Sunday, November 22, 2015

On the Sidelines, or in the Game?

For several months I have been struggling with what I think a lot of people struggle with; What is God's will for my life? I have been on a journey through studying scripture and reading all kinds of literature to help me recognize if I am directing my own path or if I am allowing God to direct my path.

In the Game

I used to pursue my own desires, successes, and goals without really searching for God's direction. So, now I am questioning myself, "Am I am where I am now because of my own selfish desires? Have a veered off the path God had initially intended for me to travel?"

Maybe. I don't know yet. But, I can say that through all of my experiences, struggles, successes, and failures, God had used them to refine my heart and turn my eyes back to focus on Him. I can see how God has used some difficult situations to refocus my attention, which may have been His ultimate plan in the first place. Through my search for my purpose and God's will I learned that:
  1. God's purpose for our lives is to worship Him and give Him glory.
  2. Leave the past, don't worry about the future, and live for today.
  3. Jesus commissioned us to go out and make disciples; to be the light of Christ so that others will come to know Him.
I began to think about my participation in the role and responsibilities Jesus commissioned to His followers. Have I made an effort to help "gather" or have I been sitting on the sidelines and letting others play the game for me? Jesus said, "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." (Matthew 12:30) When I read that verse I couldn't help but ask myself, "Am I gathering or scattering?"  That is when I starting getting a little depressed. I haven't really been gathering, then am I scattering? I have tried to reflect Christ in my daily life; in how I interact with people and serve. But, I was feeling like I wasn't making an intentional effort to "gather".

I look at my husband, a high school boys basketball coach, and I see what an amazing witness he is to his players. That is his mission field and he loves it. Part of me is envious because he knows his purpose; his mission. He loves Jesus so much and wants to be a strong Christian role model for young men that will one day become husbands and fathers. I am so proud to be his wife!

About a month ago, I started to think about how I could be more involved in sharing the gospel to others outside of my daily interaction with the few people I see everyday. One day the Holy Spirit laid it on my heart to blog again. 'If you want to share the gospel, what better platform than social media?'

Occasionally I would share a Christian quote or some scripture that moved me, but I really didn't make an intentional effort to use social media as a mission field. I thought, 'Amanda, you can share your stories and experiences online!' -  My motivation to starting Heart Java's blog, Facebook and Twitter page... is Jesus!

Did you know there are more than 3 billion people using the internet everyday? ( The Pew Research Center says, 72% of adults that are on the internet use social media. Over 70% of those are on Facebook and 23% are on Twitter. ( What a mission field! How many of us really use social media as a way to witness to people who need Jesus?

The other day, I was reading a story in Mark chapter 5. Jesus drove out a legion of demons from a possessed man. What really got me to thinking is when the people were told about Jesus driving out the demons from a man into the herd of pigs, they were afraid and pleaded with Jesus to leave! A man, who was possessed with a LEGION of demons; that was so violent and strong that couldn't be chained up; who I'm sure terrified people; was freed by Jesus! How did these people not find this amazing? As awesome as we think it is, I wondered if they didn't because it was second hand knowledge. I wondered if they thought maybe the scared people that told them were exaggerating or they told the story in a way that made them afraid too. Then I thought, 'Is it easier to believe something when you know the person who experienced it themselves tells the story?'

The man was so grateful he begged to follow Jesus, but Jesus said no. Jesus told him, "Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how much he has shown mercy on you." (Mark 5:1-20)

So, the man goes back to Decapolis, shares his story with the people and they were amazed! He used his own story to share the mercy and love of Jesus! He was a first hand witness!

When I read this story, I thought about my own life experiences. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, being comfortable with the status-quo, I need to do my part in sharing the good news of the gospel. It's time to get out there, get out of my comfort zone and share my stories and struggles with others! I need to share how Jesus Christ has, not only saved me, but redeemed me, loved me, had mercy on me.

As I have been more intentional in studying the Word and searching for my purpose in God's will, my passions are changing. My desires are changing. I am seeing things much differently now. I pray that God is redirecting my desires to be more in line with His. I want to be obedient to His will and call for my life! I no longer have a desire to live comfortably on the sidelines! I want to be put in the game!

I love this quote by Mark Batterson, "God wants you to get where God wants you to go, more than you want to get where God wants you to go." It's a tongue twister, but I thank God that's true. What I have learned over the last few months is that we can't mess this thing up. Everyday that we have air in our lungs is a day that God will use us for His purpose. Although we may veer off track from where God intended us to go, He uses our circumstances. He uses our struggles and situations to refine us and bring us back closer to Him

As I have been reading scriptures and reflecting on the books I read, I have such a desire to get it out! Job 32:18 says, "For I am full of words, and the Spirit within me compels me." That's how I feel! I am so in awe and excited of what God is revealing to me that I desperately want to tell others!

It is hard sometimes for me to push the publish button and open my life up to all my brokenness, struggles, regrets, shame.... sinfulness. But, I pray that someone finds a connection to their own life. I pray that people who read this blog and follow on social media know that they are loved by the King. He is there to lift them up out of the waters of doubt, fear, and pain.

It may seem strange to some, but I used to pray to Jesus to let me be part of His army. Knowing that we were going to win in the end makes it a little easier...there's no chance of losing! Everyone wants to be on the team that is already picked as the favorite to win! On Jesus team, the odds of winning are infinity to one. I want to fight with Him right by His side.

You know the response I got? and I actually felt this in my spirit after praying that prayer...  How can you ask to be a solider for Christ when you struggle with the battle now? Think about that for a minute! Here on this earth, if we aren't in tune with the Spirit, we may not recognize the spiritual battles taking place right in front of us. 
What makes us think we will be ready to battle a demon face to face? I feel like, if I truly want to be a soldier for Christ, I need to be war ready now! That is my mission. Continue to learn, grow, and mature so that I will be more like Christ. Be more in tune with the Holy Spirit. I know I will never be perfect and I am pretty sure I will fail daily, but I know Jesus is there to pick me up, dust me off, and push me back in the game.

Have we allowed Christianity to be more of a spectator sport? Instead of us sitting on the sidelines and letting other people recruit the team, we need to get out there and start winning people over to Jesus's side! That is why I want to write about Jesus! That is why I want to share my life in Christ. The good, bad, and the ugly. It's because of His great grace, mercy, and love that I want to be His servant, a soldier for Christ.

It feels almost as if my spirit is jumping around like Billy Blanks, fists up and ready for Tae Bo! I don't want to be the one standing on the sideline playing it safe. I don't want to be satisfied with the status-quo! I want to be used by God. I want to stand up, step in, and get in the game!

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