Loved and Filled

I recently sat next to a stranger. Before we had an opportunity to introduce ourselves, we were instructed to pray for the person sitting next to us. The young man and I looked awkwardly at each other.

“I guess what I need most,” I confessed, “is encouragement in my spirit.”

“Yeah, me too,” I heard in reply.

It’s been a tough year. If we spend any time on social media and have a deep conviction to fight for relationships, discouragement can take up residence in our spirits. Why? We witness, and sometimes absorb, fear, weariness, confusion, self-interest, and divisiveness.

Is there hope? Absolutely. God, who gives endurance and encouragement (see Romans 5:15), is faithful and has called us into fellowship with His son Jesus Christ our Lord (see 1 Corinthians 1:9). This is good news! Let’s not forget who we are and what we have in Christ.

First, we are chosen and deeply loved by God. We are the Bride of Christ. Jesus is committed to us. He will never leave us. We do not have to fight for His attention or affection. I imagine myself sitting at the table He has prepared for me in the presence of my current enemy—discouragement. In my spirit, I declare, “Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love” (Song of Songs 2:4).

Jesus invites us to abide in His love (see John 15:9). For a fuller understanding of how this can impact our well-being and witness, I encourage us to receive this message and allow it to take root in our lives.

Second, we are not alone. We have been given each other as members of the Body of Christ, and we have been given the Holy Spirit to fill and empower us. We embody the presence of God on earth! Does our culture and our world need the presence of God? Absolutely. In his book Beautiful Resistance, Jon Tyson writes, “God is looking for a people who want to be filled with his presence and live for his purposes in the world. He wants a surrendered body willing to express his heart and carry out his mission on the earth” (pg. 18).

Out of a place of being loved, we can love. Out of a place of being filled, we can give. May this embolden and encourage us to be present in our communities and with each other, allowing God to demonstrate His love, His character, and His gospel through us.

As a benediction, I offer this song. Be encouraged.

You Belong!

I believe there are two phrases that have no place in our hearts: “I don’t belong,” and “I don’t need you.”

This is my plea to you . . .

Women of The Alliance, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if you have any comfort from His love, if you have any tenderness and compassion given by the indwelling presence of the Spirit, I ask you to listen to my plea . . .

Make my joy complete by having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. May we do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (adapted from Phil. 2).

May no woman think her ministry involvements are more commendable than another’s. Rather, in humility, may we value others above ourselves. May we celebrate the diversity of our passions and the ministries being faithfully carried out by women in our Alliance family. May we no longer look exclusively to our own interests, but each one of us to the interests of others.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work (adapted from 1 Cor. 12).

God has placed each one of us and gifted each one of us.

None of us can say, “I do not belong.” None of us can say, “I don’t need you.”

We are the Body of Christ. God has put us together.

So, there should be no division, no competing, no comparing.

Instead, may we be transformed from competitive individuals into one Body, receiving from Jesus compassionate hearts and—above all—love.

Therefore, let’s continue to work this out with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God who works in each one of us—giving us both the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.

Let’s be on mission.