Miriam

Who was Miriam?  When I think of the book of Exodus, I definitely think of Moses. I had heard of Miriam, but I  had to do a little investigating to figure out who Miriam wass and why she is our focus in our reading today.  

Exodus 2:3 describes Miriam standing far off as she witnesses her mother putting her baby brother Moses in a basket and setting him in the river to save him from being killed by Pharoh.  Miriam was able to orchestrate her mother then being able to nurse Moses after Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in the basket.  

The next time we meet Miriam is in our passage today, Exodus 15:1-21.  The Hebrew people have crossed the Red Sea and the waters have crashed down upon the Egyptian soldiers that were pursuing them.  The first 19 verses are a song from Moses praising God for saving them.

In verse 20 and 21 Miriam appears and leads the women in a dance while singing.

Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced.  And Miriam sang this song:  “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;  he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea.”       Exodus 15:20 and 21

In this text, Miriam is called a prophet.  She is called this because she led the women in worship of God during the celebration of Israel’s victory over the Egyptians.  

Miriam’s life as a prophet and leader in Israel provided encouragement to the women of Israel.  Miriam’s ministry as a prophet also challenges us today to understand that women have much to contribute to God’s work and that they have much to teach those who are willing to listen.

Miriam set an example for God’s people and was a woman of prominence.

Just as all the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, the Bible teaches us that we are all slaves to sin.  

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). 

Yet today we have a reason to sing!  Jesus Christ has delivered us from sin by his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead.

We too should praise God for his deliverance.  If we confess Jesus as our Savior, then one day we will sing just as Miriam did in Exodus 15:21, 

“Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously!”

This is a reminder to praise God gloriously! 

When is the last time you grabbed a tambourine and the people around you and started praising God for all He has done for you??

 

Abel

 

Have you ever been intrigued about your family tree?  There are so many ways these days to discover our family heritage and where so many of our traits come from.  Today while reading our passage, Genesis 4:1-16, I was struck with the fact that the Family Tree is only 4 people long!  That is it!  There is no need for the internet or any amount of searching for finding the background of this family.  They are all right there in front of each other.  

  • Father – Adam
  • Mother – Eve
  • Brother – Cain
  • Brother – Abel

Abel is our focus today.

Abel was the second son born to Adam and Eve.  He was the first martyr in the Bible as well as the first shepherd.  Very little is known about Abel, except that he found favor in God’s eyes by offering him a pleasing sacrifice.  As a result, Abel was murdered by his older brother Cain, whose sacrifice did not please God.

When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground.  When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord.  Able also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock.  The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift.  This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

Genesis 4:2-5

Why did God look with favor on Abel and why did Cain feel dejected?  Genesis 4:6-7 explains why…

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain.  “Why do you look so dejected?  You will be accepted if you do what is right.  But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out!  Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you.  But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Cain should not have been angry, both he and Abel knew what God expected as the “right” offering.  Both Cain and God knew that he had given an unacceptable offering.  God knew that Cain had given his offering with a wrong attitude of the heart.  But, God offered Cain a chance to make it right and warned him that the sin of anger would destroy him if he did not master it.

The story ends with Cain killing his brother Able because of jealousy.  Able became the first man to be martyred for his obedience to God.  

Even though Abel died a martyr, his life speaks today of his faith.  He is the first name mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11.

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did.  Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts.  Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

Hebrews 11:4

Abel teaches us what it takes to have a right relationship with God.  Abel was not considered to be righteous because he was good.  He was considered to be righteous because he believed that if he offered God a proper sacrifice, God would forgive him of his sins.  

Abel and Cain grew up in the same family.  They were brothers and taught by the same parents.  But, it is apparent from Genesis 4 how different they were.  These two brothers show us that obeying god is a choice.  We all face these choices everyday.  Most often we know the right thing that God would have us do.  But, sometimes we (just as Cain did) choose to go against the will of God.  Cain already knew the way to life because his parents taught him.  Nevertheless, he chose to rebel against God and kill his brother.

Abel made a choice to become a righteous man.  He committed his life to the way of God no matter what happened.  

Both of these brothers made a different choice.  Abel chose life.  Cain chose death.  We all have a choice to make.  May we all be like Abel and have the faith to endure and choose to please Jesus.

What Drags You Down?

                   

                                                                                                        

What drags you down in life?  In different seasons there are all kinds of events, troubles,  and scenarios that can stop you in your tracks and slow you down.  Growing up, I was a swimmer.  Everyday you would find me in the pool for a few hours.  Back in the day we would train wearing multiple suits to create “drag”.  I remember sometimes layering up to 5 suits, the outer ones being old, deteriorated and disintegrated.  It seemed that the more suits you wore, the cooler you were:)  Jump 25+ years down the road and wearing multiple suits at practice is not the cool thing anymore.  Now, you get to buy a drag suit.  The above picture is a drag suit and even the girls wear these in practice.  

Funny how the extra drag of a suit prepares a swimmer for a race.  On race day of course you wear the one fastest suit you own that is as tight as possible.  You shave any extra bodily hair  and when you enter the water you feel like you are slipping through the water with ease.  After all the training and now stripping the extra weight from the drag suit, you feel 100% sure that you will swim faster than you ever have before.  

The purpose of this drag suit is to weigh you down and make it harder to swim.  In todays reading of Hebrews 12 we hear the writer telling us about living with extra weight and things that drag us down.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (bold, mine)

We trained hard for many hours a day in the drag suit, but ultimately we had to strip off the extra weight and drag to swim the ultimate race.  God asks us this in life everyday! We are training to get to our ultimate joy awaiting us in heaven.  Everyday we have to strip off the weight that drags us down.

What does it look like for you?  What is it that weighs you down?  Stress?  Pressures to keep up with the neighbors?  Work?  Family relationships?  Friends?  The list is endless, whatever takes our eyes off of Jesus has the potential to weigh us down.

Everyday we are living out the race of life.  Are you living well or weighed down with lots of baggage and sin?  To get rid of the extra weight, the answer is pretty clear, we have to focus on Jesus.

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…”  

This is the beginning of Hebrews 12 verse 2.  We have to look at the example of Jesus.  The verse goes on to tell us what that example was.  The example is Jesus, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Jesus focused on the finish line.  The joy of being at the right hand of his Father, having accomplished all that the Father sent him to do.  

To win the swimming race, I had to take off all the extra suits that weighed me down.  We can only live our best life when we strip off every weight that slows us down.  If these things that weight us down are never addressed, we may never finish the race.  Our sins may be like the drag suit and prevent us from living with freedom and endurance.  

Thank you Jesus that we don’t have to run this race alone.  As we run the race set before us and hold strong to our faith, may we find encouragement that we are not alone.  In fact, we are surrounded by a huge crowd of witnesses who have been there before us.  We have people cheering us on, reminding us that the prize is worth it.  Maybe you are being called to be the cheerleader for somebody else?  To help encourage a neighbor or friend, to help lighten their load?  

Judgement

 

Have you ever been to court and stood before a judge?  Have you been the one who is under investigation and waiting for judgement?  About a year ago I had my first call for jury duty.  I was selected for a certain case and got to watch first hand how the day unfolded.  The two people that were in front of the judge were fighting for their rights.  They wanted to persuade him that their words were the truth.  I was nervous for both of them as I sat and listened to the details of their testimony all day.  

In today’s reading, Acts 26, Paul stands before King Agrippa and gives his testimony.  Instead of recounting all the reasons why he is innocent, Paul tells the King of his miraculous conversion to Christianity.  He was more concerned with the King knowing Jesus than he was of his freedom. 

Paul’s main focus was Jesus.  His life focused on the message of the cross.  He focused on Jesus and the eternity He offers rather than the temporary consequences of this life.

“I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”                                                       Acts 26:29

In this moment Paul shared the Gospel instead of begging for his life.

If you were standing before a judge, what would be your focus?  Yourself and convincing the judge of your innocence or sharing Jesus?  I have to say that I would probably be overwhelmed with the immediate circumstances and the personal beliefs of the judge would be far from my concerns.

But, Paul understood that momentary trials achieve an eternal glory that far outweigh any hardship we face.

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!                                    2 Corinthians 4:17

When you are in such situations, maybe not even in front of a judge, but maybe a family member or friend,  who do you defend?  Are you all about making a case for yourself and why you are innocent and right?  Or do you make much of Jesus?  

Paul was in chains and had the chance to plead his case in front of the judge, but he instead took this opportunity to tell the person in front of him about the love and freedom found in Jesus.  Today, I challenge you to tell the person in front of you about what Jesus has done in your life, just as Paul did this day.  

Serving with Joy

Let me be the first to admit that when I have a cold or any annoying ailment, I am not so fun to be around.  I get caught up in the sickness and it becomes my focus.  And that is just with the common virus that we all fight throughout the year.  Now, step it up a notch and give me a sickness that requires me to see a Doctor and I get all wrapped up in myself!  This is a battle that I have always fought.  A small illness afflicted me just this week and I was amazed when I began reading this chapter and heard about a man name Ephaphroditus and how he served the Lord with joy even through his sickness.  My daughter can attest, I was not serving the Lord with joy when I was feeling ill.

Today we are reading Philippians chapter 2.  The main theme of this chapter is finding joy in serving Christ.  The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to express his gratitude and affection for the Philippian church, his strongest supporters in his ministry.  Paul drafted this letter during his two years of house arrest in Rome.  

Paul had established the church in Philippi approximately 10 years prior, during his second missionary journey recorded in Acts 16.  His tender love for the believers in Philippi is apparent in this writing.

Today, as we focus on Chapter 2, I want to look at a man named Epaphroditus.  He is only mentioned 2x in the Bible, first in chapter 2 verse 25 and then again in chapter 4 verse 18.  The church at Philippi had sent gifts to Paul while he was in chains.  These gifts were faithfully delivered by Epaphroditus.  He was a leader in the Philippian church who ended up assisting Paul with his ministry in Rome.  At some point while serving with Paul, he became dangerously sick and nearly died.  After his recovery, Paul sent Epaphroditus back to Philippi carrying with him his letter he wrote to the Philippian church.  

This is part of what Paul wrote:                                                   

“Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you.  He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier.  And he was your messenger to help me in my need.  I am sending him because he has been longing to see you, and he was very distressed that you heard he was ill.  And he certainly was ill; in fact, he almost died.  But God had mercy on him—and also on me, so that I would not have one sorrow after another.  So I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to see him, and then I will not be so worried about you.  Welcome him in the Lord’s love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve.  For he risked his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while doing for me what you couldn’t do from far away.”  (Philippians 2:25–30 NLT).

To the Philippians, Epaphroditus was a messenger who delivered a package.  To Paul, however, he was so much more.  

He was a “brother” belonging to the same family.

He was a “co-worker” laboring toward the same goal.

He was a “fellow soldier” sharing the same trials.

Epaphroditus was a man of obvious devotion, faithfulness, and self-sacrifice.  He put the interest of others before himself and in doing this he modeled the mind of Christ.

“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (2:4-5)

Epaphroditus took no thought of himself.  Rather, he was distressed because his church had heard of his illness, and he did not want them to worry.  

There is such a lesson for me in the life of Epaphroditus.  We all will face sickness, some of us to varying degrees.  But the demonstration that he showed even when experiencing such a severe illness is a model for us all.  He gave himself for the sake of God’s kingdom and many people benefited.  Even when we are facing hardship with our health (to any degree) we need to keep our focus on serving the Lord with joy and remeber this man as our example.

Your Will Be Done

He went a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father!  If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.  Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”               Matthew 26:39

How many times have you asked God to “take this cup from me”?  I can’t even count how many times over the past few months when I felt like I could not handle one more stress in my life.  I have asked, even pleaded with God to lighten my burden.  My stress and trouble usually revolves around a relationship, work situation, a health issue or anything thing that is not going the way I had planned or thought it would go. In my time of stress I think it would be really nice if I didn’t have to face a certain situation and would feel so relieved if God would just change the situation for my benefit.  I think I know best how a situation should turn out.

Then I pause and read the above verse from Matthew chapter 26.  I am brought to my knees with humility and shame when I realize how petty my so called trials and tribulations of life are.  Jesus must have felt that the world was closing in.  He knew what lay ahead and in the fullness of godhood and the fullness of manhood, Jesus understood what death on a cross involved.  The physical humiliation and agony of crucifixion would only be compounded by the horror of experiencing God’s wrath for the sins of the world.  There was only one solution for dealing with the feelings welling up inside Him — prayer!  So Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pour out His heart to the Father in private prayer.

In the garden we find Jesus asking God the Father to take away the immense physical pain and death he knows he will be suffering.  However, it is what Jesus says next that provides the most important lesson.  He says, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine”.  In other words, “God please don’t let me suffer a horrible death, find another way for me to save all of mankind, BUT if that is what YOU want, I want to carry out your will.”

Have you thought about what God wants for your life?  He has the best plan, even if it is a hard path.  These 10 words can shift your thinking and direction when facing any hardship.  “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine”.  It is easy to get wrapped up in what we want or what we think would be the best outcome in a hard situation.  We try to assert our will over God’s will.  We want Him to remove all life’s trouble and pain (that is our will).  It is inherent in our fallen nature as human beings to think this way.  However, meditating on this verse helps us truly understand that God has a plan for us and in the end it is His WILL that we should pray comes to pass.

Where do you go when life seems unbearable, when stress is stretching every fiber of your being?  Jesus identifies with your pain and trial.  He knows how it feels to be overwhelmed with conflicting emotions.  But think about this:  the worst problem you will ever face is nothing compared to what Jesus went through on the cross.  And Jesus, who is God Himself handled His ordeal on earth by going to the Father in private prayer.

We need time alone with your heavenly Father.  We need solitude to read His Word, to communicate our deepest thoughts, and to discover His answers.  

Clarity

 

My son had to have a vision test done yesterday and the Dr remarked at his excellent 20/20 vision.  He said that he rarely sees anyone anymore with 20/20 vision.  I then discussed with Jackson about how as you age your vision declines and how now I have to wear “readers” and glasses for distance when I am driving.  I have also noticed at night and in the morning that if I try to read, it is blurry and it takes a few minutes for my eyes to adjust before I see clearly.  

Today we read Mark 8, I will focus on verses 22-26 from the New Living Translation.

When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him.  Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village.  Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”  The man looked around.  “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly.  They look like trees walking around.”  Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened.  His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly.  Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back to your village on your way home.”

When we think of Jesus performing miracles, we usually think it happened all at once.  But, in this miracle, it happened in two stages.  Modern medicine has provided us with many studies and advancements.  We now know that when previously blind people have their physical sight restored, it takes time then for them to learn to process the images that their eyes can now see.  Though their eyes can see, their brains cannot handle the visual input they are now seeing.  Now we can read the above passage again and see that the man Jesus healed may have had similar conditions.

Earlier in this chapter in verses 11-21 we see Jesus also addresses spiritual blindness.  The disciples were worried about not having enough food to feed the crowd, even though they were with Jesus.  They had just experienced Jesus feeding thousands of people by multiplying a few loaves of bread and fish.  Yet here they were again among a crowd and worried about not having enough food.  Jesus says, 

“Why are you arguing about having no bread?  Don’t you know or understand even yet?  Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have ears—can’t you hear?’  Don’t you remember anything at all?  When I fed the 5000 with five loaves of bread…Don’t you understand yet?”  he asked them.  Mark 8:17-21

Through this miracle, Jesus was showing them that it isn’t enough just to see.  We must also understand that he is with us and that he is Lord over all things.  

Have you ever read scripture and it really didn’t pertain to you or make an impact, but then later heard or read the same scripture and it blew you away?  Sometimes, it takes time before we have clarity.

We are much like the disciples in questioning Jesus’ ability to provide for us.  Clarity does not always come in an instant.  We have spiritual blindness in our own lives that causes us to worry or to forget that we are never far from Jesus’ presence.  The disciples had trouble believing and Jesus was with them!  Jesus is with us, He makes everything clear to us in His time.  We only need to trust and believe.

Give us faith to see Jesus more clearly.

Do You Feel Blessed?

I have had a few people over the past few weeks say to me, “You are an open book” or “you wear your heart on your sleeve”.  My husband even told me last night that he is always wondering what details I am going to tell when talking to a friend.  See, the thing is, I tell it like it is.  I don’t worry about what people will think about me being honest about my situations.  If you ask me how things are going I will be totally honest with you.  And, if my husband had it his way, I wouldn’t be so honest.  

All this to say, the past year, months, and weeks have been hard.  God has truly put a desire in mine and my husband’s hearts to follow Him closer.  We have felt the urging to live life differently than we have in the past.  This has meant looking at our lives in detail, where we live, where we work, how we do life.  We have and are making significant changes in how we do life.  But, of course I will be honest…I do not feel always feel blessed.  It is hard!  

I am thankful, once again, for this Bible Journal, it makes me spend more time than I normally would focusing on one chapter of scripture.  Today we are looking at Matthew 5, The Sermon on the Mount.  I am going to focus on the first 12 verses which are referred to as the Beatitudes.

Jesus gathered his disciples and began teaching.                                                       The disciples at this time were probably weary from all the work they were doing.  They were probably a lot like we are, exhausted by the end of the day. Constantly thinking about all they were  doing, and wondering if they were doing it right?  Were they pleasing god?  They might have been overcome with sin and shame or guilt.  But, Jesus looked at His followers and this is not what He saw, and that is not what He sees when He looks at us.  He sees the blessed sitting among Him.  

Here is what Jesus said to His Disciples and the large crowd that gathered.  This is from the Message…

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you.  Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are-no more, no less.  That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.  He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care.  At the moment of being ‘careful,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world-your mind and heart-put right.  Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete for fight.  That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.  The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

“Not only that-count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throu you out or speak lies about you to discredit me.  What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.  You can be glad when that happens-give a cheer, even!-for though they don’t like it, I do!  And all heaven applauds.  And know that you are in good company.  My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Matthew 5:3-12

God is not surprised by our circumstances.  He knew exactly what my husband and I would be facing in these days seeking Him.  He knew that we would face times of frustration and persecution.  This is why Jesus preached about these subjects in the Sermon on the Mount.  He gave His disciples and US promises to cling to in EVERY situation.  (read above if you skipped over it:)

We can stand strong under any attack and remain hopeful when everything and everyone else is telling us to give up.  God will come through for us.  He sees the faithfulness of His people, and He promises a great reward awaiting us in heaven.  

The Sermon on the Mount was so timely for me!  I have been mentally and physically exhausted by all that we are dealing with.  May I remember these Beatitudes and hide them in my heart.  Jesus is near and He can turn every poor situation for our good.  If you have hard situations in your life, read verses 3-13 and hold on to His promises!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plugged In

 

A common occurrence in our house is phones dying.  We have charging cords everywhere, in the kitchen, bedrooms, living room and even the car!  Sadly, the older the phones get, the quicker they lose their power and die.  We all know when we get the first warning at 20%, that we need to find a charger as soon as possible.

Where do you find your power?  Your strength to make it through another day?  It seems like it would be an easy fix to just plug in to a power source when we feel drained and overwhelmed and then be all set to go again.  There are many “power sources” that we try to use to fill us back up when we are drained.  We may try working out, taking a nap, reading, chatting with a friend at a coffee shop, going for a walk, having a glass of wine, or enjoying time with friends.  All of these are fine things and can help to revive us for a while.  But they are all temporal fillings.  They will not sustain us over the long haul or bring us consistent peace.

Tomorrow is the greatest celebration of the year!  A day to focus, remember and worship our Lord, Jesus Christ who Rose from the dead for You and for Me!  The power of His resurrection is the power that we have to tap into daily/hourly to keep going in this life.

Today our reading is Isaiah 40.  The Israelites had experienced the power of God.  They were delivered from slavery.  God gave them a cloud to follow by day and a fire by night.  They experienced food (manna) falling from the sky every morning.  And, they had their enemies delivered right into their hands.  

Even after experiencing all this power from God, the Israelites moved away from their source of power.  Praying became less of a daily habit.  Keeping the 10 commandments became optional.  Parents stopped talking about God with their children.  Judges became unjust.  And as a nation, their faith slowly fell away.  They separated themselves further and further from their Creator, and because of this they became exhausted.

Do you relate to this?  Has praying become a ritual that happens only before meals or only at Church?  When was the last time you sat down to read the Bible for an extended period of time?  Do you talk to your children about faith and what it looks like in your personal life?  Have you become exhausted like the Israelites and let your faith take a back seat or fall to the side? There are many times I fail at these things.

The truth is, we were made to be in deep connection with God (our power source).  We are called to pray without ceasing.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.                                                                               1 Thessalonians 5:17 & 18

If we have fallen away from our power source, that is when we find our batteries dying and life becomes exhausting.

But, thank You Jesus for your power!  Your power on the cross.  You died that we may have life, and have it abundantly.  The moment we turn to you, pray to You, read Your Word, and tell others about You, we will find our energy return.  

Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  The will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

He Is Risen!  Plug into the one and only TRUE power Source, Jesus Christ our Risen Lord!

Make Me a Vessel

In Daniel chapter 5, the powerful King of Babylon, Belshazzar is having a huge party for his friends.  Everyone enjoys a good party or a get-together.  In todays day and age, I see many people gathering for “wine and charcuterie” or special dinner parties.  God has put an innate desire in each of us for community.  There is laughing and joy when relationships are deepening and hearts are being shared.  This is a true gift from God when we can share these times with family and friends.

In this instance from the book of Daniel, the people did not recognize God’s gift of community and were actually insulting God with their words and actions.  During the party king Belshazzar instructs his servants to bring in the gold and silver vessels that had been stolen from God’s temple in Jerusalem.

Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.  (v2)                        They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.(v4)

The party had taken a turn from community to dishonoring God.  God stepped in and judged Belshazzar and his court in a dramatic fashion.  Through mysterious and miraculous “handwriting on the wall,”  God judged their arrogance.  As the people were enjoying themselves fingers of a human had appeared and wrote on the wall.  Such a powerful event left the most powerful earthly king at this point in history with a pale face and legs that became weak.

Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him;  his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together.  (v6)

God used Daniel, who was filled with His spirit to interpret the writing and tell Belshazzar exactly what the hand had written.  God made it clear that the king’s reign was coming to an end and his kingdom would be divided.  That very night, this king was killed and someone else took over his kingdom.  

King Balshazzar blatantly defied the Lord in word and deed.  He was puffed up with arrogance and turned to other gods.  He did not listen to Daniel’s interpretation of the writing and acknowledge that God was his only God.  

Within all of our lives, there are times that we need to recognize and acknowledge God’s “handwriting on the wall.”  As we know God better, we gain a greater understanding of how we have used “His vessel” (our bodies, minds, spirits, and people around us) in ways that are unpleasing to Him.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.  (2 Timothy 2:21)

We need to daily acknowledge the handwriting on the wall in our lives.  If we want our lives to be refined and grow in our faith, we must give the Holy Spirit permission to do His most important work of conviction.  We need to see and have a willingness to see the areas in our lives that need changing and respond accordingly.  

The gift we have received because of Jesus is more than we can ever deserve.  Because He died on the cross for each of our sins, there is no judgment.  We do not have to face the outcome that Belshazzar had to face.  We have the grace and mercy of Jesus on us.  We can start new every morning and follow Him.  We can ask Him to make us a new vessel every minute of every day.  

“Make me a vessel, make me an offering, make me whatever you want me to be….”  (New Wine, Hillsong Worship)