A Personal Revelation

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Photo credit to Madeline Tejano Mostrales.

 

“…that the living may know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever He will, and sets up over it the basest of men.” Daniel 4:7

 
You would think that Nebuchadnezzar would have learned already. I mean, there was Daniel to interpret his dream that no one else in the kingdom could even tell, let alone interpret. What did Nebuchadnezzar gather from that? Well, he worshiped Daniel, fell prostrate before him. That’s definitely a humbling experience for him, but pretty much a “no-no” according to God. Yet he did come to the conclusion that Daniel’s God “is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets” (Daniel 2:47) That’s good to know and it’s good to put God at the top of the list, and know that God can do what the other gods can’t. But it’s also still saying that there are other gods even though God is the Top Dog. It seems as though Nebuchadnezzar still was giving himself lots of choices to run to, although Daniel’s God was the best of the best. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not arriving at the destination at all yet.

 
After that lesson, he raises up that larger than life image. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bow down and worship it, are thrown into the fiery furnace, and come out unscathed. Nebuchadnezzar announces how their God “sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in Him…and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.” Now that was a novel idea for this polytheistic kingdom. These guys worshiped one God and only one God, while the world around them worshiped many. But what did the king learn? Obviously not that God was the only true God. But he did learn that there was “no other God that can deliver after this sort.”

 
Now, I don’t want to fault King Nebuchadnezzar more than any of us. Sometimes we are just as thick-headed and dull as he was. Sometimes, I suppose, it’s much easier to hedge our bets, and hold onto what we’re used to. Sometimes it’s easier to stick with tradition and not rock our boat or anyone else’s. Sometimes it’s easier to let someone else be bold and make a stand and just be the one to commend them. Sometimes it’s just easier to accept it all than to count the cost and take a side. Sometimes it’s just easier to stay where we are because it’s comfortable and we are in control. I mean, who really wants to admit that I’m really not in control? Who is ready to hand that control over so easily to a God who is all powerful and may decide to do things differently? Might as well hold on to the control. Then I can decide, right?

 
So now we come to chapter 4. And Nebuchadnezzar starts off by saying he’s telling this story and that he wants to tell about the wonder and might of that high God in his own personal life. We find that God sends another dream to Nebuchadnezzar. This time again, none of the counselors can interpret the dream except for, guess who? Daniel came in, yeah, Daniel is his real name, because the king admits he changed his name to Belteshazzar after the name of his own god. Maybe he was starting to realize the irony of that act. Because here was Daniel’s God continually showing Himself.

 
Now Daniel hears the dream. And what was his reaction?  He was devastated. It really bothered him. For an hour he was handling within himself what he knew. And the king saw but told him not to worry, but to interpret it. So Daniel told him that as great as he was, and as great as his kingdom was, that God was saying he was going to be driven from men and live among the beasts, not by other men, but by these angels, these watchers of the dream. He would be like a beast of the field, eating grass like the oxen, wet with dew, for seven years, until he acknowledged that God rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to who he will. And at the end of the seven years, when the king learned this lesson, he would be returned to his kingdom’s rule.

 
Did Nebuchadnezzar stave this off? Daniel counseled him, “break off your sins by righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.” But 1 year later the king was walking and thinking of his kingdom and shared, “Isn’t this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” Boom! A voice from heaven, (yes, this is dramatic! but God is that way) “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken; ‘The kingdom is departed from you…” And the dream was fulfilled that same hour. Nebuchadnezzar was driven from men, ate grass like the oxen, his body was wet with dew, his hairs grew like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds claws.

 
Thank goodness he had good counselors that kept his kingdom during this time. Maybe Daniel was in charge and reminding them, “This is only for seven years and God will return him to his position. Let’s just keep everything going till then.” But at the end of those seven years, Nebuchadnezzar looked up instead of to himself, and became a thinking man again, and remembered God and blessed the most High, and “praised and honored Him that lives for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation.” So what else did he learn? “All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and no one can stay His hand, or say unto Him, ‘What are You doing?’ He learned that God is the King of heaven, all His works are truth and His ways just, and that those who walk in pride, He is able to abase.

 
And this is where we are left with Nebuchadnezzar. But maybe the question is, where does that leave me?  Am I left like Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging that God is the best choice among lots of choices? Do I acknowledge the wonderful things He does but refuse to surrender to Him alone? Do I keep seeing His hand in my life and lives around me, but I refuse to worship Him? Am I excited and living for moments and miracles instead of living for the One True God?

 
Daniel knew God. God shared things with him. God shared things with him in a way that flowed out to others. Nebuchadnezzar knew about God. He watched from the other side of the fence as God interacted with Daniel. But I even wonder if at the end, when Nebuchadnezzar felt the touch of God, if he just looked up or if he became His like Daniel. Was God his Counselor? Or did he remain his own final counsel?

 
Back in Daniel 2 the king had told Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.”  Jesus, in both Matthew and Luke declares, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” The beauty of revelation is that even in the Old Testament to this pagan king, God was doing everything to make Himself known, not for His sake, but for the sake of Nebuchadnezzar and all the people under his influence.

 
I think of Paul, who was a persecutor of believers, who was like Nebuchadnezzar only puffed up in religious pride. But then God humbled him also, this great man by the world’s standards and probably his own. And he makes this statement, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8) And he’s not talking about knowing about Jesus. He really means KNOWING Jesus, and knowing Jesus so much that he would be found “in him, not having righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death…I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own…Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” (Philippians 3)

 
Yes, God uses even the basest of men and women, boys and girls. He puts us each where He wants us and for His purposes. I can’t explain it all and I never will be able. But I know that You, Lord, give every one of us the opportunity to know You if only we would humble ourselves before You. People may be angry, they may ask, “God, what have You done? What are You doing?” What’s the answer? “I’m trying to reveal myself to you, if only you would get it. Child, I’m doing everything just to reveal myself to you.”

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Where Opportunity Begins

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“I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but you are rich)…” Revelation 2:9a

Lord, Your economy is so different than the world’s.  You truly turn everything upside down, at least by our standards.  Only, by Your standards, that makes things right-side-up finally.  I mean, where else is poverty the road to riches?  Where else is tribulation and struggles and hardship a good thing and even a blessing?  And we’re always looking forward to “over-the-hump day” because it’s bringing us one day closer to Friday so we can stop working.  But not so here.  In Your economy, even work is valued differently.  It’s more than a paycheck.

So, maybe I’ll start with that idea of works.  Because in Revelation 2:11 Your Angel says that if I have an ear, which I do, I need to hear what You’re saying.  And hearing is all about really listening and understanding and doing.  It has to do with obeying Your words and not just letting them pass between my ears and settle in my head.  It has to do with me “working” them out in my life and agreeing with them.  It’s all about making them my life story as much as they are Your life story.

The word for works here is “ergon”.  Now the Greeks had a very work based culture.  Their work defined them.  But their work was generated by their own power and strength and skill.  They got all the credit.  And though this is a Greek word, that wasn’t the idea of work for the Jew.  And it’s important for me to realize and accept that You chose to reveal Yourself through the Jewish nation and through particular Jewish people, and that includes the Jewish language.  And if I look at work through the eyes of their language, there is a whole different emphasis on the word and meaning of work.  For the Hebrew, work is all about You, God.  From the beginning, it’s about Your creative ability.  And You didn’t just do the work of creation and stop and let things go.  From the Hebrew standpoint You are always working.  Your working is holding everything together and guiding everything.  There is never a time when You are not working.

So what does it mean when You say You know our works?  What are my works?  Am I defined by what I do like the Greeks?  Isn’t that what our culture thinks? ” So, what do you do?  Where did you go to college?  What job do you have?”  Is that who I am?  Is that what is important to You?  Absolutely not!

You ask another question.  “What are You doing with Me?  What are You doing with My power?  Where am I in Your life? ”   It’s not even about what I can do.  It’s all about that creative power of Yours.  It’s all about what You are doing in me.  It’s all about Your working through me.  Yes, this is serious stuff.  You know my works because they are Your works and You are more familiar with them.  Well, at least that is what You want, that my works are the works flowing straight from You.  Skip Moen put it this way, “Your work is God’s calling to you to demonstrate His sovereignty in your life, His character in your actions, His holiness in Your choices.  So, work it out carefully.  There is a lot more at stake than a paycheck.”

So, since God is a supernatural God, what is coming from me?  Are You familiar with my works because they are Your works or am I just doing things that flow from me?  I not only want my works to be Your works, for them to flow from You, but I want You to look and say, “Yep, that’s exactly what I’m doing!”   I want other people to be able to see what You are doing in me and through me.  Because I want them to know that You are God and You do God things because it’s Who You Are.

But even as I’m letting You work through me, it won’t exempt me from tribulation.  Actually, being Your workmanship in the middle of this fallen world will bring and cause pressure.  The Greek word for “tribulation” is even hard to say, “thlipsis.”  And thlipsis isn’t just pressure.  It’s “crushing, back breaking, heart stopping affliction.”  It’s the devil dragging Job over the coals kind of stuff.  It’s evil, distress, and calamity.  It’s the reason I need Your work flowing in me.  It’s not just spiritual; it’s physical.  And it’s powerful and difficult and it raises it’s head up against more than me.  This tribulation is raising it’s head up against You, God.  It’s evil and it is Your enemy.  And the moment I identify with You, I become it’s enemy.  And it’s the world I once knew.  And it becomes my enemy and I have only one way of standing strong against it.  You and Your work in me.  How?  Because ,You, Jesus, overcame the world!  And in You, I am made an overcomer.  I may be bloodied and battle weary, but I will be victoriously gathered to You.  Because this world is not my goal, but You are.

It’s not about finding peace in this world.  It’s all about peace in You.  That’s totally different than what we’re taught by the world.  But I have to face the fact that the world is at war with You, Jesus.  That makes me an enemy combatant.  I can expect to be treated like an enemy in a battle.  I’m going to be shot at, bombed, snipered, ambushed, wounded, and you name it.  I’ve crossed enemy lines.  In the enemy’s world, I will have troubles.  My Commander warned me.  You’re never wrong, are You?

I’m like Gideon.  Wasn’t he trying to keep peace in enemy territory?  And even while hiding in the wine vat doing his own work, trying to stay out of trouble’s way, You called him.  You called him out of the world’s idea of safety, and into Your safety.  But Your safety is a dangerous thing in this world.  “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valour.”  Valour is from the Hebrew word “chayil.”  In Psalm108:13  it connotes bravery.   “Through God we shall do ‘chayil’: for He it is that shall tread down our enemies.”  It certainly wasn’t Gideon that defeated the enemies.  It certainly wasn’t the torches and jars that defeated the enemies.  Let’ s be real here.  It was the work of You, Lord, in Gideon.  And it is Your work in me that makes me valiant in You, that does mighty things and “impossible” things.

“Chayil” connotes capability.  Proverbs 12:4  speaks of the “chayil” woman who is a crown to her husband.  She has the ability, the power to do all that she must do and to do it exceedingly well.    It connotes triumph in Psalm 118:15, “…the right hand of the Lord does ‘chayil.'”  Doesn’t the Lord’s right hand always triumph?  Psalm 84:7  says that the man who trusts in You goes from “chayil to chayil”, from rampart to rampart, or strength to strength.  Well, what does that mean?  According to Webster’s dictionary, the rampart is “a broad embankment of earth around a place as a defensive fortification… It forms the substratum of every permanent fortification.”  It’s the solid defense dug in and piled up around the base.  It’s the stuff that fortifies and defends from assaults.  It secures safety.  It surrounds and protects. And maybe, just maybe this phrase means that You, Lord, offer chayil completely.  Maybe, this double wording here emphasizes that Your defense over us and in us is unbreachable.

Sometimes chayil connotes wealth.  Only in this case, our Wealth is You, Lord, and everything that is of You.  It’s in the power of Your name because Your name tells us Who You are.  You are EL.  You are Strength, Might, Power.  You are the only One who can “fill the bill.”  As Skip Moen shared, “God designed you for deliberate holy restlessness…And if you thought that His intention was to give you heaven on earth, you never understood what heaven really is.”  See, my life here was designed to tell Your story, not my own.  My story was designed to be part of Your bigger story.  My life is supposed to be an expression of Your Strength, Your Might, and Your Power.  I’m supposed to be living out Your story, not the world’s story.  They are two different stories.

And this story is not finished yet, because it’s not just filled with dynamic works of God, and a constant battle, but poverty.  Is my soul crying out, “Sign me up!”?   Well, it may seem wierd, but my soul is.  “Sign me up for God’s poverty,  please.  I want to be a beggar in God’s army. “  Because it’s not until I become a beggar in Your army that I can ever receive Your riches.   I need to understand what Paul came to understand in You.  Jesus, Your grace is sufficient for me.  Your strength, Your dunamis, Your mighty working, Your power, Your beautiful character is made complete, is accomplished, is perfected to the utmost extent, to the utmost greatness in me, because I am ready to admit my absolute weakness and inability and surrender to and in You.  I am sick and weak and unable, but You, You are Ability Itself.

Why would I glory in my infirmities, in my weaknesses, and frailnesses?  Because my obvious weakness makes it absolutely apparent that it’s Your power and not mine that is providing, that is doing the work, that is acting and not me.  It gives me the opportunity to rest, to abide in You, and to let You be God and do Your God thing.  See, my bad circumstances are opportunities.  They are opportunities for me to allow You to be glorified, to show Yourself God in my life.  So when I’m sick or weak, when I’m ridiculed or harmed, when I’m in need and without, or persecuted, or in any kind of distress or pressure because I am living and abiding in You and taking Your stand and sharing You and obeying You, I can have peace because I know that You can use every situation to show Yourself to be the Strong One and the One in control and the One with the power.

Paul reminds us of the grace of God given through the church at Macedonia.  See, Your grace enabled them to act in a way that was “abnormal.”  Here they were, in the midst of a “severe test of affliction,” in the midst of really tough stuff, yet they abounded in joy and their extreme lack, their extreme poverty and inneficiency actually “overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part”!  See, here are believers who were in want, in need themselves.  But they heard of the need of other believers.  And they begged, these beggars themselves begged earnestly to be given the opportunity to give and bless their fellow saints who were in need.  These beggars who needed relief saw others who needed greater relief.  And what they had, they begged to give.  But first, they gave themselves to Your trust.  You would provide for them and what You had provided already, they would use to provide for others as You provided for them.  It’s only after I trust myself to You wholly, as a total beggar, that I can entrust all I have to give generously like You to the needs of others when I too am in need.

See, that’s what happens.  First I must entrust my whole self to You and all I have.  I must become a proud, dependant beggar before You.   I trust You totally to do Your work in and for me.  I can’t live without it.  But it’s not just for me.  Any and every work You do in me is to be shared as generously with others as You shared it in the first place with me.  Hardships ought to help me to understand and empathize and cry out for the needs of others.  I ought to understand so well that I can cry out not only with them, but for them, on their behalf.  But crying isn’t enough.  Believers take action because we are moved by a God of action, by a God of love, by a God of provision, by a God of working power.

You know, I saw this happen at a mission conference this past weekend.  Before the Sunday service even started, I was sitting looking at the offering plates and knowing that in my things was an envelope that I was to pray about whether You, Lord, wanted me to give and if so, how much, and who to.  And my husband and I are some of those people in a pretty beggarly condition.  I wanted so badly to give but we live paycheck by paycheck meeting our bills just to maintain our house.  The only other thing we have is the money that You, Lord, provide for our mission trip to the Philippines and to send things there.  And at this point that was a little over a thousand dollars.  But that was Your money for the mission trip, right?

Well, that morning I was thinking how I wished I could give and I was thinking about how to reach muslims.  And a Brother comes forward to share his ministry as the last missionary speaker.  He shares of wells and the Water of Life and muslims coming to believe because of them.  And he shares of probably having 300 workers amongst their church plants but only 4 motorcycles.  And he shares about a need for 20 church buildings.  And people are volunteering to pay for a half a well, and another half a well.  And then people are being led by You, Lord, to pay for motorcycles.  And people are paying for half a church and another for the other half, or someone for a whole church of $2000.  And the whole time I’m thinking, “God, it only costs $2000 to build a church.  And I can’t even participate in that?”  And my heart is crying out and begging like the hearts of the Macedonians.  Only I didn’t get it yet.

And then, one of the other native missionaries who had shared his testimony, stands up.  “I will donate half a church.”    “How can you donate half a church?  You are asking for needs yourself?  You borrowed just to come here.”  “It is better to give than to receive.  I will give half a church.”  So the missionary from China planted half a church in Kenya.  Because he understood.  His heart cried out like the Macedonian’s also.  And because he obeyed the heart of the Lord, I got it.  I heard the message.  I knew how to respond.

What God had provided for missions, was for missions.  He had already provided for half a church.  I can’t express the abundant joy at being able to give the little we had and know that God is going to do much with it.  Yes, we had an opportunity in our extreme poverty to overflow in the wealth of God’s generosity.  We wouldn’t have had it at that moment without Him having given it.  Like the woman with the mite, we gave according to our means, but it really was beyond our means, but it was of our own accord.  We wanted to.  Because it’s what You wanted.  So even when we needed relief, Lord, You gave us this glorious opportunity to take our eyes off of our own needs and give relief to others.

And where does that lead me and my husband?  Well, we get to keep on experiencing and knowing the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  See, though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, so that we by His poverty might become rich.  We just got to experience that and I want to keep experiencing that.  I want to live my life not only saying that I trust You to provide our needs but living like I believe it.  And I want to live being a part of You and You always look to the needs of those around You.  Lord, You know why I want You to provide my needs?  Because it’s the only way I can meet the needs of those around me.  Yes, Lord, I am what You call a desperate beggar.  But that’s where my opportunity begins.  I am more wealthy than I ever knew.

Move Over My Fair Lady, I’m His Beloved Child!

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Photo credit goes to either Erin Gum or Christian Scrofani.

“…and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might…”  Ephesians 1:19

So I’m still here in Ephesians.  And now Paul is commending the believers in Ephesus because word of their faith in action and word of their love in action to each each other has reached him.  And now he shares how he has been praying for them.  Now, just maybe, it would be beneficial to get into Paul’s prayer to be able to understand the magnitude of the verse above.  So, Lord, let’s think about Paul’s words and what he’s telling about You.

Paul’s prayer begins like this, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him…”  I suppose, of number one importance, is knowing the One we pray to.  Paul is telling me and all who read or listen to this prayer that it’s not enough to trust in God without realizing that we must trust in Jesus Christ as Lord.  It is only through Jesus Christ that I have access to God, the Father of glory.  Now if Paul can ask God to grant believers the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, then that means that I, as a believer, who has placed my trust in Christ and who am under Your lordship, have the priviledge to ask the same for myself.  But what is the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You?

Well, let’s start with the spirit of wisdom.  Actually, I think it ought to be the Spirit of wisdom, because that’s Who teaches me of God.  It’s not something I can learn on my own or without His power.   But what is this wisdom?  I’m going to hop to James momentarily because I think he can help me understand.  James 1:5 shares, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  What is this wisdom that comes from God and that God wants to give me generously?

James, as well, as Paul, use the Greek word “sophia” for wisdom.  But I can’t help remember that these men were Jewish “thinkers” at heart, and though the words are Greek for sharing with the masses, what if their hearts were trying to relate Jewish ideas to a different culture the best way they could.  See, the idea for wisdom in the Greek mindset is all about accumulating intellectual knowledge.  But the Hebrew idea, expressed by the word “hokmah” is so different from that.  Wisdom does not come from man’s searching.  First and foremost, it is a gift from God.  I can’t find it on my own and it isn’t dependent upon my intellectual, educational, or mental status.  My mind can’t attain it on it’s own and my will isn’t strong enough to attain it either.

That’s not all the Hebrew idea entails about wisdom.  Where Greek wisdom is theoretical, the Hebrew idea of wisdom is practical.  So how would I display my wisdom?  In correct actions.  I act as God would act.  I know what to do so I do it.  “To not to,” as Mater would say, would make me a sinner.

Greek wisdom sees the world through man’s perspective.  But the Hebrew idea of wisdom is “to see the world from God’s perspective and to act accordingly in practical, everyday matters. The wise person lives a life based in fear and respect for a holy God.  Conduct is determined not by my reason but by God’s revelation…God gives instruction in righteousness.  God tells you how to live, how to think, how to act, and how to love your neighbor.  If you don’t know what God would have you do in any particular situation, ask Him!  He will tell you what the proper action is that will delight Him and keep the covenant.” (Skip Moen)

But it’s not just the Spirit of wisdom.  It’s also the Spirit of revelation in the knowledge of Him.  This is sooooo exciting!  The word that Paul uses is “apokalupsis.”  The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon defines this word as “laying bear, making naked; a disclosure of truth, instruction concerning things before unknown, used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all; manifestation, appearance.”  Paul is praying that things of You, Lord, and of Your ways, and of Your delights, and of Your heart, that were once kept secret from me, can now be made known to me!  What was once veiled is being unveiled.  What I couldn’t see and know about You is now being made clear to me.  And, I can come to You and ask You to show me more about Yourself as I faithfully act upon what You show me.

Because You share Yourself in this way with me, the eyes of my understanding can be enlightened.  I can see and understand and get what You want and who You are!  Just like Paul, You can take the scales off of my eyes and I can learn to obey You and follow Your ways and love You more than anything.  I can know the great extent of the hope of Your calling.  Listen to what Oswald Chambers shared about our calling, ““God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, “. . . who will go for Us?” The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.” You don’t have to slap my on the ground as I walk to Emaus.  If my heart is adequately prepared and I  am listening, I can hear You as You speak to Paul, or make announcements before the angels, or as I read Your Word, or listen to another believer.  Your Spirit of wisdom and revelation, makes it jump out to me when You want me to hear it.  And as I listen and act upon what You share of You, I experience the riches of the glory of Your inheritance together with all my brothers and sisters in You.

And as I listen and act upon what You reveal, I experience the exceeding greatness of Your power toward us, toward me, toward those who are Yours and who are living as Yours in You.  But I also see those who could be receiving a deeper wisdom and revelation in You, but aren’t because though they hear, they act as though it’s not for them.  Or though they hear, they don’t obey, they don’t change their life to walk in what You say.  It’s the same for me if I don’t act upon what You reveal to me.  I miss out on the power of what You would do through that obedience.  I miss out on drawing closer to You in that area of my life.  Well, maybe I can get by without the power.  But I don’t want to miss out on any part of drawing closer to You.

It’s Your power in the first place that drew me to You.  And it’s Your mighty power that keeps me in You.  But I have a responsibility to stay in You, and that’s where my obedience, my acting in faith upon what You share comes in.  As I persevere in You, You keep me.  You work Your mighty power in me and through me.  Somehow, You bring me to glorify You, which is a miracle in itself.  That is something I could never do on my own.  My greatest works would all look like selfishness outside of You

But You, You have wrought all this wonderful miracle working power in Christ.  You raised Him from the dead and set Him over everything, absolutely everything.  Everything is under His authority.  Everything is under His control.  Everything.  And He is head over the ones who have been called out of the world, call them the church if you will.  Which means that You are head over me.

But there is something otherworldly about this called out body of believers.  If you are one of them, you and I are otherworldly.  We are the body of Christ in this world.  We are His fullness, the fullness of the One who fills everything.   Now how close do I actually come to that mark in my life right now?  Do I feel like the fullness of Him that fills all?

That idea of filling is from the Greek word “pleroo”.  But what if I go back to the “Hebrew verb ‘male’, a word that means ‘to be completely satisfied, filled to the brim'”?   Here’s that idea in Isaiah 6:1, “…I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.”  And in Jeremiah 23:24, You, Lord, say, “Do I not fill heaven and earth?”  Am I really that full of You, Lord?  Because that is what Paul is praying for and what I can pray for.

The truth is that Jesus is filling me, but I’m not full yet.  His goal is to completely fill me in His proper timing.  My goal ought to be to walk in His ways so that He can fill me.  Oswald Chambers shares this insight, “The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience.”  Listening and obeying is the means to my filling.

According to Paul, my hope is that I can be “completely satisfied to overflowing with the knowledge of God’s will.”  When I ask, “God, what is Your will for me?”, Paul is telling me I can know the answer and that I can know the answer to overflowing satisfaction.  So why am I crying out so much to know Your will, Lord, in so many different situations?

I suppose it’s because You use something in our lives known as the “normal Christian life.”  I learn as a I walk it out.  Your filling is a continual process based on my response to You, day by day, moment by moment.  The Father revealed His will to You because You were constantly about His will, constantly hearing and doing it.  Well, how about me?  Am I being obedient to the knowledge, wisdom, that You are giving me moment by moment?  Or do I treat it as though it is for the other guy and not me?  If I thought of all Your principles and truths as being extensions of what is at the center of Your heart, and my goal is to be like You, then how can I ignore any principles You reveal to me?  What You tell me of Yourself, I must respond to.  How can I expect to move on if I have not responded to what I already know?  Have I responded rightly to the knowledge that You have already revealed to me?  Am I acting on the truth I know?  How can I expect more when I can’t handle what I already know?

Lord, You don’t stick fine wine in wineskins that aren’t going to hold it.  You know what to put in and when.  You reveal Your perfect will to us as we are able to respond to it.  You are precise in Your moments of revelation.  Am I as precise in my obedience at each moment?  Your perfect and good will is for me to obey as You reveal.  And You continually reveal Your good and perfect will, piece by piece, moment by moment, more and more, as I obey and respond in appropriate action.  It’s the normal Christian life.  But, it’s a powerful life, lived in moment by moment contentment in obedience to Your revealed will.

Lord, it is beyond measure and beyond human imagination, the patience and love that You bestow on me, on each of us.  Every day, You are faithfully revealing more of Yourself, more of Your will, to me and in me.  And some days I respond rightly and some days I don’t.  And some days there are so many things going on that sometimes I am not listening well.  And some days I’m just really focussed on You.  But You are always faithful and patient.  I think the appropriate word is longsuffering.  And I don’t deserve Your faithfulness and patience to me, but You lavish me with it.  Why?  Because I’ve become Your workmanship.  I’m Your masterpiece and You are about doing Your work in me, bringing me into Your glory, so that I will bring glory to You.  You don’t take Your work in me lightly.  And You always finish the work You started.  So I’m a done deal, in the right time, Your time.  One day, I’ll shine, full of the glory of Jesus, of You God, and all Your glory and Your power to do the impossible will shine in me.  May I respond obediently to You step by step, day by day.  Thank You, for the exceeding greatness of Your power to me.  I love every step, even the hard ones.  And I can’t believe that I’m a recipient of this great gift.  It’s better than My Fair Lady.  You love, You gave Your life for me, and You impart Yourself in me.  There is no greater love than this!  You are making me Your beloved child!