Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “October, 2016”

Living a Life of Faith #2

Faith is not trusting the seen but believing the unseen.  It is not looking at circumstances and probabilities, but to Him who knows no limits to resources and power.  Abraham demonstrated this when at the age of 75 he was told that he and Sarah would have a son from whom the world would be blessed.  For twenty-five years Abraham walked with the promise of God while his body aged.

Finally, at the age of 100 Isaac was born.  Paul writes in Romans 12:18-21, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”

God knows our tendency to shrink back when facing the unknown and unseen.  He thus gives us promises, promises backed by His character and resources, that we can cling to as anchors for our souls in times of trials.  These Scriptural promises are the bedrock of our faith that keeps us believing when hope is gone.

Here is what A.W. Tozer said concerning walking by faith: “We must remember that God always acts like Himself.  He has never at any time anywhere in the vast universe acted otherwise than in character with His infinite perfections.  This knowledge should be a warning to the enemies of God, and it cannot but be an immense consolation to His friends.

“Though God dwells in the center of eternal mystery, there need be no uncertainty about how He will act in any situation covered by His promises.  These promises are infallible predictions.  God will always do what He has promised to do when His conditions are met.  And His warnings are no less predictive:  “The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5).

“In the light of all this how vain is the effort to have faith by straining to believe the promises in the Holy Scriptures.  A promise is only as good as the one who made it, but it is as good, and from this knowledge springs our assurance.  By cultivating the knowledge of God we at the same time cultivate our faith.  Yet while so doing we look not at our faith but at Christ, its author and finisher.  Thus the gaze of the soul is not in, but out and up to God.  So the health of the soul is secured.”  [i]

J.O. Sanders said, “God encourages us to ask as freely for the impossible as the possible, since to Him all difficulties are the same size–less than Himself.”  Trust Him!  Trust His promises!!

“Great faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future.  It’s simply taking God at His word and taking the next step.”   Joni Eareckson Tada

[i]   The Incredible Christian  by A.W. Tozer,  Tyndale House Publishing, Wheaton, Illinois  1964   p. 28

 

 

 

Living a Life of Faith #1

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).  “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).  Faith involves the unknown and the unseen.  Living by faith is the normal lifestyle of the believer.  Life begins by believing a promise of eternal life and forgiveness of sin (1 John 2:25) and continues until we see Jesus face to face.  When dealing with the unknown, we naturally are fearful and anxious.  Faith is not the absence of fear and anxiety, but the ability to control these powerful emotions rather than to be controlled by them.

The Apostle Paul faced many stressful and anxious moments during his life.  He writes,  “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.  On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.  Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many” (2 Cor. 1:8-11).

Note several important points in this passage.  First of all, God allowed Paul to enter into a time of extreme pressure.  The stress he experienced was far beyond his human ability to endure.  In fact, he had given up hope of living through it!  Secondly, Paul tells us why God allowed this experience.  He says that God wanted to teach him to rely only on Him who raises the dead.  If God can raise the dead all other matters are no problem!  God is seeking to raise up dependent children–children who only depend upon Him.  Paul testifies that God has delivered him from the past peril, He will deliver him from whatever perils he is currently facing, and that He will continue to deliver him in the future from whatever may befall him.  Paul was to recruit prayer for his current trials that when God answered many would give thanks for God’s work.

Living a Disciplined Life #2

Hudson Taylor surrendered himself to God’s will as a young man, and God impressed upon his heart that his life would be spent for China.  He began to dedicate his life in preparation for fulfilling this calling.

“The study of Chinese, also, was entered upon with ardor.  A grammar of that formidable language would have cost more than twenty dollars and a dictionary at least seventy-five.  He could afford neither.  But with a copy of the Gospel of Luke in Chinese, by patiently comparing brief verses with their equivalent in English, he found out the meaning of more than six hundred characters.  These he learned and made into a dictionary of his own, carrying on at the same time other lines of study.

‘I have begun to get up at five in the morning [he wrote to his sister at school] and find it necessary to go to bed early.  I must study if I mean to go to China.  I am fully decided to go, and am making every reparation I can.  I intend to rub up my Latin, to learn Greek and the rudiments of Hebrew, and get as much general information as possible.  I need your prayers.’

“…’having now the twofold object in view [he recalled] of accustoming myself to endure hardness, and of economizing in order to help those among whom I was laboring in the Gospel, I soon found that I could live upon very much less than I has previously thought possible.  Butter, milk, and other luxuries I ceased to use, and found that by living mainly on oatmeal and rice, with occasional variations, a very small sum was sufficient for my needs.  In this way I had more than two-thirds of my income available for other purposes, and my experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become.’” [i]

The prophet Jeremiah once complained to God about the difficulties in life he experienced.  God replied,  “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?  If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”    Jeremiah 12:5

God’s purpose in allowing those trying times was to prepare Jeremiah for his ministry in the future.  He had to endure these difficulties in order that he might be better prepared for the times ahead.

God’s training program is to discipline us for the purpose he has for us.  The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:  ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,  because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?  If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!  Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”                      Hebrews 12:5-11

The words ‘disciple’ and ‘discipline’ find there roots in the same word.  To follow Christ as His disciple means that we are called to disciplined living.  Disciplined living, like sacrificial living, is a daily choice

The heights of great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.           Wordsworth

[i]  Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret  by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press  Chicago, Illinois   p. 22-26

Living a Disciplined Life #1

The disciple of Jesus will find that following Him requires a life of discipline and focus.  Discipline does not mean drudgery, but it does mean saying “no” to good things in order that we might give ourselves to the best.  It is the choice between the good, better, and best that requires a will of steel.  We must focus on the goal for which we are called and dedicate ourselves to reaching that goal.

E. Stanley Jones, the great missionary-statesman to India, said, “Your capacity to say ‘no’ determines your capacity to say ‘yes’ to greater things.”  St. Augustine prayed three things for himself, “A heart of flame towards God, a heart of love towards men, and a heart of steel towards myself.”

If we are to follow hard after Christ; if we are to be used by Christ, we must prepare ourselves.  This preparation and training can be rigorous and stressful.  No champion athlete wins without rigorous training, and no champion for Christ will make an impact without paying the price of preparation.  It will mean disciplining our desires and bringing our bodies under control.  It will mean long hours of time alone with God and His Word.  The disciplined life will say to self, “Others may, I cannot.”  It will sense a destiny that requires the best we have to give.

Hudson Taylor surrendered himself to God’s will as a young man, and God impressed upon his heart that his life would be spent for China.  “From that moment life was unified in one great purpose and prayer.  For Hudson Taylor was ‘not disobedient to the heavenly vision,’ and to him obedience to the will of God was a very practical matter.

“At once he began to prepare, as well as he could, for a life that would call for physical endurance.  He took more exercise in the open air, exchanged his feather bed for a hard mattress and was watchful not to be self-indulgent at table.  Instead of going to church twice on Sunday, he gave up the evening to visiting in the poorest parts of town, distributing tracts and holding cottage meetings.  In crowded lodging-house kitchens he became a welcome figure, and even on the race course his bright face and kindly words opened the way for many a straight message.  All this led to more Bible study and prayer, for he soon found that there is One and One alone who can make us ‘fishers of men.’ [i]

[i]  Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret  by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press  Chicago, Illinois   p. 22-26

Living a Life of Sacrifice #2

C.T. Studd came from a wealthy English family and was a 21 year-old student at Cambridge University when he trusted Christ as his personal Savior.  Studd was an outstanding athlete, with a possible career in professional sports, in addition to being a good student.  After his conversion, he dedicated his life and wealth to Christ.

He and six other Cambridge students offered themselves to Hudson Taylor’s China Inland Mission in 1885.  Nine years later he returned to England with a wife, but broken in health.  After recuperating, he gave away his home to the mission and traveled throughout America for two years recruiting young men and women to give themselves to missions.  In 1900 the family moved to India for six years when once again they had to return to England.  In 1910 he left his family in England to pioneer a new mission into the heart of Africa.  This ministry eventually became Worldwide Evangelization Crusade (WEC) which continues to this day.

Studd personally had a ministry on four continents and through those he touched, the entire world.  But this adventure began with a decision to deny fame and fortune in this world in order that he might follow Christ.

Jim Elliott was martyred by Latin American Indians as a young man.  While a Wheaton College student he dedicated his life to following Christ, whatever the cost.  The cry of his life was this, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose.”

May the Lord raise up a new generation of men and women who have the spirit of Studd and Elliott!  May it begin with me!

 

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