This week's 'thought' comes to you from a man named David Greco. It is found in his book: "Renew Me -- Finding the Holy Spirit When in Spiritual Crisis."David (who is tri-lingual) is a man of extraordinary gifts and abilities. He grew up in the church, attended Bible College and seminary, and went on for his doctorate in theology at Temple University in Philadelphia. He became involved in a radio outreach ministry based in New York City, which broadcast to Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and parts of Central and South America. All went better than anyone could have ever hoped -- until a group of people started to spread false accusations about his motives, and accused him of fraud and deception and using monies raised for the ministry for personal gain. Everything started to unravel.
He writes: "The Lord told us... "Don't defend yourselves, I'm working"... However, when there are slanderers and malicious people; when accusations stain our reputations and our whole vision (and life work) is in danger, it isn't so easy. My life revolved around the ministry. If the ministry collapsed, so would my life."
Things deteriorated rapidly as funds dried up, lawyers threatened action, and "Jesus didn't move; He didn't even seem to react." Then, after an extended time of anxiety, struggle, tears, and both mental and physical exhaustion, he took a trip to Orlando, Florida, where he heard a preacher share a message about Abraham from Genesis 17. He shared how at 99 years old Abraham faced an impossible situation and found himself waiting for a miracle. That's where our selection picks up. I trust his words will encourage you. Enjoy.
"The message was for me. God had spoken to me. I had to follow Abraham's example. In the final prayer I promised God that even though I didn't understand the details, I was going to obey His Word. That same morning we packed our suitcases and returned to New York. I honestly didn't remember much of the trip, even though I was driving. My wife and girls slept most of the way. In those silent hours, the Holy Spirit cut my heart in a thousand pieces with His sword. I felt small, incapable, and ignorant. I felt like a beggar, a man in need, an invalid.
This was the work of the Holy Spirit. Although I felt weak, I didn't feel desperate. There was a confidence in me that I couldn't understand. The smaller I felt, the more confident and secure I felt. Confidence in my own knowledge and skills disappeared. My trust in the almighty God, El Shaddai, grew. He, only He, could produce a miracle. He, only He, could change my heart and renew me...
How different are God's ways! How many times we think that He prefers strong, solid, and victorious believers. We think God prospers those who try hard, those who are always doing something in the church. Are not these the ones who are constantly testifying about what God is doing in their lives?
My wife and I have two girls and a little boy... We love them all the same. However, when one gets sick or doesn't feel well, we devote all our efforts to comfort and take care of that child. Why? Because the son or daughter who is sick needs our attention more than those who are well. If we, being imperfect parents, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will our Father, who didn't spare His own Son, protect us and take good care of us...
Are you going through a desert of loneliness? Has God promised you something that you haven't received? Are you waiting for God's direction, and it won't come? Is there a threat over your life, over your family, or over your marriage? Are you rejected? Are your talents despised? Do you feel abandoned? Don't despair! The almighty God is about to appear in your life...
In the midst of a critical situation, God captures our attention. In the midst of a crisis where there is no way out, we look for alternatives. This is where the hunger begins. Renewal begins with the hunger for God --hunger to reach new experiences, new signs, and new insights of God's work in our heart. Because of my pride and my self-sufficiency, I had never developed this desperate hunger. However, through this trial, God was humbling me...
I have prayed, begged and interceded with God to set us free [from the hindrances some have caused to our radio ministry]. But my prayer hasn't been answered -- yet. God hasn't removed those obstacles yet... The reality is I haven't seen the fulfillment yet. The obstacles still remain, but they don't bother me anymore. When I look at the problems, I give thanks to God because I know He is already removing them. I have faith. My faith didn't come because I heard an inspiring message. My faith came from the Word of God and the preaching of the Word...
I don't produce faith. I don't have to manipulate my emotions to be able to feel faith. I don't have to enter into a psychological frenzy to be able to feel enthusiasm, optimism and hope. Faith is a gift of God. Faith is a gift God gives to worshipers who share with Him in communion.
Without grace, there is no faith.
Without communion (with God), there is no faith.
Without true prayer, there is no faith.
Without worship, there is no faith.
Without the revelation of the heart of God, there is no faith.
Faith is my response to such revelation... The revelation of God's heart, the manifestation of His will and purpose during times of communion with Him -- that is what produces faith."
As Martin Luther once said, "Until God makes a man nothing, He can make nothing out of him." There is a blessedness in being broken. Like a sealed alabaster jar of ointment, the fragrance does not spill out until the jar is broken open. The Spirit's power is actually hindered by our "togetherness." What we need is not to be in control, and have it all together, but be pushed beyond our limits until God breaks us of our need to feel like we must be in control. For so long as we are trying to control things, we effectively quench the Spirit.
In this sense Isaiah 30:15 is revealing: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." Not in frenzied activity. Not in more programs and meetings. Not in more strenuous efforts or grand personal achievements. Not in the things done by us, but in repentance for thinking we could ever do the work of God in our own feeble strength. In a determination to rest in His love, good purposes and provision, and sovereign unstoppable might! In a determination to be quiet before Him and trust Him to move in response to our heartfelt prayers.
To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), Pastor Jeff