“They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands” … So the wall was completed… When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” Nehemiah 6:9, 15-16
My job (and ministry) is in a middle school. You know, where kids know how to push your buttons and are exercising their desire to rebel against authority.
Maybe God hasn’t put anyone “hard to love” in your life, but I bet He has. I only know that what God has asked me to to do isn’t easy and even though I am willing – I keep failing over and over.
What is our mission?
It is to love!
Sometimes I wonder why He has called me to love those “not easy to love”. I’m not good at it! I lose my temper. I get angry. I lecture. I utter those horrible teacher words, “I’m done!”
The kind of love God expects us to show to others is not a feeling. It is an action. It can be very hard to show agape love. Where is your mission field? Do you sometimes find it difficult to show love to people there?
Over 20 years ago, God showed me something that I will never forget. At the time, I was very involved in women’s ministry, but I became increasingly disturbed by some of the teaching in my church. I asked God to show me where my focus should be.
I asked Him to show me the main idea of the New Testament. I felt like my focus was on the wrong things. In desperation, I read the New Testament through three times in a row.
In a notebook, I kept track of how often various subjects were discussed, such as hope, faith, prosperity, love, spiritual warfare, etc.
I discovered that love was the most frequently taught subject by far! There was no doubt about it. God was showing me, through my crisis, that love, agape love, was very important to Him and my focus should be there.
I began an in depth study on agape love, looking for every Biblical reference. I studied Greek and Hebrew definitions. I wrote. I read. I studied.
I Corinthians 13:4-8
I can’t do it in my own strength. God must do it through me. Every day, I must pray for God’s power to dwell in me. Once we realize that we can’t do it ourselves, we have passed Lesson 1.
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11(NIV)
Lesson 2: Let our day begin with prayer. “Father, Show the Savior’s love through me today. Teach me to love.” And pray for them. Ask God to help you see the good things about them, not just what they do wrong.
Lesson 3: Study God’s Word about love and be changed. Start with I Corinthians 13. Meditate on it. Study it. How does it apply to my life?
“Love is patient.” I Corinthians 13:4a
(I don’t know about you, but I need to meditate on these 3 words for at least a week!)
The Greek word for patient is makrothumeo. It means “slow to anger”.
“Being slow to anger does not mean that one does not care, but rather that he has his emotions under control.” (Detzler)
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
According to Vine’s Bible Dictionary, “Patience is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate.”
Webster defines patience as “enduring … trouble with composure and without complaining; refusing to be provoked …”
Note: I wrote this post about a year ago, but I find myself once again needing His strength and His grace to do the very thing He has asked me to do – love those God has put in my path – and show them God’s unconditional love.
I had been seeking the Lord for several long weeks about something very important. I wanted to quit what I had been doing for three years. I was someplace I believed God had sent me, but I didn’t really see any results from my hard work. I was tired of it! Stressed out! There were other things I’d rather do!
Finally, I realized God was saying, “No”.
For several days I felt really sad. What I thought I wanted and desperately needed was not to be, at least not right now.
Then yesterday, my daughter sent me a text that said, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
It spoke directly into my life. I know God will give me the strength and enthusiasm I need to accomplish the task.
There are people all around us who need encouragement and support. They need inspiration and strength. Over the years, people have sent me a note or said something that was so encouraging to me. It was just what I needed that day.
I believe these acts of encouragement are orchestrated by God. The sender may just feel a nudge from God or hear the still, quiet voice. It is often unknown to the sender just how vital the message really is.
You may need the same encouragement that I did. You may pray and work hard in your mission field without seeing the results you so deeply desire. But, God’s Word challenges us to not give up.
Yes, we want to see big things happen. We want to see revival in our midst! That can only be accomplished by God. Our part is to be obedient, pray, and study His Word..
God’s timing is flawless. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
It is time for our hope and strength to be renewed. Remember! “… at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”