Offering All of It
Once again we are praising God for your choosing to gather with us. It is truly a blessing to share God’s Word with the Body of Christ.
Let’s begin our opening prayer with a few minutes of silence.
Pay attention to your breathing.
When you inhale: Breathe in God’s love.
As you exhale: Breathe out your concerns.
When you’re ready, prayerfully read the Psalmist’s words from Psalm 42, while listening to the stream flow.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, my God…
Consider your own thirst for God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?…
Where have you met with God this week?
Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls…
How is God calling you deeper? Are you excited about the deep water? or fearful? Tell God how you feel.
all Your waves and breakers have swept over me….
How do you imagine your life looking, if you were completely swept over by God?
By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me…
How is God directing His love to you? What song is God singing?
This is our prayer to the God of our life. Amen.
Silence the stream. Move into study.
In the Winepress: Our Place of Worship
In the winepress of trouble, we discover God in places we didn’t expect Him and worship takes a different form.
- How do you define worship?
- Think about times you’ve been immersed in trouble, crisis, distress, or a long season of stress. Did your worship look different? How?
- Did your understanding or way of worship transform? take on new meaning? go deeper?
My whole walk with God and my life of worship began in the winepress of an ICU waiting room.
My mom was critically ill. I didn’t know it at the time, but within ten days I would lose her. It was in this time of trouble, where my brother returned from praying with her and he told me after they prayed, she said, I trust. I trust.
It was with this second-hand testimony of my mom’s that God captured my heart and my life was never the same again. I belonged to Him because of the grace He showed my mom.
I was lost but I didn’t know it. And with her words of trust, He found me.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of worship is:
1: to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power
2: to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion
Their definition includes the synonym: revere.
Worship in the language of the Bible — Hebrew and Greek — means to bow down before or lie prostrate, stretched out face down, before one who is superior to give homage. A sign of giving respect to someone you owe something to. It also includes fear in the form of awe and honor. Reverence. (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon)
- What does bowing down before someone imply? When we ‘bow down’ to someone, what are we saying to them?
Bowing to someone else’s way or opinion means we defer to them. We say we are going to do it their way. Come under their authority. I will serve you in this.
In the homework, we learned that when God freed His people from slavery in Egypt, He prescribed a specific way and law for their way of worship. The way they were to serve Him and come under His authority.
But by the time of Gideon, the Israelites were not worshiping God according to His instructions. As the people lost sight of the wonders of the Exodus and the awe of receiving the Promised Land, they began to forget God and His ways. They began to believe it was about them and not God.
Read Deuteronomy 6:10-15
- What did God warn His people about before they entered the Promised Land? Why was this important?
He warned them NOT to forget it was God who delivered them out of trouble and into peace and prosperity. It was important for them to remember their dependence on God and that EVERYTHING they had was from His hand. Because He is a jealous God, He will not give His glory to another and He will not share His people with other gods.
The same is true for us. When we forget our dependence on God, the ways He has revealed Himself to us in times of trouble, we begin to bow down to other ‘gods.’ We revere and serve other things more than Him and are slowly drawn into the ways the world worships.
- What are the things the world worships?
Money, honor, education, knowledge, achievement, success, beauty, health, relationships, self. The environment, animals, sun, moon, and stars. The list is endless. We can turn anything into an idol that steals God’s glory and our joy.
This error of worship happens when we focus on serving what’s created and forget our Creator and the Giver of all good things.
- Within this passage do you see God calling the people to worship Him as a way to avoid the danger of forgetting Him? How? (Hint, see verse 13.)
God reminds His people to fear Him, serve Him, swear by His name. Within each of these acts we see the biblical definition of worship. Fearing Him with awe and reverence. Honoring Him by only serving Him, and coming under His authority by using His name as the bond of our word.
Being a broken people, we easily fall prey to the ways of the world. But God loves us too much to lose us to lies and things that will harm us. He is jealous. And when we forget about Him we stir up His anger… which brings us trouble.
Read Deuteronomy 12:1-7
The word translated as ‘worship’ in verse 4, is from a Hebrew word meaning: to do, fashion, accomplish, make, to act, to produce. (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon)
We are not to act as the world acts when it comes to worshiping God. We are not to make up our own rules about worship.
- Where were God’s people to worship according to Deuteronomy 12:1-7?
God’s people were to worship in the place He chose. They were to bring their offerings to Him the way He prescribed, NOT however or wherever they wanted to.
Look again at where this meeting between God and Gideon took place. (See Judges 6:11.)
- Where did the meeting take place?
- Who chose the place?
- Who created this opportunity to worship?
The meeting took place under a tree. Trees were one of the places the ungodly went to worship and serve their gods. God specifically chose a place that was prohibited to create an opportunity for Gideon to worship Him.
- What does this reveal about God and worship in troubled times?
- How might this change your perspective of worship?
God’s grace for His people is boundless. He’s a jealous God. Jealous enough for you, He’ll come to where you are, even in places He’s told you NOT to go.
We saw Jesus turn a Samaritan woman’s heart toward God in true worship by meeting her in a place His church leaders would have never gone. But God was and is jealous for this lost woman. A woman lost to the ways of the world. Yet, Jesus met her in her troubled place.
One of the hardest lessons for us to learn and wrap our minds around is the fact that His light shines brightest in dark painful distressing times.
God in His sovereignty and jealous love delivers us into trouble so He can bless us with an opportunity to see the incredible light of His amazing grace.
I can honestly say, the timing and season of the trouble God brought into my life with the illness and death of my mom was a great grace.
At this point in my journey, I am, Oh so, thankful for that troubled time. For what God revealed and the work He did in me.
Finding Our Place in the Story
Throughout our time together we’ve encouraged you to explore the gifts God has placed in your life, and how He calls you to use them. Perhaps you have stumbled upon something new or the passion you have to use a gift you have been using for many years is growing into a roaring flame. Maybe you’re still unsure and waiting for clarity.
- What gifts did you notice God calling you to use this week?
We hope by now you are internalizing the phrases Priscilla Shirer pointed out in her study of Gideon. Let’s review them once again.
Prepare ItPriscilla Shirer
Put It Down
Pour It Out
In our experience we aren’t always able to name the gift God is working out in us, and the reality is it is not necessary. Being able to identify a certain gift and how to use it is not the point of this study. The main thing is understanding every single one of us has something to give in the time and place where God sets us.
We are the offering when we have our hearts turned toward God, listening to His direction with a willingness to worship Him wherever He shows up. Then we will have exactly what’s needed to build the Kingdom.
- What have you experienced in our study up to this point?
- Have you become aware of preparation, presentation, or a command to put it down? Explain.
This week we explored the fourth and final phase in Gideon’s story: Pour it out.
Read Judges 6:19-20
Gideon’s final step of discernment was to pour out the broth over the meat that was placed on the rock. The idea of eating a meal with the messenger flowed out over the rock along with any other expectations or desires Gideon might have had. At this point there was no going back. No gathering up the poured out broth and putting it back in the pot.
It is the same for us. We prepare our gifts to the best of our ability, and return to the place of our calling to present them to the Lord. As we carefully put them down on the Rock, we are called to pour them out.
- How have you poured out your gifts in the past?
- What emotions surfaced in the pouring out?
Pouring out our gifts takes complete surrender.
- Do you find yourself resisting surrender? In what ways?
- Consider a time you surrendered, what was the result?
Surrender is a both/and spiritual concept. We are creatures of control and surrender leaves us feeling at a loss. Yet the only way to experience the joy of freedom in Christ is to give up control.
- When it comes to control, how would you describe yourself?
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus teaches we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him. In the final step of pouring out our gifts before the Lord, we must deny all the things we’ve connected to the gifts we’ve received. Things like control, our own desires, expectations, and even the fears we have about how others will accept our gifts.
- What expectation did you discover you have about giving your gifts?
- What response have you received in the past from others, after giving your gift? How did you respond in return?
In the pouring out of gifts in the form of obedience to God, I’ve learned the hard way to tamp down or quiet any expectations of how it will be received and to face my fears of giving to others what God calls me to give.
Some offerings have left me humbled and awe-struck that God found a use for me at all. I know any thanks to be given belongs to God.
One specific offering left me stunned. I went with a gift and a Word to go along with it to a family who had shared their distress with me. The gift and Word were inspired by the Spirit and I delivered them with much prayer. It was not something I did lightly because of the nature of the trouble. I went with great trepidation and fear, but I denied the fear and obeyed.
Things were OK and being received until I was asked a question which I answered. Very swiftly, I was ushered out the door with an abrupt good-bye. Their response left me, like I said earlier, stunned. bewildered. confused. I did what God called me to and I answered their question with all honesty and transparency.
I learned two important lessons that day. One was that I was only to deliver the Word and the gifts. The question I was asked was not one I should’ve answered in that moment. I should have said: It doesn’t matter what I think. I am here to bring you God’s Word for you today.
Second, like Jesus, the gifts we offer will not always be received well. They don’t have to be. And it’s not our job to determine whether the offering was right or not based on the response of those around us.
Denying ourselves in order to follow Jesus is a lifelong learning process. Surrendering what we’ve prepared, presented and put down is the picking up of our cross to follow Him. In order to pick something up we must first let go of what we are tightly gripping. This is the picture of pouring out.
Let’s not be tight-fisted spiritual children holding onto what’s in our hands for dear life, trying in our own power and desire to make it work. Instead, let’s follow Gideon’s lead and let God do with our gifts whatever He wills.
Once Gideon poured out his gift something miraculous happened. The angel of the Lord reached out and touched it.
- When you consider the times you’ve poured out your gift to the Lord, how did God touch it?
- What was your response?
To pour out our gifts on the Rock is to trust God with our lives as an offering of worship to Him. The response we have after a pouring out shows how much we trust God.
Once again, imagine Gideon. We’ve studied this portion of his story over many weeks, but the offering of his gift happened in one day.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath.
Picture Gideon threshing wheat in the winepress. Perhaps he’s hot and sticky tossing grain into the air hoping no one will see. There under the tree a messenger appears and they talk about God’s presence in all the trouble. Gideon’s passion sparks anew and in his desire to discern if this is really God he heads home to get a gift.
Gideon prepares a meal, and returns to present it to the Lord. He places the meat and bread on the rock then obediently pours the broth over it. Watch as the liquid covers the meat, soaks the bread, and spreads out on the rock.
Now what? Surely this thought ran through Gideon’s mind. Maybe it didn’t, but it is certainly something we might ask.
Now? What? What do I do with these empty hands?
Imagine looking deep into the angel of the Lord’s eyes as you stand.
What do you see…
What do you feel…
What do you hear…
Close your time of prayer with the song Spirit Lead Me.
Make the lyrics your prayer.
Prepare for our next gathering.
Just one more week of homework for this series.
May He shine His face upon you this week and give you peace.Stacy & Carol