“Our Lord is filled with overflowing joy whenever He sees any of us doing what Mary did-not being bound by a particular set of rules, but being totally surrendered to Him.”
The past few months, I’ve written about Mary of Bethany and what it means to be like her. The first thing I discovered, Mary wasn’t in a hurry. When she was with Jesus, she sat at His feet, hanging on to each word He spoke. She took the position of listening and her gaze was undistracted, singularly focused on Jesus. Secondly, Mary, being the lovesick bride, could not get enough of Jesus. She desired more time with her Bridegroom. The most recent revelation of Mary of Bethany, comes from Mark 14, verses 3-9. Mary displayed extravagant devotion.
Jesus was in Bethany at Simon’s house, a former leper whom Jesus had healed. Mary walked into the house with an alabaster flask, filled with “the highest quality of fragrant and expensive oil,” roughly a year’s wages. She gave God her best; nothing was too costly to give to Him. In her boldness, she walked right up to Jesus, broke the flask, and poured out the oil upon His head. Immediately, some were angry with her, complained to one another, and scolded her. Our extreme passion for Jesus may cause us to be misunderstood, resulting in criticism and ridicule.
But Jesus was touched by her lavish devotion to Him. He knew what she did was a sacrifice and was honored by Mary’s radical act of kindness. Jesus shushed the naysayers by saying her worship would always be remembered. “She has done all that she could to honor me” (Mark 14:8b-Passion Translation).
Mary’s outrageous act of honor was symbolic of her life being fully surrendered and poured out for Jesus. She didn’t withhold anything from the Lover of her soul. “Now is the time for us to break ‘the flask’ of our lives, to stop seeking our own satisfaction, and to pour out our lives before Him.” (Oswald Chambers) How can we be extravagantly devoted to Jesus, by doing all that we can to honor Him?
“The limitless loving devotion to God, and the gift God makes of Himself to you, are the highest elevation of which the heart is capable.”
- How have you displayed extravagant devotion to God in the past?
- In what way is God asking you to pour out your life for Him as a way to show Him honor?
“We give glory to God simply by being ourselves.”
In the past, I have been caught up in the comparison trap, wanting to speak or write like someone else. Because I didn’t know who I was, insecurity became like a weed wrapped around myself, choking out my identity. Today I am less tempted in this area, as I’ve grown in the comfortableness of who I am in Christ and who He’s created me to be. Insecurity with our identity and a lack of agreement with God in who we are, affects fruitfulness in the Body of Christ.
I’m most free when I’m around those who accept me as I am, those who are not jealous or threatened by me. When I’m not judged, I’m free to be who the Creator created me to be. The more I get to know my heavenly Daddy, the more I get to know myself by seeing who I am through my Father’s eyes.
We all play different roles in the Body of Christ. If everyone was the same, we couldn’t function. The beauty of an orchestra is that when each instrument plays their part, music is made for the enjoyment of all. I Corinthians 12:18 says: “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, everyone one of them, just as He wanted them to be.”
Our pastor spoke on this topic last Saturday night and closed the evening by asking various people to stand up and say who they are. A few were hesitant and he had to draw it out of them. It was not a display of prideful boasting, but rather stating with confidence who God made them to be. Something powerful takes place when we declare our identity out loud. The enemy is defeated when we agree with who God says we are, and unashamedly walk in our identity.
As soon as we got into our car after the service, I turned to John and said: I am a favored daughter, an emotional healer. I love to take others into the bridal chamber of Christ. I am the heart in the Body of Christ, restoring intimacy. Who are you?
“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.”
Take a moment and ask God who you are. Confess it out loud and let someone else know.
“God can do a miracle with every little thing you give Him.”
The only miracle recorded in all four Gospels is the feeding of the five thousand. God highlighted Mark 6:42 in the Passion Translation Bible. “Everyone had plenty to eat and was fully satisfied.” When we are who God created us to be and when we give back to God what He has given to us, when we share what we possess, any anointing, gifting, talent, or wisdom, then others will have more than enough. When we share our little sack lunch with God, He performs a miracle of multiplication; He meets the needs of others and creates baskets full of left overs.
At times, in my past, I have been hesitant and have kept the gifts God has given to me all to myself, instead of turning them over into God’s hands to multiply. I have held them back, not wanting to share my measly lunch, all because of fear. My insecurities, fear of man, fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of rejection have caused others to be in lack. When I’ve held back, people have missed out on the blessings they could have received from God.
Other times we hold on to what we have because we think it’s insignificant. We feel like the boy in the story who possessed very little in comparison to the great need, and we surmise that what we have won’t make a difference. Never underestimate the possibility of a miracle, when we turn over what we possess into the hands of the Master of multiplication.
Spiritual gifts are for the building up of others. God gave us these talents and have anointed them to bless. Let’s not hold back the gifts God has bestowed on us. Give God the little you have and watch Him multiply it for the abundant satisfaction it will bring to others.
“Yet when each of us gives what we have, the miracle of multiplication occurs again.”
- What do you discount in your life as too little, which when turned over to God’s hands, could be multiplied to meet a need?
- How are you holding back the gifts God has generously given to you and for what reason are you keeping them to yourself?
- How have you seen God perform a miracle out of the little you’ve given back to Him?
“What I believe about God is the most important thing about me.”
I worked with a doctoral student while attaining my master’s degree in counseling and guidance. He came to my fourth grade classroom and taught the students how what we believe directly affects our feelings and actions. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 gives an example of how important it is to have an accurate perception of God.
“But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” (verse 18) Why did the one talent man bury his money, when the five and two talent men put their money to work? We can find the answer in verses 24b-25a. “‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.'” The entrusted servant’s impression of his master dictated his emotions and determined his actions. His thoughts directed his steps.
I’m reading Brennan Manning’s “Abba’s Child.” In it, he writes that we sometimes “unwittingly project onto God our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves. If we feel hateful toward ourselves, we assume that God feels hateful toward us.” Our misconceptions about God and ourselves cause a knee-jerk reaction in how we feel and what we do.
If we’ve had a difficult relationship with our earthly Dad, we may think our heavenly Daddy is just like him. Satan tries to deceive us by distorting the truth about what God is like. If we believe lies about God and how He feels toward us, then we will act out of those beliefs.
If I believe God is loving, kind, generous, and good, then I will trust Him and have an intimate relationship with Him. But if I believe God is demanding, harsh, and out to get me, then I will be afraid of Him and keep Him at a distance. When I believe lies, I glorify the enemy, but when I believe the truth found in the Word, I glorify the Lord.
Whether we believe lies or truth, our beliefs will affect our relationship with God. And that is why it’s so important to have accurate perceptions.
“The real tragedy of life is not in being limited to one talent, but in the failure to use the one talent.”
Edgar W. Work
- How have your beliefs about God affected your relationship with God?
- Take a few minutes and write down your thoughts about God, who He is to you. What will you feel and do as a result of the lies or truth that you believe?
“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin – 1826
I read the book “You Are What You Eat” several years ago. The book suggested if we eat good food, then we’ll be healthy. What we ingest has a direct correlation to how well we feel. What we put into ourselves comes out. Like the old computer adage implies, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” We will become whatever we feast on and put into ourselves. Input affects output. Galatians 6:7b says, “A man reaps what he sows.”
The principal of sowing and reaping doesn’t just apply to food. What our eyes watch or read, what we listen to, and how we spend our time, each has an effect on our spiritual life. We become like the people we spend the most time with, so we need to choose our friends wisely. Where we place our affections and what has our attention, correlates to the health of our soul.
Fasting helps break the control food has on me. When we want to weaken something, we starve it. If we struggle with fear, then we need to limit that which makes us more anxious – what we listen to, watch, or read. Likewise, the opposite is true. We feed what we want to strengthen and develop. If we want to build our faith, then we need to read biographies of men and women of faith and listen to testimonies which tones up our trust.
We are all consumers. Everything we consume are like seeds planted inside of us and one day there will be a harvest. We choose what we want to harvest by the type of seeds we plant. We decide who we want to become, by intentionally planting that which will reap a good crop.
Galatians 6:8-9 goes on to say: “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” For the sake of our spirits, let’s be mindful with what we put inside of us. After all, we are what we eat.
“We reap what we sow. Choose what you nourish carefully.”
- What seeds are you planting?
- How has your harvest of who you’ve become, been a direct result of what you’ve sown?
“Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.”
Charles Hadden Spurgeon
I recently wrote about Mary of Bethany and how she was never in a hurry when she sat and listened to Jesus speak. Last week the Holy Spirit said, She couldn’t get enough of me. Mary was like a lovesick bride who lingered and delayed leaving God’s presence.
When I first met my husband at the University of Arizona, we would meet at the Student Union in the morning to have bear claws and coffee. We met at the library with the intention of studying, yet little was accomplished. Instead, we filled our study time with asking a million questions in our quest to get to know each other. No matter how much time I spent with John, it was never enough. I wanted more.
God loves it when we feel that way toward Him, when our passion for Him is never satisfied. The psalmist David described his lovesickness for God in Psalm 63:1. “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” David’s intense longing for God was during a time of need when his enemies threatened his life.
God allows our circumstances to get us to a point of desperation where we run to Him and fling ourselves onto His lap, for protection and provision. Bob Sorge writes, “…hardship produces desperation, which in turn produces intense intimacy.” On our first trip to the Brownsville revival, there was a woman lying on the floor, pounding her fists into the carpet and crying out to God over and over, “I have to have You!” It delights God’s heart when we’re desperate for Him, for He is a Bridegroom who enjoys taking care of His Bride’s deepest needs.
I periodically ask the Holy Spirit to help me fall more madly in love with Him. Any depth of my intimacy with God was initiated by God. He woos me to Himself, holds my heart in His hands, and entices me to want more of Him. I never want my passion for God satisfied. May I always earnestly seek Him, even when I’m not desperate.
“Let thy desire be the vision of God, thy fear the loss of Him, thy sorrow His absence, and thy joy in that which may take thee to Him; and thy life shall be in great peace.”
Teresa of Avila
- Describe a time when your desperation for God deepened your intimacy with God.
- Ask God to cause you to fall more madly in love with Him, to the point you can’t get enough of Him.
“God sees us as we are, loves us as we are, and accepts us as we are. But by His grace, He does not leave us as we are.”
God has given me such grace for this time of transition. I’m not in any rush to discover why He sent us to Wichita, or where we best fit for His purposes. There is a level of peace and contentment within that can only be His doing. And yet, while waiting to see what God has up His sleeve for me, I’ve seen His faithfulness to answer prayer and fulfill what He has promised. Such as providing not one, but two churches, to attend.
Often at the Saturday night ministry, the pastor will prophesy over people, as God directs him. A few weeks ago, the pastor asked John and me to come forward and to introduce ourselves and tell a little about us. We met the pastor two months ago, but he doesn’t know us. The pastor opened it up to the Body to pray for us and to minister encouragement through prophetic words. Then the pastor spoke a word that hit the bulls-eye mark within my heart. It was a Spirit-to-Spirit connection. More people approached us afterward to welcome us and share God’s heart with us.
We left that evening feeling encouraged and embraced by the Body of Christ there. It was as if we entered that place unknown and left feeling known. God saw us and introduced us that night to some of His children.
This reminds me of one of my favorite stories in Genesis, where Hagar, Abram’s servant, runs away because of being mistreated by her mistress, Sarai. Then “the angel of the Lord found Hagar” (Genesis 16:7). The angel gave instructions and a promise to Hagar. She named the Lord who spoke to her, El Roi. In Genesis 16:13 she says, “You are the God who sees me.”
When we were introduced to the Body of Christ that Saturday night, our hearts were strengthened because we knew God saw us. He had not forgotten us in the midst of our move to Kansas. He is still working out His desires for us here and He did it by speaking to the pastor to prophesy over us.
God sees you. You are never forgotten by God. You’re always remembered in His thoughts and plans. Place your trust in the One who’s got this and knows what He’s doing.
“Faith is trust–trust that God sees what we cannot and that He knows what we do not.”
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
In what situation do you need to be comforted by El Roi, the God who sees you?