Falling on My Face

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“…This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face…” (Ezekiel 1:28)

 
I know there are lots of commentaries out there but I still have lots of questions. Here is Ezekiel seeing this vision that You have given him, God. It’s about creatures with four faces, one like a man, another like a lion, one like an ox, and one like an eagle. They had four wings. Sparkling like burnished brass with straight legs and feet like a calf’s foot, they moved without turning. Two of their wings covered their bodies and two wings apparently stretched above and clasped together overhead. And there was flashing lightning and there were these wheels that went with them. And a wheel in the middle of the wheel. Read it. What am I to walk away with from this today?

 
Do you ever stop and wonder what Ezekiel took away from this? Did Ezekiel walk away from this vision trying to interpret every verse? Did he walk away and write down a commentary? I just wonder. Or did he walk away just thinking about the wonder and glory and unsurpassed glory of God? Do I need to be able to explain each item in this vision to see what You were showing Ezekiel? Can I really ever explain everything about You, God? Am I supposed to think that I can?

 
What if Ezekiel was given this opportunity to glimpse what it’s like before Your throne? What if he was given this opportunity to see how much different You are than us and that there is so much more to You that we don’t even know or understand? What if this is a vision of worship? And a vision of holiness? And a vision of power? And a vision of in-explainable things that match Your ways that are above our ways?

 
What if I would be better off standing and being amazed than explaining things? Maybe there are times when awe is more important than interpretation. What if my interpretation takes away from Your awe? Maybe I’m wrong or crazy, but I want to be cared for by a God who can’t be explained by man. I want a God who is bigger and knows more. I’m more than ok with You being in-explainable.

 
And if You are in-explainable, wouldn’t I expect those closest to Your throne to be also? I mean, if I could fathom You, You would no longer be infinite, would You? Finite things like me and this earth are fathomable. But not You and not things living and breathing according to Your spirit- like those living creatures.

 
Which makes me think. Maybe, the more of You in me, the more of Your Spirit that guides me like it guides those creatures, well, then maybe the less of me is fathomable. Maybe, in You, we begin to become unfathomable creatures, doing unfathomable things. Maybe that’s how the disciples and early believers turned the world upside down. Maybe they took on some of Your unfathomableness by taking on Your Spirit and letting it direct their paths like these amazing creatures.

 
I don’t know. I read the commentaries and it makes me think I can have an explanation for everything. And then I walk away with an explanation. Or I can read Your word, and think about what it would be like to see that for myself, and I don’t have an explanation. But I walk away with this greatness of You and this extra specialness of You above all things. And I can’t explain and I don’t want to and I don’t want to read someone elses explanation. I just want to be awed. I just want to respond like Ezekiel and watch in wonder until You show Yourself and then I want to fall on my face and just be allowed to be in Your presence and be overwhelmed by You.

 
I guess it takes me back to Isaiah 55. Isaiah is hearing from You, Lord, and You say, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” I mean, who is the wicked or unrighteous man here? Maybe the wicked and unrighteous is a broader spectrum than we like to admit. Maybe I fall in that spectrum. Maybe I fall there because I think too much of my way and my thoughts and interpretations. After all, You tell us outright “[M]y thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways…For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

 
I don’t just want to interpret You or have You interpreted. I want to see You and hear You and follow You and be moved by Your Spirit in all I do. Isaiah continues with Your words, “So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Your word is not static. When You say it shall be, hayah, it’s because it is becoming all that it is intended to become. It is doing. It is living. It is acting and being acted upon. It is accomplishing. It is delighting You. It is prospering and benefiting and bringing Your will to pass. It is being sent and being received. It is being heard and obeyed. Like the revolution of those wheels it, or rather, You are the center of our being and becoming.

 
I want to just sit back and take in the vision around Your throne. I want to remember who You are, that You are more than I can handle so that I let You be God, and I let You handle things and I let You handle me. I want the One who is glorious enough to create and control creatures as grand as those beings to control me by Your spirit. I don’t ever want to make You less than You are. I want You to be fully You in my mind and my life. I want to glory in You being God and You knowing more than me and being so capable that I understand what it is to fear the Lord. After all, when was the last time I fell on my face and trembled over You?

Vehement Exploits

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“…but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Daniel 11:32)

 
Here is the angelic being in the book of Daniel, telling of coming conquerors, and one who “shall return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.” This is one who is busy doing wickedly, conspiring with those who despise God and His people, polluting the sanctuary and making it an abomination before all. And here is this word used, this word exploit, and I really wanted to understand it’s meaning, as to how strong this word was back then, because I see it being used for the faithful also not many verses down. Only, surprise of surprises, that’s not the word of the original Hebrew.

 
But let’s look at the exploits of this ruler for a moment anyway. I can’t help but think of how he is honing in on the people of God, focussing on oppressing their beliefs. And this is not gentle bullying.  It’s like what’s spoken of in Psalm 146:7-8,  (when we think of who’s doing the oppressing and how) “Who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.” These are the oppressed, the ‘ashaq of Hebrew thinking. It’s a guttural word. “Gerstenberger points out that guttural words like this one are almost always connected to some form of violent or aggressive action in nearly all Semitic languages.”(Skip Moen) This word, at it’s root, is connected with the words “destroy,” “deal violently with,” “slaughter,” and “quarrel.” It’s a threat against well-being and focussed on “negatively construed actions and states.”

 
This is more than “injustice.” It’s violent. It’s truly abusing and taking advantage of others terribly. It’s inhumane and godless actions towards others. God will judge the perpetrators for their violence. But who are the exploited, the ones violently mistreated? The righteous! The Lord, YOU, protect Your own. You vindicate us. We, believers, Your people, are the ones who will be found being exploited. We will be the hungry, the imprisoned, the humbled and blind. Have I ever experience this kind of treatment? Or am I too much like the world and not enough like You that the world would be offended by me as it was by You?

 
Am I rejected and exploited, then maybe I’ve found true success. Does Satan feel threatened by my stand? Is he trying to reak terrible and violent damage against me? Then I should know I’m doing just fine. God loves me and has given Himself that I might give myself away for Him. What am I doing with me? Is my life my own or is it truly Yours? What am I willing to do? What length will I go? How far shall I be spent? Will my dying to self be total?

 
By context or association, our interpreters of the King James Version translated the Hebrew asah as doing exploits. Well, asah is about doing in many senses. It’s how You brought the firmament into existence and how You enabled the fruit tree to bear fruit. It’s what You did when You took and formed Eve from Adam. It’s the serpent’s actions and choices in tempting man and woman in the garden. It’s the action and thinking in Cain taking the life of his brother. I suppose it’s more than exploits and sometimes less than but this is always about choices and actions that follow. And it’s about how greatly we can decide to do and live out that which seems to benefit ourselves yet violently disregards others, as well as God. Or, it can be about how greatly we can decide to do and be and live out that which delights God, so that it delights us, and benefits all those around us even though it appears to bring our own earthly demise.

 
See, the people of God, well, we don’t need man’s flatteries. We know You and we desire Your praise and Your presence. We know You. It’s all about yada. We know the vehemence of Your feelings for us. We know the measure of Your love and devotion. We know that You are going to vindicate us, more than MacArthur returning to the Philippines. We know Your passion. We know Your power. We know with our emotions, our will, and our intellect, every part of our being.

 
This is what You have always been about, God. “For I desired loyal love, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”(Hosea 6:6) What more loyal love has been displayed than Yours for Your people? What more loyal love has there ever been than the unselfish sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah upon the cross? If yada includes “an act involving concern, inner engagement, dedication, or attachment to a person,” (Heschel) then didn’t God first demonstrate that for us? If it “also means to have sympathy, pity or affection for someone,” didn’t God go beyond that?

 
Nations were rising up and doing things for their glory, creating life the way they wanted it to be, and doing whatever they wanted to without any dedication or attachment to anyone but themselves. The fruit of that tree is violence towards others who stand in the way. I mean just look at the first example of the one who first turned away from God and sought after his own ambitions- Satan. And what came of that? Violence against all who would side with God, the One who stands in his way. Our actions speak the volumes of what is in our hearts or the lack thereof. Great doing in opposition to God leads to terrible exploitation. It’s so sad that we would come to so emphatically do that which defies our very purpose of existence.

 
But there are people who know God, who experience His affections for them and reciprocate them. There are people who God engages with and are engaged with Him. These are those who do and create and live vehemently for the One they know because He makes Himself known in and through them. They live extraordinarily and they die extraordinarily. They suffer extraordinarily and they shine extraordinarily. They have strength that surpasses knowledge in the midst of persecution. They have understanding and teach others. They fall by the sword and by flame and captivity and spoil, yes, they fall but shall never be broken. Why? “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

 
Therefore, don’t be afraid of prophecy and rulers whether here or to come. Instead, choose whose side you will be on. For those of us who choose You, Lord, You too will choose to be on our side and we will not have to fear in the midst of all this. After all, whatever man can do onto me is only temporary, not eternal. I want to boldly say and believe and live in the truth that You are my Helper so that I will not fear what man shall do unto me. I want You to be great in me. I want to cling to You all the days of my life here on earth and into eternity. Though I be violently exploited, “yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like deer feet, and will make me to walk upon my high places.” (Habakkuk 3:18,19)

Signets Don’t Live in the Dung

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Photo credit to doubleportioninheritance.blogspot.

“‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will make you as a signet: for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.”  Haggai 2:23

Can you imagine being Zerubbabel?  Of all the men in the world, the Lord chose Zerubbabel.  You, Lord, chose to make him like a signet, the signature ring of the King.  But just the fact that You chose him, a mere man, out of what seemed like an insignificant tribe to the rest of the world, wow!  I’m so glad that You see things differently than the world and that nothing and no one is insignificant to You.

You speak to a residue of people.  Here are the “left-overs” of Israel.  And the residue is looking at the residue of the previous temple, the house of the Lord.  Some of the residue had seen the prior glorious house of the Lord, but this…  it was and would be like nothing in comparison.  Even it’s best effort would be less than the original.  But I think that You were telling Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people, to not concentrate on the glory of the building, but to concentrate on Your glory. 

It’s like You say, “Look at these left-overs, and then turn to me and see what I will do with them.  Come, enter into the work with me.  The important thing isn’t the left-overs you see, but that I am here with You in the midst of the left-over mess.  And I have a plan to guide You to change these left-overs into something glorious in Me.”  Your real words are, “Work: for I am with You.” And that word for work, asah, is the same word used in Your creation of the world shared in Genesis.  The literal translation would be “God rested from all His work which God created to make.”  The interesting thing is that after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, after they chose something over You, You asked Eve and the serpent something on the same line of thinking.  You asked them, “What is this that you have done?” (Genesis 3:13, 14) 

What if there are different doors of opportunity to effect the world that You have created?  You know, a way that seems right unto people, but that’s not what You intended, because it leads unto death and separation?  Or other ways, other doors, that lead unto You and to life?  And what if You built all these doors into the world and You know the consequences of every door that we can choose, only we think we know, but we really don’t?  And so, just as You shaped the world and placed doors of opportunity and doors that lead to destruction, You have also given us the ability to shape the world You’ve placed us in.  Does that change the way Zerubabel, or Joshua, or the people of Israel, or I think? 

Why should that change the way we think?  Could it be that the choices I make shape the world around me?  Here You set before us these glorious possibilities.  You have such wonderful plans for us, to prosper us and give us a future in You.  But we choose to take those possibilities and grab onto little, scrappy actualities instead.  I want my possibility now!  I don’t want to wait.  And I grab for less.  I restrict You.  Can I restrict You, God?  Well, we know that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit.

What if You created a world and formed it in such a way that we had opportunities to join in the forming?  It could have been perfect, but Adam and Eve chose to open doors their own way.  And don’t we?  And yet we complain at God for the evil in the world, when it was never Your choice.  Letting evil in is all by our choice but who wants to blame ourselves?  Isn’t it always easier and less hurtful to point the finger at someone else?  Who is performing the making and doing is important because there is only One who always makes and does what is purely Good.  I shouldn’t fool myself to think that I can make good choices without You.  It’s not the doing or making that’s the important thing.  It’s Who is doing and making that matters most.  That I can open my own doors isn’t the privilege of being human and made in the image and after the likeness of God.  Because unless I open the doors of Your desire, I tear apart that image and destroy the likeness.

Paul understood that the one performing the doing and making was the piece de resistance.  It’s not how it’s done.  See, it was one man named Adam who sinned and opened his own door his own way.  It was like a Pandora’s box he chose.  And his open door brought sin and death into our world.  So now, everyone has sinned, and the penalty for sin is death. (Romans 5:12)  Thank you, human beings, for your great contribution to the world as you and we choose to make choices and open doors of our own choice as opposed to the choice of the God who loves us and gave himself for us.  Pretty sad, huh?

Here’s another thing.  Three times here, You tell the hearers to consider this.  And I guess we usually think of considering as thinking about something.  And it does mean that.  But I wonder if our translation really carries the heart of what You mean when You ask us to consider something?  Why do I say that?  Because every time You say, “Consider,” it’s two words together from siym and lebab.  We’ve seen that God is inviting His people to join in His doing with Him.  Now maybe considering in Your eyes, God, is all about understanding our placement and purpose in the world by You, accompanied by our heart’s undivided intended devotion to You.  And maybe we really aren’t considering things properly if those two aren’t coming together in You.

See, Adam didn’t actually start in the Garden.  Genesis 2:8 tells us that the Lord God put the man whom He had formed in the garden.  Why?  Because He had a purpose for man in that garden.  That “put” or “placed” is that same Hebrew word siym.  It can mean “to appoint, to bring, to call, to put, to change, to charge, to commit, to consider, to convey, or to determine.”  Maybe that means that God is in charge of everything, even our geography.  And when does Adam’s story really begin?  Was it where he was created?  Or where God placed him?  What about us?  Was it all about Adam’s plans or Your plans, God?  And why would You place Him in the garden?  Was that the place of full relationship with You?  Is that where You could nourish man by Your provision, Your way?  And yet You allowed man free choice.  Adam could choose the door to the tree of life or the door to the knowledge of good and evil.  Maybe paradise on earth wasn’t such a safe place after all.  Maybe the only safe place has always been in You and choosing You.  Because even paradise can draw us away into disobedience and danger. 

But you just don’t plant or place.  You look at the “lebab,” and you know our heart.  This is Your desire for us that You share in Deuteronomy 6:5, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart [lebab], and with all your soul, and with all your might.”  This is all about singular devotion to God.  This is all about personal devotion to You.  Loving You with all our heart is about devoting all our will, of the whole me to You.  My soul is the unity of my flesh, and will, and essence.  And my might is absolute commitment, the muchness of who I am, to You.

So if considering the way You ask us to consider is refocussing ourself on You, it really makes sense that You ask us to look into our heart that You have placed strategically in this world for Your glory.  Am I living up to Your created purpose and placement for me?  Am I living up to Your plan and entering Your intended doors, or am I avoiding Your plan for me and opening my own doors?  Are my will, emotions, and thoughts lined up with Your plan and placement of me?  Now, Psalm 20:4 touches on this.  It says, “May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your counsel!”  Isn’t that great?  Well, only if our heart’s desire has been lined up with Yours.  Otherwise, granting us what we want according to our council is an opportunity to live out a curse.  Just look at history and the doors that have been opened according to man’s council. 

But if we stop to consider Your way, with all our heart leaned in to You, we find that just like Zerubbabel, You have chosen us to place us for a purpose for You in this world.  Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)  And Paul continue that thought, “For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty…” (1 Corinthians 1:26,27)  Why?  Because it’s all about His glory and that can only be seen in those who are called and accept their appointment.  Then You choose to use and glorify Yourself in those who surrender to You and open and enter Your doors where You are present.  And these, and only these, are those who are labeled faithful.  And it’s only the faithful who are able to reflect Your image and bear Your likeness in this world.

Many are called but few are chosen.  Why?  Because You are a bad and cruel God?  Absolutely not.  Why?  Because we choose by choosing other doors to not answer Your call.  I mean, how much more merciful do we want You to be?  Look at how many times, over and over again, You showed up for the unfaithful nation of Israel, Your child, Your people.  You kept saying, “Go through my doors with Me.”  But they didn’t want to.  They wanted things their own way.  And they got it.  And it’s the same with us.  I want to stop wanting things my way.  I want to come to consider everything as empty without You.  I want to come to the reality that Paul did.  I want to count it all dung compared to knowing You, Jesus, and living and walking and doing and being in Your presence.  I want to learn to suffer whatever loss it takes to obey You and follow through Your doors.  I’m not there yet, Lord, but I pray that Your Spirit will continue to guide me there and that my spirit will desire nothing more than total commitment to the God who has my purpose in life down pat. 

“For GOD”

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Photo credit to Brittany Cunningham.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Have I stopped to think about the immensity of what this is telling me?  Sure, isn’t it wonderful that Jesus, God, came down to earth as a man and God and lived and died and rose for us?  Isn’t that wonderful?  No, actually, it’s more than wonderful.  It’s unheard of in the history of the universe.  It’s unimaginable.  It defies reason.  It’s beyond amazing.  It’s unthinkable.  It’s so God that only our God would not only think about doing something like that, but only our God would actually do something like that.

And I’m wondering if we don’t skew our focus a little because we really don’t stop to think about the immensity of what You did here?  I mean perfect holy God, sinless and pure and all-knowing, high and lifted up, exalted above everything, and You choose to come down to earth in the form of a human and live among us as human and yet as God still.  Explain that.  I can’t.  I just know it’s true.  And it’s truly awesome, drop the jaw awesome.  And then we hear “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life…” (John 3:16)  Yes, You love us that much.  But did I forget somewhere that Your love for me isn’t the most amazing thing in the picture here?  Did I forget that first and foremost it wasn’t about me but it is “For God”? 

Did I forget that it’s not Your love for me that compels You?  Did I forget or miss that it’s Your “Youness” that compelled You to love me despite myself and to give Your Son for me?  That’s why I’m responsible to believe in Your “Youness”.  See, the following verse in John 3 reminds me that I’m saved “through Him” by that “Youness” of You.  Before You and without You, I’m evil.  You came for me in my evil state.  I didn’t even have to kill anyone to be considered evil.  I only had to not be like You. 

You are Goodness.  You are Truth.  You are Love.  You are Lord of lords and King of kings.  You are Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.  You are God of Angel Armies.  You are our Healer.  You are so much, I can’t name all of You.  Your name goes on forever and ever.   Your name is everything that is needed.  Your name is who You are and what You are.  Your name is You.  But You made a way for me to not only find You but to enter into You so that I could be like You.  And John tells me it’s so that all may see that what happens in me has been carried out by You, has been “carried out in God.” (John 3:21)

John and John the Baptist tell me that Jesus, the Word, came to bear witness to me, to us.  What did He come to bear witness of?  My value?  No.  He came to bear witness that God is true.  What?  Does that mean that Jesus came to bear witness that God is real?  In a sense, yes.  It means that what was concealed about You has been made manifest to us through Christ.  It means that You are changeless, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  It’s part of Your character that You are truth and all that it means.  Every promise You have made will be actuated.  Everything about You, well, we can depend on ever bit of it.  There is no shadow of turning in You. 

Jesus’ first and foremost priority on earth was to “utter the words of God.” (John 3:34) Even as a boy of twelve Your response was, “didn’t you know that I had to be concerning myself with my Father’s affairs?” (CJB)  Jesus tried to get us to understand who it was all about.  Lord, here’s what You tell us the Spirit of truth will do, “He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative but will say only what He hears. He will also announce to you the events of the future. He will glorify Me, because He will receive from what is Mine and announce it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine; this is why I said that He receives from what is Mine and will announce it to you.”  Jesus, You were all about sharing the character of God.  That glorifies You because it glorifies God.  Your number one purpose is and was and always shall be to glorify God.

So what does that make my number one purpose if it is Your desire that I be like You?  What does that make my number one purpose if it brings glory to You for me to be made like You?  Could my life purpose be to glorify You also? Has my focus been wrong for so long?  Have I been focussing so much on “God so loved me” that I forgot to focus on the first and most important part “For God”? 

Yes, God loves me so much I can’t explain the measure of it.  Yes, God loves You so much I can’t explain the measure of it either.  But first and foremost God.  No, first and foremost GOD.  Before we were here, before the earth was here, before the first atom- GOD.  I should just stop to think about that.  God was GOD before anything else.  Before the first angel, God was GOOD.  Before anything God was TRUE.  Before anyone knew love God was LOVE.  Before the first breath was taken God was LIFE.  God was MANIFEST before anything was there to be manifested to.  Just stop to think about it.

Now, it’s awesome that God would love me or you.  But it’s even more awesome that GOD would want to make Himself known in me, that the EVER EXISTENT EVERYTHING WHO IS GOD would be so personally involved with His creation that He is glorified by glorifying Himself in us.  It’s amazing and yet, at the same time, it all makes sense.  But it doesn’t start to make sense until we get personally involved with Him.

For God, for His glory, so loved us that He had created us to love Him back.  Love is like that.  Love involves the “inner person.”  All of Your character God, is involved in all You do, including the loving us part.  Let’s understand that better.  See, the word for love, that You are, is agape and it’s Hebrew equivalent is ‘ahav.  And truthfully, the words way back then had a sexual basis.  It was aimed to people and only metaphorically to loving things or acts.  This love is in Your personal nature.  When we love You we love Your person first and then we come to love Your word and Your ways.  Love comes with fervor and passion.  Isn’t that how husbands and wives are supposed to love each other?  Isn’t that how we love even our children, with fervor and passion.  But God, You are always bringing up the idea of comparing Your people and You to a husband and a wife.  Why?

You so strongly use examples of adultery and marriage when talking about covenant relationship with You.  Isn’t that about “intimacy, ecstasy, bliss, jubilation and euphoria”?  Maybe Your love is about more than religious virtue.  Maybe there’s no such thing as “arm’s length intimacy.”  You are interested in “personal, intimate involvement” as Skip Moen puts it.  You exemplify it.  You passionately involve Yourself with Your creation because that passionate involvement is at the heart of Your character.  We see the expression of that character in Genesis 1 in the fruit of Your expression, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” The problem is that we, like the men and women of Genesis 11 twist that and express it instead with this of our lives, “Let us  build  us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name…”  The sad thing is, You have already given us a name and it’s Yours.

Your name is all of who You are.  Your glory is in You.  You invite us into Your name by making us like You.  Outside of You we are lost.  There is no name that I can establish for myself on my own that will last into eternity.  Only You are eternal.  Only that which is in You is eternal.  If I am not in You, I am not.  Think about what all that means.  I am not true because You are Truth.  I am not alive because You are Life.  I am lost because You are the Way.  I don’t know love because You are Love.  Keep on thinking about it.  I can be like the people at the time of the Tower of Babel.  Really, isn’t that still going on?  Or I can realize that You are my name.  I can realize that You came so that I could see that and enter into the reality of that Truth, of You.  You came to give me a name, and it isn’t Sharon.  You came to give me Your name, Your character, Your love.

Why?  It’s bigger than me.  You glorify Yourself by making me all that You created me to be.  It glorifies You when my life becomes worship.  When my life becomes all in You, You are glorified back.  First, You were glorified forward by just being You, and then, You made us to glorify You back.  Yes, You made me me.  And somehow I’m still me when I invest myself into You.  But somehow still, You bring out Yourself in me, more and more every day, and though I’m me, people get to see more of You. 

I have to live keeping this in mind.  It’s so easy in today’s culture to focus on how much You love me.  But maybe I ought to be more focussed on loving You.  Because maybe if I were more focussed on the loving You back part, since You’ve already invested Your love in me, I’d be and act a lot more like You.  And maybe if You were my focus, other people would see You a lot more than me even though I’m still Sharon.  Because the fact of the matter is that You came to make Your name known in me, in each of us.  That’ s why Jesus came.  That’s why You created us.  That’s why nothing deserves our passionate love more than You.  So that’s my prayer.  Lord, I want to let You make me in Your image, after Your likeness, and let Your authority, Your rule flow through me to a world and people that You want to be intimate with.  Let Your kingdom come, let Your way, Your “Youness” be fulfilled in me and all those who bear Your name and worship You with their lives in spirit and in truth.

A Glorious Investment

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And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

 Lord, yesterday I started writing my devotion with You on this verse.  And three fourths of the way through, my computer glitched and all was lost.  Disappointing!  Because who can ever come up with the same words?  But I know that all things happen for a purpose and You are even in control of my computer glitches.  So, I waited to see what would come the next time.

So here we are again, Lord, still on John 1:14, still in the same spot meditating on Your same words.  Only this time, with a slightly added perspective.  Because as I was in bed this morning, I started thinking about the Philippines and the mission teams and myself.  I thought about the members on the team who keep returning because it’s a time of rejuvenation for them, it’s their time of being refilled.  And nothing is wrong with that; we all have times when we need to be refilled, continually.  But then I thought of the changes I’ve seen in those who return because You have given them hearts for the people and the culture.  These team members come because they are investing their lives in people.  It’s a whole different focus.  And as you watch them, you see them noticing things about others more and reaching out more.  And their heart for You, Lord, is growing in leaps and bounds, and You are giving them greater responsibilities every year.

I’ve seen it in seasoned doctors.  And this year, I got to see it in a seventeen year old young lady.  I knew it was there, Lord, when I got a message saying she wanted to stay longer than the two week mission so she could get to know the culture and the people.  My heart sang with You.  Here was a kindred spirit.  It wasn’t just about being a part of a good thing.  It was about the people and getting to know them, really know them.  It’s about investing your life in people.  And this takes me back to our verse this morning.

This morning’s verse is an awesome truth about You.  It’s all about You totally investing all of You in people, like me, and like them.  This is the story about the greatest mission trip ever.  I mean, people think it’s a lot for me to raise funds and leave my family and home and minister in the Philippines for six weeks.  But it is nothing compared to the price You paid to leave Your Heavenly home and family to dwell in the mission field of mankind.  

Perfect God, living in a perfect place, without pain or suffering or sin.  Perfect Glory.  You invested everything in us.  You left Heaven and glory and angels serving You and became flesh, like me.  You came to my land.  You walked with me.  You became like me.  You took on my culture, the culture of man, only without sin.  You dwelt with me.  You ate what I ate with me.  You slept with me.  You spoke and listened to me.  You understood what my life was like because You experienced it with me.  My friends became Your friends.  My world became Your world.  And You understood.

You understood the good and the bad.  You knew exactly where I was coming from.  And because of this You have every right to be my Advocate.  But You have every right to hold me responsible for my actions, because You lived it too.  And You lived it to the glory of God, to Your own glory.  

Sometimes people don’t understand why I go to the Philippines.  All I know is that You have called me and laid them on my heart and I must go.  To not go would be to hold back Your love for them, and to hold back my own love.  I suppose it’s the same explanation as to why You would leave Heaven to come to earth.  It was for the greatness of Your love for each one of us.  How can one explain the strength of love?  You don’t explain it, you just do it.  And that’s what You do.

You didn’t just give us a Book that explains Your love.  You did love.  You showed love.  You demonstrated Your love for us.  It’s just overwhelming to realize what You chose to leave to show Your love for us.  It’s just overwhelming to realize what You chose to bear for the love of us.  You left glory to take on shame.  You left perfect peace to take on pain.  The list goes on and on.  And You would do it again.  Only praise God (You!) that once is all it took.  Your sacrifice is sufficient to pay the price for every one of us.  

And so, when I look at Your mission work, I see the glory of the Son of God, the glory of You Jesus.  This is grace; this is truth.  This is the power of You to change me from the inside out.  This is the power of You to supernaturally make me Yours.  This is the supernatural power that can cause a man to be born again, not of flesh but of the Spirit.  This is Truth.  This is what we’ve all been seeking.  This is the ultimate investment.  This is investing in people.  And this is the example You set for us.

Lord, I want to invest my life in other people as You invested Your life in me and for me.  I need You to supernaturally bring to pass the things in my life I need and the things they need.  I need to love like You love, self sacrificially.  I need to serve like You serve, truly humbly.  I need to see like You see, beyond the superficial and into the heart.  I need to touch like You touch, to be able to bring Your healing into lives and Spirits.  I need to live in Your power, grace, and truth so that I can share it with others.  I need to live in You and as I allow You to continually invest Yourself in me and through me, then I can share that investment in the lives of others.  

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I can’t thank You enough for becoming flesh and dwelling among us.  Really.  It means everything.  This is the heart of the Gospel, the Good News.  Emmanuel.  God with us.  You became flesh and dwelt among us.  And now, because You died and are risen, You are not confined to flesh, but by Your Spirit, You forever dwell among us.  Thank You for investing in me.  Thank You for seeing me as someone worth investing Your life in.  It means everything to me.  You mean everything.