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)

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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.

Blemished Sacrifices

Here I’ve been working my way through the Old Testament, and I come across this very short—but powerful—book, Malachi; the last of the old testament prophets. All four chapters have something remarkable to say, but the second half of chapter one really jumped out at me.

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ You place defiled food on my altar. But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty. “Oh that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offerings from your hands. My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you profane it by saying of the Lord’s table, ‘It is defiled,’ and of its food, ‘It is contemptible.’ And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty. “When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and off them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” (Malachi 1:6-14)

Now, you may be wondering okay, ‘what does she get from that? It’s about sacrificial offerings, which we no longer must do.’ Yes, but here’s my question…do you offer God your best? Do you offer Him your most precious time and energy, or does He get the leftovers? Do you offer Him your first fruits, your very best, or does God get your injured, crippled and diseased?

Some of the ladies at church, have been working our way through, Tammie Head’s bible study—Duty or Delight—and as I read these verses in Malachi, I realized that the Israelites Malachi was speaking to, didn’t delight in serving God; they felt it burdensome. Serving God ought not be a burden, but a delight…an honor! We’re serving the King of Kings! The God of Heaven and Earth! The God who loves us so dearly that He sent His one and only Son into this world to suffer and die for our sake; because He wants to be our most trusted and dearly loved friend; the lover of our souls! He deserves our VERY BEST in everything, because He is the great king, and yet, He loves even the lowliest and most sinful of us all! How amazing is that!? What king/queen do you know that cares about people at the individual level? Who actually goes out of their way to build a personal relationship with each one of us? ONLY ONE and His name is Yahweh.

It’s About a Relationship, Not Spirituality

I recently came across a letter that I’d written to a friend of mine last year. He’d made a comment about being “spiritual” that just sat with me the wrong way. I felt like he just didn’t “get it;” which, I feel may be the case with a lot of people, so I decided to share my letter with you all.

That’s just it. It’s not about being “spiritual.” It’s about having a relationship with someone who cares about you and loves you so much that He sent his only son to die on the cross for you. He’s my best friend and knows everything about me; things that nobody else in the world knows. He forgave me for things that I’ve done in my past, before I could even learn to forgive myself. It took me a long time to get where I am—and I still have a long way to go; it doesn’t come overnight, and I, too, struggle with doubt every once in a while. But there’s so much freedom and joy that comes from being able to give over all your fear, anxiety, frustration, shame, and doubt to someone who loves you unconditionally and has so many promises for us when we turn to Him. Remember, the Israelites were God’s chosen people, but they struggled repeatedly because they kept putting their faith in things other than God. God gave them all these promises if they stayed true to Him, but He also provided a list of curses if they turned from Him. That’s why Israel lost just about everything!

Lately, I’ve been reading the book of Psalms, but I keep coming across the same thing in all the Old Testament. We, as human beings, have a hard time being obedient and submissive. We think that to submit makes us weak. That’s why we have a hard time working under other people and being told what to do as children and teens; the same goes for us, as children of God. When we ask God for help or to provide something for us, and he gives us a “no” response or doesn’t respond quickly enough for us, we don’t want to hear it! We want to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. But if we just submit and accept His “no” answer or wait around for Him to respond, he rewards our faithfulness and gives us even greater responsibilities and gifts.

Now, I’m not saying that we should be obedient to Him just because He’ll provide us with rewards. It has to come from your heart. You know how when you like/love somebody you want to spend as much time with them as you can? That’s how our lives should be. We love the Lord, so we spend as much time with Him, so that we can get to know Him better. And you know how married couples start to look alike over time? The other thing that comes from spending a lot of time with that other person is that we slowly start to look alike. That’s when and how our lives are transformed and we begin to see the world as He does. Then the desire to see His will on Earth and spend even more time with Him, becomes even greater!