“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Jeremiah 1:5-8 NLT
Jeremiah is such a perfect example of someone threshing weat in the wine press, except he was in the wine press emotionally. He wasn’t depressed or anything, but he looked around and saw all these great men of God who happened to be older, probably much older, than himself and he did what we all do when we look around instead of looking up- he saw his inadequate state. God says to do something and we look at the other people doing the same thing or similar things, and we realize that compared to them we don’t have the same level of: schooling, training, strength, courage, popularity, Talent, and so on. But then God reminds us: ” you must go where I send you and do as I tell you, and do not be afraid of them for I will protect you.”
It isn’t about what we think we can do or what we feel we are qualified for. It’s about what God knows we can do and what He qualifies us for through His power. No matter our schooling or our skill we are all inadequate for the task before us unless we have God helping us. Oh sure we might succeed on our own, but it will always be more difficult or lead to less of a great conclusion then it would have been if we had just let God use us the way that He planned to. We may all be in the wine press emotionally on some level for something, but God has a plan for all of us, one that is unique and individual to each person. When God calls you out of the wine press follow His voice. And don’t be afraid of them, for God will protect you.
Saul had his own moment of leaving the wine press ( figuratively). When the Isrealites fussed to have a king like everyone else had, God chose Saul. Where was Saul when Samuel informed him he was to be king? Looking for donkeys. He didn’t want the job at first. Now I know that Saul is a contrary figure. But he was chosen by God, even if he turned from God in the end, God gave him a position of authority. But he had been found for his time, in a place of lowlyness. Not believing that God had a great time for him.
Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” 1 Samuel 9:21 NIV
But God was able to change him. To make a great king out of the least likely person.
As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 1 Samuel 10:9 NIV
It doesn’t depend on us. If we are well educated or are wealthy or have a great family background, none of that matters for God’s big plan for us. All that matters is that we are willing to say ‘yes God, let’s do this!’
Saul was planned for a time and purpose. He is also a great example of what happens when we turn from God even in the midst of following His plan for our lives. We must remain true to Him and serve Him or else He may use someone else to fulfill His plan. Saul had the chance to be great in God’s power. But He chose to try and be great in his own strength and was cast down.
God can use you no matter how unlikely you seem to yourself. But if you don’t honor Him He will find someone else.
God sees you when you are threshing wheat in the wine press.
Sometimes the enemy feels too strong, so we find ourselves serving God privately and quietly and not standing up and showing people that we love him. Sometimes we’re even too afraid to tell people that we are Christians. That makes God very sad, but just because He’s sad doesn’t mean that He’s not taking care of us in the wine press. When I think of Gideon I think of someone I understand. He had been attacked, he had seen his friends slaughtered, and he was afraid. So he started doing his work away from watching eyes. I don’t blame him. Yet despite his fear and hiding God planned to use him for a great victory. It wasn’t easy either. There were times I bet he thought he had imagined the angel who had come to him. But in the end he gave his body and will over to God and God used him as He said He would.
Don’t feel like God is overlooking you because you are in the wine press, He still sees you and He still plans to use you. Even if you are failing now, even if you failed Him this very second, it doesn’t change what He can and will do through you. It may be hard, but don’t fight Him. If God has you by the waist and is pulling you out of the wine press, the only one you’ll hurt by clinging to the walls is yourself. That’s easy to say, but I know I’ve wrapped my arms around the mill stone a few times recently, the same as everyone else. But God will give you another chance. He knows what greatness you can achieve when you surrender to Him.
Judges Chpt 6-8 tells Gideon’s story for those who want to read it.
‘Today is my day to sorrow’, thought the tiny flower growing beside a rock. ‘Last night a great trouble came over me as a man, or something more than a man, sat by my side and wept. His tears were so great that when they splashed upon me I felt sick and my roots were weakened. I tried to reach out to the man, but I am just a flower and cannot draw attention to myself like a bird can with her song. He cried and screamed and begged and pleaded, but no peace came to this man. I hoped that He would look at me and I could make Him smile. He left and then returned, even sadder when He came back. All I could do was sit with Him. Then I sensed a resolve in His being and He went to stand once more. He stumbled and His hands landed near me. I tried to be radiant to bring Him comfort, finally He saw me, He smiled very gently, then He rose to His feet. “Thank you my radiant flower.” He said, then He left.
I feel that something great and tragic happened that night. Today I feel as though a friend is calling out for mercy. Today I feel sad. But being a flower, I know that tomorrow will bring new joy and hope.’
Remember in the Two Towers? When Frodo and Sam are walking on the road of the old kings that had been taken by the enemy and they came across the statue of the great king. Violent hands had knocked off the king’s head and replaced it with a rock with a symbol of the enemy as a mockery to the king of old. Yet in the grass where the old king’s head lay, beard broken off and stone scarred, flowers of tiny gold and silver blossoms had encircled the kings head, crowning it once again, as if in honor to the old king, and Frodo said, “the enemy cannot win forever.”
I see in my mind an image of Jesus. People have marred it and the enemy set up something honoring himself and mocking Christ in the place of where Jesus’s earthly honor once stood. Yet there are still some who refuse to bow to the enemy, some who wish to be jewels in the true King’s crown. In a moment of sun in the dark world my heart cries out, “the enemy cannot win forever.” The true King will return in all His glory as He really is, not as how the enemy has made Him appear. He will vanquish all evil and we who honored Him still, even when it looked like He might be defeated, will sit at His feat in His throne room and be blessed by His presence. This will not last forever. Whatever darkness is getting inside your head, whatever fear you feel, whatever evil you see, it will all be destroyed when the King returns- when Jesus comes back to take us home. Long live the King!
CS Lewis spoke of a place that you want to go to but can’t because it doesn’t exist. A place you long for with all your heart, but find yourself in desiderium. You grieve for it as something lost, yet you’ve never been there. Narnia was like that for Lewis. Yet as the author he was able to visit there in his mind. I found that, after reading Prince Caspian for 1000th time since my dad read to me when I was too young to read myself, I felt that same ache and sorrow I always did when the children went back to England- back to our world. It’s always so sad in my opinion. Our world is dark and evil. The White Witch hasn’t been slain yet here. Children aren’t permitted to just be kids anymore and adults are stuck into a mill of being what they are told to be and acting as the government demands us to act. It’s sad and depressing some days. I want to go to that world where the great Lion is king and evil is shown to be evil and is destroyed by the shaking of his Mane. Yet that world is fiction. Or is it? My Poppa was singing an old song the other day, one I forgotten about, and it reminded me of a joy that I had been missing lately by being caught up in the world around me, (that happens to us adults from time to time). Want to know what song it was? When we all get to Heaven.
Remember it? If not I recomend finding it on youtube. It goes:
‘ when we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.’ Now slap your knees and sing that one full throated!
We forget sometimes what Heaven is like. We don’t know how it will feel, taste or smell, but we do know that there is no sin, no sickness, no fear, hunger, shame or sorrow. Best of all, Jesus is in Heaven. This world feels so real right now that we feel desiderium for the past and for worlds that don’t exist. Yet Heaven is real. Heaven is not a faèry tale. Heaven is promissed to those who run the race and keep the faith. There is a place where evil has been seperated from God, a place where sin is not welcome or relevant, a place where the great Lion of Judah shakes His mane and all wickedness is destroyed, a place that I am unworthy to enter but by Jesus’s love, death and Resurrection, and my choice to leave my sins behind and follow Him, I am permitted to come and join in the feasting.
We long for a world other than this one because God programmed us to long for where He is. The made up realms are nice for now, but it’s the very real place of Heaven that is the true escape. We just have to hang on until the end and remember that we are strangers and aliens and not of this world, we are from God, we are Heaven bound.
Lent day 19
Every dead walking
Every can’t take another day
Every prisoner (in the mind or body)
Every never enough
Every striving too hard
Every filthy rags show off
Every. Single. Person
Is loved unconditionally by Jesus.
I know I’m a sinner. I know a fail Him every day. It’s hard to believe that He would keep reaching out and loving inspite of me. If Jesus didn’t love us we couldn’t be better than we are, we couldn’t throw away our sins and failures, we wouldn’t have a chance. It’s because He loves us that we can change. It’s because He loves us that while we were His enemies He died for us. We are all the Centurion at the Cross, holding a spear dripping with His blood in our hands as we realize, “this man must truly have been the son of God.”
We couldn’t repent of our sins and find Jesus if He hadn’t first paid everything for us. We no longer have an excuse to cling to our past, our sins, our filthy rags- Jesus died so that we would have a way out.
He gave us a way out of hell, not a free ticket to both the hell “party” on earth AND the paradise of Heaven. We get one or the other. But praise God that He is paitent and just so that no soul will be lost, because He wants all of us. God is the only one who can be greedy, and He is greedy for our souls, He does not want the devil to have a single person and will give up everything so that the devil can’t have us. If in the end every sould found Jesus except on and that one went to hell, that single soul would be on God’s mind all the time and would break His heart.
He loves us and gives us every opportunity to change and find him. We have no excuse, so let’s throw away the excuses and run into Jesus’s outstretched arms.
Lent day 15
What defeats you? Is it the chaos of the world? The sleepless nights because of finances? The car alarm going off at 5am? Losing your keys? If we’re honest, we realize that we can be defeated by the big sorrows and the little ones. Without God and with God we can have days and even years of feeling defeated. But there comes the difference. Without God you are defeated before you begin, with God you are never truly defeated because He is still fighting for you. I saw a thing that said, “when the world has you down on the mat, praise God from the mat.”
Praise is a crazy thing. It can shake you to tears of joy and sorrow, it can make you feel stronger when you feel weak, it can make you remember that God’s got this; because praise draws you closer to God. I sometimes wonder if praise draws us closer to God than even prayer? Because when we pray, most of the time it’s about us- but when we praise it’s always about God. Just a thought.
The devil hates praise, he knows it strengthens us and pleases God. So he destracts us, or makes us feel like it isn’t important, but we know that it is. Look for things to praise God for throughout your day and watch your feeling of defeat start to lift a little. Praise doesn’t have to be song, it can be a thought or even a feeling, maybe just a ” wow God!” Statement. He loves you. The three in one Trinity is fighting on your behalf. He will never let you down, even when you are on your back on the mat He is there keeping you going. You can and will get back up, if only you will look for His hand.
Lent day 12
Which stream should I choose in life? With which path should I go? I say ‘why should I be stuck in a stream at all! Forced to go with the constant flow.’ If all streams lead to the ocean, then someday won’t I be free? But along the pushing path that others forge, will I forget to be me?
If God reaches down His hand from Heaven and traces a small path away from the crowd for me, then shouldn’t I follow that path with eagerness? Then shouldn’t I go willingly? The path has only room enough for one person, and I fear to travel alone. Yet if Jesus is with me, then I do not go alone. The hero often stands by herself, when the true battle begins to wage, but with the Spirit as my sword, Faith as my shield, I will not be afraid. I will follow my path to a greater ocean. Away from the pushing crowd, I will swim this special causway, I will not be drowned. If God has a path just for me, then why would I swim to the same sea, as every other fish in the stream and lose who am and sacrifice my dream? I will follow this path alone, with the cross before me and Jesus leading me home. – LVB
From the time we hit first grade we are being pushed toward a path. People say that each of our paths are unique, but if you are following along with the rest of the world then you are just another part of the crowd. Only Jesus gives us uniqe and individual paths, but they often lead us to be on our own. The path to Heaven is narrow and hard, the path to hell is wide and easy. Which path are you on? If you see the narrow path open up before you will you follow it? In my mind I see the narrow gate like a hidden entry that only reveals itself to the few who choose to look for it. If you aren’t seeking Jesus then you won’t find the path to Heaven. Which path are you walking? Would you like to switch and find the narrow gate? Then ask Jesus into your heart. You don’t need the sinner’s prayer specifically, you can come to Him with your own words and your heart open to find Him. Maybe you’ve lost the path and have been wandering in a fog. That’s not hard either, you can get back to the right path by asking for Jesus to help you. The answer is always Jesus. It doesn’t matter what the question was. If you talk to Him and look for Him you will find Him, because He wants to be found.
Stop putting your chains back on.
When Jesus died and rose again He took our sins on Himself, He set us free from our chains- so why do we keep setting the locks back in place? We claim our sin as our identity, we tattoo it on our arms (or on our foreheads) we announce it with pride, yet it is what is killing us, it is holding us back, tying us down, and making us defeated. Those sins are nailed to the cross, stop tearing them off and sticking them back on yourself, you deserve more, you deserve better. You are loved so much more by Jesus who says to cast your sins aside than you will ever be by the devil who says to keep your sins and to wear them proudly, in fact mr. Do what makes you happy not what the Bible tells you to, doesn’t love you at all. The devil hates you. That’s why he encourages your sins. Jesus loves you. That’s why He tells you to leave your sins behind. Jesus set you free. So be free. Stop being a slave to the flesh. Be a redeemed, set free, undefeated, friend of God. For He called you by name.