In late summer the Father told me “This fall and winter through spring a lot of different things will happen one after the other in the world until some people start asking in weariness, fear, and confusion, ‘Oh what’s next?’ Do not let your heart be troubled, be at peace, and continue to be about my business and all will be well.”
That is what He said to me for my life, but what has He been saying and doing in your life? If He has been teaching you in an area that teaching will continue no matter what is swirling around us. Has He been walking you through crisis? He will continue walking with you unaffected by world events.
Stay in the peace of what He is saying to you right now, today, for that peace is like a cocoon of safety and protection. Protect that peace in you. Don’t let the assault from the world bring it down: Let the peace of God ‘keep’ (Greek: ‘guard’) your thoughts. Philippians 4:7
We can be like Mary in Luke 2:19 who upon hearing the Shepherd’s story, and the adoration her new Son was receiving, it says “But Mary kept these things, and pondered them in her heart.” We may have questions and normal fears about ‘what’s next’, but we keep the peace in our spirit as we ponder these things
Home for the holidays
When I look at this year I see that when I add up all the trips and the days after spent recovering or catching up from jet-lag, I have been gone nearly 4 months. The list of things to do around the house is long and Barb and I are enjoying just being together with no trips on the calendar for the rest of the years. There is a deep lack of tension knowing I'm only home until x trip around the corner.
But as I reflect on all the people we visited with and met through all the trips, all the hosting and meeting of people, we see the Lord walking WITH people through life much more than we see instant deliverance from circumstance. There are prayers for deliverance, for healing, for the end of various conflicts, but what we see is the Lord walking with people through the 'valley' rather than transporting them out.
He is faithful, and I wonder how people in the world get through life without Him, without knowing that Presence in their spirit which exudes peace and safety to our whole being. In my travels I see people who have dropped the formulas, dropped the systems designed to get from God something He hasn't been giving them to that point, and just learning to walk with Him in the midst of close relationships. That is life in Christ, bother internal life and the close relationships of others in faith.
Purity of motives
One of the things on my heart is the purity of motive found in the leaders of the New Testament and how they conducted their relationships with others without any agenda of their own. This is reflected in Paul’s heart in Acts 15:36 when he told Barnabus,
"Let us go again to every city where we preached the Word and see how they are doing."
That’s it – he just wanted to see how they were doing. Paul didn't say, "Let us go again and have them sign up as members" or "Let us go again and get them into cell groups" or "Let us go again and tell them what they should be doing" - they just wanted to see how they were doing.
This is why Paul told the Corinthians "Not that we would have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy, for by (your own) faith you stand" in II Corinthians 1:24, which is also one of the two foundational verses CWOWI is built upon for that has always been our heart.
The other being Galatians 2:9, where we are told Peter, James, and John "perceived the grace" in Paul and Barnabus. These two verse are key to a healthy and balanced life of faith and in interpersonal relationships - we don't enter into relationships with an agenda, but merely perceive the grace in each other and respond to that, doing our best to be one another's helpers of joy, for each of us by our own faith, stand.
This ‘no agenda but love’ ministry means we enter into relationships by first seeing what God is doing in a person's life, and then responding to it.
In Acts 11:19-30 the Greeks in Antioch are believing in Jesus and the apostles send Barnabus to see what God was doing. In verse 23 it says, "Who, when he had arrived and seen the grace of God, he was glad, and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they should cling to the Lord."
Notice - he didn't come with an agenda or idea of telling them what he thought they should know about God - he saw the grace of God and was glad. He responded to what God was already doing. That is our heart, and that is the foundation on Jesus that relationship based faith, and those who meet in healthy, family based churches who meet in homes, are all about.
We look at what God is doing, perceiving the grace present, then rather than try to have dominion over one's faith, are instead helpers of their joy, teaching them at their pace how to stand in their own faith.
Look at Peter - in Acts 15:8-10 when Peter was re-telling his experience in the house of Cornelius, he commented “And God who knows the hearts, bore them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit even as He did us.”
Notice that Peter first saw what God saw in their hearts, saw that God was bearing witness to their hearts by giving them the Holy Spirit, and Peter merely responded to that. He didn't enter the house with the idea of planting a new house church, or starting a new Bible study on foundations of the faith - he went to perceive the grace, to see what God was already doing, and then respond to that.
I’ve sometimes questioned myself for all the trips we take to ‘visit the brethren to see how they do’ as Paul did. But I have come to realize that is just my heart, just to see how people are doing in their walk, and respond to what God is doing – I have no other agenda than that – just to be helpers of your joy as you stand in your own faith.
We give thanks for you all, and pray always for those prayer requests you write in on the offering envelopes an in your online giving notes – thank you for giving into our lives and being there for us. We are a small ministry and your gifts are personally felt. Thank you.
John and Barb, and Chris