It’s days like today that I just feel so blessed to be a part of this family God has given me. There was nothing special today, nothing out of the ordinary. Just a regular day. But it’s amazing how different the day can feel through eternal eyes.
Gratitude. It’s been something my dear friend, Theresa, and I have been trying to incorporate more of in our everyday lives. And I could not stress more how our everyday lives differ. She’s in the dry season Nigerian desert, me in the cool Ohio Spring. She’s in the “foreign world” and I’m on the “homefront”. But we share some common things too. She’s on the mission field (3 year missionary with her husband to Nigeria) and so am I (serving in the States and through prayer and finances). Do I long to walk the dusty streets of Nigeria some day? – oh how my heart longs. But I do not long so for my ministry there to begin that it discredits my ministry here.
I think there is a danger in Christians viewing ministry in the extremes. We are truly ministering to God if we are full-time on staff at a church or “on foreign soil”. This is not to discredit either of those positions. But could God possibly call us to be a martyr in our own house?
Luke 9:23 says, “And He was saying to them all, ‘ If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (emphasis mine).
Sounds like daily martyrdom to me.
Matt guest preached at a nearby church Sunday from Ephesians 3:14-19. Wish you could have been there. Your heart would have been cheering and uplifted like mine. So amazing to sit there and just feel the exhortation from the Lord filling your heart and mind. It was like Jesus was saying, “be full, child, and run hard the race before you!”
Ephesians 3:14-19 goes like this [exactly like this to be specific 😉 ] :
(Keep in mind that Paul is speaking to people that will later be martyred and harshly persecuted for their faith – the very people whose faith and deaths God will use to bring more to the faith)
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name (the Alpha and Omega), that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory (limitless, never-ending glory, people), to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love (key part), may be able to comprehend with all the saints (counted among the saints? those amazingly loyal ones sold out for Jesus) what is the breadth and length and height and depth (can you even imagine?), and to know (KNOW!) the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge (indescribable), that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
* (commentary clearly mine).
Can you even imagine that people? That we would be filled up to all the fullness of God. I can’t even fathom that. I can’t even grasp that concept in my mind. The fullness of God through joy, peace, love, hope, might…. His attributes are endlessly wonderful. And just like God through Matt explained, all we have to do is ask. It’s not like God is unwilling to grant us things in line with His will. It’s not like He wants us to walk through this life as mediocre believers. It’s not like He’s restraining his fullness from us. He is more than willing. He died in an ultimate display of willingness.
Gratitude! What more could we possibly be thankful for?
When we look at our lives through God’s eyes suddenly right where we are becomes our ministry. I am not waiting to do something for the Kingdom – today I can. Maybe my ministry is begging the Lord of the Harvest to send more laborers. Maybe my ministry is asking the Lord for His fire and His zeal and more of Jesus in me that more of Jesus would touch someone’s life for His glory. Maybe my ministry is showing my children unconditional love and practicing self-control in Christ when they are living out their sin nature. Maybe my ministry is doing an extra load of dishes to serve my family and my husband.
The Lord has not forgotten us. The Lord has not mistakenly placed us “on layaway” until we can do something Kingdom worthy. He has given us an opportunity TODAY to deny ourselves, take up our cross (crucifying our flesh and walking in the spirit) and follow Jesus. When we follow Christ in speech, manner, the way we love others, the way we raise our kids, the way we open our homes and our lives to believers and non-believers, the way we set aside time to meditate on the Word and let it permeate the depths of our soul, we point to the Leader of our follow-the-leader-line. The Head. The very One worthy of all the praise, honor and glory.
Today, dear brothers and sisters, today “lift your eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth,” , “seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all else will be added to you,” , “delight in the Lord your God,” , “lean not on your own understanding,” , “run the race, fight the good fight and keep the faith.” For we can “do all things through Christ who strengthens” us. He is the “Author and Perfecter of our faith” and He’s more than capable of winning every battle of flesh verses spirit in us throughout the day. For one day you will stand before His throne while the angels call out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord, God, Almighty” and oh so much your heart will beat to hear the words drip from His tongue, “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your Lord.”
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).