Tuesday, March 26, 2013

finding your God-given ministries + and how you can preach the Gospel right now

Okay, so, do you remember the Great Commission?

 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inb the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19

I always thought that seemed like the hugest task for every Christian. I imagined I had to be somewhere in a desert in Pakistan teaching English to preach the Gospel and make disciples of people who had never heard of Jesus.

And while I don't think I would mind doing that {it used to be my dream, actually}, I realized somewhere along the way that for now, I've been given the same task here where God has placed me, and I've been given tons of people to preach the Gospel to right where I am.

I was focusing on the big missionary call, I guess- it didn't occur to me that God could use that verse in my life here in the States with people who have heard the Gospel before. In my mind, I had to "go" somewhere before I could make disciples. :) But the coolest thing is that the disciples did go and preach the Gospel like Jesus commanded them to, and here I am in the USA, thousands of years later, knowing the Gospel! :D

Over the last few years, I think God has shown me that the disciples can be {and need to be} made right here, too. {I don't know what He has planned for us in the future! ;)}. And His harvest is plenty- all around us, and in every single nation, everywhere!

This makes me so excited- no matter where you are, or who you are- God has given you a ministry too! 

The disciples had a specific ministry that was given to them, and you do too! Did you realize that you have a great deal of influence in the lives of others?

You have been given a particular group of people in your life- a group that is completely unique to you- on purpose, by the Lord of Hosts. And your life displays the gospel to them!

It's so crazy to me: every single person has their own sphere of influence.

You've been given a ministry of your very own- to the people God Himself has sovereignly placed in your life- and your influence is far-reaching! And like Jesus' ministry when He taught and walked with His disciples and family, your greatest influence also happens with the people with whom you spend the most time.

the circles of influence

I made a little visual of what I'm talking about. I call it the circles of influence:

Here's how it works: when God is the center of your life, His influence flows outward through you to others. And you have the most influence in the lives of the people in the circles closest to you, because you spend the most time with them.

Did you realize your family is your biggest ministry and place to share and live the Gospel? I don't know why it took me so long to realize that!

You will spend years and years of your life with your spouse, and they will refine you, and when your life is centered on God, His heart will shine through you to your husband! :)

The same with your children- though we are with them less than our spouses, they live with us for so many years- and we get to teach them most of what they will know about the world- including how Jesus has changed our lives.

these little people are the ones I have the biggest influence on.
But our ministries don't just stop there- they keep working outward. When our eyes are on Him, God shines through us, our marriages, our families, outside to our extended families and friends. Our very lives become a display of the Gospel, not to mention our ability and the opportunity to speak the words of truth to our parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles... you probably get the idea. :D

Your influence and life- whether you are walking in the light or not- spreads outward still to our friends, co-workers, people we meet at the gym, people we talk to at church- even to people we talk to in the checkout line at Walmart!

Isn't that so amazing? And so scary too?

erasing our doubts with Scripture

When you realize the size of your ministry right now- it makes you want to drop to your knees and not leave them, doesn't it? We have such a great responsibility! How can we even handle that?

Then all of these fears and doubts start to come and keep us from sharing the Gospel with the people around us. We start to think:

1. I don't know enough.
You don't have to know all kinds of theology to know Jesus. When you are saved, He gives you His Spirit, who brings all knowledge of Him! And We can't know anything about God without Him, anyway! :D You don't have to be a theologian or even go to church for years, for the Holy Spirit to work in your heart and teach you what you need to know for the moment. :) He does it through your heart, and His Word, and He will give you the right answer when you seek Him with everything.

You don't have to have all the answers for questioning people, either. Your God knows the answers, and He will guide you when to speak, and when to be silent. :)

2. I'm not good enough.
Here's the best news ever: no one is! There are no righteous people. Not a single person outside of Jesus can be good enough! :D You are a sinner, in need of a Savior, just like every other person in your life.

You don't have to be good enough, because Jesus paid for your sins on the cross. Do you want to do better? Sure- I think God has given us a desire to be more like Him, and our hearts grieve when we sin. But we always have to remember that His grace is sufficient for us- and the work has already been done. We couldn't do enough to be saved, and we can't do enough to keep our salvation. It is a gift from God.

3. I'm afraid of offending people I know.
Me too, sometimes. I think we all are at some point! But here's what the Bible says- everything will be revealed in the end anyway- and they will know the truth. And what can they really do to you, anyway:

Matthew 10: 26“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.f 

Most of us are a far cry from being killed for what we say about Jesus. We might be disliked, but really, we have nothing to lose. Our God is the only one we will stand before in the end.

4. One person isn't going to matter, anyway.
It might be easy for us to justify this fear more on the outermost circles, but I think we can't deny that our influence is huge within our families. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:6, when we train up our children in the way they should go, even when they grow old, they won't depart from it. That's crazy, isn't it?

So how we act and react to our family now changes the way they act and react to us and others in the future. And even though the responsibility is great, I'm probably messing up here the most.

In fact, right now as I'm writing this, Ava wants me to stop and print her out coloring sheet after sheet, and I don't want to be patient with her. Nothing in me wants to get up and fix the printer that's broken again or get her cereal while I'm in the middle of reading my Bible. :(

But then I realize how impatient I'm being with her. I'm not showing her how patient God is with me. I'm not even giving her the same grace I've been given and don't deserve {and I'm not 3 years old!}.

Ugh. But why am I not? Because I'd rather selfishly do what I want to do instead of putting the needs of others first.{sin}. I don't even want to help the helpless 3-year-old.

And even more, the way I respond to her is teaching her how to respond to other people when they ask her to do things she doesn't want to do when she grows up.

That kind of responsibility and influence seems too great to bear, doesn't it?

I think it is.

I can't even be good enough to show my smallest child how to be good.

That's how desperate I am for Jesus.

See, my circle of influence will produce terrible fruit if left on it's own.

If I don't have God as my strength, and at the core of my life-  my sin will influence my husband and children and family, and on and on that influence will spread.

how we can share the Gospel with others

But if God is my strength and my portion- I'm no longer doing this through me- it's Him doing the work.

If my heart is a cup that is empty and broken for Him to fill- He will fill it to overflowing, and His water will spill out to all of the other circles. And it's not me doing that- it's Him.

Alone, I won't have the right words to say to that lady in the checkout line. 

Alone, I could never teach the heart of my son to be willing to share with others.

Alone, I could never know enough about the Bible to share the truth with one friend.

Alone, I can't even bring up the desire to stop what I'm doing for a small child.

I can't do any part of this life without Him.

You see, sharing the Gospel with people around you isn't about knowing the most Scriptures, or being the best rule follower, or being able to defend Creationism or anything else.

It's about knowing the Gospel from your heart- your core, because you know what the Lord has done for you, an unrighteous and unholy sinner- who has been made clean and pure because of what Jesus did for you. And because of what God is doing in your heart, He will bring the light to those around you.

When the Gospel- what Jesus did on the cross- dying for your sins and defeating death so that you can live- affects your heart from it's very core- your heart changes, and everyone can see it.

Does that mean you don't have to speak then? I can't imagine that! A heart that has been changed by the Holy Spirit could hardly contain the truth and keep it quiet! :D You won't be able to not share!

Isn't that the best news ever, though? You have no ability outside of what God gives you. You won't ever be good enough. He is the source of life and of the light- you can't spread it on your own, any more than you could create it! :D

Jesus has done the work, and He will do the work in you!

perfect people need not apply

You don't have to be perfect {trust me, you can't anyway!}. God has already fulfilled it!! :D

All you have to do is look to Him for your light. Keep your eyes on Him, and His light will shine through you like the morning sun. Give up your desires- and your defenses and doubts- and He will work through you like crazy. Oh!!!! It's so incredible!

Love Him- spend time with Him in the Word and in prayer, and your heart will start to love others more and more.

Your influence is great- God has given you these people in your life- don't try to bear that on your own.   Live for Jesus, and the light of the Gospel will shine through you because of the Holy Spirit at work!

God is so good to us- He redeemed us and is making us new. What can He not do with the people in your life too? :) No matter where you are- how long you've been saved- God can do this very same thing in you.

Oh, sweet friends, I pray that we can focus our eyes on our Savior and what He has done for us, and that His work will shine outward to even strangers in our lives! I know He can do it, and He will do it when we ask Him! :D

How have you ever seen your influence or responses affecting your family?

Have you ever felt those doubts like I have? How did God change your heart? I would LOVE to hear what God is doing in your life! :D 

Any praises for what God has done recently in your life? Please tell us so we can rejoice with you!

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