Jar Gathering

6 03 2014

In 2 Kings 4 is a fascinating narrative about a widow and her sons. With her husband gone, the bills were due and the collectors were coming to take her sons as payment for debt.

She went to Elisha and asked for his help.

“What do you have in the house?” he asked.

“Nothing. Only a little bit of oil,” she replied.

“Okay. Here’s what I want you to do. Gather as many jars as you can – don’t get just a few,” he ordered.

Gather jars? Now that’s funny, right there!

When we take time to really enter into the stories, the Bible is anything but boring.

Imagine this woman and her sons going to neighbors and friends – and probably strangers as well: “Do you have any empty containers? Jars, jugs…hey, that hat might work. Can I have it?”

No doubt she was asked more than once,

“Why are you doing this?”

Her reply: “Um, don’t really know. Elisha said to get a bunch of jars. Who am I to question this man of God?”

Did she feel silly? A little stupid? Did his request seem to be pointless as she went from house to house?

Have you ever been given an assignment from God that seemed like it was nonsense? As if He didn’t have anything better to do that day, so He decided to amuse Himself by giving you a dumb task that had no real purpose?

We don’t know how long she and her sons collected the jars, only that they did. Considering their predicament, what could it hurt? They were out of ideas.

Elisha told them to go into the house and shut the door. Then the woman was to take her bit of oil and begin filling the jars.

There were no witnesses to what took place that day. Nothing to show the town that she hadn’t lost her mind. All they knew is that suddenly this little widow had oil for sale…enough to pay off the creditors and for her and her kids to live on. There’s no account of conversations she had with anyone.

Did she try to tell people about God’s provision? The miracle she witnessed?

Did they believe her? Or merely smile and ‘humor’ her?

I love this story! It helps me realize that no matter how foolish a task I am called to perform, God has a good purpose for it.

If I’m worried about what others might think, and refuse the Lord, I will miss out on a great blessing.

What’s more – note that God used what was already in her possession…

Oil.

The fact that they were told to do this in private excites me. This miracle was meant for their eyes only. No one else got to receive from it – which surely would have happened. When the townspeople saw that her oil jar was continuing to produce oil far beyond its capacity, no doubt they would have brought their own containers to be filled.

God had other plans. He wanted to bless this woman personally.

He’s like that…personal.

Do not miss the point that in the Bible oil represents the Holy Spirit. The more preparation this woman did by way of gathering jars, the more could be poured – not into her, but through her.

The oil wasn’t for personal consumption.

Although the oil was sold (at which point the analogy breaks down), with every jar, no doubt, came the telling of the great love of God who provided so lavishly for her.

For us, this story has significance as well. While we won’t be filling any jars with oil in our bedrooms, we do “gather jars” for the purpose of being filled and poured out for others. This looks different to every person:

For some, it is studying the Word in order to convey its truths to others.

Sometimes it is learning skills and acquiring techniques that will be employed by the Lord to spread His message.

It may be merely spending time in conversation with Him – being poured into by the Lord Himself.

What we are doing may seem silly, self-focused, and useless…like gathering jars.

However, we must be willing to be though eccentric or foolish or we will miss the blessing and miracle God wants to do in  – and then through us.

This is preparation time…the studying, the focus on acquiring new abilities, the desire to be fully equipped is not wasted time, if it is what He is asking of you. It will produce a harvest that far exceeds anything you ever dreamed possible.

It will require that you are shut away from people for a bit. They may talk, think you’re odd.

What do scoffers have to offer in place of what God wants to do?

A party? Leisure? Amusement?

I’m telling you, the woman was never so amused as when she watched oil continue to pour out of her little bottle to fill jar…after jar…after jar. You can’t duplicate an experience like that – even with a month holiday at your favorite resort!

When the last jar was filled, her little flask was empty. 

In other words, if she’d have acquired an oil tanker…there would have been enough oil to fill it.

Don’t miss this point!

The more we give of ourselves to God the greater capacity we have to receive – to be filled and given to others.

There is no greater satisfaction than being able to provide for others what we, ourselves, have received.

Let’s be “jar gatherers” of the greatest magnitude!

*****

PS I’m out gathering jars, and don’t have much time for writing at the moment. I’ve almost finished this task – then will be busy pouring out oil. Don’t know how long this will take, but God is good. I can’t wait to see what He has planned for my little jars!





No Blood, Guts, or Gore Required

9 08 2013

A study of the tabernacle is very fascinating. Every detail speaks volumes concerning spiritual truths.

We spent several months going over the various elements in our home group. My husband purchased a model of the tabernacle so we would have it as a visual aid while we studied. It was a fun study, and we spent the first two nights painting and erecting our set. It also came with figurines of priests, cows, and sheep.

At the same time, he and I were reading Experiencing the Cross by Henry Blackaby. One of the topics in this book is the cost of sin. This, we realized, was clearly demonstrated day after day in the tabernacle – then later the temple as countless animals were slain.

Why all the blood, guts, and gore?

Sin is a gory, bloody mess to God. Through animal sacrifices, God gave us a clear visual of the seriousness of sin…it brings death. At the same time, He used the daily sacrifices to help us understand that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.

Once our model was completed, we set the furniture in place, as well as the priests and animals. We set some of the sheep and bulls on the little tables, and set the bent-over priests next to them as if they were inspecting them.

As Wendel read out of Blackaby’s book, I saw what was being displayed in a very different way. Along with the mental image came the verse: Present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable act of worship.

Suddenly I understood what He’d been teaching me:

I am the lamb on that table.

I need to be examined for spots and blemishes…

…not so I can be rejected as unworthy,

nor so I can be killed to pay for my sins.

Instead,

I am there as a living sacrifice.

The Holy Spirit is the One examining me,

bringing to light anything for which I need to repent.

When the inspection is done, I am released!

Jesus already paid the price for my sin; but I am to be holy and acceptable. When I submit to this inspection and correction, it is an act of worship unto the Lord.

Furthermore, I saw that while man (the priest) looks at the outward appearance, God (through His Spirit) looks at the heart.

God used the combination of the model of the tabernacle and the Scripture to give us a better understanding of His truth.

I’m so thankful that, unlike the lambs, goats, and cows, I will arise from

the inspection table

alive

– and hopefully –

“altared”

(okay, changed! :))

With a heart that has been cleansed, I am less conformed to the world – and more transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I can prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Father, thank You for loving us and sending Jesus to die in our place. I am so grateful that You are faithful to complete the work You’ve begun in us. Help us to present softened hearts that can be quickly cleansed. Renew our minds, lead us into a better understanding of Your Word. May all we do, say, and even think bring glory and honor to Your great name this day.

In Jesus’ name, 

Amen

\o/





Freedom Resources

27 07 2013

How did John know what was said between Jesus and the woman at the well?

He’d been sent into the village to get food for the Master. This means that John was nowhere near as the two of them talked – and yet he wrote an account of their meeting.

The information would have come from Jesus.

I’m betting that Jesus did not relate all of the details, but only what needed to be told for the purpose of including it in the Bible. What He disclosed about this woman was public knowledge.

As I consider this story in an actual setting, I’m thinking that there was plenty said between the two of them that went unreported. It took a while for the disciples to travel into town, buy a meal, and walk back to the well where they’d left their Leader. What’s written in John 4 could have been said and done in less than five minutes!

That’s so like Jesus!

…Whatever it was He wrote in the dirt of the synagogue floor remains undisclosed as well.

Love covers a multitude of sins.

One thing we do know, He showed up in her history…told her that He knew about her five failed marriages and current “shack-up”, too.

That’s how He rolls.

Once we know that Jesus was present all along, we are changed.

The same thing happened to Nathaniel as well (John 1:45 – 51). All Jesus did was tell Nathaniel that he was sitting under a fig tree when Philip invited him to “come and see the Man.” What Jesus said was, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

Bam!

Nathaniel followed Jesus for the rest of his life – and was martyred for his beliefs!

This can happen to you!

When Jesus shows up during a counseling session, people get healed. They do not just learn techniques that allow them to experience “tolerable” relief; wholeness is restored!

I don’t find a Biblical model for a lifetime of meetings and support groups; nor for years of therapy to make life more manageable.

For years I went through psychoanalysis of one sort or another, rehashing trauma and abuse and having everything explained to me…why I felt the way I did, why they did what they did, what I could do to manage my symptoms, and so forth. Week after week, painful memories were stirred up. I left feeling as bad as when I went in. This left me in a state of feeling like a perpetual victim – and nothing changed. So long as I “worked my program,” I did “better”. If I stopped, it wasn’t very long before I was back to using my coping mechanisms.

Jesus did not send one person to physical therapy, or set them up with a “rest of your life” recovery group.

Real, deep, lasting healing took place.

As promised in Out Of The Dark And Into The Light, here are some resources for those who suffer from deep emotional pain, and those who minister to them. I couldn’t merely tell you that I was healed without showing you how to receive this for yourself or those you work with. 🙂

The first step I would recommend is  Seven Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil T. Anderson. There are so many different ways we can open up our lives to interference by our enemy. This prayer counseling session is an excellent way to expose them as well as unholy agreements we’ve made along life’s journey.

Examples of the latter would be: “I’m never going to let anyone get close enough to hurt me again,” or “That’s it. I’ll never trust anyone again.” Obviously, these are going to be an issue in marriage and other close relationships, leaving us lonely and “on the outside looking in.”

Next, the kind of healing I shared in my story comes, in part, from Edward Smith’s teaching. You can read about this type of ministery here: Healing Life’s Hurts  Through Theophostic Prayer by Edward Smith. This is a highly effective form of counseling that invites the Holy Spirit to lead the sessions, bringing up the things He wants to heal.

The term “Theophostic” is made up. It is a combination of two Greek words: “Theos” – God; and “Phos” – Light. It is the light of God shining into the heart, mind, and soul of a person that brings true and lasting healing.

For most people, there was a “first time” event; after that the other were “like” the first time. For instance, the first sexual assault, first physical abuse, first abandonment. After that, the next time is like what was experienced before. Each event connects to the first time it happened.

When Jesus heals the “first,” the echoes of that event are also healed.

For those who’ve been abused over and over again, this is fantastic news. What this means is that we deal with root events only.

For me this was a dozen or so “firsts.” Once Jesus led me to Barbara, who was able to minister to me using Theophostics, life began to change dramatically. I began to change dramatically.

One by one, Jesus used her to take me back to those first events. He “showed up” in them, spoke truth to that broken place in me, and it was healed. Not only that event, but every other one that was connected to it due to similarity.

The sound of shackles falling to the ground at the end of each session was almost audible!

It’s been more than a year since I last needed to go to counseling.

Even better, the coping mechanisms I had have also fallen by the wayside. They’re not needed. No alcohol, no drugs, none of the other addictive behaviors.

Best of all, I’ve finally begun to mature!

Oh, and it gets better yet. Even when life around me is chaotic, I have peace like I’ve never known in all my life!

IT IS FINISHED!

For counselors (and lay people as well) who want to receive some training in a variation of Theophostics, and don’t have the money to invest, Russ Dizdar has an excellent training course. It is over 25 hours of MP3s (and the accompanying notes) that you can download at no cost.

Yep, FREE!

Russ and his crew work in the trenches and on the front lines rescuing those who are enmeshed in the occult. His main focus is SRA (Satanic Ritual Abuse victims), which often involves multiple personalities (aka DID). They have a very good success rate, and his teaching on this subject is fantastic. The material he provides is also effective with trauma/abuse victims as well. You can find his free course here: Freedom Encounters.

In this training course, Russ shares what he and his associates have gleaned from their work with hundreds (if not thousands) of victims. The material is organized and presented in terms that anyone can understand. Each hour-long session covers a specific aspect of counseling, giving information needed to minister effectively to broken people.

Like Theophostics, Freedom Encounters relies heavily on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

If you counsel the wounded, this would be an excellent tool to add to your toolbox!

Jesus came to set us free, and whom the Son sets free is free indeed…

…I’m living proof of His healing power!





Heaven’s GPS

23 07 2013

Aren’t GPS systems great? My oldest son, Christian, has one in his Jeep. When we visit him and his family, he loans us this vehicle. The GPS helps us find our way around.

He affectionately named her, “Wilma.” She’s kind of like your crazy old aunt. We haven’t decided if she’s eccentric – or getting dementia. Either way, she likes to take us the back way to many of the places we want to go. We’ve seen more alleys, subdivisions, and even a landfill – thanks to Wilma.

She’s very handy. All we have to do is give her the address of our destination. She will calculate the route for us, and provide a map to show the way.

She has a warm, friendly voice, too. My kids use the screen to get an idea of where they are going, but being new to their area, my husband and I greatly appreciate having her tell us when to turn, and which direction to go.

If we miss the turn, no problem. Sometimes she will say, “You’re going the wrong way. At the next intersection make a u-turn.” She will repeat this several times. If we don’t obey, she recalculates and provides a new route to our destination.

I find a similarity between using a GPS and Christianity. 

We have the Holy Spirit to speak to us and guide us. We also have the Word as our map. As we listen to His voice and keep our eye on the Map, we are led to our destination.

However, sometimes life sidetracks us. We get busy watching the scenery. Our problems distract us. We forget to listen to the Spirit. When this happens, we miss our turn. We may hear Him tell us to make a u-turn – or we may not.

If we get off course, just like our GPS, God will begin to recalculate our course. Make no mistake, we will arrive at our destination. He will faithfully guide us, no matter how many wrong turns we make.

Listen for His voice and follow the Map He provided for us.

Utilize Heaven’s GPS. It will lead you to your Home with Jesus…

…See you there!





God in a Box

21 06 2013

One challenge we face is to get God out of the “box,” by which we mean our preconceived restrictions concerning what He can and can’t do. However, the idea of “God in a box” did not originate with us, but with God Himself!

How could a king woo and win a peasant girl’s heart? If he showed up in his limousine, accompanied by his body guards and told the woman that he wanted her for his wife. She would go. After all, he is the king, and what the king wants, the king gets.

Would she love him? Ah, there’s the dilemma. How would the king ever know she was with him by choice, not by obligation?

If, instead, he dressed the part of a peasant, he could let her get to know him. He could court her without any reticence on her part. By the time she knew he was a king, he would be certain of her love for him. They could live “happily ever after.” It would take humility on his part, and patience as well. The result, if he was successful, would be well worth the effort.

We have a God who took this approach.

Israel’s time to leave Egypt had come, but by then the relationship between God and man had become strained. There were so many gods, malevolent in nature. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob seemed no different.

At Sinai, God, the King of kings, called the people near. He was loud; all lightning flashes and thunder. Fire and smoke covered the top of the mountain. Understandably, the people stood afar off and told Moses, “Yyyooou ggo speak to Him. Wwee’ll wwwait here!” (Exodus 20:19)

On the mountain, God told Moses, in essence, “I love every one of you. I want to be with you. If they won’t come to me, then built me a tent – I’ll camp with you.” He humbled Himself, desiring to be more approachable. He “tamed” Himself…put Himself in a “box.”

Work commenced, and soon God was happily situated in their midst. All were invited to drop by for a visit (Exodus 33:7). Instead, whenever Moses went to the tabernacle, the people stood at their tents’ door and watched.

For forty years God led them round and round in the wilderness. He stayed with them, no matter how they treated Him.

In time, the Israelites were situated in the land God promised them. Because they were no longer wandering, a permanent “box” was built for Him – the temple. There He lived for hundreds of years.

This wasn’t close enough for the King, though, so one day He moved into a much smaller “tent” – a human tent. They called Him “Jesus.” It was a perfect disguise. Many loved Him, talked to Him, and touched Him. He was free to interact with them – almost like in the Garden of Eden.

Then came the day of the great unveiling. In John 14:9, Jesus tells His followers, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Tada!

And yet, being close to us in this way had its restrictions. He could only be in one place at a time. It was not quite satisfactory. Jesus left His earthly tent behind…

…and sent His Spirit…

…to live in our tents with us! (1 Corinthians 6:19)

***

I will dwell in them

And walk among them

I will be their God,

And they shall be My people.

(2 Corinthians 6:16)

***

And they shall call His name Immanuel,

Which is translated

God with us.

(Matthew 1:23)

God created us because He loves us. Love cannot be forced, though. How patiently and humbly He pursues us, His heart on His sleeve. He longs for us to know Him intimately, and to love Him deeply.