We’re glad you’re here. Have you gathered some sisters? your pen? and journal? You’re welcome to share your thoughts and questions with us through the comment box below. Let’s start.
The past week we moved from Respect to Share.
One candle can light a thousand and is in no way diminished – but actually resurrects in a thousand ways.
─ Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
What picture of share does Ann Voskamp’s quote give?
Has it been a picture of your experience when it comes to sharing?
When we share with the motive of being His light in a dark world, we never find ourselves lacking. Only being refilled to overflowing.
Sharing is the Heart of Fellowship:
Read Acts 2:42
What devotions do Believers share?
After conversion, Believers find themselves identifying with others who are also devoted to Scripture, fellowship, Communion, and prayer. In Jesus, we become connected to people we might not otherwise have anything in common. We find fellowship – through life and worship – at the heart of Share.
The fellowship of Believers becomes important because we no longer belong to the world. At conversion we become citizens of a new Kingdom.
Read 2Timothy 3:12-13
What differences did you note between Believers and unbelievers?
How do you think they might perceive one another?
The Greek word translated as persecuted or persecution not only means persecute but to make to run, drive away or in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). There are varying degrees of persecution, from giving someone the cold shoulder to physically or emotionally injuring them.
Moving from being a citizen of the world to the Kingdom of God can be a difficult transition.
I sat in the new friend’s truck as the old friend came to the window. We chatted about our thoughts from the meeting and which direction we would take. My friend made a comment about those who might attend our next meeting and I turned to my new friend and said, Don’t worry. When he leaves here, he’ll talk about us too. I laughed, said it in jest, but funny or not it was true.
He looked at me and replied, The only thing I’ve ever said about you is we know you’re gonna pray about it first. Yes sisters, he was serious. It is just the way he is.
On my way home I couldn’t decide if I was offended or elated. I mean, what better way to be made fun of right? But, it doesn’t take the sting of being made fun of away.
The world, some of my friends, even family don’t understand at times. I’m learning to be OK with it and continue to be who God is creating me to be. It’s the best kind of lonely to be.
Has there been a time in your walk with Him where you experienced loneliness? persecution? rejection? How did it make you feel?
God captured my heart after I was married and had three children. I was an unbeliever when I married my unbelieving husband. But let me tell you, that was all news to me.
I entered marriage believing I was a Believer, but after becoming one I realized I wasn’t. I had also deceived myself into believing my husband was at some level a Believer too. Guess what? I was wrong again.
My spiritual journey has been lonely. My household upside down from what God intends. The husband is to be the spiritual head of the household, but I find myself fulfilling the role. We often disagree on issues because of our different worldviews, and I can stir up all sorts of trouble for myself if I’m not careful.
It has gotten better over the years. I trust God is working on my husband’s heart. But the most important part of my life I can’t share with him. In reality, he simply can’t understand the things I want to share with him. Both joys and struggles.
When I see the spiritual reality of the battle being waged for our children’s hearts, I’m left to fight alone. I often feel the need to hide my heart, especially when I’m struggling spiritually, afraid he will see God as a failure. But being one in spirit, he sees right through me every time. It’s been a lonely difficult walk. The one I want to share with most is at odds with me when it comes to eternity.
Of course, none of this is news to God. He knew where I was when I got married. He knew where my husband was, spiritually speaking. So I fight the battle to trust He is at work and there is purpose in this season.
Read 1Corinthians 7:10-16
What does Paul say about people who after conversion find themselves married to an unbeliever?
What could be the outcome?
Read 1Corinthians 7:17-24
In what other situations are newly converted Believers to remain where they are?
Believers are not called to separate themselves from unbelievers. We are called to live in the world but not of the world. God knew the exact places we would be when He called us. Our relationships. Our employment. Our circumstances. We are called to be lights in whatever part of the dark world He has placed us.
The disconnect which happens between Believers and unbelievers is not something we do through judgment, it’s something others do to us because light and dark have nothing in common. They may drive us away, ask for the divorce, fire us, but we are to stay as long as they are willing, unless it is God who calls us to a new place.
Read the Share Reflection Scripture out loud:
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Hebrews 13:16 ESV
Do you agree with the idea of sharing being a sacrifice? Why?
In the Talk It Over you were asked to consider what you have a hard time sharing. What did you discover about yourself?
On the other hand, how have you felt when others shared something with you?
Sharing is fellowship. Coming together to share our stories, gifts, and what we have. We first talked about sharing our stories.
Sharing Our Stories:
What lies at the heart of these verses?
At the heart of these Scriptures is the drive and desire to share the story of what God has done in the lives of these psalmists.
When God works wonders in our lives we are moved to share those stories with others to glorify Him and encourage others to trust Him with their lives too.
We talked about how God in His sovereignty is the author of our stories. Everything, both good and bad, comes into our lives because He allows it.
Read Lamentations 3:37
What does God say about the source of both good and bad?
God takes full responsibility for every happening in the world, both good and bad.
How do you feel about that? a good loving God taking credit for bad as well as good?
How does this make you see the story He’s writing in your life?
Sharing our stories, both good and bad, not only builds fellowship in the church, but the church itself has potential for growth when we share our stories with unbelievers. It may be the only message they ever hear about God and the good news of His grace.
Be willing and prepared to share your conversion story with those who don’t know Him. Paul used his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus in his efforts to evangelize more than once (Acts 22:1-21, 26:9-20). Our stories paint a powerful picture of God’s ability to transform and save.
Sharing our stories strengthens fellowship, and so does sharing our gifts.
Sharing Our Gifts:
In the same way we are born with natural gifts at birth, we are also blessed with spiritual gifts when we are born again. We talked about how our spiritual gifts received at conversion are given to us for the common good of the church.
Sometimes we don’t recognize our spiritual gifts, it’s just who we are in Him. Sort of like the natural gifts of perfect pitch or great eye-hand coordination. They don’t feel like gifts to you, but they are. We don’t know they are gifts until someone tells us.
Stacy’s been telling me for years I have a gift of intercessory prayer. I’ve argued with her… We are all supposed to pray. It doesn’t feel like a gift.
During this writing I’ve thought about the intercessory prayer God calls me to and I still don’t believe the act of praying in and of itself is a unique gift to me. It’s a supernatural gift He’s given all Believers through Jesus. Because of Him we can come before our Creator with confidence, freedom, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve come to see how a discipline, like prayer, when combined with a spiritual gift enhances it. Spiritual gifts tests have told me I have the gift of knowledge. Not just a desire for it, but I know things I don’t know how I know them. Like perfect pitch. The information is just there.
When it comes to understanding the things of God, a thought will come. It feels like a truth, but I ask: Is it true? And I’ll test the knowledge and make sure it fits with His Word. He generally confirms what I’ve heard through Scripture or through teachers.
I share this because I’m beginning to understand how the gift of knowledge strengthens my ability to intercede. I know what to pray. Not because I have a “direct line to God” as some people have told me. But because He’s blessed me with a gift of knowledge to use for praying for His Kingdom.
So I suppose… the intercessory prayer I do is a gift. But only combined with the gift of knowledge.
Through fellowship, other Believers can help you discover your spiritual gifts. A spiritual gifts test may be helpful. A free online test is found at: SpiritualGiftsTest.com. You can also ask your church if they have a test they recommend.
Read Ephesians 4:4-16
What was given to each Believer by Christ when He ascended on high in victory?
What gifts are specifically listed? What primary role do these gifts have?
Jesus gave the gift of grace in varying measure along with spiritual gifts. He specifically gifted apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. These are all gifts of leadership. The primary role of church leaders is to identify the gifts of the Believers in their care and equip them for the work of ministry to build up the church.
Somewhere along the way, the western church decided leaders were to do all the work of ministry. This is not biblical. This is not God’s way. We are all ministers whether we are paid church staff or not.
Re-read Ephesians 4:12-16
What does the equipping of the saints help the church to do?
Only when everyone is using their spiritual gifts to serve the body of Christ as God intends will the church reach spiritual maturity, stop being deceived by false doctrine, speak the truth, and grow up in love.
It is not the responsibility of church leaders to do all the ministry. They can’t. It is their job to identify gifts, equip members, encourage them, and enable them to fulfill their God-given purpose in the church.
It was a slap-in-the-face moment when I began to see leadership in a very different way.
I was the Director of Education for my church. As Education Director, I was in charge of all Sunday school classes, Bible studies, children’s activities, youth ministry, and camps. In other words, if it didn’t fall under worship or music, then it was my responsibility. . We were beginning a children’s church ministry and parents were requesting we increase the number of times we offered the program per month. I began looking for leaders.
No one agreed to lead this ministry, so I allowed it to continue on a once a month basis. As I discussed the need for leadership in this area with another staff member, the friend responded, Many are asking why you won’t lead this area. After all this is what you’re getting paid for.”
I can still remember exactly where I was, the weather as I looked out the window, the sound of a sigh as it rushed from somewhere inside me.
It was the beginning of a turning point in my leadership. It took many years to put words to the understanding. Leaders who are called to church careers are called to give those they serve the opportunity to share their gifts to build the kingdom.
I learned the best response to a church member expressing a desire for some type of ministry or program was, It sounds wonderful. Are you willing to lead, get it started? If you are I will help you in anyway I can.
Some walked away frustrated, but others didn’t. Those who grabbed the reins and began to share their gifts have made a huge difference in building our church community and God’s kingdom.
Every single member of the church has been spiritually gifted to help build up the church into all it’s called to be by God. Until we are all actively serving with those gifts the church will have its problems.
When complaints about your church surface, resist the temptation to target church leaders for not doing the ministry. At most, they might be guilty of not engaging the members, usually out of fear or pride. Instead of questioning the faithfulness of the leaders, question your own faithfulness. Where am I failing to serve where God has equipped and called me?
The question: What’s wrong with the church today? Can generally be answered: Me.
Sharing the gifts given you are essential to the health and well-being of His church.
Oh. And by the way, the flip-side of this issue? When you recognize a spiritual gift in someone else, you have the responsibility of sharing with them what you see. Encourage them to share their gift with the church for the common good. They are needed.
In addition to sharing our gifts in fellowship, we share our stuff.
Sharing What We Have:
We talked about how sharing might get confused with giving, but, in reality, most of the giving we do is actually sharing.
Read Deuteronomy 14:22-23
This Scripture is the basis for the teaching of giving a tithe.
What were God’s instructions?
What happened to the tithe once it was brought to the place the Lord set apart?
Did you notice who was supposed to partake of the tithe?
God doesn’t lead us to bring a tithe to the Sanctuary or church and walk away. There is more to it. He commands us to share in the tithe.
Does it change your perspective to consider a tithe is not something you give away but enjoy with others and God?
Read Deuteronomy 14:24-26
What were the Israelites supposed to do if they could not physically carry their tithe to the place God set apart?
What were they to do once they arrived?
If the Israelites couldn’t carry their tithe, they were to trade it for money, and bind the money to their hands. Once they arrived they were commanded to purchase anything they desired to share with God at the appointed place.
We’ve heard about tithing. Listened to sermons and teachings on the subject of giving a tithe. But in a sense tithing is not a gift, it is something we share. Like asking friends and family to a special dinner in a place God has set apart to share in the bounty He has given. This tithe is so much more than money. It represents the things we strongly desire and want to share with the Body of Christ.
Puts a whole new spin on the traditional pot-luck luncheon. (lol)
We talked about the blessing of having a bountiful eye or generous spirit as seen in Proverbs 22:9. Fear of scarcity is not something we experience when we see life through Jesus.
Did you think of other hindrances to sharing besides fear of not having enough?
Read 1Samuel 30:21-25
This incident happened during David’s years on the run from King Saul. He and his followers were raising families and surviving in the wilderness. Camping out in enemy territory, while the king hunted them down. As a result, their camp was raided. David and his men went to regain what was lost: their possessions and their families.
Some were too tired to complete the mission and stayed behind. But God had promised success and succeed they did. Regaining all they lost and then some. When they returned to those who were left to guard the luggage, some who fought didn’t want to share what they recovered.
What was the character of the men who did not want to share the spoils of battle with those who stayed behind?
What was their reasoning for not sharing?
What was David’s response? Why?
Share and share alike. David recognized all they recovered and all they gained was given to them by the Lord. The work they did, the strength and energy they used, was all from Him. Nothing we have is gained on our own. It is all given by God, even the means with which we earn what we have.
Sometimes, judgment of what’s fair and unfair, who worked and who didn’t, prevents us from sharing what we have been given by grace. If they didn’t do the work, they don’t deserve it. But someday, the shoe may be on the other foot. You may be too weary or ill or unable to work as hard as those around you. How would you want them to treat you?
Seeing ourselves as part of community (one piece of a whole) and remembering God is the Giver of all we have encourages us to share and share alike. No matter what work others put in or are able to offer, we are all blessed when the whole is cared for.
Another obstacle to sharing what we have is just plain inconvenience. It takes work to invite people into our homes, sort through a closet, or dig through drawers.
Have you failed to share because it was just too inconvenient?
We talked about God including sharing in the type of fast He chooses for us.
Read Isaiah 58:6-7
How can sharing our food, homes, clothes, time and energy be like fasting?
Fasting is a spiritual discipline and, yes, spiritual disciplines can be inconvenient. That’s part of the point. When we share what we have, we are intentionally inconveniencing ourselves, doing something difficult, to disconnect us from ourselves. Fasting is a starving of our flesh, our desires, for the purpose of feeding our spirit and increasing His desires in us. Primarily to put others before ourselves, as Jesus did.
The ESV reads: Is not this the fast that I choose… not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Giving time and energy to people – whether family or the human race in general – is a time of not doing what your flesh wants to do. Giving up time we’d spend on ourselves to share it with someone else.
Do you hide yourself from people? avoiding others because you want to do what you want to do?
I was faced with this challenge Saturday evening.
We just returned from a week away and a twelve hour day in the car. I was looking forward to take-out and dinner with my husband and possibly our children who said they might come by. A quiet evening. Perhaps with a little time left for writing.
When our daughter showed up shortly after we got home, her boyfriend was with her. Which was fine, but unexpected. Then the youngest wanted to bring two more for dinner. An after-vacation party, he said.
We went from five to a possible eight for dinner. One with dietary restrictions. I revamped my plan. Chose not to hide from my own kind. And figured out how to put an after-vacation dinner party together.
I said No to me and Yes to others. And it was fun.
Our Reflection Scripture challenged you to Journal this week. How did that go? Did you gain any new insights? See something in another translation? or through the definition of a word or two?
When I chose another translation for the Reflection Scripture, I went to the King James Version. It’s not one I use very often, but that’s what came to mind.
But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:16 KJV
There were a couple of differences which caught my attention, but the biggest was the translation of the Greek word seen as share in the ESV to communicate in the KJV.
As I thought about it, I saw where communicating is important to sharing. We communicate our needs to one another along with our stories. We communicate our desire to share our gifts and serve the church. We communicate the gifts we see in others to help them grow.
Then I looked at the definition. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary gives share as the archaic definition of communicate, but it also means: to convey knowledge or information about; to reveal by clear signs; to cause to pass from one to another; to receive Communion; to transmit information, thought or feeling so that it is satisfactorily received or understood; to open into each other: connect.
Communion is how we communicate. The sharing of lives and hearts in a way which satisfies. Sharing not only satisfies the needy, but those who share. It is what we were created to do. To connect with each other, open up to one another.
Sharing is at the heart of fellowship, becoming one body for Him. His Body.
He shared Himself with us. Communicated the gospel with His life, so we could communicate, sharing with Him and others.
All of our sharing was established by the One who came to share His life with us.
Becoming Less to Become More:
We talked about share leading to Communion. The ultimate sharing of Jesus, who we are to re-member as the Body of Christ.
Once a month in my church as I kneel at the altar, hands held out to receive, the server breaks bread from a whole loaf. She literally tears it from the inside of the fresh bread. And I remember Jesus’s torn body saved me.
I place the bread in my mouth and I re-member. I feel those who kneel on each side of me and imagine the Spirit working through us to restore His Kingdom.
Jesus broken into a million pieces so that in our taking of the one piece, we, His Body, are made whole.
After talking about share as the heart of fellowship, what does it mean to you to proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes?
Read 2Corinthians 4:6-12
This passage gives a different perspective to sharing in Christ’s ministry by being a fragile vessel for His light.
What are we carrying around in our bodies? Why?
Does this give you a clearer picture of sharing to re-member Christ? What emotions stir? Does this kind of sharing excite you or disturb you?
What assurance does this passage give us about carrying around His death so others might live?
To be a vessel for the Lord’s Spirit and to proclaim His death in our bodies is not easy. The same path He walked, carrying His cross, is the same one we are called to. There will be affliction, pressing, times of confusion, and persecution. We will even be knocked down. But rest assured, no matter what, we will not be destroyed. We will not suffer loss.
Sharing in Christ Jesus and His ministry leads to so much more than we could ever imagine.
Did you practice any of the Share exercises this week?
- Sending a note of gratitude to someone who shares their gifts with the church.
- Sharing a personal story to encourage someone who is suffering.
- Praying for the worship service of a church in your community.
- Sharing some of what you have at the Spirit’s guidance.
- Sharing something you don’t have a lot of.
Which ones were most difficult? What did you learn from your experience?
The blessings found in sharing eventually grow us to a place where we are ready to give. Which leads us to our next step of faith: Give.
Lord, thank You for sharing Your life with us. Grow me to have the same heart for sharing as you.