The Blessing of Vulnerability

Sometimes we find ourselves in vulnerable positions and situations. When we honor God with our response, He works through us in our vulnerabilities. Jesus was certainly in the most vulnerable position of all times. And God used Him in the most powerful way ever.

Let God use you. Yes, you’re vulnerable. It feels awkward and uncomfortable. You’re uncertain of your abilities. You don’t know how to clear up the confusion. You don’t know which way to go next. And to make matters worse, you are surrounded by people, and they’re watching your response.

But it’s okay. God has you surrounded. He doesn’t protect you from everything but He uses your willingness to trust Him through your vulnerability.

And He is trustworthy.

20150405_SundayScripture_Luke-22-Graphic-Image-SMALL

When We Get Undeserved Protection

We can try to hide from God. We can wander away. But God can still put a mark of protection on us, even when we move away from His presence.

Cain killed his brother, then declared to God, “I must hide myself from Your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth” (Genesis 4:14). God “placed a mark on Cain so that whoever found him would not kill him. Then Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (Gen. 4:15-16).

Cain suffered consequences to his choices, just as his parents, Adam and Eve, suffered consequences from eating fruit God had told them not to eat. Our disregard and disobedience to God always comes with consequences, although sometimes we’re more likely to make the connection than others. We might continue down the path that takes us away from God; in fact, we might be very intentional about wandering away from God. Yet God may still choose to be with us, knowing where we are and what we’re doing and thinking. He may still choose to protect us from something–something of our worst fears or something God knows we will need.

God’s protection doesn’t mean all goes smoothly in our lives. God’s protection is often specific. We wonder why we must endure something when a neighbor or family member never shares a similar struggle. We may wonder why we made it through something rather unscathed compared to someone else. God’s protection doesn’t have to be the same for everyone in order to remain His protection.

While that might make us feel cheated at times, it also makes us feel thankful and blessed much of the time.

We’re all done wrong. And God has responded with protection in some way for each of us.

Acknowledge Him with gratitude.

Endure For a Little While

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

It sounded like the roofers were coming through our roof.

I stepped outside to check on the progress, and I heard an even louder banging. Our neighbor had someone in his old cistern, breaking it apart with a jackhammer, causing loud booms to echo as the sounds ricocheted among the houses. I heard beeping down the street and glanced to see a city backhoe working on a corner. In the other direction, two construction trucks pulled into a yard to begin working on a front porch.

I felt sorry for anyone in the neighborhood who expected a quiet day. We live in a typically calm area.

There are seasons in our lives that cause a lot of noise and distraction. Those seasons affect people around us, too. As distracting and annoying as the noise can be, in order to grow, we need to endure and invest in those times. Without a new roof, we won’t enjoy the protection through rain, wind, and several feet of snow. Without the demolished old cistern, our neighbor won’t be able to trust the foundation of the new part of his house. Without the backhoe, the water line can’t be maintained and relied upon.

Without intentional maintenance and sacrificial investment, our faith doesn’t grow. We may not like those raucous times when everything seems inconvenient and overwhelming, but God uses those situations and experiences to remind us of His protection…break down what’s getting in the way in order to build something more solid…regularly check, maintain, and improve the lines of communication and nourishment we need to thrive.

What we endure in faith for and with God has eternal consequences that help us every single day.

 

Waiting and Trusting

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?
When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
Though an army deploys against me,
my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me,
still I am confident.

I have asked one thing from the Lord;
it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord
and seeking Him in His temple.
For He will conceal me in His shelter
in the day of adversity;
He will hide me under the cover of His tent;
He will set me high on a rock.
Then my head will be high
above my enemies around me;
I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Lord, hear my voice when I call;
be gracious to me and answer me.
My heart says this about You,
“You are to seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek Your face.
Do not hide Your face from me;
do not turn Your servant away in anger.
You have been my helper;
do not leave me or abandon me,
God of my salvation.
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord cares for me.

Because of my adversaries,
show me Your way, Lord,
and lead me on a level path.
Do not give me over to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing violence.

I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and courageous.
Wait for the Lord.

(Psalm 27)

Living Out Great Expectations

LiveWithGreatExpectations
©2015 PurePurpose.org

You have done amazing things we did not expect. You came down, and the mountains trembled before you. (Isaiah 64:3)

Many times, the difference between expectations and reality causes disappointment, but it can also cause surprise and celebration. Throughout the Bible, God showed up in amazing ways that people didn’t expect. Follow God’s lead.

Be understandable. If people don’t understand what you’re saying, they won’t follow, learn, and grow. They’re not going to understand everything you say – just as you sometimes won’t understand their perspective – but strive to find common ground and start there.

Be passionate. You’re not going to be excited about everything you’re doing all the time, but keep your passion level in check. People around you can sense if you’re going through the motions or if you’re seeking, learning, and growing. Passion is contagious.

Be protective. Avoid being overly protective or developing co-dependent relationships, but pay attention so that people aren’t getting left behind, lost, or hurt. Set healthy boundaries. Invite accountability. Learn lessons of responsibility and consequence.

Be attentive. Get to know the people around you – their interests, quirks, experiences, and dreams. As you get to know and care about people, they’ll trust you more. Listening might seem like it’s a small thing, but it’s one of the most inexpensive, sacrificial, generous gifts you can give.

Lesson from Nature: Erosion

©PurePurpose.org
©PurePurpose.org

Water is beautiful, powerful, refreshing, and dangerous. So are many other things. Because of the positive aspects of something, we can easily disregard the negative impact it can have on our lives over time. We might not notice the impact because it’s happening under the surface, changing us from the inside out, creating a shell of what we once were.

All the while, we have protection. We just need to see our need for it.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. (Ephesians 6:11)

Looking at the armor doesn’t help. Knowing it exists doesn’t help. We can know the available precautions that might protect us from the erosion of our heart, mind, and soul, but until we take those precautions, they do us little good. Armor is intended to wear. Otherwise, it is empty, lifeless, and useless.

What erosion is going on in your life right now?

Pay attention, and do something about it.

What piece of armor might you be missing?

Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.
 In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. (Ephesians 5:14-17)

 

Freedom Can Be Misapplied

Everything is permissibleFreedom is not getting to do whatever we want.

“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. (1 Cor. 10:23)

In these verses, Paul is speaking, and he’s quoting a phrase, “Everything is permissible,” the Christians in Corinth likely said. Plus, he added a correction and a challenge for them to consider what is helpful and what builds (others) up. Just because we ‘re free to do something doesn’t mean it’s what we should do. Just because we believe it’s something we should do (usually because it’s something we want to do) doesn’t mean we should.

How many times do you express the right or freedom to do something as a rationalization or excuse? You believe you are in the right because you have the freedom to choose. If it’s difficult to see in yourself, try looking around you. What do others tout as their “right” because of freedom, but you disagree? Why do you disagree?

Now, consider why someone else would use a similar disagreement for something you claim as a right or freedom? How is your rationalization similar? Are you starting to see the slippery slope?

As a Christ-follower, you might throw in the added power punch of “I do it because I know God wants me to. I’m just following and honoring Him.” But are you, really? Have you checked with Him on your motivation and your heart? And have you checked with Him recently, or are you on auto-pilot? Do you truly understand what He’s prompting you to do in a specific situation? Are you letting others sway you, and possibly seeing that influence as positive? Are you jumping on a bandwagon Jesus isn’t leading? Worse yet, are you using Him name and encouraging others to follow when He’s not leading?

Freedom can be deceptive. What you believe is freedom might be bondage. In order to be free, you need to know what to choose, and perhaps more important at times, what not to choose. You have to discern, which means you have to yield yourself. You have to be humble and set yourself aside. It’s counter-intuitive. We want to think freedom is really about us, that we get to step up and do more because of our freedom. Yes, but…only when we give up ourselves. We then get to walk all over the places God has prepared for us. We have full freedom within His boundaries. And when we live in His freedom, those boundaries don’t seem limited. They seem protective and…freeing.

We don’t miss out when we live in God’s freedom. We miss out when we don’t. We miss out on the region of freedom He’s prepared for us.

Be careful not to define your own freedom. It’s not yours to define. It’s yours to receive and savor. Open your eyes, hands, and heart. God has a grand gift for you.