"Dedicated to strengthening and encouraging the Body of Christ."

The Lord’s Comfort And Strength For Life And Ministry

By Rich Carmicheal

    The hour we are living in is a very difficult hour for many people.  This is not surprising since we are living in the final season before the Return of Christ.  The devil knows his time is short, and so the spiritual battle for the hearts, minds and souls of mankind is raging all the more.  We wrestle “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).  The battle is real and it can take its toll.

    Also, as spiritual and moral conditions have rapidly deteriorated and the forewarned perilous times have come (2 Tim. 3:1ff.), many people are suffering from the consequences of the increase of sin, whether their own or the sins of others.  And almost everyone is suffering, and some in great measure, through losses and disruptions brought on by the pandemic.  There are also those struggling through devastation caused by the many natural disasters, including fires, floods and violent storms.  And, of course, there are the griefs and pains that come simply as a part of life, such as financial burdens, broken relationships, health problems, and the death of loved ones.

    Whatever the case may be for you, if you are going through a time of great difficulty, the Herald staff hopes this issue is a source of comfort and encouragement to you.  One of the themes is the Lord’s concern and ability to care for us and sustain us in the most trying of times, and we pray He draws near and ministers to you through these pages.

Renewed Ministry

    We also believe the Lord desires to work through this issue to renew and strengthen you for life and ministry in these last days.  The fact that these are difficult days for many people means the need for God’s people to share His life and love with others is as great as ever.  As David Lindsey shares in his article on page 4, “Perhaps never before has the harvest field been so ripe.  The needs are everywhere, and this is our opportunity as Christians to shine as lights before men.”

    But to do this, our lives must be marked with the life and the love of the Lord.  The reality is that even at our very best, our own resources are completely inadequate for life and ministry.  We must have the presence and power of the Lord.  We need His life, His love, His joy, His peace and His strength.

    So we believe the Lord wants to work through the accompanying messages to encourage you to draw near to Him that He might fill (or refill) you to overflowing.  As John Wright Follette points out in his article on pages 6-7, when we wait upon the Lord, He renews us with His strength, and our everyday lives are “made potent with blessing and lived in the power of the Spirit.”  Alexander MacLaren, on page 3, draws from Habakkuk 3:19 and stresses that through our communion with the Lord, He becomes our strength and makes our feet like hind’s feet.  Into our lives comes “a vigor, and consequently a freshness and buoyancy” for life and ministry.

    In the opening message, F. B. Meyer gets to the heart of the matter:  “The very pressing question of this hour is to ascertain whether each of us is making enough personal contact with Christ.”  We know that apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5), but if we abide in Him, and He is us, we will bear much fruit to the Father’s glory (15:4-8).

The Life and Power of Christ

    With this in mind, consider the example of the Apostle Paul who certainly knew what it meant to live and minister out of the fullness of the Lord.  In regard to life, he stated, “Christ…is our life” (Col. 3:4) and “For to me, to live is Christ…” (Phil. 1:21); and in regard to ministry, he shared, “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Col. 1:29).  Paul knew that because of who Christ is and because of what Christ is able to do in and through His people, the possibilities for life and ministry are limitless – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

    Paul also knew his experience was one the Lord desired for all believers, and he prayed accordingly.  Here are portions of two of those prayers to make our own:

    “…That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16-19).   

    “…That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy” (Col. 1:10-11).

    May we draw near to the Lord, praying and waiting upon Him to work powerfully in us and through us for His glory in these last days!