Ministry as a Lifestyle

When you think about ministry what comes to your mind? Do you think of pulpits and pastors; worship leaders and sunday school teachers? For many years these were the only ideas I had of ministry. I thought that in order to be considered “in ministry” I had to be a leader of a christian community or receive a paycheck from the church. It wasn’t until the last few years had it become apparent to me that ministry is more than just a title or a position held in the church.

Diakonia, which is the Greek word that is often translated as ministry in the New Testament, means service.  While there are those who are called to “church ministry” i.e pastors, evangelists, prophets and teachers, the bible makes it very clear that each of us is given gifts for the purpose of serving thus enabling all of God’s people to do ministry.

It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service [diakonia], so that the body of Christ may be built up.

Ephesians 4:11-12

This diakonia or ministry is any biblically consistent work or service that benefits others and brings glory to God. We are all called to this service however, to each of us, God has given specific roles to play better referred to as purpose. And in order to achieve that purpose He has bestowed the use of various gifts and talents to each of us.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10 NIV

Each of us has a role to play in this ministry called life. As a blogger I know that I have been given is the ability to write and I utilize this platform known as the blogosphere to edify the body of Christ through words that bring encouragement to others and glory to God. (See Blogging with a Ministry Mindset) Each of us has been given talents and gifts that we are to use to complete the good works and purpose God has appointed to our lives.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV

When we begin to see our lives as not just a series of events tied together by time but as endless opportunities to be witnesses of Christ and servants of the body we then strive to do everything to the glory of God.

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT

Whether we are school teachers, waitresses, lawyers, doctors, or artists our lives are a ministry of light pointing to the source of eternal love that is found in our Father and everlasting life that is accessed through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

 

 

My Bookshelf

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Motivation

I am up far to early today, not at all because it is in my nature, its more so having something to do wit an early stirfry dinner that gave me idus last night and left me passed out on the living room floor around 6pm. Up at 3am and scrolling through some of my favorite blogs, I came across ordinarilyextrodinarymom‘s blog post No Hustle, No Sleep, No Repeat and it really got me to thinking about motive and true inspiration. And as if by magic I turn into today’s devotion and it read

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” – Leviticus 19:18 ESV

color-purple-shug-o

Ugh oh, I know what this means, and I don’t need Shug Avery to sing it to me for confirmation; it’s obvious, “GOD”S TRYNA TELL YOU SOMETHIN””

Grudge, malice, vengeance, animosity, those are all such harsh and dirty words. What on earth could they possibly have to do with a good ole’ christian girl like myself? But, this is why I love the Holy Spirit so much. Just when I’m about to mount my high horse and set off swiftly into the sunset, like a perfect gentleman He takes my hand and brings me right back where I belong.
So perhaps I’ve never tried to put sand in my exes fuel tank, never wished that my neighbors cat would die, and I didn’t talk bad about so & so (well…that bad, I didn’t talk about her that bad) after I found out what she said about me. No, my motivation is more elusive than that, I would pay them back simply by trying to be better than them, proving them wrong and living my life with the mantra “Oh, I’ll show them!” Suddenly it was clear, and for the first time I realized that maybe those  dirty words I’d like to think I’ve never done,  I did and actually do.

What’s Your Motivation?

Bringing Glory to God

“So then, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of [our great] God” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 AMP

Is it success? is it popularity? Is it to be known? Is it to be loved?
When our number one priority and motivating factor above all things is God there is fullness and satisfaction. Don’t misunderstand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being motivated by the desire to live a full life that is profitable and successful, to have an abundance of awesome friendships and healthy relationships, to live life with purpose and to thrive with passion for what you do. These are all great things we should want and should be motivated by. In fact, Jesus said that He came that we may have life and have it to the fullest (John 10:10). But what happens when our primary motivation is not our love for God and bringing Him glory? Idols, which is anything or anyone we put before God, are formed. Comparing ourselves to one another and even jealousy can crop up in our lives. We lose the sense of enjoyment we once found in what we do. Our lives are consumed with busyness always going going going with a harvest that bears very little fruit or growth. Things begin to feel like a struggle; there is a loss of peace and a contentment that only comes from glorifying God . What we once viewed as important because it was done to edify God has now become negotiable; based primarily on feelings and circumstances.

Love

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:2 ISV

Love for God, Love for others and love for yourself. I ask myself, especially when I’m blogging or on social media, does this post demonstrate my love for God? Will this retweet enrich or disrupt someone else’s life? Does this instagram post show me in a light that is reflective of the love and respect I have for myself? And that’s just one minor way love can be a motivating factor. In my case, taking on an attitude of trying to show off or show out because of a grudge or out of revenge is faaaaarrrrr from operating in love. It should be no wonder why things often did not prosper. Whether its love for God, love for others,  a healthy love and respect for yourself or a love for what you do, it’s all meaningless and nothing outside of love.

The Ultimate Authority

God will never require us to do or be anything He hasn’t enabled us to do or empowered us to be. Obedience to God is essential to doing and living in the will of God and being blessed by God. Obedience is doing what God says to do, how God says to do it and when He says to do it. True, obedience isn’t always easy, but it is undoubtedly the best way.

“He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”” – Luke 11:28 (NIV)

Related Post: The Importance of Obedience

God Must Be the Ultimate Authority in Our Lives

“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.” – Deuteronomy 10:17 (NIV)

I remember as a child, having received my first bike and just learning how to ride, I couldn’t wait to get home from school everyday so I could hop atop my pink and white tasseled Huffy and ride the day away. There were only a few rules: behome when the street lights came on and never ride beyond the courtyard. For a while I was more than satisfied with that. But as I grew more experienced, the training wheels came off and all of my friends ventured off beyond the street lights and returned with tales of imagination and discovery I longed to go further. Yet, whenever they would ask me to join I’d always decline. Not because I didn’t want to but because I knew my mother and father were the ultimate authority in my life. Even though, in disobeying my parents they may or may not have ever found out, I couldn’t help but know it just wasn’t worth the risk.

In the same way, if we seek to be obedient to God we must know Him as the supreme authority in our lives. And unlike the parents of a 6 year old child, He is the God who knows all and sees all. Yes, God gives us choice,the choice to obey or disobey His commands. But when we believe God to be ultimate, above and before all things in our lives; including our desires, our feelings or the persuasion of others and this world, we can’t help but know disobedience just isn’t worth the risk.

 

The Importance of Obedience

Obedience to God is an essential component to the Christians life. But have you ever wondered why? While it is not always easy to be obedient it is required in order to be pleasing to God. Its also beneficial and critical to living a life in the fullness God intends for His people.

The Importance of Obedience

Obedience is evidence of our love for God

“But remember—continue to obey the law that the Lord’s servant Moses gave you. You must love the Lord your God and obey his commands. You must continue to follow him and serve him the very best that you can.” – Joshua 22:5 ERV

Where the heart lies the man follows. This is why Jesus says in Matthew 6:24 that no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be loyal to one and despise the other.” Love is an all in heart choice. You can not sort of love someone or something, you either love it or you don’t. Sure, there may be varying degrees of love. Im sure you don’t love a friend in the same manner you love a spouse and you don’t love your children in the same manner that you love Starbucks coffee on a Sunday afternoon. You might make time and reservations for your spouse that you otherwise wouldn’t for a co-worker, just as you would give the world for your children, highly unlikely you would do the same for a vanilla frappe. In the same way, as believers, God should be the paramount love of our lives and when He is there is nothing we won’t do to satisfy that love. Our obedience overflows from that love, just as the psalmist illustrates we too desire to be obedient to God. Psalm 119:4-5 You have given us your laws to obey— oh, how I want to follow them consistently.”

“If we love God, we will do whatever he tells us to. And he has told us from the very first to love each other.” – 2 John 1:6 TLB 

Obedience bestows blessings & provision

“How blessed are those whose actions are blameless, who obey the law of the Lord.” – Psalm 119:1 NET

 When we are obedient we release God to operate uninhibited and to move fully in all areas of our lives. Conversely, our disobedience births consequences and death (physically and/or metaphorically) that inhibit us from attaining all that God wants to give us.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:7 NET

Obedience is essential to spiritual maturity & growth

“Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me you can’t do a thing.” – John 15:5

How does a child know right from wrong? Unfortunately, none of us were born knowing how to drive a car, do long division or instinctively recognize that touching a hot stove is a bad idea. Fortunately, that’s why we have parents and teachers, leaders and mentors to give us loving correction, to guide us and instruct us. None of us are perfect. We are born into this world full of sin, funny as it is we never have to teach a child to lie because it is in our nature as men in this fallen world to sin. And just as a child is corrected by their father or mother so it is we are children of God, born into this new life of Christ. And like any loving father he corrects us for our benefit and instructs us in the way we ought to live. Obedience to heeding to God’s instruction leads us into a life of fruitfulness, maturity, and growth.

Obedience is the evidence of our salvation and faith

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21 NIV

Salvation is a gracious and undeserved gift from God that is given to all who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ; His deity, death and resurrection. When a person comes to believe a thing, whatever that belief may be, his or her life can not help but reflect it. If I just say the words “I believe,” and in my heart there is little to no truth in my confession, my life will undoubtedly appear quite contrary to that belief system. Our faith defines our desires, actions and behavior. As a believer in Christ our actions should line up according to His word.

“This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. The one who claims, “I know him,” while not keeping his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person.  But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word. This is how we know we are in him.  The one who claims to remain in him ought to live in the same way as he lived.” – 1 John 2:3-6 CEB

Obedience is essential to living a life in the will of God

“Young people can live a clean life by obeying your word.” – Psalm 119:9 CEV

You can not live in the will of God if you do not obey the will of God. Simple enough principle with a whole lot of worth. However, do you know the will of God? In order to know God’s purpose, plan and will you have to be in His word. The bible is where we find instruction, guidance, truth and life. As believers we also have the gift of the Holy Spirit who is our advocate and helper. It should be our daily practice to hear from God, meditate on His word and pray for the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to carry it out.

“the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 NIV

 

Obedience glorifies God

“Your abundant growth and your faithfulness as My followers will bring glory to the Father.” – John 15:8

Without obedience we can not walk out our faith and our faith without work/action is dead (James 2:14-18). Furthermore, without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6)Our lives are lights that set us apart and point to the one we belong to. Our actions, how we behave, speak, treat and love each other are all ways we demonstrate God’s affection for us and the world. The word makes it very clear that a life of obedience, love and faithfulness are a great delight to our Father.

“What is more pleasing to the Lordyour burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:22 NLT  

Christian Bookstore Haul

All items were purchased at LifeWay Christian Stores and can either be found in store on their website or at the links listed below.

The Study Bible for Women (nkjv) Hardcover Black Letter Personal Size

9781433607776

Price I paid: 35.99$

On Sale at Christianbooks.com for: 24.99$

Product Description

The Study Bible for Women equips you to reach deep into God’s Word. Perhaps the single most powerful aspect of this Bible are the “threads” of specialized study thoughtfully woven throughout, pointing you to God’s larger story and allowing the Holy Spirit to write His revealed truths on your heart.

In The Study Bible for Women, you’ll join a host of other women, all academically trained in the original languages of the Bible and passionate about God’s Word, for an intimately deep dive into Scripture that will equip you to unlock the riches and majesty of His Word, and ignite a passion to mentor others in your life to do the same.

Features

  • Extensive commentary notes
  • Word studies
  • Answers to hard questions
  • Doctrinal notes
  • Biblical womanhood articles
  • Character profiles
  • “Written on My Heart” applications
  • Extensive book introductions
  • In-text maps, charts & timelines
  • Full-color maps section
  • Concordance
  • Presentation page
  • Family record pages
  • 8-point text size
  • 9.50″ x 6.50″ x 1.50″

 

Mary Square Bible Cases

 

Price I paid: 29.99 (75% Off ) 7.49$

For Entire Bible Case Collection Visit: MarySquare.com

 

Mary Square Journals

Price I paid: 14.99 (75% Off ) 3.74$

For Entire Journal Collection Visit: MarySquare.com

 

Sarasa Gel Retractable Bible Underlining Kit

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Price I paid: 9.99$

On Sale at Christianbooks.com for: 7.99$

Product Description

Bible underliner kit is the perfect Bible study companion with rapid drying ink that won’t smear, smudge, or bleed. Gel retractable pens; 4 medium point in orange, green, blue, and pink; and 1 fine point note pen in black.
Color Index: 
Orange: Blessings
Green: Growth
Blue: Holy Spirit
Pink: Salvation
Black: Margin Notes

 

 

Bible Dry Highlighter

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Price I paid: 12.99$

Product Description

Dry highlighter for Bible marking will not bleed through pages and comes in a handy push button design – requires no sharpening! Comfort grip; vibrant color; 5″ long.
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Mugs & Tumblers – Live Original Collection by Sadie Robertson

Sadie Robertson Live Original Collection

Price I paid: 9.99$
Planner/Agenda – Live Original Collection by Sadie Robertson

Sadie Robertson Live Original Collection

Price I paid: 29.99$

 

Product Description

Be organized with monthly and weekly spreads as well as full-year views, be creative with pages for doodling and expressing yourself, and be inspired with encouraging content and Scripture verses!  Perfect agenda for the high achiever, the creative thinker, the fashionista…for YOU!
Message:
Be You  —Sadie Robertson

Product Details:

  • Size: 7 1/8″W x 9″H x 7/8″D
  • 18-month agenda (July 2016 – December 2017)
  • 2018 year overview
  • Expanded monthly format and weekly format
  • Weekly format begins on Monday of each week
  • Scripture and inspirational quotes
  • 18 laminated tab dividers
  • Note pages, lined pages, grid pages, blank pages, and coloring pages
  • Colorful labels for noting events
  • Interior pocket page
  • Lay flat design
  • Durable, laminated cover

 

 

RL Day 14: Love Perseveres

 

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“(Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV

 

Lastly, love never gives up. It continues on despite the pain, the drama, the fear, the failure. Love strives on in the good and the bad. Why? Because God is Love, and his love is eternal. From before the beginning of time to beyond the end of time God loves. “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” Ephesians 1:4-5

God’s love is everlasting. “the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” Jeremiah 31:3

Jesus love persevered and loved us to the end. “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” John 13:1

As Stewards we are empowered by God to remain faithful and persevere. “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2

Love Never Fails 1 Corinthians 13:8

RL DAY 13: Love Always Hopes

“(Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV

I was talking to my fiance a few hours ago about some of the funny things we used to hope for and believe in as children.

“I remember I used to breath under water in the bathtub as a kid.”

“Wait, what?” I laughed.

“Yeah, I’d try to breath it in and then i’d cough until one day I coughed really bad and then I realized this was a real thing so I just stopped”

“Oh man, see that’s what scares me about having kids… Why did you do that?”

“I wanted to be like a fish. I figured that if the fish could breath under water why couldnt I…? (silence) Then there was the time I was really into Peter Pan and I believed pixie dust was real, (aka glitter) so i would jump off of things…”

And as funny and terrifying as these stories were it really got me to thinking about hope and faith. How powerful and persuasive what we believe in can be when we have hope for it and faith in it.

What is hope? From what we see in scripture, hope is the knowing and believing. It is the desire we trust in, what we expect to happen, wait on, and have faith in. We are all kind of wired to hope, as children we almost always hope for something, even if those things are founded on our imagination or something we’ve seen on tv, we find it easy and necessary to hope. As dependent children we don’t have jobs, we can’t just go out there and purchase that huffy bike or my size barbie we want for christmas, that’s mom and dad (or Santa’s) job. We just have hope for it and expect it to be somewhere in the pile of Christmas morning rubble in the morning. And just like that child, reliant on mom and dad, we too are to be hopeful and reliant on our heavenly father who supplies all good things unto us.

God is a God full of hope. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV 

When we live in hope we do not live in a state of lacking. Just like the child knows that bike will be there christmas morning, the Christian knows his needs and desires are already met. And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39:7

Hope in God brings security and direction. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Hope matured doesn’t fail. As we mature in our walk, we begin to know and learn the ways of God. We grow in faith, faith produces character and character produces hope. “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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.” Romans 5:2-5 ESV

Reflection

  1. What are some things you used to hope for as a child? How did your zeal and passion for those things changed as you matured?
  2. Name a time when something you believed and hoped for happened in your life. How did this make you feel?
  3. Are there some things you should be hoping for and expecting from God?