Paraklesis. The extraordinary ordinary

In extraordinarily ordinary lives, we live to the praise of God’s glory!!!

Dear friends, we tend to look for God’s glory in extraordinary lives, great achievements, significant success in ministry, wonderful progress in church growth, or outstanding miracles.

While we should see God’s glory in the extraordinary, this may blind us to God’s glory in the ordinary.

Just think of your church over the last year. Think of all the people who are still believers, despite all the pressures of the world, their innate sinfulness, and Satan. This is a miracle of God’s grace, and a demonstration of God’s glory, of people living to the praise of God’s glory!

Here are some more daily and often invisibles miracles of God’s grace at work in us and through us, ways in which we live to the praise of God’s glory: 

  • any trust in God our heavenly Father, in the Lord Jesus, or Holy Spirit, 
  • every attitude and act of love to husband or wife, children, parents, family, friends, fellow-believers, neighbours, [or enemies], 
  • every marriage sustained,
  • every act of daily work, [unpaid or paid] serving the Lord Christ, 
  • every decision not to sin, but instead to honour God in our lives, 
  • every participation in the life of the church, as members of Christ’s body, 
  • every attempt to live at peace with others, 
  • every forgiveness of others, 
  • every change effected by God’s Spirit through the Scriptures,
  • every suffering endured for the sake of Christ,
  • every endurance of trials or suffering,
  • every thought or word of prayer, of lament, of praise, of worship, of intercession brought to God, 
  • every encouragement of fellow-believers, 
  • every attempt to reach out to others and cooperate with others, 
  • every cheerful financial gift to support our church, our missionaries, or other good causes, 
  • every good endeavour of sharing our faith with people who don’t yet know God in Christ, 
  • every sacrifice for the benefit of others, 
  • every good work, every act of random kindness, 
  • every attempt to live responsibly as citizens of Australia and of the world, 
  • every turning away from idolatry, and continuing to serve the true and living God,
  • every expression of contentment,
  • any willing acceptance of additional burdens during lockdown, at home or at work,
  • any fruit of the Spirit,
  • any love of God, and love of neighbour,
  • any growth in holiness and maturity in Christ,
  • etc!

In each and every one of these, we are living to the praise of God’s glory. And, of course, these are even more miraculous when they are done in difficult or stressful circumstances, in the midst of lockdown restrictions, illness, busyness, trials or temptations!

The immense dignity and glory of our daily lives, is that we live for God’s glory, and so all we are and all we do, however invisible to others, is to the praise of God’s glory, in the best of times, but also in the worst of times.

There have been specific burdens for leaders in churches and ministries: administering restrictions to others; coping with others’ frustration and anger; having to express leadership in constantly solving problems rather than creating new opportunities; and feeling as if we are doing maintenance rather than mission.

It is really important to remember this as we look back on how our lives, and the lives of our churches have been impacted by Covid 19 and the consequent restrictions. We might tend to focus on what we have not done, what has not been achieved, what plans have not succeeded. What have we done? Lived to the praise of God’s glory!!!

A good friend headed his monthly missionary report, ‘Nothing extraordinary achieved’. I replied that on the contrary, it had been an extraordinary month, for all the reasons outlined above.

Have you noticed the repeated idea of ‘for the praise of his glory in Ephesians 1:3-14?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love hepredestined us for adoption to sonshipthrough Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will —  [1] to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, hemade known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, [2] in order that we, [who were the first to put our hope in Christ],might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession— [3] to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:3-14 NIV 11

Examples 1 and 3 are about God’s actions: but example 2 is about us! Examples 1 and 3 enable example 2!

Remember:

  • God boasted of Job in anticipation [Job 1:8, 2:3]? All Job did was to persevere! [James 5:11].  
  • God is honoured by the praises of children and infants [Psalm 8:2].
  • Jesus honoured the widow who could only manage to give two small coins in Luke 21:1-4? ‘This poor widow has put in more than all the others.’ 
  • Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness [2 Corinthians 12:9].
  • Paul wrote, ‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation … I can do all things through him who gives me strength’ [Philippians 4:12,13]. What a miracle!

When you think back over this year, or write your annual report, remember the extraordinary and highly significant reality that by God’s grace, ordinary believers living ordinary daily lives, are living to the praise of God’s glory. And ordinary churches are doing the same!

More resources.

I hope we all continue to work on praying for recruiting and raising up gospel workers for the future. Here is a useful podcast.  https://www.thepastorsheart.net/podcast/recruiting-women

Here is a recent sermon on the Lord’s Prayer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBpU4MBAioc&t=5626s

This is my last Paraklesis for 2021, as I will be on my annual holidays in December. I will be back in your in-tray in January, God willing.

With warmest good wishes,

May we all continue to live for to the praise of God’s glory. 

Yours,

Peter Adam | November 2021