Monday, April 15, 2013

If you want God to do great things through you, you gotta start here...

A couple of months ago, I was privileged to share with about 30 leaders of the Youth for Christ ministry here in NE Ohio. I took that responsibility seriously. I asked the Lord, “What is the most important truth I can share with these youth leaders?”
And the word “beloved” kept coming to mind.
Remember how Jesus starts His ministry? He’s baptized and the Father’s voice from heaven announces, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.” As Jesus launched His public ministry, the Father knew it was vital for Jesus in His humanity to know how much the Father loved Him. Rejection, accusations, ridicule, and sufferings were coming. The knowledge of being loved by God was foundational for Jesus in His ministry.
If that was true for Jesus, how much more is it true for us.
As a spiritual leader for youth, how secure are you in God’s love? Let me ask it another way. Do you have an exclamation point or a question mark in your heart?
We are all born with the question mark in our hearts. We are fallen people in a fallen world. We were little boys who tripped and fell a lot and were chosen last at recess. We were little girls who tried out for the solo and didn’t get the part. That happened over and over in lots and lots of ways. Now, we wonder, “Do I have worth and value? Am I loved?”
When people with the question marked heart go into the ministry, they can do great damage to others. Why? They aren’t secure. They develop visions, goals, strategies, and tactics for ministry. Then they use people. The people around them might not be able to articulate it, but they feel used, misused, and, in some cases, even abused. How does this happen? Their leaders are seeking to answer that question in their hearts, “Do I have worth and value?”
Other leaders, though, have an exclamation point in their hearts. They are secure. They can say, “I am loved! I have worth and value!” They also develop visions, goals, strategies, and tactics for ministry. But the exclamation marked people do great good to others. They don’t use people. They serve people. They leave a good and godly legacy. The people they are leading feel served, not used. Why? Their leaders know they are beloved. They are leading from a place of security.
Do you know that you are loved? Effective ministry begins when our question marked heart is straightened and becomes more and more an exclamation pointed heart.
In Ephesians 3, Paul writes to a church and He says, “God is going to great things through you. He can do immeasurably beyond all that you can ask or think. Your lives and mission and ministry will count. Big time.” But just before he says all that, he tells them how he’s praying for them.
“That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-20).
Paul wants them to be secure in the love of God – to have an exclamation marked heart, to know how high and deep and wide and long the love of God is for them.
It’s been said that there is nothing we can do to make God love us more and nothing we can do to make God love us less. His love for us is based on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in our behalf.
Many years ago, I learned a quote from a book called Search for Significance. “I have great worth apart from my performance because Christ gave His life for me and, therefore, imparted great value to me. I am deeply loved, fully pleasing, totally forgiven, accepted and complete in Christ.” Maybe this is a statement you can put to memory, too.
I need to keep reminding my self of these truths. I am beloved. And if you are in Christ, so are you. Do you believe it?
If you want to serve and love your youth instead of using and abusing them, it all starts with believing you are beloved.
Question: How will you cooperate with Jesus to straighten out the question mark in your heart to become more and more an exclamation point?

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