I’ve had the blessing over the last weeks to participate in the Gideon Bible study written by Priscilla Shirer. God truly blessed her with powerful truth to share and I have enjoyed diving into every lesson. I so pray that God will continue to pour His good favor out on her and she will seize every opportunity to share with the rest of us all He reveals to her through the Holy Spirit.
One of the things that I love about being in a Bible study written by someone else is that for me, it doesn’t stop when the earthly author does. God most often nudges me to go a little further and use those principles and concepts introduced as a springboard to look a bit more intently at the thing. I’m sure it’s the same for you. God has a personal and unique message for this season of your life just like He does mine and I don’t think He’ll stop prompting our hearts until we’ve gone where He is leading.
This week the Bible study didn’t take us to the happy place of victory with Gideon. It took us more to the place that too often occurs in my own life. The spot after God has shown Himself mighty, the hard work of the battle is seemingly behind me, and then it happens . . . my dependence on Him starts to shift.
So even though I’ve just seen the Hand of God move mountains afresh and be absolutely huge, my focus, my gaze, that was so firmly fixed on Him finds its way back to me. Ugh! And there I am in the all too familiar place of fighting the urge to march off in my own direction. Beloved, don’t you wonder what in the world would prompt us to ever even entertain the idea of crawling out from under the refuge of His wing and moving out on our own say so? Do we not remember that He does everything and anything better than we could ever dream of? . . . Psalm 18:30
As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
But unfortunately, I still find the gaze of my heart shifting from Him and landing squarely on me more often than I’d like. My hope is that as I walk closer and seek harder after Him, those times will continue to become fewer and farther between, but even that—that increased length of time before I display my penchant for me—is all the work of God on a weak and frail human heart. Does His mercy not astound you and His patience not leave you stunned? The pure Love of Him and Grace He lavishes ought to be enough to make our wandering hearts stay put.
And yet, time and again, . . .
we find ourselves, returning to ourselves.
Returning to ourselves to make decisions with no consultation with God about our lives. Returning to ourselves to make choices based on what we think, never inquiring about His thoughts. Returning to ourselves to pick and choose how we will use our resources, our time, our talents without once asking about the Kingdom Agenda.
Yes Dear One, over and over again, . . .
we find ourselves, returning to ourselves.
The most succinct definition for sin I have encountered is offered by author Michael E. Wittmer in the book Heaven is a place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God. He simply calls it what it is: autonomous action. To me it hits the nail on the head. It describes perfectly the process that takes place when we move God off the throne of our lives and take His spot as The authority, The decision maker, The ruler over our actions. And I don’t think the definition changes no matter where you are at in your faith journey.
Any time I choose to act apart from God, to return to myself . . .it’s sin.
Anytime I invite myself to rule over myself . . . it’s sin.
I can tell, and I bet you can too, when I’ve begun making my way into the throne room and am contemplating stealing the seat again. It doesn’t happen all at once—no my rebellion takes place one step at a time. And, maybe those baby steps toward our autonomous action shouldn’t surprise us because It seems to be the way it most often happens. Rarely, I think would we look sin square in the face as believers in Christ and make the choice to jump in with both feet. More often I think it’s those incremental steps we take when our flesh is lulled by small compromise after small compromise.
Look at the way Eve was pulled closer and closer to autonomous action. . .to sin. She didn’t begin with setting herself up to judge God and decide on her own that He was wrong about the fruit. Nope. She danced around the thing. She thought about it. Contemplated the appearance of it. Entertained the wisdom of it.
And then, she fixed her gaze firmly on her and she decided. She knew better than God. She would be seated on the throne of her life. She would wear the crown and be her own ruler. She took autonomous action . . .sin.
It’s the same for me. My own penchant for ruling me rears its ugly head. And then there I am . . . dancing around the thing, thinking about it, contemplating the appearance of it, entertaining the wisdom of it and then, I decide. I take autonomous action . . .I sin.
And here’s the thing, the thing I choose to put on the throne, the thing I allow to rule over me may not be in and of itself a bad thing. Leisure time is not a bad thing. Serving the Church is not a bad thing. Exercise is not a bad thing. Socializing is not a bad thing. But if I exalt any activity –even the good ones– above my relationship with God and allow it to dictate my schedule, my resources, my energy then I have placed the crown of authority on its head. I have invited it to take the throne.
And we have to ask ourselves why? Why would we let leisure time rule over us? Why would we choose to be all consumed with service rather than all consumed with Him? Why forego strengthening my relationship with Him for strengthening my quad muscles? Why choose to fritter time away on social media rather than invest in time with Him? See what I’m saying? When we give it authority – permission to rule over us—even the good becomes twisted because we have appointed it to be our king.
Sister, God has already appointed the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to wear that crown and any substitute we appoint will fall miserably short of our Jesus. Let me write that again, any substitute –no matter how attractive or well justified in our own minds– will fall miserably short of our Jesus.
And this is the fringe lesson I learned from the Gideon study today . . .rulers always have descendants.
Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” Judges 8:22
Here’s what I mean. If leisure time is my ruler it will give birth to unpreparedness when the next trial or battle comes. Should I choose to make service to the Church the priority over time with God I will be left with the son of loneliness and the grandson of emptiness because I won’t be filling myself with Him, with His Company, with His Love for me. Establishing exercise as my king, bowing my schedule to it and pushing time with the Father to the back burner, will spawn a weak connection with God as its descendant. And exalting social media to the throne will give birth to broken relationships and lack of fellowship with other believers. And the descendants will rule. Passing the tarnished crown from one generation to another. Each a bit a more firmly ensconced on the throne than the last and harder to unseat.
- See, the cycle will never end unless I purposefully and intentionally choose my King every single day. It will never end for you unless you purposefully and intentionally choose your King every single day.
God told Cain in the very first book of the Bible, sin is crouching at your door, and its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. We, you and I as believers in Jesus Christ, have the power to choose.
- You have the power, I have the power, through the Holy Spirit to choose what is right – not in our own eyes – but in His.
It’s the same choice God’s people have always faced. Who will rule over you? Joshua challenged the Israelites to make the choice with words that should absolutely sting our souls . . .Joshua 24:15
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.
And we should drop to our knees praising God for Jesus who not only rules as our King but infuses us with the Holy Spirit who desires to choose what is right and holy in our lives. Because Girlfriend, the date may have changed but the choice has not . . .
- But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day who will rule over you. Only you can decide. Only you can choose.
Sister, may we yield to no other this day. May we purposefully choose Christ over the gods of the land in which we live and bow only to Him. May we bend the knee in holy submission and declare for all the heavenlies to hear that He and He alone is the Ruler of our lives. May we pledge our undying devotion and love to the One and Only King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And may we do so every day – reserving the throne and crown for only Him.