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Monday, January 30, 2012

Our All in All God...through others!

I do not know about you, but I find it harder and harder to do this thing called life apart from...others!  Recently, many of my friends and I have discussed facing life crises apart from God, not knowing how anyone can face such things without our God who gives us ALL we need to sustain us. 

He truly is..."our all in all!"  

However, more and more I am finding myself depending on the strength, the encouragement, the desire to persevere provided through another's connect with me.  I am beginning to understand that often the ability to identify with another as one way God brings about His...all in all...in my life.  Ultimately, our Lord is all we need and He alone can sustain us and He is with us 24/7.  While that is true, I believe He brings others along-side us to become that vehicle by which we can experience some of His...all-sufficiency. 

I believe God desires and expects us to do life with...others.  Many scriptures use the phrase "one another" and I once was given a bookmark listing some of their references.  It was eye-opening, to say the least.  Biblegateway.com shows 83 verses in the NIV translation which include that phrase, "one another".  These verses make for some strong evidence that our heavenly Father did in fact plan for us to do life this way; as those 83 verses touch on some of the most important aspects of our lives.  This is a great word study for a personal devotion, by the way.    

There are days I think it would be much easier to not include another in my activities, but after so long a time I feel a deep need inside to connect with someone besides myself.  It is true, I can and have accomplished much without another helping me, but it is obvious God not only desires, but expects us to depend on each other to accomplish the tasks He has laid out before us. Usually allowing others to help can involve some unpleasantries, but working with each other for His good tends to bring Him the most glory.

Rarely, in the Bible does God use one single person to accomplish His work.  If He does so, it is only for a time.  Those who did work solo and quickly come to mind, mostly in the Old Testament, are Job, Joseph, and Elijah.  These men faced many challenges...alone.  If I am not careful the Enemy can deceive me into thinking as Elijah did, "...I am the only one."  

In the New Testament it is obvious how much Paul is infused to do all that He does because of the impact others lives have on him.  Often it was through Paul's encouragement to others that he himself became encouraged and at other times Paul simply named someone who was an encouragement to him in his ministry.  As for Paul, seeing what God is doing in and through the lives of others is of great encouragement to me!  Another New Testament example is Jesus.  He was praying in the garden alone, deserted at His arrest and endured the cross alone, but His disciples were with Him most all other times.  Obviously, others were a vital part of God's plan for His Son.

Yes, the Lord is always there and I am almost constantly aware of His presence, but He himself desires a connect with others--the reason He created man in the first place--and obviously He has placed that same desire within each of us.  

Please do not misunderstand me, there are many who struggle with allowing this desire to become such an unhealthy focus, to the point of an obsession called co-dependency.  Deep problems can occur when we become so dependent on others that we do not think we will make it if another is not right there with us 24/7 

While the former is true, so is a life that thinks there is no need to request or accept help from others.  The self-sufficient life, too, will be far from what God desires.  Finding that "happy medium", my dad would always recommend, seems to be the best advice. 

I do have the ability to accomplish much without the help of anyone else--I know this ability is from God--and I have felt that is what I have been doing, for the most part, these past three years.  I am convinced I can only do what I do because of those of you who pray for me and this ministry.  God is reminding me that while I am the sole person working to lay the foundations for Signs for Hope I am really not doing this solo.  At just the right time He brings others alongside me to share my God-stories with, to pray with, to encourage and be encouraged by, to lend a hand for an event, and the list goes on. He is helping me realize there are so many others who are supporting me in this process.  I have been praying for co-laborers, thinking the time is right to pass the baton to someone else for some of the busywork involved in this ministry.  Maybe God is providing those co-laborers in ways I do not expect.   You know who you are.  I must trust Him to send the others I need my way; His way and in His perfect timing.

It just occurred to me God himself, is never alone.  He is always dependent on others.  He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!  All working in concert together to accomplish what none can do alone.

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Allow me to share a little phrase that has stuck with me from a sermon I heard as a teenager:  "Others Lord, yes others; Let this my motto be.  Let me think of others, Lord, before I think of me."

Galatians 6:2 -  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 

Philippians 2:3-4 -  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 

Romans 12:10 - Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 15:7 -  Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

2 Corinthians 13:11 -  Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Galatians 5:13 - You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Hebrews 10:24 -  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,

Hebrews 13:3 -  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.






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