Anyone stepping up to do Kingdom work will encounter Satan. As Christians, we are all called to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to everyone who is lost, no matter where they are. When we go into places or circumstances where Satan has a foothold, Satan will put up a fight. We refer to Satan’s resistance against Kingdom servants as attacks. However, if we are rightly considering our development as evangelistic Christians, we will change how we consider these occurrences. Pastors, counselors, missionaries, lay leaders, and any other evangelical minded servants would do better to experience these attacks as trials, rather than allowing the enemy to have any power at all.
Let us get technical for just a moment: As it relates to the person, Merriam-Webster Dictionary identifies a trial as: “a test of faith, patience, or stamina through subjection to suffering or temptation.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines the Hebrew word bâchan (בָּחַן), which is translated in English as trial, this way: “to test (especially metals); generally and figuratively to investigate: – examine, prove, tempt, try (trial).” As mentioned in Webster’s definition of temptation, suffering is a component of a human trial. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines pathēma (πάθημα), which is translated in English as suffering, this way: “something undergone, that is, hardship or pain; subjectively an emotion or influence: – affection, affliction, motion, suffering.”
simply stated – a trial is a test conducted through some level of suffering.
let us look at the passage that is at the core of this message, so we can make
the proper biblical connection. 1 Peter 4:12-13 reads: “Beloved,
think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though
some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers
of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad
also with exceeding joy” (KJV).
It was previously
mentioned that when we take the Lord’s message to the lost, we are treading on
Satan’s ground, and he will put up a fight. However, consider that there are
other reasons that Kingdom-servants are subject to hardship or suffering. Suffering,
as intense as it can be, is a natural product of God’s process of developing
His servants. He uses internal and external temptation, affliction, trials, and
even trauma (emotional, spiritual, and physical) to strengthen and bring to
maturity, those who might not otherwise be prepared to see the enormity of what
He is trying to teach them. Consider also that the level of suffering is
intended by God to be commensurate with the level of service in which He plans
to place them. Know that it is through this suffering that Christ’s servants
will become more like Him and be resilient enough to go where the Lord is
calling them to serve.
Looking at 1 Peter 4:12-13 we see a promise of the Lord. The Lord is committing to us that if we will put ourselves in the line of fire with Him, we will know joy. That the suffering we will experience in His name will be bearable and rewarded at the time of His coming with glorious joy. There is much more to this story, and there are some details that you do not want to miss, so connect with your Bible and your best study source, or attend the Here2There ampd cohort for the rest of the story. Enroll today to learn how suffering is one of God’s tools for developing into His servants, the resiliency they will need to do the mission He calls them to.
Springtime brings spring cleaning, spring planting, and for some of us baseball. A recent trend in Major League Baseball is a hitter’s walk up music. This has quickly become their identifier, their get in the groove moment, their opportunity to intimidate the opposing pitcher. Some hitters have chosen rock n roll, some country, some even Christian music to identify themselves.
Well one Texas Ranger has chosen Baby Shark as his walk up song. Unless you have been under a rock or don’t have toddlers in your family you may not know, Baby Shark doo doo doo doo doo, or be able to finish the tune. Being one of those people not knowing the song, you may be the envy of many reading this. Baby Shark is either loved or tolerated by many. In the debut of his new walkup song, because it’s his sons favorite, Elvis Andrus calmly walks up and proceeds to hit a homerun. That was not only memorable, but it is now known.
Now I am sure if you made it this far in the reading, you are asking what this have to do with missions or the church. Well I am glad you are still with me.
How well do you know your missionaries? Do you know them as well as you know a baseball player by his walkup music? Do you know them as well as you may know a song lyric or even the hand motions? That is a stretch, but since I mentioned it, many will remember Elvis Andrus because of Baby Shark, his identifier.
Each and every missionary you or your church supports needs to be identified. Make it personal, like a walkup song. Make it known so that when you hear that area of the world discussed or mentioned you stop for a moment and pray for them. Make them known in your church so when a need is presented every member knows them or at least is familiar with them. Make it known so that when a letter comes from them there is excitement to hear details of the successes, or knowledge that a need is being presented and you are prepared to react. Knowing our missionaries is the first step to supporting them. Knowing their needs, their birthdays, their kids’ birthdays and maybe even anniversaries are even better. Knowing what they are doing, what they are planning and understanding their struggles, now you are getting to know them. Check out our S.I.T. program if you need help. If you don’t know your local churches missionaries or don’t have any identified, please help us get in touch with your church leadership. Acts 1:8 is the Great Commission and in order to see it fulfilled we must be on mission, both at home, across the street, across town, and around the globe.
What would your walkup song be? I know mine would be, Until the Whole World Hears.
Looking back to the majority of my time growing up in the church I can only think of maybe a few times when there was an emphasis my responsibility as far as the Great Commission was concerned and then any training on how I might go about teaching or discipling others. We had the usual Missions Emphasis months where we heard Missionaries come and share about what they did, but I can not remember a time where I was prepared on how to share my faith intentionally with other people around me. I genuinely loved church and loved going, but looking back have some questions about the intentions of how I was prepared to make disciples.
Thinking about my time in church growing up and looking at the churches we have worked with and focus on this question comes to mind…
Is your church more like a
country club or a military barracks?
Does your church relate more to a country club where everything
is catered to the members or does it look more like a military barracks where
everything about it is for training the people inside for the cause outside?
A country club is, typically, a very nice looking place that is
well kept up and very well taken care of and everything about it is so that the
members feel special and comfortable. When you join a country club you are
given access to amenities that others can’t enjoy. The workers exist to make
sure you’re happy. Their sole job is to make sure you are comfortable and have
everything you need to enjoy yourself.
On the other hand, military barracks exist to make sure you don’t
enjoy any of the normal comforts. The buildings are stripped bare and the
people that work there are focused on training the people inside. Everything
that is done in the barracks is to prepare soldiers for life outside.
When I look back at Jesus’ ministry I don’t see a whole lot of
him being concerned about people’s comforts. When Jesus sent out the
seventy-two in Luke 10 he specifically tells them to not take a purse or bag or
sandals. Psalm 23 is a whole chapter about living in an uncomfortable world and
relying on God to survive. Paul talks extensively about suffering for the
Gospel and he knew a thing or two about suffering.
So, the question is, what is the purpose of the church? The
directive we see from Jesus is to go into all of the world, be his witnesses,
make disciples, train people to do all that he taught and baptize people in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. If that is what we as
Christians should be doing then the church should be a training ground for us
to get people ready to do the things that Jesus commanded us to do. If we spend
all of our energy trying to make everyone happy we’ll likely never succeed and
we’ll sacrifice the Great Commission in the process.
Here2There has developed something called +1(plus one) discipleship. It is the idea that whatever you’re doing you bring someone along with you. If, when you do ministry or are serving in some way, you just bring someone with you then you have started the process of discipling them. Eventually, either you will be absent one time and that gives you the opportunity to allow that person to do the job. Now, you’ve multiplied yourself and you can split off to another area or go do a new work and the ministry workforce has now grown because of the time you spent with that person.
Some things your church(or you) could do are having classes that focus on the many different ways there are to share the gospel. Engage your missionaries if they’re in town for any length of time to come in and teach the church about how they share the gospel in the cultural context in which they live. Begin to imply some sort of accountability and encouragement for each other about intentionally building relationships with neighbors in order to get the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with them and the good news of His salvation. Here2There would love to help you in this area. Please check out our website at here2there.org, we have some great resources for you to read and share. If you need help beyond that you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
defines culture as “the
customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or
social group.” Culture is, in the words of E.B. Tylor, “that
complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and
any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”
When dealing with a culture we must first understand that it has no boundaries.
Cultures continue to transcend time and geographical border. So what part does
the gospel play when it comes to cultures?
Just like culture,
the gospel of the good news of Jesus knows no boundaries. Even in Acts 10:11 through
a vision, God helped the Apostle Peter break down the boundaries of who was
deserving of the Gospel. Peter had to be taught that salvation was for
everyone. To cross the lines of the Jewish and Gentile relationship was very
uncommon for Peters day and age. This display of transcending cultural
boundaries would get a very Jewish Peter into confrontations with both friend
and foe. Galatians 3:28 states that “There is neither
Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
So how far should Peter have to go when crossing cultures? This age-old question has plagued the church and even sometimes crippled it to a point of taking no action for fear of offending others. As a believer we are called to deliver the good news, but where is the line, if there is one, when it comes to the cross and culture? Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The first thing is that we can’t be conformed to this world, and that we are to resist it. So, does that mean we resist everything that is in the world? Of course not. We are to test everything that comes to us, so we may discern what is the will of God. When dealing with things of culture, each situation that comes at us must be tested and must past the test of what is good, acceptable, and perfect. All to often we try to place our way of church on a people group as the only way a believer conducts himself. As if our way is the Gospel way. Just like culture has no boundaries, neither does the Gospel. We can no longer afford to package Jesus into a little box and try to mass produce it in our style. We were never called to conform Jesus to our ways, but we are called to be more Christ like every day. Leonard Tyler from Truth Magazine states that “The purpose of gospel preaching is to save the soul of man. The commission demands this purpose. Preaching the gospel for any other reason is outside its design.” If crossing the cultural boundary by wearing a Hijab shows respect to a culture I am trying to reach, so be it. My faith is not in the headgear that I wear, nor in the work that I can do. But it is in the God that I serve, and His ability to use me to reach the people that he loves.
How is your church reaching out to your Judea, Jerusalem, Samaria and the uttermost? Does your church have a mission culture? If you need help in these areas, we would love to help you. Please contact us at email@example.com.
Being in ministry and following God’s call on your life can
sometimes feel very lonely. One man, the man after God’s own heart also had
this same feeling of loneliness. God called David to become the next King after
Saul. Saul did not like that too well, and so he sought after David’s
life. David literally had to run away,
and spend some time in hiding. There are many times in the Psalms when David
talks about his loneliness and fear.
Although God has not called you
to be the next King. Although in most cases you aren’t having to run for your life, or live in hiding, you may still
feel very much alone, and lonely. In many cases the problem is that people just
don’t seem to know how to treat their Christian leaders. Sure they are kind and
nice to them, but how often as a leader of your church has anyone invited you
over because they genuinely wanted to be friends? How often were you asked to
join in on joint family vacations with non-relatives? How often has anyone
contacted you, and asked if you had any prayer needs?
Several years ago I made a decision that I was going to spend one
month praying individually for each of my friends on social media. I would send
that person a private message letting them know that it was their day, and ask
if they had any specific prayer requests, and if not, I was praying for them
anyway. The first time I did this, a pastor responded and asked me if I was
serious about praying for him. He did not ask in a condescending way, but
rather, was really wondering.. “is she going to pray for me!?!?” I was
convicted on the spot. So many times we say “I will pray for you” or “I will do
this or that”, but do we really? Sure, our intentions are good, but when it
comes down to it, do we REALLY do what we say. So, I thought about what he
asked for about 3 seconds, and then I responded, “yes of course I am serious
about praying for you”. At that moment my words HAD to become actions. If I was
going to tell people I was praying for them, I really DID have to pray for
them. He then responded with numerous prayer requests. Here was a pastor,
getting asked if I could pray for him, and when he found out YES, I TRULY was
going to pray for him he inundated me with prayer requests, as if (and I don’t
know this to be true) it was the first time anyone had asked to pray for him.
Or, at the very least at that moment he really needed prayer and wanted to be
asked. Fast forward to years later, and me doing my prayer for my social media
friends, and ANOTHER pastor responds, “wow I am always asked to pray for
people, but no one asks to pray for me, thank you so much”.
The church may respect and admire their pastor. They may trust
him and go to him and ask for advice, or prayer. But how many times does the
church go to the pastor and ask him what he needs. How many times does the
church go to their missionaries and ask what they need? How often is the church
praying for their missionaries? Not just saying they will pray, not just
praying and saying “God, be with the missionaries” or “God be with my pastor”
but instead asking the missionaries and pastors, “how can I pray for you”.
We all need to be asked how we are doing and how we can pray for
each other. When it becomes one-sided then loneliness, depression, insecurity
and all kinds of other negative feelings can creep in.
It’s important to keep a two-way street. Sometimes people don’t
ask about pastors or missionaries because some pastors/missionaries are very
closed off. They act and look like everything is fine, or they may not feel
comfortable opening up and sharing. Sometimes it takes one person to make that
step. What would it look like for a pastor or a missionary to go to someone
with a prayer need and say “I am experiencing (this) in my life right now, can
you pray for me”. Or when someone does ask to pray, then ask them if they
really mean it, then give them a list!!!
James 5:16 Therefore,
confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be
healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
1.) What would it look like if the church asked their leaders and
missionaries HOW they can pray for them?
2.) As a church how are you praying for your pastor or
3.) As a church leader how are you asking for prayer in your own
4.) As a church leader how are you dealing with feelings of
loneliness, fitting in, and insecurities?
5.) If you are experiencing loneliness, and don’t feel like you are getting the support you need please feel free to reach out to Here2There Ministries: firstname.lastname@example.org
6.) If you are experiencing any serious affects of loneliness
such as depression, anxiety, mood, or contemplating suicide, please contact a
licensed Christian mental health counselor.
Here lately I have been unusually impacted and impressed by the way God has worked in the situations of my everyday life. Because of my faith and spiritual teaching, I have known for all my Christ Following days that God has a plan for my life. I also know that God is interested in the details of my life and has worked out His plan, even before I knew this was happening.
Five years ago He transitioned our life from that of a Church Staff Pastor after 40+ years to that of a Missionary with Here2There Ministries. A major change and transition was that of finances in that we (my wife and I) transitioned from regular salary jobs to a need for raising support.
There is comfort in knowing you are doing God’s will and the decisions made are a part of His plan. Still when you think of the reality that the bills come monthly, but now there are no paychecks to cover them, that can make one a little nervous. It didn’t take long for God to show me “He had this” as income began to come from sources totally unexpected. What assurance it is to know in the area of my finances – “God’s Got This!”
Over these past few years of ministry with H2T God has continued to show me that He has His plan all worked out in other areas of my life, as well, and not just my life, but His work which I am a part. Over and over He proves that He is at work preparing the way for His work long before I get there. Let me share a couple of recent examples.
At one of our Partner Churches we are assisting with developing ministry strategy for their work to their defined Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Uttermost. January saw a focus on the Uttermost (Missions) endeavor. Part of their MAP (Mission Action Plan) is the recruiting and training of MST(Missionary Support Teams).
The process starts with recruiting a Lead Coordinator for the MST. We had been prayerfully searching for a person to be in this role. We discovered that a couple who had been attending for some time, but not really plugged in anywhere, had been in Pastoral ministry and had served three years on a mission field. Upon meeting with them and presenting the opportunity, they responded with a spirit of “God has prepared and gifted us for this time and place”. God had this long before we knew it.
To further prove how God was working years ago for this time and opportunity, In my first meeting with this gentleman I took my Dad, a retired but still active minister, who serves on the Board of Liberty University. We discovered in conversation that Dad knew this man’s brother who had served as part of the faculty at LU years ago. This made the conversation all the more interesting. It was a definite confirmation of God being in this.
In another recent “God’s Got This” moment, I am coaching Pastors and Church Leaders in two churches as a part of our AMPD (Association of Missionary Partnership Development) training. This week I met with a Missions Director of one of these churches to discuss the topic of PARTNERSHIP and their Mission Strategies.
With me was one of our Here2There Coaching Volunteers. We arrived at our meeting place before the Mission Director did. I was going over our plan of discussion for this meeting with the other Coach. In the conversation I discovered that my partner H2T Coach had known the person with whom we were meeting for years. He also knew his brother. What a benefit this was in our meeting. “God Had This !” and was working on it long ago.
While these may seem trivial to you, to me they were added confirmations that God is always working for us as we seek to do His Will and His Work. Long before there was even a thought of either of these meetings coming to pass God was laying the foundation for His work to be accomplished.
Working 40+ years in Church Pastoral Ministry, there have been many occasions when I was prone to wonder just how God was going to work out this situation or that need. While we all know and teach, “My God shall supply all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus”, Philippians 4:19, it often becomes a challenge to trust in Him completely.
I recall back in the 70’s when the economy was bad and many businesses and even some churches were forced to close their doors, a church I worked for experienced real financial setbacks. During that time God had blessed the businesses of several faithful members of that church. Upon many occasions, when there was need, these members gave out of the abundance of their hearts. The work of that ministry continues to flourish today as God’s faithful servants obey Him.
Just a few years ago we were presented with a need and a challenge, travel to a country in Asia to teach Biblical truths. The need was great for us to go, but our finances were lacking. After much prayer in just a matter of weeks God had provided some $8k enabling my wife, Donna, and I to serve in that country. God Had That!
Did you know that God is concerned for all the areas of our lives, not just our work and ministry. Just like He proved Himself faithful in the area of my finances, He continues to show His care for me in so many ways. The key for me is recognizing His divine presence and continual working. None of these situations were just coincidence.
Over and over the Bible tells of God’s miraculous provision for those seeking Him and even for those who aren’t. Sure we know how God was with Joshua and David through their many conquests. But He was also working on behalf of Jonah and The Prodigal Son even when they were running from Him. Now, His working took them through some difficult places and experiences to get their attention. Still, each of these tells the stories of “God’s Got This !” moments.
My question to you is this. What are your “God’s Got This!” experiences? Is life throwing you some unexpected curve balls which seem difficult to handle? As a Child of the King – God’s Got This!” Maybe you have some difficult family situations that seem impossible for you. God’s Got Those! It may be a health issue you face. God’s Got That too!
Trusting in God is always the right thing to do. In the midst of any situation realizing “God’s Got This” can be a great comfort and encouragement to your heart. The key to this is just like the familiar hymn says, “When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word…” that’s when we can Trust and Obey.
Why Pastors and Missionaries were made for Each Other
When talking to churches about their missionaries and their need for more emotional, mental, spiritual support, we often see a lack of disconnect. Typically the only time these areas of support are ever considered is where there is a huge crisis that can not be ignored. We rarely take the time to back up and think about the day to day needs that help prevent some of these huge blow ups from happening. There is also a natural struggle because of the personal lack of understanding of the position and situation their missionaries are in. The normal church member doesn’t consider themselves to be a missionary, hasn’t had much personal experiences in a foreign context for an extended period of time and has access to every resource they could ever think of.
When we begin taking a more indepth look at the true life, struggles, needs of our missionaries we realize they are typically, no different than you or I. They have the same needs, wants, desires and struggles we have. In fact, when we can help pastors see their situation is very similar to that of their missionaries, the measure of care for their missionaries changes.
THE SIMILARITIES of a Pastor and Missionary
Responsibilities to lead/shepherd both ministry and family
Struggles of leadership, working with people, marriage and family
Pressures to do a good job, not mess up, have a successful work
Need wise people around them to help with the work and lean on
Lack of trust – without judgement or consequences- in others
False reality that they are superheros and the only one who can teach and share the Gospel
Many of these expectations put on Pastors and Missionaries are lies of deceit that have been established by the enemy long ago. Yet, they still hold many of us captive and paralyzed to not change our behavior or habits.
I will bet that many of our non-pastors and non-missionaries reading this will be able to relate to those areas of similarity too. You have the same pressures, the same struggles and needs. You need care, connection and encouragement for your day to day tasks.
To be in these positions can be dangerous. Not because of the power they can exploit from their position, but because they are people who can carry such heavy burdens without anyone to help them carry the weight. Their responsibilities to the Lord to speak truth in the face of lies, the weight of knowing every word spoken as a leader is measured, knowing they share a message often never wanted. They are the same, they are in heavy need, and yet often the least cared after.
THE DIFFERENCES of a Pastor and Missionary
Lack of resources to draw from
Although the differences are far fewer than our similarities, they are still important to note because they will help us identify how we can better care for the ones who are far away. And note, location can also just mean isolation for our pastors.
THE NEED for BOTH
Safe haven to share, vent, cry and grieve
Empathy through struggles without judgement
Connections without conditions
True reality to just be human
Consider what unknown pressures you are putting on your leadership and what needs they might have that are not being met. Identifying these simple areas are what will lead you to provide the needed connection and care your missionaries and pastors need.
H2T is passionate about keeping our missionaries healthy and thriving, and we believe YOU are the best person to see that through. Please contact us @ email@example.com for more ways to provide the needed care for your partners!
Most churches have a desire to send people on short-term journeys
and see their church’s influence on a global scale. Most churches want their
people to go to the ends of the earth. Most churches want to help their missionaries
and be supportive of the work that they have been called to do. And I’m sure in
large part those missionaries really appreciate the fact that their churches
have those desires. But are we really doing the best we can? Are we sometimes
more of a burden than a help to our missionaries? The answer to those questions
is no and yes respectively.
What happens when you get a random group of people together to go on a Short-Term Journey? The chances are very likely that you end up with a missionary who has no idea how you can help them. Thus, giving them the added burden of trying to figure out ways where you can do something while you’re there. The result of a trip like this (assuming it doesn’t end in disaster) is generally a feeling of accomplishment on our end but a big waste of time and energy on the missionary’s end. We’ll come home feeling like we did a good thing because we traveled to a poor country and did VBS or maybe helped build something. Don’t get me wrong those might be good things to do, but probably not things the missionary could use to help them accomplish the vision that God has given them.
So how do we do better? It starts with communication. In order to supply the missionary’s needs with the people/resources in our churches we must know of those needs. If we are in better communication with our missionaries we can know what they are doing and what they would like us to do for/through them. There is a good chance that your missionaries have a specific vision that they are trying to accomplish and doing 15 VBS programs is not likely a part of that vision. I just heard two different missionaries serving in India saying how great the need is for pastors to come over and help train their new, young pastors on how to pastor a church and impart wisdom to these pastors who are still relatively new to this type of role. I know of missionaries in Russia who are focused on planting churches and only want to partner with churches who share that focus.
The two things that you can start to do right now are to clarify your church’s vision and mission and figure out how those are to be implemented into your mission’s strategy and to begin communicating regularly with your missionaries. If you have a mission’s team then challenge them to start bringing you regular reports of what your missionaries are doing, planning, needing, struggling with…etc.
These missionaries aren’t in the field so that the church doesn’t have to go, they are there to lay the ground work so that the church can go.
“And when this letter has been read among you,
have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read
the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the
ministry that you have received in the Lord.””
Have you ever thought
about Paul and his time in prison? What if Paul was not in prison, would we
have his letters to the established churches of that day? Or would Paul have
just travelled to Corinth, Colossae, Ephesus, Philippi instead of writing
letters. We know he sent others as messengers and missionaries, but would he
have travelled himself if not for his imprisonment. I am sure Mark or other
would have written about those travels, but we would not have that first-person
perspective of his teachings and reproof.
In the passage above,
Paul admonished the church of Colossae to share their letter with the church of
Laodicea as well as to read the letter from that church.
What happened to the letter to the other
Was or is the letter lost to this day?
Was the letter just not shared, but kept to
We cannot determine
which question is true, but we do know that the Laodicean church is mentioned
later in Revelations. (Ref: Rev 3:14-22) They are the “lukewarm Church”. These
are a few of the many other questions to ponder but the question I want to ask
today is, “What would Paul write to your church?”
Paul was supported by
these churches and he thanked them for it every time he wrote. In fact, he
thanked them for sending even when he didn’t ask for assistance. (REF:
Philippians 4:10-18) Paul was the first missionary and some would say the
Greatest Missionary. Our missionaries today are no different than Paul in their
need for support. They not only need our financial support, but they need our
prayer support, our care support and our time. What was the last letter you
received from a missionary? How did you respond?
If Paul wrote your church a letter today, what
would it say?
If Paul wrote your church a letter today, would
you share it?
We have probably all been there. We really believe that God is
directing us. We have a “vision” or a “dream” of his purpose in our lives. So
after we pray about it, and seek guidance, we make that big decision. We move
across the world, or across country, or even down the street to start our new
ministry. But, when we get there it is nothing like what we expected. There is
one problem after the other. We may feel betrayed by others. We might feel like
we are constantly fighting an uphill battle. We might feel like we made a
mistake, that maybe we didn’t “hear” God after all? We are questioning
ourselves and begin to doubt.
What happens in those moments? Those moments when you feel like
you are doing the right thing. In fact you KNOW you are doing the right thing.
You know your heart is in the right place, you are serving the Lord, listening
to him, obeying him, and wanting to do His will. But, what happens when trying
to do His will feels more like its backfiring.
For many this is when you begin to lose hope. You may begin to
question yourself. You may ask, did I hear God correctly? You may wonder if you
are doing something wrong. You may think you made a mistake. And, you might
assume that you aren’t good enough, and that you can’t handle all these
problems. Your self esteem begins to drop, your confidence in your ministry
begins to lack, and you start to consider other possibilities which include
quitting ministry altogether. For others this may be when depression and
anxiety begin to set in. Especially if these troubling times last for years.
When you get past the phase of working out the kinks, yet you still are feeling
like nothing is being accomplished, or at least not at the rate you wanted, it
can take a toll on your thoughts, your actions, and your physical body. You can
become weary, you can become doubtful, and
you can become heartbroken. What you once were excited and passionate
about is now a feeling of dread, defeat, and doubt. For some this takes a toll
on their spiritual life as well.
When we look at the story of Joseph in Genesis chapters 37,
39-47,50 we see that Joseph had “dreams” and “visions” for his life. These
dreams as a young boy included his brothers one day bowing down before him. For
Joseph he was going to be someone in high power some day, someone well
respected, well-known, so much so that even his own brothers would bow to him.
But, his story didn’t go according to what we might think for man that would
one day be in a position of such great power. Joseph was thrown into a cistern,
I am sure it was dark, cold and dingy down there. A place of despair. I would
assume not a place Joseph dreamed about when he dreamed his brothers would bow
before him. Not long after, the brothers saw a caravan riding by and decided
that instead of leaving him in the cistern to die, they would sell him into
slavery. So off Joseph went with the caravan into a foreign land to become a
slave. During this time I assume that the dreams he had of being in such high
power that even his family would bow to him, were beginning to diminish more.
We don’t know the thoughts of Joseph but this could have been a confusing time
for him, first the cistern, now being completely removed from his family, there
was no guarantee that he would ever see them again, so how is that they would
ever bow before him? But, what we do know, is that “God was with Joseph” and
that Joseph continued to trust and obey God. Because of his attitude and
belief, he was put in charge of the household of one of the highest officials in
the land, Potipher. He was trusted with everything this man had. Until one day,
he was falsely accused of trying to rape Potiphers wife, and was thrown in
prison. Once again, not the place you’d assume Joseph would be in when he was
supposed to be in a prestigious and powerful position. But, from what scripture
says, over and over, “God was with Joseph”. Through Josephs obedience and trust
in God, he was put in charge at the prison. Over time, Joseph was interpreting
dreams, while in prison, for the cupbearer and baker of the King. When they got
released from prison, and the cupbearer was to return to his job, Joseph asked him to tell Pharoah to
remember him. But, the cupbearer forgot about him..for TWO years. During that
time, it would seem that Joseph could lose heart, that the dreams he had in his
youth would never come true. But, we know that “God was with Joseph” and
through Joseph’s obedience and God’s grace, Pharaoh himself had a dream, and
called Joseph to interpret it. It’s through this interpretation that Pharaoh
put Joseph in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Finally, this is the time when
Joseph would see those dreams coming true. When his purpose would be revealed.
There was a famine in the land, and it was because of Joseph’s character, Joseph
never giving up, and God being with Joseph that he would not only save his
family, but an entire nation. Josephs dreams did come to fruition, his brothers
did bow down to him. In Genesis chapter 50 beginning in verse 15, after the
death of Josephs father, Israel, his brothers began to get worried and thought
that now that their father was dead, Joseph would take revenge on them, so they
told Joseph that their father said, before dying that he must forgive them.
Josephs response beginning in Genesis 50: 19 was “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the
place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to
accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”. He then went on
to say he would provide for them and their children and show kindness towards
You see there are many times in Joseph’s life where he could have given up. Where he could have thought that his dreams and visions weren’t from the Lord. Where he could have thought he was wrong, doing the wrong thing, and that he really was worthless. He could have gone through a great deal of depression. He could have doubted himself and his abilities—to predict dreams. He could have doubted God. He could have had anxiety about dying, or not seeing his family, especially his father. He could have had depression and been in great despair not knowing the future. But, what Joseph realized was that all he went through, was necessary in order for God’s people to be saved, for Joseph and his family to be saved. Had he never been sold, or had he died while in the cistern, or doubted his ability and refused to interpret dreams, who would have been there to tell Pharaoh what was about to come, and who would have been able to store up enough food to save a nation?
When you are doubting your abilities, when you are doubting
yourself, or even doubting God; when you are feeling in despair, depressed, or
that you may have made a mistake, or even God messed up, remember that God
could be preparing you for something greater. All of this didn’t happen over a
course of a week for Joseph it took YEARS for his purpose to be revealed. It
took years of him going from a pit, to slavery, to prison, to being the right
hand man of the King-proving his childhood dreams to be true. It could take
years, but hold on, keep trusting, keep praying, keep believing and God will
fulfill his purpose in your life, and your dreams and visions from God will
come to pass.
1.) Do you feel like you are in a “pit”? Are a “slave”? Or
“imprisoned” right now? If so, in what ways? Why?
2.) Are you finding yourself doubting your abilities?
3.) Are you wondering if maybe you misunderstood God’s plan for
4.) In what ways do you see God moving and working in your life,
even while in a “pit”, in “slavery” or in “prison”?
5.) Spend some time today asking God to reveal to you ways that
he IS moving in your life, for patience to see his will through, and for an
6.) If you are feeling so down that although you see God moving, your depression, despair and anxiety has gotten the best of you please feel free to reach out to a Here 2 There ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or seek professional help.