You never know how God is going to work

The other night I shared a quote from Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church in Texas.  He said the preacher is not responsible for the response of the hearer, but only responsible to God for preaching the truth of the Gospel.  And to be honest, that’s a comforting thought for the average pastor because most Sunday mornings in most churches, there is not much of a visible response from the hearers.  And I’m not whining, complaining, or fishing for compliments.  I am thankful I often receive encouraging texts from people behind the scenes.  The prophet Jeremiah preached for 22 years, with nearly no positive results.  Yet Jeremiah was only responsible for his faithfulness in speaking God’s word, not the results.  In the Chinese Book of the Way, it says, “Care about peoples’ approval and you will be their prisoner.  Doing your work and then stepping back is the only path to serenity.”

I have a couple of dozen sermons that I’ve given over the years available here on my blog and a lot of people read them, finding them through Google, some even using Google Translator to translate them.  Once in a while, someone from a distant land will send me a message about one of them.  I remember one person from Ghana sent me a message that they were so touched by the sermon, and they would have loved to have been in the church when it was preached, just to see the moving of the Holy Spirit and the response of the congregation.  The person from Ghana would have been disappointed.

Last night, I got an email from someone in Texas about one of the sermons.  The person said their church was doing a lenten devotional book with many people in the church contributing a lesson for the lenten journey book.  Her Scripture John 6:16-27.  She blessed me by sharing her interpretation of the Scripture and her own experience based on the sermon from my blog.  Here are her words:

The story is that Jesus is getting into OUR boat and blessing us with His peace – no matter what the storm is doing.  When we welcome Him into our boat, our lives are changed forever.
When the thought came to me that I had NOT invited him into my boat, I wept. My thinking had been I’m doing OK…and I’ll just talk to Him while I steer my boat.  How wrong I was!  I Invited Him into my  boat!! Welcoming Jesus into the boat is just the first step. Once we welcome Him, we have to relinquish our role of Captain – and turn that responsibility over to Our Savior.  Although the storms will come and the water will be turbulent, our Captain will be at the helm.  There isn’t a guarantee that there will not be turbulence.  The guarantee is that Christ is in the boat with us and will never abandon us.

This is exactly why I do not get too excited or too disappointed based on the congregation’s immediate reaction to the sermon.  You never know how God is going to work.  And the same holds true for the average Christian about any good deed you do or kind word you share in Jesus’ name.  You never know how God is going to work.  Most of the time, you will never know what He did with what you did or said for His glory, but you can be sure that none of it is said or done in vain.

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