Do we know our impact?

Yesterday was the Christmas service at our church. My husband’s message was topical, titled “From: God, To: You.” His main point was that God gave us the gifts of love and forgiveness when He sent His Son. In do so, those are two things we should freely give, but it is a choice.

He started it off with Luke 2:7 (NKJV) And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger. The King of the World was here. He was not born in a castle. He was born in a manger and wrapped with cloth that Mary had brought along with her. My husband reminded us to not despise the small beginnings. He reminded us that God celebrates when we begin, it is a step towards His promise.

The King of the World was here.

We ended the service with the song “Mary Did You Know.” We sung it by candlelit.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby
You kiss the face of God
Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
The blind will see, the deaf will hear
The dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy
Is heaven's perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you're
Holding is the great, I Am
Mary, did you know? (Mary, did you know?)
Mary, did you know? (Mary, did you know?)
Mary, did you know? Oh

As we began to sing this song I gave this verse from Luke 2:19 (AMP), But Mary treasured all these things, giving careful thought to them and pondering them in her heart. Does that answer our question that Mary would know the great impact her son would make on this world? That because of Him I can come boldly before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). That two thousand years later He is still changing lives. I felt the impact of that moment.

2 Corithians 3:2-3 (NKJV) You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men, clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

The Passion Translation states, For your very lives are our “letters of recommendation,” permanently engraved on our hearts, recognized and ready by everybody. As a result of our ministry, you are living letters written by Christ, not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God – not carved onto stone tablets but on the tablets of tender hearts.

We have a choice in taking this two ways. We can say that is too much pressure, I am not perfect, how dare God expect me to live a perfect life. We could also see it as a challenge to be better. That I took the command that Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19),” literally. Wherever I go I have the potential to make a disciple because I am a living epistle. When we allow Christ to do the work in us, the living epistle is written on our hearts. Do you know the impact you make when you allow people to see that transformation? My prayer is that I draw deeper in my relationship with God and encourage others to do the same.

Merry Christmas!

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!