What It Takes to Boldly Approach the Throne (Part Three)

If you are new to studying with me, welcome! For some tips to help you gain the most from what we are learning together, click here.

This month our study is focused on prayer and what it means to come boldly to the throne of God. If you missed week one, or Week two, you can click on the links to take you there.

Week Three Study Overview:

Today, we will look at a powerful prayer from Paul to the Colossians.

Key Point of Struggle:

How can we ever fully please God?

Key Proof of Comfort:

Oh Lord, You have searched me and Known me. Psalm 139:1

“…To ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”

– Colossians 1:9-12

Prayer has become a lifeline for me. Not just because I know that God is the only One who can do the impossible in my life, and the lives around me, but because it deeply connects me to Him. I need those conversations in my life. I’ve learned I don’t do well without them.

One of my favorite parts of reading anything from the apostle Paul is that we are essentially peeking into his mail when opening up the Bible to the books he authored. His letters were meant to encourage, instruct, and warn newly established churches. What is even more powerful to me is that in these letters he sometimes speaks of what he is praying over the people.

I believe God gives us words to pray over specific people and situations. When I was praying to become pregnant and we were facing what seemed an impossible circumstance, God put on my heart to pray these words: “Lord, make a way where there is no way.” I faithfully prayed that each day until He made the crooked way straight and left doctors who told me it was practically impossible to conceive, slack jawed in disbelief. He recently gave me a new word over my writing and speaking ministry. I know the power of what He chooses to hide in my heart, and so I’m praying this new word each day. No one can tell me He didn’t do the same for Paul. With my whole heart, I subscribe to the idea that God put the words Paul prayed, over the churches he ministered to, deep inside his heart. It’s no surprise to me that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write those prayers so that we can know the power they hold.

This morning when I awoke I began to pray the anointed, power-filled prayer from Paul to the Colossians over those I know and love.

This prayer speaks what seems impossible for the human condition, “…that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.” I often struggle with the sin of my own heart and wonder if I will ever become who God intended me to be. However, I also know the power of our impossible God, the hope He gives, the mercy He pours, and the blood Jesus shed on the cross to gift me the opportunity of allowing my heart to be read through a filter of grace by the Almighty Himself. We have the power to escape the trap of sin because of forgiveness complimentary of agape love.

Today, I pray this prayer in Colossians over you. God looks at our hearts, searches, and knows us. He reads us through filters of grace and mercy through the Power of His Holy Spirit, which promises to break chains that nothing else has the power to break.

  • This week, I want to challenge you to write Paul’s prayer to the Colossians in your journal each day. Yes, that’s what I said. Write that prayer each and every day while committing to pray it over yourself and one other person throughout the week.

Love,

Jennifer

What it Takes to Boldly Approach the Throne (Part Two)

If you are new to studying with me, welcome! Here are some tips to help you gain the most from what we are learning together:

  • It will be helpful to have a journal alongside your Bible as you study. There will be questions to answer, key verses, and prayers along the way that will be worth writing down throughout the journey. (This isn’t required, only recommended in order to gain the most from the study.)
  • Each week I will give a study overview. This consists of one or two sentences designed to give you a “heads up” on what we will be learning.
  • Every week as we begin the study, you will see a Key Point of Struggle and a Key Proof of Comfort listed. The Key Point of Struggle is a piece of the study that could possibly stir the most angst inside you as you’re working to seek purpose and live it well. The Key Proof of Comfort is a piece of the study that will help calm your soul as we discover truth together.

Week Two Study Overview:

Today we will look at Hannah’s prayer to God in the midst of her distress.

Key Point of Struggle:

What if God doesn’t answer me the way He answered Hannah?

Key Proof of Comfort:

Because of Jesus we can boldly approach the throne, and that gives us hope for God to work the impossible in our lives.

This month our study is focused on prayer and what it means to come boldly to the throne of God. If you missed week one, you can read it here.

A healthy prayer life didn’t come overnight for me. As a child, I don’t think I ever moved mountains with mighty prayers of faith, but as an adult I pray about everything. It took me a long time to get where I am. Communicating with my Father in heaven has been a process that began in desperation, transitioned to discipline, and became a desire. I’m confident in telling you that at this point in my life I can’t live without prayer. I actually miss God when I don’t talk to Him.

When I think of bold prayers, I think about Hannah. If you know anything about my story then you know why I feel a connection to Hannah, but there’s more to why I love this particular prayer. Let’s take a look at it.

So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. 11 Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”

12 And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. 13 Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!”

-1 Samuel 1:10-14

Before we can fairly view this account of Hannah’s life, we have to put it in cultural context. There’s a bit of a backstory to circumstances surrounding Hannah and there are a few things you’ll need to know to properly understand her. In the Old Testament it was commonplace for a man to have more than one wife. It was also a great honor to have a male child first. This is why Hannah specifically asked for a son. When studying the Bible, we have to look at the way society functioned, historically, to give us insight as to why certain circumstances happened the way they did.

Hannah was barren and to make matters worse she was one of two wives. The other wife had an open womb and an unkind demeanor, to say the least. Her name was Peninnah. She was jealous because their husband, Elkanah, had a love for Hannah that he didn’t share for her. We all know jealousy tends to lead to cruelty, in one way or the other, and this is exactly what happened where these two women were concerned. Elkanah, with all his heart, wanted Hannah to be free of hurt, but pain ran deep and her desire for a baby of her own, deeper still.

One evening, after refusing food and weeping throughout dinner, a broken heart and bitter soul led Hannah to confess everything she felt to God. She begged, pleaded, and pledged a child that didn’t yet exist to a life of service for the Living God, if only He would grant her request.

I would like to highlight one specific point about Hannah’s prayer:

  1. At that moment, Hannah was a hot mess before God.

Desperation often leads to overwhelming transparency. I often wonder why we wait until we feel completely forsaken before arriving in a place of pure honesty. We serve a God who created us. This means He knows everything about us, and yet we often try to hide. Hannah was burdened with misery so profound it uncovered every ounce of pride she may have had. It drove her to a dependence on God she might have otherwise never experienced.

It’s okay to be a hot mess before God. It’s okay to be authentically you before the Almighty. He already knows who you are and expects you to come boldly to His throne.

For any of us who struggle with wondering if God will answer us in desperate moments the way He answered Hannah, I want to say this: All we know about Hannah is a few isolated events recorded in the Bible. We have no idea how many times Hannah had moments just like this one where she pleaded to God for a child with every stitch of her soul. We have no idea how long Hannah waited before this particular prayer changed everything.

Listen, no one wants to be told to wait for God’s plan. We need things from God. Whether it is physical healing, inner healing from brokenness, financial miracles, a baby, or wisdom in a particular decision or relationship, we often feel we don’t have time to wait because the clock is ticking.  Comfort doesn’t usually come in the form of counsel telling us to trust God and wait. Yet, when we choose to listen to that advice we don’t want to hear, hope is produced. In fact, hope actually becomes plentiful.

In WW2 a Jewish person sat in a German concentration camp and scratched three lines on a wall. This is what was written:

I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in God even when He is silent”

When we cry out God will meet us. It might not always be the way we expect, but God will give us hope and our faith will rise up. Whoever wrote those three lines had deep faith. I believe they boldly approached the throne and received a hope more powerful than anyone can begin to understand. I see peace woven throughout those words that cannot be explained by anything else except an encounter with the Almighty God.

Friend, you need to know that having an open heart before God and bringing your needs to Him every day will not cause Him to become bored of you. You also need to understand that if your answer doesn’t come the way you expect it that you are not loved any less. Regardless of the outcome, you need to make the decision to approach the throne with boldness. I believe approaching the throne looking like a hot mess counts in the bold before God department!

It is true that we have no choice but to wait and trust, but that doesn’t mean we remain stagnant in the meantime. We need to live our lives communicating with our God. It brings us into deeper relationship and brings hope and peace that we will not tap into any other way.

  • Romans 12:12 says, “Be Joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. In your journal, please write this scripture and then list one way having hope brings you joy. After that,  list something you need to be more patient about, and then write a prayer to God thanking Him for His hope while asking for His help during affliction.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

The Kingdom Building Call (Part Six)

If you’re joining us today for the first time, welcome! For some tips on how to study with us, click here.

Week Six Study Overview: Today, we will discuss the widely known scripture, Jeremiah 29:11, and the context it comes from. In the process, we will discover what it means for YOU!

Key Point of Struggle: It’s easy to fall in the trap of feeling there is no future and no hope.

Key Proof of Comfort: The Word of God is solid truth refusing to collapse. We will find comfort in exploring what we can do to stand on the promise of a secure, peaceful future and hope.

Today is our last day with Jeremiah.  Over our weeks of study, we saw the unashamed prophet weep throughout his calling. Through the Word, we’ve watched him be abused and locked up. We saw him through prison bars and witnessed the internal struggle of wanting to give up on his calling. And then we learned of the fire deep within his bones that could not be extinguished.

Though our callings and struggles are much different from those of Jeremiah’s, we can feel a kindred spirit with this man and his ministry. Like Jeremiah, we’ve been afraid, contemplated running, and cried out to God with questions. And, through it all, we’ve allowed the burn in our bones to propel us onward.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and hope.

-Jeremiah 29:11

Over the years, I’ve seen Jeremiah 29:11 plastered on social media statuses, posters in churches, t-shirts, and even bumper stickers. I love that we can read a scripture and claim it as our own, but at the same time my heart weeps a little at the lack of knowledge where context is concerned. As Christians, I believe we take the verse of the day, and apply it to our struggle of the day. We don’t read what comes before or after it, and usually have very little knowledge of who wrote it and why.

Listen, I know not everyone likes to sit down and search out the history and author of every book in the Bible. I get it. But friend, a little context goes a long way. It gives us insight and opens up the lines of communication allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us on a deeper level. We often long for God to speak, but we don’t invest time in the relationship and then wonder why we aren’t hearing His voice. And by the way, I’m preaching to myself. I’ll be honest with you: I’m in the word a lot, but I still lack in many, many areas.

Let’s take a few moments to look at the context of this widely known scripture.

As we know from everything we’ve learned in Jeremiah, the kingdom of Judah refused to repent. As a result, there were captives taken. We learn in 2 Kings 24 that Nebuchadnezzar II, the King of Babylon, took the Jews captive. Nebuchadnezzar led his armies for over a year and laid siege against Jerusalem killing many, destroying the temple, and leaving Jerusalem in ruins.

God knew, in light of the people’s rebellion, that this calamity would take place. Jeremiah actually prophesies about it in Jeremiah 29 through a letter to the captives. In verse 10, he predicts seventy years of captivity in Babylon, followed by exile.  This is the backstory of Jeremiah 29:11.

Let’s begin by taking a look at verse 10:

For thus says the Lord: after seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.

-Jeremiah 29:10

In context:

By way of royal messengers, Jeremiah sent a letter with this information to the captives. Regardless of the people’s sin, after consequence, there would be great mercy given by God. God promised to visit His people again.

Now, let’s apply Jeremiah 29:10 to us:

I believe God pursues each life. There are times we don’t want to listen, or want to go the way He’s directing us. The skin we wear and the flesh we fight have the ability to rise up powerfully without us even recognizing we’re in a mess. When we finally see our spiritual shortcoming, we call out to Jesus. Other times, we are heeding each and every word. We’ve done nothing to deserve the difficulty we’re facing. In those moments, we question God and ask for answers. Regardless of the circumstances, there is a promise: “I will visit you and perform my good word toward you.”

We can take that promise and apply it to our lives. We don’t always feel like He’s with us, but He is. Because of Jesus, we can go a step further from the word visit. He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell with us. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us. When we are reading Jeremiah, we are reading history before the cross. Since then, Jesus died for every sin, and because of His work on the cross we have the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit.  God is performing His good word in us every day because of His Holy Spirit living in us. We have more power to overcome than we will ever begin to comprehend.

Next we have Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and hope.

-Jeremiah 29:11

In context:

Jeremiah was writing the words of the Almighty to the captives, letting them know that the Living God had not forgotten about them. He wasn’t finished with them.

Now let’s apply Jeremiah 29:11 to us:

Remember when we started studying Jeremiah 1:5, and talked about God being intentional in His design of us? Well, this proves that God doesn’t forget about anything He creates. We are always on His mind. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done, where we’ve been, or how deep our trouble may be, we are on the mind of God. Always.

Now that we’ve unearthed the context of this verse, it should speak to us more deeply than ever before. Judah had worshipped other Gods, refused to listen to God’s chosen prophet, and forgotten all the works He had done and still…. And still…. Let me say that again, and still God never stopped thinking about them. And friend, He has never stopped thinking of you. This proves it!

Now let’s take a look at Jeremiah 29:12-14 before we wrap our study.

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.

-Jeremiah 29:12-14

In context:

God is letting the people know that even after all their sin, the captives will once again have a home. However, He tells them they will look for Him, and when they do, they will find Him.

Now let’s apply Jeremiah 29:12-14 to us:

Regardless of our situations, whether it is self-inflicted sin, or a horrendous circumstance it seems we don’t deserve, God is faithful to deliver us. Way back in chapter one, we studied that God told Jeremiah, “I am with you to deliver you.” We can take those words and connect them to Jeremiah 29:12-14!

  • When we sin, we can repent. He is always with us to deliver us!
  • When we call on Him and pray to Him, He will listen. He is with us to deliver us!
  • When we seek Him, we will find Him. He is with us to deliver us!
  • When we search for Him, He will be found. He is with us to deliver us!
  • From every situation we’ve been held captive, He will provide rescue. He is with us to deliver us.

Friend, what He’s done for generations past, He will do for you.

 However, we must all learn to call upon Him, pray to Him, seek Him, and Search for Him with our whole hearts. The text actually says, “… with all your heart.” Not a little or even most, but ALL.

If there is anything we’ve learned from Jeremiah, it was that he gave his whole heart to the Almighty. He submitted everything, even his right to a family. He gave his entire life up for his Father. When I think about that, I feel a little overwhelmed with conviction. God hasn’t asked nearly as much from me, and yet I often struggle with giving Him all my heart. My flesh tells me it’s much easier to hand it over one piece at a time. But that’s a lie. I’m required with determination to die to myself every day of my life for the cause of Christ. It’s no longer about me and ALL about Him.

Our friend, Jeremiah, gave his life to answer His call and in the process built the kingdom.

  • Today, in your journal, write Jeremiah 29:10-14. Underneath it, please answer the following questions.
  1. What do the words, “I will visit you and perform My good word toward you,” mean specifically in your life right now?
  2. How does understanding that God is intentional and never stops thinking about you, change how you feel about your future and hope?
  3. We learned that God listens to us when we call on Him. Does knowing that change how you communicate with Him and how frequently you pray to Him?
  4. God tells us He will be found by us when we seek Him with ALL our hearts. Have you given God your whole heart?
  • I recognize that giving God our entire heart is a daily struggle for each of us. In your journal, consider writing a prayer asking God to help break down the barriers preventing you from giving Him everything.

It’s been a pleasure studying kingdom building through the life of Jeremiah with you! If we were to study more often together, who would you want to learn about next? I would love suggestions.

Love,

Jennifer

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The Kingdom Building Call (Part Four)

If you’re joining us today for the first time, welcome! For some tips on how to study with us, click here.

Week Four Study Overview: Today we will deal with the inside ache, turned fire in our bones, when we hear from God and are trying to decipher if it’s really Him, or our own desires, speaking.

Key Point of Struggle: We aren’t always sure if we are hearing the whisper of God or our own desires, and we don’t always want to do what we are called to do.

Key Proof of Comfort:  And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.” – Philippians 1:6

Last time we were with Jeremiah, we witnessed an honest conversation between himself and God. We then took that conversation and translated it into our own lives. What I love about Jeremiah is that he’s brutally honest. We can read his heart and emotions because he wasn’t afraid to share his story with us. We can learn from him because he cracked open his heart and allowed it to pour out over pages that we can still read to this day. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet because of his honest emotion and outward lament. Thank God for the real ones: the folks who let it all out and confess their struggles. They make me feel less crazy in my own search for purpose.

At the beginning of our study, I mentioned that the book of Jeremiah is not written in chronological order, and that we would be jumping to a few significant moments in his life. Today, I want to look at chapters 19 and 20, but before we get there, I want to talk about the call on our lives.

We learned from Jeremiah 1:5 that we are all called, set apart, and given purpose. We each have a mandate on our life to kingdom build while living abundantly within the call. However, we also learned from Jeremiah’s conversation with God that sometimes we are called to do hard things: tasks we would much rather tell God we’ll pass on and wait for the next job He has in mind. And then there are those of us who love the idea of our calling.  We think that because we’ve been called that every path will be covered with favor and blessing. However, the longer we wait without gaining the ground we think we should, we become weary. We are shocked by the amount of battles we’re called to fight. Translating battles into blessings is harder work than we can begin to imagine.

  • Has God ever called you to a hard task that you weren’t interested in accomplishing?
  • Have you ever been excited about the call God placed on your life, but after dealing with extreme challenges questioned if you really heard His voice?

Jeremiah was called to tell the nation of Judah to repent and turn from their sin. Otherwise, there would be judgment. He was a true prophet among many false prophets and priests. God had a plan that Jeremiah had to follow and it usually led him into harm’s way.

In Jeremiah 19 God told Jeremiah this:

“Go and get a potter’s earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests, and go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words I will tell you.”

-Jeremiah 19:1-2

Jeremiah went and did exactly as God called him to do. What happens next is really difficult to swallow, especially now that we are invested in the life of Jeremiah. It pains me to watch this unfold in my mind as I read the words in the beginning of chapter 20.

Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet. And put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord.

-Jeremiah 20:1-2

God told Jeremiah to speak, he obeyed, and as a result he was beat and locked up. This is so painful because though there are very few of us who can identify with this type of persecution regarding obedience to God, we all face some sort of difficulty while trying to live out our callings.

Doors we think will be opened are locked tightly, friends who we think will support us forget and abandon us without even so much as a prayer, people will get jealous, we will be judged, people will read our hearts wrongly and mistake us for something we aren’t, rejection will come, attacks of the enemy will be strong, and we will ultimately toy with the idea of abandoning our calling.

In case you are dealing with this right now, let me tell you that there’s a danger in giving up. People everywhere depend on your calling because it’s eternal. They need you doing only what you can do. Listen, anyone can start but few finish. We have to set our minds on finishing regardless of how difficult the road.

Jeremiah didn’t take this encounter very well. He, in the honesty we love, tells God exactly what He thinks…

O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed.
I am in derision daily; everyone mocks me. For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, “Violence and plunder!” Because the word of the Lord was made to me a reproach and a derision daily.
Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.

-Jeremiah 20:7-9

Jeremiah was persuaded by the call of God and followed it, even though it was painful both emotionally and physically. He came to a place where he wanted to quit, but he couldn’t because there was a fire shut up in his bones.

Have you ever thought that maybe you missed God and weren’t supposed to keep following your ministry gifts/callings/dreams? However, you just couldn’t stop thinking about it because of the inner hunger keeping you on the path? Does this sound familiar? Friend, I feel like this a lot. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years of pursuing my purpose: if I can’t stop thinking about it, if I keep on going even when I want to stop, if little-by-little people encourage me in the moments I need it most when I haven’t told anyone I’ve been struggling, then it is the Holy Spirit inside beckoning me to keep going when I’d much rather quit.

You see, I want to finish my life strong! I want to do what God has designed for only me to do! I want the call of God on my life to persuade me powerfully, because it’s the only persuasion with power enough to make me whole. And I know that if He began this work inside of me, then He will complete it. And He will do the same for you!

  • Do you feel a fire shut up in your bones?

The fire in our bones doesn’t always feel good, but it will always be for good.

There is so much more to talk about concerning this. Next week, we are going to continue studying this passage in a different light.

  • Today in your journal, I would like you to write about the fire in your bones.
  1. What is it that you cannot stop thinking about, and pursuing, even though it has proven to be much more difficult than you originally anticipated?
  2. Have you considered pulling away from your call?
  3. What has kept you on the path of purpose through difficulty?
  • Notice in Jeremiah 20:9 it says, “… but His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones…” We most likely won’t hear the audible voice of God like Jeremiah. We have the Bible, which means we have an entire book of promises meant to fill our hearts with truth. It is the number one way God speaks to us. Do you have a word from the Bible that you hide in your heart? If you do, write it in your journal. Mine is Joshua 1:9.

Sometimes we need to revisit the calling that burns like a fire in our bones. It helps us to stay on track when we remember that God chose us for something very specific. Like Jeremiah, you have purpose!

Love,

Jennifer

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The Kingdom Building Call (Part Three)

Kingdom Building Through the Life of Jeremiah

The Winner of the You Are Free book by Rebekah Lyons is Margie Mitcheltree! Congratulations, Margie!!! I will be contacting you via email for your address!

If you’re joining us today for the first time, welcome! For some tips on how to study with us, click here.

Week Three Study Overview: Today we will deal with Jeremiah’s response to God’s call, and talk about how we can claim the same promise God gave Jeremiah.

Key Point of Struggle: Oftentimes, we don’t feel confident responding to God’s call because we are insecure in our gifts.

Key Proof of Comfort: Even when we are afraid and everything seems to be falling apart, God says, “I am with you to deliver you.” Jeremiah 1:8

Some historians claim Jeremiah could have been as young as fourteen years of age when God called him to his purpose as a prophet. We can’t be certain of his age, but we do know he was young. He tells us so in his own words. Let’s step back in time and spy on the conversation that started it all.

God: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Jeremiah: “Ah, Lord God! “Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” Jeremiah 1:6

God: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…” Jeremiah 1: 7-8

I realize this conversation is hard for us to grasp, because chances are we aren’t going to find ourselves in an audible conversation with God. It’s not that God doesn’t speak to us, or that we can’t hear what He says, but it takes a lot more faith when our ears are left out of the equation leaving our hearts responsible to pick up the sound.

God spoke out loud to Jeremiah. This means Jeremiah actually heard the voice of the living God. Wow! You would think a person who has this type of encounter would do exactly as they were told without question, but not our Jeremiah. He needed time to process. You see, he had a lack of confidence and he used this moment to make sure God understood his age and abilities, or lack thereof, before responding to the call.

I’ve never heard the audible voice of God, but I have discerned His whisper in my heart. I know how it feels to walk into a task I wasn’t sure I had the power to accomplish. But, that’s just it; it’s never about my power. Separate from Jesus, I have none.  It’s all in His power.

I want to look at the end of Jeremiah 1:8 for a moment. Notice these words voiced by God, “For I am with you to deliver you.”  There is an unbelievable amount of power in those words. God told Jeremiah specifically why He would stay with him: to deliver him. He assured Jeremiah that He would be there, and then explained the purpose of his staying: to deliver him.

We talked last week about God designing us with intention. We looked closely at the word before in Jeremiah 1:5, and pointed out that God knew each of us before He formed us in the womb. He set us apart for specific purpose. This week, we learn that when He assigns purpose He makes a commitment to stay with us so that leaning on our own abilities is never an option. And, not only does He commit to staying with us, He commits to delivering us. He won’t give us a task and then standby doing nothing. He is always active. I know that sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, but it’s true.  In the midst of what seems like our greatest fears, storms, and darkest moments He is there in all His glorious strength ready to deliver us.

Next in the chapter, Jeremiah is given his assignment as prophet; it’s anything but easy:

“… See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down,
to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”

– Jeremiah 1:10

Father God is explaining to Jeremiah the sinfulness of a nation and the calamity coming upon Judah. He makes it clear that it’s Jeremiah’s job to warn the people with commands God will speak through him. The Lord even gives Jeremiah a “heads up” as to what the people’s response will be:

“They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the Lord, “to deliver you.”

-Jeremiah 1:19

God speaks that phrase once again: “For I am with you to deliver you.”  I’m absolutely sure it was because Jeremiah needed to know with all certainty that he wasn’t alone. God wanted to make clear his promise to Jeremiah, so he said it twice.

Listen, in what I do as I writer, equipping women to activate purpose through the power of scripture, I often feel alone, like nobody understands what it is I’m doing. Many years ago, the Lord began giving me the ability to discern situations. I carry people’s stories with me like baggage. They weigh heavy on my heart.  Brokenness is on my mind as I write. I talk a lot about purpose because it took me forever to realize I had one that was worth something. Because of that, I feel a fire in my bones to help other women recognize they have worth, not because of anything they can accomplish on their own, but because of the power of Christ in their lives.

Friend, I know life isn’t easy and that Christianity, and the calling attached to it, probably hasn’t owned up to the definition of freedom you thought it might. We are free. Through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us we can unlock chains and live with brand new breath in our lungs, but the price is high. We will face suffering through a multitude of afflictions. We are not immune from the pain of this world. Why?  …Because sin runs rampant inside this place from the Garden of Eden until now. But take heart, Jesus has overcome; this place is not our home!

Hope lives inside the voice of God. It lived there when Jeremiah was breathing the breath of this earth, and it still lives there today. When we can take the words God spoke to Jeremiah and cling to them, accepting those principles for ourselves, freedom begins to settle in. Truth sets us free.

Hold fast! God is with you to deliver you!

  • Today in your journal, I want you to rewrite the same conversation we read above, between God and Jeremiah, inserting yourself inside it. Let’s break it down together and I’ll explain what I mean by showing you my examples.
  • First, I’m going to add my name to the beginning of Jeremiah 1:5. I often do this when I’m studying, because it helps me to remember that God speaks most powerfully to me through His word. I’ll include the verse as it looks in the Bible and then include my own:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Here’s my example:

Jennifer, before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you…”

  • For the end of the same verse, I’ve decided to list two gifts He’s given me as tools to accomplish my purpose according to the Great Commission in Matthew 28. I’ve chosen to list these particular gifts, because I have the most insecurity in these areas. (In case you missed the explanation of redefining purpose according to the Great Commission, click here, back to week one, for a recap.) Remember, God told Jeremiah, “I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Here’s what I wrote:

“I ordained you a writer and speaker.”

  • For the second piece of the conversation, fill in whatever you fear, and your reason for that fear. Jeremiah told God he couldn’t speak because he was a youth: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth. ” I’m going to fill in the blanks and give you my own examples.

“Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot write/speak, for I am unsure of my gift and don’t always feel adequate to do what you’ve called me to do.”

  • Lastly, let’s look at what the Lord responded to Jeremiah and then rewrite it filling in our own gifts one more time to hit the point home. Here’s a refresher on what God said, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…”

Here’s my example:

“Do not say, I cannot write/speak, for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall write/speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…”

  • When you’re finished, go back and read your conversation out loud. I believe when we can insert ourselves into the words, a new understanding will form. We will recognize He has given us each purpose as well as unique gifts we need to help us accomplish that purpose.

Next week, we will discuss how we can be sure it is God who has called us to a particular task.

  • If you would like to go deeper in study this week, I recommend reading and memorizing Philippians 1:6. It will help prepare you for next week’s study.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Use the Hashtag #KingdomBuildingSisters on Instagram showing a photo of what daily kingdom building looks like to you, tag me, and your name will be entered in a fun surprise giveaway!

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Why Do We Allow Busyness to Dictate our Actions and Behaviors?

Why do we allow busyness to dictate our actions and behaviors_-1

Good Morning, Friends. I know that recently I’ve only been posting on Wednesday’s to study Jeremiah, but I decided to go off schedule and give a word of encouragement for your weekend. I have a reason.

Some days just don’t turn out the way we expect them. Without going into the entire story and crafting this into more words than it needs to be, yesterday was an unexpected day. Long story short: I had a doctor’s appointment, he decided I needed a cortisone shot, I had a reaction to the medicine, and about five minutes after receiving the injection I passed out cold. Ugh!

But let’s take a step back so I can tell you that the morning leading up to that moment wasn’t my greatest. My husband insisted on accompanying me to the appointment. In my small mind, I thought that was a really dumb idea. I should probably say that I didn’t want to see the doctor about a silly shoulder injury. I thought for sure I could power through and that there was probably nothing wrong at all. Not the case. I have a minor injury that needs some attention. However, my actions were not the kindest towards Paul because he was the one who insisted I take time out of my busy schedule to see a doctor. He wants me to feel better… the nerve!

Why do we allow busyness to dictate our actions and behaviors?

It’s not that I mind being busy. Lord knows I’ve brought most of what I do on myself voluntarily. But here’s what I’ve noticed: there is a test in the middle of the busy, every day happenings of life. I’ll be honest and tell you that yesterday morning I didn’t pass. Paul told me he wanted to come to my appointment to make sure I was alright. Instead of accepting his kindness, I complained I had to go in the first place and didn’t think he needed to waste time waiting in a physician’s office just because I had to be there.

Aren’t you glad God is atemporal? He isn’t limited by the confines of time. And with all my heart, I think He’s calling us to look up from our calendars so we don’t miss the moments He’s designed especially for us. We operate on a 24/7 schedule with full planners and little room for change. When we need to switch something around, guilt takes the driver’s seat. Listen, it’s okay to be busy and stick to schedules. However, it’s not okay to become so imprisoned by what we need to accomplish in a day that our mood shifts and we aren’t able to see what God wants us to achieve. If we aren’t careful, full schedules have a way of making us into control freaks leaving little room for God to work.

I ended up having to spend almost the entire day in bed yesterday, unscheduled. I wasn’t happy about any of it until I began seeing the fingerprints of God on my situation. I had an injury that needed diagnosed, I wasn’t alone because my husband was there when the medication triggered a reaction, and I needed some rest that I wouldn’t have otherwise given myself.

This weekend, take some deep breaths. Consider deviating from the schedule and filling some space with family and friends. Make memories and share stories. Do something that you want to do and be intentional about not allowing guilt to suffocate your choices. Plans are meant to change, and sometimes it’s because God has a divine appointment waiting.

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.

-Mark 6:31

In the above scripture, Jesus and the disciples were busy ministering. Jesus decided they needed a place to rest, so they got in a boat planning to go to a deserted place. Guess what? The multitudes followed and Jesus was moved to compassion for them. The disciples at first wanted to send them away but Jesus had a feeding miracle in mind. The disciples had their own plans, but Jesus had a divine appointment waiting. Even before the existence of calendars humanity needed lessons on listening to the divine appointment Maker.

I never want to miss a divine appointment. What about you?

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Don’t forget to comment and/or subscribe on last Wednesday’s post for a chance to win Rebekah Lyons book You Are Free. You’ll love it.

The Kingdom Building Call (Part Two)

Kingdom Building Through the Life of Jeremiah

Kingdom Building through the Life of Jeremiah

(Week Two)

The winner of Lisa-Jo Baker’s book Never Unfriended  is Jenn Miller! Congratulations, Jenn! I will be contacting you via email for your address! I’m giving away another wonderful book today. Details are at the end of this post.

If you’re joining us today for the first time, welcome! For some tips on how to study with us, click here.

Week Two Study Overview: Today we will deal with the inner struggles and feelings associated with having no idea why God chose us, or why it seems He hasn’t chosen us for anything at all.

Key Point of Struggle:

I’m not sure I can accomplish the calling on my life and be successful. I’m not even sure I know what my calling is.

Key Proof of Comfort:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations. – Jeremiah 1:5

Jeremiah has stolen my heart. I feel like I know him well. I’m not trying to compare my small struggles to his immeasurable pain; that would be ridiculous. However, in my mind, I can picture myself conversing to him about the call of God and the everyday crazy it makes me feel. I think he would be a good guy to connect with on the topic of purpose. If it were possible, I would lament to him over a steaming, hot cup of coffee in a corner booth at Panera Bread about all that seems to undo me regarding how God wants to use my life. And, it’s almost as if I can hear the weeping prophet saying, “Yeah, I get it. I totally get it.” I know you do, Jeremiah, I so know you do.

Jeremiah’s background:

  • He was called as a young man and his ministry lasted more than forty years.
  • He was from the town of Anathoth and born into the family of Hilkiah. It was a priestly family. We do not have any evidence to say Jeremiah himself was a priest, but I do think it’s safe to say he would have been trained in priestly ways.
  • He was commanded by God not to take a wife and have children because of the imminent judgment on the next generation.
  • Because of his calling he had few friends and experienced great rejection and pain.
  • Jeremiah did not hold back his feelings, which is why he is known as the weeping prophet. He is quite a writer and very poetic in style. (He used his scribe and faithful assistant Baruch to pen his words.) He his honest about his struggles and even shows himself to be a bit pessimistic at times. (We see you, Jeremiah!)

In a nutshell, I believe kingdom building is about being obedient to whatever God calls us to do. Jeremiah was called to the bewildering task of prophesying to Judah about their impending doom due to their wicked ways. This was about the breaking down of a kingdom from impurity of heart. Seriously, the historical account of Jeremiah seems like anything but kingdom building. Jeremiah actually witnessed the collapse of Jerusalem and the temple. However, God has a plan and purpose in every task he assigns. It’s not up to us to measure the task in order to weigh the importance of it.  And, it’s absolutely not okay to analyze how it might benefit us. Being obedient to God’s calling means faith and trust with eyes wide open focused on Him. We must learn to look past ourselves in order to get a clearer view of His will. Last week, we talked about our purpose being nothing at all about us. It’s about how the Father chooses to use us. I’m not saying there isn’t blessing within it, however, our definitions of blessing and God’s can sometimes be very different.

  • Have you ever been in the midst of a difficult situation and thought no good could ever come from it, but after emerging out of the other side you become aware of God’s fingerprints? If yes, write about this in your journal. I believe it’s important to remind ourselves of God’s hand in past circumstances. If not, and you can’t see God’s goodness in that situation, write a prayer asking Him to reveal his presence over the pain.

Kingdom Building Through The Life of Jeremiah Week 2

Let’s dig into Jeremiah’s call:

In Jeremiah 1:4, Jeremiah tells us the word of the Lord came to him. What God actually says in verse 5, in my opinion, is the most significant piece of the puzzle regarding purpose and calling for every beating heart.  Let’s take a close look at it.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

-Jeremiah 1:5

Let’s break this verse down beginning with “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”

Take a good, long look at the word before inside the above scripture. That word has the potential to change how you see the significance of your life.  We cannot possibly understand our role in kingdom building, or the importance of the breath inside our lungs, if we cannot understand that God breathed purpose into us for more than we can see or imagine. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, His plan for us is to carry the power of His Holy Spirit inside us and march on for the cause of Christ. When we pour out, He will pour back in. Before we were formed there was purpose for us. Friend, you’ve always had a name, and your name has been on the mind of the Creator before time began.

  • What does the word before, as it relates to Jeremiah 1:5, mean to you, specifically?

Whenever I sit down to write, I think about what I might say before I begin. I meditate on a specific piece of scripture or idea. After that, I put pen to paper. I can’t possibly compare my process of creating to anything God creates, but for me it’s amazing to have just a tiny glimpse of His process. He cares about what He creates, and therefore, He plans every piece with detailed intention.

How many times do we sit down and think about the process of our own creation in the womb? I’m betting the time we spend doing that is nonexistent. And, if we did, would we relate it to God or biology? Before God created us, He thought about us individually. Not one of us is an accident. God doesn’t create anything by accident. His purpose fuels our purpose. Our lives mean something. I don’t know who it is reading this that needs to hear these words, but I will tell you right now that God has a plan for you and no matter what anyone has ever told you, you were created  in love by love. God is love and He created you. Just like the prophet Jeremiah, you were on the mind of God before ever being placed in the womb.

Let’s move to the next part of the scripture.

“Before you were born I sanctified you…”

To be sanctified means to be set apart. As a child, were you ever selected to do something special? Maybe you were chosen to be on a sports team or had a role in a play. What about as an adult? Do you remember the way you felt when your spouse made it clear they wanted their forever to include you? Those moments in time are examples of situations that set us apart from others. When they happened they made us feel pretty good, right?  Can you imagine how life changing it would be if we could all just have the faith of a mustard seed in believing we were set apart by the Almighty before time began?  Before we ever breathed the outside air, every detail of purpose, calling, and kingdom building ability was carefully crafted in each of us. Saint Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

Let’s look at the last piece of the passage.

“I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Okay, friends, here’s the tricky part. Jeremiah’s calling was different from our own. We aren’t all meant to be prophets. The apostle Paul gives an overview of this:

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

-1 Corinthians 12:4-5

  • I would like you to think carefully about the following question: what are you called to do?

Remember, world changers aren’t defined only by those who are called to witness to dying nations. (Like our Jeremiah) Last week, we talked about living our callings in the typical day-to-day. From changing diapers to showing kindness to our neighbors we are living the Great Commission. We don’t often look at everyday activities as living a life of great purpose, but that’s exactly what it’s all about. What happens during the events of an average day changes lives and makes disciples.

  • In your journal, I would like you to make a list of the things you do on a daily basis that you haven’t necessarily looked at through the lens of ministry or disciple making before. It should consist of activities you are now recognizing as part of your purpose. Use the above scriptural phrase from Jeremiah 1:5 I’ve ordained you a __________ . (You fill in the blank.)
  • After that, make a list of the other gifts you have that you would like to use in a ministry capacity right now. Talents you enjoy such as music, writing, speaking, drawing, cooking, entertaining, teaching etc.…

Here is an example of my list taken from the ordinary everyday as well as ministry gifts I like to use in a more traditional sense:

I ordained you a wife and mother. I’ve given you the ability to drive, cook, clean, and do laundry. I’ve ordained you a friend, someone who loves to entertain others in your home. You are an encourager, writer, speaker, worship leader, and studier of My Word.

Now that I’ve identified those abilities in my own life, I can use them for good. Even the ones that aren’t so fun, like cleaning.  I can choose to recognize purpose in everything I do on an average day. Those seemingly insignificant choices are all part of the process of my life being used for more than what I can see. I’m taking care of people and showing the Jesus inside me. I’m choosing to see each task as a gift from God to touch other lives. Perspective is everything.

When we can put ourselves into the pages of the Bible and realize these lessons are not just about the person who actually lived and endured them, like Jeremiah, but also for us, we can better grasp who Jesus is to us and the purpose He’s given each life.

Next week, we are going to discuss Jeremiah’s response to God’s call. I would like to encourage you to go deeper this week in study. Here are my suggestions:

  • Read Psalm 139 and use it as the foundation of truth to journal God’s thoughts toward you.
  • Read John 1:1-3 Journal about the truth of knowing that Jesus was at the center of every creation, including your life.

Today, I’m giving away Rebekah Lyons book You Are Free. It’s a wonderful portrayal of kingdom building as it relates to her struggles with panic and anxiety. She tells the process of overcoming, which enables her life to be used in kingdom building. It spoke to my life, and I believe it will speak to yours. To enter, all you have to do is comment and subscribe. Already a subscriber? Just leave a comment regarding kingdom building. I will announce the winner next Wednesday!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Show others your ordinary day-to-day kingdom building tasks through using the hashtag #KingdomBuilidingSisters on Social Media. You can connect with me on Instagram to see my posts.

Who Kingdom Builders Really Are…

Who Kingdom Builders Really Are...

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to encourage a group of women on the topic of being kingdom builders and how it relates to purpose. God etched the word purpose on my heart two years ago. I’m thinking He did it because I often need reminded of mine. As I prepared for my talk, the Lord brought back to my memory a spring day in 1980-something. Like most days, after school, I boarded my big, yellow bus home. As it approached my stop, I stood up to make my exit. I remember wearing an acid washed Guess jean jacket. Yes, I said acid washed.  I loved that jacket – the way I used to wear it with the collar popped up. It made me feel good. As I walked off the bus, my foot somehow missed the bottom step causing me to land flat on my back in the middle of the road. It only took a fraction of a second for the eruption of laughter to pour out from inside the bus. I have to admit, It was funny.

As I stood up to begin my walk home, I noticed the pain in my elbow. I instantly worried that I ripped my expensive jean jacket. I checked immediately, breathing a sigh of relief that it was still in perfect condition. When I arrived home, I took off the jacket to inspect my aching elbow. As soon as I removed it, I noticed a huge rip in my blouse and a nasty brush burn on my skin. I remember being dumbfounded as to how my jacket stayed perfectly intact, yet I had rips and wounds underneath.

As I prepared to speak last weekend, the Lord brought back that moment to my mind showing me that as women we serve as wives, mothers, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, nieces, cousins, friends, coworkers, volunteers, and the list goes on… We find ourselves working to make every area of our lives appear as perfect as possible. We “wear our jackets” to look the part.  And then at the end of a long day, when no one is around, we “take our jackets off.” Underneath are rips and wounds that we haven’t shared with anyone. We are in desperate need of repair, but we won’t allow anyone but God to know. And, we often lament to Him that until the healing process is finished, we won’t be any good at kingdom building.

Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic priest and theologian wrote about primary and secondary causation. To break just a small section of this theology down into very simple terms, it means God is first.  He is uncreated and creates everyone.  Secondary causation says that He uses those whom He has created to accomplish his will and purpose on earth. We are His hands and feet.

While living through infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth, I didn’t think I could be used. I was broken. And at the time I didn’t have a miracle ending. The last thing I wanted anyone to know was that I was struggling with an inner pain so deep it threatened to destroy the call of God on my life. After losing my daughter, I understood it was possible to die from a broken heart. It wasn’t until God showed me His power is made perfect in weakness, that I was able to “take off my jacket” and show people my wounds.  I found a promise of scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that unleashed a powerful truth stating that my responsibility in kingdom building has nothing to do with my state of wholeness. It’s about His filling of my holes along the way, and how He works repairing the broken pieces as I do the work He’s called me to do.

I had to rise up in the middle of my wounds before the healing took place.

You need to rise up in the middle of your wounds before the healing takes place!

Nehemiah said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”  (See Nehemiah 8:10) It doesn’t matter the situation, or our interpretation of it. It doesn’t matter whether we are happy, sad, or somewhere in between. It isn’t about our joy. It’s about His joy, and we will draw our strength from Him.

I often lie awake thinking about the moment in the Garden of Eden when Eve took that first bite. (See Genesis 3) It was all about what she wanted, what she felt she needed. Selfishness always leads to sin. If we aren’t careful, we will cover up our wounds in an attempt to be what we want and rob ourselves from the blessing of being what someone else needs from us. Selfishness will impede our relationships and we will be manipulated, just like Eve, into thinking we are justified in our choices because we’re broken and broken people can’t be used. Lies, lies, all lies.

Though my trials and tribulations are far different now than they once were, I still have them. As long as we are walking this earth, we will deal with difficulty. There are days I need reminded to “take off my jacket.”  None of us are perfect; we all have wounds underneath and we must remember that God chooses to use us in the midst of them. It’s deep inside the core of what pains us most where He reaches in and draws us out – out to encourage a friend, out to visit a neighbor, out to be an example to our children, and out to be the partner our spouses need.

Kingdom builders are often broken people who make a choice each day to allow God to bind their wounds. Doesn’t that make you want to exhale? We don’t have to be perfect to accomplish our purpose. We just have to be willing.

If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.

-Isaiah 1:19 (NIV)

Love,

Jennifer

 

Kingdom Building is not About Popularity, It’s About Humility…

Kingdom building is not about popularity, it’s about humility.

For days I’ve debated as to whether I should write this post, but sometimes a subject matter weighs so heavy that one cannot escape the burden.  So here’s what’s on my mind:

I’ve been writing my blog since September 19, 2012. That means in six short months I can say I’ve been chasing this dream for five years. This dream… how do I define what this dream even is?  There’s a lengthy list of women I’ve become acquainted with that have dreamed of becoming writers and speakers for as long as they can remember. But that was never my dream.  As 1950’s offensive as this may seem to some, my dream was to become a wife, mother, and create a happy household. It’s the scars I still wear from that dream which brought me to this one.

I need to be honest and let you know that I haven’t always been happy with God for leading me to the place I’m standing in now. The place where He whispers, “write” and I shout, “I’m going to sound stupid. I’m not smart, I’m no theologian, and I’m not good enough.” And I’m not one for taking any biblical thought out of context, so let me tell you that in a world where everyone is screaming, “You’re enough,” I’m usually adding two words to the end of that statement: with Jesus. Let’s just be honest, you’ll always be enough with Jesus and you’ll never be enough without Him. I can’t sugar coat that phrase, so I won’t even try. Fulfillment comes from learning who we are in Christ.

This dream started when I was asked to speak in a child development class at a local community college. It was a favor for someone. She would receive extra credit, and little did I know, I would receive a calling.  Other than in classrooms full of elementary students, I never spoke anywhere before. But that day in front of real, live adults I shared my pain and eternal hope. After that, I sat down and wrote my testimony about miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility in manuscript form. Before this, I had never written anything other than parent letters. In the meantime, while trying to figure out what to do with my little book, I began writing my blog.

I had no idea what blogging really was. I had never even read a blog before I started writing one. I learned quickly about link-ups, online twitter parties, and making internet friends. I was naïve, because I had no idea all of this led to an ugly word: platform. Everyone was after their platform – working hard to build an audience. And, for a fraction of a second, I was caught up, too. And then I realized that when you try to fit into a mold, you lose your unique calling. I stopped working to build an audience and focused on my audience of One. Don’t pat me on the back for this, I told you I’m not very happy with the dream God placed in my heart. Some days I don’t want to do this. In fact, most days I don’t want to do this. Rejection hurts.

You see, even though I’ve chosen not to work overtime building a platform, rejection is still part of the place I’m living now. God gave me words to say and with all my heart I know He wants me to say them. However, I also know I’m not meant to follow a step-by-step cookie cutter blueprint. He didn’t make me that way.

I had one of the top literary agencies in the country give beautiful accolades about my writing. I even scored a phone meeting after they read my manuscript. I thought this had to be great news. I was wrong.  They said they would not be able to sell my book to a publisher because of the small subscriber count on my blog, the tiny number of Facebook fans I have, and the fact that I’ve almost zero twitter presence. They couldn’t risk signing me even though they believed in my words. Instead, they wanted to encourage me to keep writing in hopes I could contact them in the near future with much higher numbers. Well, I don’t know what to do about increasing my numbers, because I hate looking at people as if their nothing more than sums of subscribers lumped together for my gain. It’s gross.

I’ve experienced fellow bloggers with taglines speaking of how passionate they are about following Jesus, and then as soon as they build a small online rapport and think they have assurance that I will continue following them, they slyly unfollow me. (There are apps for these things, people. We can tell who unfollows us. That’s another thing I learned during my platform building phase.) I don’t think the people who are working hard to build platforms using the name of Jesus realize what an oxymoron it is to click the unfollow button so that they can give the illusion of popularity. The worst part about all of this is at the beginning of my journey, for a very short period of time, I did this myself. Yuck!  But that’s not me, and I just couldn’t continue on that path. It’s a common method, though, regardless of how “famous” someone is. Do you know that I had someone who is very well known with tens of thousands of followers do this to me not two weeks ago?

When is enough, really enough? How can you tell people they are “enough” but then drop them to make your follower ratio seem plentiful? Seriously, when?

Here’s the thing: there are a million women just like me doing the exact same thing just as well or a whole lot better, and that’s okay with me. Most of us won’t be offered contracts with well-known agents or ever sign deals with huge publishing houses. That in no way means we aren’t kingdom builders working for the cause of Christ. Maybe you’re reading this and you aren’t a writer or speaker and can’t even believe I’m writing so off topic today compared to my regular devotionals. Sorry. However, this applies to you as well.

You, too, are a kingdom builder. In your own unique way you’ve been called to participate in the work of God. You are meant to do big things, bigger than you can imagine. But, here’s what you need to grasp: your definition of big might be very different from God’s. This life is about living for Christ and leading others to Him. We are to be kingdom building spouses, kingdom building parents, kingdom building friends and so on… When we sow into another life, it has eternal value. It’s not here today gone tomorrow. It’s forever.

Kingdom building is not about popularity, it’s about humility.

Listen, I would love to have the opportunity to speak to large groups and have my words become more widespread, but if that’s not what God is doing then He has something better, and I better shift my definition of what “big” is and catch His vision while tossing my own aside. And, maybe you do too. Maybe we all need to remember that changing our baby’s diapers, and reading bedtime stories have eternal value. Maybe we need to remember that kissing our husbands passionately builds our relationships and affords us love and support that enables us to build the kingdom with our best friend by our side. Maybe, just maybe, we need to remember that sharing our beauty from ashes story with only one person can mean a life pointed toward Christ that could possibly be the biggest thing we ever do. This is about eternity. It’s about people. It’s about living real life in our own communities while sharing our stories in unique ways.

If you have talked to one person today, had one person read your social media status, or have one subscriber on your blog, then YOU have had an opportunity to invest in the kingdom. It’s no small thing…

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

-2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV)

You are meant to be a kingdom builder!

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

You Are Not Missing

You Are Not Missing

(Hi, Friends! As part of today’s post, I’ve included an introductory video that gives some insight as to why I chose to write on this topic. It’s just over five minutes long. I hope it gives you some encouragement!)

As I’m journeying through the Lenten season, committing myself to certain disciplines, I’ve been spending some time in the book of John. In this particular gospel, chapter fourteen is one of my favorites because Jesus reveals the promise of the Holy Spirit. I want to share the verse I’ve been meditating on the last few days:

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

-John 14:23

The disciples could not understand that Jesus was preparing them for His departure, while at the same time promising He wouldn’t leave. And, to this day, two thousand years later, we all seem to get hung up on those same words. The human mind understands tangibility and reason, while the spiritual expedition requires faith and supernatural acceptance without humanity’s logic. It’s enough to make the head spin, and the heart wander, in search for understanding that is not meant to be entirely understood. (I know that sounds confusing; stick with me for a minute.)

For me, I’m not sure there’s any greater comfort than knowing there’s been a home built inside me that is forever occupied by the living God – The One true God, who can hold the entire universe in His hand, yet chooses to dwell in my heart. Isn’t that mind boggling?

A great big God can make His home in you. And He will!

The Bible actually tells us that God has placed eternity in our hearts. (See Ecclesiastes 3:11)

There’s a longing inside causing every soul to search for Greater. It’s a yearning that cannot be satisfied by anything other than the One who we are meant to search for. The problem is that most of us get caught up in using our heads rather than our hearts, and so the search is, therefore, limited to everything in this world other than God.

I know it sounds crazy that searching for everything this world has to offer would be considered limited. But, friend, if a great big God can live in you, and satisfy your every need, then what do the tangible realities of this world have to offer you? Nothing that’s eternal, that’s for sure. And so you’ll keep searching, because eternity has been placed in your heart and the quest for it cannot be satisfied by any other than Jesus Christ.

Lent is a time to refocus and reposition ourselves at the throne of justice and mercy. We don’t have to look far for that throne. We don’t have to walk around hungry and thirsty for what can satisfy immediately. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have designed a home to occupy inside of you. He wants you to grab tightly to faith, forgoing earthly logic surrounded by limitations.

There is a limitless God wanting to do limitless workings throughout your life.

(Click to tweet)

 

Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all my name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; NOT ONE IS MISSING.

-Isaiah 40:26

In all of this, it’s important I communicate that you are NOT MISSING! You are held in the hollow of His hand, known by God, loved by God, and meant for more than you can see with human eyes. There is an Almighty with the ability to dwell inside you, who created you for the purpose of making your heart His home. He knows you by name and you will NEVER go missing.

If today you are bogged down by the world, feeling overwhelmed and overlooked, let me tell you with all certainty the Bible says differently. Amen and Amen!

Love,

Jennifer