Home > From Fellowship, To You > From Fellowship, To You: Sunday 10/28

From Fellowship, To You: Sunday 10/28

“No one is to appear before me empty handed.” Exodus 23:15


This is one of those verses I’ve read over a number of times without having a second thought about it and moving onto the next. One day, it struck me in my core. I sometimes (often?) come before God and offer Him nothing. I ask for forgiveness. I ask for blessings. I request love and joyful emotions. I ask for all things. I thank God with uncorroborated words. He is offered nothing.


It’s not about bargaining with God with to use your resources to trade for some of His, He fulfills His own needs and desires. It’s about love. In the Old Testament, coming before God with something meant the children of God gave a tenth of everything they had, sacrifices for forgiveness, and firstfruits for thankfulness as a physical representation of the people’s love for God and acknowledgment of what He’s done. Even in those times, it wasn’t about the sacrifice itself, Scripture says “the sacrifices of a God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.” The act of sacrifice has always been all about the heart.


What does it mean for me, now… for us, the New Israel? It looks like losing our lives before God, having the complete willingness to give up all that we have if Jesus simply asks it. We are to offer our “bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” It’s a more mystical way of giving to God and on the surface seems more about the inner life. But it is tangible. The children of God before were distinguished by their outward actions through ritual, we are to be known by our outward acts of love. And we do know people like this. We all know people who, when we see how different their lives are and full of life they are, we just know, that person comes before God offering everything. It’s inevitable that when we come before God hands full of all that we are, we will be shaped into people whose most marked quality is tangible love.


God does. I just don’t always think that’s true or live like that’s true. Way back in Genesis, Abraham, who had and has many sons, did much the same thing. God said He’d give Abraham a son. Time passed, his wife was too old to have children, so Abraham took matters into His own hands and copulated with his wife’s servant, who conceived and bore Ishmael. It wasn’t God’s plan and God let it happen and blessed Ishmael, but God would not rest until His plan was done His way – not through the impatient and untrusting actions of Abraham. God gave Abraham a son when he was 100 and his wife was 90. It was absolutely impossible and glorious. The wonder and joy of it was so great that they named their child Laughter. This is what happens when God does.


As I said, I often live and think like Abraham. I know what God’s will is… He wants to bless me with a wife… He wants life in all my relationships… He wants to bring people to Himself through me… He wants to bring healing in the lives of those around me. I too frequently move on these things in my own timing, with my own effort, the responsibility on me. The result is always less than what God has, sometimes heart-wrecking and destructive. God accomplishes His purposes, and though He allows me to participate in them with Him, He doesn’t ask me to do it all myself. We actually become more effective when we focus more upon obedience to God and let Him do what He needs to do in His time. And it’s a lot freer. I don’t have to be trying to make a relationship work, marketing Jesus, or staying up until 4:00 AM (like I was last night) with anxiety about how to bring healing to my friends. God accomplishes infinitely more than I can anyway and when we have the opportunity to be a part of His Movement we are full of awe and our hearts well with overflowing Laughter.

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