Don Goulding - Blog

Expensive Prize

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If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? (1 Peter 4:18) (NIV)

Kumar was raised in Hinduism, but his gods turned on him. I met him and his coffee-brown wife in Chennai, India. They wanted freedom from the evil spirit that was causing Kumar to fall into fits, lose his job, and beat his already suicidal bride. 

I presented the cure of Christ and waited for their response. No one spoke. The humming ceiling fan pushed hot air around the office.

“Can we follow Christ, but pray to the gods with my parents?”

“Jesus would not have his followers bow to his enemies,” I said. 

Kumar’s brow furrowed. If he went against his parents, with whom they lived, his family would shun them. Yet, he was desperate for relief. Husband and wife stared at the floor, as the cement of their situation hardened around them.

I’m astonished by how difficult it is to follow Jesus. My sacrifices are not as big as Kumar’s, but to me, they’re still huge. The prize, however, justifies the cost. 

The prize is the glory that goes to God when a creature of free will chooses to pay a high price to honor him. Our God deserves much honor, therefore, the cost to follow is high.

Salvation is the simplest hard thing we’ll ever do. It’s simple to pray for forgiveness, but that prayer requires a repentant heart. That’s hard.

Are we willing to sacrifice before our God who sacrificed for us? Both Kumar and I have to answer, and end our days standing by our decision. The ceiling fan turns, and heaven awaits our reply.

Prayer: Your glory, O God, is my expensive prize.

Outstretched Hand

Indeed, the Lord who commands armies has a plan, and who can possibly frustrate it? His hand is ready to strike, and who can possibly stop it. (Isaiah 14:27)

My sins, even the small ones, are an anathema to God. He loves me, but detests my treason.

“Do not do that,” he said. 

I did it in his face.

Holy wrath stirs, and the mighty hand rises. It’s not some future event, it’s already moving against my anarchy. The hand is poised, twitching with readiness to sweep me into the hellfire I deserve. Yet it pauses. For a brief moment in history, it hovers. It is the moment of grace.

During the moment of grace, the hand of wrath is redirected against Jesus. By his wounds I am healed. I may run to the place of his punishment, and claim it as my own.

Because of the divine substitution, the outstretched hand will not harm me. It becomes a hand of protection. I take shelter beneath its reach, and love overshadows me. At the great judgment, the hand will fall against sin, but not against me. The wrath I deserve has long been spent on my Savior.

God warned of his intention, many times over. Now, the hand is outstretched, ready to slam down. To pretend everything is okay with man’s sin is to inflict the worst cruelty on the unsaved. I must cling to Jesus, and call others to do the same. 

The hand will strike. Be ready!

Prayer: God of compassion, extend the moment of grace to save many.

Partners By Prayer

 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (Colossians 4:3, 4) (NIV)

The throbbing music that opened the service set a sharp contrast to the dead zone we now entered. Zimbabweans sat under the thatched ceiling, while the last sentence of my sermon fell dead on the church floor. I fumbled for my chair, and no one knew what to do. Finally, a farm worker offered closing words in Shona. 

Lord, I’m sorry, it was a bad message, I prayed. But I lifted my head to see people slipping into a line spanning the front of the sanctuary.

“Brother, these people would like to accept Christ,” the farmer whispered.

I stared in unbelief, then realized that friends at home had been praying.

Regardless of the ineptitude of the messenger, when people pray, ministry happens. Every time I ask churches, prayer teams, and Internet contacts to plead for God’s help, wild, holy fun swirls through the heavenly realms.

To labor without prayer cover is to stand naked before the laughter of demonic hordes. But when dear servants of Jesus pray, I find I’m moving inside a bubble of spiritual potency. Unforeseen challenges still carry the bubble hither and yon, but, wherever it ends up, good things come about. Travel works out, divine appointments happen, boldness infuses my speech, hearts open, and the kingdom expands. Inside the bubble is heaven’s electricity.

Prayers like, “Lord, bless our pastor and all the missionaries,” are not much help. We need intercessors to step into the authority of Jesus and battle against the darkness in and around us.

The quiet warrior who lays prostrate in a hidden room, interceding for those who minister, causes a clash in the heavenly realms. The soldier battles until he knows the victory has gone to our King.

Some go and preach, some stay and pray, and the combination is as beautiful as it is unstoppable.

Prayer: Oh Lord, what an honor to partner in your field with prayer warriors.