May 28, 2013
Step Out in Faith by Nick Vujicic
Morning Service May 19, 2013 CCF Center
May 28, 2013
Step Out in Faith by Nick Vujicic
Morning Service May 19, 2013 CCF Center
They will be like a tree planted by the water . . . its leaves are always green. Jeremiah 17:8
When friends moved into a new home, they planted wisteria near their fence and looked forward to the lavender blossom that would appear after five years of growth. Over two decades they enjoyed this plant, carefully pruning and tending it. But suddenly the wisteria died, for their neighbors had poured some weed killer by the other side of the fence. The poison seeped into the wisteria’s roots and the tree perished—or so my friends thought. To their surprise, the following year some shoots came through the ground.
We see the image of trees flourishing and perishing when the prophet Jeremiah relates them to God’s people who either trust in the Lord or ignore His ways. Those who follow God will send their roots into soil near water and will bear fruit (Jer. 17:8), but those who follow their own hearts will be like a bush in the desert (vv. 5–6). The prophet yearns that God’s people would rely on the true and living God, that they would be “a tree planted by the water” (v. 8).
We know the “Father is the gardener” (John 15:1) and that in Him we can trust and have confidence (Jer. 17:7). May we follow Him with our whole heart as we bear fruit that lasts.
Loving Lord, I want to follow You completely, whether in times of drought or abundance. Help me turn to You for help and hope.
When we follow God, He makes us to flourish.
The apostle Paul also spoke of the significance of our spiritual roots in Christ. In Colossians 2:6–7 we read, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (nasb). This description forms a fascinating word picture. Being rootedimplies stability and an unmovable quality, yet that rootedness actually puts us in a position to walk in Him. These ideas are not contradictory but actually complement each other. In addition to our rootedness we are being built up and established in our faith, and this produces an extraordinary result—gratitude. The deeper our roots go into God, the more we will realize all He has provided for us.
Christ has saved us, established us, strengthened us, and matured us. What better response can there be than to live thankful lives?
Waiting is one of the most difficult disciplines Christians are called to practice. This is especially true when a heart’s desire is within reach and we feel sure God is about to come through with that blessing. But the Lord always has a good purpose when He asks us to wait, even when we cannot discern His motive for months or even years. Although difficult, waiting is essential to living a successful Christian life of obedience and reaped blessing.
One of the main reasons believers step out of God’s will—and consequently out of fellowship with Him—is overeagerness to act on their own, without first receiving divine guidance. Too often, we make this mistake while trying to do something we believe will bring pleasure to the Lord. But the way to please our Father is by following the Bible’s frequent exhortations to wait.
It is possible, however, for us to confuse waiting with idleness. Pausing for further instructions from God requires a determined stillness—a decision not to act until He provides clear direction. His plan for our life requires no guesswork on our part; He will give instructions when the time is right, so we must be in prayer and in the Word if we are to receive His directives. God works in this way because His plans are interconnected: What we do affects others as well as ourselves, both now and in the future.
Waiting is hard. We don’t want to stand still when our natural inclination says, “Grasp the prize before it slips away!” But wise believers wait until they have heard from God. Only then can we step out with confidence that we are walking in His will.
“The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” (Psalm 34:17-22)
The ultimate contrast is comparison between the redemption of the righteous and the “slaying” and the “desolation” of the wicked. One day this world and all that is in it will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10). The Lord of the universe will build a “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). The One who saved us will dwell with us and be with us, ruling from a new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2-3) in which no thing or being will enter that “defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie” (Revelation 21:27).
All that is evil and all who are evil will be purged from this new world, and all that hurts and destroys will be removed from the very memory of those who are part of the redeemed (Isaiah 11:9). We who own Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, as our Savior and Lord now will rest in the “peace [that] passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
In that “real world” of eternity prepared by our Lord Jesus, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Even so, come, Lord Jesus. HMM III
Adapted from Treasures in the Psalms, Henry M. Morris III, 352.
No man can do us a greater kindness than to instruct us in the right and warn us of the wrong; but probably it is as difficult to accept advice in a proper spirit as to give it wisely. Be it ours ever to listen to the words of wisdom, and never to be above learning from any one.
The first sentence shows that all hypocritical concealment of hatred is folly as well as sin. The last sentence is a severe blow to very many. May it not apply to some of ourselves? Are we not far too ready to repeat evil reports?
How common is the fault of talkativeness. Men talk so much because they think so little. Drums make a great noise because they are hollow. One attribute of a wise man is within the reach of us all—we can be quiet. Let us try it.
The best part of an ungodly man is little worth; this is God’s opinion of him, and it ought to humble him, and cause him serious thought.
They cannot feed others, for they are famishing themselves for want of the truth.
Other riches always bring attendant griefs: none but the Lord’s roses are without thorns.
The whirlwind is only remembered by the ruin which it leaves behind it, and the like is true of many a bad man; but the repute of good men is comparable to an ancient castle, whose deep foundations abide the lapse of ages, and remain as enduring monuments from age to age.
He is obnoxious, objectionable, a nuisance, a provocation. He who would please his employer, must be diligent, quick, and hearty.
It cannot be doubted that true religion, by its temperance, peacefulness, and purity, tends to lengthen human life; and it is equally certain that intemperance, vice, irregular habits, and frequent ill-temper, have a powerful tendency to bring men sooner to their graves than would otherwise fall to their lot. Godliness has thus the promise of the life that now is.
There will come a day when wicked men shall not be found upon this earth: they will die out, and their places be filled up by a holy seed. We long for the coming of the Lord which will usher in the age of holiness.
They try to provoke and sadden others: they have no sense of fitness, but talk at random. Far from each of us be that wild, ungovernable tongue which wounds others needlessly: be ours the gentle, holy conversation which blesses both the hearer and the speaker; thus shall this family be a little heaven below.
Jesus, the sinner’s Friend, to Thee,
Lost and undone, for aid I flee;
Weary of earth, myself, and sin,
Open thine arms and take me in.
Pity and heal my sin-sick soul;
‘Tis thou alone canst make me whole;
Fallen, till in me thine image shine,
And lost I am, till thou art mine.
2 Corinthians 11:27
It takes hard work to get anything done in this world. If you want to do something significant, you must do significant work.
Those who do the minimum—who continually think of how to contribute as little as possible in any given situation—always remain minimal in their impact on the world around them. If a person wants to be successful or impacting in life, he must be willing to do whatever is necessary to accomplish the task that he has been asked to perform.
Are you the kind of worker who is willing to do whatever is necessary to finish a job the way it ought to be done? Do you see yourself as a vital member of the team whose maximum cooperation is needed and valued? Or do you just put in the minimum that is required for you to get your paycheck?
As Paul continues to tell us about his life experiences in Second Corinthians 11:27, he lets us know that he was willing to do very hard work. For him, there was no clock to punch with his time card, nor any employee’s manual to specify how many days of vacation he got off each year. Paul’s whole life was his calling. He couldn’t separate who he was from what he was called to do. His identity and purpose for living was wrapped up in the life assignment God had given him. Because of this, every minute he lived and breathed was devoted to fulfilling his divine assignment. As you shall see, he was willing to do anything that was required to fulfill that call.
Paul uses the words “in weariness” to describe the incredible effort, toil, and physical exertion he put forth to fulfill God’s calling on his life. The words “in weariness” are taken for the Greek word kopos. This word was also used in Second Corinthians 11:23, where Paul told us that he worked harder than anyone else he knew.
As noted earlier (see October 18), the word kopos represents the hardest, most physical kind of labor. It often pictured a farmer who works in the field, enduring the extreme temperatures of the afternoon sunshine. Although the temperatures are hard to endure, he strains, struggles, and toils to push that plow through the hardened ground. This effort requires his total concentration and devotion. No laziness can be allowed if that field is going to be plowed. The farmer must travail if he wants to get the job done.
Many people have the false idea that ministry is comprised primarily of sitting around praying and reading the Bible. The truth is, however, that ministry is very hard work. This is why Paul referred to it as “the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). To fulfill one’s ministry effectively and responsibly, a great deal of hard work is required.
A minister must be willing to give his life to the task of pushing back the kingdom of darkness and establishing newly saved people into a stable and mature Christian walk. Effective ministry requires a person to work long hours, to be focused, to crucify his flesh, and to do whatever is necessary to see that God’s Kingdom is furthered. The minister must fight off the devil’s attacks, deal with people’s instability, deliberately decide not to be hurt or wounded by those who disappoint him, and spend enough time with God to always have a fresh word from Heaven. Let me tell you from personal experience, friend—to do all this effectively demands a minister’s entire life. This is why Paul called it the “work of the ministry.”
Paul goes on to further elaborate about the way he had given himself so entirely and had so thoroughly devoted himself to the work of the ministry. He uses the phrase “in painfulness” to tell us the extent to which he had worked to achieve God’s purposes.
The words “in painfulness” come from the Greek word mochthos. This word has to do with the idea of struggle. The word mochthos is the picture of a person who has worked so hard that he is about to collapse. He is exhausted from physical labor.
You could say that this person is physically worn out because he has overdone it. His job demanded a level of physical commitment that was beyond what is considered normal. But the job needed to be done, so he kept pushing, pushing, and pushing himself further and further. Like it or not, it wasn’t a time to rest. It was a time to toil.
Paul uses this word to amplify the message of how hard he worked in his ministry. You see, ministry wasn’t a job that Paul worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Paul’s entire life was consumed with and committed to fulfilling what God called him to do. It was the driving motivation of his life and the purpose for his existence.
The King James Version calls this type of hard work “painfulness,” but that isn’t the best translation. The only thing “painful” about Paul’s consuming drive to obey God was what it doled out to the flesh, which always wants to take an easier, lazier course of action.
A better understanding of mochthos would be to work yourself until you physically feel depleted of strength. This is the picture of an individual who is dog-tired and drained and who feels like his physical strength is nearly used up. But by using this word, Paul isn’t complaining! He’s rejoicing that in his weakness, God’s power has enabled him to push beyond the normal capacity of human strength.
Because Paul had a heart to never fail or give up, God’s power came upon him and empowered him to do what other men and women could not physically do. Even physical weariness was not a strong enough impediment to stop this man of God.
It is just a fact that it takes hard work to do anything that is going to be successful. Those who try to avoid going the extra mile in doing their work with excellence will never reach the pinnacle of success.
Do you want to be super-successful in life? Then you must go above and beyond what everyone else is doing. If you continually put in only the minimum amount of work and effort that is necessary, you’ll produce nothing more than the minimum with your life. In order to achieve something spectacular, you have to do something spectacular and unique to make it happen.
I urge you today to take a good look at your work habits and to evaluate what kind of worker you are. If you continue at the same pace and level of excellence you are working at today, where will you be in five years? To get to a place of greater responsibility, authority, and blessing, what changes do you need to make in the way you work?
Lord, help me to be a good employee! I know I can do more than I’ve done and perform at a much higher level. And if I give 100 percent of myself to my place of employment, I know I can help my employer make a better profit and become more efficient. Please forgive me for taking a salary for work that hasn’t been done with a full commitment to excellence. Jesus, I want to change in this area of my life. I ask You to help me become conscientious about the way I perform at my job.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I am a good employee. I am so faithful at the tasks given to me that my employer or supervisor trusts me completely when I am assigned a new task. Because I work with all my heart, I bring blessing to my place of employment and to my employer. Every day the Spirit of God is showing me how I can improve in my work skills. Because I am a blessing at my place of employment, I give a good testimony of Jesus Christ to everyone I work with.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Our loving Heavenly Father desires to affect our lives toward righteous character and godly living. Hebrews 12 indicates five ways He does it:
1. He ENCOURAGES us: Verse 5a speaks of His “word of encouragement that addresses us as sons… ” (Greek: paraklesis)
The idea here is one of entreaty, or imploring; much as you would encourage a child whom you want to excel in sports or academics. (See Acts 20:2; Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:3)
2. He DISCIPLINES us: “Do not make light of the Lord‘s discipline… because the Lord disciplines those He loves… ” (vs. 5a, 6a) (Greek: paidea)
The idea here is one of education: Learning that occurs through the pain of discipline. (See 1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:7, 10, 11)
3. He REBUKES us: “Do not loose heart when He rebukes you… ” (vs. 12:5b) (Greek: elegcho)
The idea here is one of exposing our deviant behavior. Telling us of our faults. (See Matthew 16:22; Luke 17:3; 1 Timothy 5:1, 20; 2 Timothy 4:2)
4. He PUNISHES us: “He punishes everyone He accepts as sons.” (vs. 12:6b) (Greek: mastigoo)
The idea here is one of severe penalization: Whipping a person for the purpose of inflicting suffering. (See Proverbs 22:15; 23:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 10:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:6; Hebrews 10:29)
5. He TRAINS us: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (vs. 12:11) (Greek: gumnazo)
The idea here is of one who is trained (disciplined) by God to live a godly life. We, in kind then, are to exercise ourselves in godly discipline. (See 1 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 5:14; 2 Timothy 3:16)
We are to respond to His discipline as follows:
1. Don’t resist, despise, or make light of it; don’t be discouraged, or grow weary from it (vs. 5).
2. Understand it is evidence that we are His spiritual offspring; evidence of His love (vs. 6).
3. Don’t try to get out from under it (vs. 7-9).
4. Understand that discipline results in holy lives, righteousness, and peace (vs. 10,11).
5. Regain your strength and straighten your path as a result of it (vs. 12, 13).