Hosting Holiness {Team Journal}

Our team journal was written for you today by our Content Director, Jillian Vincent.

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I’m doing it again. Scrolling Wayfair for a bigger dining room table. Peeking at listings online for minivans and SUVs. Considering buying bunk beds for my boys to make room for more kids to find a safe place in our home through Safe Families. I’m making room. It was one of my goals for 2018. I want to create space for more, expectant that God will use our home for safety, refuge, fellowship, feasting, and belonging. I have a vision that God has more purpose for this little blue house with maroon shutters, and our little family inside of it. He intends to use this space, and I’m preparing for the sojourners that God will bring our way.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about sanctification, the change God initiates in us, the way God makes room for Himself inside of us once we belong to Him. I’ve been thinking of that as I make room for others in my home, that maybe He is making room for more holiness in my heart. In Leviticus, as we will soon discover in #dwitw365, the Lord lays out His specific plans for His people’s holiness, and how they can purify themselves. This purification has a purpose, and that purpose is so that the people could dwell with him. Did you know that many of the food sacrifices God instructs His people to make and offer to Him, that they are also instructed to eat the rest? It is a divine meal between God and His people hosted by God Himself (Deut 14:22-29). He prepared a place and provided the meat for His people, purifying them so they could be in his presence and eat with Him at His table (Psalm 23:5-6)!

For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.
— Leviticus 11:44

Yes, I made many a goal for my household this new year. And most of them have to do with hosting others around my still non-existent, large, round, dark, wooden, dream table. But I never once thought to ask the question, “What is God’s goal for me?”? Holiness. God’s goal for me is holiness. Why? Because He wants me with Him, at His table. Because He loves me and made room for me. He has made a home in my heart. He wants abundant life for me, a life where there is no Godless space. Because God is holy, and I belong to him, I must be holy. And when I am with Him, I am compelled to be like Him.

The Bible is clear on the how of holy. As we abide in Him, He does the work of making us holy, directing us back to Him and creating the fruit in our lives. (John 15) So I’ve been asking myself these questions as I abide with Him: What space am I holding back from Him? Where in my life is a Godless place because I have not made room for Him? What have I not consecrated to the Lord? And some scarier questions: What am I making room for instead? What have I welcomed that is not of the Lord? What gods have feasted at my table? What other gods have slept in my turned down beds? Or, used my wifi password? Or, eaten my French toast for breakfast?

He must increase and I must decrease.
— John 3:30

And I know it is really the Holy Spirit inquiring about my choice of house guests. Yes, He is here. And He won’t allow any other god to shack up here. Including my old sinful self. She’s got to go. There simply isn’t room. He is the only God worthy of every space in my life, my heart, my breath and my very being. I am in Christ, which means I am hosting Holiness. Why? Because my heart is a dwelling place for Jesus Christ himself, the spotless lamb. When the Lord looks at me, He sees Holiness, because He sees Christ. That old Jillian? That old self? She’s gone. She’s been crucified with Christ. And now, I’m alive again because it is Christ who lives in me! Holiness himself. And I not only host Holiness, I host power -- the power of the Holy Spirit -- and I need to make room for Him.

If Jesus Christ walked into my little blue house right now, I would shove all the markers and play-doh and leftover crusty spaghetti noodles off my table to create a clean space for Him to sit. I would place Him at the head of my table and I would make sure all the friends He brought with Him were equally welcome.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
— Galatians 5:22-23

Well, the Holy Spirit HAS shown up, and He has brought some friends. A lot of friends. A Holy Spirit soiree of sorts right to my doorstep. But the thing is, this is no temporary stay. I am not God’s “airbnb.” And you! Sister, YOU ARE NOT GOD’S HOSTEL. WE are his forever home. It is not, “Make yourself at home!” It is “Welcome Home!” WE are his dwelling place. We are his temple. He has moved in! Unpacked his bags! But He has not put up his feet. No, He is making us His Home.

And no, we didn’t come cleaned up by any housekeeping service, all the nooks and crannies in our lives were not spiffed up for Him before He arrived. But GOD! He himself, tender to us, because He has lived this human life and has known intimately its nastiest places, came to renew and restore everything. He is making all things new. Without condemnation towards our brokenness, He is redesigning, until every tile of backsplash and wooden floorboard has his signature touch.

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
— Romans 8:2-4

So what does that mean for my life right now? Simply this: I’m sitting down to eat with the Lord at His table. I’m exposing my unfinished parts to Him, and I’m listening when He convicts me of trying to kick Him out of His own house! (It happens a lot.) I’m loosening my idolatrous thoughts of a better designer or a better design, because He is revealing His ultimate glorious one to me! And, sister? There is no comparison. God’s design is always better. And finally, I’ve stopped fashioning a guest room for him, because I’ve given him the keys entirely.

Lord, help me to host holiness, knowing it is you who does the work, and rejoice that though you are a come-as-you-are God, you don’t leave this house foreclosed. As I prepare my home for guests, would you prepare my heart for holiness? Leave no room untouched, and help me keep in step with your Spirit as you fashion a glorious temple for yourself.


Jillian Vincent loves Jesus. She's a wife, mother of two boys and a Dayton enthusiast. Jillian currently is a stay at home mama and spends nap times jotting on her blog and discipling other women. She would (almost) die for an avocado, a cup of coffee made by her husband, a novel that makes her cry, and a bouquet of sunflowers. 

Is Anything too Hard for the Lord? {DWITW 365}

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So Sarah laughed to herself. Whenever I read this part of Sarah and Abraham’s story, a resounding, “Girrrrrl, yes!” lets loose from somewhere deep in my belly. I think about Sarah, ninety-years old, having become accustomed to her life as a wife. I imagine after years of trying, hoping, praying... yet never knowing the feeling of growth inside her womb, Sarah had settled into her life, learning to dance with the lack of motherhood. We get used to these things, ya know? We hope. We walk through dry seasons with parched souls, and an ache that feels as if it will never leave, but we often come to a place of, ‘Okay, Lord. If not this, show me what will be.’ I imagine that’s where Sarah was. She was working on getting those cakes ready for the men who were visiting. Her brow was sweaty with the work of kneading, but she persists in the preparation. She’s doing her thing when she hears it, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.”
 
Can you imagine what she must have felt? Was there a tremble of butterflies in her stomach? Anger coursing through her veins? Disbelief? A flicker of faint hope? Perhaps it was a blend of all. And so, all she could do was laugh. But can you blame her? I think about what I might’ve said, or felt, or done in a moment like that – it certainly would’ve been less graceful than Sarah’s response.

‘Well, sure. Give me a baby now – as my life is winding down, when I’m too old to sit on the floor and get back up easily, when I won’t be able to chase after a toddler who just won’t sit still. After all my friends have raised their kids and are now great-grandparents, give me that go at motherhood. Awesome. Yeah. Okay.’

I want to believe, when I read through my well-worn Bible, I am better than all those who’ve come before me. I would not become bitter with mourning like Naomi. I wouldn’t question God’s presence like the Israelites. I would’ve stayed away from that tree and its forbidden fruit and, unlike Eve, I’d tell that serpent to get lost. But who exactly am I trying to convince? I think Sarah and I actually have a kindred-spirit sort of situation happening here. We both long for things not readily available to us. We both try to handle situations on our own, blindingly resolute in the belief that we know best. And then, when there’s a taste of what is to come for us, after all this time, we both get shockingly bratty and petulant in our response. I see myself in Sarah as she laughs to herself, kneading the cakes, in disbelief. I’d like to pull her close, lace my fingers with hers and whisper, “I’m with you, sister. I get it.”
 
I read about Sarah laughing to myself and I nod in knowing where she is. But what I love, even more than how much I see myself in Sarah’s response, is how God’s response to her has no lingering reflection of selfish, human flesh.The Lord hears Sarah laugh and mutter under her breath. And let’s be real -  He’s the King, so He was well within His right to say, “Nah, girl. I take it back. If you’re gonna act like a child, I won’t be giving you a child.” Instead, like every wise adult I’ve ever known, He poses a question. He poses a question to which each of us already knows the answer.

“’Is anything too hard for the Lord?’” How often do we each need to ask ourselves this question in the midst of trial? In seasons of wanting, what sorrows might we save ourselves from by reminding our hearts Whom it is we call Father? Do we ever come across scenarios in which the Lord says, “Actually, ya know, I’m not sure that’s within my job description, so I’m gonna pass?”. We don’t.

Is anything too hard for the Lord? 

Again and again, we read experiences and narratives in which the Lord shows up and breathes life into the breathlessness by saying, “I will . . .”

 

I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations . . .” (Genesis 17:7)

I will bless her . . .” (Genesis 17:16)

I will not leave you . . .” (Genesis 28:15)

I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:4)

I will set my eyes on them for good . . . I will build them up . . . I will plant them . . . I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord . . .” (Jeremiah 24:6-7)

I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” (Jeremiah 31:13)

 

I can’t find blame for Sarah – her story of waiting and questioning rings similar to my own. She is a woman longing for more. She momentarily loses sight of her Father’s magnificence and capability. But thankfully for girls like us, humans like you, me, and Sarah - we are not known and seen by a King who reacts, decides, and gives like we do. Instead our good Father goes before every last moment of doubt or embittered laughter we have to offer, and He swiftly comes with a word of promise. And praise Him - He is behind every gift we will never deserve, but still receive.

So while Sarah, in her tent kitchen, kneaded dough for cakes and laughed in mocking for what was before her I also imagine the laughter ringing after she gave birth to her boy, and I have to believe it was laced with the peace that comes with knowing God will come through. He will. And He still does.

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Steph Duff wants to live in a world where every human, whether small or regular-sized, learns to use their voice and is seen and known. When she's not traveling and story telling with Back2Back Ministries, you'll likely find her drinking excessive cups of coffee, with her nose in a book, or daydreaming about India. Her favorite scripture is Habakkuk 1:5, and she prays for a world in which Jesus is the name on every lip. Learn a little more about her love for semi-colons, what stirs her blood, and the yearnings of her heart over at www.stephaniduff.wordpress.com.