Here is a shocking statement, but does it apply to me? Jesus said: ” By your traditions you make void the Word of God”, Mark 7:13. Religious tradition without the breath of God can be meaningless. Jesus’ words in Matthew 15:8 are pertinent to the above scripture: “This people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me”.
Does this challenge me? Can it be said of the Church: “When it’s all been said and done, is there more said than done?” Is God’s divine vineyard producing fruit? Am I, are you, just a collector of inspired words and wisdom, or do I allow the Holy Spirit free rein to work those pearls of great price into my life? I may know ABOUT them, these magnificent truths, but it is usual that adversity is the fertile soil of the environment it needs for growth.
Divine revelation requires a situation in the school of life to be worked in to my life……..otherwise the revelation is not truth to me and suffers evaporation.
Is God working with us to move us out of what we are in, to take us on to a place we have never been before? Have you felt hemmed in and pressed out of measure, unable to cope in suffering? The apostle Paul declared: “…….our trouble that came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves , that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead”. God permits us to be pressed out of the measure of ourselves in order for us to recognise our need of Him. There is a place in the more of God where we have never experienced the promise of His fullness as yet, even so it is our birthright. Jesus declared in John14:12, “…..He that believes on Me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto the Father”.
God’s purposes will not be stifled or thwarted. There has to be more than what we have known as yet. Jesus has promised it, but “signs and wonders will follow those who believe”, (Mark 16:17-18). The miracles are not to be chased after, they will be the consequence of a person’s life abandoned and surrendered to the Lord, flowing out in demonstration of the power of the resurrection Life of Jesus Christ to extend His kingdom to the world. The Holy Spirit is the lamp to our feet that lights the pathway of the narrow way of humility, through the gate of the crucified life, but many refuse to crucify the self life. Paul chose that path and declared joyously: “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”.
How do I react to adversity? Trouble is not in trouble, it is in my heart’s attitude to trouble. My heart is my trouble spot. Jesus taught: “Let not your heart be troubled”, John 14:1. My choice is to allow Jesus to rule my heart when adversity is my portion. Here is where I am pressed out of measure of myself, that I might find the measure of Christ’s sustaining power for my situation. I am no further along in God than where I am at my lowest moment……selah!! The learning curve is large, the steps of faith are small, but incrementally, as I embrace my lack, acknowledge my need of Jesus in everything, resurrection Life is released in another measure of the stature of the Son of God. His measure far exceeds mine!
Have I learnt to sing in my wilderness and honour God in my distress?…….or do I cry “Get me out of this, Lord”. Do I judge God, or the devil, for my situation? It behoves every child of God to find Him in the difficult challenges of life. Many Christians pray for God to deliver them from certain situations but deliverance IN, is far greater than deliverance FROM, and out, of something. Consider Daniel in the lions’ den, also the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace. They communed with the Lord right there and experienced His protection and presence. It is in these times where God can become so very precious to us and as we worship Him IN the situation, He takes care of the detail and raises His testimony in us for His glory. In retrospect we see that God used the suffering for a deeper walk and intimacy with Him. In the economy of God there is no waste in our lives, as we keep our eyes on Him. He uses all things for His glory and brings His message through our messes.
God loves us unconditionally, but will I serve Him unconditionally? I can declare God’s grace is sufficient for me, I can sing about it, but am I one of those who Jesus referred to as those who worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me, when adversity arrives on my doorstep. Adversity has many forms: physical pain, broken relationships, emotional pain, financial problems. The list is endless, but here is the test, the trial of our faith. God sees me in my lowest moments…..and cares. Here I can bow my understanding in reverance before Almighty God and declare of Him, “…..just, and true, and righteous are all Your ways, O Lord”. (Psalm 145:17-19).
In the record of Joseph’s life, (Genesis chapters 37-45), he was unjustly imprisoned. Joseph came to a place there where he had to prove God IN his literal prison, which he did in many ways. Psalm 105, referring to Joseph in prison, expounds that Joseph’s feet were held in irons until the time of God’s word came to free him, (Psalm 105:17-19). Maybe we can identify with that feeling of imprisonment in a situation today. Here is the place where we find God right there beside us, even if we can’t feel that awareness of His presence. God is faithful and never changes. He promised never to leave us. His word stands true, our feelings are not to be trusted because they deceive us. Embrace your lack as you are being pressed out of measure to find your all, in all, in Him. He alone is the all-sufficient One, God Almighty, and has an endless supply of the suffiency you lack, and need. All our problems we experience can be fertiliser to press us out of measure and into His divine purpose.
1 Corinthians 2:9 “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those that love Him”.
“Joy unspeakable and full of glory, and the half has never yet been told……” (Hymn by Joseph Warren: I have found His grace is all complete).