Saturday, January 4, 2014

Remembering His Faithfulness

Photo of forget-me-not by bc anna 2006

God is so faithful! (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 89:8; Isaiah 25:1; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 1 Peter 4:19; Revelation 3:14). He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and reminders of His loving presence surround us, from the true blue of forget-me-nots on our path, to tender bird songs, to butterflies dancing around us on a gentle breeze.   
Yet so many times this past year I hesitated to step out in faith, hindered by fear or doubt, tempted to trust in my own sorry flesh (Romans 7:18), yet realizing how totally inadequate I am.  But the constant cure was and is to remember that He is unchanging (James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8) and faithful, even when we are not. Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5), but with Him, all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26)

Not only is His grace sufficient, but His supreme power is most evident in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). There are no limits to what He can accomplish through us if we simply step out of His way (Genesis 18:14; Ephesians 1:19). If we surrender the reins of our life to Him (Luke 22:42), if we empty ourselves of our prideful self-justification (Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14; 1 Peter 5:6) and the foolish constraints our minds place on His unlimited resources, He can work miracles through us! (Jeremiah 32:17,27; Hebrews 13:21). If we do not, His will and His work will still be done, but we lose the opportunity, blessing and reward of fulfilling His perfect plan for our lives (Jeremiah 33:3).

But if we die daily to self (1 Corinthians 15:31) and offer ourselves to Him as an empty vessel, the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14) can and will release His love and living water to flow through us (1 John 4:7-13); His fire to consume us (Hebrews 12:29); and His light to burn brightly in us for all to see (Matthew 5:14-16), for their blessing and His glory!

Just as Samuel commemorated the Ebenezer stone to remind him of God’s deliverance of Israel from her enemies (1 Samuel 7:9-14), it is good for us to review God’s blessings, mercies, and opportunities so that we can face the future with the blessed, living hope only He can offer (Jeremiah 17:7; Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3). 

Sometimes we can look back on events from even before we were saved and see His hand at work in preparing us for future ministry (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13). Often we won’t understand the significance of past events until we see Him in glory. But we can always be confident that He is working all things together for our good and His glory! (Romans 8:28)

As I remember the highlights of 2013, I am so blessed to see His faithfulness in action, equipping us for the ministries He has entrusted to us. Certainly there have been trials and obstacles to overcome, but each time He proved that He Who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4), and if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) These trials test our obedience, trust and faith, and ultimately strengthen our relationship with Him as we realize that He alone is the Source of all blessing (James 1:17), the Solution to every problem (Matthew 6:8).

A milestone for us in 2013 was a new direction in our ministry. This began as the pastor of the church where we served since 2002 preached on Acts 1:8 – on the importance of witnessing and serving first in your own Jerusalem, or your immediate neighborhood; then in Judaea and Samaria, or regions nearby; and finally to the furthest reaches of the earth.

Each day as we passed by a church very close to our home, we began to wonder if God could be calling us to serve there, practically in our own backyard. We learned that there was a need there, and with the blessing of both pastors, we transferred our membership to help fill that need. Since October, I have been singing special music regularly on Sunday mornings in our new church home; my husband Richard is the new sound man; and I started and have been teaching Sisters-in-Grace, a new ladies’ Bible study class.

Christmas Music Service, Fowler Ave. Baptist Church, 2013
 We had prayed that God would make His will regarding our church service very clear, and He was so faithful and swift to answer that prayer! On the first Sunday morning we visited, He showed us before we even entered the church building that there were two very specific needs we could fill. And as we walked into the sanctuary for the first time, we were stunned to see the full text of Acts 1:8 in huge letters adorning the wall behind the altar:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

So our new church home and its ministries are now our Jerusalem! For some years, our dance ministry has been like Judaea and Samaria for us – involving some, yet not too distant, travel, and sometimes in venues where the audience may prefer not to hear the message we bring. In 2013, God continued to bless our dance ministry, enabling us to spread His Word through dancing to Christian music and themes. Despite the limits of growing older, we continue to use physically demanding Theatre Arts and adagio choreography, by His grace alone.

This art form is traditionally reserved for young people in peak physical condition, and we have reached the age that many of our competitors could be our children or even our grandchildren! But the Bible does not speak of retirement. At 85 years of age, Caleb acknowledged that God was the source of his strength and asked God to give him victory over the Anakims occupying Mount Hebron (Joshua 14:9-14). May all of us rely on His grace to empower us in the unique ministry where He has placed us, for as long as it is His will to do so!

And finally, God has blessed this blog in 2013 by allowing it to grow and by giving it visitors from the uttermost part of the earth! Praise God for the Internet that allows believers around the globe to encourage and uplift one another! All of you are such a blessing to me, and I am thankful for your readership, for your input on this blog, and for your own inspiring posts.

As part of this year-in-review, I am including links to the top 10 most viewed posts of 2013 (most viewed post listed first, and then in descending order):

Triplets of Faith: Were Adam and Eve Saved?
Rebellion & Redemption: Cain and Abel                 
Rapture to Heaven: Triplets of Eternity                    
How Does God Love Me? Let Me Count Three Ways
Rebellion & Redemption: Expulsion from Eden
Salvation’s Eternal Blessings                              
Remembering “Baba”: A Proverbs 31 Woman
Water and Oil: Physical and Spiritual Milk                   
Let’s Do Church” -- NOT!                                                  
Who is the Proverbs 31 Woman?                              

Happy New Year! May this be the year that we are all emboldened to tell the unsaved in our sphere of influence of faith in His death, burial and resurrection as the only way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6). May God bless all of you, your families, and your ministries richly in 2014 and until He comes again!

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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Kelly Blackwell @ Heres My Take On It said...

Laurie, it was an absolute pleasure reading how you felt God's nudging and leading and stepped out (of course with your previous shepherd's blessing) into your Jerusalem. I am so happy that God is using your ministry in such a dynamic way. What a mighty God we serve! I pray for favor and for blessings on you all. Happy New Year. - Kelly

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you so much, Kelly, for your sweet and uplifting comment and for your prayers & good wishes! God's grace and mercy are amazing indeed! May He bless you and yours richly in 2014 and until He comes again!

Janis Cox said...

That is wonderful news. Amazing how God leads us if we let Him.
Many blessings in your new ministry,

Linda Stoll said...

'Sisters-in-Grace' - I love that!

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Janis, for your lovely comment & blessings! He is faithful to lead us, one step at a time, if we follow in faith.
Happy New Year and all blessings to you,

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Linda! God bless!

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,

Your testimony about your new church and Acts 1:8 was really edifying. Also I fully agree with you about presenting ourselves to God as empty vessels, so he can fill us with his Holy Spirit and power. The snag is, we are like a bucket with a hole at the bottom, therefore constantly need to be filled with his spirit.
In a way that is good. Water left unattended will eventually stagnate, and becomes undrinkable!
Also, I like when you write that God has opened a ministry in your dancing skills. According to what I have previously read, you have always loved dancing, therefore submitting to God and trusting him resulting in God's desires and your desires becoming one and the same in Christ.
Wishing you and your husband a very happy year ahead.
God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Thanks as always for your encouragement and insights. So true -- we have a "hole" in the bottom of our "bucket," but as you say, that is good, because it allows His living water to flow through us to bless others.
It is true that I have loved to dance for as long as I can remember, and that my husband and I have loved to dance together since the first night we met. God is so good to give us unique gifts and desires and then use them to His glory, as our desires become conformed to His perfect will.
Blessings to you and Alex in 2014 and until He comes again!

Donald Fishgrab said...

Unfortunately, many have become so concerned with reaching the uttermost parts of the world they have neglected Jerusalem. If we don't care enough to reach out to those in our own neighborhood, how can we honestly care about those we have never met? Our ability to reach out to others is dependent on the stability of our base. Without an adequate home base we lose our ability to reach out, and that is true whether we are talking about the church, our government, our family, or our business.

Laurie Collett said...

Great point, Donald! As our new pastor likes to say, if we claim to support foreign evangelism yet neglect to share the Good News with those in our family or back yard, we are being hypocrites. This church does a wonderful outreach, the "Back Lot Ministry," to children and their families in the neighboring projects.
God bless,

a joyful noise said...

I am happy that you have found a church closer to home where God can use you both in his service. You are blessed as you are blessing others and the living water is flowing through you and out to others.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Hazel -- we are blessed indeed! Following His lead and being in His will always brings His children to a place of blessing and being blessed.
Happy New Year to you & Robert!

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Sounds like the Lord has opened the doors to the perfect Church for you. That is truly a Blessing. Thanks for stopping by and following. I am your newest follower also. Marty

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much, Marty, for your lovely comment and for following! May you have all blessings in the New Year and beyond,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
what a lovely post that I enjoyed reading very much. I believe obedience to what you believe God is telling you to do is always confirmed by Him and my friend and I have experienced this ourselves when the Lord has instructed us to do things and go to places that we would not do of our own will. 'In their welfare is our welfare'
God bless you in your new ministry.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Brenda! He is faithful to confirm His will. May we always be attentive to hear these confirmations. I am always amazed by God's patience, as when He gave Gideon not one miraculous sign with the fleece but two, because Gideon desired and needed the additional confirmation. Thank you for your kind words and blessing, and may God bless you!
Love in Christ,

Jill Flinton said...

Thank you for sharing your year in review. May He continue to guide you in your ministries. Thank you for joining the Thumping Thursday bloghop.

Unknown said...

Yes, God continues to amaze us! His clear answer for your direction in ministry was (and is) a blessing, for sure. It's wonderful to see a faithful servant sharing in a blog link party. :-)
Kim @ Curtain Queen Creates

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Jill, for your visit and comment and for cohosting! May God bless you, your family, and your ministry,

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Kim, for your lovely comment & for hosting! I appreciate your encouragement!
God bless,

Katherines Corner said...

knowing God blesses you as you continue to serve him and share with us. Thank you so much for helping to make the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop so much fun Hugs!

Unknown said...

So fantastic to see the mighty things God is doing in your life.
Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Katherine,
Thanks so much for your lovely comment and for hosting! Thursday Favorite Things is such a wonderful community you have created! Love and hugs to you too,

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Mel! God is so good! Thanks for your sweet comment & for hosting, & God bless,