Kristin Schmucker » Equipping Women in the Word

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Category Archives: In The Word

The Beauty of Victory and Defeat

You’ve finally gotten the baby down for a nap. You’ve finally nailed a job interview. You’ve finally won the battle with cancer. Or, maybe the baby is still screaming after countless rocks, the interviewer said thanks but no thanks, the chemo treatments appear never-ending and hopeless.

Sister, come visit Genesis 14 with me.

Abraham (then called Abram) was on the top of the world. He and his men had swiftly and impressively defeated a band of kings. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, was now safe and sound, rescued from a dismal fate. An Old Testament reflection of Christ, known as Melchizedek, even bestows on Abraham an incredible blessing.

It was a glorious moment. One of those moments when it is easy to relish in the shower of praise, to leap upon reward with greediness and self-indulgence, to pridefully welcome whoever offers honor — and forget about the Lord.

But that’s not what Abraham does. He doesn’t compromise his faith. 

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Counting the Cost of Sacrifice

What can we give to God? He’s the creator of all things. He sustains all things, too. In Him we find all that we need; He needs nothing from us. He has perfect community in the Trinity. He creates for the sake of delight and pleasure, not necessity. It’s a strange thing to think of what we can and should give to God. What is it that He requests from His children?God delights in our participating in a relationship with Him. He takes pleasure in our singing praises to Him. In the Old Testament we see that burnt offerings were deemed as “fragrant” to Him. God desires a spirit willing to forsake our desires in place of His. He desires our very soul, that we love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. But all of this seems a bit vague, and it can be a challenge to live out in practice.

2 Samuel 24:24 provides a vivid picture of the ways that we sacrifice to God. Chapter 24 tells an account of king David’s sin, God’s subsequent punishment for that sin, and David’s successive repentance. We read about the rise of David’s pride, seeing that he has quickly forgotten that God doesn’t operate by using our own strength, but instead He uses His strength. Despite countless instances where God’s hand has carried Israel to victory against strong adversaries notwithstanding their small, scrappy stature. David, forgetting that God is the source of Israel’s success, resolves to find security and pride in his kingdom’s numbers and soldiers instead.

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The Grace in Muddled Days

God’s sufficiency is the constant rhythm beating in our lives as believers, yet for some reason we get so stuck in the muddled days that we can’t lift our gaze out of the mire to see the glory we were made for. We can’t fathom being in a better place than the stressed work environment stealing our joy, or the relationship devoid of reciprocated love, or life marred by our own sin. We all have the days where such circumstances leave us unable to walk to higher ground, stiff-legged by what’s surrounding us.

Why the Mire?

The quintessential question mankind has poked against God since the fall — why God? Why have you let this happen to me? Why the bad? Yet we can rest in the Seed of Jesse, long-awaited Messiah that was given to us — the God-Man Jesus Christ that has reconciled us to the Father for the praise of his glorious grace (Ephesians 1:6).

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Committing to Act and Uphold

Exodus 17 tells a story of Israel defeating Amalek against all odds. Thus far in the book of Exodus, God has a history of asking strange gestures of Moses, and then working miracles through it. A staff turns into a serpent. Water spills out from a rock. Manna falls from heaven. But in verses 8-14, things get a little more dire:

“Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.”

There’s so much to be seen in these few verses, so much to grow our understanding of who God is and so much instruction to glean. But I want to revel in three distinct precepts we can garner from this passage of Scripture. Precepts that will instruct us in the sanctification of our souls.

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Learning to be Deeply Rooted

A few weeks ago my 4-year-old daughter came home from school and asked if we could plant a flower. She had learned that day about how plants grow and was beyond excited to watch one grow herself. We went to the store, and I found an extra small pot with a couple of sunflower seeds included. So we brought it home, planted the seed, and began to wait. My daughter became frustrated when the seeds we had planted did not immediately grow before her eyes and became disinterested – until several days later when we could see a tiny sprout start to emerge from the dirt. After growing a few inches, it was time to transplant into a bigger pot. The roots had run out of room, and it needed space to grow.

What I didn’t expect through this ordinary process is that God met me while watching this tiny plant. He used a tiny sunflower sprout to show me areas where I needed to change and grow.

Something God showed me about myself is that I am scared of being deeply rooted. I’ve made friends, I’ve invested time and energy, but it’s always been easy for me to pick up and leave. It’s almost comforting to me to think of moving away and starting over. Staying still means someone might know me too well. Someone might see the ugly parts of my soul. Someone might notice my shortcomings and failures. They might see who I really am. I romanticize the idea of moving far away and meeting new people and reinventing myself. I want these perfect relationships and communities, and when it doesn’t look exactly the way I want, I tend to run and get disinterested. Just like my daughter did when she saw no growth in her sunflower.

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