Hello again, Ladies. Over the past couple weeks we have been busy exposing lies that our Enemy from down under (way under, not Australia) has been mailing us direct and sealing with an evil kiss. These steaming packages come express delivery from Hell’s “Department of Deceptions and Distractions” right to our door. Too often we sign for them, bring them in and open up trouble. BUT no longer! Through the truth of God’s word we are now gaining wisdom and slicing these lies to pieces.
So let’s get down to business on this next one too. First, read parts 1 and 2 if you haven’t. Lies we have dealt with already, 1.) I don’t fit in and I can’t connect. 2.) I don’t have any spiritual gifts. These are outright lies – scripture tells us that if we are his, we are connected and part of the body whether we feel like it or not AND every Christian has been given gifts to use for the good of the whole Church body. This leads us to #3…
LIE #3: I have gifts but no way to use them. Malarkey, hogwash and poppycock! (Yep, web thesaurus again, you need to try that thing). I won’t even let this one slide. Tell me, what kind of mean god would give you gifts and then not provide an opportunity to use them? Is this some kind of sadistic cosmic joke? Or do we have a random god who has no clear reason or purpose behind what he does? I’ll say it again, poppycock! Not the God I serve. Nuh-uh. No way.
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 1 Cor. 14:33a. Our God is a God of peace and order, he did not create chaos in Genesis, but set forth order with purpose. Keep those words in mind when thinking of God– order with purpose. This is true in creation, this is true in how God wrote out the salvation story and it is true for your life as well (remember we have a God concerned about individuals! See blog for lie #2). God is the author of your story (Psalms 139:16). It may not always feel like it, but God has put your life in divine order and assigned it specific purpose.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10. This verse always excites me. God has work for us to do (as individuals) that he prepared for us long ago. Think: tailor made gifts for tailor made tasks. Now that is an awesome, plan ahead, I’m-in-charge-and-I-know-what-I-am-doing kind of God. That is my God, thank you very much. And yours too, so get out there and see what type of works he has for you! Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to.
There may be a specific role to plug into at the physical church building or maybe not. But there are always, always, always ways to use your gifts for the good of the body. Remember 1 Peter 4:10, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace” If you are not using your gifts you are not being a good steward of the grace God has given you. Count this as encouragement and a warning too. Don’t be in a position where you are holding back from God (not cool).
So find ways to use your tailor made talents. Here are some possible ideas: talk with other women at church and help them connect, write scripture verses out and give them to others for encouragement, make meals for busy new moms, go on a mission trip, study God’s word deeply, watch children for others in the church, lead a Bible study in your home, pray with someone, clean the church, teach children, sit with someone who is lonely, give hugs, build relationships with the young women in the church, ask someone what they need prayer for, greet others warmly and make them feel welcome at church, write notes of encouragement and mail them out, pray for someone new each day, read the Bible with someone, support missions, decorate the church or offer help in homes, paint, sit next to those who come to church alone, share your testimony, invite others into your home and show hospitality, invite someone to get coffee and talk about what you are reading in the Bible, play an instrument for praise, share your joy with someone, share someone’s burden, take a young lady to get her hair done and talk about purity, take a walk with someone and see how they are really doing.
This list could go on for miles, you get the idea. Now make yourself take the time to have your own brainstorming session. Your God-given personality style will shape how you serve and love others. Do not fall into the trap of gift comparison, each of us is unique. Simple acts of service are demonstrations of a heart belonging to God and that’s what it’s all about. You may not slash though a jungle in Guinea to spread the gospel (though you might), but you can build up the body with a smile and the sharing of God’s word right where you are. Let’s not complicate what God has made plain.
So, serve, love, teach, and encourage with God’s word. Practice your gifts, stretch yourself and grow into the awesome story that he has written just for you. It is oh, so good.
Time for part two in our series, but first I want to point out an important word in the title that I hope you caught. That word is “Christian”. That’s right these lies are aimed at Christians (I’m talking to women directly today, but men are affected as well). If you are not a true Christian this is not for you and honestly, you probably don’t often struggle with many (or any) of these lies I will be discussing. You are not a threat to the Enemy, actually the Enemy likes you right where you are (that is right next to him). There is no need for him to convince you that you don’t belong in a church or that you have no gifts to share because your heart is not inclined that way.
This message is to encourage my sisters who are in Christ that they have been given gifts to use and that they can discover what those gifts are. So, that being said, if you have struggled with this lie – rejoice! Seriously rejoice - you have been found a threat to the opposition and he is not liking you one bit. This lie has been thrown at you like a hand grenade to blow up in your face and send you crying back to your room to hide. Sisters, let’s begin some serious counter attacks, beating that devil back to where he belongs. We need to refuse to put up with these ridiculous cheap shots. So, fasten your truth belts and pick up your sword.
LIE #2: I don’t have any spiritual gifts. Hmm… interesting. I used to tease my little brother that he must have been gone the day God was handing out brains because it was obvious he got skipped (I think I repented of that long ago). So somehow God must have skipped you when he was handing out spiritual gifts. Whoops! What an oversight! Some of those Quality Check Angels (QCAs) were not paying attention there. Wow, send them back to training. Not an area we want remedial angels to be working in, they may fit in better where they check if you can walk and chew gum at the same time.
“Now concerning spiritual gifts brothers [and sisters], I do not want you to be uninformed.” Okay, not my words, but Paul’s, but I mean them too (they are from 1 Cor. 12:1, you really need to read that whole awesome chapter). Don’t be uninformed, ladies, read your owner’s manual, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:” 1 Peter 4:10. No one has been overlooked; each of us has been given gifts to be used for the betterment of the body. Let me repeat that in case you weren’t listening… NO ONE has been overlooked - every. single. Christian. has received a gift!
There are specific gifts listed in at least two places in the Bible. Here are some gifts listed in 2 Corinthians chapter 12: the utterance of wisdom, the utterance of knowledge, faith, healing, working miracles, prophecy, and the ability to distinguish between spirits, also teaching, helping and administrating. Some from Romans chapter 12: faith, service, teaching, exhortation, generosity, leading, and giving mercy.
“All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1 Cor. 12:11. Each of us is given a gift in the portion best for us, decided by God and this is done individually (love this word used in relation to God). Sounds like no QCAs are needed after all! We don’t have a careless God that misses people when they are going through the creation assembly line. As if new humans are being produced faster than he can keep up (yes, mental picture of Lucille Ball in the chocolate factory assembly line here). We have a perfect God that hand creates each of us individually with love and purpose. Phew! That is good news… I think I might need to call my little brother.
Ladies, you have been given spiritual gifts! You just need to discover what those gifts are. This is not a daunting task, be excited that there are awesome things to discover about yourself that you simply haven’t uncovered yet! Hidden gems that God has placed within you to be revealed at the proper time in order to shine brilliantly for him. Oh, I hope this is sinking in, because this is good stuff!
Here are some tips to discovering your giftings: read 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and Romans chapter 12 to review lists of spiritual gifts, pray that God would reveal your gifts to you, ask others what they see in you (come talk to me, I would love to help you with this!) and practice potential gifts. Begin by practicing some of the more “common” ones like service and giving mercy (especially before trying out the working miracles and prophecy ones, jumping into these may prove embarrassing at the next Sunday service). Allow God to work through you to bless others. You will soon learn more and more about your spiritual giftings. Often new gifts are revealed as you grow in Christ or at least new ways to use and improve your current ones.
So, ladies, you should now be armed with enough ammo to refute these explosives coming your way. Keep reading God’s word in order to stay armed and to guard your heart from deceit. One of my favorite tactics in this spiritual battle we engage in everyday is to use the weapons of the Enemy against him. So next time one of those lie-grenades comes flying at you, whack it with your shield of faith and send it right back where it belongs. You do this by holding fast to God’s truth in the Word and living it out. Use your gifts to build up the body and strengthen the brothers and sisters by your side. Batter up, Ladies.
“No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
Lie #1 – I don’t fit in and I just can’t connect.
Women, I hope you can handle a little sarcasm in your day, because right now I’m feeling a little cheeky. I’ve heard SO many of you talking ridiculousness lately. Lies are popping up straight from Hell and you are inviting them to hang out for tea. I’m not making light of a serious issue…okay, maybe a little…but seriously, a little laughter may help. I want you to see the utter ABSURDITY of giving ear to deceptions from across enemy lines.
Let’s talk about some of the trash flying around; have you heard some of this nasty stuff? I know I have: at church, at studies, women’s gatherings, at the park, on the phone, in emails, and in my own home (nope, I’m not off the hook either). Over the next few weeks I’m going to cover some of the hot ones I’ve heard lately and talk about what to do with them (i.e. NO more tea!)
LIE #1: I don’t fit in and I just can’t connect.
This one is taking women by storm lately and I don’t like it. Let me tell you something shocking…you’re trying too hard. You ARE in. You ARE connected. Don’t get all feely-schmeely about it. If you don’t “feel” like a woman does that mean you must not be a woman… wait a minute… let’s not go there. If you don’t “feel” like a human being does that mean you must not be a human being? Ridiculous! Ludicrous! Preposterous! (Web thesaurus - new favorite toy).
Once you are adopted by God, you become part of the body of Christ. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” 1 Cor. 12:27. There is no questioning whether you are what you are, you just are. In other (more understandable) words, you belong whether your feelings confirm that for you or not. One of the top rules for women everywhere: be leery of feelings, they can lead you astray. Command them to obey the word of God before you allow them to soak into your heart. Yes, I said command them, don’t allow emotions to rule over you. We walk by the Spirit so that we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). If I lived by my feelings I would be a rip-roaring mess. Resist the urge to start down that slippery slope.
Christian women, you are a vital part of the body. Don’t just take my word for it, take God’s. Read this portion of 2 Corinthians chapter 12 (then read the whole thing later), “If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,” (vv. 15, 18, 21, 22). The body parts in these verses are talking silliness (like when my hips tell me they have room for another scoop of cookie dough – they lie!). Of course the foot is part of the body and the eye needs the hands. You, my friend, may feel like a left pinky toe somedays, but you are indispensable!
The deepening of relationships that you desire will come the more you hang out with the rest of the body. Being present is the most important part to play, so do that. Show up and be together. Don’t try to go your own way, you will only succeed in tripping yourself up (and everyone else you are attached to). We are in this together and isolation is the desire of the Enemy (see Prov. 18:1 and last week’s blog), don’t allow it.
This lie of not fitting in is rampant, so think of this the next time you are at church in a room full of people (or any gathering of the body together). Nearly every woman you see thinks she does not fit in. You be the bold one and walk up to her and help her feel a connection. Even if all you do is ask how her week went and ask how you can pray for her for the week ahead. Boom! The schemes of the enemy are demolished, annihilated, and defeated (lovin’ that thesaurus)! In that simple step you are serving as part of the body and telling that other woman that she is an important part too. Sweet connection!
We will talk more on ways to connect, so keep reading each week. Until then, understand that if there is a lie lurking nearby, don’t give it any space to grow. If it smells like smoke you know where it came from, snuff it out. Treat it like you would a poisonous spider trying to get cuddly with you. Do some serious Bible thumping on that thing, push back the darkness with God’s word.
Remember, you “fit in” because you are part of the body already; God has ordained this joining of his people, it is not a choice or a feeling. The more time you spend with the body the deeper and stronger the connections will be. Stand on biblical truth and leave no room for ugly lies. Say buh-bye and tell them tea time is over.
This is the blog that I don’t want to write and you don’t want to read. Can we just be honest about that right up front? Like bad medicine you need to take but only want to spit out. The sweetness can only be tasted when the healing comes… but, oh how sweet the healing is when it does come. So, take a deep breath with me, ladies, it’s time to swallow.
Introverted, anti-social, hermit, reserved, don’t like crowds, being shy, a wallflower, a loner. I have used each of these terms to describe myself many times in my life (heck, the past week). They are a handy excuse for my behavior and serve as a warning for people to stay back. Like saying, “Please carefully remove yourself from my precious personal bubble. Um, one more step back…aaand one more. There, now we are far enough apart that we can be pleasant friends but not have to get caught up in any messy personal issues.”
I enjoy using the above terms if I must be honest (and I must)…and I know I’m not the only one. If this blog caught your attention you are probably in a similar boat as me (not the same boat hence the issue). You may be offended already that I have called it a…SIN. I don’t like it either, but I’m not the boss and I don’t make the rules.
A verse that came up in a women’s Bible study recently, and that just keeps slapping me in the face, is Proverbs18:1 which reads, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement.” Did you feel that smack like I did? Hear that clear element of selfishness in “seeks his own desire” and foolishness in “breaks out against all sound judgement”?
How can isolation be selfish? When we distance ourselves from others we are not able to connect and display Christ to them. We are not there to speak God’s words of encouragement to them. Paul in his ministries lived with the people and worked with the people in order to win them to salvation, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22. This is not possible if we are hidden away.
How is isolation foolish? Our purpose for breathing is to glorify God through sharing the gospel and proclaiming his name to the nations. Hard to be effective in this calling when our noses are in a novel or we are “just not in the mood to deal with people”. Taking ourselves out of interaction with others is like taking ourselves out of the race and still expecting to win, pure foolishness.
So, ladies, let’s be big girls and call sin “sin” when the Bible calls it out. No sense softening evil to make it comfy. We don’t want it comfy. We want sin as uncomfortable in our lives as putting on a wet swim suit covered in sand or like a mouth full of gravel (Proverbs 20:17).
Is taking time to be alone always sin? My goodness no. There are times of needed refueling and resting. Time to get yourself away from the world to spend time alone with God (epic oxymoron when you think about it). Jesus himself often moved away from the crowds that followed him, he also often got up early in the morning and found a solitary place to pray. Time alone can be good, acceptable and beneficial when done for the proper reasons.
The motive is the crucial difference, the essence of whether the removing of yourself from others is a sin or a time of godly refueling. Think carefully, what is causing you to want to shut the world out? Is it fear of rejection, judgement, being socially inept, not wanting others to see the “real you”? Is it laziness? As painful as these can be, they are inadequate excuses. We cannot hide behind our feelings. Spend time studying who you are in Christ for your strength, looking at him not yourself. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7.
So consider this a reminder to check your heart - is how you are living fulfilling what God has called you to? If you are claimed by God, you contain a treasure beyond measure - step out and share it. Multiply your joy in fellowship. No more keeping others at arm’s length for fear of discomfort. Decide not to be okay with selfish and foolish isolation, be disgusted by it; shed the suit and spit out the gravel. Be bold and connect with others, dare to get messy and love people with the crazy love of Christ and… allow them to love you back.
Praise God and wage spiritual war with the incredible act of engaging with others.