Are you willing to be humiliated? As the kids and I read through Isaiah 20, this was one of the main questions that came to mind.
Are you willing to be Humiliated?
What would be the most humiliating thing you can think of that God might ask you to do?
In my wildest dreams I would not have thought God would ask this of anyone, but as I read it out loud to my kids, I realized that what God asks us to do is often for the benefit of others and can put us in an earthly humiliating position.
How was Isaiah Humilated?
[God] said to [Isaiah], “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.”
And [Isaiah] did so, going around stripped and barefoot.
Then the LORD said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exciles, young and old, with buttocks bared – to Egypt’s shame.
Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be afraid and put to shame. In that day people who live on the on this coast will say, “See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria!
How then can we escape?”
3 years of Nakedness? Really?
I’ve been to topless beaches in Europe, where I kept my suit on, and even then I couldn’t fathom being uncovered.
But without hesitation Isaiah took of his shoes and his clothes. Yes, it was sackcloth, and I’m sure he was relieved to not be wearing that itchy, old, uncomfortable piece of clothing, but naked for 3 years!
Isaiah exchanged his sackcloth for nothing that would protect him from the sun, insects, or the chapping wind!
For 3 years, he boldly walked in what others would consider humiliation. This was surely a sign that did not go unnoticed by the population of people he passed by.
Although he may have seemed like the emperor with no clothes, he knew he didn’t have any clothes. However, he had a calling and his crown is definitely waiting for him in heaven. He obeyed even in the midst of earthly humiliation.
Will we be as willing?
Will we be as willing as Isaiah to go through with what God asks us to do?
I pray so, if it comes to that. If so, then we truly will be following in Jesus’ steps as earthly humiliation followed him being beaten and nailed to the cross.
“Remember what I told you:
‘A servant is not greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey your also.
– Jesus, John 15:20
Humble ourselves to God
Although, I do believe that God won’t call many followers to replicate Isaiah’s physical act of obedience in order to warn others, I do believe God expects us to humble ourselves to Him every day.
For the Sake of Others
Most definitely, Isaiah streaked across the countryside not in fun as a college student who is trying to get into a fraternity but as a man of God who was trying to turn the attention of others back to their Creator and true Savior.
You see, what was happening was any time God’s people were in trouble or scared, they would run to others instead of running to the only One who has ever truly delivered them, the LORD.
Who Do We Run to In Times of Trouble?
This is a question that we must ask ourselves. Because if we don’t have the courage to ask this question, we stand to be humiliated but not by choice.
Isaiah made the choice to humiliate himself to the world by humbling himself to God.
If we choose to not humble ourselves to God and put our trust in others, we will be humiliated for all the world to see. It may happen in this physical life or it may be the ultimate humiliation that leads to damnation and destruction in the next.
Prayer Over Our Hearts
Lord, you suffered the ultimate humiliation for us on the cross. Physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, you sacrificed your whole self to save us!
Lord, we pray we will lean into your courage and strength and trust you above anyone else on earth. May we hold your opinion and your truth in it’s rightful place and seek your approval over the approval of man.
What words comes to your mind as you think about the days of December?
There are so many words and images that fill my mind when I hear that the days of December are coming or are here. These are just a handful.
Especially since we started celebrating Hanukkah and Advent, one of my favorite images is of our family gathered together by candlelight or flashlight reading God’s word.
The Power of the Light
There is something powerful about even a soft light glowing in an otherwise dark room. Your eyes can’t help but look at the light. Your eyes might search the dark room but they always come back to the light.
Try this experiment with your family tonight.
Turn off all the lights. Then, carefully and quietly walk somewhere else in the room. Turn on a flashlight or light a candle and notice how quickly everyone’s face turns toward you.
I do this little experiment with our kids every so often, because I want them to remember the power of the light. The light cannot be ignored. Others might try to extinguish it, but the light always breaks through the darkness and shines a path before us.
Christ is the Light of our Lives
Christ is the light of our lives and even though we have difficult times, he is our constant guide and companion, shining the path so we can walk.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Doesn’t that verse give you a surge of hope and joy?
He has removed the darkness from our lives and given us the light of life!
Oh, to never have to be afraid of the darkness. To “not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more (Luke 12:4).” This is the peace that comes with following the light.
The Truth often Hidden during the Days of December
Yes, those verses are joyful and hope-filled. They give us all the warm fuzzies, but there is a truth that is often overlooked during the days of December, that in honoring Christ, I cannot over look here.
In Luke 12:5, Jesus continues…
“But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell.”
Depending on where you stand in your relationship with Christ right now, you may exude joy in proclaiming that you know and trust the One who should be feared, knowing that he is protecting your soul from being completely separated from him is something to praise and celebrate.
OR you may not even realize that there is a God worth loving and trusting that will protect you from the tortures of hell, if you choose to follow Him.
Our Longing for the Days of December
Our longing is for more and more to know the heart of Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the joy of being reunited with their Heavenly Father. The advent season is a time of eagerly anticipating Jesus’ return and joyful praise over what Christ has already accomplished.
But we can’t forget about those that don’t realize he is coming back!
He is coming!
Jesus will return soon, so let us take on not only this time of eager anticipation with joy in our hearts but realize the urgency in these moments too. So many still do not know Christ.
We want them to have a holy, reverent fear of our Lord because his light is truth. He is the holy way. They need the eternal hope that we are so joyful and excited about right now. They need to see you shining the power of Christ’s light in their dark world.
In these days of December, many are looking for the light that you have.
Shine brightly! The light cannot be ignored.
Prayer Over our Hearts
Lord, your love for us is beyond compelling.
When we hear what you’ve done for us, it humbles us to know that you would love a people that have in their actions and words have spoken hate against you. You took our sins upon you in order that we, an unholy people, may be reunited with our holy Heavenly Father.
Oh Lord, we pray that we will not only praise you, but proclaim you to those you have placed in our lives. Let us be a shinning light to those who still don’t know you and are living in darkness. Let our hope in you become their hope as well.
As followers of Christ, may we unite together in purpose so that your light may shine even brighter here on earth. May we let the light of Christ shine so all can be impacted by his truth and eternal gift of salvation!
Have you ever labeled yourself in such a way as to isolate your feelings? I did that when I labeled myself a “Fly By Friend,” but I have decided to call myself that no longer.
What is a “Fly By Friend”?
I dubbed myself this after realizing I had a tendency to gravitate to those who seemed to really need a friend or felt left out in some form or fashion and then would fly off as soon as they found someone else. It may sound silly, but in a child’s mind, even in an adult’s mind, we find ways of coping, when we have relationships that are no longer close like they once were.
So I dubbed myself a “Fly by Friend” and I honestly didn’t mind being one at all. I love being able to be there for people, to encourage them, and motivate them on their journey. And although I may have wished for the relationship to last longer, I knew it served a good purpose in their lives and I was content with that.
I understood that each person came into my life for a purpose, even if only for a time, so I didn’t mind only being there for the time they needed that encouragement.
A part of me, held onto this identity because then it was easier to encourage the person to fly onto their next growth phase and not be hurt or offended when we weren’t as close as before.
No Longer a Fly By Friend!
As I was speaking to my husband today, I realized that I hadn’t thought of myself as a Fly by Friend in a long time. I am no longer a Fly by Friend!
And you know what I realized…I have more deeper relationships now than I had before!
I had begun to pray a part of Psalm 68:6 over myself and my family.
Lord, we trust you wherever you take us. We know “you set the lonely in families” and so we pray you will bring us to those who will be like our family wherever we go. In Jesus’ holy name – Amen!
I was ready to receive deep friendships and God provided them!
Yes, there are still people that will only be in our lives for a certain time, but now I’m ready for these deeper relationships and I realize that I wasn’t completely ready for them before.
Watch What We Speak
What we speak to ourselves or others becomes our truth, whether it should be a truth or not. This is not to say there isn’t an absolute truth! No, God proclaims absolute truths.
It is to say that what we think and say becomes our reality often times. This is one of the reasons why I believe God tells us to guard our hearts.
Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. – Proverbs 4:23-26
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5
Capturing My Thoughts
When I believed I was a “Fly by Friend,” that is exactly how my relationships looked.
But in not identifying with that idea for the past several years, I have been ready (mentally, physically, and emotionally) to have deeper, long lasting relationships.
And you know what?
God, has answered my prayers! And in his mercy, He is teaching me how to be a better friend to those I have the blessing of calling friends and family!
Question to Prayerfully Ponder
Have you ever labeled yourself in such a way to isolate your feelings?
Is there something in your life you would like changed?
Consider how you are talking to yourself about that area of your life and then take those thoughts to God in prayer.
Prayer Over Our Hearts
Lord, you are holy and awesome and beyond compare. You teach us the meaning of true friendship. You do not force us to love you. Freely, you gift us your friendship and allow us to choose how we engage or disengage from you.
You encourage us to love and be friends to others as you have been with us. As you have walked with many physically and spiritually, you know the heartaches and the blessings that can come with befriending others.
May we not allow our fears to keep us at arms length from others, but trust that you have a purpose for each interaction.
May we seek your guidance as to whom we allow to walk closely with us so that these close friendships would encourage our faith and not steer us away from you. We pray that as we walk with others that we would bolster their faith in you too!
Lord, we trust you wherever you take us. We know “you set the lonely in families” and so we pray you will bring us to those who will be like our family wherever we go.
As the kid’s and I were listening to an audio book called The Autobiography of Santa, I couldn’t help but think about how we all need to take a tip from St. Nick.
Take a Tip from St. Nick
You see the orphan turned bishop, who eventually turned into a larger than life mythical, jolly, gift-giving legend, started out as an innocent young man simply trying to provide for others who were in need without embarrassing them. He would sneak in, gift items to children so the parents wouldn’t be ashamed.
His goal was to give anonymously!
He did it without fan fare and did not want to claim the recognition. It is this very act of going about giving gifts that we should take as a tip from St. Nick.
In a world where every act of kindness seems to be captured and posted on social media, it’s refreshing to take on the challenge of doing good and keeping it between us and God. His love compels us to love like he loves and to give all the glory to God instead of keeping it for ourselves.
Nicholas seemed to take to heart Jesus’ word found in Matthew 6:2:
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
Have you ever done this? Have you ever given a gift to someone and they didn’t know?
I had an amazing English teacher when I was in High School who challenged us to do good deeds and not tell anyone. I took this to heart and found that it’s like having a wonderful, uplifting experience with Jesus. It brings so much joy to give to others and since God knows all our actions, we can bask in the opportunity to share what he has shared with us with others and praise Him for letting us do it!
The Key to Giving Well
Obviously, St. Nick holds the monopoly on using chimneys. I don’t mind that much because I’m not one for small, sootty spaces. But there are plenty of ways that gifting to those in need can happen without much fan fair. One of the most important things to do when trying to meet the needs of others is listening to them.
Find out what they actually need and gift that specifically.
In this historical fiction book there is a dialog that happens between the young Nicholas and his priestly mentor, who encourages him to see the needs around him and problem solve how best to give.
Nicholas became frustrated after placing coins in a stocking so a young girl could purchase crutches, but instead the mother used the coins to purchase something for herself. After ranting and raving about how evil the mother was, the priest simply asked:
Did you leave a note as to how to use the funds?
How were they supposed to know the money was for crutches?
Would the girl lean on the coins to go buy the crutches?
Understanding what the priest was saying, Nicholas later returned, after carving the girl a special set of crutches.
Setting Our Pride Aside When Giving
I’ve mentioned before how I have personally realized that sometimes I believe I know what someone needs better than they know their own needs. Well, I’ve been shamefully wrong before and Jesus’ example leads us to listen, provide physically, and explain how God provides spiritually.
So the key to giving well is to listen and pay attention to those in need around us.
It’s full of historical facts, figures, and in a beautifully entertaining way weaves in geography with the rise and fall of empires. It embarks the reader upon an adventure of understanding how December 25 became the day to celebrate as well as including other men to myth legends such as King Arthur and Attila the Hun.
Our family has had so much fun listening to it, especially since we’ve been studying many of the places and people that are mentioned.
The Gift We ALL Need
But of course the greatest gift giving book is the one that brings a joy-filled eternal life – The Bible. Through these pages and in every story, if we look close enough, we will see how God weaves his love throughout the generation to give us the best gift ever, his one and only son, who would choose to glorify God and sacrifice himself on the cross, so that we could be united in heaven with God eternally.
Jesus came into the world quietly, without a lot of fan fair. He found the ultimate way to meet our most glaring need, which was removing our sin, which broke our relationship with God. With a willing heart, Jesus did not hold any good thing back from us.
If you haven’t fully taken hold of this gift of grace that Jesus has extended to each one of us, then don’t wait any longer. Realize that his grace is for everyone and the greatest gift you could ever give to someone else is to share the story of God’s amazing grace with others.
Don’t selfishly hold it all to yourself. Don’t fear the reaction of what giving the truth of God’s grace to others might be, just give it freely. It’s THE best gift you could ever give because we all need it!
In essence this is what my 10 year meant when she asked,
“If you had the choice of being killed by a sword or dying for Jesus, which would you choose?”
Me: “I would choose to die for Jesus.”
10 year old: “But that would really hurt?”
Me: “Yes, but only for a short time. An eternity in hell would hurt a lot more. Remember what Jesus said, ‘So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33).So even if the sword is very painful, I would rather choose Jesus than claiming he isn’t my Savior.”
10 year old: “Oh, yeah. That makes sense. I would rather die in my sleep or of old age than by a sword, but I’d rather have Jesus too.”
Oh, how I love my kid’s questions! This one has allowed us to unpack so much throughout the past couple of days. It has been amazing. It’s like everything that we have been reading in our Bibles over the years is coming together in and understanding is blossoming! (Happy Dance, Happy Dance!)
This question came while we were reading the Hanukkah story. Hanukkah actually means dedication and celebrates the day when the Temple in Jerusalem was once again dedicated to God after being desecrated by the Greeks.
He spent 30 years preparing, so he could live with a fierce focus that would lead to a physically excruciating end on the cross.
He overcame death and destroyed Satan’s hold on us, so that we could live eternally with God.
God sustained Jesus so he could have that kind of dedication.
We have the same choice to live with this kind of dedication. I know it seems out of our reach and if we were trying to do it by ourselves, I would completely agree that it is impossible. But with God all things are possible. With God, Jesus, and the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome. We are called to overcome, not by our own power, but by God’s might!
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
– Hebrews 12:1b-3
Webster defines dedication as:
The Questions We Must Ask Ourselves
Are we really willing to dedicate ourselves to Christ?
If you are reading this blog, more than likely you at some point in your life decided to follow Jesus. You were overcome by knowing that even if you were the only person that had sinned, Jesus still would have gone to the cross to save you. The truth is we all have sinned and should all be overcome that Jesus dedicated himself to rescuing us from our sin.
Some of us, upon receiving his gift of grace, fall completely into digging into the Bible, learning all we can so that we can follow Christ. While some of us, just talk about how we follow God, but never really understand where he is leading, so we miss following his path, all the while proclaiming that we are on it.
(If you haven’t decided to follow Christ yet, email us, I’d love to chat with you. Honestly, I’d love to chat with you either way!)
So how do we know we are following Christ?
Our dedication to following Christ starts with reading his word. We pick up our Bible and read it. The fact that we have access to God’s word is a miracle in and of itself, but that’s a topic for another post. Don’t waste the miracle sitting in front of you. Take hold of the Bible. Even if it’s confusing now, just read it and pray for wisdom. God will give it to you. Then, prepare your heart.
Dedication Starts with Preparation
We have no idea how to dedicate our lives to God if we don’t prepare ourselves for daily dedication. This daily dedication starts by putting what we read into practice. Yep, it’s difficult. Some days more difficult than others, but it’s something we must do. If we don’t do it, then we are deceiving ourselves into thinking we are following Christ!
That’s a bold statement but one James does not shy away from. He wants to make sure that if we say we are followers of Christ, then we actually follow Him.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. – James 1:22-25
Dedication to Christ is a daily choice.
We get to daily choose to:
Recognize that Jesus has all Authority on Earth and is our Lord and Savior
Recognize that Jesus also has authority over all the details of our lives
Trust that He has gifted his followers with the Holy Spirit
Believe that his Holy Spirit will be our Counselor and guide us to fuller understanding
Lean into His strength and wisdom through prayer
Plunge ourselves into His Word like a thirsty soul longing for a sustaining drink
Dig into the Bible to find answers to how we should live our lives
Live for Jesus no matter what the cost
Another Question that Lead to a Better Answer
Later that day, my daughter had another question in regards to whether or not I would allow her to do something.
Instead of just saying “yes” or “no” and explaining my reasoning, I chose a different option this time. One that takes more time, but will serve her much better in the long run. I asked her,
“What does the Bible says about it? Do you believe Jesus would want you to do it?”
She didn’t know any verses right off that would tell her “yes” or “no,” so the next day we pulled out the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, our Bibles, and read through many passages to which her question pertained. There are many more she can still read to solidify what God’s will is in regards to her question.
The answer she started to find in the Bible did not line up with what she wanted to do, so now she has a choice and she gets to choose. Will she continue to dedicate her life to Jesus or will she dedicate it to something else?
Taking a break from playing spin the dreidel to dig into the Bible!
As a parent, I pray that I will take advantage of these opportunities to continue guiding her and our other children in the right direction, helping them sort the truth from the lies, and showing them that even when we fail spiritually, Jesus’ grace is sufficient for us.
As followers of Christ, I realize we each get to decide every day if we will continue in dedication to Christ or if we will choose dedication to self. Just so we don’t get complacent, we should ask ourselves often,