Give Up! No, Seriously.

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I remember being a working mom with my first son, and when I was pregnant again I wanted to continue working. About 5 months before our second, Brecken, was born, I was doing the dishes and clearly heard the Holy Spirit tell me to quit my job. I remember asking “How could I continue to pursue my calling, without working in the ministry? (Thinking, I know other people do it, but it’s not my path.) How could I be prepared for whats next if I was a stay at home mom, and my time and energy was focused only on motherhood? (Let’s be real, motherhood doesn’t prepare you for everything.) How would I get opportunities in the future for ministry if I stepped further away? And finally, how could we pay the bills and have enough to buy shoes when our kids continue to grow but our budget doesn’t?” I remember hearing the Holy Spirit say only one thing, “I have something to show you.” Notice, he didn’t answer my question. I was sharing what happened earlier with my husband that night, and he said “that’s great!” That’s all he said. No budget questions, no “let’s pray about it.” Just “that’s great!” Further confirming this was the direction we were going. Since then, I have learned so much about myself, my family, my church, the nation I live in, the world around me, and everything in between, that I would not have seen had I not made time to take what felt like was a detour, that turned out to be the perfect will of God for this season. To be honest it’s been a difficult season, and I haven’t had a truly restful season for over 9 years, but I hear the voice of God clearer and I obey faster. One more thing has remained true through it all, and that is the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit to sustain me through hurtful, lonely, frustrating, exhausting, or confusing times.

John 14:16 has recently become a staple bible verse for my life. Jesus was about to leave Earth for Heaven. The events that had transpired before this leaving had been quite overwhelming for his family and his disciples. Jesus died on a cross (treated like a criminal), and three days later came back to life, by the power of God! This resurrection proved once and for all that Jesus had power over all sin and death. Those who chose to believe that he is the Lord of their life will walk in freedom and find peace in a world that is filled with pressure and those who are hurting will find comfort and strength to continue living another day. Jesus loved us so much he said “yes!” Yes to the assignment God had chosen for him, and he won the victory for us! In Jesus, we (his followers) have victory over sin and strength during the exhausting seasons of our lives! This is such good news!!! This “good news” is called the Gospel.

Now, back to John 14:16… Jesus was telling his disciples to spread the word about this gospel. I could only imagine being there, in that moment, and hearing him give me the “Great Commission” which is basically another assignment from God to tell the world about this good news; knowing there would be spiritual resistance, cultural opposition and persecution. Putting myself in the shoes of the disciples, my first thought was “How?” Even after seeing that Jesus had the victory, and it was now my job to share that, how do I live a life that exemplifies the Gospel? Life is hard, things are confusing, and I just want to make good money, keep my friends, and have a healthy family. Is that too much to ask? It’s technically, not asking enough, but that’s another topic for another day.

The difficult choice here to make as a disciple is to steward those responsibilities well, but to understand our life is ultimately submitted to God and to fulfill the assignments he gives us, if Jesus is our Lord. For example, if God asks you to take a job where you will be effective as a Christian, but it pays less than the job you want, would you take it? Would you follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit if it meant a path that was difficult and people would misunderstand you for the longest time, could you stay humble? Another example, what if God asked you to be a friend to someone who drains you? It takes all your energy to listen to them, either because of their bad breath or because you completely disagree with their political position, or honestly their personal choices just bug you. Is the Gospel worth it to you to be their friend?

While we all want to say “yes! whatever God asks me to do, I will do it” actually doing it is really difficult, I mean especially when you can’t plug your nose when someone is talking. It’s at this time the question begins to evolve. What are you willing to give up in order to spread the gospel? When you give these things up, you’ll be effective. No longer will an earthly or temporary thing hold you back from living a life that reflects the power of Jesus. Three things that we can give up, to increase our effectiveness as Christians:

Our Perspective, trade it for the mind of Christ. Rom. 12:1&2

Our Routine, where can you make room for the Holy Spirit to move in your life? Acts 2

Our Comfort, why should we say no to what is difficult? Rom. 13:14 and Josh. 1

I know giving things up is hard. I mean when life is already hard, why would we want to make it harder, by giving up our “not bad” things. You guys! Coffee isn’t bad, and neither is sharing a mint. But it’s truly impossible to every day have the right attitude and frame of mind to be an effective Christian without one key element. Giving up the comfortable life. This is the answer to the “how” question I had regarding the Great Commission. Jesus is telling his disciples that after he goes to Heaven, his spirit will come to Earth and be with each of them, as they split up to spread the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. We see Jesus introduces us to the Holy Spirit. “And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him, but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:16-18

Jesus says there I will come to you, when you go to live your life according to the will of God, you will not be alone. You can live through situations and relationships you find extremely difficult. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you if there is something difficult you are facing; maybe it’s finishing school, respecting a parent, telling the truth, loving a co-worker, tithing and getting out of debt, apologizing, or doing the same thing every day behind the scenes when no one says “thank you.” Read or audio the book of Acts. (I think ESV is the shorter audio version? If you’re pressed for time.) When you read notice what happens when the Holy Spirit fills the people of God, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, and then, watch out! You’re effectiveness as a holy spirit filled christian will increase, as you give up the ideas about the life you think you should have, and embrace the life you are in to share the power of Jesus! Does that make sense?  P.S. Please SHARE THIS POST, the Gospel is in it!

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My little Brecken Ray. xo