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Several Scripture references were used to form this response. Click the links for each referenced Scripture to support a deeper exploration of this teaching. All Scriptures, unless otherwise stated, are from the ESV. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Contributor: Gail Nelson

My journey with Jesus has been one that has taken me from barrenness to fruitfulness as a disciple of Christ. (John 15). I recall hearing in a Christian education session that a characteristic of a believer is that he or she desires to be a “disciple-maker”. 

 

The presentation caused me to reflect that although I enjoyed encouraging other believers in their walk with Christ, I was not experiencing a deep desire or enthusiasm to make disciples of Jesus. It was not that I was avoiding engagement with unbelievers, but rather that I was not actively desiring to be a “disciple-maker”. Making disciples of Jesus felt more like a ‘duty’ – that is, “I was a believer in Jesus so I must evangelize”.
 

The truth of God’s Word in Genesis 1:28 and Matthew 28:19 hit me with conviction: through Christ, I had been fully restored in God’s image and mandated to be fruitful and multiply and given the authority to ‘make disciples of all nations, therefore I should enthusiastically desire to do God’s will in its entirety! 
 

So why was I ‘barren’? 

 

Why hadn’t I ‘reproduced’ after my own kind, that is, in leading an unbeliever to Jesus? 

 

Why wasn’t I actively disciple-ing anyone relationally, as Jesus had done? 

 

Why was I fearing building friendships with non-believers? 

 

Something must be broken – less-than-whole – in me, I thought. 

 

All these questions disturbed me because I wanted to eagerly desire what God desired from me. My mind needed to be renewed in this area.


 

After being a Christian for almost 25 years, I only recently started learning what it meant to walk in the power of my identity in Jesus Christ. Before this, my experience as a believer was largely limited to accessing grace for repentance's sake and then foolishly trying to ‘please God’ through performance, rather than by relying on that same grace. (Galatians 3: 2 - 4).

 

I was very hard on myself and also too critical of others. I did not know that I was already pleasing to God because I was in Christ. (1 Thessalonians 2:4). Needless to say, my walk with Christ was not characterized by power, love, and soundness of thinking; instead, it was riddled with fear of failure, perfectionism, and a lack of self-love. (2 Timothy 1: 7). The brokenness I was experiencing on the inside testified to that.

 

BUT GOD repeatedly spoke His word of truth to my heart through Scripture and in fellowship with other believers in Jesus Christ. I also learnt to build “stronghold-busters”, routinely renouncing deceptions that Holy Spirit revealed and declaring the truth about God and me in the situations I faced. Through fellowship meeting discussions, Scripture reading, and books from a movement called “Freedom in Christ Ministries”, God progressively broke the bondage of guilt, shame, low self-esteem, and identity confusion in my life. (Hebrews 10: 23 - 25).

 

I began to understand that just as I had not “behaved my way into salvation”, my behaviour could not break my relationship with Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2: 8 - 9 and 1 John 4: 8 - 10). My salvation was God’s doing – I was sealed in Him by Holy Spirit. Nothing God does can be reversed! (Ephesians 1: 12 - 14)

 

My awareness of my security in relationship with God in Christ deepened and I began to experience joy in my identity in Christ. (Romans 15:13). I believed myself to be significant, secure, and accepted in Christ because God’s Word said so. As a result, I was less critical of myself and more forgiving of myself and others. I started looking at all my relationships with new eyes. Because my security was now centred in Christ, I was no longer looking to my relationships for significance, acceptance, and security. I was, therefore, able to bring more love, more grace, and more soundness of thinking to my relationships at work, school, church, home, and in the various secular groups in which I participated. 

 

I became far less judgmental of my unsaved friends. The truth encounters that I had in Christ enabled me to stay in relationships with unbelieving friends, rather than withdraw as I was accustomed to doing, for fear of being wrongly influenced. (Matthew 5: 13 - 1, Luke 5: 31 - 33, and 2 Corinthians 5: 11 - 21). This has started yielding fruit and I was blessed with seeing 2 of my unbelieving friends giving their lives to Jesus Christ at my church this year!
 

I now pray for unbelievers more intentionally. And I pray that God will continue to use me to bring the unsaved to Him through a relationship – Jesus-style authentic relationship!

Gail is a woman, just like you, who has counted her story a treasure from God to be stewarded for His glory. We invite you to share YOUR STORY with us HERE.
 
Sis, believe me when I say you have a story to share! Your testimony of the victories the Lord has brought about in your life, big or small, could be the encouragement your sister needs to hold on and or break forth in this season.

If you need help processing your story with God, we encourage you to pre-order our Fall Study, "Love Lifted Me: The Story of Four Women Who Were Changed by God."  This Bible study traces God’s loving hand in the lives of four women: Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary and guides you in reflecting on the witness of God’s love in your own life. Order your Study today!
LEARN MORE AND PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY HERE.
Heart to Heart Questions 
(We'd love to hear from you! You can use these questions for personal reflection on this week's devotional and to engage in discussion in our community. With your permission, we'll feature select responses that add to our understanding of this month's topic so we can all grow together. Just click on the "Heart to Heart" button to share your thoughts!)

Thank you, Gail, for sharing your heart with us! 
 

Be-Held Woman Community, please see the below resources to support you in walking in agreement with several of the Scripturally-sound insights Gail’s testimony reveals: 

 

My ‘journey with Jesus’ has been one that has taken me from barrenness to fruitfulness as a disciple of Christ. 

Resource: He Is Enough: Living in the Fullness of Jesus (A Study in Colossians)

 

The truth of God’s Word in Genesis 1:28 and Matthew 28:19 hit me with conviction: through Christ, I had been fully restored in God’s image and mandated to be fruitful and multiply and given authority to make disciples of all nations.

Resource: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society
 

I only recently started learning what it meant to walk in the power of my identity in Jesus Christ. Before this, my experience as a believer was largely limited to accessing grace for repentance's sake and then foolishly trying to ‘please God’ through performance, rather than by relying on that same grace.

Resource: Be-Held’s Grace Series (11-2019, Be-Held Writers)

 

Through fellowship meeting discussions, Scripture reading, and books from a movement called “Freedom in Christ Ministries”, God progressively broke the bondage of guilt, shame, low self-esteem, and identity confusion in my life. 

Resource: Freedom in Christ Ministries

 

My awareness of my security in relationship with God in Christ deepened and I began to experience joy in my identity in Christ.

Resource: Identity Theft: Reclaiming the Truth of our Identity in Christ

 

The truth encounters that I had in Christ enabled me to stay in relationships with unbelieving friends, rather than withdraw as I was accustomed to doing, for fear of being wrongly influenced.

Resource: Friend of Sinners

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