In the early days of my discipleship, I truly believed that I could only glorify God with my work if that work was ministry. Which turned out to be a problem, because as I continued to discover more about myself as I progressed through college, I found that I didn’t want to go into ministry at all. It became clearer and clearer to me that my talent was working with young children and their families. For what is now an embarrassing amount of time, I was confused and anxious about my career desires. I felt that this desire to be something other than a women’s ministry leader was wrong, and that I was somehow rebelling against God in my heart. Combine this with the fact that I was among the few introverts in my campus ministry at the time, and was already insecure about my leadership style, and you can see what I bad spot my heart was in. It was only after being open about my anxious thoughts with other disciples, and really studying out God’s message on the subject, that my view of work began to become more holy. The scriptures that helped me the most during that time were Colossians 3:23 and 1 Corinthians 12:15-18. They helped me to realize that God has not called everyone to be ministers, and that’s ok. As it says in 1 Corinthians 12:17, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?”. If the whole church were full of ministers, who would reach out to the lost in the secular job market? I also began to realize that, no matter what I do, I can glorify God with it. This morning, I read an article on desiringGod.com titled, “12 Ways to Glorify God at Work” (link included below). While all of the methods listed are convicting, the ones that spoke to me the most were #1 and #5. #1 says that glorifying God with your work begins with believing that all legitimate work is holy or unholy before God based on your faith, not on the nature of the work. Do you realize what that means? As long as the work does not go against God’s commandments, you can glorify God in ANY job.I can forget this sometimes, and think that I have to be in this “perfect” job in order to bring honor to God.How absolutely freeing! My ability to glorify God in my job is only limited by my faith. The fifth way states that you glorify God in your job by striving for excellence and working hard. You might think this part would be easy for me, because my natural inclination is to work hard at whatever I do. Yet, Satan can twist this desire and turn it into striving for excellence to glorify myself, rather than God. For me, this means constantly checking my motives to be sure that the reason I am striving for excellence is to direct the attention back to God. But when I am working for God’s glory, how much more joy do I find from my work! I encourage all who read this post to read the article. Which ways listed speak most to you? How can you bring more glory to God at work?
“And Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.'” John 12:23-24
Jesus was all about using metaphors to explain himself to the apostles. He uses this metaphor to attempt to explain to the Twelve that His time to die will soon come, but it is for their betterment that it does. Unless Jesus died, no one would be saved. We all would have been separated from God for all eternity. Robin Weidner uses Jesus’ words to explain our own growth process. She states that in falling short of God’s standards, and journeying through those dark parts of your spiritual walk, “you will suffer, even lose parts of yourself that you thought were essential, but as you surrender to this process, you will see amazing fruit.” Oftentimes, growing in spiritual maturity means that you have to let parts of yourself die.
It is amazing to be with the fellowship of Christ in St. Louis! Right now, I am tasting a little bit of Heaven as I attend the International Church of Christ North American Summit. Even though there have already been a couple of times when I have felt overwhelmed, I would not change being here for anything. One of my favorite things about church conferences is getting to get my hands on some new spiritual books. There has been one in particular that I have been looking forward to purchasing for months: Grace Calls – Spiritual recovery after abandonment, abuse, and addiction. This book is by Robin Weidner, a gifted writer and my faithful sister in the Lord. If you haven’t read any of her books, I highly recommend them. She has also written Secure in Heart and Eve’s Song. Today, I decided to start having my quiet times in Grace Calls. I wasn’t 5 pages into the introduction before I was impacted. Weidner describes the spiritual growth model as one of a spiral. God is at the center of the spiral, closest to whatever trauma you have experienced. You can move up or down a spiral, but no matter where you are, you are always the same distance from the center. In addition, as you move up the spiral, your perspective begins to broaden. A major part of spiritual recovery is learning to see your trauma from God’s perspective. One point in particular she made about the spiral model is how much security it gives us in our walk with God. There is no right or wrong direction in spiritual recovery, because whether you go forward or backward, you are always close to God. This is so encouraging, because sometimes part of recovery means going backwards and reworking through things. I am SO excited to continue reading and studying out the “12 stones of recovery”, and to engage in the recovery process with God. I will leave you with this powerful quote from the introduction:
“The growth process is cyclic rather than linear. We come up against the same old difficulties repeatedly. We believe we have overcome something, and there it is again, only much more subtle.At the same time there is movement, represented by the upward flow of the spiral. The problems come up, but we are in a different place with respect to them each time they appear.” – The Spiral of Growth blog, Ken Russell (p.xvII)
As I was reading today, I learned an eye-opening fact. It was this: “If you are going to request that someone make a change in their behavior, you are more likely to see that change if the person feels loved and appreciated by you.” (176) Reading this sentence was simultaneously an “Aha!” and “Duh!” moment for me. Of course people are going to be more willing to respond to requests if they feel loved – love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8) However, I do not always practice this. Far too often, I expect people to change without even trying to express love to them. I get into the entitled mindset of, “Well, he/she should be doing this anyway. I really shouldn’t even have to explain this to them” This is not a loving attitude. Love seeks the benefit of another; it is not arrogant, and does not insist on its own way (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). This passage reminded me that my first priority should always be loving the other person, not trying to change them. It is only after love is given that any requests should be made, for “love creates the climate in which requests are more likely to be honored.” (180)
This week, I have decided to take a break from studying the Holy Spirit, and pick up my book about the 5 love languages again. The chapter that I read today resonated with me, because my family relationships could definitely use some work. This chapter made the interesting point that it is not only a scientific, but also biblical, fact that having a positive emotional relationship with your parents improves your life. Ephesians 6:2-3 explains that this is the first commandment that comes with a promise: “Honor your father and mother…that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Think about it: this is first commandment that comes with a promise. Our relationships with our parents must be really important to God. When we feel loved by our parents – that is, when our parents speak our primary love language – honoring them is a natural response. However, in our fallen world, children often do not feel loved by their parents, and may even feel hurt or abandoned. How are you supposed to love your parents in this situation? The great thing about love is that it is not solely based on emotion. According to Chapman, “Love…seeks the well-being of another…Love is not an island of emotion, but rather an attitude that corresponds with appropriate behaviors. Love is the attitude that says, ‘I choose to look out for your interest. How may I serve you?’ (125) It is a mind-blowing concept to me that the fuzzy, warm emotions do not have to be there for you to show love. Love is a choice. I am reminded of how the apostle Mark chose to describe Jesus: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Jesus made the decision to serve even those people that he knew would betray him. So, it seems that no matter how I feel about my family, or anyone else for that matter, I can still make the choice to love them. Wow.
So, I found this book on Amazon Kindle called “The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit”, by Reuben Archer. I have only read the first few pages of it, but I am already super convicted! In my reading today, I learned about the Holy Spirit actually being a person. Archer explains that we often think of the Holy Spirit as some nebulous influence that we are to somehow grab ahold of and use for our purposes. The Holy Spirit, in actuality, is the divine person of God, and share all of His characteristics. The Spirit is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good. In fact, the Bible states that the Spirit searches and knows the depths of God’s thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). But that isn’t even the best part! This divine being, who is one with God, humbles Himself to take up residence in our hearts. The Holy Spirit gives us what we need in order to accomplish the purposes of God. That is amazing and very humbling to think about. It changes the way that I think about the third person of the Trinity. I have in the past thought of the Spirit as something that I must call upon to do what God wants me to do. Rather, it is the Spirit who takes a hold of me. That is a relief, because I don’t know how to do God’s will without divine intervention!
In the past few days of studying out the Holy Spirit, I have learned that the Holy Spirit reminds us of important spiritual truths, is able to cleanse us as nothing else can, and has the authority of God. I learned today that perhaps the most important thing about the Holy Spirit is that it is a promise of what is to come. Ephesians 1:13-14 says that, when we heard and believed in the gospel, we “were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” The Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee that we are going to be heirs in Heaven with Christ. I love how God understands our natures so much. He knows that, even though He is God and is incapable of lying, we would have a difficult time holding on to the promise of Heaven. As we journey throughout life, and are daily attacked by Satan, God knows how hard it is to keep an eternal perspective. And so what does He do to remind disciples of their ultimate destiny? God gives us the Holy Spirit. I imagine that the Holy Spirit is constantly whispering in my heart, “I know that life is hard, but remember, this is not your forever home. God has intended you for greater things. You are meant to rule a better land.” How thoughtful of God to give us this constant reminder of Heaven!
Today, I read about how the Holy Spirit changes the purpose of our bodies. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, the Bible questions, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God in your body.” When I looked up the definition for “temple”, I found this: “a building devoted to worship, considered to be the dwelling place of a God”. Our bodies are literally the place where the Holy Spirit lives; so, we must treat it differently. Just as you treat a bar differently from a church, so you must treat your body differently after you receive the Holy Spirit. The defintion of a temple is that it is devoted to worship. So it seems that, whatever you used your body for before, its new purpose with the Holy Spirit is to worship God. Jesus paid the ultimate price to redefine how we use our bodies. He sacrificed Himself so that we could be transformed from objects of wrath to objects of grace (Ephesians 2:3-8). It is amazing to think that the Spirit of God can so radically change us.
Today, I learned that the Holy Spirit produces hope. In Romans 5:3-4, it states that we are able to rejoice in our sufferings, because suffering produces endurance, which produces character, which produces hope. Verses 3 and 4 are not what drew my attention, though. What got me to really reflect this morning was v. 5; “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s love has been poured into our hearts. Keep in mind, this is the love described by the Bible as steadfast, unfailing, without measure, and unable to be conquered even by death (Romans 8:38-39; Ephesians 3:18). This is the type of love that God has placed in our hearts! No wonder the Holy Spirit produces a hope that will not disappoint us! It is almost beyond comprehension to think about my heart containing the fullness of God’s love. What a wondrous thought! How much good we could do in the world if only we remembered the glorious capacity to love that God has given us! I look forward to meditating on this thought further, and thinking about how to show this tremendous love to others.
Today, the verse that stood out to me was this: “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25-26). According to Jesus, the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to help us draw close to God in a two-fold process. First, it teaches us all that we need to know about God, and second, it helps us to remember everything that Jesus teaches us about God through His Word. How awesome is that?! I am so grateful for God’s foresight and providence. He knew that we would get so caught up in this life and its busyness, and so He sent us a Helper, someone to walk beside us day in and day out in this life, and constantly remind us of His goodness. I think that I am starting to understand why Jesus said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7). In the past, I have read this Scripture and thought to myself, “Really, Jesus? It’s to my advantage that you went away? Because I feel like this whole life thing would be a lot easier if you were physically right beside me.” But now I see that Jesus wanted the far better thing for me. While it was great for Jesus to be in physical form here on Earth, it is even better to have the Spirit of God living within me, changing my heart and mind from the inside out. Glory to God for His unerring wisdom!