“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
Paul penned these words in a letter that was written to strengthen the fellowship in a somewhat divided congregation in Rome. This was a congregation that was made up of a mixture of people converted from the Jewish faith and from the pagan world, with an estimated 50/50 split. As the church in Rome was strengthened by these inspired words of wisdom, we can also be encouraged and strengthened to avoid the downfalls of discouragement, doubt and even division.
In this physical world, we will face many trials that satan will try to use as stumbling blocks to our growing faith. The Lord’s church in Azle has seen her share of these kinds of attacks. We have seen people leave the faith because they allowed their opinions to overrule God’s truth, we have been part of a transitional stage as the preacher, Ian, retired after years of joyous labor with us, and we are enduring the acceptance of a new minister. And we are now in the process of saying good bye to our youth minister and his wife, Daniel and Keri, as they take on a new ministry in a distant land (with our love and prayers for a fruitful ministry). We need each other to stay strong.
It would be easy to crumble under the pressure that these kinds of challenges bring. But we are God’s family and He has made provisions for our success: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3). Studying His word keeps us encouraged, enlightened and enthused. The joy of our faith is found in the integrity of the One in Whom are faith is placed. God gives us promises that we can stand on throughout eternity, and His word assures us that He “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2).
Since we know God cannot lie, we can be assured that these challenges will not be the end of His church in Azle. He promised eternity to His church so we can face these situations with confidence knowing He will work all these circumstances out for the overall good (Romans 8:28). God built His church on His divine plan so we can grow and edify one another to strive together for the unity needed to be strengthened in our faith (Ephesians 4:1-11). We can remain joyful as we know that these ministers and their families will be blessed by our God as they continue in the faith to serve Him throughout their days on this earth. We are a blessed group because we are continually being strengthened by the love that God has placed in the hearts of each member of this family.