Oh yes He cares, I know He cares

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I don’t know all the trials and tribulations you may be experiencing right now. Perhaps your life is trouble free at this moment. If so, praise God for that. But, if you’re like most people, one of three things is true: You have just come through a major problem; you are currently in the midst of a major problem; or you’re getting ready to enter a major problem. The reality is: the only people who don’t have problems are in the cemetery.

end of my ropeThe trouble with problems is they can beat you down and discourage you. One of Satan’s greatest tools is discouragement. God only knows how many Christians have been lost due to discouragement.

The solution to the problem is to have an ever-loving, never-leaving faithful friend who stands by you and supports you in the midst of your problems.

The good news is that Jesus is that friend. Nobody understands you like Jesus, and nobody loves you like Jesus. He is a faithful and loyal friend. That’s why he said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

The song says: “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song; as the burdens press, and the cares distress, and the way grows weary and long?” And the chorus answers: “Oh yes, he cares. I know he cares. His heart is touched with my grief. When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.”

When you’re in the midst of a great problem, remember what the apostle Peter said about Jesus: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Measuring Your Love-Level

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mood ringsDo you remember mood rings? They were popular a long time ago. They changed color according to the mood of the wearer. (It was actually according to body temperature, but sellers tried to pass it off as a mood change, and they made a lot of money.)

What if someone made “love of God” rings that indicated the level of love the wearer feels for God? And what if everyone had to wear them? If black was the color that indicated no love for God, and white was the color that indicated overflowing love for God, I imagine that a lot of people we see on the streets would have varying shades of grey—and some of those people would even be Christians.

Is it possible to measure a person’s love for God? The writer of 1 John seemed to think so. He said in 1 Jn. 4:20-21: For whoever does not love their brother & sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother & sister. The level of a person’s love for God is in direct proportion to his level of love for other people.

I was driving down road recently when I saw a car in the oncoming lane suddenly stop in the middle of the road. The driver got out and walked in front of his parked car where he leaned over to look at something. He had a towel in his hand, & using the towel like a glove, he reached down & picked up a little featherless baby bird & carried it over to the nearby bushes, where it had fallen from its nest. If he hadn’t stopped to rescue the baby bird, it would have probably been run over & flattened like a pancake. But this man went out of his way & took great pains to carefully handle the bird & return it to a place of safety in the nearby bushes.

I thought, “What a wonderful illustration of how we should treat people!” All our interpersonal relationships should come with a label that says: Handle With Care. Paul told the brethren in 1 Thess. 2:7-8: As apostles of Christ…we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. Mothers treat their little children with kindness and compassion, with tenderness and care.

Think of Jesus’ relationship with his apostles. Think of their many weaknesses and how often they disappointed Jesus. If he wanted to, Jesus could have spent every waking moment telling the apostles what was wrong with them—but he didn’t. Instead of constantly rebuking, he was constantly loving and forgiving. He was constantly tender & kind. One of his closest apostles would later say in 1 Pt. 4:8: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Jesus handled his disciples with care—because he loved them.

If you really want to evaluate your love-level, try measuring it against 1 Cor. 13:4-8 which says: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Genesis: A story of beginning

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Ok, true confession time. Our first day of the campaign was last Tuesday. None of us felt real confident that there would be much response. We worked hard, and the majority of people we spoke with said they’d come to services. We figured if even half of the ones who said they’d come, actually did come, we’d have a pretty good week. It was quite a disappointment when no one was there at the tent at 6 PM Tuesday evening. By the final amen that evening, there were only 20 present.

blog_baptismSee any problem? There’s a lot of “we” in there. We all understand, of course, on an intellectual level that the work is God’s, but when it comes time for the reckoning (translated: “preacher’s count”) and the number’s lower than what we thought God would provide, we still tend to be disappointed.

God did not disappoint.

We had a wonderful service of worship this morning, the first worship service for the Ondangwa/Onethindi congregation of the Lord’s body. We had 43 in attendance this morning, and the blog_sunday_worship_1contribution (admittedly buoyed by American contributions) was N$862, which is roughly US$86. We ended the week with 11 baptisms, and 3 of the last 4 were people who never had a sit-down individual study with us; they received the word by attending evening worship this week.

We are excited by other things we saw this morning as well – the first business meeting of the congregation, members taking serving roles, and plans to build a small meeting house this week on the land where the Chariot was set up.

Make no mistake – God was at work this week in Ondangwa, and he will continue to work. blog_sunday_worship_3It’s been a privilege to join him in his work this week. As we leave for home tomorrow, we have the same feelings we always have when leaving a mission campaign – glad to be headed home to our families, but sorry to have to leave so soon.

Thanks to all of you who had a part in this work, and will continue to have a part in the days and years to come. Please continue to pray for this fledgling congregation and for the spiritual development of its members.