(Tuesday, February 5, 2013) In my typical way of analyzing everything and trying to figure myself out, I’ve long wondered about why I dread the pastor’s conferences so much before they start but enjoy them immensely once they get going or are over. I hate them and love them at the same time! I think I know what is happening. When we minister for God, there is a battle that goes on that we are not always aware of. Our spirit is opposed by our flesh and by Satan’s forces. So naturally we shrink back. I get very tired from ministering to these pastors, but it’s more than standing and concentrating for 4+ hours a day. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words when the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years touched Him: “Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him” (Mark 5:24-31). I’m not a power source like Jesus was, but when His power flows through me it takes a toll. I also think of Paul saying “I am being poured out like a drink offering” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). I often feel physically weary, totally drained, just poured out at the end – even though my spirit is soaring. It can take immense emotional and spiritual energy to minister in ways that are hard for us or where there is enemy opposition. But understanding what is happening explains a lot and helps me face it, knowing what is coming and why.
That doesn’t just happen to me in India. I’m sure many of you have been having a very, very hard time being faithful and focused in your prayers for us here. It may be the hardest time you’ve had praying in a while and it’s easy to put it off or cut it short. You’re facing the same battle for the same reason.
Or maybe there is someone God wants you to talk with but you find excuses, a Bible passage you should study but you keep putting off, something good He wants you to do but you dread it and aren’t quite sure why. Our flesh rebels against sacrificing itself to serve, and our enemy opposes with his demons. This could be keeping you from taking time to worship, or helping someone in need, or encouraging someone who is struggling. Whatever it is, understand what is happening. “The spirit is willing but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38). Don’t be surprised that important things are not easy things. Paul says we are in a battle and when we serve we are attacked (Ephesians 6:10-18). Don’t be surprised, as if doing these things that advance the kingdom should be easy. Expect opposition. Be ready for it. Commit to paying the price and moving ahead in God’s Spirit and power no matter what. If your flesh and Satan try so hard to keep you from doing it, you know it must be important to do! Jesus paid a great cost to serve us; we shouldn’t be surprised when we have to pay a price to serve Him!
Luke 14:28-33 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
Luke 9:23-24 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
Ask God to reveal to you how this applies to your life. What is it God wants you to do but you find hard and draw back? Recommit to move ahead with it today, no matter how you feel. Ask God to give you wisdom, commitment and power, then step out in faith and obey no matter what. If there is something specific you’d like prayer about please email me and let me know!
TODAY’S CONFERENCE: Today we had a conference for slum pastors in a mostly Muslim neighborhood, very poor men with small churches. These men aren’t from this area but moved here from other towns and villages to start churches here (missionaries inside of India). It has been very hard, slow going for them. The conference was wonderful (so glad I am here instead of the original plan to go to Ahmednagar). One woman gave me back her travel money (100 Rupees, $2) and said I should give it to someone else, she couldn’t take it. In English I could understand she said I had given her words of life, golden words, words that are more important than any amount of money. She said she couldn’t take money when she was already given such wonderful words. Another woman said “We have been waiting for this for a long time, a very long time. Thank you so much for coming.” A pastor told me of how discouraged he had become but my words about staying faithful and not giving in to the enemy have greatly encouraged him.