by Jill St. John
“Is it worth it?”
While eating a meal with a friend, I told her how I was handling a difficult challenge as part of my ministry role at our church. Her response was: “Makes you wonder: Is it worth it?” Those words rang in my head long after the bill was paid; they still do.
“Why this waste?”
During a meal with some friends, a woman approached Jesus with an alabaster flask of very costly, fragrant oil, and proceeded to pour the contents over Jesus’ head as an act of worship. “Why this waste?” said Jesus’ disciples rather heatedly giving suggestions about what she could have done differently with what she had (from Matthew 26:6-9).
As women in ministry, we each have our own alabaster flasks filled with our passions, gifts, resources, strengths, experiences, and callings. As we minister and lead, we pour ourselves out as we serve Jesus, His church, and our communities. It is costly! From my own experience, as with our Sister with the alabaster flask, there is an age-old battle that can occur when we serve Jesus: voices of doubt and discouragement. Those voices amplify my own insecurities: Is what I’m doing making a difference? Is it worth it? What could I have done differently? Sometimes I feel misunderstood. Sometimes I feel that what I do to serve the Lord--and how I do it--is not particularly valued. There is a different Voice we need to hear loud and clear!
“…She has done a beautiful thing for Me…” (from Matthew 26:10) Jesus received our Sister’s gift of love and service with His divine love and favor and blessing! And, dare I say gratitude?!
Unlike the other voices in the room, the Divine Voice spoke to her--and through His Word speaks to us--His acceptance, value, and love. Jesus’ perspective on what we do for Him is divinely different from what others see and sometimes communicate. Jesus understood our Sister. He got her! He gets me! He gets you! He valued what she did for Him! He values what we do for Him!
A dear friend who visited Israel brought me a flask of spikenard—the valuable, fragrant oil Mary poured out as she anointed Jesus (John 12:1-8). As in the Matthew 26 anointing, this act of service to Jesus was called into question and criticized by others. Jesus defended Mary’s actions! Once again, He communicated joyfully receiving and accepting a beautiful offering.
Spikenard is a sweet and earthy fragrance—and strong! I open it and get a whiff to remind myself that Jesus receives, loves, and values my acts of worship and service to and for Him. May our sweet Savior’s Voice, His loving words of favor and blessing, override any other voices, our own or others, in response to our serving Him: You do beautiful things for Me.
One final thing that I find helpful to note is concerning Jesus’ words to the nay-sayers: “Why are you bothering this woman?” Why indeed! May Jesus’ Voice be the loudest as we do beautiful things for Him!
Jill St. John, once a high school English teacher, is an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God. She serves as Co-Pastor alongside her husband, Jason. For the last 23 years, they have served at Evangel Church in Kansas City: 6 years as youth pastors, 17 years as lead pastors. Jill has a passion for Jesus and a zeal for teaching God’s Word – helping others walk in God’s love and purpose. As a 4-time cancer survivor, she knows the goodness of God through the highs and lows of life and ministry. Jill is an authentic, enthusiastic messenger of God’s joy and hope. Teaching, cooking, laughing and hanging out with her husband and two children are the delights of her life!
Guest post by Rhonda Barnes
Perseverance is a word we don’t always like, because if you are to persevere, you must need to push through some kind of difficulty, opposition, or delay. Perseverance often makes me think of endurance, which gives me a picture of a long distance runner.
I have never enjoyed running. When I was in high school, I was on the track team for all the wrong reasons. I liked to do the jumps or maybe the short races or relays, but I certainly wasn’t committed enough to be the one who ran the long distance races.
Those races required too much perseverance. The ability to push through the pain and fatigue when you feel like your lungs are on fire and your legs cannot move another step. I like the way the Message Bible describes perseverance in a long distance race.
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message Bible)
This describes our spiritual race during times that require perseverance. We are reminded to keep our eyes on Jesus since He demonstrated for us not only how to start a race, but how to finish it!
In the middle of the race, there are times you feel all alone and you may be tempted to question if you are in the right race. Perseverance is needed when God SEEMS to be absent and SEEMS to be silent! Scripture tells us in Hebrews 13:5 that He will never leave us or forsake us. While I know that to be true, there have been times I have found myself asking, “Where are you?”
A very familiar scripture found in Galatians 6:9 AMP reads: “And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.”
Two of the greatest enemies in certain stages of the race are doubt and disappointment. When you are in a season where you have been believing and standing in faith for a long time, and your answer has not yet manifested, it is tempting to begin to question if you really heard from God, or if this commitment to the race is really worth it. In some situations, the risk of disappointment is so great that people give in to hopelessness instead of standing in faith and staying in the race. In these times, you must contend and persevere!
I want to encourage you today to persevere! If you are in a difficult leg of your spiritual race, stay close to God so you will be nourished, keep your eye on the prize, and as you stay committed you will be empowered to finish strong.
Rhonda Barnes is an author, speaker, Christian blogger, and gifted teacher of God’s Word. Rhonda was credentialed as an Assemblies of God minister in 2002, and currently serves in a variety of ministries at Grace Community Church in Salem, Missouri. Rhonda’s first book, Road to Transformation, Journey to God’s Glory, was released in 2014. Since then, she launched the Christian teaching blog Secret Place Revelation, inspired by Psalm 91:1. In 2017, she released two additional books, Keys to the Kingdom, and It is Written. Rhonda is passionate about sharing the truths of God’s Word and enjoys writing, speaking in many settings, and teaching small groups.
To contact Rhonda, please visit www.secretplacerevelation.com or email email@example.com
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