Thursday, December 18, 2008

DEVO'S
...faith's great contentment is in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
-Phil. 4:13


The Apostle Paul understood economic woes too beloved. He knew what it was to abound and to be abased; to have prosperity as well as poverty (Phil. 4:10-12). To be homeless and to be honored as an Apostle. He was a choice servant of the Lord and the scum of the earth - the dregs of this world (1 Cor. 4:10-13). As having nothing yet possessing all things (2 Cor. 6:10). 

This sounds so strange to our ears today doesn't it? For in light of the biblical record, for some to judge a ministry's efficaciousness by the size of its yearly offerings or fundraising abilities, is unbiblical, stunted thinking. And the unfortunate thing, if a ministry or church is going through some hard days, some might even suggest that God's hand of blessing is no longer on that work or that the ministry should fold entirely.

Balderdash - such logic is foolishness. 

If that were the case, you would have to disregard most of the ministries represented in the NT as being "out of God's will" and utter failures. I wonder how our brothers and sisters serving the Lord today in Sudan, Congo, China, Western Africa, India, or in Arab countries would respond to such logic? After all, they live in the reality of physical persecution daily. They are being crucified openly in the streets, thrown into prison, beaten, scourged and tortured for the sake of the gospel - for just loving Jesus openly and unashamedly.

We had such a godly man visit our church a few weeks ago. He is a living testament of this reality - faithfulness through persecution and difficult days. He has been held at gun point, has witnessed the fingers and limbs of his own congregation being chopped off for not denying the gospel. He has been arrested, beaten, tortured himself and only by God's sustaining grace escape certain death. Did he talk about his ministry budget or latest fund raising market driven approach to up ones visibility or exposure in order to increase his annual giving? No way. His balance sheet was written in blood.

So dear friend in the Lord Jesus Christ, please know that I am not trying to minimize anyone's current weights they are carrying financially due to our nations real economic woes. I know these days of uncertainty are heavy ones to walk through - I know, I am struggling too as well. But I say this today as a matter of encouragement: if your local church is struggling financially, if some missionaries are behind in receiving their monthly support and are having trouble paying their bills, if you are personally experiencing financial thinness these days as well - whatever it may be, let's measure our lives and service for the King not on the basis of our ability to generate more funds or increase our bottom line. But may we measure our lives according to the standard and authority of God's Word and put our trust and hope in Him - even for the needs of today. For a man's "life consists not in the things which he possesses" (Luke 12:15).

Is it important to pay our bills? Absolutely. To be good stewards of all that the Lord has blessed us with? Most certainly. To work hard and provide for our families? Yes! To support our local churches and other ministries with cheerfulness in response to how the Lord has blessed us? Without question. But our daily needs are ultimately supplied and met by the Lord. We can never be so arrogant as to think that we are the master's of our own universe; and that it is through our own ingenuity and financial smarts that we have created the Manna to sustain us today can we? "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Now that takes humility, grace and complete dependence upon God and His Word to live like that... and isn't that the point?

So work hard, plan, be wise, study His Word, seek godly counsel, and pray for God's hand of provision through it all. And whether He answers that prayer with increase or decrease, may we all say with the Apostle Paul (who had to learn to be content himself - that in all things and in every circumstance) "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Amen?

Live out loud,
Campi

10 comments:

Ed Trefzger said...

Amen and Amen! What a blessing and an encouragement it was to read this today.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you Ed. What a joy to trust the Lord each and every day for His daily provision in our lives.

Steve

The Blainemonster said...

Wonderful nourishment for the soul; I breathed out a heartfelt "Amen" halfway through. :) Thank you.

Terry Rayburn said...

Steve,

U-h-h, what's "DEVO'S?

Terry

Carla said...

Terry Rayburn said...
Steve, U-h-h, what's "DEVO'S?

lol, devotion, devotions, devotional.

And Steve, EXCELLENT post today. Nothing to add but a hearty amen.

SJ Camp said...

Terry
Devo's is devotions. IOW, a blogging quiet time. :-).

staceyj said...

Amen. During the last 4 months we have experienced my husband's near-fatal accident, followed by a long hospital stay and many months of slow recovery. During that time, he was also displaced from his job. Through it all, we have been led back to Psalm 37:25, "I have been young and now am old, but I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging for bread." He has and continued to provide for our needs and more. He is faithful.

SJ Camp said...

stacey
I will be sincerely praying for you and your husband. That verse out of the Psalms is one of my favorites. Thank you for reminding me of its truth.

Here is what brother Spurgeon says about that verse:

Verse 25. This was David's observation,I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

It is not my observation just as it stands, for I have relieved the children of undoubtedly good men, who have appealed to me as common mendicants [those who are given to begging]. But this does not cast a doubt upon the observation of David. He lived under a dispensation more outward, and more of this world than the present rule of personal faith.

Never are the righteous forsaken; that is a rule without exception. Seldom indeed do their seed beg bread; and although it does occasionally occur, through dissipation, idleness, or some other causes on the part of their sons, yet doubtless it is so rare a thing that there are many alive who never saw it. Go into the union house and see how few are the children of godly parents; enter the gaol [a place of detainment] and see how much rarer still is the case. Poor minster's sons often become rich. I am not old, but I have seen families of the poor godly become rich, and have seen the Lord reward the faithfulness of the father in the success of the son, so that I have often thought that the best way to endow one's seed with wealth is to become poor for Christ's sake.

Grace and peace to you,
Steve

littlegal_66 said...

Thanks for this reminder that I can be content in whatever station in life I find myself in, because it is He who gives me the strength (and the ability) to realize that contentment. Without His strength, my human nature would not only breed discontent, but would also breed bitterness and strife in my heart, which would manifest in my speech and actions.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
LG66

Michele Rayburn said...

I won't say what the word "DEVO" Googled. Let's just say that I thought, "Looks like the boy's in trouble again..." :) I know Steve will get it. All others who don't will have to figure it out like I did when I Googled "DEVO":)

I wonder if you made that word up yourself, Steve, or are Terry and I just not hip? We don't remember seeing it used elsewhere.

Getting back to the topic...during this financial crisis I thought back on how when I left home, all my earthly belongings fit into a suitcase and a small trunk. I lived for many years in a one bedroom apartment, and my first year without furniture, except for a cot that someone lent me.

And since being married, after buying a new home, there were two occasions when we almost lost our home, because living in an Army town, whenever the troops deploy somewhere, it really affects our business.

I remember someone commenting recently about how whatever we went through previously in life might actually be preparing us for something later on in life.

And so, I have always prepared myself for the fact that we could lose it all, and may end up in an apartment again. But since I've been there, and I've done that, I know that it's not the end of the world if I end up there again. In some ways, it even has it's advantages.

But during this financial crisis, I saw the Lord do some wonderful things to prepare us for it in so many ways. I'm still amazed and keep thanking Him for it.

Let's pray that we get through this time and that things will get better soon.