Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

Are you plagued by limitations? In reality, mankind is bound by numerous limitations. But there is a worldly philosophy that declares if a person puts his or her mind to do something they can accomplish anything. To a point this is true but at the core is the idea that a person can become God in his or her world and change circumstances. Can you recognize this philosophy to be nothing more then the lie that Eve accepted as truth in the Garden of Eden?

Limitations are a hard fact of reality. They prove one major truth, that man is not God and he cannot change circumstances in his own power. In other words limitations are a reality check.

Limitations can also become a tremendous
hindrance and obstacle in ministry

In fact, servants of God may even feel that God is against them instead of being for them. After all, they are committed to serving God only to be met with incredible resistance. This frequently causes ministers to question their calling and the love and existence of God.

Over the years GSM has encountered many limitations. These limitations have come in the form of health problems, financial challenges and sparse resources. They have put us in hard, unbearable places, challenged our faith, made us occasionally question God’s commitment and brought us face-to-face with tribulation, persecution and depression.

We have struggled with the same limitations for over ten years. We have wanted to do great things for His kingdom and yet at certain times we have been powerless to do anything. We have wrestled before God about these limitations, always holding up grand plans to make a difference in the world, only to be met with silence.

Within the past couple of years I have come to understand the significance of our limitations and made peace with them. In fact, each limitation has brought forth greater faith, appreciation and spiritual growth in my life.

I began to appreciate limitations when I studied the lives of God’s servants in scripture. These hindrances served as boundaries and protection for His ministers causing them to become reliant on Him. For example, the Apostle Paul had a thorn in his side that limited him. Paul admitted that the thorn kept him from being puffed up and caused him to trust God with the situation (2 Corinthians 12:6-11).

The Apostle Paul’s own situation revealed that
without limitations God’s people can find themselves in sin.

In my case, I know that my hindrances have caused me to learn to trust God instead of my own understanding. They have kept me from getting ahead of Him and making assumptions, which cause me to do things that are amiss and not according to His will.

Finances have been the greatest source of hindrance for us because we have many projects that are presently hidden away. But God has used this limitation to show me what is important. For instance, it is not what I do for God that counts, but rather it is who I am.

This truth can be seen in the life of King David. Saul drove David out of his own country. He lived in caves, was at the mercy of others and struggled in the wilderness. But through it all God established character in this man who would one day be king.

It is character that really enriches
a person’s life and brings credibility.

However, people are not born with character; it must be developed through struggles that require endurance that produces trust in God. (See Galatians 6:7-9).

God has also put boundaries on our finances to insure good stewardship and the right timing. Looking back over the years I realize that if I had possessed excess money, I could have hindered God’s kingdom more than furthered it. For example, I would have given to the wrong people and causes.

One of the problems in America is that we think money is the ultimate solution to all our hindrances. In reality, God is the solution. Money has become a sick substitute that keeps us from looking to and relying upon God for provision. I have learned if God is in something, it will come forth according to His will and timing.

One vital lesson we have learned is that what we think we need and what we really need are two different things. I have learned I don’t need 65% of the things I thought I did.

Another lesson I learned concerning finances has to do with multiplication. We always look at what we don’t have and how God could provide it instead of considering what we have at our disposal that He can multiply. It is true God can create anything from nothing but many fail to realize He wants to use what is available such as the five barley loaves and two small fish in John 6.

The lessons of multiplication are that of faithfulness and good stewardship, not just in finances, but in every area of our lives as well as miraculous intervention. God is faithful in every area of our lives to use what is available and we must do the same. The real test of a servant is how faithful he or she is with, not only the big things, but also the small things that can be easily overlooked because of some grandiose vision about God or ministry (Luke 16:12).

It is easy for people to waste
their time, money and resources.

God will not waste anything! He is a good steward. We often overlook what is available, fail to properly use what we do have and dreamily wait for the right things to happen before we decide to act, instead of acting upon what we already have. Tragically, we waste our lives.

Finally, God uses multiplication to show the miraculous. In other words, He uses the ordinary to show Himself to be extraordinary. God works in practical ways and shows us we must do the same. God did not move the Red Sea out of the way or cause the children of Israel to walk on the water. He simply parted it. This demonstrated God’s practicality in how He works in the midst of His people. He does not over-awe people with great miracles as many in the Christian realm are trying to do through revelations, prophecies and signs and wonders. This overlooked practicality makes God reachable, understandable and real as well as glorifies Him.

Today some Christians appear to be floating around in some kind of spirituality that is not only unrealistic but morbid. Instead of bringing glory to God they bring a reproach to the Gospel. Instead of making Christianity reachable, they become a source of mockery. Instead of glorifying God through practical works they unfairly present all Christians as fruits, nuts and flakes.

My final lesson about limitations concluded with Jesus’ example. How many of you realize that when Jesus took on the form of a servant and became a man that He became limited? The question is what can each of us learn from Jesus’ limitations?

There are two major lessons found in Jesus’ limitations: that of discipline and obedience. Limitations are powerful sources of learning discipline. Many shun discipline unless it is on their terms, but limitations have a way of wearing down the will, self-sufficiency and energy. They bring a person to an important crossroad that leads in three different directions.

The first two paths of this crossroad eventually intertwine but they begin differently. The first path is that of disillusionment; am I going to become full of self-pity, disbelief and bitterness because I can’t have my way? Or, will I choose the second path where I develop a morbid, self-righteous facade that makes me out to be a suffering, noble saint that has graciously sacrificed all in spite of the fact that God has not moved on my behalf?

Hopefully each person who encounters this crossroad will choose the third path. This path requires a person ceases from struggling to get the arm of God to move and seeks out His will and, upon discovering it, gives way to it.

As the Son of Man Jesus’ priority was doing the will of His Father. He was obedient in every area of His humanity and ultimately became subject to the sufferings and death of the cross. In fact Hebrews 5:8 states, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.”

Suffering, whether through illnesses or devastating circumstances, can be labeled as sin instead of recognizing it as a process. This process not only works character into a person but also results in the obedience that possesses an eternal purpose. After all, man is so bound by earth it is hard for him to realize there is an eternal perspective beyond his finite world.

Godly suffering that results in obedience to God
will give a person an eternal perspective.

We see this in the life of Job. He did not suffer because of sin but because his soul became a battleground between God and Satan. In his suffering he struggled with his concept of God. He could not understand what was happening, but he clung to the hope that allowed him to trust the character of his silent God instead of defining Him in light of the circumstances (Job 19:25-27). At the end of his suffering, his understanding of God graduated from a belief or concept to the reality that He is a Person. This is what Job said in Job 42:5, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.”

In my ten years of full-time ministry I have learned that the most important priority in my life is not ministry or accomplishments but my relationship with Jesus. My Christian life is not a matter of being right about doctrines, callings or visions, but being right before God. My hope does not rest on doing things for the kingdom of God so I can stand proud, but rather it rests in Christ accomplishing great things in and through my life so He will be glorified and receive all the honor.

If you are frustrated by limitations today, instead of becoming discouraged thank God. By faith know that God is in control and working all things out for your benefit and His glory. Also keep in mind that He is doing something of eternal value in your life and that if you learn the lesson and give way to Him, you will never be ashamed.

We want to thank you for your friendship and support. You need to know that you have served as an avenue where God has provided, multiplied and done the miraculous, not only in our lives but also in the lives of those whom we serve. God bless your faithfulness!!!