Oh, To Be Greatly Beloved

Standard

“At the beginning of your supplications a word went forth, and I am come to declare it; for you are greatly beloved; therefore look into the word, and understand the vision.” (Daniel 9:23)

 
Can you imagine God sending Gabriel, an angel who stands before Him waiting for His command, coming to you and telling you that God has heard your prayers and made a declaration according to them and, to top it all off, that you are greatly beloved? Now I’m going to leave arguments over the prophesy to others today. But I want to examine Daniel’s heart. I want to see what it is that causes God to delight in someone like that.

 

Why? Because I want to be that kind of a person. I want God to experience shear delight in me. Isn’t that what we were created for? Isn’t that part and parcel with glorifying God?
The Westminster Shorter Catechism starts off by asking this question, “What is the chief end of man?” And then it answers, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” Where did they get this from? Well, you can read Psalm 86, Isaiah 60:21, Romans 11:36, and 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 10:31 to see. But don’t forget to look at the clincher in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for You have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.” Am I bringing God pleasure with my life? Am I fulfilling my God-given purpose on this earth? Or have I given myself some other foreign purpose? And if I have adopted some foreign purpose for my life, is that really even living at all?

 
I can’t help but think how fully alive Daniel was. He’s lived through at least two kingdoms being overthrown, probably the death of his parents or at least total separation from them and another nation trying to wipe away his identity. But how does he respond? He holds on to his identity, but not with bitterness, and clings to You God and Your ways in a nation where it was anything but easy. But it’s as though he were living for You and living to please You in all he was. He wouldn’t eat what would be unpleasing to You. He wasn’t rude to those around him or why would they find favor in him? Was that a typical Jewish response to Gentiles and overthrowers? That was a God response in a young man or boy who cherished You.

 
He didn’t stop there. As a man, he not only wanted to save his life and that of his Jewish brothers, but cared for the lives of the other “wise” men and trusted You for the interpretation of the king’s dream. But he was not self-confident. He asked his brothers to pray and fast and did likewise because His confidence was in You, the One he delighted in. Even fear of the king’s anger at the outcome of a dream did not hold him back from sharing Your truth.

 
How boldly he stood before Belshazzar when summoned, probably in his 70’s and yet he had not forgotten all that You had done before. He held Belshazzar accountable before You and the people for not remembering and being moved to action by what he knew about You. He was so delighted in You that he cared nothing for the rewards offered by the king.

 
On the other hand, You were so delighted in Daniel that when the kingdom was overthrown, You gave those rewards and more to Daniel anyway. Because of You and his love and honor of You in everything, Daniel’s character stood out in every reign and he was continually chosen as a leader and advisor even to the kings. Which brings me back to this saying, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2)

 
I can’t help bringing up this verse again and again. What does it mean, especially in context today? I mean, God, You are continually concealing things and giving us, like Daniel and the kings, things we need to search out but that You know the answer to. And maybe that’s the point. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing. You carry the weight of knowing everything and when is the right time to reveal it and who are the right people to reveal it to lest it be like pearls trampled by the swine. But is it really only for kings to search it out? Or do we receive the honor of a king, are we acting like a king ought to act, when we, whoever we are, like Daniel search out every matter according to You and in You? Daniel was not a king and yet he received the glory of a king by kings and from You. Why?

 
Could it be because Daniel delighted in the King of kings? It’s so hard for us to grasp this since we live in a democracy because Your kingdom God is not a democracy. You are King. If Your thumb is up we live, if down, we die. What You say goes, despite what we say. Skip Moen shares, “It is the King’s right and prerogative to involve himself in any aspect of any life under His authority. Furthermore, since God is the King of all the earth, everything belongs to Him. He doesn’t have to prove ownership in a court of law. He cannot be stripped of His property. What He decides to do with His possessions (including you and me) is entirely up to Him. And He holds everyone under His domain accountable for their treatment and stewardship of His resources. There are consequences for refusing to live according to the will of the King. In the days when we are awash in political rhetoric and the promises of leadership, it is well to remember who the King really is. No matter who we choose to lead us, they must answer to Him. So must we for our choosing. If we choose leadership that does not honor Him, we will pay the price. There is only one King, and He is not on the ballot.” And Daniel shows us how to live according to the True King who is not on the world’s ballot.

 
Kings would be wise to search out matters God’s way who conceals and reveals. But it’s not just for kings. We can reap the honor of kings, and especially our King, to live as the kings aren’t living, to love the One the kings aren’t loving, to honor the One the kings ought to honor. Earthly kings and kingdoms are temporary. Come on, look at history. But the True King and His Kingdom are forever. Like Daniel, I better learn how to live under and for Him now. Like Daniel, I want to love and enjoy service under my King all the days of my life.

 
Daniel’s heart was so sensitive to You Lord. He not only thought of himself but of those around him. He lifted up the whole nation and advocated for them, identifying in their sin against You. He set his face unto You. You alone were His source of help and sustenance and answer to the things he didn’t understand. He was serious about hearing from You, so serious he fasted and prayed. He knew You and knew Your word. He sought You out everywhere, looking for Your evidences all around him. There was confusion and shame where You were not, but righteousness with You, and that, or rather You were what he sought. From You and in You were the mercy and forgiveness he sought. He understood that they belonged to You and weren’t just things You gave out. To find them, one must be in relationship with the One who emits mercy and forgiveness because they are part of His essence.

 

Daniel had been doing the job the kings should have done, seeking answers from God. But they weren’t. But since he was, God delighted in his delighting and gave him the answer of kings from Himself, the King of all.  And You send Gabriel to bring the answer to this man who has been spending his life delighting in You, to this man who You hold as beloved. You send this angel named Gabriel from Your presence into his, to share a prophecy. Now, whether that was concerning “Messiah the Prince,” search it out like a true king, I won’t tell you. But the next two times that Gabriel shows up, he’s telling Zacharias that his son will be a forerunner before the Lord, and he tells Mary that her son will be called “the Son of the Most High.”

 
There are a lot of things in our lives that aren’t clear to us, a lot that is concealed before us. If I want to know the truth about it, I need to seek it out from one Source, God alone. I need to stop living like the world and start living like You and loving like You and delighting in You above everything else around me. I need to be willing to sacrifice my comfort in this world, to be comforted by and in You. If You aren’t my most beloved then how can I expect to be Your beloved? We reap what we sow, right? How much of myself am I truly sowing in You? When I think of all that You have sown into people who continually fail You and disregard You, I am amazed and shocked. Because I have been one of those. And yet You love me, and gave Your Christ to return me into Your glory that I might love and serve You again and be loved by You. I guess we’ve always been loved. But it’s maybe greater to be beloved because it’s a reciprocal relationship experienced and treasured by both parties. That’s the kind of relationship Daniel had. And that’s the kind of relationship I want, no matter the cost.

Advertisements

The Most Glorious Worm

Standard

Photo credit to Brittany Cunningham

Mat 26:41  Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Stress.  That’s my word for today.  Stress.  Stress.  Stress.  How am I supposed to deal with it rightly?   You, Lord, repeatedly tell us, “Therefore do not be anxious…”  You even go so far as to say it this way, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  So what does that mean?  Because it sounds to me like even if I keep myself from making myself anxious over things, the days in themselves are going to throw their own anxiety at me without me even contributing.  Yes, that’s happening a lot lately.  So my question today is, Lord, how do I handle it rightly?

Here’s the deal.  It seems to me like my heart and my mind aren’t anxious.  I’m not worried.  I know that You are working all things, yes, ALL things for my good and Your glory.  But I feel the anxiety in my body.  I wonder if I’m grinding my teeth.   I’m getting headaches.  I feel on edge.  I can’t concentrate as well.  I just feel it in my body.  It’s tense.  It’s like my body acts one way and my mind and heart want to act another.  How do I get a handle on it?  Do I get to get a handle on it?

So I’m glad to come to remember Your words about the spirit being willing but the body being weak, because, obviously, my body is weak.   My spirit is willing, it’s eager and prepared.  But my flesh is a whole other story.  My flesh is weak.  It’s asthenes.  It’s strengthless whether you look at it literally, figuratively or morally.  It’s feeble, impotent, sick, without strength.  And that’s bad, isn’t it?

Or is it?  Because You say that when I am weak, then I am strong.  Well, that’s a paradox, isn’t it?  How can I can I be weak but strong?  Maybe it’s not about my strength.  Maybe it’s always about Your strength.

It’s interesting to say the least, how I started thinking about this a couple days ago, and then at church this morning, Pastor Mark preached on how You, Lord, handle trouble.  And I really appreciated the verses he shared.  “And Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Truly, truly , I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also.  If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.  Now is My soul troubled.  And what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’?  Father, glorify Your name.”  Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”  (John 12:23-28)  And this is such a tremendous help because if I want to know how to rightly handle trouble and stress, I need to know how You handled it.  And if there was ever a place or a time that You were under the most stress ever, this is that time.  So how did You handle it?

I want to look closely at verse 27.  Here’s how You felt.  “Now is my soul troubled.”  That word, troubled, is “tarasso” in Greek.  It can mean anything from stirring the water or being agitated, or extend all the way to the extreme of being terrified, or effected by grief or anxiety.  Really?  Jesus, You felt those things?  You felt that way?  It’s not hard to understand that You would feel this way at this time.  You knew what was coming; it was the whole reason You came.  You were about to offer Your life for mine, for all people.  You were about to do something no other person could ever do.  You were about to go through the greatest suffering ever and it was by Your own choice and design.  God had purposed this from the start.  And the moment was almost here.

It was more than physical suffering and humiliation and crucifixion.  Lots of people have been put through that and still are being put through that, especially at the hands of ISIS.  But You were the only One who could bear our sin on top of all that.  Now I’ve been thinking about that.  I’ve been thinking about the intensity of Your suffering for me.   I’ve been thinking about the physical and emotional pain You bore.  But I’ve also been thinking about the pain of bearing all our sin.  I can’t even understand that.  How does a perfectly holy and just God who abhors sin, take the sin of every person on Himself?  How do You bear that which You loathe?

Yes, Your soul was more troubled than I have ever been and than I could ever imagine.  For me, for every individual person who has ever existed or who ever will, You bore what was antagonistic to Your very being.  You became sin for me.  That in itself was worse for You than all the torture.  But You took on both the torture and the darkness and grossness of our sin.  And what should You say?  “Father, save Me from this hour.  Father don’t make Me bear their sin.  Don’t make Me suffer like this for them.  Don’t make Me bear and experience their darkness.”  Is that what You should have said?  No.  If You had said that, then You wouldn’t be Who You Are.

Who are You?  You are the One who came for this specific purpose.  This was the cause You came for .  This was Your hour to shine the brightest.  This greatest trouble of all time was Your time to glorify the Father above all troubles and be glorified in Him.  This was Your opportunity to overcome darkness.  This was Your opportunity to redeem Your people unto Yourself.  Through this act, God would be glorified.  His plan would be fulfilled.  His will would be done.  This was the hour that had been designed before time to fulfill God’s plan and bring glory to His name.

So what does this teach me about how I am to handle my problems and trials and stressful situations?  I need to view all these tough situations as being designed in my life for one purpose- that God should be glorified.  Every one of these tough things in my life brings me face to face with determining who I love more, my way and my life or Your way and Your life.  Can I come to the point of detesting my own way and loving Your way more, despite the pain?  Would I accept what I detest if it meant glorifying You to bear it for a time?  Because if I can’t do that and if I’m not willing to do that, then how can I really serve You?  If I can’t follow You where You walk, then how can I be where You are?  If bearing suffering in a God glorifying way isn’t part of my life, than how much are You a part of my life?

Do I cry out to be delivered from all my troubles?  Or do I cry out for You to be glorified in the midst of them?  Could I declare like Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him”?  Can I see the bigger picture and trust in You regardless of whether I see?  Can I trust that You see and know all that I need?  Because isn’t that what trusting is?  Isn’t that when I know, without having to see, that You have it all under control and that You truly have my best interests in mind?  So, can I surrender to the tough situations in my life as unto You?  Is Your glory that important to me?

I think of people that You have placed in my life.  People who have been through very hard trials in their lives.  People who are still going through hard trials.  I watch them.  I listen.  I walk with them.  I see how they surrender to You.  I see how they look at these hardships as times to grow in You and glorify You.  I see You using their weakness to make much of Yourself.  Because how can we be strong when we are weak?  The credit has to go to Someone Else.  And it does.

I just looked up and saw these following words from Job.  He says this of You.  “He also shall be my salvation…” (Job 13:16)  “He also shall be my Yshuah.”   That’s Your name, Jesus.  You are Yshuah.  You are Salvation.  You are deliverance.  You are victory.  You are health.  You are aid.   You are my welfare.  You gave Your life for me to become my Yshuah.  And it wasn’t just in word.  You gave Your life so I could have Your life.  But I must give my life to You to receive Your life.

Lord, I don’t know how to respond in every situation.  I’m flawed.  But I want to glorify You in the midst of every trouble.  I want to understand how You would respond and I want to respond in Your love and power and grace.  Fill me with You so that I will respond rightly.  I’m weak.  I’ll be the first to admit it.  I can’t respond rightly without You.  I’m desperately needy.  But You are able to deliver me through my troubles.  Even if I must stand in the midst of burning flames, You can give me the strength to lift my hands above my head and clap as I burn so that You are glorified and others know that You bear us in Your strength through every tough thing.  (That account was related in Fox’s Book of Martyrs)  Let me always remember Your troubled soul, so that I can always run to You for understanding, strength, and encouragement.

You know, sometimes I feel like a worm.  But that’s OK.  You understand what it is to be treated like a worm and feel like a worm too.  They made fun of You for trusting in God.  They made fun of You for delighting in Him.  But Your trust paid off.  He did deliver You.  He always has and always will delight in You.  And I want to trust You like that, no matter what the people say or what the circumstances around me say.  Thank You for experiencing being a worm.  Because You know me.  And You are the most glorious Worm ever.   And if I must follow You as a worm, then make me a beautiful worm in You.  I’d be the most joyful worm in the world to look like You.

Arms of Love

Standard

And I have declared unto them Your name, and will declare it:  that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  John 17:26Image

What’s really in a name?  What does it mean that You have declared unto us God’s name?  What does it mean to believe in Your name?  What do I have to know about names to really understand things here?

In Hebrew thought, a name is never something that is pulled at random out of a hat and assigned to a person. “The name conveys the nature and essence of the thing named. It represents the history and reputation of the being named. ”  (Judaism 101)  It’s not just what you call someone; it’s who they are, what they are like, and what they’ve done.  “Because a name represents the reputation of the thing named, a name should be treated with the same respect as the thing’s reputation. For this reason, God’s Names, in all of their forms, are treated with enormous respect and reverence in Judaism.” (ibid)  

Here’s an interesting thought, “[t]he meaning of Hebrew words are always based on something tangible. Something you can understand through the five senses. ” (Deborah Sexton)  I wonder if that applies to You, Lord?  Well, let’s just hold that thought and we’ll see if Your other words bring that home today.  Right now, I want to think about this name thing.

Your name always represents Your character.  It’s who You are.  It’s what You are like.  It’s what You do and how You act.  It is You.  

A Hebrew text, Tanchuma, Vahak’heil 1,  shared this thought on names, “In life, you discover that people are called by three names: one is the name the person is called by his father and mother; one is the name people call him; and one is the name he acquires for himself. The best one is the one he acquires for himself.”  Now, I’m not so sure that the best name is the one acquired on our own.  But, that is often the strongest name, the one that represents us most.  And of those, You have acquired a name, a reputation that is Your own that You have shown and made known Yourself.  And in Your case, it is the best one.  Because we call You names, we learn Your characteristics by Your demonstration of Who You are as You make Yourself known to us.

Your name is You.   It is Your essence.  It brings identity.  And not only does it show us You, but it identifies You with us!  It relates You to Your people and allows us to be related, to know You, and therefore to make You known.

Now here I’m going to switch to the Good News Bible Translation.  “I made You known to them, and I will continue to do so, in order that the love You have for Me may be in them, and so that I also may be in them.”  I don’t want to miss this because it is just reverberating through Your words.  The King James Version chose the word “declared.”  And yes, You told, but You did more than tell; You showed.  “Gnorizo” and its root are all “rooted” in “knowing.”  Knowing goes deeper than telling.  Knowing as You wish us to know goes as far as experiencing for ourselves.  It’s one thing for someone to tell us about someone else, but it’s a whole new ballpark when we experience that person for ourselves, when we see Him, when we touch Him.  See, even though You are God and You are Spirit, in Jesus You have become tangible.  Actually, I think You always were.

In speaking of You, Jesus, John says, “We write to you about the Word of life [that’s You, Jesus], which has existed from the very beginning.  We have heard it [You], and we have seen it [You] with our eyes;  yes, we have seen it [You], and our hands have touched it [You].  When this life [You] became visible, we saw it [You]; so we speak of it [You] and tell you about the eternal life [You] which was with the Father and was made known to us.  What we have seen and heard we announce to you also, so that you will join with us in the fellowship that we have with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”  (1 John 1:103)  Well, it certainly appears that You can truly be experienced by the five senses.  John expressed You as very tangible.  You can be seen.  You can be touched.  Because in the seeing You and in the touching You, and in the being seen and being touched by You, we are joined in fellowship with You.

See, this is all part of Your prayer for us.  You didn’t just pray for us to have eternal life.  Yes, You prayed for that.  But in Your own words You said that eternal life was knowing You, knowing God.  There’s the same root “ginosko” in our previoius Greek word.  You, Jesus, came to glorify the Father.  All these words swirl around each other like the angels circling Your throne in worship.  “Doxazo”, glorify,  “acknowledging Him as to His being, attributes and acts.”  Vine’s Greek New Testament Dictionary shares this quote, “As the glory of God is the revelation and manifestation of all that He has and is.” 

You are the manifestation of God that we can see and touch and comprehend.  We heard Your “logos,” Your words.  We have been given Your “rhema,” Your words in a way that we can receive them and get hold of them by the power of the Holy Spirit.   I really think that every word  matters.  And Your words matter above all words.  And the thing is, You are the First Word.  I mean literally.  And everything in what we call Your Word is based on You and is there to help us to see, and know who You are.

So, who are You really?  That is so hard to describe.  And I think it’s hard because we don’t even know ourselves.  I mean what do we say when we introduce someone?  “This is Sharon, my wife.”  Is that all I am?  Of course not.  I’d rather be introduced as Sharon, child of God, because I think that leaves my identity more wide open.  That gives me a glorious beginning, a present, and an eternal future identity that’s all wrapped up in You.  And who can describe You fully?

What did You think was important in Your prayer?  Who we are depends on our personal knowledge of You.  To know You is to be known by You.  To know You is to enter into Eternal Life, You.  You receive back to Yourself the wonder of all that You are, this is being glorified.  It’s like Your light shining back on Yourself and continually making much of You.  It’s all about You continually making Yourself known, manifesting Yourself.  And as we support You with our lives and thoughts and are supported by You, You allow us to shine back on You and shine from You.  We become evidence of the character of God.  I resemble the Name.  We glorify you by entering into Your holiness which is You.  We dedicate ourselves to Your absolute standards.  

You prayed that we might be filled with Your joy.  And the interesting thing about joy is that this kind of joy comes out of knowing You in the midst of struggles and is learned by experience.  This is yet another opportunity to understand and know Your name, Your person.  We get to experience being kept and guarded and watched over by You.  You make us holy like You.  You send us out into the world just like Jesus.  And we’ll be one with You and each other in You because of how much we are becoming like You and getting to know the real You and experiencing You.  

I could go on and on.  But my eyes are getting physically sleepy.  The point here of experiencing isn’t that this is one way.  Experiencing means doing.  Trusting and believing means supporting.  Supporting You means showing we are banking everything on Your word, on You, by living according to it, according to You.  Then, You show Yourself True and support us back.  Because You are True and we were created to shine forth Your Truth, Your Character, Your Name, You!  And one of the greatest rewards of this relationship is experiencing the depths of Your love.  For as deeply and intensely as You loved Your only begotten Son, You love me that deeply too.  Jesus prayed that You would love me as You had loved Him.  And not only that, but You asked that the same love that was in You, would be in me.  

To experience You is to experience Your love because “God is love.”  This is what we get to see and touch.  “…[T]he love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5)  It is shed abroad, it gushes out, runs out, just like the blood of Christ was shed abroad for us on the cross.  This same love is flowing in us from You.  And because You dwell inside us as believers, nothing can ever come between us while we are in You.  “Not height, not depth, not any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Because if I have placed my self IN YOU and You have placed Yourself in me then LOVE dwells in me because it is who You are.  You become my identity.  You define me.  I live by Your words, guard Your words, obey Your words, keep Your words because by It, and in It, and through It all things consist, are held together.  So, in You, I am held together by Your love and in Your love and You and Your character are consummated in me.  See, in You I have “a current state of moral maturity, moral perfection, or moral completeness lacking nothing.” (sermonindex.net) because it’s imparted from You and You are in me.  As I walk in You, as I live my life in You according to You, I am like You.  You are love.  “Every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.”  (1 John 4:7)  If I want to know real love, I must know You, because only You know how to love for real.  Remember how I said this is what we experience?  “And we have KNOWN and BELIEVED the love that God has to us.  God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.”  (1 John 4:16)  God’s character cannot be separated from the one who is dwelling in God, who is walking with Him moment by moment.  Which leads to this, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.”  (1 John 5:3)  This is faith.  It is placing all my weight, all of me to be supported in all of You.  It’s made tangible in me by my demonstrating the tangibility of who You are by living out Your Word.  I cannot love without walking it out.  I have to follow IN Your example, in You.

Lord, I want nothing more than to abound, have Your love pour out of me.  I am so grateful for the treasure You have shared with me, that the measureless love with which God loves You, You turned back to me by going to the extent of physically pouring it forth for me on the cross.  And it’s not just that I can touch the wound in Your side or in Your hands like You told Thomas he could do.  But I can believe by all the evidences  that You show me, all the ways You allow me to experience You, that go beyond the physical, and into the depths of my soul.  “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”  (Romans 10:17)  There is a spiritual hearing that is more valuable than the physical.  And by Your love, You offer each one of us the ability to hear and discern Your voice, the voice of Love.  But we have to be listening, listening for Your voice in Your word.  We have to listen for Your utterances, for Your whisper as we seek You, as we seek to know You.  Well, Lord, I’m so glad that You know how to put it all into words, because I don’t.  But I’m even more glad that You are continually putting Your word, You, into me.  Let me always remain walking and dwelling in You and in Your words that forever wrap me in the arms of love.  And in that embrace, may I embrace others in and with the same arms of love.  

 

 

A Fruit That Shines

Standard

“Herein is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be My disciples.”  John 15:8Image

“Herein is My Father glorified.”  And “herein” is quite a rich word here.  “Herein”, “a position or relation of rest in this person or thing” means everything.  Who is my position or relation of rest in?  Is it in You and You alone?  Or is it in someone or something else?  Because Your point is that I need to abide in You.  My position or rest, my relation of rest must be in the Person of You.  If I am anywhere and doing anything at any time, I must be in You and You must be in me.  Then and only then will I bear fruit.  Then and only then will I not only bear fruit, but bear much fruit.  Then and only then will I glorify You.  And then and only then will I be Your disciple.  I must be placed in You, set in You, resting in You.

In You and You alone is our Father glorified.  “Glorified”, “doxazo”, “means to render glorious, to cause to have splendid greatness, to clothe in splendor, to invest with dignity, to give anyone esteem or honor by putting him into an honorable position.” But this is the amazing thing, as I esteem You and place You in an honorable position in my life and before others, You place me in an honorable position in You and before others.  This is how You are glorified.  Romans 8:30 says, ” And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.”

Now, I need to stop and take that in.  Before time began, Lord, this was a done deal.   This “speaks of God Who sees the end from the beginning and in whose decree and purpose all future events are comprehended and fixed.  Once God’s marvelous sequence begins with His foreknowledge of those He would call, it is carried through so inevitably that Paul in this verse speaks of us as ‘glorified’ in the past tense. It is already an accomplished fact in the mind and purpose of God. Note that those who were foreknown will all be glorified without loss of a single one.”  (Precept Austin)  “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)  I must clothe myself humbly in You and You will clothe me.

So, as I esteem You as over everything and in everything and through everything in my life, as I place myself in dependence upon You for everything good in me, I will bear much fruit.  So, now my question is, “What fruit?”  What will my life become like if I place myself in You?  If You become Everything and Everyone I depend upon, what will that produce in me?  How will I make much of You in my life and before others?  How will I make You shine?

“That you bear much fruit.”  Here’s the purpose, the intent for me.  I was created to bear fruit.  And I was created to bear much fruit, not some and not a little.  You are glorified, You are made much of, when I bear much fruit, because You are much of a God!

And I’m going to remind myself the importance of the bearing, because this is all dependent on my position in You.  This bearing, “phero”  means to bring forth, to bear or carry.  This is when I let the Vine do what the Vine does, when I let the Vine be who the Vine is, and when I let the Vinedresser have His way in me.  This is when I let the Holy Spirit carry me along like a ship lets the wind carry it.  This is when I let the Holy Spirit do the work and guide and empower me.  I’m not in charge.  You are.  This is when I am continually in the middle of Your “wind” allowing You to carry me and bear me along.  Then Your power is made known.

So, I am to bring forth, produce, from You and my position in You, from Your resources, “much fruit.”  Much doesn’t just mean a lot.  It can mean “great” fruit.  Listen to Matthew 5:10-12.  “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Hey, that means for Your sake, in You!), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (they belong to You, they are Your children, they are Your posession!).  Blessed are you (that’s me!) when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account (that’s becaue I’m responding in You and they see You!).  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…”  Wonderful thing is, You tell me I’m partly already there.  My great reward, my much fruit has already begun and it will get better!

Listen to Paul.  Your love for us, Your sacrifice for us, Your righteousness “made us alive together with [You]- by grace [we] have been saved- and raised up with [You] and seated  [with You] in the heavenly places in [You], so that [for this purpose] in the coming ages [You] might show the immeasurable riches of [Your] grace in kindness toward us in [Yourself].”  This is exactly what You are doing when You make us bear great fruit we couldn’t ever bear on our own.  And this great reward is coming forth, beginning to bloom in us, in me, now in You.  This is my purpose and always has been, to show Your immeasurable riches and kindness. and grace.

And this fruit goes deeper than doing good deeds.  The good deeds grow out of the fruits but they are not the fruit.  Anyone can do good deeds, with or without You.  But it’s the character, the power that produces those good deeds.  It’s the heart that they come from and it must come from Your heart or it really isn’t good at all.  Because only God is good.

The fruit has to come from You.  It has to originate from within the Vine.  Then it has to course through the branch and produce that which comes from it.  When it comes forth as fruit it looks like repentance. It looks like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control, and righteousness.  But it looks like the way You, Jesus, displayed these fruits, not the way we naturally do.  Love was willing to sacrifice for the good of others even when they didn’t care about Your good.  Joy was blooming even though there was a time of great pain and loss.  Peace was present in the midst of the greatest trials and heartaches.  You were patient when no one deserved Your patience.  You were kind to those who were unkind to You.  You were always good no matter what.  You were always faithful even if those You were faithful to were unfaithful.  You were gentle no matter how ungloriously You were treated.  You exerted self-control beyond imagination or we would not be here today.  And righteousness, well, it’s who You are and what You are.  It’s every fruit wrapped up in One Person.

And this One Person, You, wants to take this whole package of fruits from You, and place them in me.  And You want these fruits to flow from me.  And then people won’t see me any more.  They’ll see You.  They’ll see what You can do in a flawed life.  They’ll see how You can make it beautiful and make it shine like You in a dark world.  These are great things.  You are a Great God.  This is how I allow You to make much of Yourself in me.  I abide in You and let You abide in me and You bear Your great fruit through me.

Lord, I want You to bear great fruit and much fruit through me.  I want to live for the benefit of others.  I want to live to make much of You, to make You great.  Keep me from doing or saying anything or acting any way that would hinder Your glory shining forth from me.  Bear Your fruit in and through me.  Let me be continually conscientious of You and what comes out of me.  Let me live by Your Spirit.  Be the wind in my sails.  Let me cut off my engines and let You be my engine.  I am absolutely nothing without You.  Without You, outside of You, I can do nothing, I can give nothing, I am nothing.  But in You, You are my Everything and I have Everything I need to be and do what You purposed for me.  Be glorified in me and me in You, that’s how a reflection works.  The light shines on both.