Friday, January 9, 2015

Extended Trust, 5: In the Perseverance

“…So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.” Paul’s extended trust led to his extended obedience. Had he given into his initial reactions or to his emotions, he would have been robbed of the God’s purpose in his life. He would have also unintentionally robbed others from the receiving what God had for them, as well as those who were on his team. Paul persevered. He heard the voice of God. He trusted.

We’re almost there. We are close to departing the soil of what is familiar and arriving in a land that is not. From the moment this journey began, there have been many moments that have required trust. Don’t underestimate the power or the strategic determination of your enemy. He will work through tools of self-doubt, fear, conflict, and controversy. All of this in order to knock you off track of focusing on Jesus and the purpose of why you are on this team. Persevere. Keep your eyes on Him and persevere. Keep trusting Him over your feelings and over your fears. Through your extended trust and your extended obedience, you will see His extended reward for you.

Extended Reading Option: Romans 5:3-5

Extended Journal Option: How have you seen God change you, even in the slightest, by trusting Him? What is one thing God is teaching you about trusting Him and not giving up?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Extended Trust, 4: In the Uncertainty

“…because I have many people in this city…” Paul had no idea what this meant. He knew what he felt. He knew what he had seen. He knew what he thought. Extended trust, however, called for him to know and to receive what Christ had said. Even though he couldn’t see it and wasn’t aware of the fact, God was already prepared to advance the purpose for which Paul was called. Yes, there were those that were against him. But, there were those that God had already placed in the right place and at the right time that were for him. Paul had to resist doubting in the uncertainty and trust God extendedly.

We have already learned that no matter how well we try to prepare for what’s coming next, there are always unexpected detours. Our first temptation is to give into the uncertainty and begin to doubt. We find it easier to give into what we do see rather than to hope for what we can’t see. Trust God in the uncertainty. Don’t allow your mind to jump to conclusion about how things should’ve been, should be, or how you would do things differently. Trust God. Trust that He has a plan. Ask Him to reveal what He might be using the uncertainty to teach you. Besides, if everything always worked out according to plan, might we trust the plan more than trusting God?

Extended Reading Option: Jeremiah 29:11

Extended Journal Option: God knows the purpose and the plans He has for you. Describe how trusting Him through the uncertainties of your life can help encourage someone else? How has trusting Him changed you?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Extended Trust, 3: In the Pain

“…For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you…” Paul had already come to know the pain that came with following God’s plan. He had already, on several occasions, found himself beaten and imprisoned for walking the journey that Jesus had mapped for him. Even in the pain, however, Paul trusted. Even in the pain, Jesus spoke words of assurance to Paul. “For I am with you.” Those words were enough for Paul to continue. As long as he knew that Jesus was with him, there was nothing he couldn’t do, no prison he couldn’t handle, and no abuse he couldn’t endure. He trusted God for guidance, but also for protection. 

There will be moments of pain in our lives and on our journeys as we pursue the call that God has placed within us. With Jesus in our hearts there will always be targets on our backs. Yet, we are never alone. In the pain, we are never alone. Trust the words of Jesus that He is with you. There is nothing that is affecting you that He is not aware of. Allow His words of being with you be the peace that holds you. There are those where you are going that need to be reminded that there is a God who can be trusted even in the midst of the reality of pain. Let your trusting of God through your own pain be the assurance for them that Jesus really is there right beside them.

Extended Reading Option: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Extended Journal Option: If God can use anything to speak to us, how might He be using pain in your life to speak to you? What is He saying? How can you see that He is still right there with you?