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Witnessing The Faithfulness of God

By Hope Saunders

Hope here! If you don’t already know me I’ll take a moment to introduce myself. I am the 3rd oldest of 4 children in the Saunders family and the oldest daughter. I am a sophomore in Highschool and, of all the subjects that I have had the opportunity to study, my favorites are Math and Music. As I was talking with my parents about what I had learned through the process of moving to Oklahoma, they asked me if I would be willing to share some of that with you all today. I agreed, so here we are! The process of moving truly started for me in early 2019, It was a snowy day in February when my dad first presented to our family the possibility of joining ITG and moving to OKC. At that time the thought of uprooting myself from everything I had ever known, and moving across the country seemed ridiculous. In the many ensuing conversations that I had with my family (most of them with my dad), we reached the conclusion that it was ok for me to pray against moving to Oklahoma, and boy did I! We went down to visit Oklahoma for a week in May of 2019, and to be honest with you, I did not have a good attitude at all. We did many fun things while we were there but despite all that, I was determined to dislike Oklahoma. Even through all of that my brother William and I decided to come down for 2.5 weeks in June and participate in Operation Impact or OI as Summer Missionaries. It was through this experience that God softened my heart, and showed me that his plan for our family was to move. I will never forget the moment that I realized that it was God’s plan, not my dad’s, to move to OKC. We were riding home from OI, and the majority of the way back I had been dealing with the thought that God might be calling our family to move. Shortly after we got to MN, I broke down crying and told my parents that, even if I didn’t like it, God had made it clear to me that we were supposed to go. I’m not going to sit here and tell you all that after that conversation everything was all sunshine and roses, because it was not. There were many tears, and countless times that I would remember something that I would miss about Minnesota and cry some more. But it wasn’t until a dear friend of my mom’s told me something that my perspective changed. She said “It’s ok to be sad and mourn the loss of the incredible blessings you experienced here, but, remember that God will do more that we could ask for or even imagine when we follow him.” Wow, as I thought through what she had said, God helped me to trust him and his plan. And I am so grateful that He did!

God has provided an incredible group of friends and mentors for me here in OKC. He has also given our family the gift of a wonderful church and youth group. In closing I believe that God gives us all moments in our lives that we can look back on and be encouraged. Through little moments that I experienced before we moved, I was able to see God’s heart and his goodness. And through those experiences, I had the ability to look back on them while going through the difficult process of moving and see his faithfulness. A verse I stumbled across a while back sums this up pretty well:

Psalm 37:3-4

Trust in the Lord, and do good;

Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Delight yourself also in the Lord,

And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Looking unto Jesus

Have you ever considered who is watching us run this race we call our lives? We know that God is watching, but the bible says that there is a great cloud of witnesses cheering for us to run this race well.

Have you ever watched your favorite sports team play after it’s been eliminated from the playoffs? Not usually must see TV. But, if you have ever had the opportunity to watch your team play in a championship game you know that it’s an exciting and exhilarating experience. You have the opportunity to cheer them on to victory! I sometimes think of our lives like a TV channel. Have you ever been watching a show and then something comes on that is inappropriate or morally wrong and you had to change the channel quick? I wonder if that is what happens in heaven when those who are witnessing us live out our lives see us choose sin. What would the rating of our lives and our thoughts be? G, PG, PG-13, R, or worse?

Questions I encourage you to consider:

  • What is the sin that so easily entangles us?
  • What are the weights or distractions that are slowing us down?
  • Do you ever feel like you are running this race alone?

As I have considered the 3rd question I found great encouragement from God’s word. Everyone’s race is different but, we all are able to keep our eyes fixed on our savior Jesus Christ. He had the most difficult race to run in all eternity, But because of this He understands what its like to run. He was running for us. And His finish line? Sitting at the right hand of the Father.

As we keep all this in mind, it still can feel like a long race and we still have to fight discouragement and sin. God gives us excellent advice for this fight in Hebrews 12.

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,
and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

Hebrews 12:12-13

We definitely have times during our race when we feel weak and vulnerable. One of those times for me is when I am tired. If I haven’t made a plan (straight path for my feet) for how I am going to spend my time in the evenings, it is easy for me to waste my time on a computer or phone instead of spending time with other people.

  • Are there any areas that you can make straight paths for your feet?

How we run this race matters, and God calls us to pursue him in such a way as to glorify him through our actions.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

Hebrews 12:14-17

Lastly, imagine running into a stadium with hundreds of thousands cheering you on to finish your race well…

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

Hebrews 12:22-24

Hebrews 12:22-24 says that YOU HAVE an innumerable group of people cheering you on, so with that in mind, run your race well looking unto Jesus.

-Bill Saunders

Gaining the Right Perspective

8.28.20

I am so excited to finally be able to share with you these thoughts. Many of you have prayed specifically for me as I have been trying to write and share them. These are some of the things the Lord has been speaking to me lately. Thank you for your prayers!

There have been so many changes and challenges affecting the entire world. This ‘new normal’ includes virtual church services; virtual funerals , not being able to visit parents; loneliness; fear; despair, and the list goes on and on.  We have been impacted by many of these and I am sure many of you have been affected by one or all of these things as well. I would like to encourage you to read 2 Corinthians. 

Paul shares with us some of the most challenging times he ever faced in his life, and we see God walking with him.  I am so encouraged by hearing both his struggles and the way God delivered him by helping him to see things from a different perspective.  I want to share with you a short part of 2 Corinthians chapter 1 verses 8-11. 

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the
troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great
pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life
itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death…

I am wondering how long it took Paul to gain the right perspective; to be able to share the rest of the verses.  Sometimes the deep things that God is working in our lives can take a lot more time for them to sink into our hearts. 

Paul continues…

But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God,
who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril,
and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will
continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will
give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in
answer to the prayers of many.

Paul is sharing with us the struggles and also the right perspective: ‘to rely on God not on ourselves’. God delivers us again and again, He is our hope, He grants us favor and we can count on the prayers of His people. Amazing!

Later, in 2 Corinthians chapter 4, Paul shares with us… (italics mine)

But we have this treasure in jars of claywaiting time  
to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us… perspective from God 
We are hard pressed on every side …  waiting time 
but not crushed … perspective from God
perplexed waiting time  
but not in despair … perspective from God
persecuted … waiting time  
but not abandoned … perspective from God 
struck downwaiting time 
but not destroyed …  perspective from God 
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesuswaiting time
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body perspective from God 

When my perspective of what I can do is small and my perspective of what God is doing is Huge I get the right perspective.

I want to thank you all so much for your prayers for us. You are in our prayers.