Monday, June 18, 2018

Strategically Placed Tools

Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. 
(Philippians 1:3-6 MSG)

It is a truly comforting thing to know that God has placed leaders, mentors, and caring relationships in each of our lives that are frequently moved into "prayerful consideration" of our needs as we cross their minds. God can do much with a soul that is yielded to his purposes – especially when that yielded vessel is willing to reach out to the needs of others. The “trigger” toward "prayerful consideration" is born out of the newness of heart that God places within us at the time of our salvation. A trigger is something that initiates a process or response - it starts the ball rolling, so to speak. God places a desire for his people deep into our hearts as we begin to grow in his graces – this desire moves upon us to uphold those that he has surrounded us with - not so much because they aren't doing a good job of reaching out to God themselves, but because we all need the strength that comes in numbers.

The support of our fellow believers is more than just a pat on the back periodically. It is God purposefully placing individuals in our lives that will boldly take us before the throne of God - as the need becomes apparent and even when there is no evidence of need! Our daily walk is affected by the many prayers of those who stand as a 'supporting structure' in our lives – oftentimes unnoticed, perhaps even unknown to us. Did you ever to stop to think of that BFF as a 'supporting structure' in your life? Well, there is more shared in prayer for each other than we may first realize - oftentimes because that other individual wants only the best for us!

At the time we welcomes Jesus into our hearts, God began his work within us. God wants to complete the work that he began in each of us. This work is a two-fold work, with the first being fully accomplished by the work of the cross, and the second being a process of life-altering, character-transforming work that is walked out in our lives daily. No other thing is more important to God than our growth and maturity after we say 'yes' to his rule in our lives. His focus is one of producing the fruit of our new relationship with him – fruit that evidences his grace, love, and compassion. Yet there are times when fruit seems to evade us – change is not as quickly evident in our lives as we would desire. We are just not growing as we might have expected.

It is important to keep perspective as we daily walk in this newness of life. We are changed incrementally – changed by the blood of Christ, God’s grace, and his daily mercies in our lives. We want growth by leaps and bounds, but God prepares us for growth in fragments - incremental changes that sometimes take more time than we might want and lots more more than we thought we'd have to invest. The believers God surrounds us with in our 'extended' family, those we encounter in mentoring relationships, as well as those who speak into our lives at those critical moments are strategically placed in our lives to assist in the process of completing the work within us that God began. There should be no doubt in our minds that the very thing God begins, he also provides a means for the successful and undeniable completion of that work.

Whenever we are tempted to get down on ourselves because our progress is slow, or the "same old" sins or problems just seem to be coming around again and again - it is time to reach out to our "family" in Christ. Their support is often the deciding factor in the success of our ability to overcome those all too familiar sinful patterns. The family of God is like a tool in a well-equipped tool box. If we never pull the tool out to use it, it is nothing more to us than something we look fondly at and are proud to have in our box. If we lay hold of it and use it as it is fashioned to be used, the results can be astronomically wonderful. No tool is just decorative - they are meant to be used! Just sayin!