2 Timothy 2:19-21 (NLT)
But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The LORD knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the LORD must turn away from evil.” In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.
On those days when the road gets too long, the battle seems too hard, and my strength is nearly gone, I can feel my heart shaking under the heaviness of the details of my life. Struggling to hang on the faith I have acquired and praying that confident hope will not give way, I wrestle with the weakness of my humanity. Sitting in the parking lot of a shopping center with the “weight of my world” on my shoulders and tears streaming down my face, I admit to God that I am not sure how much longer I can run, fight and stand. My humanness is getting the best of me as I turn another corner to face sudden adversity rather than a moment’s peace. I am not mad at the Lord. I am not hostile toward God. I need His Spirit to guide me just take another breath not to mention one more step. It is said that “God would not bring you to it if He could not bring you through it.” I believe that. But in this moment, I just don’t know if I have the strength to be the one to do it any longer. I am human. Nothing special. Just someone who has dared to believe the Word of God by faith and build a foundation of constant and confident hope that the Lord will do all that He has promised. But I am against a cunning adversary who keeps pushing and prodding trying to take away the rich and satisfying life that Jesus came to give me. I want that life, I really do. I work to silence my tears and quiet the sob welling up inside my heart because I know that if I give in to it I will never stop crying and completely fall apart. Then I hear Him in a quiet whisper…He tells me, “You are a special utensil consecrated to God for my special use.” My response, “Why am I so special?”
For those who have not heard or do not know, we have battled cancer with our son for more than two long years now. God has walked every step of this journey. He has done everything He promised and so much more. The Lord has provided everything that we have needed just when we needed it most. He has protected me as I have traveled back and forth for our son’s many treatments. He has healed the kid four times so far. But with each diagnosis comes the probability that the disease is not gone, but just sleeping. Now just two weeks before Christmas, the doctors are in agreement that a bone marrow transplant may be the next radical step in eradicating this horrible invader once and for all with no guarantees. My guarantee comes from God when He told us early on that our son would live and not die so a promise is not what I am after because I have one! The One who has promised is faithful and His Word never ever returns to Him void or unsuccessful. I need strength because even though I have heard His Voice, know His Promises, walk daily in His Word, try to find His Way and do His Will, I am only human nothing special at all. I have the same aches and pains, as well as fears and doubts as the next person. I have been standing on His Promise by faith for more than two years and our son is doing amazing! Not just for a cancer survivor but as a confident young college student. God has sustained Him each time and logic would make it seem obvious that the Lord would not have healed his body four times and then just let him die. What glory is there in such an act? But here and now, my humanity is quaking as I try to gather my last bit of strength to endure another leap of faith like never before. It is one thing to consider such things when you have no other choice, but as I look at our son who is cancer-free, vibrant and healthy except for the chemotherapy pumped in his body every other week it is difficult to see the reasoning in the next step that they offer. So again I ask the Lord, “Why, oh why, am I so special?”
Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
God can be trusted to keep His Promise. He has proven His Faithfulness in my life too many times to count. Jesus Christ is the Way for me to come into the Most Holy Place of God’s Presence boldly without reservation knowing that whatever I ask according to His Will in the Name of Jesus Christ will be done. If only it were that easy, there would be many successful believers living in the Presence of God fulfilling His Purpose for their life. But there is a catch, it is all according to God’s Plan. All we can do is live in the Presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. There is nothing else to do but come boldly into His Presence by faith confident in our hope. My flesh struggles with that as an avid do-it-yourselfer. I have taken to the gym in order to deal with my rebelling flesh and overactive mind. Taking them to task physically and emotionally to wear them down and silence them to better hear the Voice of God and walk in His Way. How does this work? It is all about crucifying my flesh and silencing it, too. People lack self-discipline today. It is not as socially acceptable as it used to be. Discipline is defined as activity, exercise or regimen that develops or improves skill. Not too popular in a world that is just trying to get by. It improves our self-control which is totally necessary in order to seek the Will of God for your life. We are after transformation. (Romans 12:1-2) We have an admirable foe. (Romans 7:21-25) No matter how much you love God you cannot serve Him until your flesh is held accountable. In the gym, I have developed a routine that has benefited my physical wellbeing despite the fact my flesh continually cries out for relief. Self-discipline is what keeps me on the elliptical when my flesh begs me to quit, my body cannot catch its breath and my brain tells me that I do not “have” to do this. If we cannot find a way to gain some control over our flesh in the natural (fasting for example), you will never experience the victory of spiritual discipline.
Exodus 25:29-30 (NLT)
“Make special containers of pure gold for the table—bowls, pans, pitchers, and jars—to be used in pouring out liquid offerings. Place the Bread of the Presence on the table to remain before me at all times.”
When God spoke these words into my spirit, I could not let them go. Every time my mind would throw another worry and care for me to catch hold of, His Spirit would reiterate these words. “You are a special utensil consecrated to God for my special use.” I love Jesus but sometimes I do get annoyed when He keeps telling me something and I don’t get it. I have learned to turn the annoyance into curiosity and look for the answer in His Word. This is what I am sharing with you today. I found me. Right there in God’s Word in the middle of the Old Testament. Yes, the Old Testament. Jesus Christ did not come to abolish the Law of Moses. (Matthew 5:17-19) Jesus perfected it. He made it attainable for ordinary people like you and I. Jesus became our High Priest, tore the curtain and said, “Come on in!” (Hebrews 5:9-10) Grace is not the freedom to do whatever we want to empowerment to step boldly into the Presence of God and His Righteousness without the threat of immediate consumption and death due to our sinfulness. I am a special container who Jesus Christ chose to put His Spirit into to fulfill God’s Purpose. My life or purpose is the Bread of His Presence that I put there every single day. I had nothing to give before Jesus Christ gave His Life as a sacrifice for all my sins. My bread (purpose) was moldy and contaminated by sin. But after Jesus washed it in His Blood, it is now worthy to be placed on the altar of His Presence once again.
Leviticus 24:5-9 (NLT)
“You must bake twelve loaves of bread from choice flour, using four quarts of flour for each loaf. Place the bread before the LORD on the pure gold table, and arrange the loaves in two rows, with six loaves in each row. Put some pure frankincense near each row to serve as a representative offering, a special gift presented to the LORD. Every Sabbath day this bread must be laid out before the LORD. The bread is to be received from the people of Israel as a requirement of the eternal covenant. The loaves of bread will belong to Aaron and his descendants, who must eat them in a sacred place, for they are most holy. It is the permanent right of the priests to claim this portion of the special gifts presented to the LORD.”
“Okay Lord, I am listening…” To be perfectly honest, I know some things about the Tabernacle, Temple of God, Ark of the Covenant, and early worship by the Israelites but I am no scholar. In my attempt to specifically learn something about the showbread (showbread) and Bread of His Presence, I discovered a study by John Stanko. He has a ministry called Purpose Quest (www.purposequest.com). I encourage you to take a look when you get a chance. He was teaching on the connection between showbread, Bread of His Presence AND purpose. Here are some interesting points that he discovered:
1) The bread was made of choice flour. (Of course, it was made of flour.) The process of making flour from wheat is rigorous. The more refined the flour, the better the bread. Purpose requires refinement just like wheat that is made into flour. It is relentless in the shaking, grinding and crushing but for the finest flour means a brutal process. The Lord refines us for His Purpose. (Isaiah 48:8-11) God refined the Levites who would tend the Bread of His Presence who were His Designated High Priests. (Malachi 3:2-4) We are called to be His Priests today. (I Peter 2:5)
2) There were twelve loaves of bread which indicates that there is enough for all people. Your purpose is not defined by who you are. It is fully accomplished by those who are willing to undergo the fire of refinement. Total faith and trust in the Lord allows us to stay in the fire no matter how hot the heat. It is the Spirit of the Lord that sustains us in the fire and makes sure we come out unscathed but changed. (Daniel 3:19-29)
3) Place the bread before the Lord in two rows of six loaves each. Your life will never be anything special until you put before the Lord as an offering. The table was made of wood representing man covered in gold representing the Anointing of God. When we place our life and purpose on the altar (prepared by Jesus Christ), it becomes worth something and useful to the Lord. It had to be properly prepared to make it this table. We had little to do with it other than answering His Call to come. “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.” (Psalm 37:23-25) But now, we have the right to refuse such an offering because it is our personal sacrifice. We must choose to place our purpose (life) on the table for God’s Special Use. As soon as we learn to live on the Altar by choosing to remain there no matter how hard life gets or how hot the fire becomes – we will fulfill God’s Purpose in our life achieving every single promise. (Matthew 23:17-22)
4) Incense is an offering by fire. The priests were instructed to put an incense offering along each row of bread. When you function in your purpose before the Lord, there is a fire (His Spirit) tending your life. It is all about you but like the three Hebrew boys, does not consume you. “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2) As we allow the Lord to mold us and shape us into vessels that are worthy of His Presence, our life gives off a pleasing aroma to God no matter how much of a mess that we think we are. We may be weak, broken and right before giving up when the aroma of sacrifice is most pleasing as we surrender our life before the Lord for His Purpose. He will be your Strength when you have none left to give. If you rejoice in the Lord no matter what the season, you will step surefootedly in the Will and Way of God as He leads. (Habakkuk 3:17-19) He is just waiting for you to surrender your life to Him. “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
5) Fulfillment of purpose will give you rest. Your purpose is to do the Will of God as His Child. That's it. To bind our lives to the altar of God not moving when fear burns inside or doubt drags us down, but remain on the Altar of God until He says that we are done, finished, complete and lacking no good thing. Faith and confident hope allow us to rest in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. We must observe the Sabbath, though. (Leviticus 19:30) We must make a point to rest in the Lord. The bread was made to be consumed and new bread was put out on the Sabbath. This is good news! Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. Unless we consume more and more of Him, we will never be fulfilled. (John 6:32-35) When we try to achieve purpose or live life in our own strength without relying and trusting on the Bread of Life allowing Him to refresh us, refill us and renew us on a regular basis, we fall off the altar and drift off course. (John 6:47-51) Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. Without Him, we will never make it into the Presence of God which is the only place that we will find our purpose. “For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.” (I Corinthians 11:26-30)
Psalm 139:13-18 (NLT)
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
My purpose is special. I was created to be holy and set apart by God. My willingness to accept His Purpose and Plan is what brought me to the point where I am standing right now. Make no mistake I have no intention of moving. When I look back and see all the many ways that God has saved, delivered, healed, protected and provided for us, I know that we have come too far to turn back now. When I look ahead, I am overwhelmed at the endlessness of this journey so I choose to stay where I am right now – in the Presence of the Lord. In the midst of the chaos of our life right now with overwhelming decisions and overriding emotions, I take a deep breath and feel His Spirit fill me once again. I don’t have to worry about tomorrow! God has already been there. Things are coming together quite nicely according to His Plan which is always for my good. Yes, it is hot in here. But I will not get out of the kitchen, because I want some of that fresh bread that God is baking in my life. Jesus came to do the Will of God and He is my example! Although a tough act to follow, I will go wherever He goes it is a matter of life and death spiritually and naturally right now! I must decide what kind of priest that I will be. Will I keep the incense burning in my life or become distracting with the details of life? (Malachi 2:5-8) Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world. Do I believe it? I choose to be disciplined not led by emotions. I will stick with the rigorous training plan that God is using to prepare me to fulfill His Purpose in my life. (I Corinthians 9:25-27) I will overcome not by might or power but by the Spirit of God living on the inside of me. Why am I so special? Because that’s the way God made me!
Proverbs 16:1-4 (NLT)
We can make our own plans, but the LORD gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives. Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. The LORD has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.
Psalm 57:1-3 (NLT)
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me. My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.