2016 was a hard year. And I’m not afraid to admit that, because I have seen how God works in and through challenging times.
As I’ve reflected back on last year, I see that what sustained me was God’s constant reminders of my calling to ministry. At various times throughout the year, He raised up people to speak His Word in a powerful way – and I am so thankful they obediently responded to the Spirit’s prompting. One of these individuals was Mariam Varghese, OneHope’s Vice President of Ministry Operations.
I love when Mariam prays over our staff – boldly proclaiming God’s provision and promises in a way few dare to do. In the fall, Mariam shared in our chapel from the book of Acts, and I am still absorbing that message and learning from it as we step into 2017.
The book of Acts begins with Jesus telling His disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit that the Father is sending. If you read the book of Luke right before Acts, it’s especially powerful. Luke shows us all the things that Jesus taught and did by the power of the Holy Spirit. And Acts contains the incredible announcement that the same Spirit will also come upon us.
It’s all right there in the name of the book – the Father acting, building His Church, multiplying and increasing their numbers from 120 people very quickly to 300 –an increase that came about because the Word was shared.
The Word of God is a seed planted in us that gives birth to Christ-likeness in our lives. And just as a good seed cannot be contained in the ground, Christ should be pouring out of us. The seed should mature and bear fruit in our lives and those of others, and then plant more of the Word, ever multiplying from one generation to the next.
Mariam also reminded us that God’s Word has power both to wound and to heal. I had never heard it said quite like that. Scripture is truly a double-edged sword. When we present the Gospel to someone, we are presenting the God who can both wound and heal. And we are not unchanged in that process either. Scripture works with great power also in the life of the person speaking it.
We see that when Peter preaches the resurrection of Christ and confesses Jesus as Lord in Acts 2. If we can’t share the Gospel, we aren’t really believing it, because the Word says that the confession of Christ has the power to be shared.
Dad once said, “There are only two things that have eternal value: the souls of men and the Word of God.” It is as true today as the day he said it. We have a sacred calling – the salvation of souls through the Word. Our work is not to be taken lightly!
Imagine when we get to heaven and meet children who say, “I’m here because I got a Book of Hope.” What a privilege it is to minister, even when it’s hard!
My hope and prayer for going into 2017 is not that our lives would be made easier and the difficulties removed, but that we would be so filled with the Holy Spirit that we wouldn’t be able to stop confessing His name.
I’ll leave you with Mariam’s words, “You have amazing stories waiting for you in heaven.” Believe that today—claim it as truth—and let’s keep adding to those stories.