Sing: Overcome by Jeremy Camp
Pray: Come Holy Spirit, fill me with Your fire so that I can be more like You; help me, I trust You. Father, open my eyes so that I may see You clearly, open my ears so that I may hear You soundly, open my mind so that I may understand You plainly, open my heart so that I may love you more, open my hands so that I may give generously and receive humbly, in Jesus‘ name, Amen.
Read: 1 Chronicles 5:23-7:40
They were given the cities of refuge; Shechem with its pasturelands in the hill country of Ephraim, Gezer with its pasturelands, 1 Chronicles 6:67
You know, here I was never able to get through Numbers before when I was reading through the Bible from cover to cover because of all the genealogies and I was so happy because Numbers was at the end of this plan… and then we hit Chronicles! UGH! Finding things to write about in these long lists has been a challenge, but God is faithful!
Unfortunately so is the Enemy, well, maybe not faithful, but certainly predictable! When you are in the will of God and doing precisely what He wants you to do, well, the Enemy NEVER likes that! And then he starts to do everything that he can to keep you from doing that thing. It has been my experience that one of his favorite tactics on women with children is Mommy Guilt! For the last few days I have really been battling those seeds of doubt and guilt that the Enemy sows into a Mission-minded-Mom‘s mind when she is doing the right thing. His number one technique is making you feel guilty about spending time doing that right thing rather than doing “x“ activity for your family. In the last few days I have been bombarded with this! I was struggling with how much time I‘ve been spending taking pictures and editing them and writing and editing and networking and editing. I was feeling like I was spending too much time doing that and not enough time or energy taking care of my family and spending quality time with my kids. The Enemy must have sent several minions my way too because it certainly felt like everywhere I was turning I was encountering some form of guilt or doubt about whether or not I should be writing. Funny thing about the Enemy though, he doesn‘t get to win! So this morning as I‘m working around the house and getting my morning chores done he was after me already, like a monkey on my back whispering into my ear, my thoughts swirled with “your family needs you“, “you‘re not eating healthy enough, you‘re all going to get sick“, “you‘re spending too much money on pre-prepared foods so that you can spend more time writing and it‘s costing your family too much money“, “that clean laundry has been sitting in the living room unfolded for way too long, you just can‘t keep up doing both housework and God‘s work“… it was maddening!
That‘s when I asked my husband to pray for me. I told him that I was battling something and I started to say that I didn‘t know who I was battling but then I was quickly but quietly reminded of a Sunday afternoon not that long ago when that precious voice I love awoke me from a semi-sound afternoon nap and said “write through the Bible in a year“. I know who I‘m battling! And it‘s not God! And then I realized WHY I‘ve been battling… I‘m not only encouraging people to read through the Bible in a year, I‘m giving them the tools to do it with too! Three years ago God called me to draw people into more intimate relationships with Him through my gifts of writing and teaching and almost every day since then I have been doing just that. It certainly has not been an easy road, but it has been worth it. Every attempt of the Enemy to thwart me and stop my ministry, God has taken it and used it for not only my learning and benefit, but for yours as well by proxy. The Enemy doesn‘t get to win! There may be times in life when it seems like he might have an upper hand, but he never does, not ever! God is the SUPREME ruler of this world, He is in control, He holds the keys to heaven, hell, earth and anything in between. The Enemy doesn‘t get to win, because Jesus already has.
On a day many years ago a lone man stood awaiting an unjust trial, accused of nothing specific other than opposing the current powers that be. For three years He roamed the countryside telling people about the Son of Man who is also the Son of God (though He never really referred to Himself that way He certainly could have, because that‘s what He is). He shared with them truths about the kingdom of God that they had never understood before, and some didn‘t understand even after He explained them. He showed them true love and mercy, compassion and forgiveness, yet they still did not understand. Then on the evening of Passover, the night that death roamed the streets of Egypt thousands of years ago killing all the firstborn children of the unprotected houses, Jesus was praying in a silent garden asking God the Father if there was some other way to save the world. Yet, not my will be done, but Yours Father. That Passover night, death came to kill the firstborn of heaven. The very next day at the same time as the afternoon sacrifice Jesus lifted His eyes to heaven and proclaimed “It is finished“! At that moment it certainly appeared as though death had won, not just the battle, but the war. The earth shook, the sky was black, tombs opened, dead people walked out of them and the temple was so violently rocked in its foundations that both the physical and supernatural curtain separating the world from God‘s love and forgiveness was ripped from top to bottom. While it may have seemed like death had won, he really had just lost everything.
There are times in our lives when it may seem like we have just lost everything, but in fact we have just gained everything that matters the most. There are times in our lives when it may seem like the Devil is winning the war against us, but in fact he is losing it, more then than any other time. It is in those times of battle and pressure when God is using the Enemy like a garlic press to squeeze out from within us the most precious oil of gladness. Yeah, I know, weird analogy, but those are some of my favorite!
My Pampered Chef garlic press is ingenious in design, it is such an effective press that you don‘t have to peel the garlic first! You can just pop a whole clove of garlic into the press, apply pressure to the handle and the ENTIRE garlic clove comes out the bottom of the press and only the peel is left within it. I have not had to peel a single clove of garlic since the day I received it from my consultant! The key to its design is the size of the holes at the bottom of the press and the way that the press fits together. When the garlic is being pressed the holes below it are just big enough to allow the entire clove to come through while at the same time they are still small enough that none of the peel comes through. Then the piece that presses the garlic from above fits perfectly with the container of the press so that it doesn‘t allow any of the garlic or the peel to escape through the top of the press. Making this press the most effective garlic press I‘ve ever used. One press and I‘ve got minced garlic! I used to have another garlic press that I would have to press it at least three times in order to get even half of the clove out, and I had to peel the garlic first too! To say the least it was a very ineffective press. OK, OK, so what does all this have to do with Satan right? LOL, OK.
We are that garlic clove,
Satan is the press,
and God is the one doing the pressing.
Picture it this way, like God is a master Chef in His kitchen making up the most amazing recipe (maybe it‘s meatballs), that we call the world. He made it and it all belongs to Him and He wants to use YOU in order to make it even tastier! Yay! But He can‘t use you in the raw form that you‘re in right now. I mean, He COULD He‘s God, He can do whatever He wants, except He doesn‘t want that hard shell that‘s covering you right now. That might make the meatballs taste a little funny and crunchy when they‘re done and none of us would want that! So He plucks you from that place of comfort, familiarity and safety, the larger clove that you‘d been clinging to your entire life, and places you lovingly into the most effective garlic press He‘s ever used, and then applies the pressure necessary to get you to the form that‘s required to get His dish to taste just right. At NO point are you at the mercy of the press, it is simply the tool that God lovingly and CAREFULLY uses. God knows precisely how much or how little pressure to apply at any point in time. He knows your frailties and your strengths. He knows them and He LOVES you enough to take them into careful consideration when lovingly applying the pressure with His own hand. He is the Chef and we are the ingredient. He is the potter and we are the clay.
In today‘s reading I was overwhelmed by all the mentions of the “pasturelands“ given to the Levites. The Levites were the priests in the temple; they were the pastors or “shepherds“ of God‘s flock. Today each and every one of us is called to be a “royal priest“ (1 Peter 2:9) and to shepherd the sheep of God‘s flock. However, that means that we must also be prepared to stand up and fight for those sheep against the wolf. Sometimes that wolf is in sheep‘s clothing or disguised as light. To be properly prepared to fight off the wolf at a moment‘s notice we have to be fit and ready at all times, hence, the lessons of preparation that we go through that sometimes press us harder than we‘re comfortable being pressed. However, in the end, it‘s better that we have gone through that garlic press of life, because then we‘re more fit for the Lord‘s service and we get to be a critical part of those tasty meatballs that He‘s using us to make. J Isn‘t God awesome!
Praise Him in the storm with Mandisa in “