Great is Your Faithfulness

 

It doesn’t take long to realize that nothing we see stays the same.  A trip to the beach illustrates this as the coastline changes yearly.

Also obvious, is change in people.  Don’t babies change seemingly overnight?  Consider a high school reunion’s effect: “Tell me the truth, do I really look that old?”  No one remains physically unchanged. No human always behaves consistently.  Even the most dependable disappoint.

Some people experience change through betrayal or divorce.  The sweetest relationships endure unintentional mistakes, and, inevitably, loss through death.

The Bible described a life-change: “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.  This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1 NIV)  Job was enormously wealthy and had ten children.

Unknown to Job, God asked Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him.” (Job 1:8 NIV)  Satan stated the only reason Job feared God was that God had blessed him.  If you take away what he has, Satan suggested, he will surely curse you “to your face.” (Job 1:11b NIV)

God allowed Satan to destroy all of Job’s wealth, children, and health.  After devastating loss, Job responded as follows: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’  (Job 2:10 NIV)  In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”

We wonder at Job’s faithfulness.  Many struggle to cling to faith under far fewer  difficulties.  However, Job’s response to three friends who came to explain why he was suffering revealed his secret. (Job 19:26 NIV) declares, “ . . . after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.”  Job’s faithfulness was based on his understanding of God’s faithfulness, not on his own performance or ability to explain what was happening.

Job declared finally, “My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You.” (Job 42:5 NIV)  This echoes the words of Jesus in (Matthew 5:8 NIV),  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  When change rips our faith away from things that won’t last anyway, our wandering hearts are purified by recognizing Who remains worthy of our faith.  Our hearts are finally able to find rest in the absolute faithfulness of God.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

About the Writer:
Nan Haines is so grateful to belong to God’s people. She loves getting to know all kinds of people and enjoys discovering new places, which is a good thing since she’s moved twenty five times. She has been married to Jim, a pastor, for 34 years, and together they have four grown kids, a son in love, and three grand puppies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finding Success In God’s Economy

Do you ever have those moments when God reveals glimpses of your future self? When I stop and close my eyes, I see a woman who is poised and gracious and who reminds me of all the women that I love and admire most in my life. I see time beautifully written in the creases of my face and hands – evidence of a life well lived.

Our time on this earth can be somewhat of a mystery, as we journey from one season to another continually searching for our path. In the struggle of accepting each new season, I find peace and direction in the Psalm below.

Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Psalm 37:3

With words like “dwell” and “cultivate”, I’m encouraged to settle in and invest in each new setting in which I find myself. The word “cultivate” is deep and very physical. It’s a call to work consistently and diligently with our hands, even when the fruits are yet unseen. We are not to worry about the results of our work, but we are called only to work in faithfulness for the glory of God. He will take care of the rest. Faith is living without a necessity for understanding. It’s living today as though the promises of tomorrow have already been met.

I’ve used the talents and passions that God has given me in many different capacities. Yet I’ve never quite felt that any of the outputs had long-standing purpose worth continuing. I’ve struggled to figure out what I was ‘supposed’ to be doing with my time and energy.

As members of the millennial generation, our expectations are accelerated and unquenchable because of lists like the “Forbes 30 under 30” and the grandiose lifestyles presented on social media. Sometimes we become so engrossed by others’ success that we fail to take steps forward in our own lives. Feeling as if we have already missed the boat, we often just sit on the dock and watch.

This generation values numbers that mean nothing in God’s economy. Thankfully, my status in heaven is not measured by the most likes or followers, but instead it is weighed on the scales of faithfulness. So, in the spirit of faithfulness, let us each live with no regrets, whether or not we see the fruits in our own life time.

Rather than feeling that we need to choose one single path which leads us into a narrow scope of a calling, I propose that we adopt an illustration of our lives as nets cast wide and open. We can dabble in this and that, all with the purpose of bringing glory to God. What if all of these small tasks done in faithfulness add up to something grand in God’s economy?

May everything we do be in service of the fact that, regardless of the size of our ministry here on earth, God has given us talents that are unique and essential in His plan. We are stewards of these gifts, and may we all strive to hear him say

“ . . . . well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23a)NKJV.

So, go ahead! Cast your nets and use your many talents!

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

By Faith . . .

God says that faith is the one thing that is required for us to enter into Heaven.(Ephesians 2:8) That’s it. This is a simple concept but we as humans often try to complicate it. By trusting (having faith) that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to pay the price for our blunders, we can have eternal life in paradise.  I believe that complicating the simplicity of salvation enough to steer people away from it is Satan’s ultimate goal.  But God’s Word says over and over again how faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us is the most important of all.

Hebrews 11:6a  And without faith it is impossible to please Him (God) . . . 

Jesus Christ emphasized the importance of faith in His time here on earth. Oftentimes when He healed someone, He referenced the person’s faith in relation to their healing. (Mark 2:5), (Luke 5:20), (Luke 7:50), (Luke 8:48), (Luke 17:19), (Luke 18:42)  And that’s just a sample of the references!

Here are a few more key facts about faith:

  • Faith requires patience as it always responds to God on God’s own timing and conditions. (Hebrews 6:12)
  • The testing of faith produces perseverance. (James 1:3)
  • Faith enables us to  encourage one another as believers. (Romans 1:12)

Faith ultimately means that we believe God exists and that He rewards us. We expect him to work in our lives and bless us all the time. Real faith doesn’t need to know all the details.  After all, Abraham and Sarah didn’t know why they were traveling and Noah didn’t know when the flood was to happen.  These pioneers of faith knew only that God had told them to “go” or “do”.  In fact, did you realize that Abraham and Sarah did not ever arrive to a place where they would call home? From the time he was called by God to leave his homeland, Abraham was continually traveling.  Having true faith also means recognizing that, as Christians, we are living in this world as in a temporary “rent home.”

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. Hebrews 11:13

Okay, so we believe – now what?  Good question!  James 2:17  has the answer, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”  Faith without action is dead! Remember the popular line from the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come?”  Well that quote is also implying, “If you don’t build it, they won’t come!”  If we don’t live as though we believe in Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as Lord over our lives; we are not being a good example to others and may be a hindrance to them. By not acting out our faith, we are useless in building God’s kingdom and making disciples, which He specifically asks us to do.  Put your faith to work and watch God do incredible things in your life and the life of everyone around you.

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

Great is Your Faithfulness

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB)

Have you ever heard the expression, “Back to the Potter’s house we go?” I have and have also experienced first-hand its true meaning. At one point in my journey, not only was God bringing a restoration most amazing to my life, but also a divine reshaping.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying,“Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel.  But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potterdoes?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:1-6 NASB)

Jeremiah was soon to receive a staggering message from God, as he monitored the work of a potter working on a vessel. As he quietly observed the potter’s production, a change was about to take place. The clay had become spoiled in the hands of the potter.  However, with certainty, the potter would not leave the vessel in such disarray. “So he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make” (Jer. 18:4).

The clay in this passage refers to the children of Israel, who had strayed from God. The Potter is the Lord Himself. And even though the clay was spoiled, it pleased the Lord to remake His children into a new vessel.

This story captivates my heart immensely for I, too, was marred clay. I had two choices during this particular season of my life. I would either be shaped by my circumstances or refashioned by the Potter Himself. I chose to surrender my life to His care.

From years of sinful dwellings, I never imagined that a Holy God would desire to place me back on His wheel to refashion. Yet He did.  And, even though I had no idea at the time what all that would entail, I knew one thing for sure; I was loved by a faithful God.

Remember, damaged clay in the hands of God can become His masterpiece.

About the Writer:
Shea is the mother of two and nana of four and enjoys both roles tremendously. She also loves the opportunity to serve through ministry and share through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. She also speaks to women’s groups, assists with biblical counseling when opportunities arise and is constantly working to develop women’s Bible studies. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and will begin her doctoral work at Southwestern in family ministries in the fall.