God is Peace: A Transcending Comfort on the Support-Raising Journey

 

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7 (NIV)

We don’t live in a world that naturally knows peace. When the fall happened, this world became Satan’s domain, and “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4). Because of this, Romans 3:17 declares that the unrighteous don’t know the way of peace. The definition of peace to the world is an unachievable fantasy where everyone simply tolerates each other and gets along.

As Christians, we know that the promise of true peace is found only in Christ. It’s a transcending peace that guards our hearts and minds when wars rage all around us, hate drips from the tongues of others, and pain wreaks havoc in our lives. It’s an eternal perspective, knowing that this world and all the hurt that comes with it isn’t our real home.

The support-raising journey isn’t a stagnant task with no spiritual impact. It’s the ministry at hand and a key tool that unites people together to impact the world for Christ. Because of this, those on the support-raising journey are being led directly into a spiritual battle—whether someone is aware of it or not. Do you think that Satan wants people to unite together to do God’s work? Of course not! He doesn’t want us to make it to our ministries in one piece, so he’ll do whatever it will take, whether discouragement, pride, envy, etc., to knock people out of the game and take others down with you.

Without walking in awareness to the spiritual battle, people have been crushed by the support-raising “obstacle”. To combat what Satan throws our way, we must walk in awareness of Satan’s schemes. That doesn’t mean to be paranoid by or fixated on them. It means that we must be grounded in the truth of God and live in the peace that’s found only in Him. Because God is the God of peace, He can walk us through any trial and storm that Satan can conjure up to knock us out of the game.

  1. Take time each day to be alone with God and read His Word. This is the foundation to peace.
  2. Live in awareness to God and His plans for your life, so that when Satan tries to thwart them, you are focused on the eternal truth.

God Can Be Silent: When We Want Him to Shout on the Support-Raising Journey

“’I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.’” Job 30:20 (NIV)

 When someone you love walks next to you through the trials and tribulations of life, there are times when they don’t say a word. They simply hold you when you cry or sit next to you while giving you the space to grieve. However, we often have a problem when God is silent simply because He isn’t visible to us. The “tangible” way we feel His presence is through Him speaking to our hearts or guiding our steps. Therefore, we can equate God’s silence with Him not being present to our needs.

If anyone had a reason to shout his annoyances to God, it was certainly Job. God even offered this godly servant to Satan to be tested, and Satan jumped at the chance—go figure—to do everything he could to ruin Job’s life and his trust in God. Through a good portion of Job’s tragedy, God was silent. The only company he had was the miserable dialogue from his friends. However, when God finally broke His silence, it came in the form of His powerful testimony. When God showed up, Job’s response was “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

Many people can often feel abandoned by God on the support-raising journey. When things get tough, it can feel as if God is silent and not present to our needs. I’ve often had conversations with God saying, “Okay, God, I was obedient, now what? You’re not speaking. You’re not showing me anything, and I feel stuck with everything spinning out of control fast.” However, we need to take our faith lesson from Job and understand that, when God calls us to do something, His plans will not be thwarted.

Yes, there can be sin that gets in the way of us hearing God when He speaks or times when we deliberately take the wrong path and refuse to listen, but there are truly times when God holds us without speaking so we can grow on our own to trust Him more. He’s preparing us for our different ministries. It’s during these times we must ground ourselves in the truth of who God is and trust His sovereignty. Be prepared, because it’s out of the silence, God brings us to a place of worship, and out of that worship comes great things for Him.

  1. Confess any sin areas in your life that may be interrupting God’s voice.
  2. Read Job 38-41. Understand who God is and His sovereignty over everything, including our lives.

God Holds Our Worries: As He Provides on the Support-Raising Journey

 

“Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.” 1 Kings 17:3-4 (NIV)

Being fed by ravens is a pretty crazy way for God to provide food for Elijah in the wilderness, and after the brook dried up, God told him to go to a widow who was about to see her last meal and ask for food. Even before Elijah’s big showdown with the prophets of Baal, God provided for him in the wilderness, and He met the widow’s needs in abundance because of her incredible sacrifice.

The support-raising journey can create a lot of worry for people—so much so, that many don’t obey God when He calls them on such an unconventional cultural path to do ministry. Many have a tendency to worry whether or not they’ll have enough money (often to keep their current lifestyle). People worry about asking others to support them financially. Still some worry if they’ll be able to get to their ministry in a timely fashion. This is often before the first step is even taken, and then it can snowball, if the journey gets tough.

Did you notice that the things we tend to worry about are mainly shaped by cultural expectations we place on ourselves and not from an eternal perspective? God called the prophet Elijah to go live in the wilderness beside a brook to be fed by birds. I’m pretty sure, even back then, that wasn’t a cultural norm. However, Elijah is a beautiful picture of God’s provision no matter how weird it may have been. Then, if the ravens didn’t top it, God used a widow on Elijah’s journey to show His care. This widow had nothing, yet gave her all.

Most wouldn’t bother her. It’s not culturally correct. However, if God hadn’t directed Elijah to the widow’s doorstep and if he hadn’t been bold enough to ask for food, both her and her son would’ve eaten their last meal and died. Does this not help you to see that God’s hand can be on others as well, and they need to be given that opportunity to be used by God through their sacrificial gifts?

Worries are grounded in the now—in appearances, in embarrassment, in security. We want to be comfortable, so we often worry those comforts will be taken from us. Elijah’s path doesn’t look easy to me. Technically, he could’ve “worried” about a lot of things, yet he trusted God. He didn’t care what others thought, about savings accounts, or where his next meal would come. God had that handled. Elijah kept an eternal perspective and was used by God in a powerful way. God is asking us to view our journeys the same way, because He has everything handled.

  1. What are you worried about? Offer these worries to God and watch how He provides.
  2. Be willing to abandon your comforts to God.

God is Our Conqueror: Who Goes Before You on the Support-Raising Journey

 

“David said to Saul, ‘Your Majesty, no one should be afraid of this Philistine! I will go and fight him.’ ‘No,’ answered Saul. ‘How could you fight him? You’re just a boy, and he has been a soldier all his life!’” 1 Sam. 17:32-33 (NIV)

The excuses against tackling something twice our size are always numerous. Because doing the impossible is not feasible by our own strength, we look at things from our own weakened perspective. Our thinking becomes, why do something hard when there is always an easier, even more comfortable route? So we go in search for something that doesn’t require the faith to trust in the power of God. Just like the Israelites, we often run away when God calls us to trust Him while raising support.

I love what David says to Saul, “Your Majesty, no one should be afraid of this Philistine!” He tells it like it is and exhibits a childlike faith in God’s power that the adults couldn’t seem to grasp in their fear. Then David went beyond just these words as he put his faith into action to face the giant—an act that no one else dared to do. He prepared by gathering stones, endured the taunts from both sides, and stood his ground when in the battle. In the end Goliath fell to a young, inexperienced boy.

So often we read stories like this, but do nothing to apply this truth to our current faith. Through this we know that God conquers the impossible for us, yet we still shake in fear when it comes to asking people to join God in His work. Sometimes we even feel defeated when we become so strapped into our own agendas that we miss seeing God show up in unexpected ways. I’m sure the Israelites weren’t expecting a kid to be used to show God’s strength. However, God still conquered the impossible in the end.

God asks for our obedience to show Himself strong. So, “People, no one should be afraid of this support-raising journey!”

  1. What excuses have you been making on the support-raising journey that hinder seeing God at work in the process?
  2. What steps do you need to take to conquer the giant God has set before you?

God is Truth: Our Lifeline on the Support-Raising Journey

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matt. 14:29-30 (NIV)

Do you truly believe, like Mary, that nothing is impossible with God? I am actually more like Peter in the fact that the thought of God’s miraculous power over the impossibility normally lasts for about a second—long enough to get out of the boat, but not long enough for me to walk all the way to Jesus. As soon as I recognize the storm I just hopped into, I flounder and whine, leaving Jesus to say, “You of little of faith. Why do you doubt?”

Raising support requires us to jump out of the boat, and staying on the journey requires us to maintain our focus on Jesus the entire way. The unfortunate irony of the support-raising journey is that we’re often conditioned to keep our focus on the money aspect. However, this is like telling someone to stare at the impossibility of the waves, instead of trusting that God is the One who called you into the storm and has power over our circumstances. One of the things we learn from Peter is that we sink when we take our eyes off Jesus.

The way I keep truth in the forefront of my thoughts is through a practice of praying back God’s attributes when Satan lies to me. When I doubt that God is listening to my plea, I pray back verses like 1 Jn. 5:14 or Ps. 116:2. When Satan tells me that I’m abandoned or alone, I pray back the truth of Deut. 31:8 and Heb. 13:5-6. Whatever storm comes your way, the truth of God’s character is found in Scripture. Declare that over the situation.

God asks us to not only to get out of the boat but to also keep walking on the water. In order to do that, we can’t let anything take our focus off of Him. Trust in His truths today, and allow Him to make the impossible happen.

  1. What lies are you believing? Look up verses that tell the truth of God’s character.
  2. Allow God to strip away the areas of your life that take your focus off God.

God is Our Healer: The Story of Glory on Our Support-Raising Journey

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’ John 9:1-3 (NIV)

The Pharisees were focused on the wrong thing. They saw a blind man through their own eyes, and with this human perspective, they clung to a false narrative. It was one that spoke of pity for lack of sight and blame for the punishment of being born blind. Their own sight was clouded and kept them in ignorance to seeing a greater picture. For you see, the world needed healing from their blindness, and God chose a blind man to be an instrument for His glory. What irony!

This picture of healing is not necessarily hard for me to understand on the surface, but actually a little uncomfortable when I have to put it into practice. On the surface I say, “Praise God for His miraculous healing!” While putting it into practice, I say, “Poor blind man, he grew up without sight. Think of all the things he missed seeing for all those years. Why did God have to do that?” The truth is, God often has us walk hard paths in order for His glory to be revealed.

The world doesn’t understand the support-raising journey. Sure, we give to charities, we help people out for the betterment of living, and some people even tithe to churches—sadly, the world often uses giving to make them feel better about themselves. But when it comes to people asking them for money to do ministry, it is increasingly becoming a foreign concept.

The support-raising journey is not a punishment from God because we couldn’t get a better job or even a sad burden for us to bear. Sure, it’s a hard path to have to walk, and we can take a woe-is-me attitude; however, the world is blind to missions and the work God is doing right among us. Have you ever thought of it as an instrument to display God’s glory?

  1. What false narrative are you walking on the support-raising journey?
  2. What ways can you display God’s glory on the support-raising journey?

God is Creative: With Each Individual on the Support-Raising Journey

 

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph. 2:10 (NIV)

Comparison to others can destroy how we see God’s beautiful creativity in us. One of the biggest struggles I’ve had most of my life is with low self-esteem. Regardless of the circumstances of why, having the wrong sight to who I was in Christ held me captive to not seeing how God could fully use me. I saw the creative workmanship of God in other people with their gifts and talents, but would personally have a woe-is-me attitude, feeling as though God had forgotten me. That is obviously Satan’s lie, but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t destructive and hard to overcome.

When you are on the support-raising journey, it means you are working toward the goal of being used by God for the works He has prepared in advance for you to do. This is an amazing thought. God has known all along where and how you are going to be used by Him in particular ministries and is equipping you to do them. We may have to fully rely on Him, but He doesn’t leave us unprepared. Think about the passions and the gifts you have that led you to do what you are doing. Even for spouses, who may not have an official title, God gave them special gifts and talents to glorify Him. God never forgets even the smallest details.

This is an important truth to reflect on, because the support-raising journey is a great avenue to worship for how He has created you. Conversations and speaking engagements give perfect opportunities to share with others the handiwork of God and how He is using the gifts He has given you. This attitude helps to combat the feelings that Satan throws our way of “maybe I’m not good enough” or “look at how God is using someone else.” This allows you to truly discover beauty in the details of His craftsmanship and give Him praise.

  1. List the specifics gifts, talents, and desires God has given to you.
  2. Prayerfully offer them to God to be used for His glory.

God is Jealous: For Our Attention on the Support-Raising Journey

 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

The jealous are possessed by a mad devil and a dull spirit at the same time. Johann Kaspar Lavater. This is a fascinating quote that shows the human perspective on jealousy. Quote after quote that I read about this trait showed it in a negative light, and apparently all we are supposed to do to cure this ill-fated curse is to throw in a little love. The reason why we feel this way is because human jealously tends to consist of coveting someone’s belongings, positions, beauty, etc., which usually ends in some kind of anger, bitterness or betrayal. This makes it hard to understand the purity of God’s jealousy.

My daily Bible readings have been taking me through the stories of the Old Testament. I believe one of the qualities of God that always strikes me the most as I read through the details of the offerings and cleansing ceremonies is His holiness. Our defiled bodies can’t even be in His presence without a sacrifice of atonement, yet He always provides a way for us to be cleansed. Hence why we needed Jesus. God knows that our greatest joy can only be found in Him. Therefore, God is jealous for us to experience Him to the fullest. That is an honor.

I think God’s jealousy is not often thought of on the support-raising journey, yet the distractions are great—busyness, laziness, lack of funding, pride. How ironic that money and deadlines take top priority and become the all-consuming force on our path to be used by Him. When this happens we become very inward focused. Our prayers become self-serving—Lord, help me to get the money fast. Our motivation in conversations is to see how much money we can get and are disappointed if it doesn’t go our way. It isn’t because we are worshipping ourselves when this happens, but we’re certainly not worshipping God either.

God is still jealous for our attention no matter what we are doing. It is for our own good, and we are to seek Him above everything. He knows when other things pull our focus off of Him, then we become stressed and begin to doubt. We must trust God in the path He has laid out for us and glorify Him. That way, no matter the outcome, our eyes are on our trustworthy God who loves us enough to do whatever it takes to get our attention.

  1. List ways to keep your focus on God and practice it when you find yourself becoming stressed.
  2. Trust God who loves you and who is jealous for you to experience His goodness in all areas of your life.

God Wants Our Prayers: To Saturate the Support Raising Journey

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” Ephesians 6:18 (NIV).

Our world has become more or less a people who’ve forgotten how to pray. One-liners and quick passing thoughts have become the norm, yet in our selfishness, we want God’s immediate response in our favor as soon as we need something. The things happening to the fabric of society are in direct proportion to how we are praying against the enemy’s schemes. We’ve resorted to a people who want God as our back-pocket buddy to whip out when it’s convenient, as opposed to being alert and praying in the Spirit as we trust a loving God who desires an intimate relationship with us and knows what’s best—even if it hurts—for His broken people. This type of relationship only comes by being in the depths of the truth of Scripture and prayer.

As society is saturating our churches—which should be the other way around—the way we view money is also affected. We want quick fixes. Look at all the Christian self-help books about raising support. You need money, so get it now, and here are the steps to do it. Money is obviously the need when we’re raising support, so we storm ahead with worldly approaches and concepts to make sure our needs are met. However, have you stopped to pray for the need of money to do your ministry? I mean really prayed, not just—Well, I know God knows my need, so I’ll offer up something to cover that base—then go about with the business of trying to persuade people to give to you.

If Christians got on their knees to pray again, think of the difference it would make in our nation, families, churches, and while raising support. We don’t have to resort to coercive tactics and making conversations uncomfortable. We have a Daddy who knows our needs and is waiting for us to give our full attention to him as we ask for what He already has for us, So as we pray, we must always remember that He has our best interest in mind as He uses our circumstances to transform us into the likeness of Christ.

  1. Truly pray and fast for God to lead you to the right people to join your ministry.
  2. Look for opportunities to praise God as you see Him moving in your life and support-raising journey.

*First posted on Godandelephants.com on January 5, 2017

 

God is Our Gift: Our Reason to Celebrate While Raising Support

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6 (NIV).

Christmas is definitely the time of year when materialism reaches its peak; however, the more monetary abundance we have as a people, the more we have an “I-want-it-so-I-am-going-to-get-it” attitude. Throughout the year people have a hard time passing up sales even if it’s for things they don’t really need, and many go into debt over things they assume they want. This microwave, immediate mentality has made us forget what it’s like to receive the blessings from a true gift.

On the night Jesus was born, the shepherds were given a glimpse into the spiritual realm as a whole host of heavenly angels were revealed to them, celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world. The angels knew the magnitude of this event—In one moment, with one baby, the world would never be the same again. Praise God!

This same celebration of the angels continues to this day as people encounter God’s gift He so willingly and lovingly gave to us. Luke 15:10 says, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” God may never open our eyes to the celebration that’s happening in heaven like He did for the shepherds, but His impact on lives is seen everywhere.

May we not get sucked into the “must-haves” of this world—many of which can, ironically, interrupt the support-raising journey. We may have thought that God would bless us with a lot of money so we wouldn’t be in want. We may have thought we would be further along in our ministry, or even that we wouldn’t have to suffer. All these things come from a human perspective that can blind us from missing the true Blessing. Let this season that celebrates the birth of Jesus re-kindle our desire to take the true Gift to the world no matter the cost.

  1. Thank God for your supporters, because they are on this journey of carrying God’s gift to the world with you.
  2. Don’t grow callous, but stay in tuned to God’s impact in the lives of people. Remember, angels are celebrating.
  3. Be satisfied as to where God has you.

*First posted on Godandelephants.com on December 13, 2016