Psalm 90 is an ancient prayer. It was prayed by Moses. And the climax of his petition is for God to establish the work of our hands. Here is how we closed yesterday’s post:
Now, I could do an academic exercise about what it means for God to establish the work of our hands. I desperately want Him to do that. You need Him to do that. WE need Him to do that. But the best thing I can do is share a very recent, very real, example of what this means.
Psalm 90: God At Work
We cannot be at work for God until/if He is at work in us. God working in and through us is both reassuring and challenging.
We can be reassured by the fact that God chooses to use us in Kingdom work. Think about that. He is Sovereign of the universe and He can accomplish His purposes any way He chooses. And He chooses to use tools like you and me. That is as amazing as it is humbling!
The challenging part of being used by God is none of us can see the end from the beginning. We don’t see or know what piece of His tapestry we are being used to weave. We are just a part. In fact, as Moses noted in his prayer of Psalm 90, we are a temporary and fleeting part of God’s design. But once in a while it seems our Father pulls back the curtain and we catch a glimpse of the work He has established!
Psalm 90: Pulling Back The Curtain
Almost six years ago I joined Rivers of the World (ROW). A part of my ministry with ROW was establishing the Mathes Pastor Training School. Those who follow and support this ministry know how God has used our collective efforts in the lives of many pastors in multiple locations. The work is definitely our Father’s work. So it is safe to say He established it and many hands have participated in it. Thousands of people have come to know His saving grace because of this equipping ministry.
About 18 months ago we were asked to open a section of the school in Haiti. The request was sincere, urgent, and delivered in person. A group of Haitian pastors attended an intensive class near Barahona, Dominican Republic. Our conversation left me very intent to help them if there was any way possible to do so.
I spoke with multiple U.S. pastors and/or mission leaders about engaging with the Haitian pastors. Nothing we did or said seemed to fall on receptive hearts. To be real honest, it was frustrating. But last week those frustrations were put into perspective. The curtain was drawn back just a little.
Psalm 90: Addition vs. Multiplication
Our year-end mission to Barahona included an evaluation/assessment session with the pastors. Those sessions are a routine part of expanding and improving the ministry. This is another part of being strategic in our ministry. And being strategic is what we see in the very beginning of mission ministry.
The Apostle Paul was strategic in the mission ministry the Lord established for him. Rather than focus on simply seeing individuals come to Christ (addition), he formed those new believers into churches (multiplication). A body of believers can accomplish much more than individual believers.
Furthermore, Paul didn’t randomly choose locations for churches. He went to cities and towns that were centers of commerce and traffic. People from many places come to port cities. Paul knew that if they encountered the Gospel there they would return ‘home’ carrying the message of forgiveness within them.
In II Timothy 2:2 Paul told Timothy to be strategic:
Entrust the Gospel to faithful men who will in turn entrust it to others.
That is the guiding principle of the Mathes Pastor Training School. Every pastor is challenged with that verse during every course of study. And we saw the results of this in our evaluation sessions.
Psalm 90: God’s Work; Our Hands
The Lord pushed His work ahead without me. That’s perfectly OK. It’s HIS work. We learned that pastors near Barahona had found a way to have our course materials translated into Creole (language of Haiti). They had taken it upon themselves to be faithful with the Gospel and teach the pastors in Haiti.
I shared this with our church family this past Sunday. Their ministry, my ministry, the ministry of which you are probably a part, is multiplying. The only way to account for that is that God is establishing His own work. We don’t always see things that way. Sometimes we (I) get frustrated because we can’t see all that He sees. But if we allow Him to be at work in us then He will establish the work He does through us.
When I heard what they were doing I was overjoyed. It was also humbling. But it was also encouraging. These pastors still want us to come. But until that opportunity comes, we can all pray that God continues to establish His work that is done by our hands. Pray that for them and please pray that for this ministry. And please pray that for your pastor, your church, and your family!