chosen

The Israelites: A Special Kind of Love

Over the last two years, the love of God has perplexed and overwhelmed me. I mean, like really. How can anyone love me that much and invest so much in me, and continually welcome me back when I fail and miss the mark time after time? How can someone love me past my pain and my insecurities, past my faults and disloyalty, past my wicked heart and my selfish ways? For real. A love so deep that vows to restore and heal. It’s interesting that the Spanish word for ‘deep’ is profundo, which looks a lot like the English word ‘profound.’ The idea of profound is something that goes beyond one’s normal thinking and understanding. Therefore, God’s love is so profound that it goes beyond our finite comprehension. His love is so unique and so pure that nothing can separate us from His love; it is unconditional, specifically to those of us who surrender our lives to Him. In the Bible we see words like everlasting, eternal, true, perfect, and never failing used to describe His love for His children. How insane is it that I can always count on God to love me and hold His arms out no matter what. Granted that does not give me the right to take that love for granted or assume the Lord won’t show tough love when necessary, hence the Israelites.

Throughout the various studies and readings, especially in the Old Testament, the depth of God’s love is demonstrated by His commitment to the Israelites, His chosen people. Reading through the prophets, the lives of their kings, and even when they first came out of Egypt, the Israelites were trippin. Just in a book like Hosea, one of the tribes were accused of having a spirit of prostitution. What?! Furthermore, good kings were few and far between, for most of the kings of Judah and Israel were terrible and got progressively worse from one to the next, and the people tended to follow the leadership. God on so many occasions threatened them in many ways and claimed that He would turn away from them, and He often made good on His word, and as I read His words in Scripture, I imagine His fed up, rolling His eyes and smh face, so much that I wouldn’t be surprised if He cussed them out on multiple occasions (no He didn’t, let me be clear), because the Israelites put their God through so much crap for centuries. My brother wrote a poem some years ago called, “Thank God I’m not God,” or something similar and that poem is ridiculously accurate just looking at the relationship between Yahweh and the Israelites, because I know for a fact that if I was God, I would have walked away and never looked back.

But that’s why I can’t be God.

Even though the Lord disciplined them, sometimes severely – they were wilin’ – they never had to wonder if God loved them, because He was slow to anger and His anger did not last long, and He always reminded them of who they were and of the covenant He made with their fathers. He was quick to restore and to redeem and desired to bestow His awesome favor upon them when they got their lives together. (There were many good years in between the not so good.)

The more I read, the more I study, the less I understand the love of God. It’s so…indescribable. How can a God that big, love little ole’ me that much? I have nothing to offer Him that He needs or could make His living better or more meaningful; He needs to depend on me for absolutely nothing, but I need Him just to write this blog. He has every reason and right to be distant, short-tempered, and arrogant, but in His flawless character, He chooses to be jealous for my love and chose to give His life in order to prove to me how much He desired me and wanted to have a relationship with me. I am on the verge of tears writing this, because I am just considering how great His love really is and how undeserving of it I am, but His love is mercy and grace, just as it was with the Israelites, for as He chose them to be His people, He chose me before time began to be His daughter, just like He chose you to be His child. He loves you and He loves me because He said He would. Be you for a purpose and bask in the big, strong, special kind of love that will carry you through the fires and deep drowning waters of your life, even if you set the fire or jumped in the pool yourself.

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Donkey Days

It’s okay to be an ass. Yes, you did read that correctly.donkey

There are some non-human characters in the Bible that are very intriguing, and one animal I find to be used for big assignments is the donkey. There are two Old Testament stories that stick out when I think of donkeys, and the first is Balaam’s donkey, the only animal in the Bible that spoke and was used by God to turn back the heart of Balaam and keep him from doing something reckless. Then there was Saul’s donkey that got lost, nothing unusual, but it was on his path of searching for his donkey that he met Samuel who told him he would be king of Israel. Donkeys, though there is nothing extraordinary about them, they did what they were meant to do, and God did the extraordinary through them. Let me give you the greatest example.

I will never forget the message of the colt. The gospels tell the story of a young donkey that had never been ridden and was tied up. Jesus told two of his disciples to go get it, and if asked, tell the owner that the Lord needed it. – Sidebar: no matter how little you have or how worthless you think it is, even if it’s immature or small, just give it to the Lord, and trust Him to use it and multiply it.

Now to pick back up. Again, there was nothing special about the colt, the owner, or the colt’s mother, he was just available. It wasn’t really strong, it hadn’t had much experience, if any at all, and it was immature, it had a lot to learn still. All the donkey was doing was being a donkey. No more, no less. It was being exactly what it was meant to be, doing exactly what it was meant to do, and that is what Jesus chose to ride on for his triumphal entry in Jerusalem.

The donkey normally gets a bad connotation with its stubbornness and it’s not a very glamorous animal. That’s just like us. With sin, we have a terrible reputation and our own righteousness is like filthy rags, not glamorous. We disappoint God and we disappoint others. We have those things about us that is our Achilles heel, like the donkey’s stubbornness, but the Lord chooses to look past all that. All He wants is us. He wants us just as we are, whatever stage in life we are in, whatever phase we are going through, whoever or whatever we may be slaved and chained to, like the colt, the Lord wants to set us free and use us. All we have to do is say yes.

Being you for a purpose is being like that donkey, in that you are where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to do, acting and being as what God created you to be. Even if you have some unpleasant things about you or you feel small, weak, immature, useless, insignificant, or inexperienced, God still desires to use you for great things. For it’s usually those times we are doing the day-to-day activities, walking in the center of His will, that God decides to shake things up and intervene on our behalf.

It’s okay to be an ass, for it was an ass that was chosen to usher in the Messiah. Just be you, and do what you are supposed to do, and watch what God will do in, by, through, and for you. I guarantee, He will blow your mind.

Fire

FireJeremiah was such a complex person with a lot of emotion, which is why he is known as “The Weeping Prophet.” Still, his story reflects many of ours today. He was called at a young age and when God first called him, he was apprehensive and had excuses as to why he wasn’t able to do what God had purposed for him to do. Many of us are like that. We feel that the task God has for us is too big and we are too small, but that’s the beauty of it. If what He has called you to do doesn’t scare you or keep you on your knees, something is a little off. God, as when He called Jeremiah, wants you to go past your own limits in thinking, strength, and ability and do what takes you out of your comfort zone to prove His power and show His glory.

Jeremiah’s calling was hard and very uncomfortable; he was called to tell the people of Israel about themselves and the doom of the nations. I mean seriously, who wants to go around telling people daunting words from God and not only that but God give you a warning that the people will fight against you and pretty much hate you? Like whoa!

Maybe you feel that way. Maybe what God has chosen you to do and what it will take to do it or get there frightens the mess out of you. Maybe what He purposed you to do, if you know it yet completely takes you way out of your comfort zone. Maybe who He has called you to be is the you that you have hidden or covered to fit in. As God told Jeremiah, don’t be afraid, for you will overcome and He will protect you and rescue and deliver you from whatever you will face. What the Lord has put inside of you is what this world needs to see and or hear, even if they don’t know it or want or accept it. Do what God has purposed you to do. Be who he destined you to be. There is a purpose.

As time goes on, you realize that people are even crazier than what you thought or expected and it’s much harder to complete the task than you could’ve ever envisioned, and as we do, like Jeremiah, we begin to complain and fuss because things aren’t going as smoothly as we like or it’s just getting too much to handle, and you want to give up just like he did and curse the day you were born. At some point he gave up and decided not to fulfill his purpose any longer. It was then that he realized that he couldn’t quit. He couldn’t give up, no matter how much he was hurt, mocked, insulted and reproached, and no matter how much he felt like God had set him up. He had a word; he had a duty that God had given him to do. The moment he stepped out from it, he felt a fire welling up in him that was more intense than what he experienced from other people.

Whatever it is that you have been destined to do, to be, it will get difficult, people will get on your very last nerve seemingly more that ever, people will look at you funny and talk about you, and the Devil will come at you with everything he’s got. But what you have the power to become, why do you think the Devil is trying to stop you? Why do you think God placed you where you are and called you out? They both see something in you and all you have, are, and will face is in either to prepare for greater or hinder you from greater. Know the difference. Either way God has promised to be with you, so like He told Jeremiah, get yourself ready and stand up, for he has already covered you, so no one has power over you or the ability to destroy any part of you unless you allow them to.

Whatever it is that you may be trying to hold in, don’t. It will burn you until you unleash it. So I encourage you, whatever it is that you are called, chosen, destined, and purposed to do, no matter how terrifying or uncomfortable it appears to be or already is, don’t give up. The world desperately needs you, even if they think they don’t. You have Jesus. So yeah, they need you, because they need Him. You work is not in vain, because it will hurt you and them more if you didn’t than if you do. You have been blessed with a burden.

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, & Mary – Imperfect on Purpose

When you look back in Biblical times, it was a very patriarchal society. Women had very few rights and or privileges; they were seen and not heard. Even still, being Christmas, looking at the life of Christ, he gave purpose and value to women – woman at the well, Mary Magdalene, and so many others. Nonetheless, one of the things I found most interesting and intriguing is found in the very genealogy of Jesus.

Looking through Scripture, in nearly all of the genealogies listed in both the old and new testament, there are rarely women listed. It’s mostly “the son of…” However, in the very lineage of Christ given in the first chapter of Matthew, there are five women listed…Yes. Five. What’s even crazier is that these women, or families they represent, are everything but perfect. They got some serious issues.

First on the list is Tamar (Matt 1:3), found in Genesis 38. The story of Tamar is a story of tamarincest. Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah – Jesus was to come from the tribe of Judah. To sum it up, Judah had three sons and before it was over, none of them produced any offspring for the tribe to continue. Thus, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and slept with Judah and got pregnant, inadvertently preserving the line of Judah.

Second on the list is Rahab (Matt 1:5) , found in Joshua 2. This is a story of a prostitute, not even a Jew, who protected the spies of Israel as they were preparing to demolish her city, Jericho. As a result of her sacrifice, she and her family were protected. rahabThird on the list is Ruth (Matt 1:5) who happens to have a whole book in the Bible dedicated to her, Ruth. Ruth is the story of family and companionship and selflessness. Ruth as well, was not a Jew. She was from Moab, a pagan society. Moabites were some ruthwicked polytheistic people, the total opposite of the Jewish culture. Nonetheless, Ruth set on a journey as a widow, alongside her mother-in-law, Naomi, a Jew, to go back to the land of her people, the Israelites. Long story short, with the guidance of her Naomi, she found herself a husband, the kinsman redeemer, and found a spot in the lineage of Christ.

Fourth on the list is Bathsheba (Matt1:6), found in 2 Samuel 11. Although she is presented as “Uriah’s wife,” her story is far from unknown. Her story is one of betrayal, adultery, sorrow and bathsheba1murder. While married she committed adultery with the very King David and got pregnant. As a result, David had her husband killed, and like clock work God took the life of their son.

Last on the list is Mary, the very mother of Jesus – a young girl minding her business, when an angel of the Lord came and interrupted her life, so much in so she was pregnant before she got married. Back then, that was a social no no.mary-and-gabriel

The point in sharing these stories is one, to see the significance and value of a woman. On the other side, I want to give a brief insight in to how messed up Jesus’ family was. Still, God chose the least of these, to bring forth His precious son. So when people think Jesus came from a generations of water walkers, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I love Jesus so much more because of this. He had issues in his family just like everyone else; it identified him, but it didn’t define him. Although Jesus came from all of a dysfunctional family, he didn’t let that take his focus off of his mission here on earth. He was born to die. So let that be an encouragement to you as it is to me, that whatever background or family we come from, it may identify who we are, but it doesn’t have to define who we are. We can rise above and become all that God would want us to be.

As we celebrate this season, remember Christ. He was real, so real he chose imperfect people, on purpose, to bring His only begotten into the world. God can choose and use anyone he wants. He chose me; He chose you. He can take all your mess and create a miracle that will change history, as he did in the lives of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.