Now is time for Christian confidence
December 1 2008 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Every day brings new financial appeals to your mailbox, telephone or personal space. Virtually every charitable organization is seeing a surge in requests for services and a decrease in income.

You’re probably feeling besieged by needs at the same time you’re uncertain about your own financial security, even if you’ve held your job a long time, your company is sound and your industry is vital. There just is no certainty at any level right now. Even though we are at war, military enlistments are up because while the pay is low, it is certain.

Many people react to uncertain times by listening to uncertain sounds. Our human reaction is to pull in, to tighten up, to self preserve and husband resources for fear of an uncertain future. This is bad news for a world, which needs the clarion voice of confidence from Christ’s church and His people. This is the hour to demonstrate our confidence in Christ’s sufficiency (Phil. 1:19-21).

Listen for the certain sound of God’s voice through history and remember the hand of God in your life. The whole Bible is full of evidence that God cares for His children and their needs; that He numbers the hairs on your head; and knows your needs before you ask.

I like the example from Mark 4 in which Jesus sleeps during a “furious squall” on the lake.

“Waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped (v. 37).” Those in the boat with him were terrified while Jesus slept through it. Jesus slept not because he didn’t care, but because He was unafraid. While circumstances were wild, windy and wet, they were not beyond His control.

We may feel tossed and soaked, but He who commands the circumstances is fully aware and still in control. So, don’t extrapolate beyond the evidence and let current circumstances work fear in you. Look to the future and demonstrate confidence in the Lord.

In these times those organizations that do the handwork of Christ among us need us to continue our faithfulness to that work. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is being received in December. Fully half the support of our international missionaries comes from this offering. The goal this year is $170 million.

In many of the nations where our missionaries serve, the dollar has lost considerable value against local currencies.

That means it costs much more just to maintain the same presence. The IMB has said that with 8,000 missionaries, it could reach every people group with the gospel. Yet our giving is at a pace that barely maintains our current missionary force of 5,300.

Our own Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) has eliminated 19 positions and laid off 12 people because gifts do not match needs. (See story.) The BCH Thanksgiving Offering is still being received and your gift will make a tangible difference in the lives of hurting children and broken families.

Red Hat, a software development company with headquarters in Raleigh, is foregoing its Christmas party this year and will donate the cost of that party to provide 800,000 meals through Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest.) Is there a personal treat you could forego to buy a meal or a blanket for another?

Your local food bank, soup kitchen, clothing pantry and homeless shelter all are being called upon to serve at levels not seen in many years. The cost of gas has diminished the volunteer force for Meals on Wheels. All these services could use your help in ways both financial and physical. The people these groups serve are the people Jesus cared for most.

In Matthew 9:35-37 Jesus preached good news and healed “every disease and sickness.” When he saw the crowds “He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

People today feel “harassed and helpless” and are looking for a word of confidence from Christ’s church.

On Nov. 25 First Baptist Church, Charlotte, gave out 1,000 boxes of food, enough for a Thanksgiving dinner for five. A young woman took pastor Mark Harris’ arm and thanked him for without that gift, her family would have had no Thanksgiving dinner. She had barely paid her bills and had nothing left. (See story.)

While Harris said the gratitude in the woman’s eyes was enough to verify his vision for that event, the results were extraordinarily beyond that as 200 recipients came to Christ and the word of Christian witness in charity spread throughout the city.

Your future is not charted beyond changing. While circumstances call for frugality, our Christian witness calls for generosity in the very face of these circumstances. Tough times are great times for Christian witness and for the church of Jesus Christ to be the workers for which the Lord of the harvest is calling.

12/1/2008 8:22:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments

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