Thoughts contrary to popular thinking. No not talking ‘out of the box’ thinking. More like ‘out of my mind’ thinking, actually.
Note: I am writing this reflecting on my own personal experience, but I firmly believe that this is applicable to other believers, as well as, those who are not believers, but considering their relationship to God.
The convergence of several things going on in my professional life, personal life, and spiritual life; has brought me to writing this today. The outgrowth of this has been a further realization of God and how I relate to Him, how that impacts my personal life, and how it needs to impact my avocation.
Between my own devotional times, a recent sermon series and a study that my church (Crossbridge Community, Helena, AL’), has launched into Wednesday night; my perspective of who God really is and what He requires of me has been enhanced to a point that requires me to reevaluate my priorities, both at home and on the job. To the extent, that I’m being challenged by God to take steps in directions that I honestly do not know where they lead. But none the less, steps that are plotted out by the Lord God.
God Up’s the Ante:
Let me begin with the spiritual side of this concurrence, because it is the spiritual evolution that has been the catalyst.
The natural trajectory of God working in us is that we find ourselves on a continuous state of change, as the Holy Spirit imparts more and more to our understanding.
Anything short of this progression is representative of stagnation caused by sin or oppression from the enemy. So, this growth at it’s heart is something that I welcome, but at the same time, I find it challenges me to be in a place I’m not real comfortable with. I’ve written in the past of my desire to be uncomfortable in this regard, but that doesn’t make it any less comfortable being something you desire. It remains, uncomfortable as it should be.
God Unfathomable – I’ve come to the place where I have secured a new understanding of just how little I can conceive of the awesomeness of God. It really doesn’t matter how many wonderful attributes I pile on or the volume of those attributes in respect to Him; God is so much greater than I can possible fathom!
Job 26:2-14 (CSB)
How you have helped the powerless and delivered the arm that is weak!
How you have counseled the unwise and abundantly provided insight!
With whom did you speak these words? Whose breath came out of your mouth?
The departed spirits tremble beneath the waters and all that inhabit them.
Sheol is naked before God, and Abaddon has no covering.
He stretches the northern skies over empty space; he hangs the earth on nothing.
He wraps up the water in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst beneath its weight.
He obscures the view of his throne, spreading his cloud over it.
He laid out the horizon on the surface of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.
The pillars that hold up the sky tremble, astounded at his rebuke.
By his power he stirred the sea, and by his understanding he crushed Rahab.
By his breath the heavens gained their beauty; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
These are but the fringes of his ways; how faint is the word we hear of him!
Who can understand his mighty thunder?
No one can; that is who!
This concept was not something that eluded me prior to now. What has changed is my grasp of just how incapable I am of even having a reasonable means of quantifying the greatness of God.
God’s Love Beyond My Understanding – The next thing that has been rattling my comfort cage, God’s Love for me!
John 3:16 (CSB)
For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Yeah, yeah, we’ve all read this time and time again. Likely if you memorize scripture this was if not the first, one of the first passages you commuted to memory. Me too!
The frequency of this passage appearing before us has a hazing effect if we aren’t careful. We begin to simply whiz by it because in the back of our minds we immediately recount the reference.
But let’s really look at what this verse says.
The best parallel I have seen to date regarding ‘this love’ was made by Francis Chan in a video he shot supporting his book ‘Crazy Love’. What he asked the viewer to do was imagine the person we love most in this world. Now, imagine that you have the choice of punishing them for the deeds of others or standing by and doing nothing to prevent the ultimate doom to those who might be free’d of the judgment for their wrong doing by your loved one absorbing the punishment; even though you know that this will result in your loved one perishing as a result.
Add to this scenario, the understanding that God’s Son who He loved beyond all else, was ultimately aware that this sacrifice that would be taking place would be disregarded by many of the very ones that were intended to be absolved of this debt. Even to the point of scorning His Son.
God knew this. Jesus knew this. They both knew this before the breath of life was breathed into Adam. Even then, God could see His Son, hanging on the tree of Calvary. God saw the spear being thrust into the side of this son He loved so.
Despite that, He loved me so that he sent Jesus to do that for me. Now just try to imagine the one you love more than any other in this world hanging on a cross to take the punishment as God did and you might have a hint of the Love that God has for us. Just a hint.
Where does this leave me:
So, how much does God love me? He Loves me immeasurably! I can’t even begin to think of how much this love is. If He is willing to do THAT to have a relationship with ME, how can I trivialize that gift by saying that He has not totally earned my unconditional love, my unconditional loyalty, every bit of honor, praise and obedience that I can convoke?
Without complete devotion, surrender, and commitment to Him, I find myself in a state of tragic spiritual default.
Isaiah 6:5 (CSB)
Then I said: Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Armies.
Isaiah expresses my sentiment as these realities expanded before me. I’m so unworthy of this Love, despite it being given to me without me asking for it, I am without excuse if I do not respond to this Love with every fiber of my being.
What I have done thus far, is a feeble attempt to compensate the Grace poured out on me when I gave my life to Jesus. I cannot possibly ‘compensate’ this gift. This is where a realignment of my priorities is in demand for both my personal life, and my professional life.
Let’s Get Personal!
The fallout personally is massive from this amplified perspective of God. I can no longer reside in my comfort cage that isolates me from having to expose myself emotionally beyond my immediate vicinity, or extend my involvement beyond the scope of that comfort zone.
Further than this, I have come to the realization that the choices that I make are not in keeping with the scripture nor the commitment that I entered in to with my Lord and Savior.
Strong words to be sure, but accurate regardless.
Consider the following attributes of God:
Psalms 147:5 (CSB)
Our Lord is great, vast in power; his understanding is infinite.
Job 42:2 (CSB)
I know that you can do anything and no plan of yours can be thwarted.
Jeremiah 23:24 (CSB)
Can a person hide in secret places where I cannot see him? ” — the Lord’s declaration. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth? ” — the Lord’s declaration.
Malachi 3:6 (CSB)
Because I, the Lord, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.
Habakkuk 1:13 (CSB)
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. So why do you tolerate those who are treacherous?
Why are you silent while one who is wicked swallows up one who is more righteous than himself?
Ezra 9:15 (CSB)
Lord God of Israel, you are righteous, for we survive as a remnant today. Here we are before you with our guilt, though no one can stand in your presence because of this.
Genesis 1:1 (CSB)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
By virtue of God being the architect and builder of all that exists, he consequently is sovereign over all.
1 John 4:8 (CSB)
The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Psalms 103:8 (CSB)
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.
Psalms 9:7-8 (CSB)
But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for judgment. And he judges the world with righteousness; he executes judgment on the nations with fairness.
Genesis 1:2 (CSB)
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
John 1:1-4 (CSB)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
Exploring outside the zone:
My whiteness is – in serious need of focus. I share the Gospel when God positions me in a fruit tree, ripe for the picking. I pass tracks along as ice breakers, but often will do so in a manner to not optimize the opportunity to engage in a discourse.
Fearing God – While I have always maintained a ‘healthy respect’ for my Heavenly Father, I’ve come to realize that I have not approached God in an always appropriate manner. In my thinking, God has always been Holy, Righteous, all powerful, all knowing, pure Grace, pure justice, pure love, present everywhere, and timeless… However, this new perspective demands that I revere Him as being more Holy, more Righteous, more powerful, wiser, and more Loving than I could ever conceive of.
Fearing God doesn’t mean that I want to avoid contact with Him. To the contrary, this means treating God with the respect and honor befitting God. His Holiness alone is sufficient to cause me to tremble as I reflect my state of unworthiness. But there is so much more! There is a reason He is on the throne and I am positioned at His feet. HE IS GOD!
Because of this; my approach to the thrown must be corrected because I am unworthy and the only righteousness that I have is that which has been given to me by His Son. If it were not for the Grace of His Son, I would not even be able to petition Him, let alone enter in to His presence.
However, I still can approach God in boldness and confidence because, I wear the righteousness of His Son, deeded to me by Grace.
Hebrews 4:16 (CSB)
Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.
The New International Version translates the boldness as confidence.
Now in the light of this amplified perspective, I must also look inwardly and consider my behavior.
My spending – habits now need to come under the scrutiny of this new perspective. It’s not about tithing, the relevance of tithe went out the window with the ‘Widow’s Mite’. I have given my life to Christ Jesus. What does that mean exactly? I don’t have to get analytical at all to come to the realization that the surrender of my life to Christ is more than just an expression. When I turned my life over to Him, He became the proprietor of Kip.
There is nothing that I possess that doesn’t belong to Jesus. I have no funds that are not His. Every expenditure that I entertain should be cleared with Him.
My activities – are subject to the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:2-6 (CSB)
because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. What the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit. Now the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace.
This calls for a total realignment of my priorities in my day to day life. Where I go, what I do, who I engage with; virtually everything I do and say needs to be focused through the direction of the Holy Spirit.
My prayer life – is in need of re-focus because, He is Holy! Beyond what I cannot imagine. Every attribute God has is at a level that cannot be quantitated. How can I, then approach God in a casual manner? I cannot! I need to envision Him as appropriated by this new perspective I’ve come to appreciate.
Ephesians 6:13-18 (CSB)
For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.
Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.
In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit — which is the word of God.
Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
My Property – doesn’t exist as I once thought that it did. As with finance, I legitimately own nothing. All that is in in my possession is not my own. These things I am the custodian of, but they really belong to Jesus.
‘You were bought at a price’, below means everything I own is really the property of Jesus!
Especially with my music because it has been dedicated to the Lord, considered and expenditure an investment for the Lord. I’ve even held off on liquidating a guitar that I don’t use anymore because a brother in the Lord who wishes to purchase it for his worship leadership role wants to buy it. I discounted it and have been holding it for the last 10 months or so.
But in the light of this new perspective, if God calls for me to liquidate my home, I have an obligation to do so. It’s NOT MINE! It’s His. His along with the music gear, the fixtures, furnishings, the cars parked in the driveway; everything!
And it goes beyond buying and selling; it extends to how I use these things as well.
My Body – belongs to Jesus.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (CSB)
Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.
This is huge in the light of this new perspective because if God is who we no see God as then this isn’t limited to not drinking, smoking, or other behaviors that we might associate with this passage.
If we take this literally, this means taking care of this body is an exercise in being obedient to God. So exercise, diet, the quality of food I consume, the medications I use; all things related to this body and the way I care for it reflect on my stewardship of the property of Jesus Christ. He paid the price. I’m a thief if I try to take it back from him!
This is where things really get dicey.
The company that I work for is facing a massive layoff. It contracts specialized services out. The last several years one contract, in particular, accounted for well over 95% of their business.
That contract was terminated and given to another company. We are in a state of transition right now. Sometime early next year all of us will be gone.
The Lord for the last year prior to now has been cluing me in that I needed to be prepared for a change. I didn’t know what, didn’t know where, didn’t know when.
This situation at the office clarifies the ‘when’.
When this became clear several months ago, I had made the commitment that I would do, go, and perform any role that God directed me to.
Likewise, while I’ve watched the classifies, and lined up three different recruiting firms; my view of these activities has been to open channels for God to intervene.
Okay, not so cool. Sarah did the same thing when her husband was promised that God would make him a great nation. She went off and ‘helped’ God out by giving her servant to him to father a child because after all ‘she was barren’.
God had another plan.
So, I am going to have to make sure that I am not behaving like Sarah in this situation.
Jeremiah 29:11-12 (CSB)
For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
If I believe His Word, and consider His ultimate care for me and ultimate power, I must relinquish my attempts to control the outcome and allow Him to transition this according to the plan He has architected.
As a result, I’m now in a position where whatever that role is, as long as God opens the door, I’m willing to step through and give Him the glory for the results.
It’s been a long discussion of this topic and we haven’t talked any about “Not What I Need To Be Doing” at all. But we’ll cover that here in the closing, but we’ll approach it from the other direction instead of “Not what I need to be doing”, we’ll examine it with what I ‘Need’ to be doing. So this is a bit of reverse notation, meaning what is significant is what not mentioned.
- Reaching outwardly from my comfort zone to be proactive in spreading the Gospel of Christ – What I need to be doing.
- Not worrying about God’s plan and just taking the steps, He leads me to on the road ahead – What I need to be doing.
- Come to the throne boldly, but with reverence of God that honors Him more – What I need to be doing.
- Realize that all my resources are truly not mine, they belong to Jesus who paid my debt – What I need to be doing.
- Take better care of the temple that was purchased by Jesus for the Holy Spirit – What I need to be doing.
- Turn over the process of selecting my career path to Him; according to His will – What I need to be doing.
- Listen to the Holy Spirit more, because my life is not my own, it’s Christ’s; God the father is all powerful; and I am His now and forevermore – What will be done
Not, what I need to be doing? Anything that runs counter to these. Where do you see yourself in this picture?