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

Don’t ever miss a post! Consider subscribing and be the first to hear upcoming news about receiving amazing offers that are only for subscribers! We have some fun things coming this summer!

 

You Can Do Hard Things – Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

activating-your-purpose-pg-19Part of my purpose is writing books. It’s hard. I’m continually learning the same lesson repeatedly:  God calls us to do hard things – Tasks that seem overwhelming and meant for someone else.

And it’s not just using our gifts that can be hard. He calls us to forgive each other, start clean, and humble ourselves even when it hurts. God is in the business of stretching us and molding us to become more than we ever thought possible.

As I’ve been in the middle of writing this series, my life has become even busier than it was before, and friends, I didn’t think it was possible. You might have noticed that I’ve missed a couple days in this series, and that is SO not like me. If I say I’m going to do something, then I’m going to do it. I need grace as I tackle hard and wonderful things right now in my life. I’m in the final stages of book design and editing. (By the way, we finally have a title! I can’t wait to tell you all about it!) And, my son is getting MARRIED!!!! Yes, my baby has met the most wonderful girl in the whole world and this mama is helping with wedding planning. I’m busy and very blessed. So I ask for grace as I continue writing through this process. This series will be 31 days, but it might not be 31 days in a row…

As I was working on final edits for the book today, I started having a mini breakdown over last minute citations and all the information included in a book project. It’s a Bible study and it’s the most in depth I’ve ever written, so the Lord has stretched me beyond my limits. Although, I hate to say that because as soon as I feel like I’ve been stretched beyond measure, I’m sure He’ll decide to stretch me some more. Oh, Lord!

Anyway, I want to encourage you with this today: You can do more than you think and you were made to accomplish hard, hard, things. It’s because God knows your potential to succeed in being a kingdom builder. If you’re sitting there thinking this post is meant for you, then don’t think about what might seem too hard. Think about the God who has championed you before time even began to do great and wonderful things.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

-Philippians 4:13

For today’s homework, share this scripture on social media with the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose to encourage someone else.  They need to know they can do hard things, too.

Love,

Jennifer

 

What to Think About Before You Lift Your Sword: Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

activating-your-purpose-day-14

Hebrews 4:16 talks about coming boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy in our time of need. If there’s anyone who fits the description of going boldly, it would be David.

King David knew how pray. Sure, he was a mighty man of valor, known for slaying enemies throughout the battle zones. But even more than that, he prayed. Even when he wasn’t living with clean hands before the living God, he knew who his strength came from, and he often dropped to his knees before lifting his sword.

I wish I would be more mindful of dropping to my knees before lifting my sword. Obviously, I’m not speaking literally. However, the tongue proves to be even sharper than a sword. James, the half-brother of Jesus, says the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity and has the power to defile the whole body. He goes onto say it’s full of poison. I have to say that makes me feel like gargling some mouthwash, ASAP.

As we pursue the activation of purpose through the power of Scripture, our hearts become in tune with the calling of God on our lives. And sometimes that means speaking kindly, forgiving boldly, and humbling ourselves even when we feel we’ve been wronged on all sides. You see, the tongue doesn’t just spew hatred, it knows when to hold kindness as well. Sometimes we don’t want to speak to those who have hurt us.

One of my go-to scriptures is Psalm 51:8. Let’s turn there.

Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice.

-Psalm 51:8

David prayed those words after getting himself tied up in a web of sin concerning Bathsheba. In context, this is a prayer from the mouth of a man who lost a son based on his own sin. When I look at this verse, it speaks volumes because though bad things happen, sometimes because of our doing, sometimes not, sometimes a little of both, we have a God we can approach boldly. With all honesty and shame we can say, “Make me, Lord because my humanity is causing poison to spew from my tongue. Make me hear joy and gladness, and may I rejoice in the hard things you’ve called me to do regardless of my pride.”

It might be easier to swallow that mouthwash I mentioned earlier than pray those words, but when we are digging deep inside the heart of God, which is what we are doing when working to pursue His Word to further our relationship with Him, then we cry out in faith using our swords to glorify the living God.

I’ve come to a place where I know that activating purpose doesn’t mean it’s going to feel good. Often, it will be harder than we ever imagined. God calls us to do big things, which mean lots of difficult and uncomfortable moments. But we can be sure that our Living Hope will come through for us just like He did for King David.

Today, may you wake up to understanding that serving God doesn’t mean easy living, but it does mean intentional, purposeful, active love through obedience to the One who is love and gave His Son in an act of love and salvation for you.

For today’s homework, please post Psalm 51:8 on social media using the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose. Encourage someone who needs to hear they can have joy and gladness again.

Make this your prayer!

Love,

Jennifer

To find out more about this series, click here for the introduction and scroll down for a list of previous posts.

To tweet this post, click here.

The Burning in Your Bones: Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

activating-your-purupose-day-13

Over the next couple days, as we continue to study the significance of prayer as it relates to purpose, I want to tell you how thankful I am we are taking this journey together. Searching for purpose is something we all seem to do, even when we don’t realize we are. It’s so easy for us to stop believing that God wants to work through us. When life gets hard the human condition screams, “stop!” Our flesh not only works to keeps us from moving forward on the path of purpose, but also tries to hinder us from believing we have any purpose in the first place.

Today, we are going to study one small section of a prayer from the prophet Jeremiah. This segment of prayer spoke to my heart when I was grappling with a difficult transition. I’ve found that God often calls me to do hard things. Really, really hard things. Can you relate? I bet you can.

I don’t know if you’ve handled the calling of God on your life the way I sometimes have, but just so you know, I’ve often been caught trying to ignore His map for my life and take my own way. I’ve even tried to convince Him that there must be some type of misunderstanding, because certainly He was calling the girl next door, the lady down the street, or the sweet and kind person who has it all together for this task. He had to have accidently shouted my name instead, right? Wrong. The God of the universe doesn’t make mistakes. He puts a burning deep inside our bones even when life is hard. He tells us to move forward anyway.

Long before any of us living today inhaled the oxygen of this world, there lived a man named Jeremiah who dealt with hard things… really, really hard things! And, thankfully, we can learn from Him. Let’s take a look. Will you please turn to Jeremiah 20? We will be reading verses 7-9 today.

Before we dig into this particular passage of scripture, I’ll give you just a tiny bit of background:

Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet who was devoted to God. He is the author of this Biblical book and his story is told in depth on many levels from personal conflict over the hard tasks assigned to him by the living God, all the way to his experience with opposition, resistance, and persecution regarding the ministry he was called to live.

Throughout his time he witnessed a downward spiral of Jerusalem and the temple. Though Jeremiah lived his calling, he experienced a wide range of emotions through it, which is why I relate so well to the piece of prayer we will study today.

Biblical scholars refer to a certain section of the book of Jeremiah as “Jeremiah’s confessions.” This section of scripture is one of those. He isn’t exactly happy about his calling or how his circumstances are turning out, but there is no denying his wanting to serve God regardless. He clearly holds recognition that there is no other way…

 

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 20:1-7

Jeremiah was obviously in a great deal of personal pain emotionally about what was happening to him as a result of doing the will of the Lord. What I love about this prayer is that, firstly, he opens up to God about exactly how he is feeling, and, secondly, he confesses that even though he tried to deny the purpose of his life, he couldn’t. God placed a fire inside his bones and there was no way he could hold it back.

Don’t hold back the fire in your bones! It was placed there by the Creator for a reason!

(Tweet that to encourage someone!)

First of all, I encourage you to read the above section of scripture out loud and think about how it might relate to you. I’ve been in situations where I knew God was calling me to do or say something, but it wasn’t well received. What I’ve learned is that what God is working in the heart of another has nothing to do with me. I’m only called to be obedient at all times, even when it hurts. Remember that phrase anyway obedience we talked about the other day?

I want to be clear on this point, because I’m not talking about hurting another person with my words or interjecting an opinion when it has nothing to do with me. I’m speaking about times when God has called me to ministry and I’ve experienced opposition with others, or a slow growth that I just couldn’t understand. I’m discussing feeling discouraged from those who it seems have loved me less than they should have. But here’s the thing: From experience, I’ve also learned that if it’s truly the call of God on my life and if He is truly speaking to me, He will continue that ministry to which He’s called me in another way, another place, or another time. He won’t ever stop the work He’s started. And do you know what? I won’t ever quit the work He’s started deep inside me, because I literally feel the fire in my bones. It’s been placed there by the Living God, to keep me moving forward in my purpose.

Maybe you’ve been hurt in ministry. Talk to God about it! Maybe you feel like quitting, maybe you’ve already quit, but you still aren’t content.

I have news: if you stop pursuing the calling God has placed on your life, you won’t ever be content.

(Tweet that to encourage someone!)

You might try to lie to yourself because quitting might be easiest, but overtime you will feel an uncomfortable burn leading you to follow the purpose of your life. And you will! When you do, just remember the words of Jeremiah.

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”

For today’s homework, write this verse on paper, and then underneath it write about the one thing you feel deep inside that God has called you to do. Write about how you might take steps to go about living that calling over your life. If you’ve been hurt in ministry, seek God about where to start again and how. He came to bind our wounds and He wants you to be whole in your purpose. Maybe you have some forgiving to do. Maybe you need to learn how to function fully in your purpose without receiving an, “I’m sorry.” We all have to walk that road and it’s never easy, but it is necessary. You cannot depend on others; you have to depend solely on God. Worry about His work in your life alone.

Pray for the heart of the offender, don’t depend on it. God will give you everything you need even if that person never will!

(Tweet that to encourage someone!)

Please share on social media today about the burning in your bones. What’s your dream? What do you feel God might be calling you to do? Use the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose. After you post, follow the hashtag to encourage someone else who has taken a leap of faith and posted about the burning fire they can’t hold back!

Love,

Jennifer

To tweet this post, click here.

To find more information about this series, including a landing page of past posts and what’s ahead, click here.

 

Discipline Activates Purpose: Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

activating-your-purpose-day-10

Yesterday, we talked about an all too familiar question: why do we suffer? I gave you my thoughts and then shared that I was going to tell you what helped me to begin activating my purpose though pain.

Here it goes…

What helped to pull me out of the pit isn’t anything crazy elaborate. It’s plain, old fashioned discipline. Without it, activation is impossible.

Believe me; I’ve never considered myself to be overly disciplined about anything. I don’t like to exercise, I’m a huge fan of sleep, and I think it’s rotten that God has allowed carbohydrates to pack on pounds. (Sorry, Lord. I had to confess it.) I’m just not feeling it. Actually, I take that back. My jeans cause me immeasurable amounts of stress these days, so I guess I do feel it.

The point is in order to put any good thing into motion requires some type of discipline. And if you’re going to figure out how to activate purpose in your life, then you will need to discipline yourself to open up His Word. One verse at a time leads to whole chapters, and whole chapters lead to whole books until you’ve covered the ground you need to know in order to build a solid foundation.

In my early 20s while enduring a season of deep, dark grief, I was asked what scripture I was “standing on” to help me through that time. My answer was, “I don’t know. All of them?” The truth was I was praying, but mostly, I was looking for an audible voice to come from the sky to answer my questions. I was depending on the pastoral staff to sow into my life. I was not looking in the Scriptures to give me answers. Sure, every once in a while I would read a verse here or there to give me comfort, but I was making everything in life about me, and God was not the center. That’s a huge mistake. I need to hear what He wants me to hear, not what I want me to hear. Ouch.

It was actually a vacation Bible school jingle that taught me to memorize a scripture which fit perfectly into my life. Will you please turn to Joshua 1:9 with me?

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

-Joshua 1:9

The way my love for the word truly began was by memorizing this scripture and applying in every circumstance of my life. To this day, I still say it when fear hits, uncomfortable confrontation sneaks inside the ordinary, or when I just need the reminder that I’m not alone.

Something else about the Word is that it’s living and powerful. It is active. And, when you have an active force working inside you then that flint and steel we talked about in the beginning of this series will finally produce a small spark capable of changing everything in your entire life.

One small verse a day can begin a renewal in your life. It’s not an overnight process; it’s one that takes discipline. So, today, I want to give you eight tips to help you begin studying the Word in a way that can truly activate your purpose.

  1. Time blocking: figure out what time of day works for you and how much time is reasonable for you to spend. Don’t set lofty goals! Start out by doing what you can do and that’s all. Even if it’s only five minutes a day. Try to do it at the same time each day. Consider setting a timer. It’s so helpful!
  2. Choose a starting place: If you don’t know where to begin, consider starting with the book of John. Just wait until you see how many times the word believe is listed! There’s a lot of discourse in this book. It’s different from the other three gospels. It has its own feel and brings you inside the miracles of Jesus in a bit of a different way. I highly recommend it.
  3. Leave everything else behind: After deciding what you’re going to read. Choose to leave everything you think you know behind. Let the Word speak new and fresh to you.
  4. Remember that the people you are reading about were real: They were made up of flesh and blood just like you and me. If you relate them as fictional characters then the Word can’t speak. They were real and the events of that time were real. You need to let that speak loudly when doubt tries to steal your spark.
  5. Mark the spot: I’m a big believer in marking up my Bible. I know there are different schools of thought on this, but my Bible serves as a journal. I want my children and children’s children to know what the Lord was speaking to me through His word. Write notes in the margin, circle and highlight verses, and date everything so you can check your progress overtime for the things God has done in your life!
  6. Pray: Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you each day as you grow in His word.
  7. Begin: Just Read! And if it helps, read out loud. It will enable you to better remember what you’re learning about.
  8. Memorize: When you get to a verse that really speaks to you. Memorize it and recite it in all your circumstances. Print it out and hang it where you can see it daily.

For today’s homework: figure out which one of these pointers might help you most and post it on social media to encourage someone. Maybe you have something that works for you that I haven’t mentioned. I would love to glean from your wisdom! Use the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose so that we can find each other.

Love,

Jennifer

To learn more about this series, click here to read the introduction and scroll down to find previous posts and learn what’s ahead.

To tweet this post, click here.

Why Do We Suffer? Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

activating-your-purpose-day-9

Finding purpose in pain, both physical and emotional, is probably the largest stumbling block we all face. However, even though every person on the planet inevitably deals with some type of brokenness, we are also called to overcome it.

In John 16:33 Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble.” Of all the promises He gives, this is not one many of us want to accept. And, I’m sure most of us wouldn’t even consider this specific remark as a promise from Him. Yet, I’ve learned that when it comes to the Bible we must take the good with the bad, and if Jesus faced the bad, and we all know He did suffer while on this earth, then we cannot be immune from suffering either. It’s a fact: we will have trouble here. But don’t worry, there’s good news. Jesus goes onto say, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” He speaks of finding peace in Him because He’s overcome the world through the cross.

If you’ve been serving Christ for any length of time then you know what Jesus did and you understand there are mountains to be moved and Goliath’s to be conquered. You also believe Jesus can and will bring victory. The problem usually isn’t what we know and believe God can do, the problem lies in wondering if He’ll ever do it for us.

I’m going to repeat that because I believe that statement will strike a chord with some. To be honest, I just typed those words unexpectedly and it stirred something in me…

The problem usually isn’t what we know and believe God can do, the problem lies in wondering if He’ll ever do it for us.

(Tweet that to encourage someone!)

In my past I’ve wondered that same thought, and I almost allowed it to hinder my purpose altogether. In my book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, I have this to say regarding living through the death of my stillborn daughter.

“I wanted my baby, and I would think about holding her. Sometimes I would think that I heard her crying, and then I would start to have visions of myself going to the cemetery in the middle of the night, and digging up her grave. I would see myself on my hands and knees with mud-covered fingernails and a tear-stained face as I desperately tried to claw my way to her lifeless body.”

-Jennifer Kostick

Nothing to Hold but Hope

I understand pain from many different sources. None are troubles I ever wanted to face, or expected to face, but I do know Jesus said suffering is inevitable on earth. I also know He came so that I could find peace in Him and that when it’s all said and done, He took care of everything in advance for me. But let’s just be honest here: it’s not easy to think that way in the middle of enduring tragedy or any difficult circumstance. Typically, no one wants to focus on what Jesus did for our futures, which seem light years away, we want to know what He’s going to do right now… as in this very second!

“Why does God allow suffering?” That’s a question I’m frequently asked. My answer might seem juvenile and cliché, but I believe it’s because we live in a world full of sin. The ugliness of what began in the Garden of Eden falls on the innocent as well as the guilty and not a living soul is exempt. And, finding the good in all of it and learning to focus on the victory… well, it’s a process.

When it comes to enduring great pain, physical or emotional, we are all looking for miracles. Mark Batterson writes in his book, The Grave Robber, some incredibly thought provoking words: “Everyone wants a miracle, but here’s the catch: no one wants to be in a situation that necessitates one.”

Friend, I don’t have all the answers, only God does. And that doesn’t mean He’s going to reveal them all to us, which makes our situations that much more complex. But if there’s anything I do know, it’s that when we work through the process of pain, learning to hold fast to who Jesus is and what He came to do, then we can have the ability to walk the land of purpose with our heads held high and shoulders back, knowing that no matter how hard or long the struggle, the victory is ultimately His. And He’s our defender, which means we own that victory, too! When we cling tight to His promises, we start seeing hope like we’ve never seen before. There’s a revelation of His goodness that occurs even while in the midst of facing trouble.

Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about the process that began activating my purpose, but for today’s homework, will you please write down one trouble you’re facing and then underneath it write down one evidence of grace you’ve seen from God in the midst of it?

When I was fighting a tough battle of grief over losing my baby daughter, an unexpected battle with secondary infertility came next. During that time, my doctor told me she loved to encourage others with my testimony. I thought she was crazy, because I felt as if I had nothing good to report. Why would others what to hear such a sad story? I saw pain; she saw bravery. Her eyes saw God moving in ways mine couldn’t!

I know this assignment can be difficult. Remember the term “spiritual spectacles” I used the other day? You may need to “put yours on” in order to see the good. No matter how small you consider the act of grace, share something about it with us on social media using the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose. And if you can’t see the grace, ask someone else to help you! Post what they have to say. Believe it or not, someone somewhere is watching you live through difficulty, and you are helping them. Yes, YOU! Let’s encourage each other and help activate purpose in the lives of other women!

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NIV)

Love,

Jennifer

For more information on this series, click here to read the introduction or scroll down to find links to previous posts and see what’s ahead.

To tweet this post, click here.

 

Do Not Despise Small Beginnings: Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

activating-your-purpose-day-8

Many of us confuse purpose with platform. We think if we aren’t doing something that the rest of the world, or at least our immediate circle, considers crazy amazing, we aren’t living with specific purpose.

Women are unique in the respect that an overwhelming amount of us are designed as nurturers. We are compassion giving, reach out a hand and pull up a sister, type of community driven people. It’s part of our birthright to rock the position of multitaskers while possessing the superpower of being able to give hope in a single word or deed. The problem is that most of us feel we’ve lost purpose in the midst of changing diapers and going to a job where we are forced to choose between furthering a career while pulling off Pinterest perfection at home. In our society, balance is a lost art and the need for platform is secretly choking the life out of the term sisterhood.

Friend, purpose is intentional and it’s lived in small, silent, moments when no one is watching but God Himself. It’s not about how “big” we do something and who sees it; it’s what we do that goes unnoticed that becomes the anthem of our lives. The smallest and sometimes most insignificant seconds become sacred.

The ability to truly grasp purpose means learning not to despise what seems small.

(Tweet that to encourage someone!)

In the Old Testament we learn of a minor prophet by the name of Zechariah. It’s important to know the Minor Prophets are not considered minor because of their messages, but because of the brevity of their books. Anyway, Zechariah was called to minister the word of the Lord as a source of comfort and encouragement after the Jerusalem residents returned from Babylonian exile. He delivered a message regarding the importance of faithfulness in times of difficulty, while encouraging rebuilding the temple.

Throughout the process, though the temple was incomplete, there were many who felt disappointed. It by no means met the grandness of Solomon’s temple.  In fact, it paled in comparison. Little did they know, the holy place which seemed lacking in exquisite beauty would be the cause of great rejoicing.  The Messiah Himself would enter inside that place.

Would you please turn with me to Zechariah 4:10?  In this passage, the word of the Lord is speaking:

“…For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

-Zechariah 4:10

If we were focusing on the book of Zechariah alone, we would be digging deep in this verse. But, for today, I want to focus on the question, “For who has despised the day of small things?”

If you are anything like me, you can easily confuse daily, casual encounters with others, making dinner for the family, or reading your kids a story as part of monotony. But, when we put on spiritual spectacles, we can see purpose inhaling and exhaling in every moment. We can demonstrate the love of God to others in every seemingly insignificant circumstance. The daily map of land we follow leads us through “small moments” which eventually draws us to encounter larger moments. Our day-in-day-out routines push us to experience purpose.

Purpose is found in tucking our kids into bed at night, and being kind to the person who seems least deserving. It’s no less significant than those who preach to thousands in a stadium, win an award for best worship song of the year, or holds a six-plus figure salary position.

What you do in every moment matters, and don’t ever believe the familiar voice in your head telling you it doesn’t.

(Tweet that to encourage someone!)

Today’s homework: Make a list of three “small” things you did today and write down the purpose accomplished in each task. Did it make someone smile, did it contribute to their health and welfare. (Meaning: did you feed them or give them a bath?) Maybe you had a conversation with a friend on the phone making them laugh so hard it served as medication for a weary soul. After you’ve thought it through, share something about your list on social media. Maybe take a picture of it or write about the task. Encourage someone else in their purpose and use the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose so that we can find each other! And just so you know, I’m participating in all of these homework assignments as well!

Do not despise small things, they mean more than you know!

Love,

Jennifer

To learn more about this series, click here to read the introduction or scroll down to see previous posts and what’s ahead!

To tweet this post, click here.

YOU Can Own Righteousness: Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

activating-your-purpose-day-7

And just like that, we are seven days in to activating our purpose through the power of scripture. I have to tell you that I’m not a fan of bullet points in blogs, because I want to be personal with you, but sometimes for the sake of tracking progress it’s necessary. So, here we go, let’s recap where we are on our journey thus far, shall we? Here are some takeaways from the first six days of our study.

  • Day One: When we stop shaking our fists at the sky and start opening up our hands in an act of surrender to God, the path of purpose begins to light up.
  • Day Two: There is scriptural proof that we were born with purpose. In fact, we are God’s poem.
  • Day Three: There was a conversation about each of us before time began. It’s in the Bible!
  • Day Four: We must stop asking why and start asking how in order to begin living the life we are meant to live!
  • Day Five: We have a defender, and it doesn’t matter what we’ve done or what circumstances have come our way, we are loved, there is hope, and Jesus is fighting for us. Your past does not have to hinder your present purpose!
  • Day Six: To activate purpose, we must discern that serving Christ is more than following a religion. It’s about relationship. God cries out for us to know Him intimately.

Now that we are all caught up to speed, I want to talk about righteousness.

When I hear the word righteous I automatically think of perfection. Jesus obviously comes to mind. To be quite honest, if I didn’t study the Bible, I would never think for a second that a human being had a chance at becoming righteous. After all, we as people spend much of our existence fighting our flesh along with the egos attached tightly to it. How can righteousness possibly fit in to the mix? The Bible gives us the answers we need.

Will you please turn to Psalm 118:19 with me?

Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, and I will praise the Lord.

-Psalm 118:19

I love the word picture that’s been created for us with this verse. I imagine the psalmist standing at a closed, locked gate, shaking it while begging to go inside. The desire to walk in righteousness represents the purest cry from a heart who wants God.

We have to remember that this verse was written before Jesus died on the cross, rose again, and ascended to heaven, which is why I picture the psalmist begging to walk through the gate in freedom. Righteousness was a path to be followed, but it was a much different process in the Old Testament than it was in the New Testament.  The very second Jesus awoke with lungs full of breath in that dark tomb, I picture the Psalmist’s gate of righteousness flinging wide open for all of us to walk through.

The gates of righteousness are open for you! You have the ability to walk in your purpose!

(Tweet that to encourage someone!)

Let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 5:21

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

-2 Corinthians 5:21

This is proof that God sent Jesus and that through His work on the cross we would have the ability to become righteous. We are the righteousness of God in Christ! YOU are the righteousness of God in Christ. This is how we fit in to that category, it’s through Christ.

We need to learn what it means to own righteousness. It’s ours for the taking. I think we’ve spent too much time disconnecting from words like holy and righteous in an attempt to be humble, but the truth is that if we don’t know who we are in Christ, then we cannot activate purpose in our lives, because it is those qualities which factor into what we were born to do while on this earth.

For today’s homework, please look up Proverbs 21:21. Write the verse, and underneath write why you are choosing to follow the path of purpose in your life.  After that, share some encouragement on social media for someone who might be searching for their own significance. Use the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose so that I can read your beautiful words!

Love,

Jennifer

To Learn more about this series, click here to read the introduction an scroll down for what’s ahead or to catch up on previous posts.

To Tweet this post, click here.

 

 

No More Condemnation! Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

activating-your-purpose-day-5

I recently read a quote where T.D. Jakes posed this question, “What woman would not appreciate a God who becomes her attorney, assumes her case, requires no fee, and wins her the victory?”

I’ve not read the book from where this quote was taken, and I know very little of where Mr. Jakes stands on different faith related issues, but when these particular words were brought to my attention, I couldn’t stop thinking about them.  A God who becomes our attorney, yes, I like that.

We read in the scriptures that Jesus is our advocate. John says it like this:

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

-1 John 2:1-2

The first definition of advocate is this: a person who argues for or supports a cause or policy.

The first definition of attorney is this: one who legally is appointed to transact business on another’s behalf; especially: lawyer.

So, Father God, the Creator of our purpose, gave His only Son on the cross that He would pay the price for us and then defend our case. This is often a hard one to wrap the human brain around because there’s this giant God who holds the whole universe in one hand and yet He cares about each of us, so much so that He sent His Son.  It almost doesn’t make any sense, especially when we’ve lived difficult pasts that have dictated our need for an advocate. But let me tell you this: It doesn’t matter what mistakes you’ve made. When you ask God to forgive you, those sins are gone, never again to be remembered by Him. Furthermore, when we lose future footing leading to sin, and everyone does, our defender is back on the case supporting our cause. In actuality, He’s never been off the case. He knows those who have a heart for Him and He continually pleads for each one. I don’t have to tell you that this world is a harsh place, but the good news is that He won’t ever leave us alone to fight for ourselves. Many days, we don’t even realize we need a defender, but when we do, He’s already up and fighting for us.

When someone is willing to fight for you, defend you, and guarantee your victory at no charge, it’s because they believe in your case. And I believe with my whole heart that God believes in us because He knows what we have the potential to become. Will you turn to Ecclesiastes 3:11 with me?

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

-Ecclesiastes 3:11 (E.S.V.)

The reason we constantly long for more is because we were meant for more than what we see here. You’ve heard me say that before, and you’re going to hear me say it much more before we are done. Our hearts long for what we do not see and that is why we press on in faith for what we know can come. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that this world is not our home. Even though there’s also difficulty in wrapping our heads around that, it’s true. We were born for great purpose while in this world, but living our purpose here is what will lead us to the place every human heart aches for… an eternal home with an eternal King.

So, what’s the point in all this today as it relates to activating purpose? There are many of you who are struggling with condemnation over your pasts. Some of you are struggling with guilt over things you’ve had no control over. You believe each person was created for purpose, but feel as if yours has been erased because of something you’ve done, or a situation you’ve been exposed to that was unmerited…

Friend, I’m here to tell you that you cannot activate purpose if you think you’re somehow unforgivable or void of living yours. Listen, right now at this very moment, you have an advocate, an attorney if you will, who already paid the price for you and is fighting on your behalf. There is no condemnation in Christ. (See Romans 8:1) You must not only believe you have purpose, but you must also believe that it cannot be hindered by circumstances. God forgives all who call on His name and believe in who He is. God knows the heart and He is fluent in the translation of your tears and burdens. He knows. He cares. He loves you.

For today’s homework, I’m asking you to memorize Romans 8:1. Look it up, write it down, memorize and pray it over your life. Be creative and post it on social media as an encouragement to others using the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose.

 

Love,

Jennifer

To learn more about this series, click here to read the introduction and scroll down to see what’s ahead and catch up on previous posts.

To tweet this post, click here.

 

No More Denying! Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

activating-your-purpose-day-4

Throughout my years of seeking purpose, I would often lose focus forgetting one very important element. Actually, I forgot the most important of all: God.

In my desperation to find what in the world I was here to do and why, I would become sidetracked. I should have been praising the One who created me for unique purpose and instead of asking, “Why am I here, God?” I should have been asking, “How do I accomplish what I’m here to do, God?”

Once you grab onto the truth I was speaking about yesterday, then the “why am I here?” part of the equation no longer needs solved. The truth of His love fills you with the promise of purpose and then it becomes a question of asking, “How will I walk in my purpose, Lord?” How will I fulfill it?”

You’re here because you’ve been called to do kingdom work, you’ve been created to serve the most High God, you were born to love and be loved. And, you have been part of His plan from the beginning. His design is to give you son-ship in the kingdom of Christ that the power of the living God might work through you. This means that you were born to be His child, and when you made the decision to accept Jesus as Savior, and submit your will to His, then the Holy Spirit was able to work in you and the power of Christ come alive in you. At that moment the renewing of your faith made you a new creation and your purpose was activated. As Peter said, “You are a chosen generation and have been called out of darkness into light.” You have a stake in the kingdom because it’s your inheritance. He is your inheritance. You are His child.

Some think that after making a commitment to Christ that life will be easy and the path clear. Not so, in fact, quite the opposite. You will, without doubt, encounter suffering, and through those difficult times you must fight to submit your soul to your spirit. We were designed to be spirit led people and when Adam and Eve ate from that detestable tree, they became soul led. They became people who gave in to their minds, emotions, and wills. There’s a great book on this subject by author Dutch Sheets entitled, “Becoming Who You Are.” I highly recommend it.

When Jesus came to die for us, He gave us strength and power that through Him we could once again be spirit led people. He died so that we could finally defeat the enemy, who wants nothing more than to trap us by whispering lies and manipulation of God’s word. When this happens, love and grace can easily become distorted.

It’s time to untangle lies and live your purpose. Today!

I mentioned yesterday that we were going to search one more place in the word to find proof of our purpose. Before we end today, let’s turn to Psalm 139: 1-18. Will you please read it out loud?

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; 12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You. 13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! 18  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.

-Psalm 139:1-18

This brings more comfort to me than I can ever express in words. I hope it also brings peace to you. It is my prayer that you will no longer deny having purpose from the beginning.

Today’s homework is to post your favorite verses from this passage of scripture to Facebook with the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see that mine is verse 16. By taking part in this exercise, you can be part of helping someone else realize they have purpose through the encouragement of the Word of God. I can’t wait to see which verses encourage you most.

Love,

Jennifer

To learn more information about this series, click here to read the introduction and scroll down to see what’s ahead or catch up on previous posts.

To tweet this post, click here.