My father says, “the Gospel means “good news.” If it isn’t good news, it’s not the Gospel.”
Pastor Charles Simpson says the Lord told us “feed My sheep,” not “beat my sheep.” :)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:4-7
My father says, “if you are depressed, find someone more depressed than yourself and serve them.”
I can tell you from personal experience, it is encouraging to help others in their time of need. It will lift your own spirits in your time of trial. Many of us have things that bring us down in life, but if we stay focused on our problems that is all we will see. If you look up and begin to look around you, you’ll find others who need encouragement, too.
"Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
God will comfort you, so you can bring comfort to others. It is a beautiful thing.
I was reading Philippians the other day and was struck by a certain passage that I want to share with you…
"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."
"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:8-14
The first paragraph spoke to me of seasons in the journey of faith, seasons that go to the mountain tops where we experience the power of His resurrection and seasons in the valley where we fellowship His sufferings. Fellowshipping the power of the resurrection teaches us that the same power that rose Christ from the dead can help us have victory in this life too (see also Ephesians 1:19-20). Fellowshipping His sufferings teaches us to die to ourselves, just as Christ laid down His life for us (see also John 15:12-13).
The second paragraph spoke to me of not staying in whatever season you are in, but continuing to move forward. I know there have been times where I feel stuck, either on the mountain top (which you might think would be a good thing), or in the valley. But the mountain top is not the final destination. Nor do I want to wallow in the valley in bitterness of soul or the fear of moving forward. Instead, “I press toward the goal…”
My father taught me “faith is the vehicle that moves us forward.” Faith is active, faith grows, and faith can be strengthened. Remember another one of my Dad’s sayings, “if you don’t want to go by faith, you cannot go!”
I know I’ve shared a lot about faith in this blog, but it is one of the key ingredients to the Christian life. I don’t know about you, but I want to continue to move forward, to grow, to mature, to become more like Christ.
How does this apply practically? How can you exercise your faith in such a way that will move you forward?
Well, my father taught me another cool practical faith exercise…at the beginning of each year he used to ask me what two or three things God was speaking to me about - areas God wanted to perfect, strengthen, or bring under discipline, specifically the areas of my relationship with God, relationships with family or friends, and my work. So, I would spend time with the Lord and ask Him to speak to me.
Chad and I periodically do this exercise together and hold each other accountable to obeying what God is saying. Our first New Year we spent together, we fasted for three days and asked God these very questions. The two things I remember were He wanted us to find a church to commit to and He wanted us to look for a new house. Within two months He had answered both these prayers as we sought His will by faith. It was so encouraging, and we saw great fruit come from both these changes.
I encourage you to go through this exercise periodically, so that you can grow in faith and “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of” you for. It is an exciting adventure!