Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Comfort and security? Or Jesus?

"it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." - Philippians 1:20-21

I battle sometimes wondering if I'm missing it. I love Jesus and yet I enjoy comfort and security. I rest in them. In full honesty, I usually rest there instead of in God Himself, my true rest and refuge. We encounter the persecuted church a lot through our job (from afar) and I feel a thrill to serve them in any way and yet a sadness at the reminder of how my daily life doesn't always show Christ as my Supreme treasure.

I believe God has shown me this to encourage me, not discourage me. In His grace, I think He is lovingly and gently reminding me that all the earth and everything in it is His. The gifts I daily receive are great gifts from a loving Father, but THE gift is always Him. And in my plenty, it is an opportunity to remember that it's all from Him and to his glory. I'm encouraged though, by others who had all the same wealth I have and gave it up fully so that everyone everywhere might know this great Jesus.

I read a series of posts on Tim Challis' blog that just pierced me with a reminder of two lives lived fully to God's glory. It's the story of John and Betty Stam, young missionaries to China who were brutally murdered for their faith. The love they had for God and others is a beautiful challenge for me. I weep every time I read about having to leave their baby as they are taken to be killed and just trust God would provide and care for her. Wow. And it is told that they died with peaceful looks on their faces. Could I trust in Him in that major a way? I long to stop living for me and instead delight in God fully and live and die to His glory alone!!! You should read their full story in the blog here: Part 1 and Part 2

Here's one glimpse explaining God's glory in this seemingly untimely suffering:

in all things God will have his glory. And God was glorified through the lives of John and Betty Stam. Here are just a few ways in which we see it.
When Evangelist Lo found the bodies and placed them in the coffins, he preached to the crowd that had gathered there. Here is what he said to them:
You have seen these wounded bodies, and you pity these foreigners for their suffering and death. But you should know that they are children of God. Their spirits are unharmed and at this minutes are in the presence of God.
They came to China and to Miaosheo not for themselves but for you, to tell you about God and His love, that you might believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved eternally. You have heard this message. Remember it is true. Their death proves that. Do not forget what they told you. Repent and believe the Gospel.
Many of the people who listened to the evangelist wept, something that was notable because other missionaries would say that never in all their labors had they heard of Chinese people weeping as they heard the gospel. But these people had witnessed a demonstration of the power of God and the truth of the gospel. They had seen the difference the gospel makes.
There is one way God was glorified. Another way was when newspapers all over the world, secular newspapers, carried the story of what had happened. People read the story and heard of two brave Christians who considered their lives less valuable than their service to God. People were drawn to the gospel just by hearing this!
And all around the world people heard the story of John and Betty and determined then and there that they, too, would be willing to dedicate their lives to that same cause. Only eternity will tell how many people became missionaries, and how many souls were saved, after hearing the story of the Stams.
That is part of the answer, I’m sure. For the rest we will need to wait. And now it’s a good time to ask, Would you be willing to face death as they did? Would you be willing to give up every comfort? Would you be willing to trust God not just with your own life but with the life of your spouse? Your children? Would you make your last words gospel words, words that carry life even as you face death? Their on their knees on the cold ground in China, John and Betty were stronger than they had ever been. And God was glorified.

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