Tuesday, May 19, 2020

God Will Always Ask The Impossible

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

God never asks you to do something that you can do without Him. You will always need God to accomplish what He sends you to do. Remember Gideon. God used Gideon to defeat an army of thousands using only three hundred men, torches and clay pots. When Moses sent the twelve spies across the Jordan to spy out the land, all but two (Joshua and Caleb) came back with bad news. In the minds of the ten, it was impossible for Israel to defeat the giants that lived there. It was too hard a task. Forty years later, Joshua was once again standing at the banks of the Jordan. The task was the same. Joshua was to take the land for Israel. And the Lord said:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ― Joshua 1:9

God chooses to use ordinary people to do what is impossible in the minds of men. If you are going to do something for God, you cannot do it apart from God. What any of us do that has eternal benefit for God is by the power of God through His Spirit.

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts” ― Zechariah 4:6

I would be at great fault if I did not make it clear that anything that was accomplished during Martie and my journeys must be credited to the dedication and commitment of the hundreds of volunteers that helped us. Volunteers that God provided. Time and again, the right people with the right skills, heart for service, and financial resources came to Mississippi, and later to Haiti and now to Texas. When we faced the trials and challenges that we encountered, we most often had no idea how to overcome them. “But God” is perhaps one of the strongest phrases in the Bible. It appears no less than 47 times. But God met the challenges and trials using the volunteers who would come to our aid. I could not possibly acknowledge each one, each group, each church that set their lives aside to help the “man in the ditch.” I would have to devote an entire book to each one of them. Not only did they minister to the people in the communities, but they ministered to Martie and me.

What we did and are doing, where we served and are serving, was and is very difficult and, at times, dark and dangerous places to be. Those God sent to help us were like the balm of Gilead. They encouraged us. They blessed us. They stood in the gap for us. To this day we count many as dear friends and partners in the fields in which the Lord has set our plow.  God uses ordinary people to extra-ordinary things as a witness or testimony to Him. Has God asked you to lay something down to follow His leading? Were you, are you, willing to do it? 

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” ― Luke 14:26

Does that sound harsh to you? Do you question whether God would really ask you to put Him before your family? Are there limits to what you would be willing to do? That verse doesn’t mean you can’t love your family if you love God it means that you must love God more?  If you read Matthew 22:36-39 you see that God requires all of your devotion and that devotion then gives birth to a love for others. Saying yes to God requires faith ― trust ― obedience. Where we get into trouble is when try to do something for God without God.

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’  Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:36-39

Have you faced faith challenges in your life? Are you facing one now?  

Most people I know put a limit on their devotion to God.  We all struggle with that problem.  We struggle with the tension between natural devotion and spiritual devotion.  Anything can become a god if we let it have preeminence over our devotion to God.  The second greatest commandment is to love others, but that is the second greatest, not the first.  God really asks very few to physically abandon their families to serve him.  But He commands every one of us to abandon any and all devotions that would push Him aside. 

Even loving Him more requires Him to do it.  We can’t do it on our own.  We must do it in faith by the power of the Spirit.  There are many admonitions in the New Testament to love others – above ourselves – but never above God.  The temptation is strong, but God is stronger.  God never asks us to do anything that we can do on our own except this one thing; to lay our lives down at the foot of the cross, to trust in God and not ourselves.

Let me close with Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, ac-cording to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” – Ephesians 3:14-21

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