A wise friend of our family (whom I love dearly) and I were talking on the phone a few months ago. We were discussing the need to pray for someone close to us. I told her that I didn’t even know how to pray for that person anymore because I felt that the person had fallen into sin in such a way that I didn’t feel equipped to try to talk to them anymore – and felt that they had hardened their heart to any sort of sound advice whether from me or anyone else. Without missing a beat, my friend said, “When you pray for her, if you don’t know what else to say, just thank the Lord for the work that you see Him doing in her life, because you can be sure He’s working on her.” You know, I never really thought to do that. I had prayed and pleaded with the Lord for her heart to be changed. I had prayed for something to happen to show her that she needed to stop her destructive path, because obviously that path was not honoring The Lord. I had never stopped to consider thanking Him and just trusting that He IS working all the time. In John 5:17 when the Lord Jesus was being persecuted by the Jewish leaders for healing on the Sabbath He said, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working.”
All of this came to my mind this morning when I saw a pretty picture with the verse, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) Then I thought of Jesus saying “I too am working.” This all made me ask myself, “Am I always working for the Lord?” Sadly, the answer to that is, “Well, not always.”
Now, I don’t want anybody to misunderstand and think for one second that I believe that we can work our way to heaven. That is total fallacy. I know it is a popular belief, but it’s just not true. Our good works alone will not save us. Only receiving the Lord Jesus into our hearts will save us. When He laid down His life for all of us on Calvary, and received the punishment that all of us were due, only then was it “finished”. He paid our debt. He took our sins onto Himself. By His stripes, we are healed. He rose again, is alive today, and is sitting at the right hand of the Father… and those of us who have trusted in Him will spend eternity in His presence. Glory!
Anyway, back to working… While I know and knew that Jesus saved me not because of any of my works, I also remembered that James said that “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20) In other words, our faith will bear the fruit of good works. So, quite a while back, I started looking for ways that I could serve the Lord that I would be comfortable with. I mean, look around, there’s always good things that we can do that really don’t require too much out of us. However, I began to see, that some things I chose to do, while good, weren’t really the holy assignments that I liked to think that they were. Lots of times, there were difficulties and failures, and general frustration. I began to realize that if I wanted to serve the Lord well in all things great and small, I needed to ask Him to show me the opportunities that HE wanted me to undertake. (note to self: Trust Him in His plan for you… not your plan for Him) So, in my prayers, I asked to be given opportunities to serve Him in ways that were pleasing to Him and not just to me. I had to humble myself, and trust that He would equip me and work through me. So, technically it wasn’t me working, but Him working through me. Needless to say, I have been showered with blessings of opportunities… definitely not always easy assignments, but ones that I literally feel the Holy Spirit using in my life. Sometimes the tasks take me WAY out of my comfort zone. Ok, well, a lot of the time they do, but you know what? That is fine with me. I have worked hard to overcome my fears (which were based on MY weaknesses and not HIS power.) I remember that, like Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) So, have I got it all together and doing it all His way and not mine? Not always, but I know that He loves me and I am a “work” in progress. Thank Him today for what He has done, what He is doing and what He will do not just in your life, but in the lives of others. Our God is an awesome God!
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (KJV)
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5 (KJV)
”Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)