Have You Hit Your Bottom?

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Luke 22:31, 34

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”  But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

Last Friday was President Trump’s inauguration and the Green Bay Packers were painfully defeated by the Atlanta Falcons. I have Facebook friends who are outspokenly passionate about both of these things and by 4PM CST yesterday, I had had enough. The political division is exhausting and I, personally, needed to to accept the fate that my dear Green Bay Packers were unlikely to recover from their grave deficit, hence, not going to advance to the Super Bowl. So I decided to lace up and go for a 3 mile run to take in some fresh country air and clear my mind.

As I exited the house I turned to my favorite phone app and found a message from Dr. Tony Evans titled, “Your Experience and Your Destiny.” The title caught my eye and my hope was that it would bring a perspective to my arduous job search and boy did it ever!

Dr. Evan’s was sharing from Luke 22:31-34 and I never saw this perspective before. Jesus says that Satan asked if he could sift Peter like wheat and Jesus plead in prayer for him… He didn’t plea that he wouldn’t fail, because he [Peter] did actually fail by denying Jesus before the rooster crowed for the third time just as Jesus predicted. Instead, what Jesus was praying for was that Peter’s FAITH wouldn’t fail. Now that’s powerful stuff!

This message spoke to me because I ended up jobless as a result of “failing” a series of qualification exams. I saw a parallel to my own life in this passage, as God’s Word often does. Dr. Evan’s goes on to say, “Jesus will let you fail so you understand that you’re not all that, because you think you’re all that, and once you see that you’re not all that, you’re going to repent, because now you have come face-to-face with you, and once you repent then God can use you. One of the reasons that we can’t find our destiny yet, is either we haven’t repented yet or we haven’t hit bottom yet. As long as we walk with pride God can’t use us.”

Boom! This hit me between the eyes. Could God have let me fail because I was (and am) holding on to pride? Humbly, I believe the answer is yes and I know because of it I am of no use to God; I am in my own way. So I’m faced with a decision… either I recognize this, repent and turn to God  – OR – God will let me hit bottom so I have no other place to go EXCEPT to Him.

You see, my faith hasn’t failed me. If anything it has grown stronger. My prayer life is powerful, disciplined and fully engaged. I am spending quality time in his word and am like a sponge taking in all of His promises. I know that he is with me and I have confidence that I will be better for having endured this. I do have a peace that surpasses all understanding and am taking each day one day at a time. I have been able to keep a healthy perspective on my blessings and all that this jobless season is given me the ability to enjoy. But… here is where the devil is alive and active… I find myself praying for a certain type of job, a certain income and a certain title. Instead of praying that He use me, wherever and however he needs me.

My pride is afraid of what people will think. My pride is telling me that I have a master’s degree and shouldn’t settle for just any old job. My pride is telling me that I shouldn’t go backwards on my resume.  Dr. Evan’s said that God gave me gifts and He made me to use those gifts to benefit others, glorify God and impact his kingdom. If they are not doing that, it’s not a destiny, it’s a job and if I am not where God can use me I will never be fulfilled.

As a result of this message, a long run and some soul searching, I have since apologized to God and I am going to remain open to where he is leading me. What is most exciting about this is the anticipation of finding out what He has in mind.

Stay tuned!

P.S. Thank you Dr. Tony Evans!

 

Sad Worship

True WorshipTears

Today’s Devotion: Numbers 28-29

In my commentary, Dr. Vernon McGee describes the worship described in Numbers 28-29 best. “Now what does this mean to you and me? We hear a lot today about worship and worship services. But how much is true worship in our services? How much is just aimless activity? Real worship is when we think God’s thoughts after Him. This sweet savor offering which God speaks of as My offering, My bread, My sacrifice, represents what God thinks of Christ. God is satisfied with what Christ did for you and me on the cross. What about you? Are you satisfied with what Christ did for you on the cross? Are you resting in that today? His invitation is “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Have you brought your burden of sin to Him and received Him as your Savior? Are you satisfied with who He is? If He is not the Son of God, then what He did is absolutely meaningless. True worship is a recognition of who He is and an adoration of His Person. In other words, it is thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”

Have you ever thought of worship as being sad? When I think of worship I picture hands lifted, eyes closed, hearts connected and praises sung, but then I search my heart and remember that my most raw, heart-filled, genuine, God-centered worship has been on my knees, tears flowing, eyes puffy, nose running and auditory weeping.

Numbers 28-29 reminds me that sin is ugly and when we truly see ourselves has sinners, we become aware that sin robs us of our fellowship with God; sin is an occasion for mourning. When was the last time you wept over your sins? Have you been before God and wept over your sin, over the failure of your life, over your coldness and indifference? My, how we need to confess that to Him today. It is not because God is high and we are low, or because He is great and weare small, nor because He is infinite and we are finite that we are separated from Him. He says it is our sins that have separated us from Him. That is the occasion for weeping.

I realize it is really our lives that are an act of worship and we don’t want to be wandering depressed souls living aimless lives that is a constant beat down of our inadequacies, but an occasional pause to put things into perspective is not a bad thing. I think that is why much of the book of Leviticus and now a detailed reminder of God’s offerings are reiterated here in Numbers.

The Source Of Guilt

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Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 4

Like the first four chapters and those yet to come, this chapter has a theme – a big theme. Sins of ignorance; sins of the priest; sins of the congregation; sins of the ruler; sins of the common people; the law of the sin offering.

To rephrase this, the following are not exempt from sin: People who don’t know any better, Pastor’s, the church-goers, government authorities, you and me. That pretty much covers everybody! Notice something a bit more disturbing. Look at these verses…

2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands—

13 ” ‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realize their guilt.

22 ” ‘When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the Lord his God, when he realizes his guilt.

27 ” ‘If any member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, when they realize their guilt.

Two words are repeated throughout this chapter,  sins unintentionally and realize their guilt. WOW! In other words, people that don’t even know that they are sinning will feel guilty about it. I can relate.

Have you ever had the silent treatment from someone who is mad at you, but you don’t know what you did wrong or why they are upset or mad; you could just tell that something wasn’t right? Even without knowing the cause you give that person a gift and try to get back in good graces with them because you don’t like the tension or dissonance. You have no idea what you might have done, but you want to make it right – if it isn’t your fault – at least try to cheer them up. Meanwhile you are doing a search of yourself trying to figure out what you did or said that would have hurt or offended them?

I think this is what this chapter is trying to teach us. I’m not trying to say we need to live our lives in guilt and constantly fight for His love, attention and forgiveness. What I am trying to say is that through our love of God, we desire to please Him.

I feel sorry for those who don’t have a relationship. No one is exempt – even those who don’t know any better. That explains why we, sinners, feel that something is missing in our lives. We mess up. We may not even be aware of it, but our guilt draws us toward God and helps us realize we need Him.

I pray that this chapter would have us praying, not only for our own shortcomings, but the hearts of the lost whom God is trying to get their attention. Those burdened with guilt and don’t understand its source. Bring Him an offering of prayer and acknowledge Him. I say this as I bend my knee right now…