Friday, August 30, 2013

Never Enough

This past season of my life, however far back that might stretch (a year or so at most), the Lord has done a lot of exposing. 

The further I go on in my Christian walk, He slowly peels back more layers to reveal to me my fallen nature-- ugly, coarse, and falling so short of His glory.

It's been a really good learning, and the Bible tells us to have a humble heart, to realize our unworthiness, to realize our salvation was a gift in the first place, and that anything good that ever happens is from the Lord, not out of our own strength and doing. But shining light on my failures and short comings.....whew, it's been a rough season, people. 

Lately, however, I've been feeling incredibly inadequate, more so than usual, and it's gotten to a point where I almost feel paralyzed by it. This summer, a lot happened in my own personal life, and I've been trying to find my place back home again after spending 5 years away at Syracuse. Not only that, but I'm on the brink of entering a year of 100% dedication to the Lord, serving Him, serving the Church, loving Him, loving the Church. I have no idea what to expect, and I know it's going to be awesome...but these past few weeks, however, I couldn't help but wonder how I'm going to make it through. There are so many people to care of, so many needs in the Church that have yet to be met, so much more growth to happen in my own walk with the Lord....How can I do it all? 

The Lord answered with a really simple word: "Hannah, you can't.....But I can."

He reminded me of the story when He was a man on this earth, and He went away to spend some alone time in the countryside. He managed to get away for awhile, but a huge crowd of thousands of people followed Him on foot and managed to find where He had gone off to. (Facing this next year, I feel like Jesus looking off into the distance seeing a ginormous crowd of people coming towards Him over the horizon...)

The crowd was exhausted and hungry and needy. There were far too many of them to be adequately cared for. And then Jesus asked His disciples to FEED them. There were 5,000 men, and at least an additional 5,000 women and children, probably more!!! And all they had were 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. The small contribution the disciples made was totally inadequate. Yet the Lord took the little they had to offer. 

And then,  two amazing things happen....

First, He holds the loaves and the fish, and saying a blessing, He breaks them. 
And then, giving the pieces back to the disciples to distribute, He multiplies them.

By the end of the evening, every single person in that place had their fill. And not only did every single person in the crowd of thousands receive food, but there were leftovers!!!! TWELVE basket-fulls to be exact! 

I feel I may have a small loaf and a teeny tiny little fish to offer to the Lord. And maybe that's giving myself too much credit. But one thing I'm sure of is despite my shortness, if I offer everything I have, however small that may be, HE will do the multiplying. And every need will be met. 

What's also interesting is that the offering was broken first, and only then could it be multiplied.

So my prayer is that out of my inadequacy and out of being broken, the Lord would multiply His love, His strength, His mercy, His supply, and ultimately, Himself through me towards all those who will surround me this coming year. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What price are YOU willing to pay?

Our new life begins with a gift.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

Salvation is not something we earn. It is not something we buy. It is not something we can create or attain by our own measures.

It is the greatest gift ever given throughout all of the ages to all of mankind. It is offered in a manner neither partial nor prejudiced towards any race, sex, class, orientation, or age.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16

There are many who choose not to receive it. But for those of us who do, though we may begin our walk with the Lord so joyously, as we go on we begin to realize that things are not quite so easy as they were at first. Rather, many hardships confront and challenge our faith. As we go on in the Lord, we begin to taste the life of suffering that He once lived on this very earth. As we conform to His image and likeness, that means experiencing Him not only as Joy and Peace and Love and Blessing, but also experiencing His suffering, His hardships, His death and resurrection. It was by suffering that He was made perfect forever (Hebrews 7:28). If the Son of God must suffer to be made perfect, why would we ever think we could escape and be made perfect with a life full of blessing alone?

"The seeking one realizes that a price must be paid if she wants to follow the Lord. Her love for Him will not leave her untouched any longer, for from this point onward He will touch every aspect of her living....We can no longer expect that things will come cheaply. The Lord makes it clear that if you pay Him five cents, He will give you something worth five cents, and if you pay Him 100 dollars, He will give you something worth 100 dollars. If you give Him one year, He will give you something worth one year in return; if you give Him ten years, He will give you something worth ten years in return. How much blessing He gives you depends on the price you are willing to pay. Our relationship with the Lord is no longer one in which He draws us, and then we pursue Him, or in which He freely supplies us, and thus we enjoy Him. Now the Lord demands, 'Can you pay the price? Can I touch your living?'...
You may think that the Spirit works in you freely, at no cost to you. However, at a certain point in your Christian life, when you say, 'Lord, bless me,' He will answer, 'I will bless you, but at a price.' The blessing referred to here is not your initial salvation, for the Lord does save you freely. After receiving salvation, however, you must pay a price in order to grow in life and become mature before the Lord. In this stage, the way you live is by paying a price before God."

So I ask you again...What price are YOU willing to pay?

Friday, May 24, 2013

So that you remember to love only Him, and nothing else.

This past week I've had a lot of 'quiet time.'

It has mostly consisted of sleep and reading books and trying to wean myself off of narcotics (I had a procedure done late last week).

The past few days, despite incredible exhaustion, I've been a little more with it mentally. And I'm finally beginning to open myself up to processing this past year...I haven't gotten very far. A LOT has happened, internally and externally. Mostly really amazing things, but I feel like a very heavily kneaded lump of dough. I'll post more and share more as I work through and process things with the Lord these coming weeks, but I really wanted to share this excerpt with you all.

It comes from the most recent Fellowship Journal, a small publication put together by some members in our church network to encourage and build up the rest of the saints. These two paragraphs are pulled from a message given in the Fall of 2011.

"Once you love the Lord --- really love Him --- your new life begins, and this new life is filled with sufferings. This new life is divine and heavenly, but as you enjoy the heavenly things, remember, with this new life, a great deal of suffering will also come to you. Do you understand this? The Lord will come to you and do unreasonable things, things which may surprise you. You may ask the Lord, 'Must You do this? Why? Must this be so? Can't it be another way?' It seems the Lord becomes very firm and says, 'No, it must be this way; that's it.' If you say, 'It doesn't make sense,' He will reply, ' I don't care if it makes sense, or if it's fair or not; that's what I want to do.'
The Lord likes to come in and say, 'Can I interrupt a little bit of your life? Can I interrupt a little bit of your plan? Can I make you perhaps not so happy? Can I bother you a little bit?' Do you know why the Lord wants to do this? So that you remember to love only Him, and nothing else. He would say, 'Even in all your joyful times, remember to lay hold of Me. I need you, and I want to bless you with Myself.'"

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Ultimate Reward

(Realized that I had this post waiting to be published over a month ago and never did!!!)

Reading through Philippians the other day, I was suddenly and profoundly inspired by Paul's statement in chapter two...

"Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all." Philippians 2:17

I decided to do some quick research on what the drink offering was in the Old Testament, and to understand that meant understanding the other Levitical offerings as well (which I had never studied before and only knew by name).

The Levitical offerings were all a type of foreshadowing of Christ's ultimate sacrifice for us. There were six main offerings: the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, and the drink offering.

The burnt offering speaks of the death of Christ accomplishing the will of God for the pleasure of God, bringing glory to his name.

The meal offering presents Christ in perfect sinlessness of His Manhood, His perfect obedience, ever fulfilling the will of God from His birth to His death on the cross.

The peace offering presents Christ as the One who has, through death, reconciled God and man, allowing man to enter into the enjoyment of the fellowship with the Father and the Son in a settled peace.

The sin offering presents Christ as the Sin bearer, the One who took OUR sins upon Him during the three hours He hung on the cross in darkness.

The trespass offering speaks of the death of Christ meeting our need in regard to sins we commit as believers; Christ is our Advocate.

The drink offering came later and speaks of the JOY of God in the completed work on that cross.

The joy of God was not in Christ's sufferings, but in Christ's obedience unto death thus fulfilling the will of God the Father. The drink offering was instructed to be composed of pure wine, not watered down; the use of wine itself acted as a symbol of joy both to God and to man. The drink offering was to be poured out in its entirety before the Lord. No part was to be consumed by the offerer. It was ALL for God.

All of the sacrificial offerings satisfied a righteous requirement of the law, but God's real joy was expressed through this offering. For Paul to compare himself to a drink offering was no small thing. His life was poured out in its entirety for Christ..."But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ." The drink offering of his life must have brought so much joy to God.

The most convicting part is that out of all the offerings made, the drink offering could not be seen. Once poured upon the altar, it was indistinguishable from the meat of the other offerings.

To live a life as a drink offering is the hardest life of all -- completely surrendered, totally poured out for Christ, but without any recognition or glorification from man. In Matthew 6, Jesus speaks of this very kind of life...

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven...When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And the Father who sees in secret will reward you...When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you...When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

We should desire to live our lives as a drink offering. As hard as it may be, we should find joy in living our lives in that kind of a way because it brings joy to the heart of God and will be eternally rewarded.