Wednesday in the Word
Hello Jello Beans,
I hope you are all doing well :) I didn't have a second post this week, and it feels like I haven't talked to you all in a long time, though it's really only been a week. I don't know if it's the lack of human contact while in quarantine, or simply just the act of being more faithful in posting leading God to change my heart, but I feel so much more love and need for fellowship through this blog. I hope this quarantine period finds you all well. I know parts of the world is reopening, though Los Angeles is still pretty much stuck at home. Please stay safe out there, regardless of where you are~
Anyhow, today's devotional was on Hebrews 13:1-6, which I felt was very timely, especially as I'm delving deeper into online ministry and looking into self-employment. The title of this section is "Sacrifices Pleasing to God" (ESV), which reminded me that in all things, I must continue seeking God, and asking whether or not my sacrifices are pleasing to Him. It's been something that's constantly on my mind as I'm weighing the pros and cons of leaving my traditional work place and devoting my time to (free) online ministry.
While its one thing to struggle with trusting that God will provide, it's been also on my heart whether or not this sacrifice of income is pleasing to God, or if it's an act of stupidity. I've also been struggling with discerning if I'll be displeasing God by sacrificing a calling to be the salt and light in my workplace. It's been a question I've been asking myself - if God placed me in this workplace, why would He call me away before I have done His work? Why is my heart so far from this workplace, and why is my heart being swayed towards ministry? Is it my own heart of disobedience calling me away from this workplace? Or is it the Holy Spirit truly guiding me on a path less trodden? These are questions that my heart has been wrestling with as I realize that my body simply cannot handle the load of full time work, full time student, and devoting time to online ministry. During this quarantine season, I've been able to be more faithful in this calling to ministry, but even with a smaller workload and working from home, it's been difficult at. Albeit some of this stress is due to medicated sleep that surpasses my usual sleep pattern, it's also bringing to light that I am not being focused enough in any one mission field, and thus being lukewarm in my serving.
As I mentioned in my last post, I began a podcast, and am hoping to transition into self-employment in the near future. Ideally, I would leave my current job by the end of the year, since I will be starting more hands-on courses (such as interning) by the Winter Quarter, and I would be unable to put in the time and work necessary to sustain my full-time job requirements. However, as I'm praying more and more about the ministry I have here through my blog and am building with my podcast, I find myself with a heart to leave my workplace even sooner. It's been pretty scary to think about, having to pay rent in LA without a stable income is nothing to joke about!
However, I found a lot of peace in reading on about what God calls us to in sacrificing for Him:
"Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'" - Hebrews 13:1-6
First and foremost, the sacrifice that we must make is to have (continuous) brotherly love. This is translated from the Greek word "philia", which can also be substituted as "friendship" and "affection" for, if that makes a little more sense. Kind of like when we say our friends are so close to us that they're like a sister or brother :) This means being close enough to treat one another as family, and to not allow sin to intrude in these relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Secondly, showing hospitality to strangers, and tending to them as angels of God - I think this spoke to me in remembering that all of us are God's children, and He puts us in certain situations to be a blessing channel for others, or to receive a blessing. It needn't be that we in ourselves are angels, but that God's work may be in that meeting. Whether we are the hospitable person, or on the receiving end of the hospitality, we are called to give and receive out of love.
Remembering those in prison, and being as though we are in prison with them, as well as those who are mistreated - both spiritually and physically, I saw this to mean to not have a judgmental spirit, but instead a compassionate spirit who speaks for those who may not be able to.
As for marriage, it is a reminder that God keeps His covenants - the marriage of Christ and His Church is something that is set in stone, and meant to be respected with faithfulness. This is so reassuring, because in His perfection, He will remain faithful, and keep His promises to us.
Lastly, He reminds us that money is not meant to be an idol; while money can be important in our life, it should not imprison us into destitution and desperation. We should be content with what God provides us.
All of these reminders should lead us to the conclusion that God is our helper, and that He walks with us through all afflictions and turmoils in life, and we can have confidence that He is not leading us astray. There is nothing that we can and should fear - He gave us dominion over animals and the plants of this earth, what will nature do to us? And the most dangerous of all - fellow mankind of free will - are still under God's Sovereignty. We have no reason to fear, because God is on our side, as long as we remember: God is love, and in that love, he will be faithful in providing and satisfying us.
These verses have been giving me a lot of peace, remembering that as long as I pray for discernment and act out of love, God's faithfulness is greater than what I think I need. He will be continuously providing, and there's no need to be anxious. Of course, that is easier said than done. To be honest, it's been really hard to surrender my anxieties about my finances and illness to God, and trust. Through devotionals day after day, God has been speaking Truth to me, reminding me of His goodness, encouraging me to finally let go of my stubborn desires and negativity. More than anything - more than income and financial stability, I know God is calling me to please Him by sacrificing my control and anxieties. Slowly, I'm making progress in breaking the chains that tie me to this world, but please, I solicit your prayers, because my flesh is weak; I'm so easily swayed to forget God's faithfulness and providence.
In return, what are some ways that I can pray for you guys? What are some sacrifices that God is calling you to make? What are some challenges that you're facing during these times?