September 15, 2016

His work, His way

Our church has a Bible study for women. I prayed about it and signed up. At the first session I was wondering why God wanted me there. It was good material, basic and foundational. At the end of the session, I was still wondering if my foundations needed a boost. However, when I went out, the woman at the reception desk wanted to talk. Then God showed me why I was there for that day — she asked me to teach her how to quilt.

Many people think of quilts as granny taking apart old clothes and producing blankets from them. While that still happens, quilting has become a huge industry and an art form. For me, it has become a God-given ministry. Quilts are a huge comfort to those in need, from children to dying elderly people, widows, wounded soldiers, needy families, and more.

In this ministry, I am often tempted to go beyond the leading of the Lord and try to make things happen, but this never works. Even if my ideas seem viable, whatever I push eventually fails. I’ve also realized the importance of keeping short accounts with God. He stops all progress in any project if I have unconfessed sin in my life. Not only that, sin will weigh me down, making hearing His direction impossible, and producing a great deal of negativity and discouragement.

Paul wrote the same thing about his ministry. He was not making quilts for others, but sharing the truth about redemption with others . . .

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:1–2)

God’s mercy calls His people to build His kingdom and do His work His way. It is tough. Many Christian workers are shunned, ridiculed, persecuted, and even killed for their efforts. Yet because of His grace toward us, we carry on.

Doing what we do is for God and for others. Staying within His will in my own life is vital. I must never do anything that is shameful, or even that which seems okay but is self-promoting. I am to forsake all hidden sins that I think no one but God knows about. These affect my behavior and cloud my relationships. They deter God’s blessing on the kingdom work I’m involved in, and even though my activities might look successful on the surface, they lose their eternal value.

I cannot mess with the Word of God either. Some do — to their own downfall. Instead, God wants me to be so transparent that my entire life, including my thoughts, could be projected on a screen and I would not be ashamed, and He would not need to mercifully hide any of it.

This standard of purity is a lofty yet worthy goal. Pursuing it usually means suffering in some way. Jesus was totally transparent and pure in all He did yet His enemies eventually killed Him.

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1–2)

The Lord Jesus Christ lived a sinless life. This shows that being fully human means integrity and transparency, a purity of heart and life that I cannot achieve without yielding my entire life to Him. He will live out His goodness in me as I obey Him.

For Jesus, abandoning His will to the will of the Father also meant giving humanity the ultimate ministry; He died so we could live forever. While I need not do that, God wants from me that same obedience and commitment to His will, no matter what He asks me to do. 

1 comment:

Darrell said...

Very good, Elsie.

“The greatest spiritual crisis comes when a person has to move a little farther on in his faith than the beliefs he has already accepted.” – Chambers

I cannot go up, if I do not grow up. I cannot grow up, if I choose not to give up the barriers and weights that keep me from running the race set before me, with perseverance. Religion cannot procure peace of soul, but RELATIONSHIP with Jesus does. When I am in a struggle of flesh and spirit there is nothing that helps me to relinquish the control of myself, more than a look at the hands and feet of Jesus.