Sacrifice, obedience or both?

Psalm 51:16

For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;

You are not pleased with burnt offering.

17

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

 

True joy that endures the test of time comes from audacious obedience.  Obedience that defies logic, circumstance, and practicality is often a requirement to grow in intimacy with our Father.  But, when you throw around the word “obey”, people begin to get a little squirmy in their seat.  Our humanity doesn’t like to be told as an adult to obey God.  We internalize thoughts such as, “I’m grown; I know what’s right for me,” or “I’m smart and that just doesn’t make sense.”  Not obeying is normally justified by rebellion.  However, not obeying what God has clearly asked of you always brings misery, frustration, and confusion.

 

For example, we live in a world today that WILL be quick to sacrifice. I see people giving money to amazing organizations or spending countless amounts of hours volunteering for churches and ministries.  We see commercials on how to care for abandoned pets or feed children and we are very quick to do so.  Our emotion muscle gets flexed and we sacrifice for things where we believe we can make a difference.  However, we forget that in the middle of doing great things, the best thing for us to do is what God tells us to do.  For instance, is God pleased if you sacrifice to go on a missions trip, but are sexually active with your boyfriend before you go and after you come back? OUCH, I know that hit a nerve. Some of us fight the call of ministering on our lives and justify it by saying God’s call is just for preachers, when the Bible clearly tells us in Matthew 28:19 to go and make disciples.  I ask you — when was the last time you told someone about Jesus?  God is pleased with our sacrifice ONLY when we are obedient. Sacrifice without obedience is self-serving and self-promoting.

 

I, myself, have been one of the biggest offenders on this very subject.  Fourteen years ago, I was super sacrificial.  I was at church in all the plays and living what looked like a life that was sold out for the Lord, but when God told me to break off the engagement to the man I was going to marry, I ignored it.  God kept sending me ways and reasons to break off the engagement, but I didn’t do it.  My rebellion justified my actions for moving forward with the wedding and it got me divorced not three years later.  If I would have stopped busying myself with the “sacrificial” things I was doing for the Lord and solely focused on my relationship with Him, I would never have had to endure the corrupt things in my past.

When God speaks, it’s because He loves us.  I get so mad at people thinking that God is sitting and waiting for you to screw up to bring judgment on you!  God ADORES YOU!!!!  He desperately wants the best for you. He is your biggest Cheerleader and your strongest Advocate!  When He asks you to do something, know for sure He knows what is best.  I challenge you to trust Him.  His way is easy and burden so light.  Trust Him, sweet reader.

Stop holding yourself back.

I sat outside on our back patio this morning and sipped my coffee as the dew burned off the grass.  My four year old son peeked his head out the back door and asked if he could swing on the play structure in our backyard.  I love to watch my children play.  I love the wonder and imagination as they dream up games and distant worlds that they are conquering.  I told him yes, and watched him walk down the yard to swing.  As he was walking he was singing, Rejoice in the Lord, Rejoice in the Lord, Rejoice in the Lord, Always.

I couldn’t have resonated with the song more.  My Lord Jesus was speaking through my sweet boy.  I sat and thanked God for the victory of The Blush Network’s first ever Latina conference.  Last December, I distinctly felt the Lord place the beautiful Latina’s on my heart.  I had heard of the need to reach the girls and wanted to do everything in my power to accomplish God’s prompting on my heart.  I knew it was God’s prompting and not mine because I am not Latina and I do not speak Spanish.  However, the more I learn about my God, the more I know that that is exactly who He chooses to use.  The seemingly inadequate from a physical standpoint God often has equipped adequately for the supernatural. I was not going to allow a cultural barrier to steal the joy of ministering!  God distinctly told me to do it and I was going to obey no matter what.  My appearance God was going to take care of if in fact it was His plan.  The planning went off well.  We were prepped and ready just like for every other conference and event we do.  Throughout the weekend the girls commented on my appearance to be sure, one girl even saying, “you are white.”  I laughed and said, “I am?”  Every session I was impressed with the sweet ladies that attended.  I saw the passion from them and the raw desire to walk in the way of the cross.  My heart was heavy before the last session of the conference….I sat backstage and prayed that God would use the last session for His glory.  After I spoke and we praised the Lord so many girls made life decisions for Christ.  When I was getting ready to close in prayer the conference I felt someone grab my hand and begin to pray.  It was one of the most precious women you could meet.  I had two women praying for me on either side of me.  They were asking God to bless our ministry and myself.  By the end of the prayer, I was almost overcome with emotion. The lady to my right said, “Look up.”  I looked up and saw a huge crowd of beautiful women gathered around me with their hands raised.  In that one act, God had confirmed the small voice in my spirit to do a latina event the December before.  He was glorified by the obedience of my team.

I wonder today, what is God telling you to do that you don’t think equipped to do.  I am confident that God speaks to us regularly and if we submit to what He says we will be blown away by the reward.  Some of you God has told you to quit your job and go into the ministry.  Some of you need to break up with your boyfriends.  Some of you need to share Christ with your neighbor, some of you need to lead a small group.  Some of you need to start to tithe.  He has spoken and you cannot shake the blatant call of the Creator.  You can try, but you won’t win.  I encourage you with this, when you push the normal aside and do the uncomfortable for Christ He promises to bless.  If we hadn’t gone to Phoenix last week to minister to the latina girls, I would have missed out on a huge blessing!!  Girls lives were changed and I had a front row seat to see God’s glory.

Rather than being blinded by your seeming insufficiency, be encouraged when God calls because He sees that you are sufficient.

1 Samuel 16:7 The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as many sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Opportunist

My husband and I were presented rather unexpectedly with an opportunity last week that caught us so off guard I sit baffled days later.  We sat stunned in the car as the person on the other end of the phone was explaining the opportunity and was on speaker phone.  Sharing looks back and forth that only couples that have been married many years understand, we ended up having an entire conversation without even saying a word.  I hung up the phone and for a couple of moments couldn’t say a word.

The door of opportunity was wide open in our favor and we walked through the door.

 

The next day Eddie and I were talking about the phone call that we had had just a day earlier.  The words ringing in our ears almost too good to be true. Eddie joked and said, “You are an opportunist.”  To which I replied, “Thank you.”  Although in our culture the term opportunist has become stigmatized because of unethical ways that people go about things, in the Christian world open doors and opportunity is the way that God leads us to our next chapter in life.

 

Ephesians 5:15-16

 

15 Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Paul clearly tells us in this passage to MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY.  He is challenging us to walk through those open doors, because he himself has seen the amazing things the Lord had done in his life because he had done just that. Sometimes I see Christians that want to do something and God opens the door for that very thing and they begin to doubt because the opportunity requires risk on their part. Doubt mutilates opportunities to work for the King– It is the silent killer of faith.  I, myself, used to be a big ole scaredy cat.  God opened up many opportunities for one particular event that I completely ignored, knowing it was from the Lord.  I have often wondered what would of happened had I had enough courage and enough faith to walk through those doors no matter what the outcome looked like.

It is not a negative thing to grab hold of God’s promises that manifest as practical opportunities.  Don’t let someone look down on you for walking through the doors that could bring about God’s call on your life. Complacency results from anyone not willing to stick their neck out for the Lord.  I love the saying, “When opportunity knocks, it’s too late to prepare.” In order for our faith to grow and our relationship with God to increase we must continually exercise it.

Colossians 4:5 says:

5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

We must, however, use wisdom.  God has given us the Holy Spirit. We have the privilege of using the Holy Spirit to guide us in the way we should go.  When presented with an opportunity be sure seek the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to make the way clear. Use the spiritual power at work inside of you to be your compass and your guide. Don’t factor His presence out of any situation. Trust me, He will let you know when to move forward and when to stop.  I often ask the Lord to shut the door if it isn’t His will for my life.  This has kept me from major mistakes and trials.  When God speaks to my heart and I listen it is always proved later to be the best way. It’s when I don’t that I regret it.

One word of encouragement–be aware.  In order to know that an open door exists you must be watching for it.  Walk with your heart expecting the opportunities from the Lord. He will send them, but it’s up to you to accept them.

God’s got amazing things for you!  His way defy’s our human logic and surpasses our fleeting circumstances!  Trust Him as he leads and live a life full of the impossible!!

Sex.

I was pushing my cart as fast as I could walk to get out of the craziness at Target  last Thursday night.  My two children it toe, it had been a day. I waited as patiently as I could as the lady in front of me was buying an abnormal amount of cream cheese. My children literally asked for everything in the line from magazines to ring pops, all of which I gave a very stern “NO”.  Finally, it was my turn.  The cashier caught the fact that I was a little flustered.  Target trips with a 3 year old and 6 year old without daddy sometimes push me over the edge.  We had just dropped Eddie at the airport for business in another city and I knew the weekend would be long without him.

 

I tried to police the children while putting all of my things on the rolling counter as the cashier began checking me out.  She asked with a chuckle, “How are you, today.” I gave an honest sigh and said, “Fine, daddy is out of town” and chuckled myself.  Her response I have thought about these 7 days later.  She said, “Daddies out of town? I used to through parties when my husband was out of town. My kids and I would have so much fun when he was gone.”  I completely stopped and tried not to let the moment be too awkward, but forgetting myself trying to process what she had just said, made for an uncomfortable silence.  Sensing the weirdness of the moment she added, “But I wasn’t in love with him.”  I gave an awkward smile, and finished paying for my things.  As I was loading the bags in the cart, she looked at me and said, “I am sorry,” knowing I didn’t share the same sentiment as she had with her husband.  As we walked away, she made a comment to the lady behind her and they both laughed loudly as if to mock the fact that I was going to miss Eddie…..

 

I walked to the car troubled.  Not because of the comment, but because I remember thinking that same thing in my previous marriage.  The cashier’s comments took me to a place in my history that I haven’t allowed myself to go in a long time.  I have been blessed with a second chance at a life that over a decade ago I only dreamed of.  I remember the loneliness that that time period brought.  I remember what sin had caused….sin began the relationship and the tie was to strong to break it when it was needed. Sexual sin reeked havoc on a girl that just desperately wanted to be loved. Because of this, in the beginning and in the end I suffered severe rejection and consequence.

 

Sex is everywhere. I know that sex in the wrong context can damage a person for the rest of there lives.  I’m living that truth.  Sex is the one way that satan can take a regular person and turn them to a person who lives a double life.  Double lives in the Christian world are more prevalent than one would think. What is happening when women get their sex fix from the book Fifty shades of Grey and not their own husbands?  I have seen girls lose there innocence at ages that would make you spirit cry, I have counseled with mothers who’s daughters have been molested and don’t know what to do.  I have cried with rape victims who desperately are searching for an answer to their anger and purpose for their hurt.  I have sat and loved on young women that are searching out homosexuality as a need to be accepted, and in my spirit I cry out to my God, Help.  I have seen horrific pain brought on by pornography.

 

It’s crazy to me the… Pornography is widely accepted. Nudity is not even questioned in movies.  Sexting and provocative pictures on facebook and twitter is laughed at….and there I sit in counseling rooms of young women that are red-faced and desperate wanting so bad someone to deliver hope.

 

And we wonder what we can do to help…

The answer lies in the most laughed at patronized, scrutinized, idea, but it is the answer, because it is God’s answer, it’s ABSTAIN.

 

Abstinence was where I got my start in public speaking.  Some liked the idea of waiting until you are married to have sex, but most of the world makes fun of you and thinks you are a freak.

 

Let me challenge you if you have been bullied because of your belief in abstinence.  Don’t give in.  One day if you wait until you are married to have sex or share your body sexually with your spouse, you will be able to live and not worry about the consequences that sex WILL bring.  God will bless your marriage, He will bless your choice to stand up for something that is so difficult to say no to, and you will become the counselor to your peers who decide not to wait.  Mark my words….God’s way ALWAYS BRINGS BLESSING.

 

1 Thessalonians 4:3-6

 

For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.

Let me camp on verse 3.  Sexual immorality is a long term that means sexual things.  It is an inclusive word that covers the whole sexual realm.  I think sometimes we think that to Abstain just means not have actual sex, no it is all encompassing of sexual things.  It includes sexting, messing around, porn, and all types of sex.

Your sexuality and what you have to offer is completely unique to you, it is one of the only gifts that you can offer someone that they will not receive from anywhere else. Don’t let the pressure of this world tell you it’s not worthy to be protected.  In today’s day and age you will encounter the pressure to engage.

My heart breaks, I love you sweet reader, I have felt the harsh consequence of this sin and am telling you from a heart that loves you, even though you might not get it now, WAIT. Waiting to be involved with sexual things is one of the BEST decisions you will ever make for yourself.  If you have already been involved sexually, choose to stop.  God loves you so much and His love heals. You can start rebuilding, it’s not too late.  I know you may be confused and frustrated, you are worth so much, don’t believe the lie that you are tainted goods.

If you are confused, need help, need prayer, or direction. Please email me at autumn@theblushnetwork.com.