re{kindling} joy

I’ve been sacrificing without abiding…

…and that just leads to burnout and baditudes.

We’re six days in to 2011, and already I feel overwhelmed and scared for what God has ahead of me. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this year will bring about change in my life. God is moving and His hand is evident. In fact, it’s been so evident to this point that I haven’t had to specifically seek Him out. Going about my day-to-day life, God has guided me as clearly as if I had a burning pillar of fire going before me.

Sacrifice has been what I’ve focused on. He’s asking me to voluntarily give up things that previously I described as unlivable without. Begrudgingly my hand has loosened, spilling all out before Him. What He gives in return will be more precious than gold or silver, more costly than any treasure on earth. Scripture describes the perseverance of faith, which builds character, faith and hope.

I’m talking about more than a phone.

This last year I’ve looked to Him as my grandma walked into His arms, as my ideas for what the future might hold did not come to fruition, and through countless minor set-backs.

And even when I wondered why He would allow me to go through such pain, I felt His hand at the small of my back, leading me in a dance of faith.

Forward

Forward

Back

Forward

Forward

Back

Forward

Forward

The presence of His Spirit, my constant companion and counselor, has tempted me to take for granted the access I have to the Almighty Creator of the Universe. Like a marriage that dissolves into nothing more than a pair of roommates, the passion and intimacy I have experienced with God has waned.

I’ve allowed Him to become ordinary.

Sacrifice without abiding is a weary trudge, a downward spiral of self-absorption.

Samuel, David, Solomon, Micah and Mark teach us that what God desires more than sacrifice is obedience and love:

But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice…{1 Sam 15:22, emphasis mine}

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. {Ps 51:12, 16, emphasis mine}

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. {Prov 21:3, emphasis mine}

He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. {Micah 6:8, emphasis mine}

To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. {Mark 12:33, emphasis mine}

Better. More acceptable. Required. More important.

I’ve been looking at it backwards. The sacrifices don’t come first, because they are an act of worship to Him. True worship only comes from relationship and love; everything else is just ritual.

Today God reminds me that He gave me two words for this period of time: Abide & Sacrifice. Dwelling on my own in a land of sacrifice will result in the drying up of my soul; like our Christmas tree, I’m only good for kindling. Soaking myself in His presence, stewing in His Word, being held in His love…then I will grow fruit.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. {1 Peter 1:8-9, emphasis mine}

Did you choose One Word to focus on for 2011?

If so, how’s it going so far?



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23 Comments

  1. lauren says:

    i have chosen a word ((or rather the Lord stuck one right in front of my face :) )). my post is still in progress, but the word is courage. and so far, i am wanting to lace up my running shoes and dash in the other direction. tired of having to be courageous. tired of always having hard in front of me and having to face it. . .but knowing the the opposition i am facing that requires courage is a test. a test of if i am going to believe God and trust Him to tear down the obstacles in my path. just like joshua and the israelites at the jordan, the Lord is asking me to take the courage to place my foot in the rushing waters before He steps in to part them. i completely empathize and feel this same sentiment:

    “We’re six days in to 2011, and already I feel overwhelmed and scared for what God has ahead of me.”

    i am petrified. i am already weary of being courageous. but i am clinging to the same promise God repeated to joshua countless times ((i mean over and over again in the first chapter)). . .

    “have I not commanded you? be strong and COURAGEOUS. do not be frightened. do not be dismayed. for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -joshua 1:9

    and i now i can only be courageous because of the last portion of that verse. . .the Lord my God is with me wherever i go. . .

    1. Melissa says:

      I’ve always loved how understanding God seemed of Joshua’s fear. He didn’t rebuke him for his fear, or belittle the opposition in front of him. Rather, He told Joshua that He would be with him. God knows what He’s asking, He knows it seems impossible, but He is with you. What a fabulous word for the coming year, Lauren. I look forward to reading your post.

  2. craig says:

    That’s a delicate sharing of your heart Melissa. And all that Bible – music to a soul. My word for the year is Connect – I’m stumbling along, learning from mistakes, hopefully improving, eyes on the only God.

    God Bless and Keep you and all of yours

    1. Melissa says:

      Ooh…connect. I like that word. I need to remember to connect with people and not just allow them to pass me by. I’m not sure that’s what it means to you, but that’s what I got. :) I look forward to seeing how God uses that word in your life this coming year. :)

  3. Jason says:

    Wow…this is one of the best posts I’ve read from you. Honesty, transparency, power…I’m sharing this on twitter right now.

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks for that Jason! You inspired this one. :)

  4. Tony Alicea says:

    I love this Melissa. Your word abide will be found in the intimacy you seek. It’s going to be GOOD.

    My word is “resolve” and I’ve already began moving forward with it. Over the next 2 weeks, I’ll be making some big, intentional strides.

    1. Melissa says:

      And blogging about it, right?! I can’t wait to see what you resolve to do. :)

        1. Melissa says:

          Thanks, Tony! I’m checking it out now…

  5. kelli says:

    “God has guided me as clearly as if I had a burning pillar of fire going before me.” Love that usage of words! “True worship only comes from relationship and love; everything else is just ritual.” So true girl! Amen to that!

  6. HisFireFly says:

    I believe He has been teaching me more each year about what it truly means to abide — it should be the word of a lifetime!
    I blogged (and preached) about abiding back in 2008 — you can find my posts here:
    http://hisfirefly.blogspot.com/2008/09/learning-to-abide-part-1.html
    http://hisfirefly.blogspot.com/2008/09/learning-to-abide-part-2.html
    http://hisfirefly.blogspot.com/2008/09/learning-to-abide-part-3-conclusion.html

  7. Keri says:

    “True worship only comes from relationship and love; everything else is just ritual.”

    I think a lot about what worship looks like and what is pleasing to Him. Sometimes I have to spend a lot of time sifting out my junk to get to the heart of worship. I know I tend to try to look the part, say the right things, do the right things. But, you’re right about the fact that if it’s not out of relationship and love, it’s not about ritual=it’s about works, which means it’s about me and not about Him.

    It’s so easy for me to want to check the “done” box and I think that’s why I focus on the sacrifice and the rituals and the works. But, God wants me fully present in the moment and in the process. He is molding me, shaping me, making me more like Him. And when I just want to hurry through it all so I can check “DONE”, I’m not really growing in my relationship with Him. And in all likelihood, I’ll have to go back to step 1 again and begin that dance of faith you mentioned. Or, I will have hurt someone in my hurriedness.

    I’m encouraged by your desire for intimacy with the King of Kings. It’s so easy to get jaded by it all, to be overwhelmed and think I’ll never get anywhere. But, He orders my steps, so I think He can get me there, in His time. So grateful for His patience and enduring love.

    1. Melissa says:

      I would be lost without that patience and enduring love. Amen!!

  8. Sheryl says:

    Abide and sacrifice . . . my first thoughts are—lovely but hard and just plain hard. Without the abiding the sacrifice would be just an exercise. May you rest in the peace of abiding with the Creator of the Universe and know that he notices each sacrifice.

    My word? Persevere.

    1. Melissa says:

      Which goes right along with the verses I mentioned above! :) Funny how they all connect together. God bless you as you persevere this year, Sheryl!

  9. Candace says:

    I like this…not just sacrifice ;) But Abide. Not as scary now huh? Thanks for sharing.

    1. Melissa says:

      Still scary…but less, yes. :) Haha!

  10. Abide & Sacrifice. Love your words for 2011.

    You are seriously walking down this journey of faith. And we’re more encouraged by your sharing of it.

    That 1 Peter’s passage was my faith candy when I read it this week. LOVED it. Thank you, Melissa.

    1. Melissa says:

      It’s definitely going to be a journey this year. I know God’s got big plans for us, and it will necessitate constantly abiding in Him and sacrificing all to Him. Glad you connected with it! :)

  11. Rachel says:

    I love this post and the scriptures you shared. I love the idea of rekindling joy :)

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