We began Mothers on Mission in April of 2009. Equipped with our mustard seed faith, we pressed and planted, fertilized and grew… and God caused the amazing growth from 5 to 15! Our first book was “Birds in My Mustard Tree,” by Suzanne Sheppman. This book will forever tug at my heart. My small mustard seed faith blossomed as Jesus stretched it to a place I never thought possible. I began to expect, hope, anticipate and look for Him. I began reading my Bible not just for information, but for transformation! That is how my small seedling developed into a big, sturdy shoot of faith.
This past year, God has given me those, “treasures hidden in the darkness–secret riches,” (see Isaiah 45:3). For me, those secret riches are each of you–women who say “yes,” to God. Women who pick up their crosses as they step out of their comfort zones; women who put to death anything that may stand in the way of their relationship with Christ; and women obsessed with following the only One true God. Why does God give us these hidden treasures? He gives them so, “We will all know that He is Lord, the God of Israel, the One who calls us by name,” (Isaiah 45:3).
Let’s celebrate all that God has done this year. Let’s pray for his affirmation that we are in the center of his will. Let’s be ready to receive our marching orders daily as we join him “on mission,” to reach lost souls, which are abundant right here in our backyards–our local mission field!
I’m praying that we’ve all been blessed by these 25 days of giving. I know I have, but as I look back at it and as we approach Christmas day there is really only one act of giving that counts. It’s the single motivating factor to all other acts of giving and it says everything about who we are. It’s the type of giving that separates us from the rest of this world and it’s what identifies us as His children.
Before we can give anything in the name of God we must “give up” ourselves in complete abandon to Christ. Matthew 16:25 tells us… “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, our savior. He came to save us from ourselves and yet we still seem to be in battle with our flesh over sin. The Spirit has laid questions on my heart lately and I know whatever my answers are clearly identifies whether or not I am living for Christ or for me. Some of my personal questions look like this…
Am I glorifying God with my attitude today or submitting to the feelings of my flesh?
Am I eating this food right now so my body is healthy and equipped for kingdom work or am I feeding the desires of my flesh?
Am I spending my time wisely today, getting my direction from God or am I wandering around aimlessly, letting my lazy flesh lead me?
Am I giving and working as if for Christ himself or am I looking for my own satisfaction?
These are just a few of the questions in my life that help me keep God on His throne and me off of it. As we celebrate Christ and remember what His birth meant to us, lets also consider what we can do to keep the celebration going, what we can do to keep the giving of ourselves for Him going. Pray for the Spirit to lay personal questions on your own heart and continue to “give up” yourselves not just for 25 days, not just for Christmas, but everyday we live here in this world.
I’ll end with this quote from Stuart Briscoe that sums up my feelings on Christmas completely … “The spirit of Christmas needs to be superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world.”
Father, thank you that you “gave up” your son for us and thank you that Jesus “gave up” his life for us. You love us, there’s no question about that. Forgive us God when we are not living for you… help to also “give up” our lives for You. It’s not too much to ask and as you search our hearts you know it’s our desire. Free us from the distractions of this flesh we live in, give us all consuming life in the Spirit.
Jennifer returned for a shampoo and rinse. Before she even turned on the water, her quest for information continued… “These books about God, where can I get one?” I thought to myself, “Okay, God I hear you!” After the primping was done, I handed Jennifer the book and said, “God wants you to have this book.” She joyfully accepted the gift and said, “I will start reading it tonight!”
As I gazed out the window watching my husband slip and slide his way towards work, I thought, “I am feeling down and trapped by this winter wonderland…Oh, how I need to some good news!” Immediately, I felt a stir in my heart. It was God’s little tug saying, “I have given you good news, not just at Christmastime but all year through!” I thought, “Yes, God that is really good news…thank you for your soft reminder that when things seem bleak, there is always good news… the gift of salvation packaged up for an entire world through the birth of your precious son, Jesus!”
On that glorious night when Jesus was born, the shepherds were hanging out in the frigid field watching their sheep aimlessly roam around in the darkness. They probably wondered, “Why couldn’t we be resting in a comfortable home eating a hearty meal, right about now?” If the shepherds had not been in the fields that night, they would have missed the greatest birth announcement this world has ever seen! If the angels had printed up baby Jesus’ birth announcement, it might have looked something like this…
What: The birth of the King of Kings
Where: The Town of David, in the local manger
What to Bring: A surrendered heart
The shepherds were ordinary people performing the repetitious task of caring for their flocks by night when the Holy God, Creator of all things, decided to shake things up a bit. Their humdrum evening was transformed by a heavenly chorus singing and angels shouting, “Glory to God in the Highest,” (Luke 2:14). A celestial birth announcement fit for a King! These ordinary shepherds were personally handed an invitation straight from heaven to seek out and to greet the lamb of God (John 1:36)!
God gave His specific assignment to the shepherds. I love what they did next. They obeyed! After the angel appeared and the glory of the Lord shone around them, they didn’t look at each other saying, “We will begin our journey to Bethlehem in the morning when it’s more convenient!” No, they gathered up the sheep and left immediately. Why did God choose these unlikely shepherds to be active participants in His will? God chose them because He knew they would respond in immediate obedience. God called the shepherds that Holy night and equipped them with information that would transform the world.
God decided to turn the ordinary shepherds into extraordinary people as “he guided their feet into the path of peace,” (Luke 1:79). A path that would light the way to God’s most precious gift (see John 4:10)… a friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19); captain of salvation (Heb. 2:10); Redeemer (Isaiah 43:14); and light of the world (John 8:12).
In the past, when I strayed from God, this is what would happen. I would rush around serving myself leaving Jesus empty handed. I would become so “busy,” with things that the world deemed important that I would fail to recognize Jesus’ personal invitation to fellowship with Him…sit with Him, listen to Him and be fed by Him.
This is what ended up happening with my friend Mary. Over the past year, I have invited Mary and her family to all of our church events. Regretfully, her answer has always been, “no.” Selfishly, I decided to plop myself down in the shoulder along the easy road and wallow in a puddle of personal rejection. I admit that I pursued my will and not God’s by giving up on her. Never again would I invite her or her family to anything. And just like that, “I was done!”
Instead of allowing my fear of rejection to weasel its way back into the core of my heart, I would claim a promise God gave me. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those hearts who are fully committed to Him,” (2 Chron. 16:9). God doesn’t ask us to do anything in our own strength. This verse specifically tells us that the Lord looks over the earth for people He can use and equip with the strength necessary to “get the job done!” If I profess to be “fully committed,” then my actions need to follow my words. Do my actions reveal a loyal heart or a self serving one? My actions must follow so that others will know that “Christ’s grace was not without effect,” (1 Cor. 15:10), in my life.
The “author of my faith,” (see Heb 12:2) began stretching me out of my comfort zone once again. I knew Mary had been struggling with the birth of her third child and I knew my mission was to be there to encourage her… not to internalize or to take things personally. Yesterday, I wrapped up Lysa’s book, “The Bathtub is Overflowing But I Feel Drained,” placed a sparkling silver bow on top and ventured out to deliver not only a book to an unsuspecting friend, but to deliver on an assignment God had given me. Instead of “GIVING UP,” I decided to “GIVE BACK.” I gave to my friend that day, but in reality she gave me more than I ever could have imagined when her smiling face greeted me as she opened the door! More importantly, my obedience and accountability to the Lord kept me motivated in my pursuit to humbly serve Him.
“Because His grace was not without effect,” (1 Cor. 15:10) my goal will be, “to please Him,” (2 Cor. 5:9) “by working with all my heart for the Lord and not for men,” (Col. 3:23).