“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the Lord, Everlasting God..” Genesis 21:33
The scene for this verse is that Abraham just made a covenant with the King Abimelech to become allies with him. After the fact that the King accidentally stole Abraham’s wife, Sarah. This was just a minor setback in their friendship.
King Abimelech went back and Abraham was left alone once again in safety. It says in this verse that he then planted a tree and prayed. At first, I skimmed over this verse not really thinking about it. I read over it again, and still, it didn’t think twice. Then I started to google things. A tamarisk tree is an evergreen tree, in every season it is never changing, always producing green. Which when I began to think it mirrors who our God is. Then Abraham proceeded to call out to the Everlasting God. The word Everlasting means Infinite and unchanging.
Abraham was calling out to the God whose faithfulness never leaves us. God had fulfilled the promise of Isaac and also kept him safe through adversity. Abraham, like all of us, had experienced God’s faithfulness in his life .
After reading this I began to write down the ways that God has been faithful to me in the past. I was pleasantly surprised by what this brought to me, I began to find myself even more encouraged in the Lord. His past faithfulness to fulfill his promises is an encouraging reflection on how he will continue to fulfill the promises he has given.
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”. Psalm 86:15
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Browning has been maybe one of the hardest seasons of my life. I have descended from the mountain top experience of Guatemala to this low valley. I have fought so much with this, longing after this experience again. But, I have learned that I asked the Lord to grow and change me and through this he is doing so. I have learned to seek him at a new level. I have learned that I truly can’t rely on feelings. My doubts that have been in my heart have been exposed. I have learned to be broken and to weep in front of my teammates. The fact is that this season is uncomfortable and stretching, but growing. I wouldn’t change this deepening of faith for anything.
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up”. -Galatians 6:9
Browning is a hard place. This is something my whole team has seen in the past month. It is easy to be discouraged by the fact that we cannot always see the fruit of our ministry. When coming to IGNITE I thought I would be sent somewhere that had tons of ministry. A place with 300 kids ready to learn. But, I trust the Lord that he sent me here for a reason. Even though it’s a difficult place to live, because sometimes it feels like we don’t have any ministry, I felt like the Lord has given me this verses for our field time, as a reminder.
We aren’t in charge of the results of increasing the church, but just living a life worthy of the gospel. The hard truth is that we might not ever see a ton of fruit from these 6 months, but we have to be faithful with what’s put in front of us. If that means teaching 25 kids each week then that’s what we are called too. Where he leads I will follow!
Give my team vision for the work you are doing in our lives. I ask that we won’t become weary of doing good! Remind us of the reasons you called us here. I ask that you continue to shape and mold us. Amen!
“I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” 2 Corinthians 12:12a
Paul’s main focus in life was to be a tool used by God. He was not afraid to be thrown in jail or beaten, and research shows that he spent 5-6 years in total in jail during his ministry. This man was crazy, but, what a beautiful example to us.
“To those who are weak, I became weak so that I could help save them. I have become all things to all people. I did this so that I could save people in any way possible. 23 I do all this to make the Good News known. I do it so that I can share in the blessings of the Good News” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
Paul’s life is convicting to me because he was so on fire for the Lord. He was a walking testimony wherever he went, whether that be under house arrest or in prison. I took time today to reflect on my life thus far and here were the questions I asked myself: Do I spend myself for others? Do I serve others even when I’m tired, when it hurts, or I’m just not feeling it? The answer was no, I have lost the fire in my heart to gladly serve others, this is a very dangerous place to be. My passion needs to be restored. This is my prayer:
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit”. Psalm 51:12
After this year in IGNITE I want to look back and be able to say, “I spent and gave all of myself up to further the gospel”, and for this to carry throughout my whole life. I want to be able to say that I am in total surrender to the furtherance of the gospel. This is easier said than done, that’s why as my application I want to spend this morning in prayer over this. That I won’t become complacent and that I might become a better bondservant to the Lord.
“And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but those outside everything is in parables”. Mark 4:10-11
I was praying this morning asking the what direction the Lord wanted me to go with this IBS. This is what I got. I can remember times at camp when I would be sharing the gospel message with some of my campers. When I look back I laugh thinking about all the times I would be talking about Jesus in the simplest form, and they just didn’t get it. Or when I think about the first time I talked openly about God in front of my non-believing friends, I think about how they responded. Why didn’t they understand? Why didn’t they know their need for God?
A hard lesson I had to learn is that I was walking in the burden of playing the Holy Spirit in their lives. I can’t make them respond to the Lord, I can’t force something down their throats. I can, however, lead them to the water and if the Lord chooses to give them ears to hear, then may they drink.
Now this verse, the people heard the parables and they were just that. No special meanings or life lessons they just heard stories. Most left the scene scratching their heads, but not really thinking twice about the message. The ones who came back to know more, these are the people that the Lord said: “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God”. The people who were seeking answers found God.
13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
That’s just it! Listen and ask. Seek and find!
Application: Today I want to spend time in prayer for my unsaved friends. I want to pray that they will have ears to hear the Word of God.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one bearing the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under-control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified”. -1 Corinthians 9:24:26
I am running a race, and we all are. My race might look a bit different than yours, but that is cool because that just shows that God is a personal God and that He loves us individual (But, that is off topic).
Before I came to IGNITE I didn’t know how to discipline my flesh like a runner disciplines their bodies. Runners are running a race that is a goal that is perishable. Our race as believers are something that is eternal. That doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect all the time or we might hurt our witness. But it does mean that we can’t have off days to allow our brains to think what they want and our mouths to say what they please. There are no off days in ministry, everything is a ministry opportunity.
I only have 2 weeks left of training in Guatemala. And so easily I could throw in the towel and quit just shy of the finish line. But, that is not what I need to do, I want to look back and truthfully say, “I started better than I began”. The only way to do this is through the Lord.
As my application: I want to pray for endurance and discipline for me and my teammates.
“Finally, brothers rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” -2 Corinthians 13:11
One of my new favorite verses, But it is also convicting. I don’t live in unity like this ever.
“Aim for restoration” I used to hate confrontation because I didn’t know how to confront. This is what I have learned. Go with a heart of restoration, don’t go to someone prepared to fight more, but instead a humble heart. “Aim for restoration”.
“comfort one another” this one is pretty self-explanatory. Comfort those who need to be comforted. I have been so blessed here in IGNITE by people being prompted by the Holy Spirit to comfort me, and point me back to Christ. I hope to be the same to others.
“Agree with one another, live in peace”. Be peaceable with those around you. This is the key to living with 20 other classmates. What does this mean? I feel it is not to pick unnecessary fights and learn to sometimes to agree to disagree.
“And the God of love and peace will be with you” Sometimes I feel helpless when I read a verse like this. How can I live up? The fact is I can’t in my own power, only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6