I love God’s Word. That’s not a surprise to those of you who read this blog regularly. But here’s the thing I love most about it. Each time I read it, I’m surprised. How does God do that when I’ve read some of these Bible passages more than a dozen times?
If I was reading the Bible all by myself—with no help from the Holy Spirit who dwells within me—I’m sure it would be dry and boring and make no sense for my life today. But because I read it with the Author of each word, He interprets the meaning with fresh new eyes each time I open those pages.
The Passage I Read
“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith.” 1Timothy 1:3-4 (emphasis added)
Paul is writing to his “under-study” Timothy, making sure he’s taking good care of the church at Ephesus that Paul left in his care. Ephesus was a tough city, and the church was fraught with controversy and division. Timothy was a young man and some would have said Timothy was too young a believer to be placed in such a demanding position. So why did Paul place Timothy in such an impossible situation?
Because Paul wasn’t relying on Timothy. Paul’s faith was in God…and in Timothy’s reliance on God.
Faith-Filled Emotions To Do God’s Work
Of all the crazy things God asked men and women to do in Scripture, one of the most impossible tasks seemed to be asked of Hosea–and it involved his emotions. How could a man obediently offer his love to a prostitute (Gomer) with the full understanding that she would betray him over and over again?
I’ve had my heart broken, and I couldn’t willingly allow someone to betray me again and again. The truth is…neither could Hosea if he tried to do it alone. Only by faith, only by feeling God’s anger and betrayal and then feeling His divine mercy, forgiveness, and love flow from the Throne, could Hosea rise above his own emotion to effectively do God’s work. He couldn’t be God’s man apart from God’s emotions. God—and only God—can work from the inside out to shape our emotions for Kingdom work.
Faith-Filled Ability To Do God’s Work
Miriam had served as the only voice of God among the Israelites since the days of Joseph (nearly 300 years). Moses, who had lived in Midian for forty years, had no way of knowing Miriam’s role among the Israelites. All he knew was that he wasn’t qualified to be the mouthpiece of God.
“But Moses said, ‘O Lord, please send someone else to do it.’ Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, ‘What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do….’” Exodus 4:13-16
God’s formula for success has very little to do with natural ability and much to do with someone’s faith. Even Moses, who had less than a mustard seed of faith, was still given the chance to do Kingdom work and learn to trust God.
Doing It “My Byself”
Those of us who have been born in free nations highly value our independence—as we should. Our soldiers have fought and died for it. However, when it comes to faith, independence is our most lethal enemy.
Our first daughter was independent from the moment of birth. She came screaming from the womb and had her own ideas about sleeping and eating from day #1. It was up to her parents to figure her out. By age two, she began to veto my decisions on her clothing for the day, throwing a fit if I didn’t choose the right shirt for her pants or skirt. And by age three, she began to announce the phrase that has defined her whole life, “I do it my byself.” From diapers to driving to diplomas, this independent child has become an incredibly talented, capable, and successful young woman.
But the “my byself” strategy doesn’t work when God calls us to something too big for our human capability.
If you follow God long enough and truly seek to know Him better, He’ll undoubtedly call you to something bigger than your own ability. It’s what He does because He wants us to become reliant on Him.
God called Moses to a task greater than he felt competent to handle, so God gave Moses a partner…Aaron. When the two men began speaking to Pharaoh, Miriam had no role at all—at least that Scripture records. So what was God asking of her? I think He was asking her to wait, to be silent, to watch Him work…and I think it was beyond her human ability to do so. Sometimes silence is Kingdom work because waiting takes more faith than action.
If we’re humanly capable of completing everything on our to-do list, it’s likely not a list of Kingdom work. Remember, Paul told Timothy, “God’s work is done by faith.” May we all be alert to the work only He can accomplish through us.
- Only God can work from the inside to shape our emotions for Kingdom work.
- God’s idea of success has little to do with natural ability and much to do with someone’s faith.
- When it comes to faith, independence is our most lethal enemy.
- Is there something God called you to do that seemed impossible at the time, but He equipped you to complete the task?
- Is there something God is calling you to do now that seems impossible? How can we pray for you?