As Christians in 2019 we are offered very few glimpses into the life of the disciples in the early church. What was it like after Jesus ascended into heaven? What was it like as the first group of believers began to establish the early practices that would define the new family of faith?
“His master replied, well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness” – Matthew 25:23
This passage from the Parable of the Talents is a wonderful principle as we consider our stewardship of time, talent, and financial resources. Jesus’ story suggests that faithfulness in the details of life will result in the privilege of responsibility for greater things.
“Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold.” – Frances Havergal
One of the most beautiful prayers I have prayed is found in the form of hymn. This hymn was written by Frances Havergal in 1874. Frances was a young woman who wanted to grow in her faith. She wanted to experience God, grow close to Jesus, and know the power of the Holy Spirit at work in her life and in others. Although she often struggled with her health, she used her gifts to share the love of God with others.
We don’t have enough.
That’s what Jesus’ disciples thought about the prospect of feeding 5,000 people who were hoping to be healed (Matthew 14), and later, feeding another 4,000 people (Matthew 15).
I am not enough.
That’s what one of the world’s most popular Christian singers thought about her ability… after reaching the pinnacle of her profession.
In both situations – when doubt was overwhelming – God proved to be enough.
We have all, at one time or another, struggled financially. We have all made tough decisions on how to cut back and to make that paycheck stretch just a little bit further. I am sure some of us have made the decision to give less to the church, or not give at all, because we are struggling. We become afraid that we will not have enough to make it. I have been there, I have struggled with the same thoughts, but I learned a wonderful lesson about giving a few years ago.
Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I love fishing. I love to try and catch catfish, bass, trout, and several other kinds of fish. That being said, I would not call myself an accomplished fisherman. I have spent a lot more time and money on fishing than I have returned in fish caught. I enjoy fishing, but I won’t have a show on the Outdoor Channel anytime soon. This is probably why I was excited when I received one of the best Christmas presents ever.
“That is impossible.”
This may be the most crippling phrase in our vocabulary. For many reasons we often utter this phrase when faced with a difficult task. Sometimes, it is because the task in front of demands more of our time and effort than we are willing to give. Often, it is because we doubt our skills or our abilities. Other times, it is because we simply don’t have the passion to put in the much-needed work to accomplish a big goal. However, it is a rare thing indeed to encounter something that is truly impossible.
The words of the song, Rescue Me, by Jay Stocker, touch my soul. Have you ever felt like you’re in over your head? I have! One of the worst times was after I was divorced and became a single mother. I felt the water rising and getting deep. During that time, our faithful God sent people to give me His messages. My parents and siblings were supportive and reminded me that God would take care of my children and me. Friends and fellow church members sent me encouraging notes and gave lots of TLC during this period of adjustment. One of my co-workers named Sharon was especially helpful because she had been divorced with two young daughters as well. Sharon didn’t judge or give advice; she simply listened!