Day 7

Come Empty

from the Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross reading plan


Hebrews 12:3-13, Psalm 6:1-10

BY Amanda Bible Williams

Text: Hebrews 12:3-13, Psalm 6:1-10

“Self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We, your She Reads Truth writers and friends, are learning as we go. I hope that’s okay to say out loud, because it’s true. We are learning about this beautiful book—the living Word of God—alongside you, opening it up each day and praying to the God who made us. We come to the Bible knowing and believing that the Holy Spirit has been given to us as our Helper, that He has been promised to us by the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Savior. This is who we are—like you, we are daughters of the King. We come empty-handed, expecting Him to give us all we need.

In preparing for this reading plan that spans the season of Lent (we like to call it “lententide” because it’s such a pretty word), we went to folks who know more than us for help. We called on pastors and friends, we read books and researched themes. It is part of our “job” and we LOVE it. So much. One resource we consulted was a book on the liturgical calendar called Eternity Today, and the author said this about Lent:

“What can be lost in this season is that, though believers indeed ‘fast and pray,’ they often do this not more aware of the love of God, but assuming that they need to win God’s favor…

“Lent is unique in the liturgical year because the members of the church conscientiously turn from excesses not to remind God of humanity, but to remind themselves of the constancy of God’s love.”

I’m a sucker for all things old and liturgical. I love corporate readings in church services, sacraments and hymnals. I love studying Lent and just about anything else that reminds me I’m part of a body of believers who have been worshipping our God for hundreds and hundreds of years. But do I “do” Lent as obligation or to be a part of a centuries-old ritual? Do I do Lent to win God’s favor? I would never say so… but turning this quote and these Scriptures over in my heart and mind, I’m not so sure.

If I’m completely honest, I have to admit that I hope—or maybe even believe—my small sacrifices make God love me a little bit more. I hope they’ll erase some of those selfish things I did that I wish I could take back. I hope they’ll cover over my neglect of those in need, my lack of compassion for the hardships of others. If I’m honest, I think Lent buys me an ounce of forgiveness and favor in the eyes of God.

Here’s the rub: this belief is not just a simple misunderstanding. It is itself a sinful pride that devalues the very blood of Christ. He has purchased my pardon! He is the righteousness that covers my sin! He is the One who has earned God’s favor, and He is the reason that favor is lavished on me.

Our need for Jesus is deep, but His love for us is deeper. His love for us is constant, whatever season and state we’re in. He redeems us and refines us because of this great love, not because of what we do.

We come to Christ with empty buckets — whether we admit it or not. So let’s not bring our self improvements and call them sacrifices. Let’s don’t use our efforts as currency to buy the free grace we’ve been given.

Let’s simply come to the cross of Christ — again, today.
Let’s come empty. He will fill us.

SRT-Lent2015_instagram7


 

SRT-Lent_return2_640
Post Comments (184)

184 thoughts on "Come Empty"

  1. Kaytee Faye says:

    I keep reading on fasting and prayer. This past week it has popped up a half dozen times. I know I am being called and I will definitely answer. Thank you for the courage to go to the Lord with empty hands and reminding me of the love he has that fills us to overflowing.

  2. PHILIPPA says:

    Lord give me the wisdom and self awareness to recognize when I am getting in the way of the emptiness I should be coming with. I want only you to fill me, not my own junk.

  3. Steph says:

    All discipline seems painful at the time but in time yields the fruit of righteousness. God is making us more like his son!!! Let’s walk closer and closer with him. We never have to step out fellowship again.

  4. joany says:

    Empty I come to You today Lord.

  5. Julie says:

    “Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
    Who praises you from the grave?”

    I just love how when Jesus came he blew these words right out of the water:) Lazerus, the widows son, himself….the dry bones in the OT. Now we in our fleshly bodies that are dying as we speak praise Him because death is no more!

  6. Rebecca says:

    This is amazing grace!!!

  7. Emma says:

    Wow, I needed to hear this today! This reflection resonates with me deeply, I hate to admit it but sometimes I try to convince myself that my actions make me more worthy in God's eyes but I really needed to be reminded that that's pride speaking! God bless you for this inspirational post

  8. A.S.H. }i{ says:

    Being here the last week with you ladies, has been great.

    I only mustered one maybe two comments short & sweet. Too afraid to put more out there. So, I cut my comments, paste and type more in my phone notes. I do this often.

    My phone & google drive are my thinking boards and I know God is pressing me to release His grace in my life for others to see.

    I also know, last week – this season of Lent is what God wanted me to experience again after many many years (over 25, maybe 35).

    For 23 years, I had been struggling back to His everlasting arms finally coming closer – especially the last 14 years! Taking baby steps, and many strides, finally finding my place in His glorious kingdom, last year.

    Life has changed tremendously since last February (2014) – the moment I felt God without a doubt communicating with me – in no way could I dismiss or say it was anything else. Truly life changing, Holy Spirit filled. Amazing Grace.

    Learning to discern His calling for me, has kept me busy. It hasn’t been easy – fully surrendering to Him, it has changed my family dynamics in so many ways. With heartache came peace, with peace – love, joy and grace.

    Oh, amazing grace, how sweet the sound! I sing this in my head often!

    Lately, I’ve been processing what God has been pressing on me all winter, little glimpses the last few months, to the obvious the last 3 weeks.

    FASTING!

    This was odd, foreign to me, I never knew what a fast really was – so naturally I did research weeks ago. (I couldn’t shake God calling me to do this!)

    2 weekends ago, even more clarity consumed me.

    As I have been soaking Gods word the last 3 months more than I ever had before, praying for deeper knowledge in His word – fasting has been in scriptures, nonchalantly spoken in sermons at church, my bible apps, emails, random places, radio etc. and not just recently in anticipation for Lent, it’s been for months.

    So, as I did my research this bible study “Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross” from my bible app – She Reads Truth – was shining it’s halo at me. There it was. Without a doubt God was calling me here, to dig deeper.

    As others have shared in last Wednesdays comments – I honestly struggled to know what to fast. I generally don’t have 1 strong vice. So, I prayed for more guidance last Tuesday night.

    Wow! There it was as I woke up from another rare restful sleep last Wednesday – I don’t have just one thing to Fast (release). It’s a list of little things God prepared for me and included in my Fast was my “focus list” (I did pray for specific instruction to guide me and have balance in my life during this new experience of closeness with God & I received it quite clearly).

    With “God time” at top – longer deeper.
    Specific blocks of time to prepare my women’s Tuesday night bible studies, my scripture art, family time (single Mom – 3 kids), specific instruction to cook (not my specialty & difficulty with my health to do daily), details balancing my daily life chores and a little me time(I never do this, let alone think about it – I’m a chicken with her head cutoff), what a morning it was.

    I knew God was speaking to me, because I struggled to know what to do. I wasn’t participating in Lent with a “have to”, or “give me brownie points” thought. I knew He was calling me here to be with Him and with all of you.

    That Tuesday night, I selflessly went to Him, telling him – “I hear you, Lord – I’m here where you want me, send me instruction, show me your will, burn on my heart what I need to release to come even closer to you, LORD – to honor your pure sacrifice in the wilderness & on the cross for us all!”

    Today, I see God telling me to continue this prayer to Him daily, not only during this time – we share.

    Amazing, really – considering for the last 9 months prayer has been THE TOPIC of His teachings for me, honestly I had no idea how to pray then. Now I pray-talk to God multiple times a day, many times praying to know how to do it! Realizing now, I have been doing it.

    He hears us, loves us and lavishes us in His Grace!

    Our Heavenly Father brought us all here – to “dig deeper in His word” together!

    After months of asking God to help me balance my life with His calling to women’s ministry & writing last year – Here it was all laid out in one nights rest. Not only for the next 40 days, meant to carry it with me always.

    Lent – a journey God is taking me on in a whole new way, with a list of things to let go, another list of to do’s, a calling to a deeper closeness than I have already been having with Him the last year and a guide for balancing it all!

    I’m in awe, speechless (not natural for me), humbled, thankful for so many answered prayers, and His Amazing Grace.

    I praise you Lord and pray all who are here experience your undying love, your grace and wisdom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *