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TRANSCRIBED PODCAST BELOW
Good morning everybody, this is Heidi St. John. Thank you for tuning into the podcast today.
Today is Wednesday, January 16th. This is MomStrong International day here at the podcast. It’s the day when we talk about what we’re studying at MomStrong International in the Bible Study. Today we’re gonna be talking about opportunities versus obligation.
Stick around, I think you’re gonna be encouraged.
My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Wow, if that’s not the voice of somebody who is trusting in the name of the Lord. I love that the Psalmist says “my heart is steadfast” twice. How steadfast are you right now in your walk with the Lord? Whatever is happening around you, whatever you see happening in the government, whatever you see happening politically, whatever you see happening in your churches – how steadfast are you?
God says that we can be steadfast no matter what’s happening around us, and not only that – we can sing and make music because our hearts are steadfast in the Lord. This month at MomStrong International we’re talking about finding balance and what it looks like to just be able to breathe, to be surrounded by that white-space in our spirit – if not in our calendar. Because we know that we’ve embraced God’s priorities, that was last week that we studied this, and then this week we’re gonna study what it means to Embrace God’s Priorities when it comes to Obligations vs. Opportunities.
So the main passages that we’re gonna be studying for this particular week is 2 Timothy 1:9-10. So this is what it says:
9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:9-10
Let’s go ahead and open this study up in prayer.
Father God, I thank you for the opportunity that you give us every day to choose to walk with you. Lord, as we think about the many decisions that we have to make, Father, we just want to lift up your name today, and say that You are worthy of our praise. Father, I pray that You would search my heart, reveal any idols that take Your place in my life, and show me that path to root them out. Father, we desperately need you to be on the throne of our lives. And so today as we talk just a little bit about what it means to embrace Your priorities in the face of every opportunity that comes our way – I pray that You’d show us where our priorities are out of line with Yours, and give us the strength to enact change. Forgive me, and helped me to grab hold of the opportunities that You place in front of me. Flow through me, Holy Spirit, that I will be generous with Your love, generous in my telling of Your gospel, and generous with the possessions that you’ve given me to reflect Your glory. Tune my heart to You, in Jesus name. Amen.
So how many times have you come up against something in your life, an opportunity that you have really wanted. Let’s say it’s an opportunity to take on a position at work, or an opportunity to start something new, and it’s in your heart to do it. And you look to you and thought – boy, I don’t know if this is the season of my life to do that. In 2 Timothy 1:9-10, which is the passage that we’re talking about, we learn a little bit about why God saved us. He saved us to live a holy life – not because of anything we did – but because of His own purpose and grace. God has a purpose for your life.
In Psalm 57:1 it says:
Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me!
For my soul takes refuge in you;
and in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
until destruction passes by.
So we learn about the Lord in these two versus. He’s generous, He is the defender of the afflicted, He desires that we would come to repentance.
We’ve been studying these things at MomStrong and perspective is really what we need when it comes to deciding what it is that God wants us to do. And sometimes life is all about perspective. Have you ever witnessed a mom say – “I’m giving you the opportunity to make a right choice”, and you know her kid knows that there actually is no way on earth that this is an opportunity. Her command-with-a-question-mark-but-definitely-a-command has left no room for questioning. You see, this is an obligation – and that kid has about 45 seconds to meet it – or else. And I mean – who are we kidding? Right? Well you know, and I know – I’ve been that mom at some point, possibly in the car on the way to MomStrong group today!
But there is a Bible-reading, Jesus-loving, spiritually mature woman who has walked with Jesus for many years. Several years back she realized her gifts to the Lord of generosity with her time, and talents, and tithe had gradually morphed into things she felt she had to do, or she wasn’t lovable to God. She felt she wasn’t meeting His standards, and wasn’t earning His love.
Now how do we get to that place? How do we get to the place of feeling like we have to earn God’s favor when we know full well that this is not what the Bible teaches? You see, there’s a slippery slope happening in today in North American evangelical churches. Opportunities to serve abound, and there are needs everywhere. And with the best intentions we so easily get involved in running a midweek God’s Girls program, helping sub in Sunday School “you know, just for a month while they find a new teacher” – and all of a sudden it’s six years later and you find out that you’re tired, and maybe a little bit bitter, and you’re convinced that nothing would get done right if you weren’t doing it. Right?
Anybody? Moment Silence.
Thank goodness the Lord has us there, right? Or no one would be saved. Nope, nothing new under the sun about that. Happens all the time. God is generous, and He lavishes His love in his grace on us without reward or cost.
Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you have no money come, buy and eat. Come, by wine and milk and money without cost.
You see God’s generosity extends to salvation. Romans 5:8
in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
So where do you find yourself? Are you at just about at the end of yourself and so tired that you’ve forgotten why you’re in this thing in the first place? We can so easily forget the magnificent strength of God, and all the sudden, the beautiful opportunities that the Lord has given us – become what? Obligations. They become obligations and there are lots of different ways to look at this because Jesus wants to give us perspective – and we’re going to go deeper into this at the study.
I hope you guys will download it you can find it at MomStrongInternational.com – but I do want to sort of outline it for you. There’s two ways to look at this. We can look at the beautiful opportunities that God has given us and they become obligations because we’re doing it for the wrong reasons, or doing it with the wrong heart, or we’ve forgotten that that is actually the most important thing. Right? And then sometimes, we see the opportunities in front of us and they become more important than our obligations.
I was blessed a couple of months ago to talk with a seasoned homeschool dad in my office at the resource center, and he was noting my calendar and the things that were happening with my family. And he said – you know Heidi, just be very very careful never prioritize your obligations below your opportunities. Never prioritize your obligations below your opportunities.
In other words, take care of your your obligations first. You know what your obligations are. Your obligation is your children, it is your marriage, it’s walking a right relationship with the Lord. And we need to have a fresh perspective, a right perspective when it comes to walking in right relationship with the Lord – because we will always have opportunities, but we will not always have the opportunity to minister to the obligations that God has given us through His mercy and His grace. It’s an amazing opportunity that God has given us.
So, I want to ask you – would you choose to stay busy with washing your kids hands and scurrying through your fast food dinner because you got to finish up the last leg of a trip? Or, would you settle into a conversation that had life changing perspective?
We’re studying this idea in the context of the Samaritan woman which has found in John 4:5-43
See, early in John 4, Jesus and His disciples left Judea and they pass through Samaria, the Bible records, on the way to Galilee. So what’s Jesus doing there? He’s weary from His journey and the disciples are off buying food – and I’m thinking to myself as a mom. You know, I’ve traveled across the country with my husband and our kids many times. From Oregon all the way to Virginia, and down to Florida and back. We make a 35,000 mile road trip in a summer when we’re on a ministry trip. And I think how I feel at the end of the day, at the end of one of our road trips.
Now keep in mind that this is when the Samaritan woman enters the story. So why do you think that the Samaritan woman was surprised that Jesus spoke to her? First of all, Jews were not suppose to have any dealings with the Samaritans. They had incredible prejudice and Jesus decides to engage the woman. He takes advantage of the cultural precedent and He uses it to His advantage, and He engages her in conversation.
Jesus spoke with her and went way beyond small talk. Then the woman, you’ll see, after they spoke, she went back to the city to tell the people that she had found the Messiah. Now let’s stop for just a second and consider a couple of important things.
Jesus has traveled and He’s exhausted, yet He makes the decision to act according to His priorities. He’s generous with the gospel as He speaks the Samaritan woman and He chooses to act as a defender of the afflicted here rather than pass judgment on her life choices. He engaged her in honest, deep conversation – and did anyone notice in the story that Jesus had a couple of socially acceptable reasons to just mind his own business and be quiet? But instead, He acted on the Father’s priorities. He acted on the Father’s priorities.
You see, we want to have Jesus bring a vertical perspective into every moment of our life, into every moment of our life, and this is how God operates with us.
You see, Jesus could have chosen to indulge His trip-weary humanity and taken a pass on the conversation with a woman who was obviously needy. But instead, He chose to engage in the in the life of that woman. As a result, it changed her life. How many times, men and women, have we gotten to the end of our day. I mean, this story obviously is about Jesus and the Samaritan woman – but I’ll just take it a little jaunt to a different relationship.
I think of the relationships that we have with our young children. And at the end of a weary day, when you’re just thinking – if one more person asked me for one more thing I’m absolutely going to cotton-pick and lose it.
I can’t think of how many times my kids have come to me, my little brown-eyed beauties, with books in their hands. Sometimes you gotta be discerning – right? Sometimes it’s a “can I have one more drink of water” – because they just don’t want to go to bed. But oh the opportunities that we have in the evenings, especially with teenagers. Because often, that’s when they wake up – when you’re getting tired and you think you’re gonna have to prop your eyes open with the toothpick and your kids want to come in and talk to you. Take advantage of the opportunity. These are the opportunities that you have to really make a difference. Instead of just looking at the lives of your kids as obligations, you want to choose what God would have you choose.
You see, as a result of Jesus looking the Samaritan woman in the eye and having a real conversation – Jesus stayed for two more days teaching the people who responded. The woman took the gift of life that Jesus offered with joy, and was generous in sharing it with other people. The result was a village that was changed because of the Gospel.
It was changed because Jesus had a vertical perspective, He had the right perspective, and the Samaritan woman caught His perspective and acted in tandem with Him – and really, that’ what we want with our kids. Right? We want our kids to catch the vision for walking with the Lord and then follow us. Right? Follow me, kids, as I follow Christ. Let me show you what it means to have my priorities in order. You are my priority and it’s very hard.
I’m not saying that you sacrifice every ounce of your life. I’ve seen some parents that baby their children and their priorities are skewed – and in a different direction. We become helicopter parents and we want to answer our kids every whim and every whimper, and we lose perspective that way. And actually, I would classify that as idolatry.
But then the other side of that is – we’ve got kids who desperately need our attention but we’re just so tired because we focus on so many other things, that at the end of the day we won’t have time for many more. And if that’s you, if you’re struggling with that right now – can I just encourage you? Group hug, lean in. <3
We need God’s perspective, we need His perspective. A vertical perspective to fix our gaze heavenward.
The best way to do that is to get into the Word of God. In Micah 6:8 we know exactly what God wants us to do. Three things that Micah says God values more than proper sacrifice is to act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 we find out that God comforts us in our afflictions and one of the ways that we reflect His image is by getting His priorities right, and comforting others with the comfort that we’ve received from God. And men and women, it starts at home. It starts with your family. You want to change the world? Stay home and love your family. Love your family first. Put your family first.
We talked about this last week. Out of an overflow of what God does in your marriage you pour into your children, and out of an overflow of what God does in your family you pour into your communities. I’m not telling you be myopic and just stay home and only ever focus on you. That’s selfish. No, I’m saying – get your priorities right so that when God gives you the opportune to minister to people outside of your home, you have the emotional and spiritual resource, the emotional spiritual boundaries set so that you can do it.
And maybe you grew up in a faith culture that taught you that you needed to earn God’s favor by doing good deeds or accomplishing things. Maybe you grew up in a good old fashioned Southern church who’s pop shook his finger at you and pointed the Good Book your way, but you didn’t live it.
God is not about either of these things. His Word is rich and full of His heart and His priorities. And we want to embrace God’s priorities and then make them our priorities. That is living a life that God blesses.
This week in Kids Strong, if you’re studying along with us at the MomStrong Bible Study – my daughter Savannah who is a mother of two little boys – writes the Kids Strong Bible Study every week. She’s been focusing the kids eyes on Jesus. Last week they talked about how Jesus is The King, and that He should be the center of our lives because He loves us. And so, everything we do is an act of love, back to Him. He’s our Savior, and since He’s our King, that means we are to follow Him and obey Him. But we need to be careful. Sometimes we think that we are saved by the good things that we do. If we obey God, if we’re kind. Right? If we share what we have.
Then we ask our kids – do you think that’s true? And then let’s take them to the Bible.
Listen Mom and Dad. Open up your Bible, show your children that the answers that you are giving them come straight from the Word of God.
Straight from the Word of God.Your kids need to hear that out of you.
If you’re not taking advantage of looking at Kids Strong, especially forgot little ones, reading that with your kids – I want to just encourage you to do that.
If you haven’t signed up at MomStrong International, every month we turn out a beautifully illustrated, wonderfully thought-through Bible Study on different topics that are happening either in the culture – as we try to react to them in real time according to God’s Word – or based on passages, or even books of the Bible. So you can find us at MomStrongInternational.com.
I want to thank you guys for listening today. I want to just encourage you to embrace God’s priorities. As you embrace His priorities you will be able to make wise decisions. You will be able to understand the difference between an opportunity and an obligation, and ask the Lord to show you His heart in the whole thing because God wants to help you. And aren’t you glad? I don’t know what we would do, men and women, without the Lord – what would we do?
If you are not Scripture Writing with me, if your kids aren’t doing the copywork- can I just encourage you to do that? That part of the Bible Study is free. Always has been. It’s over at MomStrongInternational.com. All you need to do is create an account over there. You can start a MomStrong group at your church and study the Word of God together every week. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in understanding and studying the Word of God. And I am excited for you as you get to know the Lord of heaven’s armies and understand His heart for you, to see what God will do.
Thanks for listening everybody, I really appreciate it. And I’m going to come back here on Friday with a special guest.
In the meantime, we’re just a couple of days out from the Heidi St. John Conference that is happening in Abilene, Texas. I’m getting ready hit the road with my family and meet up with my staff down there. I always love coming to Texas. And I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. We’re gonna have a wonderful time! We have a beautiful facility reserved there. And we’re going to spend a whole day on Saturday the 19th just coming before the Lord, opening our Bibles.
I’ll bring in lots of resources with me – the jewelry from the Heidi St. John and Scripture Writing collection will be there for you. We’re gonna be worshiping the Lord together. We’ll have lunch together and we’re going to do a question and answer together. So come! And expect the Holy Spirit to just be present there. Expect God to show up and do mighty things. That’s the 19th in Abilene, Texas.
If you’re interested in bringing my women’s conference to your neck of the woods, you can shoot me an email at email@example.com and just let us know where you are and what date you’re looking at
The schedule for 2019 is pretty well full at this point. I think we’re looking at 2020 and beyond. Have a wonderful day you guys, and I’ll see you back here on Friday.