Tag: Support

Many People In This City

20130419-164033.jpg“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God.” (Acts 18:9-11)

The above scriptures refer to when the Apostle Paul and his team were ministering in Corinth. It seems as though Paul had considered leaving the city. Up until the night of the Lord’s visitation, things had been pretty rough for the ministry team. Sure, they’d had witnessed people become believers, but ministry had been difficult.

In fact, Paul even had to work a secular job for awhile.

Just think of the type of people Paul was preaching to: “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people – none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NLT)

People involved in sexual sins, idolatry, adulterers, prostitution, homosexuality, stealing, greed, etc.; these are people he ministered to.

Sounds an awful lot like today’s society, eh?

Your “average” church goer has no clue the difficulties a minister has to face. “What difficulties? Good night, Irene, the preacher only works one day a week! And that’s only for a few hours. Difficulties, right. What’s so difficult about speaking?”

If it’s so easy, why doesn’t everyone do it?

Just talking to individuals or a congregation isn’t difficult. Giving a generic speech won’t draw the threat of attacks. Lofty, high-minded words won’t challenge the powers of darkness!

But when a man or woman of God determines to set aside the “stage show”, the theatrics, and the “motivational homilies” for a reliance upon Heaven’s Word with the anointing of the Holy Spirit…

…all hell can break loose.

And though the battle blazes around this kind of preacher, this kind of message, this is the way people are set free. This is what delivers them from the power of darkness, from the kingdom of hatred and death.

“Some of you were once like that…”

Most everyone knows some preacher who got involved in some kind of sin, thus disqualifying them, at least for a season, from “ministry.” Boy, howdy; do I know about that! And everyone is quick to point out the character flaws leading to the “fall”.

I’m not making excuses for anyone. I’m simply trying to make 2 points.

1. Preachers, ministers, leaders, need extra prayer covering. They need support, not idolized for their speaking or sermonizing ability.

2. Preachers, etc,,must rely upon the Spirit of God, the protection of God, and the unadulterated Word of God. They must not put their faith in people’s response, or lack of response, tithes and offerings…anything other than what will give them the spiritual strength to deal with a spiritual enemy.

Ministry is difficult, but eternally necessary. And it isn’t just a preacher’s responsibility to bring people into the Kingdom; it’s every believer’s call.

There’s no other way to reach the “many people in this city” belonging to Jesus!

“When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness – timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NLT)

The Power of Encouragement

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“What if the spirit of encouragement ran rampant throughout the church?”

These are the words I heard The Lord speak to me one evening last June. That question has stirred the heart of my wife and I over and over ever since. The incident, the scripture, that stirred “the question” that night is the subject of this blog. It also was the catalyst The Lord used to lead me to writing a book, “the Power of Encouragement”, published in October by Westbow Press.

I had been reading in the Word about the Apostle Paul, at the time he was just getting saved, Acts, chapter 9. He had an encounter with Jesus that literally rocked his world! He never looked at things the same after that experience.

Saul began his walk with Jesus as a New Creation in Christ. As with all of us, he started his walk as a baby Christian. Babies are so cute! But they also can be very demanding, touchy, and convinced the whole world revolves around them. Every believer goes through the baby stage; but unfortunately, some never outgrow it.

Anyway, Saul began preaching Jesus all over the town. Please, please, please understand this truth: preaching does not equate with spiritual maturity! Baby Saul was trying to introduce Damascus to Jesus! Some of the people were excited to meet Him, but enough others only wanted to shut Saul’s mouth; permanently. So his friends sent him to Jerusalem, by dark of night.

When he arrived, he tried to get a face to face meeting with the church leaders. But when they saw Saul’s name on their caller id, all they could think of was the old Saul, the persecutor of the church. So they stayed clear. But a prophet/teacher by the name of Barnabas had heard about Saul’s conversion and his preaching experience in Damascus, and welcomed him; introducing Saul to his circle of friends.

Saul started preaching again! I think he figured his reputation alone could draw a good sized crowd. He was right! Problem was, they weren’t there for a revival. They were there for a funeral. Saul’s! So, once again, he packed up and moved; back home.

This is what grabbed my heart in studying this part of scripture. I’d never seen it, or heard it preached like this. The thing The Lord showed me was Saul went back home to Tarsus! He didn’t go to plant a church, lead a cell group, or anything else but just go home.

Nothing wrong with going home. Nothing wrong with taking a break. But Saul was there for quite some time. I’m convinced he would have stayed there had it not been for Barnabas who went to Tarsus to find him.

Barnabas, the Encourager! See how powerful encouragement can be. It is strong enough to handle the burdens of others, enduring enough to make a long journey for a friend. It’s passionate about seeing people walk in and fulfill their calling, and stubborn enough to not take no for an answer.

So what if the Church was to be overrun by Barnabas’? What if the spirit of encouragement ran rampant in our fellowships? What if each of us set aside our own agendas, preferences, prejudices, and whatever else that gets in the way; what if we just decided to help encourage others regardless of the personal cost?

Well, what would the Church look like today if, 2000 years ago, someone named Barnabas had decided he really didn’t have the time or resources to encourage some fairly new Christian named Saul?

How many “Saul’s” are right now sitting at home, discouraged and disillusioned about church, ministry, or life in general?

Too many…

Throughout my book I look at different ways to help stir up the spirit of encouragement in the church, starting with you and I. There is also a section to help the reader learn how to encourage themselves.

The book is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other book distributors. Any bookstore can order it for you, as well. It is also available in eBook format.

The whole reason for the book and this post is to ask the question again and again: “what if the spirit of encouragement ran rampant throughout the church?”

My prayer is, “Lord, may we find out!”

Love Is An Odd Thing

HeartLove is an odd thing!

It gives without conditions,
It isn’t fearful of what might happen.
It isn’t blind; in fact, love sees things as they really are.
It is like a mirror, accurately reflecting the condition of the one who stops long enough to gaze into it.

It doesn’t demand it’s own way, or complain if inconvenienced.
It won’t require of others anything it hasn’t already done.
It will not steal, rape, or injure. It simply can’t.
It is intimate, but not obscene.

It is secure, in that it doesn’t need to be accepted to know its value.
It never takes advantage of others; their mistakes, their weaknesses, their generosity, or their trust.
It trusts in. It weeps for. It laughs with. Others.
It fulfills every commandment, plus.

It’s like a saucer that sits under a shaky cup of hot coffee. Catching, protecting, gathering, supporting.

It says one thing and does it.
It’s always trying to find a way to reconcile, yet won’t force its way.
It is the motivation behind every great deed.
It doesn’t require a platform to speak from.

It turns a deaf ear to criticism, yet hears the heart’s cry of the lost and hurting.
It outlasts every threat, every rejection, every indifference.
It is imitated by many, but captured by few.
It is the strongest force in the universe, but gentle enough to caress a broken heart.

It is beyond reason, and our wildest dream.

It won’t be fenced in, can’t be bullied.
It’s too good to be true, yet it is the foundation of truth.
It can not be blocked, stopped, quenched, or killed.
It can be ignored and refused. But it lives on, keeps on.

Love is God, God is love.

It is an odd thing.

Union…Support

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Union-
“an act or instance of uniting or joining two or more things into one”

There are several aspects involved with defining the word “union”, but I think it’s really important to understand the “uniting” concept.

Usually I write about “spiritual” truths, and though this post will primarily apply to labor unions, there’s still a spiritual application to understand.

Whether with marriage, labor, or church, the concept of “uniting” to form one unit (union) out of two or more is the same. Each person that is “uniting” brings to the union all their strengths and weaknesses, answers and questions; in short, who they are and all they are. The union becomes a covenant relationship of sorts.

One major reason for uniting is support. Support FOR each one FROM each one in the union. The strengths of some support the weaknesses of others. Where one succeeds, all succeed. If one fails, it affects all in union. And though there may be personal preferences (which we all have) the success of the union takes precedence.

I have belonged to several labor unions throughout my life, I’ve been married for over 40 years, and I’ve been a Christian (in union with Christ) for 37 years. Each union requires my complete support and allegiance, otherwise the union is in jeopardy.

A few years ago while working for the Postal Service as a Station Manager, I messed up and forgot to do one of my duties. As I sat in front of my boss, answering for my actions, I was in shock by the lack of support I was getting. Finally I said, “I might as well go back to the carrier union; at least I’d get better support!”

Well, that’s where they sent me. Back to support. Back to the union.
(I really want to thank all my union brothers and sisters for their support, and for welcoming me back to their ranks.)

Being in union is more than paying dues, bills, or tithes. It is supporting one another for the benefit of the whole. So be it!

© 2012 Jan Grace

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