way to make your mark.
I would love the opportunity to speak to you about your Will Power. Give me a call at 289-812-0661 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Answer to Prayer
For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? (Deut. 4:7)
Most Christians have a moment when they pray in desperation. It feels like their whole future is falling apart. They send rushed text messages to friends sharing their pain and asking them to pray. They lapse into a tearful silence, with a sense that words had finally failed them. They needed to call out to God but wondered if he would hear them or if he would care. At that moment, what would they call him? How would their prayer start? Who hears them?
We refer to God by different names: God, Lord, Father, Jesus, Spirit, Savior, and countless others. Each sheds light on God’s character. Sometimes we call God by a certain name to emphasize his goodness or his mercy. Sometimes we call on a specific person of the Trinity, like when we pray to the Father. Other times, we may refer to him by his title, “Lord.”
On that tearful, desperate night, I hope you know whom to call on. This name isn’t new. Millions of Christians had called God by it over the ages. It was a name that was common to the Puritans, a name that may begin to reshape your idea of who God is and how he loves you.
That name is “Providence.”
Who Is Providence?
The early church father Irenaeus wrote, “The Maker of the universe . . . exercises a providence over all things, and arranges the affairs of our world.” Providence is the way God sovereignly rules all of creation. But it’s more specific. More than a thousand years later, John Calvin wrote, “He sustains, nourishes, and cares for, everything he has made, even to the last sparrow . . . nothing takes place by chance”. God cares. God nourishes. God, in His sovereignty, has in mind what is best for those who are his.
In college, I can remember countless debates and squabbles over God’s sovereignty. There were horror stories of overzealous young preachers who used the doctrine like a hammer. But it was the doctrine of God’s providence that turned God’s sovereignty from a hammer into a pillow on which to rest my weary head. I had been told countless times how God was sovereign over everything in the world and my life. The message of God’s providence, however, opened my eyes to the truth: God’s love governs God’s sovereignty. His sovereignty isn’t his cold, harsh rule with no regard or feeling for man. In the doctrine of providence, we see more clearly: God meets the needs of his people, according to his love for them.
When Providence is the one caring for you, you needn’t fear loss or pain or death. This is what undergirds Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 6:25–34. Be anxious for nothing, he says (Matt. 6:25). Jesus says we can look to God’s providence over creation to see his love for us in miniature. The birds don’t sow, but they are fed (Matt. 6:26). The lilies of the field don’t toil, and yet they are dressed with more magnificence than Solomon (Matt. 6:28–29). And we, Jesus says, are far more than they. God isn’t just our Creator; he’s our loving Father.
Jesus’s conclusion is the kicker. “The Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them all,” he says. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:32–33).
He knows you need them all.
God’s provision isn’t arbitrary. He doesn’t withhold blessings to put his children through a cosmic test of pain tolerance. Providence is our God, and he knows our needs. He adds them to us.
On that bitter, tearful night, I knew the God to whom I prayed is the God who knows what I need and who provides for me.
Prayer and Providence
If that’s true, it changes our prayer life from beguiling, bartering, or boasting to faithfully entrusting ourselves to the God who provides—the God who is Providence. When it comes down to it, God answers prayers in only two ways: provision or protection. If he gives us what we ask for, it’s because of his great love. But the converse is also true (and what we so often miss): If the Lord isn’t giving us what we’re asking for, then he’s protecting us from it. Because God provides his children with only good gifts, any time he withholds from us we can be sure it’s because that blessing doesn’t serve his ultimate purpose: to conform us into the image of Christ.
Sometimes God withholds things we ask for because the thing itself is bad. Other times he withholds it because of the rotten fruit it would bear in our lives, the unseen pain it would cause, or the lessons or formation it would steal. Sometimes God’s “no” is for a season, whereby he provides for us, in the waiting, that which we couldn’t get through immediate gratification. Often we’re called to be like the woman from Jesus’s parable seeking justice from an unjust judge—to wait on the Lord and be persistent in our asking. But even then, God isn’t the unjust judge. In those moments, he isn’t holding out until we grovel; rather, in his providential timing, he’s forming us and conforming us until we’re ready to receive his answer.
Whatever the answer, we can be sure of this: In every granted request and every “no,” the one who answers our prayers is Providence himself. He has shown us in the incarnation, cross, and resurrection of Christ the extent to which he’s willing to go for our benefit.
Charles Spurgeon once said of God, “[A Christian] trusts him where [he] cannot trace him.” When the dark night of the soul comes, when the tears flow over like a river after a rainstorm, and when our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling, we can rest assured that our prayers are heard and answered not just by the God who reigns, but by the God who provides, nourishes, and promises to make all things new.