Letters to believers
By Shannon Bishop
I heard a sermon the other day about using your passions to establish peace with God and others. The pastor was encouraging believers to live out their passions with a gospel focus. Sounds all good, doesn't it?
Or does it?
The more he spoke the more I started to feel uneasy. The more I felt like he was saying to all of the comfortable Christians in the room to just fit God into your passions and you'll find your joy. The sermon series was called "True Joy" after all.
Are we really called to fit God into our plans and passions?
Is that what the disciples did? From what I read in the New Testament Jesus said, "Follow Me" and they dropped their plans and passions to pursue Him.
In order to follow Christ there has to be radical change in your heart.
We should be willing to lay aside all of our dreams and passions to pursue Him, so that our entire focus and heart is set on Him, not our own agenda. Then as we pursue Him, surrender ourselves to His will and let Him circumcise our hearts (cut out what doesn't belong), He will show us His dreams and passions for us.
Sometimes your passion and His passion for you will align. Praise Jesus! Sometimes they won't. Praise Jesus still.
My passion my whole growing up years was singing and acting. I wanted to be in musicals on Broadway. But that's not what the Lord had planned for me. Why? Because I have one main purpose on this Earth (as do all believers) and that is to glorify the Lord, and He must've known that I wouldn't do a very good job of that on Broadway. For whatever reason that was not the place where I would be able to be a strong reflection of Him. So in order to follow Jesus, I had to give up that dream. Even after giving it up however, I still tried to morph my dream into a new one that glorified Him: leading worship! I tried to learn guitar, only to get stuck after 3 chords. Then I also realized that no one wants to hear worship being belted out show-tune style. Poor me. My dreams had to go.
But God is not one to take without giving back ten-fold when you choose to obey.
He is a good Father. His dreams are way better for us than we could ever dream or imagine. He made dreams come true for me that I never even knew I had! But it wasn't until I let go of mine.
So I did. About 4 years ago I let go of all of it. I surrendered everything to Him and said "Thy will be done!"
Since then I have fallen deeper in love and gratitude with my Savior. I have fallen deeper in love and gratitude with my husband as well. I have learned way more than I ever could've while being distracted trying to fit God into MY passions.
Since then God has ignited a passion in me to find beauty in all of His creation through the lens of my camera. He has driven my hand to write messages of encouragement, correction, and testimony so that others can hear the love and grace He has for them. AND He even turned my story of His glory into a BOOK! It's a book for wives called, Brokenness Undone: A Story for Every Wife. (available on Amazon) ;)
God has placed a strong desire in my heart for the hurting, desperate housewife, because I know what it felt like to be one. He also restored my marriage and united my husband and I in THIS ministry that focuses on believers being the church, being in His Word, and discipling others.
I think of the dreams I had for myself and they were all about ME. The dreams HE has for me are all about glorifying HIM.
God doesn't want us to be self-centered, fake versions of what He designed us to be. He wants us to live our greatest potential in Him and to have true joy that only comes from Him. He wants us to lead others to Him by the light He magnifies in our lives. You cannot magnify His love if you are focused on yourself and your passions. It's impossible.
Matthew 16:24 says, Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me." (NLT)
I hope this message speaks to you today. Look at your life, are you trying to fit God into what you want for yourself? Or are you willing to give all of that up in order to live His plans and passions for you?
Originally posted on www.letterstoabeliever.blogspot.com
Jason and Shannon Bishop
Just as Paul wrote letters in the New Testament to different churches and bodies of believers, we feel called to write letters to Believers in today's world. Everything you read here is Spirit led, coming from a place of love and desire to challenge the modern day believer to live with a first century love for Christ.