Lord, help me to be a “remembering” child of Yours. To remember everything that You have done and are doing in my life. It is so easy to forget what the gracious hand of the Lord has wrought in my life, when either the comforts of a prosperous season settle in, or the aches and pains of a refining period of life challenge my ever so easily grumbling heart. My mind begins a slow and steady drift from the Lord, and how everything created by Him, is in subject to Him [1 Cor 15:28]. So prone to wander from, and so prone to squander the grace He has given me. How utterly forgetful I am of who God is, and the grace and mercy He bestows on us, for His will and purpose.
So quick to forget that God, from before the foundation of the earth, has been orchestrating everything for His own glory, and that includes every aspect of my salvation (regeneration, justification, sanctification, and one day glorification, Rom 8:30). So quick to have a day or, dare I say a moment, in which I am not completely enthralled by who God is. Or if that is to radical for you, having a day when your mind is not so fully fixed on Christ, that God does not even enter your thought process for a span of 8 hours. Oh, of all the sins against the Most High, this must rank as one of the highest and be the foundation of 10,000 lesser sins.
Out of the sheer clarity of this sin in my life, and the daily repenting of it, I want to claim this as my own. As if Daniel Spillmann has some sort of unique propensity or inclination to this horrific forgetfulness, but I am convinced by Scripture that there is not a created soul that does not deserve a 1000 eternal damnations for the despising of the Lord, through our secular, man-centered, forgetful minds. If your tempted to think that last sentence was a “punchy over-statement” just to grab your attention, it’s not, if you are attempting to view God correctly, it is still terribly understated, but it does draw the correct attention to the dark sinful backdrop on which God’s grace is even more beautifully displayed and magnified upon. Several passes through the Old Testament and the overwhelming flavor of this “spiritual amnesia” will be made readily available to your palate.
[Deut 4:9, 6:12, 8:10-12, 32:15-18, Jer 3:21, 18:15, 23:25-27, Hosea 2:13, 8:14, 13:4-6, Psalm 50:22, Psalm 78, Psalm 106, Isaiah 17:10, 65:11-17, Neh 9:16-17, Judges 3:7, 2 Sam 12:9]….. (to site a few)
I don’t know why being GOD-centered is just now beginning to course through my spiritual veins. Whatever the reason, it has corrected the way I see God, and the way I pursue God. I feel like my mind is perpetually dwelling on the central truth that GOD is GOD, it seems so basic and fundamental to meditate on, but yet, if I am not constantly pursuing and defining what that means, my wandering flesh defaults to a lazy and very secular view of GOD, which is extremely God dishonoring.
Exodus 3 brings joy and reverence into my heart, when God reveals who He is to Moses. After God instructs Moses to go lead Israel out of Egypt, he asks (paraphrase) “If they ask for Your name, what shall I tell them?”, God responds… “I AM WHO I AM”….. “I AM has sent you”[v.14]. I still can’t appreciate this to the fullest, but the door of God’s infinite glory is opened here, with all the implications of that statement. Exploring the depths of “I AM” and all that is implied with that Name is overwhelming, and where I am in my journey, I am still on the boat fastening my scuba gear excitedly nervous to explore the great infinite abyss of all of who GOD IS. This time next year I’ll probably come to the realization that my “scuba gear” is grossly insufficient for my longings of God, and that I must abandon it and ask God for greater faith to take me yet into deeper waters. This is beyond human capability and yet, as God gifts us with greater grace and faith to pursue Him, it is anything but a passive pursuit. Much like the marine biologist who just received a grant for a submarine that can go to depths unfathomable to man, he is not just going to stay by the shore and casually comb the shoreline in knee-deep water looking for starfish. He will dive to greater depths with a greater zeal and tenacity than ever before. The inspired apostle Paul says it perfectly:
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” 1 Cor 15:10
“For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Colossians 1:29
The amazing beauty of pursuing God, is the farther down I go and the more God reveals to me, the smaller I see myself. And the more insignificant I become, the greater GOD becomes. It is my prayer, hope and joy that others will see God in a renewed light and pursue Him in a like manner, that shows His infinite worth, and our infinite dependence on Him. Even seasoned Christians are not off the hook with this one, there is an insidious malnourishment among evangelicals today. Tozer correctly diagnosed this many years before I was born, and in my limited and short observation, I don’t see that much has changed:
“It is a solemn thing and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Fathers table” pg 10. Pursuit of GOD , A.W. Tozer
It is a sad thing to see once energized and zealous believers come to the weakened state of impotency because of complacency. As if the desire for God was consummated at our new birth. Scripture certainly does not teach this, let alone congruency with logic (ie new birth=new desires). David “the man after God’s own heart”, beautifully penned his eternal longings and pursuit of God in Psalm 27:4 by praying that God allow him to meditate on the beauty of the Lord all his life.
Is that type of God-centered longing in our churches today? Or do church politics take center stage? Is that request and yearning for God alone, on your heart? Or are our lives distracted by civilian pursuits [2 Tim 2:4], and our hearts encumbered by the weight of sin [Heb 12:1], to the point where we have turned the easy yoke of Christ [Matt 11:30] into a cold complacent religious drudgery, that views obedience just as mere duty, instead freedom to draw closer to the eternal GOD, by sharing in His very nature.
One writer notes …….“To have found God and still pursue Him is a paradox of love”.
Saint Bernard of Clairvux, put it this way, in a short but poignant poem:
We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still:
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill
What an amazing love relationship the Lord calls us to, the more I love Him, the greater I pursue Him, and the greater I pursue Him, the greater love I have for Him. The greater my yearnings are for Him, the greater my soul is satisfied in Him, which in turn produces greater yearnings. This peculiar paradox of being completely satisfied and yet always thirsting is so mysterious to me, and yet it is very present and clear in the Bible. Again David in Psalm 63 displays this peculiar paradox. In verse 1 his soul is thirsting and his flesh is fainting for God as if in a dry and weary land, then in verse 5 his soul is satisfied as with fat and rich food. So beautiful is the soul’s thirst for GOD, and so wonderful is the satisfaction in God. I am beginning to see how gracious this gift of yearning after Him is. This simply cannot be wrought by human capabilities (ie. will power).
It is not my intention to go into the many realms of “I AM”, but the one simple glorious truth is that “GOD IS”. He is the center of everything. He is truth, and no reality exists separate from HIM. Nothing has been created, that in some way shape or form does not point to Him. It means I need to view my salvation and my existence, and my joy with Him at the center, not me. That is the difference between the secular mindset that I have had for so many years, and the renewed mindset that God has wrought about in me, through the Holy Spirit using Scripture to conform me more to the image of Christ, beginning with my mind. I am created for His will and purpose, and He has created us in such a manner that as we glorify God more, by sharing and pursuing His DNA (holiness), our joy is fulfilled and as our joy in God is increased, God is greater glorified. Peter shares the seed of this truth by quoting Lev 11:44:
“but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16”
What a God we serve! God wants us to share in His very character or nature. I used to quote this in a legalistic manner to bring about conformity in my life with God, but never asking the question, why? Why would God command that? I came across a publication that Spanish Pastor, Luis Palau wrote, it had an exercise in it that was very thought provoking, I have yet to do it, but I pray the questions he posed stimulate your spiritual nerve endings and awaken you to prayerfully set out on a quest to know God more intimately, by seeing His commands in a new light.
- What does this commandment reveal about GOD’s character?
- What does this commandment liberate me from?
- How does this commandment protect me?
- What does this commandment reveal about love?
Seeing His commands as ordinances that show his love by Him desiring me to share and experience the most satisfying and superior pleasure ever known, namely Himself, has completely shaken me. Letting go of the noble (yet not honorable) …..”it’s my duty as a Christian” or “I do it because I am told”, was not easy. Whenever an ingrained mindset is challenged and ultimately found partially faulty by looking at the one and only source of truth, the Bible, it is very humbling. But what a world of a difference it has made in my worship of God.
Never did I seek obedience as a merit of some sort (damning Pharisaical legalism), but for many years I just believed, that I needed to obey without a foundation beneath my obedience. Meaning I need to simply obey because God tells me to in His Word. Now there is a truth there without a doubt, but do we stop short of Gods design by robotic obedience? Is that God’s ultimate and supreme design for His people? Is that the God-glorifying obedience that God has intended for His chosen possession, or is it possible that God is more glorified when there is a palpable foundation under our obedience?
God being God, can speak and no matter what He says and how He declares His word, it is always spoken with complete authority, whether a strong rebuke or loving exhortation and instruction, His word we know, does not return void [Is 55:10-11], it always carries an authoritative power unlike anything else, and in that sense, yes obedience should be carried out whether we are given an explanation or not. But do we just stop there, or do we press our nose deeper into the pages of His word to explore just how much God does reveal?
To be continued……..