Joints should not hurt

Hebrews 12:2 (MSG) Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. 

I have to admit I have been a little distracted lately. Have you ever felt that way? It is an attack on the revelation knowledge of the Word of God in my life. I do know that when you get to a new level of revelation that you will be tested in it. I was reading about the unmerited favor of God in our lives as partners with Christ (which so happens to go along with my husbands messages about the assurance of what our inheritance is). Basically, both are coming in line with each other and that is where the challenge happens. The challenge is that I like growth and want to pull those I love along side with me. As a pastor we desire to see growth in others, it is disheartening when people dig their heels in and refuses to budge. My challenge (to be honestly transparent) is to try not to focus there, but continue to allow the work to happen within me and the Holy Spirit to work on them.

Have you ever had that happen? Your thoughts rob you of your joy? You have conversations in your head with someone else? Or you think of the conversations they are having about you with someone else?

I spent many nights in my bed praying for the help to keep my eyes focused on Jesus. Prayers to renew my mind. Prayer to cast down vain imaginations. God, do not allow the enemy to try to rob me of this knowledge so that I can walk in the fullness that You have for me. I want to walk in the abundant life, the complete life. Why? I want to make an impact for good that gives glory back to God. I know that I am called to do it with the body of believers that I am called to.

A few weeks ago, someone in small group said that the body is only as strong as its weakest link. As a body we are suppose to be working together. Ephesians 4:11-13 (AMP) says, And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity]. Oneness of faith and unity stood out to me. The body of Christ needs to be in unity. Sometimes we start by saying the entire body of Christ, but what if we put it down to our body (the church you are called to). Does that not to be in unity too?

Ephesians 4:16 (AMP) From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love.

Every joint supplies. When we apply this to your local body, you get a healthy functioning church. Your body that you are called to can properly mature and become effectual in your community. I always ask people that if you have a ministry and you will not use it in your local body that you are called to, why? The Word just said in here that we are joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, that joint being your gifting/ministry included within the local church.

How does this get into walking in the blessings that God has for us? It is not a sin issue (not that sin should not be addressed) but it is a unity issue. I am not talking about having unity over the political, sociology and economical issues of our time. I am talking about the working together (yes, I said that bad word work) with the gifts and callings to build up the body of Christ. We, together, walk in the knowledge and truth that God wants to see the body complete, which is another benefit of Jesus going to the cross.

So my question to myself is that, am I being a supplier to my joint? I cannot lose focus on my calling worried about if someone is in theirs. Praying that God will send someone to fill that joint that is willing to. I cannot drag anyone to it, He will fill it. God I release it to you. I will keep doing what you called me to do. I will finish this race and keep my eyes focused on Jesus.

I would love to hear from you if you struggle with the same thoughts sometimes. Message me at amanda@desiringformore.org

Focus

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

To me this has been a year to readjust our focus. My focus has not only read my Word more so that I can grow deeper in my relationship with God, but also so that I can be more impactful in what God has called me to do.

As I was reading Acts this week I was hoping that it would bring me excitement in the fact that the Holy Spirit was in the forefront. All the demonstrations that happened. The unbelievable peace of Stephen. The call of Paul.  It was the focus of Paul that drew my attention.

Paul was a man that rubbed people the wrong way. I have even heard people refer to him as their least favorite because of how he held himself. In my battle of rejection and insecurities I often empathize with Paul. Paul claimed to be a Pharisee in his previous self. There were some character traits that were like no one else, and God could use that, just like He uses me.

Pharisee: a member of a Jewish sect that flourished during the 1st century b.c. and 1st century a.d. and that differed from the Sadducees chiefly in its strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, adherence to oral laws and traditions, and belief in an afterlife and the coming of a Messiah.

He was all in when it came to the Jewish law…he was going to be all in when it came to spreading the word about Jesus.

I can imagine Paul as he was reading the text or hearing of how Jesus told this Parable of Talents we find in Matthew 25:14-30. I used that perspective in talking to my church yesterday.

In Acts 17 we see that Paul is starting on a journey. He is waiting on two others to join him (Silas and Timothy). Just because he was waiting on them did not mean he stopped ministering. What got my attention was that he traveled places like Athens and then Corinth (we see that he is tent making with fellow believers in Corinth, he was only going to teach on the Sabbath) but I want you to see this:

Acts 18: 5 (MSG) When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was able to give all his time to preaching and teaching, doing everything he could to persuade the Jews that Jesus was in fact God’s Messiah.

Paul was willing to do so much to spread the message. My husband and I are the pastors of our church. We are a small church, but it is often hard for us to turn off the doing everything button. We were not always the pastors. We were the ones that were there every time the door was open saying, “give me something to do!” If they were building something, “let me go get you more nails…let me go get more paint.” We say a need, we immediately went to fill that need without even asking if we could. It is hard to turn that off.

Reading the rest of Acts we see that Paul is a prisoner for the rest of the book. He was perfectly fine in this state. Why? He saw a way for him to get an audience with Caesar (and any governing official that would be on that path). Did you know Paul in prison was probably more relaxed than we are when we binge watch something on Netflix?

What if he got to a place where he said I have been to this many countries…I have completed my bucket list of things to do and now I am just going to relax.

1 Corinthians 9:16-17 (NKJV) For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.

Woe is me if I do not use my gift to establish His Kingdom. Woe is me if I think my portion is unimportant. Woe is me that I think that my presence would not make a difference.

Luke 16:10 (NLT) If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.

The vision that we have for Connect Church is “We exist to touch the world through our community.” This is not a little vision God has put before us. Right now we help in service projects with different organizations in our city and surrounding cities. We join other organizations to help them succeed. We do not try to reinvent something that they are already doing.

“We exist to touch the world through our community.”

Vision Statement of Connect Church

At this moment Connect Church does not have its own building. We did the large overhead and enormous debt thing and found that we were not effectual in carrying out the vision that God gave us. We are in a building program. We are saving little by little, but sowing more and more. Our vision is to make Connect Church a place for the community, not a place for them to just have “church.” It is a place that if they need to get a hot meal, they can. If they need to wash their laundry at 2 in the morning, they can. If they need a place to connect on the basket ball court, they can.

It is by us being faithful in the small things. I think that when Paul read or heard the Parable of the Talents he got a key insight on Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

I do not know if I am the person given five thousand, two thousand or one thousand. That should not be my focus. My focus is that I seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Could it be that I am given more talents, more resources, more responsibilities? All I want is more of Jesus!