" . .
. Not Your Own
. . . "
By Lois J. Stucky
God’s Word tells us that we as Christians are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We have been purchased with the blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28). We have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13). It is a marvelous privilege to belong to God, to have His hand of blessing upon our lives, to have His provision and guidance, leading us unerringly toward our eternal home. We feel comfort and security in being not our own, but God’s--that is, unless there comes a matter in which our will or desire do not match God’s. If such be the case, it is time to go to our knees to surrender that to which our hearts are selfishly clinging.
It is good to break life down into specifics, if we want to examine how we are doing on living not as our own, but as God’s. Following are a few areas for us to consider.
Someone has pointed out that our speech, that is, our words, is one matter in which we are to manifest that we are not our own. Of all His creation, only to mankind, made in His image, did God give speech. It was given to glorify God. We do well to consider whether we are in control of our speech, or whether God has control. David prayed, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3). It is the ungodly who say defiantly, "...our lips are our own: who is lord over us?" (Psalm 12:4).
If God has control, our speech will be pure, for God is pure, and true and loving and kind. How much sorrow and trouble would be avoided if our speech were truly controlled by God, and if we refrained from speech that is our own, perhaps giving vent to ungodly thoughts or selfish, vain ideas, etc. How are we doing with our stewardship of the remarkable gift of speech? Are we glorifying God with it?
Our Prayer Life
In Revelation 1:5 and 6 we are told that Jesus "loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father." We, God’s blood-washed people, are called to be priests who appear before God to intercede for others. Oh, that our prayer lives were more worthy of this high and holy calling, and of the wonderful privilege of coming, through Jesus, to the One whose Hand rules the universe!
It seems to take lifelong effort to develop and to improve our prayer life to be what God wants and needs of us. Not only must we contend with human weakness, but Satan fights prayer ferociously. Well intentioned as it may be, even zealous service for God can cool off our fervor for prayer and for God Himself. Our focus may become too much on our doing rather than on our dependence on God through prayer.
If we fail in our stewardship of prayer, there is not only loss of that which would be accomplished through prayer, but we miss also the rich fellowship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit which is a beautiful part of prayer. If our prayer life is "not our own" due time will be taken from our own interests and preferences, to give to prayer. And during our time of prayer, due time will be given to God’s interests and concerns, even when ours are crowding at the door to come in.
An important area in which we must remember that all that we are and all that we have belongs to God, is in our finances. The monetary means to advance His Kingdom God puts in the hands of His people, depending on us to be faithful stewards. God trusts us with much leeway in use of our finances, and we make many a decision as to whether we use them for trinkets and trivialities here below or lay them up as treasures above.
Someone has said that all our giving to God is an investment in our future--our eternal future. What might be seen by some as sacrifice and loss here below, in eternity will be seen as great gain. I quote a Herald friend who urged us, "Let us live simply that others may simply live." This is not to encourage miserly living, but careful, prayerful, economical living, that we might be able to give generously to the work of the Lord, that many might hear about and receive the gift of everlasting life.
Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). Writing our checks or apportioning our money to give to God’s work might become a routine thing done with little feeling. Or we might see it as a vital part of our worship and service to God, gifts of gratitude gladly and lovingly given to Him to whom we owe our life and breath and all that we possess.
Giving of supporting funds is one joy in which many of our African readers are longing to participate, but they are handicapped because of the poor economical situation in which they find themselves. They beg our prayers that they might be able to send their gifts for the furtherance of Herald of His Coming ministry. To them we say, remember there are other gifts as those mentioned above, the gift of God-honoring speech, the gift of adequate prayer time, which are also treasured by our Lord and have their reward.
However, for the encouragement of all friends whose hearts are fervent to give more to God and His work financially, below is printed an excerpt by Oswald J. Smith, now with the Lord, telling how God taught him to give. Oswald J. Smith eventually became founder and pastor of a church in Toronto, Canada, that has given and given and given to missionary work.
God Teaches to Give
Oswald J. Smith tells that early in his ministry he began pastoring a small church at a time when they were having their Annual Missionary Convention, something entirely new to him. Seated on the platform, he looked on in interest as ushers went up and down the aisles handing out envelopes, and then he was amazed as an usher came and handed an envelope to him. Smith writes:
"As I held the envelope I read it: ‘In dependence upon God I will endeavor to give toward the Missionary Work of the Church $____ during the coming year.’ I had never read such a statement before....I started to pray. I said, ‘Lord God, I can’t do anything. You know I have nothing in my pocket. This church only pays me $25.00 a week. I have a wife and child to keep. We are trying to buy our home and everything is sky-high in price.’ All that was true. The First World War was on.
"‘I know that,’ the Lord said. ‘Well then,’ I continued, ‘that settles it. I have nothing to give and I cannot give anything.’ I will never forget what the Lord said. He said, ‘I am not asking you for what you have.’
"‘You are not asking me for what I have, Lord? Then what are you asking?’ I replied.
"‘I am asking you for a Faith Offering. How much can you trust Me for?’
"‘Oh, Lord,’ I exclaimed, ‘that’s different. How much can I trust Thee for?’
"I thought He might say $5.00 or perhaps even $10.00. Once in my life I had given $5.00 for missions. Once I had given $3.00. I waited for the answer.
"Presently it came. God did not speak to me in an audible voice, but He might just as well have done so. I was scarcely conscious of the congregation as I sat there with my eyes closed, listening to the Voice of God. The answer came, ‘Fifty dollars.’
"‘Fifty dollars!’ I exclaimed. ‘Why, Lord, that two weeks’ salary. How can I get $50.00?’ Again the Lord spoke and it was still the same amount.
"Now, how I ever paid it I don’t know to this day. All I know is that every month I had to pray for $4.00, and every month God sent it in some miraculous way. At the end of the year I had paid the entire amount--$50.00.
"I received such a blessing--there came to my heart such a fullness of the Spirit--it was such a thrill, that as I paid the final amount, I realized that it had been one of the greatest experiences of my life.
"So great was the spiritual blessing that had come to me because I had given a Faith Offering, I had trusted God for a certain amount, I had given in a Scriptural way--that the next year at the Convention, I doubled the amount and gave $100.00. And from that day to this I have been sending on thousands upon thousands of dollars to the Bank of Heaven. If I had waited until I had it, I never would have given it because I never would have had it. But I gave it when I didn’t have it; I gave a Faith Offering and God honored it."
We look to God with you, friends, that as you depend on Him for some gift to give back to Him for the furtherance of His work, He will supply. God’s great heart of love is that all men should come to repentance, that none will perish. He gave His Son that it might be possible. Surely, if He sees your intent to be a faithful steward, He will give you means to take part in what is a deep desire of His heart and your heart, the spreading of the blessed Gospel message.
* For the lofty, God-given goal of living to the glory of God, counting ourselves not our own, but His, who is altogether worthy of our best and our all.
* That God will greatly bless the messages in this issue to the hearts of readers, and inspire us all to new endeavor in prayer and preparation for revival.
* That God will bless those whom He is using to fund Herald of His Coming ministry, so they can continue taking this vital part and at the same time be making wise investment in their eternal future. Pray God will add to the number of those who send the needed support so we can keep some 90,000 English Herald papers going out regularly each month, plus about 10,000 Spanish Heraldo papers.
* For protection of all the Herald work and workers during these winter months, which have brought some severe weather.
* That God will help mightily as newly chosen government personnel take up responsibility in this land and other lands including Ghana and Ivory Coast. This needs to be a daily prayer.
* That many who have been snared by false doctrines and the occult, will be enlightened to see the error of their ways and will turn to the true and living God and be saved. Pray for a fruitful ministry for TRUTH FOR YOU Salvation paper which warns of the occult and for RIGHT CHOICE Salvation paper to lead the unsaved to Christ.