Eating His Words

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“Moreover he said unto me, ‘Son of man, eat what you find; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.’” Ezekiel 3:1

 
So here is Ezekiel still listening and being instructed and being equipped by the Lord. These words being given are not just any angel’s words. These are words of truth and judgment from God. And Ezekiel isn’t just supposed to hear them. He’s to hear and do, to hear and follow through, to hear and heed, to hear and be changed. And I thought I was going to talk about that hearing in verse 10, but I can’t get past a word in this first verse. It has just stopped me in my tracks. And that’s ok, Lord, because isn’t that part of hearing and listening, that I defer from my plan and pay attention to yours? And if one little word says, “Listen to me and don’t pass me by,” shouldn’t I obey?

 
Ezekiel can’t eat Your words until he “finds” them, can he? And eating Your words is important because they are our life sustain-ers. We have to imbibe them so that they become a part of us from the inside out. They have to become our sustenance to show that You are our very Sustenance.

 
Now, if I just look at Strong’s Concordance, I think of this word “find” or “matsa” in Hebrew maybe as something I just happen upon, that maybe exists upon my way or comes forth to be. Is there much significance to me if I just happen to attain something? Is there a difference between me finding or acquiring and my taking hold on something? Maybe it would behoove me to try to understand this finding better.

 
Remember that our problem here is a rebellious, hard-hearted people who should have known and loved and obeyed their heavenly Father. But they were rejecting Him and Ezekiel was to be their messenger to give them the opportunity to turn back to God. And it wasn’t like they didn’t have all the information that they needed to already find You, God, and love and serve You. It wasn’t like Ezekiel was being sent to a lost tribe who didn’t even know about You.
Let’s go all the way back to 1 Chronicles 28:9 to try to understand this finding, this word matsa. “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.” This isn’t new stuff here, but it certainly is serious stuff.
If you read and listened closely enough so that you really heard the words, you see that idea or reality of seeking God and finding Him. It’s attainable. It’s doable. But it’s not something we can do all on our own. We have to take part in that action, but You actually let Yourself be found by us!

 
Matsa’ is a word about finding. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for someone, some place, or some thing, matsa’ is that word that you use when you discover what you have been looking for. In this verse in 1 Chronicles it’s not used any differently than that. But we learn more by understanding the form of the word. The form here “tells us that the action is [a] continuous, present tense, passive event…instead of me finding God, He actually finds me—but He lets me think I’m doing the work because He wants me to be encouraged for my effort.” (Skip Moen) It’s the same thing You’re telling Ezekiel. “You eat, Ezekiel. You find My words and take them in, and then follow through on them.” But did Ezekiel make up the words? Did he find without God showing him? Absolutely not. God, You prepare the table for Ezekiel and You prepare the table for each of us.

 
So here is this table, this table of abundance, filled with more than satisfaction, and it’s all right here before us. Just like in Psalm 23, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” The problem is, we handle it wrongly. We whine, “‘Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’ Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, and drive hard all your workers.” (Isaiah 58:3) Here, the people find their desire. It’s still that word matsa. Remember how it means “to find” and also “to come upon, reach, attain”? It’s that same word as in Deuteronomy 4:29, “ But if from thence you shall seek the LORD your God, you shall find Him, if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” This kind of finding comes from seeking. But in Isaiah, they were fasting not to seek God, but to seek being noticed, or to seek the reward of the blessing. The sad thing is that we can seek the delights from God without ever seeking the delight of God Himself.

 
How can someone seek delight from You without seeking You? I can seek an emotional satisfaction from knowing I’ve done a good job. My practicing of my “religion” can give me a good feeling about myself. I can delight in that feeling. I can delight in how people view me. I can delight in my own goodness. I can delight in the monetary blessing or position of being valued and listened to. I can delight in a ministry. I can delight in my own works. I can delight in my own image or my own ideas.

 
Whether I eat from Your table or refrain from it in order to fast, my goal is not all about the table. My eyes and heart ought to be set on the One who provides the table. My goal ought to be righteousness and restitution and repentance, not feeling better about myself. My goal ought to be knowing You more and worshipping You with all I am and delighting in Who You Are and how You even arrange things in my life so that I CAN find You. It ought to be all about GIANT YOU even finding tiny little me, and REVELLING IN THE TRUTH AND JOY OF IT SO THAT I MUST JUMP UP AND DOWN AND DO HANDSTANDS UNCONTROLLABLY AND THEN FOLLOW THROUGH IN TOTAL OBEDIENT LOVE! (Oh, did I get a little excited there? ) The proof of the pudding is in whether my actions change my expectations or demands on myself and on others. Has my heart been transformed? Or am I just looking for a good feeling? What have I really found? Anything, or just some pretend idea? You want us to really find You.

 
So why was Ezekiel able to find You when what seemed like the rest of Israel couldn’t? “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Nope, it wasn’t new stuff here. It wasn’t like they didn’t know what to do. I think it’s the same for most of us today. It’s not new stuff. And it’s not like we don’t know what we ought to do and what we need to do.

 
We’re all running around asking, “What is the meaning of life?” Well, the answer has always been right in front of us. “The answers to life are found in seeking God.” (Skip Moen) God promised that those who seek Him would find Him. When Jesus shared, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,” (Luke 11:9) He wasn’t coming up with some new idea. He was restating what should have already been known. From day one of creation, it’s what our lives were designed to be. We were created to seek the kingdom of God above and before everything else, and to seek His righteousness, and the rest of what we were designed for flows from that to us. And you can’t seek the kingdom and God’s righteousness without seeking Him.

 
Jeremiah uses this other word for seeking. It’s about diligently searching for knowledge. And that’s what causes a problem for many of us. Because we start thinking knowledge is about what we do, like religious activity, instead about who we know, like You God. We start replacing You with good works and ritual and rules and books about You and people’s testimonies. That’s why we burn out and feel empty.

 
Mary, in the middle of a busy day, found God in His temple. How? In her house, in all the business, she sat down at the feet of Jesus. She chose the place of a disciple, the place of closeness and intimacy, of quietness and learning, of being filled and restored. Martha was choosing service and doing the proper thing, the good thing. But Jesus said that Mary chose what was better? Was Mary lazy? No. But she was willing to drop everything to enter the kingdom of God and sit in His presence. She was seeking His kingdom first. She was soaking up His righteousness. And from that, she would be able to take those things to those around her.

 
Unless we eat of Your flesh and drink of Your blood, unless we are that intimate with You that You are changing us from the inside out, how will You or anyone else recognize us as Yours? Here’s the thing, we get to choose to seek You or not. “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me.” (Proverbs 1:28) It’s not unusual to lose things and find them. It’s a very common occurrence in life. So it’s easily understood. But there’s a problem when we think we can seek God’s kingdom and wisdom but we choose to reject His rule. It doesn’t work that way. We become blinded. We grope and won’t find even when the answer is right within our grasp. We could put our hand right on it and not recognize it. The answer becomes invisible to us. The sad thing is that it was right there for us, it was ours, but by our own foolish decision we lost the gift that should have been ours all along.

 
I want to find what You place before me. I want to see You and know You and revel in knowing You and following You and walking in Your ways. I want to know how You feel about me by experiencing You. I want to know the power of Your resurrection and the power of Your love and the power of everything that is You. I want to know the beautiful wonder of You. And with that wonder comes hard things for me, just like for Ezekiel. Imbibing You, dwelling in You, means I can’t dwell in the world the way it is the same way. Knowing You and finding You means knowing and finding the power of Your resurrection and the fellowship of Your sufferings. But if I am really Yours, if I want to really find You and know You, then I must let myself be found and found fully. I must let You have all Your power over me. Because Your desire is to make us a nation of priests after Your own heart, influencing the world around us in You. Your eyes run to and fro, back and forth, over the whole earth waiting to show Yourself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are complete in You. Why would I want to ruin such a good thing?

Finding God

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“He has done this so that they would look for God, somehow reach for Him, and find Him.  In fact, He is never far from any one of us.  Certainly, we live, move, and exist because of Him.  As some of your poets have said, ‘We are God’s children.'”  Acts 17:27-28 God’s Word translation.

Who has done what?  You, God, did something so that people would look for You, reach You, and find You.  That’s amazing!  I want to look at what You did.

Well, it started with You making the universe and everything in it.  Paul rehashed that in verse 24 briefly.  But I can go back to Genesis and read all about it.  So that makes You the Lord, the Ruler, the Authority, over heaven and earth.  And as it’s Creator, You are bigger than what You created, so it’s not like we can contain You in any created thing.  It’s also not like any created thing can meet Your needs or that You need any created thing to meet any of Your needs.  Obviously You could have existed without us, because You were existing without all these things You created before You created them.

So You created us, people, and gave us life, the very breath we breathe and everything that we have is given to us by You.  It started with one man and somehow You brought forth from him every nation on the earth.  Hmm.  That makes us all related by blood.  That’s something to think about.  You even established seasons and where individual men would live.  So now that I know that You did this, why would You do this?

Why would You place the Jews or the Greeks or the Romans or the Medes, or the Persians where You did and when You did?  Why would you place the Americans, or Philippinos, or Africans, or Malaysians where You have and when You have?  Why would You place El Shabaab, or ISIS, or Christians where You have and when You have?  Why would You allow 147  students to attend a college in Kenya where they would lose their lives because of their affiliation with You?  Why would You place former Muslims in strategic places to educate the world in the Truth?  Paul gives us the answer.

“He has done this so that they would look for God, somehow reach for Him, and find Him.”  Dark doesn’t know what light is until it’s exposed to it.  When light steps in, darkness must run.  Every person of every tribe and nation, is being exposed to the Truth.  It’s Your desire that every one of us look for You.  That’s where it must start.  But sometimes we are so busy following traditions that we never stop to think about whether they are true or not.  That effects those of us who call ourselves believers just as much as those who believe in something else.  It’s all about searching.

But what are we searching for?  Are we really searching for the truth or are we searching for something that just satisfies our whims?  Because God is designing our lives around looking for Him, the real Him.  He wants us to look for Him so personally and intently that  we somehow stumble upon actually reaching for Him.  This is when the searching for other things to satisfy us ends and only He will do.  And when we get that close to Him, that’s when He allows Himself to be found by us.  And the truth is that He was never far away.  He’s always been waiting for us to turn to Him in truth and wholehearted need.

Because the truth of the matter is that no matter what nation I come from and no matter what religion I adhere to, I live, move, and exist solely because of You, Lord.  The sad thing is to give credit to another or to not even be concerned about giving credit at all.  Yet everything You have ordered around us shouts out the truth of You.  The question is, “What will I do with that truth?”

Paul didn’t treat the Athenians like they were unintelligent babes.  Neither does God treat us as such.  He said there was a time when God overlooked man’s ignorance, his not knowing any better.  But no more.  Now “He commands everyone everywhere to turn to Him and change the way they think and act.  He has set a day when He is going to judge the world with justice, and He will use a man He has appointed (Jesus) to do this.  God has given proof to everyone that He will do this by bringing that man back to life.”  (Acts 17:30-31)

  

The day that Paul shared that in Athens, some mocked him.  They thought it was crazy for him to be talking about someone resurrecting from the dead.  Some put him off and said they’d listen to more later.  So Paul honored their attitudes and went out.  But some men joined him and believed.  But they didn’t just join him.  It wasn’t like they thought Paul was cool and they liked his message and they became a groupy.  The word for join, is “kollao,” and it means to glue, to stick, to cleave, to join yourself, to keep company that closely.  See, these men and women, they were the ones really, I mean really searching.  They were wanting to know the truth.  And because they were searching for it, they heard it.  And because they were really searching, then they wanted to reach out and handle it.  And they weren’t going to leave until they could hold it for themselves.  And that’s the attitude and actions that You bless and reward with finding You.

How glued to Jesus am I?  How glued to those who know Him am I?  Am I so glued that other people see the truth that they are looking for?  Does it make them want to “stick” around for more?  I wrote a story, an allegory, and shared it with my kids when they were little.  I thought it was a salvation allegory but after joining with God on mission, it took on a whole new aspect.  Because those people that led me to draw near to You, well, they became what I call Fire People.  And the thing is, that Paul was one of those Fire People.  And I bet that Dionysius and Damaris became Fire People and other people came to stick to You because of Your influence in them.  But that’s just it.  No matter who You use, it’s always You that reaches out and finds us and accepts our outstretched hands and hearts and draws us into Yourself and binds us with You and Yours.

Yes, this is why things are the way they are.  This is why things happen.  It’s always to draw us near to You.  To get us to look for You and search for You with all our hearts and all our beings.  Because once we have You, we have everything we need no matter what is going on around us.

Living Upside Down

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Act 17:34  But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Well, I’m back to looking at this “believing” stuff, Lord.  I can’t get enough of it.  It’s like I’m glued to finding out more.  Which is a neat thing because that’s the word used here in the King James Version for how these new believers joined themselves to Paul.  The KJV says that “certain men CLAVE unto him and believed…”  That’s the Greek word “kollao” which  is from the word “glue.”  So, for these men and women, it was the same experience I’m having with Your Word and with You.  They couldn’t get enough of it.  They were glued to finding out more; they were glued to listening to the Truth.  And that kind of attitude leads to something.  It leads to finding and being found.

Let me offer a review of what’s been taking place.  Chapter 17 opens with Paul and Silas arriving in Thessalonica.  As was the custom, they went to the synagogue.  Paul spent three days there reasoning from the Scriptures about You, Jesus.  What was the result?  Some believed. 

Who were some?  Some included some of the Jews, but a lot of devout Greeks and a lot of the chief women.   But, the Jews that didn’t believe were envious and started a riot, grabbing Jason and other believers and accusing them of turning the world upside down and being contrary to Caesar since they proclaimed this other king, Jesus.  So the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea.

In Berea, Paul and Silas go to the synagogue again.  Here, the Bereans do search Scripture to check out what Paul is saying and therefore many found the truth and believed the word of God.  BUT the nonbelieving Jews in Thessalonica got wind of the story and came there to stir up trouble again.  Soooo, the believers took Paul to Athens where he met up with Silas and Timotheus. 

While Paul was waiting for his companions, his heart was stirred over the idol worship in Athens.  But the Holy Spirit opened a door for sharing through an unnamed platform for the “unknown god.”  Again he started sharing in the synagogue, but the Lord opened the door of opportunity through curiosity over his message in the market and he was able to share at Mars’ hill.  Here he declared that Christ had come to make the “UNKNOWN GOD” known.  Which is where we hear Paul speak these words to them after defining God.  “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us:  for in Him we live, and move, and have our being…” (Acts 17:27,28)

Now this is really important.  I really think, Lord, that what Paul was saying here, is what those people I mentioned in verse 34 glued themselves to.  Right here, Paul is telling anyone who will listen and follow, how to come to know the once “UNKNOWN GOD.”    How do I do that?  How do I come to find You?  How do I come to know You?

I should seek You.  What does that mean to seek You?  The Greek word is “zeteo.”  It’s used in Matthew 6:33 where You, Jesus, commanded us, “But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”  But what does seeking really look like to You?  Can I think I’m seeking when I’m really not?

The “seek” used here means “to deliberately strive and desire something as an act of the will.”  Am I willing to apply my whole being to find the truth?  Would I be willing to give up or lose everything just to come to know the truth?  Skip Moen says it “implies putting your whole life at the disposal of God’s rule and will so that nothing takes greater priority.  This meaning carries over the Old Testament idea that seeking God is an activity of the whole being, not simply an intellectual pursuit.  Everything that comprises who we are is to be offered as a living sign of complete surrender to the pursuit of God and His kingdom.  God-consciousness must be the ethos of life…This verse tells us that whenever we consciously commit ourselves in utter abandonment to God’s will, He faithfully cares for our needs. ..Seeking is a very strong word.  It isn’t just ‘looking around’ or ‘checking it out’.  It is fervent hunting. ..When your life is consumed with looking for God, God will find you.  And you will be completely cared for.  Jesus said it another way.  ‘Happy the ones who are desperate for God because God arrives for them’.”

Now “zeteo” can mean to just casually look for something, but not in this context.  In this context we aren’t just sitting and waiting.  We glue ourselves to the one who can show us where the treasure can be found.  I hunt for it till I find it.  Would I just wait until my lost child is found by someone else?  Or do I begin the search myself and begin it fervently?   And I don’t stop looking until I find what was lost, until I’m holding it in my arms.  I work at this kind of seeking.  I would do anything for this kind of seeking.  It has nothing to do with resting until I’ve found what I was looking for.  This kind of seeking means that other things will have to be abandoned because I have to know what I’m seeking after.  I have to have action and direction.

Here’s the thing.  Our seeking God is always started by God’s activity in us.  It’s not my effort that does it.  You, God, start Your personal activity in me, putting in me this desire to seek You and to find You, actually maybe the desire to be found by You.  You sustain our desire and drive to find You because You want us to find You.  You want us to find that You reign.  And when we find that, then we will be found by You, and then we will have what we desired at last!  I seek but I don’t make it happen.  You do.  I seek and I do work learning to look for the right thing and You do all the real work that makes it happen.  I witness Your work.  I experience You.  Then I can proclaim what I’ve found, I can bear witness to You, I can persuade others of Your existence, and I can announce You in word.  But the biggest thing is that I will experience a relationship with You.  I will know You and know myself.

But this is where it starts.  And the seeking this intently, this wholeheartedly, leads to the chance for us to “feel after” You.   What in the world does that mean?  Well, it’s not a strong word, but it’s a beginning.  That what I find as I seek intently could be used for me to draw the conclusions I need to in order for me to be able to finally find what I am seeking and begin to “put my finger on it.”  Now this word “plelaphao” means to touch like just touching the surface, but if I haven’t even been able to touch the surface before, what a treasure to touch the surface now! 

I’ve never been swimming at a beautiful clear beach in the Philippines yet.   I’ve never touched the surface of that kind of water there.  But let me tell you, the day the Lord allows it, and brings me to that beach somewhere, and I touch that surface,  I will be so grateful and tears are gonna flow.  But I’ll tell you this too, I won’t be satisfied with just touching the surface of the water.  I’m diving in.  I’m experiencing the full effect of that water and that beach and that blessing.

So it is with believing.  We seek with all our hearts and soul and mind and possessions and we start to touch You.  But that initial touch starts a flame in our soul.  One touch on the surface is not enough of You.  One touch though, is all it takes to know my desperation for more of You.  I seek, I touch, and I find!

Now, “heurisko” can mean that you find something just by stumbling upon it when you weren’t looking.  But that’s not the context here.  Here it implies finding something after diligently searching for it.  You found what You were specifically looking for.  You looked expectantly and found it.  You anticipated finding it.  You searched with great hope.  And because you were so expectant, there was no giving up.  “I will search until I find You.  My life depends on it.  You are the glue who holds me together.  I can’t live without You.  I need this, desperately.  I must find the truth!”

Maybe some don’t find because we give up too easily.  But maybe all the effort and tough stuff is worth it and only when that’s how we feel about it, are we going to search so diligently that we would never give up.  I mean, am I searching for an answer to prayer or am I searching for the ANSWER?  Am I searching for provision or am I searching for LIFE?  Am I searching for YOU or am I searching for what I can get from You?  What if my life depended on finding You and having a relationship with You?  Would my searching change?  Would I be unwilling to give up no matter the difficulty?

But here’s where that other meaning of “heurisko” comes in to play.  When I realize my desperate need for You and realtionship in You and not my need for what You can give or do for me, that’s when You do all the work.  That’s when I stop seeking because You make Yourself found.  It’s as though in all my looking all of a sudden You just do it, despite my efforts.  I meet You.  You show Yourself to me.  I come to rest in You because You give me You and with You comes perfect rest.  I believed.  I trusted You.  I let Your Word do what it says it would do.  I changed my behavior and I let You carry the load.  And I did it all just by learning to dependently spend time with You as though my life depended upon it more than anything else.  I suddenly knew You.  You just slipped right in, in a moment.

See, You were never far away.  I just had to learn to continually look for You, to continually believe that You would show Yourself, that Your word is continually true.  You are always right there.  Waiting.  Watching for the moment when we are ready to receive You.  Waiting for that moment when we are ready to believe, when we have finally surrendered to Your word in desperation, when we have finally surrendered to You.

These new believers could join Paul for one reason- they had joined with You, Jesus, first.  And how did they join with You, Lord?  They surrendered.   But they did more than hold up their white flags.  They willingly, knowingly, JOYFULLY, surrendered to You, in order to know You and be known by You.  Why?  Because in You we “live, and move, and have our being.”  Outside of You, we are just going through the motions, but they are empty motions.  And Dionysius and Damaris and others found that out that day in history.  They sought You, they touched You, and they found You and were found by You.  And knowing You changed their lives. 

Once You turn our lives upside down, Lord, we can’t help but turn the world upside down.  We walk a different way.  We talk a different way.  We sing a different way and write a different way.  We seek a different treasure.  But we don’t just want it for ourselves.  We want to share this Way with others.  Sin turned the world upside down.  But You are in the process of setting it rightside up again. 

I just want to thank You for providing the way for us to be reunited with You.  Thank You beyond measure that You desire and even place in us a desire to seek You.  Thank You for working through that desire to let us come to touch You and see You and finally to come to know You.  Lord, I can never get enough of You because even an eternity with You will not ever bring me to the end of You.  But every day You invite me to join with You and walk with You and learn more of You.  And every day I respond in You, that glue just becomes stronger and stronger.  And now, I can’t imagine not spending time in Your Word with You.  And I love joining myself to others who have that love for You.  And I absolutely can’t get enough of You, You’re just that wonderful and more!  Thank You so much for turning my world upside down.  And thank You that You are still turning people’s worlds upside down today!