Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Feeding Sheep

Several years ago I co-taught on Titus 2:3-5 at a women's retreat with my friend Becky. We discussed the ways we conduct ourselves, not only to avoid dishonoring the word of God, but also how to "adorn the doctrine" (Titus 2:10) It was a custom in the Greek and Jewish traditions to decorate the monuments of those who had suffered an undignified or undeserved death. Our Sunday morning communion service included a time to reflect on ways that, as women, we could "adorn the doctrine" One of our leaders brought a large rugged cross and had encouraged us over the weekend to spend personal time in prayer and at the time of communion come forward and nail to the cross a folded piece of paper that expressed what we felt God had spoken to our hearts at that time.

Leading up to the retreat I had been experiencing an intense time of Spiritual warfare. I was being bombarded with thoughts of my past and my inadequacy as a teacher, and in short, I felt Satan was doing his level best to intimidate me so that I would not be effective in my teaching. With fear and trepidation I did teach at the retreat and realized that God had called me to do so. In my prayer time, which was wrought with more warfare, I was imploring God to show me what a woman with a tainted past could be useful for in His kingdom.

As I cried out to Him, a still small voice in my heart said, "Feed My Sheep." I knew then that He was calling me to continue teaching His word and to disciple women in the church. It has taken many years of my own learning process, and facing some opposition from even godly men and women, for God to lead me to a place where I can use my gifting in this area. It has also taken a few years of stopping and starting for me to realize that my own misgivings have prevented me from being fully committed to this service. I have to keep claiming one of my life verses to remind me that this is a process, that "He who began a good work in [me] will be faithful to complete it" (Philippians 1:6)

These days I fill in as a substitute leader for my Precept Bible study and I lead a group of about 10 women in a small group at our Wednesday night Women's Life. It has been beyond rewarding and well worth the wait for a place to serve. I still struggle with my own inadequacies, but I recognize more and more that His Spirit supplies me and guides me, and that what I do is a very small part of the picture. Even my obedience is a gift of the Spirit, and I can only boast in what He does through me.

My prayer is that you would feel nourished . . . fed, by His word while you are here; that you would be drawn closer to His presence and encouraged to love and serve Him more.

For reflection:

Read John 21:15-17.

Jesus asks Peter three times "Do you love me?" In the Greek, the first two times Jesus asks "Do you love me?" using a form of the word agape' - an unconditional love that has the best interest of the person loved at heart. Peter answers, "You know that I love you," using a form of the word for love - phileo - meaning, in simple terms, friendship. The third time Jesus asks, He also uses the form of phileo, making it easy for Peter to be truthful, but frustrated "Of course I 'phileo' you!" Jesus replied, "Tend my sheep."

Do you agape' Jesus, or phileo Him? In other words, do your actions show that you have His best interests at heart or do you just value His friendship in your life? The answer may not be easy to come to terms with. But remember even Peter, the rock on which Jesus built His Church, had trouble answering this question at one time. By the end of Peter's life, one would never have known that there was a time that he struggled so. It took the Holy Spirit's presence and learning to walk by faith and obedience for him to come to a point of being willing to follow Christ whole-heartedly, even to death on a cross. It was a process. May He who began a good work in you be faithful to complete it.

Feeding His Sheep,

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