How Much Life is in Your Bones?

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“…for I know the things that come into your mind…” Ezekiel 11:5

Imagine that, God knows the things that come into every one of our minds. Every thing. Every one of us. How’s that for a thought to “chew the cud” on? How’s that for something to meditate on? Is that a scary thought? Is that a good thought? Is that a life changing thought?

Here God is, sharing another prophesy with Ezekiel. He shows Ezekiel two princes of the kingdom of Israel, Jaazaniah and Palatial. And God knows their plans and their counsel. And He says, “Thus have you said, O house of Israel; for I know the things that come into your mind.” I’m wondering if they even said those things out loud or if God heard them before they were ever spoken. Aren’t You telling us God that You already know our thoughts before we even speak them?

I just can’t stop thinking about the truth that You know the things that come into my mind. And I want to really understand that so I can live rightly under its weight. Because it is a weighty matter.

First, is the fact that You know, You “yada” what is in my mind. You use that same idea in John 17:3 when Jesus tells us, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” It goes way beyond the facts or confessions of what we believe. This is about a knowing that is about intimacy in relationship with our Creator. It’s an embracing not only of Who You are but what You do. It’s engaging our life in partnership with You.

 

That begs me ask a question. What am I doing in that partnership? What is my part? I must know Your part to know mine. What are You doing? Are You waiting to escape the world before You do what You do? Or do You enter the world and do and create and change and transform here? If that’s what You do, if Jesus came to be about His Father’s business and it was here on earth, then isn’t my partnership to do Your will here on earth in the same way that my Jesus did? Did Jesus wait for the day He was back in heaven? Or was he creating restoration on earth? Am I supposed to be that kind of instrument? If I am really participating with God, if I really know You, wouldn’t I be doing what You do here? Didn’t Paul say, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”? Is that because heaven is the goal or is Christ’s fullness the goal and living is the way we reach that fullness when death comes? Does eternal life really begin when we start co-creating with You and follow Your footsteps, and accept the challenge?

Well, that’s how I ought to know You. But the problem is that God knows the extent to which we know Him. Without Him we are twisted co-creators who choose our own plan devoid of Him and even have the nerve to say it’s His plan. This knowing takes us back to Genesis 2:17, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Did Adam and Eve not know right and wrong? Then how could God punish them if they didn’t know? But what if they knew and the choice wasn’t about right and wrong, but a choice about life -God, and death-not God? God is good, right? Therefore good is life because I know that God is life (I am the way, the truth, and the life…). Evil is death because evil is the opposite of good and death is the opposite of life.

Let’s think of the tree momentarily. “The Tree is not one way of life versus another way of life (God’s way). The Tree is death! It might look like it is living, but that is the deceptive quality of existence apart from relationship with God. The seduction of the Tree is that it mimics life.” (Skip Moen) The word for “knowledge” here is da’at, a derivative of yada. It’s about “knowing via the senses” and knowledge of a personal, experimental nature; or technical ability like what was needed for building the temple; or for discernment. The fear of the Lord brings forth wisdom, a related word. God is the possessor of da’at. He teaches da’at to us. But Genesis teaches us that da’at or knowledge devoid of God is death.

That’s what the Tree was. It was Adam and Eve’s choice to attempt life apart from their Creator, apart from God. That’s what Jaazaniah and Palatial were choosing and leading others to choose. That’s what I can choose if I’m not careful. This is what happens when I choose independence from the breath of life. How foolish to think anything else with breathe life into me, when it was You God who animated man. Anything else is “borrowed animation.”

Abraham Heschel put it this way, “Man’s sin is in his failure to live what he is. Being the master of the earth, man forgets that he is servant of God.” The truth is that someone, or rather Someone, owns my life and it’s not me. I was created to bear the image of God but I am not God. I can base my life on living according to the divine by walking in faith or I can choose to live apart from His voice. But to choose to live outside the divine is to choose death, no matter how beautifully the fruit is packaged.

Maybe Jaazaniah and Palatial and the others and I ought to ask ourselves some more important questions than, “What am I feeling? What do I want? What would make me feel better? What will make me happy and complete?” Maybe, before asking myself anything, I ought to stop and hear what God is asking me first and really think about it. “Can these bones live?” How’s that for a question? Look at white bones laid out with the flesh bleached off. Can they live? Well, can they? What about me? Where did my flesh come from and the blood that animates my bones? Can I live unless Someone gives me the breath of life? How does anyone or anything live, really? Maybe my answer should be like Ezekiel’s, “O Lord God, You know.” (Ezekiel 37:3)

And here we are back at knowing again. Only God is the One that knows like that, not any of us. “Only You know, Lord.” How long will we desiccate our own bones before we let You restore us to life? How long will I neglect myself by neglecting You? How long will I choose selfish things that waste me away? How long will I choose disobedience that leads to my own destruction? I don’t even know that, but You know.

 
I guess that can be a scary thought depending on how well I know You and how intimate and deep our relationship is. You care that much and You can give my dead bones and soul life, moment by moment, day by day, year by year. But if I’m not surrendering to You, how will this turn out for me? Palatial fell down dead at the end of the prophesy. I guess that means that just as You can give life to dry bones, so You alone can take life away from animated bones. Which side will I choose?

 
Did you ever think that the fall wasn’t about Adam and Eve’s nakedness? What if the fall was about people hiding the fact that now they were fragmented and broken? And I’m not just talking about a lost world. I’m talking about we, who call ourselves believers? Maybe we’re all more scorched bones than we like to imagine. Maybe it’s time we realized it so we could surrender to God and let Him animate us in Him. Maybe we’d be better off if we stopped hiding behind our flesh and our fig leaves and got behind You instead.

Ezekiel answers, “You know, Lord.” Restoration is in the hands of the Creator. We can absolutely know our depravity. That is the gift of the serpent. We know without a shadow of doubt that we have something to hide. But whether or not we will be restored is not something we are privileged to know on our own. For that we must rely on the Creator. He knows that outcome, just as He anticipated our inadequate “fig leaf” answer.

 
Yes, Lord, You know the things that come into my mind. You know what comes up, like going up stairs to another altar- maalah. You know what thoughts in my own mind rise up against and over Your thoughts. You know it when I don’t even realize I’m doing it. You know that perfectly, that completely, that deeply, and that intimately. And You do everything on Your part to try to help me to understand what I’m doing so that I can change my fragmented thinking and think and live life again.

 
You know the things that come into my mind. That word for mind is ruach. It’s that word that is used for the spirit or for breath or wind. I think back to when You breathed the breath of life into man in the first place and he became a living soul. It was the ruach that You shared from Yourself that animated him and every human thereafter. It makes me think of John 4:24 which states, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

 
What is it to worship in spirit and truth? Usually the words hesed v’emet are used together, that’s loving kindness and truth. Emet, truth, is not about correctness. It’s about reliability, steadfastness, and trustworthiness. It’s what flows from God. It’s more than a character trait. It is His character. He established it. If we worship God, we act like that also because what flows from Him will flow from us. So, “to worship Him in truth is to do what He says”, because it is doing what He is and He lives in us. See, the loving kindness part is the action, especially directed at someone else. So to live in mercy and truth is to act out God acting in me in the world to others.

 
But here Jesus used ruach v’emet, spirit and truth. What’s the difference? Remember where I said that ruach means breath, spirit or wind? But it’s also about “power, value, aggression, mental activity, angelic existence, conscience and life itself.” In other words, worship is this all encompassing part of all that we are acknowledging and responding back to You appropriately. It’s the natural response of every human, and every created thing. It’s what is natural until the natural is broken or fragmented.

The truth is that Israel did not exist until God called Israel out of Ur through Abram and created a nation that knew Him. Adam and Eve did not exist until God created them and gave them life animated by His spirit. Palatial and Jaazaniah and Ezekiel owe their very being to this same God who created them and animated them by His spirit. And so do I. Now, the question is, what will I do with this knowledge? How will I live and who will I live for? Who will I give the credit for and of my life to? Is it mine to order or does it belong to the One who daily breathes His life into me, the One who animates these very bones and determines the days my flesh lives on them? I wonder if life is a treasure or a privilege? I think it’s a treasure, and when I realize the immensity of the love and power with which my Creator designed me, I think I’m best off letting Him direct my plans and letting Him animate my life. So, what do you think? Because God already knows, but what you think will determine how much life is in your bones.

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The Right Frame of Thinking

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Photo credit from Alaska Fish & Wildlife News (2003)

“Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. For the spirit of whoredom is in the midst of them, and they know not the LORD.” (Hosea 5:4)

It’s not that I’m choosing things to depress here. I suppose I could choose all the flowery, happy feeling verses in Scripture and just share those. But if I were running toward the edge of an unforeseen cliff that would lead to my downfall or death, I’d certainly appreciate someone warning me and persuading me to turn from my desired path. Running off the edge to my death wouldn’t bring much happiness to me or my family. Turning and living out my days wisely and wonderfully would be a joyful thing. And maybe that’s what Hosea and God are trying to tell us. Maybe they are not trying to depress us but to call us back to a life of wonderful living in the One who created life to be lived to the fullest in Him.

Israel and Judah were running toward the edge of the cliff like lemmings. God was warning. You wanted them to live, not die. You wanted them to succeed, not fail. You wanted them to be victors, not defeated. The promise of Your Messiah was all about that. The promise of Your Messiah, trusting in You and Your provision, was all about Your people having life instead of death, joy instead of sorrow, provision instead of want, relationship instead of duty. Jesus shared Your heart (which is His!) when He told us, “The thief comes to steal and to kill and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) That’s not just a little more abundantly. That’s actually super abundantly, excessively, over and above and beyond measure!

But instead, like Israel did, we revolt against that. We hide from You. We go after other ideas and things that can’t supply like that, things that have no real power. We take these powerless things and we give them power over our lives. We sell out to them. We hand over our lives and our thoughts and our families and our desires to things that steal from us, kill us, and destroy us and those around us.

Think I’m crazy? Think about it. A father kills his daughter. Why? Because she chooses a different religious belief. He sends his children off wearing bombs to kill others and be killed in the process. He still isn’t guaranteed paradise. They live to die, but is that really living?  Do they have abundant life? Do they receive joy in this? Or are they being robbed due to lies? They are being killed and destroyed all day. Their hearts are being made callous. Their ears being made deaf. They think they know God, but Allah is nothing like God. They don’t know, and they frame their doings after this thief instead of after a God who wants to love them superabundantly. They follow another spirit who kills and destroys, who is killing and destroying their own and using them to do it.

But what about us? What about the ordinary John Doe or Jane Smith out there? What about those of us who know about You and about what You care about and yet we toss it back in Your face. “I can do what I want to do as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else.” You know, that doesn’t really work. Even this pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar came to that conclusion. Listen to his words, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.”(Daniel 4:37) And that’s the heart of our problem then and now. Pride.

Hosea tells us that Israel’s pride testified to his face. Pride closes eyes. Pride seals the ears. Pride changes the heart. Pride leads one to kill their daughter or their sons, not love. Well, what about Abraham, some might ask? Abraham didn’t want to kill his son. When Abraham lifted the knife, he was believing that His God, the True God, would make good His promise that through his seed, which was Isaac, He would make a nation. God can’t make a nation through a dead person. He has to be living. Abraham was trusting in a God of life NOW, not just later! He was thinking, “I must obey God because only in God is there life.” Abraham threw his pride out the door. His pride was in God and trusting in him. Now that’s faith! How many others would say, “No, God, that’s not a good idea. I think we need to do something else?” Well, that’s pride to think we know better.

Pride causes us to not frame our doings to Your doings God. We choose to not frame our thoughts with Your thoughts. We outweigh You which is such a ludicrous thought because the fullness of Your glory would just crush us; the weight of Your glory is unbearable. Let’s take this home a little closer to life.

I was reading a verse in Revelation this morning, Revelation 2:10 which says, “Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.” What does it mean to have tribulation ten days? I’ve read some commentators that talk about 10 periods of persecution. I don’t doubt that, but what if You are telling us that we as believers can expect persecution? And what if we are to expect that persecution to last for some definite period of our life? After all, all 12 of the apostles were persecuted, 11 unto death, and one was sent into isolation. Each of them was persecuted for a set time and maybe that set time is like ten days in comparison with the superabundant complete life that You have planned for each of them and for us. How else could Paul honestly say, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”? The reality is that there is life in You even in the midst of persecution on this earth. We don’t have to wait to live till we die. We just continue living more fully after we die. To live is Christ, and to die is even more of Christ.

What happens when life throws all kinds of hard things at us? Do I handle it my own way? Do I try to manipulate my way through? Do I try to manipulate other people? Do I think that I shouldn’t have to go through this? Do I think that things are too hard for me or this just shouldn’t be happening to me or to those around me? Because of those thoughts, do I frame my own response and design my own actions based on my thoughts and feelings? Or do I trash my pride and frame my response and my thoughts according to Your thoughts and Your feelings and Your promises? Does that even really matter?

Do I think that only atheists and those following Islam are rebels? What about me when I won’t frame my doings after Yours? What about me when life is tough? Or when life is not tough? Who is my life framed after, me or You? Jesus said, “I must be about My Father’s business.” What does that mean? It means to be about what the Father is about. It’s not just about what He does, it’s about who He is and what He thinks and how He feels. Jesus’s frame of mind and life was based on the Father’s frame of mind and life. And that is what we are called to whether we come from an atheistic background, or an Islamic background, from Buddhist, or Christian, or Agnostic, or Postmodernism, or whatever. This is what we are invited into.

What difference could this frame of belief make in my life? Let me share two stories. Nik Ripken is a missionary from Tennessee that’s lived and loved in some really dangerous countries. While ministering and living in a neighboring country from Somallia, his son died of an asthma attack. The believers their surrounded Nik and his wife and family with prayer and provision and even came over and sang them to sleep every night before the funeral. Nik had called an office to share what happened with a friend who was a co-worker. The co-worker was not a believer. When the co-worker heard the news there was no answer. Nik thought it strange but figured he had been called away from the phone.

What really happened was that his co-worker started walking that instant from Somalia, across the border to where Nik was. Five days later the co-worker shows up bedraggled and smelly at his door with these words, “I came to bury our son.” At the funeral, he unculturally sat between Nik and his wife, all the while watching the response and listening to the words of all the believers around him. This muslim man, took hold of Nik’s hand and his wife’s hand. He sorrowed with them. But through this and the way the believers here framed their doings in the midst of tragedy, he came to see the life that Christ had for him. He saw the LORD. He came to know the LORD. And when he returned to his country, in the office with his fellow-workers where Nik had not shared for fear of death, this man shared the life that he had seen offered before him that day in the midst of a funeral.  Do you know what those other muslim workers asked, “If you knew this, Nik, why didn’t you tell us?” This is what it looks like when we frame our thoughts and our life after the One who is LIFE. Remember, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6) And Jesus does not lie.

My second story is about a friend I love. It could be about any of us. It’s a story about any of us who go down the road of not liking our hardships and just wanting to get out of them. It’s the story about focusing on my own feelings instead of God’s glory. It’s a story about giving up instead of running the race to the end. Paul warned, “Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12) Later in the letter to Timothy, Paul shared of his own journey, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” (2 Timothy 4:7) But this isn’t the story of hardship and a life lived fully I wanted to share. Paul’s story is Nik’s story if he continues in the faith. Paul’s story is the story of those believers in Nik’s life who kept their lives framed on Christ even to the last moment that it was taken from them to the point the what was once over 200 believers in Somalia became only 4 living believers remaining. Let us heed Paul’s warning.

If I don’t heed Paul’s warning, when life gets rough and my temporary hardships (temporary compared to eternity) become what frames my thinking and life, I quit. I quit on God. I quit on myself. I quit on my family. I go off the grid. I take care of things my own way. I abandon and rebel against Your frame of thinking and doing. I do it on my own, in my own strength, which I’ve probably just cried out to You saying, “Lord, this is too much for me! I can’t do it!” And then of all the stupid things, after saying it’s too much for me and I can’t do this, I take matters into MY OWN hands. Yes, I’ve been there and done that. And my friend has been there and done that. Only I reframed my thinking and got it back to Yours and my friend didn’t. My friend left the support of loved ones because Pride said, “You are a burden to others.” When he died or maybe took his life, there was no one there to pray with him, to hold him. The light that should have shone to encourage others, has become a discouragement. And yet, I believe that God can use my dear brother’s lonely story to save someone else from the cliff of a wrong frame of mind focused on self and suffering instead of on Him.

Here’s the truth that would have framed my brother’s thinking differently, or at least some of the truth (there is so much truth, how could I ever share it all!). “I am a burden to my brothers and sisters.” What a lie! Paul tells us in Hebrews 13:16 that God’s heart that should be in us is to “not neglect to do good and share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Why is that pleasing to God? Why is that God’s mind frame? Because He does not neglect to do good for us and to share what He has with us, so it is a blessing for us to do the same. For me to share that blessing with a brother in need is for me to demonstrate that I have the mind of Christ by having the same heart and demonstrating it by my life actions. Brother, why didn’t You give me and others that blessing to love on You like our Lord wanted to?

We are all in need, sometimes in our life more than at other times. And some of us are in greater need than others. Those of us in Christ have had our greatest needs met, and because of that, when we are in a state of having goods and opportunities and see a brother in need, we are to reach out and share our goods and opportunities and love with him. Why? Because that is how God demonstrated his love for us. When Scripture says that “God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” it’s not just saying because we were rebels against God. It’s saying while we were empty, lost, filthy, and in need, and without even realizing how much so, He opened His heart toward us and invited us in. That is love. That is what we are called to. That is what we are invited into.

Why did the Israelites and my friend lose their right frame of reference? Why do I lose mine sometimes? Paul answers that in part. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” We focus too much on ourselves. We forget how our life effects those around us. We forget how our life effects the glory of God before others. We focus too much on our own interests and too little on Yours God, or on the lives of those around us. Self-pity is a form of pride and pride just leads to destruction. Thank You that Jesus didn’t surrender to self-pity and pride. Thank You that Jesus, though so agonized over going to the cross that He sweated blood, loved You and loved us more so that in Your interest and ours He gave His life and said, “Not my will, but Yours.”

In Matthew 25, Jesus speaks to the proper and improper frame of thinking. It starts now, in this life, and not in heaven. Truth is, if we don’t think like God now, we won’t start to think like Him in the afterlife. It’s now or never. How do we handle caring for others now? Am I only thinking of my own hunger or do I notice others around me and care about feeding them? Am I only thinking about my own thirst or do I notice the thirsty around me and give them drink? Am I too worried about my loneliness or do I use it to help me see other strangers and lonely people and welcome them in. When I feel shamed and naked, do I see those around me being shamed and stripped and offer them clothing? When I am sick and hurting do I see those who are sick and hurting around me and lift them up and encourage them? When I feel imprisoned, do I notice the other prisoners and go to them?

Because if I have been delivered from any of these, then I know my Deliverer and I ought to be sharing the deliverance He gave me. And if I am in the midst of any of these trials, I need to be trusting in my Deliverer, even if it means trusting unto death. Look, I know it’s not easy, but the reward is ALL GAIN. Anything else, anything less is shear loss.
My brother may have surrendered his right to finish the race well. He finished. Maybe last. But he lost. He lost fellowship. He lost encouragement. He lost helping others. He lost meeting new brothers and sisters. He lost lots of life here and now. Not because he had to, but because he chose to frame his thoughts after his own thinking and not Yours.

He’s not alone. It’s a struggle many of us will go through or are going through right now. Multiple Sclerosis becomes so painful and constant and hard. You have to constantly focus rightly or it will guide your thinking. Constant back pain could do the same. Troubles from bullying or persecution from those who ought to be your friends. Problems with your children or problems with your parents or problems in your church or financial problems or other health issues like cancer or the loss of a loved one whether naturally or taken through violence are real. But how will we respond?

Hear this. Give ear. Don’t let it be a snare. Don’t let your own thinking and your own feelings be a snare. I know, I’ve been there. It’s not just about Israel or Judah or other nations. It’s about every man. We all have the tendency to be revolters. We all have a tendency to run like Adam and Eve from the Truth. We all have a tendency to frame our own doings and not turn to You, God. We all have a tendency to think we know You when we really don’t, because we won’t even agree with You.

Well, today is the day to choose to agree. Today is the day that I can hear the warning and avoid the cliff’s edge that leads to my destruction. Today is the day that I can choose to frame my thinking to Yours. But the choice is mine. What will I choose? Life or death? I can choose like Joshua did, to share the light of Life in my house and to my house and to all that are influenced by my house. What about you? Will you choose Light and Life no matter what or how you feel? Will your life somehow shine like Nik’s story? Or will you only choose Light and Life “if…” and leave your friends and loved ones feeling robbed and wishing you would have known the truth about how much you were loved? Are you even running the race yet? Jesus is inviting You because You can only finish well in Him. If You want Life, come to Jesus, because He is LIFE. Run in Him because He ran for you and He runs with us, that’s how we can cross the finish line no matter what. Frame your doings in Him and turn to Him who gives life super-abundantly.

Side note: Lemmings do not run off cliffs in mass suicide!  It was a Disney mis-truth made for a documentary.  Sometimes they migrate to where there is more food, and masses may dive into the water, but they can swim.  Sometimes they drown if they get too bogged with water.  You can check out the story under “Lemming Suicide Myth Disney Film Faked Bogus Behavior by Riley Woodford” and other places on the internet.  So, I don’t want to promote an urban myth now that I know it is one, but we’ll use that imagery for today.

A Yada Kind of Knowing

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“For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”  Psalm 1:6

There are two people being discussed in this Psalm.  On one hand we have the righteous and on the other hand we have the ungodly.  So what makes one a righteous person?  A righteous person delights in You, Lord, and Your ways and thinks about You and Your ways all the time.  A righteous person who is occupied with delighting in You and thinking on You, bears fruit in their life that resembles You.  The ungodly, though, have nothing firm to stand on, no foundation, no root from which they can draw life sustaining sustenance that resembles You.  But what hit me here isn’t at all about thinking about whether I am among the righteous or the ungodly only, but what it really means that “the LORD knows the way of the righteous.”  I mean, to me, it’s one thing to think that I have an inkling and am coming to learn Your ways.  But to think that You know the way of those who trust in You is something I want to think more about.  Stop and think.  God knows my way.  But those who don’t delight in God, there is no mention of God knowing their way.  There’s just mention that it will perish.

What does it mean that You know the way of the righteous, of those who delight in You.  It’s this word yada that I’ve gotten excited about before.  It’s all about knowing with the head and the heart and the actions.  It’s knowing and experiencing something.  And the more I read about it and the more I think about it, it’s as though You know us personally and interact with us personally.  It’s not like You just set things in motion and then stand back and watch.  That’s not yada.  It’s not just about seeing.  It’s about seeing and being involved.  It’s about seeing and experiencing.  It’s about being a part of the action with us.

Imagine that yada, or knowing, for God involves the emotions, the will, and the intellect.  That means that You, God, have feelings for us and toward us.  You weep when we stray or when we are too blind and stubborn to see and desire Your way.  Your will desires our presence with You.  You know everything about us and everything that is best for us.  I mean, let’s face it, You are all-knowing.  Therefore You are all-yada.

That doesn’t mean You don’t love those who are perishing, but because of who You are, those who do not make Your ways their ways, cannot be found righteous and come before You.  Why?  Because all people are invited into Your yada.  We are invited to know You as You know us.  We are invited to know You with our emotions, our will, and our intellect.  But some choose their own way and not Yours.  And sometimes, those who have chosen Your way, pick their own way up and need to be reminded of what we miss when we do so- the presence of God.

Listen to Isaiah’s words,  “For I desired loyal love, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)  Here, the prophet Hosea is sharing Your heart with Your people who were prostituting themselves with Your enemies!  He pleads for them to return to You and the tearing and being smitten would be healed and they would be bound up.  You would revive them and raise them up and they would live in Your sight.  They wouldn’t just live.  They would see Your face, they would know Your face, because they could live in Your presence!  Then they would know You and Your ways, if they chose to follow You and Your ways.  Then You would come to them.  Why would we refuse that?  Who in their right mind would refuse You like that?  Maybe that’s the problem.  Maybe our minds are the problem and we busy them too much with thinking about other things.  Maybe if we started filling our minds with You, and cut off the other thoughts that want to grab our attention, we’d know what really mattered.

The truth is that Your heart breaks over us.  You feel distress, disgust, anger, betrayal, hurt, humiliation, heaviness, and hopelessness.  You feel.  But the question is, what kind of sympathy do we have for You?  Do I feel what You feel?  When my thoughts are occupied with other things, do I feel the separation?  Am I weeping over missing Your love?  Am I agonizing because our relationship is broken?  Do I even have a heart for You or am I just going through the motions?  How stupid will I let myself become?  How callous can I be?  Do I cry for You like You cry for me?

You know, God, I know a ton about You.  But it’s not about knowing info, is it?  How much do I feel the way You feel?  How sensitive to You am I?  How’s my empathy with You?  Do I really know You as You know me?  Is my life right?  Then my focus will be right.  Is it?

“YHWH is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7)  “He knows those who take refuge in Him.”  Why do they take refuge in Him?  Because they know, so they do it and they feel it.  It’s a package deal.  We understand the relationship that You are offering here.  You are offering me shelter.  Why?  Because I need it.  Now, if someone offered me shelter when I was in need, how would I feel about that?  I would be emotional.  But that also means that the One offering me shelter has emotions toward me, emotions like empathy, concern, and pity.  This is not someone who is aloof, distant, and removed.  This is someone who wants to be intimately involved with us.  This is someone who wants us to want intimate involvement with  Him.  This is someone who feels deeply for us and wishes us to feel as deeply for Him.  Yada is all about unity, you know, “That they may be one” kind of unity.  God loves me.  He REALLY loves me!  What will I do with a love like this?

It’s not just an Old Testament idea.  We see it out of Jesus’ own mouth.  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”  (Matthew 7:23)   The problem is it’s so easy for us humans to get distracted.  Actually, I think we’re born distracted and distractible.  And we are not all lucky enough to grow up where we’ve been surrounded by people who have experienced the love of God in their own lives.  And we think it’s so easy to make up our own way and that God’s just going to give us kudos, a pat on the back for the “cleverness of me.”  But if Your word is truth and You are the only way, the only truth, and the only life, then everything else is lawlessness, emptiness, and foolishness.

Sometimes I want to feel Your presence right here, and right now, all the time.  But sometimes You step back to prove how I will respond.  See, You are forever faithful, but what about me?  Will I be faithful when no one seems to be looking?  Will I be faithful in the dark?  Will I be faithful when I can’t seem to hear You or see You or feel You?  Will I be faithful when I feel lonely?  Will I be faithful when I am hurt?  You were.  And You are.  But what about me?

Do I know You and love You so much that I would walk through all these experiences and more and continue to cling to the desire for You and Your presence no matter how long it takes?  Or will I allow myself to be drawn away by things that instantly gratify, by things that seem to fill my needs, which in the long run, never match up to You and leave me wanting and without refuge?

Loneliness, pain, disappointment, feeling unloved, or feeling under appreciated are not excuses to give my heart to another.  If only I realized that my cry is for You and not for lesser things, I’d find You much sooner.  I wouldn’t have to spend so much time in the lonely, bitter wilderness, would I?  My longing for Your presence will not be satisfied by anything else but finally coming into Your presence.  How can I ever be at home in a place that wasn’t created to be my permanent home?   How can I ever be satisfied with putting my trust in another, or being comforted by another who was not created to satisfy all my desires?

What a strange place we live in that was created for the glory of the One who created it.  Yet, this place refuses to submit to His purposes.  And these people think they can trump His desires all the time.  Will I allow myself to live and think contrary to You?    There’s a way that seems right to a man, a way that is contrary to You, but it leads to death.  I don’t want to go that way, but I fall into that way sometimes.  I want to be better prepared to see that way coming and refuse to accept it.  I want to remember the yada You have for me every moment so that I can reciprocate that yada.  I want to feel about You the way You feel about me and act upon those feelings.  I want to stop being attracted to lesser things and lesser thoughts.  I want to delight in You and everything about You no matter how long or hard the wait to feel Your presence.  See, if I’ve already experienced You even once, then I already know, and I have no excuse.

So Lord, I want to live in the blessing that exists in knowing and experiencing You.  I don’t want to act in accord with those who don’t know You.  I want to choose to delight in You.  I want to fill my ears and mind and heart with You.  I want to listen to You and speak about You and walk around and appreciate You.  I want to learn to wait on You, and wait and wait and wait and wait if I have to.  Because if I can learn to do that in the really hard times, then that hope and satisfaction I will have in You when You come to me will be unsurpassable by anything else.  I want to think about Your Word and Your ways and You all the time.  And I want to experience Your living waters flowing through me and producing beautiful fruit.

I am so grateful that You don’t give up on me.  I am so grateful that You forgive me and renew me.  I am so grateful that You are not a God who is far away and aloof but that You love me with a real and genuine and present love.  I’m so glad that You love me in an emotional way but that it’s not just some gushy love.  It’s a love that paid a price, through Jesus.  So, Lord, let my love also stand the test.  May my love for You be willing to pay any price to hold fast to You and never let You go.

John got it.  I want to get it too.  “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.  The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.”  “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.”  “He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.”  If I say I know You, then my life ought to show that I know You.  Words don’t cut the cake.  It’s only when you take the knife in hand and move your hand to slice that it happens. Thank You, Lord, for knowing me so intimately and inviting me to know You in that way, too.

Be Still And Know That I Am God

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“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  Psalm 46:10

Some days and some years are just hard.  Sometimes life is so busy.  Sometimes everything just pours down.  Somehow I have to learn in the times of over-abundant blessings and in the times where I’m feeling crushed beneath many mountains and many waters, to be still and know that You are and that You are God and all that implies.  Funny how that keeps repeating itself in my mind and I sit down and search for a poem I wrote years ago, I find my other cries of my heart to you.  And I come upon my first entry in one journal on January 19, 1906.  And here I am, still learning what I was trying to learn then.

Be still and know that I am God,
I’ve walked the ground you trod.
I’m Creator of the sod you walk upon.

Be still and know that I am God.
Set busyness aside
And walk close by my side.

Be still and know that I am God.
Lay your head upon my chest,
I’ll give you needed rest.

Be still and know that I am God
When laughter your heart fills
Or sadness laughter kills.

Be still and know that I am God.
From schedules stop, take pause;
Make me your only cause.

Be still and know that I am God,
All plans and dreams make mine.
You’ll accomplish much this time.

Be still and know that I am God,
Let nothing else distract
Your heart from mine.

Be sill, let speaking cease,
Kneel humbly at My feet.
Know Me, like nothing else,
No longer three,
Just you and Me.

A Desperate Pursuit

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“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”  Hosea 6:3

Yesterday, someone told me that Jesus never told us to follow Him.  I have to admit, I have a major problem when asked to seperate Jesus’ choice of way of life for His “immediate” disciples, you know, Jesus, what people refer to as the eleven and, let’s put Paul in there too, and His choice of way of life for me or anyone now.  Someone tells me, “That was for the disciples but not us.”  Really?  You’re telling me that Jesus had double standards?  You’re telling me that it’s God’s desire to handle Jews and Gentiles seperately?  Funny how they used to worship together and eat together and learn together in the time after the resurrection.  And it wasn’t until the severe persecution of the Jewish believers heightened and “state religion” was mandated that being a Jewish believer became frowned upon and derogatory.  It’s funny that Jesus, I hear You talking about unity in You amongst believers.  It’s funny that I hear Paul say that in Christ there is no more Jew or Gentile, no more male or female, no more slave or free.  But maybe what I choose to believe is determined by who I ultimately choose to follow.

Eric Vess, who shared the Bible Study lesson at Advancing Native Missions this past Thursday, made a statement during a lunch discussion.  He basically stated, “People will always find the theology they are looking for in Scripture.”  Well, those aren’t the exact words, but we can almost always see what we want to see in Scripture and turn it to what we want.  But are we really looking at Scripture as a whole and making sure our idea is consistent with ALL of Scripture?  And am I looking at the life of Jesus and asking if this is how You, Lord, would have responded?  What happens when I put the two of them together?  Can I protect myself from false interpretation?

If Jesus never said “Follow Me,” then why did He say it five times in Matthew, three times in Mark, four times in Luke, and three times in John?  Why would Jesus expect less of me than He expected of His “personal” disciples?  Because He didn’t just say this to the twelve only.  He said this to others who He was inviting into His way.  So let’s take a look at who You, Lord, invite to follow You.

You invited Peter and Andrew to follow and promised to make them fishers of men.  A scribe said he would follow and You told him basically to count the cost because it wasn’t a “pretty road.”  You might not even have a home.   And then another disciple responds, and You say, “Follow me and let the dead bury the dead.”  Hmm, that disciple was not one of the twelve.  You saw a tax collector named Matthew and told him to follow.  And You made this statement to Your disciples, and I don’t really think this was only meant for the twelve, because here is what You say, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Who is any man?  Am I?  Is John Smith?  Is Albert Einstein?  If any man, if whosoever will come, this is what following looks like.  Why would You use “any man” here, Lord, if following like a disciple was only for the twelve?  Maybe, following You is supposed to look the same and be the same no matter who is following You or when they are following You.  It’s only really following if it looks like following and smells like following and walks like following.  I may quack and I may waddle like a duck, but I am not a duck.  Unless I’m a duck through and through, I’m not a duck.  Unless I follow through and through, I’m not one of Yours.

“Sell what You have, give to the poor, and come and follow Me.”  Was that really such an isolated instance?  Sometimes You call specific ones to follow You specific ways but if we are honest and look at these lifechanging, drastic opportunities You offered people to follow You, I see that You offered these to those not yet within the comraderie of Your twelve disciples.  You offered this following to Mr. Doe, the approaching disciple.

Let’s look at Mark 8:34.  Who did You speak to?  You specifically  called the people and Your disciples.  And this is what You told them all, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  Who did You just say, “Follow me” to?  Isn’t that all who would desire to come to You?  Isn’t that written for me to understand Your invitation also?  When I read Your Word, aren’t I consider as one of those who gathered close to hear You?

You didn’t just tell this message to the twelve.  A young man, a seeker comes, and You loved him right away.  And Your message was just as strong to him as to the twelve.  Here it is again, “One thing You lack: go your way, sell whatsoever you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”  Why would You tell this to the young man off the street?  Because this is life in You.  It’s the same for any disciple.  Whosoever would be a disciple of Yours, this is what their life will look like.

This kind of following must be integral to the life of a believer, and even more integral to being in You, Lord.  Because Matthew, Mark, and Luke all thought it so significant that they each recorded these words of Yours.  They each recorded these words to those surrounding You and seeking You, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”  (Luke 9:23)

I think John just happened to be a more “poetic” writer.  He had that parable teaching downpat.  So he used the picture of the sheep and the Shepherd.  But any way I look at it, it’s still all about following You.  I think John just saw it as a pretty cut and dry situation.  Following You, Jesus, meant absolutely following You.  It meant knowing You, hearing Your voice, and being right where You are.  It’s supernatural and it’s pure devotion and pure love.  It’s giving up everything for the One who has become everything.

Peter tells us we should follow the steps of Jesus, even in suffering.  And John, in Revelation, tells us about these redeemed singing before the throne.  He tells me that these redeemed are there because “they follow the Lamb, whithersoever He goes.”

Ever since I was five years old, I wanted to follow Jesus.  Now, I know how.  Now, I know what that means.  And it’s worth leaving everything else behind.  I don’t want to follow Paul.  I don’t want to follow Peter or John.  I don’t want to follow a missionary or the most wonderful Sunday School teacher.  I want to follow Jesus.  I want to follow You, Lord.  I don’t want to stand at the foot of Mt. Sinai and tell Moses, “You go talk to God for us.”  Oh, not at all.   I want to hear Your voice in my own ears.  I want You to show Yourself to me.  I want to glow with knowledge of You.  I want to follow hard after You like I’ve never followed anything in my life and like I will never again follow anything in my life but You and Your way.

“Then we shall know, if we follow on to know the Lord.”  “If we follow on.”  If I “radaph” to know the Lord.  If I run after, if I pursue like I want to catch You.  This is the kind of following You call us all to.  My life depends upon my catching You.  I will pursue You that hard.  Now this may seem a little radical, but in searching out the depth of “radaph” and pursuing to see what You are requiring of me, I came upon this “beatitude” that Skip Moen shed a different light on.  “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)  Now this idea of blessed isn’t about reward, it’s about the bliss and joy of the person who expresses this character in their life.  But there’s that word persecuted which in Greek is “dioko.”  And it can mean “to persecute, to prosecute, or to pursue.”  And what if this Matthew, who was a Jew, was actually speaking from a Hebrew perspective.  Because then that word would be “radaph” and mean “pursue.”    And what if he was trying to get us to see that when we pursue You with everything, Lord, we live in the assurance and bliss of knowing You, and as we wholeheartedly pursue Your kingdom, it actually brings about Your kingdom.  This then is our present reality.  This is the reward of following.  You, in our lives now, are the Reward.  I follow You, meaning pursue You until I have You.

Do I understant what that means?  Do I understand what You want to do in me?  Do I understand what You will be able to do for others through me and in me?  Do I really understand the magnitude of following You?  Well, I’ll say this one thing, someone can choose to believe whatever they want about who is excluded from following, and you can even exclude yourself, but I won’t and I can’t because I’m desperate to follow You, to pursue You, and to hold You as my own.  That’s why every time I say “My God!  My Jesus!” I am so excited.  Because You made it so I can know You, so that I can have You as MY GOD!

Yesterday, I told someone that it’s Your desire that we do what You do in this world.  That’s why Your Holy Spirit abides in believers.  Their response was, “We can’t walk on water.”  But I beg to differ.  If you need me to walk on water some day, You’ll make me able.  But walking on water isn’t what You wanted us to learn.  You wanted us to learn about trusting You wholly so that we know that whatever You call us to do, You will empower us to do.  Who would think of walking on water as the first thing You give power to do?  I’m thinking of loving the outcasts, standing against the status quo, eating with sinners, selfless love, and so much more.  How does walking on water even compare with those?  Walking on water is child’s play compared to showing the love and forgiveness You demonstrated.  Yes.  I know where I want to follow You.  I want to follow You into the arms of the lonely.  I want to follow You into the homes of the destitute.  I want to follow You into the hearts of those who have been lied to and deceived.  I want to follow You into the hearts of the captives and the widows and the orphans and the hungry and the sick.  I want to show them what it is to follow You so that they can be set free to follow You too.  Then they will know You and we will all rejoice together singing and understanding the bliss in the words, “My Jesus!”

When Hearing Becomes Believing

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“And I knew that You hear me always:  but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that You have sent me.”  John 11:42

I wish I knew Hebrew and Greek for myself, but I don’t, yet.  So I’ll just have to rely on the You, Holy Spirit, and the Word itself.  And I’m still searching to see what You want me to believe in and what believing looks like for real.  And I’m not looking for my idea of what belief ought to look like, but I’m looking for what it resembles to You.

So, here You are, Lord, outside Lazarus’s tomb.  And You pray audibly outside the tomb.  But You don’t pray audibly outside the tomb because You need to.  You don’t need to even call out Lazarus’s name.  You’ve raised people from the dead before without a spoken word, except, “Go your way and as you have believed, so be it done unto you.”  No grand words.  No grand prayer.  No calling forth or casting out.  Not even an “It will be done.”  More like, “It’s done,” just like You said at the cross, “It is finished.”

Now, here in this prayer before the tomb, You say, “And I knew that You hear me always…”  Is that significant?  This “eido” means “to know.”  For the Greek, it meant to see and verify in order to know.  It’s where our word and the idea of “theory” comes from.  It’s the idea of “Seeing is believing.”  Only “Seeing is believing” is man’s idea.  Hear that idea in Mark 15:32 “Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!”  But the speakers here were calling out and looking in the Hellenistic mindset.  I need to see and believe in the Jesusistic mindset.

Since You would have been speaking in Hebrew, Your original word would have been “shema.”  That’s the same word that so much value has always been placed on in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  “Hear, O Israel:  The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  Was it valued because Your intent was for people to put it in jewelry and on boxes on the door?  Or was the value in the hearing and doing of those things spoken of in such a way that we come to see their fruition and You in our lives?

People want to see to believe, but You want them to hear.  The importance was in the words You spoke.  The words You spoke were more valuable to our belief that day and today than the sight of Lazarus rising from the dead.  See that word “eido” is in the past tense.  God already knew what was on Your heart because You are One.  That’s why You were saying this.  It’s not just that You want us to see it to get it.  You want us to hear and respond.  Because You and the Father are One, Your will has already been heard because it’s known to You and the Father.  But then You respond and He responds with You.  And that’s what You want in us.  You want me to hear and respond. 

It really doesn’t take a realationship to see and respond.  I see Lazarus arise.  I am wowed.  I respond in awe.  I attach myself temporarily.  But what happens when I stop seeing things like that?  What happens when my child dies or I suffer persecution?  What if I am not delivered from the sword?  Is seeing enough?

If I listen and believe, there is a “dynamic relationship.  I must be attuned to listening to another before I can hear in such a way that I respond…Hearing is interacting with the sound so that I am affected in my behavior.  While Greek postulates the necessity of a spectator, Hebrew demands the involvement of a participant.”  (Skip Moen)  I want to be that participant.

You stood before the people and spoke so that they could participate in You, so that they could know that You are the Lord our God and that You are One.  It wasn’t about believing when they see Lazarus rise.  It was all about believing that God sent You.  And the fact that God sent You meant that You were the One, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, I AM, the LORD, the ONE.

I love it when You demonstrate Yourself in miraculous ways.  It’s more than wonderful.  But what about all those times in between?  Am I just as excited about You in the quiet and hard times?  Do I want those miraculous times more than I want You?  I hope not.  I want to value You and Your voice even above the miraculous. 

It makes me think of Enoch.  He walked with God and was no more.  He just walked with You daily and that so pleased You that You took Him to be with You without Enoch ever having to experience death.  Did Enoch ever see anything miraculous?  Maybe the most miraculous thing we can ever see in all of eternity is You.  Maybe it is an absolute miracle beyond all miracles to have a dynamic relationship with the Lord of lords, the Prince of Peace, the I AM, Jesus. 

“And the sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out.”  John 10:3  I want to be bound to You in obedience and understanding.  Only when I obey do I apprehend the beautiful sound of Your voice.  It’s not about whether I can hear the frequencies.  It’s about conformity.  It’s all about me being ready to let You lead me wherever You want to take me.  There was that day the disciples were all so excited about healing the sick and casting out demons.  And lots of people got excited about Lazarus coming to life again.  But what means more is to be so excited about You that I just want to hear more of You so that I can follow You more closely.  I want to make that my life’s practice, to know Your voice so well from following so closely.  I would love to be able to say, “I knew that You always hear me because I’m always listening to You and responding according to what I hear from You.  And You, Lord, always have Your way because Your way is perfect and wonderful.  And I am so excited to have been invited into the privilege of hearing You and following in Your way.  What a miracle!”  I don’t ever want to be a disconnected spectator.  I want to be so entwined with You that I abide in You and You in me.  Hey!  That’s what You want for me too!  Amen!

  

What Do I Know?

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“We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”  John 6:69

Today I am wondering if thinking too highly about the power of our own belief is a dangerous thing.  I know that this word, “believed,” is the word “pisteuo” again.  And it means to put our trust into.  And at this instant in time, a lot of followers just walked away from You, Jesus, and threw whatever belief they had in You out the door, because it wasn’t lining up the way they thought it should.  But Peter says that they were committed to You because they believed and were sure that You were the Christ, You were the One with eternal life.  “Lord, we believe and we know.”  But what about Your response?  Does that commend Peter’s belief and knowledge?

“I chose the twelve of you, didn’t I?  Yet one of you is a devil!”  Hmm.  You didn’t say, “Right on, Peter, you guys did it!  You finally got it!”  Instead, You point the emphasis back to Yourself.  “Did you guys choose yourselves?  Did You guys bring yourselves to this conclusion?  Do you really believe and know like you think you do?  Because there is stuff I know about you that you have no idea of.  If I were to tell you right now, you wouldn’t believe it.  Peter, you are going to deny me three times.  What kind of belief and knowing is that?  All of you, you’re going to run and scatter.  Judas, you are going to actually betray me to my death, and with a kiss none the less.  Yep, how’s that for belief and knowing?”  Hmm, maybe sometimes we are a little overconfident in ourselves instead of in You, Lord.

Today, I’ve been looking into this word for “know,” “ginosko.”  And it’s not as strong a word as I thought.  Ginosko is never used to imply intrinsic knowledge.  It’s not the knowledge acquired by experiencing something.  There is another word for that.  Ginosko “describes knowledge as a result of factual investigation,… ‘intelligent comprehension,’ including understanding, recognition, perception and informed opinion…knowing God in this manner means knowing that there is a God, that I am not God, and that He is responsible in some manner for what is.” (Skip Moen)   The obligation to the divine was so strong in the Roman Empire that it was a capitol offense to be an atheist.  To not acknowledge the divine as existing was considered foolishness!  Wow, that’s a far cry from today.  But ascent and acknowledgement isn’t really committed belief, is it?  Well, Paul didn’t think so.  “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  Romans 1:21

So You mean to say that I can know all about You and think I know You and be totally off target?  I can think I know You, I can confess I know You with my mouth, and yet I can not honor You as God with my life?  I can think I know the truth and yet be futile in my thinking and understanding?  Wow, my words, and thoughts, and discussions, and reasonings  can be empty, foolish, and idolatrous?  And all this in the name of belief?  All this in the name of knowing You?  Hey, those aren’t my words, they come from Your Word.

There was this Jewish American Rabbi, Abraham Heschel, who was alive during the Civil Right’s movement.  He said, “Unless God is of supreme importance He is of no importance.”  He believed that knowing God was more than knowing Scripture.  Knowing God was based on “the living and dynamic relationship between God and man.”  Philosophy and theology weren’t enough. 

It’s not enough to conclude that there is a God from the evidences around us.  That does not a committed believer make.  Listen to what Jesus says in John 6:35,36, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.  But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.”  See, some people had seen You and touched You.  But they had not imbibed You.  They kept You on the outside where they could handle You and manipulate You and let go of You when they didn’t need You any more or if You became uncomfortable.  But they didn’t take You inside.  You didn’t become their life source, their sustenance, their food and water.  They wanted You but they didn’t need You.  They were superficial believers, not desperate believers.

So it all starts with seeing God in the middle or over everything.  He’s sovereign and good over all.  His evidence is everywhere.  He’s over the serpent in the Garden, He’s over the tsunami, He’s over the typhoon, He’s over the holocaust, He’s over every personal tragedy.  That’s why everyone cries out, “If God is a loving God, why?”  But don’t you hear, that they are all crying out and acknowledging that it is God, it is You?  But that is just the start.  That is not committed belief.

There are two words used in the the Greek Scriptures to denote “knowing.”  Here was “ginosko.”  The other word is “oida.”  “Oida” is a fullness of knowledge whereas “ginosko” is to come to know by experience, and suggests a progress in that knowledge.  The danger is in thinking that we know it all.  The point that You, Jesus, are trying to make here is that we need to be open to growing in knowledge in You.  We have to admit that we are needful of knowing You more and knowing You more deeply and intimately.  John wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)  We need to grow in our knowledge and experience. 

I have to be willing to commit to progressing in You.  I have to be willing to commit to experience the situations You put in my life and to not only experience them, but to put them in Your light and not my own.  I need to stop asking “Why?”  and start asking “What?  What are You teaching me about You and about me?”  I need to stop collecting information and start looking at what You are teaching me about You and about me.  There has never been a lack of evidence, but how am I using the evidence?  Has this become “internal intuitive witness”?  This is what John is talking about.  It’s like knowing my back is hurting.  I know the realness of it.  That’s how we know the witness of the Holy Spirit. 

I know it when I am in harmony with You, Lord.  I know the experience of the Holy Spirit.  I can’t exactly explain the experience of my back pain, but I know it.  I can’t exactly explain the experience of the Holy Spirit, but I know it.  I can be under Your authority, I can be doing Your will, I can be living with Your view of the world.  I can be fully committed in You.  It’s more than words.  If I say I believe something then I live it out.  What I say I believe, I do.  These words are real.  These Words are Life.  Is that what they look like in my life?

“For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”  (1 Corinthians 1:21)  It began with gathering the facts.  I acquired this knowledge or information needed about You.  I examined the evidence.  I drew conclusions.  That made me a scholar.  I knew things and I knew things about You.  But it’s not enough to know about You.  That will not bring me to know You.  Somewhere along the line it has to become “intuitive understanding, revealed truth and knowledge that comes from the essence of the subject.”  And You are the Essence of the Subject.  You have to reveal Yourself to me.  I have to receive the knowledge that comes from above.  I’m not “smart” enough to bring myself to this knowledge.  “No man comes unto the Father, but by Me.”  You draw us and You give us the intuitive knowledge of You.  Without that, I am just a scholar and not a believer.  “All that the Father gives me will come to Me.”  I come to You, because You drew me to You. 

I am a human and I will think like a human unless someone changes me.  And there is only One who is able to change me like that.  If I want to know You, if I want to understand You and think like You, I have to let You do that in me.  You have to change me.  You have to do something supernatural in me.  Because, naturally, I’m just flesh and I think with my flesh.  But You think in Your Spirit and You live in the Spirit.  And “this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”  (John 6:40)  This is not just about getting to live forever with You.  Oh my, this is all about being in You because You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE!  This is all about being raised up in newness of life in You!  It’s about looking on You and seeing You for who You really are, all of it.  It’s about seeing the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE, and believing in all that it means and all that it entails and committing myself into that, into You.  And it’s all about You changing me into Your image more and more every day.  It’s about a life of living in You now, and into eternity.  It doesn’t start in eternity, life in You starts the minute I allow You to place me inside of You when I commit my life and thoughts and ways and spirit into You.

All our gathered information is not enough to produce relationship with You, Lord.  It produces commentaries and blog devotions and discussions.  It produces theories and doctrines.  But all this can just prove that people can know a lot about You, but still not have intimacy with You.  Information means nothing unless it produces relationship. 

I can’t tell you how to experience Jesus.  All I know is that You have to listen to Him and respond.  It’s not enough to listen and be able to repeat His words.  They have to become reality in our lives.  We have to come to the point of feeding on His flesh and drinking His blood.  That’s the only way to abide in Him and Him in us.  2000 years ago that offended people and caused them to turn away.  But it’s the same today.  Are we willing to be changed?  Are we willing to accept His words and live by it no matter what the cost?  Am I willing to change my plans and dreams and values and line mine up with Yours, Lord, no matter how much it hurts or how much I don’t understand?  Maybe, obedience is a precursor to understanding.  Maybe it’s not about understanding at all.  I mean, isn’t it a might precocious to think that I should be able to comprehend the thoughts of an all-knowing God?  Maybe, I need to finally acknowlege that You are God and I am not and stop trying to understand like I even can!  Maybe now would be the perfect time for me to let go of my control and just place it all in You.  What a relief that would be.  What a tremendous weight off of my shoulders!