"Nothing here is new except in the sense that it is a discovery which my own heart has made of spiritual realities most delightful and wonderful to me. Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done, but if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame." (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I Actually Believe It

As I began my pursuit of a 24/7 conversational relationship with God, one of the most remarkable changes I noticed God making in me (I think Kathryn saw other changes before I did) was that I actually began to genuinely believe that I could have a real 24/7 conversational relationship with God.

Over the years of my life I’ve encountered a distressing “ability” to exempt myself from the promises of God.  I have never doubted the Word or promises of God – at least so I thought.  But in the moments of my greatest distress, I could read the promises of God and believe they were absolutely true for everyone – except me.  I could find some reason for exempting or disqualifying myself from the goodness and faithfulness of God – all the while never doubting that God is good and faithful.  Of course, this was the enemy stealing away the promises and power of God in my life.  I’ve talked to others who’ve told me of the same experience.  If you’re one of those who, like me, can – or may I say could – exempt myself from the power of God in my life, then I have this word for you:  we both can have a 24/7 conversational relationship with God.  I now actually believe it.  (Will you?)

God produced that confidence in me in two ways.  First, I realized that the desire to have such a non-stop intimate relationship with Him was a gift from Him.  This desire is so immense, so powerful and so consuming, it could have come from no one else.  This desire is from Him, and only He can satisfy it.

In his small but extraordinary book, The School of Obedience, Andrew Murray has written, “There can be no strong faith without strong desire.  Desire is the great motive power in the universe.  It was God’s desire to save us that moved Him to send His Son.  It is desire that moves men to study and work and suffer.  It is the desire alone for salvation that brings a sinner to Christ.  It is the desire for God and the closest possible fellowship with Him, that desire to be just what He would have us be and to have as much of His will as possible, that will make the promised land attractive to us.  It is this which will make us forsake everything to get our full share in the obedience of Christ.”[1]

Second, (as I wrote in an earlier entry) as I daily immersed myself in the Word of God, the Holy Spirit began to teach me to understand “that Moses and David, including Abraham, Elijah, Elisha, Paul, Peter and many others we have considered to be ‘heroes of the Bible’ were never intended by God to be anomalies of faith.  We are told about these everyday men and women because God intends them to be examples of the norm for those who pursue an intimate walk with Him. To be less is to be subnormal.”

The Bible’s great “faith chapter” (Hebrews 11) recounts the complete trust some of these men and women had in God:
  • “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
  • “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.”
  • “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”
  • “. . . . for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. . . .” 
You don’t agree that these stories and many others are intended by God to be the norm for us, not the abnormal?  Consider the first two verses of the next chapter (Hebrews 12):
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses [examples], let us lay aside every weight [just like they did], and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 
[And, just like they did], Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, paraphrase).
What these men and women did was the norm, not the abnormal, because what they did was actually what God did. And He hasn’t changed. They are examples of what God can and will do in those who will trust Him like they did. And what God can and will do in me. And you. The grace (God’s enabling power) that was available to them is available to me. And to all of us in whom Jesus lives today. Living in complete trust, reliance and obedience to God is when the supernatural becomes the normal. (By “normal” I mean “typical,” but not “ordinary” or “common.”) These men and women of the Bible are examples of life lived in cooperation with God.  This is the life Jesus saved us to live.  I want to live there. I am determined to live there.

If I look closely at the lives of these men and women who were “looking unto Jesus,” there is one whom I really want to be like today: Samuel.  He had a conversational relationship with God like I want.  Watch this conversation recorded in I Samuel 16:
1And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill your horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord.
And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.
And Samuel did that which the Lord spoke, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Come thou peaceably?
And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.
And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.
But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these.
11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remains yet the youngest, and, behold, he keeps the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.
That was a normal conversational relationship with God.
As my journey has continued, I’ve discovered that a conversational relationship is not God’s “end game” for me.  It’s not His ultimate goal.  It is a wonderful, glorious, sublime result of what He has in mind, but there is something much more.

[1] Andrew Murray, The School of Obedience, p. 83.

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