I may seem like a very mild-mannered, gentle lady, but sit down across from me at a board game, deck of cards or anything slightly competitive and you will see a whole other side to me. Just ask my husband what I’m like to play Ping-Pong or air hockey with. I just love winning. You get to see a glimpse of this today.
Several years ago a former pastor of mine who liked using football analogies said in a sermon that there were no sidelines in life; everyone is on the field playing on one team or the other. Being someone who also loves football, the visual stuck with me.
No sidelines, no benchwarmers, no plank riders. Everyone in the world is on the field playing for one side or the other at this very moment.
People like to think that they are “on the fence” and undecided about this Jesus person. When they are ready, they will make the choice to take him or leave him. The truth is found in John 3:18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
If not currently playing on God’s team, you stand condemned just as you are (on the other side of the ball). By not making the decision to follow Christ, you have decided against him. You are wearing Satan’s jersey and fighting side by side with demons. This puts you in a very dangerous position; you are fighting against God as his enemy (James 4:4). The wrath of God remains on those who do not obey him (John 3:36).
For those who have been drafted and have decided to accept and follow Jesus, are you an active player or more of an obstacle to work around? Are you following the playbook (the Bible) God gave you to equip you and sustain you? Are you talking to the only one who can help you through the struggles of offense and defense?
C’mon, Ladies, this ain’t no powder puff game! Put the eye black on and get in on the action. Fight for your God and the teammates around you. Put all you have on the line for the one who gave his life so you could be his and have eternal life with him in glory.
The awesome part of all this is knowing Jesus has already won the victory for us. He accomplished this long ago on the cross. He allows us to share in this victory if we accept what he has done for us. I plan to be a part of God’s team and do all I can to increase our team numbers for the glory of God. Hey, I told you I love winning.
This game does not last forever, there is an end coming. The losers get an all-expenses paid team bus trip to Hell. The winners get to go to Paradise to live with Jesus. This seems like quite the easy decision to me.
As the football hype peaks this weekend, let it be a reminder to you to check your jersey. Make sure you are playing for the winning side and being an active participant. I may talk like this is a game, but it is a matter of eternal joy or eternal torture. Don’t allow Satan’s heavy, stinky jersey to stay on you another second, the Hell bus is warming up. Rip it off and choose Jesus. He will make you into a new creation and give you the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell within you. Yes, it is a very nice recruiting package indeed.
This was the simple text a friend sent me several weeks ago. I had been sitting reading my Bible and was struggling deeply with an issue concerning one of my children. My heart was aching and the tears were flowing freely down my face. When the text came my first reaction was, “How did she know? Could she hear me crying from across town?” Silly, I know and totally illogical, but the perfect timing of her simple question was supernatural. I burst into uncontrollable sobs. This time because of the amazing ability of my Father God to comfort me using one of his other children.
This little message spoke volumes of love, concern and encouragement to my heart. Does that seem strange? It shouldn’t. I knew the sender well and I knew the care behind these words. She was and is a sister in Christ; therefore we share something very strong. In 1 Corinthians 12:4, 5 it says, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord.”
The same Spirit resides in each of us who belong to Christ, so this shouldn’t be surprising at all. This is the Holy Spirit given to us as a gift from Jesus Christ as our helper to be with us forever. The world cannot receive him because it does not know him, only those redeemed by Jesus have the Holy Spirit. “You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:17.
The Holy Spirit is God (part of the trinity) and dwells in us. Mind blowing? Absolutely. Allow the Spirit to nudge you toward good works and loving others, “especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10. We do these works for the glory of God and they result in thanksgiving toward God in us.
If you are a believer, when someone crosses your mind, know that there is a reason for it. Pray for that person then reach out to them if you feel led to. It could be a simple text, email, written note or phone call. Maybe you need to go further and invite them out for coffee or lunch. Any of these seemingly small acts could mean so much to them. Be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit; it is truly obedience to God.
I have a friend who often takes pictures of the beautiful scenery around her. Whenever I see something I know she would capture, I pray for her. On my drive into Dubuque for work I turn off the radio and pray for those God places on my heart that day. It may be for a known prayer request or a general prayer for God’s will to be done in their life. If someone stays on my mind, I connect with them in some way through messages or meeting for a simple talk and prayer.
This is what family does for one another. We pray, we encourage, and we spur one another on toward Christ always. How can you do this for someone today?
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:13
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thess. 5:11
In last week’s blog (on pursuing a closer relationship with God) I told you how I was not so good at reaching out to others, and if I had my own (selfish) way I would most likely keep to myself. I have been thinking that I need to expand on that. It may seem odd to hear those comments from a “Director of Women’s Ministries”. After all isn’t that pretty much my job description? Funny thing about blogging, it causes you to show some of what is in your head and sometimes those are very vulnerable thoughts.
You may call God mysterious, purposeful or even mean. He seems to always somehow draw out and make known to you your weaknesses. This could be a character deficiency, a failure at something, or even a physical limitation. What I’m talking about today are not areas of sin like lust, addictions, or gluttony but more a poor personality bent. Which, when left undisciplined, could turn into a sin of disobedience.
Now don’t think that this weakness is a flaw in how God designed you; as if he messed up or accidently dropped you in the creation process. It is there for a purpose! God made you exactly the way he intended to. He has big plans for your specific weakness. Take comfort and joy in that fact, but don’t become content with it.
The Bible has given us a great visual for why he created us with weaknesses. If you have received Christ you have a great treasure inside of you, it is the light of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). Your body is the container for this light, fashioned from the dust of the earth. You are an ordinary clay pot holding an awesome and powerful light. 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
Now, God could have made us out of airtight Tupperware or strong steel. We could hold in that light and not allow anyone else to see it. Some live this way, pretending they are made of fine metal and have it all together. They polish themselves and act as though they are strong and have no weakness. What a load of bologna! How could you be any good to those around you that way?
I rejoice in being a clay pot just like God designed me to be, with all of my flaws and deficiencies! Each weakness in my clay, allows the light of God to shine through. Paul often boasted in his weaknesses for this very reason, read 2 Corinthians chapter 12. Here is verse 9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
God isn’t mean, he is fully wise and he loves you. He ultimately desires (and deserves) more glory for himself. Therefore, he has given you an area of weakness in which he can demonstrate his perfect power and show his light to others. Allow this to happen, expose your weak areas to be used by God.
Ladies, take a moment to think about a weakness you have. You can probably name one fairly quickly. It could be a fear of what others think, a tendency towards selfishness, a need to always have things orderly, a fear of leaving the house, or even laziness. How can you turn this around on the Enemy and allow God to shine through you using this weakness? Ideas may include becoming a radical giver, asking a friend for coffee, inviting others into your home, or investing your time in projects that bless God instead of watching another TV show.
My weakness is my desire to keep to myself and not interact with others. However, God has placed a passion for his Word in my heart and has commanded me to teach and share what God has done in my life. Therefore when I do speak, teach, or lead it is only through the power of God and not my own selfish desire for attention.
I plan to allow God to use my weakness in order to magnify himself more. I will do this by doing the exact opposite of what my flesh is screaming for. Instead of staying in my comfortable cocoon, I will step out and connect with others. I will share what God has done in my life and what he offers to those who will receive him. I want to pursue others like Christ pursued me. Many of you ladies reading this will be on my list, so be warned… I may soon be pursuing YOU!
I’m not always a good friend. If left to my own devices I would most likely live a solitary life with few others involved. I have been told more than once that I am a hard person to get to know. I often struggle socially and am awkward when it comes to connecting with someone on a personal level. However, God has been gracious to me. He knows me so well that he has sent others to pursue me. Ladies who wanted a friendship with me and so did not give up on me. They called and invited me places, talked to me when I wasn’t a great conversationalist, and decided to like me even after getting to know the “real me”. I thank God for friends like that; this will include many of you reading this today.
To be truthful, all of us love to be pursued by someone. If this wasn’t the case many of us would not be married to the man we are married to. If your husband hadn’t shown interest and attempted to gain a relationship with you, you most likely would have lost interest and moved on. The pursuit of a relationship is a strong force. Never is this truer than in our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
God loves us and desires an authentic relationship with us. Don’t miss this fact. God Almighty, Creator of supernovas and DNA, the All-Powerful Great I Am wants to know you AND you to know him. Not in a textbook “you are interesting” kind of way, but in a personal “I love you like crazy and want to be close to you” kind of way.
God said through the Prophet Jeremiah - Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 9:23-24
If there is anything at all in this world that we should feel pride about it is that we know God. Nothing else matters; not worldly wisdom, not might or riches. Only knowing God. When was the last time you bragged on God and the fact that you belong to him?
Once we have been adopted into God’s family (by accepting the work of his Son on the cross) we immediately begin a new relationship with God as our Heavenly Father. From that time forward we need to wholeheartedly pursue an ever increasing relationship with him. The effort of this should consume our lives (read Romans 12). The more you know God the more you love him.
One of the most awesome facts that I will never fully understand is that God desires this relationship with me. He wants me to get closer to him. Yes, socially awkward, stand-offish and far from perfect me. God wants to be close to you too. Think on that for a few minutes… God wants you closer to him. He wants you to know him on a personal level. This should bring tears to your eyes.
The Bible is full of verses demonstrating God’s desire for a relationship with his people. This is not for his benefit (we can add nothing to God) but for our own good and because he cares for us. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus also lamented over Jerusalem wishing he could gather the people under his wings as a hen gathers her brood (Luke 13:34). There are cries throughout the Bible of God wanting people to turn to him and allow him to love them and heal them. The story of the prodigal son is another great example of the joy of the Father at gaining a relationship with a son that had been lost. (Luke 15).
One of my favorite verses is found in James 4:8, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” So simple and yet incredible; an awesome PROMISE of God. Memorize it and live it. Draw closer to God (pursue him) by reading his Word, talking to him in prayer (another mighty gift) and by fellowshipping with others who will spur you on in this joint mission.
I have heard from a few friends that have committed to reading the entire Bible this year. I rejoice in those commitments! What a wonderful way to get to know your Father; by reading the book he has written just for you and for this very reason!
God loved us so much that he killed his son Jesus to allow a relationship with us to take place. I guess you can say he takes this pretty seriously … and so should we. Be intentional this year and pursue your God!