By Jenene Stafford
All of my life I felt I didn’t belong here in this world. Now, as I become more mature as a Christian I understand that it is because I am not of this world. John 17: 14 says: I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.
In the first 28 years of my life I would say often to God, “God, you better have some incredible purpose for my life to make this crazy life worth something useful. Surely, I didn’t go through all this for nothing.”
Now as I am getting deeply rooted in Him it is a new level of spiritual transformation that gives me moments where I have butterflies in my stomach. Although, I am physically unsettled I have a peace and know that the Lord’s grace is sufficient for me to endure through this current testing of my obedience. These moments of obedience call me to be “far out” as my husband would say. The truth is I don’t like the attention my sometimes charismatic spirit draws. I have feared the gift of prophecy for so long because of this side affect. I despise the thought of being questioned as inauthentic in my love for Jesus, a false prophet or someone who needs attention. I keep asking God how can I do what you want without drawing attention to myself?
In one moment I am thanking God that He chose me for a special purpose and the next moment I am saying, “I can’t do this.” I am scared to death. Haven’t you had similar thoughts? Sometimes the testing seems never ending.
We are completely incapable of doing what He is calling us to do without His help. But, more importantly, we must depend on God’s Truth, His Word, which tells us “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Otherwise, we’ll just keep spinning our wheels and have a status-quo average Christian life. This is NOT what the Lord wants for us. He is so much greater than that. He has a great plan for our lives and we are his co-workers.
John 15:1-5 says:
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
I love how repetitive God is. He’s so like a Father, repeating himself to make sure we get the point. He tells us we’ll accomplish nothing if we don’t stick with Him.
The Word of God has been my saving grace at times I thought for sure I could not take another moment of abuse in my life. I have stood on the authority given to us that comes from the Word and its promises. We all need to get bolder in our faith and remember that God is the one that will supply everything you need to do what He has called you to do. We just need to become “Yes” women, at least when it comes to the Lord. When we KNOW the Lord asks us to do something, we need to stop saying, “Let me think about it, maybe later or let me see if I can squeeze you into my busy schedule.” Just know that when your answer is “I can’t”, He will say, that’s good, because I can.
The point is to become WILLING to do what He asks. God has a special and unique purpose for all of us. I wonder how many people never receive the spiritual fulfillment they want because of their unwillingness to do what God says to do, WITHOUT HESITATION.
I’ll be really honest, I don’t like surprises too much. Most of the surprises I’ve had in my life have been extremely painful. When God asks me to do uncomfortable things RIGHT NOW in this moment, I flinch. I’ve finally gotten to the point of saying “yes” but it takes me a few seconds or minutes to actually move into action.
Just yesterday I had this happen at church. The Lord told me to go up and pray with a certain prayer team member. I took 10 seconds to ask, “Do you want me to get prayer or do you want me to pray for her?” I didn’t get my answer. Not 10 seconds later, she was busy the entire prayer time praying for others. I wasn’t able to get to her because she was unavailable. You see I hesitated.
Then I thought, perhaps this had something to do with my daughter who just got out of the hospital, because she’s having complications after her childbirth. I was worried.
After church, being the human being that I still am, I got distracted visiting with someone else and I forgot to go and grab her. Not by accident, she walked up next to me and was on her way to go and get prayer and be anointed by the elders because she may have breast cancer. I told her what the Lord said earlier during service and her eyes got really big and she said, “I would like for you to pray for me right now.”
The Father is so good to give us so many chances. I was so blessed being in service to her and I could sense her fear over her situation. When we do what God tells us to do we feel empowered and He honors us for trusting Him to provide whatever is needed for the church body.
So many times we miss out on the blessing He wants us to get by saying no.
I was so grateful He didn’t spank me for hesitating and instead awarded me grace and a second opportunity. I don’t like the spankings at all. I end up feeling so disappointed in myself. Admittedly I grow from His refining process, however I have not gotten so accustomed that I look forward to it.
I have been sort of stubborn in my life, but I’m sure that’s just me, right? You’re not like that. I imagine God saying to me, “Here we go again. We can do this your way (the hard way) or the easy way. Which do you prefer?”
Some of us who have suffered being mistreated or abused have a tendency to have some left over challenges in our personality. Personally, since I believe the Lord can turn everything the enemy meant for evil into something good and the Word tells us this is true, now I see how my stubbornness, is also in its positive sense, determination and diligence. When the Lord reveals a vision to me I am absolutely relentless at seeing the vision come to pass. So the more I learn about people, the more I realize if I see an “unattractive” characteristic, I look for how the Lord could use that current character flaw and turn it into something beautiful and useful. He has transformed my life in so many ways and He wants to keep transforming us into His image. This happens through the testing and refining process.
During these times of testing (transformation) there are moments where I have questioned my own sanity with some of these instructions from God. If you tell the truth, it is no different for any of you. I’m sure as Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his own son, he must have thought, “Really, do we have to go this far?” But, in the nick of time an angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham, now I know that you truly fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
The point was for Abraham to demonstrate that he trusted God completely and placed him above all else, even his own son. Though God of course already knew that Abraham had faith in Him, it was necessary for Abraham to prove it through action because our faith is made complete through action.
21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
I so want to be called God’s friend. I want him to talk to me like a friend would. He wants us to prove to him we love him so God tests our love by testing our obedience and he tests our work.
Paul writes: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:9-15).
We are also tested by division. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “First of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.” (1 Corinthians 11:18, 19). Jesus prayed for unity (John 17:20-23) but not for unity at any cost. He prayed for unity based on God’s word, “I have given them Your word” (John 17:14); “Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). This ‘parting of the ways’ purges and purifies the church. The unfaithful are removed, the faithful are pruned, and those who are approved are recognized.
Make no doubt about it, God is testing us. We should also test ourselves: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
“The Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 13:3). God tests our obedience to know whether we love Him.
Father, help us be diligent to present ourselves approved by you and not by man.
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