2023 Living Boldly Series: Be Fruitful and Multiply
Multiplication. That is the word God gave me for 2023. I was reminded of that the other day while listening to a talk by Johnny Enlow when he said, “God made everything to multiply.”
Genesis tells us every creature, every plant, and every seed was created to reproduce after its kind. The Lord loves to multiply! Consider the loaves and the fish or how about the widow’s oil and flour.
My garden testifies to this truth every day. The pot of coreopsis Denise gave me now covers a large area of ground in my garden. The Japanese Irises Jancee gave me now fill multiple areas of my yard. The cuttings I pruned from the forsythia bush from Ken and Michelle are now growing into a lovely hedge along the front edge of my property. My mom’s hosta plants can be found all over my yard, my kids’ yards, and many of my friends’ yards, too!
I love watching my plants flourish. It reminds me that God also made you and I to be fruitful and multiply. In one sense of the word, I did that when I became a mom of three and now a grandma of six. That’s multiplication! But there’s more to multiplication than having babies.
Why am I writing about multiplication in a blog series about living boldly? Dear sisters in Christ, we were not only created to multiply, Jesus commanded us to do so in Matthew 28:18-20 when He said:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
While it does take boldness to follow Jesus’ command to go and make disciples, it doesn’t have to be hard. As we look at Jesus’ example, we find that he had a very simple approach. He didn’t schedule an event, or create a program or a step-by-step curriculum. He simply went wherever the Father sent Him and taught those he met along the way about the Kingdom of God.
I can almost hear a chorus of voices saying, “Yeah, but that was Jesus.”
I know. I know, but Jesus promised to be with us, and He sent the Holy Spirit to teach us and enable us to be His witnesses to the world. Let’s explore together how Jesus discipled people.
First, He spent time alone with the Father. We cannot be effective in making disciples if we do not start here. Time alone daily with the Lord is how we know who to reach out to. As we spend time with the Lord, He will prepare us and prepare the way for us to advance the Kingdom.
As we spend time with the Lord, we need to ask Him who He would like us to reach out to. Jesus didn’t disciple everybody. He invested in those who listened to what He had to say and invited them to follow Him. And then He simply included them in His daily life. Only He knows whose heart is ready to hear and respond to the truth.
My garden reminds me again of another important disciple-making lesson. Don’t do it alone! Disciple-making can be as simple as sharing a perennial flower with a friend. You share treasures God has given you with your friends along the way just like my friends shared their flowers with me. Then when they multiplied, I turned around and shared them with others along the way. Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs for a reason. As we work together, we can encourage one another. We need one another!
Finally, we need to seek the Lord about how He wants us to reach the people He has placed in our lives. Jesus kept it simple, and we can too. The sky is the limit as to how to invite others into your life, and it doesn’t have to look like church or even a Bible study, although there is nothing wrong with that.
My point is this: God knows whom we can help to flourish and how we can help them. What works for me might not work for you in your setting. The Gospel can be communicated in any setting, with few or many, with stories over coffee or in front of an audience of thousands.
My friend Jean is a great example of what I am talking about. She has prayed for many years about how to reach our community for Christ. She has led many prayer walks in and through our neighborhoods over the years as well. A few months back God led her to purchase some copies of a book called The Faith Project when she saw it on the table at our local Ollies store. She obeyed and then began to pray about who to give them to. As she handed them out, she said she would be meeting at our snack bar on Friday mornings and invited them to pray about participating. The group of ladies continues to grow each week both in number and depth of understanding of faith. A few weeks ago Jean noticed one woman at another table who seemed to be listening to us as we talked and invited her to join us. She has been meeting with us ever since. Our waitress told us she enjoys listening in as she is serving us, so Jean gave her a copy of the book and invited her to participate as she is able. It is not complicated or cumbersome. She merely obeyed the Lord and He is guiding the process step by step.
Ladies, we live in a world where people are so desperate for hope and encouragement. We have the answer. Jesus. God may not lead you to start a group at your coffee shop (or maybe He will!), but He might lead you to invite a lonely neighbor over for tea.
Lord, give us the boldness we need to reach out and share our treasures with the people you have placed in our lives. Help us to see people through Your eyes, loving them with Your love. Help us to learn how to speak more freely about who You are and what You are doing in our lives. Lord, help us to know who to reach out to and how to reach out effectively.
There are a lot of lost sheep out there, so we’d better get busy!