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

 

A Purposeful Prayer – Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

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The road to purpose is paved with a willingness to know and believe in a God who has everything held tightly in His hands. Through the first half of this series we talked a lot about understanding we have purpose in both good and bad times. We’ve also discussed how those bad times can shape our purpose. Today, I want to share a little piece of Psalm 17. It’s from the heart of David.

Hear a just cause, O Lord, Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips. Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright. You have tested my heart;
You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

Psalm 17:1-3

David says, “I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.”  Within living our purpose, we must choose to trust God in the midst of anything that might occur. A responsibility we have within our faith is to stand on His promises, even when it seems like those promises are for everyone but us.

Many people ask what their specific purpose is… I believe each life is meant to show the light of the Gospel, the love of Jesus, to others through our unique gifts. And, I believe we can do that even in the midst of difficulty. God wants to use each heart to accomplish mighty plans. We may never become fully aware of just how great our purpose is while living and breathing in this life, but we must trust the God who does. Nothing done for Jesus is small.

Today, I would like you to simply pray David’s words in Psalm 17:1-3 over your own life. You can share these verses on social media using the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose to encourage someone else.

Love,

Jennifer

 

Learning to Press in Rather than Give Up – Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible. But with God all things are possible.”

-Matthew 19:26

Breakthroughs happen when persistent prayer warriors press into the only One who can intervene. There are many issues I’m asking God to intervene inside. I’ve spent time on my knees making my pleas known, and I’m trying hard not to beat the ear of God as much as converse with Him. That means I say my peace and then stay quiet for a while hoping to hear a whisper deep inside that will, ultimately, lead me to make right decisions, or trust Him more when the situation is completely out of my hands. It often is. I also spend a fair amount of time praying for patience.

However, no matter how much I pray I still have to fight disappointment. When circumstances don’t go my way according to my timetable, frustration mingles with rejection because I find myself easily entangled inside lies that want me to depend on feeling rather than faith.

God isn’t rejecting us when we don’t receive the answers we need. He’s not punishing us when life isn’t working according to plan. What I must come to realize through these situations is that I can’t stop pressing in and praying just because it doesn’t seem like He’s listening and answering.

Following God often defies human logic. It takes faith, which is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. It means learning to grasp that what seems like a logical solution to us, is much too simplistic compared to the awesome mind of God who can see every detail in the heart of every person involved in every situation. It means throwing up our hands in surrender and learning to bow in humility. It’s accepting His plan and rejecting our own. To be honest, that last line hurt to type.

It doesn’t matter how long one has served God, how deeply one knows Him, or how much evidence one has of past circumstances in life proving He is faithful. Flesh still wants to rob us of the beauty of hope and the activation of purpose.

Sometimes, my mind screams, “Give up!” while the spirit of God inside simultaneously begs me to press in.  I need to learn how to decipher the correct of the two choices and then live it. You, too?

For today’s homework, please look up Hebrews 11:1, write it down and work on memorizing it. Focus on the words hope and evidence. What do those words mean to you, and how are you asking God to provide hope and evidence for you in the midst of your circumstances? After contemplating those questions, post Hebrews 11:1 as your status on social media using the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

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

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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.

 

Finding Purpose in Prayer: Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Days Series)

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“What wings are to a bird, and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul.”

-Corrie Ten Boom

We’ve been focusing on how finding purpose comes from finding God inside His Word. It’s our connection with Him. We are able to learn who He is, and what He promises for us when we seek Him deep within the pages of Scripture. However, there’s another vital element: prayer. It’s our communication with God that strengthens our bond with Him. When you recognize someone’s place in your life and want to form a relationship with them, you speak to them. You ask questions and pursue communication. The same is true with solidifying a relationship with our Father in heaven. We need to talk to Him openly and honestly. Throughout the next few days, we are going to study some prayers we find in the Bible and unearth some treasure regarding activating purpose in the process.

In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 we learn of a man named Jabez. This is what Scripture tells us:

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10


I’m going to be very honest and tell you that when I first read those verses, what stood out to me most was the last phrase: “So God granted him what he requested.” Oh, yeah! We all shout hallelujah when God answers exactly what we request. Can I get an amen? And, great hope is pumped directly into our souls when we see those words in the truth of the Bible. But there’s more to this…

First of all, the name Jabez is only mentioned in a total of three verses in the entire Bible. They are all encapsulated in 1 Chronicles. What we learn initially in 1 Chronicles 2:55 is there is a place named Jabez. After that, the second and third mentions are regarding the man named Jabez, which come from the verses I’ve listed above. Let’s meet him…

  1. He was honorable; more so than his brothers.

By definition, the word honor means one who deserves respect. An honorable person shows honesty and good moral character, and they are fair and proper…

Right away we are informed that Jabez was a stand-up guy! And, obviously, God noticed this.

  1. His mother named him Jabez because of the meaning of the Hebrew word for this names which translates to The Bible actually says, “Because I bore him in pain.”

Now, I don’t know if she experienced a traumatic birth, because the Bible doesn’t tell us that. I do know that she wasn’t checking into the hospital, choosing a meal plan, and contacting an anesthesiologist for an epidural… STAT. She suffered during his birth; so much so, she chose his name surrounding what she endured.

Back in Biblical times, names held significant meaning and could easily define a person. What I see automatically through this passage is that Jabez didn’t allow the definition of pain to continue throughout his life. His mother may have endured a torturous birth at the beginning, but her son’s life would turn out to be a testament to the living God.

  1. Jabez called on the living God.

That right there tells us more than we need to know. He was upright and honorable not necessarily held in high esteem from the people surrounding him. Now a days you can believe anything you want and if you do good works, you’re deemed honorable. But we know that Jabez was honorable because he practiced moral standing with God. You don’t call on someone you don’t know or believe in. Jabez obviously knew and believed, which led him to call on the only One who could help.

  1. The prayer: Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory. That Your hand would be with me and that You would keep me from evil that I may not cause pain! And God granted him what he requested.

He trusted in God and the Father met His needs. I also love the play on words: “…that I may not cause pain!” A man who was labeled pain asked that the story surrounding his life would not be one of pain, that he would never again cause another to hurt, and God obliged.

I haven’t read the best-selling book about this prayer. However, I have to admit I’m now curious to read it. But what I see when I look at this is mighty purpose. And the purpose of this man was to know and believe God, depend on Him for his needs, and then stand steadfast in the promises of a Faithful Father. And guess what, our God wanted us to know about this particular man and His dependence upon Him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been mentioned.

You see, our purpose is wrapped up first in knowing and believing who God is. After that, He will use us to live a beautiful story of hope and redemption. We don’t have to be defined by who anyone says we are or what we’ve done in the past. We can march on in knowing we serve a God who hears us.

Being honorable doesn’t mean we’re perfect. It means we are trying to do the right thing and depending on God in the process. Prayers are hardly ever answered overnight, but when we pray, we ask in faith that God will do the job in His way and His time. Notice that when Jabez prayed, he asked for God to bless, for God to increase his territory, that God’s hand would be on him and keep him from pain. Jabez was depending on God for everything and held no faith in his own ability.

Friend, your purpose means praying with a heart focused on God and His will for you. We must let go and rise above what we think we need, and ask God to do it all. And, we must maintain an honorable, humble heart in the process.

We can learn a lot from this inconspicuous man, Jabez.

For today’s homework, let’s look up the New King James version of 1 Chronicles 4:10, write it, and highlight all the references to God doing the work, after you’ve done that, pray to Him and release control of your own circumstances into His hands.

Example:

Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory. That Your hand would be with me and that You would keep me from evil that I may not cause pain!

It is God who does ALL the work!

Share your thoughts about Jabez on social media using the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose so that we can learn from one another’s insights.

Love,

Jennifer

To learn more about this series, click here to read the introduction and scroll down for previous posts.

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Anyway Obedience When it Seems to be Everybody but Me: Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

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Last night I was part of a discussion including a very touchy topic: The fairness of God.

We aren’t ever sure what to make of life when catastrophic circumstances occur to good, godly people. Jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald produced truth in perfect pitch when she sang, “Into each and every life some rain has got to fall.” Jesus said something similar in a way only He could…

“ …that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

-Matthew 5:45

No one can escape trouble. However, the human condition works in such a way that we tend to focus so much on the weight of our own afflictions, we cannot see the suffering of others. We look at the outside of people’s lives rather than pray for the opportunity to read the inside of their hearts. We become so wrapped up in our own needs that we stare at the gaping emotional wounds of everyone around us and somehow see pictures of perfection.

Everyone hurts. It comes in waves and seasons.

When we lost our baby girl over twenty years ago, someone told us they felt guilty because everything seemed to be going so well for us that they were jealous… until they weren’t. Because the rain which fell on July 2nd, 1996 changed our lives forever, and no one is jealous of pain.

There is an enemy who wants to manipulate our thoughts, an enemy who wants us to believe God is unfair. And, the truth is, when it comes to our own definition of fairness, we should be thankful He isn’t fair, because our sin nature deserves death and hell. Instead, He sent His Son Jesus, grace fell, and hope rose up declaring victory. For us.

Friend, I desperately want to tell you that life will get better and the fight you’re facing won’t last forever, but I don’t know for sure. I have no idea how long you’ll face your current condition or how long it will be until the next problem occurs. But, I can tell you this: God is for you, not against you. He is good and always does good. Hope lives where faith lives and when it seems as if the people who have cheated, lied, and stolen are dancing in victory… just focus on Him. When it seems as if other Christians are rising to the top and you’re slowly sinking to the bottom… just focus on Him.  Take your eyes off yourself and seek Him inside His word.

Live your purpose, anyway. In my upcoming book, I refer to it as anyway obedience.

In the midst of heartache, grief, depression, and confusion, hold fast to the One who holds it all.

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The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

-Psalm 27:1

Will you open your Bible to Psalm 27:1 with me? Let’s look closely at this Psalm…

 

  • “The Lord is my light…” He is your light, which means He will lead you through the dark.
  • “…and my salvation…” He is your salvation, which means He will save you from the trap of thinking you were meant to live a life of despair and suffering. You were born for more! He alone will give you the hope of eternity.
  • “…whom shall I fear?” You have no reason to fear anything because the living God is on your side.
  • “The Lord is the strength of my life…” When you are weak He is your strength. Even when you feel strong He’s still holding you up!
  • “…of whom shall I be afraid?” You don’t have to be afraid. Do you know that the command “Do not fear” is listed more than 365 times in the Bible?

 

For today’s homework, please write down Psalm 27:1, and make a list of each part of the verse I outlined above. For each bullet point, name a time He has proved Himself to you. For example:

  • During what situation was He light to you?
  • How has He saved you?
  • Name a reason you don’t have to fear.
  • Name a time you were weak and He proved strong.
  • Declare that you will not be afraid!

 

It’s too easy to forget what He’s done for us in the past when our present is in utter chaos. I find that when I remember what He’s done, He reminds me that he will do it again.  He is a faithful God! And, His mercy tells me He will continue to save me again, and again, and again… forever.

When you’re done with your list, choose one of the bullet point topics and post about it on social media. Use the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose so that we can find each other.

Love,

Jennifer

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

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

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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)

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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