An Endless Supply

One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.”

“What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”

“Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied.

And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.”

So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim!

“Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons.

“There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.

When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

(2 Kings 4:1-7, NLT)

This evening, as I read over 2 Kings 4 I noticed that the widow’s oil only stopped flowing after she ran out of containers to put it in. I thought to myself, “the oil probably never have run out if she had an endless supply of containers!”

Olive OilThroughout the Bible, oil is used to symbolize the Spirit of God, the anointing, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We see this as the priests are anointed in Exodus (30:30-32), when Saul & David are anointed King of Israel in 1 Samuel 10 & 16, and we see this in the Parable of the 10 Virgins in Matthew 25 (1-13). So, I couldn’t help but view the story of the widow and Elisha in 2 Kings, in light of what I know about the oil being symbolic of the Holy Spirit.

God tells us that He wants to pour out His Spirit on all people and I can’t help but wonder, are we prepared?

“Then, after doing all those things,
    I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your old men will dream dreams,
    and your young men will see visions.
In those days I will pour out my Spirit
    even on servants—men and women alike.

(Joel 2:28-29, NLT)

I mean, God offers us an endless supply, but I often feel like we’re satisfied with just a few measly drops of the Holy Spirit’s power and authority in our lives. The widow ran out of containers; but that’s impossible for us, because according to 2 Corinthians 4:7, we are the containers! The only limitation put on God, in our case, is our willingness to be filled. So, the question is, are we going to allow God to fill us to the brim, to overflowing? Or are we okay with the few drops we received a few weeks ago? Because if we’re okay with just a few drops of the Spirit’s power and authority in our lives, we are, in essence, telling God, “Oh, no thanks! I still have a little oil leftover from last week?” when He desires to make us overflow! 

And ladies and gents…The Holy Spirit is as necessary to the believer as air is to every living creature who walks the earth, and we could never have too much of Him in our lives! It is the Spirit Who leads us, convicts us, draws us near to God, teaches us, gives us understanding of the Word and authority to teach and share the gospel, and so much more. Therefore, let us not be satisfied with the meager leftovers of the Spirit’s power in our lives, but let us seek His face by studying the Holy Word of God, seeking His will in prayer, and lifting Him up in praise, that His power and authority may be evident in our lives and overflowing into the lives of those around us.

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A King Unrecognized

In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. ~(Judges 17:6, NLT)

Sorry, I’ve been away for so long, guys! It’s been pretty busy at work, since I was given two more responsibilities, and by the time I get home in the evenings I’ve been really tired and lazy. Furthermore, my weekends have been busier than I would like, so I’ve been trying to cut back on my TV time during the weekdays so I can be a better steward of my time and energy, and give you more material.

That being said, I have continued to study the Word on my own, and have finally gone back to participating in Wednesday night Bible studies this year—be it almost over. In my personal Bible study time, I’ve been reading through the book of Judges. Today as I read Judges 17-18, I noted a phrase that keeps popping up in this book: “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” I thought about these words for a few minutes and realized…but Israel did have a King!crown-of-life

God intended for Himself to be their God and King, and for Israel to obey His commands. However, Israel refused to recognize their King! We can’t be angry with Israel for doing this, though, because we’re often guilty of doing the same thing; but just because we can’t see Him, doesn’t make God any less real or sovereign.

Okay, let’s discuss the sovereignty of God for a moment. What does it actually mean? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines someone as sovereign as “possessing unlimited power or authority; not subject to the rule or control of another.” Thus when we say God is sovereign, we mean that He has unlimited power and authority and isn’t swayed by our opinions or desires. That means when we think things should go a certain way, if our ways go against God’s plan, then we’re the ones who are in the wrong.

Unfortunately, we live in a time, where just like Israel, we do what we believe is right in our own eyes, without regard for what is right in God’s eyes. And then we have the audacity to argue with and/or question God regarding the consequences of our actions. Israel suffered under both physical and spiritual slavery and oppression because they decided not to follow God’s leadership and direction, even when God told them beforehand what would happen if they turned their backs on Him.

We should look at Israel, during the time of the judges, as an example of what not to do and recognize that God is not subject to us, instead, we are subject to Him. He’s not a genie in a lamp that grants us our every wish and whim. We are His children, devoted to Him, living to glorify Him and to share His heart with the world; that they, too, may turn towards Him and allow Him to direct their paths.

God was Israel’s King; He’s our King. May our lives be a reflection of that.

Power

How often we talk about the power and authority found in the Holy Spirit, and yet, where is the evidence that we believe in that power? Romans 8:11 (NLT) states “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in” us [emphasis added].

The Spirit of God, the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us. (Yes, I realized I just repeated myself, lol, but it’s so important and exciting it bears repeating.)

Yesterday–Sunday, September 1, 2013–I listened as my pastor spoke about how the Holy Spirit equips us with power to preach the gospel, and I sat there, in total agreement, without really understanding all that that entailed. Until today, when I opened up my textbooks for school and read about…power. What?! (Hahaha, yes, this is how God works.)

According to my textbook, there’s this theory called the “Approach/Inhibition Theory,” and according to this theory we act/respond differently depending on whether or not we feel as though we have or lack power.

  • Approach (having power) is associated with:
    • action
    • seeking rewards and opportunity (being proactive)
    • increased energy and movement
    • ability to express ideas
    • resisting conformity to pressures
  • Inhibition (lacking power) is associated with:
    • reaction
    • self-protection
    • avoiding threats and danger
    • vigilance
    • loss of motivation
    • an overall reduction in activity

Honestly, as I was reading this, I realized I often act as though I’m lacking power! And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

But, wait a minute, didn’t we just say that the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us!? So, why do we act as though we’re lacking power? Because, as my textbook states “power is a state of mind” and unless we truly BELIEVE that the power of God is living in us, we’re not going to LIVE as though the power of God is living in us!

Now, you may be thinking, “but I DO believe that the Holy Spirit—the power of God—is living in me,” then perhaps the problem is we just aren’t grasping the greatness of His power.

We’re talking about the God of the Universe! He shaped the heavens, the sun, the moon, and stars. He formed the earth, created every drop of rain, and every blade of grass. He breathed life into all of creation and knows the number of hairs on each of our heads. His word says He knit us together in our mother’s womb and knows the deepest desires or our hearts. He’s the God who never gave up on us, even after sin entered the world; He sent His one and only Son into this world to carry our burdens upon His sinless back. He’s healed the diseased, given sight to the blind, brings hope to the hopeless. He’s Father to the fatherless, and brings peace to the troubled heart.

(I could go on and on, but if you really want to know Who He is and what He’s capable of, I really suggest you study His word on your own.)

Like the song says, there IS power in the name of Jesus, and THAT is the POWER that lives in us, as believers! Therefore, we should be proactive for Christ, speaking the truth boldly, stepping outside of our comfort zones, and asking others where can help, rather than waiting for others to ask us. We shouldn’t be afraid of rejection, or being hurt, and we should never let the opinions of others or our own weaknesses and shortcomings keep us from moving forward on plans that God has already confirmed in our lives. And why not?

Because the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us.

Perfection in Weakness

The young women in my Wednesday night Bible study have been working through Priscilla Shirer’s study of Gideon for the last few weeks. We’re down to the last two weeks of the Bible study and last night we discussed week four of the study, which is about Gideon’s offering of food to the Angel of the Lord. (If you didn’t already know…The title used to describe the Angel of the Lord, “Malak Yahweh,” is used to describe the “eternal, pre-existant Christ.” This is why I’ve capitalized it here, in case you were wondering.)

Gideon goes through tremendous work to prepare this meal of goat meat, broth, and bread for the Angel and when he offers it to Him, He tells Gideon to place it on a rock, and to pour out the broth over the meat and bread. Then the Angel touches the rock with His staff and the meal is consumed in flames (Judges 6:19-21). It’s been a while since I’ve studied this portion of text, but I recognize that this was a sacrificial offering to God, on Gideon’s part. He slaved over this meal, only to pour it out before God, and have it used in a manner that he probably didn’t expect or, perhaps, desire.

Priscilla goes on to talk about 4 things we must do in offering our gifts to God: 1) Prepare it, 2) Present it, 3) Put it down, and 4) Pour it out.

Yesterday, while I was driving to church I started thinking about how often I pray that God use me in whatever capacity that He chooses and I even spend time preparing my gifts/talents to be used by Him, but then when I feel like He’s asking too much of me, I pull back. I brought this up during our Bible study, as well. How often do you do this? We ask God to use us and fill us with His Holy Spirit, but then the moment the task seems to large, we pull back because we’re afraid we won’t be able to complete the task He’s calling us towards!

But isn’t that the point?!

The point is that the task IS too large for us…if we try to do it on our own! But when we become completely vulnerable, walking in faith, and trusting the calling God’s placed on our lives, no matter how large (or small), that’s when we reach the point of no return. We then have no choice but to allow—expect and desire—the Holy Spirit to give us the strength, courage, and tools we need to complete our calling, because we CAN’T DO IT ON OUR OWN. When it seems we can’t go on, and the task is too large, and seemingly, impossible, that’s when God is most visibly seen and His power magnified. Just like Gideon’s army of 300 against the abundant Midianite army, the Holy Spirit can use us to accomplish the goals God has in store for us, but always in a manner that glorifies Christ and points the world in His direction.Captain America

What I’ve realized in my own life is that I must go beyond simply preparing my offerings/talents, to presenting it, putting it down, and pouring it out. I can’t continue to prepare my offerings/talents, presenting it before God and then pulling it back in fear when God says He’s got bigger plans. I can just picture myself in Gideon’s position…the Angel asks me to place the meal on the rock and pour out the broth over the meal and I ask “you want me to do what?!” (Lol)

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who questions God’s plans and becomes afraid of the seemingly insurmountable tasks He’s called us to. However, I truly desire, and plan on, changing my response; stepping out on the promises of God and relying on His strength and power, when I am deficient and weak.  What about you?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The Power of Love

Funny how God uses basic every day experiences to teach us invaluable lessons. I’ve been watching that show, “Once Upon a Time,” on CBS. The show is based on all the fairy tales/characters that have been passed down from generation to generation, for the past couple hundred years. In the season finale of season one, the main character, breaks a curse over the town with a kiss of true love which she bestows on her “dead” son (think Snow White). And it really hit me…how obsessed the world is with LOVE. From sacrificial love, such as found in books/movies like Harry Potter, Johnny Q., and Man on Fire, to romantic love like that in Twilight, The Notebook, and Romeo & Juliet…our society is truly obsessed with love.

This idea is definitely not new to me, I’ve been studying love for a long time now, but for some reason this idea really stood out to me as I watched “Once Upon a Time.” Especially because the characters have stated on more than one occasion that “love is the greatest magic of all” and “it has the power to break even the strongest curse.” Wow! Love has the power to break even the strongest curse; what a statement!

So, what’s the one thing that most, if not all, of our love stories have in common? There’s always some force trying to separate or prevent love or goodness from occurring, correct? That’s because, there is no greater curse than separation from love.

When man fell in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of creation the curse bestowed upon all of mankind was just that, separation from love, more specifically, separation from God, because God is love (1 John 4:8). The world recognizes that there’s power in love, but they still haven’t grasped just how much power.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

God loves us so much that He sent His Son into this world, to die for us, so that the curse—our separation from God—might be lifted!

God provided the greatest—NONFICTION—love story ever told, when He sent His Son into this world as a sacrifice for our sins. His love affected ALL mankind, past, present, and future, regardless of our own actions or character. He died not just for those of us considered “good” but the dirtiest of dirty, the murderer, the rapist, the drunkard. His love provided us all with the opportunity for restoration of our broken relationship with God.

I’m sure you’re confused…”the opportunity”? Yes, because God provided the opportunity for a restored relationship with Him; a gift offered freely to us, known as grace. Yet, we must receive the gift; we must accept it. Grace is there for the taking, but we still have a choice in whether or not to take it; and as we take it, we must acknowledge the sin in our lives, become truly repentant before God, and turn away from those sins. This is why God’s word says that no one can come to the Father unless they are called…because true repentance and sorrow comes only when the light of God shines into every nook and cranny of our lives and we recognize how filthy we are in the light of His glory. And true repentance and sorrow is not being remorseful about the consequences of our actions, but being repentant for our actions, period.

God’s love is more powerful than any earthly love, and yes, His love does have the power to break the strongest curse. His love conquered the grave and defeated death! His love restored our broken relationship with Himself, and allowed us the opportunity to spend eternity with Him! What an amazing God—full of love, mercy, and compassion—that we serve! A God full of power and justice, and yet full of such tenderness and grace.