Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Sacrifice (teaching from my Bible Study last week)

My view as I studied and wrote...
What does it really mean to Love God?
I mean, yeah- He is the creator, He sent us Jesus so we can be with Him in Heaven. 
Yeah, Yes!  We love God!

But have you EVER asked God HOW HE WANT you to love Him?  How are we suppose to Love God?
So I did.  I asked by doing some study.
I stumbled upon the word Sacrifice.

Sacrifice???  Ugh I am a mom!  That is all I do!  I think that us women, even if you are not a mom have a good idea about what sacrifice is--  or do we?  

Does Love equal sacrifice and if it does IS THIS WHAT GOD wants from me?? 

You have heard of sacrifices maybe in the OT
So what was the PURPOSE OF THESE SACRIFICES in the OT?...because you have heard of this, having to build an alter and find a lamb to kill and all......
      1. In the Old Testament, sacrifices were offered for one of two
         reasons... a. To restore a broken relationship from God for our sins
            to the Lord      b. To offer thanksgiving and praise to God for what He did or has done.
      Now in the New Testament...
         a. Only Jesus can provide the sacrifice needed to restore us
             back to God - He 10:11-18
         b. Be clear that our sacrifices are not to "remove sin" or in any other way to
            try to "earn our way" into heaven!  Jesus did that!!
      3. But to express thanksgiving and adoration and devotion,
           for the love, goodness and mercy God has shown to us!

When I think of sacrifice, I think of a fairly popular story in the Bible.  You may know the story of Abraham perhaps of his famous trip up Mt. Moriah in Genesis 22

22 After all this, God tested Abraham. God said, “Abraham!”
“Yes?” answered Abraham. “I’m listening.”   2 He said, “Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I’ll point out to you.”

3-5 Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants and his son Isaac. He had split wood for the burnt offering. He set out for the place God had directed him. On the third day he looked up and saw the place in the distance. Abraham told his two young servants, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I are going over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and gave it to Isaac his son to carry. He carried the flint and the knife. The two of them went off together.       7 Isaac said to Abraham his father, “Father?”      “Yes, my son.”

“We have flint and wood, but where’s the sheep for the burnt offering?”

Abraham said, “Son, God will see to it that there’s a sheep for the burnt offering.” And they kept on walking together.

9-10 They arrived at the place to which God had directed him. Abraham built an altar. He laid out the wood. Then he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood. Abraham reached out and took the knife to kill his son.

11 Just then an angel of God called to him out of Heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”           “Yes, I’m listening.”

12 “Don’t lay a hand on that boy! Don’t touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn’t hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me.”

13 Abraham looked up. He saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

15-18 The angel of God spoke from Heaven a second time to Abraham: “I swear—God’s sure word!—because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give me your son, your dear, dear son, I’ll bless you—oh, how I’ll bless you! And I’ll make sure that your children flourish—like stars in the sky! like sand on the beaches! And your descendants will defeat their enemies. All nations on Earth will find themselves blessed through your descendants because you obeyed me.”

Wow- what a sacrifice…….I think about that for a minute.  I don’t’ know if I could of done it.  I can hardly bare the thought of it.   How did Abraham do this……how? 
He trusted God.  He trusted God’s heart.   He knew God had the VERY BEST for him.  He was asked to sacrifice and he began the journey without question. 
COMPLETED trusting that NO MATTER God loved him and He could be trusted.  He loved God.  Wow.  To live like that.
So is God asking us to love him by sacrificing something?  
How God do YOU want ME to show my love to you?

I was talking with my husband that morning after we got the kids out the door at 7am and was asking him his opinion of Love=sacrifice.  Telling him about how I felt led to teach on this at Bible Study– the Story of Abraham and it boiling all down to trusting God.
He said check this out and told me that story of Saul.  And said loving God is yes a sacrifice but it is beyond a sacrifice.  It's Being obedient. 
And He began to read me the story-

King Saul had the honor of being Israel's first king, but his life turned into a tragedy for one reason. Saul did not trust in God.  Saul looked like royalty: tall, handsome, noble. He became king when he was 30 years old and reigned over Israel 42 years. Early in his career he made a fatal mistake. He disobeyed God by failing to completely destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions, as God had commanded. The LORD withdrew his favor from Saul and had Samuel the prophet anoint David as king.  BUT here is the key from what the Prophet Samuel said to Saul 1 Samuel 15:22 -
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice       You can read the story in 1 Samuel 15  
Being obedient.   Laying down your life- sacrificing yourself.  Your wants, your will and trusting God and His Heart.
So when God says Go, you go.  When God says this attitude is not of me, you change it.  When God says...... you obey.
Saul thought that going through the motions of the “sacrifice”  the “look what I did” would suffice.
God says no--  I want your very life.  Not the “great stuff” that you do or maybe give up for me.
I want you to trust me COMPLETELY.

I was angry for a very long time with God about “taking my life” away from me in Colorado.  How could you God?  Look what we SACRIFICED for you!!  (Go back to the beginning of this blog and you can read more about that)
Through sharing my story at a women's retreat a few weekends ago, I found an even new place of healing that I shared in my last blog.  

But here is the amazing part of a relationship with God- He continues to heal and show us new things.  
 In my search for HOW DOES GOD WANT ME TO LOVE HIM.....God showed me how arrogant I was to think God saw my ministry work as some great sacrifice to him.What HE was really asking me was not about a sacrifice BUT
DO you love me?? 
Will you go?  even a life you love (or think you love)  even in the hurt.....Will you travel a Mt. Moriah and completely trust me? 

WOW- He is still transforming me. 
Rom 12:1-2  Paul tells us 12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

You are going to have Moriah moments. 
You will be asked - Do You Love ME?  Then lay down your very self, your wants, agendas, what the world tells you and TRUST obeying me.

Follow-up Questions-
~When have you felt like you had to sacrifice something?  What happened?
~Why is it so hard to sacrifice?  And can it truly be a sacrifice if it isn't hard?
~How do you feel about really loving God = sacrifice of ourselves and being Obedient to Him.
~How are we to "present ourselves as an offering" everyday? 
~What is God talking to you about or maybe has been trying to get you attention but you are either not listening or refusing to do what God is asking of you.   *This could be a discussion about how we know if your group seems hesitant to share something.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rocky Mountain High.......and God who still fills me.

Me with some of the great gals from Thorncreek!
From the moment the plane took flight out of Portland I sensed God wanted to do something.  I had made all the proper preparations and plans.  My notes from hours of study were complete.  I had carefully typed out my story and just hoped that somehow, someway, it would touch a heart.  Draw a weary heart back to God.  That all the lies that had clouded thinking and impacted my journey would help others see theirs.....and how God Loves and wants us to heal.

As we made our descent into DIA, I slowly adjusted my head in my isle seat so that maybe I could catch a glimpse.  Rocky Mountains, there you are.  The sun was just setting behind and I breathed in and closed my eyes. 

After the hustle to baggage claim, the scurry to find my ride and then we were off. 
And another place of healing began for me.  FOR ME.

From old stomping grounds, familiar restaurants, remembered moments of our life in Colorado.  To all the anticipation of what I might feel once I got here, the wondering if the sadness would come again, and here I was.

I wasn't angry anymore.  I wasn't sad anymore.  I breathed it all in and said thank you for 12 years here.  For what this time meant in our journey.  Even the hard.  And I was thankful........for real.  Maybe for the first time.

And I wasn't even at the retreat God.

I believe it was that last piece I needed.  That last bit being emptied out into His Hands.

Over the next 3 days, He filled me to overflow.  These women listened to my story.  Through even moments of tears and pain in the telling.  As I described my journey through God's healing in my life....with the truth I replaced those lies.....taking every thought captive......finding a way to be thankful.....and relying completely on His Strength alone.

I named this blog in 2011,  Empty to Fill.  It was a phrase that jumped out at me when I was reading Ann VosKamp's  A Thousand Gifts.  God said to start writing........start pouring it all out.  I will fill you.  Since then there have definitely been moments that I have wondered......Is this all God?  We are in Oregon have brought us to a new place.   But is there more?  Do you still have more healing for me?

As I flew home and basked in all that God had done, I was so humbled.  So filled.  Overwhelmed by God that He would choose me and my story.   I know those around me must have thought I was on something........retreat high I guess.
And I heard in my spirit so clearly-
Yes, it is true.  There is more.  And if you continue to empty yourself - I will fill.

The trip was a gift really.  An unexpected gift.  I thought I was bringing a story of healing to others.....
and found another place of healing myself.