Scripture: Jonah 2:8-9, 2 Timothy 2:9, 20-22 AMP
"Those who pay regard to false, useless, and worthless idols forsake their own [Source of] mercy and loving-kindness. But as for me, I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation and deliverance belong to the Lord!"
"For that [Gospel] I am suffering affliction and even wearing chains like a criminal. But the Word of God is not chained or imprisoned!"
"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also [utensils] of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble [use] and some for menial and ignoble [use]. So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work. Shun youthful lusts and flee from them, and aim at and pursue righteousness (all that is virtuous and good, right living, conformity to the will of God in thought, word and deed); [and aim at and pursue] faith, love, [and] peace (harmony and concord with others) in fellowship with all [Christians], who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart.
Observation: God is freedom. God is deliverance. God is abundance and love and an endless future bright and shining. And He offers it to us, no matter how soiled our past, or humble our beginnings.
Application: Before I was saved, I gave my time and energy to stuff. Temporal, mortal, physical, stuff. I was a Hobby Queen. And I hoarded all of my supplies and goodies so I could do whichever one I chose, whenever I chose. And I compulsively shopped and watched sales flyers and emails so I could garner yet more against some unforseeable day ahead. I was one who paid regard to fales, useless and worthless idols. Mine were just fabric, beads, paper, and yarn.
And then everything changed. God blasted into vapor the carefully and long-constructed fortress I had built
And now, when God asks something of me, I rejoice! I sacrifice with a voice of thanksgiving both audible and in my heart, and count it as no sacrifice at all, for God's ROI is off the charts. ;o) Not only do I have His sweet assurance that He has already made all provision for me for the rest of my life, (including crafting beautiful things) but His generous blessings continue to flow more and more as I open my heart and submit to the Holy Spirit. This freedom in Christ fills the gaping hole I had been trying to fill with lovely colors & texture, shining beautiful things, with crafting and hoarding. The dark corners are filling with light, and the love and joy that comes from that satisfies and motivates me more than anything else. Who would have EVER guessed that something as intangible in nature as freedom could fill such a void?
And that brings me to the last bit . . . Paul's urging to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace so I can be a vessel set apart and useful for God's own purposes--a vessel overflowing with freedom, yet still empty and waiting for God to fill it. The knowledge that God is working in me, and both using me every moment I let Him as well as preparing me for future purposes He has for me, is more exciting than I can ever say. :o) And how do I know this? By the fruits of the Spirit in my life. They are sweet; so, so sweet.
Prayer: Father in Heaven, I praise and glorify You and the high and holy purposes You have for Your children, and that I get to step into the walk You have prepared for me. I'm ready to burst with excitement as soon as I really stop and think about that . . . so please, remind me and help me to stop and think about it often! You have taken such good care of me--and I can see Your hand in even the darkest times of my life, now that I look back . . . and I pray I'll NEVER be blind to it again. Take the rest of this life, Father; take this heart; take the fruit of Your teachings and word and love and keep on using them up for Your glorious purposes. There is nothing that brings joy and love and happiness and laughter into my heart (and my home!!!!) the way You do when I give everything to You. Please, don't stop. Don't let me stop. I don't ever want to forget the contrast between the night of the life of my own making and the brilliance of the light of Your life for me. Show me where I can sacrifice. Show me where I can give. And let me continue to learn of You, and walk in the meekness of Your Spirit, so Your love might pour out of my life and into the lives of those around me, that others might feel this same miracle, this same mind-blowing freedom, this same joy. In the name of Him whom I praise daily for His miraculous intercession, even Jesus Christ. Amen.