Marinate In Jesus

On a recent Sunday night, steak was on the menu for supper. Thinking that it was supposed to marinate over night instead of a just a couple hours, I prepped the ingredients and decided to set it all together in the fridge. But, at 5:00 p.m. Sunday evening, I realized a vitally important step was skipped. We got busy doing other things and I forgot to put the steaks in the marinade. Whoops.

IMG_6421

It wasn’t the end of the world, we’re used to eating late – no big deal. But it got me thinking. As those steaks just sat next to the marinade, they weren’t able to pick up any of the flavor prepared for them. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” (ESV) I may be taking this verse a little out of context, but it came popping into my mind. In order to be the salt, seasoned and flavorful, we have to get in the marinade! Soaking-in the Lord.

 

We can attend church all our life or go to conferences all over this country, but unless we really dive-in to God’s word and soak in His presence on our own – we’re just like those steaks, sitting next to the marinade. It’s hard to soak up the flavor of God’s love, if we’re just getting a “talking-to” once a week. And that spiritual-high from a conference, it doesn’t usually carry us all the way through the wilderness wanderings or fiery trials. What really carries us, is a personal relationship with our Creator. That is developed over time and personal commitment, spending time in prayer and worship, being devoted to His word for you. It’s being willing to change, be refined, and learn who God is.

The next part of that verse in Matthew 5 goes on to tell of a light under a bushel basket, and letting your light shine before others for the glory of God. (Matt. 5:14-16) Whatever we are flavored with, is what will shine through to others. Just like those steaks, the saltiness and seasoning in the marinade is what’s meant to come through. (I burned them on the grill by the way…it just wasn’t my day to fix steak.)

At 5:05 p.m., I put those steaks in to marinate, and closed the refrigerator door on them for nearly two hours. Matthew 6:6 encourages us, “But 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.” (ESV)

In secret, that’s where some serious soaking can occur. Don’t mistake me, I love the cooperate church body, there is no substitute for a healthy body of believers working together. But there is also no substitute for that personal, secret time with Jesus.

What are you soaking in?

How do you “marinate” and soak-in God?

IMG_6068My guess is, that just like my marinade with various ingredients – that’s what it might look like for you. Worship + Scripture + Prayer + Fellowship for good measure. Whatever the recipe is, that’s between you and the Lord. But let’s not wait and then rush at the last minute, when the grill is fired up (testing & trials). My challenge to you, today, is to not let your relationship with our Creator be an afterthought. No time spent on the Lord is wasted, especially that secret time. He is the Redeemer of all.

Advertisements

Consecration & Wonders

In my Bible study, Courageous Faith, there is a portion devoted to consecration – what it is and what it means. That word, consecration, tends to usher in silence and uneasiness. It can stir up negative or uncomfortable emotions, because it seems at first to be just that. But the truth is that it isn’t negative at all; however, that may be how we experience it.

What is consecration, other than sounding like a scary word? In simplest terms, it means to be set apart and holy, made clean. As a follower of Jesus, it’s something that has already been done, as well as a process. I am set apart and made holy because of Jesus. I am also in the process, of refining and growing as one who is holy and set apart for God. The first part of it being a done deal is important; it makes room for grace, in the process.

One of the things I learned while writing Courageous Faith, is that God often told the people of Israel to consecrate themselves, before He would do something miraculous. For example, Joshua 3:5 says, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” This command was given just before God parted the Jordan river, so that the people of Israel could cross over to their Promised Land, on dry ground. If waters like that being parted isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is!

The consecration process was one of setting themselves apart for God, preparing themselves for Him and what was getting ready to take place. Consecration in the Old Testament took place in various ways. In this occasion, it may have been washing completely – body and clothes. As a follower of Jesus, how might I be consecrated? Scripture tells us that we are set apart for God through prayer and His word (1 Timothy 4:4-5). The renewing of our mind through prayer and God’s word can be seen part of the process of consecration.

The process can be uncomfortable, just like the word itself. However, did you catch what came after the consecration of the Israelites? Wonders. Something miraculous! While we may not see waters part in our lifetime, I’ve seen and experienced some pretty awesome stuff. Several years ago, I had a season of three months that I would never care to repeat. At the time, I didn’t see it as consecration, but more of a testing that felt like punishment. Life was just happening, and it was no fun. However, those three months of trials were followed up by one of my sweetest spiritual seasons to date. It was a season of growth and heavy-duty heavenly download. To me, it was wonder-filled.

One of things I learned through that hard season, was that I really did trust and believe God was who he said he was. I leaned on my faith in a way I never had before, in a very tangible way. That season made God so real. I was able to get angry with Him and be honest, yet know that He would never leave or forsake me, and he love me no matter what. I could call on His name, and know that he hears me.

Wounding was followed by wonder. That season brought out some of the doubts I had been harboring, it made me a little more “clean” in my faith. It was a step in the consecration process. Though I didn’t, and couldn’t, see it in the moment.

fullsizeoutput_df3

I’m wondering if you’ve had the same experience. Where God brought you through a season, only to see and experience something wonderful afterwards?

Thankfulness can be a hard place to live from if you’re in a season of consecration. I want to challenge you to go to God, be real with him. Be grateful, and ask God to show you His glory in it all.  Love you!

 

 

Sukkot & Seasons

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 (ESV)

Although not completely raised in the church, I remember singing this verse in rounds during my formative years. It brings joy to my heart and mind, and I can’t help but start singing it quietly in my head. You may have too!

Sometimes we lose track of that verse, forgetting that this day – today – is His. I was reminded of this while reading Psalm 113-118 today. I really enjoy learning about the various feasts of the Old Testament, the significance and foreshadowing each one holds as a believer in Christ Jesus.

Today, October 5, 2017, marks the beginning of Sukkot, or The Feast of Tabernacles. It’s a joyful and festive week, lasting for seven days. In Exodus 23:16, God outlines this festival as a time to “gather in from the field the fruit of your labor.”

The joy during this occasion commemorates God’s goodness and provision in the past, during the wilderness wandering. It also marks the end of harvest and the beginning of the rainy season, so God’s goodness and provision for the present season. [i]

We all have seasons, not marked by days on the calendar, but rather events in our life and stirrings in our heart. Seasons that we don’t see coming, while some we do. Some are sweet and fulfilling, while others are filled with hurt and emptiness.

Presently, I’m coming out of one season, and transitioning into another. It’s a brief time of wandering, all be it not anything compared to the Israelites for 40 years. While the unknown of this season is not super comfortable, my creature comforts are met abundantly. It’s neither sweet or empty, it just is.

I say all this to set the stage. Because today, my thoughts took a wander in the desert – not focused on God’s provision, either past or present.

Several months ago, while reading through the book of Psalm, I got hooked on to Psalm 118:25 which is the verse which comes right after, “This is the day the Lord has made”. It’s part of the Hallel which is read during this particular feast week, Sukkot. The Hallel simply means the praise Psalms. [ii]  Verse 25 says, “Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!” Out of curiosity, I looked up the Hebrew word ‘success’ in Strong’s to truly understand what was being asked of God, and journaled a little bit along the edge of my Bible. Much of the definition was what one would expect, but part of that definition says, ‘to push forward’.

img_6199.jpgToday, my wandering mind was gently nudged to joy, ‘pushed forward’ and reminded of this sweet season. Even though I’m a little uncomfortable with the unknown, it is sweet because I can trust God. This little doodle, done months ago, seems fitting considering my current season of the unknown. I was reminded of Sukkot and the celebration of God’s provision and goodness. I am choosing to be thankful in this season. Thankful for the provision he has given, and for that which is to come – no matter what form it takes, or what season I find myself in.

I want to challenge you to open God’s word this week and read the Hallel, Psalm 113-118. It’s a beautiful reminder of who God is. When we truly seek to know who He is, we will not be disappointed. Rejoice in Him!

[i] The Feasts of the Lord; Howard, Kevin; Rosenthal, Marvin; Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1997; pg.135-137

[ii] The Feasts of the Lord; Howard, Kevin; Rosenthal, Marvin; Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1997; pg.139