You Were Created to Gift It! – Session 5

Learning to Release It

We gather again and give thanks to the One who brought you here to this place, in this moment. We are blessed you’ve come.

As you begin today, light a candle as a reminder.
The Light of the World — Jesus –is present here in this place.
And yes, Jesus is present in the past and in the future, but we are not.
We only have this moment and this place. 

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Time and place are part of God’s created order. He is not constrained by either. It is almost unimaginable, and a bit hard to fathom. Still, we can find rest in this reality. God’s presence is in our past and future, but we are only here in this place right now. This is the only moment we can truly be with Him and each other. 

Close your eyes, breathe deep, and center your thoughts on God. When your heart and mind are still prayerfully consider the words of Psalm 32:7.

Lord, You are my hiding place… 
Now consider: Where have you been hiding lately? Or do you even know you’re hiding?
Ask God to reveal His presence in your hiding place.

Lord, You preserve me from trouble…
Consider the unusual place where trouble has driven you. How is God present in your trouble? Do you sense He is working in it?
Ask God to show you how He is preserving you in the midst of the trouble?

Lord, You surround me with songs of deliverance…
Though you may feel hemmed in on every side, trouble does not have the last word. Holy Spirit is singing songs of deliverance over you right this moment. Listen closely… What song do you hear?

Prayerfully consider these words from the gospel of John.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Amen


In The Winepress: Our Hiding Place

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Just like Gideon in the winepress, we hide to seek relief from the pain of trouble. Not only do we hide physically at times, we hide emotionally, keeping our troubled hearts hidden from the world. Even those closest to us.

Return to the words we used to close our prayer time.

Read John 1:1-5

  • What part of this Scripture draws your attention? Why?
  • How might the words of John speak to your heart about hiding?
  • Is there a gift you’ve been hiding that God is calling you to practice? Why are you hiding it?

Oh, Jesus! He was there before the Beginning. The One through Whom God spoke everything that exists into being. He is the light that shines into our darkness. No matter where we hide or what darkness is troubling us, Jesus is the Light who overcomes it.

We need to let Jesus shine His light into our hiding place and bring the gift He’s given us into His light for Him to use for His glory. Amen.


Finding Your Place In the Story: Preparation and Presentation of our Gifts

Each week we continue to build on the beginning of Gideon’s story. How God called him to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites. We’ve camped out in a relatively short passage of Scripture and taken note of the first two things Gideon did as he followed the Holy Spirit’s leading to give an offering to the Lord.

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

First, Gideon prepared the gift. Preparation takes practice, time, and sacrifice.

  • Is there a gift God has been preparing in you?
  • How have you been inspired to prepare it?

Once the preparation was complete, Gideon returned to the place he was called and presented his gift to the Lord.

  • In what ways are you presenting your gift to the Lord?
  • What feelings or emotions stir in the presentation?

Today we add our third phase: Prepare It, Present It, Put It Down.

Read Judges 6:20

If we’re not careful in our reading we might miss where Gideon was commanded to put down his gift. It is not coincidence or by chance that Gideon put his gift on a rock. In this week’s homework, we read Paul’s description of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. 

Read 1Corinthians 10:1-4

Paul explains that Jesus, the Rock, was present with Moses during the Exodus.

  • Were you surprised in some way by this teaching? Explain.
  • What part of the Exodus journey was Christ present in?

Paul reveals that the Israelites were under the cloud of God’s presence and walked through the sea on dry land. They ate the same spiritual food and drank from the same spiritual Rock that we do today. 

  • What person in the Bible do you look up to? Why?
  • Who has God worked through in your life to help you grow spiritually? How?

God is omnipresent. In other words, God is present everywhere all the time. This is one of the reasons God’s Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). When we read it with Holy Spirit filled hearts, we too walk under the same cloud and drink from the spiritual Rock as Moses and the Israelites.

Read 1Peter 2:4-5

Jesus is described as a living stone in the Scripture.

  • How does the Scripture describe us?

We too, are living stones.

Photo by Jon Moore on Unsplash

Read Ephesians 2:17-22

  • What happens when we come to Jesus?

When Jesus becomes Lord over our life, we are no longer strangers living as aliens in a foreign land. We actually receive a place in the family of God alongside the saints we read about in the Bible and the spiritual mentors we walk alongside today.

Jesus is the cornerstone on which all things are built. God faithfully laid a firm foundation using those who have gone before us from Adam and Eve in the garden to all the prophets and apostles of the Old and New Testament. We, along with those we sit with today and those who have gone before us, are being built into a dwelling place for God.

Look at Ephesians 2:21.

With Jesus as our cornerstone, God uses each stone to build and grow a holy temple in the Lord, held together by the Spirit.

Picture for a minute a building constructed of brick or stone. The mason takes each stone or brick and sets it in the right position and place. Then mortar is added to connect them together. Mortar provides strength and stability for the stones placed beside, above, and beneath.

Photo by Ahmad Faiz on Unsplash

Spiritually speaking, God — the great Mason — is working the same way. He places us in the exact time and place for our perfect position in the building of His temple. Then Holy Spirit mortar holds us in place and strengthens what is being built. The gifts God grows in us are the manifestation of our living stone identity and God uses them to build up His kingdom.

  • Think about the living stones in your life. What gifts do you see in them that God used to build you up?
  • What gifts do you feel called to put down in the same way?

In the process of putting down our gifts in order to build up His kingdom there is a point when we must step back and wait for whatever God has in store. The preparation and presentation are done, and the putting down takes opening our hands in release.

Gideon prepared a meal for the Lord. 

  • What do you imagine he released when he put down his gift?
  • What must we release in order to put down the gifts God is calling us to give?

According to Merriam Webster, release means:
-to set free from restraint, confinement, or servitude
-to relieve from something that confines, burdens, or oppresses
-to give up in favor of another

The definition of release reveals what happens when we refuse to put down the gifts God gives us. 

When we refuse to release them, they have no power to build God’s Kingdom. Holding them tightly in our hands restrains and confines what God has in store for us and those around us. Even worse when we force our own way with the gifts God gives, they can become a burden and oppressive.

  • What does it look like for you to hold your gift tightly?

It is natural to think about how God might use the gifts He has called us to prepare and present. We may receive vision as to the purpose and use of our gifts, but when we get focused on the details of how God will use them instead of putting them down, we end up confining God’s work. One of the things we must release in the putting down is our expectations.

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash
  • What expectations surround the gifts God has given you?
  • How do you define success and failure in the giving of these gifts?

The expectations the world placed on the coming of the Messiah kept them from truly embracing Him when He arrived.

In John 6, after the feeding of the 5000, many followed Jesus to get another free meal. And He offered one, but it wasn’t what they expected.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life. And I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is food indeed and My blood is drink indeed. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him.”
John 6:53-56 MEV

To those who didn’t understand that Jesus’s salvation was a spiritual deliverance, this sounded a lot like cannibalism. At this point in Jesus’s ministry many turned away. They abandoned the idea of Him being the Messiah. He didn’t meet their expectations.

The Pharisees and scribes — the keepers of God’s law — missed Him too. Mark 2 records the story of Jesus calling Levi, a tax collector, as one of His disciples and then going to his house to celebrate with all his friends. Levi, aka Matthew, had lots of other friends who were sinners.

As Jesus was at supper in his house, many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples. For there were many, and they followed Him.
Mark 2:15 MEV

Jesus’s legalistic faith community missed Him, because they never expected Messiah to interact with sinners. Their messiah would know better, their messiah would know instinctively who was righteous and who was not. Their messiah would avoid those who sinned.

Many missed Jesus because of their expectations of how Messiah would look and act. They had a clear mental picture of how He would fulfill all the prophecies about His arrival.

  • How does this speak to your own expectations of how God will use your gift?

Our third definition of release describes what it looks like to put down our gifts on the Rock. We give up our expectations and desires in favor of Jesus. We release our own will and way for His, trusting whatever comes of the gifts we put down are for our good and His glory.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

So here we stand empty handed wondering what to do. What’s next? We might even feel a bit lost without all the work of preparation and presentation. Isn’t there something to do? We feel we must DO the next thing.

The answer is found in Psalm 46:10.

  • Was this the answer you were hoping for? Explain.

In all things we need to learn to rest in God and the work He is doing in and through us with the gifts He has given us. Even the faith we have to pursue Him is a gift. And everything, ultimately, is all about Him, His glory, and the love He wants to pour in us and through us.


Imagine It

Let’s keep rest in our minds as we close our time together in prayer.

Still your mind and heart with a breath prayer.
As you breathe in, silently pray the first word: “Be”.
As you exhale, pray the word: “present”.

Inhale… “Be”
Exhale… “present.”

If you lit a candle today, look at its light flickering. If you didn’t imagine it.

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

It’s been present through our time today. A symbol of God’s Spirit here with us. 
We are here. 
God is here. 

Pray with the words provided.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1

Imagine for a moment you are in a place with no clocks or watches. No calendars filled with events or appointments. No phone to check. No screen to watch. 

Receive the words from Psalm 127:1-2.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain
Imagine the temple of the Lord. Notice where God places you, a living stone, in the temple. Watch as he puts the mortar around you. 

Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain…
Imagine God doing all the work. God inspires your preparation and presentation. He’s placed you in the perfect place at the perfect time. No need to labor or guard what’s being done in and around you.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest…
Imagine opening your eyes to a new morning without alarms to jar you out of sleep, no list of things to do running through your mind. No reason to stay up late finishing what daylight did not give you time to accomplish.

Imagine no worry about the day or month. No anxious thoughts of getting it all done. No eating the bread of anxious toil.

Imagine a tree where the Lord sits waiting for you to arrive.

Photo by Justin Wei on Unsplash

You’ve prepared a gift to bring to Him. And now you stand before Him and hear him say, “Put it down on the rock.” Think about what it feels like to stand before God empty handed. You’ve released your gift and all the expectations that you have.

Listen as Jesus says to you:

Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.

Close your time of prayer with Oceans.
Receive the words. Make them your own.

Prepare to gather with us next week.

Here’s the homework.


May you joyfully receive His Light when He shines it in your darkness.
Amen.

Stacy & Carol

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