4 And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein:
5 For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her. Zechariah 2:4-5
I love doing these short, but sweet devotional series messages. They’re short, but there’s really a lot of good stuff that comes from these messages. I think this has been a really good series, and I’m glad we took the time to do it.
With that…let’s get into this last message…and close out this series.
Today’s Message: “What to Do If You Wake Up Feeling Fragile”
Not too long ago, we did a message on this very topic during our “15 Days in the Word with John Piper” Series. So…I may have to just take a look at what we said during that message, and see if the Lord leads us in a similar direction today…or if He has something else in mind with today’s message.
There are mornings when I wake up feeling fragile. Vulnerable. It’s often vague. No single threat. No one weakness. Just an amorphous sense that something is going to go wrong and I will be responsible.
It’s usually after a lot of criticism. Lots of expectations that have deadlines and that seem too big and too many.
You know, ministry is one of those jobs where there’s not a whole lot of appreciation for, and most of the time if you tell someone you’re a pastor…they immediately change the way they act…even if it’s someone you’ve known for many years. I can’t tell you how many people who will be talking to me, and let a curse word slip and they grab their mouths and apologize like I’m surprised and appalled that they just said that word. I’m going to be honest with you here. I am a former United States Marine, and there are times when I can still cuss like one. I know, there’s many who are going to scold me saying that what’s in a person’s heart is going to come from their mouth, and they’re probably also going to quote James to me about how we shouldn’t bless God and curse with the same mouth. I am working on that, and I know that God’s working to clean up my tongue. However, since I’m one of those who can sometimes forget I’m a Christian, and let my tongue loose.
However, the point I was getting at is when you embrace the call upon your life…things change, and so do people’s perceptions of you. Immediately, people assume just because you’re in ministry you never take a sip of alcohol, never swear, and are always walking in the spirit. I wish I could tell you that was true. I wish I could tell you that I never drink a beer, but I do…and if that offends you I’m sorry…but I know what God has spoken to me about it…and I’ll take what He says to me over what anyone else’s opinion of me…because in the end the only opinion that really matters is His. I wish I could tell you I never utter a cuss word, but like I said a moment ago…I am more Marine than Christian. I wish that I could tell you that I always walk in the spirit, and never miss God by getting into my flesh…but that’s just not the case either.
“Lots of expectations” is something that stands out to me here. There are a lot of expectations when you tell someone you’re in ministry. They expect that you never drink a drop of alcohol, that you only listen to Christian music, you never watch anything on television or go to a movie, you never miss God, you’re always in the spirit, and there’s nothing but peace, joy, and contentment in your home.
I bet if you asked most pastors the ones who are real will all tell you that those expectations are unrealistic. I mean all of us that are in ministry are real people, and we all fall short of the glory of God. We aren’t immune to sin, heartache, heartbreak, or anything that anyone else who isn’t in ministry experiences. The difference is that we know who to turn to when we make mistakes, and we know who holds us in the palm of His hand.
So…I can only speak for myself, but please…don’t put me on some kind of holier than thou pedestal. The only reason I’m any different from anyone else is because I love the Lord, and am a whosoever that has called Him Lord…but I still have to confess my sins and shortcomings and repent of things all the time. So…I know I’ve said this a few times, and I feel like I need to say it again. If you’re looking for a perfect replica of Jesus…I’m not that guy. I’m a fallible human being who needs to live and walk by the grace of God just like everyone else…and some times…I don’t always choose to walk in that grace. I suppose I’ll lose some followers for being honest…but I’d rather be honest and transparent than give you some false image. I’m not perfect…but I am a son of the Most High God…and my perfection only comes because of my position in Christ.
As I look back over about 50 years of such periodic mornings, I am amazed how the Lord Jesus has preserved my life. And my ministry. The temptation to run away from the stress has never won out, not yet anyway. This is amazing. I worship him for it.
You know, Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that some times can cause us to reflect upon our lives, and it’s because of that time we often realize just how thankful we should be for the things that God has done in, thru, and with our lives…Amen!?! I know that as I look back over my 38 years of life…I’m amazed to see the fingerprints of God where I never thought I would. I can see where God had His hand on my life…even though I didn’t think He did. I can see the times where He carried me through life…you know where there was only one set of footprints in the sand.
You know, they talk about how hind-sight is 20/20, but in a way…hind-sight helps us to see where we’ve been, and how far we’ve come from where we’ve been as well. I’m so amazed that every time I take that reflective look back I see something else that I once did that God has removed from my life, or something that I had a hard time letting go of…and suddenly I realize I’ve forgiven myself. However, I also recognize that I couldn’t leave those things behind or forgive my past mistakes without God dealing and working in my, on me, and thru me.
I spent many years running away from the call of God on my life because I never really understood that He was going to so such a marvelous work in my life. I recognize that I have come a long way, and I also recognize that I have a long way to go. The old cliché about how I may not be where I want to be, but I thank God I’m not where I used to be really does come to mind more often than it doesn’t lately. The more I recognize about what God’s done in, with and through my life…the more I realize I have to be thankful for…and it doesn’t make it so hard to find something to say when it’s my turn at the Thanksgiving table.
It’s amazing to look back and see God at work in your life when you were oblivious to what He was doing, but when you take that time to reflect…it’s amazing just how much of God at work you can see. Anyone else know this to be true!?!
How has he done this? By desperate prayer and particular promises. I agree with Spurgeon: I love the “I wills” and the “I shalls” of God.
God is so willing and able to take care of us, but the key is we have to be willing to let Him do the work He wants to do in our lives. You see, the truth is we can come to Him as we are, but it’s God who does the workmanship in us, on us, and through us so that we’re molded closer and closer to the image of His Son. That’s the goal…to be conformed more and more into the image of His Son…right!?!
The thing is, if it was up to us to do the conforming…that’s not good news is it? You see part of the good news is that not only does God save us, but He also does the work in us, on us and thru us. How do I know this? Ephesians 2:10 (KJV) says that we are “created in His workmanship, and further the Bible goes on to say in Philippians 1:6 (KJV)“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
Listen, God does the work to bring us into His family, and then He does the work on us to conform us more into the image of His Son. Our job is to submit to Him, and allow Him to do the work. Doesn’t that make life a whole lot easier than what religion teaches? If we listened to most teaching today they would make it sound like we have to save ourselves, maintain our salvation, work our whole lives to become holier, and clean up our lives. If you listen to much of today’s teaching…they would have you to believe that we’re the ones who need to do all the work, but that’s not what the Bible says…the Bibles says that we’re God’s workmanship, that He begins and completes the work, and that He’s the potter while we are the clay…He does the molding, working, changing, delivering, healing, saving, and more. What do we do? RECEIVE what He’s done.
Well, I believe this is a good place to end this message, and this series…so I believe I’m going to.
So, we’ve talked about taking that reflective look back, and that God’s already done the work while we need to get to a place where we believe and receive that. I think that these two points work together because when we take that look back to where and who we were…and who we are now…we can see God’s handy work and workmanship in our lives…I know I can.
Not only does that give us opportunity to be thankful, but it should also give us joy and happiness to know that while we thought nothing much was happening in our lives…God was still working…and that means we’re in a better place today than we were this time last year…and I don’t know about you…but as Thanksgiving has come and gone…that’s just another reason to be thankful…Amen!
In closing, I would just like to say that I really enjoyed this short series, and that it’s been a good little one. It’s been a good time, and I think we’ve gotten some pretty good stuff out of this short…but sweet series. I hope you’ll join me again on Monday for the start of our next series: “God’s Pleasure in Creation”.
“Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:2)
Blessing & Grace to you
Bryan J. Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA