We live in an age of instant gratification, same-day delivery service, and high-speed Internet. The insatiable demand for quick results fills our lives, and we have no patience . . . for anything. This attitude has seeped into every area of society, including the church. We expect immediate responses to the gospel, instant church growth, and split-second discipleship. Jesus offers another perspective: trust the Lord’s timing for results once we have sown the seed of the gospel. We cannot expect immediate responses from our best evangelistic efforts.
The gospel comes to fruition in a hidden, mysterious process that yields results according to God’s timing. In 1992 I participated in an “unofficial” military visit to the former Soviet Union shortly after its collapse. My role was to speak with Russian military officers and religious leaders about the organization of the US military chaplaincy and how the free exercise of religion strengthened the combat readiness of our troops and their families. The Russians had disbanded their military chaplaincy seventy-five years earlier during the Bolshevik Revolution.
My efforts seemed futile at the time, and I saw no immediate possibility of Russia restoring its military chaplaincy. Four years later my wife participated in a mission trip to Omsk, Siberia. While there, a Russian Orthodox priest met and presented her with a beautiful leather Bible marker, saying, “Please give this to your husband and tell him that I am one of Russia’s first military chaplains in seventy-five years!” What a great reminder to trust in the immeasurable power of God even when we evidence no change from our best ministry efforts.
God of the impossible, keep us from measuring our gospel efforts through human means. Remind us that your ways are higher than ours. Amen.
From a human perspective, we tend to judge people by appearances: how attractive they are, how wealthy they seem to be. God’s standard, however, is not outward appearance but the attitude of the heart. David was the youngest brother in his family, yet God knew his mighty heart and chose him as the next king of Israel. The psalmist declares that God gives victory to those who put their trust in God, not in the outward appearance of might. Jesus reinforces this truth with the parable of the mustard seed. Though the seed appears small, it grows into a robust plant. Paul tells the Corinthians that we should no longer judge people by what we see on the outside, for God changes what really matters—what is on the inside.
• Read 1 Samuel 15:34–16:13. What clear guidance has the Lord given you regarding an area of obedience in your life?
• Read Psalm 20. How has the Lord answered you when you called out during a critical moment in time?
• Read Mark 4:26-34. What prevents you from trusting God to use your testimony to lead others to Jesus Christ?
• Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-17. How does your trust in and obedience to God affect your personal conduct and your attitude toward others?
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