To those who seek,God,the ultimate provider reveals His plan of blessings to meet the physical needs of the body,emotional desires of the soul and spiritual nourishment in His Word.
“Woe to me. I am ruined!…….my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” cried out Isaiah after seeing “the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne” (Isaiah 6:5;1). On the other hand Simeon was expectantly waiting for the fulfillment of the promise “that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah” and greatly rejoiced at seeing the Child Jesus (Luke 2:26). On the one hand is the prophesy “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son and will call Him Immanuel (God with us)” (Isaiah 7:14) in fulfillment of the declaration of God Himself that the ‘seed of the woman will crush Satan’s head’. Moses is shown God’s glory in the burning bush and on the mountain but his prayer to “show me Your glory” is turned down with a warning “you cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live” (Exodus 33:18;20). Why is it that Moses could not and Isaiah saw and was scared that he would surely die after that? Does God hide Himself from His people?
Is God really invisible? – The answer is provided in the Scriptures “Word was God… Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory” (John 1:1; 14). God visited Adam and Eve in the Garden ‘in the cool of the day’ and even received offerings from Cain and Abel and even conversed with them and with many others in the Old Testament but the ‘eyes of a sinful man’ is unable to see His glory until the same is revealed by God Himself. It is for this purpose that Lord Jesus was born that we could “behold His glory” and know God through the restored relationship through the purging of our sins by His sacrifice on the cross. God created man in His image and likeness and desires to restore that lost image to us through the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
What does God want from man? – God is complete in every respect and man cannot do anything to add to His Divinity, nor does God desire anything from man for Himself. “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and He expresses his love through His creation. When sin entered and caused our separation with God, He repeatedly attempted to lead us back to the same glorious state but we remained steadfast in our sinful nature resisting that. After completing the process of creation God blessed Adam and Eve and gave them authority over every living thing on the earth and even ‘brought all animals and birds’ to man to allow him to name them. Only the one who owns a thing has the authority to name it and God stamped that authority of man through this naming process. God placed them in the Garden of Eden where everything was available to ‘tend to it’ and enjoy the fruits of it and “subdue the earth”.
A just God could not overlook sin in Adam and Eve and the curse on them and the creation followed. God did not abandon His creation and it was only when sinful living had crossed all limits to threaten the fulfillment of the promise of the ‘virgin birth’ that God resorted to destruction during Noah’s flood or later during Moses’ time. Noah’s family of eight formed the nucleus to form the new race and Moses was also chosen to be the father of a new race; which was stopped through his intervention (Exodus 32:30-34). God considers all of mankind as “His holy people” and desires them to live a holy life. It is for this that Moses was given the ‘details of God’s likes and dislikes’ written down by God Himself on stone for posterity in the form of a ‘Do’s and don’ts list’.
Only when the messages from God, proclaimed through the prophets failed, that God decided to speak to us “through His Son, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrew 1:1-2). The Son declared God, the Father, to us and reduced the Ten Commandments to just two- “Love your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind; and the second one is ‘love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Living for God-invisible and visible gets condensed into these two commands and all actions need to be weighed in this scale given by the Lord Himself.
Loving God – The basic message revealed through all of creation is about God’s love. This love flows out to us in the form of various bounties freely available to us and also through His Son and our Savior. Anyone who wants to love God has to first experience His love himself and only then can he reciprocate. Full understanding of the first commandment is essential for an abundant and satisfying life. A human being is a spirit with a soul living in the body. Spirit is the image and likeness of God providing Divine knowledge and qualities while the soul provides feelings and emotions based on worldly knowledge of the mind in relation to the Divine knowledge. Loving God with all your heart would thus mean all feelings and emotions to be in the image of Godly feelings; loving God with all your soul would thus amount to total focus on God and His ways and likewise also in the heart nothing else but God ruling and dominating. This would be to have all thoughts, feelings, desires, spoken words or actions- the entire way of life to be modeled on the ways of God. Once this is so the second commandment is automatically fulfilled since through the first step the body, soul and spirit are predominantly God centered and God loves all His creation equally.
But the question arises as to how can a person living a worldly life with a job/business, a family and social responsibilities meet such stringent standards of living. In life there are people who deceive, tell lies and indulge in all types of unethical practices to advance how can we fight them and progress by adopting righteous ways? Abraham was seventy five old when he was given the promise and asked to move out of Harran. He was ninety nine when again “God appeared to him and said “I am God Almighty, walk before Me faithfully and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1). Abraham had not been blameless so far though he was called a ‘friend of God’. On our own effort we can never attain the high moral standard expected by God and that is the reason Apostle Paul said “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). The sinful nature in us attains dominance and we are led in to committing sin.
How to rise up to God’s standard? – God is an All knowing God and is well aware of our nature and our difficulties. Apostle Paul having struggled with this problem finally found the answer “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God works in us to give us the desire to meet His standard as per His will and then He watches closely our efforts. A newly born again Christian takes very enthusiastic steps in his “walk before God” to achieve the new way of living. Initially he finds it easy to get rid of some of the issues but after a period of time he stumbles. Again with determination he starts and falls and after a few attempts he comes to the conclusion that it is not possible for him to do this. At this stage either he gives up his attempts and continues his life the way it is with an outward appearance of following Christ but inwardly carries on with the usual sinful nature.
However, in some cases where the person remains in regular fellowship with the Lord through prayer and worship, it dawns on him that he should seek Divine help for this problem also like in every other case. It is then that God steps in to fulfill the second aspect of “His good pleasure” referred above and “He starts to do” what He has willed in our lives. Abraham was given the key in the direction itself “I am God Almighty” having power over everything including your heart, mind and soul and I can mould these for My purpose. Our God is our Father and not a supervisor who gives a task and comes back to check and criticize our results. He understands our strengths and weaknesses and promises to “never leave you not forsake you” and as indwelling God monitors our every step to lead and guide us in His Almighty and Omnipotence. Joshua found Him standing near Jericho, sought His directions and was victorious even to the extent of stopping the movement of the sun and the moon till the battle raged.
Joshua fell down before Him facedown in absolute surrender and worshipped Him. When we surrender our strength, will and power before God it is only then that He starts the process of “molding us as per His design”. We are required to surrender before Him all our thoughts, all our plans, all our resources, strengths and weaknesses and “seek Him to fulfill His plan in our lives” (Jeremiah 29:11-13). That is the answer that Paul was given by God “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. And Paul received the power and the strength to face any situation how so ever difficult and follow God’s will and finally he could declare “Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10).
In the Old Testament an example of a young slave girl who was taken captive from Israel by the ‘raiders from Aram’ “and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:2-3). Loyalty to the master by an unnamed slave girl in obedience to the commandments of her God resulted in healing and glorification of God in an alien land. It is the same obedience which causes Joseph to refuse the advances of Potiphar’s wife even to land up in jail for ultimate edification. To follow the Lord God’s statutes we are required to seek His power and authority and only then can we be victorious.
Abide in Him – This surrender to God has two aspects- first it is complete since we cannot hold back some areas and submit in others. Secondly it has to be continuous and not off and on as per personal needs. Lord Jesus was given an option by Satan during the temptation to “fall down and worship me” to receive “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matthew 4:8-9). Our Lord was provided a shortcut to do what He had come to do but the choice was to establish Satan’s kingdom and not God’s. If Satan wants surrender and worship how the Almighty God can accept anything less. Isaiah was witness to the Seraphim flying above the throne of the Lord “with their faces and feet covered” to declare His glory while covering their own individuality and walk in God’s presence (Isaiah 6). The angels have their task clearly identified- to glorify God and we humans who are “made a little lower than the angels” cannot do otherwise.
Rest in Him – The Lord Jesus commanded “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). A branch gets nourishment from the vine, it does not get blamed for bad or no fruit, it does not go anywhere for anything- just remains attached to the vine. The vine moves its roots to draw water and minerals from the soil and ensures a continuous supply of its sap to the branches. Jesus as our vine has His roots into the Great Reservoir of power- God the Father and through Him we are also connected to the same source. AS branches we are not to let any weight hang onto us for it will drag us down even to cause the disastrous snapping off from the vine. Shed all weight onto the vine; enjoy its nourishment and empowerment and bear fruit by just remaining attached in complete rest in the great vine. This attachment is continuous as the supply of the sap is also continuous from the vine and only then the fruit of fulfillment of the second commandment will result as an overflow of His love.
Once we invite the Lord through complete surrender to His authority He steps forward “to will and to do”. His will is clear “subdue the earth” and be victorious and to achieve this He provides the power for “He has authority over everything on the heavens and the earth”. In Him is the beginning and end of everything and He knows our nature but “does not change” because of that. Peter denied Him thrice yet the Lord “turned and looked” at him not to condemn but to show understanding, forgiveness, love and bless. Peter read all this in that look and “wept bitterly” there and how much more during the next two days to get blessed with the “fruit bearing” stage later at the beach.
To live the promised “abundant life” in His rest is only possible in and through the power of the Almighty Lord and the branch has to surrender its own identity and being to draw from the unending reservoir. Only in His power and supply is it possible to bear much fruit. It looks difficult but is easy in His power and guidance.
He is ready to will and to do in us but are we also ready!!