2 Timothy 4:6-7 (NLT)
As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.
“My life has already been poured out as an offering to God.” When my life is coming to its natural end and eternity is close, I want this to be my confident declaration. I have fought the good fight. Did I? What was I fighting for? To prove that I was right or live in righteousness? I have finished the race. Did I walk in victory or live in defeat? I have remained faithful. To be faith full, one must learn to be self-less. Moving into the next chapter of our life, the Lord tugged on my heart that it was time for a fast. Nothing fancy with a lot of rules and regulations just some time to get my mind, soul and body altogether on the same page. Fasting is a powerful resource in the life of a believer. Self-denial is a must to live the life God promised that we could have. I have decided that I want that life. It doesn’t make me anything special or super religious. It makes me needy and desperate for the Love of God to fill every part of my life. Freedom allows us to choose what fills our life. It gives us the opportunity to decide if we will choose God’s Way or our own way. My faith belongs to me. My hold is in my hands. My relationship with Jesus Christ is a personal and intimate endeavor. My belief in God is not based on whether anyone else on this planet feels the same way, because I have experienced His Love and know that I cannot live without it.
As for me…these are the words that draw me to this verse. In a world that keeps its eyes on each other rather than looking in the mirror and comparing that image to Christ. Other people form our opinions by how they live. Judgment is immediate and swift. Doubt rises up when our life does not match up with societal norm. What’s going on with the Jones’ demands our utmost attention? But this verse is so telling of how it should be…as for me! I cannot speak for anyone else. I cannot and will not tell you how to live. Once my children reached adulthood, my role in their life changed from parent to friend and mentor. If they want my opinion, they will ask for it. If not, I will probably give it anyway. But ultimately once they reach the age of accountability – each one of them must decide what they will invest their mind, soul and body into doing. They will make goals. They will go in different directions. Again, this is freedom. The Gift God gave us in His Divine Mercy in the hope that we might find our way home.
Malachi 3:9-11 (NLT)
You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
You want to lose a crowd in church, ask them to open their Bibles to Malachi 3. Purses are zipped and pockets closed tight as people fear that God is going to take more than they are willing to give. I am not going to begin to testify about tithing because after sixteen years there is not enough time or words to describe the blessing it has released in our life. So for a moment, let’s pretend that Malachi 3 is not about our money. “You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.” You decided the ultimate betrayal and fill in the blank. Decide the 10% of your life that God requires and you do not want to give. It could be your time. It could be your talent. It could be any good thing in your life that you are not willing to give up for God.
The Lord says that if you bring your “tithe” or His Portion of that sacrifice to the Storehouse that He will “open the windows of Heaven for you.” He will “pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in.” Then He offers a simple solution to ease your mind and calm your doubts, “Try it!” What exactly is the Lord asking for here? Money? Do you really think God needs our money? No, the Lord is asking for obedience. Obedience does not start out big. It can be in the smallest of things. However, it yields a lifelong reward when we decide to obey God. Obedience is not a power kick of God. It does not change His Mind about us. Obedience is the discovery of God’s Way and the acceptance of all the blessings that He predestined for our life. It is simply accepting all of His Promises and doing what is necessary to walk in them. Obedience doesn’t change God’s Plan for our life but chooses to have all that it implies.
2 Kings 4:1-7 (NLT)
One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”
This is one of my favorite stories in the Word of God. The woman’s husband is gone and so was her livelihood. Now the world was pressing in to take all that she had left – her two precious sons. The woman had one flask of olive oil. The prophet told her to collect as many empty jars as she could find and she did. Obedience. Then he told her to begin filling those jars with the oil, pouring until there was no more. So she did. Sacrificial obedience. She filled every single jar until she ran out of jars to fill. That is when the oil stopped flowing. How big is your faith? How many jars do you have? Are you willing to give everything you have to the Lord? Oil represents the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave us His Spirit to fill us, guide us, direct us, help us and lead us through life. The more of our life surrendered to God’s Will and determined to obediently follow His Way, the more of His Blessing that will be distributed. Not because He is doing a new thing, but rather because obedience is access to His Kingdom and every bit of potential hidden within. The oil kept flowing until she ran out of jars. How much of our life are we willing to pour out to make more room for God’s Spirit to fill our life with His Grace, Goodness and Love?
Titus 3:4-8 (NLT)
But—when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.
Our flask inside us is filled with the Holy Spirit. He comes with the package of salvation. To make Jesus Lord of our life requires releasing God’s Spirit to do His Work in our life. Joel 2:28-32 tells of this outpouring and it was confirmed in Acts 2:16-20 on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came into our lives. God revealed His Kindness and Love when He gave His Son, Jesus to die for our sins. New birth and new life come by His Spirit. Grace opened the door to Heaven for us again and righteousness allows us to have all of its contents in our everyday life if we are willing to obey. We are free to choose Heaven on earth but it will not be forced upon us. His Love will not allow such a molestation. It is love. It is patient, kind, not jealous, boastful or proud. It does not demand its own way. It keeps no record of wrong. Love never gives up and never loses faith. It is unconditional enduring through every circumstance. In I Corinthians 13, this is how we are instructed to love because that is EXACTLY how God loves us. He will not demand His Way in our life but offers us the opportunity to walk in obedience and have every blessing hidden in Heaven.
I Corinthians 15:10 (NLT)
But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.
We attended a youth service in a tiny building in the middle of the woods. Teenagers were leading worship singing “Fill Me Up, Lord”. As I stood in the back while the young people worshipped, I realized that the Spirit of God was rapidly descending on that place. The kids were doing their best not of the caliber of Jesus Culture, but I could sense the sincerity in their cry. They were giving their all and God was responding. I remember as a young person more than thirty years ago crying out for more of God asking Him to fill me and use me, I had no idea what I was asking for. So I kept asking sometimes quietly and other times much more demanding. Now as I look back I see that to do so is to pour out me to make room for Him, it means giving something up to have something more. Paul said, “Whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out His Special Favor on me…” He then says, “I have worked harder than any of the other apostles…” Hmmm. That always came across boastful to me until today. What I hear now is a man dragging huge clay jars into the Presence of God over and over. I can hear the stone scratching the dirt as he takes all his strength to bring something in for God to use. For Saul to become Paul and follow Christ was a life-threatening decision. He killed Christians so why would they accept him? He was a murderer for the Jews so why wouldn’t they send someone to take care of him? But rather than hiding – Paul just obeyed God. In freedom and in chains, Paul just kept dragging his life to the altar of sacrifice to the Lord saying here is some more – fill me up Lord. Over and over again, the dragging of his life left marks that created a trail for others to have all God promises and live completely abandoned to our faith. It is impossible to live such a life without obedience.
God’s Grace works in us through sacrifice, surrender and obedience. We sacrifice what we have, surrender all that we are, and work in accordance with the Word of God to do the Will of God walking in the Way of God every single day and in each moment. This is radical obedience that causes an outpouring of Heaven to fill our life. It is the life I choose. It is my heart’s desire. As for me, fill me up Lord.
2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.