Thursday, October 31, 2013

CAMBODIA: Sweet & Tender Encouragement

I discovered firsthand that EVEN half-way across the world, sin that easily entangles will rear its ugly head. For me that sin has and always will be PRIDE.  On one day in particular, the Enemy baited my mind with prideful thoughts.  In retrospect I see that his goal was to thwart God's purpose for the trip by turning my focus inward rather than upward.  

You see, my fleshly mind began to dwell on wanting recognition.  I began to feed my pride with thoughts of self, self, self.  I am quite ashamed to have to admit this to you.  So often we think that when we walk in obedience to God, we are free from fleshly temptations.  Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth.  It is WHEN we are stepping out in obedience that the Enemy kicks things up a notch.

By the grace of God, I was able to clearly see what the Enemy was trying to do.  And by the counsel and power of the Spirit, along with prayers from many of you, I was alert and equipped to resist him and stand firm in HUMBLE faith.  My strategy: I beat my mind into submission with truth from Scripture and kept my focus on Jesus.  I frequently prayed, "You, not me Lord.  You, NOT me."

I can honestly say, the sin struggle was short-lived.  Praise God!

Had the story ended here I would have so much to thank Jesus for.
But because He is loving & compassionate He not only gave me victory over sin, He also lifted me out of the pit with sweet and tender encouragement. 

Simply, He provided opportunity for me to be used by Him in the area of teaching.  For a day, I'd allowed my desire to be used by Him to mutate into prideful thoughts.  After receiving victory over those thoughts, God graciously still considered me worthy of using.   

And so, I was given multiple opportunities to do what I love best and what I believe God's function (or gift) for me is:  TEACHING [Romans 12:3-8].

I went into the Life Center school on two separate occasions and taught.  My "lessons" weren't ground breaking or special, rather they were simple and common.  Yet, in those teaching moments God sweetly and tenderly encouraged me.


And THEN, He placed a cherry on top!  Vadna, the local missionary I grew to deeply respect, said something to me on our last day I will never forget.  It was as though God spoke directly through her. 

"I see gifting in You as a teacher.  You are fun and creative with the children."

Friends, our God is so sweet and tender.  Here I was, a wretched sinner whose pride demanded recognition.  And God not only forgave me, He also affirmed me. 

Since returning, I see the lesson God wanted me to learn:  When I walk in obedience, "God will meet all my needs, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus[Philippians 4:19]  The true measure of God's blessings is in Christ alone.  When I humbly love and serve Jesus, my needs are met.  I had a need to be used by Him, and for a moment that need turned to sin.  But as I kept my focus on Jesus, God was gracious, forgiving, and so incredibly generous to meet my need in His own perfect way.

As I think about my children, I want to pray that Jesus would sweetly and tenderly meet ALL their needs as they humbly love and serve Him.

Jesus,

You always provide a way out in temptation, especially when the sin of pride rears its ugly head.  I pray my children would not be so easily entangled in pride as I am.  I pray their focus would remain upward, toward YOU, in all that they say and do.  Grant them the gift of faith to humbly love and serve You.  And as they do, would you sweetly and tenderly encourage them, meeting ALL their needs according to Your glorious riches.  For the true measure of blessing is NEVER in recognition, but rather in the indescribable joy of being Your servant and letting You sweetly and tenderly use and encourage Your children.  I pray my children would live life in light of this truth.

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