Wow. I don't even know what to title these thoughts, but the Lord is good! And He continues to bless His children! The past couple days, or week really, I have been learning in Bible study, church, conversations, walks a beautiful narrative that God has woven together in front of my eyes. Just tonight at Bible study (we've been studying the death of Christ through the Old Testament) and in a conversation I found more grounding in small mysteries being revealed. Praise God as I resonate with an AMEN.
Okay, I'll reign myself in and try to make this organized and beneficial. Tonight Brian (who leads the Bible Study) felt the Lord calling him to a time of personal and corporate repentance. We've been studying Christ's death in great depth - looking back to the shadows and types in the Old Testament to really understand just how magnificent and central Christ's death is to life - here and eternal. Tonight was supposed to be the segueway from the first 5 chapters of the Bible into what Christ accomplished and the life that came as a result. Yet, instead we entered into a time of reflection and repentance.
We started by looking at two passages in Luke - the accounts of Jesus' prayer on the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39-46) and also the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). In both instances, the disciples fell into deep sleeps from exhaustion. Even as Christ's face changed and his robes flashed like lightning, Peter and company were sleepy! Meanwhile, Jesus conferred with Moses and Elijah, who had been dead for something like 1500 and 800 years. And of what did they speak? THE CROSS.
The cross, that sometimes decorates our days and almost clutters Christian conversation. Honestly, I can say that I've zoned out as pastors, speakers, or friends begin teaching on the importance of the cross. It's almost as if my hardened spirit says, "I get it already! I know Christ died and my sins are forgiven - praise God and now give me three points in a take-home message box." I wouldn't say it's been quite that bad, but it might as well be!
Woe is me! After so many years, this miracle of Christ's discussion with Moses and Elijah broaches one topic: Christ's death. There aren't many places in Scripture where people converse with the dead (the only one I know of is Saul in 1 Samuel 28)... Moses and Elijah were already significant to the redemptive narrative and had been dead for so long so this conversation reads volumes what is fit in a few verses.
So - with that as a backdrop, we talked about what spiritual sleepiness looks like and how we might repent of it... how our study and pressing in to God's glory in His Son can be something that gives God the most glory.
We looked at the parable of the sower and the seeds - the parable that Jesus describes as the one that would explain all the other parables. So, what difference is there in the four plots of land, why does only one survive? It deals not with the seed - the seed is the Word of God and can not be defiled (Leviticus 11). The one seed grows because it is planted good soil, which is defined in Luke 8:15 as a noble and good heart.
So, it is the heart that needs readying - brought out of spiritual slumber to recognize the great glory in the Trinity. The heart must be illuminated to expose the darkness in the farthest part, SO that we may more fully see the impact of Christ's blood. "Wake up, O Sleeper! And Christ will shine on you!" (Ephesians 5)
I have in no way exhausted this subject and praise the Lord! For, if I could contain it, how much less glory would be due!
I have to make connections with more of God's greatness...
Lately, the Lord has been captivating my heart with His command of creation. As was revealed to Peter in a vision (Acts 10), Christ's sacrifice was not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles.
Paul writes that "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:26-29
Whatever we have found here on earth to divide - they are all merely details, peripheral, penultimate. Tall or short, smart or foolish, planned or surprised, married or single... even down to the most minute things that divide time, effort, money. My decisions to do/not do homework, to eat/not eat food... it goes on. ALL these details cloud out the ultimate, yet they all submit to God's power. Frederik Bonhoeffer writes similar thoughts about in regards to vocation. God has called us to live life, as Christians, in a manner that brings him glory. period.
Everything else (as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 2:2) is unnecessary. God is the One and Only who is great enough to fully know the ultimate, giving glory to Himself, while also knowing the penultimate, which also brings glory to Himself. We, on the other hand, can NOT do that. I can only handle the pursuit of one thing. Praise the Lord for having patience and mercy enough to let me return to Him in my pursuit! God is GOD regardless of what I choose to pursue.
But, lest I confuse myself, I dare not ask him to take away the periphery. No, these are the outworking of my faith - accomplished through fear and trembling. These are the temptations that have no stronghold when brought before the Creator that commands the universe. Even those things farthest from center - those are His domain as well. When I have relinquished my illusion of control, I can see the glory in His sovereignty!
And what command he has! The depths of the sea and the far reaches of galaxies - what purpose have they but to bring the Lord glory? No human hand or eye has experienced these things, but the Lord created everything with purpose and even these places cry out that He is GOD.
My attempts fall so short. But - to those that read this - press in to the Lord and allow His glory to shape your life and understanding.
There are many, many things jumbling through my mind... pictures, stories, paintings, analogies.
Praise the Lord that he sees my heart clearly and without confusion! And praise Him that He follows His children everywhere - even as my dad is flying over oceans on his way to Kenya this very day!
"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has ever given to God, that Gos should repay him? For from him, and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! AMEN."