REVELATION 2:10-11: “Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will experience affliction for ten days. Be faithful to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will never be harmed by the second death.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Have you ever felt like quitting? Have you grown discouraged in your Christian walk or your ministerial calling? If so, I have two simple words of exhortation to you –
I was called into the ministry at the age of 18. I was saved during the Jesus Movement and was studying to become a broadcaster. Working on the radio was my dream. I never thought about the ministry and especially never wanted to be a pastor. Yet, God had a different plan for my life.
It started with an inward calling by the Holy Spirit. Then others would confirm that calling by saying things like – “You should be in the ministry”, or, “Have you ever thought of becoming a pastor?”. These were the last words I wanted to hear. I had just decided on my radio handle and was applying for a spot on our College station. However, the Holy Spirit began to work double time on me!
It became apparent that I was in a battle. It was a battle of my self will and the call of God. I will never forget the day I surrendered to His calling. It was in a milk cooler at the grocery store I worked at. I had just thrown a stack of empty milk cartons down and shouted (in my heart) – “If I say yes, will you leave me alone?”. When I said yes a flood of God’s peace came over my life. I knew that I was called.
All of us have a calling. It may not be to enter the ministry as a pastor or full time worker or missionary. However, it is God’s call none the less. And it is important that we visit that calling often. I have found over the 45 years since God called me, it is His calling that has centered me and kept me all of these years. My call remains the same today. It is to be faithful to God’s call, empowered by His grace and filled with His Spirit!
Jesus exhorted the persecuted church in Smyrna,
- “Be faithful to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
There is a crown awaiting all God’s children who are faithful to His calling. However, I struggled with the concept of what it meant to be faithful for years. I thought it had something to do with my effort and performance. This is a common trick of the enemy that he uses to bring us to points of despair and personal discouragement. His goal is to get us to lose heart.
- “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 CSB
Then, one day it hit me, faithfulness is not about my effort, it is about my trust. When Jesus was asleep in the boat, and when the disciples woke Him up saying, “Don’t you care that we are going to perish?”, Jesus responded – “Where is your faith?” He did not scold them for their failure to trim the sails, or their lack of success in bailing out the water that was coming into the boat. He exhorted them to trust more!
How do we trust more? How do we protect ourselves from giving up? How do we stay faithful to the calling that God has given us – even unto death? WE STAY IN THE BOAT! It really is as simple as that. We do not leave the boat that Jesus is in. If we stay in the boat He will guide us to safe harbor. He will rebuke the wind and the storms that come against us. And, He will guide us to our final destination.
This does not mean that we never make changes in life. Yet, it does mean that we don’t make changes out of discouragement or despair. Discouragement and despair are shouting at the top of their lungs – “Jump out of the boat!” Yet, Jesus is speaking softly to us through the still small voice of His Spirit – “Peace, be still. Stay in the boat!” When is it ok to change boats? When Jesus clearly calls you to move from one boat to the next!
God has a purpose and a calling for each one of us. It is not an earthly calling – it is an eternal calling. It is begun here on earth, and it will continue into our eternity. It is not about what we do, it is about who we are becoming. It is learning to be faithful until death. It is pressing on toward the high upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.
It is staying in the boat!
Lord, help me to stay in the boat! Help me to trust you with every aspect of my life, my calling, and my eternity. Help me to be faithful until death so that I too can receive the crown of life!
- “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will never be harmed by the second death.”
In Jesus Name!