(August 25, 2019) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring some challenging reflections…
Vestibule – now there’s a word that indicates a chamber or channel opening into another. Hmm.
As we follow Jesus many times doors open that lead into new discoveries and adventures in God as we hear and yield to the Holy Spirit’s soft whispers to our heart. In this connection we recall the following challenge that speaks of discovering an important vestibule leading to heaven’s riches…
Others May, You Cannot … over the years there have been a number of items, tracts or articles based on this challenging thought and its relating issues.
Some 40 years we were handed the following thought-provoking piece that we were told was written by Bill Britton – one that’s still fresh, challenging and meaningful, especially if you’re sold out to the ministry call of Christ on your life.
‘If God has called you to be really like Jesus, he will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put on you such demands of obedience that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians.
‘And, in many ways, he will seem to let other good people do things that he will not let you.
‘Other Christians (and ministers), who seem very religious and useful, may push themselves, pull strings and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot, and if you attempt you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.
‘Others may boast of themselves, their work, success and writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing. And if you begin to, he will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.
‘Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or have a legacy left them, but it is likely that God will keep you poor because he wants you to have something far better than gold, namely a helpless dependence on him that he may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.
‘The Lord may let others be honoured and put forward, but keep you hidden in obscurity because he wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for his coming glory which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great but keep you small. He may let others do work for him and get the credit, but he will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing. And then, to make your work more precious, he may let others get the credit for that work…and thus make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.
‘The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.
‘So make your mind up that God is an infinite sovereign, and has the right to do as he pleases with his own son or daughter. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in his dealings with you, but if you absolutely seal yourself to be his love slave he will wrap you up in a jealous love and bestow on you many blessings which come only to those who are in his inner circle.
‘Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that he is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that he does not seem to use with others.
‘Then, when you are so possessed with the living God that you are – in your secret heart – pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven!’
Wow! Timely words today
Now there a challenge that can only be accepted in faith!
Such a challenge makes one think, think deeply! They can be scary… those challenges centring on ‘Others can, but you can’t!’
That ‘you’ becomes the big ‘I’ factor…
- I can’t be upset if others get credit when it should have been mine.
- Others may gain financially when I can’t.
- Others may make it in the limelight but I can’t.
- Others may work less hard and productively but I can’t.
- Others may push themselves, pull strings and work schemes to carry out their plans, but I can’t …
- And so on…
Been there? Going through something like this presently? We can sympathise – rather empathise – with you. The reality is that we live in a fallen world and sometimes even we Christians fall down in our attitude, example and actions and fail to honour one another.
By God’s grace we have to look beyond such failings, lack of accreditation and respect, and honour not being given. We’re called to serve God come what may and this may even be when sometimes things don’t work out as they should – or we had prayed for. This includes those times when we really believe for miracles but they don’t happen – such as praying so earnestly and believingly for healing for someone but it doesn’t happen.
Or something like the following can hit you… in consulting and praying for someone recently (let’s call him ‘John’), he humbly and sincerely told us that he really wanted to serve his church – and Jesus – in a particular area of ministry that involved reaching people in need but his bishop had denied him an opening.Taken aback John had found it hard to accept his bishop’s challenge of ‘I don’t believe you’re suitable for such ministry, you’re more adept at (mentioning another ministry)… and when it boils down, John, it’s not what you want, it what God wants.’ John was thrown… he had believed he’d known what God required of him.
Been badly thrown?
Sidebar thought: Put aspirations of ministry aside for a moment… maybe you’re not into ministering in some way in the life of your church but you live out the Christian life and set a good example to others.
Think about life in general. Ever been thrown in respect of your choice of career, even what you’re into at present? You consider yourself doing a good job but out-of-the-blue, you’ve been challenged.
Or to others your life’s ambitions, even current activities and projections are too far out, too high, too grandiose? That you need to humble yourself and come down a peg or two?
Maybe it’s a sudden challenge by your life-partner? Or by your mentor or teacher (even Bible college tutor). Or some other ‘general life’ area.
Relaxing in godly contentedness
But back to our main thought here of following and serving Jesus in some avenue of ministry in your local church, we’re reminded of Jesus’ words to his first disciples: ‘If you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, take up your cross every day, and follow me’ (Luke 9:23) and ‘Those who do not carry their own cross and come after me cannot be my disciples’ (Luke 14:27).
‘Forget yourself’ reads ‘deny’ in some translations… it’s aparneomai meaning self-denial and ‘cross’ is stauros which figuratively indicates exposure to death, that is self-denial. Think about that! Jesus, who himself lived his life and ministry in self-denial (eg John 6:38, ‘I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me’) requires us to do likewise in respect of knowing deeply within God’s will for us – and going for it whatever the cost.
Know this… we’ll never be alone! God will never leave us alone… his Holy Spirit will always stand by us to see us through every challenge, every obstruction, every attack, every downer. Hebrews 13:5 is so precious in seeing this article’s challenge through… ‘Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”.’
‘Never’ is a Greek word that we can take as indicating ‘No way!’ Message Bible reads: ‘Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you”.’ That’s all good news indeed! We will never feel like a sad, isolated lonely lover… our God loves us so much that he’s committed to us forever!
And what is the will of God for us?
To quote that old adage, ‘Different horses for different courses.’
As a good friend humbly said to Robert earlier this week, ‘Yes, I may be able to help and advise you about computers but I can’t write as you can. We’re all different… we all have something to offer whereby we can bless one another.’ How true.
Reminds us of Paul’s advice in Romans 12:1-2 Mge under the heading A Living Sacrifice… ‘So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him… fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognise what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it…God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.’
As one develops an intimate relationship with God – through prayer, Bible meditation, the inner quickening of a preached word or a meaningful chorus, listening to the leadings of the Holy Spirit, seeking to follow the example of Jesus – there comes a moment when we just know that we know what our God wants us to be, to do. Then we live in contentment of that as we follow it through come what may.
And with the Spirit’s help, we won’t be thrown, we won’t miss out or lose out, we’ll not be disappointed. ‘Sent’ disciples are loved by Father God disciples… as Jesus reminded his first disciples in the second part of John 17:23(NIrV), ‘I will be in them, just as you are in me… It will also show the world that you have loved those you gave me, just as you have loved me.’
Let others find and flow in their calling in God as they determine… know yours and be content with and in it as you humbly but willingly follow and honour the Lord and his name.
With the Holy Spirit’s assistance give it your best shot! People will be blessed… and your own rewards will be great whether they come along fully here and now or in heaven and home!
We’re confident you’ll experience both!
Dr Robert and Maureen McQuillan’s link are firstname.lastname@example.org and Facebook (Scripture and other emphases in this Onliner ours). Relating link: Brian Bell’s Speaking Personally / George Forbes’ Sobering Words / Carol Round’s Be a Light