Strength in Your Touch

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“And, behold, a hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.” Daniel 10:10

 
When I first learned of Jesus as a child of five years old, the thing that attracted me to Him most was the fact that He reached out and touched, that He let the little children come unto Him. And here we have Daniel, who was fasting and praying and pouring his sorrowful heart out before the Lord, not only for himself but for his nation, his people. For three full weeks he ate nothing but plain, basic food (probably just what would sustain him to have energy to be faithful to his responsibilities), he drank no wine, and did not anoint himself with oil which I suppose would be like using aftershave for a pleasant odor. Something was on his heart and he was lifting it up to You Lord, and looking for and expecting an answer.

 
Well, because You are a God who reaches out and touches us, Daniel looked up one day and there he saw a man unlike any other. But the people around him didn’t see this vision. Instead, they trembled and in fear, fled and hid themselves leaving Daniel to himself and this man unlike any other. Daniel was not unaffected by the sight and presence before him. He lost all strength. All his goodness or loveliness of body and character was destroyed and void in the presence of this man. He was nothing but a spineless jellyfish in comparison. And at the sound of his voice, he was cast into a deep sleep prostrate, face down on the ground. Now imagine that the word for that deep sleep can also imply death. This is serious fear here. This is serious power.

 
Yet, here is this “man” who is not a man of earth, with such a foreboding presence and what does he do to Daniel? He reaches out his hand and touches Daniel, setting him up on his knees and on the palms of his hands. In other words, he begins to help him up. And as he is helping him up in his presence, he begins to speak words of encouragement to him. “Daniel, you are greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto you, and stand upright: for unto you am I sent.” And Daniel stood, still trembling.

 
There was something about this “man” that continued to be more than Daniel could handle so he continued his encouragement, “Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to chasten yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I am come for your words.” Do you know why it took three weeks, the length of time Daniel had been seeking God’s wisdom? The man visitor had been hindered fighting spiritual battles with Michael, the archangel, against the spiritual forces of the kings of Persia. Daniel’s prayers were a part of fighting that battle.

 
So this angelic man prepares to tell Daniel about what shall befall his people in the latter days and again Daniel’s face is to the ground and he became speechless. Come on now, this is a fearful thing. This isn’t the normal stuff of men here. And another being comes, like the “sons of men” and touches Daniel’s lips and opens his mouth so he can speak. Yet, even so, Daniel announced he was to weak to breath, and he was strengthless. So now one like the appearance of a man came and touched him and strengthened him and again encouraged him, “O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto you, be strong, yes, be strong.” And he was able to be strong and speak in his presence.

 
“Do you know why I am coming unto you?” he asked Daniel. And I’m wondering if it’s more of a statement like, “You know why I’ve come to you.” And now this “other” is going to continue the spiritual warfare that has been going on, that spiritual battle that Daniel has been praying over and seeking God. the battle of spiritual forces vying for control over Persia and those to effect Greece. But the truth of scripture concerning it all, the spiritual realms and the effects on men will be made clear to Daniel. Why? Because there were very few, almost none, holding faithfully and clinging to this fight but Michael, Israel’s prince. And I can’t help but think that Daniel was included.

 
Can you imagine a spiritual battle over extreme evil forces being fought by only three? And imagine that one of those fighting that extreme battle and not even realizing it, was a mere man? And God loved him dearly for it! I don’t know if this man angel was Christ or not, but he sure touched like Jesus does and he sure imparted strength and power like Jesus does, and he sure encouraged like Jesus does. But I love to think about why he came and touched Daniel and why Daniel was so beloved by God and the angels.

 
Here is this man, this man set above most other men, and yet all he wanted to do was know and understand and walk in the ways of His heavenly Father and Master and Lord and King. His eyes, no matter what was going on around him, were not distracted by wealth or disaster or love or anything. His eyes were so firmly seeking after You, Lord. He was completely Yours; You were his everything. And You always reach out and touch those who seek You.

 
And even if there is only one in all the world, “the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) Now, it’s not hard for God to search the whole world over. He can do it in a blink of an eye. He’s not just searching the world for good people doing good things. He’s not even searching for that at all. That’s not impressive to Him. That’s why Daniel fell in fear and the others ran. Goodness doesn’t cut the cake compared to God’s goodness. He’s looking for those “committed to His purposes” so He can make them strong in a world that is not committed.

 
When this “angelic man being” tells Daniel that none holds with him, it’s this Hebrew word chazaq. It’s about holding fast and standing with strength. It’s about God loaning us His power like when Daniel was afraid and enabling him to get up and speak. But He only does this when we are in line with His purposes and not ours. Because Daniel’s heart was in line with God’s heart, God laid on his heart those things to pray for and God gave him power to prevail even in the spiritual realm over the nations.

 
This is the kind of heart attitude and life attitude that God reaches out and touches. This is good news because we can turn our hearts to God like that. It’s not making the right choice in life or doing the right thing that brings power and fulfillment. It’s the One we choose to line our life and being up with. Success is about our goals being in line with God’s purposes. Why? Because success isn’t about what we attain. It never was. Success is all about being touched by God, having a relationship restored with Him, being His wholly and unabashedly, being the image of Him in this world that we were created to be, and delighting in Him every moment of every day. Wow! Our goals have gotten so messed up, haven’t they?

 
We’ve gone from relationship with a God who wants to joy in our presence and us in His, to a people who run after “domination, expansion, protection, success, and fame.” We settle for momentary pleasure instead of eternal pleasure. We even fight battles for it. And then someone comes along and tells us the “bad” news that this isn’t the way. There’s not just a better way; it’s the Only Way. But will we align our lives with God’s way? Do we even care to feel His touch? Do we want to know His power and His strength? Do we really want to see what He sees and fight for what He fights for?

 
I’ll never feel Your loving touch like Daniel did, or the woman with the bleeding issue, or the children at Your knee, or John as he leaned his head upon You until and unless I align my will and ways with Yours. Do I want to be on my own?  Do I want everything I do to be numbered?  Do I want to fall and my plans to fall with me? Am I completely mine or will I be completely Yours?  Only one leads to You and to Your fellowship and Your touch and Your strength. Is my heart completely Yours?

 
Let the world turn its back to me. I want You to touch me and raise me up and give me strength that I might hold with You always. It’s funny, the religious leaders of Your day, Jesus, on earth wouldn’t touch other people’s burdens, but here You are, bearing our burdens with us. You touched Naman and other lepers no one would touch. You touched sick people whose family’s sought You for their healing. You touched the blind so they could see. And let’s not forget the crippled. Well, I’m like them all. I’m sick of spirit without Your touch. I’m blind and crippled without You. I’m an unholy cast off unless You do something inside of me. I’m just as desperate as Daniel for You, Lord, and I need Your touch just as much to raise me up and make me who I need to be in You. I want to be wholly Yours, Lord. Help my weakness so that You turn it into strength in You.

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Living Upside Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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