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.
Ladies, have you ever noticed how taking a walk can be an awesome attitude changer? Have you ever been in a bad mood, taken a walk and come home in a much improved state? I sure have. Take along a loved one or a friend and the benefits seem to magically multiply. Along with all the obvious health benefits, this seemingly simple activity can help you focus your thoughts, decrease anxiety, and improve your mood. Why would this be?
When you leave your home and step outside for a walk you are in a great position to enjoy a vast array of God’s blessings: his beautiful creation in the world around you, your body that he made with all of its amazing abilities, and time to commune with him as you leave your busyness behind at home. Time spent enjoying and treasuring God is always an attitude changer. God even sends feel-good chemicals to our brain (endorphins) to let us know this walking thing is a good idea.
Walking is one of my very favorite ways to spend time with a friend. In the past couple years I have had many great walks with close friends as we discuss what is going on in our lives and how God has been working in our hearts. We tell each other of areas where we are struggling and need prayer and we encourage one another to stay in God’s word and in-line with his will for our lives. We even rebuke each other if needed, in a loving way.
I have also gotten to know a few new friends this way. They may not accept an offer to church or a Bible study, but a simple walk around the block or track a few times is hard to turn down. It is very easy to carry on a conversation with someone as you stroll side by side; it is a comfortable environment to share your heart in.
Jesus put many miles on his sandals while on earth. He was walking by the sea of Galilee when he called his first disciples (Matt. 4:18), he walked up and down mountains to teach and pray (Matt. 5:1, John 6:4), he walked from town to town to preach and heal the sick (Matt. 9:35, Mark 10:32), and he took a long walk with a couple of men headed to Emmaus after he was raised from the dead (Luke 24). Jesus knew how to “walk well” and, as with everything, he is our excellent example to follow.
We are told in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Walking while sharing Christ and discussing his word is an awesome way to proliferate the gospel.
So, Ladies, my enCOURAGEment to you today is simply this… take a hike. Head out your door to enjoy the blessings of God and spend time with him in prayer. Better yet, invite someone to go along with you: a good friend, a neighbor you are too shy to ask to church events, or someone God has laid on your heart to get to know better. Lace’em up, Ladies, and let’s go... and if you ever need a walking buddy, you just give me a call!
“One-anothering” is a catchy phrase that I thought I had cleverly made up in my mind all by myself until I did an internet search just now to see what popped up. Apparently I am not the first to think of these words, there are books, Bible studies, articles and sermons on this very phrase. So even though I may not be as clever as I originally thought, I still love the term and what it means to the body of Christ.
What is one anothering? I want to answer this using God’s words; it will become clear very quickly:
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. – John 13:14
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. – John 13:34
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:21
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom… – Colossians 3:16
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, - Hebrews 10:24
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. – James 5:16
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. – 1 Peter 4:9
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11
Are you getting the picture? This is just a small sampling of what the Bible contains. One-anothering is us, as the body of Christ, being obedient and acting on God’s instructions on how to treat and care for other members of the body of Christ.
Jesus was faithful in giving us instruction on how to treat each other and being our perfect example in how to do this. Jesus taught, healed, loved, rebuked, washed the feet of and prayed for those he loved. We need to be busy doing these same things.
God has blessed each of us with special spiritual gifts in order to use them to continue to build up the Body. If you read the Bible it will be easy to see that there are to be no “loner” Christians in this world. We were made to be dependent on each other and to be united together for the glory of God (see Philippians 2:1-4)
We are responsible for each other and must be active in caring for each other in order for us to continue to “hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14). Have you ever sat in a church service or Bible study and looked around at your brothers and sisters in Christ and thought, “I am accountable to God for these people.”? I’m hoping now you will, because you are.
God has ordained this beautiful interdependence within the body of Christ, allowing us each to use our God-given abilities to help each other. This is the means by which God has decided that his people be taken care of, by his people. Yes, it is a mighty calling indeed. This is one ministry that every believer needs to be active in.
I have the privilege of getting to do some serious one-anothering in Guatemala in just over a week. The language and geographical location may be different, but God’s commands stay true and perfect. I will be loving, encouraging, teaching, praying with and figuratively washing the feet of the body of Christ in Guatemala. This will be done in homes with dirt floors, schools with hungry children and churches with joyful brothers and sisters. I can’t wait.
We will also be doing much one-anothering within our own team. We will get continual opportunities to practice encouragement, submission, forgiving, and the act of bearing each other’s burdens and joys. This will be easy and enjoyable at times and at others terrifically difficult, but always done in love and with Christ in mind and heart.
Ladies, be found faithful in your ministry of one-anothering, enCOURAGE others in the body of Christ for the glory of God.