I am an average parent stacking up lots and lots of average days that are the shaping years of my kids lives. Sue and I want to at least interrupt those days with markers of God's provision, guidance and grace. Believe it or not, these two simple little questions, asked every day, have helped us to place plenty of those markers.
I have tried so many things in life to try and secure what looks like blessing and none of it has worked. Eventually I had to get to the point where I let a gracious God wrestle me into the dirt, reminding me there of His strength and my weakness, and yet it is there, in the dirt, when I didn't let go, that I finally got grace, and its associated limp.
God is our refuge and our strength. He is the one we can run to in order to find shelter and he is the one who fights for his people to keep our attackers at bay. God is a very present help. What a thought! He is very present, right here, available and loving.
I have always been fascinated by the idea of spiritual gifts, the idea that God would breathe His Spirit into ordinary people in order to empower them to do extraordinary things for the communities of faith in which He has placed them. Unfortunately, we have set church up in such a way that we don't get to see much of this body of gifting at work, and we must do all we can post this season apart to get back to the body doing the work of the body rather than just large groups gathering to watch a few muscles work out on a weekly basis.
Chaos on the sea was widely understood in the Jewish world as a sign of God's judgment or God's absence. We see it in the creation account, in the flood and in a lot of other imagery throughout the Old Testament. But, then Jesus rebukes the wind. He speaks to the sea. And it listens! If a raging sea was a sign of God's judgment, then Jesus was presenting Himself as one who had the authority of that judgment! If the sinking boat was seen a sign of God's absence, then Jesus was announcing His presence in way they could never forget!
Job wasn't ready. You know when God starts a conversation by telling you to dress like a man that it is going to be good. God essentially says to Job, alright mate, put your big boy pants on, and pay attention. And then the questions begin, and they are God's questions exposing Job's limitations when compared to God's lack of those very same limitations.
Jesus prays not because He is superhuman, but because He is human. It isn't a sign of His strength that He rubs our nose in, it is evidence of His dependence on the Father that He invites us into. His early morning prayer session isn't the separated hours of spiritual practice reserved for an unhurried monk, but rather it is the life giving retreat of a very busy shepherd.
There is a difference then between the Spirit's gifts and the Spirit's fruits. The gifts are just that...gifts, given to us as a kindness of God. The fruits though require life long growth and care. They grow out of a life of walking in the Spirit. This should still be our focus and desire, that we would grow fruit. If God has given you remarkable gift, great! Be humble, be thankful, be faithful, and walk a life that focuses on fruit and not just gift. I have met too many Christian leaders who are incredibly gifted and also jerks. The reason for this is that we celebrate gift over fruit.