Working Faith

It was September 2016. I was in Phoenix, AZ, desiring friendships that would be centered around Jesus. I asked God to provide them for me, and then I got home from work to play three hours of XBOX before falling asleep. This went on for quite some time. I was discouraged, missing home, and begging God for relationships. There were people who cared about me in the church that grew into stronger relationships, but I didn’t have anyone my age. I would pray and ask and yet I kept the same routine of work and isolation.

It was only when I took a step of putting myself out there that relationships began to form and blossom. One day I went to Raising Cane’s with a guy named Victor and now he’s one of my best friends.

I was recently asked by a friend to be a backup speaker for a youth camp. I love traveling to preach God’s Word and yet I was wrestling with whether or not it was the right thing to do at this time in my life with a four month old at home. I was encouraged to pray and then act. So I did. It didn’t work out this time but I took a step of faith.

I kept hanging onto FCA after six months of knowing it was too much on my plate. My pastor kept encouraging me to step away, trusting God to provide for me and my family. I made the choice to step down, and within weeks I received an opportunity to speak at a youth camp this Summer, and the stipend was a generous gift of God’s grace.

Faith has a component not just of belief, but of action.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul is praising the church in Thessalonica for its qualities that honor God. Listen to what he says about their faith.

We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Thessalonians 1:3

In Paul’s mind, faith results in work. In action.

I think of the book of Ruth. Ruth trusted God to provide for her as she followed Naomi back to Bethlehem. She had faith. But that faith led to her following Naomi’s direction and going to work in the field of Boaz. God provided for her, but she acted to receive that provision.

Trusting God to provide for my family financially doesn’t mean I sit at home and do nothing. It means that I work, showing my faith through steps to obtain the gracious gifts of His provision. Every paycheck I receive is grace. As a matter of fact, every good thing in my life is grace. It’s not something I earned.

On the other extreme, trusting God to provide doesn’t mean chasing the promotion, piling our schedules super high with vocational opportunities at the expense of our spiritual lives. Sometimes the action we need to take isn’t getting a job, it’s denying earthly wealth and the upward trajectory of our American Dream in order to save our souls. Busyness is the greatest enemy of spiritual growth (go read John Mark Comer’s The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. Or better yet, go read the Gospels and watch Jesus’ pace of life).

Trusting God to protect my family from harm doesn’t mean I remove the doors from my home. It means that I lock the doors before bed, utilizing the gifts of common grace that God has given to keep my home safe. On the other hand, faith in the protection of my family can look like one day sending Gracie to the foreign mission field, trusting God to protect her even when she’s far from my sight.

Trusting God to draw those I love back to Jesus doesn’t mean that I say nothing and do nothing. I pray, ask others for prayer, and speak truth when I can. Yet I remember that God, not I, is the agent of change that can draw those far from Him back home.

I obviously do not know where this post finds you. I don’t know what difficulty you’ve encountered. I don’t know where you’re lacking faith or where you’re claiming faith but are inactive.

I would encourage you though to take the next step that aligns with God’s Word.

Show your faith in God.

Faith produces work.

Take a step of faith.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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What God Taught Me About Community When I Had No Friends

About a year ago I moved to a town where I had no friends other than my soon-to-be husband. Although we were thrilled to be living in the same town after almost two years of long distance, my whole concept of community was changing. Suddenly, “community” didn’t look like five 21 year old girls, five spoons, and a pazookie. Community didn’t look like living in the same building as two hundred other girls on a campus full of people who were approximately the same age as me and roughly in the same stage of life as me. I moved to a town where there are very few people my age and in the same stage of life as me.

In school, you can pretend to have community even if you don’t. The people around you are at least similar to you in some way. Then you graduate. You go to work, come home, and then what? There’s no club meetings… no events… no wandering down the hall to find someone to hang out with.

You have to work for community.

My friendships now don’t look the same as before. We don’t eat every meal together or hang out every weekend. They are moms and some of them are even old enough to be my mom! But you know what? They show up. They check in. They encourage and share wisdom.

College spoils you. It’s so great, but it spoils you! Friendships and community won’t look like that your whole life! And sometimes that is hard. But you find people who share in the important things – people who will help when needed and celebrate when needed!

Matching pajamas and pazookie nights are great, but community changes just as the seasons of life do. When I let go of what I think friendships should look like at this stage of life, God provided me with great friendships that spur me on toward what is good.

To all of you college peeps out there… soak it in. But make it about more than just fun. Find encouragers and supporters and people who push you closer to Christ. Those relationships last.

To graduates… trust the Lord to provide you with community… and then get involved in a church. You may have to let go of some expectations about what you think your friendships should look like and that’s okay. God knows our desires and our needs and He will provide. But also don’t forget that He is the ultimate companion and can provide all that you need. If it is taking a long time to find your community, be patient and lean into Him.

When I had no friends, God brought me a community more caring, wise, and encouraging than I’ve ever known! And I am so thankful.

– Jamie Roach

Young Lions

I grew up on Psalm 34:8.lions.jpg

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! – Psalm 34:8

I’ve seen it referenced time and time again, whether in somebody’s kitchen, on somebody’s Facebook post, or before taking the Lord’s Supper with a church community. Yet I have failed to recognize the beauty of this verse in the context of the entire 34th Psalm. Nestled in this verse is the doctrine of divine providence. We see the truth that God provides for and protects His people. I am not a seasoned scholar or theologian so I’m not even going to try and explain God’s sovereignty vs. the free will of man. However, I will tell you that God is ultimately the Provider and Protector of us His children.

Our every single need is met by God. He provides for all of our needs.

Not only does the 34th Psalm teach us that He is a Provider, it also teaches us that He is a Protector.

Look with me at verses seven and ten.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. – Psalm 34:7

There are days where I blow through life without meditating on or thinking about the spiritual aspects of my day-to-day life. There are other days where I’m more acutely aware of the spiritual warfare being waged around me. This verse should strengthen any feeble man, as it reminds us that God’s legion of hosts are around us, and that we will be delivered in the times of our need (v. 6).

The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. – Psalm 34:10

I’ve not been around lions outside of the zoo, but it is apparent to me that they are accomplished hunters. Young lions especially are adept at hunting due to their speed, ferocity, and energy. They are referred to as the kings of the jungle for a reason. They are at the top of the food chain in their neck of the woods. For them to go hungry, many things have to be off kilter.

That’s what makes this verse so striking. There are seasons in the Sahara where the lions may be lacking in food, lacking in what they need to survive the season. Yet for the follower of Christ, no good thing is lacking. What a beautiful promise of God’s provision.

As we meditate upon the provision and protection of the God we serve, we should remember a few different things. There are truths this passage will remind us of before we expect a perfect life.

Be humble.

As we think about God’s providing and protecting hand, we must remember that we are called to remain humble before God. Psalm 34:2 will remind us to boast in the Lord, that the humble will hear of the promises of God and be glad. Psalm 34:6 tells us that it is the poor man whose cries the Lord hears.

God is loving, compassionate, and generous. At the same time however he is not a fan of the arrogant and prideful. His grace through Jesus is strong enough to cover over those sins, yet we should still seek humility before Him.

The very provision and protection of God is what is designed to lead us to be humble before Him. As I meditate upon the ways that God is providing for and protecting me each and every day, I am humbled because I understand that I’m not capable of doing those things in my own life.

Seek God.

God’s provision and protection should also lead us to worship Him and seek Him more. Psalm 34:4 says, I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. God is always in control of the cosmos. That being said, I know for a fact that in my life when I chase after Him and seek Him that I become more acutely aware of that reality.

When I’m coasting through life, I forget about God’s provision and protection and find myself shackled to fear and worry. I was a worry wart almost the entire time I was in Phoenix. Yet in the seasons of life where I have chased after God with everything in me, I have seen and beheld the ways that God has provided for and protected me and I am delivered from my fears.

Seeking God helps us to acknowledge the ways God is working in our midst.

Remember He is God and He is good. 

Lastly, we need to remember that not everything in life will work out the way that we would want it to. Just this very day things are not working out the way I had hoped in the life of one of my closest friends, and I question what God is up to.

Yet look with me at Psalm 34:9-10.

Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. – Psalm 34:9-10

The doctrine of divine providence does not promise perfect lives for followers of Christ. These verses do not promise our every heart’s desire. Instead these verses should remind and encourage us that God is God and God is good. When the psalmist promises us that we will lack no good thing when we seek the Lord, He is telling us that God is all the good we need.

When we pursue after and seek Christ, we get Him.

When we get Him, we lack nothing.

God promises to provide and protect for His people. Open your eyes and start acknowledging the ways God has done just that in your life. Next time you eat, thank God for His provision. Next time you sleep in safety, thank God for His protection.

In every bite and morsel throughout our lives we ought to taste the provision of God. 

Young lions may go hungry.

Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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