Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus

God gives and takes away

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I only pay attention to the important anniversaries: my wedding anniversary, birthdays in my family, and my work anniversary (so I know when my raise is coming). Yet, it didn’t surprise me that my wife mentioned this week that it had been a year since our previous church released us from ministry.

I haven’t really wanted to write about it much, because it makes me angry. I could go into a lot of details, but they would really embarrass people at our old church. Dredging that up isn’t productive for anyone and would really just be gossip that would only interest a small group of people, which I wouldn’t be interest in doing anyway.

In my mind, I can say three things were certain from my perspective:

  1. Our family served our church and the Lord faithfully and with integrity.

    Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23).

  2. We were released according to the wisdom of man and not in a manner that is in agreement with the Bible.

    If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector (Matthew 18:15-17).

  3. Even though human beings carried out this act, it was absolutely the will of God for us to leave.

    Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong (Job 1:20-22).

I think the last one is the hardest pill to swallow, because in my mind, if we are serving faithfully and with integrity, why would God remove us? I have thoughts on that too, but really, God didn’t want us in that place anymore.

In the book of Acts, Philip explained a passage of Scripture to an Ethiopian eunuch. After this, he baptized the eunuch, and was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to go preach somewhere else. He didn’t stay there and preach 3 months worth of messages or lead an 8-week Bible study. God moved Philip to where he was needed.

Serve well in the place where God has you now, and when God moves you, be ready to serve well there too.

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