written by Paul Ushijima
The other day I was with a pastor who was relating the joy and challenges of ministry. He told me that he sometimes talks to graduated GOC’ers who struggle spiritually and comment that they cannot find the discipleship and accountability they want in their local church. He asked me what I would say to them.
Behind this issue can be a lack of contentment. Contentment is a characteristic modelled for us by both Jesus and the Apostle Paul (Phil. 4:11-13) as examples for us.
The contentment we are to pursue is based in an unshakeable trust in God. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” This passage reveals several truths which bolster our trust in God:
- GOD IS SOVEREIGN
- GOD IS FAITHFUL
- GOD IS MERCIFUL
- GOD PROVIDES
Pursuing contentment is further helped by considering God’s provision and plan for each of us, some important pieces of which are discussed in the “The Armor of God” from Ephesians 6:10-17. As we study this passage, we realize that this “armor” is not something we find or make, it is “of God”–provided by Him–every piece of it. God provides it to us so that we can each “stand firm” in the circumstances in which He places us.
- Personal commitment: To truth as opposed to hypocrisy (girded loins, Eph. 6:14)
- Practical protection: Righteousness in living a Godly life (breastplate, Eph. 6:14)
- Personal confidence: Understanding and trusting the Gospel (shod feet, Eph. 6:15)
- Divine protection: Faith and confidence in God (shield, Eph. 6:16)
- Divine security: Assurance of salvation (helmet, Eph. 6:17)
- Divine weapon: Skillfully applying the Word of God (sword, Eph. 6:17)
As you study this passage and metaphorically put on the Armor of God, recognize that “standing firm” has a far greater impact than our personal well-being…it enables effective worship and ministry that is not limited by circumstances. Ephesians 6:18-20 identifies some specific areas expressly and by implication:
- Prayer. Learn how other christians pray. Read the examples of prayer in the Bible. Read and listen to prayer by historic and modern Christian leaders. Understand that prayer is to be in accord with and submissive to God’s Will. Also understand that prayer is to be a continual aspect of the Christian’s life.
- Witness. Be committed to witnessing and learn to recognize opportunities as they arise. Remember that Paul is writing this letter from prison. He does not ask for prayer for comfort or deliverance. He asks for opportunities for the Gospel and boldness.
- Serve. Be on the lookout for opportunities to serve the believers you are in contact with and then persevere in service. It is also not unusual to find someone who we can be discipled by, or who we can disciple, through service opportunities.
- Disciple. A natural extension of service is discipleship, i.e. helping someone grow closer to Christ through example and instruction. Keep in mind that all you need in order to disciple someone is one thing that God has taught (or is teaching) you that they need to grow in.
- Worship. As we submit our lives to God and acknowledge that it is only His providence, provision and power that we do any of this, we are participating in worship of the living God.
God has sovereignly provided to each of His people what they need to not only be content but also to spiritually prosper, serve, and advance His Kingdom despite individual circumstances. Praise the Lord!