Sunday, February 9, 2014

You can have the best of me.

In love, You came to be
You lived and died to set me free
From the man I used to be
And in faith, I'll take a stand
With a broken heart, I'll praise You
With a broken heart, I'll give You all I am
"Page One" - Aletheia
Oh, I'm running to Your arms, I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world, forever reign

My heart will sing no other name
Jesus, Jesus
"Forever Reign" - Hillsong United
In my heart and my soul
I give You control
Consume me from the inside out, Lord
Let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

And the cry of my heart
Is to bring You praise
From the inside out
Lord, my soul cries out
"From the Inside Out" - Hillsong United 
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You
"Revelation Song" - Kari Jobe

Just some pieces of the songs I heard this morning that really hit me, so I wrote them down.  :)

PRAISE THE LORD.  I made it through a church service today for the first time in months.  And oh my word, I can't even begin to tell you how good it felt to be back with my church family, for REAL this time, no problems, no distractions.  I was able to worship my Father surrounded by the family that has walked with me so faithfully from the minute I walked in the doors 16 months ago.  I'm so thankful that they love me so well, that they don't look at me any differently despite everything, that when they say they pray for me, I know they mean it, and they welcome me back each week simply praying along with me that this will be the week I'm able to stay.  And it finally worked!  Justin even prayed over me right there in the church before the service started, and I had Alexis and Hannah praying all morning, and you'll never be able to convince me that that didn't have something to do with it.

We're in the middle of a series called "Living for Eternity" and Pastor Sean preached on money.  Every time I've heard a sermon on money, the preacher always starts out with the heresies out there from people who say that God wants to make you wealthy and that if you give to Him, He'll give you back even more.  Pastor Chris mentioned the same false teachings in his "How to Be Rich" series.  I was used to that.  What I wasn't expecting is where Pastor Sean went after that, why we give and what we give.

I didn't know that Proverbs 3 was King Solomon talking to his son.  I didn't know that it was Solomon telling his son to value God above all the wealth and excess that surrounded them every day of their lives.  So that was new to me in and of itself, but what really jumped out at me in his sermon was his explanation of the beginning of Proverbs 3:3 "Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;"  That "steadfast love" comes from a Hebrew word that is so unique we don't have just one English word that can match it - hesed.  (And can I just say, WOW, God has brought me a long way that the biggest memory I have of a sermon is a Hebrew word and its translation, haha!)  Hesed, from what I remember, encompasses a lot of the good qualities we know to associate with the Lord - His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness, His unending and loyal love, His persistent pursuit of relationship with us.  All wrapped up into one word.

Proverbs 3:9 says "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce".  Turns out, firstfruits isn't actually the first stuff.  It's the best.  We're to give the Lord the best of what we reap.  It seems so twisted to a non-believer's ear, but as Pastor Sean put it, we're to give the Lord the best of whatever we have so that we aren't tempted to worship that stuff over God.  And the God we serve doesn't ask us to do anything He hasn't already done.  He gave us His best when Jesus went to the cross with our brokenness and our sin on his back.

When I think about hesed, when I think about everything that God is and everything He did for me long before I ever believed it was real, everything that is the heart of the Lord who loves me even when I doubt and when I'm just waiting for Him to leave, I can't help but want to give Him the best of me.  I owe Him everything; He gets all the credit for where I am now compared to where I've been, and wherever I will be will only be so because He will get me there.  I want to give Him the best of what I have and what I am because He gave me everything without a promise of anything in return.

Today and everyday, I have to surrender myself to the fact that I am NOTHING without Him, His grace, His mercy.  I probably wouldn't be alive, let alone living the life that I am now, if He hadn't persisted in chasing me down and breaking me so that I could see that He loves me and has always loved me so proudly and fiercely and desperately.  Because it was when I finally got a glimpse of that that I stopped pretending.  And the 22 months since that have been far from easy, but I know that it is because of God's persistence in holding on to me even when I'm letting go that I am still standing.

THAT is why He deserves the best of me and all that I have, and that's why I want to give it.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

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