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.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Calling…

Five Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Calling...

I had the opportunity to livestream some of the IF:Gathering conference last weekend. I enjoyed the speakers, and this week there are many quotes floating around social media. In case you missed it, here is a quote by Jill Briscoe I want to share with you:

“You go where you’re sent, and you stay where you’re put, and you give what you’ve got”

-Jill Briscoe

Friend, that preaches.

It’s not a finger pointing, fire and brimstone type of quote. It’s not meant to guilt you into volunteering at church, or change you into someone different than who you’ve been designed to become. It’s meant to make you think about your calling. It made me think. I began asking myself the following questions:

  • Where am I sent?
  • Am I willing to go to that place?
  • Am I willing to stay there once I arrive?
  • Am I willing to give so much of myself, that I become emptied of everything I have when I’m there?
  • Can I fully depend on who He is, and allow Him to work in my life, even when it doesn’t feel good?

Let’s take these questions and quickly break them down. We will begin with the first two:

  1. Where am I sent?
  2. Am I willing to go to that place?

If you are a church goer, this is usually the easy part, because we all have gifts leading to passions and desires placed by the living God. Most of us want to use them, and the local church usually provides a place, or platform, for that to happen. It’s when we become active in that space that the difficulty begins…

It’s all too easy to become distracted by our gifts rather than stay focused on the giver. People quickly praise what other people have to offer, instead of praising the One who freely gave the greatest offering on the cross. And, if we aren’t careful, finding ourselves swept up inside the calling rather than the One who called us in the first place, will happen before we know it.

Guilty or not of the above statements, we will all come to a place where ministry hurts. I know this is a real shocker, but people don’t always agree! I know, right?!? It’s in those times that scriptures warning us about powers and principalities seem to be erased from memory, even if the pastor just preached his best sermon on that topic only five minutes before. The defense of an eye for an eye is at the forefront of our brains, conveniently allowing us to forget what follows in the next passages. (You know what I’m talking about, that whole turning the other cheek thing…) Let me be very honest about something concerning the enemy: he’s the master manipulator of the Word of God. Manipulation of God’s Word is the only weapon the enemy of our souls has ever used; beginning way back in the Garden of Eden, and unfortunately, it’s still working to this day.

  1. Am I willing to stay there once I arrive?

Staying where we are called is tough, because when we are emptied of giving everything we have, we feel hungry and hunger pains hurt. The Bible instructs us to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Guess what? Hunger pains and dehydration can end life. Yes, when we seek God we will find Him and He will fill us. That’s not the issue. (See Matthew 5:6) The issue lies in the following questions: Are we willing to humble ourselves when others have wronged us, or when we feel wronged, so that we can be filled? Are we willing to fight for the place we’ve been called to occupy? And I’m not talking about fighting people, although it sometimes feels like that. Our callings often attach us to roles within the local church and we tend to grip those roles tightly. WAY TOO TIGHTLY.

From the perspective of attachment to our roles in the church and how unhealthy that can be, Lisa whittle in her book, (W)hole, said something that blew me away. she penned the following thought:

“Losing our dependence on a role is the birth of true identity.”

-Lisa Whittle

Now that’s some solid preaching! I don’t believe we can fully live our purpose when we depend on the design rather than the designer. Living out our calling doesn’t make us who we are. It’s the God we serve with our callings – He makes us who we are. When we grasp this concept, we begin a life-giving process of transformation. Lisa Whittle, through pain and family devastation that was no fault of her own, had to come to this conclusion early on in life. It wasn’t her role that fulfilled her; it was being God’s child that fulfilled her.  We ALL need to arrive at this same conclusion in order to grow.

  1. Am I willing to give so much of myself, that I become emptied of everything I have when I’m there?

My personality, when hurt, is to construct walls. I want to build them tall, all the way around my heart, and then take pride in my own personal fortress. And God, in the entire forty-four years since placing me on this earth, has had the audacity to keep making me tear those walls down. It hurts every single time. After all these years, you would think I would have learned my lesson and quit building them, but it took this quote from Rebekah Lyons, which practically punched me in the gut, to help me understand:

 

“You cannot self-preserve and give freely.”

-Rebekah Lyons

He uses others who have gone where they were sent, stayed there, and given everything they had until they were emptied, just to reach me and so many like me.

  1. Can I depend fully on who He is, and allow Him to work in my life, even when it doesn’t feel good?

Most of us are broken women with whole callings. That is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s part of the Designers design. It’s learning how to tap into that brokenness from a place of humility that honors God and allows wholeness to flow. Our pain causes us to connect with others and minister genuinely from one broken life to another. Through this, He makes a way for us to live wholly and freely, giving everything we’ve got for His glory. And, yes, sometimes it will hurt. My advice: Go anyway, stay anyway, and give anyway. I know I will.

My new prayer:

Father, God, because I’m being honest and know I have many years left to live, there will probably be another time in my life when I’ll forget all this and start construction on another wall around my heart. When I do, please knock it down swiftly in Jesus name.

And all the self-preserving women shout, “AMEN!”

Love,

Jennifer