Over the past months at Wildwood Chapel, I have been preaching through the book of I Timothy. My goal has been to establish a solid foundation for the congregation in “how to conduct [themselves] in the house of God . . . the church of the living God” (I Timothy 3:15). One Sunday this past month as I was teaching on I Timothy 5:17-18, a passage that deals with the support of elders, I had the clear sense that the Holy Spirit would have me share as to how the Lord provides for us as missionaries. Not only did I desire for the people to understand their God-given privileges and opportunities in being faithful, cheerful givers in light of God’s own incredible gift of Christ (II Corinthians 9:1-15), but I also wanted them to know that we genuinely delight to live by faith in Him and rest in Him for the provision that we need for life and ministry, and in no way want to be a “burden” to them or “hindrance to the gospel” (cf. I Corinthians 9:1-18).
It seemed honoring to the Lord for me to share transparently from our lives regarding a situation that He had taken us through in the preceding several weeks in which He reminded us that He is indeed Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider. I told the folks about an afternoon in December when we learned that one source of our financial support would not be there in 2011. The loss of that income would make a significant impact. And then I shared with the folks how that very same evening an unsolicited, unrelated donor had called to say that they would be increasing our support. The amount of the increase would almost offset what was lost earlier in the day.
As the Lord used this as a reminder to me that He is faithful and that I can trust Him regardless of any circumstance, He also enabled me to encourage the congregation in this, not by being theoretical but by being able to exhort by example and the reality of a recent experience. A number of men came up to me afterwards and shared how the Lord had used this message in their lives and told me how they wanted to learn to truly trust Him and “live by faith.” Right after the service, one of the men went over and added something to the offering plate. Beyond how the Lord has used this church service in the lives of a number of His people, He has used it in my own life as a reminder that, as an under-shepherd of His flock, transparency about His working in my own life is one of the things He uses as He works in the lives of those I lead. To God be the glory!