By: Jenni Walker
“How do I glorify God in such a place…?” (Elisabeth Elliot)
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18–19)
* * *
My 3 year old son just woke up as I was writing this a few moments ago, crawling up into my lap, and telling me about an owie he got yesterday. (Oh, how my husband’s and my heart rejoices in the calling to be his parents and to raise him in such a way that he might come to know and follow Jesus!) Each day as his mama is wonderfully full yet also routine. Simple things like eating a meal, getting dressed, or loading up the car take a long time at this age. But I am reminded that God is at work in all things when I keep my whole self surrendered to Him. Elisabeth Elliot expresses it well when she wrote, “I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.” (We will learn more about her in a moment!)
At any point, our lives can feel a bit uneventful or just plain “normal.” But a life lived in wholehearted, “reckless abandon” for the Lord is always one well-lived because it is truly full of God’s supernatural energy and strength for His purposes. Jesus commissioned His disciples (which we are now, too!) before His ascension into heaven, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18–19) This is referred to today as the Great Commission. Being “on-mission” is something all Christians are called to be a part of!
God may be calling you to smuggle Bibles into hostile nations one day. Perhaps He has an unreached people group or hostile nation full of persecution He plans to reach through you. Maybe He has called you to community development in an unstable area (locally or internationally) that has desperate immediate needs that are also open doors to the Gospel. But for many of us, our current calling is active involvement in our local churches, daily and eternal investment in the lives of our family members, and connection in our communities.
YET…is the cry of your heart to glorify God and share the truth and love of the gospel intentionally with a lost and hurting world? How often do you think of your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are being persecuted for sharing their faith with others? Do you frequently obey the command of Jesus to “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers” (Matthew 9:38)? Are you willing to truly “go” as Jesus commanded if He were to ask that of you…? (And, although in different ways, He does command that of all of His followers!)
I am always struck to my core by a cry of Elisabeth Elliot’s heart early on in her ministry. Her husband, Jim, had recently been martyred trying to share the gospel of Christ with the Quichua tribe. She and her daughter, Valerie, who was no more than three years old (my own son’s age!), were now living in the Ecuadorian jungles with the Quichua people to continue the mission Jim and several other men of God had begun: to bring the truth and light of the gospel of Jesus to them. She could have harbored resentment toward them. She could have easily concluded that it was anything but safe to live there with her young daughter. She could have gone back home and resumed a more “normal” life. But there she was in that open tent, with her daughter sleeping on a bed made of bamboo on a dirt floor, and the cry of her heart was “How do I glorify God in such a place?”
THAT, wholehearted women of God, is being “on-mission” for kingdom purposes!
What kind of “place” are you in right now? How can YOU glorify God and be on-mission for Him in such a place today – right where you are at? Let’s consider two specific heart attitudes that will help us to wholeheartedly walk out God’s calling on our lives each day with an eternal, “on-mission” perspective:
“A LIVING SACRIFICE” – Living our lives in worship to Him
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1, NIV)
In our modern-day society, we may not fully grasp the meaning of being a “living sacrifice” to God. The author of Hebrews explains the purpose of animal sacrifices under the old covenant: “Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.’…And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission [of sins].” (Hebrews 9:19-22, NKJV)
Remission of sins in the Old Testament required death – the shedding of blood – to atone for the sins of the individual or the people collectively. What then is meant by a “living sacrifice”? A sacrifice under the old covenant would have meant something would have to die in order for another to live. But God, in His infinite wisdom and love, sent Jesus to die “once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you [us] to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18) The author of Hebrews contrasts the sacrifices and shedding of blood required under the old covenant with the “new and living way” (9:28) provided once for all by the work of Jesus on the cross where He was offered “to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 10:20):
- “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come…can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:1-4)
- “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified…Therefore, brethren, [we have] boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh.” (Hebrews 10:12, 14,19-20)
Jesus completed the work of redemption. Those of us who have repented of our sins and confessed that He is Lord are now living testaments – living sacrifices! – who live our lives consecrated to God. We are also part of an ongoing “living sacrifice” together as part of His body. We are His because of the work Jesus did on the cross, and our response is to view ourselves as such and respond in obedience and gratitude.
Does your daily life testify that you have been bought with a price? That you were a sinner saved by grace and now can draw near to God with a true heart? Are you a worshipper of Christ in all that you do? Have you made the conscious surrender to the Lord to say, “Yes, Lord, my whole life is a living sacrifice to YOU.” Do you live with the daily awareness that our holy God has called us to also be holy, and that He made the way through the blood of Jesus for our bodies to now be temples of His Holy Spirit? The temple in the Old Testament was the place where bulls and goats were slain to provide temporary atonement for sins of the Israelites; the Holy of Holies was also there, the place where God’s presence dwelt. And now God has made it that our physical bodies are literally His temple through the work of Jesus once for all!
This is the foundation of a heart for missions. We must understand these things and, in turn, understand that we are called to offer our lives to the Lord individually and as part of His Church. We must remember that our God is a holy God, and we are called to be set apart (Leviticus 10:3). We are called to live our lives in worship to Him! Our response to that is to help others do the same. (We will explore practical ways to do that right where you are later this month!)
DOING THE WILL OF GOD
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
We as Christians can easily feel uncertain of the will of God for our lives at one time or another. Remember Elisabeth Elliot’s question: “How can I glorify God in such a place?” No matter what your season of life is right now, know that you are called as a follower of Jesus Christ to glorify God in all things. The most essential place to begin is to read God’s Word. It is full of His will. It not only contains concrete commands, but it also “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) – as you read the Word of God with a surrendered heart, the Holy Spirit will help you to respond to it, obey it, and apply it specifically in a way that also testifies to others of the work Jesus has done in you (John 15:26-27)! As you learn to listen to God through His Word, you will also grow in discernment of His specific will through the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, our Helper and Comforter.
No matter where you are at, we are called to have renewed minds in order that we be able to “test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2b) Do not become overwhelmed with constantly asking yourself, “Am I doing the will of God?” As you grow in your knowledge of God and draw closer to Him through time in His Word and prayer, you will also grow in your assurance (Psalm 19:7-9). Do not put the weight all on your shoulders to be in the perfect will of God! Rather, trust in Him wholeheartedly, delight in the Word of God, and know that He is not a God who is far off but is acquainted with all of our ways. (Psalm 139:3) He will help you to do His will!
Dear sister in Christ, what kind of “place” are you in right now? How can you glorify God with an eternal perspective and be on-mission for Him in such a place…today? Begin on your knees and never despise the small things. Then be ready, responsive, and obedient to the leading of the Lord. Continually offer your entire being as a living sacrifice. Delight in doing God’s will in His strength. The harvest of those in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ is plentiful but the laborers are few (Luke 10:2). No matter what season or stage of life you are in, commit to live your whole life in worship to Him, doing His will, and being “on-mission” for His kingdom purposes each and every day!
Time to Reflect
1. Take some time to reflect honestly about today’s devotion topic. What is the Holy Spirit ministering to your heart?
2. Revisit today’s Scripture passages. What do these verses teach us about Jesus? How do they change things? (i.e. The way that we live? What we live for? Our experience of God?)
* * *
This devotion contains excerpts from the following publications:
Secret of Contentment article from “The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter” – published in March/April 2000
The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters by Beth Doohan & Jenni Walker